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THE SITUATION ROOM
George Zimmerman Trial Continues; Egyptian Army Ousts President; Court Sees Zimmerman's Gun; Judge Denies Defense Request to Recess Friday; How Arizona Wildfire Turned So Deadly So Fast; Obama Issues Statement on Egypt
Aired July 3, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, breaking news. Egypt upheaval. President Mohamed Morsy ousted in a military coup.
Plus new courtroom drama in the George Zimmerman trial as the prosecution nears the end of its case.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following the major breaking news, a coup in Egypt today. The country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy, ousted just a few hours ago by the country's powerful military and hundreds of thousands if not millions of people on the streets of Cairo. It's now midnight there.
Political shockwaves are being felt throughout the Middle East all the way to Washington and beyond. There are certainly tremendous implications for the United States, for Europe, for the region. So much going on. The U.S., don't forget, providing Egypt with about a billion-and-a-half dollars a year, $1.5 billion in military and economic assistance.
We have correspondents covering this dramatic story. History unfolding on the streets of Cairo. They're watching what's going on and they're anticipating a very, very angry reaction from President Morsy's supporters. Two major demonstrations happening right now in Cairo and now just past midnight in Cairo. One huge demonstration, this is the one you're seeing right now in Tahrir Square in Cairo. These are opponents of Mohammed Morsy. It looks like New Year's Eve there. Fireworks going off all over the place.
These people are thrilled that the Egyptian military for all practical purposes dumped Mohammed Morsy a year after he took office. On the right part of your screen, you're now seeing a pro-Morsy rally. These are largely members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been waiting for around 80 years to get power in Egypt. They finally got power a year ago, but for them now that power is going to go away right now because of what's happened, President Morsy now the former president of Egypt.
Let's bring in Ivan Watson. He's at the anti-Morsy rally at Tahrir Square. He will update us with the latest.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The party continues to rage here in Tahrir Square.
I have really covered a lot of demos here over the course of the last two years. I really haven't seen these masses and constant fireworks. It seems like this really -- since 2011 when Hosni Mubarak stepped under pressure from unprecedented street protests here again in Tahrir Square, people clearly thrilled with the decision by the top military commander to call for the suspension of the constitution and for Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy, to be forced out of power and be replaced by the top judge in the country who is then assigned the goal of trying to pave the way for future presidential elections.
There's an ominous undertone to this and that is some of the supporters of Mohammed Morsy, namely from the Muslim Brotherhood and more Islamist circles, some of them very unhappy with this decision calling this a military coup, and many of them have told me they are vowing to fight and that they will die to ensure that their man remains in office.
We have also seen some other ominous signs that three pro-Morsy, pro- Muslim Brotherhood TV stations have been shut down in recent hours and a Muslim Brotherhood official telling us that employees at one of these stations called Misr25 have actually been arrested in the last couple of hours. Those are shows of force clearly showing that this is not a soft move that has the support of all elements of Egyptian society, as we are seeing here.
But they're supporters of Mohammed Morsy that the powers that be now are very concerned about.
BLITZER: And we know that Morsy himself is tweeting and he's doing all sorts of activities. Ivan, I'm going to get back to you on that. But Morsy has been tweeting, sending out tweets to his followers at the same time he's been making statements. We don't know if he's under house arrest or what's going on.
Let me just read one tweet that the now former president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsy, released. "President Morsy urges civilians and military members to uphold the law and the constitution and not to accept that coup which turns Egypt backwards," one of the tweets that Mohammed Morsy released.
He also though is urging everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoiding shedding blood of fellow countrymen.
Let's bring in our analyst right now Fareed Zakaria, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" here on. Also joining us, Tamara Cofman Wittes. She's with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, also a former assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs. And Fouad Ajami, the senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a scholar on the Middle East.
Fareed, let me start with you. Clearly, the celebration continuing in Cairo. The opposition to what has happened, the pro-Morsy forces, they are furious and they are angry. but at least so far the military is taking action they and are moving troops in place. We haven't seen fortunately a whole lot of bloodshed.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: We haven't seen bloodshed yet, but I think that we still face the next phase of this because the Brotherhood has made quite clear they intend to contest this.
