Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Washington's Risky Game of Jenga; Voter ID to Allow Romney Win; Man Accused of Beating Alleged Sex Abuser
Aired June 26, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT, next. Are lawmakers playing a dangerous game of Jenga with our economy? You know the game where they pull a little here, push, tug, until the whole thing comes crashing down.
And a leading Republican made a strong statement about preventing voter fraud. But did he also reveal an ulterior motive to help Mitt Romney?
And a man accused of beating up a priest. It looks like an open and shut case. Until you look closer.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, Capitol Hill's dangerous game of Jenga. We're going to play in a movement so let me just explain. Because we came across a report today that, frankly, made us roll our eyes. I said the word vile out loud. Here was the line.
Quote, "Congress said to delay automatic budget cuts until March." In other words, Congress is now trying to get out of its self-imposed deadline of January 1st. That is when our leaders in Washington either have to find ways to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion or face automatic across-the-board spending cuts equal to that amount.
Now those automatic cuts are designed to hit in the worst places. Places that you would not make quick cuts to solve the spending problem. Poorly designed, on purpose. Bipartisan reports say those cuts could cost over a million American jobs. But instead of that terrible situation forcing Congress to say, you know what, we're going to find a better, smarter set of cuts, we can cut this amount of money, just not from those places or in that amount, they might kick the can and let the spending go on unchecked.
Republican sources tell OUTFRONT that there are talks going on right now to delay these so-called sequestration cuts. The problem is, these talks don't add up to a solution. All they do is delay making the cuts that we need, and if Congress delays the sequester, that means no grand bargain on spending and entitlements in America.
So here's where we get to Jenga. Dealing with these issues piecemeal is a lot like taking pieces out of a Jenga puzzle. This is our economy, this wonderful tower, the biggest and most impressive tower in the world. It is all connected and one bad move could destroy it. So the super committee failure last year that made our economic base even weaker. So let's just try that. Let's just play this game.
We are on live television here. I just want to emphasize that. Here we go. OK. I'm shaking. A little nervous. OK. There is the super committee. And constantly fighting over raising the debt ceiling, 11 times since 2001, last summer, the one that actually caused our entire country's credit rating to lose the best and most sterling credit rating in the world, I'd say that was another piece we just whacked out of our tower of economic strength. There we go.
All right. Ooh. The truth is, our country is already on shaky ground. And we have removed so many things from our Jenga tower that we're about to crash. And if you delay action on the automatic cut, saving hard work for another day, our entire country -- let's try this one -- could come tumbling -- that's us.
Earlier tonight, I spoke to Senator Pat Toomey, Republican on the Budget Committee. He was also a member of the Super Committee. And I asked him if delaying the automatic cuts would make sense.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don't. I think that'd be a bad idea. You know, I voted against the debt limit increase in large part because I felt that the proposed spending reductions weren't enough.
We're facing a complete fiscal disaster, and I do think we should reprogram the defense cuts. I do think they land too heavily in that category. But I don't think we can just walk away from our commitment to have some modest measure of fiscal discipline. Not under these circumstances.
BURNETT: And, you know, Representative Bob McKeon, chairman of House Armed Services Committee, was talking about those defense cuts and he said, quote, "Let's get together now and just say we're not mature enough to handle this. We've got to kick the can down the road now."
Now I'm sure he would say, and I'm going to be talking to him soon, but he would say, look, I'm just being pragmatic here. I've got to do what I've got to do. But is this where we're going to end up?
TOOMEY: I certainly hope not. And we don't have to end up there. You know, the House passed the budget that would not have these kind of cuts to defense. So I introduced a budget in the Senate that had very broad support among Republican senator. When I was on the super committee, I imposed a framework that included both revenue and spending reductions that would have avoided this entire sequestration. We could still go back to, really, any of those three.
But for us to say we just can't help ourselves, we have to spend without limit, I think that's a disaster. And we just can't go there. BURNETT: When you talk about the super committee, and obviously you're frustrated with its results.
BURNETT: So are we. And so are many Americans, passionately so. I mean it failed in its job. That's why we've got these $1.2 trillion in automatic, horribly designed cuts.
TOOMEY: That's right.
BURNETT: Do you blame yourself a little bit, though? I mean, you were in the position of power to not have us in this position.
TOOMEY: Yes. Well, and I was the guy that reached out to the other side and said, look, even though I don't -- I think this is a spending problem, I think this is entirely a spending problem, nevertheless, if that's what it takes to get an agreement from you, I'm going to agree to put some revenue on the table. And offered a structure which would be pro growth, provide a certainty on the tax side and stronger economic growth, and generate some revenue.
