Return to Transcripts main page


Snowden at Moscow Airport; Crowds Honor Nelson Mandela; Supreme Court Limits Voting Rights Act; Zimmerman Trial Battles Over 911 Calls; Four Years Later: Remembering Michael Jackson

Aired June 25, 2013 - 12:00   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: President Putin says that Edward Snowden is in Russia. A look at Snowden's trail coming up -- his trail, rather, coming up next.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And then doves released outside the hospital where Nelson Mandela is in critical condition. How his supporters are standing by his side. We've got the latest from Pretoria also coming up.

MALVEAUX: Welcome. This is AROUND THE WORLD on CNN. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

MALVEAUX: Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, is in the Moscow airport. Putin says that Snowden is a free man and the sooner he figures out where he's going the better.

HOLMES: Yes, it's all positive news to a lot of people, actually. Putin saying Snowden's arrival in his country was, quote, "completely unexpected." The fact that Snowden is in, it appears, the transit area of the airport means he's kind of in a no man's land. Technically not in Russia as long as he stays there.

MALVEAUX: Earlier today Senator John McCain told our "New Day" show that it is time to get real about Putin and Russia.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, but it is well known that he's in Russia and it's reminiscent of the days of the Cold War when you hear a Russian spokesman saying that he's not in Russia when every shred of evidence indicates that he is.


HOLMES: And we're also learning new details about Edward Snowden's strategy to leak classified information from the man himself.

MALVEAUX: In an interview with the "South China Morning Post," Snowden said that he took the job as the government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton specifically because it allowed him to collect information about the NSA's secret surveillance programs. Well, Snowden gave that interview, this was two weeks ago.

HOLMES: He did.

Let's get the latest now on Snowden's rather bizarre efforts to avoid prosecution from our own John Defterios. He's standing by in Moscow. Jill Dougherty is at the State Department.

Jill, why don't we start with you. What do we know about Snowden and the U.S. situation? They're attitude toward what's happening out of Russia?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I have to really put on your lawyers cap for this one because I've been reading very carefully what President Putin is saying. He's saying, look, we were surprised, just like you are. He's not really technically in Russia right now. And so what we'd like him to do is make up his mind, where does he want to go?

Now, the United States would say, you should expel him. Please expel him. Expel him back to the United States. But what President Putin is saying is that Russia can expel people and it can also extradite people but only if it has an agreement with a country. And it does not have any agreement on expelling, he says, with the United States, or extraditing anyone. Therefore, his hands are tied.

So, in a sense you can say he's kind of splitting the baby. He's saying, well, you know, I want to do the right thing. This is what the law says. We can't do anything. And the real point I think will be, will Snowden get on a plane and go somewhere and the Russians will not stop him, because that is what it's looking like. That legally they're going to say, we can't really stop him.

And that's not going to make the United States very happy. But Putin, in the same breath, is saying, I don't want any of this to distort (ph) relations with the United States. And a U.S. official, senior U.S. official that we spoke to said, this is potentially positive. So it's complex --


DOUGHERTY: But the bottom line will be, will Snowden get on a plane and go to where we think, which is supposed to be Ecuador, maybe via Cuba.

MALVEAUX: OK. And, John, I want to bring you into a conversation because you are at the airport. So, first of all, have you seen any signs of Snowden there? And what is it like at this kind of no man's land where he supposedly is at the airport?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're almost in the same conditions. We came in on a visa but we haven't exited the transit area because we're trying to track down Snowden, Suzanne.

And we've learned a lot here in the last 13 hours that we've been on the ground. Number one, Snowden has not gotten on this air (ph) flight 150 bound for Havana. We took shots of the plane and looked at the passengers loading and then waited to see the plane taxi to the runway. There was no white van like yesterday suggesting that maybe Snowden would be loaded on somewhere else.

There's only one transit hotel here in the (INAUDIBLE) airport here in Moscow. We've go into the transit hotel, in fact checked in, and those in the management suggested that Snowden has not been at the hotel, nor has anybody else that's worked with him.

