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CNN NEWSROOM

Arias Defense to Make Alexander Look Bad; John Major Talks Margaret Thatcher; Search for Two Missing Boys; Jay-Z, Beyonce Questioned on Cuba Trip

Aired April 8, 2013 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The defense in Jodi Arias' murder trial is its last witness. This is their chance to solidify what the strategy is. Vilifying the victim. Make Travis Alexander look so bad that jurors may believe it was in self-defense that he was killed. How are they trying to do that? In part, by reading out texts and instant messages that he sent to her. A domestic violence expert describe some of those messages in court. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALYCE LAVIOLETTE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXPERT: He tells her, her words are useless. He hates her. She's caused him more pain than the death of his father. She's a rotten lunatic. He has never dealt with a more solid form of evil. She's nothing but a liar. She lives a life identical to Satan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Don't forget, these are messages from Travis Alexander, real evidence to Jodi Arias, and her claim is that she was an abused girlfriend. The trial picks back up at 12:30 eastern time this afternoon.

"In Session" correspondent, Jean Casarez is with me now, as is CNN's Ted Rowlands, both of them outside the Phoenix courthouse.

Ted Rowlands, listen. We had to cherry pick through a lot of those messages just to be able to read on television what some of those messages said. There were some really awful things read in court.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Very nasty things. Aggressive things too saying that Hitler has more of a conscience than you. A lot of sexually demeaning things that were aggressive, and the theme here from the defense is to set up a scenario for jurors so they could feel comfortable with the idea that Jodi Arias was indeed fearing for her life, and this witness is putting it out there as a possibility. Juan Martinez, though, has come back at her very hard. Maybe too hard in some people's minds during cross. I think he may tone it down a little whether we resume court here today. His job is to try to not only go after this expert by saying that she is unqualified, but also reminding the jury that Travis Alexander is the real victim in this case.

BANFIELD: And, Jean Casarez, it's not as though this jury hasn't heard it all by now. They have been deluged with some of the most personal private and quite frankly vial evidence that any courtroom can offer, especially in a murder case. When these things were read out, did it have or did it seem to have the desired affect of the defense, and that is to show there are some true real evidence that doesn't come from the mouth of Jodi Arias to show that Travis was rough on her.

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, IN SESSION: I can't tell you that it determines the ultimate issue, but I think we can look at the surface or we can look a layer deeper. If we look a layer deeper, all of the things that we just heard alike read that Travis said about Jodi, a day later he is texting her glowing wonderful things that are very loving. I think it shows a very seriously just deranged relationship, a sick relationship. I think also the issue of stalker comes into these text messages because we heard the jury heard through hearsay in this trial that the ex-girlfriend of Travis was a stalker, but then you have these text messages during that particular time period, and you hear Travis saying glowing things to Jodi about Jodi. I think there's many reasons the defense wanted to bring all of these text messages forward.

BANFIELD: All right. You can watch all of the action inside the courtroom today on HLN, also CNN.com.

Now, the lead story of the day without question has been the passing of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain. She was succeeded after three consecutive electrics to prime minister or at least to the leader of her party, by one John Major, who will succeed this newscast after the break. He is going to join us live to talk about his time with the Iron Lady.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Back now to the story of the hour, the story of many hours, in fact. The passing of Britain's Iron Lady, the former prime minister of great Britain Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher. She died today at the age of 87. She had a stroke after several years of frail health.

I'm very pleased to be joined by Mrs. Thatcher's successor at 10 Downing Street, Sir John Major, leader of the conservative party from 1990 to 1997.

Sir John, thank you so much for being with me today. I really appreciate this time to talk with you. So many questions and so little time, but let's just start with her legacy, and what you believe it to be having played such a large role in it as well.

SIR JOHN MAJOR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER & FORMER LEADER, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Well, her legacy, I think, is many sided, but I think the core of it, of the supply side changes they she made to the economy in the 1980s with her then chancellor, Jeffrey Howe, and the way in which she curbed the all mighty power of the trade unions. Both of those changed British live life forever, but overshadowing that in one respect is the fact that she was the first woman prime minister that traditionalist country like the United Kingdom was a very remarkable thing.

