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Where Will NSA Leaker Go?; George Zimmerman Trial Begins

Aired June 24, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We continue on here on CNN. Good to see you. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It is turning out to be the best kept secret for the man known for spilling his secrets, that being his location. Edward Snowden charged with espionage is the target of a worldwide manhunt that crosses hemispheres and tangles diplomatic ties.

And as U.S. authorities search for this man, Snowden is searching for asylum. First he fled to Hongkong from Hawaii. That was reportedly back on May 20th. Then yesterday, follow along here, he took a flight to Moscow. This is according to Russian officials. He was able to leave Hongkong reportedly by using refugee papers issued by Ecuador and that country may turn out to be his final destination, maybe. We don't know.

Ecuador is helping another famous leaker, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He confirmed on a conference call today with reporters that his organization has, in fact, been giving financial support to who is currently the most wanted man in the world.


JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistle-blower who has told the public an important truth.


BALDWIN: So where is Edward Snowden now? We don't know. There is no direct flight from Moscow to Ecuador. So the plane has to stop somewhere. And speculation is it will land in Cuba.

Snowden has already missed one flight to Cuba. But we know there is another one scheduled.

So let's go straight to Havana to CNN's Patrick Oppmann, who is there. Who is there? Patrick Oppmann, do we have him?

Patrick Oppmann, you with me?


BALDWIN: OK. There you are. I'm looking at -- I'm looking at pictures. And there you are. I see you.



BALDWIN: I understand there is a flight tonight coming in from Moscow. So you just wait.

OPPMANN: That's right. I'm here, but is Edward Snowden going to be here?

And at least for the moment, it seems like he's leaving Cuba off his itinerary. But that could change. It seems to be a logical stopping point if he's going to try to get to Ecuador. As you said, how does he get to Ecuador, which appears like they seem at least willing to consider an asylum request, but without going through a third country, where he might be grabbed by the U.S., where that third country might hold him and extradite him to the U.S.?

That's really the problem he has. Of course, he was supposed to be on -- he was scheduled to have been on a flight, expected to have been on a flight this morning from Moscow to Havana, but apparently pulled a no-show. So, where is he? Ecuador's foreign minister says he doesn't know. Julian Assange says that he knows, but isn't saying to protect Edward Snowden.

So, right now, the U.S. is putting pressure on countries throughout the world, including here in Cuba, where they really don't have a lot of pressure they can exercise. But they have asked Havana if Edward Snowden shows up here that he be turned over to the U.S. Still no word back from Cuban authorities on what they would do if Snowden does appear here. So, something of a political battle of wills being played out whether to place Edward Snowden under the care of political asylum or to place him in handcuffs, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And, again, as you point out, this is all the what if game. We don't know if he's headed to Cuba. We don't know if he's headed to Venezuela or to Ecuador, et cetera. But if he does land in Cuba, what are -- walk me through, Patrick, just sort of some of the possibilities while he is on Cuban land.

OPPMANN: You know, does he ask for political asylum here, and join the dozens of other American fugitives, mostly, people that the Cuban government claims have a political element to their cases, Black Panthers, people who came here in the 1960s and '70s who've enjoyed basically asylum here despite the fact that for years the U.S. has asked for their return.

So, the U.S. really doesn't have anything they can do. There's already an economic embargo on Cuba. They don't really have a lot of pressure that they can apply that they already haven't applied over the years. Or does Edward Snowden, if he lands here, immediately go to another country like Ecuador or Venezuela that's very close with the Castro government, that has close -- that kind of close relationship that the Castro government would be willing, apparently, to let him go on to that country, you know, a close ally like Ecuador? Of course, the Cuban government at this point has confirmed none of this. They say they're watching the situation very closely, but say they have no knowledge of Edward Snowden's impending arrival here in Cuba -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: And so you and I'm sure many other reporters continue to stand in Havana and wait. Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much. We will stay in close contact with you.

Let me bring it back to Washington, because we now know within the past hour the president of the United States has responded briefly, but publicly to the situation here.

Let's go to the White House to our chief correspondent there, Jessica Yellin.

And just set the scene for me. Tell me where the president was when he made these remarks.


