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Coup In Egypt: Military Ousts Morsy; Opposition Celebrates Morsy Ouster; Day Eight of the George Zimmerman Trial
Aired July 3, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're monitoring breaking stories here in THE SITUATION ROOM. A military coup underway in Egypt. The first Democratically-elected president in that country's history has just been ousted from office. We're live on the ground amid all the mayhem. We're also taking a very closer -- a much closer look at the critical implications for the United States.
Plus, the prosecution nears the end right now, presenting what's been a very controversial case in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Our legal team is standing by. We'll break down all the testimony. That's coming up today as well.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Huge breaking news. Historic news out of the Egypt. A military coup in Egypt ousting the President Mohamed Morsy just a year after he became the country's first, first Democratically-elected leader. Troops are in control of key points in Cairo. There is pandemonium in the city's Tahrir Square where opponents of the Islamist leader, they are celebrating big time. Look at the reaction when they first got word.
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BLITZER: There's also those simmering anger among Morsy's many supporters. They are also out on the streets. Posts on Morsy's Twitter account, meantime, urge Egyptians not to accept the coup and to avoid shedding blood. Let's begin our coverage with our senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson. He's on the scene for us in Cairo. What a day, Ivan. Set the scene.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was about two hours ago that the top Egyptian military commander went on the air and made this announcement that the constitution would be suspended, and basically, the most senior judge in the country would be declared interim president. And that's when the crowd here just exploded, and the party has been going on ever since.
And what was really remarkable is you look out across Cairo here, and in other neighborhoods, the fireworks are still going on in other neighborhoods of this city, not just here in Tahrir Square, as also military helicopters periodically circle overhead. And that just revs up the crowd even more. This coming after several days of rival protests between supporters of now, I guess, the deposed and first elected Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsy, and then his opponents. And some of those activists, militants clashed.
At least 18 people were killed here in Cairo last night alone in the two hours before this announcement was made. I watched as Egyptian soldiers and police were deployed in some of the streets and on the bridges across the Nile River. And what was also remarkable, they weren't doing it around these anti-Morsy protesters. They were in circling areas where supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of Mohamed Morsy were gathered.
It was definitely a show of force before the announcement was made. A couple other points, the Muslim Brotherhood is slamming this, calling this a full-fledged military coup. Mohamed Morsy, on his Facebook page, he has come out and urged civilians and military to abide by the constitution. And the Muslim Brotherhood is also claiming that at least three pro-Muslim Brotherhood TV stations have effectively been shut down within the last couple of hours.
The Muslim Brotherhood is calling this a coup, Wolf. The people in the square here, the people that we've seen demonstrating in support of this overthrow of the first democratically-elected president, they're saying that all the military is doing is reflecting the will of the people to push out this president, Mohamed Morsy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Does it look like the crowd behind you, the overthrow of Morsy crowd, shall we call it, that it's thinning out now that it's getting closer to midnight or are the folks still there?
WATSON: They're kind of still pouring in and leaving. And, it is pretty remarkable in comparison to other gatherings that we've seen here in Tahrir Square over the course of the last two years, real political convulsions here. It is massive and the people are really out. What is a real concern is what may happen between the soldiers, the police out in the streets and those Mohamed Morsy supporters who I spoke to just a few hours ago and who swore they will not leave.
They will die for Mohamed Morsy. They see him as the legitimately elected president and the will of the people as of year ago. So, you have incredible polarization here, and it's also very clear that the military is very much on the side of the anti-Morsy people here in Tahrir Square. They are not objective in this case.
One final point that I think is really interesting. When the senior Egyptian military commander made his announcement, he tried to clearly make a point to have a diverse group of people gathered crowd around him, including the most senior Christian and Muslim clerics, as well as one of those liberal voices, Mohamed Elbaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a former critic of the military who came out and called this a correction of the Egyptian revolution -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ivan, stand by, because I know the happy people are in Tahrir Square, but there's also shock and anger from so many of the followers of the now ousted President Mohamed Morsy, many of them, from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. They've been crowding the streets elsewhere in Cairo, and some are now warning of violence.
Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. He's not far away from the pro-Morsy crowd over there. What's going on where you are, Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, we have one angry speech after another, denouncing the military for essentially conducting what these people would tell you was a coup that has ousted Egypt's first ever democratically-elected president.
When the announcement was broadcast from the stage here, we heard people jeering and booing, and whistling in anger when the announcement was made that Mohamed Morsy has been dismissed as president of Egypt. And, we know that there's a military building just up the road from here, and apparently, some of the supporters of Mohamed Morsy, Wolf, went and started to shake the gates of that building.
Soldiers who are guarding the building inside those gates came out and fired warning shots in the air. Now, it does appear at this point that more people are leaving this rally than are coming in at the moment, although, Muslim Brotherhood officials are telling that this is going to be an open-ended protest against what they see as a military coup.
And I spoke with one senior leader of the Muslim brotherhood who came here today, and he pointed to these people in the crowd and he said, they are willing to die to stop this from happening, but it's happened. Their president, Mohamed Morsy, is no longer the president of Egypt -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it stays relatively peaceful, relatively quiet right now. No violence, no bloodshed, although, a lot of people are fearing for the worst. Ben Wedeman, we'll get back to you.
The ouster of the democratically-elected leader poses a very sharp dilemma for President Obama in his administration. The president has been huddling with his top advisers, including the military brass, the intelligence chiefs, all of the senior national security advisers. Let's go to the White House. Our correspondent Dan Lothian has the very latest. These are tough decisions that the president is going to have to make right now, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Wolf, very tough decisions for this president, because remember, just back in 2011, this was an administration that had pushed to have Hosni Mubarak step aside so you could have these free Democratic elections happening there in Egypt. Now, this dramatic turn of events there in Egypt. And as you pointed out, President Obama back from Africa has been getting briefed all day by his national security team.
And then, late this afternoon, we saw a parade of top administration officials coming here to the White House. Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary, John Brennan, the CIA director, the attorney general, Eric Holder, and others coming here to the White House. We have not seen them depart. So, all indications are that they're still here meeting with the president.
Now, the hope had been by this administration that, perhaps, there could have been a smooth political transition in Egypt, that, perhaps, pressure on Morsy would have led to some early elections, but that again did not happen. And now, we're waiting to get official reaction from the White House, Wolf.
BLITZER: Any indication that there's going to be a briefing, a statement from the president or someone else, his national security adviser, Susan Rice, the secretary of state, John Kerry, the secretary of defense? Any indication any of them are about to explain the U.S. position to the American public?
LOTHIAN: Wolf, we have asked that very question, and so far, we have not been told that, in fact, we will be getting someone on camera tonight to laid all out for us, but we do expect that there will be some reaction from the White House at some point this evening. You know, one of the key questions that we will be listening for is how the White House will define what happened in Egypt.
If in fact it is a coup, then, will that impact the amount of aid that the U.S. gives to Egypt in the amount of more than $1.5 billion, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. That's a lot of money at stake right now. And a lot depends on how the Obama Administration defines what has happened over the past few hours in Egypt. If they call it a coup, that potentially could mean suspending all U.S. military and economic assistance to Egypt, totaling about $1.5 billion a year.
All right, Dan. If you get word of our official statement, whether statement before cameras or a written statement from the White House or the state department, let us know. Our viewers are anxious to get that.
Up next, the coup in Egypt means a foreign policy headache for President Obama, a significant one. Why Egypt's military, as we've been talking about, may feel some pain. We'll have details on that.
Also, we're standing by in a very different story. We anticipate some gripping testimony in the George Zimmerman trial today. How much did the defendant know about Florida's stand your ground law? Stay with us. Lots of news happening today right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: We've just learned that the United States embassy in Cairo which is huge has now ordered a mandatory evacuation of many of the people who work there, including family members. Let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, for the very latest. I know there's deep concern. When i was in Cairo in January, I saw these huge concrete blocks surrounding the U.S. embassy. There was such fear of people storming the embassy. And I know that there's plenty of anger at the United States for supposedly backing Morsy right now. What's the very latest, Jill, that you're getting?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf, that this now is coming from a senior administration official that the embassy is now saying that non-essential personnel have to leave. It's mandatory evacuation. Some will remain, the people who are very important will remain to that operation. But just a few days ago, they had voluntary -- in other words, families, et cetera, could leave.
