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CNN NEWSROOM

Markets Set to Open Higher; Sanford Top Cop Says Politics Ruled; Morsy Mystery; Randy Travis "Critical" After Stroke; George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 11, 2013 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, you know, it's been a real roller coaster ride for stocks over the past month and there have been fears about what would happen when that punch bowl is pulled away from the table. So these comments from Ben Bernanke seems to be putting those fears to rest.

Also want to quickly mention weekly jobless claims. We found out this morning that they jumped by 16,000 last week to 360,000. But keep in mind, it was kind of a quirky week. The data may be skewed because of the July 4th holiday and temporary layoffs because of school getting out. Obviously with the green arrows right now, not bothering investors too much but something to keep an eye on as we see stocks move back towards that record.

Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's already up 92 points, 15,409. That's the key number.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BLITZER: Christine, let's talk a little bit about that. Let's watch that number. Be interesting if it goes above 15,409 in the next -- in the next few seconds or minutes. Look at how quickly it's gone up to - there it is, 109.

ROMANS: It will need to close above there, Wolf. It will need to close above there to have a closing match (ph).

BLITZER: I know, but it's still - it's still pretty impressive - it's still pretty impressive.

ROMANS: It is.

BLITZER: Look at how quickly its opened at above 100 and - another 122 points up right now. It's gone above that 15,409.

KOSIK: Now it's over that -

ROMANS: I'll tell you something that's so interesting is that there's something called the "taper tantrum." When markets got all upset because they thought the Fed chief was going to stop or at least begin to slow sometime next year all the stimulus, as Alison pointed out, into the economy. Well, the Fed chief has shushed that "taper tantrum" and the toddler is now responding quite nicely and moving higher here.

But be careful because we have a CNN Money survey of money managers and investment managers and pros and a consensus found that by the end of the year they think the S&P 500 will end up 14 percent. Well, right now, heading into today's session, the S&P 500, Wolf, was up 15.88 percent. That would suggest that by the end of the year you could have some volatility and some lower moves.

So we don't know what happens or what's going to happen in the stock market for sure. You only know after the closing bell rings how it's going to end. But there still is an awful lot to get through for the U.S. economy.

Here's what's going right, Wolf. Housing market is healing. Today we learned that foreclosures are back to pre-crisis levels. That's great news. Still work to go, but that is great news.

You've got a labor market situation that is slowly healing. And we see that data week after week after week. And a U.S. economy that's growing not great at 2.5 percent or so, but it's still the best gain in town, better than Europe, which is in recession, and better than a lot of other places which are coping will, still, the hangover of the financial crisis. So that's why you've got this combination, potent combination, taking stocks here near records again, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, once was a Fed chief who spoke of what excessive exuberance so (ph) I want everyone to be a little cautious --.

ROMANS: Irrational exuberance.

BLITZER: Yes, irrational exuberance, that's right. So we don't want to get into irrational exuberance right now.

Hey, guys, thanks very, very much. We'll keep a close eye on what's going on.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Up 144 points right now only minutes after the opening bell.

We're also keeping a close eye on the latest developments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Prosecution and defense attorneys are arguing over whether or not the jury should be allowed to consider manslaughter and aggravated assault charges. Something the prosecution wants, the defense does not want that. We're going to hear the argument. We'll be live in the courtroom. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're keeping a close eye on the George Zimmerman murder trial. Right now we're going to bring you live coverage in a few minutes once the trial resumes. They're in a brief recess right now.

But first, some politics, and not police work, that's what's been driving the George Zimmerman case according to the man who initially led the investigation in its early stages. Bill Lee says it was politics that ultimately cost him his job as Sanford, Florida's police chief. He sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's George Howell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're saying this was the result of political pressure that you lost your job?

BILL LEE, FORMER SANFORD POLICE CHIEF: I believe it was political pressure and the fact that I upheld my oath.

HOWELL (voice-over): Sanford, Florida, a town caught in a decisive, racially charged death investigation. Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman admitted to shooting and killing unarmed teenager, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. And at the time, Bill Lee was the police chief.

