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Closing Arguments in George Zimmerman Trial; Canadian Train Disaster

Aired July 11, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a former governor attempts a comeback from the prostitution scandal that toppled him, but time may be Eliot Spitzer's biggest obstacle.

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

We begin this hour with George Zimmerman's murder trial. It's almost in the hands of the jury. The prosecution made its closing argument today. The defense begins its closing argument tomorrow morning. Jury deliberations are expected to get under way tomorrow afternoon.

Let's go straight to Sanford, Florida.

CNN's Martin Savidge was there watching every moment of what was going on.

Martin, for viewers who may just be tuning in, tell us what happened.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first you have to understand that, of course, the prosecution's closing argument is divided into two sections.

Section number one is what was delivered today by the experienced prosecutor. That's Bernie de la Rionda. And essentially, what he did was he started off by saying, of course, that a teenager is dead, but dead because of a man who made assumptions and acted on those assumptions, and that man is George Zimmerman.

And he says that George Zimmerman assumed that the teenager was up to no good, and then he launched into over a two-hour explanation, basically reiterating what has been the state's case from the beginning here. And one of the techniques he used is one that worked in the courtroom during the outline of that case, which was to reiterate, George Zimmerman in his own words and how the story changed. Listen to this.


DORIS SINGLETON, SANFORD, FLORIDA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: Ever say to him, I'm neighborhood watch?


ZIMMERMAN: I -- no, I said I don't have a problem, and I started backing away from him.

SINGLETON: But you kind of did have a problem. That's why you were following him, right? (INAUDIBLE)

ZIMMERMAN: I was scared


SINGLETON: (INAUDIBLE) ... that you were neighborhood watch? You were afraid to tell him that?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, ma'am.

SINGLETON: I mean, I'm not trying to put you on the spot.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Again, now, when they're pressing him on that issue, oh, he's backing away, inconsistent with what he said earlier, then he's scared of him. He's scared of this person that he's following all over in the darkness out there. But, of course, he doesn't have his gun out, nor does he feel a need to, but he's scared of him. Can't have it both ways.


SAVIDGE: De la Rionda did that over and over again, and each time he found one of those inconsistencies, he didn't call it an inconsistency. He said, see that again? That's where Zimmerman lied -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Tomorrow morning, Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney, Martin, will deliver his closing argument. Then, as you point out, the prosecution will have one more chance to get the final word. They will deliver a rebuttal, if you will. And then what? The judge reads the instructions to the jury and then the jury begins deliberations.

They're going to sit through the weekend. If they reach a decision over the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, will they come out and will we know then, or will they wait until Monday?

SAVIDGE: No, we anticipate that the moment they reach a decision, there will be an announcement. Of course, there would be certain hours during the weekend in which they would continue to sort of actively deliberate, but some people think that we may have a decision before we really get to the weekend.

In other words, that you could finish everything up by, say, mid- afternoon tomorrow, and then maybe in a couple of hours, that jury could be ready to render a verdict.

BLITZER: Well, that would be surprising, given how long this has gone on, but you never know with a jury. It wouldn't be the first time that would happen. Martin Savidge, thanks for all your help. Let's bring back our legal experts right now, our CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and criminal defense attorney Page Pate.

Let me ask you, Jeffrey, how stunned would you be if the jury reaches a decision in a few hours?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not that stunned. Remember, this is a sequestered jury. They can't go home. This judge has been very aware that these people have been taken away from their homes, and I obviously don't know them personally, but I am sure they want to get this thing over with.

So, I do think a relatively quick verdict is more likely than not.

TOOBIN: You think -- which direction do you think they would more likely than not go?

TOOBIN: Oh, come on. Now you're into my terrible record of predictions.

I certainly think a murder charge conviction seems unlikely to me, but I do think a conviction for manslaughter seems entirely possible.

BLITZER: Page, what do you think? How quickly do you think this jury -- we don't know. We haven't seen Mark O'Mara's, you know, summation, if you will, tomorrow, his closing argument. I assume -- he's an excellent lawyer -- it will be very strong. Then the prosecution will have one final chance for the last word.

My only sense is this jury could deliberate for a few days, but that's just my sense.

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think you're right. Even if it is a fairly easy decision for the jury, they realize that Trayvon Martin is dead.

