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Russia Wants Snowden Out; Supreme Court Limits Voting Rights Act; Texas Tries To Restrict Abortion; Live Coverage of George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 25, 2013 - 13:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The United States Supreme Court strikes down a key provision in the landmark Voting Rights Acts of 1965. We'll look at what this means for those states and those who say there is still discrimination at the polls.

Russia's president says he now knows where the fugitive Edward Snowden is and he doesn't want him there.

And Paula Deen's sons defend their mother who's under fire after admitting she used a racial slur. You're going to hear why they say the lawsuit against her is a case of extortion.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says NSA leaker Edward Snowden is in the Moscow airport. Putin says he's a free man and the sooner he figures out where he's going and goes there is better. If Snowden is in the transit area of the airport, it means he's in a kind of no man's land. He's not technically in Russia as long as he stays there. Mr. Putin talked about that. Listen to this.


Translator: Snowden is still in transit area as a transit passenger. Our special services never worked with Snowden and are not working with him today.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, you heard President Putin there saying Russia special services are not working with Snowden. Is he trying to smooth things over with the U.S.? What's your assessment?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, various officials have said that this is obviously going to damage relations between the U.S. and Russia. Jane Harmon who is a former congresswoman and on intelligence committees has said that the U.S. perhaps has not as much leverage as it might like with Russia or, frankly, China as well, because they actually need things on bigger issues than this. President Putin did speak for the first time today as you've noted. He said that he's in the airport. He says he wishes Snowden would just get on with it and leave. But he also said, in that same conference in which he was speaking, that since Snowden has not committed any crimes on Russian soil and maybe he's not even technically on Russian soil, you can see how they are passing that there in Moscow, then he has no reason to arrest him. But he did also say that he hopes this does not damage the, quote, "business-like relations between Russia and the United States." And that let Mueller, he said, referring to the FBI director, and their equivalent deal with it. So, maybe there's some room for some kind of a cord between Russia -- Russian security services and their version of the FBI and the U.S. Who knows? But clearly, Wolf, this is a political situation between Russia and the United States.

BLITZER: And there is no formal extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia that would require Russia, for example, to send him back to the United States. I assume, Christiane, that Russian intelligence services, they would love to get their hands on those laptops, those thumb drives, whatever information that Snowden has so they can go through them. I just assume this is a -- this would be a high priority for the Russians.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think that's the nightmare scenario for American government officials, for security officials. They obviously don't want any of that being told to or shown to either Russians or Chinese. Snowden in his previous public statements has said he is not talking to any government officials but there raises the question as to whether countries such as Russia can by electronic means gets their hands on that information. Then again, we don't know where these computers are. Is he carrying it with him? We just don't know so much about what's going on.

BLITZER: He says he does plan on revealing more secrets. He says he has thousands of additional documents. Potentially, and this is the nightmare scenario for the U.S. perspective, they say he could cause a lot of damage. And you heard John Kerry tell CNN yesterday that American lives are in danger right now.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, here is the thing. We've heard a lot of debate over that. And that, of course, is the U.S. government party line that not just their secrets are out there, that not just their methods of electronic surveillance are out there, not just perhaps tip offs to adversaries or worse to terrorists but also that American lives, obviously they're referring to agents and other such things, could be in jeopardy. So, others are saying, well, sometimes that tends to be an exaggeration. Other -- you know, other officials are saying that but obviously this is all at play for the U.S. as it seeks to keep as tight a hold as it possibly can on what is now maybe an open spigot.

Of all this info that has been, you know, taken by his own admission, by Edward Snowden, and who knows where it's going to end up. But what we don't know is what is that information? How critical is it? How bad is it if it gets out? Presumably, a lot of it is about how the U.S. conducts its electronic surveillance of adversaries and the like, how it does its spying. So, if that gets out, and some of it has, then the U.S. will have to figure out ways to change what it's doing and doing it different ways. So, there's -- you know, there's a lot out there. A lot at stake.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on this story later this hour. Christiane, thanks very much for joining us. Christiane Amanpour. This programming note for our viewers, we'll devote the entire 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour in "THE SITUATION ROOM" later today to this NSA surveillance case and the -- what's going on right now as far as Edward Snowden is concerned. 6:00 p.m. Eastern later today.

Other important news we're following right now. The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The part that determines which states must get federal permission before changing any voting laws. For almost 50 years, it's been mostly southern states subject to that special scrutiny. But the Supreme Court has now left it up to congress to revise that part of the law. Civil rights groups, they are expressing outrage.


