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Missed Warnings in Colorado Shooting?; Mitt Romney vs. Harry Reid; Interview with Senator McCain

Aired August 2, 2012 - 22:00   ET


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

And we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doing what gamblers often do in his state, doubling down, doubling down, tripling down, and now quadrupling down really on unproven allegations about Mitt Romney and taxes, claiming he didn't pay any taxes for a decade, without the chips, and in this case the facts, to back it up.

Governor Romney reacted sharply today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for Harry to put up or shut up. Harry is going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because of course that is totally and completely wrong. It's untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate. It's wrong. So I'm looking forward to having Harry reveal his sources and we'll probably find out it's the White House.


COOPER: So far, he has not. In fact, as you'll see in a moment, when Dana Bash joins us, he's not backing down a bit, offering no facts, no evidence, just allegations and insinuations.

Now, before we go any further on this story, you should know that we're not being partisan here. For weeks, we've reported on Michele Bachmann and her four Republican House colleagues who are making unfounded allegations about Islamic radicals infiltrating the U.S. government. Making claims about relatives of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Well, the standard should be no different for Democrats, independents, libertarians or anyone. Extraordinary allegations require extraordinary proof, or frankly any kind of proof. Michele Bachmann and company don't even have ordinary proof, and neither so far does Senator Harry Reid.

This began earlier this week when Mr. Reid told "The Huffington Post" what he says a Bain Capital investor told him. Harry, he says, this investor him -- quote -- "He didn't pay any taxes for 10 years." He went on, "Now do I know that's true? Well, I'm not certain." That was Harry Reid saying, I'm not certain. So you'd think that not being certain about the truth of an explosive allegation, you'd kind of keep it to yourself, right? Well, instead, Senator Reid, the highest ranking Democrat in Congress, went further with some local reporters saying he had a -- quote -- "number of people tell me that," unquote. So there -- it went from one person telling him to now a number of people. Then today, he went even further.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: So the word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes because he hasn't.


COOPER: OK, so now this is on the floor of the Senate. He is now saying the word is out. Well, the word is out because Senator Harry Reid put it out. What he hasn't put out is anything that anyone can check. Not the name of his source, not anything.

Here's what Republican Senator John McCain told me about this earlier today.


COOPER: Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate today reiterated this idea today that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years. He said, and I quote, on the floor of the Senate, "So the word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove he has paid taxes because he hasn't."

He's offered absolutely no proof at all about this. Does it -- I mean, what do you make of this, is this just politics? Is this acceptable?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: First of all, I have known Senator Reid for many years. Occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior. To accuse someone of doing something without a shred of proof that that --the allegation has any substance is really something I frankly don't understand.

I think politics are tough. I enjoy the give and take, but I think Harry might have gone over the line here.


COOPER: That was Senator McCain earlier. Now we also spoke about Syria, we're going to play part of that conversation a little bit later tonight. What he has said, though, about Harry Reid is unusual in that lawmakers criticize colleagues so directly and by name.

Now Mr. Romney's campaign manager today took it further, away further, in fact, and liken Reid's allegations to the McCarthy hearings of the '50s. You can decide for yourself whether to equate Harry Reid's unproven allegation with McCarthyism or even Michele Bachmannism. Senator Reid's office did not respond to our invitation, though, for the senator to come on the program.

Tonight Dana Bash has been trying to get answer from Senator Reid all day. She joins us with that.

So you've just received a response from Reid's office about Romney's "put up or shut up" comment. What can you tell us?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We now have a couple of responses, Anderson.

Let me read you the first one, that is: "Senator Reid stands by his comments. Governor Romney's continued refusal to release his tax returns raises legitimate questions about what he is hiding and whether he paid any taxes at all. Governor Romney can easily end this debate by following the precedent set by his father and releasing his tax returns."

And as you were coming on the air, Anderson, I got a follow-up like the statement, which also stands by what they call his credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years, and he's calling Romney playing tricks, many tricks at his disposal for avoiding taxes. So not backing down at all.

I got to tell you, covering Harry Reid for a lot of years, there are times when he says things off the cuff that make his aides wince, like talking smelly tourists in the capitol. I'm not making this up. This is not one of those times.