They realize that his mother, his father and people that support him are there in that courtroom. I do not think that this jury is going to want anyone to feel that they rushed to a decision. I think they're going to take their time. And even if they're close to a consensus, we're not going to see a fast verdict. I think they will have too much respect for the families to do that.

BLITZER: Yes. Sunny, what about you?


I just -- I can't imagine that it's going to be a quick deliberation just because, really, you know, this is a close case. They have got -- and there's a lot of evidence. I mean, they have to review each and every statement that George Zimmerman gave. That in and of itself is going to take I think a couple of hours. Then they have to talk about it. They have got to get through murder two and they have got to get through manslaughter. They have got to get through self-defense. So, I don't -- I don't think it's going to be quick. I think we're talking maybe a couple days.

BLITZER: Yes, that's my sense. But, Sunny, as far as sentencing is concerned, once the jury reaches a verdict, obviously, if George Zimmerman is acquitted, he walks, he's a free man.

But if he is found guilty either of manslaughter or second-degree murder, it will then be strictly up to the judge, Debra Nelson, to decide how long this guy's going to spend in jail.

HOSTIN: That's right, and I mean, he has a lot of exposure. If he gets convicted of second-degree murder, you're talking about a 25- year mandatory minimum here, all the way up to life.

And in Florida, my understanding is that you don't get credit for time served. So, we're talking about a strong -- or not credit for time served, but you don't get any time off, so you're talking about a hard 25 years. Manslaughter, you know, up to 30 years. My understanding is that, you know, he sort of falls in the level of 10 to 13 years, but he could get up to 30 years.

And I have done some research on this judge and every single person that I have spoken to, everything that I have read, she's a pretty stiff sentencer. So, even if he gets convicted of manslaughter, he's looking at a significant amount of time.

BLITZER: The prosecutor, Page, spent a lot of time trying to paint George Zimmerman as the aggressor. We have got a little clip. Let me play this.


DE LA RIONDA: Why does this defendant get out of the car and he thinks that Trayvon Martin is a threat to him? Why? Why? Because he's got a gun. He's got the equalizer. He's going to take care of it. He's a wannabe cop.


BLITZER: Now, Page that was a pretty effective statement, a pretty powerful statement, if you will.

PATE: It absolutely was. I think at this point, the state realizes that their best argument is to go back to the emotions of the incident and have the jury focus again on the fact that we have a dead teenager and that George Zimmerman caused his death and that there's no question about that.

You know, in closing arguments, you're really not trying to persuade an individual juror anymore. Many of them have already made up their mind. What you're doing, though, is you're giving those jurors that you think are with you some arguments to take back with them to the jury room so that they can try to convince others of the emotion of your case, the strength of your case, and hopefully, bring back the verdict that you want.

BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, listen to this other clip from the prosecutor painting Trayvon Martin simply as a 17-year-old kid who wanted to get some Skittles and some iced tea. Listen to this.


DE LA RIONDA: Trayvon Martin, he was staying. He was there legally. He hadn't broken in or sneaked in or trespassed. He was there legally. He went to the 7-Eleven store earlier that evening. He bought what? What did he buy? What was his crime? He bought Skittles and some kind of watermelon or iced tea or whatever it's called. That was his crime.


BLITZER: What did you think about that, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: That takes us back to why this case drew so much attention.

Remember, when this story broke, the Miami Heat all took a photograph of themselves all wearing hoodies. The idea that wearing a hoodie was somehow a threatening act that could get you killed is something that really resonated in a terrible way with a lot of Americans, black and white, and that's some of the emotion that came through in this closing argument today.

BLITZER: And, Sunny, you were in the courtroom. You saw those six ladies in the jury react.

What was their reaction when statements by the prosecutor like those were made?

HOSTIN: They were riveted. I mean, during the trial, Wolf, they were taking a lot of notes, and I thought that we would see a lot of that, you know, taking a lot of notes without much expression.

This was different. I mean, they certainly were looking at the PowerPoint and looking directly at the prosecutor and showing what I believe was some emotion, you know, sort of putting these pieces together in their minds. You have got to think, like Jeff said, I mean, this case really does sort of tug, I think, at the heartstrings in the sense that how is it possible that you could be an everyday citizen running what is an everyday, common type of errand and walking home and get killed for no reason?

