Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman; George Zimmerman Trial Continues

Aired July 8, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a late decision happening only a little while ago on testimony about Trayvon Martin's use of marijuana on that critical day. Plus, courtroom drama as his father takes the stand.

Also, we're getting new disturbing details of the jumbo jet crash at San Francisco International Airport. Investigators are now looking at pilot experience. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board standing by to join us live at this hour.

Plus, chaos and bloodshed in Egypt, a soaring death toll as the political crisis deepens.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A decision that could have a major impact on the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman. Just a little while ago, the judge decided that jurors can hear testimony about toxicology tests which show that Trayvon Martin had marijuana in his system when he was killed.

Let's go to Sanford, Florida.

CNN's Martin Savidge has been covering this trial for us.

Potentially, Martin, a very significant decision by the judge.


I mean, we knew that coming into this trial, there had been a lot of arguments that had been placed on the part of defense and the prosecution to try to prevent the introduction as far as any drug use involved pertaining to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. As you said, the autopsy toxicology reports had found that there were traces of THC in his system. But, before the trial, the judge said that really was not significant enough for the jury to find out about.

Now she has essentially reversed that decision and said, yes, now the jury can be told potentially. We will have to see what kind of baggage that may introduce, how the defense may try to portray the victim as a result. Then the other issue, and the real drama of the day had to be the fact that you had Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, take the stand, and he was questioned by the attorney who is defending the man that killed his son. You had Mark O'Mara basically earlier had two detectives on the stand and they both said that they had played that 911 call, the one with the screams, and that the detectives had heard Tracy Martin tell them when they asked him, was that your son screaming, he said no. But when Tracy Martin was questioned on the stand, he said, in fact, what he said was that he couldn't tell.

The prosecution got up quickly and began to cross-examine and sort of support Tracy Martin. Listen.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: In terms of your mind, what was going through your mind, can you describe to the jury what was going through your mind when you were listening to that?

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Basically, what I was listening to, I was listening to my son's last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken. And I was coming, trying to come to grips that Trayvon was here no more. It was just tough.


SAVIDGE: The prosecution implying that if there's any change or misunderstanding as to what Tracy Martin had said, it's because he had just listened to the final screams of his son and the gunshot that had ended his life. He was emotionally distraught. But that ruling on THC, Wolf, that is really big.

BLITZER: It's big because at one point in one of his 911 calls, George Zimmerman had even suggested that -- he didn't know his name at the time -- but Trayvon Martin may have been on drugs, something along those lines, and that may have motivated the behavior of George Zimmerman. But go ahead and pick up that thought.

SAVIDGE: Yes. I mean, that is an issue that's going to be brought. State of mind has been something that's been talked about a lot in this case. But usually, the reference is to what was George Zimmerman's state of mind? Did he have hatred against in some way 17- year-old Trayvon Martin? That's the second-degree murder part.

But now the issue becomes, well, what was the teenager's state of mind? Could he have somehow been more aggressive or misunderstood what George Zimmerman was doing, misread it as a result of the trace of marijuana? It will be very interesting to see how the defense handles this because it could work both ways for them.

SAVIDGE: All right, Martin, don't go too far away.

I want to bring in our legal analysts right now. Sunny Hostin is joining us, our CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, also Mark NeJame. He is on the scene for us as well, a criminal defense attorney.

Sunny, let's talk for a second about the marijuana. How much of a significant setback for the prosecution is this, Judge Debra Nelson's decision to allow this toxicology report to be admitted as evidence?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it certainly is a setback, because as you just said, the defense here is one of self- defense and now they're going to be able to get into perhaps Trayvon Martin somehow misread things. Perhaps George Zimmerman wasn't following him in this way. Perhaps Trayvon Martin thought he was creepy because he was paranoid because of his drug use. Maybe his perceptions were off.

Also, George Zimmerman said this guy looks like he's on drugs. He told that to the non-emergency call operator. So then perhaps that buttresses a bit of his testimony. And it's unfortunate for the prosecution because the police department didn't take any blood from George Zimmerman on that night. There are no toxicology reports on George Zimmerman's blood. There have been some reports on the fact that he was taking some kind of medication, but that won't come in front of this jury, so I'm not sure how you combat this kind of testimony.

