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Campbell Brown

Who Killed Yale Student?; Are Critics of President Obama Racists?

Aired September 16, 2009 - 20:00   ET



RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered.

Who killed Annie Le? There are new details from the Yale grad student's murder.

Also, another crime on a different campus, a student gang-raped, students not warned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should have gotten e-mail. We should have gotten a cell phone alert. We should have gotten anything to say that this happened.

SANCHEZ: Are your kids safe on college campuses? We're asking.

Also, this former president says what many were thinking.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is an inherent feeling among many people in this country that an African- American ought not to be president.

SANCHEZ: Is he right? Is this racism or just a political difference?

Plus, ACORN, you fund them and they're caught on camera giving advice on how to run a prostitution ring. Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ran a (INAUDIBLE) Heidi Fleiss is my hero, because I used to employ girls that would do this, because they didn't care. I had people, women that would take care of every little wish, every fantasy.

SANCHEZ: What's up with ACORN? We have got the facts on this developing story.


ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. In for Campbell Brown, Rick Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody.

We're going to get started with something that's going on right now. This is breaking news that we're bringing you. It's out of Denver. FBI agents searching an apartment and a single-family home today. The information we're getting right now is that they're looking for evidence in the investigation of that terror plot that we told you about earlier this week. That was Monday.

Apparently, agents right now are at homes where reportedly they have been wearing hazardous material units and apparently several people have been taken away. Let me do this. Let's go to our CNN all-platform journalist Jim Spellman. He's live on the phone from Aurora, Colorado, which is just outside of Denver.

Jim, set the scene for us. What's going on there right now?


Well, Rick, the FBI is serving two search warrants as you mentioned at two separate residents associated with Najibullah Zazi. Zazi was in Queens, New York, last week, stayed at one of the apartments searched in those big searches there in Queens. The question right now is where he is right now.

I spoke with Zazi briefly as he left his home and not 45 minutes later, the FBI was sweeping in with dogs, men in hazmat suits, looking for evidence. Meanwhile, at a separate residence, a similar scene going on. So right now, we don't know where Zazi is. The FBI is not talking, but a lot of action here. And they're taking this very seriously, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, forget Zazi. What I'm concerned about and I think what most people are concerned who are listening to this report is these hazardous material suits that they're using to go into this area. That would lead one to believe that maybe there's something there that's dangerous.

We heard earlier this week on Monday that they were looking for explosives in New York. Is this where they might be looking for those now, Jim?

SPELLMAN: Well, Rick, first they evacuated the entire apartment building where Zazi lived and the adjacent apartment building.

Then after about an hour or so, they let everybody get closer and just kept a sort of normal police perimeter. So, it seems the best information we have is that's under control there at that situation.

This situation here at the single-family home, they only have police lines about two houses away from the building. So, it doesn't seem that there's anything hazardous here at the moment. But, remember, it's been several days since he's been back from Queens. So, if there was any sort of hazardous material associated with him, certainly plenty of time to be moved out of these residences -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: This is a curious situation. Those of you joining us right now, again, there are raids taking place as we speak in Denver, Colorado.

I'm reading from our own CNN sources that at least two women wearing head scarves have been brought out of the apartment. Agents have evacuated several complexes, about 12 units there, as a precaution. And that's Jim Spellman who's following the story for us there just outside of Denver.

Jim, just let us know if anything changes on that story and we will put you right up on the air immediately, OK?

SPELLMAN: Will do, Rick. Thanks.

SANCHEZ: All right.

Now let's get to some of the other top stories of the night. It is what we call our "Mash-Up." This is our look at some of the stories that are making an impact right now and the moments that you might have missed. We're watching it all so you don't have to.

All right, let's begin with a version. Notice I didn't say the version. It's out. This is the long-awaited Senate health care overhaul bill that's been unveiled by Democrat Max Baucus. And you should know that the cost is staggering, $865 billion. This is over 10 years, folks.

Those on the right, they don't love it. Those on the left, they don't seem to like it either. In fact, the only one that seems to love it is the man who authored it. And, boy, he was on message today.


SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT), FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I know this bill will pass. It is a balanced bill. It is balanced, very balanced bill. It can pass the Senate -- that can pass the Senate. A good balanced bill that can pass the Senate. And we're going to pass this.


SANCHEZ: All right. There's something here that I want you to know. Senator Baucus has received close to $4 million in contributions from the health care industry. That's important. That's more money than anybody except the president of the United States himself.

