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Trayvon Martin's Friends On The Stand; Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Regroup To Fight On; Interview with Rep. Tim Huelskamp; Interview with Anthony Cook
Aired June 27, 2013 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. I am Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington. And we begin with breaking news, the news that we learned just a few minutes ago. The former New England Patriots tightened Aaron Hernandez already charged with murder in one case is now being investigated in a separate double murder case. In about an hour, Hernandez will appear in a Massachusetts courtroom for a bail hearing.
Alina Cho is joining us now from Attleboro, Massachusetts. Alina, what more do we know about this second murder investigation?
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a stunning development. So, we've learned that in addition to the murder charge that was leveled against Aaron Hernandez yesterday in the death of 27- year-old Oden Lloyd, law enforcement sources tell CNN that Hernandez is also being investigated in connection with a double murder that happened in Boston's south end in July of 2012. So, almost exactly a year ago.
Here is what we can tell you. Apparently, there was a silver SUV that was found by police recently. It was placed at the scene of the murders and missing for nearly a year. What Boston police are now saying is that car was being rented by Hernandez at the time of the murders.
We should also bring you up to date, Wolf, on what's happening right here behind me. In about an hour, almost exactly an hour at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, Aaron Hernandez will appear in court again for the second day in a row. This is a bail hearing. Essentially, his lawyers will be appealing the judge's decision yesterday to not grant Aaron Hernandez bail. They will argue that there is so much media attention surrounding this case, that he is not a flight risk, there is no way Aaron Hernandez, frankly, could go anywhere without everyone following him. They will also argue that he is a family man. He has a fiancee and an eight month old baby and most of all they will argue, Wolf, that he has no criminal record and has never been accused of a violent crime -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The charge, though, is first-degree murder, Alina. So, it's really rare, if ever, that someone charged, accused of first-degree murder is let out on bail. Second degree murder charges, lesser charges, people can get bail, but it is pretty rare that a first- degree murder suspect would be released on bail. Isn't that the experience in Massachusetts? CHO: You know, I think that the general consensus here, at least among the media, is that you've got to give the defense attorneys credit for trying, but I don't think that there is anyone here who believes that this judge in a higher court will grant Aaron Hernandez bail today after the lower court judge denied it yesterday, especially -- especially, wolf, after this latest development has now come out that he is now being investigated in a double murder in Boston that happened last year.
BLITZER: Yes, especially as a result of the breaking news now being investigated, as you point out, for the other double murder. Alina, thanks. We'll get back to you as soon as we get more information from the courthouse behind you.
Let's get to another big story we're following in the CNN NEWSROOM. Round two of riveting testimony today from the young woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin only moments before he was shot dead by George Zimmerman. Her name Rachel Jeantel. She just left the stand a few minutes ago after several hours of testimony. The 19 year old has made it clear in her own words and in her body language that she does not want to be on the stand. The exchanges between this young woman and defense attorney Don West have been contentious.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, the last thing you heard was some kind of noise like something hitting somebody?
RACHEL JEANTEL: That Trayvon got hit. Trayvon got hit.
WEST: You don't know that, do you?
JEANTEL: No, sir.
WEST: You don't know that Trayvon got hit.
JEANTEL: He couldn't -- he had to --
WEST: You don't know that Trayvon --
JEANTEL: He --
WEST: -- didn't at that moment take his fist and drive it into George Zimmerman's face?
JEANTEL: Please lower your voice.
WEST: Do you?
JEANTEL: No, sir.
BLITZER: Our George Howell and Sunny Hostin, they're both outside the court in Sanford, Florida. George, let me start with you. This young woman very soft spoken, very reluctant to be there, that's obvious to anyone who's been watching her testimony. Give us the headlines of what happened over the past few hours today for those viewers who were not watching.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, certainly. Well, you have to first compare what we saw yesterday to what we're seeing today. Yesterday, it was combative even dismissive with certain questions. Today, it is more subdued and, in fact, you do see those contentious exchanges between Ms. Jeantel and attorney Don West. But she always answers with a yes, sir or no, sir. She seems to hold to what she has been saying all along. It's come down to this, really. This new statement that she's made this time here in this trial where she's saying that she heard Trayvon Martin say, get off, get off, indicating that somehow he was being attacked. And then, the words before that, I could have heard or I could hear Trayvon Martin saying get off, get off. You see that Don West is really going over that, you know, one way after another trying to figure out exactly what she said, and it's become somewhat of an exhaustive three hours of grilling. She's been on the stand for more than three hours today, was on the stand over an hour yesterday, you know, so, you know, how much longer this will continue is really anybody's guess.
