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George Zimmerman's Lawyers off the Case; Inside the Santorum Decision

Aired April 10, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone. We begin with the breaking news in the Trayvon Martin killing. A 360 exclusive interview with shooter George Zimmerman's former legal team. As I say former. Today when Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig stepped out to the microphones outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida, some expected George Zimmerman might be there as well. Instead reporters and news viewers around the country got this.


CRAIG SONNER, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: As of now, we're withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman. We've lost contact with him. Up to this point we've had contact every day. He's gone on his own. I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to.


COOPER: Zimmerman, they suggested, had essentially gone rogue, had contacted the special prosecutor's office on his own and is in a fragile condition.


HAL UHRIG, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman in our opinion and from information made available to us is not doing well emotionally, probably suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. We understand from others that he may have lost a lot of weight.

Our concern is for him to do this when he's got a couple of professionals out there working as hard as we were for his benefit to handle it this way suggests that he may not be in complete control of what's going on. We're concerned for his emotional and physical safety.


COOPER: That was Hal Uhrig. Zimmerman, for his part, has said nothing about developments either director, through family or at his Web site which he did update today, writing, quote, "I'm attempting to respond to each and every one of my supporters personally. The support has been overwhelming in volume and strength." Joining me now only on 360 attorney's Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner.

Mr. Uhrig, so why did you decide to speak so publicly about this today?

UHRIG: Well, a couple of reasons. First of all, we want to make it absolutely clear that we're professionals. We've got ethical requirements. We had been asked by Mr. Zimmerman to represent him. We've been in constant communication with him. Even while we're in New York this past weekend. Suddenly on Sunday he went quiet and dark, if you will. We found out on Monday he had set up a Web site on his own without conferring with us.

I couldn't get a hold of him. And then yesterday with the additional developments after we talked to the prosecutor this morning, we learned that he had communicated directly with both another national news network and with the prosecutor's office contrary to our advice, with us unable to get any kind of contact with him at the phone that he was using to talk to them. We couldn't go out in the public and say we still represent him without getting him to come out and confirm it and talk with us.

COOPER: Mr. Sonner, when I first spoke to you a couple of weeks ago, you had not had any meetings with George Zimmerman at that time. And today you reveal you still had not met face to face with George Zimmerman. Did you find that odd that this late in the game you still had not met with your client face to face?

SONNER: No. Because there are many times I represent clients who are out of state or -- and other places. In this case because of the danger that George Zimmerman was in, I understood that he had to stay hidden. And if he came to my office, I mean there were a lot of people coming through. A lot of media and so on. And the -- you know, the Black Panthers had a $10,000 reward on his head. So it made sense that we would only communicate by telephone and e-mail and text. And that worked quite -- that worked fine.

COOPER: So, Mr. Uhrig, were you ever -- I mean officially his attorneys? Had he signed a document saying you were his attorneys? Had you met with family members? His family members?

UHRIG: We had been in communication with family members. In fact, the father went to the bank with Mr. Sonner to set up the bank account which the Web site we put up for his benefit was going to take so that we didn't touch the money. The money would go to a bank account with only his father's name on it. His father was communicative with us. He was communicative with us.

We sent him a written contract. He assured us that he had already signed it and sent it back. We haven't seen it. So in light of all of those things, we felt we had no choice but to publicly let everyone know stop asking us the questions. We don't know any more than you do.

COOPER: Mr. Uhrig, you said Zimmerman -- you said today that George Zimmerman is, quote, "probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder." Is that -- is that ethical to be commenting on his alleged mental state?

UHRIG: Yes, absolutely. It may wind up being a defense. One thing is we're absolutely certain. We're concerned about George and his physical and mental state. And it did not strike us as rational.

And, look, you have every right to hire and fire whoever you want to. But to simply stop communicating with your legal team gives us some pause for concern for how he's doing and it might represent an absolutely normal explanation for what's happening as opposed to simply saying that he's doing something untoward.

COOPER: So was that information you had been told by -- or maybe I should ask this from Mr. Sonner since you were actually with his father. Was that information you had learned from his father or from another family member? Information that George Zimmerman had actually said to you or simply your impression of George Zimmerman is suffering from that mental state?

SONNER: I'm not going to make any comments as to whether -- I mean that's just speculation of what he's going through because of everything that he's endured at this point. But the primary thing was that all of a sudden that things like Hal said, they went dark. He wasn't contacting me anymore. He wasn't calling by phone. He wasn't sending e-mails. He wasn't sending text messages.

And on Saturday I talked with him. There was some little thing we had to -- had to resolve and everything seemed fine on Saturday. Then something happened on Sunday and then of course we learned that there was a Web site that was set up which was fine that he set it up. I had lined up a Web site designer to do it and we'd set up a bank account because I didn't think he was going to be able to do it.