As they see this, they have been trying to get to this point for 80 years. They have been banned and they have been outlawed and for the first time Islamist political parties were allowed to contest in Egypt. And they won. They didn't win a huge majority. But they did win. And in the second round, 52 percent voted for Mohammed Morsy.
They view this as the depravation of their legitimately gained democratic rights and they are likely to fight it. They are organized and they will be probably further inspired, if you will, by these stupid moves by the military to shut down TV stations or to shut down pro-Brotherhood forces.
So, we're going to see some pushback from the Brotherhood. And how the military handles that will be the next phase of this crisis.
BLITZER: Fouad, on Monday, the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo was basically sacked and destroyed. People went in and ransacked it. There was no military protection, no police protection for all practical purposes. Yesterday for all practical purposes the military took charge of "Al-Ahram," the major newspaper, the state-run newspaper in Egypt.
So, what does that say to you? The military clearly made up its mind even before Morsy's defiant speech on television last night.
FOUAD AJAMI, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, Wolf, it tells you several things.
First, it tells you that Egypt had become plain ungovernable, just ungovernable. And it tells you also -- you said, rightly noted that there was no police protection. It tells us something about the crisis of the police, that the police is a lawless force in Egypt. I have been hearing the secular democrats saying the army and the people and the police are one hand.
That's an irony. That's a complete irony, because in fact the revolt of Tahrir Square in 2011 was motivated by an animus toward the police, a desire to reform the police. So, these secular democrats now celebrating that they are friends of the police and friends of the army, they may rue the day because they're asking for the protection and they're asking, if you will, they're asking for political advantage to be granted them by the military. The military will not do them this as a free favor.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, we're also getting indications -- Tamara, let me get your thoughts on this -- Al-Jazeera, its Egyptian TV bureau, the station there apparently has been raided. We're just getting preliminary information. I don't know what that means as far as who did what to Al-Jazeera, but it looks like there was limited security there. For folks to get into Al-Jazeera's operation in Cairo, that potentially is significant as well, since a lot of the Arab-speaking world relies on Al-Jazeera.
TAMARA COFMAN WITTES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It's true. Al-Jazeera has been covering these protests, both the pro-Morsy and anti-Morsy protests over the last several days.
As this year has wound on, a lot of Egyptians have felt that Al- Jazeera has been too friendly toward the Brotherhood, not allowing criticism...
BLITZER: Well, I'm just getting some more information, Tamara, that security forces went in and raided the Al-Jazeera studios and made some arrests of the Al-Jazeera personnel inside. That's a significant development as well.
COFMAN WITTES: It is indeed. It's troubling if true because it suggests that what we're seeing is the military and the Interior Ministry not merely taking control of government, but seeking to clamp down on dissenting voices.
They have a high bar to clear to demonstrate that this is a move that will return Egypt to a democratic trajectory. And that type of raid on a free press is going to be very problematic.
BLITZER: Well, Fouad, what do you think? And I will get Fareed to weight in as well.
If they're shutting down let's say the Muslim Brotherhood TV stations, that may be one thing, but if they're shutting down Al-Jazeera and making arrests in Cairo, that may be more significant.
AJAMI: Well, I think Tamara was right.
I think there's a kind of feeling in the region and a feeling among the army and police as well that Al-Jazeera is -- because Al-Jazeera is in Qatar, because Qatar is friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood that in fact Al-Jazeera has favored the Morsy and has favored their people in Egypt.
BLITZER: Let me get Fouad into this.
Here's what Al-Jazeera says. It says, Fouad -- Fareed, I should say. Let me bring Fareed into this.
Fareed, Al-Jazeera says this happened, this raid on its television bureau in Cairo during a live broadcast. The security forces stormed the building, arrested the news presenter, the guests and the producers of Al-Jazeera in Cairo.
Fouad -- excuse me -- Fareed, go ahead.
ZAKARIA: Wolf, I think this is the most troubling aspect of what we're witnessing here, because if the military claims that what it is doing is to create a new path to democracy, a genuine democracy, a restoration of democracy, that Morsy overreached and they are restoring democracy, it's a strange way to restore democracy if you're shutting down opposition democracy, if you're raiding Al-Jazeera and arresting it because you think they have been biased in their news coverage.
