Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani; Kenyan Mall Attack Over; British Woman Among Mall Attackers?; Senator Ted Cruz In Marathon Protest Of Obamacare

Aired September 24, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone.

For years, Iran's appearance at the United Nations General Assembly has been many things, contentious, insulting, combative, explosive.

Iran showed up every year brimming with animosity, bringing venomous offensive speeches that reliably emptied rooms. However, today was historic. It was, in a word, different.

Immediately after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani delivered his widely anticipated speech, he sat down with our own Christiane Amanpour, and for the first time, he detailed why he declined to meet with President Obama today. He also spoke directly to the American people in English. Listen.


PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: I would like to say to American people I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.


COOPER: We're going to have more of Christian's interview just ahead tonight.

Rouhani's U.N. debut came on the heels of a charm offensive that many have found, frankly, head spinning. His recent diplomatic overtures to the United States, both unexpected and to some in the West, suspect.

Now before we go to Christiane's interview, a look at how we got to this point.


COOPER (voice-over): 1979 riots sweep the streets of Tehran following nearly two years of protests. Iranians are fed up with the Western influence rule of the Shah. It's the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. And it's also the end of relations between Iran and the United States. The Shah came into power after an American-backed coup in 1953. And during his quarter century rule, he enjoyed support and good relations with the West. He's the last Iranian leader to meet face- to-face with the U.S. president.

The revolution sends the Shah into exile and brings the return of Ayatollah Khomeini who takes religious and political control of the country, declaring Iran an Islamic state and calling the United States the great Satan.

In November 1979 with the Ayatollah's blessing militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran taking 66 American hostages.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The acts of barbarism which were perpetrated on our people by Iran can never be condoned.

COOPER: The U.S. responds by freezing Iranian assets in the U.S. It takes 444 days before the hostages are finally freed.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Some 30 minutes ago, the planes bearing our prisoners left Iranian air space and are now free of Iran.


COOPER: Direct ties between the two countries are severed. The U.S. even supports Iraq in its war against Iran in the 1980s. The tense relationship between the two countries continues through subsequent U.S. administrations with Washington imposing sanctions on Iran and accusing the country of state-sponsored terrorism.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world by seeking weapons of mass destruction. These regimes pose a grave and growing danger. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror.

COOPER: In 2005, hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected as Iran's president. His eight-year rule is marked by nuclear ambitions and outrageous statements against the West which include denying the holocaust and blaming the United States for the September 11th terror attacks.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, FORMER IRANIAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save this Zionist regime.

COOPER: Now a possible thaw between Iran and the U.S. The effects of crippling sanctions against Iran coupled with the election of President Hassan Rouhani may bring about an open dialogue but they must still overcome a long history of mistrust.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America's role in overthrowing the Iranian government during the Cold War. On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy.

COOPER: That's a lot to overcome. But there's also a lot on the line.


COOPER: As you see there, President Obama spoke at the General Assembly a few hours before President Rouhani. He said he had instructed Secretary of State Kerry to pursue face-to-face negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program. He also warned that Iran's words will have to be matched with actions that are transparent and also verifiable.

There was obviously a lot of discussion today over whether President Obama and Rouhani would meet on the sidelines and maybe even shake hands. In the end they did not. Now officials said it was too complicated.

Here is some of Christian's interview with President Rouhani.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Mr. President. Nice to see you. (Speaking in foreign language).

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: Nice to see you again.

AMANPOUR: Nice to see you again. Exactly. Please. Welcome to CNN. Thank you for doing this for us.

I want to ask you what it feels like to be what some people have called the "it" man of this UNGA. Highly anticipated. You seem to be the focus of attention. And unusually for Iranian presidents, people are looking at you with some at least cautious optimism. What does it feel like to be in this position?

ROUHANI (Through Translator): Before responding to your question I'd like to actually extend my greetings to the people of America who are very dear and near to the hearts of the Iranian people and to wish them a good time and good times ahead.

AMANPOUR: There was a lot of expectation, maybe too high expectations, that you and President Obama might at least shake hands today at the United Nations. Nobody thought there was going to be a formal meeting but perhaps that you would at least say hello, shake hands, break the ice. But you didn't. Why didn't you?