But it was really better that he was able to do it himself. It keeps me from being involved with his money. And that's something lawyers don't want to do is be involved with their -- have their hands too much in their clients' money, contrary to, I guess, what some of the lawyer jokes say. We don't -- you know, we want to keep, you know, the quickest way to get disbarred is to have your hands on -- and get your hands in your clients' money or your clients' trust fund.

So that was -- that was just fantastic with me that he was setting up his own. But he was also making contact with -- I was getting calls from the media saying, well, you know, George Zimmerman has contacted us. Is this really him? I found out from the prosecutor that George Zimmerman had also contacted the prosecutor's office. And --


COOPER: So you feel like you had no control over your client? You had no real influence on your client.

SONNER: We had lost client control because he wasn't returning phone calls. I mean, if it turns out that he was just going through a tough time and he wants us to come back for him, I think that things could be resolved. But at this point it doesn't seem likely as the phone calls aren't being returned. And I don't know where he's going from here.

COOPER: Mr. Uhrig, a friend of George Zimmerman, Frank Taaffe, has come forward saying that he told -- Taaffee had told us that he spoke to Zimmerman yesterday and that Zimmerman was in a, quote, "clear, concise, and lucid."

Would you characterize him as clear, concise, and lucid in your conversations with him?

UHRIG: You know what I -- I didn't see him yesterday and I don't know Mr. Taaffe. What I know is this. I represented thousands of clients over the years. Some clients have become dissatisfied. They know how to use the phone and call me and tell me that, or send me an e-mail me if they don't want to talk to me. Or send me a text message if they don't want to e-mail me.

Under the circumstances of this case, it seemed beyond unusual and we felt like we had an ethical obligation to kind of step aside. We've got nothing against George Zimmerman. We believe in his case. We believe in his innocence. We were prepared to defend him all the way. But we simply cannot defend somebody who won't communicate with us and who is off the reservation talking to people we've advised him not to talk to.

COOPER: You said today that he's much farther away than Florida. Are you sure he's in the United States?

UHRIG: Since he's not within my view right now, I couldn't tell you exactly where he's at. We had some reason to know where he was at some point in time. But I'm not going to start speculating on that. I can tell you this, I don't believe he's a flight risk. I believe as we had promised if he is ever charged which we hope he's not that he'll turn himself in. If he calls us and asks us to participate in that, we'll talk to him about that. If not he can have some other attorney help him.

COOPER: Mr. Sonner, do you -- can you say whether or not with any certainty he's in the United States?

SONNER: No, he's in the United States. I mean I have had phone contact and we talked along the cell phone and so on. And he did reveal what state he was and was -- and where he was, you know, when he was communicating with him -- with me.

As of Sunday and Monday and today's Tuesday, those days I don't know where he is. But I don't believe he's going to leave the country. I mean, he called the prosecutor's office this morning. So I don't think he's -- I don't think he's a flight risk.

COOPER: Craig --

SONNER: I never did think he was a flight risk.

COOPER: Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, I appreciate you both being on the program tonight. Thank you very much. We're going to continue the breaking news coverage. Let's bring in our own legal counsel here, criminal defense attorney, to Mark Geragos, and Jose Baez who's joining us on the phone. Also legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin.

Mark Geragos, as a defense attorney, what was your reaction to this very public withdrawal?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, my god. I -- I'm sitting here, Anderson, and I -- this is just a train wreck of proportions I don't even know where to begin.

COOPER: Explain.

GERAGOS: Well, first of all, I don't understand the people invoking their ethical obligations and then going out and blasting the client which is what they just did. This may be the height of chutzpah for criminal defense lawyers to say we haven't talked to our clients for two days so therefore we're withdrawing. By the way there's no court case filed so there's nothing to withdraw from, number one.

Number two, who are you to be diagnosing your client's mental state when you say you haven't talked to him? I -- this is completely inexplicable. And I thought I was watching a "Saturday Night Live" skit.

COOPER: Is it unusual to you, Mark, that they were never officially retained by Mr. Zimmerman? I mean every time I've hired attorneys, I've got a document pretty quickly to sign saying, or even a real estate agent, a document I sign saying, I am retaining you.

GERAGOS: Well, I -- here in California -- you've got Jose on the line. You could ask Jose. Here in California if it's a retention for over a thousand dollars, the state bar rule is it must be in writing signed by the client. To be out there doing the media tour and bouncing from place to place, and I'm telling you, my tongue is bleeding because I was biting my tongue as I was watching this because I don't like to second guess other lawyers who were in the eye of the storm.

But this frankly is one of the most outrageous things I've ever -- I've ever witnessed. I mean this is really beyond the pail for two lawyers to go out there and say we haven't contacted to him in two days and we felt it was out ethical responsibility to get along the air right now and start blasting him and saying, it may be a potential defense that the guy's got a mental problem. When we're trying to say that he was in reasonable fear for his life when he had shot somebody. I -- this is just the height of absurdity. I don't even know where to begin on this, Anderson. It's ridiculous.