SHERRILYN IFILL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: This is a critical issue of democracy. This speaks to the very core of American values. This decision by the court today is a game changer and leaves virtually unprotected minority voters in communities all over this country.


BLITZER: Let's bring in George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. Jonathan, you heard the NAACP and so many other civil rights groups, the White House, the Justice Department, they are all decrying the Supreme Court ruling. The president calling it a setback. What's your analysis?

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I can certainly understand why they were disappointed. It's a major loss for the administration and the NAACP. But we also need to keep it in perspective, Wolf. It is still unlawful to engage in practices to reduce the voting of minority groups. The act itself is not struck down. We're only talking about the preclearance portion that affects these 16 states. So, it remains law in effect. The prohibitions remain in effect. What has changed is that the court said it didn't like section four which isolated these states because it said, you know, you're relying on statistics from 1965 but the court said, when we looked at statistics that congress looked at, you see substantial improvement.

And during oral argument, Chief Justice Roberts created something of a controversy when he said, when I look at these statistics, it looks like Massachusetts, today, has a worse voting record than Mississippi. And that produced quite a controversy. But, Wolf, that actually captures what's going to happen now because as it goes back to congress, it's not going to be a simple revote of the voting rights act. Congress is going to have to isolate particular states, these comparisons like between Massachusetts and Mississippi. Those are going to occur and it's going to be very controversial.

BLITZER: But as far as I can see in terms of the current Republican majority, let's say in the House of Representatives, for them to reenact, if you will, to go ahead and revive some of those provisions singling out those southern states. Politically speaking, Jonathan, that's unlikely to happen.

TURLEY: Yes. It's a vastly different proposition to voting for the voting rights act as to now sitting there and saying, all right, we think Mississippi is a suspect state, Massachusetts is not. That's going to raise a lot of problems. And what's interesting, Wolf, is that the -- in the oral argument, Chief Justice Robert and Justice Scalia almost mocked the Congress and said that members don't have the courage to vote against these bills with these titles. Well, they will have to know if they're going to bring any of this back.

Jonathan Turley, thanks very much for joining us.

TURLEY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: State leaders in Alabama argue that cutting out the federal government was about getting rid of red tape. The main defendant in the case is now joining us. The Reverend Albert Jones who wanted the voting rights act left alone. He remembers the days when crosses were burned in his yard to intimidate blacks not to vote. Pastor, thanks very much for joining us. I know you must be pretty angry, upset about the Supreme Court decision today. What's your reaction?

REV. ALBERT JONES, PASTOR, MOUNT OLIVE BAPTIST CHURCH: We are -- we are disappointed. And I'd say we're more disappointed than anything else. That we was praying that they would do the right thing. Just -- we are -- we know that they made that decision, called it how they see it but we were hoping they did the right thing, that they'd do it another way.

BLITZER: But over these past let's say 50 years, since 1965 when the voting rights act went into effect, do you agree there has been improvement in your state as far as limiting the discrimination that was imposed earlier against blacks?

JONES: We are -- we've come a long way but we are not there yet. We're not there where we need to be yet. When congress passed the 2006, extended 25 more years, I thought that was a good gesture because really we're not where we need to be yet.

BLITZER: So, when Justice Roberts says, you know, maybe there's even worse discrimination as far as voting rights are concerned in Massachusetts as opposed to let's say Alabama or Arkansas or some of these -- Georgia, some of these southern states. What do you say?

JONES: I've never been to Massachusetts. I don't know how that affects them that much but I lived in Alabama. I live in (INAUDIBLE) County, so I know about us.

BLITZER: And you say there is still significant discrimination that would undermine the ability for African-Americans to go out there and vote in robust numbers? Is that what your fear is?

JONES: Yes. We think that we need to give it some more time before we change that and strike that four and five down. But I think that, you know, we're making great significant gains but we're still not where we need to be.

BLITZER: Do you have any hope that Congress will reinstate those provisions or you take a look at the --

JONES: Well, --

BLITZER: -- politics of Washington now and say it's not going to happen in?

JONES: Well, all things work together for the good of those that love the lord. And we love the lord so anything is possible. We just keep on believing.

BLITZER: Pastor Albert Jones. Thanks for joining us.

JONES: God bless you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Here is what we're working on on this day in this hour. Day one began with four letter words and a knock knock joke. So, what will day two of the George Zimmerman trial bring? We'll go there live. We'll go to Florida, the courthouse, for an update.

