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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Witness Say Brian Laundrie Argued with Staff at Wyoming Restaurant, Gabby Petito Visibly Upset; Second of Two White House Meetings End with Democratic Lawmakers still Split over Key Pieces of Biden Agenda. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 22, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: AC 360 starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: New information at this hour and breaking news in the killing of Gabby Petito and the disappearance of her fiance, Brian Laundrie. John Berman here in for Anderson.
And we have just uncovered details of what appears to be one of the last known sightings of the couple in Wyoming. What we've learned could shed new light on her final days alive and his state of mind as the manhunt for him takes a new direction.
Again tonight, we're joined by crime buster, John Walsh, whose viewers as always are lending their eyes and ears to the effort. First though, our Randi Kaye in Moose, Wyoming with a new information -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we're just getting some confirmation about an incident involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie at a restaurant in downtown Jackson, Wyoming called Mary Piglets.
We spoke with the manager there just this evening and she told us, quote: "We saw an incident and we told authority." She said it happened on August 27. She said something jogged her memory just today and she called the F.B.I. She said there is no surveillance video of this incident.
But we also spoke with a woman who was there with her boyfriend. That woman's name is Nina Angelo. She was there with her boyfriend, Matt England. She says that they were there around lunchtime, around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. They were sitting next to Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, she said.
And she said she didn't see a physical altercation or any violence, but when the couple got up to leave, she said there was quite a commotion and that Gabby left the restaurant in tears. She was crying as she walked out, and she said that Brian Laundrie was very angry.
He was speaking to the wait staff at the hostess stand and really showing quite a bit of anger. She also said that he went in and out of the restaurant several times, even after they had left, still visibly angry. So we know that they were there around 2:00 p.m. on August 27th. We
also know that a couple believes that they spotted Gabby's van about four hours later at the Bridger-Teton National Forest. That is where the camping area is where the human remains were found that have now been identified as Gabby Petito. That campground is now open to the public once again.
We went there today and this is what we found.
KAYE (on camera): So this may have been how Gabby Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie drove their van to enter the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area. We are in Bridger-Teton National Forest, about 28 miles outside of Jackson, Wyoming.
We just turned off Highway 191 and we're driving now on Forest Road 30290, and if you take a look, you could see the road is a gravel road and it stretches for miles into the campsite.
KAYE (voice over): Remember, video blogger Jenn Bethune and her husband, Kyle, captured this video of a van they believe was Gabby Petito's on the side of the road inside the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area. They posted it on YouTube and gave it to the F.B.I.
The Bethune's told us they spotted the van on August 27th, around 6:30 p.m., but that the van was dark, and they didn't see anyone near it.
KAYE (on camera): The video bloggers sent us the coordinates where they say they saw that van, so we're trying to find that location right now. They said it was about two and a half miles in or so and the van was right on the road.
KAYE (voice over): This dispersed camping area is an undeveloped camping area that offers few services. It's a popular spot, so it's no surprise Gabby or her fiance seemed to have chosen it. It's on the eastern boundary of the Grand Teton National Park and the views are breathtaking.
KAYE (on camera): While we don't know for sure, this clearing could be where that van was parked, certainly based on the distance that we were given. It is right on the road. So anybody walking by or driving by certainly could have seen a van parked here. Otherwise, it's pretty private. There's trees on the other side of the clearing.
And then if you look out there, there is really not much other than some really big rocks and some gravel and there's a creek that you can actually hear if you listen closely while you're standing here or parked here in this clearing.
KAYE (voice over): The forest where the campground is located spans more than three million acres. Law enforcement has not said exactly where Gaby Petito's remains were found or what specifically led them here, but somewhere among all this beauty, something terrible happened.
BERMAN: Randi Kaye is back with us. So Randi, the campground has reopened again, but investigators are still in need of some answers, correct?
KAYE: Absolutely, John, maybe more information. In fact, the F.B.I. is asking for anyone who has any information or who might have been in that Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area between August 27th and August 30th, perhaps they saw the couple. They are asking that they come forward.
