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George Zimmerman Arrested; Devastation in Illinois

Aired November 18, 2013 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jake Tapper. And you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the breaking news, George Zimmerman's new brush with the law, the man who walked free from his trial in the death of Trayvon Martin arrested, jailed, and charged once again.

CNN's Alina Machado is following this story for us.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, George Zimmerman is now facing a felony count of aggravated assault with a weapon and two misdemeanors stemming from an incident that happened this afternoon at the home he shared with his girlfriend.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said the girlfriend called for help in the noon hour after she says she was pushed out of the house during a domestic dispute. Take a listen at what authorities say happen next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we arrived, the victim in this particular case indicated that she and George Zimmerman were having a verbal dispute, and at that time she alleged that he had broken a table, and at one point pointed a long-barrelled shotgun at her.


MACHADO: Now, deputies arrived at the home, they said they made their way in and found Zimmerman without a gun. They also say that he was taken into custody without incident and then charged with the charges that we mentioned.

This is not the first time that George Zimmerman is making news since his trial.


MACHADO: (voice-over): This is George Zimmerman in a new booking photo. He was arrested just hours ago after police responded to a disturbance call in Apopka, Florida. That's less than an hour from where the former neighborhood watch volunteer first made headlines for killing an unarmed teenager in 2012.

Today's arrest is just the most recent in a series of bizarre run-ins the 30-year-old has had with police since acquitted this summer in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In September, he was briefly held by police after his estranged wife called 911 accusing him of assault.

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, ESTRANGED WIFE OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN (via phone): He's in his car and he continually has his hand on his gun, and he keeps saying, "Step closer." And he was just threatening all of us.

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

ZIMMERMAN: And he's going to shoot us.

MACHADO: Shellie claimed her husband had punched her father in the nose and had smashed her iPad during a domestic dispute. Lake Mary police investigated, but decided no charges would be filed. Zimmerman has also been stopped twice for speeding, once in Texas where he told police he was carrying a gun, the second in Lake Mary, Florida, where Zimmerman was given a ticket and fined $256.


MACHADO: Now, Zimmerman is being held tonight without bond. He is scheduled to go before a judge tomorrow afternoon -- Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, Alina.

Now to the tornado disaster in parts of the Midwest right now. At least seven people are dead, hundreds are injured. Entire communities have been flattened. More than 70 twisters were reported across the region from Missouri to Ohio. Washington, Illinois, was the town that was hardest-hit with the full force of a devastating EF- 4 twister packing winds up to 190 miles an hour.

Many people were at Sunday services when the storm hit. Suddenly, they found themselves praying for lives.




TAPPER: CNN's Brian Todd is another hard-town, Brookport, Illinois -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, there are shell-shocked residents all over this town.

This is what's left of the H&H Feeds store, a 27-year establishment here in Brookport. This town suffered the most losses of any town in this whole system of tornadoes, three dead here, and for many of those who survived, there is almost nothing left to build on.


TODD (voice-over): Chasity Tabor is trying to salvage anything that's left, but also trying to absorb it all. When she gets a moment to describe what happened to her:

CHASITY TABOR, SURVIVOR: Unreal, just terrifying.

You just don't think that things like this will happen. You just don't think -- all day, I said it's just going to rain, it's going to be fine. And it's not. It hits and just -- I don't know.

TODD: Tabor got out of her mobile home in Brookport, Illinois, along with her fiance and 14-month-old daughter just minutes before a tornado hit and took shelter in a gas station.

TODD (on camera): Is there anything left of your home?

TABOR: No. No. Pictures. Yes, I had my baby bracelets when she was born, my grandfather's chain. Everything is just -- there's just nothing.

TODD (voice-over): Five people live in Jason Jones' mobile home. Only with us was here when the tornado hit, his father-in-law, who Jones says survived, despite being thrown out of the home when it flipped on its side. Jones' daughter risks her life to go inside and try to collect valuables. Jones says there's one possession he's desperately trying to recover.

JASON JONES, SURVIVOR: I have a son who passed. I had a shirt that was put into a picture frame. And it was just sentimental, just little things, something to just make me, you know, get back up every day.

TODD: Residents through Brookport tell you these stories. It's a tiny riverside town that lost more than any other, three people debt, all from blunt-force trauma as a tornado ripped across their mobile homes.

In New Minden, Illinois, an even smaller town not far away, one of the strongest tornadoes, as EF-4, leveled Joseph Hoy's (ph) farmhouse and killed Hoy and his sister. Greg Woody, Hoy's friend of 35 years, came by to rescue a swan, a goose and other exotic animals Hoy collected. I asked him about the lost of his friend.

GREG WOODY, SURVIVOR: You don't like it one bit, but it's part of life. And at least he's not laying around suffering somewhere.

TODD: Nearly 70 tornadoes left scenes like this all over this region. Some victims are determined to rebuild in place, but others...

(on camera): Do you want to come back here and live, Chasity?


TODD: Why not? LABOR: I'm too scared. I'm just terrified. I can't do it. No, I couldn't even sleep last night.