And Texas legislatures are trying to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Critics say they're trying to shut down every abortion clinic in the state.


BLITZER: Texas is considering abortion legislation that would be among the most restrictive in the nation. The special legislative session ends at midnight tonight and Democrats in the state Senate plan to spend the entire day talking in an old fashion filibuster to keep the vote from happening. The legislation would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and impose stricter standards on abortion clinics and the doctors who work at them. It's already passed the state House.

The Senate here in Washington has taken a major step toward comprehensive immigration reform, passing an amendment that gets tougher on border security. Among other things, it would require 20,000 more border agents and it calls for 700 more miles of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico. If the immigration reform bill passes it would clear the path to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants. The amendment won broad bipartisan support from senators. The Senate is on track to pass the reform bill by the end of this week, faces a much, much tougher time in the Republican controlled House. It's by no means a done deal.

George Zimmerman's murder trial started with a battle over 911 calls. At issue were calls that Zimmerman made to police in the months before he shot and killed the 17-year-old unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin admissible during the court trial. George Howell is outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida. George, prosecutors want the 911 tapes played. The defense says no. What's the argument here? GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Defense attorneys don't want those tapes to be admitted into this case. Here is why. They believe if prosecutors get these tapes in front of the jurors the prosecutors will try to set a pattern. They'll show there's a pattern. Then they will suggest that there was a growing frustration within George Zimmerman and when he met Trayvon Martin, they will try to paint the picture that this is the person who wouldn't get away. That's their concern with this. And also, they're worried that if they admit all of these other, these additional 911 calls that it would just confuse the jury in this case. I want you to listen to one of these audio tapes.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: 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 are just hanging out, loitering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman, could you describe the two individuals?

ZIMMERMAN: Two African-American males.


HOWELL: When you listen to all of these 911 calls, Zimmerman's tone is always professional. He always describes the people, when asked, either as African-American or black. When you hear what the defense attorneys have to say they say that you're listening to a good Samaritan doing what a person would do in neighborhood when they find someone who they believe is suspicious. Again, they don't want those tapes to be admitted into the trial.

BLITZER: What's it been like in the courtroom today?

HOWELL: Well, Wolf, let's dip into video right now.

You see the Sergeant Anthony Raimondo (ph) with the Sanford Police Department in the court right now. We also heard earlier from Wendy Dorval (ph). She's a volunteer with the Sanford Police Department with their neighborhood watch program. She basically teaches people about the neighborhood watch programs. She held the presentation in Zimmerman's neighborhood. She says that Zimmerman actually sent an e- mail to her boss complimenting her professionalism.

You do get the sense that she likes him. Also heard from Donald O'Brien (ph) who is the president of the homeowners association there. He said Zimmerman is the person who set up the neighborhood watch program for that particular neighborhood. He also indicated he didn't think that neighborhood needed one. We're hearing from witnesses right now on the third witness and more to come throughout the day.

BLITZER: You told us yesterday the estimate is this trial could go two to three weeks. Is that what you're hearing? HOWELL: That's the case. What you find is you have these sidebar hearings. You have all these stops during the day. Let's listen in right now.


SERGEANT ANTHONY RAIMONDO, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: -- I stopped right where the laser pointer is and I angled my car up on the grass.

RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTOR: What was the purpose of angling your car up on the grass?

RAIMONDO: As I rounded that first turn I saw Officer Tim Smith and someone else standing between the building.

MANTEI: What was the lighting like in that area?

RAIMONDO: Very poor.

MANTEI: Did you do anything with your car to aid in the lighting?

RAIMONDO: I pulled my car in and angled it toward Officer Smith and the male that was standing there with him, sir.

MANTEI: Did your highlights then illuminate Officer Smith and the subject he was with?

RAIMONDO: It was better but lighting was still poor.

MANTEI: All right. When you got out of your car did you go over to the area where Officer Smith was?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir, I did.

MANTEI: Were there any street lights or poles in that area or pole lights in that area?

RAIMONDO: I don't remember seeing any pole lights, sir.

MANTEI: Can you show the members of the jury with your laser pointer where approximately Officer Smith was.

RAIMONDO: My car would have been here. Officer Smith and the male would have been standing somewhere near this T intersection right where the laser pointer is now, sir.

MANTEI: What was the weather like that evening?

RAIMONDO: It was drizzling.