I think that the jury really, really was considering what the prosecution was saying.

BLITZER: That's why that manslaughter charge that the jury will also consider now as opposed to second-degree murder potentially could be so significant.

All right, guys, don't go away. We will have much more on the Zimmerman trial coming up later this hour. We're also following other important news, including a railroad executive who faces the outrage of a small town decimated by a fiery train disaster. He's speaking exclusively to CNN.

Plus, the latest on the crash of the Asiana Flight 214 and a closer look at the surprising background of the woman who's leading the federal investigation.


BLITZER: We will get back to the Zimmerman trial shortly, but now to a CNN exclusive.

There's grief, there's fury in a small Quebec town devastated by that horrific runaway train explosion. Survivors are mourning the dozens of dead and they have been venting their anger at the railway chief. And now he is responding.

CNN's Anna Coren is on the scene for us in Quebec.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president of the company that owns the freight train that leveled the heart of Lac- Megantic, claiming the lives of up to 50 people, is without doubt the most despised person in Quebec. Well, today, he spoke exclusively to CNN to tell his side of the story.


QUESTION: Just to clarify on the engineer, sir, are you saying it's the engineer's fault?

COREN (voice-over): With emotions raw and tempered frayed, railroad president Ed Burkhardt faced the grief-stricken community of Lac-Megantic, unprepared for the seething anger that was about to be leveled against him.

EDWARD BURKHARDT, CHAIRMAN, MONTREAL, MAINE AND ATLANTIC RAILWAY: My visit there, which was designed to try to get a healing process under way, didn't work.

COREN: Describing the press conference as a failure, the boss of the company that owns the runaway train that wiped out the heart of this little town, claiming the lives of up to 50 people, sat down with CNN for an exclusive interview.

BURKHARDT: People misunderstood me. Maybe I didn't present my case very well.

COREN: The 74-year-old from Chicago has been in the rail business for more than 50 years and says he's never witnessed a disaster on this scale.

BURKHARDT: They talked about that I had no empathy or no sympathy, and, in fact, I have plenty. COREN: The company initially believed there was evidence of tampering, but Burkhardt now says it appears the train's engineer didn't apply enough air and hand brakes.

BURKHARDT: There's no question it was a brake failure on the train. The train rolled away. That speaks for itself, doesn't it? There's no sugarcoating that.

COREN (on camera): As the engineer becomes the key focus of this investigation, it's one of the worst rail disasters in recent history. Authorities here in Quebec are analyzing these nine tankers that were originally part of the runaway train.

(voice-over): They're paying particular attention to the braking systems and tracks, trying to figure out how the freight train and its 73 cars of crude oil managed to roll away, derail and explode, annihilating the town center.

BURKHARDT: Well, we're shocked and devastated at what has occurred. The loss of life and loss of property is incredible.

COREN (on camera): Interestingly, Mr. Burkhardt wasn't given access to the site, nor was he granted a meeting with the mayor or the Red Cross. Now, he says that he and his company will continue to assist police, but he will not return to Lac-Megantic until he is welcome -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Anna Coren in Quebec for us, what a story that is. Thank you.

Meanwhile, a new image of the debris and new details of the crash of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214. The NTSB says the first internal call among the pilots about aborting the landing came three seconds before the crash and a second call was made one-and-a-half seconds before impact.

Also, questions about a mysterious bright light in the eyes of the pilot. South Korean media began asking about it yesterday.

Here's what the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, said about it.


DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: The flying pilot stated he saw a bright source of light. Neither of the other two pilots identified the source of light. It was not discussed on the CVR.

The pilot that saw the light stated that he did not believe that it affected his vision and he was able to see the cockpit instruments.


BLITZER: CVR is the cockpit voice recorder.

CNN's Rene Marsh is here with a closer look at this woman, Deborah Hersman. She's really been getting a lot of attention and we asked you to take a look at her and tell us a little bit about her.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. You have seen her. She's been all over national TV as a result of that crash investigation, but if you're not part of the aviation or transportation circle, you may not know that much about Deborah Hersman.

For starters, people who know her call her Debbie, but, formally, she goes by Deborah. And in case you wondered about the title, well, she uses chairman, not chairwoman.