The response to biased news coverage is a press release or an interview in another news channel, not arrests and closure of TV stations. Remember we talk about how Morsy overreached and he did. He governed terribly, more incompetence than pure overreach, but a combination.
But the forces of the army and the old Mubarak regime also overreached. Don't forget Egypt does not have a lower house of parliament because the court, which is allied with the army and with the old regime, simply dissolved the parliament, the lower house of parliament, because it believed there were too many Muslim Brotherhood members.
Both sides have been overreaching. And if -- what the United States has to look to is if it's going to try to play a role here is to make sure that whatever happens now is in an attempt to restore democracy and bring back a genuine constitutional process. That means no shutting down TV stations, early elections, a new constitution that's genuinely written by a national body that involves all groups, not arbitrary rule by the military in which they can shut down TV stations they don't like.
BLITZER: I spoke to an Egyptian general a little bit earlier in the day. He said it could be at least nine months and maybe more before new elections take place in Egypt.
This Al-Jazeera development though potentially very significant, Tamara, and it puts a lot of pressure on the Obama administration. Obviously, the president has been meeting with his top national security advisers all day today trying to figure out what to do. But this puts some enormous pressure on the Obama administration to maybe pause and not react too quickly.
COFMAN WITTES: That's true.
I think there are a couple of things they are going to have to try to determine fairly quickly. One is whether this qualifies as a coup under the terms of the Foreign Assistance Act. If so, they're required by law to suspend assistance to Egypt.
BLITZER: Although there is a loophole. They can declare national security, right?
COFMAN WITTES: I'm not sure if there's a national security waiver for this particular provision.
BLITZER: We're told by our State Department correspondent there is some sort of loophole. If they want to say, yes, this is a coup, but U.S. national security still requires to U.S. to provide this military and economic assistance to Egypt because it's in America's best national security interests, they might have that loophole.
COFMAN WITTES: Then they would be able to do it for reasons of state, but they will have to make a determination to whether it's a coup, and they will also be talking I'm sure to the Egyptian military about the road map that al-Sisi laid out and saying, OK, what's the timeline for this and how well can we judge whether this is going to do, as Fareed said, what's necessary to put Egypt back on a stable path and a democratic path.
BLITZER: Yes. It's interesting that General Abdel Fattah Saeed al- Sisi, the general who made the announcement of what's going on and the road map, announced what's going on. He didn't give a timeline. Another general told me maybe nine months or so before elections, maybe longer.
Everyone stand by. We're going to continue the breaking news coverage. I want people to weigh in also. Mohamed ElBaradei all of a sudden emerging as a potential leader in Egypt, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, a bitter opponent of Mohammed Morsy, now the former president. What is at stake here? Stand by for that.
We're getting more U.S. reaction to this military coup in Egypt, a major, major complication for the president. Much more on this story coming up.
Also, more on that disturbing evidence in the George Zimmerman trial here in the United States today now nearing a milestone as the prosecution getting ready to wrap up its case.
BLITZER: We're following the story, breaking news out of Egypt, the military coup ousting the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsy, representing a major complication for President Obama. He's now been huddling with his top advisers for the last few hours over at the White House trying to come up with a strategy.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.
Dan, what are you hearing over there?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're still waiting for an official reaction from the White House. So far, no word.
We will be watching for a couple of things. First of all, when the White House does react, will it be a strong and bold statement or will it be more measured because of the situation there on the ground still being fluid and there's so many unknowns?
The other factor is, how will the White House characterize what's happened in Egypt? You have talked a lot about it. Do they consider it to be a coup and if so how will that impact the more than roughly $1.5 billion that the U.S. gives to Egypt each year?
We will be watching for reaction from the White House. In the meantime, as you pointed out, Wolf, the president has been briefed by his top national security advisers, his staff throughout the day. We saw late this afternoon a parade of top administration officials coming here to the White House, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. From the time that all of them started arriving to the time that they departed it was roughly a two-hour time span.
We expect that by now, now that we have seen them all leave, that the meeting is over. The Marine who normally guards the West Wing door here when the president is inside the Oval Office has left. We expect, presume that the president is not in the Oval Office. Again we know this has been dramatic, rapid developments on the ground in Egypt. Shocking for this administration, and we're waiting to get official reaction from the White House.
