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Political Uncertainty Grips Egypt; Obama Chooses His Words On Egypt; Statue of Liberty Reopens; Thousands Mark Fourth With Protest; Spying Accusations Worry E.U. Leaders; Comment On Facebook Puts Teenager Behind Bars; Car Swallowed By Sinkhole; Tempers Flare At School Board Meeting; Arizona Firefighters Remember Fallen Colleagues; George Zimmerman Trial Update

Aired July 4, 2013 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is all happening very fast, the people of Egypt rise up again and for the second time in just 27 months, they have kicked their leader out of office. The ripple effects are already being felt here at home.

A protest group here in the U.S. is planning demonstrations in dozens of American cities. I am talking about Los Angeles, Washington, New York. The protesters want the government to stop what they say is unconstitutional snooping on U.S. citizens.

And here is something to consider as you fire up the grill for that Fourth of July barbecue. Beef, it isn't the only thing for dinner, not after the government says, yes, horse meat may soon be back on the menu.

This is the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Fredricka Whitfield in for Suzanne Malveaux. So, while the U.S. celebrates Independence Day, a key U.S. ally struggles on the road to democracy. Political uncertainty grips Egypt -- Egypt, rather, today after an extraordinary series of events. The head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court was sworn in as the interim president after the military deposed President Mohamed Morsy. According to Morsy's Muslim brotherhood, he is under house arrest.

Karl Penhaul is joining us live from Cairo. So, Morsy is being detained and we're hearing reports of Muslim Brotherhood members being rounded up and arrested. Update us on what's happening overall.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly do seem to be some signs emerging, Fredricka, that a little bit of witch hunt is underway against the Muslim Brotherhood, because we heard in a statement from Egypt prosecutor general's office that he has issued arrest warrants for 250 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. We're not sure as yet exactly how many of those have been detained although we have heard a spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood that some of the top leaders have been taken and we also hear from a Reuters (ph) report that possibly even the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has also been arrested. Along with that as well, the military stepping in and closing down five T.V. channels that they believe were loyal to the government and they have just announced just to say that a witch hunt may be underway. WHITFIELD: So, Karl, as we look at these pictures, clearly an awful lot of people in Tahrir Square but nothing like what we saw yesterday. What's the explanation as to why the crowds have dwindled?

PENHAUL: Well, I believe it's something to do with timing, Fredricka, because down there about half an hour ago and there were only a few hundred people. Now, I would say that as people are finishing their day's work, several thousand have come. And I am guessing as the hours roll by, many more thousands will come and have a second night of celebration. It has been quite amazing, though, that today, you come into Cairo and things seem to be running pretty much as normal. The airport was open, running as normal, no signs of the military presence there, even the stock market was open today and shot up more than seven percent. So, it seems the military civilian coup has also been good for business -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. And, Karl, can you give us an idea whether it is relatively, you know, peaceful? There were an awful lot of reports of sexual assault that has took place in large crowd areas but what else has happened as people have gathered, particularly in the Square and maybe elsewhere?

PENHAUL: Well, so far today, what we have seen is that essentially any public demonstrations have been peaceful. Overnight, since the announcement by the military that it was ousting president Morsy, officials here have reported more than 10 deaths across Egypt as a whole, not just in Cairo but other parts as well. Potentially, in the course of today, things have been peaceful and here coming to the Square what struck me is that there is no sense of police or military presence there to hold back two opposing sides. There is just lines of young civilian males who are chanting to people coming into the Square and making sure they're not carrying weapons or any suspicious packages -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Karl Penhaul, thank you so much, live from Cairo for us.

So, the coup in Egypt is a political mine field for the Obama administration. Egypt is a crucial ally but the U.S. seems to be in a no-win situation. President Obama says he is, quote, "deeply concerned," unquote, about the military toppling of Mohamed Morsy, but he's choosing his words very carefully.

CNN chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "THE LEAD," Jake Tapper joining us live now with more on this diplomatic dilemma facing the administration. So, Jake, the president using his words very carefully, omitting the word coup but there is an explanation for that.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. According to a knowledgeable source with whom I spoke, the reason that the president did not use the word coup in his written statement that was very meticulously crafted and released last night is because they don't want to close any doors. If the U.S. Government declares this a coup, there are legal ramifications that would require the government to stop providing any sort of aid to Egypt and they don't want to do that yet. They want to encourage the Egyptian military now controlling that country to put the country on a path. They don't want to not be part of the conversation, according to this knowledgeable source.

The president in the statement, Fredricka, also raised the issue of reviewing aid to Egypt, but he didn't say anything beyond reviewing it. So, they're encouraging the Egyptian government to move in a general direction without cutting off any lines of communication.