What has happened in the last hour, which I think is interesting, is that President Putin has come forward and suggested they have no relations with Snowden and that the security services are not working with him add well. Before that Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, was quite strong in his comments against Washington, suggesting, Suzanne, that the finger pointing from Washington's not helping the situation. So perhaps Moscow's trying to buy some time here to get the asylum worked out. Perhaps they're looking at some of the documents that Snowden has as well, although at this juncture President Putin suggesting that the security services are not working with Snowden whatsoever.

MALVEAUX: All right, John, thank you very much. John reporting from that very airport where Snowden is. And Jill Dougherty, of course, at the State Department.

Well, tonight, at 6:00 p.m. on "The Situation Room," Wolf Blitzer's going to take an in-depth look at Snowden's trail.

HOLMES: All right, moving on now, Nelson Mandela, he remains in critical condition in a South African hospital. Crowds have been gathering there. In fact, the crowds have been increasing in recent hours. And earlier today white doves released in his honor.

MALVEAUX: Robyn Curnow joins us from Pretoria, South Africa.

Tell us what we know so far in terms of his condition and what is the anticipation?


Well, all we're getting at the moment is an update coming from authorities just a few hours ago, which essentially said his condition is unchanged. That's, of course, not good news because he's in a critical condition. Many people hoping that he had improved. Clearly he hasn't.

With that news, throughout the afternoon you've been seeing a lot more activity outside this hospital. You can hear the people, see the people singing, dancing behind me. Ordinary South Africans, people who live around this neighborhood, coming here, paying their respects in song. The songs have been coming over the last few hours. They're singing a hymn now. Earlier on they were chanting a song about Nelson Mandela and just singing out his name, "Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela" over and over again.

Also, crucially, there's been an increased police presence outside this hospital. Both the entrances to the street at the entrance of this hospital are being closed off, blocked off, barricaded. So there really is a shift in atmosphere. We haven't seen this in the last three weeks he's been in this hospital.

HOLMES: All right, Robyn, thanks so much. Robyn Curnow there on the spot following developments there. And there does seem to be increasing crowds. Interesting to the president is going there later in the week and he was unofficially, Robyn had reported earlier, was going to visit Nelson Mandela if he was taking visitors. That's now said to be off.

MALVEAUX: That's canceled now. Our prayers are with their family.

The Supreme Court, just a short time ago, struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. Now this part determines which states must actually get federal permission before they change their voting laws. It's been almost 50 years now. It's been mostly southern states that were subject to this special scrutiny that they had.

HOLMES: Yes, and what's happened is the Supreme Court has left it up to Congress now to revise that part of the law. Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin, whose standing by on those steps of the Supreme Court. No you're not, you're in Washington. I can see that.

Jeff, the Supreme Court ruling leaves --


HOLMES: You're close. You're close. You're not far. It's all uncertain now. What does this mean to those who thought that -- were hoping for a different decision?

TOOBIN: Well, this is really the end of a major era in American history because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the one law that gave African-Americans the right to vote. It is true they technically had the right since the Civil War in the 19th century, but it was only because of the Voting Rights Act that African-Americans actually got to vote, especially in the south.

The main tool in the Voting Rights Act was this Section 5, which said that the southern states, these nine states, any time they wanted to do anything with their voting rules, change the district laws, any sort of changes, they had to get Washington's approval first. The Justice Department's approval first.

What the Supreme Court said today is that the formula to determine which states are covered by the part of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. It's obsolete. It's too old. And said if Congress wants to add a new formula they can. But in the real world of 2013, the Republican House of Representatives is extremely unlikely to bring this part of the law to life. So I think what it really means is there will no longer be this kind of supervision of the south by Washington and that may change how laws are enforced.

MALVEAUX: And, Jeff, obviously the Voting Rights Act helped dismantle decades of discrimination when it came to voting procedures in the south when it was passed. It really was the corner stone, if you will, of the civil rights movement. So, I mean, what happens next if you don't have this kind of oversight?