ROUHANI (Through Translator): There were some talks about it, in fact, to perhaps arrange for a meeting between President Obama and myself. So that given the opportunity we can talk with each other. And preparation for the work was done a bit as well. The United States declared its interest in having such a meeting and in principle could have, under certain circumstances, allowed it to happen.

But I believe we didn't have sufficient time to really coordinate the meeting. But speaking of the ice-breaking that you mentioned, it's already beginning to break because the environment is changing and that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of relations between the people of Iran and the rest of the world.

AMANPOUR: Are you authorized to start talking, negotiating with the United States? Are you authorized by the Supreme Leader back in Iran?

ROUHANI (Through Translator): I think that the president of Iran has the authority whenever the national interest of the country is involved and when it's necessary and expedient and required to speak and talk with others in order to promote the rights of its nations.

For circumstances to be laid properly the Supreme Leader of Iran said should negotiations be necessary for the national interest of the country he is, in fact, not opposed to it. He has specifically mentioned it in a recent talk that he is not optimistic regarding the issue of talks with the United States but when it comes to specific issues, government officials may speak with their American counterparts.

Now, if an opportunity was created today, had risen today and the prep work for that had been done, most probably the talks would have taken place primarily focused on the nuclear issue or the developments on the Middle East. Therefore the Supreme Leader, I can tell you, has given permission for my government to freely negotiate on these issues.

AMANPOUR: One of the things your predecessor used to do from this very platform was deny the holocaust and pretend that it was a myth. I want to know you -- your position on the holocaust. Do you accept what it was? And what was it?

ROUHANI (Through Translator): I have said before that I am not a historian. And that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the holocaust it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews is reprehensible and condemnable.

Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn. The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference whether that life is Jewish life, Christian, or Muslim. For us it is the same.

The taking of human life is something our religion rejects. But this does not mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crimes against a group now therefore they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion.

AMANPOUR: And finally, can you give me a sentence in English that you would like to say to the American people ?

ROUHANI: I would like to say to American people I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.


COOPER: Christiane Amanpour joins me now. I also want to bring in senior political analyst David Gergen and Mike Doran, who's with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution.

Christiane, we know the White House was willing to meet with Rouhani today. The Iranians pulled back. President Rouhani told you that there wasn't enough time to set up the meeting. Did that make sense to you?

AMANPOUR: Look, I think there was a lot of hype that it would be a formal meeting. And it was never going to be that. You're right. The White House said and indicated that if somewhere on the sidelines there was going to be a handshake or a hello or, as I put it, an icebreaker, yes, they were up for it and willing to do it.

And, you know, I'd asked the Iranian delegation since Sunday, was it going to happen, and they said, well, we haven't taken a decision on that yet. So clearly they didn't take a decision on it and it didn't happen.

But I think, you know -- and certainly the Americans believe that it was because of complications that he would face in Iran if he did it. And look, there are a lot of complications. But I do think that the serious nature of what he's saying in terms of being given the authority to negotiate by the Supreme Leader and that a consensus has been arrived at in Iran to negotiate on the nuclear issue and, as he said, other regional issues, and I also asked him about direct bilateral issues with the United States, and the fact that he says he has that authority, is the key issue.

And President Obama today named Secretary of State Kerry and the Iranians have already named their foreign minister, Javad Zarif, American educated, well-known to many American officials, as the key negotiators on these very issues.

COOPER: So to you that's the most significant thing you heard today in this interview, that he has the authority to negotiate.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, I think that is a big deal because I have been here before. I interviewed the then reform president, Khatami, many, many years ago. He said many of the same things. He was willing to do the same things. The difference was -- and he's admitted it and now written about it -- that he didn't have the backing of the Supreme Leader nor the consensus.

So I do believe that that is a very big development in just the meeting between Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif will be a change, a big deal.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: It hasn't happened at that level. The other things he said was he was willing to take serious steps to build confidence. I pressed him on the issue of confidence. There is no confidence in what Iran says it's doing with its nuclear program. On the issue of full transparency. We went through the kind of framework that he might see as the deal. COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: Obviously they want sanctions lifted and all of that. And he was very forthcoming on the issue of tweeting where Iranians don't have access, as you know, to social media. He said he wanted to make sure they did have it. On human rights, he wanted to make sure they have more ability. So I think there were a lot of new things I heard today.

