Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Former IMF Chief Granted Bail in Sex Case; Radical Muslim Leader Charged; Newt-Speak; President Obama on "Arab Spring", Israel; A New Kind of Student Teacher
Aired May 19, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news in the sex scandal that has drawn worldwide attention. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who is accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, will be out of jail in just a few hours.
He was granted bail late this afternoon, but he was taken back to New York City's Riker's Island jail tonight and expected to be released tomorrow.
Strauss-Kahn was in a Manhattan courtroom today as the terms of his bail were revealed. And they are stiff. He must put up $1 million in cash and post bond of $5 million. He also had to surrender his travel documents, which his lawyer said he had already done. And he has to agree to home detention here in Manhattan.
Strauss -- he lives in Washington. Strauss-Kahn's lawyer argued that he is not a flight risk. And even though he was arrested on a flight about to leave for Paris, the lawyer said it was a prescheduled flight, not a last-minute booking to try to escape the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TAYLOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's undisputed that the reason that the police knew his whereabouts is because he called the hotel, which is the scene of this incident, from JFK Airport, to inquire if the hotel had located his cell phone. Well, the hotel advised that it had and asked him his whereabouts, on which he promptly told them.
Indeed, he called the hotel a second time, called security a second time to advise that the plane was boarding and to urge the hotel delivery people to please promptly bring him his cell phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, before the bail hearing got under way, Strauss- Kahn was formerly indicted on seven charges, including sexual abuse and attempt to commit rape. He's accused, as you know, of attacking a maid in a New York on Saturday. The prosecutor opposed bail, arguing that the evidence against Strauss-Kahn is strong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCONNELL, ASSISTANT DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The complainant in this case has offered a compelling and unwavering story about what occurred in the defendant's room. She made immediate outcries to multiple witnesses, both to hotel staff and to police. And the -- the quick response by the hotel staff and law enforcement did help apprehend the defendant before his flight to France took off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Late last night, Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned his post at the IMF and in a letter to his executive board denied all allegations against him.
CNN's Deb Feyerick is here with more. The bail ruling, what does it stipulate?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. Basically under the terms of bail, he has -- his wife has rented an apartment at a so far undisclosed location and they're going to stay there together. He's going to be on home detention, monitored by a private company. He will be picking up the costs. It is $200,000 a month, that's what he's going to be paying. He's going to have to wear an electronic bracelet.
There will be at least one armed security guard on the premises with him at all times. If he goes out for example to meet with his lawyers, if he have to go to religious ceremonies, something like that, the armed guard will accompany him. He's not going to be wandering all over New York City.
And he is going to have to check in with the court. Usually the way the court does it is they make sure that he's calling from a particular land line inside the apartment. Unclear whether he'll have to check in one, two, three times a day but usually it's a set time.
COOPER: And what is the indictment? What have you learned from the indictment about the alleged crime?
FEYERICK: Well, this is interesting. I mean the indictment puts to rest some of the more salacious pieces of information that appeared originally in the complaint. The complaint had a host of information in it to support the charges as they had been laid out. And the complaint really alleged all manners of sex.
The indictment essentially charges Dominique Strauss-Kahn with forcing his house -- forcing the housekeeper to perform a sex act on him. It also accuses him of allegedly attempting to have sexual intercourse.
DSK's lawyers have said that he will plead not guilty. Two things to note and that is the district attorney in announcing the indictment, he made a very interesting distinction. He said, quote, "Under American law, these are extremely serious charges", pointing out American law. He also said that "these were non-consensual forced sex acts", probably referring to the fact that Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have suggested that the evidence will not show this was a forced encounter.
FEYERICK: Also, this press release Anderson, well, what was interesting in announcing the indictment, it was done in three languages. It was released in Spanish, in English and also of course in French.
COOPER: Well, because of worldwide interest obviously in this case.
COOPER: I want to bring in also Jeff Toobin, CNN's senior analyst, and noted defense attorney Mark Geragos, as well.
Mark, what do you make of the case against this man? How would you try to go about defending him?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I -- I think you just have to wait first. And I'm sure Ben is going to wait first and find out what the evidence is. He needs to see what the --
COOPER: Ben Brafman is the defense attorney.
GERAGOS: -- yes right, Ben is the, I assume, the lead lawyer here.
And he's going to wait and see what they have before he decides how is going to approach this. He's not going to jump to any conclusions on this idea that the prosecutor came out and announced that it was -- was not consensual and it's a serious crime.
You know, it seems like they're already in a position where they're doing some pushback. I don't know why. If they have such a strong case, I don't know why they're so defensive. But I -- I would expect that Ben will be circumspect until he sees everything that the prosecutor has before he reveals anything.
