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Money News; Russia Hit with Sanctions; Front Porch Shooting Trial Continues

Aired July 30, 2014 - 08:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right here we go with the five things you need to know for your new day.

At number one, Israel announcing a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire with Gaza. It will run until noon Eastern. The military says soldier will keep targeting tunnels into Israel and will respond if Hamas continues to fire into Israel.

Ukraine now saying it is impossible for their international experts to do their work at the Flight 17 debris site. They say terrorists have set up firing positions and laid mines there. Intense fighting between Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine is keeping those experts away.

In West Africa, a doctor who had been leading the charge to combat the outbreak of Ebola died from the virus himself. He is the second doctor to succumb to Ebola in just the last few days.

The House takes up bipartisan legislation to overhaul the Veterans Administration today. The bill comes up just one day after a Senate panel unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald as the new secretary of the V.A.

And at number five, the president is in Kansas City for a speech on the economy today. He'll enjoy some barbecue, greet some locals as part of his summer campaign to get out among the people.

We always update those five things, so be sure to visit for the very latest.

It is money time, folks. Who's here? Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in our Money Center.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I'm here with some good news just in on the economy.


ROMANS: GDP, the U.S. economy, grew at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter. Four percent, that shows the economy back on track after a 2.9 percent contraction in the first quarter that many said was just a bad weather fluke. So 4 percent GDP. Futures are higher right now. It should be a good day for the stock market, at least at the open. A potential win for low wage workers. The National Labor Relations

Board says McDonald's is a joint employer. That means it could be held responsible in a barrage of worker lawsuits. Until now, McDonald's had hidden behind franchise owners.

And Twitter soaring. It still doesn't make any money, Twitter doesn't, but the stock is up 26 percent in pre-market trade. Twitter showed strong user growth last quarter, especially in mobile. Good news in an otherwise tough year. The stock has fallen 40 percent thanks to slow growth. So, guys, watch Twitter. That one will fly today.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I wonder what it was -- that's a good joke there, Christine. Thank you for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: I wonder if it was like all the major world events, the World Cup -


CUOMO: And the horrible things happening in Israel. And with MH17 maybe got the world talking.

CAMEROTA: Probably. It always does (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: What do you think? Tweet us. Let us know

Coming up on NEW DAY, the harshest sanctions against Russia since the Cold War and Vladimir Putin still more popular than ever. If 80 percent of his people back him, why should he care about what the west does to him? We'll debate it.

CAMEROTA: And the prosecution gets ready to wrap its case in the so- called "Front Porch Shooting" trial. What evidence does the defense have that this was self-defense? We'll ask our legal team.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Driven in part by MH17 being shot down, the U.S. and Europe are dropping the toughest economic sanctions on Russia since the Cold War. But Vladimir Putin has thumbed his nose at every round of sanctions so far. Why? Will this be any different? We put those questions to Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, why Putin should care so long as his popularity back home is, get this, hovering at 80 percent.


BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He has stirred up nationalist sentiment at home, which accounts for some of those numbers that you reference. However, the impact of the sanctions we've already put in place has driven down their growth rates to near zero and has led to almost $100 billion in capital flight. That's before the very dramatic action taken yesterday by the United States in coordination with Europe, which had not gone as far as they have gone yesterday. That is going to impact the Russian economy. And you know over time that has an impact on public opinion as well. So we believe these sanctions are the best way to send a strong message to Russia that their policy in Ukraine has costs.

CUOMO: That's the long-term game. The short-term exigency, the immediate problem there, is MH17 and dealing with that crash site. We just heard from one of the international monitors. They believe there are still bodies there. The dignity of the victims. Have you done anything to approach Russia about helping to allow the investigators into that crash site?

RHODES: We're going to be very clear that Russia has a responsibility. And part of the reason why we moved to the sanctions yesterday is because they have not cooperated with that investigation and the separatists that they back are still blocking access to the site.

CUOMO: Now, one of the reasons that there's also blocked access is the shelling. There are reports even from Human Rights Watch, not just from on the ground from the Ukraine side, that there are short missiles being used by Ukraine to knock out different areas as they try to reclaim some control there. If that's true, if they're shelling civilians, if their ongoing fighting is stopping access to the scene, do you need to approach the Ukraine side as well?

RHODES: Well, we - obviously, we never support them hitting civilian targets. They have a right, of course, to conduct security operations inside of Ukraine to secure their own territory against these violent separatists. What we would like, however, is for there to be space around the crash site so international investigators can get to the scene


CUOMO: So those are the theories and ideas from the U.S. western side. How do they play in Russia? We have Nic Robertson on the ground in Moscow.

Nic, great to have you.

