Return to Transcripts main page


Hometown Celebrates Bergdahl's Release; Supreme Court Decides Individuals Not Help to International Chemical Weapons Ban Treaty; Phil Mickelson Probe

Aired June 2, 2014 - 12:30   ET




Behind all of the legal issues surrounding their son, that is one, very proud mother and father and very relieved set of parents. They are overjoyed that their son is finally coming home. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's dad says the battle, however, is far from over. He says his son is going to need a tremendous amount of time to recover.

And by hearing from Bob Bergdahl yesterday, it is clear that Bowe will be getting a lot of support, once he finally returns.


BOB BERGDAHL, SERGEANT BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: I'm so proud of your patience and your perseverance.

I'm so proud of your cultural abilities to adapt, your language skills, your desire and your action to serve this country in a very difficult, long war. But, most of all, I'm proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people, what you are willing to do.


BANFIELD: Bowe Bergdahl's father has said that he would not shave that beard until his son was home, and that is clearly evidence when you look at that picture, how long his son has been gone. In addition to his parents, once he makes the journey home, Bowe Bergdahl is going to be greeted with a hero's welcome in his small hometown.

Nick Valencia is live, right now, in Hailey, Idaho. So what's the plan? What are people planning to do when they eventually get to see him again?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: Coincidentally, Ashleigh, they'd already planned a June 28th rally. That's going to be more of a celebration.

Of course, Bowe Bergdahl won't be here, but this community, there's lots of smiles, lots of happy tears. The day has finally come that so many here have been waiting for. Bowe Bergdahl is free from Taliban captivity.


VALENCIA: On and off for two years before being deployed to Afghanistan, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl worked here at Zaney's coffee shop in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho. Tributes to the soldier are all around.

SUE MARTIN, BERGDAHL FAMILY FRIEND: There's drawings. There's a little bit of everything. Here's a tree with the yellow ribbon. There's poems in here. It's just a really lovely -- as well as the boards are -- a lovely now keepsake that will be for Bowe.

VALENCIA: Sue Martin was Bergdahl's boss here, and she's always seen herself more as his friend.

MARTIN: He has a tender personality. He's a strong person and very personable. He got along great with all the employees, and all of the customers had nothing but good to say about Bowe. They really enjoyed him while he was working here.

VALENCIA: This town says they're a community of heart. For the last four years and 11 months, the small town of nearly 8,000 has been the cornerstone of support for the Bergdahls, ensuring that he'd never be forgotten.

STEFANIE O'NEILL, CO-ORGANIZER, BOWE IS HOME: There's one tree for either year that Bowe has been held captive.

VALENCIA: Few have been committed to that cause as Stefanie O'Neill.

O'NEILL: We're waiting for Bowe. It's more -- we're anxious. We're anxious to get him home, get him here with us. And we know it's going to be a long process, but we're hoping that day comes sooner rather than later.

VALENCIA: Yellow ribbons and balloons line the main street, symbols of solidarity for a hometown hero who has finally been set free. What are you going to say to Bowe when you see him? What do you think that's going to be like for you?

MARTIN: I've thought about that. I think it's probably going to be quite silent and very dear embrace.


VALENCIA: People here are aware the criticism. His release has not been without controversy. People here are aware that some call him a deserter or that he abandoned his post. People here in Hailey, though, they don't really care about that right now, Ashleigh. They're focused that he's been released, and they can't wait for him to come back to Hailey.


BANFIELD: I'll one up you there, there's a senior administration official who's told CNN that no matter what, even if that is the case, he has spent five years in whatever kind of hell none of us can imagine.

So, all right, Nick, thank you, Nick Valencia reporting live for us --

VALENCIA: You bet.

BANFIELD: -- from Hailey, Idaho.

The highest court in the land has handed down a ruling on a sort of -- how do we say this, petty issue, a toxic love triangle -- literally toxic. We're talking about a woman who used poison to try to kill her pregnant best friend because her pregnant best friend was pregnant by her husband.

Why is the Supreme Court involved in this? Believe it or not, the woman was charged with violating chemical weapons treaties, as if she were a terrorist or an international head of state. So what do you suppose the high court had to say? And why it is even more significant than the headline suggests, that's next.


BANFIELD: There's some court cases that you can't make up. This may sound like an episode of "Law & Order," but I assure you this one is real and ripped from the headlines.

In 2005, this woman, Carol Anne Bond, found out that her husband got her best friend pregnant. Yuck.

That best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, well, she was the subject of a retaliation, by smearing toxic, arsenic-based chemicals on her doorknob, her mailbox, her front door.

Now, luckily, I'm here to tell you that Haynes survived all this, and she just suffered some minor burns to her thumb in this attack, but here's where the case gets real interesting with a twist.