MARSH (voice-over): Deborah Hersman is the face of the investigation into the crash of Asiana Flight 214.

HERSMAN: We're not reaching any conclusions. We're gathering factual information.

MARSH: She is a triathlete, a wife and mother of three. Hersman has also competed in races like the Warrior Dash. Its Web site bills it as a 5-K mud run complete with obstacle course designed to test your strength and stamina. And friends who watch her crisscross the country leading NTSB crash team investigators say she's an expert multitasker.

BOB WISE, FORMER WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: My guess is that when she gets that call, she's already prepared two or three days of meals. Plus, she has a very supportive husband.

MARSH: She doesn't have a pilot's license, yet she leads the independent federal agency responsible for complex investigations to determine probable cause in aviation and other transportation accidents.

The daughter of a former Air Force pilot, she does have prior experience with transportation issues. Former West Virginia Governor and Congressman Bob Wise gave the then Virginia Tech college student an internship and later hired her as a congressional aide from 1992 to '99. Then she served as a senior adviser to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation before joining the NTSB in 2004.

Five years later, President Obama appointed her chairman.

HERSMAN: If I could ask you to raise your hands to be acknowledged and to identify yourself and your outlet, that would make this a lot easier. Yes, sir.

WISE: She's very firm and competent and respectful, but very firm. MARSH: She's been on the scene of more than 20 major transportation accidents, including the last commercial plane crash in the U.S., Colgan Air near Buffalo, New York, but she hasn't avoided criticism. The airline pilots union sounded the alarm, saying the NTSB was releasing too much information too soon about the Asiana 214 crash.

A firm believer in transparency, Hersman continues to provide information to the public.


MARSH: And a family member tells CNN family time is very important to Hersman. They get together for family dinners once a month, and she also enjoys scrapbooking with a group of close friends.

As far as her career goes, Hersman's term as chairman expires next month, but she can be renominated. And, Wolf, as far as the White House goes, they seem to be pretty pleased with the job she's doing.

BLITZER: Yes, she does an excellent job. What I liked about her this week, she came under criticism, as you point out, from the pilots union. She did not back down. She said the American public has a right to know what we know and we're not going to hold back on these decisions.

MARSH: And, actually, what she ended up doing is being live right there on CNN the next day, so, yes, she continued to release that information.

BLITZER: She spoke to our own Miguel Marquez and she wanted to set the record straight.

Good work. Thanks very much.

Coming up, the prosecution wraps up its murder case against George Zimmerman, so how will his lawyers respond tomorrow morning? We're having much more conversation, analysis, reporting on this, coming up.


BLITZER: Happening now: The prosecution calls on jurors to find George Zimmerman guilty of murder, saying he profiled Trayvon Martin. So, how will the defense respond tomorrow morning?

A wanton massacre or self-defense? CNN examines video of the bloody shooting in Cairo which left dozens dead. You will see the evidence.

And five years after a prostitution scandal seemingly ended his political career, the former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is racing the clock in a comeback bid.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Closing defense arguments tomorrow and jury deliberations expected to begin in the early afternoon in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Today, the prosecution's closing argument at times very, very passionate, dramatic, even sarcastic.

Let's bring back our experts, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin, along with criminal defense attorney Page Pate.

Let me play a little clip, Bernie de la Rionda's closing argument. It began with a very, very powerful, simple statement.


DE LA RIONDA: A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. That man assumed certain things.

He is dead not just because the man made those assumptions, because he acted upon those assumptions. And, unfortunately, unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth.


BLITZER: Arguably, Jeffrey, that was the most powerful moment in that more-than-two-hour presentation.

TOOBIN: Yes, it brought the occasion back to what it's all about, is Trayvon Martin's dead and George Zimmerman killed him and that's the fact that begins this case.

Now, the whole case comes down to what was in Zimmerman's head when he did this? Was he acting out of malice, out of anger, out of hatred, out of recklessness, or was he acting out of self-defense? That's the only issue in this case, and now the jury's, almost now, tomorrow, is going to have to start figuring it out.

BLITZER: Page, you're a criminal defense attorney. How do you respond to that simple but powerful statement tomorrow morning?

