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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Morsy's Out; Egypt's President Ousted In Military Coup; Zimmerman Prosecutors Call DNA Witness
Aired July 3, 2013 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN'S THE LEAD. To our viewers here in the United States and around the world, breaking news, we're bringing you live coverage right now from Cairo. These are supporters of President Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrating. They are distressed, outraged, upset after the Egyptian military ousted the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsy in a coup, although the military is not calling it a coup because they say they're setting the stage for parliamentary and presidential elections coming up in around nine months or so.
We were just told by an Egyptian general, called it deja vu all over again. Egypt grew tired of, well, alleged dictator is a little strong, but someone who led the country and did not show the highest concerns for human freedoms and democracy is all putting President Obama in an awkward position. I want to go now to the White House, where Dan Lothian is covering it for us. Dan, the president is in the west wing, what is the reaction from the administration? What is the president doing?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right. You know, all indications are that the president at this hour is meeting with top members of his administration within the last hour or so. We saw Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Attorney General Eric Holder, and also CIA Director John Brennan and others arriving here at the White House.
We were told by senior administration officials that the president was receiving updates throughout the day from his national security team. All expectations were that the situation in Egypt could have been handled through a smooth political process, that pressure on Morsy could have led to perhaps early elections, then came these dramatic turn of events. We are waiting official reaction from the Obama administration, which we expect to come from the White House.
TAPPER: Dan Lothian, we'll check back with you in a minute. Joining us now is former chief of staff for the Pentagon and also chief of staff for the CIA, Jeremy Bash, and Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Jeremy, I'm going to start with you. You've been in some of those meetings. What exactly is the president trying to decide right now?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: This is a tough situation, Jake, because normally revolution happened either by the bullet or the ballot, and this is more by the bullhorn, something in between. It's really a continuation of the revolution that began in the beginning of 2011 and even in that case, the president was still in a tough spot because Mubarak had been our ally. We had interests in maintaining stability in Egypt, maintaining passes through the Suez, maintaining the border with Gaza and Sinai and maintaining, of course, the peace treaty with Egypt.
So at that time the president decided ultimately to push Mubarak out and go with the street. Here we have a democratically elected Morsy. The administration has been trying to work with the Morsy government. There have been fits and starts. Some progress, they've maintained the peace treaty. They have maintained passage through the Suez, maintained good operations on counter-terrorism, but then again, they keep pursuit in an Islamist agenda.
He rammed the constitution through. He didn't listen to the ultimatum and he didn't listen to the street and so the question is really how far out there will the president go to say that he agrees with what has happened here and that he is now back in the new political paradigm in Egypt.
TAPPER: Robert, some interesting reaction from the general there when I tried to explain that democracy doesn't work like -- you don't like the president, therefore you get the military to remove him. If you had been that general, what would you have said?
ROBERT SATLOFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: I don't think General Yazal gave the most effective explanation for what happened today. I think a more compelling explanation is millions of Egyptian had a face-off, and to protect thousands of lives that would have been lost if violence began in the streets of Cairo, the military intervened, stopped historic bloodshed. Now the question really is how quickly they hand this over to civilian leaders. The president does have a decision to make about whether to formally label this a coup, and thereby suspend U.S. assistance. I think that would be a mistake.
TAPPER: Do you think there's wiggle room in the U.S. law about coups, where it says you can assess it and do what you want to do essentially.
SATLOFF: Yes, I think that would be a mistake to label this action a coup and to penalize the Egyptians for what just happened. The opportunity is now to turn a leaf, and to see whether or not civilian leadership can emerge and an orderly constitutional process take place. We have to do it right the second time, because our engagement with the military the first time, two years ago, led to this.
TAPPER: Jeremy, if you were in that room right now advising either Defense Secretary Hagel, CIA Director Brennan or President Obama, what would you be saying is the most important thing for him to do in the first statement that they give?
BASH: Well, first, they have to maintain open lines of communication --
TAPPER: To the military.
BASH: They're talking to Al Sissi. Al Sissi is someone who Secretary Hagel has worked with Secretary Panetta before and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marty Dempsey. They have been in touch and they really have to wait a little bit, Jake, and watch and see. Obviously, they want to get behind the popular sentiment of the protest. They want to get behind Al Sissi in the military, which has thrown Morsy out.
They don't want to be behind that power curve, but they also want to make sure that they send a signal that they are for democracy and they are for democratic evolutions and democratic transitions. I don't think there's any question in this case that we're going to see ultimately the United States work with whoever Al Sissi, the military in the streets put forward in the Egyptian government.
