Return to Transcripts main page
Representative for Muslim Brotherhood Speaks Out; Unrest in Egypt, Awaiting Military Statement; Zimmerman on Trial
Aired July 3, 2013 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, very quickly, Reza, we see a huge pro- Morsi crowd on the right part of our screen, a huge anti-Morsi crowd at Tahrir Square where you are on the left part of our screen, how close are these two groups, these thousands and thousands of pro- and anti-Morsi elements?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Without traffic, they're about 20 minutes apart, and over the past 24 hours, especially at Cairo University last night, there have been some clashes between opponents and supporters. They turned deadly, at least 23 people killed.
But we should point out, overwhelmingly, these demonstrations for and against President Morsi have been peaceful. We've been out to the demonstrations supporting President Morsi, and they've repeatedly stated their position that this is a president that was democratically elected. Maybe he wasn't perfect, but nothing justifies forcing him out of power. Let him finish out his term. That's the democratic thing to do.
But that call is rejected by the opposition factions behind us who sense that President Morsi's end is near, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Reza, stand by. Ivan Watson is there, Christiane Amanpour. We're going to be joined by Fareed Zakaria, momentarily.
We'll take a quick break, resume our special coverage of the latest developments in Egypt right after this.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're following the breaking news, historic news emerging from Egypt right now.
Once again, I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. A top advisor to the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, says there is a military coup now under way to try to remover him from power.
Ben Wedeman is standing by. He's at that pro-Morsi rally in Cairo. Ben, tell us what you're hearing.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're hearing is some very angry words from the people here. They don't believe what they're hearing in some of the media here in Egypt, that, for instance, President Morsi is under house arrest. They still believe that he's in control of the country.
And what we're hearing is that they plan on staying here in an open- ended protest, a sit in, if that is the case. Certainly, many of them will tell you that they feel that President Morsi is the object of a conspiracy, a conspiracy by the army, by the remnants of the old regime of Hosni Mubarak, by the police who did nothing, for instance, to protect their headquarters when it was attacked and ransacked on the night of the 30th of June.
So, definitely a lot of anger here, and they're also bracing for the possibility that, if the army sends its tanks into the streets that they could have problems in this area.
So, for instance, to get to this particular demonstration, we had to go through three lines of men with shields, helmets and clubs, which they say they are protecting the protesters from the possibility of attacks by the anti-Morsi crowd. So there's a lot of suspicion, a lot of anger and a lot of trepidation at what the coming hours will bring, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, this could be a total, total nightmare on the streets of Cairo, also in Alexandria and elsewhere in Egypt.
Ben Wedeman has spent years covering this story. We'll get back to you momentarily.
Fareed Zakaria is watching what's going on. Fareed, what does it say to you, and I'll tell you what it said to me, this morning, when the major state-run newspaper in Egypt, Al-Ahram, which all of us are familiar with, apparently the Egyptian military has now taken control of Al-Ahram.
What does that say to you, Fareed?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, it tells us that the Egyptian military has very large equities in this whole thing.
Remember, this is a country run by the military for seven decades, ever since Nasser in the 1950s. It has enormous power and economic privileges. It's trying to make sure, among other things -- of course, it's, you know, worried about the country, but it is trying to make sure that it's power and privileges stay intact.
And, in order to do that, it decided that it needed to come out and back the opposition to Morsi. As you say, that Al-Ahram headline was absolutely fascinating. It said, "Resignation or removal."
In other words, it was giving Morsi two choices, and they have outlined very clearly what they intend to do. They intend to remove Morsi, put in place an interim president, suspend the constitution and rewrite it.
Now the deadline has passed, and it would be -- you know, this is a moment of great confrontation because they have outlined what they intend to do. We'll have to see whether they hold to it, but clearly, there are very high stakes for them because they intend to preserve their extraordinarily privileged position in Egypt that has continued under this government.
BLITZER: It puts the U.S., the Obama administration, Fareed, in a bit of an awkward situation. On the one hand, the U.S. wants to support a democratically-elected president of Egypt. On the other hand, the U.S. clearly has not been very happy with some of the policies of this leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was democratically elected, albeit by a narrow margin, 52 percent to 48 percent.
What, if anything -- what kind of influence does the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state have on what's happening on the streets of Egypt right now?
ZAKARIA: Wolf, you put it exactly right, very complicated situation, very tough for the Obama administration. You want to support democracy. On the other hand, this has been a democratic leader who has governed badly, who has abused power, who has ignored the minority, and it has produced a street protest.
So the American ambassador gave us an interview in which she said we're against military intervention. We think that would be the wrong idea. Some people criticized here because it was seen as supporting Morsi.
On the other hand, it may have stayed the military's hand in the sense of preventing a kind of outright coup, and what you're seeing, perhaps. is a more soft or gentle version of that. They are talking about new elections. They are talking about a civilian head of government.
On the other hand, Obama then tried to present Morsi with an option, which is, you promise fresh elections and that can diffuse the situation. So you see them trying to thread this needle, support the Democratic process while recognize there's this huge street opposition.