BLITZER: I take it that the White House has not yet issued what we used to call when I was a White House correspondent a lid, meaning saying there would be no more appearances or statements emerging from the White House press office that day. The White House press operation, the White House still open for the news media, is that right?
LOTHIAN: And I'm told now that we have gotten a travel photo lid.
It's a partial lid here. We won't be seeing the president at least any time tonight. But that still doesn't mean that we couldn't get some kind of reaction from the White House in some other form.
So, we have not gotten that sort of full lid, if you will. We're waiting for that still.
BLITZER: All right, so we're not going to see the president tonight. But we might still get some sort of written statement from the National Security Council or someplace else. As soon as you know ,let us know.
Our viewers in the United States and around the world would be anxious to hear what the president of the United States thinks of this historic moment that unfolded in Egypt today. Dan Lothian, thanks very much.
This military coup certainly has tremendous implications for the United States, which annually provides Egypt with about $1.5 billion a year in military and economic assistance.
Our chief political correspondent, the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," is here with us right now.
Candy, you had a terrific opportunity today. You interviewed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Right.
And for perspective this took place a half-an-hour or an hour before we began to learn that Morsy was no longer the president, or at least according to the U.S. military. But we did talk about these amazing pictures that we're all seeing. He called them remarkable, said, I think the demonstrations, in so far as they remain peaceful certainly are remarkable.
He said they also prove that it -- quote -- "takes time for democracy to stick." We then went onto what really is his bailiwick, Wolf, and that is the military-to-military connection, the U.S. military and the Egyptian military and here is some of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The military-to-military contacts, are those contacts still stable? Are they strong? Do you feel when you see on TV the military saying, hey, President Morsy, you have either got to do something and meet some of these demands or we're going to take over, are you -- knowing these people, are you on the know in that sort of thing? What's the nature of your conversations?
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Well, to your question about the nature of the relationship with the Egyptian armed forces, it was actually trending very -- even more strongly than it had been for maybe the last 10 years, because we committed to that to try to help them find their way in a new system.
They went from being -- the armed forces ran the country for several decades. And they were transitioning themselves into their role in a democracy. I'm not in the know about exactly what they're going to do. My conversations with them have been principally about -- I wanted to hear, get their assurance that they would protect our U.S. citizens and they will.
I wanted to encourage them to protect all the Egyptian people, not to take sides in any particular issue, and to ensure that they were a part of the resolution of this, but in their proper role as a military which is to ensure stability, but not try to influence the outcome.
CROWLEY: And you feel confident with the assurances you have gotten?
DEMPSEY: Well, I feel confident that we have a close enough relationship that they listen. At the end of the day, it's their country and they will find their way, but there will be consequences if it's badly handled. There's laws that bind us on how we deal with these kinds of situations.
CROWLEY: You mean the U.S., how the U.S. deals, for instance?
DEMPSEY: Yes. Yes. Well, for instance, if this were to be seen as a coup then it would limit our ability to have the kind of relationship we think we need with the Egyptian armed forces.
CROWLEY: I see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, again, Wolf, talking about what are they going to call this.
I think he was always -- very interesting about, he said, look, our first priority was protecting the Americans. We know there -- he said several hundred American citizens working there and Jill's been reporting on that possible evacuation. He said there are about 60,000 dual passport American-Egyptian citizens, that they also made a point to say, you need to keep folks safe.
BLITZER: The U.S. has a huge embassy in Cairo. I was there in January.
And what's so depressing, Candy, is to see the concrete bunkers surrounding that embassy. You can't get close to it. They're so worried about security. And now, as Jill Dougherty was reporting, they have asked so-called nonessential personnel, family members to leave. This is a huge, huge development, security concerns enormous right now for the U.S. in Cairo. There's a lot of anger at the U.S. from all sides for whatever reason, some of it not necessarily justified, but as General Dempsey pointed out, this is major concern.
BLITZER: Good work, Candy. Thanks very much.
We will continue to follow this historic story in Egypt.
Also, another big story we're following, there was some more gripping testimony in the George Zimmerman trial today. We will go to Sanford, Florida. That's coming up next.
