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Reaction to Zimmerman's Acquittal; DOJ Weighing Civil Rights Case; O'Mara "Surprised By Outrage"; Brutal Heat Wave in the East; Not Guilty; Halle Berry Ties the Knot; Snowden Has More Documents

Aired July 15, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Boiling point. Overnight sadness and outrage. Protests across the country against the George Zimmerman verdict. Most were peaceful, some turned ugly.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: After the verdict, the justice department now investigating, could it bring action against George Zimmerman? We hear from both sides this morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Cut too short. Hollywood in mourning today. "Glee's" young star, Cory Monteith, found dead in a Vancouver hotel room. What caused his death?

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, July 15th, 6:00 in the East. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everybody. Happy Monday. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're joined by news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

And this morning, the entire country is still grappling with the verdict over the weekend, George Zimmerman found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The verdict sparking protests. You're seeing some video right there across the country. Some ending just hours ago. We have the story covered like no one else. We have a team of reporters covering every angle.

CUOMO: We're also going hear from all sides this morning. We'll be talking to George Zimmerman's lead defense attorney, Mr. Mark O'Mara. We're going to talk to Ben Crump, the lawyer working with the Trayvon Martin family. We're also going to bring you George Zimmerman's brother, Robert, who directly answers all questions about his brother. And we're going to talk to a close friend of Zimmerman's who's been in constant contact since the verdict. BOLDUAN: A lot to talk about this morning.

PEREIRA: And we don't want to lose sight of all the other news that's going on this morning. We're getting walloped certainly by a brutal heat wave in the east. We're also going to update you on more damaging information that Edward Snowden is threatening to release. So, that's all coming up.

CUOMO: That's going to be a big story, but let's start with what happened overnight. Demonstrators scuffling with police in New York and Los Angeles as they protested George Zimmerman's acquittal. And outside the courthouse in Florida, protesters there say they will continue to demand justice for Trayvon Martin.

Let's go live to CNN's Alina Machado in Sanford, Florida. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Protests here in Sanford, Florida, were small and peaceful, a sharp contrast to what we saw in some parts of the country.


MACHADO (voice-over): Overnight, thousands of protesters from New York to Los Angeles to the nation's capital, out in full force, reacting to this moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman, not guilty.

MACHADO: In New York's Times Square, a solid showing of protesters united, arm in arm. One young man braved the sweltering heat in an all-black hoodie, but demonstrations in Harlem turned into scuffles with police and reports of two people taken into custody. And in Los Angeles, mostly peaceful marches interrupted by protesters, throwing batteries, rocks, chunks of concrete, and a separate gathering on the 10 freeway shut down traffic.

The LAPD responding by shooting bean bags at demonstrators. In Oakland, California, protesters were seen smashing a police car. Demonstrations elsewhere were mostly peaceful. In Sanford, Florida, the anger was palpable in the Goldsboro neighborhood, a largely African-American part of town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, I'm just too emotional. I'm just sick and tired. I'm just done.

MACHADO: But community leaders were anxious to turn disappointment into constructive action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps we can take this anger and move it into a positive vein, because if nothing else, this snapped our necks back.


MACHADO: Starting today, several churches here in Seminole County, Florida, will be opening their doors for community prayers every Monday. The first session will take place at the church behind me and several community leaders are expected to attend -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Alina, keeping an eye on it for us in Sanford, Florida, thanks so much. Now, it was a stirring moment when the not guilty verdict was read. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the circuit court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman, verdict, we, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.


BOLDUAN: From there, there was immediate and powerful reaction across the country, even President Obama reacting to the verdict. In a statement, he said in part, this, "We are a nation of laws, and the jury, a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who have lost their young son."

And while George Zimmerman's criminal trial may be over, his legal troubles may not be. In addition to any future lawsuits by the Martin family, the Justice Department is considering whether there's sufficient evidence to bring a civil rights action against George Zimmerman. And that is where CNN's Athena Jones is picking up that side of the story. So what are we hearing from the Justice Department this morning, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Well, they put out a statement saying, talking about this ongoing parallel investigation into this case. The Justice Department has been working with the FBI and with officials in Florida and that investigation is ongoing. But this, of course, is not an open and shut case. There is a very high bar when it comes to federal civil rights charges here. They have to prove that George Zimmerman acted out of a state of racial animus or racial hatred when he shot Trayvon Martin.