I think you have to get your own toxicology expert to say you know what? There was so little in his bloodstream, it could not have affected his behavior that night. If they can find an expert that's going to say that. Remember, their own medical examiner said that he felt that the amount of drugs in his system may have changed his reactions. And so I think this is a tough one for the government.

BLITZER: What do you think, Mark?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Sunny hit most of the points right on. The fact is that, you know, people know, though, that marijuana, it really is the issue. It could backfire on the defense. They have to be very careful because with the liberalization of marijuana, the acceptance by many in society, it sometimes can backfire if you try to make it too big a deal that he was this drug- crazed teenager.

He had a trace amount in his system. A lot of people don't think it's relevant at all. And many people know that marijuana is typically going to make you slower, not more aggressive. There's an issue with the defense that they need to be very careful about, but I think it just all the more goes towards showing that Trayvon Martin wasn't what the state is attempting to portray and that there's other sides to this.

So this once again kind of nips away, chips away at the state's ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. As Sunny said, you have got the medical examiner. That's what hurts this prosecution so much. For them to even bring in their own independent witness now, they're stuck with this medical examiner changing his testimony at the very last minute, unknown to everybody.

He kind of just said, no, I conclude now that it could have affected, it could have impacted. When you couple that with George Zimmerman's statement that the person he saw who we now know to be Trayvon Martin appeared like he was on drugs, that becomes very difficult for the state. BLITZER: Listen to this. These are two of the former lead investigators who are looking into all of the evidence, looking into the charges at the beginning of what was going on, and their testimony today, very dramatic moments, when they said that when Trayvon Martin's father initially heard that controversial 911 tape where someone was screaming out for help, Trayvon Martin's father suggested, at least according to these two investigators, that the voice was not the voice of his son. Listen to this.



CHRIS SERINO, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: I believe my words were is that your son's voice in the background or something -- I think I said it a little differently than that. But I inquired as if that was, in fact, his son yelling for help.

O'MARA: And what was his response?

SERINO: He -- it was more of verbal and nonverbal. He looked away and under his breath, as I interpret it, said no.

O'MARA: Did he ever ask that the tape be played for him again that time?

SERINO: I don't believe so.

O'MARA: Did he ever evidence to you any concern with being able to hear the tape?

SERINO: No, sir.

O'MARA: And do you recall what it was that you heard Officer Serino ask Mr. Martin after playing a loud 911 call?



Again, do you have the exact words?


SINGLETON: I don't know if those are the exact words, but that was the question, if he recognized the voice.

O'MARA: OK. And Mr. Martin's response?

SINGLETON: Was that it was not his son.


BLITZER: All right, now, Tracy Martin later testified that he didn't say that, that he didn't know whose voice it was.

Give me your analysis of what we heard and how it's likely to play, Mark, with those six jurors.

NEJAME: Think of the position the state is in. They're having to pit their victim's father against law enforcement. And basically the victim's father is saying that law enforcement is incorrect or untruthful. That's their best case is that they're incorrect.

And so now this -- once again, with all the multiple -- I think they put on seven witnesses that said that it was in fact George Zimmerman's voice and now you have his own father being compromised by the defense's questioning. It's a challenging, challenging position for the state to be in to have law enforcement refute their own victim's father's testimony.

BLITZER: Although we did hear earlier, it was very dramatic, as you well remember, Sunny, we heard Trayvon Martin's mother and brother testify that they thought it was the voice of Trayvon Martin crying out for help.

HOSTIN: Yes, and I think that may, in fact, give Tracy Martin some more credibility.

I mean, look at the circumstances around which he first heard that tape. What parent wants to say, yes, that's my son's cries for help? And I wasn't there to answer those cries. I don't think that what the detectives have said that he said and what he says are mutually exclusive by any means. He said I can't tell.

And I think there has been enough evidence that, you know, people sound differently when they're under stress, which is why I think that perhaps the jury may think all these people with biased friends of George Zimmerman can't identify his voice as screaming? It cuts both ways.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We will continue to watch this trial. Don't forget tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, the trial resumes. We will have live coverage of course here on CNN. Sunny Hostin, Mark NeJame, guys, thank s very much.

