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Day Two of Zimmerman Trial; Supreme Court Strikes Down Section 4 of Voting Rights Act; Snowden in Russian Airport; Paula Deen's Sons Speak Out; Mother Brutally Beaten while Child Watches
Aired June 25, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield and we have a very busy news day ahead. All the day's main news and then as always our take on daytime justice, as well.
Day two, it is drama in George Zimmerman's murder trial as 9-1-1 calls are played out in open court that could put a whole new spin on his deadly confrontation with Trayvon Martin. But who wasn't there to hear them?
Paula Deen's sons, turning the tables and insisting racism allegations against her are simply character assassination that started out as extortion. It is an interview and a side of the story that you have not heard coming at you this hour as well.
And some extremely graphic video, a 3-year-old, 3, watching in horror as a man breaks in and brutally beats her mom, throws her down the stairs, all of it caught on camera. Can these images help police to track that man down?
I want to bring you first, though, to Sanford, Florida, where George Zimmerman's past may come back to haunt him. Day two of his second degree murder trial, live pictures inside the courtroom right now in Sanford. This trial, of course, because of the killing of Trayvon Martin. Was it murder, was it justified killing?
It's a judge that makes that call at the beginning, but it is the jury that is going to have to assess it. And the jury may or may not be hearing some phone calls that George Zimmerman made to 9-1-1 before that shooting in unrelated issues, completely unrelated to Trayvon Martin.
The prosecution played several non-emergency phone calls for the judge, but the jury was nowhere to be found. They were kicked out of the courtroom. George Howell is live in Sanford, Florida. George, explain why the jury was not allowed to hear those calls and if they will ever hear them and why it matters.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, good morning. So yes, the jury was not there. And here is the reason why. It's the debate right now as to whether they will be able to hear these 9-1-1 audiotapes.
As you mentioned, these are the audiotapes, the 9-1-1 recordings when George Zimmerman called in to report suspicious behavior, suspicious people before the alleged crime on February 26th, 2012.
Here is the deal. The prosecutors want those tapes into this trial. They want the jury to hear them. The defense is concerned about jurors hearing these tapes. They believe that the prosecutors will basically try to show a pattern and then show frustration building, resulting in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin when George Zimmerman and he met on that date.
I want you to hear one of these tapes for yourself. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, 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 a -- two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I've never seen them before. I have no idea what they're doing. They're just hanging out, loitering.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman, can you describe the two individuals?
ZIMMERMAN: Two African-American males.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HOWELL: And that's the thing. So anytime he's asked for a description, he either replies black or African-American; uses the words interchangeably. The defense attorneys say that these tapes basically show the work of a Good Samaritan, doing the job of his neighborhood to call in suspicious activity.
But they say that by admitting these tapes into the trial, defense attorneys believe it would only confuse the jurors, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: All right, George, I know you're watching this case. We'll check in with you periodically as it warrants. George Howell, live for us in Sanford, Florida. Thank you.
And remember, please, you can watch the Zimmerman trial live as it happens on our sister network, HLN. They're running that gavel to gavel for you.
Got some breaking news out on the Supreme Court just handing down a critical ruling that limits part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is a part of the act, a provision of it, in fact, that gives the federal government oversight, oversight over 15 different states with histories of voter discrimination.
I want to get right to Jeffrey Toobin, who is at the Supreme Court right now.
Jeffrey, is it fair to say that the Supreme Court yet another day has almost punted a major decision? And this time punting it to Congress to redraw that provision in the voter -- the Voting Rights Act to assess what today is like as opposed to what things were like in '65?
Is that an accurate assessment?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ashleigh, I wouldn't really put it that way. I think this is a bigger deal decision than that because this is a very important part of American history since 1965.
The Justice Department has essentially supervised nine southern states plus a few other counties because of the Voting Rights Act. What the Supreme Court said today by a vote of 5-4 is that the formula that the Supreme Court used to designate those states that are covered by this part of the voting rights law is obsolete.