MANTEI: Had it been raining off and on prior to your dispatch?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: The person that was with Officer Smith did you get an opportunity -- let me ask you this. Did you know the person? RAIMONDO: No, sir.

MANTEI: Did you later learn his name to be George Zimmerman?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Do you see that person in court this afternoon?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Can you identify where he is sitting and what he's wearing?

RAIMONDO: Mr. Zimmerman is at the defense table wearing, in this lighting it looks like, either a gray or light brown coat.

MANTEI: Is he standing?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: All right, very good. Your honor, I ask that the record reflect that the witness has identified the defendant?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The record so reflects.

MANTEI: Sergeant did Officer Smith have the defendant handcuffed when approached them?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: And what did Officer Smith do with the defendant when you made contact with them?

RAIMONDO: I directed Officer Smith to place him in the patrol car.

MANTEI: Did you have any interaction with the defendant at that time?

RAIMONDO: No, sir.

MANTEI: Why not?

RAIMONDO: I had other things going on.

MANTEI: Where is it that you went, what else did you do?

RAIMONDO I looked to the south and I saw another officer, Officer Carter (ph) Ayala (ph)standing over a body in the grass.

MANTEI: Did you go over to them?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir, I did.

MANTEI: All right. The person who was in the grass did you later learn that person's name to be Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir, I did.

MANTEI: Can you show the members of the jury where on the aerial approximately Trayvon Martin and the Officer Ayala (ph) were located?

RAIMONDO: Somewhere right in this area, sir.

MANTEI: That would be south of the T area?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: How was Trayvon Martin's body positioned when you arrived?

RAIMONDO: He was lying face down with his head oriented toward the north and his hands underneath his body.

MANTEI: As we look at state's exhibit 1 is it correct as far as north and south, would north be to the top and east to the right, et cetera?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: State's exhibit 5, does that give a general idea of the lighting conditions out there when you arrived?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: State's exhibit 77, do you recognize that?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir, I do.

MANTEI: Is that a fair and accurate depiction of the way Trayvon Martin's body was when you approached it?

RAIMONDO: Yes, it is.

MANTEI: Did you see any movement from Trayvon Martin's body as you approached him?

RAIMONDO: I did not.

MANTEI: Did you hear any sounds coming from Trayvon Martin when you approached him?

RAIMONDO: No, sir, I did not.

MANTEI: Did you attempt to see if Trayvon Martin was alive?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: How did you do that?

RAIMONDO: I attempted to get his pulse.

MANTEI: Where did you attempt to take his pulse from?

RAIMONDO: On his neck.

MANTEI: Have you had training in that?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir I have. MANTEI: Did you detect a pulse on Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: No, sir, I did not.

MANTEI: Did you or Officer Ayala (ph) move Trayvon Martin's body after you failed to get a pulse in.

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: How did you do that?

RAIMONDO: With the assistance of the Officer Ayala (ph) I rolled Mr. Martin's body over on his back. I would describe it as west to east or maybe easier to say that I rolled him onto his left shoulder and onto his back.

MANTEI: As we're looking at state 77, you have rolled him from left to right?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir. From the left side of the screen toward the right side.

MANTEI: Yes, sir. After you rolled his body over did you try to get a pulse?


MANTEI: How did you do that?

RAIMONDO: The same carotid area, sir.

MANTEI: Were you able to get a pulse?

RAIMONDO: No sir I was not.

MANTEI: What did can you do next?

RAIMONDO: I breathed for Mt. Martin, or I tried to, sir.

MANTEI: In a CPR technique?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Do you have training in CPR?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir I do.

MANTEI: What specifically, what was your role in that CPR attempts on Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: I was doing breaths, sir.

MANTEI: Did you use any type of mask when you first started CPR with Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: No, sir, I did not. MANTEI: Why not?

RAIMONDO: I did not have it available, sir.

MANTEI: Do your standard operating procedures address whether or not you should use a mask when performing something like CPR on a victim?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What do those standing operating procedures hold?

RAIMONDO: Our SOP requires that I use universal precautions which in this case is the mask you're talking about, sir, unless the situations, or I personally decline to do so because the situations are what I consider to be rare and extraordinary.

MANTEI: Did you consider this to be an extraordinary circumstance?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Is that why you put your mouth on Trayvon Martin's mouth to try to breathe for him?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Did you later ask for and receive a breathing mask?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir, I did.

