Return to Transcripts main page
Edward Snowden on the Run; Big Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action to Come; Zimmerman Trial Opening Statements; Silvio Berlusconi Sentenced; Jim Carrey Denounces Movie Violence.
Aired June 24, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Up until a few weeks ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of Edward Snowden, except for his friends, family, maybe co-workers. But now he's known around the world as the leaker of U.S. secret surveillance programs. To his supporters, he's a hero. To his critic, his being as seriously damaged U.S. intelligence operations and he's a criminal. And he's been charged with espionage. And once again, he is on the run. Problem is, exact whereabouts at this point still a mystery. In a diplomatic slap in the face, Hong Kong, China, Russia all rejected U.S. requests to hand him over. And instead, he's on his way somewhere, probably Ecuador.
Joining us to talk about this, our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, and also CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.
So, Jill, my biggest question is, if he was so wanted, why is it his passport was only revoked when he had left Hong Kong? Why didn't they take it away a lot sooner and make it much harder for him to get away?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: On the timing, I think that's a very good question. The officials that I've been speaking with say that they felt the seriousness of this, after all, a felony was pretty important, that that would dictate something they would hope. And that also they were not getting any indications from the Chinese that anything was amiss. And then at the last minute, the Chinese in this kind of technicality said we don't have sufficient documentation, we have more questions. And that is the point that Snowden left.
And by the way, Snowden apparently was traveling when he went to Moscow on some type of Ecuadorian asylum document. So even if his passport was not valid, he apparently was able to get into Russia at least holding that asylum document.
BANFIELD: I want to play something now, and it's actually Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks organization, who has been very outspoken about all of this. He's been standing up on behalf of Edward Snowden's principles. He himself has sought asylum for the last year. He wanted to talk about America's actions towards Mr. Snowden, seeking this extradition, and what he thinks, Julian Assange thinks about what's happening right now. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: The U.S. secretary of state called Edward Snowden is traitor. Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistleblower who has told the public an important truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So, Paul Callan, that may be the heroics that many say Edward Snowden has displayed. But no matter how you slice this, no matter what you think about him, he's broken the law. What are the chances he'll actually face a court?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the chances of us getting him back are getting increasingly grim. A lot of people were asking me, where is the best place for him to go, is he going to Iceland, staying this China. And when I look at the extradition treaties from all of these countries, they all have one little loophole, and that is it's a political rights loophole. It gives the host government the opportunity to say, hey, we think he's being persecuted on sort of a political ground as opposed to a criminal ground. He's charged with espionage, which is essentially a political crime. So he gets into a country that's hostile to the U.S., we're not getting him back. And he's picked one of three -- he could have gone to Cuba, Venezuela or Ecuador, three most hostile to the U.S. in central and South America. So -- and the Caribbean -- so he's apparently picked one of them. Not a surprise.
BANFIELD: Just a reminder, Ecuador, we have an extradition treaty?
CALLAN: Yes, we have an extradition treaty.
CALLAN: But it has that big loophole.
BANFIELD: A big one. A big, big one.
CALLAN: And flip it around -- by the way, let's say a Russian spy was on the loose and he sought asylum in the U.S. Do you think we would send him back to Russia if he was charged with Russian espionage?
BANFIELD: That's why they're suggesting is the pot calling the kettle black when they complain about these things.
But, listen, this conversation continues. It's bigger than the three of us.
Thank you both to Jill Dougherty and Paul Callan for your insight.
We have a very busy day today. The Supreme Court, we have one decision. This one on affirmative action. But still really big cases left to go. And we're ticking on time. We'll talk about today's big decision and the rest of the docket. Jeffrey Toobin is going to joins us, as well as the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, will weigh in on the decision, or the indecision, depending on how you look at it, on affirmative action today.
BANFIELD: The Supreme Court announced it is handing a key affirmative action case back down to a lower court. Officially, it's a vacate and remand. Unofficially, you could call it a punt. It was a case that was brought by a woman in Texas who says that her application to UP Austin was rejected because she's white.
I'm joined now by senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who literally wrote the books on the Supreme Court.
That's official speak. Unofficially, what does it all mean what happened today with affirmative action?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What it means is affirmative action is hanging by a thread when it comes to university admissions in this country. What Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion said is, if a university wants to use race in admissions, it has to articulate why that's the only way that diversity can be achieved, and we're going to look very, very carefully at the university's reasoning, and it may not be good enough. And you, University of Texas, go back and explain again why you think you need this program.
It's not outlawing affirmative action, but it certainly seems like the court, at least these nine justices, are heading in that direction. But they haven't gotten there yet.
BANFIELD: Stand by, if you would, Jeffrey, for a moment.
I want to bring in NAACP president and CEO, Ben Jealous.