This is one of those times where he knows exactly what he's doing. He's doing it on purpose. He's doing it for political reasons because he wants this issue, Romney's taxes, to be talked about on programs like yours, and wants it to be headlines in newspapers, and wants Mitt Romney to respond on this issue, which they think is a negative for Romney as opposed to issues that Romney wants to talk about.

COOPER: And I go back and forth, I'm with Paul Begala in a moment, who just tweeted out saying it's -- I cannot, that it's unfair for me to compare what Reid is saying to what Bachmann did to Huma Abedin. But I'm not even arguing about the tax return issue here. To me, it's just a question of making allegation like this for -- you know, a powerful senator making allegations like this without any evidence.

That's what I am trying to focus on. We'll talk to Begala and Mary Matalin about it in a second. But in that interview that Reid gave to "Huffington Post," he says about Romney -- quote -- "his poor father must be so embarrassed for his son," what does that tell you? I mean, that's a very personal comment.

BASH: It's very personal and it is very Harry Reid. Look, first of all, let me just back up and say you pointed out the interview he gave with the "Huffington Post." Again evidence, it's a friendly outlet. They did it -- he did this very strategically.

In terms of the personal, that is Harry Reid. I mean, he -- when he wanted to go after Alan Greenspan, he called him the partisan hack. When he went after President Bush, he called him a liar and a loser. He apologized for the loser part, not for liar.

But this is -- when Harry Reid doesn't like somebody, he goes for the jugular. And that is what he is doing now. He is an old boxer and he still likes to be a political street fighter. He knew full well that he was going to be questioned over and over again on who his source was. And he said -- he's told people close to him who I have spoken today that he didn't care. He's not telling going to tell who his source is.

But I did speak, I just have to tell you, that I did speak to one source who's very close to Senator Reid who claims to also know who this Bain investor is that Reid spoke with, and insists that this is a credible person and this person if we knew the name we would understand that they would have the authority and the ability to know about Romney's tax returns. Whether we'll find it out ever, who knows. But they're doing this on purpose so that this is the discussion.

COOPER: Dana Bash, appreciate the reporting. Dana, thanks.

Let's bring in our panel, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who's currently advising the top pro-Obama super PAC, and Republican strategist Mary Matalin.

Paul, you cannot defend Harry Reid on this? Can you, seriously?


COOPER: But Harry Reid...

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: -- doubled down on this.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

COOPER: He went on the floor of the Senate and said well, you know, it's out there that he hasn't paid 10 years. It's only out there because Harry Reid said it two days ago without any evidence whatsoever.

BEGALA: First off, there's tons of evidence. Come on. The one release that he'd prettied up and turn...


COOPER: There's evidence that he has not paid taxes in 10 years?

BEGALA: No. There's evidence of tax avoidance, incredibly aggressive tax avoidance.

COOPER: That's not what Harry -- Harry Reid said there's evidence out there that he hasn't paid taxes in 10 years.

BEGALA: The senator is pointing out that this guy has a long -- incredible history of tax avoidance. He -- Shell Corporation in Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Switzerland Bank accounts, blocker corporation in Bermuda, whatever that is. I mean, this guy goes -- first of all, and freshman philosophy, Occam's razor. When you're confronted with something you have information, you choose the simplest, most obvious choice.

What do you think it is, Anderson? Do you think he secretly, like, owns the Bunny Ranch brothel? I don't. He's a man of extraordinary personal morality. OK? I grant him that. He's got impeccable personal moral character. So I don't think he's, like, secretly owning inner-city liquor stores that sell to children or something. No. I think...

COOPER: But you did...


BEGALA: No, I don't -- I'm just trying to show that it's not -- it's the most logical explanation. I -- people should like on the Twitter machine @PaulBegala.

COOPER: He has no...

BEGALA: Give me your address. What other reason is he hiding his taxes?

COOPER: OK, Mary...

BEGALA: What possible other...



COOPER: Mary, Harry Reid has no evidence on this.

BEGALA: We have lots of evidence.

MATALIN: Well...

COOPER: Go ahead, Mary.

MATALIN: Really? You know what, to answer Paul's question, this is a fallacy logic. This is how they argue. They make the accused, put the burden of proof on the accused. You really think this -- pass the smell test, the lab test, that this man would have been governor, that he would have been running for president eight years, that he has all of his money. Yes, he has a lot of money.