And if only we could get an agreement on some modest spending cuts in areas that had already been vetted by both sides, I thought that we bent over backwards to accommodate the demands of our Democratic friends. And they just said no way.
BURNETT: So let's talk about where that money would come from because I know, obviously, they would say we didn't put enough revenue on the table. So we look at loopholes and the math on that, I've done it, and it's sort of -- it's encouraging. You know, you've got $1.1 trillion in loopholes for fiscal year 2014. Our tax revenue is only $2.5 trillion a year. So that means if you close loopholes, you get a lot more money.
TOOMEY: Well, you know, the proposal I put on the table would have allowed us to take some of the -- to reduce the value of the deductions and write off some loopholes. Use much of that to lower marginal rates so that we'd have strong economic growth, but use some of it to reduce the size of our deficit.
I also proposed other sources of revenue. You know I happen to think that it's ridiculous that we fully subsidize Medicare benefits for very wealthy Americans. Why don't we ask them to pay a little more for their Medicare benefits?
TOOMEY: I think we should.
BURNETT: But this is a crucial question. You're going to close loopholes, you're saying you'd use some of the money to lower marginal tax rates. The question is, how much.
TOOMEY: Absolutely. BURNETT: I mean tell me that you're not on the side that you have this religion where it has to be revenue-neutral. Any money you get from closing loopholes you're going to put into lowering rates. You don't believe in this revenue-neutral thing, do you?
TOOMEY: Well -- well, that would be much better for our economy, and that would be much better for economic growth and for job creation. But when I was on the super committee, I was willing to devote not all of it to lowering rates. Some of it would be devoted to deficit reduction. Not because I think it's economically necessary, but because I acknowledge that it was politically necessary in order to get the other side to agree to any kind of spending cut.
And then they decided no, even that wasn't going to bring them to the table. So I was pretty discouraged.
BURNETT: Well, Senator, where are we going to end up? I mean I'm looking at the House. They've got about 30 days between now and the election where they're actually going to be in session. We've got the sequestration disaster looming. We've got the Bush tax cuts, the unemployment insurance, the payroll, the debt ceiling.
BURNETT: I could go on and on.
BURNETT: And I get this terrible feeling it's going to be sort of -- it's going to be like Jenga. And we're all going to fall apart. I mean how is that not going to happen?
TOOMEY: Well, I think what, frankly, the markets are doing and the reason we're in a -- this uncomfortable, relative calm right now is because, frankly, there's an anticipation that we're going to get an election outcome that resolves some of this. If Governor Romney is elected president, Republicans will certainly take control of the Senate and that environment. Now we can do just three big things that I think would get our economy absolutely booming again.
Number one, some tax certainty, make the current rates permanent if we have to. I'd prefer a more pro growth reform, but I'd settle for that. Reform at least one of the big entitlement programs that's driving our long-term budget problems and create a regulatory environment that's friendly for investment and business growth, rather than hostile.
We did those things, I think our economy would take off and we'd find it a lot easier to resolve the remaining challenges.
BURNETT: We shall see. Obviously, they are still very far apart rhetorically.
OUTFRONT next, this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURZAI, PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Did a Republican just admit something huge?
And a major announcement for one of this country's premier sports. College football is going to undergo a huge change, just happened the past hour.
And we have video just released on what George Zimmerman told police about his injuries the day after he killed Trayvon Martin.
BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT. A top Republican in Pennsylvania drawing criticism for touting the state's new voter I.D. law as a path to victory for Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TURZAI: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He was speaking there to an audience of Republicans.
John Avlon, Roland Martin, Reihan Salam are with me.
Roland, hey, you thought it was just Florida. No. Going to bring it right up to Pennsylvania.
So, John, this is the new law. It says that all voters will be required to show photo I.D. before they vote. That is what this law is about, quoting directly from the voter I.D. law. So Democrats say this hurts turnout among minorities, among elderly voters, people like that. Republicans say it's to prevent voter fraud.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, Erin, everybody wants fair voting without fraud, but this guy, the head of the Republicans in the Pennsylvania state legislature pulled the curtain back because all of those high-minded reasons, all these principled reasons allegedly for passing this law, he just said, and I take him at his word, were really about partisan gain. They're about the pursuit of power. And this is why people are sick of politicians. Because they use all this -- supposedly principled reasons and it's nothing about except power and partisan gain.
BURNETT: You know, Roland, this brings me to the tough issue. Because I think most people would say, look, you should be able to have an identification of who you are and where you're from to vote. But that is intimidating to some people. Why and to whom? I mean how can this law become something that is discriminatory?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, it's not just Pennsylvania. It's Florida, it's Ohio, it's 18 states. And so many of these Republican legislatures have been doing this as a result of ALEC, that secret group that were behind a lot of these different efforts, as well.
