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Edward Snowden Asks for Asylum in Ecuador; Trial of George Zimmerman Commences; Aaron Hernandez Investigation Continues; Nelson Mandela in Critical Condition; Paula Deen Stirs Up Controversy

Aired June 24, 2013 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's up to the Russian government, it will be nothing but bad for his name in history.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Slapped in the face. Edward Snowden believed to be on his way to asylum in South America. Add Russia to the list of countries blowing off America's requests for help. Can the U.S. even get to him now?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hot water. Paula Deen's fans are fighting back, but will her use of racial slurs cause her to lose another lucrative gig?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And the ultimate high wire act. The stunning images, the death-defying feat. Nik Wallenda takes one small step into the void and into the history books.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which of these two animals is uglier?

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Monday, June 24th. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here with Michaela Pereira. It is 7:00 in the East, and we are in the middle of 30 minutes of commercial-free news.

CUOMO: All right. Let's start with the international cat and mouse game right now going on between Edward Snowden and the U.S. government. The NSA leaker is reportedly in Moscow getting help from WikiLeaks. He may hop a plane to Cuba. The flight reportedly may take off from Moscow. I say "may" because it is unclear if Snowden is on it. His possible final destination could be Ecuador where he has asked for asylum.

We have team coverage this morning from Latin America to Washington to New York. We're going to start with Phil Black in Moscow, who just filed this report before he took off on that flight to Cuba about what Snowden may do next. Take a look and listen.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Edward Snowden has spent the night in the transit area of Moscow's airport. Trying to guess his next step has been a very popular exercise here in Moscow over the last 24 hours. His sudden dash from Hong Kong to Russia took a lot of people by surprise. We now know he hopes to get to Ecuador, where he's officially asked for political asylum. That's his goal, but he's still a long way from getting there.

At Moscow's airport, there were early signs the government of Ecuador was playing a role in the fate of Edward Snowden. The flag was a giveaway. This was the Ecuadorian ambassador's car parked outside, and this official from the embassy somehow got lost inside the terminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to give any comments.

BLACK: Are you here in relation to Mr. Snowden at all?

The world learned of Mr. Snowden's sudden departure from Hong Kong when he was already in the air, bound for Moscow on a commercial flight. A big group of Russian and international journalists waited to meet him, but Snowden stayed inside the terminal.

Soon after, the government of Ecuador confirmed he had formally asked for asylum. Ecuador is already protecting one other man, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been living in Ecuador's London embassy for the last year. In a statement, WikiLeaks said Snowden had asked the organization to help find a country that will protect him. It said he is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and he's being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks.

Amid furious and changing speculation about where Snowden planned to go after Russia, the U.S. government asked Ecuador, Venezuela, and Cuba to refuse him entry, and his American passport was cancelled.

Crucially, we haven't heard from the Russian government about how it feels about Snowden's arrival here, so we don't know if it will allow him to leave as he wishes, or if it will try to extract further intelligence from him, or if it will help the United States to reclaim one of its most wanted citizens. Back to you, Chris and Kate.


BOLDUAN: Phil black, thanks so much. Ecuador's foreign minister says his country is considering Snowden's request for asylum, quote, "with a lot of responsibility." The U.S. and Ecuador have had strained relations dating back several years, and allowing Snowden to enter the country certainly, we can understand, would not help the situation. CNN's Adrianna Hauser is live in Quito, Ecuador. What are you hearing from that angle, Adrianna?

ADRIANNA HAUSER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. What we're hearing now is basically what you're hearing right there. There's a lot of uncertainty whether or not Edward Snowden will end up here. This could potentially be Snowden's last stop. We know from Ecuador's foreign minister that he did request asylum, that asylum request is being studied. There is precedence. We're hearing just now there is precedence. Ecuador protected Julian Assange. He is now in the Ecuadorian embassy in London protected by Ecuador. And if he leaves the embassy, he risks being arrested. He's wanted in Sweden in connection to a rape investigation. He's wanted for questioning.

So with that precedent, we have reason to believe he could end up here, Edward Snowden. We also know from WikiLeaks that he was going to take what they described as a safe route to get to Ecuador. So WikiLeaks is also saying that he will potentially end up here in Ecuador. We still don't know. That asylum has not been granted. We don't know if he's going to end up here and whether or not the asylum will be granted.

BOLDUAN: More questions than answers at this point, that's for sure. Adrianna, thank you very much.