They really need this information to try and figure out what went on between these two and how Gabby Petito ended up dead, so they're relying on people like perhaps this woman who we spoke with tonight who saw Gabby crying in a restaurant on August 27th in Jackson, Wyoming or the couple who say they spotted her van on August 27th hours later in that camping area, or maybe even the woman who has been TikToking about picking up Brian Laundrie on August 29th saying that he was alone.
So we know that they were together on August 27th. It sounds like he was alone on August 29th. What happened in between those days and if something did happen, what was it? How did Gabby Petito end up dead? Those are certainly questions, John, that need to be answered.
BERMAN: Okay, Randi Kaye in Moose, Wyoming for us tonight with one half of the story. Let's go now to Amara Walker in Venice, Florida, not far from where divers -- divers -- have now been searching for Brian Laundrie. Amara, what do we know about this dive team that was called in to help search. What did they find, if anything?
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They didn't find anything, John. The search here at the Carlton Reserve has ended for the night and we are told that law enforcement be back here to resume the search in a similar operation first thing tomorrow morning, but as you said, an underwater dive team was called out. They arrived around noon today from the Sarasota Sheriff's Department and they're usually called out to help search for evidence in bodies of water or even victims in bodies of water.
We don't know exactly why they were called out, what they may have been specifically looking for. That remains unclear, but North Port Police tell us, look, this was just part of an overall search process, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they had found something.
But John, I do want to note, something very interesting because the search for Brian Laundrie here at the Carlton Reserve was actually called off on Monday. That same day, a search warrant was carried out by the F.B.I. at Brian Laundrie's home, the F.B.I. questioned his parents, and they were in that home for hours carrying out boxes of evidence, presumably; also, bags of stuff and they also ended up towing a car.
And then the next day on Tuesday, they ended up announcing that the search here at the reserve is back on, so it is unclear what happened between Monday and Tuesday. But clearly, there is a reason why they are so focused on this 25,000-acre reserve here behind me.
And in the meantime, the F.B.I., John, continues to ask the public for help. They are asking for any information, locating Brian Laundrie and finding out what exactly happened to Gabby Petito and they're saying look, you can reach out to us anonymously. They want to know if anyone had contact with them, maybe even saw their vehicle between August 27th and 30th -- John.
BERMAN: Amara Walker for us in Florida. Amara, thank you so much.
With us once again tonight, John Walsh, this country's best known citizen crime fighter and host of "In Pursuit with John Walsh." It airs Wednesdays 10 o'clock Eastern Time on Investigation Discovery and it streams on Discovery+.
John, this new reporting that you heard from Randi Kaye, that there allegedly was this argument between Laundrie and staff at a Wyoming restaurant, and that Gabby Petito left in tears. This is one of the last known sightings of her and Brian Laundrie. Where does this fit in to the puzzle?
JOHN WALSH, HOST OF "IN PURSUIT WITH JOHN WALSH": It fits in with a puzzle that he is a coward, that he is an abuser, and that she was a very abused and damaged woman, is a victim of domestic abuse.
When those two cops -- you know what's the saddest thing is, John? Let's talk the truth here. When that 9-1-1 operator got that call and a very good citizen pulled over so disturbed that they said I just saw a guy slapping the hell out of his girlfriend, then he tried to drive away. She got in the car and he punched her in the face. How did that not get to the two Deputy Sheriffs that pulled her over and the female a Park Ranger? How did that not get to those cops?
That could have saved their life. That could have saved their life if they do what they do in domestic abuse situations. They separate the woman, they take her to a shelter and they separate the guy.
They wrote in their report that he was the victim. I looked at it and so did a whole bunch of other experts and said she is a battered woman. Those cops should have separated her. He controlled the whole conversation, even said to police, "See these scratches here? It was from her cell phone." That could have saved her life. But it didn't.
And John, I learned something this afternoon that everybody should know. A couple across the street from that house revealed that when he was there, remember he came home and was there for 10 days with the van? First of all, he scrubbed that van, he and his parents, they scrubbed that van and they scrubbed that house.
And that before Gabby was reported as a missing person, the father bought a camper shell. It's in the driveway. You can see it. A white camper shell that goes on that red truck, and that the mother and father and Brian went on a three-day weekend. When they left, the neighbor saw Brian get into the camper and thought
it was odd that a grown man was going on a weekend with his parents. This is a couple of days before Gabby's parents sounded the alarm that she was missing.