COOPER: The -- the defense though, Mark, has tried to kind of get out the details that look, this flight was prearranged, that the notion that he suddenly booked this flight and scram from the airport is not accurate.
GERAGOS: Well, they have to do that, because of the bail hearing and what the grounds are for granting the bail whether he's a flight risk. The prosecution tried to paint a portrait that this was somebody who was grabbing the first plane to France. They invoked the two words that every French defendant fears most, Roman Polanski, and then argued that this person is never going to come back because he's never going to be able to be extradited. All they've got to do then and what I assume happened here, is show that it was booked, that it was booked prior to this incident, and that he was the one, as Mr. Taylor was saying just then, that he had called twice. He was the one who alerted them to where he was that he was at JFK.
If this was somebody who was trying to flee, he's certainly not going to call for his cell phone. He would have just got on the flight and he would be gone and they never would have seen him again. So I think that you do have to push back when you're talking about somebody's liberty.
And the idea that it was no bail for a couple of days is ludicrous, because this is not a murder case; this is not a no-bail case. This is a case where he should have received bail and did receive bail today.
COOPER: And Jeff, last night on the program around this time you predicted he would receive bail likely and that -- and that he would resign from the IMF, both of which have happened. But you say you think he got lucky with this bail.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This was a close, close question. There are judges in that courthouse who definitely would have denied him bail. I mean start with the fact that he is not an American citizen. Most American citizens, most non-American citizens who are arrested in the United States do not get out on bail particularly those charged with serious felonies.
He is very fortunate that he has the resources to put -- put together a package with home detention. I mean, how many people in the world can afford $200,000 a month for -- a monitor, electronic and individual monitoring?
So he is very lucky. And also consider how long it's going to be until trial, two months, three months, maybe even longer. All those months he would have spent in Randall's Island. Instead he's going to be with his wife, eating the food he wants, seeing the people he wants, in an apartment in Manhattan. And it makes a huge difference in his life.
COOPER: Mark, when you're representing a client like this, I mean how much -- how time consuming does this become for the client? Is this, I mean last night Jeff was talking about look, he needs to dedicate a lot of time focusing on -- on this case moving forward. Is that -- is that what you found with clients?
GERAGOS: In this case, given the stakes here, there's no question. He's going to -- he's going to spend 24-7 on this case. There is no way that he's going to -- that he would have been able to retain his position, even if released on bail.
So this is something where he's going to have to dedicate his life to getting out of this. I mean, for all intents and purposes, he's facing a tantamount to a life sentence here. He needs to clear his name. He needs to defend this case. He needs to meet with his lawyers. He needs to do everything he can possible.
This is going to be an all encompassing, all consuming case for both him and frankly for the lawyers.
COOPER: What do we know about his visitors at Riker's?
FEYERICK: Well, the visitors -- it's interesting, he -- the prosecution was arguing he should only be allowed one visitor aside from immediate family, but the -- the defense lawyer said no, he's got a lot of friends. They want to come visit him; they want to come see him.
You know, one interesting thing, Anderson, watching him in court, he seemed a much more relaxed. When he saw his wife, he smiled, he later blew her a kiss. He was much more pulled together than he had been when we saw him earlier in the week. He had shaved, he was wearing a blazer.
FEYERICK: So there does seem to be a little bit of change in the dynamics. You have to keep in mind who this guy is, who he's used to hanging out with. This is the guy who is credited with saving Greece and Portugal and Ireland.
So he knows diplomacy, he knows negotiations and it seemed to me -- and Jeff, you can correct me -- that that he seemed to have a better feel for what was ahead, what was to come, and comfort being surrounded with the people he had.
COOPER: Well, the first 48 hours have to be just like being hit with a truck.
TOOBIN: Well obviously, it -- it helps to be a public figure. I mean I remember watching O.J. Simpson in the courtroom. You know, he was a public figure. He had presence. He knew what it was like to be looked at. I think Strauss-Kahn is going to have a similar presence in the courtroom.
Now, if the DNA evidence, if the hair and fiber evidence incriminates him, none of that stuff matters, but it certainly helps.
And if I can just add one thing --
TOOBIN: I said Randall's Island; that's soccer fields. It's Riker's Island; that's the prison.
COOPER: I played on some of those soccer fields as a kid; they can get pretty tough. There's a lot of glass in that -- not much grass left out on Randall's Island.
TOOBIN: Now, it's been fixed now. COOPER: Oh has it. I didn't know that.
COOPER: Yes that was back in the 80's.
Mark, do you agree with Jeff that it actually helps to be a public figure in terms of knowing how to present yourself in court?
GERAGOS: Well, it certainly doesn't hurt. This is somebody who knows how to carry himself. He's somebody who has been in situations where he has -- he knows how to handle himself and that beats the heck out of somebody who doesn't.