CUOMO: A lot of hot talk out of Washington. The U.S. government is furious, releasing a scathing statement overnight, blasting countries that are helping Snowden. CNN's Brianna Keilar is at the White House this morning. Good morning, Brianna. Quite a game of catch-up going on down there, no?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. Stern warning from the White House, from the president's National Security Council, specifically to Hong Kong and China for allowing Snowden to leave. A spokeswoman saying we have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations.

The U.S. acting on all fronts diplomatically at this point. The U.S. has called on Russia to look at all options for expelling Snowden. But Russian media was reported there really wasn't a reason for Russian security to get involved in this specific case. The U.S. also calling on Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba to either not accept Snowden into their countries or to expel him once he's there.

But at this point behind the scenes, administration officials do acknowledge that some of their options are limited. Right now we're seeing them look instead and sort of raise questions about Snowden's motivation here. One senior administration official saying that, if he's someone for internet freedom and for freedom of speech, why is he looking to countries like Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Russia for help when these are not exactly beacons of democracy, Chris. KEILAR: Brianna, thank you very much for the reporting down there. The question now is, what can they do?

BOLDUAN: That's exactly the question. Let's break down the legal implications of this tense situation that's still unfolding with our experts in this field. Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent and the host of CNN International's "AMANPOUR" and Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst joining us from Washington. Good morning to both of you.

Christiane, you're looking at the statements coming out from the justice department. They're clearly making the point this wasn't our fault. Everything they laid out in the extradition request, they said all the requirements were met. Hong Kong never raised any concerns throughout this process, and then look what happened. What do you think happened? Did they get caught flat footed, or did someone drop the ball?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really hard to tell. It's just there are so many legal analysts who are explaining whether you have an extradition treaty or not, whether the law is clear or not on paper, there are a lot of loopholes, a lot of legal loopholes, a lot of ways to wiggle out of this. For instance, analysts and experts in Hong Kong who dealt with all of this who say that Hong Kong officials could have just arrested him if it was deemed he had broken a law in Hong Kong as well, that kind of crime. And most people think, yes, if you divulge secrets in China or Hong Kong, you know, that would be a crime there as well.

CUOMO: Now, Jeffrey Toobin, let's bring you in on this. Christiane is right, of course. There are loopholes involved. They could have pulled the passport right away, the U.S. They did not. They could have put out an Interpol red alert on this for the crime of theft, which would have mandated an arrest. They did not. Legally, smart choices going forward, better ones to make?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: To be honest, I'm not sure. I do think it's worth keeping in mind this is ultimately a political and diplomatic struggle. It is not a legal struggle. The United States and Hong Kong have a very good law enforcement relationship. We extradite people from Hong Kong. We cooperate in drug and financial investigations. What happened here -- and it certainly seems clear -- is that China, in charge of Hong Kong, didn't want Snowden anymore and they let him go. You can pull a passport early, late. If China wants him out of Hong Kong, he was going to get out of hopping Hong Kong.

So I think ultimately this is about American-Chinese diplomatic relations than it is about any particular law enforcement activity. China is in charge of Hong Kong.

BOLDUAN: Christiane, was China trying to show its strength? Is it leads me to wonder why would China want to risk souring relations with the U.S. even further after what was seen as a pretty good meeting between China and the president last month?

AMANPOUR: It was a good meeting. There obviously are tensions with the U.S. pivot to Asia and all sorts of things, both sides accusing each other of cyber hacking, and I'm sure U.S. officials very, very worried about whether China or indeed Russia have been able to get their hands on somehow this information that maybe Snowden has with him somehow.

As Jeffrey says, it's not just politics in China. It's also in Russia, in Cuba, in Ecuador, in Venezuela. These are all countries who actually quite like shoving it to the United States right now particularly. This is something that, as Jeffrey says, very much more political for those countries than it is legal.

CUOMO: When is the last time we've seen the U.S. look this weak where Hong Kong says there are other considerations we've had, we had questions. We didn't get the answers back. So we let him go. You have the press secretary for Putin coming out, Mr. Peskov, saying, well, the U.S. security services were breaking the laws of their country by tapping phone calls and conducting internet surveillance, so they should worry about themselves, essentially what they're saying. When was the last time we've seen this?

AMANPOUR: It really does not look good the fact that the United States can't get this kind of cooperation, but most particularly in Russia, where we believe Mr. Snowden may still be. He hasn't taken off. We don't know where he is, quite frankly, other than he was seen in Moscow.

Russia and the United States have what can only be described as a poisonous relationship, I mean, poisonous. Even at the G-8 last week, you saw the classic picture of President Putin and President Obama sitting there looking so uncomfortable. They have a range of differences on everything from Syria to all sorts of things. And clearly this is one of the things that's come into play right now.

