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Snowden Seeks Asylum; Zimmerman Trial Starts Today; Things Heat Up for Paula Deen; Interview with Robert Patillo; Starbucks Hikes Prices; George Zimmerman Trial Underway

Aired June 24, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: That was gross and I'd be running from that spider, too. Thanks, guys.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Breaking overnight. Snowden flees an America response. Three words, "Give him back." The outrage instant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a very difficult position.

COSTELLO: Can America force the NSA leaker back here?

Also, dumping Deen.

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: My friend Kim and I are fixing up a burger that is over the top even for me. It's the lady's brunch burger.

COSTELLO: Food Network -- now QVC could be next.

DEEN: Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made.

COSTELLO: New this morning, an a apology video and a wave of support.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a learning lesson for her and it's a learning lesson for the people who do forgive.

COSTELLO: Should Paula Deen have been fired?

Plus, on trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All bets are off.

COSTELLO: The murder trial against George Zimmerman starting right now. A case of racial profiling or self-defense?

OPERATOR: So you think he's yelling help?

CALLER: Yes. COSTELLO: The tape could tell the real tale.

And lost cities found. Two new discoveries from half a world away right here in our backyard.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO (on-camera): Good morning, thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin this morning with tales of espionage, intrigue and a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. At the center, Edward Snowden, America's most wanted fugitive.

Less than three weeks after the computer contractor exposed a secret U.S. surveillance program, he is in the middle of a globetrotting search for asylum. Here is the latest twist. It's not clear Snowden has left Moscow where he had sought refuge for less than a day. From there, he was expected to head south, flying through U.S. air space en route to Cuba and then hoping for asylum in Ecuador.

Moments ago, Ecuador's foreign minister weighed in. He says allegations of U.S. surveillance are a human rights abuse against the whole world.

CNN's Phil Black traces Snowden's mysterious travels beginning in Moscow.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Moscow's airport, there were early signs the government of Ecuador was playing a role in the fate of Edward Snowden. The flag was a giveaway. This was the Ecuadorian ambassador's car parked outside and this official from the agency somehow got lost inside the terminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any comments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you here in relation to Mr. Snowden at all?

BLACK: The world learned of Snowden's sudden departure from Hongkong when he was already in the air, bound for Moscow on a commercial flight. A big group of Russian and international journalists waited to meet him, but Snowden stayed inside the terminal. Soon after, the government of Ecuador confirmed he had formally asked for asylum.

Ecuador is already protecting one other man, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. Assange has been living in Ecuador's London Embassy for last year. In a statement, Wikileaks said Snowden had asked the organization to help find a country that would protect him. It's said, "he is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks."

Amid furious and changing speculation about where Snowden planned to go after Russia, the U.S. government asked Ecuador, Venezuela, and Cuba to refuse him entry, and his American passport was cancelled.


COSTELLO: All right. Phil Black is now en route to Cuba and, in fact, he and other journalists aboard that flight had expected, as I said, Snowden to be on board that plane with them. But right now, there's absolutely no evidence that Snowden is onboard that plane. We believe he is still in Moscow.

But let's turn now to Quito, Ecuador, and what's believed to be Snowden's ultimate wished -for destination. CNN's Adriana Hauser is there. She joins us now with the latest on that. Good morning.

ADRIANA HAUSER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You're right, and this could be potentially be Snowden's last stop. And that could potentially hurt the relationship between the two countries even further.

So right now, we know the U.S. asked Ecuador to not allow Snowden in and, if allowed in, to return him. We do know from the foreign minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patino, that Snowden asked for asylum. They say, Patino said he's reviewing carefully that request, that they are going to take their time reviewing it, but he was very critical at a press conference that he just gave from Vietnam about the program, the surveillance program that was leaked by Snowden. He actually posted the question, "Who should be denouncing who?"

He was very critical of this program, which he said was a violation of liberties for many, many citizens around the world. So, there is a very tense relationship between the two countries. And this situation with Snowden could actually make that worse.

