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Interview With Bill Maher; Newt Gingrich Under Fire

Aired June 14, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Newt Gingrich and new questions being raised about how he's made money and how his nonprofit business has raised it and spent it, allegations that the way Mr. Gingrich has set up his various enterprises may have at the least blurred the line separating profit from nonprofit and charity from politics.

Now, since he's been out of public office, Newt Gingrich has built something of an empire. He has a consulting business, a production company which makes films, DVDs, a health policy think tank, a political committee, a Spanish- and English-language news site. Some are nonprofit and some are for-profit.

But, tonight, we're focusing on two businesses, the consulting firm Gingrich Communications and the nonprofit he co-founded called Renewing American Leadership, or ReAL. Gingrich's team denies any wrongdoing. We want to say that from the outset.

Today, a producer for ABC News, which first reported the story, tried to get Gingrich to answer questions about the allegations concerning the relationship between these two organizations. Here's what our cameras picked up this morning. He told the producer he'd get back to her in a minute and then walked away.

Then he went on to make a speech, and then he avoided her. Almost an hour later, we watched as the producer caught up with him outside.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cover the speech. Cover 14 million unemployed.

QUESTION: Sir, I'm just trying to ask you the question.


GINGRICH: I'm trying to tell you...


QUESTION: ... charity that you founded gave $200,000...

GINGRICH: I'm not concerned about that. The American people aren't concerned about that. Try covering the speech.


QUESTION: Are you not concerned about the fact that your charity you founded has given $200,000 to your own company?


COOPER: Well, we too tried to get Mr. Gingrich to talk to us, the campaign telling us he's unavailable today, but released a statement denying any wrongdoing.

So let me try to explain what this is all about, because it's confusing and complex. This is the Web site for a nonprofit organization called Renewing American Leadership, ReAL. Its mission, which is also listed on its federal tax return, is -- quote -- "to preserve America's Judeo-Christian heritage by defending and promoting the four pillars of American civilization, faith, family, freedom and free enterprise."

They ask for donations from people, saying, "We are dedicated to educating, organizing, training and mobilizing people of faith to renew American self-government and America's role in the world."

Now, you look at the Web site today and you will see little mention of Mr. Gingrich outside of some old articles he's written. But we had producer look at some of the pages still in Google archives from the site. This one dated May 21 lists Mr. Gingrich as the charity's co-founder and along with a donate link also has a link at the top to buy one of Gingrich's many books.

Now, until Gingrich began running for president, the site featured pictures of him, more Gingrich books and DVDs. According to ABC News, some of the links were still there as recently as last week.

But the bottom line, Renewing American Leadership, or ReAL, is registered as a charity, a nonprofit taking donations and distributing them for the public good. Yet an audit requested by the state of Virginia reveals -- quote -- "Gingrich Communications, Inc., a company owned by Speaker Newt Gingrich in West Virginia, provided consulted services to manage the operations of ReAL during 2009 and 2010 totaling $144,460 and $76,000 respectively."

In other words, a nonprofit, tax-exempt business co-founded by Newt Gingrich paid a for-profit company nearly owned by Newt Gingrich nearly $250,000. Now, Gingrich Communications says one of their employees, Rick Tyler, was running ReAL at the time, and the payment was made to him for his services.

Now, according to ABC News, those payments were never disclosed on the charity's tax forms. Now, both we and ABC contacted a man named Pastor Jim Garlow, who's taken over the running of ReAL from Gingrich's spokesman, Rick Tyler, when Mr. Gingrich began his presidential run.

Pastor Garlow told ABC News that ReAL had also to pay Gingrich Communications full price for Gingrich books and DVDs that they would then sell. But Gingrich Communications denies that, saying that they got those books and DVDs at cost.

A spokeswoman for the pastor later told us the same thing. Here's how the pastor himself was quoted by ABC. They quote the pastor as saying: "My concern was, is there any way we can get these a whole lot cheaper?" meaning books and DVDs." He goes on, "And we couldn't and we didn't."

Pastor Garlow's spokeswoman told us that -- quote -- that was, in her words, a "misstatement." If so, it's a detail one.

There are other questions about ReAL that are potentially damaging to Newt Gingrich and may even make this a legal case. ReAL's 2009 tax returns show that ReAL spent 86 percent of what it took in, 86 percent on postage and mail service, that is on developing mailing lists and soliciting donations.

Now, add to that what it paid Gingrich Communications to run it and other expenses, and you have got practically nothing left for what its actual stated mission was, no, nothing, critics say, except a mailing list of potential Gingrich supporters. That's what they're saying ended up from this organization. You basically got a list of donors.

Now -- and this is the key -- Gingrich's new campaign spokesman tells us the charity did in fact turn over that list to the campaign. Rick Tyler, who was paid through Gingrich Communications to run ReAL, told ABC the same thing.