BOLDUAN: Jeff, just a final thought. Is there anything -- you say it's more of a political diplomatic issue than a legal one, but is there anything else the justice department can do at this point other than wait?

TOOBIN: Not much. They really are at the mercy of these governments. It's not a true legal concept, but possession is nine-tenths of the law. If he is in Cuba or Ecuador, it's up to Cuba or Ecuador. Our relationships with those countries, as Christiane has said, are not good. That's why he's picked those countries to go to. Russia, China, Ecuador, Cuba, these are countries where those governments are not looking to do us any favors, and that's more important than any technical legal resolution than could be imagined.

BOLDUAN: We'll end it there. Jeffrey Toobin, always great to get your expertise. Christiane Amanpour, thank you. You can catch Amanpour at 3:00 p.m. eastern. You also can catch it on Thank you very much.

Let's get to the other big story today. We're just hours away from opening statements in the trial of George Zimmerman. He's charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Nartin. And our George Howell is live in Florida with the very latest as we head into a very big day in court. What are we expecting today, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. So it comes down to a jury of people who say they have not yet made up their minds in this case. When you look at the latest CNN/ORC poll, a group like that is hard to find. In the court of public opinion, the majority of Americans believe there is some truth in the charges against George Zimmerman. In this court, though, it will be about the facts. It will be about the evidence, and the ability of these attorneys to make their case.


HOWELL: In the second degree murder trial against George Zimmerman, the first thing the jurors will hear, opening statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All bets are off.

HOWELL: Attorney Don West will open for the defense team. Their goal over the next several weeks will be to convince jurors Zimmerman acted in self-defense the night in February 26, 2012. The defense aims to show Zimmerman as a man who was in a fight for his life the night he admitted to shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state has supplied every report.

HOWELL: John Guy will open for the state. Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman was the aggressor. They'll argue he profiled and continued to pursue Trayvon Martin even after a dispatcher told him not to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don't need to do that.

HOWELL: There's also the question of who was screaming for help on this 911 tape moments before the fatal shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think he's yelling help? Is



HOWELL: Prosecutors may also call on witnesses who claim it was Trayvon Martin screaming for help, but over the weekend, Judge Deborah Nelson denied the testimony of the state's audio experts. CNN legal analyst Mark Nejame called it a setback for prosecutors.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Their audio expert was one of the major cornerstones of their entire case. From the beginning, we've been saying that whoever's voice it was crying for help suggested, in fact showed, that the other person was, in fact, the perpetrator.

HOWELL: The jury was sworn in last week, a panel of all women, five who attorneys say are white, and one is black-Hispanic, their identities kept anonymous in order to protect their privacy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: So court is expected to start at 9:00 a.m. eastern time. Kate, we already know that attorney don west could take some two hours to make his opening statements.

BOLDUAN: We'll listen to every second of it, to be sure. George Howell in Florida, thanks so much.

CUOMO: That was a game changer because now the judge basically said the prosecution could play the tape of the 911 calls, argue it as fact, and put it in the hands of the jury. So that's important.

You know who knows this much better than I do? CNN's Nancy Grace. Great to have you with us here on set in New York. Thank you for joining NEW DAY.

NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Thank you for inviting me.

CUOMO: It's great to have you. I want to talk to you about Zimmerman, but I must indulge. We've known each other a long time. It's great to be on TV with you again. To catch up for a second, how are the boys doing? How is everything going?

GRACE: Number one, correction, objection -- a boy and a girl.

CUOMO: A boy and a girl. See, it's been so long.

GRACE: Lucy Elizabeth Lynch probably would probably not like that very much because she's all about pink and purple right now.

BOLDUAN: Is it Lucy Elizabeth?

GRACE: Lucy, after my grandmother who raised me. And John David.

BOLDUAN: How old are they?

GRACE: Don't make me start crying. They're ready for kindergarten. They're five-and-a-half.

BOLDUAN: Are you serious.

GRACE: Yeah, yeah. They're ready for kindergarten.

CUOMO: Get ready for homework. It happens.


GRACE: Good news is I've heard I can have lunch with them. I'm going to be camped out on the front step. Yes, that's mommy in the lunch room.

CUOMO: It's very hard.

BOLDUAN: I fear for that teacher.

CUOMO: Nancy is CNN's -- tough on people, but it's going to be her kids and they're coming home -- GRACE: I know. They're not coming home. I'm bring them home.

CUOMO: Beautiful.

BOLDUAN: Let's get to some of the news.

CUOMO: What do you think, Nancy? If you're the prosecution and coming into this, you just had this ruling, but this is your big day. This is the chance to set the tone. What do they say?