What do you hear there? What do the sanctions mean? How popular is Putin?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Putin's popular (ph). We've heard nothing specifically from him since the sanctions came to a point yesterday. However, Monday, he did have a meeting with the government where he told them that they need to accelerate alternatives to procure components and raw material for weapons manufacture. That is one of the parts of the sanctions that is going to affect Russia here. So it does seem to have some impact.

But all the politicians we're hearing from so far, Putin has met with the government today. We haven't heard from him yet today. But the politicians we are hearing from are playing this down. The minister from Russia for the European Union said this will probably hurt Europe more than it will hurt us. We're hearing from the minister in charge of Crimea now, the Russian minister in charge of Crimea, saying that the sanctions that have been passed so far haven't hurt Crimea. So they're trying to pass it off here that it won't have impact.

There is a reality to this, though, and they did wake up to it today. BTB (ph) Bank, one of those banks targeted by financial sanctions, found that its shares had fallen almost 2 percent on the stock market here. They dropped another 3 percent within a few hours. And there's a temporary glitch on the Moscow stock market right now, so it's just stopped trading. The precise reason we don't know. But this is the picture from here, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nic, thank you very much. Important to have you on the ground. Appreciate you being on NEW DAY.

Take a break here. When we come back, emotional moments in the front porch trial. The lawyers are fighting bitterly at every turn. The cops are accused of botching the investigation now. And all the while the question, will defendant Theodore Wafer take the stand in his own defense? Our powerhouse legal team takes us through it all.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. In just minutes, testimony will get back under way in the so-called front porch murder trial. Day four of the trial got very heated. Prosecutors and defense attorneys going at each other over every detail.


CUOMO (voice-over): In particular, grilling, galling the state, why? Wafer's contention that he acted in self-defense and not just self- defense, but also fired accidentally when he shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride to death on his front porch. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the beginning, he said oh this gun discharged, this gun went off accidentally. That's his defense for the police. All of the sudden Johnny come lately self-defense, you know, he's crawling on the floor, all these things that the defense has created.

CUOMO (on camera): Do those two things go together? And for them to, must he take the stand? Let's analyze. We have Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor and Mark Geragos, defense attorney. Thank you to you both. Well, let's deal with what's right in front of us. Sunny Hostin, which is it?


CUOMO: Is it self-defense or is it an accident? We know they fight each other as a concept, but how do they go together in this trial?

HOSTIN: I don't think he can have it both ways. Initially I thought well maybe, because he doesn't want to be found guilty of anything, right? So if it's an accident, is it manslaughter? If it's self- defense, can he then be exonerated of everything? And so I think he's trying to have it both ways, but when you ask the average person, which is those are the people that are on the jury, they're going to think well, you can't have this both ways. Was it an accident? Did you know that the gun was loaded or not?

CAMEROTA: Mark, what do you think? Can it be both?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it can be both. Sunny's right, though, to the degree that most people think at least superficially that there's contention between them.

HOSTIN: Mark just said I was right.

GERAGOS: Only to a degree, as usual.

CUOMO: Well said.

GERAGOS : The problem is, is that they're going to get a jury instruction and the jury instruction is going to guide them, and when they look at the law, and jurors are very, very meticulous when they come to look at the jury instructions, the law is going to determine this, and as to your question as to whether he takes the stand, that's going to be dependent solely on whether this judge will give them a self-defense jury instruction without him taking the stand.

If the judge says look, I think there's enough here for self-defense, the defense will not put him on the stand. If the judge says he has to take the stand, then he will, because otherwise he's got no way out in terms of having a self-defense instruction, which that jury can then acquit him on.

CAMEROTA: Sunny, one of the tactics that the defense is trying to use is is impugning the character of the victim, they're even bringing up some photos and her Twitter handle. Listen to what they said in court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the screening for Renisha McBride on Twitter is very important. Her screen name is "young and thugging." Social media is probably the most accurate form of reputation evidence. It's not specific acts. It goes under 404A to show that in self-defense cases, the decedent was the first aggressor.


CAMEROTA: Sunny, they say it's very important what her twitter handle was.

HOSTIN: This is just classic defense blame the victim, attack the character of the victim. And it really burns me up, Mark. There's no relevance whatsoever that her Twitter handle is thuggin'.

GERAGOS: It's brilliant.

HOSTIN: There is no relevance. This is what happened in the Trayvon Martin case when they wanted to show that Trayvon Martin was the first aggressor because he had grills on his teeth, because he smoked marijuana and its a defense tactic that needs to end. This woman, after being in a car accident, approaches this house seemingly looking for help and she gets shot in the face.

CUOMO: Federal prosecutors never bring up character evidence.