He's a big success. He's an American opportunity inspiration, that he would not, that he would be doing something illegal? They've called him a felon, now they're charging -- but here's the sad thing. The really sad thing is, Harry Reid is not some -- ostensibly not some goof ball backbencher.

He is the Democratic Senate majority leader. Doesn't that give, if I were a Democrat, that would give me great pause that the majority leader in the Senate in that august body is behaving like Eugene McCarthy, or the other McCarthy.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Paul, again to the point that Mary just brought up, I mean, when Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann, you know, they were just saying, we're just asking questions. We're not -- we're not even making allegations against Huma Abedin, we're just asking the question, did she pass a security background check, which is, you know, we pointed out, hypocritical in and of itself.

But Harry Reid seemed to go beyond that. He's not even pretending, well, I'm just asking questions. He is saying, I have this source who told me...

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: -- that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years. He won't name the source, and then doubled down on the floor of the Senate.

BEGALA: Right. And if he worked for CNN, we'd give him a promotion for that same conduct. So I mean...

COOPER: What are you talking about?

BEGALA: I doubt the...

COOPER: What are you talking about?

BEGALA: We go on the air all the time and say I have an unnamed source who can't be revealed because it would compromise his...


COOPER: Well, first of all, a single source is you don't actually go on the air with a single source, rarely under extreme circumstances. So that's actually not true. But...

MATALIN: And he had more -- he had more imaginary friends today, though, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, he did.

MATALIN: Now he has, like, more people that he can't say who they are that are just calling him up and saying. You know, can someone point out, by the way, that is private information? If anybody including Harry Reid has any access to Mitt Romney's private taxes, that's a matter for the IRS. That is illegal.


COOPER: I'm sorry, I don't normally get in -- it just seems hypocritical to me. I mean, when Louie Gohmert went on the floor of Congress and said that some unnamed former FBI agent had told him that Middle Eastern women were coming to the United States pregnant to have a baby.

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: Taking them back to the Middle East to raise them for 20 years as terrorists so they could then come back as American citizens and attack us 20 years from now and that he had sources on this, though he didn't call the FBI about this. And when we called the FBI, the FBI said what are you talking about, we never heard of this.


COOPER: And when we asked him for evidence, he wouldn't give us any. What is the difference between that lunacy and what Harry Reid is saying?

BEGALA: Occam's razor. What Gohmert posited is ipso facto crazy. What Reid is positing is the most logical, simplest explanation for why this man, who is obviously burning with desire to be president, is hiding his tax returns when, as Mary points out, he knew or should have known getting into this business it's not pleasant, perhaps, but these guys and women at the top level, the presidential level, they all have to release their tax returns.

MATALIN: I will tell you what Occam's razor. Well, we know he paid $6 million and $7 million in contributions, $6 million in taxes. Occam's razor is this.

BEGALA: Which is impeccable. Wonderful.


Quit imitating James. The Occam's razor is this, that Romney -- that the Obama is strategic imperative is to distract. He can't run on his record. They've announced they're going to destroy Romney. This just a distraction. He put out two, if he put out four years, they'd ask for six. If they put out six, they'd want 10.

His father's embarrassed? Jon Stewart said of Reid, this is really gross, too. He played the dead card. His father would be embarrassed? What has happened to your party, Paul?

COOPER: Bottom line, you don't have any problem with sitting members of Congress or the Senate making allegations without presenting any evidence whatsoever.

BEGALA: He's -- Romney has the evidence. We can't see it. He's choosing the most sensible explanation for a puzzling political thing. Why is Romney feeding this distraction as Mary calls it? Why? Because there's something in there that he does not want us to see. I have been doing this for 28 years. And when politicians don't disclose their taxes, it's because they can't.

COOPER: We've got to end it there, but -- before I get inundated by e-mail saying I'm a stooge to the GOP or supporting Romney on this, my point is simply, for any sitting member of Congress or the Senate, Republican, Democrat, or whatever party, to be making allegations, serious allegations about somebody without offering any evidence whatsoever, I think, seems to be a troubling precedent.

And it surprises me that more people aren't upset about it, whether it's this or whether it's Bachmann, et al, making allegations against Huma Abedin and, you know, infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood without presenting direct evidence.

Anyway, we've got to leave it there. Mary Matalin, Paul Begala, thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks.