COOPER: Jose Baez, what do you make of this?

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY (via phone): Well, Anderson, first you can't have Mark on before me because he just stole every single word I was about to say. (LAUGHTER)


BAEZ: I think -- I, too, thought I was watching a "Saturday Night Live" skit. I think it's unbelievable that you would get on television and talk about your client's mental state. This was -- what you have here, you have, as an attorney you have an ethical obligation not only to not post attorney/client communications but attorney/client confidences. Things you learned in the process of representing the client are considered confidential.

So any conversation that they had or non-conversations that they had with George Zimmerman are completely protected. And the holder of this privilege is George Zimmerman, not the attorneys. You know, unfortunately, I've seen in central Florida this type of a resignation from -- public resignation from another attorney who I'd rather not name. And I actually think it's reprehensible. Unbelievable.

COOPER: Sunny, when you --

GERAGOS: Jose, Jose, what do they have in the water down there in Florida? I don't understand what they're doing. This is just absolutely the worst thing I think I can remember seeing any lawyer do in regards to their clients. I thought that the -- some of the previous interviews were train wrecks. Those things were toy cars compared to what this is.

COOPER: Well, actually, Jose, let me just ask you about the Florida law. How quickly are you supposed to sign a document retaining counsel?

BAEZ: Now a retainer agreement is not required.


BAEZ: Unlike in other states. It is strongly suggested and certainly it is something that any confident lawyer would do to immediately get a retainer agreement. Especially if you're putting your face, your name in front of a television camera saying that you represent someone that you haven't even met. I think that's highly -- incredibly reckless.

COOPER: Sunny Hostin, you're a former prosecutor. What's your take on this?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, for once Mark Geragos and I agree. Right? And I agree with Jose Baez as well. I've never seen anything like this.

And so, Mark, you had me on this one. But I think as a prosecutor --


HOSTIN: You know, you come -- you're looking at a case. And now I'm worried. I'm worried if I am inclined to bring charges, is George Zimmerman a flight risk? You know can I get to him if I have to issue an arrest warrant?

GERAGOS: Exactly.

HOSTIN: Now maybe my investigation is going a little more quickly. Maybe now I'm going to bring charges a little more quickly. And so this really harms George Zimmerman in the eyes of a prosecutor looking at this case and deciding whether or not to charge.

COOPER: Mark --

GERAGOS: And who are they going to call? They're going to call -- they're going to call these two lawyers now as witnesses as to his mental state as at which -- as Jose aptly described is something that's completely protected by the privilege and they just go out on national TV and say this guy is unhinged and that he's potentially a flight risk?

COOPER: Hey, Mark, Mark, Jose, Sunny, I've just been given a media alert from the office of Angela Corey, the state attorney in Florida who said -- and it says as, I'm reading it as I see it. State Attorney Angela Corey is preparing to release new information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation. Issue notice that within the next 72 hours Miss Corey will hold a news conference regarding the case. The media will receive notification. Doesn't go on to say anything more. What do you make of it?

HOSTIN: No surprise there.

COOPER: So what does that - what does that tell you, Sunny?

HOSTIN: Again, it tells me that she's certainly concerned about this new development. This new development --

COOPER: You think this is in relationship to that development or do you think it's in relation to having and whether or not there's going to be an arrest warrant?

HOSTIN: Look, I very -- you know, it could very well be that the investigation is completed, but it could also very well be that she's watching the media just like everyone else. That she watched that press conference and now she perhaps is concerned about George Zimmerman's safety, about George Zimmerman's mental state, and about whether or not he's going to flee this country and flee the jurisdiction.

COOPER: Mark, do you think this relates to -- what happened today?

GERAGOS: I -- I'm telling you, Sunny, this is one of the few times -- roll the videotape -- that I agree with you wholeheartedly. This is exactly -- it's like you're telegraphing to the prosecutor, I don't have control over this guy. I don't know where he is. He's a flight risk. I don't know -- you're asking, Anderson, great questions. Is he in the country? Guy says well, yes, he's in the country. Except at the same time I'm saying I don't know where he is in Florida.

HOSTIN: And he's not in --


GERAGOS: And I can't get in contact with him.

HOSTIN: But he's probably not in Florida.

GERAGOS: Yes. He's not in Florida, he's somewhere else. Of course she's issuing a statement because of this.

COOPER: Right. And Jose Baez, saying he spoke to the guy on the cell phone --


BAEZ: -- he's a flight risk.

COOPER: Go ahead.