When the camper came back, there was no Brian. I've been saying it now from the get go. He was never there. He was there and his parents helped him escape. And when they called last Friday, John, let's get to the truth here. When that Bertolino guy, that Steven Bertolino and I keep saying he's the Johnnie Cochran that's helping them -- when Steven Bertolino called the police -- the North Port Police and said, oh, the parents want to do the right thing.
WALSH: Tuesday, Brian took his Mustang to that swamp, and on Wednesday, we went and couldn't find him. How did they find the car if he had parked it, who knows? Fella, we're out there, and we left him a note, Brian, if you're going to kill yourself or you're nervous or whatever, you know, come to mom and dad. Then they went out and got the car on Thursday. And on Friday, they called.
You know what they did, John? The cops have missed this, they bought him four more days. He is sitting somewhere in the world in Mexico laughing at the F.B.I. and the North Port cops. He was never there all week.
That Steven Bertolino is compliant with those parents on this cover up and getaway.
BERMAN: Let me just -- so our viewers know, CNN has not independently confirmed what you just told us from the neighbors that you've talked to about them all leaving on a weekend trip.
Also, the F.B.I. has given CNN no indication that they have questions or concerns specifically about the parents' behavior yet. That is not something we haven't heard yet, just so our viewers know that, John.
So when you hear the divers are now back, two days later, at this site, in this swamp looking for them. You've been skeptical that Brian Laundrie was ever there. But does the fact that they're committing new resources -- we are showing pictures, some of it right now -- indicate they may have found something at least to search for?
WALSH: They are buying in another red herring. Now, I know the lawyers say this to have you say that. This is my opinion, not CNN's opinion. They can't verify the couple across the street. Why would they lie, John? Why would they lie? I know, you've got to do all the legal stuff. Nobody wants to violate their Fifth Amendment that they don't have to talk to the cops.
This isn't about talking about the cops. This is aiding and abetting the escape of their son who is the main suspect who murdered a 100- pound helpless girl that he had been badgering. He has never been in that swamp. Maybe the family threw something in the swamp. It's a red herring, and the cops have been buying it from the beginning. Mark my words, that guy is going to be either be found somewhere. It's
not in that swamp.
BERMAN: Again, understand, and again, just so people know, CNN has not heard from the F.B.I. in any way that they feel that they have been misled by the parents. That is not something we have heard yet, just so people know that, John.
How far do you think he could have gotten? If you don't think he's in the swamp? Where then do you think he could be based on your years of experience, what does that tell you?
WALSH: John, I've been doing this 25 years on "America's Most Wanted." Well, I've been doing this for about 30-plus years, and I've caught 1,422 uncatchable, guys that were not caught by the cops in 45 countries, 17 of the F.B.I.'s 10 most wanted.
Of course, the F.B.I. isn't going to tell you they confirmed it with this stuff. My question is to the F.B.I. and to the North Port Police, how did that guy get out the house? I believe, he was there. He brought the van back, her van. Then he may have been there seven or eight days. But that's when the parents got rid of him. They put him somewhere.
And John, he could be anywhere. He had such a head start. And then they had this Bertolino lawyer call them on Friday and say we're worried that Brian -- it's another ruse, and the cops are buying it.
Here's my question for the F.B.I. and the North Port Police, how did you let the main suspect -- let's get over that person of interest, it is just semantics. There was never another suspect, there was never another person of interest, John. How did they buy that ruse?
And here's my big question. Why didn't you put a black and white car in the front on the road, public property, no violation of their civil liberties, a black and white car in the back, and if the father ever drove out, you follow him in an unmarked car. That's Surveillance 101.
How did the F.B.I. and the cops let this guy get away?
BERMAN: Let me get one more question to you. Let me get one more question to you while we have your time to lean on your expertise here. If Laundrie is on the run and still alive, how hard will it be for him to go undetected? How hard would it be for him not to have any digital footprint or use money or anything like that?
WALSH: It depends on how far he got with the help of this lawyer and his parents. And I'm saying that, I'll take the heat for that. It depends on how many days he was ahead of time. He's at least five days ahead and he may have been ahead when they took him out in the camper and dumped him off.