And the fact that he has a high profile job and some -- by some accounts probably one of the most high profile jobs in the world, certainly is not going to hurt him. At the same time, the things that do hurt him is that you're going to have prosecutors and judges who are going to, with all of the media attention, try to make sure that he never seems like he's getting a break, so to speak.
I don't think that anybody else is going to have the amount of attention that he has paid to their case in New York at this time. And so it's a double-edge sword, if you will.
COOPER: And certainly for -- for the alleged victim coming forward, you know, this is a woman whose life is now going to be changed and if she has to confront him in court that will obviously be incredibly overwhelming.
TOOBIN: The trial, if there is a trial, will be incredibly stressful for her. I mean, there's one big decision the defense has to make, they really only have two choices. Is the defense consent, or is the defense, I wasn't there at the time? You can't -- you can't argue both.
TOOBIN: And that's why they have to just sort of see what the evidence is, talk to their client and then we'll see how it goes.
COOPER: Deb Feyerick, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much. Mark Geragos, it's great to have you on the program. Thank you.
Let us know what you think we're on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'll try to be tweeting some tonight, although, we have a very busy night. We've got a lot ahead.
Up next, more breaking news; we're going to tell you about criminal charges against a home-grown advocate for terror; a Muslim extremist here in New York, (AUDIO GAP) trying to proselytize on the streets. We profiled this group many times. There's been an arrest for threats made -- alleged threats made against the creators of "South Park". Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YOUNES ABDULLAH MOHAMMED, REVOLUTION MUSLIM: We're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers. And this is a religion like I said --
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: You're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers?
MOHAMMED: And the Koran says very clearly in the Arabic language (INAUDIBLE); this means terrorize them. It's a command from Allah.
GRIFFIN: So you're commanded --
MOHAMMED: terrorize them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And later, Sarah Palin says leave Newt Gingrich alone. She slams the media -- no surprise there -- for playing gotcha. For asking him about changing Medicare and dings him for not being ready for it. But he's still trying to contain the damage his answer did to his presidential hopes and his explanations and denials are, well, you can judge for yourself.
We'll tell you what he's saying today and how it differs from what he said on Tuesday and then on Monday and on Sunday. "Keeping Them Honest", we'll talk to Paul Begala and Rich Galen also tonight.
COOPER: We have more breaking news tonight about one of the leaders of a home-grown radical group called Revolution Muslim. We've been following them here on 360 for the past few years. They try to recruit new followers on the streets of New York and online.
Well, now a man named Jessie Curtis Morton, who's also known as Younes Abdullah Mohammed who we've interviewed in the past, has been charged with threatening the writers of the television comedy series "South Park". He seemed to believe they insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
In an episode from 2010 the writers portrayed the prophet wearing a bear suit. Because they couldn't actually show the Prophet Mohammed, they -- it was actually a kind of a commentary on censorship and on this whole issue. This is a shot of what angered members of Revolution Muslim.
In an affidavit by an FBI agent supporting the criminal complaint against more than in an interview he gave to Drew Griffin, of CNN's special investigations unit, was actually quoted in the affidavit. Here's part of Drew's original report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: You're commanded to terrorize individuals? MOHAMMED: And the Koran says very clearly in the Arabic language, (INAUDIBLE); this means terrorize them. It's a command from Allah.
GRIFFIN: So you're commanded --
MOHAMMED: To terrorize them.
GRIFFIN: To terrorize anybody?
MOHAMMED: It doesn't mean -- you define terrorism as going and killing an innocent civilian. That's what you're -- I define terrorism as making them fearful, so that they think twice before they go rape your mother or kill your brother or go on to your land and try to steal your resources.
The Koran commands that you disavow and make hate to the non- believing claim democracy, between nationalism, between secularism, and that you see Obama as the enemy he really is. That you see the United States as the enemy it really is.
GRIFFIN: They may seem crazy to you, but you are not their target audience. The FBI has assigned agents to watch them, to monitor their Web site and perhaps more importantly, watch those who are viewing and listening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Drew Griffin joins us now with more on the story. So what exactly is the FBI asserting here?
GRIFFIN: The FBI is asserting that this man actually posted threats on the Web site that we've been covering, Revolution Muslim, threatening the creators of "South Park". And according to the affidavit, the FBI is basing this not just on the postings, but intercepted e-mails and communications that show intent, that is what the FBI is saying, the intent to cause harm to the creators of "South Park".
COOPER: Now, when you interviewed this guy Muhammad, he seemed to go right up to the line of protection under the First Amendment. But he was very careful not to cross it.
GRIFFIN: Yes, almost in an acute way, hiding behind the First Amendment. He thought that he had that First Amendment protection. The FBI told us at the time that he was indeed going right up to the line and not crossing it.