BAEZ: You know, because you have lawyers that are doing something that is ill advised, it still doesn't reflect on whether he's going to do something criminal and become a flight risk. So I would kind of disagree with Sunny on that one. While it is a little -- it would probably raise an eyebrow, it still - it is not any specific evidence of being a flight risk. I don't think that should be held against Mr. Zimmerman.

COOPER: And Mark Geragos, though, if you cannot control your client, if your client is calling the media or calling the prosecutor without meeting with you face to face, without talking to you, don't you as a lawyer kind of want to step down or step back?

GERAGOS: Yes, Anderson. And I've done that. I've been in the exact identical position. You resign. You don't go out and slam him. You don't go out and make some kinds of off-the-court comments about the mental state. You just quietly resign and go on your way. It's not about you. It's not about the lawyer. Your duty as a lawyer is to zealously represent your client. If you can't do it any longer, you resign, get out of the way.

HOSTIN: It happens every day.

GERAGOS: It's not the lawyer's ego.


GERAGOS: It happens every single day.

COOPER: It's a fascinating day, it's a fascinating development as we say within 72 hours the state attorney is going to be giving a press conference, it appears, with some sort of new development in the case. New information in her words. New information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation. There had been talk all week about a possible arrest warrant within the next 48 hours or so. So it seems we'll know something within the next 72.

Sunny Hostin, Mark Geragos, Jose Baez, thank you. Strange day. As always.

A lot more in this at Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, follow me on Twitter at Andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting tonight. What do you think? Was this irresponsible of these attorneys? Talk to me on Twitter right now.

Other big news tonight, Rick Santorum's departure and what it means for Mitt Romney's chances in the fall. We'll talk to Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala and Dana Bash about that, join us next.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" now. A fascinating day. Welcome to the fall campaign. That is how it's looking now with Rick Santorum, the only mathematically plausible challenger to Mitt Romney dropping out of the race today.


RICK SANTORUM, SUSPENDING PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table and against all the odds. And we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.


COOPER: Well, sources say Senator Santorum called Governor Romney before making his announcement. For his part Governor Romney praised his former competitor calling him a worthwhile contender and now a valuable ally.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will continue to have a major role in the Republican Party. And I look forward to his work in helping assure victories for Republicans across the country in November. We've got to get that job done.


COOPER: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich also had praise but promised to keep campaigning. The really math, though, the reality is pretty simple. Mitt Romney now has a clear path to the Republican nomination.

There's new CNN/ORC polling that shows that without Santorum in the race Romney now has a 28-point lead over Newt Gingrich. It appears to be game over for the primaries and as we've already seen for both parties, game on for the general elections.

CNN's Dana Bash is with us tonight, so is GOP strategist Ari Fleischer, Democratic strategist Paul Begala who's currently advising the leading pro-Obama super PAC. John King is going to join us shortly as well.

Dana, it's been obvious for awhile Santorum wasn't going to overtake Romney on delegates. But why drop out now? Was it really about personal considerations or was there something else?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was both. It was personal and political. Let's start with the political. As you said, it has been obvious for some time. But in the near future, what Santorum aides, several of them, who I talked to today said first of all they realize that the next big, big state where they thought that they could win Texas, once that was not going to be winner-take- all, they realized it was going to be very difficult.

Secondly, they tried very hard in different many ways to get Newt Gingrich who has been siphoning conservative votes away from Rick Santorum to get him out of the race. That didn't work. And then third, the Pennsylvania primary coming up. Paul Begala knows Pennsylvania very well and it was going to be tough for Rick Santorum. Their spin is that he was going to win.

I can tell you talking to Santorum advisers privately, they were not sure because Romney was going to spend a lot of money, and then, Anderson, on the personal side, of course, I talked to several people very close to Santorum who said spending a weekend with his 3-year-old daughter in the hospital for the second time in the campaign that put things into perspective big time for him.

COOPER: Yes. Surely our thoughts are with her and with the family on this.

Paul, would you have liked to have seen him stay in the race -- as a Democrat would you like to have seen him stay in the race?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure. Because I do think that -- you know, Santorum had very little money. He had very little staff. He got John Brabender, his chief consultant, absolutely a gifted guy. Terrific guy but sort of Brabender not much in terms of staff or consultants. I don't think he even had a pollster or a headquarters. Headquarters was whatever car he was in. And yet he won 11 primaries. And what he did was he pointed the way. I think, to President Obama to beat Mitt Romney.

COOPER: How so?

BEGALA: Well, don't let him outspend you 16-1 like Romney did in some places. But push on -- two things. Authenticity which Santorum has an abundance and I think many people think Romney lacks. And second, this sort of blue-collar sensibility that even in the Republican Party Rick Santorum brought into the race. And even until -- until Wisconsin, this last major primary, Romney seemed unable to get middle class or lower income even Republicans, those blue-collar Republicans, the Reagan-Democrats, that are essential to a Republican victory. So I think President Obama would do well to push those two issues. Authenticity in the middle class.