We also know the asylum, Carol, has not been granted, there is the precedence. Ecuador granted asylum to Julian Assange. He's at an embassy, an Ecuadorian embassy in London. He cannot leave the building because he risks getting arrested but he is protected by Ecuador. So there is the precedence there.

We know also know Snowden asked WikiLeaks for help and he is being advised by WikiLeaks and his ultimate destination ideally would be Ecuador if indeed he gets the asylum. But we don't know whether or not he will arrive in Ecuador. We're monitoring that flight from Havana. We don't think he's there, but we think that somehow he's going to make it here. WikiLeaks, in its web page, said that they're trying to find what they call the safe route for Snowden to get to Ecuador.

So, we're paying close attention, Carol. We'll be paying attention to whether or not he arrives here and, of course, whether or not he gets asylum. Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: Wow, Adriana Hauser, thanks so much.

As you might expect, the Obama administration is angry about this whole matter and it's not holding back its anger at other countries that refuse to hand over Edward Snowden. Before the American's apparent departure from Moscow, a spokeswoman with the National Security Council had this to say about Russia, quote, "Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters, including returning numerous high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government, we expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged."

But so far, Russia is doing no such thing.

In Washington, lawmakers are calling for other nations to return Snowden to the United States. And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is going even farther. Here's Mike Rogers.


REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: They should use every legal avenue we have to bring him back to the United States. And, listen, if he believes that he's doing something good and, by the way, he went outside all of the whistleblower avenues that are available to anyone in this government, including people who have classified information. We get two or three visits from whistleblowers every single week in the committee and we investigate every one thoroughly.

He didn't choose that route. If he really believes he did something good, he should get on a plane, come back, and face the consequences of his actions.


COSTELLO: Don't think he's going to do that, though. Rogers says the United States has to more aggressively pursue Snowden, place him under arrest. He cites concerns that Snowden is dealing with countries hostile to the U.S., including China, Russia, and possibly Cuba.

Other stories we're watching today at seven minutes past the hour. Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition at a South African hospital. The former South African president has been hospitalized since June 8th for a recurring lung infection.

And this is a live look from inside the courtroom where the trial for George Zimmerman is about to get underway. Zimmerman is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder. He says he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense. Opening statements are expected to last several hours.

Investigators are looking into a stunt plane crash at an air show in Dayton, Ohio, this weekend. CNN affiliate WHIO says the pilot and wing walker were killed.


JASON AGUILERA, AIR SAFETY INVESTIGATOR, NTSB: We're doing all the data collection right now. So we're not going to have any determination on findings or probable cause at this point. And I still would encourage those individuals that may have access to photos and videos, if you haven't come forward with a copy, we'd please like that. It will help us reconstruct the accident in more dimensions than just the one we can get off of photo and video.


COSTELLO: No spectators were injured or killed in the crash.

Paula Deen and the controversy surrounding her is still hot and it's getting hotter. The TV chef has already lost her job with the Food Network just days after she admitted under oath to using the n-word. Now QVC is reexamining their relationship with Dean.

And then there's this. Last year, "The New York Times" interviewed Deen about race relations in the south. Listen.


DEEN: I feel like the South is almost less prejudiced because black folks played such an integral part of our lives. I have a young man in my life and his name is Hollis (ph) Johnson and he's black (INAUDIBLE).

Come on out here, Hollis (ph). We can't see you standing against that dark board.


COSTELLO: Criticism may be a dish best served hot and there's a lot of it on both sides of this controversy. Let's bring in Pamela Brown now. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol. You know, Paula Deen has endured bad publicity before but never with so much fallout. Now she's facing harsh criticism since admitting last week that she's used racial slurs in the past. The Food Network quickly announced they would not be renewing her contract, but now her supporters are dishing out plenty of criticism of that decision while others are applauding the Food Network.


DEEN: I want to apologize to everybody.

BROWN (voice-over): Paula Deen's fans are standing by the butter- loving chef and threatening to boycott The Food Network for sticking a fork in her shows.

DEEN: I'm going to wrap it in bacon, and we're going to deep fry it.

BROWN: At her Savannah restaurant, the line was around the block this weekend as patrons showed support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has apologized. I think we'll all take it for what it's worth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a learning lesson for her and it's a learning lesson for people that do forgive. I will forgive her.

