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Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Grows; John Edwards Trial Begins; Interview With Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

Aired April 23, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight with breaking news in the Secret Service prostitution scandal. We've now got a face to go with it. This is the Colombian prostitute -- she calls herself an escort -- at the center of it all.

She's the one who says she confronted a Secret Service agent over her fee after a night of sex at the Cartagena hotel.

That quarrel over the price of her services has now landed two dozens Secret Services members and military personnel in trouble. It is 24 now. That's a -- because a 12th military member is under investigation. He was part of a group that provides the White House with secure communications when the president travels. Six Secret Services members have been forced out of the agency. More departures could be on the way. All starting with an argument in the hallway of a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia.

And that's where we find CNN's Drew Griffin now.

Drew, we're now seeing this woman. You've been down there all weekend. What have you learned? What's the latest?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This woman, her name is Dania Suarez, 24 years old, Anderson. Single mother of a young son. The young son goes to school. She herself goes to English-speaking class. We went to the apartment where she lives. It's down a dirt alley, but it's a middle class neighborhood, a gated community.

Her neighbors were -- quite frankly they were stunned that this was the woman involved with this scandal. They called her a model citizen of her gated community and had no idea actually how she made a living. But they do say that this woman that they saw in their local newspaper is the woman who lived in the apartment.

A couple of days ago somebody came to that apartment, removed some suitcases. She has not been seen at her home since this news broke -- Anderson.

COOPER: What do we know about what took place that night?

GRIFFIN: There's rumors flying all over Cartagena. And that's because there's been no official explanation from the police here, no police report that we could get our hands on. So we are getting our information from hotel security staff, one member of the staff, and a cab driver. Both of them would not go on camera. The cab driver says that he is the one who drove Dania Suarez back to that apartment we just showed you after this event.

He says that what she re-laid to him was that there was this dispute in the hotel. She was locked out of the hotel room after this man would not pay either the money she was asking or any money. She had police intervened, Colombian Police, in that hallway trying to reach some sort of settlement. And it was during this negotiation period that other Secret Service agents came out of their rooms, pooled their money together, and gave this money to the woman, enough to basically get rid of her.

The agent who hired her, I guess you would have to say, would not come out of that room. So that is how this whole thing began. It was just an argument over pay. She did not get what she wanted and she demanded payment.

COOPER: There's also now reports she's trying to sell her story. Is that true?

GRIFFIN: Reports only. We've been trying to reach her attorney, his name is Marlon Betancourt. He has not been answering his calls. We know that he is the attorney from associates in his office. They wouldn't confirm or deny that she is trying to sell it. Rumor is -- well, there's speculation anywhere from $40,000 to $25,000 is being asked. But again we have not had any direct contact with either woman, Ms. Suarez, or her attorney involved in this so we can't confirm that for sure -- Anderson.

COOPER: And how common is prostitution in Cartagena?

GRIFFIN: It's known for it, quite frankly. The sex tourist trade here is very popular.

And I can tell you just from being here the last three or four days, if you walk anywhere at night near a nightclub or in the old city where a lot of these nightclubs are, you're going to be approached just about on every corner, a young man asking you if you're looking for a chica, if you're looking for girls, and pointing you to backdoors here and there in the old city where you could find what you're looking for is what they have told us.

We also know that a lot of single scantily clad women hang out in the discotheque to Candela where these Secret Service men were partying. It's very common here. Not shocking at all to the Colombians that Americans were looking for and finding sex.

What's shocking to Colombians, quite frankly, Anderson, is what's shocking to the U.S. is that these men assigned to protect the president of the United States were out bringing carousing and bringing prostitutes back to their hotel room just before the president's arrival? Possibly opening the door for a security breach. The White House insists there was no security breach. But certainly opened door for that possibility.

COOPER: And then to argue over a price, I mean, it just seems so monumentally stupid at the very least.

GRIFFIN: It would be nice to get the facts of what the price was. We've heard that she was, quote-unquote, going to charge $800. That seems like an outrageous price. The going rate here is anywhere from $100 to $200.

I'm beginning to wonder if there was a communication error. But certainly it's going to be hard to understand or have this Secret Service agent, once he's identified, explain to not only his family and his friends but the other Secret Service agents that were involved, just what the heck were you thinking when you decided you weren't going to pay this woman?

COOPER: Drew, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

A shocker today in the Trayvon Martin case. Late this afternoon just hours after the city of Sanford announced a separation agreement with the police chief, Bill Lee, that included his offer to resign, Sanford City Commission voted to not accept it.

Now, this is the same city commissioner, remember, that recently voted no confidence in the handling of the investigation. Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplet called for an outside investigation saying he's neither ready for the chief, Chief Lee, to return nor ready to show him the door. Now others were more outspoken.


