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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Forced to Live; Politics, Money and Influence; Monster Winter Storm Stretched For 1,000 Miles, At Least Two People Killed; An 8- Year-Old Hero Saves Family From Fire, But Lost Life While Rescuing Grandfather; CNN Reporter Roughed Up By Chinese Police While Covering Trial Of Human Rights Activist; Iranian Official Blasts White House On Nuke Deal

Aired January 22, 2014 - 20:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So now you know. "AC 360" starts right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

There's breaking news in the heartbreaking story of a brain-dead woman being kept on life support in Texas against her and her family's wishes because she's pregnant. It's a major development that could change the way a lot of people see the case.

Also on the program tonight you already know that Washington's broken. And tonight when it comes to trading money and power you'll see how it got broken without anyone ever actually breaking the law. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also it is not over yet. Millions digging out from the snow or hunkering down against brutal deadly cold.

And later, a little boy who ran into a burning home. You should know about this little boy. His story is incredible. He went to save lives. He gave his own life. He was 8 years old.

We begin with breaking news and the story that has set off a national debate over life and death and whether being pregnant takes away a woman's right to have her end-of-life wishes respected.

Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed of an apparent brain clot. Her family says she's brain dead which means under the law in all 50 states including Texas where this is happening that she is dead.

In any event, well before she fell ill, both she and her husband had discussed being in precisely this kind of situation according to her husband. Neither wanted to be kept alive like this. They're both paramedics. However, under Texas law, because she's pregnant the hospital is refusing to take her off life support until the baby can be delivered.

Tonight, though, the family is releasing new information about the fetus's condition. It is disturbing.

Ed Lavandera has the late details and joins us now. So what have you heard now from the attorneys representing the family of Marlise Munoz?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, well, just a little while ago we had this statement. It's a lengthy statement but in part it reads that, according to the medical records that the attorneys have received in the last few days, we have been provided the fetus is, quote, "distinctly abnormal." Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined.

The lawyers also go on to say that they have informing that suggests that the fetus is also suffering from hydrocephalus which is an abnormal amount of fluid on the brain and that there appear to be other abnormalities including a heart problem that cannot be specifically determined because they're unable to move Marlise Munoz's body.

So all of this going on. And this is exactly the kind of situation and details that the family says they do not feel like they should have been compelled to share with the world, but they say that in this case, because of all of the talk surrounding whether or not Eric Munoz, the husband of Marlise Munoz, wanted to have this baby come to term if there was any hope for this baby.

But they've been saying all along that they did not think that this fetus would be in any kind of condition but despite all of that these attorneys are saying that it does not matter. Marlise Munoz is dead and because she is dead they should have honored her husband's wishes back in November when she collapsed.

COOPER: Now -- I mean, her husband has filed an emergency motion. Where does that stand? Because obviously the clock is ticking on all of this.

LAVANDERA: Well, they did that about a week and a half ago, I believe. We just found out today as well that the emergency hearing has been scheduled for this Friday afternoon in Ft. Worth. And this is an emergency motion. The family wants Marlise Munoz disconnected from the ventilating system there at the hospital at John Peter Smith hospital in Ft. Worth.

They go on to say in this statement also tonight, Anderson, that quite sadly this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness.

And what the family asked for in this emergency hearing is that Marlise Munoz's body be disconnected from the ventilators and that her body be turned over back to the family so they can bury her properly -- Anderson.

COOPER: Has the hospital responded yet publicly?

LAVANDERA: We have reached out to John Peter Smith Hospital, it's a public hospital there in Ft. Worth, so they are actually represented by prosecutors for the District Attorney's Office in Ft. Worth. We've reached out to both of them and they told us tonight that they would have no comment before the hearing on Friday afternoon.

COOPER: All right, Ed, I appreciate the update as disturbing as it is.

I want to bring in our legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Mark Geragos. Also on the phone is nationally renowned OB/GYN Lisa Masterson, host of the "Health and Heels" podcast on Global Voice Broadcasting.

Dr. Masterson, I want to start with you. So according to the statement -- and again, this is disturbing stuff but it may impact this court ruling. The fetus' lower extremities are deformed to the extent that gender can't be determined. Apparently the fetus also suffers from water on the brain, hydrocephalus, and it appears that there are further abnormalities including a possible heart problem. I think it's more fluid on the brain, not water.

Can you explain these issues, how serious they are? What it means?

LISA MASTERSON, OB/GYN: They're very serious for the fetus. I mean, actually just the fetus, we don't have that many studies of fetuses living in, you know, mothers who are brain-dead that actually do well without any problems at all. Usually because of the setting, it's very different to replicate the female physiology with machines.

And so they're usually born with -- if they're born alive, they're usually born with some kind of deformities, anyway. So the fact that it's starting off with these things that they've seen, now they can also do blood tests and they can also check the amniotic fluid for any other disorders to identify them.

