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Two Cops Shot In Apparent Ambush; Zimmerman Trial Resuming; Paula Deen's Sons Defend Her; Snowden Hides, Nations Bristle; Supreme Court Limits Voting Rights Act

Aired June 25, 2013 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, right now, George Zimmerman's trial is starting up again. People would say they saw the confrontation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin may take the stand.

Also Edward Snowden still on the run from the U.S. government, how is a high school dropout outsmarting, oh, just about everyone? This is CNN NEWSROOM now.

We are following breaking news out of Los Angeles where two detectives, two police officers have been shot in what officials say was an ambush. An LAPD commander said the detectives were returning from their morning shift and trying to open the gate at their station when someone shot at them from behind.

Three possible suspects have been detained while police actively continue their search for others. The officers who managed to return five have now been released from the hospital after suffering minor injuries. When we get more information on this story, we'll take you live to Los Angeles.

Now we turn to the state of Florida versus George Zimmerman as that trial begins its second day. It follows a dramatic set of opening statements where prosecutors used profanity while the defense told a knock-knock joke that was met with stunned silence from the jury. CNN's George Howell is in Sanford, Florida. George, what is on tap for today?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, right now, we are in a brief recess. The debate right now is over 911 calls that George Zimmerman made before this alleged crime and we heard a few of those calls. He made several of them. I want you to listen to one right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, our neighborhood got burglarized or robbed today and my wife saw one of the kids that did it. And we see someone that matches his description in the neighborhood right now again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and what's your address out there?

ZIMMERMAN: I'd rather not give out my address because he's obviously in the neighborhood, but it's retreat view circle. You can use 1111, which is the clubhouse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The defense basically wants to stop these calls from being admitted into the trial because they're concerned that prosecutors want to use them to show a pattern, to show that frustration was building and the result of that frustration ended in the death of Trayvon Martin on February 26th, 2012.

But again when you the defense's side of this they say that these calls were the calls of a good Samaritan, you know, calling to report what he saw as suspicious activity, Carol, when you hear him make these calls, when he's asked about description, he either says black or African-American. He says that he has been called in before.

He admits that in a couple of these calls. In many cases, he gives his first name and will only give a second name, Zimmerman, if asked. And he always sends police to the same address. So it seems like he has called several times before and has a pattern, has a plan of calling when he does so.

COSTELLO: All right, George Howell reporting live from Sanford, Florida, this morning.

More news about Paula Deen and the big controversy surrounding her use of the "n" word, Paula Deen's sons are now coming to their mother's defense. Bobby and Jamie Deen gave an exclusive interview to CNN's "NEW DAY" this morning about the fallout over their mother's admission that she used that word in the past.

The interview comes just a day after news that the southern cooking queen has lost yet another major endorsement deal, this time with Smithfield Foods. Chris Cuomo interviewed the brothers. He joins me now to tell us about it. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Good, Carol. How are you? I mean, this is a layered situation, right? Because most of it grows out of a lawsuit, a deposition which is where you sit down with your counsel and opposing counsel and they start to ask you questions under oath.

During that time, Paula Deen told the truth, which is that she did use the "n" word in the past and there was also in this lawsuit reference to a party that she said she wanted to have where the waiters would be dressed in a specifically offensive way.

So there's several different things that now she's been forced to answer for, so are her sons. Not that they're being painted with the same brush, but of course, they want to defend their mother. So take a look and a listen to a little bit of our interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Here it is. Let's deal with this head on, OK? What do you say to people who believe that your mother is a racist? BOBBY DEEN, PAULA DEEN'S SON: That's simply not true. Our mother was under oath asked in a deposition if she -- to pore over her entire life and to admit whether she had ever heard or used this word. And it broke her heart to have to answer truthfully and say yes, she had. But the important thing here is for people to know that that is not her heart, it is certainly not the home that we were raised in.