He's got burner phones, he's got money. I've caught tons of fugitives who their families mistakenly let them get away because they didn't want to see their little boy in prison. This guy has got to go to prison. You know what? He killed her in a death penalty state. I told his lawyer bring him in. Bring him in and you can make a deal
and tell them where Gabby's body is. He can't make a deal now. He murdered this girl and he is going to be facing the death penalty out in Wyoming, but he could be anywhere.
So I tell people, you and I talked about this, John, I've known you for a long time. People don't trust calling the cops. They don't want their phones tapped. They don't want their phone calls traced. An F.B.I. agent to knock on the door and say oh, by the way, you gave the tip, you've got to go to court now and testify against your cousin and he gets out on bail and kills you afterward.
WALSH: People call me and I'm praying that that public and it will be the public that will find this guy, the public give the cops the place where he was dumped. They've given all kinds of tips to me. We turned over 10 great tips last night to the U.S. Marshals that came into my hotline. My show is on at 10 tonight. We're going to get a whole bunch of tips and John, it's the public who is going to find him.
He could be anywhere. He has got a big head, he's got resources, John, so don't discount the fact he might be a local, not so smart guy. He's played the cops. They played these guys, the cops like they were a cartel. And so he's out, he is on the run. We're going to catch him.
BERMAN: And you've had remarkable success over the years. We thank you for sharing your experience tonight, John, and your opinion. We look forward to talking to you again, hopefully with some better and more concrete news in the coming days.
WALSH: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, we have more breaking news, but we're just now learning about today's White House negotiations over key pieces of President Biden's economic agenda, not to mention his political future. Talks with Democratic lawmakers -- Democratic lawmakers, not Republicans -- the question tonight, will members of his own party be the undoing of his presidency?
Later, Trump biographer and investigative journalist Timothy O'Brien on the former President's new lawsuit over an award winning "New York Times" investigation of his taxes and his niece Mary Trump's help in it.
BERMAN: More breaking news tonight. The second of two tense negotiating sessions over President Biden's two signature pieces of legislation, they just wrapped up at the White House. The twist though, these weren't talks between the two parties, it was all within the Democratic family, a family divided.
At issue, the timing of a vote on the already hammered out bipartisan bill on so-called hard infrastructure and the contents and price tag of a larger bill on so-called human infrastructure -- childcare, affordable housing, healthcare, and climate change, which would be passed with only Democratic support by reconciliation.
Two sessions today, one for progressives in the House who won't vote for the first without the second, the other for moderates, some of whom aren't even sure about the second at all.
Just moments ago, progressive leader Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal reiterated her faction's position and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin restated his resistance to quick action on the reconciliation bill and the key provisions in it.
So the impasse is still there, even if both sides are using words like "constructive" and even "productive" to describe the talks.
Perspective now from CNN contributor, Evan Osnos, a Joe Biden biographer and author of "Wild Land: The Making of America's Fury." Also with us, CNN senior political commentator, and former senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod. Ax, a lot on the table for President Biden today. How much political capital does he have on the line? And how does he bring everyone together?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, John, it's not just a question of the capital he has on the line, but what the investment that the members feel -- many of them are deeply invested in provisions of these bills. But politically, they all need to pass it.
The idea that Biden can fail, but the Democratic Party will succeed in 2022 is nonsense. History has proven that. If he is not doing well, the party will not do well. And this is the centerpiece of his domestic agenda.
What you see now, Joe Manchin has taught -- and Kyrsten Sinema have taught House progressive Democrats a lesson and that it's a lesson in leverage, and they are trying to use all the leverage they have to get the provisions in this bill that they want. And the question is, when does everybody turn their cards over?
Because I just can't believe that Democrats ultimately are going to walk away from doing anything here. It's just unthinkable.
BERMAN: Evan, you look at some of the headwinds the Biden administration is facing and not just tensions between moderates and progressives, but also the breakdown today of bipartisan talks on police reform, the treatment of refugees on the southern border, and more frustration today from lawmakers over how the administration has or has not explained the recent chaos in Afghanistan.
How does one person deal with all that? In his life experience, you know, his life experience, what does it tell you about how Joe Biden will deal with that?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, when he was elected, the question everybody had was, well, maybe nice for the moment, but it's going to get very hard. And that moment has arrived.