COOPER: We're leaving it there on TV. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter, though, right now. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. A lot of people blasting me saying I'm supporting Mitt Romney on this. Again, my point is, it's about Congress people, senators, people in power making allegations without having any or offering any evidence to back them up.

And, again, whether it's Harry Reid doing this or Michele Bachmann doing this, is that a fair comparison? Let me know what you think on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

Up next: Did experts fail to act on warning signs about the Colorado shooter? We're "Keeping Them Honest," more information tonight.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now in Colorado with the latest developments tonight in the Aurora shooting. That concern the key question after any mass murder: Could it have been prevented?

Do people who might have been alerted to the danger acted properly and what information they had? Now, in the aftermath this time, that question was quick in coming.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could I have done anything, or did I see anything, did I miss anything?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Is there anything that gives -- sheds any light on motive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He left school a month ago. So that clearly indicates that something wasn't right. I will be willing to bet there were warning signs out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe there are warning signs that in hindsight you could have seen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We start to look in, like, what could we have done, I get it, to prevent this from happening. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, last night, our Denver affiliate KMGH broke the story that a University of Colorado psychiatrist that the suspect was seeing was so alarmed by his behavior, that she told the campus threat assessment team or BETA team about it.

This was a team that the psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, seen there, actually helped set up. Now according to KMGH it just happened in the first 10 days of June. June 7 is when the suspect bought the assault rifle he allegedly used. June 10 is when he dropped out of the university, which is apparently why the BETA team took no further action because he dropped out.

The university says their people did what they should have done. Here's what "The Denver Post" is reporting Lynne Fenton said back in 2010 to the school's Academic and Student Affairs Leadership Committee, about how to deal with threats -- quote -- "Generally, if you think the threat is imminent, call campus police. If you this it's best to involve the BETA team, contact Lynne Fenton." Campus police first if you think it's imminent, or the BETA team.

Did she think the threat was imminent? That's really the question here given that the suspect had already left the university. The question is should Dr. Fenton or the BETA team still have called campus police or possibly even local police?

Joining us now is Brett Sokolow. He's the executive director of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association, also threat assessment expert, Barry Spodak, and Peter Read whose daughter Mary Karen Read was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting.

Barry, I want to start off with you. Sources have told our affiliate KMGH that when the suspect dropped out of school, the university's threat assessment team -- quote -- "had no control over him." In your opinion, is that true?

BARRY SPODAK, THREAT ASSESSMENT EXPERT: You know, Anderson, that's a question that we deal directly with when we train threat assessment teams. We actually come up with a simulated case study where the threat assessment team is facing that exact situation, and I have to tell you in all honesty, the first impulse of most people on threat assessment teams is to say exactly what you mentioned.

You know, this is out of our control, it's out of our authority. You know, what are we supposed to do at this point. And so we ask them at that point a very simple question. If this student is leaving your campus, you know, in the wake of perhaps a terrible failure, something that they're struggling with, would you like to have every bit of information that you can gather within the campus setting to understand their state of mind at the time they leave?

You know, if you remember the shooting at Northern Illinois University, Steven Kazmierczak came back to that campus a year-and-a- half later and killed five people. So we asked threat assessment teams to think through the broader implications. Of course, you're not going to follow them in the community. You're not going to trail them, but do you want to take every opportunity to gain all the information you can at the sources you have by the campus?

COOPER: But, Brett, I mean, is it -- is it a violation of some sort of confidentiality, patient-doctor confidentiality, to contact local authorities if somebody has left the campus and you have some sort of concerns about them? Even if you don't necessarily think -- I'm assuming she didn't think it was an imminent threat, because under her own guidelines, you'd contact the campus police. But certainly questions were raised.

Is there...


COOPER: Is there a confidentiality thing about calling the police?

SPODAK: You know...

SOKOLOW: Not at that point, Anderson. You know, let's assume that certainly things we've heard so far are true, although we don't know that they are, which his that Dr. Fenton alerted the BETA team at the university that she had concerns about Holmes. At that point that she decided already to breach confidentiality to share certain information, if she did, that's the point at which the information that the team had becomes protected by a federal privacy statute called FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

And generally student education records are protected. The universities can't release them. But if there's an emergency situation, if there is a significant or articulable threat, the team can reach out to community resources, community mental health, local law enforcement. It's also possible under FERPA for the team to have potentially contacted Holmes's parents. You're allowed to contact the parents of dependent students.