President Obama was in a meeting to promote the immigration reform bill that's moving through Congress, meeting with top business leaders, when reporters started shouting questions at him, asking what he's doing to try to win Edward Snowden's return to the U.S. You can see here with the videotape we will play shortly he really is trying to take a low-key approach on this personally, it would seem trying not to put his own prestige and that of the U.S., the White House, on the line in winning Snowden's return.

Here was the president responding to those questions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, what we know is, is that we're following all the appropriate legal channels and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed.

And, beyond that, I will refer to the Justice Department that has been actively involved in the case.


YELLIN: So, he first said thanks, thanks, thanks, guys, tried not to get into it, and as you saw kicked it over to the Department of Justice and State Department.

Bottom line, he was asked if he's put in a call to Russia's President Putin and didn't answer that directly. One reason would be, Brooke, the president wouldn't want to place that call and then not win the return, just no reason to put himself out there like that if it's unlikely that it would win a result.

I should make it clear the White House has already said that they believe, here from this building, the belief is that Snowden is in Russia. That's what they're telling us, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And I know that the president obviously had a full agenda this morning. I understand Snowden, though, has upstaged the president's plans today.

YELLIN: Well, where news goes, no one here can really control it. The president wanted to highlight immigration reform, an important priority for the president.

But he was asked about Edward Snowden. And at the briefing today, Jay Carney tried to lead off by talking about, a new initiative to get people signed up for health care reform. But no one asked about it. All the questions were about Edward Snowden. It does look like the agenda is being eclipsed by all this NSA news, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jessica Yellin for us at the White House, no surprise there. Jess, thank you so much.

And just a short time ago, we heard from the young woman who was denied admission to the University of Texas and took U.T. to court, as in the United States Supreme Court, and won today, sort of.

Here's Abigail Fisher.


ABIGAIL FISHER, SUED UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: It's been a great privilege to witness how our legal system works to seek justice for an individual like me. The most important lesson I have learned during the last five years is to stick by your ideals, even if it means some personal sacrifice.


BALDWIN: Abigail Fisher claimed the university's race-based relation rules violated her rights. And, as we said, the U.S. Supreme Court pretty much seems to agree.

Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN senior legal analyst, good to see you.



So, let me just make sure I have this right. We have the U.S. Supreme Court saying, yes, that an applicant's race can be considered for entry into college only, only, only if nothing else works to maintain diversity on campus. Is that correct?

TOOBIN: That's more or less what they're saying. I mean, it's a -- it's a very peculiar opinion,because, you know, there's this big wind- up to, you know, we're going to have the Supreme Court talk about affirmative action. And then they say, well, we want the lower courts to look at it again.

It seems clearly to be a compromise verdict. It was a 7-1 opinion. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal, was the only dissenter. Elena Kagan didn't participate. Basically, they seem to be sort of kicking the can down the road, at,Well, a little bit, on affirmative action, saying, well, we think it's OK, but under very, very narrow circumstances that we haven't spelled out.

That's the status quo. But you can be sure this decision is an invitation for lots more challenges to affirmative action. This issue is far, far from over. And the opponents of affirmative action are certainly going to be emboldened by this.

BALDWIN: So, then what if, you know, you're part of the college admissions staff? Do you wait, then, for this to go to the lower courts or do you pretty much have your marching orders?

TOOBIN: You know, what are you asking, like, a practical question?

BALDWIN: I mean...


TOOBIN: Like, what are people supposed to do in their real lives?

BALDWIN: Yes, Jeff Toobin.

TOOBIN: You know what? It's a very tough question. And I don't think I know the answer to it, because I don't think there's a clear answer out there.


TOOBIN: You have put your finger on exactly the issue here. You're an admissions officer at the University of Texas or any other school. You look at this opinion and you say, well, what am I supposed to do? And I don't really know the answer.

I think that's -- that's a very frustrating aspect to this opinion, because it seems to say, you know, race can be considered, but in a very narrow way. And I don't really know what that means. And I think that's really an example of the Supreme Court not doing its job very well. You have got to answer the questions for people. And here, they seem to have gone out of their way to do a compromise, but one that I think leaves a lot of mystery in its wake.