We called him about this and he sent us a note saying money has no influence on his decisions, $400 million almost. So, what's in this bill? Well, let's walk you through it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The plan would require every American to buy private health insurance. There's no government-run insurance plan. There would be nonprofit co-ops that could provide coverage. The proposal also forbids insurance companies from dropping policy holders if they get sick and it includes protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.

CHARLES GIBSON, HOST, "WORLD NEWS": There's 535 members of the Senate and the House. It almost sees as if there's 535 different versions of what has to be in a health care bill.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS": That's exactly right. And most of them were left out of those negotiations, which is why this bill, Senator Baucus' bill, is having such a hard time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forget bipartisanship. Right now, no GOP support and some Democrats aren't happy either.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What Senator Baucus is doing is kind of framing this as a Goldilocks option, too hot for some, too cold for others, so maybe it's just right.


SANCHEZ: All right, if you want to read the bill for yourself, I'm encouraging you to go to And then you can decide on this bill for yourself.

You have heard from many of the bill's critics, the signs. You have seen the protests. We have shown them to you. And, of course, the infamous shout by a congressman calling the president a liar. Well, now former President Jimmy Carter has gotten into the mix by suggesting that the Joe Wilson debacle is all about racism because of the current president being black. First, here's what he told NBC's Brian Williams.


CARTER: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American.


SANCHEZ: He went on to say that many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, can't see an African-American running the country. And that has set off 24 hours of fiery opinions. Did President Carter hit on something? Well, it depends in many ways on who you ask.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president does not believe that -- that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were racially driven, but we have a certain amount of racial prejudice, all people, towards all things in us. And sometimes it's hard to suppress it.

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's patently absurd. It's demonstrably untrue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Painting him as a president with two eyes in a black box, calling him a Nazi, calling him a chimpanzee, calling him a monkey, how much evidence do you need?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it was racially driven. I think he was just reacting to a statement that he didn't believe was a true statement.

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: When you go down this road and you start just willy-nilly, as I believe President Carter has, throwing race out there, you diminish real instances of racism that needs to be addressed.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Any criticism of an African-American president's policies or statements or misstatements is racist, and that's it. Therefore, the question: Can this nation really have an African-American president?


SANCHEZ: All right, this story is continuing tonight. You are looking now at live pictures at Emory University in Atlanta, where President Carter is getting ready to hold a question-and-answer session with students there. We're going to keep watching this for you. We are going to let you know what he says.

Obviously, it's expected he's going to make some comments on the controversy that began last night, and we are going to be steeped into this issue during this show. Expect it.

Now, there's this. We now know how Yale student Annie Le, whose body was found in a wall, died. The cause of death, this is according to medical examiners, traumatic asphyxiation. And the story only gets even more bizarre. Lab tech Raymond Clark has been taken away in handcuffs, but then released. And police are saying he was never really arrested, leading many to ask, what gives here?

Well, it looks to me like that tape got stuck. You know what we will do? We will try and see if we can re-rack it and show it to you a little bit later.

In the meantime, is Clark, Raymond Clark, who I just mentioned, this non-suspect, is he going to be charged? Police say maybe we will know in just a couple of days.

Let's move on to Afghanistan now, shall we? It's taken almost a month, but all the votes in Afghanistan's presidential election have been counted. And the winner is supposedly President Hamid Karzai. The problem is, the European Union says one-third of the votes cast for President Karzai should be looked at for fraud.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A certain number of votes have come in. They're still not certified, but they give President Karzai above the 50 percent he needs to avoid a runoff. On the other hand, the U.N. Electoral Complaints committee there says that there is something like 2,500 instances that they need to investigate before they will sign off on it. And, of course, the whole idea of legitimacy is one that's going to be very important for Afghanistan itself and for the United States and its allies as it seeks to figure out how it continues its mission there.


SANCHEZ: Certifying the votes, we understand, is still weeks away, and so, apparently, is President Obama's decision on whether to send in even more troops.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no immediate decision pending on resources, because one of the things that I'm absolutely clear about is, you have to get the strategy right and then make the determinations about resources. You don't make determinations about resources and certainly you don't make determinations about sending young men and women into battle without having absolute clarity about what the strategy's going to be.


SANCHEZ: The president's comments came a day after his top military officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, said more troops would probably, probably, be needed in Afghanistan.