TODD: And for those who do want to stay, there's a lot of rebuilding to do. Officials here tell us that 45 to 50 homes in Brookport were either damaged or destroyed. And the mayor says that makes up at least half of this town -- Jake.

TAPPER: Brian, the mayor himself almost didn't survive this tornado, right?

TODD: That's right. Jon Klaffer, the mayor told me he was in his car when the tornado hit. He said the tornado spun his car around, it blew out the windows, it tipped his car to one side. He was hit with debris. He thought he was not going to survive it, but he got out of the car. He said he was determined to get home and save his four grandchildren who were hiding under the staircase.

TAPPER: Amazing. Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Still ahead, a family feud over same-sex marriage pitting Dick Cheney's daughters against each other. The tension is personal and political.

Plus, the Toronto marriage talks to CNN about his crack-smoking controversy and why he will not step down. Is this how he's trying to redeem his image?


ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: I was sick of all these allegations and all this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and excuse my words. That's all it is. Sorry, kids. I shouldn't have sworn in front of the kids.



TAPPER: A family feud is going public involving one of the most controversial names in American politics. Dick Cheney's daughters are at odds over same-sex marriage.

It's an issue that is very personal for one Cheney sister, and it has political ramifications for the other.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Richard Bruce Cheney, do solemnly swear --

TAPPER (voice-over): Sure, dad is one of the most controversial vice presidents in American history, but today, it's the Cheney daughters, Mary and Liz, who are causing a stir. In one corner, Mary, who in the 1990s did outreach to the gay and lesbian community for Coors, who married her long-time partner Heather Poe in 2012 in Washington, D.C. They have two children.

In the other corner, Liz, the older sister, a former State Department official and current contender in a Senate race who recently announced her opposition to same sex marriage.

I asked their dad about the possible tension three weeks ago.

(on camera): Is that going to be an awkward Christmas table conversation?

DICK CHENEY: Well, my position on that issue is well known, I enunciated it in 2000 in a debate with Joe Lieberman.

I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.

It hasn't changed. I will let my daughters speak for themselves.

TAPPER (voice-over): And, boy, are they!

Sunday afternoon on FOX News, Liz Cheney states her position.

LIZ CHENEY (R), WYOMING SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage. I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree.

TAPPER: Later, Mary's wife Heather responds on Facebook, saying, "When Mary and I got married in 2012, Liz didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us. To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least."

L. CHENEY: Twenty years ago, Phil and I were married here in Wyoming.

TAPPER: Heather even took a shot at what opponents describe as Liz's carpetbagger status in Wyoming. "I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other."

And almost immediately after Heather's posts, Mary jumps in for some Facebook feather ruffling of her own, writing, "Couldn't have said it better myself. Liz, this isn't just an issue on which we disagree. You're just wrong and on the wrong side of history."

It should be noted that Liz by opposing a federal marriage amendment has a more liberal point of view on this than the one George W. Bush held in 2000 and 2004, when Mary worked on those campaigns. Bush/Cheney 2004 was a campaign criticized by gay and lesbian rights groups for using opposition to same-sex marriage as a way to rally conservative voters to the polls.

Mary explained to David Letterman in 2006 that was tough for her. MARY CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF DICK CHENEY: I actually came very close to quitting the campaign in 2004 over this very issue. My position was as a campaign staffer, and, quite frankly, I think it's inappropriate for campaign staffers to be issuing their own public policy statements.

TAPPER: Though apparently not tough enough.

M. CHENEY: The important thing in 2004, the important issue was national security.

TAPPER: I reached out to Liz Cheney this morning and she told me -- quote -- "I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate toward them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave."


TAPPER: And the former vice president and Mrs. Cheney released the family statement on the family rift this afternoon.

Quote: "This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. Compassion is called for, even when there's disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz's many kindnesses should not be used to distort her position."

Up ahead: Toronto's mayor stripped of his power by the city council amid increasingly erratic behavior, including smoking crack. Perhaps you have heard of it. CNN's Bill Weir talks to him next.

And check out "Saturday Night Live"'s take on this.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I am sorry for how I have been acting. It's not indicative of my position as mayor in this great town of Toronto.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, man, I have what you asked.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Let's do it under the desk.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't say what it is. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I got your stuff right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, that's a lot of crack.



TAPPER: The man now known as as Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford, has just been stripped of most of his powers by his city council in Toronto by a vote of 36-5.

CNN cameras were rolling moments ago as Ford headed back to his office after a vote. It was a raucous meeting, shall we say, with Ford apparently knocking down or almost knocking down a council member during a break.

Let's bring in CNN's Bill Weir.

Mr. Weir, good to see you again. You interviewed Mayor Ford.


I got a little -- we saw a little of that bravado that he displayed right before that vote, in which he compared that vote to the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. And he vowed to wreck vengeance down upon them, the way the United States did back in Gulf War I.

It's unbelievable. We think that here's a guy who is hanging on by a thread, and that he must be willing to resign any day now, but, oh, no. When you see him among the folks who support him in the housing projects of suburban Toronto, he's a guy who thinks he can remake Toronto City Hall in his image, despite all the scandal, all the faux pas.