Now, they really have to leave. How they get out? Originally, they were saying that if there are commercial flights, they could do that. And of course, that depends upon the security situation. So, we're trying to establish how exactly those personnel would get out.
And don't forget, Wolf, that Barbara Starr, just a few days ago, was reporting that U.S. marines who are stationed in Southern Europe are on alert as a precaution. They could go in very quickly if the situation turned into that.
BLITZER: Our officials at the state department yet defining whether or not this was a coup, because as you know, Jill, there is legislation that was passed by Congress, signed into law by the president that if there is a military coup, that could end U.S. military and economic assistance to Egypt, which totals, what, about a billion and a half dollars a year.
DOUGHERTY: Right. And then, there's other money for, you know, other purposes, but they are not. In fact, I asked that question that they are not saying at this point, and it's a crucial question, you're right, Wolf. Is it a coup, because that could define whether or not the U.S. would have to pull the aid.
However, as we've been saying, there is a way that secretary of state, John Kerry, could have a waiver if they decided that it was in the national security interest of the United States or there might be another reason. So that will be looking for that definition if they even give it very soon. You know, it actually has a lot of implications to say that it's a coup. So, I'm sure they won't do that lightly or very quickly.
BLITZER: Jill Dougherty watching what's going on at the state department. Jill, thanks very much. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with CNNs Fareed Zakaria. He is "Time" magazine's editor at large. He's, of course, the host of CNNs "Fareed Zakaria GPS" airs every Sunday. Also joining us, the former United State ambassador to Egypt, Ed Walker.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks to you for coming in as well. If you were advising this president, would you call it a coup?
EDWARD WALKER, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO EGYPT: No. BLITZER: What would you call it?
WALKER: I would call it a democratic exhibit of popular will. But not a coup.
BLITZER: Why wouldn't you call it a coup since the military clearly was in charge? They made the announcement. They said it's over for Morsy. They effectively put him under house arrest.
WALKER: True, but Wolf, my definition of a coup or what I've learned to know what a coup is is a small group of military personnel that are overthrowing a legitimate government or an existing government for its own benefit. What we have here is a very large popular expression of opposition to the president. The military stepping in responding to that -- and indicating that it's going to not take charge, not take over -- but to then move it on to Democratic elections.
BLITZER: Let me bring Fareed into this conversation. Fareed, you understand why Ambassador Walker was an outstanding U.S. diplomat, because he came up with an explanation why this was not a military coup. You buy what he says?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, I think it's the best argument you can make if you're trying to make the case that this is not a coup. And it's fair to say that the fact that the military has not taken power does distinguish it from some other coups. Though, of course, ousting a legitimately democratically-elected government, you know, I don't know what one would call that.
You know, in other words, maybe we now needed new term. I would suggest we look at 1997 turkey. The military ousted the democratically-elected government. It was called in Turkey a soft coup, but they didn't take power themselves. They held new elections. And so, perhaps, that could be the marvel. I don't know whether that's enough from the point of view of U.S. law.
Ultimately, Congress, in a sense, has that judgment to make, but I bet you, Wolf, that in the -- what I guess we should call the other situation room, not yours, but President Obama's, they are discussing precisely this issue, because it has implications for U.S. aid. It has implications for military to military cooperation, and there are obviously thinking about the crucial issues that regard Egypt's foreign policy.
What does it mean with regard to Egypt's treaty with Israel? Remember, Egypt there's only one of two Arab countries that has a peace deal with Israel. So, they're trying to figure out, with all that, with all those stakes in the ground, where do we go? And I do think that national interests will trump legalism. And if they decide that it makes more sense from a national security point of view to maintain some level of continuity, they will try to come up with some creative definition of the word "coup."
BLITZER: Yes, I totally agree. I think that they will do that, but we'll wait to hear officially from the White House. Professor Fouad Ajami is joining us now as well. He's a real expert on the Middle East as all of our viewers know. Fuad, what do you think the president of the United States should do right now?