What we didn't know, Anderson, was the FBI was also monitoring his communications with other people involved in that Web site. And they have now brought charges against this man, saying that indeed these were threats made and this is in connection with another case of a guy who is already serving time.
COOPER: And -- but this guy Muhammad hasn't been arrested. Do we know where he is? GRIFFIN: The last I communicated with him he was in Morocco. That was a couple of months ago. We still believe, through our law enforcement sources, that he is in Morocco. And if he is in Morocco, he's somewhat protected because we don't have any extradition treaty with the Moroccan government at the moment.
COOPER: The guy that Muhammad collaborated with on the "South Park" posting, Zachary Chester, he's already been sentenced to 25 years in the case -- 25 years in a different case?
GRIFFIN: It's -- it's resulting in the same case, it involved threats in the "South Park" case but it also included materially supporting a terrorist group namely al Shabab in Somalia.
Zachary Chester is serving 25 years. His postings a little more radical, a little more direct, he even sent out guide -- guidelines on how to capture, beat and terrorize suspects or people, a little more explicit.
This is a little more nuanced case. It's going to be interesting to watch just how this is prosecuted. But again, the FBI clearly making the case in its affidavit, they believe that these were threats made in violation of U.S. code, which says you can't do this using interstate commerce, namely through a Web site.
COOPER: I just also want to remind viewers of what we're talking about. This was a "South Park" episode, and I mean "South Park" has poked fun at everybody, every group. In this episode they were poking fun at Jesus, at Buddha -- if memory serves me correct. I think we have a clip of part of this episode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've done the town a huge favor, Muhammad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on a second, stop. There's some extremists threatening that if we give Muhammad to the celebrities, they're going to bomb us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a stupid threat. Come on, we don't want to piss off Tom Cruise again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The whole idea, from what I remember of showing the bear costume is that because he's the only figure, religious figure who you can't show on television because you don't want to upset groups, that's why he was in the bear costume.
How dangerous do authorities think the group that this guy was associated with has been?
GRIFFIN: Well Anderson, we can tell you from our own research that this site, Revolution Muslim -- and it's now a site that continues to be run, we believe from Morocco -- has attracted a lot of home-grown terrorists. In the past two years, there have been about 30 cases of home-grown terrorism, acts trying to be carried out or plots being made.
We believe like 25 percent, 30 percent of the terror suspects in this country have somehow been linked to this site. It -- it has been a problem for the FBI and they believe that this one site in particular has led to a lot of radicalization here in the U.S.
COOPER: Interesting stuff. Drew Griffin, Drew thanks a lot for the reporting. We'll continue to follow it. Drew has been following this story for us for a long time, this group. Really, before a lot of other folks knew about it.
Coming up next: Sarah Palin taking a shot at -- get this -- what a surprise, the lame stream media for playing gotcha with Newt Gingrich, whose presidential campaign has run into trouble over the last couple of days, you might say. You can decide for yourself if -- if the media is targeting Newt or if in fact Newt is targeting Newt in this particular instance and whether this question that he was asked really was a gotcha question at all.
Later, another blockbuster from Arnold Schwarzenegger, this time the shocker is all about his movie career. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, you would like politicians to stand by their words, even -- if that's what they truly believe when they say those words. Or if they no longer do because they misspoke or gave offense or somehow got it wrong, you would hope they would apologize and take responsibility.
Well tonight, though, presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich seems to be doing a little bit of both and a bit of neither simultaneously after what he said touched off a firestorm inside his own party.
Now, try to stay with me here. He's now saying that he really wasn't saying what everyone thought he was saying and he wasn't really talking about who he clearly was talking about. Yet even he knew he was talking about this guy. He apologized personally to him, but now he's saying, well, it's hard to quite know exactly what he's saying right now.
And in addition to that kind of mind-bending new twist, Sarah Palin is getting into the act and it's still only Thursday. Just four days since Gingrich went on "Meet the Press" and expressed his perfectly reasonable political disagreement with fellow Republican Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or left is a very good way for a free society to operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Sunday on "Meet the Press." When fellow Republicans heard that, a lot of them went ballistic. They -- by Monday, Paul Ryan was saying, quote, "With allies like that, who needs the left?" By Tuesday, Gingrich had called Paul Ryan to apologize but he wasn't exactly owning up either. He was blaming, of course, the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Look, I made two mistakes. First of all, if you go back and listen to the question David Gregory asked me, I should have said I'm not going to answer it. It's a hypothetical baloney question that had no hope of happening.
The second was some of the words I used. But I was trying to say something that's really important. We are at the beginning of a process of solving the entitlement problems in the United States. These are enormous challenges. I believe deeply that the American people have to be an integral part of it. I think that what Paul Ryan has done is he has started that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that was Gingrich on Fox where their team of political pundits has been declaring his campaign dead all day basically.