The bottom line is this here. It goes beyond just saying you need an I.D. because they're even saying in the Pennsylvania law that you need to prove it, you need a birth certificate, with a raised seal. If you don't have that, you've got to go get one, a nonwaivable fee of $10. If you want a Pennsylvania photo I.D., that's not a driver's license, that's going to cost you $13.50.
BURNETT: Right. They're saying, I mean, all voters have to have a photo I.D. so you're saying if you don't have one, the formal one costs $13.50?
MARTIN: Right. And so this notion of voter suppression goes far beyond voter I.D. because some of my Republican friends have been saying oh, just show an I.D. but it's limiting early voting days. In Ohio, you can't vote three days before the election. Why? Because they're targeting those black churches, as well. And so they have come up with creative ways beyond voter I.D.s to keep people from voting all across the country.
BURNETT: All right, Reihan, what's your response to that? And do you think that having a photo I.D. should be OK? And if you do, wouldn't you admit it should be free?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I definitely think it should be free. And in fact, if you look at Mississippi, for example, where the voter I.D. laws have been put in place that are quite strenuous, quite rigorous, they have said that free voter I.D.s will be issue to anyone who requires one. And I think you see that in many of those states that Roland just cited.
And I think that if Pennsylvania finds that there are many people who can't afford the $13.50 they should absolutely take affirmative steps to provide those voter I.D.s for people.
What I will say, however, is that when you listen to what the gentleman said in Pennsylvania, you have to keep in mind that there are many Republicans who believe that voter fraud benefits Democrats. There are also Democrats who believe that voter suppression and voter fraud benefit Republicans. We don't know that.
What we do need is a neutral, straightforward process in which there is a reliable way to identify whether or not you are who you say you are.
SALAM: And when you see there's a history of voter fraud in this country, Justice John Paul Stevens, when he -- when he voted, as part of the majority, the 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court, to uphold Indiana's voter I.D. laws, said that as well. There is an extensive and long history of voter fraud in this country, and he, lest we forget, was one of the liberal lions of the Supreme Court.
MARTIN: Erin --
SALAM: This is nothing that was made up out of (INAUDIBLE).
BURNETT: Let me just --
MARTIN: Then offer some facts.
BURNETT: Yes, let me just go -- Roland, let me throw something up here because voter fraud -- I mean, look, it could be widespread, I don't know. The convictions on voter fraud, there have been four in Pennsylvania since 2004. Obviously, the president's margin of victory was more than 600,000 votes in 2008. So I mean I'm not saying we know every case, but four, Reihan.
MARTIN: Erin, here's --
SALAM: Erin, Raj (INAUDIBLE) was not the only person who ever engaged in insider trading. But the thing is that it's very hard to identify and prosecute insider trading. There are many crimes where you don't necessarily identify all the people. And we're not trying to engage in some kind of process where we're prosecuting, we're intimidating, et cetera.
We're just saying that going forward, let's have a neutral, reliable way to be sure that people are who they say they are.
MARTIN: This is --
SALAM: And I think that -- you know, we're not trying to go back and engage in recriminations about the past.
MARTIN: This is a solution in search of a problem. The National Republican Lawyers Association came out with their report showing voter fraud. About 340 cases in America over a 10-year period. If you look at some of the states --
SALAM: How many cases --
SALAM: Insider trading, relative to insider trading incidents?
MARTIN: Hold on, one second, one second. I'm offering actual proof.
SALAM: Is there no white collar crime in America that we don't prosecute it?
MARTIN: One second. One second. One second.
BURNETT: Let's finish.
BURNETT: Go ahead.
MARTIN: There are some states where you likely have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than there are actually being voter fraud. And so this is utter nonsense.
SALAM: Than to be prosecuted.
AVLON: Look, look --
SALAM: Than to be prosecuted, Roland, let's be clear.
AVLON: Let's be clear for a second and pull back. We know there's been a history of voter suppression in this country using voter I.D. laws and other things like literacy tests. We know that. We know there are also cases of voter fraud in this country --
SALAM: Voter fraud and literacy tests are not the same, John.
AVLON: No. I'm saying -- listen to me. I'm saying we know there are cases of voter fraud and there's also cases of voter suppression. Both of these concerns are rooted in American history. But what we've seen in our recent history is a lot of supposedly principled reasons with nothing but partisan gain to back them.
This same guy, the Republican head of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, backed an effort to try to re-jig the electoral college vote in their state to split it up. To, again, make it more likely the Republicans could gain electoral votes. This isn't about principle.
AVLON: This is about power.
MARTIN: Erin --
SALAM: Nebraska and Maine are states where you want to separate it out because there are -- it's a diverse state. And I think there is some concern about that in a variety of states. That doesn't necessarily mean that there's something corrupt about it, John.