We were raised in a family with love and of faith and a house where God lived. And neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted towards any other person for any reason. And this is so saddening to me because our motion is one of the most compassionate, good hearted, empathetic people that you'd ever meet.

These accusations are very hurtful to her and it's very sad. Frankly, I'm disgusted by the entire thing because it -- it began as extortion and it has become character assassination. Our mother is not the picture being painted of her.

JAIME DEEN, PAULA DEEN'S SON: Let me tell you a story, Chris, when I was a young man in 1975 before I had my tonsils taken out, Henry Aaron was my first sports hero growing up. In 1974, he broke Babe Ruth's home run record by hitting 715 home runs. Before I had my tonsils taken out, I was obviously -- I was 7 years old. I was very nervous.

My parents gave me Hank Aaron pajamas. When they gave me these pajamas, my mom and dad told me the story of the challenges that the Aaron faced in his pursuit of this record. They told me that he was a man of character and the challenges that he overcame because of his color was unacceptable.

This is a lesson that my mom and dad taught me when I was 7 years old and it's a lesson that I've carried throughout my life of inclusion and to treat everyone fairly and by their character and by their own merit. Under no circumstances should you ever judge anybody for any other reason.

CUOMO: Jamie, in the deposition, your mother says that she taught you that there can be acceptable uses of the "n" word, not to use it in a mean way, but you can use it sometimes. Is that true?

JAIME DEEN: That's completely false. I've never heard that before in my life. The first time I'd ever heard that was just now, Chris. My mother would never teach Bobby and I anything other -- we're obviously a product of our environment. We care very much about our community. I'm raising two boys right now. This is ridiculous.

It's completely absurd to think that there's an environment of racism in our business and it's really disrespectful to the people that we work with. We have strong, educated men and women of character that have been with us for five, 10, 15, 20 years. To think that they would allow themselves to be in this position is simply baloney. It's just ridiculous.

CUOMO: So Bobby, what do you think your mother meant when she said that in the deposition? BOBBY DEEN: I have no idea, Chris. I have never -- she has never said those words to me. My mother has never taught to me that it was acceptable to say terrible things or use vile language against other people to use words as a weapon. I've never heard that. So I have no idea.

CUOMO: But you know where I'm getting it from. I'm giving you guys a chance to deal with what is in this lawsuit essentially in the deposition that came out of it. I mean, one of the reasons this has become so difficult for your mom is these are her own words. These are her own admissions that she's making here that yes, she used the "n" word inappropriately, yes, this story about the wedding and how people should be dressed there that is slave reminiscent, these are her words. Doesn't it make it more difficult to apologize and back away from?

BOBBY DEEN: Well, let me say this. These depositions were all given separately. Mine was separate from my mother's and separate from my brother's. We were not sitting in on each other's depositions. I did not hear my mother give this deposition and I don't know exactly what she may have meant.

JAIME DEEN: These are her words and not for Bobby and I, but I can tell you we do not have lies in us. The number one thing that we cannot stand is someone that is deceitful. That's why when people ask us the truth, we tell the truth. You know, regardless of the outcome. Truth is big in our family and --

BOBBY DEEN: I can tell you this. That word, that horrifying, terrible word that exists and I abhorred it come from any person is not in my vocabulary. It's definitely not in my brother's vocabulary. It's not in my mother's vocabulary. We were not raised in a home that that was used. That's not who we are. That's not the home that we were raised in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: So there you have it, Carol, a very difficult situation for the boys to be in. I know them both. I've worked with them when I was at ABC. They have good reputations for themselves, but this is their mother and they're going to come out for her. And what makes this situation very difficult, is it's not one situation that's been exposed. These are Paula Deen's own words, her own admissions. It makes it more complex.

COSTELLO: And I guess the next step, Paula Deen herself is going to come out tomorrow morning and talk about these allegations and I guess it all depends on what she says and how she explains these remarks.