Two things to keep in mind here, mentioning Paul Ryan by name -- that comes in later -- and calling the Medicare question quote, "hypothetical baloney".
He was a victim in other words of gotcha journalism. In a moment we're going to play you the question and you can decide if it was a gotcha game.
First, though, Sarah Palin who clearly thinks it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: There's got to be the preparation on all the candidate's part for the gotchas. That's what the lame stream media is known for nowadays is the gotcha trip up questions and you just have to be prepared for it and overcome it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sarah Palin on Fox blaming the media for serving up a gotcha and painting Newt as some kind of naive newbie fresh off the turnip truck who's never been on the TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": Welcome back. GINGRICH: Good to be with you David.
GREGORY: This is your 35th appearance on the program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wow, 35 times dating back to the Reagan era. As for the gotcha question, well, you decide. Here is the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Entitlements, the Medicare trust fund and stories that have come out over the weekend is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think the Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare? Turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support so that they can buy private insurance?
GINGRICH: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So is asking about one of the central issues of the campaign in the decade "baloney"? Is it even "hypothetical"? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 235 and the nays are 193. The concurrent resolution is agreed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's a real gavel, a real vote in the non-hypothetical Congress on the real GOP budget containing the real Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare.
Now, Gingrich said that because the Senate won't pass it and the President won't sign it, the question was hypothetical. And you can make up your own mind on that. But today he tried to tell Rush Limbaugh his answer had nothing to do with Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: And by the way it was not a reference to Paul Ryan. There was no reference to Paul Ryan in that answer.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, then what did you apologize to him about?
GINGRICH: Because it was interpreted in a way which was -- which was causing trouble, which he doesn't need or deserve and was causing the House Republicans --
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, Gingrich today talking about his answer to the question about the Ryan plan in the Ryan sponsored budget for which he apologized personally to Paul Ryan.
Now, in a very, very narrow sense, Gingrich is right. He did not mention Paul Ryan by name in his answer. But it's clear from David Gregory's follow-up -- if they weren't already clear from the rest of the conversation -- they're talking about the Ryan plan here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS HOST: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting which is to totally change Medicare.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that -- I think that that's too big a jump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Gingrich kept going. He didn't, for example, stop and say who is this Paul Ryan you speak of? By the way, just two days ago before he was denying he was talking about Paul Ryan, he was practically denying he said anything at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In other words, who are you going to believe, Newt, or that lying videotape of Newt Gingrich?
Lots to talk about with Democratic strategist, Paul Begala; and Republican strategist Rich Galen, who once served as Newt Gingrich's press secretary.
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I did, but if you say that again --
COOPER: It's all right. And Rich, it's Galen. I'm sorry, I think I said Galen. Rich, what do you make of this? I mean how do you -- is his explanation of the explanation, does it make sense?
GALEN: Of course not. This isn't just a rookie mistake. This is a mistake by somebody that's in single-A short season Hagerstown. The whole part of this that you left out was his press secretary then --
COOPER: Well, then -- yes. GALEN: -- blaming everybody on the planet except for themselves.
No, this is -- I think what happened was that they didn't realize how dangerous this was. It took them and day and a half to sort of get their arms around it. And as the thing kept building, Newt kept trying to find new ways to sort of wriggle out of it. Unfortunately as you have done here, and I think fairly, as you have done here when you string all of the -- all of everything he said and where he said it, plus getting a box of lucky charms poured on his head, which he didn't need this week, it's just been a tough week for Newt.
I don't know that the campaign is over. But I'll tell you, Paul, what I would do if I were involved, which I am not, I would say ok, let's get through the rest of the schedule in Iowa, come back to Washington, retool and re-launch this thing and see if we can get it straightened out.
COOPER: Paul, is that the way to go?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I guess. These other explanations are so implausible, maybe you just ask people for a do- over. Maybe he wasn't talking about Paul Ryan, maybe it was Matt Ryan, the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, he's a congressman from the Atlanta area, or maybe Nolan Ryan, the pitcher, Meg Ryan the actress. It's just implausible, and it's really embarrassing.
Newt Gingrich is actually a brilliant guy and, you know, he led his party to a historic land slide in the House of Representatives in 1994. But it's just not 1994 anymore. It's really astonishing to me, I guess, just how intellectually dishonest he's been. He had a position -- it's not my position -- but it's a perfectly credible conservative position. It would be, I guess what I would call, a private option, right?
We have Medicare right now, it's a national system, it's a socialized system of paying for health care, not the care itself. And he was saying we should have an option. Leave traditional Medicare as it is, but let people be able to have an option where they can take a voucher to an insurance company.
That's -- there are even some Democrats, I don't agree with them, who are for that position. But Newt abandoned that position like the devil runs from holy water just as soon as the right wing came after him and then he blamed the press. And Ms. Palin blaming the press.
