Return to Transcripts main page
Washington Avoids Calling It A Coup; Obama's Careful Diplomacy With Egypt; Renewed Search For Madeleine McCann; Zimmerman Trial Resumes Friday; Representing Rachel Jeantel; Bolivia Blames U.S. For Flight Delay; NY Times: U.S. Postal Service Photographs Mail; Rainy 4th Of July For Eastern U.S.; Egypt's Military Arrests Ousted President; Firefighters Make Progress In Arizona
Aired July 4, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is strange to talk to him because one is very dark brown and the other one is very light, but he's a terrific guy, too. Andy Scholes, thank you so much. I really enjoyed that, as you can tell. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
Happening now in the NEWSROOM, happy birthday, America, and what a gift to the country, the Statue of Liberty back open this morning after being closed since Sandy.
Plus, sinkhole survival, a 60-year-old woman being rescued from a 20- foot-deep sinkhole that opened up and swallowed her entire car.
Also, what can arguably be the symbol of the George Zimmerman trial, Trayvon Martin's hoodie front and center in the Sanford courtroom.
And chaos in Cairo from half a world away to the front steps of the White House amid protests and power grabs, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt becoming the symbol of what critics say is Obama's failed Egypt policy. NEWSROOM starts now.
Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello and happy Fourth of July. Cries of freedom and independence also echoing in a country scarred by chaos, corruption, and distrust. Take a look at that picture. It could be any city in America, but it's not, St. Louis, New York or Miami but it's not. It's Cairo, Egypt.
Just hours after Egypt's military toppled an unpopular government it placed Mohammed Morsy under arrest. Just a year ago Morsy became the country's first democratically elected president and that creates a diplomatic minefield for Washington. Anti-American passions in Egypt already high as you can see from this protest sign targeting the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Ann Patterson, roughly translated that calls Patterson a nasty old woman.
And future U.S. relations could be in peril by another word. If Washington labels the overthrow as a coup, it may be forced to cut off aid to Egypt. So opposition leaders are tiptoeing around that word, coup, as you'll hear in this testy exchange with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AHMED EL HAWARY, OPPOSITION ACTIVIST: I must say, there is a clear message that has to be delivered to the American media and to the United States administration, you're doing a hell of a bad PR with the Egyptian people, you're aligning yourself --
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": Sir, I'm not a PR -- sir, my job is not to do PR for you or anybody else. I'm not taking any sides here. We're talking about the use of the word coup. Just because you don't want to use it doesn't mean I don't get to use it or the U.S. government doesn't get to use it. This is what we debate in America. This is how our democracy works. I appreciate you being on and I gave you plenty of time to voice your opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The overthrow in Egypt poses daunting challenges for the Obama administration, because of that word coup, because President Obama, Athena Jones, isn't exactly calling what happened in Egypt a coup either.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol. He's given a carefully worded statement after his meeting yesterday with the national security team. He said that the president is -- excuse me. He said that the president is --
COSTELLO: No worries. Take your time and put it on and start over and I'm going to talk until you get your microphone on. I'm telling you, Athena, it's happened more than once, but it's embarrassing and people get over it and people like you more for being a human being, at least that's what I always hope.
OK, let's go back to the White House. Hi, Athena. I understand the Obama administration is not calling what happened in Egypt a coup.
JONES: That's right. They are using a carefully worded statement. The president met yesterday with his national security team and after that he released a statement saying that they are deeply concerned with the decision by the military in Egypt to oust Morsy and to suspend the constitution.
And he went on in that statement to say, I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a 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.
Of course, we know now from the Muslim Brotherhood, from Morsy supporters, that the former president is under house arrest, but this is one interesting word here, not just what the president was saying, not only said there should be a democratically elected government in place, but he didn't say the democratically elected government, meaning the government of Morsy, but a democratically elected government.