All right, I got two videos everyone's been talking about them on this day. The first is from the back lawn of the White House. En garde. President Obama takes a stab at Michelle Obama, mind you with a foam sword. He was looking for a duel, but he wasn't playing. The first couple was courting the honchos who could offer Chicago -- Chicago -- the 2016 Olympics.

Let me show you this second video. This one's special. Watch what happens when the Phillies' Jayson Werth hits a foul ball into the bleachers. There's a guy named Steve Monforto. He leans over and makes a catch. Follow me here. So, what does he do?

He fist-bumps all the guys around him. Yay. Way to go, fellows, high-fives a 3-year-old daughter. Then he gives her the ball. And look what she does. She throws it back on the field. Dad gives her a hug. The Phillies saved the day, though. They sent the dad another brand-new ball. And now dad and his beautiful little girl are the toast of the town, which leads up to tonight's "Punchline."

We have got some pretty good grub here at the CNN controversy (ph), but what does the president eat when he comes to New York?


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": In New York, President Obama had lunch with former President Clinton. They had lunch, yes. Yes. Yes, afterwards, Clinton told Obama, remember, if Hillary asks, we had lunch and dinner. Then I slept over at your place. That's the story. (LAUGHTER)


BROWN: Conan O'Brien, everybody.

And that is tonight's "Mash-Up." Ding, ding.

And coming up, a story that says a lot about race in America in these times, one that you have told us about, you have been telling me all day on e-mails and on tweets and on Facebook posts. This is about a black female Army Reservist beaten by a white man who screamed racial slurs at her while he was doing it, according to police. It happened in front of her 7-year-old daughter, and we have got the exclusive interview with her.

Also, how close are police to arresting the killer of a Yale grad student, Annie Le? And why is the man that they handcuffed and took away and searched his house and searched his car still not really arrested?


JAMES LEWIS, NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT, POLICE CHIEF: If we have one match on a person that we know was at that location, we will be going for an arrest warrant.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

There are new details tonight on the murder of Annie Le. Authorities are saying that she was choked to death and stuck in a wall, her body found Sunday, which was supposed to be her wedding day. Why is lab technician Raymond Clark not arrested? They searched his home, they searched his car and they took him into custody, but he's not a suspect?


LEWIS: We have approximately 250 seized items now. A large number of those will eventually have to all go through the lab. We're prioritizing those issues and they're up at the lab now. And they're doing DNA as we speak. I could get the results in 30 minutes or it could be hours. It's all up to the lab now.


SANCHEZ: And there's even more news on this. The same day Annie Le's body was found, another horrible crime is alleged on a college campus. This is on Long Island, Hofstra University. An 18-year-old freshman was apparently raped, raped by five men in a dormitory men's room after a night of dancing at an on-campus nightclub.

Four are charged. A fifth is still at large.

Carolyn Reinach Wolf is a safety consultant and adjunct professor at Hofstra. By the way, she has two college-aged kids of her own.

What can you tell us about this case? And I guess the part I'm most interested in, were these alleged suspects students? Did they belong on campus? Should they have been there?

CAROLYN REINACH WOLF, CAMPUS SAFETY CONSULTANT: My understanding that at least one of them is a student. And that raises the whole spectrum of what are colleges doing with regard to safety and security on their campuses. What programs do they have in place? What training do they have in place? How are they going about protecting the students that are on their campus, whether it's a large campus or a small campus?

SANCHEZ: We have got a lot of people who are concerned because it took so long for them to tell the students and vis-a-vis the parents. Like, it happened I believe on Sunday. It wasn't until late Monday afternoon that they even put it on a blog or a Web site, which isn't very public. Is that the standard way of doing this?

WOLF: Each campus is doing something different. I travel across the country working with different college campuses. Some are doing text messages. Some are doing e-mails. Some are doing blogging.

It really varies by campus. But the idea is to get the information out, get it out accurately, don't start fear-mongering, but do it in a way so that people feel safe on campus and safe sending their children to college.

SANCHEZ: In both cases, the victims are women, the one at Yale and the one at Hofstra. You have a daughter in college?

WOLF: Yes, I do.

SANCHEZ: What do you tell her?

WOLF: I gave her the mom and then the consultant/attorney in this area spiel before I dropped her off at campus this very year a couple of weeks ago.

SANCHEZ: Well, what do we tell our daughters?

WOLF: We tell our daughters, don't go places by yourself. Find out what the security systems are on campus. Use the buddy system. Know where you are on campus and what's your surrounding. Are you walking across campus late at night when it's dark and deserted? Are you calling the security office and saying, I need a ride back to the dorm or I need assistance?