TOOBIN: Well, that's the -- that's the great question. The theme of Chief Justice Roberts opinion, it was a 5-4 decision, is that times have changed. The south is no longer the cesspool of discrimination that it was for so long that African-Americans are not discrimination against in the way that they used to be. A lot of civil rights groups are coming out and saying, we don't believe that's the case. We think Section 5, which is the supervision provision, is still needed. We think these states are going to start to turn back the clock.

Now, it is still true that voting discrimination is illegal, but there is no longer this constant supervision that there was for so many years. And we'll see whether the absence of that constant supervision leads to backtracks. That's going to be the great question now.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jeff, thank you so much.

And we're just getting this reaction from the president.


MALVEAUX: President Obama. A statement released. In part it reads, "I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision today. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today's decision invalidated one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places whether voting discrimination has been historically prevalent."

HOLMES: All right, coming up, day one began with a four letter word or two and a knock-knock joke. So what will day two of the George Zimmerman trial bring? We're going to take you love to the Florida courthouse for an update.

MALVEAUX: Then, it's been four years since Michael Jackson died. And today his son takes the stand in the wrongful death trial. We're going to take a look at that trial, as well as Michael Jackson's impact around the world.


MALVEAUX: Testimony resumed. It was just a short time ago. This is George Zimmerman's murder trial. Now, the proceedings, they started this morning with a battle over the 911 calls. Now this call at issue here was made by Zimmerman in the months before he shot and killed 17- year-old Trayvon Martin.

HOLMES: Our George Howell is outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida.

George, prosecutors want the 911 tapes played. The defense says, no. What are the arguments?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, well, Michael, it comes down to this: prosecutors want these tapes in because they say that it shows the intent, the mind of George Zimmerman.

The defense attorneys though, they have concerns about admitting these tapes. They believe that prosecutors are basically trying to show a pattern, been trying to show that there has been growing frustration within George Zimmerman, frustration that eventually led up to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

I want you to hear one of these tapes. Keep in mind there are several that we've heard. Listen to one of these clips for yourself.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, FORMER NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH OFFICER: I was just calling because we've had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood recently and I'm on the neighborhood watch. And there's two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I've never seen them before. I have no idea what they are doing. They're just hanging out, loitering.

911 DISPATCHER: Mr. Zimmerman, can you describe the two individuals?

ZIMMERMAN: Two African-American males.


HOWELL: So, Suzanne, Michael, when you heard the dispatcher ask, can you describe the individual, each time -- and when you listen to these clips, Zimmerman uses either black or African-American interchangeably. Defense attorneys say, look, when you listen to these clips, you're listening to the audio of a good Samaritan, doing what a person should do in the neighborhood, reporting suspicious activity.

Their concern is, first of all, helping the prosecution's argument that they are trying to build some sort of an intent, but also that it might confuse the jury because right now there are very few audio clips in play. If you bring these others in play, there's concern that it would just cause confusion.

MALVEAUX: And George, what was it like in the courtroom today? What was the mood?

HOWELL: Well, we're starting to hear from witnesses. Once we got past the first hearing about these audiotapes, we heard from two witnesses, Wendy Dorval. She is a volunteer who worked with the Sanford Police Department to teach neighborhood watch programs and also Donald O'Bryan. Donald O'Bryan was president of the homeowners' association in the neighborhood.

And you're seeing prosecutors and defense attorneys question both of these witnesses about the neighborhood watch program, questioning about the tactics.

Could people walk up and pursue? Or was it a matter of staying back and reporting what they saw? Right now we are in recess in the courtroom, but we should be back here within the hour. And we expect the testimony with these two witnesses to -- rather, the one witness, with Donald O'Bryan, to continue.

MALVEAUX: All right. And George, we'll be getting back to you of course with more reporting on that out of Sanford, Florida.

For continuous coverage of Zimmerman's second degree murder trial, stay with us. We're all over it, including HLN.

HOLMES: Exactly. And as well.