PATE: Well, you don't confront it directly. I mean, obviously, emotion is not on your side if you're Zimmerman's attorneys. You have to back up, leave the theatrics outside the courtroom and focus on the law, because it's not just the facts of the evidence in this case. It's that evidence evaluated through the law.

And I think in this case, the law favors the defense. So, you lay out, what does the state have to prove, and have they done so? Because they have the burden, and you remind the jury of that over and over again, and you walk through those jury charges that took so long to deal with today. You walk the jury through those charges, so they will know what they have to do and how they're supposed to evaluate the evidence.

BLITZER: Because the responsibility, the burden of proof, Sunny, as you know, is on the prosecution. They have to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he murdered, he murdered this teenager, he was not acting in legitimate self-defense.

HOSTIN: I think that's right, and it's a very heavy burden. I have shouldered it. Jeff has shouldered it as well.

But I have got to tell you, I think that what was so powerful about the state's closing argument is that it was a commonsense type of argument, something that resonates, generally, with juries. The focus is now not on self-defense, but on what happened, which is, you know, who started this? How did this confrontation begin? How did the ball get rolling?

And I can't imagine that that sort of commonsense approach doesn't work with a jury like this, especially a jury of women, a jury with five out of six of them being mothers, aren't going to leave their common sense at the door, and I think that they're going to want to find George Zimmerman culpable when the other person when this began wasn't doing anything illegal or unlawful.

I think that's resonates with -- it's resonated with everyone in the country, and I can't imagine that that's going to be lost on the jury.

BLITZER: Here's another clip from Bernie de la Rionda's closing argument earlier today, a little different. Watch this.


DE LA RIONDA: I asked you to come back with a verdict that speaks the truth, a verdict that is just.

You heard from many people in this case, and I have summarized some of them. There's a lot more, actually, that you have heard. We know you have paid close attention throughout all these proceedings. Some of the people you heard from were the parents of both the victim and the defendant.

Unfortunately, the only photographs left of Trayvon Martin are those M.E. photographs. I mean, they have still got other photographs, and you saw some of them, football in his younger days, but they can't take any more photos. And that's true because of the actions of one person, the man before you, the defendant, George Zimmerman, the man who is guilty of second-degree murder. Thank you.


BLITZER: I couldn't -- I couldn't help thinking as I -- we had those shots of George Zimmerman.

Page, let me go to you first. I couldn't help but think, in his mind, is he rethinking, did he make the right decision, listening to his defense attorneys, to Mark O'Mara, for example, who said, "You're not going to go on the witness stand. Don't testify yourself." I got the impression watching his body, you know, "I wish I could have had a chance to speak one more time to those women on the jury and speak directly to them from my heart." But go ahead, Page. PATE: You know, I don't know if that's true. I mean, George Zimmerman strikes me as the type of person who may very well not have been comfortable up there on the stand being cross-examined by these lawyers. I think he was concerned about that and rightly so.

And here's the biggest challenge for the defense. You hear a statement like that by the prosecutor. You have the jurors wanting to blame someone for this kid's death, and there's the possibility now with the manslaughter charge that they can reach a compromise. These six folks can say, "Look, I don't think the state has proven murder, but gosh, Trayvon Martin's dead. This man did it. And I'm not so sure he was justified in doing it. And we're people, too."

You know, the jury knows that the world is watching this. And for them to come back with something, some type of a conviction and send George Zimmerman away, or at least make him responsible, is certainly a possibility here. They don't know the potential punishment for manslaughter, and that's what the prosecution likes.

BLITZER: That's why, Jeffrey, that was such a huge decision by the judge to let the jury consider that lesser charge of manslaughter if these six women on the jury want, want to come up with some sort of compromise. Give me a final thought.

TOOBIN: Well, and that's what you're going to hear a lot about from the defense tomorrow, that self-defense is a defense to both murder and manslaughter, and they are -- and Mark O'Mara is certainly going to address that issue of compromise, and he's going to say don't compromise. A manslaughter conviction, he knows, is almost -- almost -- as bad for George Zimmerman in terms of time in prison as a murder conviction is.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, Page, Sunny, we're going to have a lot more on this here on CNN, obviously, not only tonight but tomorrow. A big day tomorrow when the defense delivers its final argument. The prosecution has a chance to get the last word, and then the judge will instruct the jury on what to do. We'll have extensive, live coverage, obviously, here on CNN.

