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Interview with Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa; Tuition Discount For Undocumented Students; New Tapes of George Zimmerman Discussing Killing Trayvon Martin Released; Interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Allowing Young Immigrants to Stay; Closing Arguments Set to Begin

Aired June 21, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: some breaking news. We see Trayvon Martin's final minute, the first audio recordings of George Zimmerman. And he's walking police through the night that he killed Florida teenager. We're going to bring back to you straight ahead this morning.

And a power struggle over lost guns, secret documents, and a dead border agent. Contempt of Congress recommended against the attorney general as President Obama now steps in. And House Republicans vote to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt.

And heat and high water. The Northeast sweating to the start of the summer. Flash floods wiping out roads, bridges, and even a zoo.

Plus, a college in Denver is giving illegal immigrants a tuition break, half the price of some others from out of state will have to pay. We'll talk to the president of Metro State College, Stephen Jordan. He's with us. Along with Sheriff Joe Arpaio this morning, and Senator Chuck Grassley.

Very packed hour straight ahead.

It's Thursday, June 21st. STARTING POINT begins right now.



O'BRIEN: Thank God for Margaret Hoover today or we'd be listening to our really wacky promo music. Nice to have you.


O'BRIEN: Really?

HOOVER: I like this. You've been listening to it for too many months.

O'BRIEN: That's a nice way to put it.

Margaret Hoover joins us. She's the author of "American Individualism." Nice to have you joining our team.

Celeste Headlee is with us, the host of "The Takeaway."

And Will Cain is a columnist for

It's nice to have everybody.

Let's talk about U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder cited in contempt of Congress. His fate now rests on a vote by the full House of Representatives, which is now scheduled for sometime next week. Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee voted to recommend that he be held in contempt for withholding documents related to that failed Fast and Furious program.

That operation put in the hands of drug cartels guns, thousands in some cases. Two of those lost guns were found at the scene of a murdered border patrol agent. So, before the hearing, though, about 30 minutes beforehand, President Obama invoked executive privilege to hold onto the documents that Congress wanted release.

Congressman Darrell Issa, the committee's Republican chairman, said, too little, too late.

Joining us this morning is Senator Charles Grassley. He is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for being with us.


O'BRIEN: Speaker Boehner says he wants to see this go to the House floor next week. What do you think the chances are that this is going to be negotiated out as they usually are, these cases, or that in fact it will go to a vote?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think it's going to go to a vote. But I would very much hope that it would be negotiated out. And really all we're asking for is documents. And these documents have all been inside of the Justice Department.

We know of no presidential involvement in this. I have never accused the president of anything until just now when he puts executive privilege in. And that raises a whole bunch of questions. Has he been involved?

I have only been trying to find out who at the highest level of government in the - presumably in the Justice Department that gave approval for this so we can get them fired, make sure a stupid program that led to the murder of Brian Terry is never instituted again.

And, lastly, to make sure that the family of Brian Terry gets information which they have no information on the murder of their son at this point. And the murderer has not been arrested.

O'BRIEN: No sitting attorney general has ever been held in contempt. Janet Reno as you well know was held in contempt in committee. And speaker at the time, Speaker Gingrich, refused to bring that to the full house. It didn't happen in Watergate.

So I guess my question would be, this is going to be precedent- setting. Do you think that this specific thing, what you just called a stupid program that resulted in the death of a border patrol agent, does it rise to that level?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think there's several respects where it rises to this level. Number one, Congress passes laws. That doesn't -- that isn't the end of Congress' involvement. We are supposed to be a check on the executive branch to make sure the laws are faithfully executed.

When you're encouraging -- the government is encouraging guns to be sold illegally to people that shouldn't have them, the laws aren't being faithfully executed. So in order to be a check on the executive branch under our Constitution, we need this information.

O'BRIEN: Seems to I think give fodder to those like Elijah Cummings who I was talking to this morning who said this is purely partisan. Look at the vote. It was purely along partisan lines. Congress these days is viciously partisan.