Look, we are in the teeth now of exactly the kind of legislative tension that people had predicted and not to glamorize it, but as Steny Hoyer said today about Joe Biden, he said, let us hope that he has the special sauce here. Part of that is the power of the presidency.
You know, David just mentioned a moment ago, leverage. Presidents do have leverage. They have this ability and it doesn't always work, but you get people into your room. You heard him doing it today, people from both sides of his party, and you work on them.
One of the things he doesn't like to do is tell people what their politics are, tell them what their room is, what they have to worry about, what's going to get them elected or not elected, but what he tries to do is pin them down, say, what is it that you actually are willing to go for? And that's the kind of conversation. Well, it is close quarters political combat that he actually sort of enjoys.
BERMAN: It is interesting. Everyone came out of the meetings, who spoke, all the Democratic lawmakers with lavish praise for how Joe Biden handled it. Still, though, with no solution.
David Axelrod, Evan brought up the special sauce that Democrats hope Joe Biden has. What if the sauce has gone sour? I mean, what if there is no special sauce? What if this does fail? What then happens to the Democrats?
AXELROD: Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I think it is -- it is a disaster for Democrats if this doesn't move forward.
I mean, think about it, you walk away from historic progress on a whole lot of issues that even if you lose some of the provisions that you want -- now I will point out one thing, John. You know, everybody talks about well, is it going to be $3.5 trillion? Or is it going to be $1.5 trillion? Or is it going to be $2 trillion?
AXELROD: To the legislators who are contesting this, there are specific provisions that are important to them that they think are urgent, some of them have to do with climate. And Joe Manchin has a different view and Evan is an expert on Joe Manchin having covered West Virginia, and having written on Manchin. He has a different view on some of these provisions than some of these House members who view this as urgent.
And all of them have some suspicion that after 2022, the House may not be in their hands anymore. So that adds to their sense that this is the last, you know, we saw the last planes out of Kabul, this is the last plane out of Washington, and they want to get as many of their priorities on that plane as possible, and one of the stickiest may be some of these climate provisions.
BERMAN: You know, Evan, again, based on what you know about Joe Biden, how much does he fear, the possibility of this disaster? How frustrating is it for him, that as of now, we can't get this compromise.
OSNOS: It's frustrating, but he knew exactly what he was walking into. Look, there are factors here, I think that are so interesting that they began even before he was in office. He inherited to some degree, a party that is sprawling not only in its ideological orientations, but simply in the lived experience of the people who are in it.
To give you one data point that I find fascinating, Joe Manchin represents the State of West Virginia. In McDowell County, West Virginia today, an adult male's life expectancy is 18 years less than an adult male across the border in Virginia in Fairfax County. No wonder in a sense that they are sprawled across these issues in a major way.
Joe Biden knows he was inheriting a country that has these kinds of fundamental fissures, and the way that he can try to bring people together is get them into the room and acknowledge not only the fact that they live very different lives, their constituents live very different lives, but if they can agree on these things, this is their moment and their moment may not last forever.
BERMAN: And very lastly, David --
AXELROD: And John --
BERMAN: Can I just very quickly, David, you see this as such an imminent disaster, possibly for the Democrats? Don't they see that? Don't progressives who won't budge know that this could be utter peril? Don't moderates, in some cases who won't budge know that this could be peril?
AXELROD: Yes, no, I think that at some level, they do. But I think they also are, as I said, they're playing a game of chicken, a game of leverage. And for progressives, you know, their frustration has been that they feel like they've been asked to compromise more readily than moderates, and moderates are always demanding compromises. And this is their -- they now have numbers and they want to use that leverage.
But you know, the bottom line is, in any legislative process, you're going to have to compromise because this is, as Evan alluded to, this is a big, diverse country, and there are different interests and different concerns.
And you know, I believe in a lot of the provisions that are in that -- in the Biden package, but I don't think he ever thought he was going to get all of them and, you know, at the end of the day, I think they will get there, but it's going to be a tough road these next few weeks.
BERMAN: They all came out of that saying we have a lot left to do, a lot of bruises, I think over the next few days.