But again even if this baby had no deformities at all, there's very low chance that it actually won't be born without some form of deformity.

COOPER: Would these abnormalities that already exist, would they be the result of when she passed out and cutting off oxygen to the fetus or to the mother's brain? Do we know what would have caused them?

MASTERSON: No. No. Because those -- that's a very acute event. And hydrocephalus and (INAUDIBLE) malformations, those occur very early. And that could have been due to just a genetic aberration or exposure to certain materials. But that was not the cause of the blood clot, which is something that can occur in pregnancy because clotting is very -- it happens a lot more in pregnant women because of the high levels of estrogen.

COOPER: I want to turn to Sunny and Mark, our legal analyst.

Sunny, all along you have said this belongs in a court. You have said that you don't believe this pregnant mother really would have wanted to be taken off life support had she known she was pregnant and going to be in this situation. Does the -- what appears to be the medical condition of the fetus, does it change your opinion at all that the mother maybe should be taken off life support?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it doesn't change the legal analysis. It really doesn't. And this belongs in a courtroom for a judge to decide. Because the law we know is very, very murky. It's unclear. Her wishes weren't in writing. Even if they were in writing, though, according to the law in Texas, they would have been disregarded.

And so, you know, my analysis of this case doesn't change. It is tragic to hear that this baby is deformed. But her very lawyers who released the statement said the same thing that I'm saying which is we believe it has no legal relevance to the pending litigation. So, you know, while tragic, it just -- it just doesn't change the analysis.

COOPER: Mark -- I mean, to you does this change the analysis at all? Or where do you stand on this?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. The analysis isn't changed to the extent that the hospital has taken a completely unreasonable and unlawful position here. She is not live. She is not alive. And therefore the hospital has no duty under -- even under this crazy Texas law the way it's written, they have no duty to keep her alive. And because she's brain-dead under any state-of-the-union.

In terms of the -- what does change, knowing now about the abnormalities which were obvious to anybody who's ever studied anything along these lines, what does change now is that there is no longer any argument that this is nothing more than a backdoor into abortion. That's why this law was passed.

This is precisely kind of the gravamen of what they were trying to get through in Texas, is to redefine abortion and viability and things of that nature.

But I will make the prediction, you can save the tape, Sunny. The judge, if they're in a courtroom that's not an elected judge, is going to rule that she's going to be taken off of these artificial measures.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And --

HOSTIN: I don't think that's clear at all, Mark.

MASTERSON: Because this is an end-of-life decision and this is a medical decision that hospitals and doctors deal with. Unfortunately, a lot more often. And without something in writing, this is why I also agree that it is a legal decision. Without something in writing, you do not know what this woman's wishes are. A lot of times women's wishes change when they're pregnant.

GERAGOS: It doesn't matter. You're wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

GERAGOS: You're absolutely --

HOSTIN: So everyone's wrong, Mark.

COOPER: Wait -- guys, stop. Let me --

MASTERSON: No one knows what this mother would say.

COOPER: Let me just insert some actual fact here rather than just argument. Her wishes are -- actually in writing, not about what would happen in the event that she's pregnant and this occurs, but she was a paramedic. Her husband and she had discussed this. And apparently her wishes are in actual writing.

HOSTIN: I didn't --

COOPER: About wanting to be taken off life support.

GERAGOS: Yes.

COOPER: It doesn't say if I'm pregnant --

HOSTIN: If I'm pregnant.

COOPER: -- I still want to be taken off life -- it doesn't have every permutation but it does have her wishes in writing.

HOSTIN: And I think that --

COOPER: Does that influence you, Sunny?

HOSTIN: Well, I think it's important. I think context is really important in this case. And I think the doctor will agree. You know, women have different opinions about when they're pregnant.

COOPER: But, Sunny, you're projecting yourself into this woman's head --

MASTERSON: Yes.

COOPER: -- despite what she has written down --

MASTERSON: No, we're not.

HOSTIN: No, we're not.

MASTERSON: The problem is that a lot of families will project what they want for a patient. And we have to be the advocates for the patient. Without very clear instructions from the patient put people in very difficult situation.

GERAGOS: The patient is dead. The -- Doctor, the patient is dead. The patient --

MASTERSON: We have to act without knowing exactly what that threat would be.

COOPER: One a time.

MASTERSON: In the way that we can as physicians.

COOPER: Mark, you're saying --

GERAGOS: Yes --

COOPER: You're saying she is dead. It's not a question of --

HOSTIN: Everyone is wrong to Mark.

COOPER: Of taking her off life support. It's a question of --

GERAGOS: Yes. Everyone --

HOSTIN: You know everything, Mark.

GERAGOS: I hate to -- you know, news flash.

HOSTIN: Whatever you're saying.