FOUAD AJAMI, SR. FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: well, first, on the definition of the question, Wolf, a coup by any other name is a coup. This is a military coup d'etat. The Egyptian military says that coups are not part of its practice, but this is, for all practical purposes, a coup d'etat. It's a sad day for Egypt, because the choice will be between chaos and a coup d'etat.
And we had all thought that the era of the coup d'etats in the 1950s and the 1960s, military communicate (ph) number one was the military set (ph), the civilian system is over. We are back in the world of the military coup d'etat. And it's really isn't an American play. We shouldn't overestimate the choices and the power available to the U.S. in the situation. This is a great schism, a great war in the land of Egypt between secularism on the one hand and Islamism on the other.
And for the Democrats, they now find themselves relying on the power of the military to redeem them and to rectify the imbalance between them and the Islamist.
BLITZER: All right. So very quickly, Fouad, how does the president -- how should the president respond?
AJAMI: Well, look, I don't think we have very many good choices. I think we have some good relations with the military. We can talk to the military, but I think the game is played, because in fact, President Obama, you can fault (ph) him or not, I think he was right. President Obama had trusted the democratic process. And Mohamed Moris, for better or worse, had been elected and had to come power via the ballot box.
So, we don't really have brilliant choices. We're really playing catch-up, and we'll watching the unfolding of this great, great war in Egypt.
BLITZER: Ambassador Walker, you are the ambassador of the Egypt. You're also the ambassador to Israel. Based on everything I've heard over the past year or so, that Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty still exists, but really, the only institutions that the Israelis had contact with for any practical purposes was the Egyptian military. The political leadership, they really don't have much to do with Israel. What happens now?
WALKER: They don't have contact particularly with the political leadership. They will not have contact with the new political leadership, because they're smart enough to wait to see what happens. They will maintain their relations with the Egyptian military, because Sinai is a critical point for Israel in terms of its defense and security, and also, because of all the smuggling (INAUDIBLE) the military has been working with Israel quite extensively over the last year in order --
BLITZER: So, you expect that Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty will continue --
WALKER: Absolutely. BLITZER: -- irrespective of who's in charge right now, whether the military or a judge or Supreme Court judge in Egypt or anyone else.
WALKER: It would be the greatest folly (ph) that the military could accomplish is to call into question that treaty at this point in history.
BLITZER: Because, Fareed, you also well know that that U.S./Egyptian military connection is very, very strong. So many of these Egyptian generals trained in the United States. They have U.S. military hardware, whether fighter jets -- so that's a powerful connection, shall we say, that Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs has with his Egyptian counterpart or Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary has with his Egyptian counterpart.
ZAKARIA: Precisely. And we've been trying to use that influence to moderate the military. You know, the ambassador came out frontly and said we don't want military intervention a few days ago. We also used our influence with President Morsy to try to moderate him. The problem is that in Egypt, you have had this dynamic.
You've had, on the one hand, a very repressive dictator ship or on the other hand, what I've called an illiberal Democracy, and essentially, kind of an elected authoritarian. And we've been trying to find some third path, but ultimately, Fouab Ajami is right. This is not our battle. The Egyptians have to find some -- somebody -- some Egyptian leader has to show the wisdom to say I'm going to embark on a path of moderation.
I'm going to govern by consensus. I'm going to use the Democratic majority, but also be constitutional and respect the rights of minorities. So far, what we ended up with Morsy, but not Mandela. And what Egypt needed was a Mandela, somebody who could be magnanimous in victory even after being elected. Because we don't have that, we have what you see on your television screens, the split screen reality of Egypt.
On the one hand, people cheering what is effectively a coup d'etat. On the other hand, people deeply despondent that their elected president has been deposed. And both Egypt are real and exist.