BLITZER: Yes, it's not over with yet, her testimony, even though they're on a lunch break right now.
Sunny, you were in the courtroom. You were watching the jurors. Give us your assessment how they were reacting to her as a credible or perhaps not so credible witness.
HOSTIN: Yes, from my read, Wolf, and I was pretty close to the jury in the jury room, they were leaning forward. They were listening to every single word she was saying. They were taking notes. They certainly were engaged. I understand that one of the jurors asked yesterday for Miss Jeantel to repeat herself. Not so today. They seem to now have gotten used to her cadence, gotten used to the way that she speaks. And I don't think they're having any trouble understanding her.
What has been interesting, though, is that she has been very consistent, although the defense, of course, is cross-examining her. She has been very consistent, Wolf, in saying that what she heard was George Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin, pursuing Trayvon Martin, and approaching Trayvon Martin. Now, why is that important? That is crucial, crucial for the state because the defense here is one of self-defense.
However, if you are the first aggressor, if you pursue, if you start a confrontation, you cannot avail yourself really of self-defense. It almost takes self-defense off the table and that is why she is being cross-examined so harshly on the witness stand and that is why her testimony is so important. But by my view, this jury seems to get her and the longer she stays on the witness stand, Wolf, I think the more sympathetic she becomes and I think the more empathetic she becomes.
BLITZER: You know, she's also -- she -- it was clearly a lot less argumentative, Sunny, today than she was yesterday. Here is an example. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
WEST: Are you okay this morning?
WEST: You seem so different than yesterday. Just checking. Did someone talk with --
JEANTEL: Is that a question?
WEST: Yes. Did someone talk with you last night about your demeanor in court yesterday?
JEANTEL: No, I went to sleep.
BLITZER: She hopefully got a good night's sleep. What do you make of this, Sunny?
HOSTIN: You know, I think it's fascinating because when we first saw her this morning on the witness stand, I thought the same exact thing. I thought, wow, this is a different witness. We're not seeing that petulant teenager. We're not seeing that, you know, aggressive and abrasive behavior. And I thought maybe someone did speak to her, maybe an attorney spoke to her, maybe a family member said, you've got to pull it back. You've got to cool it down. But she says, no, that's not what happened. She just got some sleep. And we all do feel a bit better, Wolf, after we get a good night's sleep, right?
BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do. And she's the one that said yesterday at the end of her testimony when the defense attorney said, we'll need you for another two or three hours tomorrow, she was clearly visibly upset about that. She didn't want to be there. But she's continuing that testimony and more yet to come. Guys, don't go too far away. George Howell and Sunny Hostin, we'll be checking back with you in Sanford.
The George Zimmerman trial will be back, as I say, later this hour. We'll monitor the testimony. We'll break it all down for you.
Also coming up, it's a win for same-sex marriage supporters but can social conservatives really do anything about it? Can they derail what happened yesterday? What can they do to fight the Supreme Court's decision? We'll update you on that.
BLITZER: Supporters of same-sex marriage say they are energized and encouraged by yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court rulings. But same-sex marriage opponents insist the battle isn't over. They vow to continue their fight in their own states and here in Washington, they'll definitely have a key ally up on Capitol Hill. Congressman Tim Huelskamp, a Republican from Kansas, says he will try to get same-sex marriages banned by amending the United States Constitution. Congressman Huelskamp is joining us now from Capitol Hill. What do you think, congressman? Do you have any chance of getting this amendment passed or is this just an effort on your part to express your deep anger what the Supreme Court did yesterday?
REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R), KANSAS: Well, it was simply an outrageous decision of judicial activism and they attempted to short circuit the Democratic process and we are just starting on the amendment and given 43 million Americans have already voted in favor of traditional marriage, I think we've got a shot. But it's a long ways to go. It's a difficult route. But, again, at least the court did not go as far as invalidating these laws and amendments in 37 states that continue to protect traditional marriage today.