BLITZER: On top of everything else, this was another important day in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Court is now in recess until Friday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, with prosecutors very close to wrapping up their case. It was a day largely dedicated to scientific evidence and George Zimmerman's apparent interest in becoming a police officer.
There were also some dramatic moments when jurors saw the blood- stained and bullet-torn clothes Trayvon Martin wore the night he was shot and killed. They also got an up-close look at George Zimmerman's gun.
CNN correspondent Martin Savidge has been covering the trial. He's joining us now, as is CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, also joining us, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Martin, first to you.
Another dramatic day, day eight of this trial. Tell us what happened.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was a lot for the jury to take in today, Wolf.
And you mentioned some of the subjects, but the gun came up. And the issue that was being discussed here is the fact that George Zimmerman had one round in the chamber and the prosecution is trying to suggest that could be somewhat cavalier. Listen to the exchange in the courtroom today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GUY, FLORIDA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You were asked about the trigger pull. Could you give the members of the jury an idea of whether or not four pounds or a little bit more than four pounds is a relatively light or relatively heavy trigger pull.
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS ANALYST: Four-and-a-half pounds is within the normal range of trigger pulls that I see in my casework.
GUY: So, it's not a heavy trigger pull?
SIEWERT: No it's not.
GUY: And you were asked questions about the firearm being fully loaded. Can you explain to the members of the jury that, if the magazine is full, and there's a live round in the chamber, on that particular firearm, what must a person do to expel a bullet?
SIEWERT: Pull the trigger to fire the gun at that point in time.
GUY: That's it. There's no other -- there's nothing they have to turn off or adjust? Just pull the trigger?
GUY: All right. But they do make firearms with what you refer to as an external safety? Right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss what we just heard, and Martin stand by for a moment. Sunny, tell us why, potentially, this testimony was significant.
HOSTIN: Well, certainly as Marty said, it appeared that the prosecution was trying to show that, you know, it was -- he was ready to go. He was ready to fire. He was acting like a police officer, as opposed to just a citizen. And I thought what was also interesting. I was in the courtroom for that examination, Wolf.
She's a tiny person, this firearms expert, and she actually showed the jury what it took to pull that trigger. She did it easily. Now, while she's an expert, she's a tiny expert, and it took almost no force for her to pull that trigger. And I don't think that that was lost on this jury.
BLITZER: And he did have a license, though, to carry that weapon, Jeffrey. So it was not like it was something illegal that he was carrying.
TOOBIN: No, not at all. And in fact, on cross-examination, his lawyers pointed out that this is actually a very common kind of weapon for police officers.
Frankly, I didn't get this as terribly significant one way or the other. There's no doubt who killed Trayvon Martin or how he killed him. So I just -- I thought this was -- it's always impressive and, frankly, sobering to see a murder weapon in a courtroom, but I can't imagine that this makes conviction or even acquittal much more likely.
BLITZER: Martin, you were in the courtroom. How did it seem to play before these six jurors, all of whom are women?
SAVIDGE: Well, the jurors throughout have been extremely attentive. That's one of the things we've noted. And they're also very big note takers. And usually, almost after every comment and every point that is made by both sides, you quickly see heads go down and note-taking taking place here. So they're very studious. They listen attentively. It appears that everyone is paying attention. So I think most people are pretty impressed that this jury -- not that they wouldn't -- but they are taking this very, very seriously, even though at times it can be tedious testimony.
BLITZER: And Sunny, they made it clear today, the prosecution, they're getting very, very close to wrapping up this case. A lot of people anticipate, though, that some of the family members -- at least one of the family members of Trayvon Martin might be the final state or prosecution witness. Is that what you're hearing?
HOSTIN: That's what I'm hearing. And if I were trying this case that's what I would do. You want to end on that emotional note.
Remember, there was an expert that said that, while technology hasn't really caught up with voice identification, if someone familiar with another person's voice identifies that voice, that that is reliable. And so certainly, what's still out there, that big question, who was crying for help on that 911 call? Well, of course, Trayvon Martin's family says it was Trayvon Martin. And I suspect that someone from the family, either perhaps his mother or his brother, will get on the witness stand and tell that jury that they believed it was their loved one screaming for help.