BALDWIN: OK, Jeff Toobin, darn those practical questions that people can actually relate to. But that's our job, right?


TOOBIN: That's why we're here, if not them.

BALDWIN: Jeff Toobin, thank you.

Now to another case the nation is watching, George Zimmerman, on trial for killing an unarmed teen, and his defense team just finished its opening statement. The whole thing started with a knock-knock joke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knock, knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good. You're on the jury.


BALDWIN: Yes. That really happened. You will have to hear how the jury reacted to that. We're live outside the courtroom in Florida next.


BALDWIN: More than a year after Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, opening statements have just wrapped in the trial of his shooter, George Zimmerman. The prosecution, they're trying to convince this jury of six women that Zimmerman is guilty of second- degree murder, that he pursued Martin, he engaged him in a fight and ultimately shot and killed him.


JOHN GUY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) punks. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they always get away. Those were the words in that man's chest when he got out of his car, armed with a fully loaded semiautomatic pistol and two flashlights to follow on foot Trayvon Benjamin Martin, who was walking home from a 7/Eleven armed with 23 ounces of Arizona-brand fruit use and a small bag of Skittles candies.


BALDWIN: On the other side, the defense is arguing that George Zimmerman was forced to act in self-defense to save his own life.

I want to bring in our legal analyst here, Sunny Hostin, who has been following this so closely. She's outside the courthouse there in Sanford.

And, Sunny, we have to talk about this -- the defense opening statement. You have Don West. He tells this knock-knock joke, which, to quote Martin Savidge, it was a defense dud. But now the news is that he came back from the lunch recess, has apologized to the jury.

Tell me more about that. And what do you make of that?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, you know, I think it fell so flat in the courtroom, Brooke. I was there when he was delivering the opening statements. And when I heard that and looked at the faces of the jury, I mean, it was just unbelievable how poorly it was received.

And so I suspect that, you know, he regrouped with Mark O'Mara, because Mark O'Mara did, in fact, walk up to him, Brooke, during his opening statement and sort of pat him on the back. And then we took a recess. So, I think the defense obviously reassessed. They obviously saw what we all saw in the courtroom. And he apologized. Where does that go? I'm just not so sure. I think the problem with the defense's opening wasn't even so much the knock-knock joke, although that was terrible. It was the length of the opening statement. It was rambling. He lost many of the jurors. I was looking at them. Brooke, it's the first day, the first day of the trial.

BALDWIN: How long was it?

HOSTIN: And some of the jurors were sort of nodding off. It had to by my estimation go beyond two hours.

And what was fascinating is, on the flip side, you have got the state, a very, very short opening statement, about 32 minutes, very succinct. It was sharp. While it started with profanity, it was really strong. And it was delivered by a very good-looking guy. He looks kind of like a young Kevin Costner. I will tell you that the women on that jury, an all-female jury, they were riveted. They didn't look away.

BALDWIN: Tell me, between the state's opening statement and the defense's lengthy opening statement, was there a moment that was most poignant for you just sitting and observing?

HOSTIN: You know, there were so many moments, actually.

I think the state's opening was just flawless. It was textbook. Law professors will be using that opening, I suspect, in law school classes in the fall. What was especially poignant was that he attributed the words, the profanity, and many of the actions just to the defendant. They were his words.

And I think another very poignant moment was Sybrina Fulton walked out of the courtroom when the defense started playing the tape of someone screaming in the background. Now, of course, the defense says, no, that's George Zimmerman. But Sybrina Fulton has always maintained that that was her son's voice. Remember, there are five mothers on that jury of six women.

And when she walked out of the courtroom, Brooke, I looked right at those jurors. And each one of them followed her with their eyes outside of the courtroom. It was especially poignant.

BALDWIN: Sunny Hostin, we will check back in with you tomorrow as this thing continues here for at least several more weeks, Sunny. Thank you.

For more on the Zimmerman murder trial, I want you to watch "Self- Defense Or Murder?: The George Zimmerman Trial," tonight 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And now to something so many people are buzzing about. He is one of the top players in the NFL. But Aaron Hernandez is in the news today for a much different reason this off-season. He is being questioned in a murder investigation. And now some are taking a closer look at his background before he landed in the NFL. Could that provide any clues? We're going to talk with the NFL writer for "The Boston Globe" next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Police are back on the job today near the home of NFL player Aaron Hernandez. This time, they are searching this roadside stream. They have already searched his house not just once, but twice. They have looked in his car. They have gone and searched the nearby woods, even gone to a strip club. Why?