COOPER: Ari, a couple of interesting numbers in the "Washington Post"/ABC poll out today. One of them was a slim majority of Republicans didn't want Santorum to leave the race yet. What does that say about how they feel about Mitt Romney or if anything?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, from the very beginning Mitt Romney has had a conservative problem. Here at the end of the Republican primary continues to have a conservative problem yet he won, he won a Republican primary. Republican primaries almost always go to the most conservative guys. But they didn't. And so I think that actually says that Mitt Romney has more of a chance than people give him credit for right now with independents, with moderate voters.

And when it comes to the conservative base that really doesn't quite trust Mitt Romney, Anderson, Paul, Dana, we all know it. They are going to be with Mitt Romney in a powerful way this November because nothing motivates Republicans more than a desire to beat President Obama.

COOPER: Ari, Paul is talking about the importance of reaching out to blue-collar voters and thinking about President Obama has an advantage to that over Mitt Romney. Both, though, are criticized as being not necessarily the most -- I mean they're not sure that the Bill Clinton "I feel your pain" kind of candidates.


FLEISCHER: I think we're heading to an election where both candidates, President Obama ND Mitt Romney, had a lot of trouble with a lot of sectors -- sectors of the electorate. They are both weak. Mitt Romney is emerging from this primary, weaker than a lot of Republicans would have liked him to be. But so, too, is president Obama. The Obama a presidency for three years has taken its toll on President Obama's rating with the American people, with independents.

And as Hillary Clinton, of course, proved in her primary against Barack Obama, the president has a blue-collar problem, working class Americans. He hasn't done anything to get over that, of course, in his presidency. With unemployment so high, he's actually made it worse. So you're going to have one of these races, Anderson, where I don't think it's going to be the most uplifting, loving, positive race that America has seen in a November election.

I think you've got a surly electorate and two candidates. The public doesn't seem fond of either one.

COOPER: Paul is certainly hoping it's not a loving race. I know you like the clash. You like the --


COOPER: But has this race --

BEGALA: This is a bad idea, it's not personal attack.

COOPER: Has this made Romney a better campaigner? BEGALA: No, oddly. Usually it does. It has in the past for other presidential nominees but not for Mitt Romney. And it's because I think he has so wrongly been so freaked out about conservatives. Ari's right. Conservatives were always going to be with the Republican nominee. But what's done is go far and extreme that he was attacking Rick Santorum from the right on contraception.

Rick Santorum is to the right of the Pope on contraception. He was attacking Rick Perry from the right on immigration. These -- Women in Latinos may be the most constituencies in November, and he has pulled himself out of the mainstream to those two vital constituencies making him a weaker candidate for November.

COOPER: Dana, is an endorsement by Santorum for Romney is sure thing? I mean it's got to be happening, right?

BASH: Well, I don't know if we're going to hear the E word come out of Santorum's mouth in the next, you know, several days, but there's no question in talking to Santorum aides and knowing what happened behind the scenes today which is a phone call between Santorum and Romney that he is going to work for Mitt Romney eventually. He might actually formally endorse him. It's certainly would not be surprise. But I just want to be a contrarian a little bit to what Ari and Paul were saying about conservatives.

Of course if somebody is going to go out and vote already, and they're going to be a conservative, they're not going to vote for Barack Obama. The question, though, is whether or not conservative activists are going to turn up their machines to get out the vote for Mitt Romney. And I can tell you talking to leading conservatives today, the answer is no. They're saying that they're going to focus more on the Senate now.

COOPER: All right. We got -- Ari, I see you're shaking your head. But we're out of time. Dana Bash, you know. Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala, thanks very much.

The cease-fire deadline in Syria, well, it came and it went and the Assad military continues its daily attacks. We'll talk to Senator John McCain and Joe Lieberman in just a moment.


COOPER: Keeping them honest. Today was supposed to be the day for the killing to stop in Syria. The day by which Syria's dictator promised to pull troops out of cities and towns and stop murdering its own people.

Well, this apparently is how the Assad regime keeps the promises it makes, shelling today in Homs. Syria's foreign minister says the government has pulled out of some provinces today, clearly not in this section of Homs.

Clearly not elsewhere in the city either, apartment buildings today going up in flames, the bombardment not letting up. As for pulling out, tanks are still on city streets, still firing in residential neighborhoods.

Rolling military operations in population centers is how former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan put it. He's the one that brokered that deal with Syria, the deal that Syria is now violating.

He says weapons haven't been pulled out so much as they've been repositioned, keeping them within killing range of their residential targets. Opposition groups say more than a hundred people have been killed today. We can't verify that.

This video is from yesterday when upwards of 145 people were reportedly killed, 1,100 people died since Assad agreed to stop the killing say opposition figures. More than 9,000 perhaps as many of the 11,000 since this war on Syria's population has begun.