BLITZER: That would be very emotional indeed. Jeffrey, if you were the prosecutor in a case like this, forget about the prosecutor. Prosecutor, let's say he's going to wrap up it with the family member, the mother, let's say, of Trayvon Martin. But if you were the defense attorney, would you cross-examine the mother?
TOOBIN: Absolutely not. You don't -- you don't mess with a grieving -- a grieving mother.
And remember, it's very likely in the defense case that George Zimmerman's father, or perhaps some other relative of his, will testify that he thinks the voice on the 911 call was George Zimmerman. If you want to challenge the testimony, that's how you do it. You don't risk alienating the jury, and you act out of a certain degree of humanity. You don't cross-examine Trayvon Martin's mother under any circumstances. BLITZER: Martin -- you've been covering this from the beginning, Martin. Let's say the prosecution wraps up its case Friday morning. And then it's up to the defense to bring their witnesses. Everything we're hearing from Mark O'Mara and other defense attorneys suggests they're not going to have a whole lot of witnesses. It's going to be relatively weak (ph). This trial could wrap up fairly soon. Right?
SAVIDGE: That's correct. Yes. I think that there have been a number of scenarios that have been put forward, although one of them was that the prosecution was going to rest today, and that clearly didn't happen.
So we are going a little bit beyond some of the time frames. Some have also suggested that it might be that the prosecution -- and there other witnesses they may call -- could go longer into Friday. Maybe go all the way through Friday and actually end, perhaps, say Friday afternoon, ten minutes before 5 with the mother. Very powerful. And then says, "That's it for us." May not even rest then, but the last thing the jury hears for two days ringing in their ears is, of course, the very emotional statement that is made by Trayvon Martin's mother. We're only presuming here.
So then they might say we might be back on Monday, but then they come back and say, "We rest," and the defense picks up Monday. So you know, it's difficult to predict, but you're definitely right that the defense will most likely be shorter than what we've seen with the prosecution.
BLITZER: Now why would that be, Jeffrey? Why would the defense, I mean, obviously -- at least all the experts I've spoken to, they don't think George Zimmerman himself will be put up there on the stand. They don't want to have him cross-examined, and he's already made his case in the videotapes that were played by the prosecution. So we're probably not going to hear another time from George Zimmerman, right?
TOOBIN: I don't think there is a chance in the world that George Zimmerman will be a witness in this case.
And one of the things that is always true in high-profile cases and low-profile cases is defense lawyers come in at the beginning of the trial and say, "We're going to have several weeks of testimony. We're going to have a big defense." The defense cases are almost always very short.
This case went in pretty well for the defense. They don't need a lot of witnesses. The main witnesses have already testified. I anticipate a handful of witnesses. And I think this case, there are going to be summations the middle of next week, and we could have a verdict next week.
BLITZER: If not earlier. Sunny, do you agree with Jeffrey?
HOSTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I think it would be a mistake for the defense to put on George Zimmerman or to put on a long case. The burden of proof isn't on the defense. It's on the prosecution. So I suspect it's going to be pretty short next week. BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by, because I want to continue this conversation. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back the judge in the Zimmerman trial, despite some frustration with the defense today, the heated exchange, what it might mean. Stand by.
BLITZER: George Zimmerman's defense team got a bit of a slap on the wrist today from the Judge Nelson after requesting court be in recess Friday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We're trying to coordinate an opportunity to take Benjamin Crump's deposition, and the only time that's been offered to us was to begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, several days from now. And we object to that schedule.
I would ask that the court recess on Friday so that we have that opportunity to take Mr. Crump's deposition. We also want to take the deposition of Steve Brenton with FDLE.
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL: Because I know the state has said that they are planning on resting today, and the court intends to begin the defense on Friday and that's what I had informed you yesterday.
WEST: We didn't know until late in the day on June 3 that we would be allowed to take his deposition.
NELSON: Well, that's a month ago. That's 30 days ago.
WEST: Your honor, we've been somewhat tied up for the last month.
What we're asking for is a little more time, given the way this case has proceeded. As the court's aware, we were still litigating the admissibility of evidence after the jury selection began. We certainly couldn't have taken Mr. Crump's deposition during the trial day. The court doesn't expect either Mr. O'Mara or myself to leave the courtroom, I don't think, to take...