Here's what he told me earlier this morning, sir.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: This is not about the facts. This is about politics. And anybody who looks at this knows that. The chairman had made up his mind, and this is a result that I guess he wanted. And now we see where we are.


O'BRIEN: There are lots of people besides the congressman saying that. What would you say to him?

GRASSLEY: Well, I would say to him -- he can say anything about members of the House of Representatives he wants to. But he knows me well enough in the three decades have I been in the Senate, I have established a reputation for vigorous oversight. And I have probably taken on more Republican presidents of my own party than I have Democratic presidents.

So nobody can question whether or not I'm politically motivated by this. I'm motivated to get the facts out, to make sure the law is faithfully executed, to make sure the Terry family gets the information, and make sure a stupid program like this never happens again.

O'BRIEN: Senator Charles Grassley joining us this morning -- he is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you very much. We appreciate your time this morning.

GRASSLEY: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Going to take a look at some of the other stories that are making headlines this morning. Christine Romans has that for us.

Hey, Christine.


The Northeast is sweating through high humidity and sweltering heat this morning. Temperatures expected to break records again today.

Let's get a quick check on the weather. Meteorologist Rob Marciano joins us this morning.

Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Christine. We didn't really get out of the 70s last night. Already into the 80s. The sun is up, starting to bake that ground.

And there we go -- 84 in Boston right now, 81 degrees and climbing in New York City. Of course, with the humidity, it's going to feel worse than that.

Ten states remain to the Mid-Atlantic under heat advisories and heat warnings today. Dangerous stuff. Take it easy out there. Take cover and drink water when you can.

Ninety-nine degrees is the expected high temperature in the Big Apple. Might touch 100 in D.C.

But there is some relief on the way. A little cool front it making its way toward the Big Apple tomorrow, maybe some cooling thunderstorms late in the day. But still reaching the lower 90s.

By Saturday, it comes through. We get to more seasonal temperatures in the lower to mid 80s. Until then, try to stay cool.

Christine, back up to you.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Rob.

In Minnesota, as you mentioned, it wasn't the heat but the high water there that was a problem. Roaring through the streets, and leaving a seal on the road? Torrential overnight flooding in Duluth, forcing the evacuation of many low-lying homes, even zoo animals.

Boua Xiong of affiliate KARE live in Duluth.

What's the latest there?

BOUA XIONG, KARE: Well, you know, the sun is out here. And boats are actually coming into the harbor, very different scene from what we saw last night.

A lot of the water that came into the city has ended up in Lake Superior. As you can see, the water here has turned into a red murky color of course from all the runoff.

But not all the water has made its way to Lake Superior quite yet. There are still multiple areas in Duluth still underwater, especially the west end of Duluth.

There are some parts of the downtown area and parts of Canal Park that the water has receded. As for the zoo, the creek there was still roaring last night. Some of the animals, those seals you spoke about, and the polar bear that almost escaped its exhibit, have new homes now in St. Paul at Canal Park, about two hours south of here. They are going to go to their new homes while they try to find new habitats for all of the animals that were in the zoo.

Governor Mark Dayton will be making his way through here today as well to assess the damage.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. From Minnesota, live in Duluth, KARE's Boua Xiong.

So, we got so much heat here, we think about that, the zoo animals, the polar bear almost escaped, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. All right. Christine, thank you very much.

Still ahead this morning, we'll take you to a college in Denver where they're giving a tuition break for students who are illegal immigrant. The president of that school is going to talk to us to defend the move as the state says, can't do it.

Plus, today's "Tough Call": thieves steal a family's dog. And then leave a note to tell them why.

You're listening to -- let's play that, Celeste Headlee's play list. What have you got? Plain White?