CUOMO: Yes, I guess. That's the PR angle, right, and what this means for her reputation. Is she able to carry forward with business, but, you know, when you cover these stories, we get caught up in that because that's the immediate dynamic. But you know, I really do wish there would be something else in these situations. The ugliness is obvious. We know the word is unacceptable. We're trying to teach our kids, trying to strip it out of us as a culture, but it's hard. You have to try to find a way in these moments to do something positive with it. Not that there's any good in what was said and what was felt, but that in how you move forward to it, what you teach, you know, what we often call teachable moments.

That's what I hope happens here because at the end of the day, the only way to report it is on the facts involved in the context. But what we really need here, Carol, is for Paula Deen if she wants to say she's sorry to demonstrate that in an emotional way that shows attachment to these themes that came up with what she said and did.

And then for the rest of us to also have that echo of what really matters and what we want to stay away from, what behaviors we want to reinforce. So I hope it gets to that, this story, I hope it's not just about endorsements and what the public feels about her levels of genuineness in an apology.

COSTELLO: I think it's moving on that now. Chris Cuomo, thanks so much.

Also new this morning, the U.S. blustered, other nations' bristle and Edward Snowden remains very much visible. The man who exposed a secret U.S. surveillance program is still in hiding a full two days after leaving Hongkong. The U.S. believes he's hunkered down in a transit area of the Moscow airport. That leaves him in diplomatic limbo and without any deadline to come forward. The U.S. says Snowden's betrayal should not be taken lightly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: People may die as a consequence of what this man did. It is possible the United States will be attacked because terrorists may now know how to protect themselves in some way or another that they didn't know before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Joining me on the phone is Phil Mudd, a former CIA deputy director and is now a research fellow at the New America Foundation. Good morning, Phil.

PHIL MUDD, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION (via telephone): Good morning from Washington. How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Thanks for being with us. Your specialty is counterterrorism. Do you believe Snowden is in the Moscow airport?

MUDD: I'm not certain. My guess is he is and that the Russians like the Hongkong government before him are trying to figure out what to do. They don't want to help the Americans necessarily, but they also don't want to keep this guy around forever. I have a feeling a bunch of guys are seeing around scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do.

COSTELLO: If Snowden is in the Moscow airport, would it be reasonable to believe that maybe the KGB is there talking to him?

MUDD: I think there's a strong likelihood that two things have happen. You used the word talking. I don't think he's being interrogated, but I have a hard time believing that nobody has actually asked him if he has anything to say. The second is, of course, the exploitation of digital media. That is things like thumb drive, cell phones, laptops, I have to believe that somebody has looked into whatever he's carrying and downloaded whatever he has.

COSTELLO: And you're talking about these four laptops he supposedly has with them. I mean, if he's holed up in this airport, might Russian authorities look at that laptop? Is that what you're saying?

MUDD: Absolutely. I wouldn't look at it. If I were in their shoes, I'm just copy the whole thing, download whatever is on it. It wouldn't be that hard.

COSTELLO: OK, so why -- what can the United States do if indeed Snowden is in that airport? I mean, what can it do?

MUDD: Boy, the dirty secret here is there's not much to be done. He's violated a federal law and the Department of Justice and diplomatic officials will say, look, you have to hand him over. But in truth, this is not Hollywood. You're not going to swoop down with black hawk helicopters. Whether it's Ecuador or whether its Russia and pick this guy up. You go and knock on the door and say, you've got to give over somebody who has violated our laws. But at the end of the day, there's not much leverage you have to pull here.

COSTELLO: OK, Phil, as a former CIA deputy director, Edward Snowden, is he making a mockery out of governments all over the world? Is he embarrassing the United States?

MUDD: I don't think he is. I've seen the debates on this on TV. I have to tell you, I disagree with him. If you've got hundreds or thousands or millions of people with security clearances, in your measure did any one of them ever take a thumb drive out or information out in his head and give it to a foreign government or expose it to the media, if your bar is nobody would ever do that, I would say that's absurd in an open society.