And that is something that, of course, Florida prosecutors had a very hard time convincing a jury of and so, it really depends who you talk to, what the DOJ is going to end up doing here. We know that Attorney General Eric Holder could speak about this case as early as today, when he speaks before a black sorority here in Washington, D.C. -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Athena, we will be watching that along with you and we're going to talk to some of our legal experts a little later in the show about that high bar that Athena is talking about. What is that standard if the Department of Justice would bring charges against George Zimmerman?

CUOMO: Now, all of this, obviously, grows out of what happened in the courtroom. You know, Trayvon Martin's parents were not there when the verdict was read, but they racketed instantly on Twitter. His mother, Sybrina Fulton, grieved, "Lord, during my darkest hour, I lean on you, you are all that I have." And his father, Tracy Martin wrote, "even though I am broken hearted, my faith is un-shattered, I will always love my baby, Tray." This court decision is obviously causing controversy. I sat down with George Zimmerman's Attorney Mark O'Mara to talk about the outrage surrounding the verdict.


CUOMO: Mr. O'Mara, thank you very much for taking the opportunity to be on NEW DAY. Let's begin with what is all around us. The reaction, a lot of it outrage to the not guilty verdict. Are you surprised by that part of the reaction?

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm a bit surprised that there is outrage because we had hoped that everybody would look at this case as being a very fair trial with both parties represented well, where I think most if not all of the evidence came out and the jury took their time, deliberated, and came up with a fair and just verdict. So I think that those people, even though they're frustrated, will accept the verdict.

CUOMO: Address the basic concern. Your client, George Zimmerman, wound up killing Trayvon Martin, and yet there is no legal responsibility and people can't understand it. What are they missing?

O'MARA: Well, what they're missing is that George had an absolute right to be where he was and he had a right to see where Trayvon Martin was. People want to say it was improper profiling, but the reality is I think George had a reason to be concerned. It was Trayvon Martin who was the aggressor, at least by the forensic evidence, because Trayvon Martin did not receive any injuries, but the gunshot 45 seconds after George Zimmerman was screaming for help. So I understand people's frustrations, but it would seem to be that Trayvon Martin overreacted to what he perceived to be something going on, and he overreacted in a violent way.

CUOMO: Do you think this case is an example of the law needing to change? That "Stand your ground" makes it too easy for violence to perpetuate. That the law should be that you get to use equal force, not lethal force, in situations like this?

O'MARA: I had a problem with your stand your ground law that would allow people not to retreat and to use deadly force when you have the opportunity to retreat. But that has nothing to do with this case at hand. I don't believe that the law should be changed to say you can only resist force with force, because once you get to the point that great bodily injury may occur, you should be able to protect yourself, your life, and the life of another.

If someone is beating on you, if they're smashing your head against concrete, and that gives you fear for great bodily injury, that is a well-founded 500 or 600-year-old standard that says you can resist that with force, up to and including deadly force.

CUOMO: Does George Zimmerman regret having to take Trayvon Martin's life, having to kill him that night?

O'MARA: Absolutely, absolutely. He's human. He did not want to take any person's life. The fact that he had a gun with him gave him the opportunity to protect himself.

CUOMO: His brother, Robert, says that while he doesn't regret it because he did what he had to do and it was right then, so it's right now, do you think that's his brother just being a little sensitive to the legalities of language here because you say that he does regret it?

O'MARA: I think it is semantics. George did what he did because he had to. Not because he wanted to and that's the difference that we have to be careful of with the semantics of doing something because you want or because you have to.

CUOMO: Just because the prosecutors didn't meet the burden according to the jury, that doesn't necessarily mean that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong that night, right? Profiling the kid, taking an interest in someone who was doing nothing, having a weapon with a bullet already chambered, in a situation that was unknown. Does he feel any sense of moral wrong?

O'MARA: I think he regrets having to take a life. He was put in a position where he had an untenable choice. Continue to be maybe killed or kill and he made that decision. To look at things like, why did he have a chamber -- a round chamber -- Chris, I think you would agree, every person who has a gun for self-defense, if you don't have a round in the chamber, it's a paperweight.

CUOMO: Does he regret, though, picking out Trayvon Martin? He was wrong, right? This kid was not doing anything wrong. He belonged there. He had a right to the place and space where he was also. Does he regret even singling him out that night?