Up next, there are new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now about those final seconds before the Asiana Flight 214 crash landed in San Francisco. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board is about to join us live. We will talk about what investigators have now learned.

Plus, new information also coming in about the dozens of passengers injured and why some may never walk again.


BLITZER: We're getting some disturbing new details from investigators as they try to figure out why that Asiana jumbo jet crash landed at the San Francisco International Airport on Saturday. The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, is about to join us live. We will speak to her, get the latest from her.

But, first, some background. CNN's Dan Simon is in San Francisco right now. He's following the investigation.

Dan, what's the latest?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know that the plane was going far below the recommended speed as it approached the runway. We also heard from some of the first-responders today who really did some incredible things, but had to field what you might call are some uncomfortable questions about something that may have happened as they raced to the scene.


SIMON (voice-over): As investigators continue to examine the wreckage, more evidence surfaced today that Asiana Flight 214 was flying too low and too slow to make a safe landing.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: About three seconds prior to impact, the flight data recorder recorded its lowest speed of 103 knots.

SIMON: The plane had a target speed for landing of 137 knots, or about 40 miles an hour faster before touchdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that one. Look at how his nose up in the air. Oh, my God. Oh, it's an accident.

SIMON: Investigators still aren't saying whether they believe pilot error led to the crash, but NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman made it clear their decisions are being closely reviewed.

HERSMAN: We're looking for things that might affect human performance, like fatigue, like illnesses or medication.

SIMON: The pilot at the controls had only limited experience on a Boeing 777, just 43 hours, though many hours flying 747s. But he never landed a 777 in San Francisco for him. This was considered a training flight for him.

Just seven seconds before the crash, the cockpit voice recorder indicates the crew called for an increase in speed. At four seconds, the pilots were getting a stall warning. And a second-and-a-half before the crash, the pilots tried to abort the landing. As this animation shows, the plane clipped the seawall, severing its tail, then careens down the runway. Part of the wreckage was found embedded in the seawall's rocks.

The NTSB says other pieces of wreckage are in the water.

TOM SIRAGUSA, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT: I have a large plane down. It's well involved in fire and people are exiting the plane and the collection point has been established. At that point, I raised it to a third alarm and declared a red alert.

SIMON: First-responders today describe the chaotic, surreal scene arriving just a couple minutes after the crash. With jet fuel spilling out of the plane, firefighters raced to get outside and found several passengers trapped, all of them at the back of the aircraft where the worst damage was.

SIRAGUSA: They're on the plane involved with fire and in those wings of that plane is jet fuel. Jet fuel is leaking out of the plane and our firefighters, under the direction of Anthony Robinson originally, and battalion Chief Mark Johnson, entered the plane, began a primary search and began to extinguish fire.

SIMON: But with the heroism comes a possible tragedy, the San Francisco Fire Department acknowledging that one of its emergency vehicles may have run over one of the two Chinese girls who died.

DALE CARNES, Assistant Deputy San Francisco Fire Chief: There was a possibility that one of the two fatalities might have been contacted by one of our apparatus at an unknown point during the incident.

HERSMAN: The coroner has not yet determined the cause of death. And so we want to make sure that we have all the facts before we reach any conclusions. We are reviewing video, airport surveillance video to understand also what happened.


SIMON: Both of the victims who died were seated in the rear of the plane. Meanwhile, investigators were hoping to interview the pilots some time today -- Wolf.

All right, Dan Simon in San Francisco, thank you.

Let's get some more from the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Deborah Hersman is joining us now live from San Francisco.

Thanks very much for coming in. What can you tell us about those interviews? I understand that they have started today with those four Korean pilots.

HERSMAN: They have. One of our main priorities is really to conduct interviews and gather perishable evidence in the first hours and days after an accident.

Our team is in the process of interviewing the pilots. We want to make sure that we have the opportunity to talk to each of them.

There were four pilots on this flight, a crew and a relief crew. And so we want to talk to all of them. That process has begun and we expect good cooperation.