Today at refugee camps just across the border in Turkey, anger boiled over peace keeping efforts. And Secretary Annan, he is under the umbrella there surrounded by camera crews and security. The chanting is people throwing insult at him calling him a liar.

Saying the peace effort was simply giving Assad more time quite literally to kill. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman also toured the camps today on a separate trip than Annan's getting a better reception than Mr. Annan. We spoke by phone.


COOPER: Senator McCain, the Syrian government agreed to withdraw its troops from major cities by today as part of Kofi Annan's peace plan. Has the U.N. been played here? Clearly, they've gone beyond the deadline.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA (via telephone): I think it's very obvious they've been played just like the Arab League proposal that Bashar Al-Assad agreed to before they were played. The fact is, Anderson, that if Bashar Al-Assad withdraws from the city then the protesters obviously takes over and he can't do that. The resistance will take over the cities the moment the tanks and artillery are withdrawn.

COOPER: Senator Lieberman, have we reached the end of the line diplomatically?

SENATOR JOSEPH LEIBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT (via telephone): Well, I think we have. I don't know how many times world leaders are going to have to be deceived, lied to by Assad before they realize that this man can't be trusted.

To me one of the most profoundly troubling parts of the trips that John McCain and I have made these last couple of days is talking to the Syrian opposition to the Free Syrian Army and finding out withstanding all of the sympathetic statements from world leaders, they've gotten zero.

They're running out of ammunition. They don't have bullets and they're being fired at every day. So I think the answer is we've got to arm the Syrian opposition and only when Assad feels threatened by that, that kind of counterattack will he even think about leaving hopefully or going to real negotiations.

COOPER: To those who say well, look, we don't know enough about the opposition. There are, you know, fears of al Qaeda involved. There are fears of extremists involved. What do you say?

LIEBERMAN: Look. We've met with these people. Any of our colleagues in Congress who are troubled because we don't know who they are ought to come over here and meet with them as well.

They're patriots. They're not extremists. And they all said to us if the U.S. and the moderate Arab world don't get involved in helping them, then there will be an opening for al Qaeda and the Islamist extremists. But we can't let that happen.

MCCAIN: Anderson, there's so many things we want to say. But again and you've been showing it night after night, it's not a fair fight. It's not a fair fight. Don't we at some point say enough of the slaughter?

COOPER: The Syrian government is now demanding a written guarantee the opposition is going to lay down their arms. Is that, Senator Lieberman, just another stall tactic by the Assad regime?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I think it is another stall tactic by the Assad regime. You know, you've got to take it in the context of all the broken promises and distractions and delays of Assad. And while he does that, he continues to murder his own people.

COOPER: So Senator McCain, what are you hoping to see in terms of military involvement, in terms of military action? Early on you called for international air strikes, some involvement from the U.S.

That the U.S. is now helping with communications equipment. Other states Qatar, Saudi Arabia are giving funds to the opposition forces. What are you hoping to see?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, the information we have is they haven't gotten anything yet. Second of all, I'm pleased we want to give them communications -- the United States wants to give them communications equipment.

You know, communications equipment doesn't do very well against helicopters, tanks, and artillery. And I understand the reluctance of the American people, but the job of leaders of the American people is to explain why we should do what we can to stop this.

And I think that a sanctuary would be very important. No fly zone. The prime minister of Turkey alluded to it today. I think the world is getting sick of this slaughter and maybe just maybe we're starting some movement in the right direction.

COOPER: Senator Lieberman, there are a lot of Americans who say look, and Senator McCain allude to it who say, look, another military involvement by the U.S. overseas. To them you say what? LIEBERMAN: Well, I say two things. The first is we've got a moral responsibility here. The whole world does. You can't just stand by and watch people being slaughtered.

I mean, hopefully we've progressed some from that point of our world history. The second is everyday that we do nothing, it's not just the Syrian people that suffer. It's Assad that wins and Iran wins.

And if we can help bring down Assad, it's a tremendous strategic victory for us against Iran, but you know, I want to come back --

MCCAIN: Before you go on, could I just add one point to that? There would be no American boots on the ground and this would be a multi-national effort. Go ahead, Joe. I'm sorry.

LIEBERMAN: It's OK. I just want to focus on one thing. In my opinion -- and this is exactly the answer we got from the Syrian National Council, the political leadership, and the Free Syrian Army leadership. They want weapons and ammunitions. They don't want us there. They just want us to give them the opportunity to defend themselves and their families.

COOPER: One thing people in Syria have said to me over and over again when I talk to them on the phone is they are no longer afraid. We've heard that throughout many of these so-called Arab uprisings that there is no going back.

MCCAIN: These are wonderful and brave people who share our values, our rights, and frankly they do look to the United States of America. I'm glad they do. I just hope that we'll give them something that will authenticate their faith and belief in us.