It's four years ago today that the world was shocked -- is it four years? My goodness.

MALVEAUX: Can you believe that?

HOLMES: Michael Jackson died. Coming back, we're going to have a look at his life and the impact of his music on the world.




HOLMES: Wow, what a body of work.

MALVEAUX: We used to dance to that all the time, do the whole routine and everything.

Four years ago today, just losing one of the greatest there, superstars around the world, Michael Jackson had died at his home in Los Angeles.

HOLMES: His oldest son, Prince, by the way, getting ready to testify now at the wrongful death trial of Jackson's concert promoter, AEG Live. He's expected to tell the jury about the last day of his father's life.

MALVEAUX: Our CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner joins us from New York.

You know, Nischelle, I think we all remember where we were when we found out, when we heard that Michael Jackson had died. I was in New York. And, I mean, it's just four years. It's unbelievable that it's been that long.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I was in my living room in Los Angeles. I remember exactly the moment I heard it. I got a phone calling saying, is this true? And I said, you know, I'm not sure. I made a couple of phone calls and indeed it was true, Suzanne.

And you're right. It's been four years; seems like it was just yesterday. But by a lot of people's accounts -- you were playing some of that Michael Jackson video there, watching him through the years. He's one of, if not the greatest, entertainers of all time, you know, but if he had even just been a member of the Jackson Five, he would still be a very important figure.

And you can sometimes forget just how big they were as a group on their own. They were the first pop group to ever have their first four singles go straight to number one. And then, of course, you have Michael's solo career. He won 13 Grammys. He sold more than -- listen to this -- 750 million records. That is amazing.

And, of course, that included "Thriller," more than 30 years later. That's still the best selling record of all time, 7 of the 9 tracks on that album, top 10 hits. You don't hear that anymore in the music industry.

And that album also changed the face of music. It didn't matter if you were a rock fan, a punk fan, you pretty much owned a copy of "Thriller" if you liked any sort of music. And you know, also I don't know if you guys remember this, but Michael Jackson became the first African-American added to what was then an all-rock line up on MTV. And that was because of the popularity of "Thriller." Yes, exactly.

And his estate now has actually benefited, which is a little odd, from his passing because now it's estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars and it's the most profitable estate of any deceased celebrity.

HOLMES: And he's got plenty of back catalogs and all of that as well that still make money.

Tell us, we're expected to hear from Prince Jackson. What are we likely to hear?

TURNER: Well, that's a good question, Michael. Prince is now 16. He was 12 years old when his father died. He actually followed the ambulance carrying his father to UCLA Medical Center on that day four years ago today. So he is expected to take the stand probably tomorrow. It will be four years and a day after his death.

What we're expecting to hear is him talk about more -- talk more about how his family dealt with Michael's sudden death. We heard a little bit of his deposition already, where he talked about his father's health leading up to his death. And I would expect actually when takes the stand physically for both sides to ask him a lot of questions about that.

He is going to be one of the only Jackson children to actually physically testify in the courtroom. We did see that videotaped statement from Paris, but she is not going to physically testify.

And if you're wondering, because he's still only 16 years old, if you're wondering why he's taking the stand, it's because he is one of plaintiffs in this case. So the attorneys can call him as a witness, because he does have a vested interest.

HOLMES: Yes, Nischelle, thanks so much, keeping an eye on that. Nischelle Turner, appreciate it.

MALVEAUX: I still have albums.

HOLMES: Oh, I do, too.

MALVEAUX: I have Jackson Five albums, one of my very first.

HOLMES: But it's like you said, when you see him from that child through to the grown man, hit after hit after hit after hit. It is, it's a huge legacy.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Were you one of people that did the dance routines and memorized them?

HOLMES: Not in public.



All right. (Inaudible).

Now Putin says Edward Snowden is in Russia. What that means for U.S. and Russian relations, up next.

HOLMES: Yes, also Pope Francis a no-show at a concert where he's supposed to be the guest of honor.

Is it part of his plan to shake things up? We shall discuss.