So I don't know if Holmes was dependent of them, but he was 24 which means he could have been. And at that point FERPA would have allowed contact with the parents potentially there. So I think the university couldn't have controlled him once he withdrew, but it certainly had some options to impact on him. He had control over his transcript as well, and whether he could ever access that. So it did have things that it could do. And I agree with Barry on that.

COOPER: Peter, you've obviously been through all this before back with Virginia Tech. You say you've actually been waiting weeks for this news to come out about who knew what and when.

PETER READ, FATHER VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: Yes, I have had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as this evolved. Thinking but hoping not that we would see very similar things happen and unfortunately the notebook shows up in the mail, the psychiatrist, you know, now it turns out that the threat assessment team was alerted that there were problems, and well, there's a lot we don't know that will come out over time, but I want to second very much what I have just heard, particularly what Brett said. FERPA and HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, these restrictions are good for protecting privacy and civil liberties, but they have exceptions built into them just for these reasons. And I'm looking at a copy of the Virginia Tech review panel report on page 52, missing red flags.

And the key findings about Jo's college years, the care team was hampered by really strict interpretations of those privacy laws. And they didn't make the good judgments that they could have made if all the information was brought together.

We've made advances since then. In fact, as far as I know, the threat assessment team came about in the wake of our tragedy. But there's so much further to go and we need to take policy action. I will talk about that in a minute if you let me.

COOPER: Yes, Barry, to that point, I mean, I read in "USA Today" yesterday that 80 percent of schools around the country now have threat assessment teams because of Virginia Tech and that's one of the lessons there -- learned. That these teams use what's called behavioral threat assessments to try to recognize a person on a path to violence. What kind of behaviors do they look for? How does this work?

SOKOLOW: Well, they start at very low level behaviors that you would expect. And I think you'll see parallels to this case. You know, at the very beginning, you want -- you know, you're looking for behaviors that are causing general concerns for people in the subject's life. You know, then you might be looking for behaviors like acquisition of weapons or gaining access to weapons.

You want to look at the individual's capacity to carry out an organized plan. And then, of course, one of the ones that was most salient for me is that in the cases that Dr. Robert Fein and Bryan Vossekuil, who were the founders of behavioral threat assessment, looked at was that the individuals who carried out these kinds of acts suffered significant losses that they were struggling with. Did people around this individual see this loss -- sense of loss or failure and the struggle to deal with it.

COOPER: So, Peter, in your opinion what more needs to change? What more lessons do we need to learn?

READ: Well, one thing is we need to collate the lessons we've learned in a place to promulgate them to out to all over the country. Campus Safety Act of 2011 was introduced in the House and the Senate to create exactly such a center to identify and disseminate best practices, educate, and train safety agencies, do research, then promote development of threat assessment models.

The House took action by incorporated that in the Violence against Women Act and we need the Senate to do the same. This is investment in our future and preventing it to the extent it's possible to prevent these kinds of actions from happening. We need to get that word out. It's also important not to completely de-link the issues of threat assessment and mental health from the issues of getting into the background check system. Right now, there's 23 states that have less than 100 mental health education records in the background check system. Virginia leads the country in putting those records in now. California and New Jersey have very proactive stances.

In California, Dr. Fenton would have been able to enter temporary restriction on the individual's ability to buy a gun and perhaps intervene in his plan. Doesn't guarantee prevention, but we're trying to mitigate risk and we need it -- we need to take all the tools in the tool bag.

COOPER: Well, Peter, again...

And, Anderson...

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

SOKOLOW: -- I would like to add here that we -- you know, we really did create a national clearinghouse four years ago with (INAUDIBLE) so to a great extent, that source for threat assessment information for campus teams is already in existence and, you know, has more than 800 active campus members.

COOPER: Peter, again, I'm so sorry for your loss. And I appreciate you being on.

Peter Read, Brett Sokolow and Barry Spodak. We'll continue on this.

In other news tonight, a double-decker Megabus crashes into a concrete pillar on the interstate. It is under investigation right now -- details on that ahead.


COOPER: Three airliners get too close for comfort at Reagan National Airport. Now federal authorities are weighing on what happened, planning an investigation. We have details ahead.