O'BRIEN: Oh, "Hey There, Delilah." Oh, my goodness. They replayed this -- you might have to sing it because I don't hear it. Margaret, go ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

A plan that would give undocumented students a tuition break is being called into this question this morning. Metropolitan State College of Denver is planning to give illegal immigrant students a discount on tuition compared to what they pay now. The new Colorado high school/GED nonresident rate is more expensive than in-state tuition but it's much less expensive than out of state tuition that illegal immigrants have to currently pay.

And now, the state's attorney general says the school is giving undocumented students public benefits, which would be against the law.

Stephen Jordan is the president of the Metro State College. He defended that new rate at a hearing with members of Colorado's legislature last night.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you very talking with us.

So, let's walk through that three-tiered system. There are the in-state student fee, then the in-state fee for non-documented students, and then the out-of-state fee. Why did you tier them like that?

STEPHEN JORDAN, PRESIDENT, METRO STATE COLLEGE OF DENVER: A couple of reasons. In Colorado, there's a long-standing statutory authority for boards to establish resident and nonresident rates.

And the resident rates are clearly related to domicile in Colorado and to legal status, either citizenship or in the country illegally, and provide a subsidy by the state of Colorado to individuals who reside in the state.

The non-residents are expected to -- are not residents of the state of Colorado. They may not be here legally. And they're expected to pay the full cost of tuition. Over the years, the non- resident rate has gradually moved from essentially being -- paying the full cost plus some cost for capital to being whatever the market can bear.

And it's much, much more expensive, quite frankly, than what it actually cost to provide the education to student.

What our board decided was that for this class of students, young people who had been brought to the country through no fault of their own, where the state of Colorado has made significant investments in their K-12 education, sometimes as much as $85,000, doesn't it make sense if they have gone to a Colorado high school, graduated from that high school, to provide them a tuition rate that's unsubsidized in which there is no state support from the taxpayers, but which is more affordable to allow them to attend college, to get an education, and to become a meaningful contributor to our economy.

O'BRIEN: So, let me check in with the folks on my team here. What do we think about that?

HOOVER: I mean, the attorney general of Colorado actually weighed in yesterday and said, frankly, we can't do that. There's just no way we can allow a state college receiving taxpayer money to be able to offer this kind of tuition break to illegal --

HEADLEE: That's a non-binding opinion, though.

HOOVER: No, no, but in order for it to work in the state of Colorado, the legislature has to pass that lie, and the legislature has not done that.


CAIN: We got two separate issues going on. One is on the merits of the issue and one is on the process of the issue.

On the merits of the issue, I think the guest just pointed out that he sees that when there's a situation where the state of Colorado has invested in a certain student, he should receive a tuition that is less than and decidedly be better than that of a citizen of, say, or resident of Texas, right, going to school in Colorado.

The point is, that's a legitimate debate. And that brings it back to the process. Is this a decision that should be made by the citizens of the Colorado through their legislature process or through the school administrators?

O'BRIEN: So, let's go back to that, then, Mr. Jordan. this sort of aversion of it did go through the legislature. And the legislature said no to it. They basically said that you, you know, that you cannot have a public benefit. Is this a public benefit? Didn't the legislature already say no to this?

JORDAN: I think that is clearly the point that where we disagree with the attorney general. First of all, we were the first institution in the state of Colorado to actively support Colorado's version of the Dream Act. It's called the asset bill here in Colorado. We supported it every year. We've consistently supported the National Dream Act.

And I have testified consistently in front of the legislature in support of it. We believe that a broad-based state solution, which actually provides an in-state subsidy to these students, is actually the right policy. And having watched that debate, our board concluded after that bill failed this year that what legal authorities did we have to provide some assistance.

There is longstanding history in Colorado of institutions having the authority to set multiple tuition rates for nonresidents. And we simply used that authority to provide a rate which was more affordable to these students.

Where we disagree, quite frankly, with the attorney general is his opinion is that there is a public benefit being provided because of the difference between the full non-resident rate, which is unrelated to the actual cost of education, and the rate we propose.

We believe that there's only a public benefit when there's actually a subsidy provided by the taxpayers of this state to those students.