GERAGOS: That's a great -- right, right, exactly. All federal prosecutors know how to do is character assassination.

HOSTIN: That's ridiculous.


HOSTIN: Hold on. Go ahead, Mark.

GERAGOS: Sunny can't get past the fact that the victim's Twitter handle was sunny in this case, and that's bias in her. She's got to relax for a second, because this actually is a brilliant defense move. The idea that it's reputation evidence so it can come in makes perfect sense, and Sunny's argument is a great argument but that's all it is. This guy in his house, doesn't know anything that Sunny's said. He doesn't know --

HOSTIN: He doesn't know her Twitter handle either.

GERAGOS: He doesn't know, he doesn't know - yes, but that's her reputation. That's a different issue.

HOSTIN: He doesn't know her reputation.

GERAGOS: He's sitting in his house.

HOSTIN: How is it relevant?

GERAGOS: He has somebody banging on the doors. Sunny, the one thing, and we always talk about this, motive is not necessary, but what's his motive for just deciding to go out and murder her as you are alleging as a prosecutor? There is no motive.

CUOMO: Let me tee it up as a question I think goes right to this issue, and it's been ignored a little bit in the coverage of this story. We always think reasonable fear, my reasonable fear that you are going to hurt me, not in Michigan. In Michigan it's honest fear. How do you think that plays here, Sunny. Two ways, one, what is the difference between reasonable and honest and two, does he have to take the stand in order for it to be convincingly honest to the jury?

HOSTIN: I think that he certainly has to take the stand. I think he should. I think the jurors will want to believe, or rather, they will want to understand what was going on in his head at the time.

CUOMO: Why? Because what's the difference between reasonable and honest?

HOSTIN: I think the reasonable standard and Mark, correct me if I'm wrong, what the average person would do, right, in that circumstance.


HOSTIN: I think the honest is more subjective, what he believed what was going on.

CUOMO: That's why the defense strategy that Geragos was talking about is important, because he's going to say it was just my honest belief, that's why I shot through a door, because it was just me. That's how I felt. That may be good enough.

HOSTIN: I don't think it's going to be good enough, but I think he definitely has to get on the stand to prove that.

CAMEROTA: And Mark, you were talking about how it can't really in your mind be murder. Why didn't they go for something like voluntary manslaughter?

GERAGOS: Prosecutors always overcharge. That's standard operating procedure with prosecutors. They always overcharge and the reason they do it is they think that - -

HOSTIN: That's not true.

GERAGOS: - - by giving you the exposure to potentially a life case that you will plead to something else. The criminal justice system wouldn't work if people were charged honestly, because people would go to trial if there was no penalty, a trial penalty. Prosecutors love to hammer people and force them into that Hobson's choice of having to plead otherwise being exposed.

HOSTIN: That is not true.

GERAGOS: Your stock and trade as a prosecutor.

HOSTIN: You are not allowed as a prosecutor, Mark, and you know this, to bring a case that you know that you cannot prove. And so this notion that defense attorneys have all the time --

GERAGOS: Oh my god.

HOSTIN:-- that prosecutors just overcharge, you can't overcharge. You're not allowed to do that sort of thing. It's unethical.

GERAGOS: Sunny,that is part of the reason we call you Sunny is because you have such a Pollyanna disposition. Prosecutors overcharge in every federal and state court in this country every single day.

HOSTIN: That's not true.

CAMEROTA: So you this I this is an overcharge?

GERAGOS: This is clearly an overcharge.

HOSTIN: He shot her in the face, Mark!

GERAGOS: He's in his house. HOSTIN: He shot an unarmed woman in the face. In his house behind a locked screen door. How is that overcharging?

GERAGOS: Is that murder?

HOSTIN: Of course it is.

GERAGOS: Is that murder? It's a classic manslaughter, Sunny, and based on this jury, I said it the other day, my guess is, and the one thing we haven't talked about today is, that race will be a factor in this and based on the jury composition, I would expect a hung jury.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll leave it there.

HOSTIN: We'll see.

CAMEROTA: We will see, we'll continue to debate it. Sunny, Mark, thank you.

CUOMO: Sunny, very strong. Geragos using Hobson's choice from Thomas Hobson. A choice where there's only one option, a strong reference, strong. I thought we called you Sunny because your name is Asuncion, who knew, it was because you're Pollyannish?

HOSTIN: I know, its Geragos.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Israel's humanitarian cease-fire is under way right now. It's supposed to be four hours. Will it last longer? Could it be a first step toward peace? We are live on the ground. We'll give you the status at the top of the hour.


CUOMO: There's a lot going on in the world, and you need to know about it so let's get you right to the "NEWSROOM" and Ms. Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Chris. Have a great day. NEWSROOM starts now.