WHITFIELD: But at the same time, Jake, the White House wants to be careful about not appearing to be choosing sides, not choosing the type of government, the type of leadership, even though this administration has made it very clear it wanted to support a democratic leadership, but that's not what this is going to represent.

TAPPER: That's right. Look, the administration has been faulted on its dealings with Egypt for a long time now, starting with, of course, his support for President Mubarak, then, of course, withdrawing support for President Mubarak. The president has been faulted by people in the Egyptian street for supporting President Morsy who led, in many ways, very autocratically.

But one of the things that this knowledgeable source said to me is the administration, the White House, they understand that this could potentially work out for the best. It could work out that way.


TAPPER: Because it could end up, in their view, again, I'm just conveying what the administration is saying, not what I think, but it could end up with a democratically elected president and legislature who is less autocratic, the president, than President Morsy was. Ultimately, what their statement that was given out last night, what it says is, too bad, Morsy, and the ball is in your court, to the Egyptian military.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jake Tapper, thanks so much. We'll see you again 4:00 Eastern time if not before on "THE LEAD." Thanks so much, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. As the nation celebrates the Fourth of July, it is reopen -- reopening day, rather, at the Statue of liberty. Visitors are invited for the first time since Superstorm Sandy damaged Liberty Island and our Pamela Brown is there.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): An estimated 15,000 people are pouring into Liberty Island today to see Lady liberty in all of her glory on this Independence Day. And today holds special meaning for these visitors. They're the first ones here on the island in eight months.

(voice-over): Lady Liberty is once again ready to face the masses, yearning for a closer look at one of America's most iconic figures. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be here at the statue of liberty on its opening day on the Fourth of July, it is just amazing. It's really -- it just makes your heart swell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone has been waiting for so long to be back here. I think it is beautiful. I mean, we all see pictures but to be here just makes everything more real.

BROWN: Superstorm Sandy forced lady liberty's closing just a day after her 126th anniversary. While the statue itself emerged unscathed, the storm surge stocked almost three quarters of Liberty Island, leaving bricks ripped up, docks destroyed and debris everywhere. Adding insult to injury, the statue had just reopened the day before the storm after a year of renovations. CNN got rare access inside for the reopening all the way to her crown, the trek up a steep 377 step narrow spiral staircase leads to spectacular views high above New York's harbor. The 305-foot statue was a gift from France symbolizing the friendship between the two countries and their shared love of liberty. Dedicated in 1886 after 10 years of construction, more than three and a half million people worldwide flock here every year. Park officials worked around the clock to make sure the island reopened just in time for this Independence Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming here and seeing visitors from all over the world standing out in front with tears in their eyes and excitement because she is not only our statue of liberty, she is the world's statue of liberty.

BROWN (on camera): There are people here from all over the world today and, in fact, all the tickets sold out, no surprise there. Now, there is still construction taking place here on Liberty Island. It's still a work in progress but park officials said they just wanted to do everything they can to make sure that the Statue of Liberty was open to the public on this Independence Day. Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right. For some Americans today is a day of protest. The target, the National Security Agency's surveillance program. Demonstrations are planned online and in dozens of cities across the U.S. The group called Restore the Fourth is urging U.S. officials to stop snooping. They see it as a violation of the Fourth Amendment against unlawful searches and seizures.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After me, restore the fourth.

CROWD: Restore the fourth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Restore the fourth.

CROWD: Restore the fourth.


WHITFIELD: Protesters gathered in D.C. and as far west as Santa Monica, California. The campaign began as an online movement.

European leaders say they're worried about reports the U.S. is spying on its allies. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about it last night on the phone. The Europeans parliament is so concerned it voted today to launch a full investigation into just how much the U.S. is snooping on E.U. facilities. The Europeans also want American officials to give up information on all surveillance program that are active in Europe.

All right, here is what we're working on for the rest of this hour. The dad says it's just a misunderstanding. Prosecutors say it was terrorism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kid is just beaming with life. He is just trying to, you know -- and they took it all away from him.


WHITFIELD: A comment on Facebook puts a teenage boy behind bars.

And look at this. A car swallowed right in the middle of the road, and there is someone actually in there. The dramatic rescue straight ahead.

And it's great to see parents get involved with their kids' school, right? Well, usually it's great.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it, that's it. (INAUDIBLE) you.


WHITFIELD: Oh, my. The school board meeting that almost turned into a schoolyard brawl. That's coming up next.


JOSEPH CAMPERSON, MAJOR, U.S. ARMY: Hi, (INAUDIBLE), how are you guys? This is Joe.

RAYMOND SIEGER, SARGEANT, U.S. ARMY: This is Raymond (INAUDIBLE) in Afghanistan. Having a bad hair day?

CAMPERSON: Got a helicopter?

SIEGER: Did you forget your name?