O'BRIEN: So, if you're not subsidizing those students then it doesn't count as a public benefit would be your argument.

JORDAN: Absolutely. O'BRIEN: Stephen Jordan, thank you for that. We'll be watching, obviously, what happen as this debate continues in Denver. He's the president of Metro State College of Denver.

Got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, an Alaskan husky is dog napped. That's the picture of the dog right there. Taken right out of a family's yard, but were the thieves doing a good deed? That's the question in our "Tough Call" this morning.

Don't forget you can watch us on your computer or your mobile phone while you're at work. Go to We're back in a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christine Romans with a quick look at the headlines.


ROMANS (voice-over): The feds warning about a slowdown in the economy pushing markets lower worldwide this morning. U.S. stock futures trading lower across the board, and commodities like oil are down, too.

Former Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, has joined a Washington think tank. Huntsman has served as governor of Utah and as President Obama's ambassador to China. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution where he'll work on projects involving domestic and foreign policy issues.

And Mitt Romney's five sons appearing together last night on "Conan." Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig Romney talking up their dad. The oldest brother, Tagg, told Conan a story about the time his prank-loving dad pulled a fast one on a friend who was just about to tie the knot.


TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: The grooms outfit was there. He took some pink nail polish and wrote on the first shoe H-E on the sole and the next one L-P. And no one noticed it. But then, when he -- it was a catholic wedding. And when he knelt down to be blessed by the father, the word "help" appeared.



ROMANS: Romney's son, Josh, admitted to Conan, you know, he and his brothers are a little nervous about what their life would be like if their father becomes president. He says they recognize it would be good for the country but not necessarily good for them -- Soledad.


O'BRIEN: I bet they're willing to make that sacrifice.


O'BRIEN: All right. Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.

Time for today's "Tough Call." So, a family dog is stolen right out of its pen. The reason, according to the thieves, the dog was left alone, and dogs are pack animals and need to be with other animals. Michigan family now trying to find their Alaskan husky. The name is Aspen after he was stolen right out of their yard.

But when the dog was taken, they left a letter behind, and the thieves explained, you know, that Aspen was lonely in his Penn (ph), and they didn't believe that dogs should be left outside in the heat or the extreme cold. They've since put up missing posters and a sign that says, "Please, bring back our dog you stole."

In the past, apparently, welfare agencies have looked in on the dog and they say that he was well taken care of. Didn't see any signs of abuse or neglect.

So, the question is, dog nappers, good thing or terribly cruel thing if they're saving him from a place where he's chained up in cold weather and hot weather and has no company at all and is ignored, which is unclear if that's the case, would that be a good thing?

If they've taken him from a loving home, and the people talking about this letter that they received crying as they described how awful it was to not have the family dog that they love dearly.

HEADLEE: You know, this kind of goes back to Will's earlier point about the difference between the merits of the case and the process, because this calls for a different -- a redefinition of what is neglect. Is it cruel to leave a dog all by itself penned up?

CAIN: Kind of subjective, isn't it?

HEADLEE: It is. And you can make that argument, but that is not the legal definition of neglect.

O'BRIEN: And I would think, culturally, that changes, too. Their places -- when I was growing up, my mother, you know, they didn't value dogs. They would never carry dogs in a little handbag. They would never have carted a dog. That happens all the time in New York City.

We had a dog. The dog was outside. You know, roamed around by itself. You call it to come in for dinner. If it didn't come in, it spent the night outside. And nobody really see -- I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island.

HOOVER: Dogs have different roles in families, absolutely. To some people, their dogs are like their children. They're part of their lives. They sleep in their bed with them. They live outside. And frankly, it looks like this dog had its own house. It looks like the dog was living pretty well. (CROSSTALK)

HEADLEE: You can't steal a dog. You can't go into someone's property and steal their dog. That's just illegal.

HOOVER: But there are a lot of places in the world and a lot of place in this country where dogs aren't fed every day. They don't have a house to live in. They don't have anybody that loves them. So, it seems to me that stealing the dog --

CAIN: And you're asking beyond the legal issue.