Now, if that's true, and if the campaign did not pay for that, that very well might be a violation of federal election law. As for the rest here, what the campaign said in a statement today, "Both ReAL and Gingrich Communications took great care to make sure all resources were being used legally and ethically."

They went on to acknowledge the payments from ReAL to Gingrich Communications were perfectly normal and common practice and that the books were sold at cost with -- quote -- "zero profit by Gingrich Communications or Newt on the sale."

Joining me now is CNN political producer Shannon Travis, who has been reporting on this for us, and also Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

So, Shannon, you were there when Gingrich was first asked about this report today. Did it seem as though he and his team had any idea what these questions were all about or not?


It was a really bizarre exchange when I was there. I say yes because in the beginning, you saw in the video that Speaker Gingrich kind of avoided, kind of brushed off the producer who kept tossing the questions to him. He went over and conferred with an aide. An aide then came back and said, oh, he doesn't know what you're talking about.

But then, moments later, in the last bit of that clip that you played, the speaker said, you know, the American people don't care about that. This is not something they're concerned about.

COOPER: Right.

TRAVIS: So it seemed as if possibly he knew at one point, but then didn't know. So it's really unclear. It was just really a bizarre exchange.

COOPER: All right.

So, Melanie, help me sort through this, because this could all be much ado about nothing. But based on what's been reported here, what do you see? What do you see as the potential problem?

MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: Well, I don't think it's much ado about nothing. I think this is quite a problem for Mr. Gingrich.

Basically, he's got a charity that was set up allegedly for a charitable purpose, but it isn't actually engaging in any charitable activities. Instead, the main purpose of the charity seems to be fund-raising and preparing a mailing list for Newt Gingrich and paying Gingrich Communications money and buying books from Newt Gingrich. So, really, it's about a private benefit.


COOPER: What's wrong of them paying -- if Mr. Tyler from Gingrich Communications was temporarily working for a year or two running ReAL, what's wrong with him earning a salary?

SLOAN: There's nothing wrong with him earning a salary. But they should have listed on the organization's 990 the fact that Gingrich Communications was a related entity to ReAL and that they were in fact paying that money to Gingrich Communications. And neither of those things is included in fact on the 990. Knowing and willful misstatements on your 990 is in fact a crime.

COOPER: For you, is the biggest issue that this charity, which was about promoting Judeo-Christian values and educating people, essentially it's -- if it's true that according to their filing 86 percent I think it was of their costs were for mailing lists, which was essentially getting donors, and then this money that they paid, it doesn't sound like they ended up with much money to actually do much of what they said they were going to do.

SLOAN: Well, I think the pastor admitted that they actually hadn't done any of the things they said they were going to do. That was all what they planned to do.

But, right now, all they were really doing was fund-raising and in fact buying books and C.D.s of Newt Gingrich's. And this brings of course the next problem, which is a pretty serious one in campaign finance world, which is that the mailing list that was created was then given to the Gingrich campaign.

Now, mailing lists, that's a little bit of a murky area of the law. But the fact is, a mailing list can be an in-kind contribution to a campaign. And because the charity is a corporation, a 501(c)(3) corporation, that's banned from making any kind of contributions to the campaign.

So, basically, the mailing list is an in-kind corporate contribution to the Gingrich campaign. And that's prohibited. That's a campaign finance violation.

COOPER: But if Newt Gingrich has been involved in this charity, what is wrong with them handing over a mailing list of people who are like-minded or who like Newt Gingrich or who have donated money to him in the past? You're saying, if they handed that over to Gingrich Communications or to the campaign, without charging them for it, that's a possible violation?

SLOAN: That is a violation, in fact, because the charity is a corporation. Corporations are prohibited from making any contributions to campaigns. So the mailing list would be a contribution to the campaign that violates campaign finance law.

In addition, it's a real problem for the charity to just be giving its assets away to a political organization. This is the kind of mixing of charitable and political organizations that the IRS really frowns upon.

And, of course, Mr. Gingrich should know better, having gotten into so much hot water over such similar kind of activities in the late '90s.

COOPER: Right. And that's, we should say, if it was given. We don't know whether or not they were charged for it. And that's really a critical question.

Shannon, this isn't -- as Melanie just pointed out, this is not first time that the Gingrich camp or Gingrich has found himself facing questions over finances.

TRAVIS: That's right. I mean, there's a question about whether Newt Gingrich has the fire in the belly to run and whether he can actually raise enough money to run for president, whether he's a viable financial candidate.

But, also, we have seen recently in recent days that most of his senior staff just walked out on him last week, that the comments blasting Representative Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal plan didn't earn him a whole lot of fans with a lot of conservatives. I mean, I just can't imagine this coming at a worse time for his campaign, Anderson.


Shannon Travis, I appreciate it.

Melanie Sloan, if -- what is the next step on this? Or is there an organization that actually was going to look into this, beyond reporters?