BLITZER: And let's hope that it doesn't get violent all of a sudden. All right. Fareed, Ambassador Walker, Fouad, everyone, standby. When we come back, we'll have more on the military takeover of Egypt, the ousted president, Mohamed Morsy, what happens next to him. I interviewed him six months ago or so in Cairo. I'm going to play a little clip of what he told me then. Stand by.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news, history making -- history unfolding on Egypt today. A military coup, ousting the democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsy just a year after he became the country's new leader. Troops are in control of key points in Cairo right now. There's pandemonium, I think, that's fair to say, in the city's Tahrir Square where opponents of the Islamist leader, they are celebrating.
It's almost like New Year's Eve there. The glow had already faded last January, though. When I went to Cairo, I had a chance to speak with the then newly elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsy. Watch this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Give me a thought about the Arab spring, in North Africa, in the Middle East, because I came here right after Mubarak was gone with Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state. And I remember, we got up one more, and she, without much security, we just walked around Cairo. She walked into Tahrir Square. People were all applauding her.
It was a very optimistic moment right there. It's almost two years ago, but then, all of a sudden, things got gloomy. Give me a thought about the Arab spring.
MOHAMED MORSY, EGYPT: This is natural. This is normal when you move from an era, from dictatorship, from absence of -- from corruption, fear, big corruption, to a new position to freedom, to democracy, to -- well, a case where you try to prevent, to stop, to block corruption. When people moving like this, and there are big numbers like in Egypt and they have real daily needs, and they need for their children everywhere, and they want their freedom to be completed and they are worried about what they had in the past and they are afraid from going back to that, I think this kind of activities, this kind of demonstrations, this kind of trying to resist to some extent any kind of feelings that we are probably go back to some extent of disarray.
I consider this situation as a normal situation and the people gaining by -- experience in how to transfer the feelings to real production, real action on the ground.
BLITZER: So you're optimistic? You're optimistic?
MORSY: Very much optimistic.
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BLITZER: He's not very optimistic right now after the military effectively told him it's over. Over right now.
Ben Wedeman is at Tahrir Square. Actually he's with the pro-Morsy elements not far away from Tahrir Square, about 15 to 20-minute drive away. There's -- new stuff is coming in, is that right, Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did hear a message from now former President Mohamed Morsy who, in a fairly long speech to this people here, did say that the will of the people cannot be canceled and he rejected the idea that he has been summarily deposed as the president of Egypt.
So what we are hearing here is one speech in defiance after another. A speaker just called on all supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to hold demonstrations and sit-ins across the country. Clearly they are not going to take this latest development sitting down.
And I've spoken with many members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in recent days. And they stress time and time again that Morsy was elected democratically. He won 52 percent of the vote one year ago and they insisted he should still maintains that democratic legitimacy.
Despite the fact, Wolf, that clearly millions of Egyptians have decided it's time to dump the former president or rather it's time to dump Mohamed Morsy. In fact, the campaign that led to this wave of protests, the Tamarod or Rebel Movement claimed that they collected 22 million signatures, which is more than the number of people who voted for Mohamed Morsy a year ago -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ben Wedeman with the pro-Morsy elements in Cairo right now. Stand by.
Christiane Amanpour is joining us right now as well.
Christiane, this is a delicate, delicate moment, because let's hope it's peaceful, let's hope there's a smooth transition, no violence, but I'm very fearful that this could get very, very ugly.
What are your thoughts?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's hope. Let's not try to predict the worst. But let's hope -- I mean, obviously you've heard from President Morsi that he has called on people to resist this and that he still believes, and his camp still believe. Now I've just been interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood that he remains a legitimate president of Egypt.
They will probably try some peaceful protests for a few days according to analysts and people who I've been interviewing and obviously everyone hopes that this doesn't turn violent. I think next is to see really how this interim leadership takes shape, how long it will be in place, whether there's a really concerted serious effort to go, you know, as rapidly as humanly possible towards rewriting elements of the Constitution, towards preparing for parliamentary and presidential elections.
And I think in the immediate aftermath, you're going to be -- I'm going to be very interested to watch how leading democracies like the United States and the rest of Western Europe struggles with the semantics over whether this is was a coup or not. You can already here this Orwellian sort of set of phrases being used to describe it.