COOPER: Tonight a "360 Follow": before they left for their August recess today, the House and Senate voted to close a loophole in the Stock Act. Now, we've been following this for weeks. The Stock Act -- the Stock Act, you may remember, was passed to prevent lawmakers from profiting from confidential information they learn on the job. A lot of people were surprised they could even do that.

It requires thousands of federal officials to publicly report financial transactions greater than $1,000 within 45 days. The bill had bipartisan backing. But the way it was written, family members of some lawmakers could profit from inside information.

Well, today's votes changed that. It came about after Dana Bash exposed that loophole in an exclusive report two weeks ago. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say that I find out some information, I tell my wife, and she goes and trades on it. What's the difference? I mean, bottom line is we're supposed to have that level of transparency and have us be treated like every other member of the United States.

BASH: It specifically says that members of Congress do not have to have their spouses or the children file.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I think it's wrong and I think it's unfortunate. Because the reality is the whole point of this legislation is that we should play by the exact same rules as every other American citizen, and when all of America looks at Washington, they know it's broken.


COOPER: Dana joins us. So Dana, basically, you were pointing out to these members of Congress what was actually in the bill, the wording on this, the loophole. So tell us what happened today.

BASH: Well, what happened is, because Deirdre Walsh, our incredible producer who really initially found this and I reported this and sort of investigated it, you remember the first time we reported this on this program, we -- sort of all roads led to the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, because he was the one who ultimately wrote the legislation.

We contacted his office. We told him about this. Took a little time, they came back and said, "You know what? You're right. This is inaccurate and we're going to have to change it."

So it took a while. Went back and forth on the language. And today right before Congress left town, they had to actually pass legislation in the Senate and House to close this loophole, making it clear that spouses and children, in addition to lawmakers, have to regularly report big financial trades.

COOPER: So moving forward, that's what it's going to means, that the spouses and kids have to report these transactions.

BASH: That's right. And the whole idea behind the legislation was, you know, no question whether or not this was needed, whether it was kind of a PR stunt for Democrats and Republicans to make clear that they were, you know, going to react to a "60 Minutes" report saying that maybe there is some insider trading.

Regardless, the whole point of this was to make public opinion change, to make clear to the public that they're going to do whatever it takes here in Congress to make sure that that can't happen.

Well, if there's a loophole that says that spouses can benefit from information congressmen get on the job, if their kids can, then how is that making clear to the public that they're -- that they're doing right here. That's why they made this fix. And we heard, Deirdre and I heard that we made them work a little harder than they intended to before they left town to make this fix.

COOPER: Well, Dana Bash, great job. Deidre, as well. And thanks very much.

Let's get the latest on other stories we're following. Isha is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNNI: Anderson, a bus crash in southern Illinois kills one person and left as many as 24 others injured. The double- decker bus was on the way from St. Louis to Chicago when it crashed into an overpass pillar. No word what caused that crash.

A Georgia woman has been indicted for murder and other charges in the shooting death of her husband outside a daycare center. Prosecutors say Andrea Sneiderman plotted his death with her lover, trying to get millions in insurance money and other assets. The defense team denies those charges.

A judge has restored Katherine Jackson as the permanent guardian of Michael Jackson's children. Her guardianship was suspended after she was out of communication with the kids for ten days amid family drama.

And Anderson, volunteers in Singapore have set a Guinness world record for the world's largest cupcake mosaic. It is made of 20,000 cupcakes which will now be delivered to needy children and homes for the disabled and elderly. They say this is all about bringing young people together to bake, share, and -- was it bake, care and share. I should get it right.

My arteries are hardening just looking at this. I feel a -- I feel a constriction in my chest.

I could lick all the icing off all of those.

COOPER: Yes. That's the best part. All right. Isha, thanks very much.

In Syria fighting rages in the streets as envoy Kofi Annan quits his job. The refugee camp in southern Damascus. We'll tell you why Annan resigned and we'll talk to senator John McCain about it. He joins me next.


COOPER: More troubling news in the battle against the Ebola virus, what doctors are facing at one hospital when we continue.


COOPER: Welcome back. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan resigned today as Syria's peace envoy. He made it clear he blames a range of world leaders for dropping the ball. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, FORMER U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Without serious, purposeful, united international pressure, including from the palace of the region, it is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government in the first place and also their position to take the steps necessary to begin the political process. At a time we need, when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the security council.


COOPER: In an opinion piece in the "Financial Times," he said the president, Bashar al-Assad must leave office, failed to broker a ceasefire during his five months as special envoy.