SLOAN: Oh, well, I feel confident that IRS will take a harder look at this. Again, Mr. Gingrich is a known quantity to the IRS, and they really frown on the mixing of political and campaign activities -- campaign activities and charitable activities. And this charity, which really bears none of the hallmarks of a real charity, doesn't seem to be involved in any real activities, and, in fact, it's sending misleading fund-raisers to people asking for money to help a charity that doesn't have a charitable purpose.

COOPER: Melanie Sloan, we will continue to follow it. Melanie, thank you, Shannon Travis as well.

And how to House Speaker Gingrich and other candidates did at last night's debate through the eyes, well, let's say of a skeptic, a very sharp and funny skeptic at times, Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher."

I spoke to him earlier tonight.


COOPER: So, Bill, you have been pretty hard on the field of GOP candidates so far. I think you said at one point that you have seen -- and I quote -- "more appealing lineups on an episode of 'Law & Order: Special Victim Unit."

Any -- did you change your mind at all after last night's debate?

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": No. Of course it got even worse. It's tough sledding there, as a progressive, as a sane person just to watch that, to see that Republicanism has -- it's really become a religion. And when I say religion, I mean they just have a series of baseless assertions that they cleave to, you know, and it's like, if there was just one sane person in that room to give perspective, but there wasn't.

So you have seven people up there who are all claiming things like, you know, things we know don't work, like reducing taxes will somehow magically increase revenue and, somehow, by keeping the profit motive in the health care system, that's going to solve that problem.

So, you know, it's very hard for someone to watch that debate who is not in that bubble. And I am not in the bubble.

COOPER: If you had to vote for one of them, would you -- is there one you would vote for? Who would you vote for, I mean, if you had to pick?

MAHER: I would vote for Ron Paul if I had to pick. I mean, Ron Paul is at least not a panderer. He's sincere. He's got the right ideas about getting our troops home.

And I like Ron Paul. I think he's cut from a different cloth than the rest of those people, who are, of course, selling their souls to the corporate interests who back them, and who have just horrible, society-killing ideas about America, and either don't know what's real or don't care.

COOPER: What do you mean by society-killing?

MAHER: You know, the -- well, like -- like Tim Pawlenty and every one of them competing for this idea of continually reducing taxes, when we are in the -- on the one hand, they're screaming about how we're in debt, and, on the other hand, the answer is to somehow decrease revenues.

You know, they all act like God created the world in January of 2009, and then Barack Obama completely screwed it up.

COOPER: A lot of people thought Michele Bachmann, who I know you have had some choice words for over the months and years, did well last night. Would you agree?


MAHER: Of course not. She did well by what standard? Because she's able to speak in complete sentences?

Yes, I heard that analysis: Oh, she was very effective. She spoke in short sentences and was good.

You know, I mean, the standards are so low. Let's be honest. We're judging her against Sarah Palin. That's what it is. And, yes, compared to Sarah Palin, she does look better, because Sarah Palin comes off as a complete airhead, like a ditzy housewife, a stewardess, I think I called her in the past, whereas Michele Bachmann actually works. Sarah Palin is not a worker. Obviously, Michele Bachmann, she is a lawyer. She's in Congress. She studies. She gets her facts wrong, but at least she sounds like someone who is a professional in her field.

So, compared to Sarah Palin, yes, big winner...


MAHER: ... which, actually, the big winner was Mitt Romney, because -- I think, because people are getting used to him. And that's what they have to do. At a certain point, a lot of this...


COOPER: Sorry. What did you think of -- how did you think about Newt Gingrich? There was that whole issue of loyalty for potential Muslim appointees came up. How did you think he did, given his problems with his campaign?

MAHER: Well, you know, I noticed at the end, when he was waving, it looked like he was waving to the people who used to run his campaign, good bye.


MAHER: Look, Newt Gingrich, I said a long time ago, has this reputation as, somehow, he's the professor in the Republican Party. He's the idea man.

No, he's a nut. And I think people are now coming around to this, that, just because he says things that are out of the box doesn't mean they're smart or clever or -- or workable. What is this you're referring to? Because I may have missed this part of the debate.


COOPER: He said -- oh, we actually have the sound bite. Let's just play that.


GINGRICH: We did this -- we did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists. And it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.


COOPER: He was talking about sort of special interviews for Muslim appointees to a government, based on Herman Cain's statement.

MAHER: Right.

Well, you know, Newt never misses an opportunity to bring the Nazis into it. He compared Obama to the Nazis at one point. He said his administration was more dangerous and more of a threat to us than the Nazis or the Soviet Union.

So, when Newt starts trotting out the Nazis, you really can't put a lot of money on that.


COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. In part two of our conversation with Bill Maher, we're going to talk about Anthony Weiner, notably this:


JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS: Are you as passionate in the sack as you are about politics?