COOPER: And I do want to play more of that. But, Mike, first, do you buy that explanation about the meeting? I mean, you never thought meeting was wise between Obama and Rouhani.

MICHAEL DORAN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: No. I don't buy the explanation. Clearly the Supreme Leader has given -- has given Rouhani some rope for him to play. And we need to -- we need to investigate how far he can play. But I think we see already there are limits. This morning in the "Kayhan" newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the regime, it was said that Rouhani should not shake the president's hand. And then he didn't do it.

And it's also a little bit of a power game. They sense that we're running after them and they are going to play hard to get.

COOPER: David, does it -- does it sound like the U.S. had the rug pulled out from underneath it? Or -- I mean, does it make the U.S. look bad for offering or good for offering?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it made the U.S. look a little clumsy in its diplomacy. And I think it was a little embarrassing when the leader of the most powerful nation on earth was willing to meet and somebody else has basically snubbed him. I think that that's -- you know, it was an embarrassing moment.

But I think it's small, to go back to the Christiane's point. I think it's small, Anderson, compared to the larger picture that we see here. And it may ultimately just a footnote. The larger picture is that the Obama administration actually deserved credit along with the Bush administration in bringing these sanctions to bear. And that's what's bringing President Rouhani to the table.

COOPER: These sanctions have had teeth.

GERGEN: They clearly have had teeth. They've been having teeth for a while. I mean, the revenue from oil now is half of what it had been. But what the sanctions really started (INAUDIBLE). They've got the highest inflation rate in 145 countries around the world. And it's been going up rapidly here in the last few months. They're under a lot of pressure at home from people in the streets.

Now we saw -- as Christiane also said, we saw back in the Clinton year with Khatami, we saw a similar set of overtures. Bill Clinton as president got quite enthusiastic about pursuing it, and then they've really pulled back. They really pulled the rug out on him when he -- and that whole thing fell apart. And I think that's what's giving all of us a lot of caution about interpreting this.

COOPER: Hey, Christiane, I want to play your exchange, as you talk about with Rouhani, about the nuclear issue because it's difficult to exactly understand what he's willing to do in a concrete way to establish confidence. Let's listen.


AMANPOUR: In broad, what is it that you're willing to do to inspire confidence? I know I've asked you this already. But I don't hear you saying -- I don't -- maybe I don't understand. But clearly what people want is full transparency.

So is Iran, yes or no, willing to give that level of confidence that there is no doubt that what you say you're doing you're actually doing?

ROUHANI (Through Translator): Over 40 countries have enrichment capacities. And many of them have ongoing enrichment operations. What is the difference between Iran and those countries?

Now there are countries that have not even accepted the NPT or even agreed to work with the IAEA that Iran has accepted and is committed to the NPT. Iran has accepted and committed itself to the safeguards agreement. All of its activities are under the supervision of the IAEA.


COOPER: He's saying also, Christiane, to you that there are, you know, cameras all over the place. That they haven't deviated. That the IAEA is happy with the way things are in Iran, but that's simply not accurate.

AMANPOUR: Well, it is and it isn't. There are cameras and there are inspectors, and Iran is cooperating under the strict terms of the IAEA and the NPT, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. What people want to know is whether the Iranians are willing to go over and above to give even more transparency. And so that is what I was I trying to get at.

Now many of his aides say that, yes, Iran is willing to do that. But he obviously wasn't going to negotiate with me in an interview. I pushed him on 20 percent enrichment and capacity. He wouldn't bite on that, he wouldn't bite on the Fordow plant which is near Qom, the underground plant that everybody talked about which has the more advanced centrifuges.

But what I did find interesting was that he did seem to indicate that there is another issue that we all know about. And that is a heavy water reactor called Iraq at Iraq. And many people are worried that that could be used for plutonium extraction. That's another way, if it was so desired, to go toward a weapon. And that may be coming online or is designed to come online in the spring. He indicated that there was flexibility to putting that on the table. I thought that was quite interesting because that was where he indicated there may be some bargaining point. And to be honest with you, that's the thing that many people are worried about in terms of a point of no return.

COOPER: Mike, do you buy the explanation from Rouhani?