TAPPER: All right, we're going to come back to you guys in a second. We're going to take a very quick break. You just heard what Washington thinks about the situation in Egypt. We're going to go next back live to Tahrir Square as the protests and rallies continue in Cairo. It's 10:35 at night there. We are just getting a response from the Muslim Brotherhood. Stick around for that.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Breaking news, we're bringing you live coverage from Cairo right now after the Egyptian military ousted democratically elected President Mohammed Morsy in a coup literally just in the last hour or so. Let's go to our Becky Anderson standing by live in Cairo right near Tahrir Square. Becky, Morsy's group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is reacting. What are they saying?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just about an hour ago as you suggested that the military went on television and announced that they had effectively deposed the democratically elected president, defeated President Morsy, and were installing a transitional government going forth. This is what the Muslim Brotherhood, who are behind President Morsy and his government have said tonight.
They said, and I quote, "This is a conspiracy against legitimacy, a military coup, the waste, the will of the people, and returned Egypt to tyranny." They went on to say on their official web site just moments ago. Millions condemn the coup and support the legitimate presidency, the former regime is returning at the cost of the January 25 marches."
That is what the Muslim Brotherhood was saying tonight. When they refer to the former regime returning at the cost of the blood of the January 25th martyrs, just to give you a sense of what I believe they mean by that, there is much talk here that there are elements of the former Hosni Mubarak regime who are exploiting what is being as political crisis for leverage, for their own gain, for back into politics.
You ask anybody here, even staunch members of the opposition, and they will say that's probably true, that there are elements of the old Hosni Mubarak regime who will be package at a timing here in Egypt once again. It's very interesting to hear from the Muslim Brotherhood. They are by no means giving up. This is an organization that took 18 years to get a foothold in Egyptian politics. Now they see the end of that looming, and they are very, very angry, as are their supporters this evening.
TAPPER: All right, Becky Anderson, I want to bring in Egyptian commentator and activist Mona Eltahawy and Ed Hussein, he is a senior fellow from the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the book "The Islamist." Mona, starting with you, first of all, of course, I hope all your friends and family over in Egypt have managed to stay safe over the past few days as tensions in Cairo have boiled over.
But I want to ask just a very basic question for Americans and others watching at home who don't understand why all these demonstrators who presumably, many of them are the same people who were marching again Mubarak, why they would think it acceptable for there to be a coup against somebody who is democratically elected. Even if he was a horrible leader, why the act of a coup is OK?
MONA ELTAHAWY, EGYPTIAN COMMENTATOR: For many people marching in Egypt today and for the past few days, Jake, this has been much more than, is this a coup or not, and was Morsy a horrible leader? It's quite simply that Morsy usurped his position to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood and to consolidate his own power. Now from the very beginning, when we got rid of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egyptians have maintained all along that anyone who tries to lead us in an authoritarian way, we will stand up against. This is a strong message we also send out to the military. This is not a coup. What happened in Egypt is millions of Egyptians, many of whom voted for Mohamed Morsy, but have watched him over the past year marginalize, intimidate and send into detention any opponents, basically prevent Egyptians from forming the kind of institutions that we could use to stand up against him. The only avenue we had left as Egyptians was the streets, and we are sending a clear message to the military today that we will not allow them to return to rule.
TAPPER: Mona, there is another avenue, which is another election, you defeat President Morsy. I mean -- look, I don't want to defend President Morsy.
ELTAHAWY: How, Jake?
TAPPER: But the idea is the next election, you defeat him.
ELTAHAWY: How could we have formed political parties when most activists and many heads of political parties were being either sent to jail or being prevented from travel or being intimidated by Mohammed Morsy. He used his own installed prosecutor general to intimidate even comedians. We had more cases of quote/unquote, "insulting the president" under Mohammed Morsy than we had under Mubarak.
So it's easy for you to say from outside of Egypt you should have waited for the next election, but how, when we are being prevented from creating the very political institutions that we need to lead us to the elections by the same man who in November last year consolidated amazing amounts of power to create a constitution to basically making two bodies powerful, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.
And now today, we see the military, which he left unchecked turned against him after millions of Egyptians and this is the point now, millions of Egyptians Hosni Mubarak -- he is almost the same for me, told Mohammed Morsy, that you are no longer our leader because you failed to represent it.
TAPPER: Ed Husain, your thoughts?