COOPER: Him and Jane Lynch reading out the text.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will try to be tweeting some tonight. Also ahead tonight, our first look inside Syria. The regime doesn't want us there, won't allow CNN. But CNN found a way inside and uncovered a horror story the Syrian government is creating for its own people. CNN takes you across the border into a Syrian refugee camp.

First, let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, drama and tears in the Casey Anthony murder trial, her mother, little Caylee's grandmother, breaking down as she testified again, and what she whispered to her daughter as she got down from the stand. You will also hear from Casey's former defense attorney who quit on her, yet still makes a powerful case for her ex-client -- that and much more just ahead on 360.


COOPER: Part two now of my conversation with Bill Maher, host of "Real Time" on HBO. And though a proclaimed progressive, he has a lot to say these days about Democrats, namely Anthony Weiner and his sexting scandal.


MAHER: In a world of politicians doing everything from having babies with the maid, leaving their wives on their deathbeds, and hiking the Appalachian Trail, you're guilty of the most humiliating indiscretion of all: You didn't get any.


MAHER: Talk about Democrats being ineffectual.



COOPER: More now on my conversation with Bill Maher.


COOPER: So, Bill, Anthony Weiner has provided you with lots and lots of material recently. I don't know if you have been praying to the comedy gods for this.

But I just want to play a bit of a dramatic reading you did with Jane Lynch, who I'm a huge fan of. We can only play a bit, and -- because it's difficult to play the whole thing, because you're actually just -- you're reading the text of the tweets that Anthony Weiner and various women sent back and forth. So let's play that.


MAHER: Ridiculous bulge in my shorts now. Want to see?

LYNCH: Yes. Can you send a pic? I want to sit on your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) so bad right now.


MAHER: Geez, I'm rushing. Let me take a quick pic.

LYNCH: Awesome. How do I get it? Right here?

MAHER: It won't go away, and now I'm taking pics of it, making me (EXPLETIVE DELETED) still.

LYNCH: So hot. You're making me (EXPLETIVE DELETED) again.

MAHER: Geez, I have to go. I will hit you later.

LYNCH: You get your ass to work and save my country from these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Republicans.




COOPER: We had to bleep out some of that.

That -- as you were saying before the break, that's one of those moments you're happy you're on HBO.

MAHER: Yes, that's a wonderful thing about HBO is, we can do things once in awhile that come down the pike that absolutely nobody else can do.

And I think people -- I have to reiterate that is the verbatim text. We were not ad-libbing in any way. We were doing a dramatic reading. But that is his -- Anthony Weiner's exchange with that blackjack dealer in Las Vegas.

COOPER: Do you think he should resign?

MAHER: And thank God he's in rehab, Anderson.

At this point, yes, not because I think he did anything so incredibly awful. Dick Cheney used to go out and shoot birds by the hundreds that were like in a cage. To me, that's a lot more psychotic than anything Anthony Weiner ever did. But the point is, this is America. We have to live in reality.


COOPER: Dick Cheney wasn't shooting birds in a cage. He was hunting.

MAHER: He was not hunting, Anderson. There's a difference between hunting, which I'm not a big fan of either, and when you go out into this controlled situation, where they -- I forget what they do to the birds, but they do something where they can't fly. They can't -- it's the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

And, yes, look it up. That's what he did.

COOPER: All right.

MAHER: He shot and killed an incredible number of birds for absolutely no reason than a bloodlust.


COOPER: But if you don't think it's so bad, what Weiner did, why do you think he should resign?

MAHER: Because people won't let it go. Because you're asking me about it. Because, until he resigns -- this is how it works in America. When you do something unspeakable, you know, like be horny, you have to go away.

Then he can come back. But until he goes away, they're not going to let it go and it's going to be a huge distraction. I mean, the Democrats were sort of on a roll when this happened, and it completely threw them off their game and changed the subject.

For the good of the party, which means, in my view, the good of the country, he needs to go away right now, let it calm down. Nobody's going to leave him alone until he does. And then -- then the story will be a comeback, which America also loves. Go to rehab, whatever that is. I'm kind of with Charlie Sheen on that one. It's just a hotel you go to for a week where somebody says, you were a bad person, how do you feel, until you nod and they let you go home.

But then when he's -- in a year or two, people will forget about it, because there will be eight other scandals that will happen in the intervening time. And people will kind of forget. These things come quickly and they go quickly. A year from now, people will be like, what did Weiner do? It was something with his penis. I can't remember. Whatever.

And then he can come back. People love both stories. But, first, you have to go away. Yes, he has to go away.

COOPER: It's interesting, because Nancy Pelosi has now called for him to resign. But it's the first person she's actually called for that on the Democratic side. She's never, like, "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, who was found with I think it was $10,000 in his freezer down in New Orleans, she never called for him to step down, Traficant.

MAHER: Right.

COOPER: There are others who have done things, Charlie Rangel, and she's never called for anybody, but she has called for Weiner to resign.