DORAN: I thought, you know, David's point that the -- that the symbolism today of them snubbing us is a small one -- was a good one. But I think it's symbolic of the danger that we have here which is that we are perceived as running after them. And we have to be careful about our own exuberance because we -- if we get involved in a negotiation with them, and they immediate turn around and they say, you know what, to continue this negotiation, you're going to have to start lifting sanctions, we're going to find ourselves very quickly making concessions to them in return for continuation of process. And it's extremely dangerous, I think.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to have more of Christiane's interview --

AMANPOUR: Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Go ahead, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: That issue is the real crux of it. I mean, there has to be, according to the Iranians, some kind of reciprocity, proportional reciprocity. If we give us this, then you have to give us that, and on and on until the situation is over.

And I think certainly if the U.S. and the West doesn't do that, according to the Iranians, that's going to be a deal breaker and this window is going to close. Basically he has to go back with something to show for what they're doing. And I'm not sure that the U.S. is running after them. They look more like they are eager to do this as you say the sanctions are --


COOPER: David, the critics of the idea of negotiation will say that's preconditioned --

GERGEN: Absolutely. And I do think that President Obama has got his own, you know, pressure back home. And that's going to be -- he's going to be under enormous pressure from both parties and from experts not to make concessions early.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And he -- he's got a history that when he negotiated of sometimes making a preemptory concession.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.

We're going to talk about this again with Christiane and others at 10:00, in a roundtable in AC 360 later.

Let me know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @Andersoncooper.

I want to thank all my guests. Mike Doran as well. David Gergen.

I'll be tweeting tonight.

Just ahead, Kenya's president says the four-day siege in a Nairobi mall is finally over after three floors of the mall collapsed. Is it really over? We've got get the latest from the scene.

Also a live shot from the Senate floor where Senator Ted Cruz is conducting a marathon protest speech against Obamacare. We'll see how long he says he's willing to stand at the podium and what, if anything, it actually might accomplish.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight in the Nairobi terror attack, a senior Kenyan official tells CNN there appeared to be a woman among the terrorists and that she was killed early on in the siege. The official said her ethnicity couldn't be determined from the photographic evidence. Also tonight It is not clear if the siege is over. There are conflicting reports.

Kenya's president says the terrorists have been defeated with five of them dead, 11 other suspects in custody. He said 61 civilians and six members of Kenyan's security forces died in the effort to retake the mall. And he also said three floors of the shopping mall have collapsed, trapping bodies underneath. He didn't explain what caused the collapse.

Heavy smoke was visible today pouring out of the complex. And the last time we've seen video shot inside the mall was Saturday in the early hours of the attack when some journalists were able to go in with security forces.

CNN's Nima Elbagir joins me now.

So the Kenyan authorities have confirmed that a woman was among the attackers. Do we know more about that? Because there have been a lot of -- a lot of reports, a lot of speculation about her. Do we know any facts?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the speculation revolves around Samantha Lewthwaite, who is a well-known suspected al Qaeda financier, who's British.

The Kenyan president came out, I think, the strongest on record assertion that we've had. And he said that they had very strong intelligence that led them to believe there was a British woman and two or three Americans amongst the attackers. But they're still waiting for forensic evidence. And you were just talking about those three floors that collapsed. That crime scene in there is going to be -- it's going to be an extraordinary mess. And we're waiting for forensic experts from around the world who are coming and including from the U.S., the U.K. and Israel, Anderson, to start answering some of those questions.

COOPER: Is the situation there now, I mean, resolved? There have been a lot, again, conflicting reports today about whether it's fully contained as the government is claiming.

ELBAGIR: Well, in terms, I think, of an active operation, that is resolved. But there is still a heavy military presence here. And President Kenyatta spoke about five hostage takers being killed. When this all started we were told that there were at least 10 to 15 armed men inside that building. The obvious question is, where have the rest of them gone?

The other question, which I think is actually the most painful one for people here, is that the Kenyan president made absolutely no mention of the remaining hostages. We have no idea if they are alive, if they are dead. The only thing we do know for a fact is that death toll, given what we've heard, the description of what it looks like in there with bodies piled up, that death toll is set to rise -- Anderson.

COOPER: So the 11 others who -- suspects who have been taken into custody alive, they are not from inside the mall?