PATTY MAHANY, SANFORD, FLORIDA CITY COMMISSIONER: Chief Lee is paying for the sins of past police officers. His police chiefs. He has been here --


MAHANY: He has been in office 10 months. How do you steer a boat that big, Mr. Mayor? How do you steer a boat in 10 months to a complete turnaround? You don't.


COOPER: City Commissioner Mahany also saying -- quote -- "I do not feel that Sanford needs healing." And quote, "You think I'm a racist? Bring it on," end quote.

Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump had this to say -- quote -- "If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help the start of healing process in the Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward."

Now all of this on a day that began at 12: 05 a. m. with the shooter George Zimmerman making bail leaving the Seminole County Jail. That's him on the left, obviously. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, accompanied by his bail bondsman. Their destination obviously unknown. This could be the last we see of George Zimmerman for awhile. His attorney today entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

I spoke with Mark O'Mara late this afternoon.


COOPER: So, Mark, your client was released after making bail around midnight last night. How is he doing?

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: He's doing well. He's very glad to be out. Trying to get settled in, still worried about his safety, but, you know, talking to his family and feeling much better than being in.

COOPER: There were reports he'd received death threats, that he was wearing even a bulletproof vest as he -- as he left the jail. It looks like he's wearing a vest. Can you confirm that?

O'MARA: He was. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and he has received threats through the Internet. There's been a lot of chatter lately about his release. And that's concerning him and us.

COOPER: Is he under police protection now?

O'MARA: Actually, no. Police protected him while he was in jail. While in Seminole County. But he's sort of on his own with his own protection at this point.

COOPER: So I obviously can't reveal where he is nor would you, can you say if he is in the state of Florida and if he plans to remain in the state?

O'MARA: Really couldn't say. We have actually several locations that we're going to be sort of moving him from just to make sure that we maintain his safety and security.

COOPER: And how is that being paid for? Is that money raised from the Web site that he set up? Or -- how is that being paid for?

O'MARA: Actually, that's from the family. We've not raised any money or at least I haven't removed any money from whatever accounts are out there. We really haven't gained control of them yet. Will at some point take the time to do that. But whatever money may be it still is.

COOPER: Do you know how much money has been raised by that Web site he set up?

O'MARA: I got a note from somebody who seems to have control over one that says there was $700 or $800 in it. I have heard from another that's a couple of thousand dollars in one. I don't know who's monitoring them or who's handling them or if anyone is taking any money out. I don't think so, but just haven't taken that on yet with everything else that's going on.

COOPER: And how are you communicating with him? Are you -- in person or over the phone? O'MARA: Over the phone. He's not here.

COOPER: Right. During his bond hearing on Friday, Zimmerman apologized to the Martin family. I spoke to some of the -- to Benjamin Crump that night, Martin family attorney, who called the apology self-serving. Whose idea was it to apologize?

O'MARA: Yes. Well, it was George's idea to want to apologize. I tried to coordinate it. I communicated with the family a couple of times to say that he wanted to do it privately and confidentially. Those communications weren't responded to directly so I was a bit frustrated.

I now understand better the Martin family position which is that I guess there was a press release within which they said they didn't want to have the apology now. I was never made aware of that. I think it was Thursday night. By the time Friday came around, we made the final decision to have him do the apology. Had I known, had George known the family would not have accepted it or didn't want it, we never would have done it.

The suggestion that it was, you know, to get a bond just isn't accurate. We were getting a bond with or without the apology. It was done solely upon the request of mom, Ms. Fulton, in a previous appearance she had made.

COOPER: A number of legal analysts who watched the proceedings on Friday were very critical of the prosecution and their performance. In fact, Mark Geragos on my program called it abysmal. I just want to play some of -- something from last week's hearing for our viewers.


O'MARA: Do you know who started the fight?


O'MARA: Right.


O'MARA: Do you have any evidence that supports who may have started the fight?



COOPER: I think a lot of people were surprised that the prosecution's investigator has no idea who started the altercation. Do you think the prosecution came off as unprepared?

O'MARA: Well, it was a bit unique to handle a bond motion in this way, to in effect turn it into somewhat of a discovery process.

So in one sense, they may not have been prepared for examination. On the other hand he is the agent so he would know the case seemingly as best as anyone. And I think he was telling the truth. I think today they have no evidence as to who started the fight. And no evidence to contradict George's position that he was going back towards the car. And those are two very, very relevant facts in this case particularly with the second-degree murder charge.

COOPER: After what you saw the prosecution on Friday, are you more confident, or less confident, or about the same in your case?

O'MARA: I'm going to be very conservative. And I'm no more or less confident, I guess the same. They have not shown me their discovery. I'm sure they have a lot more than I was able to sort of glean from the examination of the investigator. So there's a lot more to go through.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

O'MARA: Sure thing.


COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about the case. We're on Facebook, Google+, you can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. Be tweeting in the hour ahead.

Also tonight, the White House saying it is out of bounds, but the issue of Mitt Romney's Mormon family heritage is raised by a leading Democratic governor. Romney's faith itself is questioned by students at a conservative Christian university.

We'll take you to Mexico for the true story of Romney's ancestry and we'll talk with the governor who brought it up next.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" tonight. A couple of questions. First, to what degree will Mitt Romney's Mormon faith be a factor in the campaign? And second, to what degree is it fair game?

Today Liberty University took down the Facebook announcement that Governor Romney would be commencement speaker there because it attracted some anti-Mormon comments, some from the evangelical student body. And recently Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, touched a nerve. He was talking about swing states and asked about Governor Romney trying to appeal to Latino voters.

He was saying Governor Romney would have a hard time appealing to Hispanic voters, telling the Daily Beast that since Governor Romney's father was born in Mexico -- quote -- "It's kind of ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico. But then he'd have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico."

Women, Governor Schweitzer went on to say are -- quote -- "great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy." He went on to say, "I'm not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of a polygamy lifestyle but his father was born into a polygamy commune in Mexico."

Now in a moment Gary Tuchman is going to visit the Romneys of Mexico so you can see for yourself what's what. We're going to also talk with Governor Schweitzer and Ralph Reed. But first here's how Governor Romney responded.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad's dad was not a polygamist. My dad grew up in a family with a mom and a dad and a few brothers and one sister. They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life there from what I understand. And then when he was, I think, 5 or 6 years old, there was revolution in Mexico. They escaped. My dad had a very tough upbringing.


COOPER: Again, Governor Schweitzer is with us tonight right after this from Gary Tuchman in Mexico.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 200 miles south of the U.S. border, through desperate poverty, and some of the most treacherous drug cartel turf in Mexico, it looks like a mirage, homes that make it feel like you made a wrong turn somewhere. And it's here where we find --




TUCHMAN: This is the town of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, the home of the Romneys of Mexico.

KENT ROMNEY: Mitt and I share the same great grandfather. Miles Park.

KELLY ROMNEY: He's a second cousin.

TUCHMAN: There are about 40 members of the Romney family here. Most of them seem to be successful farmers and business people. They are part of the roughly 500 Mormons in this tiny town. Where a gleaming Mormon temple was bit not long ago by the Mormon Church. And where Mormons and non-Mormons alike go to the beautiful and well- equipped Mormon school.

(on camera): You love this country?


TUCHMAN: This is your home?

MEREDITH ROMNEY: It is my home. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Kelly, Kent, and Mitt Romney's great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, is buried in this Mormon ceremony in the nearby town of Colonia Dublan where he moved with his large family in 1885.

(on camera): He had four wives and he moved here and he basically started this family tree that exists to this day. KELLY ROMNEY: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Many of the Mormons who came here in the 19th century arrived to escape religious persecution in the United States. But many of the men came with multiple wives. So while there was concern about persecution, there was also concern about prosecution.

(voice-over): There was no such concern in Mexico. Even though the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also known as the LDS Church got rid of polygamy in 1890, Mexico was at that time remained a polygamy haven.

(on camera): My question for you is, is there any polygamy still here?

KELLY ROMNEY: No. There's no polygamy in this area at all. No.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mitt Romney does mention his family connection to this place on some occasion.

MITT ROMNEY: I'm not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico.

TUCHMAN: But Romney leaves out a lot. Either preferring not to talk about it or not knowing about parts of it. For example, Romney is certainly the only U.S. presidential candidate who has a relative kidnapped at gunpoint by a Mexican gang.

MEREDITH ROMNEY: They hit me in the head with the pistol. And I start walking back towards my grandson because, you know, I was worried about him. And they hit me over the head again said get in, get in. So when I figured it was me they wanted, I didn't resist. I just got in the truck. They handcuffed my hands behind me. And off we went.

TUCHMAN: For days Meredith was blindfolded in a cave. The Mexican Romneys paid a ransom to get him back.

(on camera): Were you afraid, though, they were going to kill you?

MEREDITH ROMNEY: At first, at first, I was but I really -- I don't know. I was at peace all the time.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mitt Romney also hasn't mentioned or doesn't know his cousin's differences in opinion about his hard line stance on Mexican immigration. Kelly Romney's view --

KELLY ROMNEY: I would say, tear that fence down, start working with Mexican officials on trying to come to a common ground and a solution.

TUCHMAN: Kent Romney's view --

KENT ROMNEY: Now I support building a fence. I support bringing troops on the border if necessary. TUCHMAN: But the views of the Mexican Romneys for the most part more similar than not. Particularly when it comes to their LDS religion.