Other news we're following, including a former governor attempting a comeback from a prostitution scandal. Eliot Spitzer. What's going on in New York City? Stand by.


BLITZER: It took a big bipartisan compromise to get an immigration bill through the Senate, but the GOP-controlled House of Representatives is in no rush at all to go along. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is here to explain.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the sense of urgency with a degree of anxiety among Republicans when it comes to immigration depends largely on how you map it. What do I mean by that? Take a look.

Here's the presidential race in 2012, and in some ways, nationally, this is a no-brainer. Look at the states where the Latino vote matters, the swing states of presidential politics, Latino population growing -- Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, Florida, just to name four. I could name more. All blue, all carried by President Obama, because he won re-election, all part of this national dynamic that is so troubling to Republicans in presidential politics. Seventy-one percent of Latinos for the president, only 27 percent for Mitt Romney. That an improvement, even, over the president's big win among Latinos in 2008.

So, from a national perspective, a big problem for Republicans, which is why many say let's get this over with. Let's get a bill to the president's desk, even if we have to give up and give him a path to citizenship.

But you ever hear a politician say all politics are national? No, they say all politics are local, and when you look at it from that perspective, the immigration debate gets very different.

Look. There's a lot more red America than there is blue America. These are the House districts, the counties across America, including all the House districts. Mitt Romney carried more House districts than the president did, and the Republicans kept their majority. That's the fascinating dynamic now. There are only 17 House Republicans, only 17 who go home to districts the president carried in the last election. Most House Republicans go home to safe, conservative and largely white districts. So, they don't think they have to listen to the president or even listen to their fellow Republican like Marco Rubio in the Senate when it comes to immigration. So, this is a very different perspective.

Let's take Iowa, for example. The president won it, sure, but among the most vocal House voices on immigration, the conservative Tea Party favorite, congressman Steve King. He says it's amnesty to give a path to citizenship. His district, 92 percent white, 5 percent Latino. It's been a safe position for him in the past. He thinks it's more than a safe position for him now.

One more example. Let's come to Pennsylvania. Again, the president won it big. It's a huge blue state in presidential politics, blue because the Democrats win in the big urban areas like Pittsburgh and around the Philadelphia suburbs and the like, but much of the state is red, including the district of Congressman Lou Barletta. He says it's amnesty to give a path to citizenship. Eighty-nine percent whites in his district, only 5 percent Latino.

So, when you take this from the "all politics is local" perspective and you look at it this way -- not this way, this way -- the Republicans have a national problem. This way, a lot of these conservatives in the House, they think they're on safe ground, which is why increasingly, there's pessimism that you will get a bill through the House in any final compromise that the president can sign, Wolf.

BLITZER: John King, thanks very much. Good explanation. Was it self-defense or was it a massacre? CNN takes a closer look at the evidence of a really bloody confrontation that left dozens of people dead.


BLITZER: Some of the images we're about to show you are quite graphic. They're from Monday's bloody incident in Cairo between supporters of the ousted Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsy, and Egyptian security forces. The Egyptian government puts the death toll at more than 50. Morsy supporters insist twice as many people were killed. And the incident reflects raised tensions across Egypt.

CNN decided to look into what happened, and it was difficult, because people that took videos of that event have a vested interest, but our correspondent carefully looked at those videos and obtained another, giving real insight into how the violence unfolded.

Here's CNN's Karl Penhaul.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These images shot by CNN show the bloody aftermath of Monday's shootings close to the army's Republican Guard compound. The health ministry says 51 civilians and 2 members of the armed forces were shot dead.

In the last two days, both the military and Morsy supporters provided edited videos to CNN, making the case the other side was responsible.

These were provided by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy. An Egyptian soldier repeatedly takes aim from between other soldiers carrying riot shields. The slow-motion video shows him firing through barbed wire.

In this edited clip, demonstrators chant "God is great." In another portion without audio, this soldier fires three shots.

In each case, independent military experts consulted by CNN say the soldiers appear to be firing live ammunition, not blanks.

Here, uniformed soldiers fire from rooftops near where crowds are gathered.