Opposition activists say 130 people were killed today across the country. This video purports to shows an attack on a refugee camp in southern Damascus where many Palestinians took refuge. Can't verify the authenticity of what you see. The opposition says 16 people died in that. Syrian TV put the number at 12 and blamed the attack on terrorists.

In recent weeks, opposition forces have been better armed and he said that was a factor in his resignation. This video purports to show flatbeds carrying tanks are going to Aleppo. They're said to be reinforcements or government forces.

Opposition forces today pounded a military base near Aleppo using tanks seized from government troops. I spoke to Senator John McCain about this earlier.


COOPER: What's your reaction to news that Kofi Annan is stepping down?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I hope what we knew would fail would be motivation for the United States to be more involved in stopping this massacre.

The administration has been relying on sort of two flimsy reasons. One was that the Russians would convince Bashar Assad to leave, and the other the Kofi mission. Both of which we knew were doomed to failure. So hopefully, this will motivate the administration to become more involved, provide weapons, a safe area and assistance to stop the massacre.

COOPER: At this point, what do you want to see happen? You want to see weapons provided. Do you believe some sort of air strikes are necessary?

MCCAIN: Not necessarily air strikes, Anderson. What we need is a safe area where they can train and equip, treat the wounded, help the refugees, and say to the Syrians that they cannot attack that area. And if it requires air support to prevent that, then use whatever means necessary to make sure that sanctuary is protected.

COOPER: As we reported, it has been widely reported President Obama signed a presidential finding allowing for covert agents in the Syrian opposition. I'm not sure who leaked this information. CNN got it from two different sources. I'm not sure their motivation for leaking this information.

Do you buy that? Do you think it's too little too late? We don't know when this finding was signed. But is that a move in the right direction?

MCCAIN: Well, I think it's a move in the right direction. And I don't know any more than has been reported, but we need to make sure that those weapons are there, the right kind of weapons. But we also need a safe area.

You know that every day that goes on as you have reported there's more danger concerning the security of the chemical weapons and there are more and more foreign fighters, extremist elements entering the fight. So it is clearly in our interest to accelerate the end of Bashar Assad, which we all agree will happen, but how long and how many have to die is the question, and that's directly related to the United States' direct involvement.

COOPER: I want to ask you about those foreign fighters. I interviewed an international journalist, one of two who was actually kidnapped by foreign fighters. There are other reports about al Qaeda inspired or al Qaeda linked groups there.

There are some people who see that in the United States and say, well, look, this is now an opposition that has al Qaeda in it. We should not be supporting them in any way. Do you see the presence of foreign fighters as a reflection of the nature of the opposition, of the politics of the opposition, perspective of the opposition, or do you see it as a vacuum that jihadists are filling?

MCCAIN: Clearly a vacuum. The people that began this revolution were not jihadists; they were not al Qaeda. IN fact, they're the exact opposite of al Qaeda. They're people who peacefully demonstrated for the kinds of things that we cherish.

And as the conflict has dragged out, there has been more and more of these jihadist extremists who have come into the fight. I still am confident that the Syrian people will embrace democracy the same way the people of Libya just did. But the longer it drags on, the more likely it is that these foreign fighters will have a greater, greater influence and the more difficult it will be to bring that country back together once Bashar Assad is gone.

COOPER: Senator John Kerry said yesterday that there's a so- called red line as far as what it would take for military intervention and that, quote, people who need to know, know what it is. I don't know if he's talking about chemical weapons. Do you know what that red line is?

MCCAIN: I have no idea. I do know that every day that goes by, the more there's the possibility, and I emphasize possibility, that some of these chemical weapons could fall into the wrong hands, even into the hands of Hezbollah, which of course, could pose an enormous threat to Israel.

COOPER: There's a disturbing video that went viral that was posted, apparently, by opposition members of them basically killing, gunning down what they said were captured regime supporters, fighters. When you see that, what does that tell you? Is that just the nature of war? We've certainly seen plenty of videos from the regime being brutal to, you know, unarmed demonstrators. We're now seeing this from opposition forces. What is it -- how do you see that?

MCCAIN: Tells me it's terrible and awful, and reprehensible, but it's also again an argument for a sanctuary where the government, such as they had in Benghazi in the case of Libya, where the government can set up the Syrian national council and issue orders and instructions that this kind of atrocity must stop; otherwise they will lose legitimacy with the people of Syria.