ED HUSAIN, AUTHOR, "THE ISLAMIST": I think it's a very sad day for Egypt. This is not the end of President Morsy or this is the end of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mona Eltahawy is a very good friend of mine. It's sad to sit here and see the defense of the overthrow of however dislikable and detested a democratically elected president. The way to overthrow him is at the ballot box.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the military have held five elections thus far for various referenda, the constitution, parliamentary elections, presidential elections and so on. And more elections are in the offing. Morsy had three more years to go, and before that, there were parliamentary elections, too. The opposition has been divided, the opposition has not had a leader, a vision, and the mobilization of the masses on the street is not to the credit of the opposition as such, but for the failure of the Morsy government.
And I fear -- I fear that the worst is yet to come, in the sense that we have not yet seen the response of the Muslim Brotherhood or its more stream violent cousins. They will not sit back and say jolly good job, Morsy is out of power now. They will do everything in their power to rise against military rule and the government of whoever comes next, if it's not a government that they are somehow in control of.
The last point, if we're worried about anti-Americanism of the secular variety that your program earlier alluded to the anti-Americanism of these mad Islamists and Salafi organizations is the type of violence that we're seeing play out in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by deposing Muslim Brotherhood president, we have not disengaged the Muslim Brotherhood from the political process for at least the next few months. The result, I'm afraid, in greater division, greater violence, and greater chaos in the Arab world's most important country.
TAPPER: That's a big fear. Sitting in the studio with me along with Robert Satloff and Jeremy Bash is Ambassador Ed Walker. He was U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 1994 to 1998. The U.S. right now, Ambassador, is in a very difficult situation. You see the crowds out there on this side of the screen, the left side of the screen, they are essentially in support of -- people can disagree with my diction, but of a coup.
ED WALKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: Right, but it's a coup based on an enormous outpouring of people, and outpouring of popular opinion, moving against Morsy. I looked it up on Wikipedia and coup is not very clear to what it means by a coup, but one thing it said is that an authority could be a popular uprising against an authoritarian or totalitarian regime, to topple the regime for the limited purpose of holding a free and fair election, and that's called a democratic coup.
TAPPER: A democratic coup, when there are supposedly elections coming up.
TAPPER: Jeremy, whatever it's called, there's going to be enormous pressure on the United States from all directions. Explain what the president and others are talking about right now.
BASH: Well, the first thing they are thinking about is how do we achieve our strategic objectives in Egypt? We want to maintain the peace treaty with Israel. We want to keep the Suez open. We want to keep the momentum going on counter-terrorism. We do want to say that we're for democracy. We're always for the ballot box, but here we have a Al Sissi who is the trusted actor.
TAPPER: The general who led the coup.
BASH: Who led the effort to get Morsy out.
TAPPER: The effort, whatever you want to call it.
BASH: And one Middle East commentator sent me an e-mail that said this is really revolution 2.0. It's a continuation of the revolution that began in January 2011. If you look at it holistically and look at it across the timeline in the last two years, this has been an effort by the Egyptian people to have their voice heard. Morsy was not pursuing processes, democratic processes. In fact some would argue it was shammed democracy.
TAPPER: Look, I don't want to get into the position of defending President Morsy, I'm not. I'm just playing devil's advocate when it comes to some of these issues, but Robert Satloff, you saw on Monday President Obama trying to talk about how he was giving a press conference in Tanzania about how the U.S. has really looked at the democratic efforts that have been made by Muslim Brotherhood and by Egyptian governments. That's not necessarily where some critics say the U.S. has put its efforts. Others say it has more to do with the security considerations. What do you expect to hear from President Obama when he finally speaks on this?
SATLOFF: Well, I hope that the president says what Jeremy said about the security side, but doesn't limit itself to the security side, because that really has been missing over the last two years, where we have essentially given the Muslim Brotherhood a free rein domestically as long as they played by our regional security interests. What this tells us, with millions of people in the street, is that there is a civic society in Egypt that wants to be engaged, wants our support and wants to be heard. We have to take that seriously. TAPPER: All right, we're closely following the developments. We will bring you the very latest when we come back after this very quick break.