MARTIN: Erin, you want to hear -- in Ohio, they actually passed a bill which the voters repealed and then they overturned it, where in Ohio, they said if you are a poll worker, you could -- it was voluntary for you to tell someone if they were in the wrong location. If they were in the wrong polling location, you could tell them, tough, or you could choose to tell them.
Why would you even put that in the law? Why are you banning people from voting three days before an election, because you're targeting churches who are voting en masse?
BURNETT: All right.
MARTIN: It's utter nonsense and he can't defend it.
MARTIN: All right. Thanks very much to all three of you. We appreciate it.
And Roland Martin has been working on a documentary on voter suppression in American. Going to air on July 15th here on CNN.
And OUTFRONT next, we were told it was never about the money. It was about tradition. But there is a big move today that will change college football forever.
And a man beat up a priest and was offered a plea bargain that could have saved him years in court. You're going to want to know why he chose to reject that. That's next.
BURNETT: And our third story OUTFRONT, a man claiming he was molested by a Catholic priest in the 1970s is now on trial himself for beating his alleged abuser. Defendant Will Lynch turned down a plea deal putting himself at risk of spending up to four years in prison if convicted.
So you say why would a man you're looking at there take such big risk? Lynch says he wants to face his alleged abuser in court.
Casey Wian is OUTFRONT with the story.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Mr. Lynch, do you think you've accomplished what you'd sought out to accomplish in this case?
WILLIAM LYNCH, ALLEGED VICTIM: No comments today.
WIAN (voice-over): Forty-four-year-old William Lynch is an alleged victim of child sexual abuse by a Catholic priest more than three decades ago. Today, he's on trial charged with assaulting that priest. Father Gerald Lindner.
Now 68, Lindner is the alleged victim of a bloody beating by Lynch in May 2010. Prosecutors say Lynch walked into this Jesuit priest retirement home under the guise of delivering news about a family member and pummeled Lindner who was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries.
PAT HARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Who's the victim in all this? Society is the victim of all this. Society is the victim because there's a man sitting up there at Los Gatos who is a rapist and who molest children and he's allowed to go free. Society is the victim here.
WIAN: Lindner once taught at Loyola High School in Los Angeles. He accused of but never prosecuted for abusing as many as 10 children. The statute of limitations had expired by the time alleged victims came forward.
Still, the Catholic Church has paid millions of dollars to settle claims to Lindner's accusers, including $625,000 to Lynch and his younger brother. Lynch told the "Los Angeles Times" in 2002, he had long thought about confronting Father Lindner to, quote, "exercise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life."
Lynch's supporters, including his parents, gathered daily with picket signs outside the Santa Clara County Courthouse. Prosecutors declined comment. However, Lynch was offered a plea deal of a year in jail. He turned it down, saying he wanted to see Lindner in court for the first time. Now, lynch could be sentenced to four years in prison for assaulting an allegedly abusive priest.
BURNETT: All right, Casey joins me now.
And Casey, I mean this is is such an unusual case. And I know that in the courtroom there have been some emotional outbursts.
WIAN: Yes, there really have, Erin. As the trial got under way last week, Lindner, the priest was being led into the courtroom down a hallway and another one of his alleged victims was there on the hallway, began screaming at him. Bailiffs had to remove that woman from the court. Prevented her from going into the court. Also one of Lynch's relatives who was with her was removed from the court.
Just today sitting in front of me were Lynch's parents. Apparently they made some reaction to something that was said during the proceedings today about the molestation that allegedly happened. They made some gesture.
The bailiff during a break came over to them, looked at them both right in the eye, very sternly, warned them against violating the judge's order against any showing of emotion or outbursts in the courtroom. Obviously, a lot of emotions running high in this case -- Erin.
BURNETT: It's an unbelievable story. Thanks so much to Casey Wian.
And OUTFRONT next is NATO. And that means us, the United States of America, afraid that Syria has more fire power than thought.
And later new videotape of George Zimmerman. What it says about this question that just doesn't seem to go away. How severe were the injuries that he suffered in the fight he had with Trayvon Martin. It's the crux of the whole case. And there's new pictures.
BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines.
Congress motto: apparently, never do today what you can do tomorrow.
Eh. Sorry, we thought that was good.
One-point-two trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts that Congress said would happen January 1st, they're going to help reduce the deficit, they may now put those off until March. That's another delay as Congress remains divided over where to make those cuts.