BROWN: Deen stirred up controversy for comments she made while being questioned under oath as part of a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit against her and her brother filed by a former employee.

DEEN: Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made.

BROWN: Friday she issued back to back video apologies online after readily admitting to using the N-word in the past.

DEEN: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. I am here to say, I am so sorry.

BROWN: Deen is also accused in the lawsuit of wanting to plan a southern plantation-themed party with black waiters. Just last year, Deen spoke at a "New York Times" event about race relations in the south, and her views on slavery.

DEEN: Black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family, and we didn't see ourselves as being prejudiced. I think we're all prejudiced against one something or another. And I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel.

BROWN: Shortly after her public apology, the Food Network said it was not renewing her contract, putting an end to her three shows.

The scandal has whipped up more than 13,000 comments on the Food Network's Facebook page. "Food Network, I'm firing you, goodbye," wrote one user.

Others applaud the Food Network's decision to dump Deen. "Great move, Food Network. It had to be done. Disrespectful slurs will not be tolerated."

And the fallout could continue. Listen to what QVC, which carries Deen's line of cookware, told CNN.

PAUL CAPELLI, VP CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, QVC (via telephone): We're watching those developments closely and reviewing our business relationship with Miss Deen.


BROWN (on camera): And Wal-Mart, which sells Deen's products, has not commented on the future of their relationship. Her cookware is also sold at other chains including Target and K-Mart. The case she's involved in is ongoing and Deen released a statement thanking the Food Network for 11 great years. So Carol, we'll have to see if there is more fallout from this.

COSTELLO: I tend to think there will be. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

The racial and sex discrimination lawsuit filed against Deen and her brother may not be their only headache (INAUDIBLE). Joining me now is attorney Robert Patillo from the Rainbow Push Coalition. Welcome. ROBERT PATILLO, ATTORNEY, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Thank you so much.

COSTELLO: So, Robert, you say other people have been approaching you with other allegations against Deen. Tell me about them.

PATILLO: Absolutely. We had the opportunity to go down to Savannah this weekend and speak with many current or former employees of Ms. Deen, and many employees had similar stories of sexual harassment or racial discrimination. A general hostile work environment.

What we did was contact employees. We asked them to give us their stories, give us the things that happened to us, and we found that there were so many employees that were just afraid to come out, afraid to speak.

In Savannah, Paula Deen is one of the most powerful figures in the city. And many of them who worked as cooks, who have minimum wage jobs or who are employees of her, feel that if they come out and speak, that they will be blacklisted, that they will lose their job with her but also not be able to find jobs in Savannah or anywhere else in the region.

COSTELLO: So are you urging them to file a lawsuit against Deen and her brother?

PATILLO: Not exactly - not particularly file a lawsuit but have their stories come out. If they had been the victims of discrimination, they should absolutely seek the legal recourse they need. But things in their employment will not improve until they come out and let these things be known.

When you have such an imbalance of power, you have a millionaire TV chef and you're a cook or you're a waitress or you cleaned the floors, it's very difficult for you to stand up. But the reason we launched this investigation, the reason we've gone in and looked into these things and talked to employees, is just to make sure they know that they have a support system. They're not the only ones experiencing this.

COSTELLO: Paula Deen has many, many supporters. And they say she was born 60 years ago when America's south had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants, and Americans rode in different parts of the bus. This is not today. Paula Deen has also apologized twice for her insensitivities. Does she deserve all of this?

She lost her show on Food Network. She may lose her gig on QVC. Her lines pulled from K-Mart and Target, we just don't know. Does she deserve all of this for what she says, "I'm sorry, it was a mistake. I didn't know I was being insensitive?"

PATILLO: Well, the issue is the use of the n-word or slurs is not the biggest problem here. The manifestation of those racial slurs, those lines and employment policy that affects the lives of so many of her employees. From what we understand from the people that we talked to, there's a de facto glass ceiling in place, you know, from restaurants where African-Americans can come in and they can work on the line and they can work as cooks or janitors, but there's no opportunity for advancement or pay raises.