It's going to happen in a country that has so many people with security clearances . I think he's embarrassing himself. He started with an interesting proposition. What is freedom and openness in the 21st Century? Now he's make a mockery of himself by traveling around to dictatorships and talking about not just what's happening to American but looking at the Chinese government and how we attack their systems.

COSTELLO: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

MUDD: My pleasure. Thank you.

COSTELLO: All right, this just into us, the U.S. Supreme Court just handed down a ruling on voting rights. At issue, certain provisions from the Landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. It's a complicated case and one of the most significant civil rights laws in our country's history. Jake tapper and Jeff Toobin are at the court. We'll get right to them when we have all the details on that ruling. So stay with NEWSROOM and CNN. >

Also coming up in the NEWSROOM, no more guessing about how many calories are in your Starbucks mocha cappuccino. The company is now putting it on all display for you to see. Will it really change what you eat, what you drink? We'll talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a voting rights case. It's a historical case. Let's head right to Washington and check in with Jake Tapper.

JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE LEAD": Thanks, Carol. That's right. The ruling has been expected for some time in this very -- in this week where the justices are going to be issuing rulings on a whole number of controversial subjects. This has to do with a key provision of the voting rights act.

The voting rights act which was passed into law in 1965 requiring that some states and counties be supervised by the federal government because of histories of discrimination in voting in those states and counties. Let's go now to my colleague, Jeff Toobin who is here to talk about what exactly was struck down in this important piece of legislation.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The voting rights act of 1965 said that nine states and a handful of counties outside the south have to be supervised, as you said. And there was a formula in there based on voting patterns in the 1960s. What the Supreme Court said today by a vote of 5-4 is that times have changed. Times have changed so much that that formula is invalid.

And we, the United States, cannot use that formula any more to determine which states discriminate, so that part of the law is invalid. What that means in practice is that the other part of the law, Section Five, which says those states have to be in supervision that is dormant. That doesn't matter anymore until and unless Congress goes back and comes one a modern formula.

So Section 4 and Section 5 are out for now. But now it's up to Congress and the president to determine if there are going to be any parts of the country any more that are still under this kind of supervision, which is known in the legal jargon as preclearance.

TAPPER: I want to bring in my colleagues, Wolf Blitzer, John King and Gloria Borger who are at CNN Washington, D.C. headquarters. Wolf, a lot of people expected that the Supreme Court would strike down Section Five. That is not actually the section that was struck down by this ruling.

Section Four, which lists the states and counties that until today had to submit their voting processes to the federal government for approval. That is what struck down. It's conceivable that Congress would come up with a new list of states and counties, although I don't think that's very likely -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Yes, politically, I think it's unlikely, that given the current make up of the House of Representatives, for example, it's very unlikely they would go ahead and reinstate some of these provisions from the 1965 voting rights act that were struck down today. But let's get the opinions of Gloria and John who are here. Gloria, what do you think politically the fallout from this major U.S. Supreme Court decision?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that you can expect Democrats to, of course, read the decision and then push for some kind of reauthorization, depending on what the court's opinion says. And I also think it's obvious that this becomes a political question again.

Because if you believe that the laws are outdated and (inaudible) as clearly the Supreme Court did that's one thing. But Democrats are going to say, you know what? In these nine states, they still need the supervision and otherwise you're going to see things like voter I.D. laws and those kinds of things that we don't want passed. So I think this puts it right back in the political arena and it could in the south, for example, become a real issue in the midterm elections.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you will sigh now this political divide not only playing out in Washington, but it's a very important point. For the most part, elections are up to a state. The constitution says the state runs its elections. These states are put early federal guidance because of past discrimination.

Now the court is saying, the test you had in place is outdated. It goes back to 1965. So much has changed. Our culture has changed. Our society has changed. Other discrimination laws have changed. Hopefully these states have made substantial progress.

So if you're going to do this, you have to rewrite the test, if you will. If you look at the politics of the moment, the president and his Justice Department made a very strong case to the Supreme Court that they wanted to keep this law in place. If you look at the states that are affected, most of them have Republican governors. So this is a debate that's going to play out.