HOOVER: Yes. Well --


CAIN: Kind of the moral issue, and that is, if we start seeing things we don't like amongst our fellow citizens, can we just change it?

O'BRIEN: Can we just break the law?

CAIN: I don't like how you're raising your kid. I'll be over at about eight o'clock to take them.


O'BRIEN: I'll have them packed and ready for you.


O'BRIEN: I'll have a suitcase.

HEADLEE: That is immoral.


O'BRIEN: Uncle Will is now taking you while mommy and daddy go on a month long trip to Italy. I love you.

CAIN: I regretted that the minute it was coming out.


O'BRIEN: Jackson loves you.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, got some breaking news to get to. We're going to share with you some of the description of Trayvon Martin's final moments. Some tapes of George Zimmerman as he talks to police the night that he shot the Florida teenager.

He is describing and walking them through exactly what happened. It's absolutely riveting. We're going to bring you those tapes in just a moment. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Breaking news this morning. George Zimmerman's interrogation tapes have now been released. An interview he gave to investigators after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman explaining in his own words how he came face-to-face with the teenager. And then he walks police through the encounter. He talks about how he was attacked. Listen.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I was walking back through to where my car was. And he jumped out from the bushes. And he said, "What is your problem, homey?" And I got my cell phone out, to call 911 this time. And I said, hey, man, I don't have a problem. And he goes, now you have a problem. And he punched me in the nose. As I fell down, I tried to defend myself. He just started punching me in the face. And I started screaming for help. I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe. And then he started taking my --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you still standing at this point?

ZIMMERMAN: No, ma'am. I fell to the ground when he punched me the first time.


ZIMMERMAN: It was dark. I didn't even see him getting ready to punch me. As soon as he punched me, I fell backwards into the grass. And then he grabbed -- he was wailing on my head. And then I started yelling help. When I started yelling for "Help!" he grabbed my head and he started hitting my head into the -- I tried to sit up and yell for help. And then he grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk.

When he started doing that, I slid into the grass to try and get out from under him so he would stop hitting my head into the sidewalk. And I'm still yelling for help. And I could see people looking and some guy yells out "I'm calling 911." And I said help, me "Help me, he's killing me." And he puts his hand on my nose and on my mouth and he says "You're going to die tonight."


O'BRIEN: OK. There's another chunk as well. Let's listen to that.


ZIMMERMAN: I got out of my car to look for the street sign. And to see if I could see where he cut through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After you circled your car, he disappeared again?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, ma'am.


ZIMMERMAN: And then the dispatcher told me where you are. And I said I'm trying to find out where he went. And he said, we don't need you to do that. And I said, OK. He said, we already have a police officer en route. And I said, all right.

And I had gone where -- through the dog walk where I normally walk my dog, and walked back through to my street, the street that loops around. And he said we already have a police officer on the way. So I said OK. I told -- they said would you like a police officer to meet you? And I said yes, and I told them where my car was and the make and the model.

I was walking back through to where my car was. And he jumped out from the bushes. And he said, "What is your problem, homey?" And I got my cell phone out, to call 911 this time. And I said, hey, man, I don't have a problem. And he goes, "Now you have a problem." And he punched me in the nose. As I fell down, I tried to defend myself. He just started punching me in the face. And I started screaming for help.


O'BRIEN: OK. So you're hearing -- again, that was the first smaller chunk, and then we heard sort of the longer description second where he described, you know, how he got on the phone with the dispatcher. It's pretty interesting to hear his walk-through as he described it to police.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Yes. What we heard originally, the first clip, was his version of the events during the attack.

O'BRIEN: Let's take a little more listen.


ZIMMERMAN: He was wailing on my head. And then I started yelling help. When I started yelling for help, he grabbed my head and he started hitting my head into the -- I tried to sit up, and yell for help. And then he grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk.