MANTEI: Did Officer Ayala (ph) assist you in performing CPR on Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What was Officer Ayala's (ph) role?

RAIMONDO: Initially he was doing compressions, sir.

MANTEI: Did you hear anything when you were performing CPR on Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What was that?

RAIMONDO: Bubbling sounds.

MANTEI: What did those bubbling sounds indicate to you?

RAIMONDO: It meant that either air was getting into or escaping from the chest in a manner that it was not supposed to.

MANTEI: What did you do upon hearing those bubbling sounds from Trayvon Martin's chest?

RAIMONDO: I called out to the crowd that was gathering nearby and I asked for saran wrap and Vaseline, sir.

MANTEI: What would be the purpose of saran wrap and Vaseline?

RAIMONDO: I was going to try to seal the chest wound sir.

MANTEI: Did anybody respond to your request?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Was that a civilian?


MANTEI: Can you describe that person at all?


MANTEI: How's that?

RAIMONDO: I would describe him as an Asian male.

MANTEI: Did you get his name?

RAIMONDO: No, sir.

MANTEI: What did he give to you to assist?

RAIMONDO: He gave me a plastic grocery bag.

MANTEI: Do you recall what color it was?

RAIMONDO: I don't.

MANTEI: What did you do after you were given the grocery bag?

RAIMONDO: I made the decision to try to seal the exit wound first, sir.

MANTEI: What steps did you take in that regard?

RAIMONDO: I lifted Mr. Martin's body into a seated position by placing my right hand behind his head and my left hand in his midsection and with the assistance of the officer I raised him to a seated position.

MANTEI: Why were you looking for an exit wound?

RAIMONDO: It wouldn't have done any good for me to seal the chest wound if I didn't seal the exit wound as well, sir, so I decided to start there.

MANTEI: When you and Officer Ayala (ph) sat Trayvon Martin up, did you feel anything in Trayvon Martin's clothing?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What was that? RAIMONDO: I felt a cold can, sir.

MANTEI: Where did you feel the cold can?

RAIMONDO: In his jersey pocket, sir.

MANTEI: Did the can feel empty or full?

RAIMONDO: Full, sir.

MANTEI: When you say jersey pocket. Describe that for the jury what you mean.

RAIMONDO: Like a sweatshirt where you would put your hands into a pocket in the front, sir.

MANTEI: In center?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Do you know whether or not the can that you felt, do you know whether or not that was in a bag when you felt?

RAIMONDO: I do not.

MANTEI: Did you examine the can in any fashion or remover it from his sweatshirt?

RAIMONDO: No, sir.

MANTEI: Why not?

RAIMONDO: Wasn't on my list of priorities.

MANTEI: Did you find an exit wound to Trayvon Martin's body when you sat him up and searched for one?

RAIMONDO: No, sir I did not

MANTEI: What did you do next?

RAIMONDO: I laid him back down on his back, sir.

MANTEI: Did you continue CPR after you laid him down?

RAIMONDO: We -- yes, sir, I did.

MANTEI: Was rescue called to that scene?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Did they respond?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Did rescue take over the CPR efforts after they arrived? RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What did you see the rescue personnel do to treat or assess Trayvon Martin?

RAIMONDO: I watched them hook up the leaves of the EKG (ph) machine to Mr. Martin sir.

MANTEI: Was Trayvon Martin pronounced dead by rescue at the scene?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Were you present for that?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: After Trayvon Martin was pronounced dead did you or anyone else put anything over his body?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: What was that?

RAIMONDO: I put an emergency blanket over Mr. Martin's body, sir.

MANTEI: What was the purpose of that?

RAIMONDO: Well, one was respect for the deceased. Two is to mitigate trauma that witnesses or family members may be exposed to if they arrive on scene, and three was to preserve any physical evidence on the body, sir.

MANTEI: When you say to preserve any physical evidence, do you mean in part because of the weather conditions?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: It was still raining at the time?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: When you placed the blanket over Trayvon Martin's body, did you move any evidence, to your knowledge, surrounding his body?

RAIMONDO: Not that I know.

MANTEI: And while you were at the scene, did you collect or move any evidence yourself?

RAIMONDO: No, sir.

MANTEI: Why not?

RAIMONDO: Wasn't my job, sir.

MANTEI: All right. Your honor if I could ask the lights be dimmed one more time. I have a couple more additional photographs.

Thank you, your honor.

The state's exhibit 20. Do you recognize that?

RAIMONDO: Yes, sir. I do.