BLITZER: Are they in good shape, those four pilots? Did they sustain any injuries? HERSMAN: Well, our team is talking to them. They've all agreed to be interviewed. I don't know if they had any injuries in the accident, but we do know that the worst of the injuries were in the back of the aircraft.

BLITZER: We also have been hearing -- and it's pretty disturbing, when you think about it -- that the pilot that was in charge -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- really had a tiny bit of experience with this particular Boeing 777, had never actually landed a plane, that specific aircraft, in San Francisco, which is a tricky landing coming in over the water.

Is all that true?

HERSMAN: Well, I think first, you know, to step back a little bit, generally when we think of a two-person flight crew, we think of a captain and a first officer. What we believe we have in this case is we have a captain that was going through some transition training and some operating experience in the 777. This is somebody with a lot of hours, a lot of experience, but new to the 777.

And so he is also flying with a check captain or a training captain, who is with him as he's going through this.

San Francisco, clearly they're coming in. We want to make sure when we look at this that we've got all of the facts straight about who was the flying pilot in this leg of the flight, who was the pilot in command in the cockpit.

And so we've got two captains here. We want to understand that. They did come in to San Francisco; they were slow. We know they had a crash on the approach. We would expect, in a two-pilot operation, for there to be some redundancy and some monitoring that's taking place. We have to understand what went wrong on this flight.

BLITZER: Because they were flying in very slow and very low. And clearly that was a problem.

Is it too early to conclude pilot error?

HERSMAN: You know, Wolf, I think it really is too early to conclude pilot error because there's so much that we don't know. We have to understand what these pilots knew. We also need to look at how they were flying the airplane.

Were they hand-flying the airplane? Were they relying on auto pilot or some combination of the two of those, and how those systems worked, if they worked as designed, if the crew understood what they were supposed to do.

We've seen some of these challenges in previous investigation with respect to automation, and so we want to make sure that we fully understand it before we reach any conclusions.

BLITZER: You've listened to the flight voice recorder.

Was there any indication of panic in those seconds before the crash?

HERSMAN: You know, Wolf, the cockpit voice recorders left San Francisco just as I was arriving. We had some of our team who was on the ground here in California. They were able to get the recorders off the plane, get them on a red eye back to Washington for our team to audition them in Washington in less than 24 hours. So that's a great accomplishment.

I have not listened to the cockpit voice recorder, so I really can't provide any input as to how the crew sounded.

BLITZER: Well, did your staff, did others at the NTSB give you a sense of what was going on in that cockpit?

HERSMAN: They have listened to the recorders, they did a preliminary audition to identify some basic information on them. But they actually have a cockpit voice recorder group that's convening in Washington.

One of the issues for us for sure is that we've got a combination of English and Korean on the cockpit voice recorders and we've got to have some translation done to that before we can release any additional information.

BLITZER: Any preliminary results you want to release right now?

HERSMAN: Sure. We have provided some preliminary information from the cockpit voice recorder. And, you know, I think what's really important to note is that seven seconds out there was a recognition between the two crew members in a conversation that the aircraft was slow. Four seconds prior to impact, they actually had a stick shaker activation.

This is a big deal. This is telling the pilots that the airplane is about to stall if something doesn't change. And so they get an oral and they also get a cue through the yoke of the aircraft, a vibration that the airplane is close to stall. And then about 1.5 seconds before impact, there was a call between the crew to go around.

And a go-around is an aborted landing, apply thrust and go around and make another pass, try to land again. That was just 1.5 seconds before impact and, at that point, it was too late.

BLITZER: Too late, indeed, a tragic moment, way too late at that point. Deborah Hersman of the national transportation safety board, if we could check back with you tomorrow, get some more information, that would be great. Thanks very much and good luck with the investigation.

HERSMAN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, was it a case of pilot error in San Francisco? We're going to show you some exclusive video to illustrate what may have gone wrong. Stand by for that.

And a number of the crash victims have spinal injuries. We will show you why and what they may be up against next.


BLITZER: Happening now: A veteran pilot with very little experience was at the controls at the time of the San Francisco crash, very little experience flying the Boeing 777 coming into San Francisco. We're going to show you what went wrong.