BANFIELD: Perhaps you can shed some light in your time as a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Thatcher, what it was like behind closed doors. There were so many rumors and reports of the schisms and the friction that she had with her ministers and those in her inner circle, you being one of them.

MAJOR: Well, there were. There were arguments. I mean, Margaret was competent. Margaret enjoyed an argument. She liked someone who would stand up to her and argue a different case, and out of those arguments came policy. Yes, there were arguments, but they weren't bitter. They weren't personal. They were generally arguments about policy, and that was the way in which the policy was actually created. It was a great deal to be done. Everybody knew what the objectives were. The question was which of the alternatives ways to reach those objectives, and there was some very powerful personalities in cabinet in those days, and they argued very fiercely for their own particular way, and so did Margaret.

BANFIELD: She was such a formidable personality. For those of us who were in our young years of reporting and living through her tenure, hearing her speak was her forcefulness, and yet her lady-like manner. There's so much more to her behind the scenes, and, yet, weave been deprived of seeing her at all for the better part of a decade. I'm just wondering if you have had a chance in her later years where she was ill to see her or speak with her in her private time.

MAJOR: Yes, of course. We had coffee, and we had lunch together from time to time. We were able to talk, but in recent years, of course, she's been far from well. I think the point about Margaret that people don't understand is there's more than one Margaret Thatcher. There is the very forceful politician that people know. There's also the pragmatic politician who before finally making up her mind was very pragmatic as to a whole series of alternatives, and the prime minister who would argue very fiercely with her ministerial colleagues and was very kind and solicitless to people who weren't in a position to answer back. I never saw her in all the years I knew her behave unprofessionally or unkindly to people who weren't in a position to answer her back and squabble with her.

BANFIELD: But you never --

(CROSSTALK)

MAJOR: If she saw you as an equal --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Sorry.

MAJOR: No, no, no. She was perfectly prepared. She was perfectly prepared and had fierce arguments with her cabinet colleagues.

BANFIELD: Sir John, did you ever feel for even a fleeting moment yourself and your fellow cabinet ministers that she was losing touch at any time with what the caucus wanted or thought was best for the country? Almost railroading policy or did you feel like you were always in a fair debate and in a role of guilder?

MAJOR: I think right until very near towards the end it was a fair debate. I think Margaret lost something that had always been a great characteristic of hers. For the first eight years of her premiership she was impeccable. She seemed to have a diving rod to people's instincts. In the last couple of years I think that fell away just a little, particularly over the imposition of a new tax called the pole tax where I think Margaret thought it was a very good idea. In theory it was. But in practice it was pretty disastrous. There was a big split between Margaret and the political party and the country over the question of the pole tax.

BANFIELD: But was she on an island, or was there a particular -- or was this her perhaps -- I mean, in your most indicated guess, was this perhaps the early onset of illness setting in that caused that to happen?

MAJOR: Oh, no, no, no. Absolutely not. No, no. She was perfectly fit. Perfectly healthy. She had formed a judgment on the policy, and I think really, it didn't often happen, but I think she made a mistake in judgment, and most people disagreed with her, and if you have won three elections, you rather expect to get your own way, and so Margaret wasn't backing away from that policy, and that caused --

BANFIELD: I like that.

MAJOR: -- a very great fiction.

BANFIELD: I think you're right. If you win three consecutive elections and you are the first one to do so and certainly the only one to do so in that century, you would start to feel pretty strong.

MAJOR: I think you have a right to be listened to, and she did have a right to be listened to. Upon examining the policy, people didn't really like it. Because the conservative cabinet was full of big personalities, they made it clear that they didn't like it and friction arose.