The Morsy supporters say the videos are evidence of what they call a massacre by the Egyptian armed forces. The National Salvation Front, the main political coalition that backed the July 3 military coup, has called for judicial inquiry into the shootings, but it insists the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsy's power base, instigated events.

KHALED DAWOUD, NATIONAL SALVATION FRONT SPOKESMAN: At this time, I felt that there was an intentional incitement by the Muslim Brotherhood to create a major massacre, a major scandal in front of the world in which they display blood in order to convince the outside world that there's a new dictatorship. PENHAUL: The military provided CNN with these edited videos to make its case the military was attacked first. This video, taken from an army helicopter, captures images of men tossing gasoline bombs off a high-rise. This grainy frame shows a man with what the army says is a pistol. We do not see him fire it.

Images taken from ground level show a pro-Morsy protester cocking what the army says is a sawed-off shotgun. The video does not show him firing it. Other video shows the muzzle flash of a gun being fired.

"I challenge the army to a public debate in front of the whole world, but there's no need. The blood spilled on the streets paints a complete picture that speaks for itself," this Muslim Brotherhood leader says.

Despite repeated requests, neither side has given CNN the original, raw footage. Only edited material, sometimes without audio, sometimes slow motion with audio.

In an off-camera briefing, army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali alleged 15 gunmen on motorcycles fired on the heavily-fortified guard headquarters. But the earliest video clip the army offered was this gun camera image from 4:01 a.m. Monday morning. Tear gas clouds are seen down the street.

Multiple pro-Morsy eyewitnesses told CNN the army opened fire while many of them were performing predawn prayers. The army adamantly denies that and said the shooting started later.

This video was recorded by a man who lives in an apartment building half a block from the guard headquarters. The photographer said he is not affiliated to either side, and he declined to speak on camera for fear of reprisals. But he told CNN the camera time code showed he started recording at 3:26 a.m. In all, he provided 28 minutes of video to CNN.

The first of five prayers were scheduled for 3:20 a.m., according to the Islamic calendar for Cairo. If the camera was accurately calibrated, it would mean the clashes began in the middle of prayer time.

About one minute into the video shot from the apartment block, about 3:27 a.m., sustained gunfire can be heard. The photographer says the shooting was in front of the Republican Guard building. At 1:29, you see a single flash among a small crowd of Morsy supporters, possibly a shot being fired.

With the military firmly in control of Egyptian politics, it's unclear how far a judicial inquiry will clarify what happened. But what neither side is arguing: the massive casualties. Almost all of them are civilians.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: The Obama administration still plans to go ahead with the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, though officials say military aid under review. No final decision yet on that.

The latest issue of "TIME" magazine focuses in on Egypt, and "TIME's" managing editor, Richard Stengel, is joining us right now.

You've got a great cover there. We'll talk about it in a second. It's clear our -- Rick, that the U.S. wants to keep shipping arms and aid to Egypt. How do you see this U.S.-Egyptian relationship moving forward?

RICKY STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME": Well, Wolf, it's complicated, and the U.S.'s role in Egypt is not quite what it once was. And I think the Obama administration, appropriately, is watching to see what happens and hoping that the military encourages a renewal of democracy, a renewal of the constitution, free and fair elections. And obviously, the aid that we give Egypt, which is a long-standing, vintage, in part because of the peace treaty that they've done with Israel, it keeps -- keeps our influence strong.

BLITZER: It's a billion and a half dollars a year, but take a look at the last few days what the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia. They announced 12 billion in aid to this new government, this new military-led government in Egypt. So that billion and a half the U.S. provides, clearly important but not necessarily as important as it used to be.

STENGEL: No. And again, you know, I can't obviously speak for the White House, but I assume that people like the fact that other Arab countries are supporting the potential of reform and Democratic reforms in Egypt, and that -- that, you know, the idea that they're supporting their brethren is something that, it's a good thing.

BLITZER: Richard Stengel, a great cover, "TIME" magazine. Let me put it up on the screen right now: "World's best protesters, world's worst democrats, the street rules." Excellent, excellent stuff in "TIME" magazine. Thanks very much.

Up next, five years after a sex scandal put an end to his political career, the former New York governor, Eliot Spitzer is racing the clock in a comeback bid.