ELBAGIR: That's not the sense we're getting. They appear -- and this is obviously just very preliminary intelligence that we're getting. They appear to be part of a broader support network. I think what's most worrying for authorities here and in allied countries like the U.S. and the U.K. is that these guys were picked up at the airport. They were on their way out of Kenya which presumes that they have some kind of a support network elsewhere whether in the Europe or the U.S.

And this is the kind of the greater concern that's the background to all of these. I think that's also why we're seeing the Israelis, and the U.S. and the U.K. lending such a willing helping hand. They are worried. And they need to know how far internationally this network reaches.

COOPER: That is a great question then if the 11 were taken elsewhere and five were killed inside the mall, where are the rest of them? Did they escape with the civilians who went out? Were they crushed underneath the falling debris ? We still don't know. We'll try to find out.

Nima, appreciate it.

As we just reported, a senior Kenyan official telling CNN there appeared to be a woman among the terrorists and that she was killed early on in the siege. Now until forensics are completed, it's impossible to know if she could be the fugitive that some called the "White Widow" whose actual name, as Nima just mentioned, is Samantha Lewthwaite.

There's no evidence that she is in Kenya or was involved in the mall attack. But her name has come up repeatedly because of her links to a known terrorist, her former husband.

CNN's David McKenzie traveled to Mombasa in Kenya last year to look for her.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: This British mother is a wanted woman. Samantha Lewthwaite was once cast as a victim. The pregnant wife of one of the suicide bombers who hit London in 2005. She condemned the attack in an interview with the British newspaper. Then vanished.

(On camera): And she surfaced here in Mombasa. Intelligence sources say Samantha Lewthwaite was now part of an East African based terror cell. She became known as the "White Widow."

(Voice-over): We are here to track her down. In December of 2011 Kenyan Police, helped by British authorities, raided these three homes in the dead of night in pursuit of a complex wave of terror.


MCKENZIE: They found enough bomb-making equipment to wreak havoc.

KIRAITHE: The nature and amount of weapons recovered in the house and the information received prior and after that, it would mean that the intentions must have been sinister.

MCKENZIE: Kenyan intelligence officials say the cell planned to destroy the Nyali Bridge, the Mombasa ferry and unspecified Western targets. Police arrested several Kenyans and a Britain, Jermaine Grant. Grant faces trial in Kenya on terror-related charges. He showed up in a Mombasa court Tuesday charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and possession of explosives. He pleaded not guilty.

But Kenyan Police say Grant knew Samantha Lewthwaite who entered on a South African passport and moved among Mombasa's radical Islamists.

One of them, Abubakar Shariff, is on a U.S. terror watch list, tough he denies any links to terror groups.

(On camera): Didn't come across her or talk to her?

ABUBAKAR SHERIFF, MOMBASA TERROR SUSPECT: Nobody in Mombasa came across her except the anti-terror police unit. Nobody knows about her. Nobody has seen her. She's a myth. I'm giving you a challenge. Go on to Mombasa. Find somebody who's seen her.

MCKENZIE: So we tried. First heading north out of Mombasa on a tip.

(On camera): Intelligence officials believe that Lewthwaite spent a significant amount of time in this luxury villa north of Mombasa.

(Voice-over): The caretaker says an Arabic-looking man paid three months up front but he never saw a woman. In another upscale neighborhood, we get a lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): She did not want to say her name and she used to hide her face.

MCKENZIE: A security guard didn't want to show his face. Says a while woman moved in to the compound with her three young children. She was always in a full hijab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): She never wanted people inside her house. It was just her and her children. So when she wanted to send me she would give me money through the hole in the gates. She would send me to the shop to buy water or meat.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Do you feel that was strange at the time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Yes. It was very strange.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Authorities say Lewthwaite was living with Habib Ghani, a naturalized Briton. They are both accused of planning terror attacks.

One day the security guard watched the woman leave with her children. That night the (INAUDIBLE), she had vanished.

Some intelligence officials believe she has been a committed jihadist, while others say she's been a little more than a sympathizer. The mystery of the white widow remains.

David McKenzie, CNN, Mombasa, Kenya.


COOPER: Well, for more on that story you can go to right now.

Up next, Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite, is now hours into his marathon protest of Obamacare. What he's hoping to accomplish and what he actually might accomplish coming up next.