MAHER: You can never really figure out the rhyme or reason why somebody has to go and somebody can stay. As many people have brought up, why did David Vitter -- why does David Vitter continue to serve? He was calling prostitutes from his cell phone in the Senate. Bill Clinton toughed it out. It's completely arbitrary. I mean, Newt Gingrich cheated on his wife while she had cancer, same thing as John Edwards did. John Edwards is the worst person who ever lived. Newt Gingrich gets to run for president.

Your hair will go even grayer, Anderson, if you keep trying to figure out why someone has to go or why someone is allowed to stay.

COOPER: And very briefly, I just want to get your take on Tracy Morgan. Were you surprised by what he said, offended by it? Has he done the right thing in apologizing?

MAHER: Well, you know, it's -- again, it's like the "Weiner going into rehab" thing. In this country, you know, nobody can ever just make a mistake and then we move on. We have to beat them down.

Look, I mean, was it the smartest thing to say? No. But it was a joke. America, especially liberals, have this pie-in-the-sky idea that, somehow, all minorities are sympathetic to each other, so how could a black guy say something about gays? Shouldn't they both know about oppression?

Well, no. I mean, the gay marriage thing out here in California was defeated because black churches, black churches. As much as anybody, they do not like gay marriage. And they have a thing because they're very big on the Bible and all that stuff, that, you know, it's just a wrong thing to do to be a homosexual. So, we should probably get real with that reality first.

COOPER: Bill Maher, it's always good to talk to you. Bill, thanks.

MAHER: You, too.


COOPER: One quick correction on something I said. When I asked about former Congressman "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, I said authorities found $10,000 in his freezer. I stand corrected. It was $90,000.

Still ahead: the heartbreaking scene Syria does not want you to see tonight, what our Arwa Damon found at a refugee camp inside Syria, terrified Syrian refugees literally trembling with fear.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's so scared, that, as she's talking, her hands just keep shaking uncontrollably. You can hear her voice quivering as well. And it's just -- the trauma of what she's seen and what she was talking about is just so evident.


COOPER: Also tonight, Casey Anthony's mom taking the stand again in the murder trial people are lining up in droves to watch, pushing each other to watch. See what caused Cindy Anthony to break down in sobs today. And we will tell you what she whispered to her daughter in court today.


COOPER: Tonight a 360 dispatch, Syrian officials don't want you to see. They continue to refuse our requests for visas while the military keeps slaughtering civilians. The images are gruesome, but we think it's important to show what is happening there, the truth of it.

This video was reportedly shot in Daraa where peaceful demonstrators were mowed down by bullets last month. We can't independently confirm the authenticity of the video, but Amnesty International says it believes more than 1,000 people, including 82 kids, have been killed since the crackdown started in mid-March.

Here's another video. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)


COOPER: This was reportedly shot on Friday in Latakia. It allegedly shows protesters taking cover behind a wall. Obviously, you can hear the gunfire. Again, we can't see for ourselves. Witnesses on the ground risking their lives to talk to us have described the Syrian military relentlessly advancing against citizens who are now fleeing their homes and in some cases racing for safety.

Remarkably, Arwa Damon, our reporter, was able to get inside Syria today, despite the country's efforts to keep reporters out. At great personal risk to herself, I should point out, she was able to reach a refugee camp inside Syria where she heard first hand what the refugees are fleeing.

Tonight she's back in Turkey about 15 miles from the border. She joins us now. Arwa, you spoke to one refugee who fled Latakia on Friday, reportedly the site of at least six deaths on just that day alone. I just want to play that for our viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day, when we have the protestors in the street, military and the army come to them and kill them in front of our eyes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Our house, we had a window. And the window, they're shooting the window with fire. If I am sleeping under the window, I will lose myself and I will die. We all go down to the kitchen, and we sneak to the kitchen on our stomach.

DAMON: You had to sneak into the kitchen on your stomach?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. I come here. The circumstance is so difficult. I'm pregnant. I cannot be here with such things. I have a nervous breakdown. Why our president? Why our president killing us? And killing our brothers and sisters and take them to the prisons? Why? I just want to ask him this question.


COOPER: Did she say the security forces were targeting people in particular? Anyone in particular? Or was it just kind of indiscriminate killing?

DAMON: Well, Anderson, she was pretty much saying that it was, in fact, indiscriminate shooting. And she was also describing how last Friday -- and this was really the final straw for her -- she saw a lawyer who was from her neighborhood killed in front of her very eyes. She said he was just heading out of his house. He was not part of the demonstrations, not part of the protest. He was, in fact, going to meet his sister when he was shot. And she was describing how she saw the blood dripping out of the vehicle, out of the side of the door.

And that is when she and her family realized that they had no choice but to leave, because she's an English literature major. She's 22 years old. She has an entire future in front of her. She says that they have a right to ask for freedom. But given the way the government is responding to the population's requests for this basic right, she had no choice but to flee her hometown.