SANCHEZ: Sounds like a checklist we all need to be aware of as parents.

My thanks to you, Carolyn, for being here with us.

WOLF: You're welcome, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right, it's Chris Brown as you have never seen him before, working off a sentence for beating up Rihanna.

Also, ACORN's boss is going to be joining me here to explain several things, including the new provisions that they're enacting. We will tell you what they are.

Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.


SANCHEZ: We got a lot of stuff going on here ourselves.

Next, as he speaks, former President Jimmy Carter is holding a town hall. This is just a day after his comments triggered a new race debate in America. And as you might imagine, we are monitoring this for you. Any comments that he makes, we will flip them around for you and you will hear them here on CNN. Stay with us. We're going to hit a break and I'm coming right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Just taking notes. I'm being told some information that's coming out of the Carter center. Right now we're following former President Jimmy Carter. You see him there speaking. He's holding a town hall meeting in Atlanta just a day after making some explosive comments about people who are angry with President Obama.

What he did is, he suggested that racism is behind Congressman Joe Wilson calling the president a liar. By the way, moments ago, and those are those notes I was telling you I was taking, he went on to say that he thinks the president of the United States is intelligent enough to withstand the condemnation that he has been receiving.

By the way, the president, many believe, is saying what many have thought in this country, but not said publicly, among those, a man over here to my left, Roland Martin, who is going to be joining me in just a minute.

First, before we do anything else and before we start the discussion, let's listen to what the president said exactly. This was him yesterday on "NBC Nightly News."


CARTER: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. That racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.


SANCHEZ: Yet, today, almost as expected, President Obama's press secretary said the president does not believe it has anything to do with the color of his skin, speaking on behalf of the president of the United States.

Roland Martin is a CNN political analyst who you have known. Tim Wise is the author "Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama." And also with us is John Avlon, a columnist for

Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

And, Roland, let me start with you.

Is the president, former President Carter, right?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he is obviously painting a broad brush, but what he's realizing is that you do have elements of race when you talk about the level of criticism, when you talk about the viciousness, if you will, in some of the things that are being said, when you look at comments being made at rallies, when you look at posters, things along those lines, the stuff you're seeing online, all kind of different responses, when you see the kind of hateful language being targeted to the first lady.

You got Tammy Bruce calling her trash. You got people who say he hates white people and white culture. And, so, not only that -- reports show a 400 percent increase in terms of threats against this president. Now, explain to me what's the difference between him...

SANCHEZ: By the way, by the way, by the way, just let me -- just as a caveat, I checked on that, and the Secret Service has told me that that figure has been exaggerated. We did a reporting. But, nonetheless...

MARTIN: So, what's the number?

SANCHEZ: But it does appear to be up.

MARTIN: Absolutely.


SANCHEZ: But do you believe the president's right?

MARTIN: I think that, clearly, there are people who are making -- who have criticism, and racial undertones are present. I can't sit here and say, well, you're absolutely racist, but there's no doubt race plays a role in some people who are criticizing this president. SANCHEZ: And, yet, and, yet -- and, Tim, let me bring you into the conversation.


SANCHEZ: This is what is interesting about this.

You talk to some Americans -- and you saw the interviews we did earlier on our newscast -- and they will tell you that, no, this is not racism. This is all policy-based. And you talk to other Americans and they are convinced it's racism. How can so many people see something so differently?

WISE: Well, because we can define racism very differently and have different perceptions.

But our point, those of us who think race is part of this, is very simple. There are folks on the leadership level of the far right who are every day stoking the fires of racial resentment. That doesn't mean everyone that responds is for that reason responding.

But, for example, if you have Glenn Beck saying to millions of listeners that the whole health care debate is really just about reparations for black people...

MARTIN: Code word.

WISE: ... if you have Rush Limbaugh saying in April that to get a job with this administration, you have to hate white people, then, obviously, there is this button that's being pushed.

Now, when folks respond, they may have multiple reasons. But you cannot take the racial element out. When Mark Williams, one of the big tea party organizers, calls the president of the United States an Indonesian Muslim and a welfare thug, that's racial imagery.


SANCHEZ: Well, obviously, and you are going to be able to come up with examples that are obviously extremely strident and very pointed and very focused, as the ones you mentioned.

But there are areas of gray in this, too. Let's do something together. You at home, I want you to join the four of us as we look at something that John has done for us.

You went to a rally recently, right?