GERAGOS: No, I don't know everything. I know how to read a statute. I know that in every state of the union, if you're brain dead, you're dead. I don't know what state this doctor practices in but she ought to go take a look at the code section there because when you're brain- dead, this isn't a vegetative state, this isn't a coma.

This is somebody who is dead. This is somebody, as Anderson has pointed out and nobody else seems to want to accept it, has already left her written instructions. So there isn't an issue here.

COOPER: OK --

HOSTIN: There is --

(CROSSTALK)

GERAGOS: For people who want to argue the abortion issue.

HOSTIN: The statute is less than clear, Mark. You have to agree with that.

GERAGOS: The statute --

COOPER: But wait a minute, wait a minute --

HOSTIN: It is less than clear.

COOPER: Let me -- let me again --

HOSTIN: You're talking about the brain-dead statute.

COOPER: OK. Let me just jump in here again with just another fact. In the statute which I've read, I've got the whole thing in front of me here, it says taken off life support such that it will terminate life, that it will cause the death of the patient. Isn't the patient already dead, Sunny?

HOSTIN: Well, that's -- and that's why I say this is murky because I've read the statute as well. I mean, who is the statute directed to? Just the pregnant woman or perhaps the fetus?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But -- but the family --

HOSTIN: This is a fetus also --

GERAGOS: It doesn't matter.

COOPER: But the family's attorneys are now saying, Sunny, by your argument that any woman in the state of Texas who dies should have a pregnancy test then done on her in case she has a fetus inside her, then then she should be somehow artificially kept alive until the fetus is born.

HOSTIN: That's a really (INAUDIBLE) argument. That's ridiculous. I mean, lawyers love to say stuff like that. But that's just taking it to an illogical conclusion. The bottom line --

MASTERSON: Right.

GERAGOS: Why? Why?

MASTERSON: That's why it needs to be -- it need to go through the process of a legal system.

HOSTIN: That's right.

MASTERSON: And if the legal system arrives at the point where it says everybody is in agreement that this woman needs to be taken off life support then that's what it arrives at. But we need to go through that process.

GERAGOS: This woman is not --

MASTERSON: Because it is in a situation where there is another life at stake. And that's where it becomes murky.

GERAGOS: That's --

COOPER: Mark, go ahead.

GERAGOS: It isn't -- it isn't murky at all. I don't know what statute anybody's reading except the one that Anderson read which says when it is on life support. There is no life. It is -- she is clinically dead, OK? She is legally dead. So you've got that statute. You've got her wishes. It is over. I -- this is such nonsense where people -- what they really want to talk about is overuling "Roe versus Wade."

HOSTIN: That's ridiculous.

GERAGOS: If that's the discussion, fine. Let's have that argument.

HOSTIN: We're not talking abortion.

GERAGOS: But in reading --

(CROSSTALK)

MASTERSON: We're not talking about that at all.

GERAGOS: Yes, you are. This is all --

HOSTIN: Come on.

GERAGOS: -- a proxy for abortion.

COOPER: No, but, Mark --

GERAGOS: That's all this argument --

COOPER: Mark, Mark, in fairness, and just to argue Sunny's side here for a moment, you know, look. I've gotten a lot of tweets from moms who's saying look, you don't understand. If this mother knew she was pregnant and going to be in this situation, she would do anything to bring that fetus to life. That --

(CROSSTALK)

MASTERSON: Anderson is right. She might actually change her mind.

GERAGOS: And you've heard -- and you've heard, Anderson --

MASTERSON: In this situation. We don't know that.

GERAGOS: We heard --

COOPER: Go ahead. The doctor is saying she might change her mind.

GERAGOS: Well, we do know that this somebody who deals with -- was a paramedic. Who has -- her husband says she's had this discussion. Her father says she's had this discussion. And now I've got two females here. And I know I'm going to be accused of not having a uterus again by Sunny.

HOSTIN: Here you go, Mark. You're crossing the line.

COOPER: Let him finish. Let him finish.

GERAGOS: But the fact is -- the fact -- the fact remains that she did have this discussion. Unless you're calling the father, the husband, liars, and you're saying posthumously after this woman is dead that her wishes don't matter but Sunny sitting in New York --

HOSTIN: Context matters.

GERAGOS: -- should make the decision for her.

HOSTIN: Context matters.

GERAGOS: Yes, context matters.

HOSTIN: She didn't have this discussion --

COOPER: Let him finish.

GERAGOS: All this is, is an abortion debate.

COOPER: OK.

GERAGOS: It's -- all this is an abortion debate couch in the end of life --

COOPER: OK. Sunny, I want you to respond.

HOSTIN: That's ridiculous. And the point is, and I think this is the point that the doctor is making as well. You know, the decision on the discussion was not made in this context. Context really matters, especially when you're talking about advanced directives and you're talking about a pregnant woman.

COOPER: OK. We --

MASTERSON: That's right. And it's a hard decision but we have to look at everything.