Earlier, I spoke with Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He was a member of the super committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: If my Democratic friends would agree to reducing spending and bringing that under control, and beginning to reform our entitlement programs, I think that's the basis for an agreement we could reach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And one order of business that is getting done in Congress, action on student loans. The Senate reached agreement on holding the interest rate on newly issued Stafford loans to the current 3.4 percent. The rate was scheduled to go next week back to where it was before, 6.8 percent, unless the House also approves a deal.
About 7.4 million undergraduates are expected to borrow new Stafford loans.
Now, keeping the rate at 3.4 percent is going to cost $6 billion a year.
And just to emphasize this doubling you keep hearing about, all it is, is an increase to the way the rates used to be. It has become politically impossible to have anything be temporary anymore. Tax cuts, taxpayer-funded cheap loans, payroll tax cut, and that can be a problem.
But so is this -- when you look at the bottom line on college rates, seniors graduating in 2010 carried an average debt of $25,250. No matter how you cut that, that's a problem.
In just a day after we reported the rise of murders in Chicago, up at least 35 percent over last year, the city announced it's going to try to do something about it. They're now giving a one-year, $1 million grant to Ceasefire Illinois, a group that will work with police to try to reduce that murder rate. The money is going to pay for 40 so-called interrupters. They try to get in the middle of conflicts before they turn into gunfire.
There have been more than 240 homicides in Chicago this year. It's gang-related. And that is we have reported, that's more than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, social gaming company Zynga famous for the game "Words with Friends" that got Alec Baldwin kicked off a plane for playing after they shut the door, rolled out some new games today. Among them, the "Ville," and a new service called "Zynga with Friends" that let's you track friends' scores.
The company's second annual unleashed event is a big deal for investors who want to know if Zynga has a plan to make itself less reliant on Facebook. Currently, Zynga gets about 15 percent of its revenue from Facebook.
Earlier, I had the chance to speak with Zynga's CEO, Mark Pincus, and asked if he was worried that, you know, Facebook isn't everything it was cracked up to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK PINCUS, FOUNDER & CEO, ZYNGA: We've been one of the largest advertisers on Facebook since early days. And we see massive value in buying ads. Obviously, we are buying ads that is helping us acquire more players who are converting to payers.
So I'd say I'm more in awe of the amazing service and business they have created than worried about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, by the way, he was saying a lot of people pick avatars of different people -- men picking hot, bodacious babes to be their avatar. Women picking hot men. Interesting.
And as we said, Facebook crucial to Zynga.
All right. Well, it's been 327 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Home prices increased in April by 1.3 percent across the country. And you may say that's paltry, but you know what? It's the first increase in seven months. That's significant. Celebrate it, according to the Case-Shiller home price index.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: war against Syria, but in words only.
Syria has shot down a Turkish fighter jet and fired at another. These incidents happened on the border between the two countries.
Now, Turkey is a member of NATO, and it called for help. So, NATO chose to condemn, quote, "in the strongest terms" the Syrian government's acts. It has not chosen to retaliate. Now, Article 5 of NATO's charter treaty clearly states this, "An armed attack against one or more shall be considered an attack against them all."
So, is NATO worried that Syria has more firepower than it thought? After all, it's proved it can shoot fighter jets out of the sky. That could mean significant loss of life if there were war or even a no-fly zone, something NATO and its funder, the United States, of course, doesn't want to face.
So, it's now the time for NATO to act or not?
Former Defense Secretary William Cohen joins us tonight.
Secretary Cohen, good to see you, as always.
Do you think there was some surprise? I mean, I know we have run through the statistics on the Syrian military time and time again, a significant military. And people fight back by saying, well, it's disorganized, it's not put together anymore. It wouldn't be able to function.
And yet here they are, able to shoot fighter jets out of the sky.
Does that give NATO and the U.S. pause?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think it gives us any pause. I think the pause is, we have to be careful before we work ourselves into a war. When Assad -- President Assad said we're in a war, he's talking internally. He has a war going on inside.
I think that he wants to be careful, Russia wants to be careful, NATO wants to be careful that we don't see this spin out of control that suddenly there's a war declared against Syria by NATO, which I think doesn't have the power to declare war, but has the power to declare we're with Turkey if Turkey should respond from a military point of view.
COHEN: We have to be very careful there. We want to avoid that.
I think the shot that's been fired is a verbal one, saying that Syria, you're on notice. If you so much as fire one of our aircraft again, we're going to retaliate, and it won't be a very low level. So, I think Syria is on notice.
The United States, the other NATO countries, are saying we're with you politically. We hope we don't have to be involved in a war, but if war comes, it's one nation of NATO, it's all of us.
BURNETT: Let me ask you one thing that still confuses me. Turkey and Syria have all sorts of frustrations with each other and disagree on whether this fighter jet that was shot down was in Syrian air space. Prime minister of Turkey says even if it was in air space for a few seconds, no excuse to attack. And it was clear it was not an aggressive plane.