Also the photograph, a South Carolina couple waited a long time to take with their adopted daughter. We'll talk to a close family friend about the girl known as Baby Veronica who is finally home with her adopted parents, just ahead.


COOPER: A little more happening tonight. Isha Sesay has a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, freshman, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and a hero of the Tea Party, is speaking on the Senate floor this hour in a marathon protest of Obamacare. He's seeking to cut all funding to the program. Cruz started speaking this afternoon and said he'll talk until he is no longer able to stand. It looks like he's run out of things to say against Obamacare. He just finished reading bedtime stories to his children from right there on the Senate floor.

While Cruz is already speaking this afternoon, President Obama talked about what he says are the benefits of Obamacare with former President Bill Clinton at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

And Bono is also attending the Clinton Global Initiative. He's a friend of Clinton and a major supporter of the organization. In a light-hearted moment, he did a spot-on impression of the former president from the first time he met the singer.


BONO, U2 SINGER: As Clinton he walked into the oval office and I thought it was a member of his own road crew. It wasn't really dressed right. I felt like the rock star on that occasion.


SESAY: Very good.

COOPER: He spent a long time doing it.

SESAY: Bono is cool.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much. We're done. A 360 follow, a story we have been covering for years, the battle for a little girl once known as Baby Veronica. Now 4 years old. Tonight, Veronica is back with the couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco who adopted her as a newborn, a reunion photo there, all smiles.

Yesterday the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Veronica should be returned to the Capobiancos. Nearly two years ago, Veronica was taken away from them, returned to her biological father, Dustin Brown, who invoked a law meant to keep Native American children with Native American families.

The issue has been tied up in the courts since then. But last night Brown handed Veronica back to the Capobiancos in a transfer the Cherokee Nation attorney general called peaceful and dignified. Jessica Munday is a close friend of the Capobiancos. She joins us now.

Jessica, first of all, how is Veronica doing?

JESSICA MUNDAY, CAPOBIANCO FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: She's doing wonderfully. She's been reunited with her parents. They have been so incredibly happy and it's just been a very beautiful reunion.

COOPER: Did she remember them? I mean, did she instantly recognize them?

MUNDAY: She did. She did. We had no doubt. The bond that they had as a family would make any parent envious. They were very, very close family and there was no doubt and yes, she remembered them.

COOPER: Walk us through, if you can, the last 24 hours from the time the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted the stay at the time Veronica was turned over to Capobiancos.

MUNDAY: Well, it all happened so incredibly fast. We knew that they were going to file a motion to lift the stay but, as you know, this legal ordeal has been going on so long. We have almost gotten accustomed to expecting that when you take an action legally that you are going to have to wait for a while. So we were all very surprised that it happened as quickly as it did.

COOPER: I understand the Capobiancos are no longer in Oklahoma. Can you say where they are?

MUNDAY: They are actually on their way home. They are taking their time to get home. They're anxious to get home and see family, but right now they're really just focused on spending time with their daughter and this reunion and just soaking up every minute they can.

COOPER: As I understand it now her biological father has no visitation rights. His attorney says he's devastated. I know the Capobiancos have said in the past that they want him to remain a part of Veronica's life. After all that's happened is that still the case? Do they still want him to be a part of her life?

MUNDAY: You know, Anderson, this has always been an open adoption. There is no doubt in my mind that Matt and Melanie are going to keep it that way. They are very much in tune with what's best for Veronica. They don't want to alienate her from where she came from and her birth family.

COOPER: Do they believe this is finally over? Are they concerned her biological father may continue to fight to get her back or the Cherokee Nation?

MUNDAY: It's our understanding that this is close now. Having the U.S. Supreme Court rule in our favor was a huge win. Now having the state of Oklahoma and the state of South Carolina both recognized in the adoption, she's now -- Matt and Melanie are now her parents across the world. There is no question anymore from a legality standpoint who her parents are.

We are just very excited that she's home. You know, our hearts go to the Brown family. No one ever wanted the situation to escalate to the point that it did. No one knows better how they feel than Matt and Melanie.

COOPER: Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to talk. Appreciate it.

MUNDAY: Thank you very much.

COOPER: It's finally over for them.