GALEN: And you know what? Here's the thing that's astonishing. Newt Gingrich having to take political advice from Sarah Palin is maybe the most bizarre thing of the week.
COOPER: It's got to hurt a little bit.
BEGALA: Her idea of a gotcha question, of course, is, "What newspapers do you read, governor?" That was a gotcha question -- COOPER: I mean I don't want to just sort of bash her or anything, but I don't understand the sort of constant reference to gotcha questions when you actually hear the David Gregory question, it's a completely rational question. It's not a trick question.
GALEN: What should have -- I mean, what somebody ought to do tomorrow is ask -- now she'll do it, but ask Mrs. Palin if she actually watched any part of "Meet the Press" or has ever watched any part of "Meet the Press" to see what the question actually was. My guess is she didn't.
BEGALA: And here's where this matters. Sometimes we get off on the silly season in campaign. You remember Barack Obama when he was running said -- he used an old phrase, you can't put lipstick on a pig. And people wrongly said oh, he's talking about Sarah Palin. Of course he wasn't. We sometimes get diverted by these silly gaffes. This is not a silly gaffe.
This is a health care system for tens of millions of Americans. The Republicans, in the words of the "Wall Street Journal", no liberal organ, want to essentially end Medicare and put insurance companies in charge, which will cost seniors more. This is the most important domestic, I think issue, and budgetary issue in front of the country.
GALEN: And it was the issue, remember Paul, that the shut down fight was over --
BEGALA: Right, absolutely.
GALEN: -- looking for a way to reduce the growth of Medicare expenditures. And you and I were on opposite sides of that.
COOPER: So Rich, can Gingrich recover from this?
GALEN: Sure, he can. Four years ago I was one of the geniuses that kept saying that the McCain campaign is over and it was over when he finally accepted the nomination. But yes, he can come back to this.
But what it really did do is it really kind of fed into the, as we like to say now, narrative of Gingrich in whether or not he can -- he can be on message and hold himself in check so that what comes into his head does not automatically come out of his mouth because I think for most people what they are looking for in a president is somebody who can actually sit behind that desk, in that office, and they feel confident that they won't sort of go off on a tangent as Newt did on Sunday.
COOPER: Rich Galen, appreciate your time; Paul Begala, as well.
Coming up: President Obama's speech in the Middle East promising new aid to Egypt, Tunisia, stopping short of calling for the removal of Syria's dictator. I'm going to talk to Richard Haass of the Council of Foreign Relations and Professor Fouad Ajami next.
COOPER: New pictures tonight out of Libya: they show the aftermath of a NATO air strike on the port of Tripoli. What appears to be a tanker there burning. The operation's deputy commander saying that given Gadhafi's escalated use of naval assets against Libyan civilians they now had no choice but to take action. Gadhafi's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim calling the attack a clear attempt to bring the nation to its knees.
He also called President Obama's speech today on the Arab uprising, delusional. The President and the State Department endorsing change, promising new aid to Egypt and Tunisia, criticizing Syria, but not calling for the Syrian dictator's removal or saying that he lost legitimacy.
He's getting the most flak though tonight for making official, long-held but rarely-stated American support for a Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Six-Day war. Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney saying the President threw Israel under the bus. In fact, Mr. Obama said any deal should also include mutually-agreed on land swaps and took pains to underscore America's commitment to Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single them out for criticism in international forums.
But precisely because of our friendship, it's important that we tell the truth. The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. Joining us now: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations; also, Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School in Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution. So Richard, he declared his support for the two-state solution with pre-'67 boarders. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu reacted very quickly, saying those boarders are indefensible. Does it make sense to you why he made this speech?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: To be honest, it doesn't. The big events of this spring are the upheavals in the Arab world. What was to me noticeable about these upheavals is what they were not about. People were not burning Israeli flags. They were not burning American flags. And the President came forward with this speech, which had some different formulations, including the ones about the '67 boarders and so forth. And it's probably enough to put the Israelis on edge.
The felt the speech was, if you will, too much, but from the Arab point of view, you're already hearing that it was too little because there wasn't a follow up. There's no mechanism. There's no process in place for what happens tomorrow. So it might have been one of those speeches that basically left nobody happy.
COOPER: Fouad, do you agree with that?
FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL IN ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, look, when the President began talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was after he said, in conclusion. In conclusion, he turned to this. Fundamentally, this speech was what it was. The President was -- had come forth.
It was really a victory lap, but it was something of a declaration of an American victory after the killing of Osama bin Laden. And something of an attempt on the part of President Obama to catch up with the Arab spring.