Now, I'm sure Syria may disagree with that, but still, the reality is this -- they shot a fighter jet out of the sky. They would take that risk. What does that say about their government? Or what their lack of fear about what NATO might do? I mean -- they're in a precarious position.
COHEN: I don't think it's a lack of fear. I think it could be they are under enormous pressure. After all, sanctions are starting to take a toll on their economy. They've got not only sanctions. They've got defections. We're seeing higher level of defections taking place.
We know their supporter, like Russia and Iran, are starting to feel the crunch, as well. Oil is down to $74, not $100. So that monetary support is goods to go more difficult to comp by.
So they're under enormous strain. Plus, you have the resistance getting more and more support from the Gulf States and from other countries, so they're becoming much more capable militarily and starting to occupy some of the land.
So I think a lot of pressure may have tried to send a signal that they're going to be very tough on this, but they have to be careful.
BURNETT: But -- and this is position where the United States may never step up to the plate. I mean, there are awful things that happen around the world. Americans know that. They look at this one and say, yes, it gets media coverage. But why this one, when you ask them whether the United States has a responsibility to do something in Syria, 61 percent of Americans say no.
COHEN: Well, the 61 percent of the Americans know we have been in two wars, we still have in Afghanistan at the moment. And it's not really desirable thing to now say let's go to war again.
We've been in Libya to a certain degree, very hesitant to get involved in Libya. But we did. And with minimum impact upon the American people, and a result which we're still seeing unfold. So, I think it's a legitimate reason to be hesitant here. Nonetheless, send a signal to Syria that we want a political solution.
Russia, by the way, instead of sending more arms into Syria really is at a point where they could exercise some real leadership on the international stage by saying we need to have a political solution, Russia is now can exercise that, take some leadership, not just send more weapons but come to a political result that will avoid conflict, because it's in everybody's interests not to have a conflict in the Middle East.
BURNETT: All right. That is for sure. Thank you very much, Secretary Cohen. Always good to get your perspective.
And Mitt Romney today kept up his assault on President Obama over immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he was running for office, he said he would make it his first priority in his first year agenda to reform our immigration system and make it work for the American people, and for those that want to come here legally. He did not do that. Why is it? He had a Democrat House, Democrat Senate, all the support he needed. He did nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right, here's the thing. Mitt Romney hasn't laid out a specific, full immigration policy either. He said he supports electronic verification of employees and more visas for highly skilled workers. But not a full policy.
And after the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's immigration law this week, Romney's traveling press secretary has struggled to articulate the candidate's stance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Does he support the law as it was drafted in Arizona?
RICK GORKA, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY: The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue.
REPORTER: Does he have a position on the law, or no position?
GORKA: The governor has his own immigration policy which he laid out in Orlando and in the primary which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way.
REPORTER: But does the governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states?
GORKA: This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and to enact their own immigration policy.
REPORTER: But the Arizona law does very specific things. Does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does?
GORKA: We've addressed this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: John Avlon, this is interesting. I mean, I know you could chuckle at that, or say all right, they're saying they would give more power over immigration to states. So we don't care what the states do. It's their right.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, but they weren't answering the specific question. And that's an obligation if you're running for president, we ask a question about specific policy, important policy, it's yes or no -- does the governor support this law or not? And the inability to give it indicates --
BURNETT: So you don't think sometimes you can just say states' rights?
AVLON: No. When you're asked a specific question -- look, let's be honest. The problem Romney is in, if he doubles down and says he supports the Arizona law, he's going to alienate Hispanic votes he wants to pick up in the fall. However, if he has concerns about the Arizona law, he alienates the base, which he also needs to turn out in the fall.
BURNETT: So, he is in a catch-22.
Now, political strike team, John Avlon obviously a member, 30 independent journalists and analysts. We asked even if Mitt Romney does not get into the specifics people want in immigration, could he still win the election? Ninety-two percent of our strike team say yes.
BURNETT: Eight percent say no.
And you're in the yes camp. So you, as frustrated as you are, you think he can get away with this.
AVLON: Because whether this is an effective policy -- isn't the same as asking whether it's honest or honorable. Look, politicians try to get away with this old game. It's a tact and deflect. It's attack and dodge. They do it because it works.
Richard Nixon in 1968 had a secret plan to win the Vietnam War. Didn't say what it was, but it got him elected. Politicians are often allergic to specifics, because they're afraid it will alienate more people than it will attract.
The problem is, if you're running for president, you do have an obligation, not just to criticize but to say what you would do differently.