Dozens of people are missing after a runway train explodes, leveling much of a small town -- why the search is still so dangerous.

And the country music superstar Randy Travis in critical condition right now with a heart ailment. We will have an update.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

CNN has obtained exclusive video of the crash of that Asiana Flight 214. And a retired pilot who looked at it says it has important clues about the deadly crash landing at the San Francisco International Airport.

Here's CNN's Rene Marsh.


MARK WEISS, RETIRED PILOT: You see how low he is over there?


Much too low. The sight picture that you would have out of the cockpit window should not be looking at the runway like this, but you should be looking -- he should be seeing down here.

MARSH (voice-over): Mark Weiss, a retired commercial pilot for more than 22 years, looking at Asiana 214 crash landing frame by frame. The Asiana airline pilot who was behind the controls has been flying with the airline for nearly two decades, but only had 43 hours of experience flying this type of plane.

(on camera): Do you think experience or lack thereof played at all in this scenario?

WEISS: Well, certainly you're going to look at that. Experience? Not necessarily. Remember, he had already been qualified through the simulators and his testing to fly the airplane. There perhaps was a comfort factor that may have come in to something like this.

MARSH: How does that translate to potentially what we saw?

WEISS: It translates to the fact that I don't want to say something because I don't want to look like I can't handle the situation. It potentially could boil down to something like that. But having 33 hours in an airplane, pilots change aircraft all the time, and you're always going to start from zero to wherever you wind up. MARSH (voice-over): The pilot was accompanied by a training pilot known as a check airman. The first sign of trouble on the flight recorders came seven seconds before impact, a call for more engine power.

WEISS: He shouldn't have been in the position where he would have needed that to begin with, but had he still been in this position, adding the power certainly earlier, that power should have been appropriate way back here.

MARSH: Watching the video raises questions like if the co-pilot saw the pilot making a wrong move, were they too afraid to say it?

WEISS: Why did the check airman allow the situation to deteriorate to this point? And why didn't one of the other pilots say something?

MARSH: It's coming in. One point five seconds, they call for the go-around. Way too late.

WEISS: Much too late. The fact is, you know, they recognized too late the situation that they put themselves into. And now they were trying to recover from it. But you ran out of altitude and air speed at the same time.

MARSH: Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: Of the 307 people onboard the Asiana flight, 182 ended up in the hospital and many of them with spinal injuries. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now with a closer look at what those injuries mean, whether these patients, at least some of them, will ever walk again.

What are you seeing? What are you learning, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, we know that tragically two people died in this crash, but really many more will go on to live for the rest of their lives in pain and in paralysis.


COHEN (voice-over): It's a miracle that anyone got out of this wreckage alive. But many of those who did suffered terrible injuries

DR. MARGARET KNUDSON, SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL HOSPITAL: Almost, I would say 50 percent of the people that we admitted to the hospital have at least one spinal fracture. Not all of them are paralyzed, but some of them are.

COHEN: Spinal cord injuries, not surprising, given that this is what the cabin looked like after the crash. Imagine how passengers must have been tossed around. EUGENE RAH, SURVIVOR: I tried to hold on to, you know, whatever I could. As soon as I, you know, grabbed anything that I could hold onto, it was like, you know, bang. And the impact was so powerful.

COHEN: Dr. Donald Leslie shows us what some of the injuries would look like, such as a compression fracture.

DR. DONALD LESLIE: This vertebral body is rectangular. And this is normal. If it is compressed or fractured, then this will be smaller.

COHEN: And burst vertebrae.

LESLIE: Normal. Normal. Injured. Injured.

COHEN (on camera): So does this piece actually burst?

LESLIE: That piece actually burst into several segments.

COHEN (voice-over): Setting the spine straight with these rods and screws can help in some cases.

(on camera): So you can have these kinds of injuries and walk out of the hospital.

LESLIE: Yes. You can.

COHEN: But you may not.

LESLIE: But you may not. And the majority do not.

COHEN (voice-over): And for those who don't, they'll spend the rest of their lives using crutches, wheelchairs, braces. The effects of this disaster, living with them forever.