David Axelrod, Evan Osnos, great discussion. Thank you very much.
OSNOS: Thanks. BERMAN: Next, the Trump biographer who was sued by him and won on the
former President's latest lawsuit, this time it's against his niece, Mary Trump and three "New York Times" reporters whose investigations of taxes earned them a Pulitzer Prize.
BERMAN: Shortly after we left you last night word came that the former president was suing his niece, Mary Trump, and three "New York Times" investigative correspondents, at issue they're reporting with her help detailing how in their words, "President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents."
That's the leave (ph) from the piece which has already earned those three reporters the Pulitzer Price. That plus one Donald Trump lawsuit accusing them and Mary Trump of conspiring in a, quote, "insidious plot motivated by a personal vendetta to obtain his tax records." This from a man who promised by never made public his personal tax returns, whose former Corporate Chief Financial Officer, Alan Weisselberg, is under indictment for an alleged tax evasion scheme.
Joining us now is Timothy O'Brien who when not getting sued by Donald Trump and winning in court is a Bloomberg Opinion Senior Coloumnist and Author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being Donald Trump". Tim, great to see you. What do you make of this new lawsuit?
TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING DONALD TRUMP": Hey, John. It is just an exercise I think for Trump to try to dispel some of his own inner demons. He's deeply insecure. He grew up in Queens sort of fetishizing coverage in "The New York Times". It's his hometown paper of record. He sees it as a good housekeeping seal of approval around him and what he does, but the two sort of core elements of this lawsuit that "The New York Times" and Sue Craig and her colleagues, who are all pros -- they know exactly what they're doing - somehow went astray by publishing information they received from the third party -- in this case Mary Trump - has absolutely nothing to stand on in a court. There's very well-established legal precedence that protect reporters who publish information that they get from third parties.
The second piece of this suit that Mary Trump herself shouldn't have made any of these documents public because she signed an NDA, that issue was already adjudicated before Mary Trump's book came out because Trump's brother tried to get Simon& Schuster to stop publishing the book, arguing that she violated the NDA.
And the judge in the case said the NDA was far too vague to have precluded some of the things she did, and she's countersuing saying that she signed the NDA at a time when they were misleading her about what she was entitled to financially.
[20:35:00] So there's nothing - it's just - it is just a car crash of a lawsuit in the service I think of Trump but not a good outcome.
BERMAN: Doesn't the former president risk being deposed here? And how would that go if it happened?
O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes, he does risk getting deposed, and because he's suing them - I mean, this is exactly what he sued me for. Not exactly, but it covers similar territory when I was at "The New York Times", and we ended up deposing Donald Trump. We ended up getting his tax returns and other financial records.
It's not an avenue any rational person would want to go down because it exposes them to a very ruthless process, which includes the possibility of a deposition. And Donald Trump is a disaster in a deposition. He lies. He self methologizes (ph). He doesn't listen to his attorneys. He creates new legal problems for himself. He is every attorney's nightmare when it comes to a deposition witness.
I don't imagine this will ever go that far. I think the court will toss this out on its ear as they should, but if it - if they do litigate they're going to have to go up against a lot of veteran lawyers at "The New York Times" that know exactly what they're doing led by David McCraw who's been around the block with Trump a number of times including in my case.
BERMAN: Considering that he tells his followers not to believe anything in "The New York Times" in the first place why do you think he still gets so up in arms about the reporting on his finances?
O'BRIEN: Well because when you dig into Trump's finances it catches him out. He's a 75-year-old man who has spent his life creating myths about him and running - about himself and running as far as he possibly can from anyone who wants to tell the truth whether it's about his finances, his intellectual abilities, et cetera, et cetera.
And he's protective of his finances in particular because it always reveals that his fortune is not as big as he claims it is. His businesses aren't as robust as he claims they are, and he's done business with a lot of nefarious people, including mobsters.
BERMAN: Tim O'Brien, always an education to speak to you. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
O'BRIEN: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: All right, I want to show you now a live look at the U.S.- Mexico border where streams of migrants crossed against today. We're live from there next.
BERMAN: Tonight along the U.S. border with Mexico more than 5,000 asylum seekers, mostly Haitian immigrants, are now living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, waiting to get processed by U.S. Immigration Authorities.