COOPER: Arwa, you took a big gamble crossing into Syria. The government obviously has been keeping journalists out. What else did you find there? What else surprised you?

DAMON: You know, Anderson, the condition that these refugees crowded in this camp are living in are truly, truly dismal. It's been raining, for example, for the last few days up until, in fact, this morning. And all they have for shelter are these flimsy little pieces of tarp that they've strung in between trees. They have -- the bud. The children, the heat, their filth. They're washing in this river that's dirty. The man who set up this makeshift pharmacy there is telling us that he's running out of medicine, that there's diseases that are spreading. The children are getting sick.

They're relying on the Turkish villagers right across the border to bring across -- sneak across bread and other basic supplies. That's how they're able to eat.

And then the horror stories that they're telling of what they had to flee. Stories about Syrian military torching their farm lands, killing their livestock. Many narrowly escaped, people fleeing at the last minute as they say security forces were bombarding their areas.

And then, Anderson, there's also this ever-growing fear that the military is inching even closer. They have a number of spotters out in the hills, saying that every single day the Syrian military comes that much closer to those refugees right on the border.

COOPER: Arwa Damon, stay safe. Be careful out there. Appreciate what you did today. Thank you.

We're following other stories tonight. Isha Sesay joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin." Isha, what are your thoughts?

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, House Speaker John Boehner said today that the president could be in violation of the War Powers Act if Congress doesn't approve U.S. military involvement in Libya by Sunday. At the same time, the House has demanded an explanation from Mr. Obama by Friday. There's word today that an explanation is being prepared.

Meanwhile, the president made a whirlwind five-hour visit to Puerto Rico today. The rare trip could have political implications. Four million islanders are U.S. citizens but can't vote in presidential elections, though five million Puerto Ricans here in the U.S. can.

The Federal Reserve chairman has issued a strong warning to Republicans about the debt ceiling. Ben Bernanke praised them for trying to cut spending but says not raising the ceiling could hurt the credit rating of the U.S. and damage financial markets.

And the housekeeper who had Schwarzenegger's baby has broken her silence. Patricia Baena told British magazine "Hello" that she and the former California governor never spoke about their son. She also said that Maria Shriver thought the boy was Arnold's and that, when she confronted Baena, they cried together.

Anderson, she also goes on to say that she didn't realize that it was Schwarzenegger's son until he grew older and started to resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger.

COOPER: She sold that story to a British paper?

SESAY: She did. And it says on the "Hello" Web site, looking at the pictures here, she says that they are claiming that it will be her one and only interview.

COOPER: Interesting. Isha appreciate it.

Time for "The Shot." We take you down under to Australia with a little lesson on what not to do when you meet the Dalai Lama. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop. Pizza? Yes, pizza -- pizza shop and says, can you make me one with everything?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what I mean? Can you make me one with everything? DALAI LAMA: Oh. That's clearly impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that wouldn't work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He laughed over the fact that it didn't work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't know what pizza was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know that a joke's in trouble if you've got a translator off to the side every couple of words.



SESAY: It's so bad it's making my mascara run. So embarrassing.

COOPER: I mean, kudos to that guy, the anchor, for actually putting his embarrassing moment on TV. I think a lot of people would just kind of bury that and make sure that tape doesn't exist and get on YouTube. But to his own credit he was able to acknowledge that what he did was about just painful.

SESAY: No, not to his own credit. He told a stupid joke to the Dalai Lama.

COOPER: Well, yes -- no, of course there's that. But at least he, you know, admitted it and sort of, you know, showed up his embarrassment.

SESAY: I'm dying for him. Let's just say that.

COOPER: Yes. I feel bad for the Dalai Lama when the Dalai Lama's, like, asking for the translation on pizza?

SESAY: He's like "one with everything?"

COOPER: Yes. And you know what's sad is it took me, like, a minute to get the joke.

SESAY: No, it didn't.

COOPER: I promise you. I was sitting there thinking, why would he want a pizza with everything on it?

SESAY: Now I'm cringing for you.

COOPER: Yes, I know. I know, it's sad. There are so many sad layers it's like peeling an onion.

SESAY: And on we go.

COOPER: On we go. Yes, we'll be right back. Back to the serious stuff when we come back.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, the Casey Anthony trial. Accused, of course, of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The prosecution says it's going to wind up its case tomorrow. The defense should start on Thursday.

The star witness today, a tattoo artist who says Casey came into his shop just weeks after Caylee disappeared for a tattoo that's raised a lot of eyebrows ever since. Remember, at the time she got the tattoo, her daughter had vanished.

Also on the stand for a second time, Caylee's grandmother, who burst into tears when the prosecution showed her a photo of Caylee wearing a shirt reading "Big trouble comes in small packages."

Gary Tuchman was in the courtroom today and has the latest developments.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On July 2, 2008, two weeks and two days after Caylee Anthony disappeared, never to be seen alive again, her mother Casey walked into this man's shop.