COHEN: Now, one of the tragedies of this crash is that the passengers didn't have any time to brace themselves. There was no time to give them warning to prepare -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a story, Elizabeth. Thanks very much. Let's hope for the very best for all of those who are injured. Appreciate it very much.

All ten people, by the way, aboard were killed when an air taxi crashed and burst into flames in southern Alaska. Details of yesterday's crash still are not clear. But authorities say the single engine plane struck the runway and burned at an airport about 60 miles southwest of Anchorage. The National Transportation Safety Board has been called in to investigate.

A train disaster worse than anyone realized. We've just learned the death toll is climbing.

Plus, the NSA leaker Edward Snowden in his own words explaining why he thinks he had an obligation to reveal the U.S. Government's massive surveillance program.


BLITZER: Dozen of people are missing; 13 are dead after this weekend's horrific runaway crash in eastern Canada. The 73-car train plowed into the small town of Lac-Megantic -- That's in Quebec -- setting off massive explosions when its load of crude oil ignited.

CNN's Paula Newton is on the scene for us. Paula, what is the latest?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, unfortunately, the latest is that the death toll has gone up. They've recovered 13 bodies, still not identified, Wolf, and 37 are missing.

Having said that, the details are so grim, I have rarely heard blunt language like this used by officials. They're talking about the scene behind me being a crematorium for whoever was there. They are pleading with family members who have said people are missing to hand in DNA samples: hair, clothing, anything that can be found to help identify their loved ones.

Needless to say, Wolf, this town -- this town is still in a state of shock as to how this could have happened. The fire burning for 36 hours. The core, the heart of the town, completely wiped out.

And this from a runaway train that was parked. Apparently had some trouble, Wolf, with his brakes. Actually had a small fire just five miles up the road here. The fire was extinguished, and still, about an hour and a half later, it just careened into this town.

Wolf, the latest from the company is that they are now at least putting on the table, and police refuse to rule it out, there that there could have been sabotage, perhaps vandalism or, again, could have been some kind of mistake. It will be at least weeks before we find out the exact cause -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a horrific story that is. Paula Newton on the scene for us. Paula, we'll check back with you.

Other news, U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been stuck in a Moscow airport now for more than two weeks looking for a country to give him asylum. Today "The Guardian" newspaper released more of an interview it conducted with Snowden in Hong Kong back on June 6, before he revealed himself and went on the run. It sure sounds like he knew what was coming up in his life. Listen to this.


EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: I think the government's going to launch an investigation. I think they're going to say I've committed grave crimes; I've, you know, violated the Espionage Act. They're going to say, you know, I've aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems. But that argument can be made against anybody who -- who reveals information that -- that points out mass surveillance systems. Because fundamentally, they apply equally to ourselves as they do to our enemies.


BLITZER: Snowden goes on to talk about why he revealed classified information.


SNOWDEN: I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that's not -- that's not something I'm willing to support. It's not something I'm willing to do. It's not something I'm willing to live under. So I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in a way they can.

Now, I've watched and waited and tried to do my job in the most policy-driven way I could. Which is to wait and allow other people -- you know, wait and allow our leadership, our figures to sort of correct the excesses of government when we go too far, but as I've watched, I've seen that it's not occurring. In fact, we're compounding the excesses of prior governments and making it worse and more invasive. And no one is really standing to stop it.


BLITZER: Venezuela has extended an offer of asylum to Snowden, but officials there say they have not heard back from him.

Up next, the country music superstar Randy Travis is in the hospital in critical condition. We'll give you an update.


BLITZER: No decision from the judge, Judge Debra Nelson, in the Zimmerman trial today on whether or not a controversial animation of what happened that night with the killing of Trayvon Martin can be admitted as evidence. She will consider it. There will be depositions. More on that coming up. The trial resumes tomorrow morning, 9 a.m. Eastern. CNN will have live coverage.

Other news. The country music superstar and multiple Grammy winner Randy Travis is hospitalized. He is in critical condition. Let's get the latest information from CNN entertainment reporter Marc Istook is standing by. What are we learning, Marc?