That's one choice of words and the other is coup. The president did not call this a coup. Under U.S. law in the instance of a military coup, the aid to Egypt, we're talking about $1.5 billion in aid a year, might have to be cut off. And so the president did say that they are looking at the law on this and so this is one of the things they are going to be monitoring -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right, Athena Jones reporting live from the White House this morning.
There is renewed hope in the search for Madeline McCann, remember her. She is the little girl who disappeared while on a family vacation in Portugal back in 2007. That's the cute little girl. British authorities are now launching their own investigation and they have now identified nearly 40 suspects across Europe. Atika Shubert is following the story from London. Good morning.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning. This is a very significant development. British police announced they are looking to talk to 38 people across Europe, but including in that list, 12 U.K. nationals that are believed to have been in Portugal at the time that she disappeared. They say they've gone with Portuguese police over 30,000 documents. They've made 16 visits to Portugal, and this is why they've reopened the investigation.
They believe they are making some headway on that. One of the most interesting things about the statement that's come out from British police is this quote from Andy Redwood, he said, quote, "We continue to believe that there is a possibility that Madeline is alive," and they have put out a while ago actually an age-progressed picture of Madeline McCann as she would look today, she would be 9 years old.
COSTELLO: So do they have any sense of whether she might be alive or dead?
SHUBERT: At this point, they are open to that possibility, and there's been a tireless campaign by her parents, Kate and Jerry McCann. They've really kept this investigation going, and this is definitely good news for them to see this case being reopened.
COSTELLO: Atika Shubert reporting live from London this morning. Thank you.
The trial of George Zimmerman set to resume tomorrow morning after taking a recess for the Fourth of July holiday. Among the highlights yesterday's session, testimony from Captain Alexis Carter, who taught George Zimmerman in a class on criminal justice at Seminole State College.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What sort of things you addressed as it relates to the law in self defense in Florida?
CAPT. ALEXIS CARTER, TAUGHT ZIMMERMAN AT SEMINOLE STATE COLLEGE: You know, in Florida and other states, they have what's called the stand your ground law, which evolved from the castle doctrine through case law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you cover that specifically?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you discuss specifically self defense and stand your ground laws in the connection of violent crimes such as murder?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The prosecution is expected to rest its case tomorrow with the defense ready to take over among their potential witnesses, a forensic expert and members of George Zimmerman's family. Also tomorrow we're expecting the prosecution to put on Trayvon Martin's mother and then to play that 911 call in the courtroom and then we expect Trayvon's mother to identify the screams on that tape as those of her son.
One of the more memorable witnesses from the trial so far is Rachel Jeantel, the friend of Trayvon Martin who was the last one to speak to him before he died. Rachel faced a lot of scrutiny since her testimony on the stand because of her demeanor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then we met again the next month.
RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON MARTIN: No, we met again that Friday. When you did not want to interview me, that Friday. How much more time do you think that you need to finish your cross?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I certainly wouldn't -- I don't know for sure. I would think we should plan on at least a couple of hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: So, today we're digging a little --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe if you decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn't want you to know about it.
JEANTEL: That's real retarded, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry?
JEANTEL: That's real retarded to do that, sir, when you don't know the person, Trayvon did not know him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: As I was saying, today we're digging a little deeper into Rachel's story with a man that's come to know her well in recent weeks. Rod Vereen is Rachel Jeantel's attorney, he joins me now live from Miami. Welcome, sir.
ROD VEREEN, ATTORNEY FOR RACHEL JEANTEL: Thank you for having me, good morning.
COSTELLO: How did Rachel come to need an attorney?
VEREEN: Well, I was contacted by an old high school class friend of mine, classmate of mine, who actually was a homicide detective for Miami-Dade Police Department and she retired and she works with the church that was assisting Rachel with getting her clothes and things she need in order to take the trip to Sanford, Florida.
She had been having contact with Rachel and members of the church believe that Rachel really did not understand the magnitude of what she was involved with and thought that she would need someone to help her and assist her and understanding the dynamics of a courtroom and what she was going to be exposed to once she gets there. They reached out to me and I agreed to assist her.