CAMPERSON: Well, don't worry because we've got (INAUDIBLE) and overhead covers to cover you and your sunburn on this July 4th.



WHITFIELD: All right. I've got a pretty crazy and frightening picture to show you right here. It's one of those terrifying wrong place at the wrong time kind of moments. That is a 10-foot hole, deep sinkhole. It just opened up yesterday on a busy road in Toledo, Ohio right underneath a car. Here is the scary part, as if that's not scary enough -- there is a woman in that car. And the hole is filling with water as you see right there. This would be a pretty good time to panic. But I have a feeling she kept it altogether. Nick Valencia is going to hopefully have the happy ending story for us. This is scary.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is scary, but it does have a happy ending. We'll start up with saying that she was unarmed, she is OK, but Pamela Knox had a few frightening moments. She was driving in her car, Fred, when all of a sudden the ground beneath her just opened up. The city official told me it was caused by a water main break, ten-foot hole and she is stuck in there. She was able to get out, she's a school teacher, elementary school teacher, was able to get out, but as you see there, a pipe burst and when rescuers showed up on the scene they were worried that the car would flood and finally got her out using a ladder, but not before some very frantic 911 calls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a car just fell through the street. A car just fell through the street. (inaudible). The hole opened up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, listen, can you try to figure out what kind of vehicle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. A tan Malibu is in the hole. It is sucked in.


VALENCIA: Goodness. So, she is lucky to be alive. She got out. She is safe. Look at her climbing up there. She said all she got away with was having a headache. But no life-threatening injuries. Nothing happened to her.

WHITFIELD: So, I mean everyone tries to envision what would I do in a situation like that.


WHITFIELD: But you noticed that she stays behind the wheel with her? An explanation, was she kind of in shock?

VALENCIA: I think she was just in shock.

WHITFIELD: Was there anything about? VALENCIA: She didn't want to get out. And usually in sinkholes, you know, we see a lot in Florida, right? Those are natural geological occurrences.


VALENCIA: And something like this was an infrastructure failure, that sewage system, according to city, was built back in 1891. It was built of brick. And it just collapsed.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, you are seeing the bricks there. I was wondering about that.

VALENCIA: Washed the ground underneath it away to form this cavity and that led to the sinkhole, unfortunately --

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

VALENCIA: And she was - she was all right. She was all right, Fred.

WHITFIELD: What was the lapse of time? You know, from --

VALENCIA: Oh, she was there for a handful of minutes, longer than she wanted to be here, I'm sure.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, hey, they acted fast.

VALENCIA: Yeah, they acted fast to get her out.

WHITFIELD: Lucky for her. Incredible. All right. Thanks so much, Nick.

VALENCIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Glad - was going to have that happy ending.


WHITFIELD: You look too cheerful to be otherwise. Thank you.

VALENCIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, firefighters meantime in Arizona, are trying to knock out that wildfire that deadly wildfire that killed 19 of their colleagues on Sunday. Hundreds of firefighters in Prescott caused - paused, rather, for a moment of silence and saluted their fallen comrades. Stephanie Elam is there for us. So, Stephanie, boy, this is a tough situation and I know this entire community is grieving.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, Fredricka. When you look around the city, you can see signs of the morning, of the massive loss of these 19 firefighters. And while they are doing that, you know the fire fighters themselves are dealing with so much, but at the same time there is still this fire that they have to battle. The good news is that it stayed at 8400 acres now for a couple of days. It is now 45 percent contained, but they're still out there on the fire lines, putting out these hot spots, so hot shots are still out there making sure that this fire doesn't grow anymore and that it doesn't threaten any people and there is a chance that some of the people that were evacuated could get back into their homes this weekend, Fred. But it just depends on the weather if they get some help there, they don't see any big rain coming for the next seven to ten days, though.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. That is just tough situation. Meantime, Stephanie, you spoke to the parents of one of the fallen firefighters and we'll actually see your piece coming up in the 3:30 Eastern hour because there will be a special today paying homage to those hot shots. Here is a preview of what we can expect in that special and how the family members are coping.

ELAM: It's heart wrenching, Fred, to talk to people who are dealing with something like this, and they're still trying to wrap their minds around it. We're talking about Shawn Misner and his parents, Ron and Tammy Misner I sat down and talked to them, and they were just talking about how his mom saying she looks at photos and he looks so alive and she keeps thinking he is going to walk through the door, but realizing that isn't the case. But take a listen to how they said their family, which is a family of firefighters how they have been looking at this tragedy.


TAMMY MISNER, PARENT OF FIREFIGHTER KILLED: This has been just huge devastation. And, you know, it's just not something -- I mean, in our family that we just never expected to happen. Knowing that it was always going to happen, or the worst could happen.