KELLY ROMNEY: I guess being LDS, yes, I think that God would be pleased with Mitt Romney being president of the United States.

TUCHMAN: Most of the Mexican Romneys ranch and work in peach and apple orchards for a living. they have never met their famous cousin and think it would be wonderful if he would pay a visit to see where his father, grandfather and great grandfather lived.

(on camera): If you had 10 seconds with him, what would you say?

KENT ROMNEY: That's a great question. I would say give it all you got, Mitt, we're behind you.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And that's one more not so surprising fact about the Romneys of Mexico. Mitt Romney has their support for the White House.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Colonia Juarez, Mexico.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer, and Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Governor Schweitzer, thanks for being here.

So you raised a lot of eyebrows in this comment to The Daily Beast saying that Mitt Romney's family comes from a polygamous commune in Mexico. Is that fair game?

I mean, is that fair to talk about?

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Well, people took it way off-base.

I didn't say anything about any religion. As you mentioned earlier, someone mentioned earlier, the Mormon religion hasn't accepted polygamy in 120 years. And as I have said before, Mitt Romney or his family that I know of doesn't except polygamy today.

The concern is that he took far right turns during the primary, including with immigration. His opponents were criticizing him because he was saying that if you're an 85-year-old grandmother and you didn't have all of your I's dotted, your T's crossed, and you're now a great grandmother in the United States, then you should self- deport. You should go back to where you came from. COOPER: But in this interview you mentioned like six or seven times that his family came from a -- his father was born into a polygamy commune in Mexico. Repeatedly mentioning that -- I mean, it was Mitt Romney's great grandfather who I guess practiced polygamy in the 1800s. Is that fair to raise?


SCHWEITZER: I don't -- I don't --

COOPER: Because Democrats were outraged when people were taking about President Obama's grandfather or great grandfather.

SCHWEITZER: People are taking this far away from where I was discussing. I was saying that Mitt Romney currently has a problem with Latino voters. And it is ironic that his father had come from Mexico. You would think that he could embrace his Latino roots.

COOPER: But you were saying that he was having a woman problem because -- and he doesn't want to talk about the fact -- the Mexico fact because of the polygamy connection.

SCHWEITZER: He both has a gender gap and he has a Latino gap. Probably wider than anybody who's run for president in recent years. So the point is how can he reach to the middle? I mean, now he's won the primary for all intents and purposes. Now he'd like to get those Latino voters back? How does he do it? Or he'd like to get the gender gap to close. How does he do it?

COOPER: Ralph Reed, do you -- you know, to the governor's original comment, do you think he has a woman problem or talking about this -- or a problem talking about his father's ancestry in Mexico because of polygamy, a history of polygamy?

RALPH REED, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: No, not at all. And in fact Governor Romney has already brought it up during the course of the campaign. You showed the clip. I would point out that in the current Pew Research survey that Romney has already closed the gender gap to 13 points, which is only five points from where it was when George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 over Al Gore.

And I think really the Obama campaign has repudiated these comments. I think it ought to be off-limits. I think it's equally irrelevant, by the way, that David Maraniss, the award-winning biographer who has a forthcoming biography on Obama, documents that his great grandfather had five wives. His grandfather had four wives.

You know, this is the silly season. I mean, we've got 13 million Americans out of work, Anderson. We've got another seven million who've given up looking for work because they can't find a job. And we're tweeting out photos of people's dogs and talking about what happened in Mexico in 1907.

And, you know, the governor has every right to stand by his remarks. But I would just say they were not welcomed by the Obama campaign and I personally as a person of faith as well as a civic participant just think we shouldn't be talking about this.

COOPER: Governor?

SCHWEITZER: Well, of course we didn't talk about religion. I have made it very clear that Mormons do not believe in polygamy. That Mitt Romney does not believe in polygamy. This is a question about what does he do with the Latino vote.

COOPER: Do you regret, though, giving this interview where you did mention polygamy six or seven times?

SCHWEITZER: Well, how many times I mentioned in an interview, I can't -- I can't tell you. I'm asked questions by a reporter just the way you're asking right now. You've probably asked me about three or four times in this interview. The point I'm making is that there's a wide disparity between voters who are Latino voting for Mitt Romney or voting for the other candidate.

It would be -- you know, think about it. If you're running for office and your family came from a certain country and there's a large number of those people who would be voting, you'd think that you would be able to embrace it. Maybe you'd even go down to where you came from --

COOPER: He has talked about it a number of -- a number of times.

SCHWEITZER: And maybe even run ads with some of your relatives.

REED: Governor, Governor, he has brought it up. And as Anderson pointed out, you weren't just talking about Latino voters. When you brought up the polygamy issue in the interview, unprompted, you said that that would -- was a problem for the gender gap. You said 86 percent of women oppose polygamy. By the way, I think that's an understatement. I think it's -- I think it's closer to 100 percent.