Federal prosecutors decided to charge Ms. Bond under a chemical weapons treaty, an international chemical weapons treaty. Ms. Bond appealed her case, and it went all the way up to the supreme court. And this morning, the high court ruled in and ruled in Ms. Bond's favor.

And here's a quote from Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion. "The global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the federal government to reach into the kitchen cupboard."

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the book about "The Nine," joins me now with a bit of a smirk. And I say this -- I can't believe it actually got that high. This seems crazy to have charged and actually adjudicated a case against Miss bond with the same sort of thing that Bashar al Assad is facing in Syria. But it did, and it's important. Why?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It just shows an assistant U.S. attorney working in Pennsylvania can set in motion something that will last almost 10 years and lead to a Supreme Court decision which gives us the great pleasure of using the words "love triangle" and Bill of Rights in the same sentence.

And, you know, who can resist that?

BANFIELD: Who can resist, honestly? But what I thought was fascinating was the larger issue that wasn't just the smack down of this whole case. I think it was unanimous that the Supreme Court said brush this out of our courtroom.

But the larger issue is this. There is a Tenth Amendment that protects states' rights, and ultimately Justice Scalia really was focusing and zeroing down on this issue, suggesting, how on Earth can a big old international treaty suggest what our laws should be in, say, New Mexico or in Washington or in New York?

It makes a lot of sense.

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. That's what the real conflict was.

The justices all agreed that the chemical weapons treaty did not apply to what Miss Bond did, but where they really disagreed was Justice Scalia said we should say no treaty can do this, under any circumstances, because it violates states' rights.

And this is one of the ancient tensions within American government, which is, which obligations belong to the federal government and which obligations belong to the state, and how in certain circumstances can international obligations play in here?

And what you have is conservatives at the Supreme Court saying, we don't want international bodies to tell our states what to do. That's really what Justice Scalia was saying here.

BANFIELD: Yeah, you said it, but ultimately, they didn't rule on it. That wasn't part of the issue.

TOOBIN: Right.

BANFIELD: But pretty fascinating stuff, and it gets you and me talking about a love triangle and the Supreme Court, all in would be segment.

TOOBIN: What could be better?

BANFIELD: What could be better than that? Well, just time with you. Jeff Toobin, thank you, sir.

TOOBIN: See you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Got a famous golfer tied up in a potential scandal, and it's Phil Mickelson. That's beyond famous. He is part of an FBI probe right now into allegations he may have been involved in some insider trading.

So how serious are these allegations, and what is Phil Mickelson saying in his own defense? I'm going to tell you about that, next.


BANFIELD: World famous golfer Phil Mickelson has not been playing too well lately. And now a major distraction might just make it more difficult for him to focus on his golf game. That's because the FBI and the SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, are both investigating the Masters champion and also two of his friends, including a well-known billionaire investor in New York, Carl Icahn.

And they're investigating them for something very serious, insider trading. Mickelson is denying any wrongdoing and he says he's cooperating with the investigators. CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans knows a thing or two about all of this and she's reporting now on Mickelson's questionable transactions that date back to 2011.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): World renowned golfer Phil Mickelson is being investigated by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a probe into insider trading fraud according to law enforcement sources. Over the weekend he denied any involvement after teeing off at a tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

PHIL MICKELSON, PRO GOLFER: I have done absolutely nothing wrong. And that's why I've been fully cooperating with the FBI agents.

ROMANS: The probe centers around stock trades made by billionaire investor Carl Icahn three years ago. The FBI is examining whether Mickelson, along with a well-known sports gambler, Billy Walters, profited from information not available to the public.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're going to be looking at a pattern of trading in particular stocks and they're going to be looking to connect the relationship between Mickelson, between Walters and between Icahn.

ROMANS: Law enforcement sources tell CNN that back in 2011, Icahn invested in shares of Clorox and then proposed a $12.6 billion takeover of the company, causing a spike in Clorox's share price.

Now authorities want to know if Mickelson and Walters were possibly tipped off by Icahn, allowing them to cash in on the share increase.

CALLAN: With respect to Icahn, you have to prove that he deliberately leaked the information and that it was privileged or very confidential information and that he knew it was at the time he leaked it.

ROMANS: CNN could not reach representatives of Icahn or Walters for comment, but Icahn told "The Wall Street Journal" that the suggestion that he was involved in improper trading was, quote, "inflammatory and speculative," telling the paper, "we are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our activities." Walters told "The Wall Street Journal," "I don't have any comment about anything."

So far, there are no allegations of wrongdoing and no charges have been filed against anyone in this case.

MICKELSON: It's not going to change the way I carry myself. I -- honestly, I've done nothing wrong. I'm not going to walk around any other way.

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


BANFIELD: And joining me now to talk live about this investigation into Phil Mickelson's business transactions is CNN legal analysts Paul Callan and Mel Robbins.