GRACE: Something very interesting, what we were just talking about, the twins, my children. You've got a jury of six women. It's got to be a capital case for 12 people. They've only got six jurors in this case. They're all women. I don't care what color they are or how much money they make or their education. This is what it's all about. Some of them are mommies, some of them are wives. So both sides are going to be capitalizing on that, focusing on the moms to look at Trayvon as a son, getting the others to look at Zimmerman as a spouse trying to do the right thing.

The state lost a big argument, and frankly I think both sides lost in this, but it was not a surprise. Just like the first time fingerprints were allowed in, or DNA, or fiber comparison off sheets or carpet, you've got to pass a test. There it's called a Frye test. Is the science acceptable like a fingerprint? I remember when I tried cases without DNA, people. It wasn't that long ago. To hear someone screaming on a very brief 911 call, that's not enough for an expert, a VRT, voice recognition technology expert to say, yes, that's Cuomo. Oh, no, no, no.

CUOMO: What do you think their big points will be?

GRACE: I think their big points are going to be, the state's going to argue that Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon. And they've got the 911 call to show it. The 911 people are saying stop following the guy for Pete's sake. You don't have a gun, do you? Don't follow him. What the defense has is, hey, if someone were beating my head into the cement, I'd shoot him too.

So, true, that sounds like self-defense. Zimmerman was afraid for his life, and he shot Trayvon. But you've got the problem that Zimmerman was the original aggressor by following Trayvon, the boy. He is a boy. He's a kid. That's going to be a big factor in this case.

BOLDUAN: We're clearly at the beginning of what could be a pretty long process. Do you think the families should testify, will testify? What impact do you think they'll have?

GRACE: I think they absolutely will be in the courtroom. As to whether they can testify -- now, even though they're not allowing these experts in about his screaming in the 911 call, there's no way a judge can suppress a mom getting on saying, oh, that's my son. Oh, that's Trayvon. Or a wife saying, that's my husband. That's him screaming. I recognize his voice. In that capacity, they may very well testify. But they can't get on and talk about their pain, or their loss, or their suffering at this stage. CUOMO: We're going to have more Nancy Grace in our next hour. I'll leave you with this suggestion for our next conversation. I think the family does testify. I think Zimmerman does not, and I'll discuss why in the next hour. All of you, you can watch Nancy Grace live on HLN week nights at 8:00 p.m. eastern, of course.

BOLDUAN: Of course, of course. Nancy, thank you.

It's a busy news morning if you can't tell. Let's get straight to Michaela with the other big stories developing this hour. Hey Michaela.

PERIERA: Hey, Kate. Thanks so much.

Making news, anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela fighting for his life. South Africans praying for him as the situation takes a turn for the worse. Robyn Curnow is joining us now with the latest developments from Pretoria. Please tell us how he's doing.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This much we know. He has got steadily worse over the 18 days he's been in this hospital behind me. So much so, that the government coming out the last 12 to 24 hours saying he is in a critical condition. No real details, though, on what his condition is in terms of the medical issues. We know he has a lung infection, essentially pneumonia, beyond that, not very much.

I spoke to his daughter over the weekend who said that he is comfortable, that she thinks that he is at peace with himself. Also, just remember this is Nelson Mandela. He still has a very strong fighting spirit. When I put it to her, is this the end? Is this his final battle? She said, she doesn't know. Only God knows. She says if it is, Nelson Mandela himself will bow out in the way he chooses. A lot of anxiety here in South Africa, a lot of sadness as people wait for more details, more information on Nelson Mandela's health.

PERIERA: The eyes of the world certainly watching. Robyn Curnow in Pretoria, thank you.

The time for excuses is over. That's President Obama's message as he pushes immigration reform. This afternoon he'll meet with CEOs and business owners who have been affected by current immigration laws as he makes a last-minute pitch before today's pivotal Senate vote. Even if it passes the Senate, the bill will have a hard time getting through the Republican controlled House.

One hundred-eight square miles burning out of control. That's how big and wild the West Fork fire in southwest Colorado is this morning. Thankfully, no homes have been destroyed, but small towns in the area have been evacuated. Firefighters having trouble knocking down the stubborn fire because it is hot and dry there weather-wise, and there's some gusty winds in the area. However, there's better news in Arizona. Officials say they have a wildfire north of Phoenix, 100 percent contained. They hope to have that done by Wednesday. All of the evacuees are being told they can go home. Protests in Brazil expected to flare up again today. Protester turnout significantly lower over the weekend, compared to the estimated 1 million who showed up Thursday. Demonstrations began more than a week ago against increased transportation fares, but they quickly morphed into anger over corruption, poor public services, and the cost of staging major sporting events.