But don't forget, no matter what they do, they're going to be damned if they do, damned if they don't. That's why I think they're best off just withdrawing somewhat. Don't forget, Wolf, if this happens, and Ben Wedeman put it very well, if there is some kind of military soft or hard coup, the Muslim Brotherhood is going to come out in much greater force.
This is the strongest political movement in Egypt. They believe that after 80 years in the wilderness they have been elected. And if they were now displaced by a political military coup, they're not going to go home and be quiet.
BLITZER: They're not going to give up easily, absolutely right, given the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt over these past 80 years.
Fareed, stand by. Christiane is still with us.
Christiane, as we look at this situation, and Fareed is absolutely right, there are limited U.S. options to try to do the right thing.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, you know, that's hard to know how to talk about right now with this immense outpouring now on the streets.
Obviously, the president of the United States has been in touch with President Morsi. Secretary of Defense Hagel has called his opposite number, who may or not be in the middle of a full-scale military coup. We do not know.
But we do have on the line right now, Gehad El-Haddad, who is a leading spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. We've spoken to him many times before and he's right there at the pro-Morsi rally.
Gehad, can you hear me?
GEHAD EL-HADDAD, ADVISER TO EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MORSI (via telephone): I can.
AMANPOUR: Can you tell me what you're doing? What the military is doing? Will you describe what you're seeing now?
EL-HADDAD (via telephone): There's military tanks and armored vehicles from nearby storage facilities coming from the northern entrance and southern entrance. The protesters and demonstrators swept through the frontlines and stood in front of the tanks. The military personnel fired a few warning shots in the air. That had more people step in front. One shot a Muslim Brotherhood member in the leg. He was carried to a hospital.
AMANPOUR: All right. Gehad, have the military given any orders or are they there to keep the two sides apart? What are they doing? Have they given any orders?
EL-HADDAD (via telephone): There's only one side calling for the military coup. The other side already handed the responsibility to the military. There's only one side here. It's either a democratic coup or a military coup.
These tanks now approaching, I don't have destination on it. They are giving orders to disperse to people and the people will not be dispersed.
AMANPOUR: You are Muslim Brotherhood and the crowd you're with are pro-Morsi. Can you tell me where is president Morsi and what is his fate? Where is president Morsi?
EL-HADDAD (via telephone): Let me just correct something. It was a pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi issue four or five days ago. We have anti- Morsi protesters with us. They don't believe military intervention is proper. It's a democracy. You can't go to the negotiation table with guns and ammunition in tanks. This is not how democracy is being pushed into the scene.
At the moment, we don't know the whereabouts of the president. I cannot confirm or deny any of the rumors. AMANPOUR: What do you know about the talks going on today? The military says it's been talking to a group of national political young people, religious people. Has it been talking to members of the Morsi government and the freedom justice party?
EL-HADDAD (via telephone): They invited members of the party to a meeting the party refused saying the military has no place in politics to do any type of mediation. It's supposed to follow a strict chain of command. More than half the country is willing to stand in front of the military. Under no circumstances will we ever accept a political tear backed coup that installs an ill legitimate leader. He's a respectable man as he is. We will stand in.
AMANPOUR: Gehad El-Haddad, you're describing a situation in which the battle lines are dawn. I asked you where President Morsi is. You said you have been cut off from communications and do not know. Thank you for joining me.
And, Wolf, one of the newspapers there, Al Ahram, which is a state run newspaper, is quoting senior officials saying that President Morsi is no longer part of the decision making process. We don't know what that means exactly, but that is what they're saying, and it looks like the military may soon be perhaps ready to actually speak out, as it says it will, on what the immediate future looks like for Egypt. Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, we're waiting from that statement from the Egyptian military. Clearly a decisive moment. And as we've been reporting now, it looks, Christiane, like Al Ahram, the state run newspaper, the major newspaper of Egypt, has now been taken over effectively by the Egyptian military. And for them to be reporting, Al Ahram, that Mohamed Morsi no longer has any decision making powers, that he's not part of the decision making process, quoting a top Egyptian, that is very, very significant because it clearly pits the Egyptian military on one side versus this democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, the effective leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, on the other side.
These are critical moments indeed. We're watching both of these demonstrations. Much more coverage coming up. But for now I want to go back to Ashleigh Banfield.
Ashleigh, this is historic news unfolding on the streets of Cairo right now. There's other news we're following as well.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Remarkable news out of Egypt and a story that has transfixed this country here in America, Wolf.
In Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, in week two of his second degree murder trial, is hearing all the evidence against him. The great seal of the state of Florida is focused right now because there's a brief break in this courtroom so our viewers aren't missing any coverage, any live testimony at all.
But there has been some significant testimony this morning. And to put it into context, we've got our expert legal analysts lined up. You're going to hear some of it and you can make your own mind up as to whether this is for George Zimmerman or against George Zimmerman or if it even matters at all. We're back right after this break.
BANFIELD: Live back. Zimmerman on trial. I'm Ashleigh Banfield in Sanford, Florida, the location of this gripping second degree murder trial.
And this day has offered no shortage of gripping testimony as well. Every bit of it critical because the devils in the details when it comes to all of this and both sides know it.