BOBBY WILLIAMS, TATTOO ARTIST: She came in to get tattooed.

TUCHMAN: It was this tattoo shop in Orlando. Bobby Williams, tattoo artist, is a crucial prosecution witness because of this testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask her what she wanted done?

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir. "Bella vita" in a feminine type font.

TUCHMAN: "Bella vita" means "beautiful life" in Italian. A "beautiful life" tattoo is what Casey asked for just 16 days after she says her daughter accidentally drowned. She's pleaded not guilty to what the prosecution called a cold, calculated murder.

Was she sad, solemn or serious when she got the tattoo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you describe her demeanor?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean?

WILLIAMS: Didn't seem upset about anything. Pretty happy for the most part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she immediately leave the store?

WILLIAMS: No, sir. We ended up ordering pizza. And she actually had a couple slices.

TUCHMAN: The prosecution is hoping to paint a picture of a callous young woman, using examples like the tattoo and this picture, already shown to the jury. It shows Casey in a hot body contest, just four days after Caylee disappeared.

So how does the defense plan to explain away the "beautiful life" tattoo? By trying to convince the jury that it was done to honor her dead daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it customary in your business that people get tattoos to remember their loved ones that are passed?

WILLIAMS: They do, yes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Potential problem with that defense, though, is that the tattoo artist testified that later Casey Anthony said she wanted another tattoo and made an appointment to do so, saying this time she would bring Caylee with her.


TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, Casey's mother took the stand for a second time and testified she had not seen Caylee's Winnie the Pooh blanket for weeks before her disappearance. The blanket was found with Caylee's body.

Casey Anthony looked at her mother vacantly during the testimony. And when Cindy Anthony walked off the stand, it appeared she mouthed the words "I love you "to her daughter, who looked away.


TUCHMAN: So the big question is, will Casey Anthony testify? Well, I talked to one of the defense attorneys today, Chaney Mason. I asked him this question. I said, have you made the decision about whether she'll testify, figuring that's a question he might answer. He said to me, "If we made the decision I'm not telling you," which means one of two things. One they don't want to show their poker hand. Or, two they haven't decided themselves.

But either way, Anderson, if she does testify, and it could happen as early as this Thursday, it will be a television spectacle.

COOPER: For more on what today's emotional testimony and what we can expect as the prosecution rests its case, joining us now is Paul Henderson, a former prosecutor in San Francisco, and Andrea Lyons, who's a law professor at DePaw University and was Casey Anthony's lead attorney earlier.

Andrea, as I said you're a former member of Casey's defense team.


COOPER: You think she's innocent? Why?

LYONS: Well, because I believe that she didn't commit the crime based on some things that I'm still obligated not to talk about. But also because there is no real proof that there was even a murder at all.

COOPER: Andrea, let me ask you, though, we have seen just a litany of lies that Casey Anthony has told.

LYONS: That's right.

COOPER: And being a liar does not make you a murderer. And I'm not equating the two. But it certainly goes to her credibility.

LYONS: Absolutely. It absolutely does.

COOPER: And now as the defense is taking over, what do they have to do? What do you think the defense -- I mean, are they now going to be hitting this -- I assume they're going to be trying to bolster their argument that -- that she is an abused -- that she's a victim herself of past childhood abuse?

LYONS: Well, you know, that is what the opening statement said. And of course, I'm not in the defense team anymore, and I'm not privy to what they intend to prove or how they intend to prove it.

There's a difference between thinking that it was a homicide and proving that it was a homicide. There's a difference between finding her behavior aberrant, abhorrent or otherwise, you know, despicable. You know, I'm a mother. If my daughter were missing for 31 seconds, let alone 31 days, I would lose my mind. But I'm not this particular person.

And there's a difference between that and carrying the burden of proof. And the way that this case has been tried is it's been tried based on her negative character, you know, that she -- that the sexually, you know, suggestive pictures of her with another young woman and, you know, that she likes to party and that, you know and her behavior is inappropriate. And nobody's going to argue that her behavior is appropriate. But there's a difference between that and a premeditated, planned, first degree murder.

COOPER: Isn't that the way, Powell, that the case has maybe been tried in the media? And a lot of people have paid attention to the photos and her behavior afterward? But in terms of going on in court we've seen a lot of the lies and the inconsistency in her story, and we've heard a lot about evidence.

PAUL HENDERSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: That's exactly it. It's layer after layer.

LYONS: And all those photos.

HENDERSON: It's not one thing. It's all the photos. It's all the inconsistent statements. It's all the behavior that you're seeing. It's all of the lies. It's all of the evidence associated with the body. It all adds up.

But if you look at the entire picture, and that's what we're going to be asking the jury to do, we're going to ask them to look and evaluate all of the evidence that's being presented to them so all of the inconsistent statements.