O'BRIEN: Interesting to hear the descriptions of his head hitting the sidewalk. That was one of the conversations that we were having about we know what exactly happened, what was the damage to George Zimmerman.

HOOVER: Why is George Zimmerman defending himself. We saw later after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, we saw a couple of weeks later then the images of Zimmerman's head being beat up. So getting sort of more and more pieces of the full story before we rush to try somebody in the court of public opinion. I think it's important --

O'BRIEN: Well, I don't know that's the case. But ultimately the real question is, why was Trayvon Martin suspicious, right? There's no question did he shoot him, did he kill him, yes, he did. And he's talking about what his experience was did, he feel threatened, and clearly he did in his description.

But to me, ultimately, the big question is, especially in light of stand your ground, why did you think this person was suspicious that you started following him through the streets? And some of his description is that, you know, he wasn't someone I had seen in the neighborhood before. And he was walking slowly on a rainy day. You know, ultimately that as it goes to court. That's going to be is that enough to justify a stand your ground defense.

HEADLEE: That's not essentially the problem. The stand the ground act, there's clear law saying that you can't start a fight and then because you're losing kill the person. Obviously, that's not correct. So really for me, the point legally -- and I'm not an attorney -- is who started it. Who made the aggressive move? It's not necessarily who threw the first punch, but you can interpret all kinds of actions as aggressive or threatening moves.

O'BRIEN: But the issue is, you can stand your ground if you are legally where you are allowed to be. You do not have to retreat. Stand your ground protects both of them, right, because they both legally have a right to be there. Trayvon Martin was visiting his father and his father's girlfriend. George Zimmerman was obviously in his vehicle, in the place where he lives. So the question becomes that, I think.

CAIN: While stand your ground is certainly part of the story, and that stand your ground hearing will be one of the first times we hear more about this case, this is not just about stand your ground. It's also a self-defense case. And the question is, who was the aggressor.

According to the version we just heard, he tells a story where he broke off pursuit and Trayvon Martin reengages. That is George Zimmerman's story. We now hear it directly from his lips. And then the fight ensues. Trayvon Martin approaches. He says, what are you up to? George Zimmerman says I have no problem, or some exchange like that, and a fight ensues. That's where self-defense begins.

O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's still framed by why do you think he is suspicious. If you think he does not belong here, you would not have followed him.

CAIN: According to George Zimmerman, that was broken off, right? George Zimmerman's claim is while he may have found him suspicious for some other reason, when the dispatcher said don't follow him, he stopped and went back to his car.

O'BRIEN: But Trayvon Martin, again, according to what he saying, thought someone was following him by what we know now from what the girlfriend said. So he also feels potentially self-defense.


CAIN: Let me clarify the issue here. What I'm trying to do is clarify the issue. This is where the debate lies.

O'BRIEN: There's a whole court trying to do the exact same thing. I think there's one more sound bite that describes the actual shooting. Let's listen to that.


ZIMMERMAN: I think when I shot him, it might have pushed him back. But I remember -- I didn't know what he was hitting. It felt like he was hitting me with bricks. So I remember I -- once I shot him, I holstered my firearm, and I got on top of him and I held his hands down because he was still talking. And I said, stay down. Don't move.

And then I -- somebody comes out, and I couldn't see. There was a flashlight in my head. So I asked if it was a police officer. And he said, no. It was a witness. But he was calling the police. And I said the police are on their way. They should be here already, Because I had called. And he's like I'm calling the police. And I said I don't need you to call the police. I need you to help me with this guy.

And then an officer shows up. Again, he had the flashlight so I couldn't see him. And he asked me who shot this guy. And I said I did. And I put -- I immediately put my hands on top of my hand, and I told the police officer where my firearm was. And then he cuffed me and took my firearm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. After you shot him and he said you got me?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then when you got on top of him, did he say anything else?

ZIMMERMAN: He said, ow, ow.