Also, what we've heard and what we understand is that many of the employees did not receive a pay raise until this current lawsuit by Lisa Jackson was filed and that there was never any blacks in management, there was just a general hostile work environment because of the insular-run business.

COSTELLO: We'll keep in touch. Robert Patillo, thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

PATILLO: Thank you.

COSTELLO: If you like your morning cup of Starbucks coffee, get ready to pay more starting tomorrow. The coffee chain is raising prices on many of its brewed drinks even though it's paying less for coffee. Why, you ask?

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us. Good morning.


So, yes, Starbucks saying it's raising prices beginning tomorrow because they say costs have gone up for their labor, for raw materials, for rent for their stores. And it is interesting because you look at this increase and it comes despite the fact that coffee futures traded on intercontinental exchange are at or near their lowest point in three years. But it is important to note that before you freak out, this isn't a massively sweeping price hike. The company is saying that less than a third of all Starbucks beverages are affected.

So, let's say you're a frappuccino drinker, you're safe. Now what is going up in price, brewed coffee, tea, lattes, espresso drinks but not in all sizes. These increases also will not affect the venti and grande size coffees.

Now, the hikes are also going to vary from city to city, that are going to wind up being about 1 percent on average. If your store is affected by these increases, there's at least one easy way, though, to offset this rise. Did you know, Carol, that Starbucks offers a 10 percent discount on any drink when you bring in your own reusable cup? Because we all walk around with those, right?

COSTELLO: I will from now on, though, because those lattes are going to soon be 5 bucks.

KOSIK: Yes, 10 percent is pretty good. I mean, you know, as much as it's not going to affect all the drinks, even these drinks that is going to affect, a few pennies, but you look at Starbucks drinks, they're already really expensive. So any little penny or two added on to that, it does hurt.

COSTELLO: You got that right. Alison Kosik, thanks so much. In about 20 minutes, back to the exchange for the opening bell. But right now, Dow futures are down about 140 points. That's before the opening bell. We'll take you back there at 9:30 Eastern.

Just ahead in THE NEWSROOM: for almost a year and a half, George Zimmerman has proclaimed his innocence in the murder of Trayvon martin. Today, he finally gets his chance in court.

And LeBron James admits he was wrong. He was wrong -- in an exclusive interview with CNN's Rachel Nichols.


LEBRON JAMES, NBA SUPERSTAR: I ripped through "24," a few seasons of that. I watched a lot of the old Bulls' finals games.


COSTELLO: LeBron talks about the Heat repeat and what's helped him grow up.


COSTELLO: It's been nearly 16 months since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. And this morning, George Zimmerman, the man accused of pulling the trigger, finally goes on trial. Opening statements are getting underway in Sanford, Florida. You see them there.

And in the courtroom today, Trayvon Martin's parents.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: I ask that you pray for me and my family, because I don't want any other mother to have to experience what I'm going through now.


COSTELLO: Of course, Martin's parents said that before trial began today.

George Howell is outside the courthouse.

And, George, this trial begins as the judge excludes key testimony for the state.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Excludes key testimony, testimony from expert witnesses, audio experts who had an opinion for the state, basically saying that George Zimmerman was not the person screaming on that 911 audio.

I want to dip into the actual video right now inside the courtroom because the attorneys are debating. They want a ruling on whether statements made after this alleged crime can be heard in opening statements. Just a few minutes ago, they also debated on a matter of sequestration to make sure that people who are on the witness list and people who are under subpoena that they leave the courtroom. There was some question as to whether Zimmerman's family and Ben Crump will have to leave at this point all have been escorted out of the courtroom.

In the next few minutes, we are expecting the jury to come into the courtroom and this trial is set to begin.


HOWELL (voice-over): In the second degree murder trial against George Zimmerman, the first thing jurors will hear, opening statements.


HOWELL: Attorney Don West will open for the defense team. Their goal over the next several weeks will be to convince jurors George Zimmerman acted in self-defense the night of February 26th, 2012. The defense aims to show Zimmerman as a man who was in a fight for his life the night he admitted to shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state has supplied every report.