MARC ISTOOK, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, our -- Randy's publicist has told us that he is in critical condition right now in a Texas hospital, being treated for viral cardiomyopathy. It is a heart condition caused by a viral infection. And we found out that he was admitted to the hospital yesterday.

And according to his Web site -- you know, this is a singer who has sold more than 20 million records in a career that has spanned almost 30 years. He's a guy who's won seven Grammys, appeared in several movies. But in recent years, though, Wolf, he's made more headlines for his personal struggles than for his music. The 54-year-old performer stumbled through a very rocky 2012. More than three brushes with the law.

In August of last year, he was cited for fighting with the ex- husband of his then girlfriend in the parking lot of a Texas church. And just two weeks before that, a Texas state trooper found him naked, drunk and passed out in the middle of a road. He pleaded guilty to DWI charges from that incident and was sentenced to probation and community service.

Recently, Randy Travis performed at a memorial service for fellow country singer George Jones, and he does have tour dates booked throughout the summer, including a performance scheduled for Wednesday in South Dakota. Of course, that could be in jeopardy now, Wolf, with him in the hospital.

BLITZER: All right. Marc, thanks very much. Marc Istook reporting.

Up next, the bloodiest clash yet in Cairo. Dozens of people are dead. Hundreds wounded. Why isn't the White House ready to cut off military aid? They explain what's going on. Stand by.


BLITZER: An extraordinarily bloody day in Cairo, where more than 50 people were killed. Hundreds of people were wounded in clashes between Egyptian security forces and backers of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsy.

Here in Washington, the White House seemed to reject cutting off military aid to Egypt over what it's still refusing to call a military coup. Here is the White House press secretary, Jay Carney.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our decisions with regards to the events that have happened recently in Egypt will be -- and how we label them and analyze them, will be made with our policy objectives in mind, in accordance with the law and in accordance with any consultation with Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In other words, no immediate cutoff of aid?

CARNEY: We think that would not be in our best interest.


BLITZER: No immediate cut-off of military aid. Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. He's in Cairo.

Ben, first of all, tell our viewers what the latest is. Is it still very, very tense there, a lot of violence, or is it easing somewhat? BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very tense, there's no question about that, Wolf. There hasn't been much -- any violence that we know of this afternoon. Really, all that violence took place outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard, where, as you said, the supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsy, clashed with police and the army.

There's a blame game going on as to who started it and how. But the net result is the same. This is a city on edge. There are worries that there's going to be more violence tomorrow when the supporters of the deposed president say they're going to be organizing a very large demonstration to protest against the deaths that happened early this morning in Cairo -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What's the latest on Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Agency, the Nobel Peace Prize winner? Is he going to be the prime minister, or is he not going to be the prime minister? He's a liberal secularist, and the pro-Mohamed Morsy people obviously hate him.

WEDEMAN: Yes, in fact, we were just minutes away, we thought, from an announcement just a few nights ago that he was going to being the interim prime minister. But apparently, the Nour Party, which is am ultraconservative Islamist Salafi party, objected to his appointment. And so that announcement was suddenly canceled.

There have been a variety of names that are being batted around at the moment. But at this point, it seems that the government, the interim government, to extent that it even exists, is very difficult to form.

And it seems that the real game deal breakers here are the Nour Party, which some observers here are suggesting that they're going to try to derail anything unless an Islamist prime minister, interim prime minister is appointed, and that will cause all sorts of new problems. So political paralysis and tension in the street not a very good combination -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The headline from Washington, the White House refusing to call it a military coup and insisting that U.S. military aid to Egypt will continue at a rate of about $1.5 billion a year, at least for now. We'll check to see how that's playing with you. Ben Wedeman in Cairo, watching this dramatic and critically important situation unfold.

Let's take a quick look right now at some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The wife of the secretary of state, John Kerry, has been upgraded from critical to fair condition a day after she was hospitalized in Massachusetts with symptoms, quote, "consistent with some kind of seizure." Teresa Heinz Kerry, who's 74 years old, became ill yesterday in Nantucket, underwent tests in Boston last night and this morning. Her husband and other family members have been at the hospital since she became will. We wish her, of course, a speedy recovery. The defense began its case today in the court-martial of Bradley Manning. He's the U.S. private who admitted giving vast amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks. Manning has pleaded guilty to a number of counts. His lawyers have asked the judge to dismiss several charges, including the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which could carry a life in prison term.