I want to show you right off the bat what was paraded around in this courtroom. It's a little difficult for some people to look at evidence like this, but it was, of course, the sweatshirts. The sweatshirts that Trayvon Martin was wearing the night he was shot through the heart. You can see it clear as day. The bullet hole right in the vicinity of the heart. The blood stains, as Trayvon Martin bled out while he was dying in that complex here in Sanford, Florida.
There are two sweatshirts. The one they're holding and the one, of course, behind that, the hoodie, that Trayvon Martin was wearing as well. Both of them specific because the woman in the front of your screen, you can see the back of her head, she's Florida Department of Law expert analyst on handguns and guns in general. And she was up on the stand describing the gun that George Zimmerman used to inflict that deadly wound.
George Howell is here with me live covering this gavel to gavel. And, you know, I cannot stress enough how difficult that must be.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BANFIELD: Let's not forget there was a 17-year-old boy behind that bullet wound in that sweatshirt and his parents are looking at every part of this.
HOWELL: And then, you know, when you hear the testimony associated with what we're seeing, we're talking about, you know, a gun that was fired at close range, a bullet fired at close range. That's basically what she was saying, talking about how she did these distance examinations. The distance between the muzzle and the fabric. And, you know, she said that this was definitely fired at close range, contact. The muzzle right on the fabric.
BANFIELD: OK. So think about this for a moment. Demonstrate for yourself in your mind. If you're wearing a bulky sweatshirt -
BANFIELD: If you are leaning forward, does your shirt pouch out, because I think where the defense wanted to go with this was, did you measure the distance between the muzzle and the skin or the muzzle and the sweatshirt?
HOWELL: And she was clear to state it was specifically between the muzzle and the fabric.
BANFIELD: And the fabric.
BANFIELD: Which could play well into the defense. Again, this is a prosecution witness but I thought maybe the more intense part of it, and I want to play this moment in court for you, was when the defense stood up to cross examiner her and talk about the kind of weapon that George Zimmerman had chosen to carry. And here's where he's going. So listen for it carefully. Is this the kind of weapon that someone carries because it's good for self-defense? Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: A firearm that's to be used for self-defense has to be ready to use, correct?
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS ANALYST, FLA. DEPT. OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: Potentially.
O'MARA: You would not want a firearm that has an external safety that -- on a double action. It has an external safety that would require an additional step to make it ready to fire, would you, for a self- defense application?
SIEWERT: I can't really say as to whether that would be -- that would be more of a personal preference, I do believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: But there were many times when they had to concede this is a good weapon if you need to carry it for self-defense and be at the ready at all times. By the way, the prosecutor stood up on redirect and said, is this a good weapon to carry if you're going to murder someone? Bam, objection.
HOWELL: Right back, yes.
BANFIELD: No surprise there.
After the break you're going to hear the expert legal analysis on whether that's a point scored or a point lost and what else was said coming up right now.
BANFIELD: Live in Sanford, Florida, I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
I want to bring in Paul Callan and Randy Zelin, to expert attorneys who know a whole lot more about the law than I do.
We've had a half dozen witnesses on the stand this morning. I'm going to start with you, Paul Callan, how has it gone? Who wins the morning, prosecution or defense? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANLAYST: Well, that's a hard one. You know, I have to say, first of all, it's very unusual because you had a sort of school professor testifying about what self-defense means and that testimony is very unusual to have somebody saying, well, George -- he knew -- George Zimmerman knew the definition of self-defense. You know, we used to think ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is sort of proof that knowledge of the law may do you in because it's an unusual claim that because Zimmerman knew the law, he crafted his story to make it look like self-defense when it wasn't. I found that to be very unusual. I haven't seen that done before.
One quick thing on the testimony by the forensic expert on the gun that was used and the powder burns. The autopsy says that the shot was fired from an intermediate range, which generally could be defined as much as 36 inches away. This police officer, however, makes it clear that it was a contact shot to the clothing of Trayvon Martin. Now, I don't know whether somebody's going to try to make out a contradiction between those two reports.
CALLAN: There are ways that you can show consistency, but that's an interesting development of the morning, I thought.
BANFIELD: Randy Zelin, jump in. Your thoughts?
RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Another good day for the defense. You have, first of all, the complete irrelevancy of the expert. There's no question that George Zimmerman fired the shot, that George Zimmerman had the gun. So it was much ado about nothing and Mr. O'Mara tried to do that.
He also established that Mr. Zimmerman was responsible. He used a responsible safe gun. The same gun as law enforcement. Close? Of course it was close. Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman. No question about that. And, in fact, it directly refutes any notion that George Zimmerman would have concocted this. Why would George Zimmerman wait for Trayvon Martin to be on top of him, not knowing what's going to happen next, before he shot him. If he was going to concoct it, they would have been at a distance. A great day for the defense.
BANFIELD: OK. All right, you two, I wish I had more time. I am flat out of time. Paul and Randy, thank you so much. Not only are we live here in Sanford, Florida, with a live eye on the courtroom, you will not miss any testimony. We're watching what's going on in Egypt. Wolf Blitzer is on that story after the break.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're following major, major breaking news out of Egypt right now. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.