ELAM: So just the pain that you can see on his parents' face is there. And we'll have a more in-depth conversation and also show you why they have an interesting mix of pain and joy that will be in our story coming up in our special, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks for bringing that to us, Stephanie. So, again, that's at 3:30 Eastern time today remembering the hot shots, Stephanie's conversation with some of those family members, the Misners and more. All right, he says he killed in self-defense. But now his freedom hangs in the balance. There have been some amazing moments in the George Zimmerman trial. That's coming up next.


SGT. KENYETTA SCOTT, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: Hey, my name is Sgt. Kenyetta Scott with taskforce flight one and here in Afghanistan I just want to say happy Fourth of July to my grandma Betty Blanchard, my mom, Candy (INAUDIBLE), my sister (inaudible) and my best friend Keisha Flanders, my daughter Sinaya and my brother Mike Jones and all of my family. I love you.


WHITFIELD: A school board meeting in upstate New York descended into something more like a reality show complete with f bombs and physical threats. Here is what happened. The mother of a Spring Valley high school student was addressing the board when a school lawyer interjected this way.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are still smirking at me. Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, would you please shut up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You really need to get out. You need to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you hiding behind, your paycheck?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it. That's it. [CENSORED] you.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my. I bet that was the school board argument that then spilled into the parking lot. Lots of beeping there, lots of bad language, personal insults and the school board president says the board is still deciding how to handle what happened at that meeting.

George Zimmerman's trial is in recess today for the Fourth of July holiday. But tomorrow Trayvon Martin's mother and brother could be called to testify about whose voice is on a 911 tape. So far the most talked about witness in this trial has been Martin's friend, Rachel Jeantel. She is 19 years old, and people across the country have criticized her for a number of things from the way she looked to the way she spoke. Her attorney says Trayvon Martin never judged his friend. Attorney Rod Vereen spoke about the friendship earlier on CNN.


ROD VEREEN, ATTORNEY FOR RACHEL JEANTEL: She and Trayvon Martin shared a group of friends, and those friends would 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 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 texted 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 is a loving young lady and I could understand why it would be that Trayvon Martin would want to have Rachel as a friend and why should Rachel would want to have Trayvon Martin as a friend as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: The trial is moving along quite quickly. Our George Howell takes us into the courtroom for a look at the most recent testimony.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The day started with a parade of witnesses from George Zimmerman's past, from the professors who taught him about criminal justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see George over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, George?

HOWELL: To a representative from a Virginia police department that rejected his application to be a police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Zimmerman had a problem with his credit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that would be a reason why he wouldn't be accepted as a police officer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the reason why we did not consider him further based on that record, yes, sir.

HOWELL: Zimmerman's past could haunt him if jurors are swayed by the picture prosecutors are trying to paint. A want to be cop who went too far, then less than forthcoming about how well he knew the law on national TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prior to this night, this incident, had you even heard "stand your ground?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never heard about it before.

HOWELL: Captain Alexis Francisco Carter told the court part of the course he taught covered the practical application of self-defense laws with a special focus on Florida laws like "Stand Your Ground." And Zimmerman aced the class.

CAPTAIN ALEXIS FRANCISCO CARTER: He was probably one of the better students in the class.

HOWELL: Zimmerman's defense team argued his past training and education had no relevance to this case. Next prosecutors called Amy Siewert, a firearms expert with the Florida department of law enforcement. Siewert testified through tests on Trayvon Martin's clothes she was able to determine it was a contact shot that killed him.

ANY SIEWERT, FIREARMS EXPERT: 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.

HOWELL: The final witness, Anthony Gorgone, a crime lab analyst who examined DNA samples on all of the evidence in the case. Attorneys focused on the question of whose DNA was found on Zimmerman's gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were able to exclude Trayvon Martin as having DNA on the pistol grip, is that correct?

ANTHONY GORGONE, DNA ANALYST: Yes, Trayvon Martin was excluded as being a possible contributor to this mixture on the grip.

HOWELL: Court resumes Friday when we're likely to hear from a member of Trayvon Martin's family to testify about who was screaming on that 911 audio tape, the state is then expected to rest its case and then the defense will start calling its witnesses. George Howell, CNN, Sanford, Florida.


WHITFIELD: The murder investigation involving a former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, well, that's really heating up. Court documents reveal investigators have found evidence that could be very damaging to Hernandez. That is next.


CWO RANDALL SCHLENSIG, NEBRASKA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: Hello from Kabul, Afghanistan, I am Chief Warrant Officer Randall Schlensig, Nebraska Army National Guard, and I would like to wish everyone in Austin (ph), Nebraska a happy Fourth of July, especially, the Magrass (ph), the Lenahoes (ph), the Comstocks (ph) and the Rossins (ph). Happy Independence Day, everybody.