JOHN AVLON, AUTHOR, "INDEPENDENT NATION": I went to the D.C. tea party rally on September 12.


SANCHEZ: And you took some pictures.

AVLON: That's right.

SANCHEZ: Let's go through these pictures. You ready?

This is one is a picture. Let me do -- describe this first one for us, if you would, John. Apparently, it's the president with Hitler and Lenin?


SANCHEZ: Is it? OK. Let me just ask the question, you at home watching right now. Is this racist?

Roland, is this racist?

MARTIN: Well, I think you're associating the president with two dictators.


SANCHEZ: ... makes people angry.

AVLON: That's the hate trifecta...


SANCHEZ: Tim, is this hateful or racist?

WISE: Well, I think it's pretty hateful. The only way it might be racial is, you think of Hitler. Hitler wasn't just a fascist. He was a racial fascist. So, if you say the black guy running the country is a racial fascist, it might set off psychologically these notions of, oh, who's he going to come for? And then white folks get nervous because of that. It's possible.


SANCHEZ: Mixed reaction on that.

Let me get to the next one, if you don't mind, Tim. I don't mean to interrupt you, but we have got some breaking news going on as well.

WISE: Sure.

This one does say, "Go back to Kenya."

Roland, I will start with you. Racist?

MARTIN: Hell, yes, that's racist.


WISE: Of course.

MARTIN: Don't go -- wait a minute. "Don't make the U.S. a Third World country. Go back to Kenya."

That go -- hearkens back to, go back to Africa. SANCHEZ: John?

AVLON: That's some ugly stuff, man. That's about race.

SANCHEZ: And it's interesting when you look at these.


SANCHEZ: Tim, clearly racist?

WISE: Absolutely. Absolutely. All of the birther stuff is.

If this guy's name was O'Malley, and I made up a birth certificate that said he was born in Ireland, nobody would believe it and nobody would care the birther stuff is all about.


AVLON: Yes. What's really going on here, look, slavery was the original sin of America. We have wrestled with the legacy of race in our country throughout our political history. It is naive to assume that we can have an extraordinary event like the election of the first African-American president and not have that ugliness bubble up at the fringe. But there is principle policy disagreement --

SANCHEZ: But here's a key question. If you accuse everyone who's there being a racist because there were 10,000, 20,000, 1,000, 100 people there who had racist signs, aren't you making them more fervent?

MARTIN: No. The issue is not, I'm going to accuse someone of being a racist. There are racial undertones in terms of how we perceive things.

SANCHEZ: But not to all people?

MARTIN: No, no, no, not to all people. But again, though, when people make racial assumptions, they go through these different levels in getting there. I'm not going to say, we say racist, we think somebody with a swastika, with a Klan outfit on, and a (INAUDIBLE). It's not always the case.

AVLON: That's right. And this is --

SANCHEZ: It's nuance.

MARTIN: Yes, it's nuance.

AVLON: You know, the tea party protesters, there is principle policy opposition behind a lot of it. But there's also a paranoid, turning on pathological hatred of the president as well. And you're looking at the fault lines of American politics here, folks.

The party of Lincoln's base is now at the heart of the confederacy. There has been a role reversal in our politics. This is sanguine (ph) to deal with. It is not the vast majority of these folks, but to ignore that it's not motivating some of them is just not paying attention.

SANCHEZ: That's why we're having conversations about it.


SANCHEZ: They're open and they're free. And we thank Roland, John and Tim for being with us tonight. All three gentlemen, thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Another charge of racism. This is a story that takes it more to the microlevel, all right? You the viewer have been tweeting me all day long about this. You've sent me e-mails. I've seen blogs, and you want us to dig deeper into this, so we will.

A mother beaten up at a Georgia restaurant while her 7-year-old girl watched. The suspect is a white man. The mother is black. The feds are investigating and she joins me live.


TASHA HILL, BEATING VICTIM: Punched me and kick on me and he called me vulgar names. Called me a racial slur and then, you know, curse words.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. This is a story I've been telling you about. It's a story that really defines race in what appears to be no uncertain terms unlike the discussion we were having just a little while ago, which leaves some room.

You've twittered me, you've blogged me, you've e-mailed me throughout the day about this. Now it begins with a woman who's walking out of a Cracker Barrel restaurant with her 7-year-old daughter. The two who are African-American were in Morrow, Georgia. This was just a week ago. As they passed through the entrance, a man identified as Troy West allegedly forced the door open, nearly hitting the little girl.