Paul, first to you. I saw you in that piece commenting. How tough is it to prove insider trading?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's very difficult. But the way it works, I mean let's say you were out playing golf with one of your friends who happens to be a CEO of a company and around the ninth hole she says to you, you know, we're going to be making an announcement about a new drug that the company is going to be introducing and you go out the next day and buy a lot of stock in the company. That's classic insider trading. Your CEO friend has leaked secret information to you and you've profited from it in a way that members of the public cannot.

In this case, the claim is that Carl Icahn possibly leaked information to Billy Walters, who somehow conveyed it to Mickelson, and then Mickelson bought the stock and made a profit on it. But you've got to prove the whole chain. Tough thing to prove.

BANFIELD: That's -- that's a tricky little chain (ph). And, you know, look, we have all sorts of communications these days that can be tracked.


BANFIELD: Our e-mails, our texts, our telephone calls. All sorts of things can be tracked in that respect. But if you're a good friend of someone and you call all the time, how is it that they know I'm not saying, "Mel, I love your hair," as opposed to, "Mel, you got to buy this stock"?

ROBBINS: Well, thank you for that compliment.

BANFIELD: It does look good.

ROBBINS: Thank you very much. But, see, that's -

BANFIELD: Not so much -- not so much Paul's.

CALLAN: Yes. Well, thanks for rubbing that in.

ROBBINS: We're always - yes, poor Paul and his hair.

CALLAN: You're constantly doing that when I'm on with Mel. Yes, OK.

ROBBINS: But here's the bottom line. The bottom line is, is that they also have to prove that he was aware that he had this insider information that the public didn't have. And so they're going to look at the timing of the communications, the timing of the trade.

And if they can establish kind of a link of communication, they might kind of try to scare them. But, see, here's the thing that I think is really interested about this case, and that is, what this re facing, right? Because they just changed the sentencing guidelines on insider trading last year. And you can face up to 25 years.

Now, the largest jail sentence that's ever been handed down in insider trading, not to mixed up with Ponzi schemes like with saw with Madoff, is actually 12 years. And those are for guys that work for major firms that are making 275 million in profits.


ROBBINS: So it's really speculative what he could be facing at all, if and when, which seems unlikely, that anything happens.

BANFIELD: I've got 10 seconds left, but the issue is, I sure hope none of them is lying because typically, hello, Martha Stewart, we have seen the lying contend to be worse than what they ultimately uncover.


CALLAN: And we have to emphasize, right now, it's speculative -


CALLAN: That there's going to be a case brought at all.

BANFIELD: Right. Yes.

CALLAN: And that's very damaging to the reputations of these men if, in fact, no charges are brought.

BANFIELD: It's so true.

CALLAN: So this is we're in the early stages of this.

BANFIELD: All right. Well, thank you both for the insight. Do appreciate it.


BANFIELD: Mel, Paul, as always.

You may like to swim and snorkel and if you really like to be under water, scuba diving is the way to do it. But there is one man that takes all of that to a whole other level. And, of course, it's because he's the grandson of Jacques Cousteau. He has decided to live under the sea for 31 days and break his grandfather's record. Hear what Fabien Cousteau is trying to accomplish from 60 feet under and why that guy can't come up, even if he wants to.


BANFIELD: Checking some top stories now.

It has been seven years since she vanished and now British investigators are about to begin a brand-new search for Madeleine McCann. But, sadly, it is for the little girl's body, not for the little girl herself. That three-year-old at the time, British, disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal. That was back in '07. Investigators say they'll now focus their search by digging in an area of wasteland close to where Madeleine went missing.

President Obama is using his executive authority to take action against climate change. He is proposing new EPA regulations that would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030. The EPA says the proposed changes would save thousands of lives and lower the average electricity bill by 8 percent, but Republicans say this would be a job killer and that it would cost the economy billions.

As we speak, history is being made beneath the sea. Ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau -- and, yes, it's a familiar name, he is the grandson of the legendary diver Jacques Cousteau. Fabien has begun what he hopes will be a record-setting mission to live and work inside of a small underwater science lab for 31 days. That's right. Well, like sardines, he's going to be packed inside of a school bus-sized lab for about a month, along with five other people. But, get this, he gets to spend hours and hours a day riding on something like underwater motorcycles, not so bad. Fabien spoke with CNN from beneath the ocean this morning about the mission.


FABIEN COUSTEAU, EXPLORATION LEADER, MISSION 31: It provides us an unprecedented view frontier, on the final frontier, in terms of exploration on our planet. We are able to go out there eight to 10 hours or more a day to go diving, to go -- gather scientific data, in our case for education (ph) and other topics that really do pertain to us as a species.


BANFIELD: Fabien says he's living in the most fantastic place in the world, with one issue, and that is the lack of red wine and the fact he can't surface because he's actually saturated. So that's that. He's down for the count.

Thanks, everyone, for watching. "Wolf" starts now.