Plus, of course, there's that other story, the prosecution wrapping up its case in the George Zimmerman murder trial. We'll go back live to the courtroom as the final prosecution witness testifies.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're following the breaking news out of Egypt. The coup is what former President Morsy is calling it. It has forced him, a democratically elected president, out of power. More on that shortly, but first we want to catch you up on another major story back here in the United States, of course, the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
I want to bring in Martin Savidge who is standing by live at the courthouse in Sanford, Florida. Martin, what's the jury seeing right now? What is going on in the courthouse?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right now, they have been dealing with DNA. This is actually been very complicated and consumed much of at least the later part of the afternoon. The gist of it right now is that so far none of Trayvon's DNA was found on the gun. Also none of George Zimmerman's DNA was found under the fingernails of Trayvon Martin, and none of Zimmerman's DNA was found on the hooded sweatshirt that Trayvon was wearing.
All of that not necessarily good for the defense because George had said at one point Trayvon tried to reach and actually got a hold of his gun, and also the fact that George said he was being beaten. If there's no Zimmerman DNA under Trayvon's fingernails and none especially on the cuffs of that hoodie, well, it would make jurors wonder how badly was that beating taken place and did he ever get a hold of that gun -- Jake.
TAPPER: I want to get some more analysis from Chaney Mason, a criminal defense attorney, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and Jelani Cobb, writer with the "New Yorker." Today prosecutors have showed Martin's hoodie, Trayvon Martin's famous hoodie, with the bullet hole in it. We want to show you that moment in court as the firearms analyst who examined the sweatshirt describes what tests she did on that hoodie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Explain to the jury first what this is, what you saw and what you did.
AMY SIEWERT, CRIME LABORATORY ANALYST: This was -- evidence that I examined for distance determination, and what I did was I was looking at the surrounding this hole. I was looking for partially burned or unburned gun powder particles. I was looking for any kind of soothing present around the hole as well as looking at the ends of the fibers to whether they were blackened, singed or melting. RIONDA: If you would just stand back so the court reporter has a visual of you, that would help. What did you do to test-fire with this particular -- you took a cutting or what did you do?
SIEWERT: I did. I removed a portion of the back of the sweatshirt for testing purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I want to ask my panel whether you think that the introduction of the hoodie in court today was more forensic in nature or psychological. I'm going to start with you, Jelani Cobb. I can't -- we can't hear his volume right now. Something is wrong with it. Jeff Toobin, I'll go to you. Was it more forensic or psychological, the impact of that hoodie in court today?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the prosecution has -- the prosecution has to introduce how he died, and certainly the hoodie and the gun are indispensable evidence of that. There's no particular controversy about how Trayvon Martin died. Everybody knows that George Zimmerman killed him. The only issue in this case is whether it was self-defense, but there's symbolism to seeing a gun and the famous hoodie in the courtroom. So I don't think it makes conviction significantly more likely, but it is certainly a moving thing to see the actual murder weapon and to see the actual hoodie in which the 17-year-old boy died.
TAPPER: Jelani, now that your volume, your microphone is working, what did you think?
JELANI COBB, WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes, I think the same. You know, when we look at the bigger picture here, this is kind of part of a longer trajectory that the prosecution has had. It seems that they put a long arc in laying out their argument, but you've been able to see in the last two days them bring together the points they want to make about just what they believe happened that night. I think bringing in this hoodie right now is a reminder of who Trayvon Martin was as a person and the connection to action you know, everything we saw with people going out wearing hoodies in public in protest, and so on.
TAPPER: Cheney Mason, you know something about high-profile cases in Florida. How do you think the defense is doing in general over the last week or so?
CHENEY MASON, CASEY ANTHONY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think they're doing a very good job with what they have. I would be a little concerned about all of the inconsistent statements that keep coming out, the product of letting Mr. Zimmerman talk and go on TV shows. That's not something I would support. I think that's likely to hurt him. Going back to the hoodie, I would be interested in what meaningful forensics there were. Is there gunshot residue?
Is there stippling on the outside of the hoodie that can give the forensic experts the ability to say with a certain amount of precision just exactly how far away the gun was when he was shot? You've got different stories about the victim being right on stop or sitting up, and that's bothersome to me.
I would want to pin it down and know just exactly. Was the gun shot from one inch away, or a contact wound or from 8 or 10 inches away? That can be determined by test-firing and determining the pattern of discharge of the gun powder.
TAPPER: Jelani, only about 15 seconds left. I want your thought on today, whether or not you think that the prosecution continues to have a difficult time with its case, as many commentators seem to suggest they are.
COBB: I think so. The one important thing that came out today was the absence of his finger prints or DNA on that weapon, which raises the question of whether or not Trayvon Martin even knew that George Zimmerman had a gun.
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thank you so much.