This is all part of an investigation into last week's death of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found in this industrial park near Hernandez's neighborhood. Lloyd's family says the two men were friends.

Ben Volin joins me from Boston. He covers the NFL for "The Boston Globe."

So, Ben, welcome to you.

Let's be clear, though. Police haven't named Hernandez as a suspect. But if he is not officially a suspect, is it safe to say he is the focus of this investigation?

BEN VOLIN, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Yes, it's very clear that he's a person of interest in this investigation.

The investigators and police have been to his house four times now since the beginning of last week. They have scoured inside his house twice, including for four hours on Saturday. They came by with a locksmith and a crowbar. And they walked away with some paper bags, presumably of evidence.

And today they came back with scuba gear. They were searching the streams near his home. They also had metal detectors, looking for any kind of weapon. They scoured also the industrial park about an hour -- a mile from his home, where they believe the murder took place. They're looking for shell casings, bullets, anything that can tie a murder weapon to this incident.

So far, though, it doesn't appear like they have come up with anything substantial, because here we are and Aaron still has not been charged yet. I think there could be a warrant for obstruction of justice. But it seems like they're trying to build a bigger case on Aaron, maybe apply some pressure to him, and see if they can get a lengthy rap sheet, instead of just going for a lesser charge.

So, they're definitely still investigating this very thoroughly. Aaron is absolutely a person of interest. But it hasn't reached that critical point yet.

BALDWIN: So, you know, obviously, you cover NFL, New England Patriots. He's a pretty stellar player on the field. But off, once you start looking into his background, this guy is not exactly -- how would you describe his background? Let me just ask you that way.

VOLIN: Sure.

You know, since this incident came out, you have started to hear from a lot of people from his past, a lot of NFL scouts, saying they stayed away from him in the 2010 NFL draft because he had some drug problems in college. And he had some people hanging around him, maybe some bad influences.

He's from Bristol, Connecticut, which is about two hours here from Boston. So, he's kind of living close to home right now. And I think it's pretty clear it's another case of a professional athlete not being able to say goodbye to people from his past. He doesn't have this lengthy rap sheet, but at the same time he is being sued by a friend who claims that he negligently fired a gun at him and shot him in the eye and exploded his eye and permanently ruined his vision. He's being sued for $100,000 now.

There's also an incident in college. In 2007, he was questioned in a shooting. It never really went anywhere. So, again, it's not like he's got this lengthy rap sheet. But at the same time, it appears that he has a significant history of weapons and hanging around the wrong people. And it looks like it may have finally caught up to him this time.

BALDWIN: You would know about his college career. You were in Florida. You covered him as he played for Florida.

Let me ask you though about Odin Lloyd. According to Hernandez's family, these two guys were friends. Do you know anything more about him?

VOLIN: He was a semi-pro linebacker here in Boston, 27 years old, athlete just trying to keep the dream alive, I guess. Apparently, he was friends with a bunch of the Patriots players. He was always seen hanging out with them, driving around various cars with Patriots decals.

And him and Aaron both date a pair of sisters -- dated, I guess. So, there's definitely a connection there. There's video surveillance, "The Globe" has reported, of showing Hernandez and the victim together in the early hours of Monday morning, just hours or even minutes before the murder took place. There's not too much time there, not much of a window between when Aaron could have possibly left and when the murder happened.

So, video evidence that I think can be pretty damning to tie him to this case one way or the other. Certainly, this wasn't just a random thing. The two knew each other well. Like I said, they dated a pair of sisters. So, they obviously knew each other very well. And the police -- it's pretty clear the police believe that Aaron knows something about this murder.

BALDWIN: Ben Volin, we know you will be following it for "The Boston Globe." Ben, thank you so much.

And for much more now next on the search for Edward Snowden, we will talk live to a former CIA operative. We will ask him what options the U.S. has to arrest Snowden and to bring him home to face these espionage charges.