BORGER: And not only in voter I.D. laws but also in redistricting such as the Texas redistricting plan. We're going to see how states handle this in terms of how they draw their congressional districts. That could wind up in court.

BLITZER: At least for now, Jake, the bottom line is that these southern states, largely southern states that had these special requirements that the federal government imposed in 1965, a voting rights act, they are no longer going to have to deal with that, at least for the time being, unless Congress takes special action. As I said, I don't anticipate that special action anytime soon.

TAPPER: That's right, Wolf. What is interesting is, of course, the 1965 voting rights act was renewed in 2006 for 25 years. It was an overwhelming vote by a very divided Congress. The vote was 390 to 33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.

But I want to bring in Professor Jonathan Turley. What's interesting is even though there was an overwhelming vote in favor of continuing the voting rights act Chief Justice John Roberts made no secret about his skepticism that it was still required.

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: This is very much a long-term project for Chief Justice Roberts. He stated years ago that he was highly critical of Section Five particularly, although as Jeff mentioned, taking out Section Four effectively takes section five off-line. But Roberts has been gunning for this for some time.

What's different about this is the lack of deference to Congress. During the oral argument, both Roberts and Scalia chided Congress and basically said no member of Congress has the guts to vote against a bill like this because you don't want to be viewed at favoring racism or interfering with the rights of minorities.

And so what you have here is a clear rejection of Congress and frankly a degree of contempt for Congress that came out of the oral argument. Now, what's ironic about that is that Congress is now going to be in a much more difficult position because to change this law, you're going to have to talk about specific states. And before, you simply re- upped. You voted on the whole law.

Now you're going to have to target individual states and those delegations may find it very troubling to have their state put on that list and other states not. And to give you an example, Chief Justice Roberts say Massachusetts was worse than Mississippi when it comes to these calculations. Now, that produced a lot of controversy and challenged no doubt from the governor of Massachusetts. But that is the type of passion you're likely to see if they try to do this.

TAPPER: Carrie Severino and Lia Epperson are standing by, as well. I want to get their take on this -- Carrie.

CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL AND POLICY DIVISION, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Hi, yes. Today's decision brings the voting rights act into the 21st Century. The court is just saying, if you want to make distinctions between the states, they have to be based on can think current facts. Not 40-year-old data. Our government is under a time where we have a lot of financial stress.

We are having the voting rights division looking through upwards of 20,000 different voting changes every year in states including Alaska. Just because of some differences in the voter registration in the 1960s. If we want to continue this preclearance and using our time to look through voting changes before they happen, we should be doing that based on current problems and current election years, not what happened in 1964.

TAPPER: Lia. LIA EPPERSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, I do agree that by eliminating Section Four this really is striking at a significant part of the voting rights act. But to be clear, while it was passed in 1965, as was discussed earlier, it was reauthorized in 2006 and at that time, there were more than 15,000 pages of evidence that Congress reviewed about continuing intractable, repetitive and adaptive forms of racial discrimination in voting that continued today.

So, in other words, what has been examined is not really ancient history. It's about problems that continue to exist and persist. So I think the reality is that at this point it is incumbent upon Congress in a bipartisan fashion as it did overwhelmingly in 2006 to look at the places where this is very much an issue and very necessary.

So I think it's clear and important to make the distinction that what section five of the voting rights act does, which is essentially really the heart of the voting rights act and serves as a real checkpoint for discrimination before it happens is something that is used for continued present day examples of real barriers to exercising a constitutional right to vote. It's not something that is ancient history.

TAPPER: All right, Lia, thank you so much. We're going to throw it back to you now, Carol Costello, back in Atlanta. It's a big decision, one that we'll be talking about all day here on CNN -- Carol.

COSTELLO: No doubt. Jake Tapper, thanks. NEWSROOM comes back right after this.

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