LEE: We were investigating the death of Trayvon Martin, which was a tragedy. You know, we wanted to find out what truly happened and seek justice.

HOWELL: Lee says the investigation started that night. They took George Zimmerman into custody for questioning but he claimed self- defense and the Sanford Police Department let him go.

HOWELL (on camera): Your lead investigator, Chris Serino, suggested manslaughter on that initial police report. Why is it that, you know, for 40 plus days George Zimmerman walked a free man?

LEE: The laws of the state of Florida, and the constitution, require you to have probable cause to arrest someone. The evidence and the testimony that we had didn't get us to probable cause. You know, if we had people that were witnesses, that could tell us that the self- defense claim or the way George Zimmerman said things happened that contradicted that, then we certainly may have probable cause.

HOWELL (voice-over): Martin's parents hired Benjamin Crump, a skilled civil rights lawyer, and his persistent demands that George Zimmerman be arrested lit the fire of a national uproar. People traveled to Sanford to march.

CROWD (chanting): Justice for Trayvon.

HOWELL (on camera): Talk to me just a bit about that outside influence, because at the time you remember there were a lot of civil rights leaders who came to town. There were a lot of protests and, you know, people see this situation differently, but there is a segment of people who said from the beginning of -- at this case that, you know, had George Zimmerman been black, he would have been arrested, he would have been behind bars. What do you say about that suggestion from people?

LEE: The Sanford Police Department conducted an unbiased and professional investigation. Race did not come into play for the Sanford Police Department. HOWELL (voice-over): But the calls for an arrest grew louder and Lee says city officials and the city manager, his then boss, felt the heat.

HOWELL (on camera): When you look back at what happened, was there a lot of pressure on you to make an arrest?

LEE: There was pressure applied. You know, the city manager asked several times during the process, well, can an arrest be made now? And I think that was just from not understanding the criminal justice process. It was related to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn't care if he got dismissed later. And you don't do that.

HOWELL (voice-over): In a statement, city manager Norton Bonaparte tells CNN, quote, "Lee told me he took an oath of office and could not make an arrest. Once he told me, I don't recall ever asking him about arresting him."

HOWELL (on camera): Is it fair to say that the investigative process, in a way, got hijacked?

LEE: Yes, in a number of ways.

HOWELL: After Lee announced he wouldn't bringing charges against Zimmerman, police passed the case on to the state attorney's office. The governor then assigned the case to Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, who charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder.

LEE: That investigation was taken away from us. We weren't able to complete it. And it was transferred to another district or a different state attorney. So, you know, and that outside influence changed the course of the way the criminal justice process should work.

HOWELL: After only 10 months on the job, Lee was temporarily suspended and later fired by the city manager.

HOWELL (on camera): There was political pressure on one hand, would you agree?

LEE: Sure.

HOWELL: There were outside influences on the other?

LEE: Yes.

HOWELL: Did you get a fair shake?

LEE: I don't think so. I upheld my oath. You know, I upheld, you know, my oath to abide by the laws of the state of Florida and the constitution and I'm happy that at the end of the day I can walk away with my integrity.

HOWELL: One of our legal analysts today said, you know, Bill Lee, Chief Bill Lee really got thrown under the bus. Would you agree?

LEE: Yes. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And George is with us.

Good interview, George. You know, his decision at this critical moment to speak out to you, explain a little bit more about why he decided this is the time he wants to explain his version of what happened.

HOWELL: Wolf, absolutely. If you look at what happened just the other day, you saw people on the stand, and we've seen several people on the stand so far, let's go back and look. The lead investigator, we've seen Chris Serino. We've seen Doris Singleton, the other investigator. We've seen Norton Bonaparte, the city manager here of Sanford, talking about that 911 tape the day the city decided to take what Bill Lee says was police evidence, release it to the public, but also hold a meeting so that Trayvon Martin's family could hear that audiotape at city hall in the mayor's office. That's something that Lee says that he never would have allowed. In fact, he suggested, he advised against it.