The road that they're building is that this is a person who has consistently lied about this incident. She certainly didn't tell much of the truth about what was going on with her daughter, and then lo and behold the daughter isn't just missing; the daughter is dead. And she's not just dead. The experts are saying that the daughter was murdered.

And regarding the murder, the story that the mother told doesn't look like it's very true based on the evidence, based on the facts that have been presented to the jury. And you couple with her behavior while the daughter was missing, it all just leads to the same conclusion, that this is a person that is guilty of wrongdoing. And I believe that this evidence is going to show that she was guilty of murder.

COOPER: Paul, do you think that Casey Anthony will take the stand?

HENDERSON: I think if she's going to go with that defense, she's going to have to take the stand, because she's going to have to sell it. It's not selling well, especially in light of all of the lies and inconsistencies that have been told in the past.

And while, you know, I'm aware that people are worked up about this case, people have a visceral reaction when there's a case like this, regardless of whether it's in the media or not, because this is, you know, one of our most vulnerable victims in society. It's a little girl that trusted her mother and ended up dead.

LYONS: Agreed.

COOPER: Andrea, though, putting her on the stand, huge risk with that.

LYONS: Well, that's the problem, is you know -- I mean, as a defense attorney, one of the hardest decisions always, no matter what the circumstances is, is whether to put your client on the stand.

HENDERSON: Absolutely.

LYONS: Because if you do, all the rest of the evidence just falls away. You know, it all comes down to do we believe the defendant or not? Do we like the defendant or not?

COOPER: Andrea Lyons, I appreciate your perspective. Paul Henderson, as well. Thanks.

HENDERSON: Thanks for having us.

LYONS: You're welcome.


COOPER: Coming up later tonight, allegations that a non-profit charity co-founded by presidential candidate Newt Gingrich paid cash for one of his for profit companies, "Keeping Them Honest."

Hugh Hefner's 25-year-old fiancee has a change of heart, calls off the wedding. Tonight, the runaway bride is on our "RidicuList."


COOPER: All right. Time for "The RidicuList." And tonight we had a June bride that was not to be. Crystal Harris, the 25-year-old fiancee of 85-year-old "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner.

We learned today that Crystal Harris has called off the couple's wedding, which had been scheduled for this Saturday at the Playboy mansion. Mr. Hefner tweeted that Crystal had a, quote, "change of heart." In other news, an 85-year-old man knows how to tweet.

Look, Crystal, relationships aren't easy. I mean, some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant. Of course, for most people that's just an expression.

I don't mean to be tough on you, but really, what's the problem here? Hef is a multimillionaire. He certainly knows his way around the female body.

Sure, even though these days he may be a little bit slower rounding first base, but who wouldn't want to leave their wedding reception riding side saddle on a scooter festooned with pasties and orthopedic slippers?

Obviously, though, Crystal, you felt otherwise. And I'm sorry. I just don't get it. I have no idea what could have killed the romance. All I can think of is there must have been some negative force lingering in your house.


I mean, we have CNN playing all the time at our house.


COOPER: Yes. Whatever happen we know it started off like any other fairy tale between an elderly erotica kingpin and a woman young enough to be his daughter -- I mean, his granddaughter. I mean, his great-granddaughter.

Hef proposed by hiding a ring inside a music box that played Crystal's favorite song, the theme from "The Little Mermaid." Regardless, as we learned recently, theirs was a classic love story.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": What happens to all the other women in the mansion?

CRYSTAL HARRIS, FORMER FIANCEE OF HUGH HEFNER: They still come around. Every weekend. Everyone's there.


COOPER: Sweet mother of penicillin. Here we go.


MORGAN: But they're not allowed anymore to partake?

HARRIS: They're not allowed upstairs, no, no.


COOPER: Look, Crystal, it's nerve-wracking. We understand, even a marriage as a cross between "Cocoon" and "Girls Gone Wild" -- is for the long haul. Maybe it's just one of those situations where the enormity of it all hits you all of a sudden. But to walk away from Hef so soon before the big day? I mean, he was already rehearsing his vows.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To avoid long-term injury seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours.


COOPER: And Crystal, this life you're walking away from, it's paradise. Everyone knows it is. You know it, I know it. The twins that Hef was consecutively dating while he dated you? They know it. Even the local radio station knows it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, it's legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaire's Disease, and it was found in a water source at the Playboy mansion. They also say that other bacteria or viruses have not been ruled out.


COOPER: And Crystal, I just hope this is about more than you two fighting over the remote. I totally get that you want to watch the Kardashians and Hef wants to watch reruns of "Murder, She Wrote," but you've got to look at the big picture here.

You're not just walking away from a mansion that may or may not have Legionnaire's Disease. You're walking away from an 85-year-old man who will love and support you, provided, of course, that it doesn't conflict with his naps. And if that isn't good enough, just remember: he's vowed that he's only up for an orgy if you are. That's a wedding present you're not going to find anywhere else, except maybe on "The RidicuList."

We'll be right back.