But whatever the issue is, why bring this up? And when you bring up something like this and then -- and then the Obama campaign is saying he's weird and they're saying he's secretive, this looks like, whatever your motive or intention was, it looks like a deliberate attempt to engage in a whispered campaign to turn voters off from Romney because of his faith.

SCHWEITZER: Well, good luck, cowboy. You were -- you are trying to assess motives. I'm simply laying out the question of how Mitt Romney is going to get that gender gap and also he's got a problem with Latino voters. Those are the two areas that he's having the great difficulty --


COOPER: So you stand by the comments? You don't regret --

SCHWEITZER: Yes. I wasn't talking about anybody's religion. And in fact, in my comments I simply said that Mitt Romney is not a polygamist, doesn't support polygamy and neither does the Mormon Church. So there are people like Ralph who'd like to take it some place where I didn't take it. But if they'd like to go there, that's their business. I'm not going there.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Governor Schweitzer, appreciate it.

Ralph Reed, appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you.

John Edwards arrived in court today with his oldest daughter Cate at his side. One day -- or the first of his criminal trial, he's accused of using campaign funds to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter during his second presidential run, some big problems, maybe, for the prosecution case today.

Joe Johns was in the courtroom, joins me next.


COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment," former presidential candidate and U.S. senator John Edwards arrived in federal court today with his eldest daughter, Kate, at his side. This was day one of his criminal trial in charges related to money dealings in his second failed presidential campaign.

Edwards is facing six felony and misdemeanor charges and up to 30 years in prison if convicted. He refused a plea deal.

Joe Johns was in the courtroom today. Joins me now. Joe, pretty dramatic day in the court.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Anderson. Today we had testimony, the first testimony from a guy named Andrew Young who was a North Carolina advance man for John Edwards. Very close to him. So close, in fact, he wrote a tell-all book about his relationship with John Edwards and John Edwards' relationship with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, the woman who bore his child out of wedlock.

Well, we also learned in the courtroom just before Andrew Young took the stand that the judge had information that Young had reached out and tried to contact and did contact three witnesses on the defense witness list. Among them, a woman he had allegedly had a one- night stand with in 2007.

Of course, this is the kind of thing you would expect to come up in a cross-examination, and a lot of people are expecting that. Because this is the kind of information that is typically used to discredit a witness, which would be very important for the defense of John Edwards.


JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER SENATOR: God bless you. Thank you for being here.

JOHNS (voice-over): Once a rising star in the Democratic Party, he was an all-American golden boy. A family man reaching for the ultimate political prize.

J. EDWARDS: I am the candidate for president of the United States that is the people's candidate.

JOHNS: A successful former trial lawyer, John Edwards is now in for the trial of his life, charged with violating federal campaign finance laws which brings a stiff sentence: 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if found guilty.

And it all started with this woman, Rielle Hunter. Edwards hired her to shoot Webisodes, casual online videos of the senator, aimed at furthering his presidential ambitions. But it quickly became apparent to insiders that she was more than just a filmmaker to Edwards.


J. EDWARDS: I like it. Wait till you hear me give it live.

JOHNS: Immediately those close to Edwards suspected an affair. In 2007, a tabloid exposed his relationship with Hunter, shocking the nation, but Edwards become a near serial denier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you were running for president you flat-out denied having a relationship with Rielle Hunter. Did you give me a truthful answer? Were you telling the truth then?


JOHNS: Edwards' closest aide, Andrew Young, would help keep Hunter under wraps and would even claim he fathered the child as reporters closed in on the truth. Eventually, Edwards admitted personal failure.

J. EDWARDS: There's no question that I've done wrong. And I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I've caused to others.

JOHNS: Federal prosecutors have accused the 58-year-old of orchestrating a massive cover-up with loyal and wealthy campaign donors paying to hide his then-pregnant mistress.

Once a prominent politician preaching "two Americas," Edwards himself was living two lives. He had fathered a daughter with Hunter while his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was dying of cancer.

After 33 years of marriage, the couple separated in early 2010. In July of that year, just five months before her death, she spoke to Larry King.

LARRY KING, FORMER HOST, CNN'S "LARRY KING LIVE": You don't look in the mirror and say, "What do I do wrong?"

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, FORMER WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: No. Do I do it occasionally? Of course I do. But I think it's important for me to understand that I didn't do anything wrong. Not just important for me but important also for my children to understand that what -- the mother they saw, the wife that they saw trying to support her husband in his quest, in his dreams.

JOHNS: In 2011 the government indicted Edwards on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign finance laws. The prosecution's two star witnesses -- Andrew Young and Rielle Hunter -- both have immunity. Hunter is also on the defense team's witness list.