COOPER: Well, it looks -- and certainly, Mark, just in terms of the legal aspect, Friday there's this emergency hearing. Will a decision be made and that be final?

GERAGOS: Well, the emergency ruling will be made. Whether it's final is a completely different issue. Because you've always got appellate relief. And the end game here by the hospital, as I said before, is to try and get this into an abortion stance in terms of the weeks of the fetus, the age of the fetus, so that they can make another argument because this is just a Trojan horse argument for abortion.

That's all the statute was originally. That's all the way that they misinterpreted it right now. And you'll see that come Friday.

COOPER: All right. Let's see -- we'll see what happens on Friday. We'll cover it.

Dr. Lisa Masterson, appreciate it. Mark Geragos, Sunny Hostin as well.

A difficult situation. Let us know what you think. Talk about it on Twitter @Andersoncooper, tweet using #ac360.

Just ahead, the first of many "Keeping Them Honest" reports from the dirty intersection of money and politics.

And later see the story that got Chinese government thugs so mad at a CNN correspondent they attacked him on the street. We'll show you the rest of the video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Moving on tonight, we're beginning a yearlong "Keeping Them Honest" investigation into money, influence and politics.

Having just seen the indictment of Virginia's former governor on corruption charges or the federal investigation into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you might think we're talking here about laws being broken. And in fact when politics and money mix, they often can be. Not necessarily, though.

As a journalist Michael Kinsley famously wrote about Washington, the real scandal's not what's against the law, the real scandal is what's legal.

So what you're about to see tonight, what some are calling the extortion game played for personal gain they say by the very politicians who make the rules is all perfectly legal. The question is, is it also perfectly fine? That's for you to decide.

Drew Griffin tonight is on the money trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER CEO, SHELL OIL USA: We talk about corruption in third world countries. In this case, the corrupters have written a law to make it legal to the corruptees. And I consider that atrocious in the name of democracy.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's got former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister so worked up is what many people in this town simply call business as usual.

It's not only that money buys influence, it's also pay up or else. It sounds cynical, but just look around and you see it everywhere. Like this typical Thursday morning. It's just after 7:00 a.m., and already the rush for the morning money is on.

This is a breakfast fundraiser. For Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott. Want to contribute? It will cost you. The invitation says it's $2500 to get in. Want a picture with the governor? That will cost you $5,000. His host, the Principi Group. Remember that name.

Governor Scott is in D.C. on the business of raising money and once this event is done he'll race across town to his next event, another fundraiser. It's all pouring into his political action committee, a PAC.

Political action committees are one of the main ways politics gets paid for. From PACs, the money flows into campaigns, often through Washington, where politicians always seem to have a fundraiser under way.

Just down the street, this DCC Food Restaurant will hold four fundraisers in the next 90 minutes. The man hurrying past our camera is Utah Democrat Jim Matheson. His ski PAC is holding one of them. It's a $5,000 a plate breakfast. A fundraiser for a guy who would soon announce he's leaving Congress.

Around the corner, a steak house is holding a breakfast fundraiser for the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Kemp of Michigan. For $5,000, the invitation says you'll be a star of his re-election campaign.

On this Thursday morning, a dozen or so fundraisers will be held before a single congressional vote is cast. It's all status quo, says author Peter Schweitzer. The business of politicians shaking hands and shaking down anyone who wants to do business here.

PETER SCHWEITZER, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE: It is a feeding frenzy that's going on. And I think we need to somehow break the back of the ability of politicians to leverage their position to extract donations.

GRIFFIN: If that sounds like he's accusing politicians of using the power of their office to shake down constituents for cash, well, he is.

Schweitzer is a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institute and head of a nonprofit research group called the Government Accountability Institute. He's also just written a book called "Extortion."

SCHWEITZER: The politician, particularly one in leadership or one that's powerful, can really make or break a company. So companies and other entities are put in a situation where they have to play ball because if they don't, bad things are going to happen.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Basically instead of buying votes, they are selling decisions.

SCHWEITZER: Yes. I think the model, the way we always think of the influence market in D.C., is that it's like bribery. That you have these outside interests that are in effect bribing our politicians. And that certainly can take place.

I think the bigger problem is more akin to extortion. Where the politicians identify wealthy companies or industries and they basically mark them for extortion. They introduce pieces of legislation or they threaten certain things that put those entities in a position to where they have to play ball.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): One person who knows all about this fully legal form of extortion is the former president of Shell Oil USA, John Hofmeister.

HOFMEISTER: I realized that there is a price to participate in the political process. What I never knew was what a huge price it was and how it was an endless process of continuously being hit up for money.

GRIFFIN: In 2008, when oil prices were skyrocketing, Hofmeister was hauled before committee after congressional committee, 18 different hearings. Some members of Congress even threatened to nationalize his industry.