The former New York Democrat governor, Eliot Spitzer, is trying for a comeback after a prostitution scandal halted his political career. He launched a petition campaign today in a bid to become New York City's comptroller. And get this: Spitzer is challenged for the post by Libertarian Kristin Davis, who says she was the madam who supplied him with escorts.

If Spitzer makes September's primary, he'll be on the ballot with the former Democratic congressman, Anthony Weiner, who's also trying to make a comeback from a sex scandal. He's running for the mayor of New York.

Rick Perry says he won't seek re-election for a fourth term as Texas governor. The longest serving governor in Texas history, Perry took office back in 2000 when George W. Bush left to become president. Perry's announcement opens the door to speculation that he'll make another bid for the White House in 2016 after a failed run for the Republican nomination last year.

Up next, a restaurant employee leaks some pretty close video. Is he the Edward Snowden of burners and babyback ribs? Only Jeanne Moos has this special report.


BLITZER: All right. So if you don't like eating food that's been near a Dumpster you're not alone. An employee of Golden Corral says he thinks it's disgusting and is blowing the lid off one of the chain restaurant's Florida locations with a video that has now gone viral. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know your restaurant has a PR problem when one of your employees heads for the Dumpster to shoot video of burgers and babyback ribs stashed there.

BRANDON HUBER, POSTED VIDEO ABOUT GOLDEN CORRAL: To me this is disgusting. This is what my company likes to do to get ready for inspection. They like to put their food by the Dumpster.

MOOS: Sort of conflicts with the slogan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Golden Corral, help yourself to happiness.

MOOS: Happiness might be scarce at the Port Orange, Florida, Golden Corral where employee Brandon Huber did his own little video expose.

B. HUBER: Hamburger meat. Look at all these flies. It's disgusting.

MOOS: Brandon's dad, speaking for his son, said managers had prepared food too far in advance when suddenly, an internal company inspection happened. So the prepped food was hidden out by the Dumpster.

B. HUBER: All these babyback ribs.

MOOS: The Hubers say they tried to go through channels, but no one listened. So Brandon's dad offered to sell the info on eBay for $5,000. Were they trying to shake down the restaurant chain?

WILLIAM "BEN" HUBER, FATHER OF BRANDON HUBER (via phone): Where is the correspondence where I tried to sell it to them? I mean, all you see is the eBay post there. It sounds bad, but look at the video. Would you have liked to have eaten there today and find out about this tomorrow?

B. HUBER: Bacon. Gravy.

MOOS: The plot thickens. Not to mention the gravy. The all- you-can-eat buffet chain told CNN none of these items were served to a single customer. All were destroyed within the hour at the direction of management. And Brandon Huber participated in the disposal of the food.

W. HUBER: If my son wouldn't have said nothing, this stuff would have been moved back into the restaurant, thrown in the freezer, and they would have had him cook it the next day.

MOOS (on camera): At least one head has rolled. Golden Corral says the manager of the restaurant in question has been fired for improper food handling.

As for 21-year-old Brandon...

B. HUBER: I would not eat this stuff.

MOOS (voice-over): Comparisons are being made online. "You are the Edward Snowden of all-you-can-eat buffets."

(on camera): Brandon's father says Brandon has been offered paid leave while the restaurant chain is doing its own investigation.

(voice-over): The convoluted, twisted tale told by Brandon's dad left us confused, but the pictures cut to the bone.

Jeanne Moos...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nonstop fall-off-the-bone babybacks drenched in our signature barbecue sauce.

MOOS: ... CNN...

HUBER: All-you-can-eat ribs by the Dumpster.

MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: A whole new world out there. Every -- every business in the country got to be very, very careful with YouTube out there. These kind of videos, they will go viral very, very quickly. Jeanne Moos, thanks for that report.

Remember, you can always follow us, what's going on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. You can tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show, @CNNSitRoom. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.