Mr. Jealous, you heard Jeffrey Toobin describe this as affirmative action managing on by a thread. Is that your read of it and, if so, is this a grave concern to you?
BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: We read this very differently, which is not surprising in a case where you're ultimately dealing with a punt. But when you look into the actual decision, what you see is that they affirm the role of race in admissions. And we have seen that just affirmed in the past few years. So we do believe that there is a majority on the court that will sustain the use of race again as one of very many factors in university admissions. And this is a sign to universities across the country to keep the doors open, to make sure that every kid of every color gets a close look and a fair shot.
BANFIELD: Mr. Jealous, it's no secret the African-American justice on the bench, Clarence Thomas, is conservative, but he has said --
JEALOUS: He's very conservative.
BANFIELD: To say the least. And he, out of this nine, suggested he'd like to strike down all affirmative action. Not surprising to you? JEALOUS: It's deeply ironic from Justice Thomas in many ways. But the reality is that he is entitled to his view. Fortunately, the majority of the court has never -- never seems to hold Thomas' view on race.
BANFIELD: Intriguing. And I look forward to seeing more of what the lower circuit decides to do.
Mr. Jealous, thank you so much for being with us.
Jeffrey Toobin, thank you for your reporting on the indecision, so to speak, today, as well.
Other big news that's happening -- may not seem big, but it is big. Jim Carrey is coming out swinging against gun violence in the movies. The trouble is he is swinging against his own movie. His own brand new movie. We'll explain it in a moment.
BANFIELD: I want to take you back to Sanford, Florida, where the defense in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial is giving its opening statements right now. This is a new CNN opinion research poll we're releasing today, where 62 percent of Americans questioned say the charges against Zimmerman are either probably or definitely true. The prosecution has the burden of proof in this case. We'll take you into a live picture. That's Don West, of the defense, standing up and making his case. This defense team needs to convince that jury that Trayvon Martin's killing was, in fact, in self-defense and wasn't second-degree murder.
Let's have a listen to the defense attorney, Don West, and what he said in his opening statement just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Little did George Zimmerman know at the time that in less than 10 minutes from him first seeing Trayvon Martin, that he, George Zimmerman, would be sucker punched in the face, have his head pounded on concrete, and wind up shooting and tragically killing Trayvon Martin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: I want to bring back CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. And also joining us is defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
Danny, let me begin with you on this one.
While the burden of proof is on the prosecution, when it comes to self-defense, you really do have to come out swinging, don't you?
DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You do. But remember, the burden isn't only to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman committed second-degree murder, but they also must disprove the affirmative defense of self-defense. So the prosecution's burden is twofold. Yes, you have to come out swinging, but when it comes to evidence, you can prove self defenses circumstantially. So that will raise the question still whether or not Zimmerman will testify. And I guarantee they have not made the decision whether Zimmerman will testify, though they want the prosecution to think it is a very strong possibility.
BANFIELD: Paul Callan, when it comes down to whether someone should testify or not, we have two people who know exactly what happened that night. One of them is dead and cannot take the stand. The other is sitting there and is awaiting judgment. How can he not -- and I say that only because, how can he not be the only one who can get up there and say what happened?
CALLAN: It remains a dangerous move to put him on the witness stand. You're right. He's the only one who knows and he's the only one who can say. But the defense attorneys will certainly try to get his story in through other ways. He gave a confession and statement to the police. And he's appeared on television. There are lots of side doors to present the Zimmerman story that the prosecutors will attempt to prevent and the defense will push. So we'll see if he testifies.
But, Ashleigh, with the defense attorney opening on a knock-knock joke, I'm starting to wonder about it. There is not a lot of joking in murder trials.
CALLAN: And to open on a joke --
CALLAN: -- it's not a good way to get things started. Right?
BANFIELD: I'll be the first to say everything is different on TV. I've covered a number of trials, and I feel like I was in a different trial than the one that played out on TV when I was in the courtroom. In this particular case, it felt like it fell flat. I have no idea if, in the courtroom, it did or did not, because the address is going to six women sitting on that panel and the alternates as well.
Danny Cevallos, when it comes to that, what exactly was the point that the defense attorney was trying to make by saying knock-knock, who is there, George Zimmerman, you're on the panel. What does that mean?
CEVALLOS: I can't guess at that, but I know that based on whatever his reading was of that jury, he was trying to bring a moment of levity to an otherwise very serious case, and trying, based on his own subjective interpretation of that jury, to identify with them. Even if it fell flat with us, who watched it from afar, maybe he saw something in those jurors that he thought that was the appropriate place for a comment like that.
And you said it yourself, there is a huge difference when you're in the courtroom and the way it's perceived when it's televised and sent out to millions.