The televised hearings, all political theater, he says. When the camera light is turned off, some of the very members who criticized him in public were asking for money in private. And he says you'd better pay.

HOFMEISTER: There's a huge price to not pay the price of the campaign request.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Really?

HOFMEISTER: There's a price in terms of access, there's a price in terms of interest by the member. And so if you haven't paid your price of entry, who are you? I've actually been asked by a member. Who are you? Because I've never met you before. Now that the election's over you're coming to ask me for something? Where were you before the election? And to me, that is just -- it puts a sickness in my stomach to realize that it's all about the money.

GRIFFIN: What I think you're describing to me is wink and a nod extortion.

HOFMEISTER: It's pay to play. And I agree with the word extortion. As harsh a word as that is, it's an atrocity that nobody seems to care about because it just goes on and goes on and goes on.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): We wanted to ask Utah Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson about fundraising at his breakfast, and specifically why he was raising money for his political action committee at the same time he was deciding to leave Congress. He wasn't interested.

We also wanted to ask Michigan Republican Congressman Dave Kemp why he needed so much money. He raised nearly $4.5 billion in his last campaign. His opponent raised a paltry $37,000. Kemp has blown out his closest challengers for years. So what's all this money for? No comment.

And then there's Florida Governor Rick Scott. Remember that first fundraiser he was having? It was hosted by the Principi Group, a company founded by former Veterans Administration secretary, Anthony Principi. Two days before hosting this fundraiser for the governor the Principi Group gave $10,000 to Governor Scott's political action committee which is called Let's Get to Work.

It turns out the Principi Group did get to work at least in Florida. Where in 2012, the group won a $1.8 million contract to help stop the closure of military bases. Like the two congressmen, Governor Scott wasn't exactly interested in talking about the relationship between fundraisers and contracts and doing business with the state of Florida.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: You have to go talk to Let's Get to Work.

GRIFFIN: We did ask the PAC Let's Get to Work, but we got our answer back in an e-mail from the Florida Republican Party which says, "The inference in your question is invalid and not worthy of a response. Governor Scott makes all decisions based on what is best for the people of Florida, what will create jobs, careers and opportunities for its citizens."

In other words, that D.C. fundraiser, the $10,000 donation, the $1.8 million contract, it's all just a coincidence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew Griffin joins me now.

Drew, there is all this money being raised. Do we know what it's for? I mean, especially when you have some of these congressmen who run almost unopposed in election after election.

GRIFFIN: Really. And some of these congressional districts so divvied up and gerrymandered that they really don't face any opposition.

The money, Anderson, flows into these political action committees or PACs, and to be very blunt the rules on what that money can be used for are so lax they become more or less slush funds for politicians. They can literally use the money to enhance their lifestyle, take trips, hold parties, even run up credit cards for daily expenses as long as it has marginally to do with the business of governing or politics.

COOPER: And you're going to be looking more at this.

GRIFFIN: Yes. And the actual business of getting rich in Congress.

Why now are so many, Anderson, the majority of our federally elected officials millionaires? Why are their sons and daughters and spouses in the lobbying business? Why are so many government contracts going to firms where relatives work?

Peter Schweitzer claims this is all legalized extortion and this is what we plan to focus on in the year ahead.

COOPER: Good. Look forward to it.

Drew, thanks very much.

One note, I want to clarify the brain-dead mother in Texas that we were just talking about in the previous segment before the break, I misspoke when I said that her wishes were in writing. I misread something. They were not.

Her husband said she relayed her wishes to him that she not be on life sustaining measures when brain-dead. She did not specify that meant when she was pregnant. We'll obviously continue to follow the story. There's going to be a hearing, as we said, on Friday.

Up next, bone-chilling temperatures hitting a big portion of the U.S. after a brutal snowstorm. We'll get a live report from Chad Myers out in the middle of it. And a home goes up in flames. This story is remarkable. And you should know about this little boy. Six people are rescued, the hero dies, an 8-year-old boy. He went in to rescue others and did so. His mother says he died doing just that. She speaks out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, when we left you last night, tens of millions of people from Iowa to Maine were getting dumped on by inches and in some places feet of snow. The snow's impact is plain to see and still being felt in snow-covered streets and canceled classes, another 1,400 canceled flights and as Chad Myers reports lives lost. Many more facing what could be deadly cold temperatures.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): The monster winter storm of 2014 is being blamed for at least two deaths. The driver of this vehicle in Virginia lost control, crossed lanes and struck an oncoming car, killing himself and his passenger. Accidents littered much of the east coast, like this 18-wheeler in North Carolina. Its front end crumpled from a collision. And this truck that flipped on an embankment in Maryland.

But for those most affected by the storm, in which stretched a whopping 1,000 miles, digging out was the order of the day. Philadelphia got hit with over a foot of snow. And despite the frigid air and high snow accumulations, some Philly residents ventured out and turned the iconic steps of the Museum of Art into a sledding hill.