Here's a little sample of our time together Saturday night.


WEIR (voice-over): A lot of people are worried about Rob Ford these days, worried that he will never leave office or that his appetites will kill him. But you know who is not worried? Rob Ford.

ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: I'm not an addict. Why goes see an addict when I'm not an addict? I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not a drug addict?

WEIR: And in the heart of Ford nation, they believe him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People can set him up to. You know that.

WEIR (on camera): Oh, you think he might have been set up?


WEIR: Well, he admitted to smoking crack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, maybe he just get fed up with everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you purchased illegal drills in the last two years?

WEIR (voice-over): Sure, he may be a pariah on the floor of the city council and a punchline on "Saturday Night Live."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Whoa, that's a lot of crack.

WEIR: But out in this suburban housing project, he is, no pun intended, a rock star. See, he may be a slash-and-burn fiscal conservative downtown, but out here, they say he's the bleeding heart they call when the eviction notice comes.

DOUG FORD, TORONTO CITY COUNCILLOR: Everyone people keeps saying Rob is a conservative. He's a huge, massive social liberal. He loves Obama.

WEIR: Councillor Doug Ford invited us here. And when his little brother showed up, we saw why. Almost everyone was thrilled to see him.

(on camera): These folks love you. But do you realize how you're perceived around the rest of the country, around the rest of the continent?

R. FORD: They can make fun of me, they can laugh at my all they want. They don't know Rob Ford. These people know me. They have known me for -- I was born and raised here.

WEIR: Why did you decide to finally admit that you had smoked crack?

R. FORD: I'm not going to run around and be phony and lie. And I'm not going to have someone try and blackmail me and say they have videos of this.


R. FORD: ... and hold it over my head.


R. FORD: I just had enough. I was sick of all these allegations and all this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and excuse my words. That's all it is. Sorry, kids. I shouldn't have sworn in front of the kids.

And you know what? I make mistakes, I drank too much, I smoked some crack sometime. What can I say? I made a mistake. I'm human.

WEIR: But you can't you see why some would question your judgment?

R. FORD: So, what? So lie about it? Just hide?


WEIR: Just that you would do it in the first place, that shows...


R. FORD: No, no, I didn't say that. No, I didn't say that. You're wrong. You're absolutely wrong what you said. They said, do you smoke crack and are you a crack addict?

No, I don't smoke and I'm not a crack addict. Have I? Yes, I have. I didn't lie. I don't smoke crack. I haven't smoked crack in over a year. But did I?


R. FORD: It typical media. You guys are the same. You're all cut from the same cloth.


R. FORD: You guys can spin it every way you want.


WEIR (voice-over): At this point, Doug tries to calm his brother, which, as we have seen, ain't easy.

R. FORD: But when you come and accuse me of being a crack addict and saying do you smoke crack, no, I don't. Have I? Yes. I don't like people attacking my integrity.

WEIR (on camera): Couldn't you be even more effective if you were a little healthier?


R. FORD: I'm trying to lose some weight. I'm working out. I'm not perfect.

WEIR: But why not see some addiction specialists?


R. FORD: I'm not an addict. You guys can spin it. You can tell me whatever you want. These people know that I'm not. You ever got drunk before, Bill?

WEIR: Of course.

R. FORD: OK. Sure.

(CROSSTALK) R. FORD: It doesn't matter. That's the thing. I don't look at myself as the mayor. I look at myself as just a normal, regular person.


R. FORD: You know, that's enough. So guys, I'm passionate. Sorry. Sorry.

WEIR: One more question, and this is the one that really gets it for me.

I know a lot of people who would party their brains out, but they're parents. I'm sure you're insulating your children from what's going on now.

R. FORD: Absolutely. I'm the best father around.

WEIR: But there's going to come a day when they Google their dad.


R. FORD: Absolutely. And I can explain what they're hearing.

And I'm straightforward with my kid. You just dismiss them? You just walk away? I don't walk away from anyone, Bill, in life. All these rich, elitist people, I'm sick of them. I'm sick of them. They're -- no, they're perfect. They don't do nothing. Get out of here they don't do nothing. They're the biggest crooks around.



WEIR (voice-over): And not only are these brothers vowing to stay and fight, but they're also now vowing to find and run enough Ford nation believers to unseat every political enemy downtown.


WEIR: There's a couple key moments in there.

He says he doesn't consider himself or doesn't consider the leaders to be held to higher standards. He's one of the people. And the guys I represent, they get hammered on a Friday night, and they still do their jobs on Monday morning. I should be held to those standards as opposed to those of a leader.

You could write a psychology thesis about this guy, but it's -- who knows what is going to happen next, Jack? Even when we think this story is played out, he does something else. Stay tuned, I suppose. And we have so much more tonight.

TAPPER: I can't wait to see it. The full interview airs this evening on "ANDERSON COOPER 360." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, only on CNN.

Bill Weir, thanks so much for joining us. And welcome aboard, of course.

WEIR: Thank you, Jacob.

TAPPER: Remember, you can follow us and what is going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Just tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.