CALLAN: They won't be giving him an HBO special soon on comedy, I'll tell you that.
BANFIELD: No. But what you do hear on HBO is a lot of F-bombs and swear words and that's how this whole thing started. I was watching on another network accidentally let all the F-bombs go to air.
How powerful, Paul Callan, is it when you start with the gritty, gritty reality of what went on just before a killing?
CALLAN: I think Juries want to hear the gritty reality. This is about the death of a human being. It's about somebody being shot. It's about whether somebody was acting in self defense and was facing maybe life in prison or a horrific jail sentence. So juries do want to hear the nuts and bolts. And if it's graphic, they want to hear graphic.
BANFIELD: You know what?
CALLAN: They don't want to hear jokes. They want to hear reality and evidence. That's what they want to hear.
BANFIELD: You get that in voir dire. You do get that. You're warning it's going to be really rough.
By the way, if anybody who is watching this interview, wants to watch this live now, our sister network, HLN, is airing this trial. You can scoot over there. You can go back and forth all day long. You get your news, Edward Snowden and George Zimmerman trial all at the same time.
Paul Callan, Danny Cevallos, thank you both.
A quick reminder that Anderson Cooper has a special on the Zimmerman murder trial. It gets under way at 10:00 eastern tonight. I encourage you to have a look at that night. More information is good.
Silvio Berlusconi, a former prime minister wrapped up in a prostitution scandal that brought him down, but just how far down? Like prison down? Moments ago, the court decided what to do with this former Italian leader. We'll take you there live for the sentence.
BANFIELD: Got some breaking news out of Italy. Former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has been found guilty of having sex with an underaged prostitute and abuse of power.
Our Ben Wedeman is live outside of the courthouse in Milan.
What does this mean? Jail time for the former prime minister or does it mean jail at all?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Not yet. According to the Italian appeal system, he has two appeals before the verdict finally sticks. We understand from his lawyers he will appeal. That appeal has to be submitted within 45 days. If it does stick, seven years in prison, plus a permanent ban from public office. That, for a man who was three times serving as prime minister and currently sits in parliament. This definitely does not bode well for a prime minister who, for the last 20 years, has been in the eye of a variety of legal storms -- Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: Amazing, Ben. The prosecutors asking for five and instead he gets seven.
All right, keep us posted on what's expected to be long process.
Ben Wedeman for us, live.
Jim Carrey is big money at the box office. He may be hoping his next film is a flop. Weird. I know. We'll tell you why he wants no part of the movie he's starring in.
BANFIELD: Jim Carrey has a new movie coming out. Don't expect to see him on the talk shows promoting it because that start now says he regrets doing it. He says it's all because of the violent content. Take a peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more and more people joining us every night.
JIM CARREY, ACTOR: General Stars and Stripes reporting for duty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: That is pretty violent. Here is the tweet Jim Carrey sent out. I'm going to use his words. "I did kick ass a month before Sandy Hook. And now, in all good conscience, I cannot support that level of violence."
Back with me now, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
Paul, let's start with you.
Aren't you contractually obligated to promote movies when you're that big a deal?
CALLAN: We'll have to see what's in his contract, but I think he is. The standard clause says you have to support the film after it's released, travel around the country and have people go see it. You can't say, well, I changed my mind because there was a shooting and don't go to see the movie. There's going to be big lawsuits against Jim Carrey if he --
CALLAN: -- keeps up with this philosophy. BANFIELD: That's exactly what I thought. Maybe the distributor or studio could sue him.
What about the other stars of the movie, Danny? They are relying on it to do well. They may not be the big A-lister. If the movie doesn't do well, it doesn't bode well for them. Could they sue him?
CEVALLOS: I think that happens to a lot of people in entertainment, like with Charlie Sheen and the regular cast members of "Two and Half Men." Do they have a cause of action against the person? Arguably, yes. I don't think we'll see that. I think the main cause of action will be the studio against the actor, Jim Carrey. There's a lot of evidence that leans towards liability here. This is a sequel. If he had any question what it would hold or doubts, he acted in it, and there was a first movie that gave a reasonable forecast. Without seeing the contract, we don't know for sure. However, every movie star, no matt how big, has some contractual obligation to promote.
BANFIELD: Yes, you would think.
Guess what? There's a lot of promotion going on right now. The news stories alone are promotion, whether he sits in on those interviews or not.
Paul Callan, Danny Cevallos, thank you both.
We're flat out of time. Thank you so much for watching, everyone. Happy Monday to you.
AROUND THE WORLD is next.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD on CNN. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.
A big news day, so let's get it started.
MALVEAUX: NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, he is now on the move. The Obama administration certainly not happy about that. We're expecting to hear from the White House press secretary any moment.