That's why he's talking out now. It seems like given what's come out in court, where you heard Norton Bonaparte talking about the decision that was made to play that audiotape, and also talking about whether or not he received instruction from his police chief about whether it's a good idea to play that tape, now is the time, he says, to come out and talk about his side of the story, his version of events and why he decided, you know, playing that audiotape was a bad idea, but also about that investigative process. He wanted to make the point that when you look at everything that's come out through the court, his investigators did their job. He did his job. But, again, the difference is he lost his job.

BLITZER: Because, he says, of politics, which interfered in that investigation. And he makes that point in the interview with you.

George, don't go away because we're keeping a close eye on the latest developments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Prosecution and defense attorneys, they are getting ready, in a few minutes, to argue over whether or not the jury will be allowed to consider lesser charges, lesser than the second degree murder charge, including manslaughter and aggravated assault. Something the prosecution wants, the defense does not want that. You're going to hear some intense arguing before the judge. In the end, Judge Debra Nelson will make that ruling whether or not lesser charges will be considered by the jury or now.

We'll take a quick break. We'll get back into the courtroom when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're watching two big stories this morning here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're keeping our eye on the George Zimmerman murder trial. Closing arguments expected to start later around 1:00 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, attorneys are getting ready to spar over possible lesser charges that the jury might consider. They're on a break right now -- the recess still continuing for a few more minutes. We'll go back to the courtroom live in a couple of minutes.

On Wall Street, meanwhile, the markets shooting up nearly 150 points right at the open bell this morning. Stretching into record territory as the fed chief reassures investors that the stimulus program isn't going anywhere. We're watching the markets up right now 138 points.

It's been more than a week since Egypt's military removed President Mohamed Morsy from power. We still don't know where he's being detained. The interim government is however releasing a few details about Morsy. CNN's Karl Penhaul is joining us now live from Cairo with the very latest. Karl what do we know about the now former Egyptian President?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well those details are still very scant. We're hearing both from the foreign ministry and also on a couple of briefings that we've had over the past two days with the Egyptian military. They say that Mr. Morsy is being treated well, that he is in good condition.

But they are not really giving any more details than that. What they have said is that so far he has not been charged for -- for any crimes and very much they're trying to characterize this as Mr. Morsy being held for his own protection. But as you say a week and a half into this military coup, a president, a man who is democratically elected president still not charged with any crimes and being held basically incommunicado because I put it to the spokesman of the National Salvation from one of the main coalitions that backed this military coup have you been allowed to see Mr. Morsy. Have you been allowed to check that his rights are being preserved? And the spokesman for the National Salvation Front said "No we haven't seen him and also we haven't asked to see him."

And so here, there doesn't seem to be any civilian oversight in the action of the military and certainly as far as we know, Mr. Morsy continues to be under military custody in an undisclosed location -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're also getting word, Karl, from the Pentagon from our sources there that the U.S. is still planning on delivering to Egypt, to the Egyptian Air Force another four F-16 fighter jets in the course of this summer. That -- that is at least the tentative plan. I assume that the interim government, especially the military, will be pleased that military hardware is continuing to flow from the United States to Egypt during this sensitive period.

PENHAUL: Well, certainly, the Egyptian military with that $1.5 billion of aid each year certainly very happy to get that help. And the Egyptian military whether it is just after a military coup or even in normal times functions pretty much as a state within a state.

But if you talked to people on the street whether those are supporters of the deposed president or civilian supporters of the new regime, there's a lot of anti-American sentiment here and -- and they see the U.S. is meddling in Egyptian affairs. They're not particularly happy with any U.S. aid right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul watching what's going on a tense moment in Egypt's history. We'll continue to stay in close touch with you and all of our reporters, producers, journalists in Egypt right now.

We're keeping a very close eye on the latest developments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. The court has not resumed yet. They're in a brief recess and we expect the judge to recall the lawyers momentarily. We'll be live in the courtroom as soon as that happens.

In the meantime, we'll take a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Randy Travis is in critical condition after surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The 54-year-old singer was hospitalized Sunday with congested heart failure and he later suffered a stroke.