He hadn't been a big supporter of this Arab spring. What he ended up doing was, in fact, he claimed Tunisia and Egypt and put Syria -- he left the door open for the Syrians. He cast the Libyan regime adrift. He hedged his bets on Bahrain. So it really was about the Arab spring and the idea of bending the Arab spring to make it serve the interest of the Israeli-Palestinian accommodation. The Israeli-Palestinian matter isn't really very politically brilliant at this time.
COOPER: But I mean by bringing in the whole question of Israel and Palestine, does he overwhelm the talk of the Arab spring?
AJAMI: No. I think fundamentally, look, President Obama he wasn't -- the Arab spring left us all -- we all have to cast a vote. Was this a very important event? Is this what we should sympathize with? Is this -- does this herald the making of a new Arab world?
And the President was slow to act. It wasn't his cause. It wasn't the burning issue for him. So I think this was not a bad speech. It wasn't a brilliant speech. There was nothing lyrical or very compelling about it. It was just an attempt to place American diplomacy in the middle of this event.
COOPER: You think one of the most -- the strongest part of the speech was Bahrain?
COOPER: He was critical -- Richard, he was critical of the regime in Bahrain, even though it's an ally of the United States.
HAASS: Yes, it was critical and (INAUDIBLE) of Saudi Arabia, which, by the way, he never mentioned in the speech.
COOPER: He never mentioned yes.
HAASS: And that to me was the most interesting part. Everything else was pretty predictable, what he said about Syria or Libya, or Egypt, or what have you.
But the criticism of the crackdown in Bahrain put him at odds with an American ally, which is the principal host to the so-called Fifth Fleet, but indirectly put him still at odds with Saudi Arabia. It's his way of saying there has to be a limit, if you will, to our inconsistency. And we can't look the other way of what's going on in Bahrain. And by the way, we don't think what you, Bahrain, and what you Saudis are doing there is in your own long-term self-interest.
He called for resumption of a political dialogue. I don't know if it may be too late to get a serious dialogue underway now, now that we've had the confrontation. That to me was probably in the uprising part of the speech by far, the most noteworthy part.
COOPER: Fouad, you know, I think a lot of -- certainly a lot of people I've been getting e-mails from Syrians who oppose the regime of Assad had hoped that the President would go farther and would say that Assad, Bashir al Assad has no legitimacy or has lost legitimacy. He didn't say that. He basically said he can either start to make changes now and stop killing his own people or get out of the way.
AJAMI: Exactly. He can either lead the process of change or he can get out of the way. But this still represents an improvement of the old American position of several days ago. I did a discussion with you a while ago, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked by Jeffrey Goldberg of the "Atlantic Monthly", would you be sorry to see Bashir al-Assad go? And she gave this remarkable answer, very, very politically, if you really think about it, a very obtuse answer. She said it depends on what replaces it.
So in fact this represented a movement in American diplomacy to speak to Bashir al Assad and to say we know what you're doing in Daraa, we know what you are doing in Damascus, and I think that there was an attempt, if you will, to take American diplomacy in a tougher direction toward the Syrian regime.
COOPER: From a diplomatic effort, Richard, why would you not say this man has lost legitimacy?
HAASS: Because the problem then is if your rhetoric gets that far out in front, the gap between your rhetoric and what you're prepared to do get too large and you create, if you will, something of a Libya situation where your goals are fairly ambitious and your means are constrained.
The President could say Bashir al-Assad has to go. And then everyone's next question is that's fine, Mr. President, but what are you going to do to bring it about? The answer is there's not a lot we can do. We've done sanctions and so forth, we've now added some rhetoric. But at the end of the day, the future is going to be determined on the streets of Syria's cities, not in a speech given by the President of the United States in the State Department.
COOPER: Fouad, how concerned are you about what's going on in Egypt right now?
AJAMI: Fundamentally, this is where the Arab spring crystallizes. This is where it actually yields something, gives hope of a better future, both for Egypt and then points the way for the other Arab nations, because remember, it's in Medan Tahrir, in Liberation Square where you were, where this new Arab spring gained strength.
I'm not frightened that much by what's happening in Egypt, I'm worried by what's happening in Egypt. Look, these people lived under a tyranny for 60 years, when you combine the regimes of Mubarak and Sadat and Nasser. And freedom is difficult and the ways of freedom are very difficult.
If you look at the clashes between the Copts, the Christians of Egypt and the Islamists, these don't bode well. But I think Egypt remains, it's the one Arab country I've studied in depth. This is a country of culture. It's a country of a real genuine sense of forgiveness and forbearance. And I have a feeling that the Egyptians will find their way.
It's not easy for them, because, again, the transition from tyranny to freedom is never easy.
COOPER: Do you agree with that?