COOPER: Senator McCain, Senator Lieberman, thank you very much.


COOPER: Well, back home, a nightmare scenario. Imagine being adopted and then later in life, looking for birth parents, finding out your father may be one of the most infamous murderers of all time.

Charles Manson, we're going to meet the man who says that's what happened to him.

Plus, the latest on Charles Manson's next parole hearing. We'll talk to the prosecutor putting him away.


COOPER: In Crime and Punishment tonight, the latest parole hearing for Charles Manson, possibly the most notorious murderer of all times. At the California Department of Corrections has released the most recent photos of Manson, which were taken last June.

He's 77 now. His hair is gray. His hair is longer there. The swastika tattoo is still clearly visible on his forehead. His latest hearing is set for tomorrow. He's been denied parole 11 times.

Vincent Bugliosi prosecuted Manson. His followers of the 1969 murders back for Sharon Tate and six others. He wrote about the case in the famous book "Helter Skelter."

I spoke with the author and former prosecutor about his latest parole hearing whether there's any chance at all that Manson will ever go free.


COOPER: You say there's no way Charles Manson will be granted parole, why?

VINCENT BUGLIOSI, PROSECUTED CHARLES MANSON (via telephone): Well, these hearings are just a formality, Anderson. He's had 11 prior hearings. He knows he's going to be automatically rejected and the evidence of that is that he hasn't even shown up at some of these hearings.

One of his co-defendants was only convicted of two murders and the parole board has refused to release her. So why in the world would will they ever dream of releasing Charles Manson who's been convicted of nine murders.

He's the one that orchestrated and master minded all of the Manson family killings. So it's ridiculous to assume that there's even a possibility that he's going to be released.

COOPER: Do you have any doubt he's still a danger to society?

BUGLIOSI: Yes. He's still a danger, of course. Of course, he is. I think he'd be emboldened if he were set free. But even if he were not a danger to society, if justice means anything in America, at a very minimum, he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Some people forget, Anderson, that Manson was originally sentenced to death. I told the jury that if this was not a proper case to have the death penalty, no case ever would be.

Even challenged them and said that if you're unwilling to come back with a verdict of death in this case then we should abolish the death penalty in California. How many people do you have to kill to get the death penalty?

And they did return verdicts of death against him, but as you probably know, Anderson, the very next year in 1972, the California and U.S. Supreme Courts both ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

COOPER: Does it disappoint you as a former prosecutor that he continues to get attention?

BUGLIOSI: Well, yes, because I'll tell you. He, I think, enjoys his notoriety.

COOPER: He enjoys it.

BUGLIOSI: Steep and infamy as it is. You know, after my trial or after my trying him and convicting him, he told me, he said you know Mr. Bugliosi, you haven't achieved anything at all. All you've done is send me back to where I came from.

We have sarcastic conversations back and forth and I said, yes, Charlie but as far as I know you've never been in the green room before. That's the Apple Green Room at San Quentin, the gas chamber. He just smiled.

But the next year listening to the radio and I heard that the Supreme Court of the United States had set aside the death penalty, and the first thought that came into my mind was what Manson had told me. He gets out of prison in 1967, 32 years of age, 17 out of those 32 years had been spent in jail.

So he doesn't mind prison life. He's totally institutionalized. All we do is send him back to where he came from and he doesn't mind it at all. I think he's enjoying himself. And, of course, it's just a tremendously gross violation of the entire notion of justice.

COOPER: Vincent Bugliosi, appreciate your time. Thank you.

BUGLIOSI: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, up close tonight, 43 years after the Manson murders, a lot of people have a dark fascination with that guy. He reportedly has received more mail than any other inmate in the U.S. prison system. What does that say?

One of the men who is correspondent with Manson is different from the others. He says there's a good chance Manson may be his father. Something he was shocked to discover. Miguel Marquez has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live in uncertainty and chaos.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matthew Roberts is a haunted man. Is he the son, the spawn of Charles Manson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like holy hell it does seem like it's more than just possible, but probable.

MARQUEZ: Robert's adopted as an infant had by all accounts a normal childhood in Rockford, Illinois. In 1998 at age 30, he sought out his birth mother over clues living in Wisconsin who told him he was conceived in 1967 in San Francisco where she met Manson at a drug- fuelled orgy.

(on camera): One account I read at that orgy, there were four men present? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's what I understand. Originally, that's what I was kind of looking at, there was about a one in four chance.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Robert says he wasn't convinced his birth mother knew Manson until he began exchanging letters with prisoner B- 33920. In those letters Manson quoted things only his mother would know, stories about her early life.

So sure he is Manson's son, Roberts twice tried to get a DNA match, the test, though, inconclusive. Manson's DNA sample was contaminated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless I see somebody scrape a piece of skin off his ass and bring it to the lab, I want to know.