Did you see it? We're talking super moon. No ordinary moon on Saturday. That was a super moon. Happens -- let me give you a little technical speak here. It happens when a full moon reaches its closest point to Earth. So it looks even bigger and brighter, maybe even a little shinier. If you missed it, you have to wait until august of 2014 for the next super moon. I was in Los Angeles over the weekend.


PERIERA: Wasn't so super.


BOLDUAN: Wasn't to super in L.A.?

PERIERA: I saw it and thought that was a moon.

BOLDUAN: You look at the CNN I-reports. Fantastic.


CUOMO: That gravitational pull supposed to be fantastic for fishing. You know what happened when I went out fishing?


CUOMO: Nothing.

Not a, not a gosh darn thing. I blame it on the moon.


CUOMO: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a Patriots player under the microscope in a murder investigation. Why police were back at the home of NFL star Aaron Hernandez.

BOLDUAN: Plus more bad news for ca cooking queen Paula Deen. The business deal she may lose next. Coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Police are staying tight-lipped about a homicide investigation that brought them back this weekend to the home of a New England Patriots player. Tight end Aaron Hernandez is not being called a suspect in the case, but he has been under intense scrutiny for the past week. CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Massachusetts with the latest, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. No police activity or anything else going on Outside Aaron Hernandez's house at this hour, after investigators searched his house and car over the weekend. For seven straight days, the public has been waiting to see what will happen next. The football player may be wondering the very same thing.


CANDIOTTI: Except for a quick backyard appearance Saturday night, an embattled, yet smiling, Aaron Hernandez is keeping a very low profile. On Sunday his SUV parked in the driveway eventually was moved into his garage. Others making food runs for him. On Saturday the same SUV got a once-over from investigators, executing their second search in a week. While police aren't calling the popular tight end a suspect in the shooting death of his friend, semi-pro player Oden Lloyd, Hernandez is under a microscope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron, do you have anything to say?

CANDIOTTI: Authorities sweeping through his house, taking away at least a dozen evidence bags. At one point, calling in a locksmith and bringing in police dogs.

During the search, Hernandez is spotted peeking out his front door window to get a look at the action. The pressure is on. As part of the murder investigation, police also seizing surveillance videos from a strip club in nearby Providence, Rhode Island.

Back at the murder scene less than a mile from the football player's home, the public's kept at a distance. The shooting victim's family is following every development.

What do you make of the police being out to Mr. Hernandez's house a second time to search?

SHIRLEY PHILIP, VICTIM'S COUSIN'S WIFE: Whatever it is they took out, I hope it's going to help us, and heal us, and put a closure to this. He was just left there in that field like he was a piece of trash. Trash, not even a human. That was my nephew. That was my nephew. So it took his life for what? I'm trying to understand. I just want to understand.


CANDIOTTI: Does Aaron Hernandez have any answers? When all this started last week, his lawyer issued a statement saying they would have no comment until this process is over. The public is also wondering whether an arrest warrant may be in his client's future. Kate and Chris?

BOLDUAN: That process continues. Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.

CUOMO: This morning for fallout for celebrity chef Paula Deen. She could be in danger of losing her QVC deal after using the N-word. The Food Network chose not to renew Deen's contract last week, but now her fans have taken up her cause online. CNN's Pamela Brown joins now with that. Good morning, Pamela. PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris, Kate and Michaela.

Paula Deen has endured bad publicity before but never with so much fallout. Now she's facing harsh criticism since admitting last week that she's used racial slurs in the past. The Food Network quickly announced they would not be renewing her contract, but now her supporters are dishing out plenty of criticism of that decision, while others are applauding the food network.


PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I want to apologize to everybody.

BROWN: Paula Deen's fans are standing by the butter-loving chef and threatening to boycott The Food Network for sticking a fork in her shows.

DEEN: I'm going to wrap it in bacon, and we're going to deep fry it.

BROWN: At her Savannah restaurant, the line was around the block this weekend as patrons showed support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has apologized. I think we'll all take it for what it's worth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a learning lesson for her and it's a learning lesson for people that do forgive. I will forgive her.

BROWN: Deen stirred up controversy for comments she made while being questioned under oath as part of a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit against her and her brother filed by a former employee.

DEEN: Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made.

BROWN: Friday she issued back to back video apologies online after readily admitting to using the N-word in the past.

DEEN: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. I am here to say, I am so sorry.

BROWN: Deen is also accused in the lawsuit of wanting to plan a southern plantation-themed party with black waiters. Just last year, Deen spoke at a "New York Times" event about race relations in the south, and her views on slavery.