COSTELLO: What did you tell her because a lot of people say it appears she was totally uncoached.
VEREEN: Well, I was not going to talk with her with regard to what she was going to testify about. I had not spoken with the prosecutors in the case and did not understand at that time what their strategy was going to be with regard to what they were going to try to elicit from Rachel, so I was not going to coach her in testifying.
My advice to Rachel was just go on the stand, tell the truth, tell it like it was, do not embellish, do not fabricate any evidence. Do not fabricate your testimony and just answer the questions as they are posed to you and try to keep a calm demeanor. She did not understand there was going to be two different dynamics with regard to how she was going to be questioned.
Meaning the prosecution, she was the prosecution's witness, was going to ask her questions and they were not going to be hostile towards her, but she did not understand until she appeared in the deposition with Mr. West that they were going to be very hostile towards her on the cross-examination, and so what the folks are seeing displayed at the trial was her emotions coming out.
Because she had already experienced Mr. West before, so she already had a disdain for him, as he had for her, so her emotions got the best of her on the first day. She had a chance to calm down overnight so what they saw was a different Rachel the next day and she answered the questions in a different manner than she had done the first day.
COSTELLO: There has been so much said about Rachel Jeantel, much of it not very kind. People are calling her all kinds of names. Have you talked with her recently, how is she handling this?
VEREEN: I speak with Rachel at least two to three times a day. We never discuss her testimony, of course. She's aware of what's being said about her in the media. She reads the blogs. She reads, you know, her Twitter. She reads Facebook, but she does not comment with regard to what they are saying about her. She takes it all in stride. She's a 19-year-old kid. She was raised, essentially, you know, in an urban America --
COSTELLO: People are calling her illiterate, worse than that, and it's not all coming from the white community. It's also coming from the African-American community.
VEREEN: And that's what I find the most depressing about what's being said about her. You know, sometimes you can say, well, I can expect it from white America or Hispanic America, but you don't expect it from black America. They have been very, very mean towards Rachel.
COSTELLO: Give me an example. Give me an example.
VEREEN: Well, I was listening to a radio broadcast the other day, there was some town hall meeting that was supposed to be taking place in Miami. You had one doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist who had never met with Rachel and he sits there and says it's clearly obvious she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which I find offensive.
Other individuals talked about her hair. Lo Jones, the Olympic star, came out and said based on the way she appeared and acted in court that she's going to burn the DVDs of her testimony and sell it as Madea goes to court. I find that offensive. These are adults that are doing this, not teenagers making these comments, these are adults that should know better. You can't help ignorance.
They decide they want to come across and be that way, they'll have to face the music when the time comes. As many individuals that have come out against her, there's twice as many coming out in her favor. She was courageous, she was brave, her testimony was unadulterated, it was raw, emotional, and gave it to them exactly how she knew it.
This is one of the reasons, Carol, that individuals do not want to come out and, you know, testify about things they see, especially in the black community where crime is rampant.
COSTELLO: But you can understand, she was supposed to be the prosecution's star witness, she was supposed to make the case. She was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin when he was alive, and a lot of people think that she just made it worse.
VEREEN: Well, I disagree with that because this is not a one-witness case. If it was, this trial would have been over a long time ago, and she is not the end all of all with regard to, you know, what a jury's going to believe when they go to deliberate over the testimony that has been given in the trial. What Rachel's testimony and the reason why Rachel's testimony is so important.
She is the witness that takes that jury out of the jury box and takes them on the path that Trayvon Martin took up until the point where he is accosted by George Zimmerman and then eventually is killed by Mr. Zimmerman. So, her testimony was really important with regard to what was taken place before the encounter, what did Trayvon Martin relate to her about the encounter, and what she said was the absolute truth.
I mean, she said she's on the phone with Trayvon while he's walking, it all of a sudden starts to rain, he goes and stands by the mail port. At that point, he relates to her that there's some creepy guy who's watching him. She says, he might be a rapist, you better run. Trayvon Martin starts running.