There's a big war of words between the Morsy and anti-Morsy camp over whether it is a coup or it isn't. I mean, on the one hand millions of people on the street voting with their feet and vote and delivering a vote of no confidence to the president. On the other hand he was the first democratically elected president of Egypt.
So what exactly will be the future. It's a very fragile and very baby democracy. And it needs to be able to mature to the point of somehow having more than one political party, to be able to carry forward.
We know why Morsy won because there was only one political party. It was called the Muslim Brotherhood. And for 80 years it was incredibly well organized. And now it has been, you know, pushed back out of the governance game because it failed in governance. And I think this is going to be incredibly important for the rest of the Arab world as well, particularly these emerging democracies, of whether Islamist hinged democracies can be competent in governance and can actually proceed to some kind of reasonable political future. And I think this is a blow for that project right now.
BLITZER: It's almost breathtaking to see how quickly the situation is unfolding. And when I just played that clip of President Morsy telling me in January he was very confident and optimistic about what's happening in Egypt, obviously he's not very confident and optimistic about that right now.
Everyone, stand by. We'll resume our special breaking news coverage right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Statement from Senator Pat Lays, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but he's also the chairman of the Budget Subcommittee on the State Department on Foreign Assistance. And he's just issued a tough statement, while welcoming democracy in Egypt. He did say this, U.S. -- he said, "Our law is clear. U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree. As we work on the new budget, my committee will review future aid to the Egyptian government, as we wait for a clearer picture."
Fouad Ajami, these are sensitive issues for the Obama administration.
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: True.
BLITZER: $1.5 billion in military and economic assistance at stake right now. You don't want to poison the U.S. military connection with the Egyptian military at a critical moment like this, right?
AJAMI: Well, that's absolutely right, but you also want to be careful because there is this issue of Islamic democracies, if you will, in the greater Middle East. We saw it in Turkey and we talked about Turkey before. So the Obama administration really is on the horns of a dilemma. If you wink at this, many say, a coup de etat and you continue the aid, and you acquiesce in a coup that have ended civilian life, that's one choice. And then you look at the chaos in the streets in Egypt and you realize that something has to be done in Egypt.
So it's hard running an empire. It's hard making these kinds of calls and it's not an easy time for us as we ponder Egypt's choices.
BLITZER: Fareed, at what point would you expect the American public to hear directly from the president of the United States?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I expect he will be wary of getting involved in what is still a very fluid situation. As Fouad said, it's a -- it's a very tricky situation, and remember, we still have to deal with phase two, which Ben Wedeman has been pointing out. The Muslim Brotherhood has not gone home. They have not accepted this coup. They have millions and millions of followers. So there is going to be some play-out here. The military is either going to have to clear the streets by force and what will that entail?
You know, if the military wanted to present this as a kind of soft coup and not really a coup, and the restoration of democracy, they have started to take some very dangerous moves. Shutting down TV stations, which we've reported. Three pro-Muslim Brotherhood television stations have been shut down.
Now that's sounding more like your traditional military coup. Where the military comes in, shuts off the opposition's source of information. It's a very bad sign. It is also futile in an age of social media. These groups will find other way to gather. We saw that in the Green Movement in Tehran, we saw it in the original Arab spring, so they're doing something that is going to be counterproductive.
It's going to -- it's going to make it very difficult to claim this is a different kind of non-coup coup and it's also not really going to work. These Muslim Brotherhood millions are going to find ways of getting out on the street. The military has to think seriously about how do they get these people to peacefully go back home. If -- if there is a single challenge they face right now it is how do we get the people on the right end side of the screen to peacefully go home.
BLITZER: That's not an easy answer.
Ambassador Walker, you served as the United States ambassador to Egypt. What was impressive to me was that when the Egyptian general came out, General Abdul Fatah Saeed Al-Sisi, made his announcement, he surrounded himself with a leader from the Al-Azhar University, the main Muslim university in Cairo, leader of the Copts, the Christian -- Egyptian Christians in Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize -- Peace Prize winner, former head of the International Atomic Energy agency, a secularist, and others, nobody from the Muslim Brotherhood, but he surrounded himself, gave himself a little cloak of support, if you will, from various interest groups in Egypt.