O'MARA: Well, let's look at the circumstances. He saw somebody who happened to be in the area where another person had just burglarized a home, and yes, it was a young black male. Was that a focusing, a profiling? It was a suspicion. We don't know what Trayvon Martin was doing right or wrong. All we know is that when he was doing what law enforcement seem to be telling him to do, which is keep an eye on him, that it turned violent, only because of what Trayvon Martin decided to do, not George Zimmerman.

CUOMO: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I'm sure you share the hopes of all that we find a way to move forward after this verdict, and that any wounds can be healed in time.

O'MARA: There are still a lot of conversations. I have, and we have a lot of conversations to have. I've been an advocate for the fact that black youth, black youths in America are not treated well by the criminal justice system, and we need to have that conversation. My fear is that we polarize the conversation because we attach it to a self-defense verdict that they have nothing to do with.


CUOMO: And we appreciate that Mr. O'Mara took the opportunity to face the questions about the case head-on and that's what we're obviously putting to him. Also important, stand your ground. We all talk about it. It did not play a role in this jury's verdict. They didn't these to use that law. It wasn't even argued at trial.

Now at the bottom of the hour, we're going to have more of the interview with Mark O'Mara. He really did deal with a wide-ranging thing. His answer as to whether or not there's anything his client wishes he could take back, it may surprise you.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about not only this interview, but also the verdict and where things go from here with some of our legal experts, Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and author of the book, "Injustice For Some," joining us from Boston, and Danny Cevallos is a criminal defense attorney joining us from Philadelphia. Thanks so much for joining us, guys.

We've been leaning on you a lot for your expertise and we really appreciate you continuing to do so. Danny, let me start with you. You've seen the protests on the street. We've shown much video of that. People are angry. People say they don't understand why if someone died, someone was killed, someone who believe was innocent was killed, why someone is then free and walking the streets. People don't understand how the jury reached its conclusion. So answer that. How did the jury reach their conclusion? What are people missing?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, our law allows for people to be killed under those facts. What they're missing is the additional facts. People die -- that's what self-defense is all about. Self-defense allows an excuse for a homicide. And if George Zimmerman reasonably believed he was in fear of serious bodily injury, he was permitted, like all citizens are, to use deadly force. It simply doesn't logically follow that because someone is dead, a crime is committed. That is just -- that's never been a fundamental principle of our law. If someone is dead, then there may be a homicide. There may be an unlawful killing. However, there are instances in which there may not. So that confusion should be cleared up.

CUOMO: Wendy? The notion of what the prosecution needed to do to rule out self-defense, didn't give the jury enough here. Explain that to me.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Not only did they not give the jury enough, the prosecution proved self-defense, beyond a reasonable doubt and ethically, that was their job to do if that's what the evidence proved. They weren't allowed to hide it. They put on two key witnesses who were really the only eyewitnesses to some of the circumstances.

John Manilow, John Good, both corroborated George Zimmerman's claim that he was on the ground, being punched, having his head slammed into cement, and that he really had an absolute right to shoot in self- defense, to stop that attack. The prosecutor would have put on more evidence to deflate self-defense if there were such evidence, but when it isn't there, it isn't there.

You know, I've described this as kind of putting lipstick on a pig. You know, no matter how you dress it up with all the yelling and hooting and hollering that the prosecution did, especially during the closing arguments. You cannot change the basic facts of this case. That was an easy self-defense case. This never should have been brought, in my opinion, because it really did anger people. It got hopes up.

People angry today because they thought this was a winnable case. Whose fault is that? Who are they angry at? Because that was not the case the prosecution put on. They put on a losing case, because it was clear, overwhelming, no doubt about it, self-defense.

BOLDUAN: And Danny, so then you have the jury going in for deliberations, deliberating for more than 16 hours. They come back with only one question, asking for clarification on the manslaughter charge. The court said, give us a specific question, we may be able to answer it, and they never came back with a specific, only coming back with a verdict. What does that tell you was going on in the jury room?

CEVALLOS: I mean, one guess would be fatigue. I think when they realized they had to clarify, I can see them -- I can almost hear them saying, we believe you know what, we don't think it's there anyway. We're moving on. I have to tell you, as somebody who said not guilty the entire time, as with every single verdict watch. I thought, when that came out, I did have concerns that they were going to go to manslaughter, but I just felt so strongly that self-defense had been proven and that the state had not made its case as to second-degree murder or manslaughter.