Edwards has spent the last year preparing for his trial and undergoing heart surgery.

J. EDWARDS: I did not break the law, and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.

JOHNS: And that's the crux of the case. Whether the gifts from Edwards' wealthy benefactors, including hotels, houses, cars and medical expenses for Hunter, were personal or political in nature.

The former senator has always maintained that his friends were helping him out of a fix.

But no matter what the outcome, it is the ultimate fall from grace for a once-adored son of the south.


COOPER: Joining me now is CNN producer Raelyn Johnson, who's been covering John Edwards since 2007. She was embedded with his campaign as an author/reporter in 2008 and during that time asked him twice about the affair. Also, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here, as well.

It's bad news for the prosecution, Jeff, that their star witness apparently, according to the judge, contacted three other witnesses to find out what they were going to be saying. This is incredible.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is a bizarre case and that is a certainly bizarre way to open it. I mean...

COOPER: What was that guy thinking?

TOOBIN: Beats the heck out of me. I mean, he will certainly be asked to explain it. If the prosecution is smart, they'll bring it out on direct examination so he'll have a chance to do it in a sympathetic environment. But you can be sure the defense will pound that among many other things during cross-examination.

COOPER: What do you think of this case?

TOOBIN: It's a weird case. I mean, he is obviously a much- reviled figure. There's no doubt about that. But the specific charges are odd.

Basically, the idea that these hundreds of thousands of dollars were campaign contributions, it doesn't feel that way. I mean, it's just an odd way of prosecuting someone, that this somehow is a campaign violation. Also, a potential bombshell is the argument the defense raised today, that Andrew Young, who served as sort of the bag man, actually took several hundred thousand dollars of this money and used it for his own devices. Which again, I think, would hurt the prosecution's case a lot if it turns out to be true.

COOPER: And I had him on the show a long time ago, and he denies that categorically, that he used that money.

Raelyn, we actually heard your voice in Joe Johns' piece there, asking John Edwards about the affair, back when you covered his presidential campaign. You were in the courtroom today. What was his demeanor like, Edwards?

RAELYN JOHNSON, CNN PRODUCER: Well, I have to say he was a bit nervous. But John Edwards has been expecting this day for a long time.

He came in, sat at his desk and had a little bit of water. And instantly, I noticed that he was a little red in the face a bit. And then he was flushed and he was fine.

But most importantly, which I thought was very, you know, telling of him, is that he still had the same clothes that he wore on the campaign. The same suit, the same shoes, the tie. But the only thing that was missing was the sort of pin he used to wear to commemorate his son, Wade. That was gone. And for me to see that, I thought, OK, this is not John Edwards the politician. This is the man who's a defendant today.

COOPER: Jeff, what is this case going to boil down to?

TOOBIN: It's going to boil down to what the jury believes this money was.

COOPER: So this is money that big campaign contributors -- Bunny Mellon.

TOOBIN: Bunny Mellon, the 101-year-old heiress in Virginia. And Fred Baron, a trial attorney in Texas, who has since died, neither of whom will be witnesses. Another weird thing about the case. The people who gave the money will not be witnesses. And what they -- the jury believes this was. And what did Edwards think it was.

COOPER: So if it was money for campaign contributions...

TOOBIN: Then he's guilty.

COOPER: But if it was money just to help him cover this up...

TOOBIN: Then he's innocent.

COOPER: Or to help him get through a tough bind.

TOOBIN: Correct. That's what it comes down to. Weirdly, the facts of the case are not that much in dispute. What's in dispute is what was in John Edwards' head. What did he think this money was for?

COOPER: All right. Raelyn, in terms of -- I mean, you were covering this. At the time -- I mean, just looking back on it, it is just extraordinary, Raelyn, to think this was a guy who was running for president and was doing all this stuff on the side. I mean, it -- still to this day boggles my mind.

JOHNSON: I know. It's very hard to understand. And I think that -- I asked him twice about the affair. The first time I asked him when "The National Enquirer" story broke in October. And then I asked him about six months later in the summer.

And I only asked him because, at that point, he was legitimately being considered, at least he was in the press circles, for being a vice-presidential candidate. He even wanted to be attorney general. And so I asked him, knowing -- knowing what I knew, but also to say look, you know, you're obviously not running for president anymore. But if you're going to be a vice-presidential candidate or the attorney general, there are certain qualities you have to have, like honesty.


JOHNSON: And do you possess those qualities, given what might have happened? And he lied again and said that he was telling me the truth six months ago.

COOPER: So the extraordinary thing is, even when he gave his confessional interview to ABC News to Bob Woodruff, he was still lying. He still didn't really fully come clean. Anyway...

TOOBIN: If he takes the stand, all that video -- Raelyn's questions, Bob Woodruff's questions, all going to be played for the jury.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thanks.

Raelyn Johnson, thanks.

For 14 years, the man on the right, Matthew Roberts, has struggled with a haunting question. Is the man on the left, Charles Manson, his father? Tonight he has an answer after DNA tests that we arranged. That's next on the program.


COOPER: We recently told you about a man haunted by the possibility that he could be the son of a monster. The man on the left is Charles Manson, the notorious murderer. The man on the right is Matthew Roberts. You can see a resemblance. It's pretty striking.

Fourteen years ago Roberts, who was adopted as an infant, tracked down his biological mother, and what she told him stunned him. It raised the very real possibility that Manson was, in fact, his father. Roberts tried to uncover the truth on his own but didn't get far. So we recently arranged for DNA testing to answer the question once and for all, the question he struggled with for so long.

To get the truth, however, we needed the help of someone else, Manson's grandson. Here's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jason Freeman, Charles Manson's grandson, is speaking out for the first time.

JASON FREEMAN, CHARLES MANSON'S GRANDSON: I'm coming out to bury his name. You know, I'm burying it. I broke the third-generation curse.

MARQUEZ: The curse, which began when Charles Manson directed his followers, called the Manson Family, to carry out horrific murders. Today this member of the real Manson Family says enough.

FREEMAN: I am who I am. You know? I'm not something that he was.

MARQUEZ: The second part of the curse, Jason Freeman's father, Charles Manson Jr., in 1993 put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

FREEMAN: He just couldn't let it go. He couldn't live it down. He couldn't live down who his father was.

MARQUEZ: Jason barely knew his father, who changed his name to Jay White. He believes he stayed away purposely, trying to protect him from his family's history.

(on camera) And your father? What would you want him to know now?

FREEMAN: What I want him to know is just that he missed out on a lot. Yes.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Charles Manson Jr., aka Jay White, missed out on grandchildren. Jason and his wife Audrey are raising three boys in Dover, Ohio.

FREEMAN: I see my kids, you know. And that's kind of why I get shook up at it, because I would hate to see them, you know, grow up without a father. That's important. Very important.

MARQUEZ: Jason still has feelings for a father he never met. It is the same primal instinct driving this man.

MATTHEW ROBERTS, ADOPTED: I live in uncertainty and chaos.

MARQUEZ: Matthew Roberts has been haunted by the possibility he is the son of Charles Manson. We told you his story previously.

Adopted to a good home, he sought out his birth mother when he was 30 years old. In 1998 he found her, and she delivered the shocking news that he was conceived in 1967 in San Francisco, where she met Charles Manson at a drug-fueled orgy.

(on camera) One account I read of that orgy, there were four men present.

ROBERTS: Yes. That's the way I understand it. Originally that's what I was kind of looking at. About a one in four chance.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Roberts, who bears a striking resemblance to Manson, twice tried to get a DNA match with genetic material from Charles Manson himself. But the samples were contaminated.

But there is another way to establish the family link. Matthew Roberts and Jason Freeman, if they're related, will share Manson's DNA.

DR. MICHAEL BAIRD, DNA DIAGNOSTIC CENTER: What we're able to do is to use the "Y" chromosome in this testing. Because Charles Manson will then pass this "Y" chromosome on to his male offspring, we could then determine what the "Y" chromosome pattern was in Jason and be able to say that that is Charles Manson's "Y" chromosome profile.

We then compare that to Matthew to see whether he had the same "Y" chromosome profile or not. If he did, he would be in the broad scheme (ph) of being related.

MARQUEZ: So we sent in both men to have DNA samples taken. In Santa Ana, California, Matthew Roberts was swabbed. In North Kenton, Ohio, Jason Freeman had the same test done. Photographs, even fingerprints taken, leaving no doubt as to who the men are and whose DNA is being tested.

(on camera) Both DNA samples were brought here to the renowned DNA Diagnostic Center in Fairfield, Ohio. We also brought Roberts and Freeman here so they can get the results themselves.

(voice-over) Both men meeting for the first time.

FREEMAN: Nice to meet you, brother. Hug?

ROBERTS: Absolutely. How you doing?

FREEMAN: Good, man. Little nervous.

ROBERTS: Me too.

MARQUEZ: if they are not related, it will come as a shock. Their lives seem to run on parallel tracks. Both are drawn to fame and fortune. Matthew Roberts as a rock and roller. His band, New Rising Son. Jason Freeman as a cage fighter and wrestler who goes by the name Freebird.

Both work for a living, struggling to make ends meet. Jason works on oil rigs in Pennsylvania. Matthew, a deejay at the Blue Zebra Cafe in L.A.'s San Fernando valley.

(on camera) The question remains: are these two men related? We are all here together. Matthew is here. Jason is here. And we're also joined by Dr. Michael Baird, who's the chief science officer here at the DNA Diagnostic Center.

Doc, I don't want to belabor the point. What are the results?

BAIRD: Well, we did a battery of DNA tests on the samples that you submitted. And we determined with scientific certainty that you do not share a common biological ancestry.

ROBERTS: Holy cow.

MARQUEZ: Absolutely 100 percent?

BAIRD: Yes. We did a battery of tests, including a "Y" chromosome test.

MARQUEZ: Matthew, this has been a long search for you. And now the search continues. How are you feeling?

ROBERTS: Well, I don't know how to feel. I mean, I was hoping I could put this behind me one way or the other.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): despite the news he's not Charles Manson's son, most people would be overjoyed. Matthew feels his long search for a father has ended in vain.

MATTHEWS: I mean, it almost seems like a big universal practical joke on me. That's the only lead I had. So now I have no chance whatsoever of ever meeting or knowing my biological father. To know anything about it.

MARQUEZ: While Roberts is frustrated, Jason Freeman had hoped to gain an uncle that might help him understand his past and his father a bit more.

For both men, the search to understand themselves goes on.


COOPER: Miguel, appreciate it. Thanks.

Jennifer Hudson took the stand -- Hudson took the stand to testify today in the trial of the man accused of murdering three members of her family. What she said about her sister's estranged husband, coming up.


ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 Bulletin."

The process to extradite Joran Van Der Sloot to the United States has begun. Right now he's in prison in Peru on a murder conviction. But he's wanted in the U.S. on fraud and extortion charges in connection with the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson testified today in the trial of the man accused of killing her mother, brother, and nephew. The defendant is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister.

Police in Tucson, Arizona, say they're following more than a hundred leads in the case of a missing 6-year-old girl. Isabel Mercedes Celis was last seen when she went to bed Friday night. Police say they're investigating a broken screen in her bedroom.

And a soccer ball that washed up on a beach in Alaska apparently drifted more than 3,000 miles from a city in Japan that was hit by the earthquake and tsunami more than a year ago. The characters written on the ball have helped trace it to a teenager in Japan, who says he's sure it's his, and it may soon be returned -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Coming up, "The RidicuList" and a bizarre controversy over Mike and Ike, the candy. Details ahead.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding a debate over Mike and Ike, who they are, why they're going their separate ways, and what message they're sending. And yes, I'm talking about Mike and Ike, the candy. This candy.

The name "Mike" is scribbled out on the box. Right there. It was like that when we bought it, because it's part of a new marketing campaign that says, after 72 years, Mike and Ike are splitting up over creative differences.

Now, the story goes that they can't agree on their ideas for the candy. Mike wants to pursue music, and Ike wants to be an artist. It's a clever marketing campaign that will include TV ads and billboards. It's already playing out on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Global warming? Economic confusion? And now the breakup of Mike and Ike? I mean, whatever next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I heard the news, I was devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the last thing the markets need.


COOPER: All right. It's kind of clever, but there are those who see something else at play here. The president of the Family Research Council addressed it in a radio commentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's trouble in candy land. After more than 70 years together, Mike and Ike are calling it quits. The duo is staging a gay divorce as part of a new ad campaign to draw in younger customers. It's just another subtle example of society chipping away at the value of marriage.

And I don't know what's more disturbing. That advertisers think divorce appeals to kids or that sexualizing candy will make people buy more.


COOPER: Sexualizing candy.

This brings us to tonight's edition of "things I never thought I'd say." Mike and Ike do not exist. They are not real people. They are candy and, as such, do not possess genitals.

Now, also, just for the record, Sour Patch Kids are not real kids. Starbursts don't have real stars in them. And there isn't an actual ranch where the Jolly Rancher works.

But we are professionals and truth seekers. So in a truly surreal moment in journalistic history, we actually e-mailed the makers of Mike and Ike, asking for a statement on the nature of their relationship.

Their response, quote, "Mike and Ike are not gay. They are best friends and business partners, who have parted ways due to creative differences over the candy."

Our sincere thanks to Just Born Candy for taking the time to respond. Just Born Candy is the name of the company that makes Mike and Ike. They make marshmallow peeps, as well. We didn't ask about the peeps.

Now, we've seen this sort of absurdity before. Remember when Jerry Falwell said the purple Teletubbie was a symbol of homosexuality? Or how about the petition for Bert and Ernie to get married? "Sesame Street" issued a statement, reminding everyone that Bert and Ernie are just friends and also, by the way, puppets.

So yes, it's usually puppet-based hysteria. I think this may be the first time the sexuality of fictional invisible 72-year-old candy mascots has been called into question. It is a strange world we now live in. But it makes for a pretty sweet "RidicuList."

That does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.