EDWARD WALKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: Well, he has a very broad base of support, quite frankly.
BLITZER: The general?
WALKER: The general does. It is reaching out to both religious authorities and also to civilian authorities. The problem was that Morsy overreached, or at least the Brotherhood overreached. They tried to move too fast. They started changing the basic institutions of the state through the judiciary and so on. By appointment process. It's a democratic process, I suppose. But it was looking very much like a dictatorial process.
BLITZER: And Fouad, a quick thought from you on this. And also we've just gotten word that the Saudi king has issued a congratulatory message to the interim president, the new interim president of Egypt, the Supreme Court leader, who was appointed by the military, Adli al- Mansour, to take charge over the next, what, nine to 12 months as they get ready for a new round of elections. What do you make of that?
AJAMI: Well, you know, Wolf, the Saudis were not enamored of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis have had a very antagonistic relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood for quite sometimes. They think the Muslim Brotherhood betrayed them in the last 30 or 40 years. So they never -- they were not willing to offer aid to the Muslim Brotherhood. They kept Morsy at arm's length. And I think for them it's a measure of relief.
BLITZER: King Abdullah obviously pleased right now with what's going on in Egypt. We're watching the demonstrations, the pro-Morsy demonstration on the right now. The anti-Morsy demonstration on the left.
We'll continue our special coverage of this. I want to thank all of our analysts.
We're also, by the way, following another major story here in the United States. There was some gripping testimony today in the George Zimmerman trial. So how much did the defendant know about Florida's Stand Your Ground law? We'll update you on that.
Much more on Egypt coming up as well. Lots of other news. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There was another riveting day of testimony in the George Zimmerman trial today as the prosecution nears the end of the case. Something has actually worked better for the defense. At issue today, day eight of this trial, was George Zimmerman, was he acting as a wannabe cop on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? And what if anything did he know about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law on self-defense?
One of his professors was on the stand today.
CAPT. ALEXIS CARTER, JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OFFICER, U.S. ARMY: With Florida and other states, they have what's called the Stand Your Ground law, which evolved from the Cassel Doctrine through case law.
DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And did you cover that specifically?
WEST: Did you discuss specifically self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws in the connection of violent crimes such as murder?
CARTER: Yes. When you have a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm, and the term "reasonable" is obviously has two components, so there's a subjective component, meaning that I feel like I'm in fear. In my mind, I feel like I'm in fear of death or grievous bodily harm, but when stuff hits the fan, you're judged by jurors, and your actions have to meet a reasonable standard objectively. So whether or not a reasonable person in your position would have felt the way you felt.
WEST: You don't have to wait until you're almost dead before you can defend yourself?
CARTER: No. I would advise you probably don't do that.
WEST: And I take it when you're under attack you never really know where that moment will be?
CARTER: No, unfortunately you don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's assess what we just heard. Joining us our CNN legal analysts, Jeffrey Toobin, the former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin was in the courtroom for much of today, also the criminal defense attorney Mark Nejame.
Jeffrey, what was the point? Why did the state -- the prosecution bring this professor before the jury today?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The idea was that George Zimmerman, having taken this class, learned Florida law and thus constructed a defense that would give him an out for killing Trayvon Martin. That's the idea. I'm not sure that's what the effect was but that was the idea.
BLITZER: And so what did -- Sunny, do you think that helped the prosecution with his testimony?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly helps their theory. It helped to show their theory which is that George Zimmerman was sort of on the beat. He was a wannabe cop. He was frustrated with not being a cop and then acted the way that the prosecution claims that he acted.
But I got to tell you, I think another piece that is important that came out of the testimony is that George Zimmerman in his interview with Sean Hannity said, I don't know anything about the Stand Your Ground law, I only learned about it after the shooting. Well, this testimony showed that that really isn't true because not only did this professor teach it to him, he got an A in the class. And so I think that's going to be pretty helpful to the prosecution.
BLITZER: So what do you think, Mark?
MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it's a mixed bag. Exactly what Sunny just said. The state has to go ahead and impeach George Zimmerman's various testimonies. That's the a big part of the crux of their case. They have to be able to show that he's not been reliable and what he says has been not credible and that he's not been truthful.