BANFIELD: Like I said, there are so many questions and so little time, and I do want to get the personal -- the personal side of her from you as well. The anecdote that she flirted with world leaders. I just wanted you to weigh in and maybe break that down for me because there is a way that that can be seen as flirting, and it can be very effective strategy. How did you see her behavior, and how she navigated foreign policy with the strongest people, the toughest tough as nails leaders around the world?

MAJOR: Well, in some ways her femininity helped her. She didn't scruple to use it if it was effective. She would argue fiercely. She didn't ask for any favors because she was a woman rather than a man, but she would certainly use her attractiveness and her charm with male counterparts in order to get her way. She certainly did that. I saw her do it 100 times.

BANFIELD: Did it work? Sir John, I don't know if you could hear me, but I wanted to know in your estimation, did it work? MAJOR: Oh, I'm sorry. I beg your pardon. The line went dead. It often did work, yes. Most certainly it worked. She formed a very good relationship with a number of very powerful leaders around the country.

BANFIELD: So she's quoted -- she's quoted as having said, and Piers Morgan alluded to this earlier in the broadcast before you joined us, sir, that she could size up a man within 15 seconds. I don't know if you had any insight into that extraordinary talent of hers or whether she sized you up in 15 seconds, and did she ever tell you her thoughts about you?

MAJOR: No, she didn't, but she was -- all the time I was many her cabinet, she was very supportive. I think she did size people up very quickly, but sometimes she changed her mind. Sometimes she changed her mind. The belief that is she never changed her mind is part of modern legend. It wasn't part of contemporary fact.

BANFIELD: Any particular --

(CROSSTALK)

MAJOR: She was very pragmatic sometimes.

BANFIELD: When you say sometimes she changed her mind and you say it twice, anything in particular that is worthy of mentioning on this broadcast where she did change her mind, and it was a significant fact?

MAJOR: It was over a whole range of policies. She didn't come to cabinet with a mind fully settled as to what the policy should be. It would be argued. A preliminary decision would be made. She would go away and think about it. She would come back and she would say I don't think that's right. I think there's a better way to do it. She would change her mind in debate. There was quite a long process often in making policy and during that process Margaret's mind might shift several times until she was certain she had got the right answer.

BANFIELD: Sir John Major, it is a pleasure to have a chance to speak with you. I'm sorry it's on this very sad occasion, but it's wonderful that you are able to tell us some of these anecdotes and reflect on a remarkable life. Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister.

MAJOR: Thank you very much.

BANFIELD: I also want to just read for you what I've just been handed. A statement from former president, Jimmy Carter. I'll read as I get it. His wife Roslyn -- "Roslyn and I are certainly saddened to hear of the death of Margaret Thatcher. She was a strong ally of peace and human rights during my presidency. As prime minister her government was in the forefront of those who stood with the United States on key concerns, including the need for the sole treaty, a stronger NATO alliance, Majority rule in Zimbabwe, and efforts to bring the Iran hostages home peacefully. We extend our condolences to our family and the people of great Britain on their loss."

The accolades coming in cross-party on the death of Margaret Thatcher.

We are back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Two little boys are missing today. And police in Tampa, Florida, say their mom and dad are with them in a sailboat. Get a good look at these two little boys. One is 2-year-old Chase Hacken and his 4-year-old brother, Kohl (ph) Hacken as well. Both last seen wearing their pajamas. Their dad and mom both lost custody of these kids. They were arrested on drug charges at a hotel in Louisiana last year. At the time, they were talking about Armageddon and ultimately completing a journey -- rather completing their ultimate journey. The children were right there at the time all of that was going down. So, yes, they lost custody at the time. But fast forward to Wednesday. Police say Joshua Hacken broke into his mother-in-law's home and tied her up. That's where the boys have been staying. He ran off with those children. And that's when the grandmother was able to make this call to 911.

(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)

DISPATCHER: 911, what is your emergency?

CALLER: I can't think. My son-in-law just kidnapped my two grandchildren. They've been in my state custody.

(END AUDIO FEED)

BANFIELD: I want to get right to Sara Ganim, following the story for us in Miami.

First off, is there anything that you can tell us that's the latest in this search? Are they closing in? There's a sailboat involved. Where does it stand?

SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Really, Ashleigh, when I talked to a sheriff's deputy this morning he said the latest of the last tip that was really relevant that got them somewhere was on Thursday night. And that's when they found the family's SUV at the dock that led them to believe that they actually had left land and were out at sea with these two children. Now, what they're doing today is asking people who are out boating offshore on the Gulf of Mexico to help them look for this sailboat. I'm going to read you a description for our viewers. It's a 25-foot sailboat. It's blue with a white stripe near the water line. And two white paw prints on each side of the name of the boat. The father recently purchased this boat according to authorities, but he isn't an experienced sailor. So they believe he has all of the necessary tools to be out on the water for an extended period of time, but because there's so much coastline, the amber alert has been expanded to other coastal states. And authorities are saying, look, we really need your help to look in waterways and anywhere you might be along shore the Gulf of Mexico.

BANFIELD: Sara, just reading the background on this, it's remarkable what's just happened in the past few years and months. Apparently, Joshua had shown up at the foster home where these kids were living and tried to take them at gunpoint but failed. And then ultimately both of these parents just found out Tuesday that they've been stripped of their parental rights. Do the police actually think they're trying to cross the Gulf of Mexico and leave the country?

GANIM: The police aren't saying much about that. But this morning when I talked to that deputy, he said he reached out really to the family. They wanted to reach out through the media. They said at this point they don't have any reason to believe that the kids are hurt. And they really wanted the parents to know that they can reach out back to the police and return the kids safely. And this is a custody issue. Clearly this is about custody. And if they were to open the lines of communication, they could start to talk to police and resolve this in a good way -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Well, yes. Except for when you hear that before they were talking about completing the ultimate journey with drugs and guns. It's just frightening.

Sara, thank you. I know you'll continue watching this story for us. Please bring us the latest when you find out.

Also, coming up, a wedding anniversary, a trip that led to crowds and chaos and paparazzi pictures. Beyonce and Jay-Z heading off to Cuba. Hey, wait, aren't we not allowed to go there? Story's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Now for some celebrity justice. I start with the ultimate power couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce. A pair of Florida lawmakers want some answers after these superstars went on a vacation to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. The trouble is, Americans can't legally go to Cuba as tourists. If they go for an officially sanctioned reason, they have to fill out some serious paperwork. Now, the lawmakers are upset because the Cuban government is now using all these great pictures to promote tourism in that country.

Paul Callan and Judge Glenda Hatchett joining us.

Nobody gets prosecuted for this, though in fact there are cases.

Paul Callan, what am I breaking if I'm going to Montreal and go to Cuba and use my American passport?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's complicated, really. There's no law that actually prohibits you from traveling to Cuba. The law in question prohibits you from spending money in Cuba because we have sanctions against Cuba in place. So your purchase of a plane ticket and then your purchase of food and lodgings once you get to Cuba would be a violation of U.S. law. But you're absolutely correct. There have been almost no prosecutions under this law through the years. I think I found vague reference to about 16. That's over about a quarter of a century. Very, very few prosecutions.

BANFIELD: And not small too. I think I read one case where a guy was facing over $6,000 in fines for his trip. I want to move onto another -- this is a celebrity blogger moment, former important star arrested on Saturday night for allegedly assaulting a man that she knows. He's apparently made a citizens arrest. And then held her until the police came. She was booked on a misdemeanor, posted no bail, walked free.

But, Judge Hackett, here's the question. When you have a big celebrity in a place like, I don't know, California, does the celebrity make them go tougher because they are so worried about scrutiny if they're the law enforcement end of it, or does it make them ease up because they know it's such a bigger punishment when a celebrity faces something than an average guy who doesn't get headlines?

GLENDA HACKETT, FORMER JUVENILE COURT JUDGE: This has been a debate, Ashleigh, forever. That celebrities get off easier because of their celebrity status. I will tell you, in this case I was looking at this morning, she's already on an informal probation from last year for a three-year period.