BLITZER: A prostitution scandal seemingly put an end to his political career, but the former New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, is now trying to make a major comeback. Here's CNN's Mary Snow.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His bid seeking political redemption came as a shock, but Eliot Spitzer may be gaining traction. It's been five years since a prostitution scandal forced him out as New York's governor.


SNOW: Now, he wants to be the city's budget chief as comptroller. With it comes plenty of punchlines.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": And now he's comptroller, comp-troller. And what I've been saying all along is can you trust a guy who apparently can't comp-trol himself. But...

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, TBS'S "CONAN": The campaign slogan is "Spitzer: Creating Jobs by the Hour."

SNOW: But Spitzer may have the last laugh. A poll puts him roughly ten points ahead of his potential Democratic rival. He wants name recognition in a race that has attracted little attention until now. And as he told CNN's Christine Romans, he's counting on forgiveness.

SPITZER: The public, I think, does have a forgiving nature, and it's come through a little bit in this poll, I suppose, that people say yes...

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Does that poll surprise you?

SPITZER: A little bit, but not really, because if you're in politics or government you need to be able to sense the public's emotional reaction to him.

SNOW: But not everyone is doling out second chances. He's been denounced by some women's groups, who say he should be disqualified. But it's not clear whether he will even qualify as a candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you registered Democrat?

SNOW: Eliot Spitzer has been scrambling to collect nearly 4,000 ballot signatures in just days. Just his entry into the race, though, has made a mark. He's sharing the spotlight in New York with Anthony Weiner, now running for mayor of New York. Weiner resigned from Congress two years ago after sending nude pictures of himself online to women. A recent poll shows Weiner in the lead.

Longtime political observer Doug Muzzio likens it to a reality show.

DOUG MUZZIO, UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: It's a really quite unbelievable story, and in a sense it's election's psychotherapy. You know, these are redemption elections. And it really does sort of cast this in a light of the Twilight Zone, et cetera.


SNOW: Wolf, the tension is only growing. "THE TONIGHT SHOW" now says that Spitzer will be a guest on Friday. But his first test comes at midnight, the deadline for getting enough signatures to be on the ballot. Candidates in New York usually get twice or three times the amount needed protectively, as signatures are often contested -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, thanks very much.

Up next, a terrorist with an unlikely hobby.


BLITZER: Hoover and Dyson have competition. CNN's Jeanne Moos has an A.P. exclusive.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The terrorist mastermind puts his mind to building a better vacuum cleaner?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: He's going to suck his way out of the prison.

MOOS: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, waging jihad against dust balls and dog hair.


MOOS: In an exclusive story, the Associated Press reports that, while in a CIA prison in Romania about a decade ago, Mohammed asked for permission to design a vacuum cleaner, and CIA officials said yes, that brain activities were good for the prisoners.

(on camera): A former CIA official explained it to the A.P. by saying, "We didn't want them to go nuts."

BAER: You can only talk to them so long during the day, you know, and then what do you do then? It's like occupying a child. You want to build a vacuum sweeper? Sure. Go.

MOOS: It is not quite as weird as it sounds. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did have a mechanical engineering degree from a university in North Carolina.

(voice-over): The terrorist as vacuum designer became a target for mockery. The CIA wouldn't release or even confirm the existence of any top-secret vacuum cleaner blueprints.

And Mohammed's lawyer mocked the fact that he's not allowed to speak on the subject, saying, "I know it sounds ridiculous, but confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand towel, apparently exposed U.S. government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger.

So no sketches, not even the ones in "Our Man in Havana"...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made it look like a mysterious new vacuum.

MOOS: ... when a vacuum salesman turned spy passes off vacuum designs as weapons systems to his superiors.


MOOS: Of course, the CIA would have to make sure Mohammed didn't create some sort of diabolical device, more deadly than dirt, a weapon right out of the movie "Space Balls."

RICK MORANIS, ACTOR: Commence Operation Vaccu-suck.

MOOS (on camera): But why a vacuum cleaner?

(voice-over): Considering how he looked when captured maybe Mohammed would have been better off engineering grooming devices by improving on the old Flo-bee, the hair cutting device you attach to your vacuum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not get any hair on your shoulders.

MOOS: If there's one thing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed doesn't need it's more hair on his shoulders.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.