O'BRIEN: So you've been listening to the George Zimmerman interrogation tapes. Really fascinatingly, of course, as you point out, Will, one side of the story is George Zimmerman describes exactly what happened from his perspective on that night, walking through the conversation with the dispatch, all the way to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, who then he describes as jumping on him and holding his hands down.

CAIN: One more moment in that audio would be interesting to hear. We heard George Zimmerman describe the fight and his yelling for help, according to him, and we heard when he shot him. But we didn't hear that moment when he pulls out the gun, what prompted that moment. That will be very interesting as well.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely fascinating, I think.

We have to turn now to talk about the Supreme Court, could rule today on Arizona's controversial immigration law. The court is looking at the constitutionality of that law. And the ruling could energize voters on both sides of the issue. As President Obama and Mitt Romney are both trying to woo Hispanic voters, this decision could also have some serious implications across the United States. Arizona is among six states that have immigration enforcement laws. Eight states have taken steps toward passing similar legislation.

Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in Phoenix, Arizona, this morning. Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it. If in fact the Supreme Court does rule against the Arizona law, how would that change how you police in that state?

JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF: It's not going to change anything. We've been enforcing the two state laws irregardless of 1070. So I don't see any change, no matter which way that Supreme Court decision comes out.

O'BRIEN: You were talking to --

ARPAIO: That's as far as I'm concerned. That's as far as I'm concerned how we've been operating.

O'BRIEN: So you were talking to a local station in Phoenix, which is KNXV on June 15, and here's what you told them. You said, "I think people from Mexico are now going to feel, hey, come on in, we'll get by with it. But that won't happen in this county. They will be arrested." You're talking there about the presidential order focusing on young undocumented children who have been brought across the border by their parents, I guess. So tell me about that. That sounds to me like you would ignore the executive order in your law enforcement. Is that true? Is that fair to say?

ARPAIO: No. I was saying about any illegal aliens that come across the border into Maricopa County where we have been responsible for 51,000 investigations, arrests, and the jails and on the streets. That's what I was talking about. If they keep coming, we're going to arrest them. We just arrested 16 more, including a six-year-old child, unfortunately, that was in the van and nobody would take ownership of that poor girl.

O'BRIEN: So no one would take ownership of her. She is now under arrest. What does that mean specifically for what's happening with her?

ARPAIO: She's in custody. We turn her over to federal government. And I believe they are trying to determine where she came from, where she was going. We believe maybe El Salvador. She came into the United States through Mexico. But that's sad when you have these small kids being smuggled into the country, and we don't even know who she is. And once again, the smugglers will not even admit to where she came from or identification. That's a sad issue. O'BRIEN: Do you have any sense of where she was going?

ARPAIO: I have no idea. Although we know the smugglers were going to the east coast or the Midwest. So we're trying to determine on our side who this little girl is. But, once again, it's in the hands of the federal government right now.

O'BRIEN: So this new presidential order for young immigrants, as you know, if they are under the age of 30, brought to the United States before 16, been in the country for five years as sort of a list of ways they would be able to stay in the country legally. Mitt Romney has not exactly weighed in on this order. What do you -- do you think he should reverse this order if he is elected? What do you think of the president's order?

ARPAIO: I'm not going to talk about Mitt Romney or the president. I'm a law enforcement guy. I enforce the laws. I do have compassion for the young people. But I'll tell you what, I took an oath of office, and I'm going to enforce the laws regardless of compassion or politics.

O'BRIEN: So what does that mean? If the presidential order that says that these -- they will be able to stay in the country legally, be deferred for two years if they follow that list of things I just said, that means you would not arrest, right, a person who would fall under that. Or would you -- explain that to me.

ARPAIO: Well, I guess I would not. I'm a top -- I was a top federal law enforcement official with the Justice Department. And, you know, if the laws are not there to enforce, I'm not going to enforce it. I'm not happy with the way it was done. Congress should be looking into this, not the president, deciding which laws to enforce and not enforce. That's not his position.