MARQUEZ: What is not just unmistaken is not just that Roberts looks like Manson. Here are two photos, both in their 30s, a striking resemblance, the eyes, nose, mouth, and forehead. But it is the way Robert speaks and what he says that sounds eerily familiar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because every time you send somebody after me they can't find me because I'm not really there in your minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what goes on in my head. You guys can only guess, but I know what goes on in my head.

MARQUEZ: Even more eerie, the similarities between the two men run deep. Roberts is a militant vegetarian, pacifist and considers himself an environmentalist. Claims also made by Charles Manson.

Roberts move to L.A. in 1986 like Manson, wanted to be famous, a rock star. Robert's band "New Rising Sun" is pure rock and roll. Manson's music more folksy and at times, downright weird.

Today, Roberts pays the bills working in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. He's been accused of cashing in on Manson's notoriety. Roberts says it's anything but.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's ruined by career. It has got me nothing but grief.

MARQUEZ: Roberts just wants to know the truth before the now 77- year-old Manson dies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he is my father then it would be nice to lay eyes on him and be person to person with him once in my life.

MARQUEZ: For now, Matthew Roberts lives with a hope and a fear of knowing who his father is. Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Interesting story.

There is news tonight that's neither dark nor shocking. It's about a hero. The middle school student who took control of his school bus after the driver slumped over at the wheel. Dramatic moments captured on the surveillance camera. The story ahead.


COOPER: Checking with Isha for "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, today, President Obama reiterated his call for higher taxes on wealthy Americans. Making the case on what's called the "Buffett Rule." He argued middle class Americans should not pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes and millionaires and billionaires like Warren Buffett.

The closing bell on Wall Street ended the worst day of trading so far this year. Fear over European debt helped push the Dow 213 points lower.

The cruise ship retracing the path of the "Titanic' was forced to divert its course today. The captain of the "MS Balmoral" pulled closer to shore so the Irish Coast Guard could air lift a sick passenger to safety.

Anderson, a seventh grader in Washington State is being hailed as a hero after grabbing the wheel after his school bus driver lost consciousness. Jeremy Wuitschick feared he wouldn't be able to reach the brake. So he guided the bus to the side of the road and pulled the key from ignition to bring the bus to a stop.


SESAY: Just incredible.

COOPER: Amazing. I hope the driver's OK as well.

SESAY: No word yet on his condition. They said some kind of heart thing. That's what they said.

COOPER: Isha, did you celebrate Dyngus Day?

SESAY: I beg your pardon?

COOPER: Dyngus Day?

SESAY: Dyngus Day?

COOPER: Yes, if you missed out, it's an American tradition we'll tell you about it. We'll be right back. "The Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding anyone who missed out on Dyngus Day. Yes, it's a Dyngus Day. Now I know you probably still haven't written all your Dyngus Day notes or your thank you notes from last year. Here it is again. Dyngus Day isn't some totally fake holiday cooked up like Festivus. Dyngus Day is a real thing. Obscure but real. It's a Polish-American tradition celebrating the end of lent, the day after Easter.

All over the country or in three places that we know of for sure, there were Dyngus Day parades and parties and lots of drinking and dancing rivalry.

Now you could have gotten your Dyngus on in Indiana or in Ohio. But if you really want the most bang for your Dyngus buck, you've got to shuffle off to Buffalo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buffalo calls itself the Dyngus Day capital of the world. It's hard to argue when you see the festivities that break out.


COOPER: Buffalo, the Dyngus Day capital of the world and also the birthplace of the chicken wing, little known fact. They've been celebrating Dyngus Day there since the 1800s. But apparently, it really took off in the 1960s.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It caught on for a number of words. Dyngus, first of all, is a funny word. It's spelled with a y. People don't know what it means.


COOPER: It's funny because it's spelled with a "Y". What does it mean anyway? My new favorite reference spot that would be says, Dyngus can be traced back to a medieval word meaning worthy, proper, or suitable. Here's how you celebrate Dyngus Day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The quirky little rituals include boys sprinkling girls with water and the girls striking back with a tap from a pussy willow branch.


COOPER: I'm not going to let you do this. I'm sorry. It's really so stupid. Come on. This is torture. Just got to let it out. Got to let it out. I know. I know.

It sounds like a bunch of water logged drunk people hitting each other with sticks. But there's the drinking and dancing and more drinking. There isn't no party like a Dyngus Day party because a Dyngus Day party is the most random reason to drink there is. If nothing else, next year it's another excuse to drink if you can't hold out to Cinco De Mayo. You're welcome.

And to the good citizens of Buffalo, wringing out their clothes and tending to their beer and hangover and pussy willow wilts today, happy belated Dyngus Day.

That does it for us. See you again 10:00 one hour from for another edition of 360.