I want to add one more thing. When you talk about the unrest now, the public has suffered from a misunderstanding of this case from day one. I heard a commentator on with Wendy Murphy yesterday, who was still laboring under the belief that George Zimmerman used racial epithets in his 911 calls. That's the kind of misunderstanding of the fundamental facts. I was astounded. I was no nonplussed. I was flabbergasted. At this point, we're still misunderstanding the facts.

CUOMO: Danny, you have to understand though, you're dealing with it on a different level. You understand the law. You understand the burden. You are inherently mindful that our courtroom makes it very hard to prove somebody guilty. You know, you know all that. Both of you do. To regular people, though, Danny --

CEVALLOS: You don't need to be a lawyer, though, Chris.

CUOMO: Here's why it helps, Danny. What they hear is, you didn't have any reason to go after the kid, they told you to stay in the car, they told you not to do it, you did it anyway, you had a loaded weapon, you get too close to somebody's personal space, and basically, you make this happen.

If it goes against you and you wind up killing the kid. So the kid who did nothing wrong until he was put in an uncomfortable situation winds up being the victim, but there is no justice.

Now, I know, not as well as you, but well enough, it wasn't enough in the courtroom. I get it, and I get it a lot from what you inform me about through the process. But do you understand why people, when they hear all those things, feel like this is unfair, if not illegal?

MURPHY: Can I say something about that? Because I do understand --

CEVALLOS: By all means.

MURPHY: Well, I just want to say, I do understand the sentiment from a very broad sense. I mean, my book, "Injustice for Some," in part talks about the disproportionate failure of our criminal system to address violence against blacks, so especially young men. It also fails women and children. When you have systemic injustice, a case like this brings those feelings right to the fore.

But that doesn't make this case an example of that systemic problem. And I think that's the disconnect here, rational people understand -- the defense could have stayed home and they still would have won this case. Now, we have to find a way of talking about that larger problem, racism in our criminal justice system, using the right case, where it really is an example of that problem, because this is not it.

CUOMO: Wendy, Danny, thank you very much. I appreciate the perspective, as I have from the beginning. I'm just giving voice to what's out there, because I know that your minds and your sophistication is helping inform it on the other side. I appreciate you doing it.

It's a dialogue we need to have. Thanks for contributing. We're going to have more with you and more on the verdict later on, including reaction from George Zimmerman's brother, dealing with some of these same questions.

BOLDUAN: Some of the same question.


BOLDUAN: Addressing that outrage that you hear out there.

But there is a lot of other news developing at this hour. Let's get straight to Michaela for the headlines.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at those headlines. Good morning, everyone.

A suspicious man spotted allegedly taking pictures of Secretary of State John Kerry's home now under arrest. Police in Boston questioned the identified man and then arrested him for having an open container of alcohol. They also said they found a pellet gun in his vehicle. Kerry was visiting his wife at a rehab hospital at the time. She suffered a seizure earlier this month.

An autopsy is planned today to determine what caused "Glee" actor Cory Monteith's death. His body was found in his hotel room Saturday after he failed to check out as scheduled. Police in Vancouver, Canada, say there is no sign of foul play. Monteith completed a month-long stint in rehab earlier this year.

He told a friend he was feeling just fantastic just a few hours before his body was found. We'll have much more on this developing story at the bottom of the hour.

To Taiwan now, at least two people are dead and more than a half million are without power this morning in the aftermath of Typhoon Soulik. The system has now been downgraded to a storm. Transportation systems are down. Schools and businesses across Taipei are closed, impacting 23 million people. In Eastern China, over 330,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Asiana Airlines says it will sue a TV station in Oakland, California. The reason, an NTSB intern mistakenly confirmed inaccurate and offensive names as those of flight 214's pilots to KTVU. Asiana Airlines says its reputation and that of the pilots were seriously damaged by the report. Both the NTSB and KTUV have apologized.

Well, it might be the third time is a charm for actress Halle Berry. She tied the knot this weekend with French actor Olivier Martinez. The couple celebrated in a French chateau with 60 close friends and family. The 46-year-old Oscar winner has been married twice before. She's also pregnant with the couple's first child together.