With that said this professor gave a beautiful dissertation as to Stand Your Ground law and self-defense. Help educate the jurors that possibly he acted reasonably and he liked George Zimmerman. He humanized him. You know, hi, George. So, you know, you've got a -- you've got a mixed bag. But, you know, I think, once again, you know, things that break even side to the defense because the state doesn't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt when things are even.
BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, you did see George Zimmerman. Normally he's pretty stoic, he doesn't show much emotion during the course of the testimony. But he smiled broadly at the end of this professor's testimony. That clip we just showed our viewers. What did that say to you?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, every trial I've ever been in including the most horrible crimes have light moments in them and he seemed like a human being. Who knows if the jury even noticed. But it's not uncommon even in the most upsetting, depressing crimes to have moments where everybody in the courtroom laughs and that was one of them.
BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a moment. We'll continue this conversation. We have a lot more coming up. We're also going to be going back to the breaking news in Egypt. The historic military coup, it's under way right now and there's getting -- we're getting new reaction from all sides. Stand by.
BLITZER: Some chilling moments in the courtroom today when the jurors were shown the hoodie that Trayvon Martin was wearing on the night he was shot and killed as well as the blood soaked bullet hole in his sweatshirt. They also got a close-up look of George Zimmerman's gun and it was all part of a testimony from a crime lab analyst who examined it all.
Joining us now, Professor Lawrence Kobilinsky. He's the chairman of the Science Department at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a forensic scientist himself.
Professor, thanks for coming in. Let me play the clip, the exchange from this crime laboratory analyst who -- who examined Trayvon Martin's sweatshirt, then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Are you findings consistent with the muzzle of the gun having been pressed into the dark hooded sweatshirt and then fired through both the dark hooded sweatshirt and the lighter colored sweatshirt?
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS ANALYST: It is consistent with the muzzle of the firearm touching the outer sweatshirt and the inner sweatshirt being in direct contact with the outer one. Yes.
O'MARA: There's no evidence, for example, that would show up that you would take a gun nuzzle and push it into the shirt somewhere where the shirt would fold around it, was there?
SIEWERT: No. It was consistent with the muzzle of the firearm touching.
O'MARA: It was consistent with this, correct?
O'MARA: Shirt, firearm?
O'MARA: It wasn't consistent with this, right? Pushing or anything?
O'MARA: That would have shown a completely different configuration to you, right?
SIEWERT: To me contact is when the muzzle is touching the fabric.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's all someone would need to do to fire a shot if it was fully loaded?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Professor Kobilinsky, what's the -- what's the significance of this testimony?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, I thought that her testimony was quite excellent and clear. And what she concluded from her test firings and comparisons to the physical evidence was that the muzzle was literally in contact with the fabric of the outer sweatshirt, the hoodie. And that is -- for me it raises a question because the autopsy report describes the shot as an intermediate shot which means that the muzzle was six inches to perhaps 18 inches away from that garment.
So there is a contradiction here. I tend to go forward with Amy Siewert's conclusion because the bullet had a penetrate two layers of clothing before it hit the body. So I think she's probably closer to the truth.
BLITZER: So is that good or bad for the prosecution in this -- in this case?
KOBILINSKY: It doesn't make a lot of difference. It certainly points to the fact that there's a struggle as opposed to a distant shot which wouldn't go along with George Zimmerman's hypothesis.
BLITZER: Well, George Zimmerman acknowledges he did fire that bullet into Trayvon Martin's heart.
KOBILINSKY: Indeed. There's not -- there's no question about that. The question is, was it part of a struggle? Did Trayvon Martin go for the gun? There is no DNA evidence on the gun from Trayvon Martin. You really can't draw a conclusion. And we really haven't heard anything definitive that George Zimmerman said in -- when he spoke to the police that Trayvon Martin touched the gun. Just that he went for the gun. So everything I'm hearing is consistent with George Zimmerman's story.
BLITZER: Professor Kobilinsky, thanks as usual for joining us.
KOBILINSKY: It's a pleasure.