That's down from a high of 14,000. And take a look at this, the governor of Texas approval for a miles long line of vehicles in Del Rio, a steel barrier put in place to try to deter more would-be border crossers.
CNN Matt Rivers is on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande River. He joins us now. And Matt what's the situation there tonight.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes John, that steel wall that you mentioned just across the river behind me we see state troopers from Texas also Border Patrol basically deterring anyone from going further into the United States.
What they are allowing people to do though and we've seen it all day long is essentially go back and forth from the United States to Mexico unimpeded. We've seen Haitian migrants go back and forth all day long mainly to do one thing.
And that is people who are staying in that encampment that we've so many images of over the past week or so in Del Rio, coming over her to Mexico to actually get supplies, food, water, I even saw someone get diapers earlier today. There's just a lot more of it and there's less people here in Mexico.
So they're coming over and picking some things up, putting them in plastic bags, going back across. And for now U.S. law enforcement allowing that to continue.
Essentially the situation you have on the border right now, Haitian migrants deciding which side they're going to take a risk on. They come here to Mexico they risk being deported. If they go to the United States they also risk being deported, John.
These are very difficult decisions for the Haitians migrants to make. But for now, for many of them it's just kind of about survival with the lack of supplies on the U.S. side, they come here pick up the supplies, head back across that river behind me.
BERMAN: You know, Matt we see people in the river right behind you even tonight. Look, I understand the water has risen considerably in the river over the past four of five hours. Do you know why that is?
RIVERS: Yes, so there are dams further up the steam and there are regular releases of water from those dams. And we saw that first hand today. But what you have is migrants who are not familiar with the way that this river works. And so, they were crossing earlier today, the water level was lower. But we actually saw first hand how dangerous this crossing can be.
I want to show you one video where you can see a father who actually went across with this daughter on his shoulders, he came across to get her a meal. As they were going back across into the United States they almost got swept away by that current. Three or four guys had to jump in, other Haitian migrants and actually help that child. And then I'd like to show another video if we could where we saw
actually one man start to be swept down the river. He was clearly not a good swimmer. Several Haitian migrants went in after him but ultimately it was the Border Patrol. Several agents on the other side of the river who took a line, threw it into the river and they were ultimately able to help that that man, that migrant get out of the water.
So pretty dramatic images here today from the river, but people are coming across this river because they feel like they have to because they say the conditions on the U.S. side are that bad that they need to come here to get here and get food, dry clothes, water, et cetera, John. It's a very fluid situation. Yes, there are less Haitian migrants now, they're being processed. But, you know, these are very difficult times for these migrants.
BERMAN: Remarkable video you showed of us the day. Matt, just very quickly, the people behind you can you tell us what's happening, what they're doing?
RIVERS: Yes, so basically right now what you're seeing is people cross back and forth. It will be the last couple of the day, John. We don't expect this to continue at night. But they're basically just bringing supplies over. They bring food, water, they're going to bring it to the encampment and then they're going to come back.
And I should mention it's not just Haitian migrants doing it themselves. There are Mexicans here, people who live in Ciudad Acuna, which is where we are right now, who are just voluntarily walking across the river bring much needed supplies.
BERMAN: You know, right here as you are doing a live shot. Matt Rivers remarkable report. Thank you so much for being with us.
And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us to tell us about his Champion for Change who is helping families devastated by drug addiction.
BERMAN: All this week in a special series called Champions for Change we're spotlighting people who maybe don't make headlines but still smash barriers and lift humanity.
You're about to meet the person who exemplifies that for Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her name is Joanne Peterson. She helps families with a loved one affected by the disease of drug addiction.
Last year the CDC recorded more than 93,000 drug overdoses in the U.S. That's the highest number on record, much of it from opioids. Here's Sanjay with how Joann Peterson took her personal struggle and turned it into a movement.
JOANNE PETERSON, FOUNDER OF LEARN TO COPE ORGANIZATION: OxyContin, Per 30s, it was always the opioates then they'd turn to the heroine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unprecedented drug overdose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he takes an overdose call the usual suspect is a pain killer. Many cities report a surge in heroine use.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So many times when we talk about the opioid crisis we talk about it in terms of dozens of people may have overdosed in a particular city or tens of thousands of people have died of drug overdoses. We talk about it from a policy perspective, but what makes this distinctive is this is an organization that recognizes not only the trauma to the individual who is dealing with substance abuse but the whole family.