Up next, the family of Marlon Brown vehemently disagrees with the medical examiner's report concluding that the Florida man's death under a police cruiser was an accident. Tonight, there are questions about the medical examiner. We'll explore that ahead.


COOPER: In the "Crime and Punishment" report tonight, was the death of Marlon Brown, a Florida man who wound up underneath a police car really an accident? The medical examiner said yes, it was. His death was accidental. There was no evidence that Brown was struck by the police vehicle. Brown's family, however, disagrees, calling the incident an execution saying the proof is on the videotape. We'll show it to you tonight and warning it is hard to watch. If you need to turn away, do so now.

The video is from the patrol car's dash cam showing Brown running through a vacant lot toward trees and shrubs where he slips and falls and the car comes to a stop on top of him. Ben Crump, the attorney for Brown's family today called the medical examiner's report inaccurate and he is demanding an independent review. As Randi Kaye reports tonight there are questions about the medical examiner himself.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the run from police in Deland, Florida, Marlon Brown never expected this is how his life would end. In an instant he's gone. Brown disappears underneath the officer's patrol car. The officer had been chasing him for a seat belt violation.

Brown's family calls it an execution saying Officer James Harris never slowed down or swerved to avoid hitting Brown. That's not what the medical examiner for the Volusia County found. In this autopsy report, Dr. Shiping Bao called Brown's death in May an accident. Most controversially that the car did not, repeat did not hit Brown.

Because there were no pelvic or skull fractures. Instead the medical examiner found Brown died from mechanical asphyxia, the weight of the car cut off his oxygen. The report was reviewed and signed by the chief medical examiner. Willy Gary is Dr. Bow's lawyer.

(on camera): You are confident in his skills?


KAYE: You think he's qualified?

GARY: I think his record speaks for itself. I think he's more than qualified. KAYE (voice-over): That may be true with more than 3,000 autopsies under his belt. But remember, Dr. Bao also performed the autopsy on Trayvon Martin after the teenager was shot by George Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call your next witness please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would call Dr. Bao.

KAYE: On the stand in July, Bao had attorneys on both sides shaking their heads. First, he didn't remember details about his own autopsy.

DR. SHIPING BAO, FORMER ASSOCIATE MEDICAL EXAMINER: All I knew was in the morning I did autopsy. I do not have any memory of the day of autopsy. All I have are the notes I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me be sure I understand.

BAO: Without notes I cannot tell you any fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no memory.

BAO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of any of the events surrounding the autopsy itself.

BAO: Yes. I try very hard.

KAYE: Then Dr. Bao tersely refused to let the defense attorney see his notes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see them, please?

BAO: I would rather you do not see. This is my notes. Nobody saw that before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Bao, if you are going to be reading from your notes, both attorneys are entitled to see what you are reading from.

KAYE: Finally, Bao suddenly offered a brand new conclusion about how long Trayvon Martin survived.

BAO: I believe Trayvon Martin was alive for 1 to 10 minutes after he was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying his brain is still technically alive in other words?

BAO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what you mean by still alive in terms of conscious. His brain is still alive?

BAO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can still feel pain in other words.

BAO: Yes.

KAYE: That conclusion was roundly mocked and things fell apart for Dr. Bao after that.

(on camera): In August, Volusia County sent Dr. Bao a letter notifying him he would be terminated. He was given 30 days to find another job. When he didn't quit he was officially fired on September 6th losing his $175,000 a year job.

(voice-over): County officials wouldn't say why he was fired. His lawyer said it was because the county needed a fall guy to help subdue anger after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder. They are currently planning to sue the county. But this Marlon Brown case is only bringing more controversy to Bao's tenure.

KRYSTAL BROWN, MARLON BROWN'S EX-WIFE: The video speaks the truth. The truth is you can see Marlon being struck by the car. It's not about what I say. It's not about what I believe. It's about the video, the objective evidence and what you can see for yourself.

KAYE: Randy Kaye, CNN, Stuart, Florida.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with Dr. Bill Manion, the chief of Pathology at Memorial Hospital and medical examiner at Burlington County, New Jersey. Doctor, thanks for being with us. The results of Mr. Brown's autopsy, you agree with them, yes?

DR. BILL MANION, MEDICAL EXAMINER, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: Yes. Mr. Brown was run over by the vehicle and his body was twisted forward. His head was driven into his chest. Something called positional asphyxia. He couldn't breathe and unfortunately suffocated. If there had been a way to jack the car up or lift the car up he might have been saved. It was a very tragic accident.