NELSON: You've left for other reasons. Now I have a jury sequestered that are going to be off on Thursday, and you don't want court on Friday. That's Saturday, Sunday. I'm not doing that.
WEST: We ask the court...
NELSON: End of discussion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, she really ended that quickly. A nice slap-down by Judge Debra Nelson. They will be in court on Friday, as well, despite this appeal from Don West, the defense attorney.
Jeffrey, what did you think of that little exchange? TOOBIN: Three cheers for Judge Fisher [SIC]. I mean, judges need to respect the time of jurors. She is moving this trial along. She sits a full, long day.
This jury is sequestered. They have sacrificed two weeks of their lives already. This is how judges should behave. They should move these cases along. These defense attorneys have had months to prepare. It's time to go. I think she's doing a great job, even though I don't agree with all the rulings.
BLITZER: Sunny, you probably agree with Jeffrey on this point. Right? She's doing a pretty good job?
HOSTIN: Absolutely. She is moving very quickly, and she has always been moving quickly.
And I also think the fact that the defense is asking for a continuance or asked for a continuance so that they could depose Ben Crump when they knew that they could depose him at least a month ago, you know, that's -- that's just not appropriate. And especially because I think it's tactical why they haven't deposed him. They've been able to keep him out of the courtroom for a month. He hasn't been seen by the jury; he hasn't been able to be with his clients.
And I just learned that they actually subpoenaed Ben Crump. The defense subpoenaed Ben Crump today to depose him this weekend. Right in time for their defense case in chief. So it was strategy probably.
BLITZER: He's a lawyer. He's a lawyer. And let me let Martin come into this. He's the lawyer, Ben Crump, for the Trayvon Martin family.
SAVIDGE: Correct. That's right. Yes. And he's been quite an outspoken lawyer, too. So there are a number of reasons why, just as Sunny mentioned, he might -- as the defense, he might want him out of the courtroom. One, it's a face that the jurors will not be fixated on and, No. 2, he has tended to speak sometimes about how things have been going, even though this case, he is not directly involved in.
So now that he's out of the courtroom, he can't comment, because he's potentially going to be a witness called. So it's a strategy move, but his deposition should be very interesting and especially when the defense brings it up their case.
BLITZER: All right. I want Sunny and Jeffrey to do some grading right now. On the prosecution, the prosecution getting ready to wrap up its case. Jeffrey, I'll start with you. What grade would you give these state attorneys, these prosecutors?
TOOBIN: At best. I mean, this is a -- this case has gone in, in a very weak way. And they have also made some strategic choices that I think are very debatable. Putting in all these statements by -- by George Zimmerman that basically put in his entire defense in this case. They are putting so much stock in the idea that he has made contradictions that prove he's lying, that prove he murdered Trayvon Martin. I just don't see it. I think...
The real "C," the real "D" is charging second-degree murder in the first place. If this were a manslaughter case, this might look a lot different. But as a second-degree murder case, I think it looks very weak at this point.
BLITZER: You give him a "C" on that and a "D" on charging second- degree murder, as opposed to manslaughter. Sunny, you agree?
HOSTIN: I don't agree. I don't think this has been an average case.
But let me say this. By the time that the cases are tried, certainly, cases that are great cases for the prosecution usually plea out. They don't go to trial. So if the case is going to trial, it's a difficult case. And this is a tough case; this is a difficult case.
So given the facts that they have, they haven't tried to play hide the ball. They've put all the evidence in front of jury. It's been a very transparent prosecution. I would say a "B," because I think they're doing better than average, given their facts.
But I would agree with Jeff that charging second-degree really was a bold move in this case, especially since we've seen all the evidence. But it could also be a very smart strategic move, because no question they're going to ask for a lesser included. They're going to ask for manslaughter, maybe even something lesser than manslaughter. And so now the jury will have before it a couple of choices, and that gives them the opportunity to reach a compromised verdict. So it could be argued that they were pretty smart in terms of their charging decision.
BLITZER: We might know as early as next week, if this thing wraps up as quickly as some are now suggesting.
Martin, thanks to you.
Sunny, of course, thanks to you, as well.
Jeffrey is always the best, and we appreciate all of you guys. Thanks very much.