PETERSON: I lost my niece a couple years ago to an overdose. I lost a brother 10 years ago, complications of his addictions.
GUPTA: Joanne Peterson's family had a long and difficult history with addition.
PETERSON: I learned when my niece passed away the most important thing to do is no matter what tell that person you love them and kind of be there for them. I have terrible guilt because in the end I really wasn't there for her in the very end, and I - it haunts me.
And it wasn't that I didn't want to be. It was that I knew that I couldn't fix her problem or change it. You know, she just kind of disappeared, and then I got a call that she was in Beth Israel Hospital on life support, so that haunts me.
GUPTA: It was another part of the struggle with the stigma of substance abuse that she had dealt with for most of her life until she met other families like her at a community meeting about drug overdoses.
PETERSON: I started saying to people, "Let's start meeting."
GUPTA: In 2004, Learn to Cope was born.
PETERSON: We're there to help the family and remind the family that no matter what you're going to be OK, and I've had so many people say to me they feel grateful that they were a member of a peer group like Learn to Cope because they understood the disease.
I know a mom. Her son had cancer. He had been prescribed oxycontin because he was in pain. He was taken off it and he turned to heroine, and she told me she missed his cancer. She said, "You know why? Because everyone loved I'm then. No one gives anything about him now."
GUPTA: Even after 20 years of covering these types of stories I still learn something every time I meet someone like Joanne Peterson. The idea that the ultimate first responder in this opioid epidemic is usually a family member. PETERSON: We really want to educate the families on how to recognize an overdose and what puts them at risk and make sure they have NARCAN in their home.
GUPTA: NARCAN, or naloxone, is a drug that can literally reverse an opioid overdose and give families a chance to rescue someone they love.
Do you have any idea how many rescues have been reported?
PETERSON: I know that for Learn to Cope it's been over 200.
GUPTA: A volunteer with Learn to Cope, Jim Derick says the group is vital support as he wrestles with his own son's fentanyl use.
People come to a meeting and they walk away with a kit including NARCAN. How important is that?
JIM DERICK, VOLUNTEER, LEARN TO COPE: It is critically important. Two people that I've trained have used it directly to save their loved ones, including my son's mother who saved his friend from a lethal overdose about six months ago.
PETERSON: Good morning. Learn to Cope.
GUPTA: The stories that end up having I think the greatest impact are the ones that start off the way this story does. It's an individual who channels that grief into something really meaningful and starts an army. It's not just about accepting the status quo. It's about doing everything you can to change it.
PETERSON: I'll never give up. I'm scrappy. I'm not afraid to speak up. I've never considered myself a champion, but I'm a fighter.
BERMAN: And Sanjay joins us now. Sanjay, you've been reporting on this crisis for so much of your career. What was it that struck you about Joanne and Learn to Cope in particular that gives you hope?
GUPTA: Well you know, I think over the last 20 years reporting on this, John, I've also met a lot of parents who've dealt with this, parents that I've talked to. Even people that I know, and often times it surprise for them that their son or daughter it addicted to these substances. It often times blindsided them.
And it really struck that this organization focused on the family. We talk about the individual obviously, but it really has this ripple effect on the family that can be quiet destructive.
But also, you know, I hadn't really thought about it, John, but the first responders I mentioned the first first-responder is often a family member. So they come upon their family member clinging to life, and you know, just feeling completely, you know, powerless. What Learn to Cope does is give them some power to potentially save lives, which I thought was very powerful.
BERMAN: She's a fighter and a champion. Thank you so much for that, Sanjay. Next there is breaking news from the FDA on Pfizer's COVID booster shots and who should take them.
BERMAN: More breaking news. Long-awaited word from the FDA on COVID booster shots. The agency tonight granted emergency use authorization for third doses of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 65 and older, also for adult Pfizer recipients at high risk of severe disease and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection. Hopefully welcome news with deaths in this country now averaging more than 2,000 a day.