COOPER: Senator McCain, thank you very much.

MCCAIN: Thank you.


COOPER: In other news tonight, three suspected terrorists were arrested in Spain. Officials say these men were ready to act. We have details on their plan ahead.


SESAY: More from Anderson in a moment. First, a "360 Bulletin."

Three suspected al Qaeda terrorists have been arrested in Spain. The men had enough explosives to blow up a bus, according to police sources, while the interior ministry says the suspects were ready to act in Spain or Europe.

In Uganda, there are now 30 suspected cases of Ebola at the main hospital handling the outbreak. That includes five prisoners. At least 16 people have died from the virus.

Here at home, a close call at Washington's Reagan National Airport. Three jets came too close to one another because of air- traffic control miscommunication during bad weather. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Jennifer Lopez is threatening legal action and asking for a retraction. That's after published reports her boyfriend, dancer and choreographer Caspar Smart, visited an adult peep show described as a gay cruising spot. Another report says Smart was spending time with an exotic masseuse.

And a bulldog in Oklahoma is recovering after a painful encounter with a porcupine. The dog, named Bella, had surgery to remove the 500 quills embedded in her body. It reminds me of another pooch, this one in Arizona who earned the nickname Cactus Jack when he got stuck in a cactus. This puppy is said to be doing fine after his painful ordeal. Poor thing -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, it's time for tonight's "Shot." Check out this baby goat that has some cool moves.

The drop kick seems to be the little goat's kind of signature move. There's another one, I'm told.

SESAY: Yes, you don't want to be hanging out with that one.

COOPER: Boom! I like that.

SESAY: Yes. Unless he's drop kicking on you. But, you know.

COOPER: He is cute. I could take that goat. All right. Isha, thanks very much.

Coming up, remember the lady from New Jersey, dubbed the tanning mom? She's back. The burning question is, just how tan is she these days? You might be surprised. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight we have an update on a "RidicuList" from back in May that raised a lot of burning questions about this woman, tanning mom as she came to be known, because she was accused of taking her 6-year-old to a tanning bed in New Jersey.

She says she just took her daughter along to the tanning salon and that the little girl never actually went into the tanning booth. But suffice it to say she got a lot of attention when this story broke, mostly because she starting showing up all over the news looking, let's just say when we did this "RidicuList" a few months ago, I was somewhat preoccupied by her appearance. Take a look.


PATRICIA KRENTCIL, TANNING MOM: She doesn't go in there. She's -- you know, she's my little girl. Am I going to bring my little daughter into a 90-degree bed? Nothing is wrong with her and this whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

COOPER: How is that real? I mean, there is no way she can be that tan. There must have been something going on with the lighting in that shot, right? Let's take a look from a different interview.

KRENTCIL: I've been tanning my whole life, going to the beach, tanning salons, so forth. She's six years old. Yes, she does go tanning with Mommy, but not in the booth. The whole thing's preposterous.

COOPER: She's talking about her daughter. I don't care. I can't even pay attention to what she's saying.


COOPER: So now I'm happy to report that tanning mom has resurfaced, and she literally pales in comparison to her former self. In the new issue of "InTouch" magazine, there is a recent photo of tanning mom -- there she is -- after a whole month of no tanning. She tells "InTouch" that everyone says she looks a lot better, but she also says she feels weird and pale.

Welcome to my world, tanning mom. Welcome to my world. It's how I feel every single day. Weird and pale.

Look, I think it's great that she's giving the tanning bed a rest, although she does say she'll still probably squeeze a tan in here or there. And I'm not at all sure that moderation is her strong suit, so we'll see what happens.

Before you know it, she could look like this again, which would be a shame, except of course it's fodder for "Saturday Night Live."


SETH MYERS, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Now you said that those who criticize you are fat, ugly and jealous.

KRISTEN WIIG, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Yes. Though I can't blame them for being jealous. I am alluring in a way they'll never be. Trust me: there are plenty of men in New Jersey who would love to snap into this Slim Jim.


COOPER: Kristen Wiig, I miss her already.

So on behalf of all people who have felt weird and pale for their whole lives, I'm proud to welcome tanning mom to the club, and I urge her to keep fighting the good fight.

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