It was based originally on 1965 rules, statistics. It was reauthorized in 2006. But even then, the court said the numbers were obsolete. So Congress has to write a new formula if they still want these states to be under supervision.
Given Congress today with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, I think it's very unlikely that Congress will actually do this. So this is really actually a very major decision, voting rights supervised out of Washington looks like it's over for a significant chunk of the country. And that is a major change. And we'll see what the implications are for how people actually vote.
BANFIELD: So the significance of this is not lost on many. Already, critics are jumping in; those who support this are jumping in. But here was something or somewhat unique or somewhat rare, anyway. But I'm going to defer to you, the expert.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg actually read her dissent from the bench.
Can you characterize for me why that matters?
TOOBIN: Well, the -- as I think most people know, justices dissent from rulings all the time. Only about 30 percent or 40 percent of the rulings of any given year at the Supreme Court are unanimous. But usually they just have their dissent printed and it's distributed immediately after the decision.
Reading the dissent from the bench is a symbol of the justice saying I care deeply about this. This is a very important case.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the bench yesterday in two cases as well involving job discrimination. I think what we're seeing at the end of this term is conservatives win some very significant cases.
Just to keep people up to date, we don't know about the results in the same-sex marriage cases. Those will be announced tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. There's no more mystery about when. Tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock is the end of the Supreme Court term. Those are the only cases left.
So we will know about the Defense of Marriage Act case and the Proposition 8 case out of California tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock and we'll be here.
BANFIELD: Yes, I know you will be. In fact, I was thinking the justices were putting in a lot of overtime this week unless I realized I think the overtime was put in before this week. This is just the announcement. But --
TOOBIN: That's right. Their hard work is the month before.
BANFIELD: -- is all before today. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much. And I'm glad it's a nice day for you out in front of the Supreme Court. We'll see you there tomorrow.
I want to turn now to another really big story, this growing mystery over the exact whereabouts of Edward Snowden.
Mystery no more. Guess where he is? You ready? He's in Russia. But not really. It's a bit weird. He's still in the transit lounge. We've all been wondering since he left on that flight from Hong Kong and was on his way to Moscow. And then all the reporters scrambled onto additional flights where he was listed as a passenger and he ultimately wasn't a passenger.
And then we wondered if he was in the transit lounge. Turns out, guess who says he is in the transit lounge in Moscow? None other than the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. So we have it on big authority that he's actually in the transit lounge, not a very comfortable place to spend the night, but alas, apparently according to the president, he has not picked his final destination yet.
And the president is even going so far as to say, the sooner he does it, the better. So clearly, that's not something the Russians are loving. It's caused a real problem diplomatically.
Our Jill Dougherty joins me live now from State Department.
I think it's fair to say this has been a diplomatic debacle. And I know that there's got to be a lot of conversation. But did you except to hear this from the president himself today, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really fascinating, Ashleigh, because there have been -- there's been a lot of criticism about President Putin, about Russia, what were they going to do, were they going to keep him there? Were they going to help him? And essentially what it sounds like Vladimir Putin is saying is we want to get this guy out of our hair, too, just as apparently the Chinese did.
So let's again look at what is coming from Interfax news agency, these quotes from President Putin, saying he's at Sheremetyevo, the airport; he -- his arrival was a complete surprise to Russia. The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better for him and the better for Russia.
The special services of Russia, he says, like their FSB, our FBI, are not talking with him and are not working with him, I should say.
And really importantly, Mr. Putin says, I hope this will not have any effect on U.S.-Russian relations.
So those are actually all very positive comments. Again, Russia could have chosen to do a lot of things. Right now, they're basically saying he's not even technically in Russia, although physically, of course, he is, and he ought to make up his mind.
And, of course, everyone thought that he was going to be going on to Cuba and then on to Ecuador. So we'll see what will happen, Ashleigh.
And also let's listen to that sound that just came out this morning from Senator John McCain about Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: Look, we've got to start dealing with Vladimir Putin in a realistic fashion for what he is. He's an old KGB colonel apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian empire and he continues to stick his thumb in our eye in a broad variety of ways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: Well, it may be then, Ashleigh, that he is not sticking his thumb in the eye of the United States. Certainly want to hear more directly from President Putin, but it does sound like it's pretty good news for the United States in terms of just trying to move him along.