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: Randy Travis rose to country music stardom back in the 1980s. His career faltered but then had a resurgence when he turned to gospel music in 1999. Travis had arrests last year for assault and public intoxication. He was touring this year when he became ill.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more now on his condition.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, we know that Randy Travis suffered a stroke and it required this operation to basically relieve pressure on his brain. What can happen in situations like what is happening with Randy Travis, is that once you develop a heart problem, in this case, something known as cardiomyopathy, the heart basically just isn't beating as well, it's not pumping as much blood as it should to the rest of the body that's why he has this assist device in his heart to try and improve that.

But even with that device, sometimes if you're not getting enough blood flow to the brain, what happens is the brain can start to become inflamed and even start to swell as a result of that lack of blood flow. That's some of the early signs of stroke.

And if that pressure starts to build, what is necessary is to try and take that pressure off. Sometimes some of the bone can be remove from the head, sometimes a drain can be placed into the brain to drain some of the fluid, these are the types of things that doctors will do. Again it's a pretty significant setback, when you consider the natural course of something like cardiomyopathy.

But doctors are saying that they're optimistic, he is through surgery and that they're going to monitor him over the next several days. But again keep in mind, Wolf, just a few weeks ago, he seemed to be doing fine, developing essentially this infection around his heart, causing the heart to sort of not function as well, leading to that lack of blood flow to the brain, subsequent stroke. We'll keep an eye on things, Wolf, as we get more details, we'll certainly bring them to you. Back to you for now.

BLITZER: All right Sanjay. Thanks very much. Let's hope for the best with Randy Travis and we certainly hope he gets a complete, complete recovery.

We're keeping a close eye on the latest developments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. As you can see they are still in recess. The judge briefly called for a recess. She said about a half an hour; it's been a little longer than that. They're going to be arguing whether or not lesser charges should be considered by the jury. We'll take another quick break and resume our live coverage of the trial right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Zimmerman trial has now resumed. There is Judge Debra Nelson. She's having a little discussion with the lawyers, the prosecution and the defense on whether or not lesser charges should be allowed to be considered by the six members of the jury. Lesser charges than second degree murder -- manslaughter, aggravated assault. They're going through some of these issues right now and it's fascinating.

So I want you to listen.

DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY, CIRCUIT COURT: -- the defendant. But if we're going to do them all in caps, it's going to be all in caps for both names. If we're going to do it you know in small letters, then it's going to be that way throughout. So is that acceptable to the defense?

DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your honor our submission to the court has it exactly that way.

NELSON: There's a couple times you put it in caps. So I just wanted it the way --

WEST: That was -- that was inadvertent.

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON: Well I'm just saying, I noticed it. And so what I would like them to do is that we all make a decision if they're going to be in caps, they're all in caps. And wherever it says defendant, it will have George Zimmerman's name.

RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTOR: Yes, your honor. And would the defense prefer that they be not capitalized? Not all caps?

WEST: The proposal is that the first letter of the first name and the surname be capitalized, as is typically done for both Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin.

NELSON: We'll make that change and that will be throughout. MANTEI: Done, your honor.

As far as agreement goes, we were in agreement as to the page that begins members of the jury I think for attention.

NELSON: Let's just go for the very beginning the front page.

MANTEI: Yes, your honor?

NELSON: The defense version of the front page just has the style of the case. The second page of the defense proposed have what the state has placed on the first page. Is there any objection to that all being on the first page, as the state proposed?

WEST: That was a word processing issue, Judge. I took the set of instructions that the state sent to us and worked with that, so other than formatting, we started with the same set of instructions.

NELSON: Ok. So the first page will be as the state has proposed.

MANTEI: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: And then it shows no changes to the members of the jury?

MANTEI: Correct.

NELSON: We'll make the name changes to reflect it in the statement of charge. All right that brings us to introduction to homicide.

MANTEI: There was agreement on that until we get to, I believe --

BLITZER: They're going through the formal instructions that the judge is eventually going to give to the jury after the closing arguments. This is very, very important, because the jury will consider either only second degree murder or lesser charges, aggravated assault, manslaughter. They're now going through some technical aspects on how the jury instructions should be written.

And so we're watching all of this.