HOWELL: John Guy will open for the state. Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman was the aggressor. They'll argue he profiled and continued to pursue Trayvon Martin even after a dispatcher told him not to.

DISPATCHER: OK, we don't need you to do that.

HOWELL: There's also the question of who was screaming for help on this 911 tape moments before the fatal shot.


DISPATCHER: So you think he's yelling help?


DISPATCHER: All right, what is your --


HOWELL: Prosecutors may also call on witnesses who claim it was Trayvon Martin screaming for help.

But over the weekend, Judge Debra Nelson denied the testimony of the state's audio experts.

CNN legal analyst, Mark NeJame called it a setback for prosecutors.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Their audio expert was one of the major cornerstones of their entire case. From the beginning, we've been saying that whoever's voice it was crying for help suggested, in fact, showed that the other person was in fact the perpetrator.

HOWELL: The jury was sworn in last week, a panel of all women, five who attorneys say are white and one is black-Hispanic. Their identities kept anonymous in order to protect their privacy.


HOWELL: Back to live pictures here in Sanford, Florida. The camera trained a moment ago there on George Zimmerman. These attorneys debating and a couple rulings before the jury comes into the courtroom.

And we understand that attorney Don West will open for the defense. Carol, we know that his opening statements could take at least two hours.


George Zimmerman, we'll be there for it all. George, did I call you George? George Howell, thank you so much.

HOWELL: Yes, you do. That's OK.

COSTELLO: That was a bad mistake, wasn't it? George, thank you so much.

If the Zimmerman case were tried in the court of public opinion, he might have a hard time successfully defending himself. A CNN/ORC poll conducted a week ago 62 percent of those asked said the charges against George Zimmerman were probably or definitely true. Only 20 percent did not believe it.

And, of course, there's a big difference between whites and nonwhites. Fifty-seven percent of whites believe the charges, 75 percent of nonwhites do.

Jason Johnson is an HLN contributor. You're also covering the trial for us. In fact, going back to Florida very soon.

Why do you think George Zimmerman is losing in the court of public opinion?

JASON JOHNSON, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think he's a sympathetic victim in this situation. If you compare his behavior to the behavior of Trayvon Martin's parents over the last year, you know, his parents have been on television and said they want the legal process. We don't think George Zimmerman is a racist.

But his family has gone off the rail. He doesn't look nearly as sympathetic to those in the public.

COSTELLO: Do you think the jurors will feel the same way. I'm sure that George Zimmerman's attorneys have considered that.

JOHNSON: I do. A lot of this is not going to boil down to the legal wrangling, but who the jury believes. I think, for example, the idea of not having expert testimony about the 911 phone call, it's not going to matter. People on that jury is going to decide whose voice they think it is.

So, a lot amour about gut instinct than legal wrangling.

COSTELLO: I think one of the most interesting witnesses will be Trayvon Martin's girlfriend who was on the phone with him at the time he was walking through that neighborhood.

JOHNSON: Right. Oh, yes. She's the last person who spoke to him alive.

And here's the high threshold that Zimmerman's got. He has to convince people that in a seven-minute people he encountered and identified a young man he never met before and this young man attacked him and he felt his life was threatened.

And if the girlfriend says, look, Trayvon seems scared when he was talking to me and he dropped the phone, that's going to be really hard for Zimmerman to convince people otherwise.

COSTELLO: And the people of the town in Sanford, are there many outsiders coming in to witness this trial? What is the atmosphere like there?

JOHNSON: People are really skeptical of outsiders. Everywhere I went, they're like, are you a member of the press? Because no one wants to talk to you if you're a member of the press.

So, you know, but a lot of people -- the vast majority of people I spoke to there, even those who think George Zimmerman is innocent, they think he's going to get convicted. I didn't speak to one person in Sanford -- I was there for an entire week, who actually thinks he's going to get off.

COSTELLO: Well, as we know, many surprises in a court proceeding. So, we'll see.


COSTELLO: Jason Johnson, thanks so much.

Still ahead in THE NEWSROOM: authorities remain locked on to tight end Aaron Hernandez. We'll tell you about the latest twist in their investigation.