BANFIELD: OK. So this all happened pretty quickly, Jill. I'm not going to suggest for a minute that you're a fly on the wall of some of these conversations.
But we have reporting just before I went to air that their senator -- or former Senator John Kerry, now secretary of state, blasting Russia, blasting China, both of those countries blasting us right back, saying that our facts are groundless and then all of a sudden it's Kumbaya? This just kind of doesn't sound so simple.
DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, Ashleigh, I would say blasting China, but not really blasting Russia, because they were in the midst of talking to the Russians. There was a lot of, you know, burning up the phone lines, senior officials here, the head of the FBI talking to the head of the FSB twice yesterday.
And so they weren't really blasting. They were saying hope you do the right thing. That was really the message. It's implied, you know, and some people in Russia, said, hey, they can't tell us what to do. But essentially they were hoping that the Russians would do the right thing.
Now, what Russia specifically will do will be very interesting. They may just say hands off, you know; if he has documents, let him go on. And then he's out of their hair as well. We'll have to see.
BANFIELD: Yes. I'm sure it can't be too comfortable for Mr. Snowden. I don't think there are many bathrooms with showers or beds in the transit lounge.
Jill Dougherty, keep an eye on it for us. Let us know if you find any other movements for us. Thank you for that. Great reporting.
BANFIELD: So Paula Deen's two sons are speaking out about the controversy that is swirling around their mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SON OF PAULA DEEN: I can tell you this. That word, that horrifying terrible word that exists and I abhor it coming 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.
BANFIELD (voice-over): It's an exclusive interview you will see right here, only on CNN, and it's right ahead.
BANFIELD: Paula Deen has been getting hammered in the court of public opinion. But it's not surprising, given the fact that she admitted herself to using the N-word and then also to planning a so-called plantation wedding with only black men serving as the waiters.
Well, now Deen has lost another major endorsement deal, Smithfield. The world's largest pork producer has dropped her as a pitchwoman. Now Deen's sons, Jamie and Bobby, are speaking exclusively with Chris Cuomo on CNN's NEW DAY to respond to the cries of racism and the almost public flogging of their mother. Have a listen.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: 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 that make it more difficult to apologize and back away from? BOBBY DEEN, PAULA DEEN'S SON: 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 mom give this deposition and I just don't know exactly what she may have meant.
JAMIE DEEN, PAULA DEEN'S SON: These are her words, and not for Bobby and I. But I can tell you that we do not have lies in us. The number one thing that we cannot stand is someone that is deceitful. And 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.
B. DEEN: And I can tell you this, that word, that horrifying, terrible word that exists and I abhor it coming 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 where that word was used. And that's not who we are; that's not the home we were raised in.
CUOMO: Any chance others come forward and say, well, I've heard her same the same things. It was like that on the restaurant where we were, it was like on the show, those types of allegations?
B. DEEN: I can't imagine that happening.
J. DEEN: But on the other hand, what do you think, Chris? You think people are going to take this opportunity to come out and try to get their piece now? I mean, for every - you know, we have so much local support here, so many friends that have come forward and spoken out for our family. It's just much like as many people would compliment you times ten would complain about -
We've been in the service business for 25 years and so many people enjoy it but there's always one person that's going to be most vocal about their disappointment for one reason or another. So what are the chances of somebody else coming out behind this? I would say pretty good.
CUOMO: Well then, let me ask you this, fellas, and please each take an opportunity to respond to it.
Your mother has admitted these things ,so it's not like she's been chased after for whether it's true or not. She's admitted them in her own words. The question is what will Paula Deen do about it going forward? You're coming to speak your truth about your mother. What does your mother intend to do herself to make amends and try to move forward?