OK, stuff like that can happen. While, the woman, a U.S. Army reservist honorably discharged said something. And the man, West, began punching and kicking her and then calling her the "N" word. Police call it a racist act. The FBI is investigating it as a possible hate crime. And Mr. West, we have not been able to reach despite repeated efforts by CNN.

Joining me now, exclusively tonight, is the woman who was attacked in this case. A case that's being talked about throughout the country, her name is Tasha Hill.

Miss Hill, thanks so much for being with us.

TASHA HILL, BEATING VICTIM: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: By the way, her attorney is in Atlanta along with her. His name is Kip Davis (ph).


SANCHEZ: Thank you.

Did you -- did you do anything to provoke this incident?

HILL: I'm sorry, you asked?

SANCHEZ: Yes, I'll ask that question again. Did you do anything to provoke this alleged attack on you?

HILL: I did nothing but try to protect my daughter. I did not.

SANCHEZ: How did you try to protect your daughter?

HILL: I just spoke and I asked the gentleman to watch out for, you know, watch out that he did not hit her in the face.

SANCHEZ: Well, let me ask you then something, because I've been going through the police report tonight, just to see -- because we weren't able to get a hold of Mr. West. But in the police report he says, or he alleges, I should say, I hit her after she spit on me and accused me of trying to hit her daughter with a door. Did you spit on him?

HILL: I know that I -- I really can't go into detail about the case, just because of my -- the district attorney, but I know that I did not.


JONES: Rick, if I can answer that.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Go ahead, Kip, if you would.

JONES: I've observed the videotape and at no point did Miss Hill do anything to provoke the attack. She did not spit on Mr. West. She spoke to him. He attacked her.

SANCHEZ: Where's the videotape, by the way? I'd like to see that myself?

JONES: Well, Cracker Barrel is refusing to release the videotape to me or to the media, as I understand it. I believe that it's been turned over to law enforcement, but it's not being made available to the public by Cracker Barrel.

SANCHEZ: Tasha, this sounds horrible. It sounds like the beginnings of a misunderstanding, but then just got out of control. Can you take me through that moment when you were at the door and he pushed the door? HILL: I actually don't want to relive the entire situation. What I'd just like to say is that, you know, he did attack me and I still cannot understand why he did what he did. He obviously felt very comfortable to attack me in the Cracker Barrel. I just -- and then once I did mention to him that I was a service member and I didn't want any problems, it was just shocking to me how he was so comfortable to attack me, assault me and make verbal assaults as well and --

SANCHEZ: What do you call the attack? What did he do? The report seems to indicate that he punched you and kicked you. Is that correct? And if so, can you quantify that for us?

HILL: Yes, he did punch me, with a closed fist, repeated times. My head is hurting still today. I have knots on my head.

SANCHEZ: Did he kick you too?

HILL: Yes, he did.

SANCHEZ: How's your daughter? Did she get involved in that melee at all?

HILL: My daughter had to stand by and witness the entire thing, and she was afraid. She had mentioned to me and had cried about the fact that she was trying to protect mommy by pushing the door, and the man pushed the door back and squished her.

SANCHEZ: Are you convinced -- are you convinced that this was a hateful, racist act as is being alleged, or at least investigated, by both local police and federal officials?

HILL: You're --

JONES: Rick, we're convinced that this was a hateful, racist attack. The language was vile. It was racist, it was sexist, it was completely offensive, completely unprovoked.

I've seen the tape. This was a vicious attack without provocation based on the "N" word, the "B" word, et cetera. It was nothing but a racist attack that occurred in Cracker Barrel, not outside of Cracker Barrel.

SANCHEZ: We're certainly going to take your word for it. You were there. You've seen the tape, we haven't. We're going to follow up on this.

Tasha, you're going to be joining me again tomorrow at 3:00. As we understand, there may be some new details on this story. My thanks to both of you for taking time to take us through this tonight.

HILL: Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: There's some news that's just coming into CNN about the group ACORN. Minutes ago, a big political figure called for a full investigation who is in ACORN. Did a group that takes your tax dollars really give advice on how to hide for a prostitution ring? That's what's alleged. Tonight, we're leaving the spin to the others and we're going to give you the facts.


SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez. If you've heard anything about ACORN, it's probably bad, right? Allegations of voter fraud and now employees caught on tape in a sting, allegedly offering tips on how to run a prostitution ring.

You're going to see that video for yourself, by the way. But first the facts about ACORN.