In New Jersey, where the governor declared a state of emergency, crews at Metlife Stadium plowed the field where the Super Bowl will be played in just 11 days. NFL officials say in the event of more extreme weather on game day, a contingency plan could include moving Super Bowl Sunday to Saturday or even Monday.

Here on Massachusetts's shoreline, wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour sent the windchill down to negative 7 and generated monster waves.

(on camera): Just to give you some perspective on these waves as they crash on shore, the sea level at least 10 to 12 feet below me. But these waves have been pushed by winds for miles and miles, 35, 45- mile-per-hour wind's making these waves bigger and bigger. And down a little bit farther down to the south here, a lot of these waves are crashing over the seawall as they come in at a 95-degree angle. And we're still one hour from high tide.

(voice-over): And as the east coast continues to deal with the aftermath of the storm, temperatures in many areas are expected to remain 15 to 25 degrees below normal at least until the weekend. And more surges of arctic air are expected next week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Amazing pictures. Chad joins us now from Plymouth, Massachusetts again tonight. So what's the biggest threat tonight?

MYERS: You know it's cold, but it's not as cold to me because the wind isn't blowing. There's snow. There's a lot of it. So if you're walking through it or trudging through it, it's not heart attack kind of snow but there's a lot. We're talking 18 inches right here. The issue I think today, and especially just watching people come out of this restaurant, when they went into this restaurant, a couple of hours ago, this street was wet because it was full of salt and sand, but now it isn't wet anymore.

The salt and sand not working, the salt doesn't work when it gets below 10 degrees. It can refreeze and we are seeing the refreezing. So what people think was a very easy to drive road just a couple hours ago is going to turn into another skating rink. Not just here in Massachusetts, but all the way down even toward D C. Every place that it's snowed it melted in the sun today and it's refreezing at this hour.

COOPER: All right, well, be careful on the roads if you're driving. Chad, appreciate it.

Tonight, an 8-year-old boy from East Rochester, New York is being hailed as a hero. We want you to know his name and hear his story. The story does not have a happy ending. Unfortunately, Tyler Doen was staying with relatives when he realized their house was on fire in the middle of the night. He woke up six people and got them safely outside.

Officials say Tyler then ran back into the house to rescue his disabled grandfather, but both were overcome by intense heat and smoke and died. Another relative was also killed. Tyler's mom obviously is devastated. She says her son and his grandpa were best friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL VROOMAN, SON KILLED RESCUING GRANDFATHER FROM FIRE: It makes me proud. It really does, but I just want him back. I'm just so grateful that he went with people that he loved. He didn't go alone. That he didn't cross over alone. I'm just so glad that he was with his best friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So sad. Fire officials say there was no working smoke detector in the house. Jean Casarez has been following the story. She joins us now. This little -- I mean, the fact he lost his life trying to save his family, it is just obviously heart breaking. What do we know about exactly what happened?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It so is tragic. We've learned that there were nine people in the mobile home and seven of them got out including Tyler. And then all of a sudden this little boy, this little 8-year-old boy, realized his grandpa was in there. As you said, he was disabled. He was an amputee, Anderson. And so the little boy went back in. He made a left-hand turn to go to the back bedroom. And the fire chief, Chris Ebbmyer told me today that what they now realize that this little boy had his grandpa in his arms as if he was trying to lift him off the bed to take him out to safety. Well, Tyler's mother has spoken with some of the survivors. She now gives more of that story. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VROOMAN: I guess, he let go of her and tried to get to my dad. And she opened the window and he wasn't there anymore. She couldn't see. She was going like this through the smoke and all I can keep thinking about is how he couldn't breathe. How scared he must have been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CASAREZ: A source close to the case tells me the autopsies are ongoing because two of the three victims cannot be identified because of the intensity of the fire. And Anderson, they tell me DNA may have to be used.

COOPER: Do we know anything about the condition of the other people in the trailer? How are they?

CASAREZ: They have been in the hospital. What I was told today is that they want to interview them because this is an ongoing investigation and they haven't been able to fully ask them all the questions they want to. The cause of the blaze is officially undetermined at this point because there are just a lot of things they want to look at.

They do not believe there was any suspicious activity going on. Neighbours are saying that they had given the family at least one space heater. That is not confirmed though by officials.

COOPER: All right, brave little boy. Jean, appreciate the reporting. A fund has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses. If you want it donate we put the information on our web site. Go to ac360.com.

Up next, CNN's David McKenzie roughed up by Chinese police. We're going to talk to him and see exactly why he was assaulted. It was all caught on tape. We'll also see Chinese authorities will cut off our signal in Beijing when we talk to David. They've been doing it all day. We'll see if they do it again. It won't be the first time.