B. DEEN: I think she's going to continue to be truthful. I mean, this was -- she was in a deposition under oath. Our mother is going to do nothing but answer the truth. Look, we can look in the mirror and know who we are and how we were raised and the character of my parents. My mother, our mother is not the picture that's being painted.
It's not fair - look, life's not fair. It's inaccurate. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BANFIELD: And Chris Cuomo joins me now. It's a great interview and it's obviously an extraordinarily tender topic for them to undertake. There was something very odd and unusual and uncomfortable about some of the discussion between mother and sons, and I think they addressed it in your interview and I wanted to get your take on it. And that is how Paula Deen discussed using the N-word in a not unkind way, a nice way. I'm still unclear as to how that all sort of shook out.
CUOMO: Paula Deen said in the deposition that, in raising the boys, you don't use the N-word in a mean way, but that sometimes it can be OK if you use it in a joke or the way you hear other black people using it with each other.
Now, the boys, very important, this complicates the situation, they say they have no idea what she's talking about and that they weren't raised that way and that that's not the way they were, that wasn't their household. But their mother said it.
So now, context -- I mean, you know, you cover legal things all the time -- context becomes everything. Looking at the deposition, you'd have to understand where she was coming from when she said it. But dealing with such toxic material here, that it makes it very difficult to escape from just complete condemnation. So the challenge is for the boys and for the mother, how do you move past this when it's something that society recognizes as so wrong?
BANFIELD: You've got a woman who is 56 and admittedly grew up in an age of segregation and desegregation and lived that world, has plenty of anecdotes - even before all this broke -- about things she went through in her life, and then as the boys said in an interview, chose to be honest in a deposition. This wasn't Paula Deen being caught on tape, you know, excoriating someone and using these slurs.
But it is huge, what's happened. I mean, this is the crumbling of an empire based on this. Did the boys - boys, they're my age - did her sons address the grandness of the reaction and whether they felt it was surprising or appropriate or inappropriate?
CUOMO: Well, they see it as an extension of this lawsuit. That, you know, this is what's happened, that this was a gambit that has paid off very well for whoever the plaintiff is in this suit. And they are now trying to deal with the reverberations of it through society but it's difficult because, again, this is very toxic material.
But they do feel that this is -- I think the word he used was "an extortion,", that this was using these incendiary things to help with this lawsuits, that's on its face basically about something else and someone else other than Paula Deen.
BANFIELD: And what about the notion - listen, you and I work in an industry that is lightning fast. And with the Internet, these stories can erupt in a massive way, they can erupt - let's just use philosophical ways, as well. Certain people will cover certain aspects of this story and leave out other aspects of this story. Do you feel as though or do they feel as though the entire story has been given coverage? And I'm referring to the genesis of this story, which is what they say was an extortion attempt.
CUOMO: I mean, using the time tested disclaimer, I don't want to speak for them. But it certainly seems that they feel this is a very stilted view of their mother. And I do think it's fair to say that negativity is often a proxy for insight with these stories. So because the N-word is involved and because there's ugly imagery of the slave period, the analysis is over. Forget about who this person is in their totality, that it was under oath as opposed to being caught, as you pointed out.
And then the piece that's missing, and the piece I think is most important and I hope we can follow through with it, this is a moment to reinforce that we think it's wrong and to now find the behaviors that we think are right. Because saying, "OK, I said it and I shouldn't have and I know it's wrong," isn't enough. You have to do something to demonstrate that we're better than this now.
BANFIELD: Yes, but we work in warp speed, you know, my generation and my kids' generation, they all work at warp speed. And at 66, I don't know that that generation can grasp this so fast and the moving paradigm and how things have shifted and how to use the right language and how not to use the wrong language. It's tough.
CUOMO: But then why else do the story? The reason you do this story is that you want to reinforce the behaviors that are right, that we're better than this. That we're about our interconnectedness, we're about our diversity, and that we understand the shared experience and the individual experience. If we're not making those points, then the rest of this is really just sensationalism.
BANFIELD: Right. Listen, great interview and I think really insightful and very interesting to see their demeanor during the interview. It's been a tough time, I think, for that whole family and everybody involved in this.