ACORN stands for Associated Community Organization for Reform Now. On its Web site, it's described as a collection of groups working to support minimum wage policies, improve education, and support affordable housing initiatives. But it's the appearance of what they did during the last election by signing up voters, even if it didn't involve voter fraud in the end that got them in the news. Let's take a look back.


OBAMA: ACORN is a community organization. Apparently, what they've done is they were paying people to go out and register folks and apparently some of the people who were out there didn't really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The community organizing group is now being frozen out by the Catholic church. That could mean millions of dollars in grant money no longer going to that group.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a feeling your investigation will just keep on giving. Thank you, Drew.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I've thought for a long time that ACORN is corrupt. They have widespread corruption, voter fraud, embezzlement. You name these things, and this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.


SANCHEZ: Well, today, because of the humiliating videotapes, ACORN did announce a hiring freeze and an independent review. FBI Director Robert Mueller says that there may be, as well, a federal investigation. The tapes are embarrassing. In fact, the tapes are just plain wrong when you see them.

Here's the latest now. This is from California, which takes the controversy, by the way, to a whole new level. CNN's Abbie Boudreau is part of our special investigations unit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ACORN worker in San Bernardino not only offering advice to help a pimp and a prostitute, but telling them she gets it because she too was once in the sex trade.


TRESA KAELKE, ACORN WORKER: And I ran a service.


KAELKE: Yes. Well, Heidi Fleiss is my hero. I understand, and believe me, I do know, because I used to employ girls that would do this, because they didn't care.


BOUDREAU: And that she once killed an abusive ex-husband.




KAELKE, ACORN WORKER: Yes. And then I just picked up the gun and said (bleep) you, and I shot him and he died right there.


BOUDREAU: But the worker caught in the sting, Tresa Kaelke, now says she made it all up.

KAELKE: It's a joke. Everything is a joke. You know, none of it is true.

They came into my office. They were a little suspicious to me when they came in. They played with me and I played back. I shocked them like they were trying to shock me.

BOUDREAU: Kaelke told us she first told the filmmakers that ACORN would in no way help them with their prostitution project. But when they didn't leave, she became uncomfortable. Alone in the office in a tough neighborhood, with strangers, she started to make up stories. Stories she wishes she could take back.

KAELKE: It's affected my life extremely, and the lives of everyone around me. And I'm deeply sorry for that. It was a bad joke, I feel, but I felt a bad joke was being played on me.

BOUDREAU: The video took the ACORN controversy to another level. In the earlier videos, workers were apparently caught offering advice on how to hide prostitution money from the tax man and even bring in underage sex workers from overseas. But no one ever claimed to be a killer before. San Bernardino police even investigated and found that the claims "do not appear to be factual. Investigators have been in contact with the involved party's known former husbands, who are alive and well."

The couple who took the video, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles (ph) are both conservative activists. ACORN contends they've been deliberately manipulating the videos to put the liberal group, which has become a target amid serious corruption and voter fraud allegations, in the worst light possible. Amy Schur is ACORN's California chairwoman. She accompanied Tresa Kaelke to the interview.

AMY SCHUR, ACORN CALIFORNIA: We believe these two conservative activists broke the law filming this. And then what are they putting on the air and online? They are putting doctored, edited, sliced and diced versions of these tapes.

BOUDREAU: That said, ACORN has already fired four workers for the earlier tapes and Kaelke told us she's been placed on indefinite suspension.


BOUDREAU: Rick, I want to tell you, we've tried many, many times to get interviews with the filmmakers, but so far, they've refused -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Yes, they are another important part of the story. Abbie, thanks so much.

By the way, ACORN is taking a lot of heat for all of this. So, what do they have to do now to fix this? Can they? I'm going to ask ACORN's CEO, Bertha Lewis. She's good enough to join me live tonight and we're going to do that right after the break.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. This just in. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling now for an investigation into ACORN's activities in California, saying that news stories he's seen troubled him greatly.

Now, with the organization under fire, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said today, "We are going to go to whatever lengths are necessary to reestablish the public trust." But what's it going to take?

Here to tell us now just what's going on inside ACORN, Bertha Lewis. Miss Lewis, thanks so much for being with us?

BERTHA LEWIS, CEO, ACORN: Oh, thanks for having me, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Listen, how do you explain what Americans have seen on some of these videotapes? I mean, somebody advising, you know, alleged pimps and prostitutes, or people describing themselves as pimps and prostitutes to set up brothels. How do you explain this?