HAASS: He's right to be worried. The disconnect or the gap between the pace of political change which is now going quite quickly, and the scale of the economic problems, people should be worried about how Egypt is going to go. That's why I don't like the phrase "Arab Spring". It's too positive and it suggests things are going to happen quickly.
We're looking at years and years of unfolding before we know exactly what the character of Egypt is.
COOPER: Unfolding and uncertainty. Richard Haass, always good to have you on; Fouad Ajami as well, thank you sir.
Coming up, Arnold Schwarzenegger was planning on making a movie comeback, but with the recent revelations about his child with a former housekeeper, does the comeback stand a chance? We have news on that actually.
COOPER: Joe Johns is following some other stories for us tonight; he joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Anderson. The FBI says it wants DNA samples from Unabomber Ted Kaczynski as it tries to crack a famous cold case, the 1982 Tylenol poisoning. Seven people died. Kaczynski is serving a life sentence for a mail bombing spree that killed three people and injured two dozen over two decades.
A "360 Follow" now, federal investigators are looking into what caused a military plane carrying about 150,000 pounds of fuel to crash last night in southern California during takeoff. Amazingly, all three people on board escaped without serious injury.
In West Virginia, an independent investigation has concluded that a reckless disregard for safety by the mining giant Massey Energy caused the worst mining disaster in four decades. 29 miners died in last year's explosion. That's a big Upper Branch Mine. The report calls it a man-made disaster that could have been prevented.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's lawyer says the former California governor is putting his movie comeback on hold while he focuses on personal matters. The announcement comes two days after news broke that he fathered a child with his former housekeeper.
And Princess Beatrice may already have the last laugh. That hat she was mocked for wearing to the royal wedding is on the auction block for charity and the current bid is more than $30,000.
COOPER: Good for her.
JOHNS: That's one of the most amazing hats I've ever seen.
COOPER: Yes. And they don't even call it a hat. What is it called, a fascinator? Is that what they call it? Yes, anyway.
JOHNS: I don't remember. It looks kind of like antlers.
COOPER: It does a little, like antlers. Joe thanks.
Still ahead: students running the classroom, ordering teachers around. But it's not a classroom out of control. It's a new experiment in education. That's ahead.
COOPER: If I say the word "classroom" to you, you would imagine a teacher in front of the blackboard, students at their desks -- the classic setup. So what happens when the kids and teachers trade places? CNN education contributor and high school principal, Steve Perry shows us in this week in "Perry's Principles".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the synapses in my brain connect, then I learn.
Can you guys stand up and do it with us?
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: The students are teaching class today at the Beardsley School; the pupils, their teachers. This role reversal is part of a revolutionary program developed by the National Urban Alliance, or NUA.
How do the teachers respond to having kids tell them how to teach?
ERIC COOPER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN ALLIANCE: They love it, primarily because it really gives them an understanding of the strengths that the students have, as well as where the gaps are that need to be filled in.
PERRY: The training is broken up into two parts. First, an NUA representative leads a session on creative teaching methods for students and teachers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready, set, go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neurons are the brain cells, the brain cells, the brain cells.
PERRY: Then the kids take over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll only give you about two minutes, so go.
PERRY: You're working in some of the lowest performing school districts in the country. What is it that you hope to gain?
YVETTE JACKSON, CEO, NATIONAL URBAN ALLIANCE: It's not just so that the students feel empowered, it's so that the teachers see what unbelievable wealth of potential these students have.
As long as they're given access and the opportunities to say, wait a minute, we can make an investment in this community. We can show you what's important for our learning and you can show us what's important for our learning as well. But we can do this together.
PERRY: Today you guys were teaching. Was that cool?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PERRY: What makes you think you could be a good teacher?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because now I know how the teachers feel, because like they always teach us, so it's good to teach them for a change.
PERRY: Are you building a love affair with the kids in the school?
JACKSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm glad that you said that.
PERRY: And the teachers with kids.
E. COOPER: Why I get so excited, Steve, is because we've seen it happen where kids have turned around and created miracles in the eyes of the teachers.
PERRY: The cost of the program is split between the NUA and participating school districts. More than 250 students in 15 schools across the country have participated so far. The NUA says those student's performance has improved in the classroom and they're currently sponsoring formal research to confirm that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think teachers need to know they should keep on trying and keep on teaching the kids no matter what.
COOPER: It seems like the students and the teachers got a lot out of it. What do you think they did well that really engaged the kids?
PERRY: What the teachers did well was actually sat back and became students and let the students do the teaching. When I watched the students teaching, I actually learned a lot because one of the things I picked up on was that the teachers had the kids sitting too much. The kids, when they were up front, they had the teachers dancing and singing and learning in ways in which they wouldn't typically learn; so, it was very exciting for me to see.
COOPER: Principal Perry, thanks.
PERRY: Thank you.
COOPER: Hey, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow.