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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
Pilot's Breakdown In The Sky; Final Day Of Health Care Debate; Gingrich Slashes Campaign Staff; Sanford Couple Forced To Leave Home; No Injuries Reported In Bus Fire; Record Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot; Interview with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Interview with Congressman Michael Burgess; Interview with Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton; Colorado Wildfire Rages On; Showtime For Dodgers
Aired March 28, 2012 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. So let's get started. He was screaming "they're going to take us down" and ranting about the Middle East and a bomb.
There's new tape this morning of a JetBlue pilot's mental breakdown at 30,000 feet. You will hear from the passengers who literally grabbed him by his neck to save that flight. And the more you hear, the more you realize how close they came to disaster.
BANFIELD: Newt Gingrich laying off his campaign manager and not stopping there. Laying off a third of his staff as well while cutting back dramatically on his campaign appearances and this is all leaving a lot of people to wonder if the former speaker is about to bow out of the race.
SAMBOLIN: As Trayvon Martin's parents take their fight for justice directly to lawmakers in Washington, there are reports the lead investigator wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter, but was overruled. We'll talk live with Trayvon's mother and father just ahead at 6:30.
BANFIELD: A woman is still missing in an area outside of Denver, Colorado, where an awful wildfire has already claimed two lives. At least 23 different structures have been completely torched. The 4,500 acres have been scorched. Calmer winds are expected today to slow down the spread of that wildfire.
SAMBOLIN: Laker legend Magic Johnson ready to bleed Dodger blue. A group led by Magic has agreed to bankrupt L.A. Dodgers for a cool $2 billion. It's the biggest price tag ever for a sports franchise.
BANFIELD: Up first, those terrifying moments on board a JetBlue flight. We want to take you inside and let you listen.
SAMBOLIN: We are seeing new tape of a man's mental breakdown at 30,000 feet and not just any man. It was the pilot.
BANFIELD: We're also hearing the air traffic control reports as the co-pilot guided everyone to safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PLANE: JetBlue 191 emergency we're going to need authorities and medical to meet us at the airplane.
ATC: Yes, sir. They're standing by for you.
PLANE: Can I have the airport police stand by?
ATC: Do you want them to ender from bravo or Juliet?
PLANE: Bravo will be fine.
ATC: Code one. The pilot requests medical and security as soon as able.
SECURITY: We have medical and security standing by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Alina Cho is here with what happened. It's kind of like a deja vu moment. We talked about this not too long ago.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A couple of weeks ago, I was standing right here and talking about the American Airlines flight attend who went on a 9/11 rant. Have you seen the cover of "The New York Post" and "The Daily News" today?
"This is your captain freaking," "Jet ready to die." I mean, obviously this could have been a horrible outcome as one passenger put it, but thankfully the plane landed safely.
Having said that, I want to tell you what happened. You remember "Let's Roll" from around 9/11, a lot of people were thinking about this ever since 9/11. Airline passengers really know that there may come a time when they'll have to take matters into their own hands.
And that's exactly what happened aboard Flight 191 from JFK to Las Vegas on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My God, I am so distraught. We've got Israel. We've got Iraq. We've got Israel. We've got Iraq. We've got to get down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: If you listened carefully, you could actually hear in that video a man saying he's distraught, mentioning Israel and Iraq and then saying, we've got to get down. That man as Zoraida mentioned a moment ago, was the captain of the plane.
Now witnesses say he left the cockpit then came back and started banging on the door, but at that point, he was already locked out. That's when two flight attendants and some passengers, we're told six or seven large men jumped in and restrained him.
That's what it took and get this, it turns out that many of the people on board that flight were headed to a security convention in Vegas. It's a good thing.
CHO: That's right. That's why those large men were aboard. The plane, by the way, was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, and here is video of the pilot being wheeled off the plane, restrained with his hands behind his back. As he gets to the bottom there, he's in some sort of yellow chair. He was taken away in an ambulance to a medical facility.
BANFIELD: He's throwing his head back.
CHO: That's right. Right now, he is being evaluated. So a lot of questions obviously as to why he did this, a lot of the passengers aboard saying he was calm and then suddenly he snapped.
BANFIELD: I don't know if we'll ever get it but the tape, the cockpit control, but the tape of what was being said in that cockpit when the co-pilot started to say, I smell a rat here, something's bad.
CHO: Well, that's exactly right and that's what so extraordinary is that the co-pilot somehow noticed that something was wrong. In fact in an interview with Piers Morgan last night one of the passengers said that it appears that the co-pilot was the first person to recognize that something was wrong with the pilot.
That he was exhibiting some sort of odd, erratic behavior, in fact so much so he was somehow able to trick him into leaving the cockpit and then ultimately locked him out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY ANTOLINO, JETBLUE PASSENGER: The co-pilot of the flight, you know, he really I think is the hero here because he had the sense to recognize that something was going horribly wrong and he was able to persuade the captain out of the cockpit. That was really the first step in, allowing this to play out the way that it did and you know, thankfully, we're here to be able to talk about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Federal investigators say this is not terror related right now. Of course, they're looking into the pilot's background. We're talking about flight history, medical records, training to see if there were any clues at all that they may have overlooked. But this man was said to be a veteran pilot, well respected by his peers, but obviously something just snapped.
SAMBOLIN: You know what's great to know is that everybody jumps to action. It's the one thing we've learned here. BANFIELD: Especially when you're trained in security. Half the flight was going to a security convention.
CHO: What are the odds?
SAMBOLIN: What are the odds? Thank God.
BANFIELD: Alina, good work. Thank you.
About four hours from now, about 10:00Eeastern on the west coast the third and final day of Geekdom, the historical health care debate unfolding before the Supreme Court. I'm sorry, I love this stuff.
The word of the day today, not our words, but their words, severability because after yesterday's session, it looks like there maybe some of that, never know.
But the centerpiece of President Obama's Affordable Care Act legislation really could be in critical condition. The individual mandate is what we're talking about. It looks like it's in big trouble.
This is the thing that is the essence of the act, it requires almost every American if they don't already have health insurance from their employer or something else, they got to buy it. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions if you can't afford it, but essentially everybody's got to pay.
Listen here to Justice Anthony Kennedy because he's usually the Supreme Court's swing vote, and he was hard on the case, skeptical about the constitutionality of the mandate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT: "And here the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases. That changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Yes, that had a lot of heads turning in the gallery I'll tell you. Kate Bolduan, our congressional correspondent was at the Supreme Court and listened in on the arguments all day.
You and I had a wonderful long talk as we were trying to parse exactly what all of this meant. But essentially what it gets down to today, there are two issues on the docket.
But the big one that a lot of people are watching for is the severability. If the mandate is in trouble, Kate, what does it mean for everything else that kind of hinges on it?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the key question. Two final issues are going to be debated today and the big one is severability and that ties directly to the question of is the individual mandate constitutional.
The big question from yesterday as you heard from the sound from the key swing vote Anthony Kennedy, he offered some really strong questions. He along with the other more conservative justices seemed pretty skeptical that the law went -- skeptical of the Obama administration's argument.
Really suggesting and signalling that they might think the law goes too far. So that really ties in today and that is why today is important. Severability is how we like to think of it is as the domino effect.
If the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, can any of the rest of the law survive or must it all fail or some provisions can they stand or some provisions fall? That is going to be the key question.
Many people in the court will be listening in to the line of questioning and where the justices go to try to see if we can get any additional clues on what they're thinking in terms of the fate of the individual mandate.
The second question that they're going to be debating is the issue of the Medicaid program. The Medicaid program under this health care law is expanded. The question here is, does the law unfairly step on states' rights in that it is pushing and forcing states to pay more, share more of the cost in terms of the expanded eligibility under the Medicaid program in this program.
Two key questions, two final questions, two issues we'll be hearing today, very important still and of course, I do always have to remind our viewers we'll not get the final opinion yet probably until June.
BANFIELD: Yes, but it's a two-fer and you get to do a double day. You get to do two sets of arguments.
BOLDUAN: A very good day for me.
BANFIELD: So buckle up. All right, Kate Bolduan, thanks very much for that.
SAMBOLIN: It is 9 minutes past the hour here. Newt Gingrich maybe preparing to bow out of the presidential race. The former House speaker canceling appearances and laying off a third of his staff, including his campaign manager.
That is fueling speculation he may be ready to withdraw. The majority of Republican voters in America believe that is exactly what he should do and a new CNN/ORC poll, six out of 10 said he should get out of the race.
BANFIELD: It's 6:09 on the east coast and an unfortunate by- product of the shooting of Trayvon Martin is that an elderly couple was forced to move out of their Sanford home. While everyone still waits to find out if this man, George Zimmerman may or may not be charged in the case.
SAMBOLIN: Plus passengers head for the exits after the back of the bus starts burning up. You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: It's 13 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning. Here's Christine Romans. Good morning to you.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys. An elderly couple in Sanford, Florida, have been forced out of their house. They had to move out of their house and living in a hotel after someone tweeted their address claiming that George Zimmerman lived there.
George Zimmerman does not live there. Zimmerman is, of course, the neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The couple has a son named William George Zimmerman.
And that apparently caused the confusion. She, of course, her job, she's the lunch lady at the school now living in a hotel because someone tweeted that George Zimmerman lived there.
A smoky fire in a Greyhound bus in California forces passengers to make a mad dash for the door. The bus was just blocks away from the station in Stockton, California when another driver saw flames coming out of the back. He alerted the bus driver. Everyone got out safely and the fire's cause appears to be mechanical.
Expect some really long lines at your local lottery retailer this week. The jackpot for Friday night's multistate mega millions is a whopping $476 million. That's the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
I have 10 bucks, I'll give it to you tomorrow morning, let's not wind up in court when we win. For an expanded look of all of our top stories, head to our blog, cnn.com/earlystart. Are you ladies in?
SAMBOLIN: Yes, I think the entire newsroom is in on this one. Thank you, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
BANFIELD: But we'd still keep getting up for our job at 1:00 in the morning, right, Christine?
ROMANS: How many people are in it, one, two, three -- I don't know, we got a lot of people in. Thirty people, I'm told. OK.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks, Christine.
BANFIELD: We'll look forward to the further headlines as we move throughout the morning. Thank you for that.
Fourteen minutes past 6:00.
There are some in Congress calling for regulations in new laws in light of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon's parents attended a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday on hate crimes and racial profiling where they spoke emotionally about their son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son. A lot of people can relate to our situation, and it breaks their heart, just like it breaks mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Texas Democrat and the Democratic caucus senior whip Sheila Jackson Lee was one of the organizers and she joins now us live.
And I'm thrilled to talk to you. You used to be my congresswoman. I used to live in Texas so good to see you.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Oh, my! Good to be with you this morning.
BANFIELD: It's great to be with you and you're a voice of reason so often and I really want to talk at heart about what's going on here.
Yesterday, it was a critical issue, hate crimes and racial profiling a serious problem in this country and clearly at issue in the Trayvon Martin shooting. What do you feel you accomplished in the forum yesterday?
JACKSON LEE: Ashleigh, as I indicated in my opening remarks yesterday, this was a significant moment for the members of Congress. Over 21 members of Congress participated in this hearing, some nine members of the judiciary committee, to really indicate that the federal government did have a role and responsibility to the American people, certainly to the family of Trayvon, but the family of Trayvon, as Trayvon's mother has said and the father has said, really symbolize families across America. And if they cannot get relief in their own local jurisdictions even though we had just noted that one detective, rightly so, thought that Mr. Zimmerman should have been arrested, then it is important for the federal government to interject.
And as we know, Mr. Obama's Justice Department, Eric Holder, rightly decided to assume the investigation under the civil rights law and hate crimes law. The American people deserve that kind of responsible action, because, frankly, everyone is baffled why Mr. Zimmerman was not taken in that night, because that does not mean that he would have been convicted. An arrest is not a conviction.
And that is an important statement for parents and Americans across this country.
BANFIELD: When you say everyone, I can at least say one person who I know isn't baffled, and that would be the state attorney at the time who felt that there wasn't enough evidence to take him in under arrest based on the law in Florida. But clearly, now that we have a new state attorney, there may be a different finding. But it's clearly up to the state attorney and her staff to figure all of this out.
And to that note, I want to play for you part of the testimony. I don't know if we can call it testimony in a forum -- but part of what was said on the mic and into public record from Representative Frederica Wilson, who's the Democratic representative from Florida.
She was very specific about what she believes happened and stated as fact what she thinks happened in her prepared statement. Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: This investigation is laced with racial profiling, lies, and murder. Trayvon was hunted, chased, tackled, and shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Representative Jackson Lee, I -- when I heard that, I was very concerned. I have a background in law, and I don't like to hear people stating as fact things that happened during a crime, if they weren't absolute eyewitnesses. But Ms. Wilson did so in her statement. She went on to say, "The eyes of the world are on Florida and Washington today because a little black boy is dead."
I want to ask you to weigh in on this, and whether you think it's responsible of Representative Wilson to say the things that she said, and to characterize one of the people in this case as a little black boy.
JACKSON LEE: Now, here lies the problem. If the police department at the moment of the action, the killing of Trayvon Martin, had effectively proceeded -- and it seems as if someone did -- and they proceed with the arrest, we would begin to have the facts unfold, not only in the public domain but throughout this process of investigation.
BANFIELD: Absolutely my point. We would have more of the facts and we don't have them, so what are your thoughts about what Ms. Wilson stated as fact in this crime, that Trayvon was hunted, chased, tackled and shot?
JACKSON LEE: And let me put on my lawyer's hat and tell you that I, first, any lawyer will recognize the emotion of anyone that is intimately involved in this. And as you well know, Ms. Wilson lives a couple of blocks, a couple of doors down from Trayvon's family, his mother, and him, at that time.
But if you live to the -- if the layman listens to what was released as the tapes, you'll hear the commentary of Mr. Zimmerman. "I see him." He's suspicious, an A-hole, so you can glean from that --
BANFIELD: But we don't hear eyewitnesses say he was hunted, chased, tackled and shot and the representative said those words as fact. Again, Angela Corey in this case had asked that all public statements be limited to the process and facts. And yet this congresswoman stated that as fact on the record.
I want to know why. What do you think about that? Whether you think it was right or wrong?
JACKSON LEE: First of all, I think it was built upon emotion and what I will say to you is that when a member of Congress makes those statements in the public domain, they are expressing their opinion.
I want the facts to come out. I think Ms. Corey is right, but we also have a burden on Ms. Corey that she has to take the facts she's left with, that means no clothing, no DNA, no reports, you're a lawyer you understand what we're missing. But she'll have to use her prosecutorial discretion which I believe the original state attorney did not.
Members of Congress have the right to express themselves. I may agree or disagree. But it's based on emotions. Those facts will not drive the case. What will drive the case --
BANFIELD: No, but they do drive the public and this is a highly charged public debate and that's why I'm asking you. I don't want to harp on the issue any further.
JACKSON LEE: No, but can I say this --
BANFIELD: It is critical how the public is reacting to responsible leadership and what we state as facts.
JACKSON LEE: You're absolutely right and we've called for nonviolence. We know people will be out there, pages and pages and listings of cities and states, cities and counties that people are out in the street asking for justice, but it is an expression of emotion.
But what I will say to you is out of that particular proceeding, not only did we have comments reported in the newspaper by the speaker of the House who indicated it was a tragedy but members talked about changing law such as the neighborhood watch, registration, certification.
JACKSON LEE: Reviewing the state's stand and defend in terms of the 21 states that have those Castle Laws, even the Republican state author of the bill says maybe you should not have immunity right at that point.
BANFIELD: Legitimate questions.
JACKSON: So that was the good that came out of that.
What I would say is the emotion will drive the action, but the action is what counts, and as a lawyer and a member of the judiciary committee, I'm very impressed by the members who were there yesterday, who made a commitment that this kind of act should not happen not only to Trayvon's parents but to parents around this country.
That's the commitment that we made yesterday and the reason why I initiated and called for this forum and I'm delighted that ranking member Conyers joined in that, along with congressperson from Florida, Brown and Wilson.
BANFIELD: And I have to leave it there.
Thank you, Representative Jackson Lee. I look forward to our next outing.
JACKSON LEE: Likewise, thank you for your legal service.
BANFIELD: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
And we will be right back after this break.
SAMBOLIN: I'm going to say good morning and then I'm going to give you the bad news. We're minding your business this morning.
Gas prices rising for 19 days straight. The national average now $3.91 a gallon. That's up 17 cents just this month. And that is according to AAA.
BANFIELD: Wow. Probably because the cost of oil is the number one factor driving the gas prices.
Christine Romans speaking with the head of FedEx, who knows a thing or two about that.
ROMANS: And he assumes that oil prices are going to stay here or keep going higher for a lot of different reasons. Here is the big one. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED SMITH, FEDEX CEO: A lot of the oil producing countries like the Saudis need a high level of income because of all of the social commitments to their population they've made. That's probably about $95 to $100 a barrel right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Oil prices are $106 a barrel. He said in Saudi oil, $100 is baked in the cake, what they need to do to take care of their country.
Then you think about, drill, baby, drill, he said that costs mo are to get oil. You're talking $60 to $70 a barrel to get it deep out of the water, the Arctic. And he said, instability of the world put that on there, he said, and I quote, "It's hard to see prices declining much."
BANFIELD: Speculators, let's not forget, speculators.
ROMANS: According to a federal report that I just recently read, speculators is about 15 percent of the cost of oil. It is demand. It is the cost of getting it out of the ground. It is a lot of demand, put speculators on top of it.
I mean, I think for you and I, we see is going up 19 days in a row -- I'm getting a lot of tweets from people who are saying, I live in Ireland, it's $10. I live in U.K., it's $6 a gallon. I live in Canada, it's $6 a gallon.
Why are you Americans complaining? Because we use a lot of gas here.
BANFIELD: Christine Romans, thank you.
SAMBOLIN: I feel really good about that now. Thank you, Christine.
Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.
Still ahead, Trayvon Martin's mom and dad -- they are taking their call for justice and change right to Capitol Hill. They're going to join us live.
You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: It is 31 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.
It's time to check the stories that are making news this morning.
Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign may be on life support with more debt than cash. The former House speaker is cutting back appearances and laying off one-third of his staff, fueling speculation he may be preparing to drop out.
Firefighters in Colorado hope calmer winds will help them get the upper hand on a wildfire that has killed at least two people, torched 23 structures so far. One person who lived in the area where the fire's been raging is still missing at this hour.
And Lakers legend Magic Johnson is a new owner of the L.A.'s legendary baseball team. Johnson's group agreed to pay a whopping $2 billion to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, who drove the franchise into bankruptcy. He's not a majority owner, though. And the sale is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court -- Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: In less than four hours, the Supreme Court is said to begin their last day of arguments on the president's Affordable Health Care Act, which the critics call Obamacare.
Yesterday, the court's swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, surprisingly to some, expressed some deep skepticism about that individual mandate, leading some to believe the law may be headed for defeat.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, U.S. SUPREME COURT: And here the government is sig that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases And that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: In today's final arguments of the court case, the justices are going to take up two remaining issues, the act's very broad expansion of Medicaid and whether the entire law, in fact, is going to have to be scrapped because that mandate is causing a problem. It's called severability.
I know it's complex. We're going to try to break it down a little with Congressman Michael Burgess, who is the Republican from Texas, the vice chairman of the subcommittee on health, and an OB/GYN and he joins this morning from Capitol Hill.
It's great to see you, Congressman. Thanks so much for turning out at this hour.
This is complex.
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Good morning.
BANFIELD: So, you and I have to bring it on down. The bill is 2,700 pages, 450 provisions and it's tricky dickey when you get into the Supreme Court, too.
BURGESS: Yes. Don't forget, 10,000 pages in the federal register of new regulations and rules that people have to live by. So it's a big deal.
BANFIELD: It is and I already have a headache thinking about all the reading that Sanjay Gupta actually did complete because he's just that smart.
But let me ask you right off the bat about the politics of this. I know you're no fan of it and I know there's not many Republicans who are. In fact, there was not one Republican who voted for the Affordable Health Care act, which leads a person like me, a Joe taxpayer, to say -- well, why would I believe that any of your thoughts are based on the merit of the bill instead of just the politics of it?
BURGESS: Well, maybe you won't but I did live through the process as it came through this House and Senate two years ago this month, and I watched this thing from the inside, and the best I can describe it was God awful from start to finish.
The process was so desperately flawed. Why did you think you were going to get a good legislative product out of the other end?
BANFIELD: Was that the mandate? The mandate stood out the worst?
BURGESS: The mandate is the big problem. The fact it was all budgetary sleight of hand. No one really knows what this thing costs. The fact that two years later, it's essentially twice what we were told two years ago and honestly double that figure in, because when the subsidies kick in and the exchanges, this thing is a raid on the federal treasury unlike anything you've ever seen.
Now, the mandate itself is problematic and you heard it played out in court yesterday, where there were several serious questions. It does change the fundamental nature between the federal government and the governed.
BANFIELD: So, here's where I get confused and I get confused a lot, so bear with me. But it seems to me as I go back to 2009, I heard a parade of Republicans who actually thought the mandate was a great idea. I've heard Mitt Romney talk about the mandate, clearly that was his whole issue in Massachusetts when he was governor. I've also heard Newt Gingrich talking about an individual mandate as a great idea.
Fast forward three years -- it's Democratic legislation, and it's an election year and all I ever hear now are the same people who said it was a great idea saying it's awful. Why is this?
BURGESS: Well, you never heard me say it was a great idea to have a --
BANFIELD: But I did hear your colleagues, other Republicans who voted in lock step.
BURGESS: Well, again, I can't speak to their talking about it. But again, Justice Kennedy, seen as the pivot person, the swing man on the Supreme Court, I think laid it out very well. It changes the fundamental nature. And does that not necessity require a very high bar? And I think he's correct on that.
I was pleasantly surprised by Justice Kennedy's line of questioning. I was disturbed by some of the facts presented to the court yesterday. And I will tell you, I think there's a less than 50 percent chance that the law is struck down but still I thought --
BANFIELD: Well, you're not alone there. I think a lot of court watchers probably agree with you. I think Jeffrey Toobin characterized this right off the bat as a train wreck in terms of the government.
Let me ask you this -- Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat from Vermont who was also chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had reaction right away to this whole notion of unconstitutionality of the mandate as really unfair given that, you know, Social Security and Medicare are somewhat similar.
Let me play what he had to say and get your reaction after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: You say this is unconstitutional, then you got to say Social Security and Medicare are also unconstitutional. I'm not sure the court's prepared to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Congressman Burgess, why is that argument wrong?
BURGESS: Well, in fact, that was the argument made by Justice Breyer yesterday morning and I wasn't here in 1932 when the Social Security Act was passed. My understanding is it did, the Supreme Court did look at that as well.
Social Security is an annuity payment. It is an insurance payment that is, that people make in order to have that benefit at the end of their working lives.
Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad. But at the same time, we're entering into an entire new realm with this law, and as a consequence I think it does require everyone from a legislative branch to the executive branch to the judiciary to be very circumspect about how it's enacted.
BANFIELD: All right. Excellent of you to join us, Doctor. Thanks very much for your perspective, Congressman Michael Burgess, joining us from Capitol Hill. Thanks again.
Zoraida, back to you.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Still ahead here, Trayvon Martin's mom and dad are taking their call for justice and change to Capitol Hill. They're going to join us live shortly.
And it's not exactly typecasting in a new movie set in the White House. You might be surprised to find out who is playing Nancy Reagan.
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 41 minutes past the hour.
We are learning new details about the accounts of the night 17- year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
According to ABC News, the lead homicide investigator may not have brought Zimmerman's account of self-defense and was pushing for charges the night of the killing. But he was overruled -- this is according to ABC -- by the state's attorney's office.
And joining me now, Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, along with their attorney, Benjamin Crump.
They are also joined by Crystal High, editor-in-chief of politic365.com, which will be honoring Trayvon tonight.
Thank you all for joining us.
First of all, I express our condolences on the death of your son and this horrible tragedy that brings you to us this morning.
We're hearing from the lead investigator now saying that perhaps they should have brought charges, that's what he wanted. He wanted an arrest. How do you feel about that this morning?
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We always had a feeling that something wasn't done properly, and that's why we sought to a counselor because we didn't feel like something wasn't right at the time.
SAMBOLIN: So our Piers Morgan spoke with the Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi will the legal issues Florida faces with arresting George Zimmerman. If they do make an arrest, Zimmerman has to go to trial within 175 days.
I would like to you listen and then I'd like to weigh in on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: A thorough investigation is being done to ensure that justice is sought for that family. But you can't make an arrest until you interview all the witnesses, Piers, nor do you want that to happen because speedy trial could run. And that's -- we don't want that to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Pam Bondi also said she had spoken with all of you, including your attorney.
So, Tracy, what did she say to you?
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: She talked about just giving us, seeking justice, seeking the truth in this matter.
SAMBOLIN: But did she say specifically what happened?
MARTIN: No. No details were given to the family. No.
SAMBOLIN: All right, I want to talk about something that I think is very sensitive to the both of you, to both of the parents here. There's a lot of information coming out about your son, right, and his record at school. It's being reported that he was suspended three times. There's reports also that jewelry and a screwdriver were found in his backpack, perhaps a suspicion of theft there.
How do you feel about this information that's being leaked? And why do you think it's happening, Sybrina?
FULTON: We just feel like it's being leaked just to hurt the case. Our son was just a teenager. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He wasn't committing any crime.
And this is what we keep going back to, the night of February 26th. They're just trying to look for stuff, sort of like throw mud on us because we think we have a case.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: And I have to make this clear, he did nothing criminal or violent as we said, the whole time. And now they're trying to blame the victim or demonize the victim.
As one of those things, why has this been leaked? It goes back to a lot about this whole police side and Zimmerman for whatever reason. The lead detective said it best, he didn't buy Zimmerman's story, it wasn't credible. They have had an open campaign to try to be almost the legal defense attorneys for Zimmerman and say his claim was self-defense is going to be what we put out to the world, and people look at these facts and say, the 911 tape says it all.
He chased him. The 911 tape talks about why he went up to him, and that is the crucial point here. He don't have to go back and say, oh, look at the past and stuff. Look at what Zimmerman's actions were.
SAMBOLIN: I don't know if you can all see the picture that we're showing right now, but it is of a smiling Zimmerman, and there are a lot of reports online now, Tracy and Sybrina, about your son and who he really is, right, and the picture that has been painted of him.
We started out seeing images of him when he was a young child, yet, here is a 16-year-old man, right, or a young man, six feet tall, 160 pounds, can you tell us about who your son was? Can you explain that to us, because a lot of people are speculating here?
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I think that the speculation is basically coming from all the negative publicity that they're trying to pin on our son. Trayvon was, in fact, he was my hero. He saved my life, of course, and he was just a typical teenager, nothing -- he didn't deserve what -- the sentence that he got for his life. He was our -- he was inspiring to be an aviation mechanic. He wanted to reach goals. He wanted to please his family. He wanted to make us proud of him, and for the public to, for the media to try to paint a bad picture of him, I think it's very disrespectful to him, and I think it's very disrespectful to his family.
SAMBOLIN: This has become quite a movement across the country. Dozens of rallies, a lot of marches on behalf of your son, and I know that you've called him "our son" and a lot of people are taking ownership of him. I think that kind of transcends the whole racial issue. Do you get any comfort watching all of this?
FULTON,: We do. It does warm our heart to know that there are other people that are feeling our pain, but we not only speak for our son, we're speaking for other people's son who have passed away by violence as well.
SAMBOLIN: And do you feel that the prosecutors here are doing a good job here? They're calling for everybody to step back, wait, take a deep breath, and have some patience. How do you feel about that?
FULTON: I feel confident that they're going to do a thorough investigation. We're trying to be patient, even though it's been over a month. We're still trying to be patient and we're still trying to press on for justice.
CRUMP: And we need to remember that it has to be equal justice. Had this been Trayvon, we wouldn't be here, because he would have been arrested that night and that's the question that everybody keeps asking in America, how long is it going to take for George Zimmerman to be arrested for killing Trayvon Martin?
This is simple question, because everybody knows what we heard on those tapes, and we know what happens in regular cases and had they arrested him, none of this would be here.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Kristal, I have a question for you. "Politic 365" is holding a reception tonight, which actually honors Trayvon as a game changer. Can you tell us about that?
KRISTAL HIGH, EDITOR AND CHIEF OF POLITIC365.COM: Sure. So, if you think about Trayvon, you know, he really has become emblematic of what it means to be both young and a person of color in this country.
And you know, the call for social change that's come about as a result of his untimely death really is game changing in that you're seeing a new emergence of energy behind, you know, equal justice, people really interested in making sure that we're all treated fairly, that Trayvon and kids like him have the same opportunities as anyone else regardless of, you know, their color, regardless of where they live, regardless of whether or not they're walking through the street in a Hoodie at night just trying to go home.
And so, we saw that appropriate to honor him posthumously as a game changer, because he's really sparked this new flame in our country around making sure that we do our utmost to protect our kids, to protect the future that we have in front of us.
SAMBOLIN: Sybrina, I want you to have the final word here today. If Zimmerman ends up not arrested, what do you hope the outcome is here?
FULTON: I just hope America changes their mentality. I just hope things change in general as far as racial relations, and that we all take something away from my son's death.
SAMBOLIN: I think we all join you in that sentiment. Tracy Martin, Sybrina Fulton, Benjamin Crump, Kristal High, thank you all for joining us this morning.
CRUMP: Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you.
FULTON: Thank you.
BANFIELD: And Soledad O'Brien is going to join us now with a look ahead at what's coming up on "Starting Point" a little later on. Hi, Soledad.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, "STARTING POINT": Hey, good morning to you. Ahead this morning on "Starting Point" right at the top of the hour, we're going to be talking about the race for the Republican nominee. Newt Gingrich lays of a third of his staff, replaces his campaign manager. A new CNN poll says that 60 percent of Republicans would like him to leave the race all together.
This morning, I'm going to talk to his communications director, Joe DeSantis, and find out what exactly are the next steps for that candidate.
Bishop T.D. Jakes is going to join us for the full two hours this morning on "Starting Point." He heads up, of course, the 30,000 member church the potter's house in Dallas, Texas. He's got a new book as well. It's called "Let It Go...The Power of Forgiveness." We're going to get his thoughts as well on the killing of Trayvon Martin and how to forgive in the toughest of circumstances.
And I get to chat with NBA all-star, Carmelo Anthony. He is also the face of a new got milk, but it's got chocolate milk campaign. We'll talk Jeremy Lin, we'll talk the Knicks, and we'll talk about why he doesn't think he can get President Obama on the phone. All of that and much more ahead at "Starting Point" when we begin right at the top of the hour. We'll see you then.
SAMBOLIN: Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning. Here's Christine Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, ladies.
ROMANS (voice-over): Firefighters in Colorado hope calmer winds this morning will help them get an upper hand on a wildfire that's killed at least two people and torched 23 structures, so far. One person who lives in the area where the fire's been raging is still missing this morning.
Newt Gingrich's White House bid may be nearing its final hours. The former House speaker has laid off now one-third of his staff. He is canceling campaign appearances. It's all fueling speculation that Newt Gingrich may be preparing to quit this race.
A Los Angeles basketball legend coming to the rescue of the city's baseball team. A group led by Lakers' great, Magic Johnson, has agreed to pay $2 billion to buy the L.A. Dodgers from Frank McCourt. Frank McCourt bought that team back in 2004, eventually drove it into bankruptcy. The sale price is a record for a North American sports franchise.
And politically, they're polar (ph) opposite, but Jane Fonda has landed a plum movie role. She'll reportedly play Nancy Reagan in the film "Butler." It's about a real life White House staffer who served eight U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan.
ROMANS (on-camera): Interesting to see the pictures side by side, right?
SAMBOLIN: Yes. They kind of listed (ph) like I get it.
BANFIELD: She's also going to be one of the lead girls in Aaron Sorkin's new TV news show. It's going to come out this summer.
ROMANS: Oh, I can't wait to see that one.
BANFIELD: She's going to make the Ted Turner roll which is the best part of that.
ROMANS: And Aaron Sorkin, I mean, he's kind of a cable news junkie, right?
BANFIELD: Yes, yes. You got that right.
ROMANS: Good morning, Aaron.
BANFIELD: He ain't up at this hour, I'll tell you, on the west coast.
Hey, look at this. This is the cover of "The New York Post," "this is your captain freaking." What an unbelievable story about a pilot literally freaking out at 30,000 feet. Coming up after the break, we're going to show you the new tape, breaking down what happened and how the passengers played an integral role and really could have saved a lot of people from a terrible, terrible outcome.
BANFIELD: Soledad O'Brien is going to have a whole lot more on the story of the captain that really wigged out onboard of a JetBlue flight, and it was really scary.
SAMBOLIN: Wigged out.
SAMBOLIN: That's a good way to explain it.
BANFIELD: That's it for us, the news from A to Z. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: And "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.
O'BRIEN: All right, ladies. Thank you very much.