BURNETT: Right. Although it's interesting. I think about Chris Christie. So, when he said, I'm going to come in and cut. And they would say, what are you going to cut? What are you going to cut? And he wouldn't answer the question. And they said, well, he's not going to cut anything. He's going to be -- and then he actually went in and did it. There are a few examples of it happening.
AVLON: There are a few.
AVLON: But too often -- I mean, the problem with Governor Romney, for example, talking about bipartisan immigration reform is that he didn't support bipartisan immigration reform backed by Kennedy and McCain and George Bush when he was running last time.
So, it's hard to say you're for something when you've been on the record and opposed to it extensively in the past.
BURBNETT: Yes, absolutely. Thanks very much to John Avlon.
And OUTFRONT next, a major development for all fans of college football.
And then why the former lead detective in the Zimmerman case says George Zimmerman's story is inconsistent. It doesn't add up.
BURNETT: So big news in the world of college football. After 14 years of a painful bowl selection process, it looks like the BCS may have finally figured out how to keep everyone happy. Instead of rating teams through polls, two-thirds human and one-third computer, they're now going to let the teams decide it on the field.
Which brings us to our number tonight: Four. That's the number of teams that will compete in a playoff championship to determine the national champion. The four teams will be determined by a selection committee that ranks the teams based on win-loss record, strength of schedule. That's always important. I used to hate it, you know, people gain that way. Head-to-head results, and whether the team was a conference champion.
According to the BCS, the semi final games will be New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, with the title game afterward.
The presidential oversight committee also endorsed the concept of semifinals rotating among six bowl location sites. The national championship game goes to the highest bidder. Interesting. The championship game will no longer be called a Bowl Game.
One thing they haven't decided yet, this is the kicker, because it always comes down to money. How will the revenue be distributed? College football is big money. According to sporting news writer Matt Hayes, Bowl Championship series TV rights will be worth an estimated $6 billion over the next decade.
But before you get too excited, due to current BCS contracts, this is going to start in 2014, not immediately. But $6 billion, hmmm. I'm betting that's not going to be easy to figure out. Actually, might make Congress look friendly to each other.
And now to tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world. We go to Egypt tonight where the new president, Mohamed Morsi, says he's going to elect a woman as one of his vice presidents. His policy adviser told CNN that today.
The Muslim Brotherhood leader has previously said women should not be president. So despite today's announcement and promises by the Morsi campaign to uphold women rights, many Egyptians are nervous that the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology will mean serious trouble for women in Egypt.
Namees Arnous is an Egyptian journalist and women's right activist. And I spoke to her earlier and asked her why she doesn't believe the Muslim Brotherhood promises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAMEES ARNOUS, EGYPTIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: After the result, a lot of people in the street talking to girls and women and saying that, oh, we have president for Muslim Brotherhood. You have not to wear like that, or you have to stay at home. You have not to work.
It's very worry for me to have Islamist as a president and have Islamist parliament. And the main thing they want to do to prevent women for life, limit her freedom. It's not good. And actually, I will fight, and a lot of women who believe in the right will fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They will fight.
Now our fifth story OUTFRONT: new video tonight of 28-year-old George Zimmerman describing his injuries to investigators. Now, I want to make sure you know exactly when this is. This video is the day after he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a reenactment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I have a broken nose. She said I could use stitches, but she would rather not put them in. As long as I didn't mess with my head, the skin was already healing nicely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Special prosecutor Angela Corey released that video, as well as written statements from the Sanford Police Department in which the lead detective says Zimmerman could have diffused the situation. Saying, quote, "On at least two occasions, George Martin Zimmerman failed to identify himself as a concerned resident or a neighborhood watch member to Trayvon Benjamin Martin."
Benjamin Crump is an attorney for Trayvon Martin's family and Mark NeJame is a CNN legal analyst. Both are OUTFRONT.
Benjamin, let me just start with you, though, ands ask you about that video, because what stood out to me, hearing that, when -- you know, you're talking about someone acting in self-defense, afraid of their life. He said I have a broken nose. She -- referring to a nurse, I could use stitches but she didn't want to put them in as long as I didn't mess with my head because the skin is already healing nicely. This is the day after.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: Right. Erin, if he had life threatening injuries, why didn't he go to the hospital? We're still waiting to see the x-rays of this alleged fractured nose.
Again, we have to rely on stuff we haven't seen. We want to see the medical records. It says he only has a likely broken nose. Seems like every day, the bandage is getting bigger. BURNETT: Mark, let me ask you a question, though. Should we have any question about what is being released? What the media and the public are allowed to see? Because this is coming from the special prosecutor's office.
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we know that in a case such as this, things are going to be orchestrated. They're going to be brought out -- they all will be brought out legally, but they're also brought out for impact, for strategic purposes.