O'BRIEN: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the Maricopa County sheriff in Arizona, obviously. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

ARPAIO: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, new numbers on the health of our economic recovery. Christine is going to come back and talk to us about the weekly jobless report. That's coming up next.

And then the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky will be in the hands of the jury in just a matter of hours. We've got a live report from outside that courtroom also ahead.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We've got to take a break. We're back in a moment.


ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

Just in to CNN, weekly jobless numbers; 387,000 unemployment claims were filed for the first time last week. Apparently more than expected, down about 2,000 from the previous week. Stock futures are ticking up just a bit this morning.

A new Gallup poll shows confidence in U.S. public schools is at a new low. Only 29 percent of people surveyed expressed a great deal of confidence or quite a lot of confidence in America's public schools. That's a major drop from the early 1970s when 58 percent were confident in the public school system.

Former Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is apparently at the top of Mitt Romney's short list for a running mate. Pawlenty has been out stumping across the country for Romney and reports say he is impressed Romney's campaign officials with his low key style. And it appears that Ann Romney and Pawlenty's wife, Mary, have become fast friends on the campaign trail.

Is there such a thing as friends on the campaign trail?

O'BRIEN: Now we have (inaudible) on we've got to ask him is it true. Are you going to be the Vice President? And he's be his demurring again and we have that conversation.

CAIN: Yesterday.

ROMANS: Yes that's right.

O'BRIEN: And it was like two days ago. I sense a big cycle here. Thanks Christine I appreciate it.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, closing arguments are just about to get underway in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial. We're going to take you live to the courthouse to tell you what's ahead.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody.

We're just moments away from the closing arguments in the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. The defense rested its case yesterday; attorneys for Sandusky decided in the end not to put him on the stand.

So depending on how things go this morning, the case could go to a jury in just a matter of hours. That brings us right to CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti. She's is covering the trial for us in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Nice to see you Susan. So what happens today exactly?

SUSAN CANDIOTTIE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Soledad. Well, in just about an hour from now, both the defense and prosecutors each get one more chance, one more opportunity, to try to convince a jury that Jerry Sandusky is either guilty or not.

Now the defense will go first. It's expected to argue as it has all along that these alleged victims are liars, that some of them conspired with each other or were coerced and coached by investigators who were overzealous in trying to make a case against Jerry Sandusky. And that these alleged victims are simply in it to make money.

Prosecutors are expected to argue just the opposite. That the riveting testimony that these jurors heard is completely believable, that these are young men who did not conspire with each other, that they had nothing to gain by coming forward, that they were afraid at first, and then eventually told the truth even though they were afraid to go up against someone like Jerry Sandusky.

They will also likely say that Jerry Sandusky had two sides. The public philanthropist who did so much good for the community; but that he also had a dark side, one in which he allegedly abused children. Then the jury will get some instructions from the judge and begin their deliberations. This jury will be sequestered.

And Soledad, a lot of interest -- we talked to some people who were in line as early as 2:30 in the morning from the -- from the community here so that they could hear these closing arguments -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Susan Candiotti with a look at what is ahead in that courtroom today. Susan, thank you. I appreciate it.

I've got to take a break. "End Point" is up next.


O'BRIEN: "End Point". Who wants to start?

HEADLEE: I will.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead.

HEADLEE: Because I -- the stolen dog, I think we would -- it would be great to have a new conversation about what is and what is not neglect.

HOOVER: Since we're going to have a new conversation about it, why don't you share with us what you shared with the audience that you share with us on the commercial break, which is that you have stolen a dog in your past.

HEADLEE: I didn't steal a dog. I allowed it to escape. And then went to the pound and adopted it. Look, it was really abused.

O'BRIEN: By the way, that's stealing, stealing a dog. Will, final word?

CAIN: That you -- you know if we do see a dog being kicked or something, I think we would all take it.


CAIN: But the fact the specific was this dog neglect, we'll go back to you, what is neglect?


O'BRIEN: And we leave it at that.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see everybody back here tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.

Hey, Carol.