Also ahead, a top U.S. government official makes a serious suggestion about NSA leaker Edward Snowden. But does he have any actual evidence to back it up? We're keeping them honest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today in Beijing, a Chinese activist who leads a campaign to expose government corruption went on trial. He's accused of gathering crowds to disturb public order. The activist is a high profile in China so the officials were intent on keeping the trial under wraps. However, CNN's David McKenzie was determined to cover it. For his efforts, he was roughed up by police as he and his crew attempted to approach the courthouse. That's the video right there. They recorded the assault on camera. Here is part of what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're heading towards a court in Beijing where a prominent activist goes on trial today. This is a public space. There's no need to shout at me. Just behind us the name of the activist is Chou Zerong. The reason he's in trial is because he had a gathering of people several times and was one of the founders of the New Citizen's Movement.

That is why there are all these police surrounding me here. We're going to go try look at the entrance of the court, which is just here. Sorry. You can't stop me. This is a public place. This is a public place. Why must I wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're Passport.

MCKENZIE: This is a public space. This is a public space. Excuse me. You don't push me. Do not push me. This is a public space. Don't hit me like this. This is a public space. They're physically manhandling us. They're physically manhandling me. This is a public space. I'm allowed to report. I'm allowed to report. You cannot do this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That's exactly what they did. By the way, our signal in China has gone black. There's some censor in China watching us as we're talking about this and turned the signal off. Let's talk to David McKenzie. David, the fact that in the face of that kind of hugger you remained as calm as you did is remarkably impressive. Just to be clear, Chinese law allows you to shoot in public places, right? You were not doing anything illegal.

MCKENZIE: Well, look, Anderson, there's a law on paper in China and then there's the law in practice. As foreign reporters, we can report on paper. They say we can report throughout this country and do effectively what we would do in the states as it were. But in practice, in instances like this, sensitive cases like this, when thugs take it into their own hands to be enforcers of the law, there's very little one can do about it. So the rights that might be on paper get thrown out the window.

COOPER: It's also fascinating. You see censorship in real time happening again on the bottom of our screen there you can see us being censored right now in China. I want to play more of this video that you shot. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: They're now physically manhandling us. They've taken away our place cards. This is not illegal what we are doing. We are reporters. We are reporting in a public space. Ouch. These guys are physically manhandling us. They're not allowing to us do our work. We were just on a public space trying to tell a story. Please do not kick me. Do not physically manhandle us. Well done, you broke the camera. You broke the camera. Just calm down!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What were they saying to you as they were basically assaulting you like that?

MCKENZIE: Well, the one gentleman there is in fact responding with English swear word at us. But certainly they were telling us to get out of the area. They wanted to see our press cards, Anderson. When we gave them our press cards they took them away and our phones. They didn't allow us to call CNN. They didn't allow us to call the foreign ministry.

The government has responded, saying that they'll investigate this case. But really, they say that there was a police cordon that was very clear. That was not the case. We and several other journalists were pushed out of the area. So certainly not transparent in any way's in not allowing foreign journalists to do their work.

COOPER: David McKenzie, glad you and your crew are OK. Thanks very much. Appreciate that.

Keeping them honest now, a pretty simple notion, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence especially when those making the claims hold extraordinary power such as Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as only one of a few dozen lawmakers privy to some of the nation's secrets.

When he said this on "Meet The Press" this weekend suggesting that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was working for intelligence while still working for the agency raised eyebrows. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: I believe there's a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence number one. Number two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Needing the Russians help, Ed Snowden?

ROGERS: I believe there's a question to be answered there. I don't think it was a gee whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, you can consider Snowden a traitor or a hero, whatever you want, for stealing and leaking classified information. You can wonder who if anyone he was working for. What you can't do, however, is determine for yourself whether Chairman Rogers' implication is true. That's because he gave no evidence to back it up. Today Edward Snowden from Russia denied the implication calling it, quote, "absurd." So that leaves his word against Congressman Rogers. Now Mr. Snowden is exiled in Russia so we're unable to talk to him. We thought we might have better luck with Chairman Rogers. We asked him to come on the program to tell us what he could about his claim. He declined.

Which again leaves the allegation hanging out there totally unsubstantiated. The implication from Mr. Rogers clear, basically trust me. Keeping them honest, with so many stories we've taken public servants on their word before only to find out they weren't telling the truth or exaggerating.

Listen to this exchange from Senator Ron Widen and the director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question. Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not wittingly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Again when the facts came to light we learned that statement by Director Clapper was false. This time with the latest allegation we're still waiting for facts. Dana Bash has been trying to figure them out. She joins us now with more. You tried to get in touch with Congressman Rogers. What were you told?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a spokeswoman for Rogers told me that what he said on Sunday is all he can say at this point. She encouraged me to look closely at the transcripts. He was on the NBC program that you just showed? After that he was also on CBS. He was pressed. And there he suggested that he was deducing that Snowden could have been a Russian spy based on clues. One of them was that some of the information he said Snowden got had nothing to do but with privacy issues but instead with U.S. military capabilities and operations overseas -- Anderson.