In this particular case, we have, you know, somebody, a defendant, Zimmerman, giving statements. And we see the injuries.
So now we need to really take all of this and put it all together, this puzzle, and figure out what really happened here. This is just simply another piece.
But, yes, you're going to find a lot of these things dropped strategically, because they could have been released a long time ago, we know that.
I mean, Benjamin, isn't there something about how this dribbles out? I mean, each side, your side and the other side, are trying to put out things dribble by dribble that would, you know, influence opinion.
CRUMP: Well, no, that's not true. We don't get to put out anything. The state attorney gets to put out information. And the Zimmerman's legal defense team. We would hope that the state attorney would just put everything out and that way it can't be leaked or manipulated.
The biggest thing I think was said was what the lead detective made the determination at least on two different occasions. Zimmerman had opportunity to defuse the situation. He didn't have to get out of the car, Erin. But then we get out of the car, he could have at least said, I'm a neighborhood watch volunteer to defuse the situation, and it's likely that Trayvon Martin would be living today but he didn't.
And the lead detective today got demoted. And that's one of those things we have to question. He told what he thought was the truth.
BURNETT: Right. Let's show that detective Chris Serino had said the encounter was avoidable. I think this is what you're referring to. What he said was, quote, "If Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen."
That's what you're talking about, right? That never said who he was to Trayvon Martin. I mean, that goes straight to your argument.
CRUMP: Absolutely. Had he not pursued -- profiled and pursued Trayvon Martin, then none of this would have happened. Trayvon Martin would be living. And that's really the crux of the matter here. Not these alleged injuries that, you know, it's a day after, two days after, and they keep getting worse and worse.
Trayvon Martin was dead. We know what his injuries are. It was a bullet through the heart.
NEJAME: Erin, if I --
NEJAME: Yes, I'm sorry. If I could though, I think what's very important to point out here is that we have to figure out, did law enforcement do a good job or did they not do a good job? We've heard from different sides that there's been a lot of criticism. That Chief Lee didn't do his job and such.
I've been doing this for 33 years as a criminal defense lawyer and I've never seen this much work done on a case, with this many witness statements. This much videotaping. And now, a man who I respect, Mr. Crump, but he's acknowledging, and I think he's doing a fabulous job on behalf of his client, but he's acknowledging that Serino, the law enforcement officer, did a good job and he came to a conclusion.
So I think that we have to really determine, was a proper full investigation done? And if it was done, then we have to either say they did a good investigation or he didn't do a good investigation. But we can't really pick and choose when it fits a particular side, one side or the other. I think that's only fair to law enforcement who conducted the investigation. Either they did a bad job, they deserve to be criticized. But if they did a good job, we need to acknowledge that.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. My question remains how this stuff appears to be sort of selectively, bits and pieces, leaking out. Worth talking about that more.
OUTFRONT next, the greatest athletes in the world, the home of supersized fries. Something doesn't add up.
BURNETT: The Olympics are almost here. The athletes have worked hard. They've stuck to their training. They've been eating well.
Which is why we are so surprised to see who sponsors the Olympics. First off, Coke. Since 1928, Coke has been a partner with the Olympics, $100 million they're investing this time. The soda company for that gets to use the logos and slogans associated with the Olympics.
And most important, they will be the sole provider of nonalcoholic drinks at the Olympics. I say nonalcoholic because Coke isn't the only company paying big bucks for the Olympics. For an estimated $15 million, Heineken has been granted sole pouring rights for 2012 Games. All those famous British ales and lagers banned from the games, so do Dutch beer can't reign supreme.
Oh, yes, Heineken also get this, the Alexandria Palace. Known as the people's palace, it is a 7 1/2 acre estate in the north of London. The Brits are handing it over to Heineken during the games so they can stage the 11th consecutive Heineken Holland House, a giant entertainment, media and refreshment center. All this and Heineken's only a tier 3 sponsor.
Imagine who you could do if you were an official sponsor. Yes. Fast food chain has been granted permission to build a 32,000 -- yes, I said 32,000, square foot store, restaurant. The largest McDonald's in the world, in fact -- in the world, everyone. We're told the only food available inside the Olympic Park.
So, if you buy popcorn, it's going to come inside a McDonald's bag, 1,500 people can sit in that McDonald's, which will serve 14,000 customers a day.
And guess what? At the end of the Olympics, they're going to tear the whole thing down. So, the largest McDonald's in the world is only temporary.
And here's the thing. I love McDonald's fries. I do. I'm chewing on an open mic. That's worse than with an open mouth. I love burgers.
But I do feel sick for a day after eating them, which is a sad when you realize the Olympics is an institution that's just about selling brands that are bad for your body.
"A.C. 360" starts now.