Here is another question we're watching right now, another important story. Wildfire. How did that wildfire out in Arizona turn so deadly, so fast? Up next, we're taking a closer look at the investigation into a blaze that killed 19 members of an elite fire crew in Arizona.
BLITZER: Arizona's governor has ordered state flags to fly at half- staff for 19 days, one day for each of the 19 firefighters killed on Sunday.
Meanwhile, investigators just announced they expect it will take two to three months before they issue their report.
CNN's Brian Todd has been covering this story for us in Arizona. Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are countless fires in this area during the dry season, like the one on this spot that the Hot Shots battled just weeks ago.
What investigators are looking at now is the anatomy of the fire, a relatively small fire that turned so deadly.
TODD (voice-over): Sunday mid-afternoon firefighter Andrew Ashcraft texts his wife this picture of his crew mates as they get ready to continue their battle with the Yarnell Hill fire. The last known picture of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots before the fire suddenly blew up, killing 19 of them, including Ashcraft.
The anatomy of this fire, the specific events causing that tragedy, are still under investigation. What we know so far: Officials believe the fire started the afternoon of Friday, June 28, with a lightning strike near Yarnell.
(on camera): Officials say because the weather in the region has been consistently so hot and dry, because livestock raising in the area has been limited, once that lightning bolt struck, there were plenty of fuels like this on the ground that would have enabled the fire to spread so quickly.
(voice-over): What are those fuels? Shelby Erickson with the Highlands Fire District, who's battled about 400 wild land fires, says fires in this area feed off dry grass, shrubbery and...
SHELBY ERICKSON, FIRE EXPERT: Needle accumulation or leaf accumulation. And over years it breaks down. Actually starts turning into dirt eventually. But the top layer is the needles and leaves that have just been sloughed off.
TODD: A bone-dry fuel load that experts say makes these fires more volatile and dangerous. One official says on Sunday this fire went from about 400 acres in size to 8,400 acres in a couple of hours.
The Hot Shots were working on hills and in canyons. These fires shoot quickly uphill. But it was the sudden shift in wind direction on Sunday, officials say, that caught the Hot Shots in a deadly trap. What caused the winds to shift so fast?
JIM WHITTINGTON, SOUTHWEST AREA FIRE MANAGEMENT TEAM: It sounds like there was a thunderstorm of downdrafts. That changed the direction of the fire and pushed -- pushed fire in the wrong direction.
TODD: Once they were trapped, officials say the Hot Shots deployed their shelters, individual sleeping-bag-like shells made of fire- resistant material. Demonstrating the procedure for us, firefighter lance Cole got into one in about 15 seconds. It took me a little longer.
(on camera): Pull it over you. When you're underneath the fire shelter, according to Shelby and Lance, you've got to seal it like this to trap breathable air underneath. Make sure you have your water with you.
(voice-over): Then ride it out.
Erickson was careful not to comment on the actions of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. But he says if the fire is that violent, if there's enough fuel near you on the ground...
ERICKSON: And if it's that incredible and it's that dry and the fire is moving that fast, it may be so hot that this won't provide that radiant heat blockage.
TODD (on camera): So far it appears that, between the fuel that was on the ground and the fact that the Yarnell Hill fire changed direction so quickly and moved so fast at that moment that the shelters deployed just couldn't protect those 19 men -- Wolf.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And we've just received a statement from President Obama on the historic developments in Egypt today, the removal of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsy. It's a carefully written out statement. I'm going to read it to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, the statement from the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
"As I have said since the Egyptian revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties. We are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. We have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people in accordance with the democratic process and without recourse to violence or the use of force."
The president of the United States continues, "The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately, the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian armed forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. We now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to the democratically-elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today's developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance for the government of Egypt." The president continues again: "The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties, secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process and free and fair trials in civilian courts.
"Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority, that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends and that places the interests of people above party or faction. The voices of all of those who have protested peacefully must be heard, including those who welcome today's developments and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt's democracy."
The final paragraph from the president: "No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. And honest, capable and responsible government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The long-standing partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on mutual interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt's transition to democracy succeeds."
A very significant statement from the president of the United States. Full analysis coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." That comes up right at the top of the hour.