COSTELLO: Let me interrupt and ask you, then, because she didn't just call -- she didn't just say creepy. We all know what she said. She said cracker, too, then when questioned by Don West, she said it wasn't a racial term and she was attacked by many factions of, you know, about that. Has she rethought that, have you talked to her about the use of that word?
VEREEN: Well, first of all, I cannot talk with her about her testimony.
COSTELLO: That's right.
VEREEN: OK. But listen, this is the vernacular that's used by these kids today. It may not be flattering, which it's not. It may come across racist, and here's the thing about it, she related in her testimony, not only did he use the word, you know, creepy ass cracker, but she also said he used the word on two occasions. This is the language people are using today.
We as folks on the outside as adults looking at this testimony say this is racist. These are the words that they are using. If she wanted to sanitize that, she could have easily sanitized Trayvon Martin's statements, but she didn't. She was asked under oath and she gave the testimony as she recalls it under oath. So we had to accept it for what it is. You did not say this to --
COSTELLO: Just the last question, because I'm going to have to wrap this up soon, just the last question, the relationship between Rachel and Trayvon Martin. I'd just like you to tell people what that relationship was and why Rachel was so drawn to Trayvon Martin.
VEREEN: As she expressed to me, she and Trayvon Martin shared a group of friends, and those friends were often congregate over at her house and that's when she had met Trayvon Martin again and they began to associate with each other. And as I had said before, Trayvon Martin was one of the guys that essentially took her in, because as she said, she kept it real. And Trayvon Martin kept it real.
He did not tease her about anything, you know, as you see some folks want to tease her about the way she wears her hair, the way she dresses, her complexion, her weight. Trayvon Martin never did any of that. He was a good friend to her. They text each other a lot of times. They spent a lot of time on the phone.
She said Trayvon Martin had a great heart and he had a great personality. And let me tell you something, for the time that I spent with Rachel, she is a very personal person and she's a loving young lady and I can understand it would be why Trayvon Martin would want to have Rachel as a friend and why Rachel would want to have Trayvon Martin as a friend, as well.
COSTELLO: All right, Rod Vereen, thank you so much for being with us this morning, we appreciate it.
VEREEN: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: Much more to come after a break, but first, live pictures for you from Washington, D.C. This is just outside the National Archives right before they read the Declaration of Independence as America celebrates its birthday.
COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 20 minutes past the hour, the Bolivian president had some harsh words for the United States after his presidential jet was delayed in Europe because of rumors NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board. Morales says the United States would never be able to intimidate or scare Bolivia and called on European countries to, quote, "liberate themselves from the imperialism of the Americans." Snowden was not on the plane, just to reiterate. He's still at the Moscow airport, for all we know, and he's applied for asylum in 21 countries including Bolivia.
The U.S. Postal Service is tracking your mail for federal law enforcement. That's according to the "New York Times." The report says the Postal Service photographs every single piece of mail processed in the United States. It's not known how long the government keeps those images.
You might want to grab a raincoat on your way to watch fireworks. Much of the eastern half of the country could see some rain today. A weather system stretching from Alabama to Pennsylvania is expected to bring several inches of rain.
Egypt has a new interim president. The military has installed Adly Mansour in the position after deposing Mohamed Morsy. Morsy was the country's first democratically elected president. No date has been set for new elections.
Our next guest is a human rights activist in Egypt. She monitors last year's election that put Morsy into office. Dalia Ziada joins us now from Cairo. Good morning, Dalia. Thanks for being here.
DALIA ZIADA, IBN KHALDUN CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: We're glad you're here. Dahlia, I know Egypt has a new interim president, but the military is still very much in control of the country. Does that concern you?