COOPER: So there is no evidence he was actually struck by the vehicle because in the video it looks like he slips and falls, but it looks like his head is up until right when the vehicle goes over him. So there is no evidence he was struck.

MANION: To a medical examiner in this case what they mean by struck is that there are no fractures of his legs, long bones, no fracture of the pelvis. Not even a fracture of the skull even though it appears as he rolled under the vehicle he may have been hit by the car. But there are no fractures there. This was not as violent a collision as may be portrayed in this video. As I say, he ended up in a position where he suffocated.

COOPER: How long would that suffocation take?

MANION: It would take one to two minutes before he would become unconscious. Then four to five to six minutes before his heart would go into ventricular fibrillation, arrhythmia and death. Sometimes they can lift up the vehicle and save the person. H ere they didn't get the vehicle lifted up off him soon enough.

COOPER: Was the car on top of him? Could he have slid out if he was conscious?

MANION: No. The vehicle was pressed on top of his body. So he had no room to crawl out from the vehicle itself. The injury patterns show that the vehicle was pressed on top of his body. This type of accident happens when people are working under their car and the jack slips and the car comes down and presses your chest. You can't breathe. So you die of this positional asphyxia. This is the same type of death here.

COOPER: Clearly the family disagrees with what you believe it is and disagrees with what Dr. Bao found. How easy would it be to get a second opinion, to get either another autopsy done or a review of the autopsy that was done?

MANION: Absolutely. In fact, this case was presented to the grand jury and under Florida statutes vehicular homicide, you have to be speeding and police are allowed to speed. You have to be under the influence. The police weren't under the influence of alcohol or drugs and finally if they are racing each other. They are not drag racing or anything like that. I think the statute is specific here. Certainly another pathologist can come in, review the case and offer a second opinion, absolutely.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Bill Manion, I appreciate your perspective. Thank you very much.

Up next, some gruesome new details about a kidnapping and double murder, how the mother and brother of teenage kidnapping victim, Hannah Anderson, were killed likely at the hands of a long time family friend.

Also ahead tonight, Disney takes action after reports that some wealthy customers paid disabled people to pretend they were family members to help the rich people cut the lines. We'll tell you what Disney has done now.


COOPER: Let's catch up on other stories. Isha is back with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, the mother of kidnapping victim, Hannah Anderson, was beaten to death according to the San Diego medical examiner. An autopsy report shows Christina Anderson was hit in the head at least a dozen times and her throat slashed. Her ankles were bound with plastic zip ties. Her 8-year-old son, Ethan's body was burned beyond recognition. Investigators believed James DiMaggio killed them before setting the house on fire and kidnapping Hannah. She was rescued when FBI agents killed him on a shoot out in the Idaho wilderness. Chicago police have arrested four men in connection with last Thursday's shooting that wounded 13 people including a 3-year-old boy. The suspects face attempted murder charges.

Starting October 9th, Disneyland and Disneyworld will stop letting disabled people go to the front of the line for instant access to rides. This comes after wealthy visitors were hiring disabled people to skip lines. Disabled visitors will now have a timed ticket for access based on the wait time for everyone.

And Anderson, Burger King debuts lower fat fries known as "satisfries." You see them on the left. They have 30 percent less fat, 25 percent fewer calories than the B.K.'s current fries, which I have to say will still be an option.

COOPER: I'm a McDonald's fry guy. I got to say.

SESAY: So you didn't go for the Burger King put the fries in the burger thing they started doing recently?

COOPER: I'm not a Burger King person. I'm a McDonald's person. I can't remember the last time I ate at Burger King.

SESAY: That's not really the question. Do you put your fries on your burger?

COOPER: No. Why would I do that? I enjoy my fries separately just as I enjoy my Big Mac separately.

SESAY: Do you know what they call it in England? That's a chip buddy.

COOPER: Really? On that note we shall go. Isha, thank you. We'll be right back with the "Ridiculist."


COOPER: We ran out of time for the "Ridiculist" tonight. I'm sorry about that. We'll be back one hour from now for "AC 360 LATER" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, our new panel discussion show. Hope you join us. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.