Congratulations to the new couple.

CUOMO: Halle Berry is the reason why people say, the 40s are the new 30s. She looks amazing.

BOLDUAN: It is not fair.

CUOMO: And she has another baby. God bless to her. Wow, she's just amazing.

BOLDUAN: And congratulations, from all of us to you.

All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY: Washington's worst nightmare. Word that Edward Snowden is holding on to classified information that could be more devastating than what we've seen so far.


BOLDUAN: Look at that beautiful sunrise. Good evening, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

There's no mistaken what time it is here. Obviously, it's summer. But a major heat wave is underway and engulfing pretty much all of the East Coast at this point. Here's a live look at New York City, which we obviously just showed you and just took away as I was saying it.

This week promises to be hot, humid, and potentially dangerous for millions of people.

Let's bring in Indra Petersons, who is back. Welcome back.

PEREIRA: Welcome back.


BOLDUAN: So what should people be expecting? PETERSONS: Yes, unbelievable. It's bad enough when you have heat for one day, but when you're talking about heat that is expected to stay here all the way throughout the week, that's when we start to run into problems.

Let's talk about July. We were already talking about temperatures for the average, for the entire month, already 5 to 6 degrees above average. Now we're talking about a heat wave that's expected to last all the way through this upcoming weekend.

So with that, we know those numbers are going to go even higher, as we're looking at this average really jumping up.

Currently, this morning, this is what we're dealing, temperatures near 80 degrees and we're only going up from here. We're talking about 78, 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity in the morning. By the afternoon, we're talking about temperatures that are about 95 degrees. We're going to add in humidity right around 50 percent. It's going to feel like 100 out there.

So, here's the advisories we're dealing with. A large swath of an area, anywhere from bottom, really all the way down through Philadelphia today, we're going to be talking about this excessive heat -- heat indices near 100 degrees. Of course, you always want to remember, you want to wear that loose-fitting clothing and stay out of the sun during those peak hours. This huge area of high pressure is expected to stay, like I said, really, kind of weaken Wednesday.

But by Thursday and Friday, it's going to bump up again and we're going to talk about that strengthening heat, right in through Friday. We talked about that humidity. It's really that combination of not just the temperatures, but the humidity.

And we felt yesterday. We felt how hot and humid that is. We're going to make it hotter today and it's going to last --

BOLDUAN: Even if we're passed the rain that we were talking about, the monsoonal floods that we're talking about. It's so humid, it almost feels like it's raining.

PETERSONS: Bingo. It's exactly what we didn't want.

BOLDUAN: All right. Indra, thanks so much. We'll be back to you in a bit.

CUOMO: Really, that picture behind Indra really kind of says NEW DAY. That's what we need.

BOLDUAN: It's beautiful, right?

CUOMO: That is picture perfect. Just a little less heat.

You can't see heat in the picture, though. So, it's OK.

Another big story we're following this morning, NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. He's already released lots of information, but the journalist who first broke the story said there's much more.

Glenn Greenwald issues an ominous threat that it could be a nightmare for the U.S. government if the information is released.

Phil Black is in Moscow with the very latest. Good morning, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. "The Guardian" newspaper says Snowden still has enough information to do more harm to the United States in a single minute than anyone ever has. He doesn't go into detail. We've heard from Snowden before, who says that he has extensive knowledge of America's intelligence and surveillance operations around the world, but electronic and otherwise, and he has previously raised that to knock back claims that he is working to actively harm the United States, because he believes if that's what he wanted too, he could do it much more effectively in a much bigger way than we've ever seen.

Now, Snowden remains at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where despite his announcement that he would be seeking asylum in this country, Russian officials say they have not yet received any documents from him. The process usually involves a number of government departments, with the final decision made by the Russian president, and we are told that process usually takes about a month.

So, even if he gets moving, puts his documents in and kick-starts that asylum seeking process here, he is still looking at an extended stay in the transit zone of this Moscow airport, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Phil, thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: George Zimmerman, he might have his freedom back, but the life he knew before the shooting, will that ever be the same?

CUOMO: Plus, a singer with terrible pitch. And I'm not talking about her voice.

BOLDUAN: That is quite a trajectory.

CUOMO: I've done worse.

BOLDUAN: I've seen it.