LEWIS: Pretty horrendous, isn't it? SANCHEZ: Yes.

LEWIS: I mean, this would curl anyone's hair. And it was outrageous, it was indefensible, even know we know these tapes -- no one has shown totally unedited tapes, because you don't see tapes where they were thrown out of ACORN offices. You don't see tapes where people are told, you know, we can't help you. But be that as it may, I will not tolerate unprofessional -- not meeting our standards. I've got --

SANCHEZ: So the people -- so the people have been fired? The people that we see on these tapes have been fired?

LEWIS: Yes. And I -- but, listen, Rick. I've got over 700 employees. And, you know, this is a handful of folks. I immediately took swift action and I said, you know what, we're going to look at this. We're going to make a review from top to bottom so that this thing never happens again. We work too hard to have some trumped up thing like this happen.

SANCHEZ: Well, you got some serious problems right now and let me take you through them.


SANCHEZ: The Senate voted to block your housing grants. The Census Bureau is blocking your organization from being used on those studies. And now you may be investigated by the FBI as well. I mean, you know what this is. This is a credibility problem. How are you going to overcome it?

LEWIS: Well, I don't think that this is just a credibility problem. I think this is a well-orchestrated, well-funded, concerted, relentless campaign to attack this organization.

We have been attacked from 2004, 2006. In fact, Karl Rove's e- mails just revealed a couple of weeks ago show that politically, he directed Alberto Gonzales (ph) and U.S. attorneys to go after us and no matter what, prove something on them.

SANCHEZ: But some people would say --

LEWIS: So we know --

SANCHEZ: But some people -- but some people -- I understand that. But some people would say that you're shifting the emphasis here. Because -- and look, as a journalism (ph) at CNN, I will tell you that neither our organization's standards and practices would allow the kind of interview or a seeming misrepresentation that took place when they went after this story to get this video that everyone's talking about. That notwithstanding, the video is still there, Bertha. And we still see these people doing and saying these things.

So you could say anything you want to say about your attackers, but in the end, the evidence is what's hurting the credibility of your organization. How do you respond to that?

LEWIS: Well, I'll repeat it again, in case you didn't understand me the first time.


LEWIS: These people were terminated. We took immediate action. Regardless, it is unacceptable and never met our professional standards.

Let me give you another fact. Not one document, not one application, not a shred of paper was ever put in or, you know, any process gone with these folks. They came in, they did their thing, and you know what, we said to these employees, this can't be tolerated. I am sorry. You don't meet ACORN's standards, so --

SANCHEZ: But here and certainly that sounds like the right response. But here's the problem. The problem is this is not an isolated incident because there was the incident of what at least you would have to consider was sloppy voter registration campaigns earlier last year.

LEWIS: Let me stop you right there.

SANCHEZ: Please.

LEWIS: There was no sloppy voter registration campaign.

SANCHEZ: How would you describe it then?

LEWIS: In fact -- in fact, our quality control worked because you know why? Every single card, every single employee of ours that filled out a fraudulent card, you know who turned them in?


LEWIS: We did. We turned in every card, we flagged them, we tagged them. We were the ones that supplied all of this evidence. That's why we know our quality control works.

SANCHEZ: So that --

LEWIS: That's why these filmmakers went to dozens of offices, they were turned away. You need to make sure that CNN is able to show unedited versions of these tapes, show the whole thing...

SANCHEZ: Good point.

LEWIS: ... so that we can get back to the work of helping low and moderate-income people of color in this country.

SANCHEZ: Your point is well taken and we thank you, Bertha Lewis, for coming on tonight and taking the heat.

LEWIS: Thank you. SANCHEZ: As we told you, former President Carter has been speaking again tonight on the subject of race and criticism of President Obama. Well, he's definitely not backing down. You're going to hear what he just said moments ago.

Stay with us. We're turning this around for you.


CARTER: I'm going to speak to the Israel Knesset.


SANCHEZ: You wondered whether President Carter would back down, whether he would echo what he said yesterday. He spoke again moments ago. We've got it for you. Here it is.


CARTER: I think people that are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American. It's a racist attitude. And my hope is and my expectation is that in the future, both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States.


SANCHEZ: Two things. The president saying he wants some folks to be vigilant of this and he also, this time said, don't know if it's couching, we'll look at it, influence to some degree -- influence to some degree.

I'm Rick Sanchez. Campbell is back tomorrow. And now, "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.