BLITZER: You need 290 votes in the House of Representatives to at least begin this process of getting a Constitutional amendment. There is virtually no chance that that would happen, right?
HUELSKAMP: Well, I don't know about no chance. You don't know until you try, and I think given this decision which I think has shocked a lot of Americans and the court would step this star and accuse Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress, at a time, of animus. And, you know, the decision was outrageous. I think it's going to encourage a lot of folks to step forward and say, hey, we've got to protect marriage and protect families and particularly our children.
BLITZER: The last time your supporters tried this in 2006, you got 236 votes. As I say, you need 290 in the House. And public opinion in these years since then has clearly shifted in favor of same-sex marriage. So, for all practical purposes, you're not going to get that vote in the House.
HUELSKAMP: Well, we'll see. You know, if public opinion shifted, why hasn't the State of Illinois passed that? Clearly, when Republicans are talking about outreach to minority communities, that's where we see some strong support of traditional marriage. And so, yes, they'll make some different divisions in Washington. I think we're going to have some strong support but we do have a long ways to go. But the outrage of a court that takes it upon itself to attempt to redefine marriage. At the same time, we have 37 states maintaining a traditional definition of marriage. We -- all we need is 38 states when that time comes in order to prove a constitutional amendment. So, we've got a long ways to go but I think we have a shot.
BLITZER: But before you get the states ratifying it, you've got to get the House and the Senate and it looks impossible, at least if you look at the numbers right now. How many co-sponsors do you have for this constitutional amendment?
HUELSKAMP: We just started. We waited until the decision came out and took a look at it and realized that was the route we needed to go given the tortured logic of the court, given they're inviting future lawsuits. And we'll continue to go down a path which has certain constitutional skepticism, so we don't know how many have signed on. We just started today and we'll hopefully introduce it maybe tomorrow if not next week as the original starting line for this process.
BLITZER: Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, thanks very much for joining us.
HUELSKAMP: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger right now. Gloria, what are the chances that social conservatives out there and others can fight the same sex marriage successfully, given the legal victories in the Supreme Court and the public opinion trends we have seen dramatically change over the past 10, 15 years.
GLORIA BORGER CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the constitutional amendment you were just talking about is just not going to happen. Public opinion as you just showed is a majority is in favor of same sex marriage. I think when you talk to conservatives as I do, in an ideal world what they would like to do is what the opponents of abortion did after Roe v. Wade that, decision for the Supreme Court. They want to mobilize against the court and against the decision and use it as a wedge issue in political campaigns.
But, Wolf, the problem they have got is the public opinion is not on their side. So it is a really uphill battle right now and the Republican party is split about what to do on this because if you want to bring younger voters into the party, this may not be way to do it by campaigning against gay marriage.
BLITZER: We'll have Gloria back later today in "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 5 p.m. eastern to continue this conversation. Gloria, thanks very much.
Coming up, confessions of a black journalist. You will hear one man's take on Paula Deen's past use of the N-word, are many of us being hypocrites? He has some strong views. Stay with us.
BLITZER: New trouble brewing today for the southern cooking queen Paula Deen. Walmart, Target, Home Depot they have joined the list of companies to cut ties with her today. This after Deen admitted using the N-word and tolerating racial jokes at work.
The topic of race, certainly a very touchy, sensitive subject and we've got people on one side saying Deen deserves to lose her empire. Others have a different point of view, they're clearly much more sympathetic. The journalist Anthony Cook is joining us now from "The Huntsville Times." Anthony, thanks very much for coming in. You have written a very provocative piece that sheds a certain light on Deen's use of that N-word. Tell us about your bottom line.
ANTHONY COOK, JOUNRNALIST: We're not hearing anything on this end.
BLITZER: Anthony, can you hear me snow? Anthony? We're going to have to fix that communication with Anthony.
COOK: I can hear you now.
BLITZER: Anthony, you can hear me. Good. Excellent. Tell us about the article you wrote. I read it. Clearly provocative. Explain why are you to a certain degree are sympathetic to Paula Deen.