CUOMO: It's tough for them but I understand why they came forward. Happy to give them the opportunity.
BANFIELD: Happy to have you here, Chris Cuomo. And by the way, have I already said on the air, nice job on the new show?
CUOMO: You did, many times. Thank you very much.
BANFIELD: Nice to have you on board. Chris Cuomo joining us live. And I encourage you, take a peek. You guys are fun. Chris Cuomo's new show, NEW DAY, it's every morning here, CNN, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. And that it Kate Bolduan in the middle and Michaela Pereira on the far right, and they make a great team.
By the way, one other thing on the Paula Deen story and that lawsuit against her. I want you to listen specifically to Chris and I were just talking about, what Bobby Deen said this morning. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. DEEN: I'm disgusted by the entire thing because it -- it began as extortion and it has become character assassination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: OK. That is big, extortion is a very strong allegation. But the local reports out of Savannah quote Paula Deen's attorney, who says that his client was asked for $12 million before the lawsuit was filed. $12 million not to file the lawsuit.
It was Deen's deposition in the case that put us where we are at this point and there are actually a lot of legal questions to discuss that not that many people are talking about in the grander and wilder notion of Paula Deen crumbling.
And we're going to do that, have that full leg conversation talking about what exactly happened that started all of this, coming up tomorrow on the program.
In the meantime, caught on camera, a shocking home invasion. Let me warn you, this video is very difficult to watch, even tougher to stomach. A mother enduring a brutal attack and robbery while her 3- year-old child has to watch helplessly from the couch. The suspect is still out there and police need your help. More coming up in just a moment.
BANFIELD: I'm about to show you some video that is very difficult to watch. So if you have kids in the room, it would be a good opportunity to get farther away from the set, even the sound, of your television right now. This is some video that only is astounding watch, but it could be very helpful to catch someone who's done something very, very awful.
This is a home invasion where there is a mother and a daughter in a home. The man breaks in and literally just attacks this mother right in front of this child. Again, this is in New Jersey and I do want to warn you, this video is tough to take. But maybe someone can help to catch this person who's on the loose.
I want to give you this report now from John Klecamp of our affiliate News 12 in New Jersey.
JOHN KLECAMP, REPORTER, NEWS 12: An alarm company was installing a security system at the victim's home on Cypress Street this afternoon, a totally understandable reaction after this.
Around 10:30 Friday morning, the young mother of two was attacked by an intruder who did not care that she was unarmed and putting up no resistance, or that her little girl was in the room watching her mother struggling with a stranger who kicked his way inside. During the assault, she made a conscious decision to take whatever the intruder dished out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew if I started screaming, my daughter would too, and I was afraid that she would get hurt. I took it and then cried the entire time.
KLECAMP: The nanny cam on the mantle captured the whole thing, brutal punches and vicious kicks that sent her flying. At one point, he places her in a chokehold and slams her to the floor. And he drags her away. You can hear the dread in her voice, "Oh, no," she says, before he shoves her down the stairs.
It is video on that sickens everyone who sees it - veteran cops and of course the victim's husband.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in a room with about seven officers and we were all just speechless. It was like an out of body experience.
KLECAMP: And yet, as hard as it is to watch, the couple say they want people to see it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to help us get him off the streets. He's -- he's not just a burglar. You know, he's violent.
BANFIELD: Just unbelievable. And one of the hardest parts about that tape is that even though it was blurry, there was a little girl on that sofa. She was sitting on the sofa virtually petrified and she seemed to be hiding behind a small pillow.
I want to show you the man we're looking for at this point and I think all of us can safely say we are looking for him. He's about six feet tall, 210 pounds, salt and pepper beard is the description that's come in. And there's the little girl off to the left, pillow over her face, as she watches that just unnerving scene play out in front of her.
I want to bring in attorney Faith Jenkins. She's a former federal prosecutor. We often hear about these assault cases, we often hear about home invasions and intrusions and all the rest. But there are assaults and then there are assaults like that. Tell me the difference between and just a simple assault.