COOPER: What are your sources telling you about what the House Intelligence Committee which Congressman Rogers heads knows about this? You could say well maybe he was told something by the House Intelligence Committee in a closed door meeting.

BASH: Exactly. Well, I'm told that neither the committee he chairs, which is the House Intelligence Committee, or its counterpart in the Senate, the intelligence committee there, has gotten any official indication that Edward Snowden was a spy for Russia or anywhere else. The reason is because when these active investigations of a leak go on, the protocol, the counter intelligence protocol is to wait until the report is done to give these oversight committees the information. In fact, on Sunday you saw that there was also the Senate Intelligence Chairwoman, Diane Feinstein, on with him. She was much more circumspect.

She was asked about this allegation and suggestion that Rogers made and Diane Feinstein said well he may well have, but we don't know at this stage. But Mike Rogers is also someone who may have his own sourced in the intelligence community and likely does. He was a FBI agent, a special agent himself before coming to Congress.

So it's possible that he got a tip from an investigator that this is something they were looking at, but because he won't elaborate we just don't know.

COOPER: All right, again, no evidence of this in the public domain that we've been able to find. We'll continue to look for it and ask for questions from Rogers. Dana, appreciate the reporting.

Before we go, I do want to take a look at the bottom right hand corner of the screen there. That is a shot of CNN inside China. The blackout they blacked out our signal during David McKenzie's report. As you see it is back on again just ahead tonight so hello, China.

What Olympic officials reveal today about another terrorist threat to the Sochi games.

Plus what Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said today about his latest drunken rant, which was naturally caught on video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some of other stories making headlines, let's check in with Susan Hendricks in the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the U.S. Olympic Committee and several other European countries received an e-mail warning of a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month in Russia. The International Olympic committee said it takes security seriously, but added the e-mail is not credible and quote, "appears to be a random message from a member of the public."

A CNN exclusive, Iran's foreign minister says the White House is mischaracterizing the nuclear deal that took effect on Monday. The agreement calls for Iran to freeze part of its nuclear program in exchange for eased sanctions. Listen to what the Iranian official told CNN's Jim Sciutto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What Iran has agreed is to not enrich above 5 percent. We did not agree to dismantle anything. What we agreed to was not to enrich over 5 percent. We agreed that and we're not enriching over 5 percent. But we're not dismantling any centrifuges or any equipment. We're simply not producing not enriching over 5 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: To Toronto's infamous crack-smoking mayor now Rob Ford says he suffered a minor setback after this video was posted on line this week showing him babbling with a Jamaican accent about the city's police chief at a fast food restaurant. Ford says he was drinking, not taking drugs and calls it a, quote, "private matter."

In Hawaii now, up to 50 foot monster waves are expected to hit the north shore of Oahu this week, of course, surfers will love this. A surfing completion was canceled today due to high winds there.

COOPER: All right, Susan, thanks very much.

Coming up, how not to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, what some college students did that you will not believe. It's on "The Ridiculist" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In events around the country obviously Americans paid tribute to the civil rights leader's life and his legacy and with respect and solemnity celebrated his vision, honored his dream. There were memorials, parades, days of service, many volunteers spent the day making a difference in other's lives.

Then there's what happened at Arizona State University where members of the Tao Kappa Epsilon Fraternity threw what they called the MLK Black Party. What might that entail you asked, just your average white kids dressed in basketball jerseys throwing gang signs and drinking from believe it or not watermelon cups.

Now I know you don't want to believe it something so racist and ignorant could actually happen in 2014. Frankly, it would be easier to pretend someone got the story wrong. After all there's no proof that this happened, right? There is. In fact they posted pictures of the party on Instagram with hash tags like happy MLK day, homies and blackout for MLK!

There's the woman with a watermelon cup. Arizona State says the university will not tolerate this kind of behaviour and suspended the Tao Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and is planning action against the individuals involved. The last time we had a story about frat bros about "The Ridiculist" is about those who ingest alcohol through their behind.

Those are freaking Rhodes scholars compared to these MLK frat bros. That's the thing. We're just plumbing the depths of stupidity here. To me it is terrifying, terrifying that these people made it into college without learning anything about what is appropriate human behavior and terrifying they've got an astounding lack of awareness to actually post pictures of it like it's the spring semiformal or whatever. Plus it's the dumbest idea I think I've ever heard of. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned toga party? That's still a frat bro thing, isn't it? Actually scratch that. I would not want to see what this particular group of morons would do if you gave them a bunch of white sheets.

Look, I get some college kids are going to do stupid things. I get this generation of college kid's seems determined to document it all online, where to live forever a permanent testament to shameless cross perhaps that fact is punishment enough, though, on "The Ridiculist."

That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for AC360 LATER. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.