COOK: I don't know that I would use sympathetic to Paula Deen. I think the issue with Paula Deen provided an opportunity to address something that doesn't get discussed often and that's the use of the N-word in this country, and the fact there is a double standard for who uses it and how it is used.
I would start by first of all acknowledging that a black person calling me the N-word could never cut me as deeply as a white person who were to call me the N-word, but the point of the column was to ask the question or raise the question why does anybody want to use it?
BLITZER: Which is a horrible word and no one should use it, but you acknowledge in the column that at one point in your life you used to use that word yourself, right?
COOK: Correct. Growing up, as a youth, I think we live in a culture where it has become acceptable to use it casually, almost as a term of affection in the black community, but I just feel like there is a -- the word carries with it an inherent history that is derogatory towards our race, and in my own personal growth I came to understand it as not good to use the word at all.
BLITZER: Yeah, it's a horrible word whether used by blacks or whites or anyone else. I think we all agree. What is your opinion if you don't mind sharing with us, what should happen to Paula Deen because she acknowledges she did use that N-word.
COOK: Right. Now, the thing about with Paula Deen, and I think I expressed this in the column, is that it wasn't so much the use of the N-word, and I say that explicitly in the column that my column was not a defense of her. I think, though, that in coupled with the use of the N-word the charges are that there was other actions that took place that indicated some racial discrimination in the workplace. So I think that should just play out legally, whatever judge and jury decides or whatever the court adjudicators decide needs to happen with her, that's what happens, but Paula Deen is a big girl. She doesn't need Anthony Cook to defend her.
BLITZER: She certainly is. You make excellent points, though. This is a horrible, horrible word and no one, no one should use it under any circumstances. Anthony, thanks very much for writing the article and thanks for joining us here on CNN.
COOK: Thanks, Wolf, for having me.
BLITZER: The Zimmerman trial is in recess right now. They're taking a lunch break. We'll continue to follow it here in the CNN NEWSROOM throughout the day. Stand by. More dramatic testimony no doubt coming up including George Zimmerman's massive weight gain. We'll take a closer look at how that might help or hurt his case.
We'll also have more on the NSA leaker Edward Snowden as he is waiting and waiting and waiting, still holed up apparently in the Mascow airport in the transit zone. President Obama is saying what he won't do to bring him back to the United States. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: All right, this just coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston bomber, has just been indicted. Thirty -- 30 counts, the indictment includes. There is going to be a news conference, 3 p.m. eastern in Massachusetts. The U.S. attorney's office, the Middlesex district attorney's office, they're holding a joint news conference at 3PM to go through these 30 counts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surveying suspected Boston marathon bomber, who is in prison right now. He has been indicted on 30 counts. Stay with us. We'll have complete coverage obviously throughout the afternoon.
Other news we're following, President Obama says he won't, won't be scrambling any fighter jets to bring Edward Snowden back to the United States. For now Snowden is believed to b still hanging out in that transit area of the Moscow airport. Russia describes it as a legal, quote, "no-man's land" and says Snowden is free to leave at any time. What's the next move? Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr has been getting some new information. Barbara, what are the options for the U.S. right now trying to bring Snowden back to face charge?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very tough, Wolf, unless the RussianS suddenly have a change of heart. Right now Snowden is in that airport no-man's land hunkered down trying to look apparently for a place to go, but the Russians aren't that anxious apparently to help him out. Earlier today in a press conference on his trip in Africa, President Obama spoke about all of this and suddenly was making quite clear he considers this a fairly routine, non-exceptional, law enforcement matter and he is not about to let this grow into a global flashpoint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I am not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite, suddenly being elevated to the point I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues. Simply to get a guy extradited so that he can face the justice system here in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Extradition, the president keeps talking about extradition. That's what they're after with the Russians, a clean, simple extradition. Russia not yet apparently willing to do that. But, Wolf, the bottom line right now in Washington is how much damage did Edward Snowden really cause? There is a lot of skepticism in some quarters that what he has done is basically embarrass the administration, that he hasn't revealed all that much that terrorists and other didn't already know, which is that the government conducts surveillance. But others say no, he has caused very grave damage.