ZIADA: Of course, we have a lot of challenges ahead, but I don't think military will be our biggest concern at the moment. We are now working on making a new constitution. The military has already declared yesterday in the statements that was made by the minister of defense that they will not interfere in any political decision making process, and today we already have an interim president. The military joined us based on the call by the people, so actually I don't think it is our biggest concern now. There are other things --
COSTELLO: But Dalia, how can you trust the military? Because in the end the military has all the power, doesn't it?
ZIADA: I trust us. I trust the people. I don't trust anyone, frankly speaking, not the military, not the Muslim Brotherhood, not even the new interim president. But look at the amazing people right here, down there. Whenever someone makes something wrong, we know how to correct them. The Egyptian people, when we're celebrating last night and this morning and actually up till this very moment, we are not celebrating the new president. We don't care who he is, but we are celebrating the fact that we are now driving our own car. We are leading our country through the boughs of democracy, which we started in 2011.
COSTELLO: You know, I guess Americans have a different definition of democracy, because when the military takes over the government, we would consider that a coup. Yet you wrote on cnn.com that this was not a coup, and you said this is democracy at work, but here in America we're scratching our heads. Not that we're all for the Muslim Brotherhood, I'm not saying that, but usually when we have a difference with our leaders, we have an election and we vote that guy out of office.
ZIADA: I agree with you. Of course, having military in power is a coup, but this is not what we're doing in our case. What happened after the fall of Mubarak is we were actually young and not really experienced in democracy and that opens the door for other more experienced group to hijack our revolution, including the Muslim Brotherhood. And rather than working -- or using this huge gift that we're given to them to work on the interests of Egypt, they failed in doing so, so the people came against them.
The difference between Egypt and a country like the U.S. is huge. We don't have the stable liberal democracy you have. When Morsy was elected last year, I was monitoring the elections and I had a team of 7,000 people all over Egypt. I can tell you confidently that most of the people voted for Morsy voted not for Morsy, not because they wanted him, but they had no other option.
Number two, when Morsy was elected, he was elected in an atmosphere that had a constitution, a parliament, and institutions. That's why we were just opening the door for him to abuse his power. What we're doing right now is that we're just getting one step backwards. I agree, it's a step backwards, but we are doing this and we are aware of this, that we are sticking only one step backwards so we can restart again on the right foot.
COSTELLO: Right. Dalia, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.
ZIADA: Thank you.
COSTELLO: You're welcome.
It is a difficult time for Prescott, Arizona. The small mountain community works to remember 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hill wildfire. Learn how they are being remembered now.
COSTELLO: Firefighters in Arizona are making good progress in their battle against a deadly wildfire, the Yarnell fire is now 45 percent contained. An afternoon thunderstorm is forecast for possibly today near Prescott, and that's a good thing. The storm has a potential for lightning and winds, though, which could help spread the flames, so let's hope it brings a lot of rainfall, shall we?
Stephanie Elam joins us now live from Prescott. Good morning.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Yes, we were hoping to do a little rain dance, and, in fact, it's been sort of unpredictable. In the afternoons we have seen big storms come in. Yesterday, I saw the one hotel had some flooding of three feet. So hopefully that rain won't just fall here, it will also fall over the Yarnell Hill fire, where they are still battling that blaze. The good news, the acreage hasn't grown in days -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Absolutely. L et's talk about the memorial on tap for these fallen firefighters. Tell us about it.
ELAM: It continues to expand every day, Carol, when you go to this fence, it's the fence that runs along Station 7 where these Granite Mountain Hotshots were based, and people keep coming up, adding flags, a lot of things in the number of 19, 19 bottles of water, 19 flags. It keeps stretching. Yesterday we had a storm come in and it was very, very violent with the winds and it tore a lot of what was there down, but we saw people coming back and putting things back -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I know there was a touching moment on Wednesday when the vehicles used by those firefighters, they were driven back home.
ELAM: Yes. They are called buggies, and they have two of them, ten men to each one. Those buggies came into town and people were moved to run out and salute them, but the moment of silence didn't just happen here, it also happened down at the fire line. Take a listen to what happened.