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Controversial 'Rolling Stone' Cover; Zimmerman Verdict Reaction; Olympic Boycott Over Snowden?; Should U.S. Be Tougher With Russia?; Obama Stays Mum About Zimmerman Verdict; Boston Bombing Suspect As Cover Boy; Hanging Off A Horse

Aired July 17, 2013 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

They spent long, stressful hours in court and in the jury room and we're now learning how the six women who determined George Zimmerman's fate broke the tension with visits from family and even an outing to the mall. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office just released some fascinating details about the jury sequester, including the cost to taxpayers and how the women were monitored.

Mary Snow is joining us, and she's got more on what we are now learning -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the six women spent 22 days together and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office kept tabs on all their communications.

Jurors were sequestered at a Marriott Hotel in Lake Mary, Florida, where they could have visits from family and friends on the weekends as well as members of the religious community. But anyone visiting members of the jury had to sign an agreement that they wouldn't discuss the case or disclose any information to outside parties about the details of their visit.

Now, the jurors had security at all times, and they did leave their hotel at times, including some weekend excursions that included a bowling trip, a visit to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, watching fireworks on the Fourth of July and two movies, "World War Z" and "The Lone Ranger."

The movies were pre-approved by the court. And there were some dinners out, including an Outback Steakhouse in Sanford. The sheriff's office says the costs for sequestration were approximately $33,000. It's still counting the total cost of the trial to the sheriff's office. The preliminary tally is $320,000, and that includes over time equipment and trial-related expenses.

To make sure that the jurors weren't exposed to any information about the trial, all phone calls, Internet use, mail, anything they read was monitored by sheriff deputies and then logged -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Learning new information about the trial and the jury. Mary, thank you.

The juror in the George Zimmerman trial who spoke exclusively to CNN says she's done talking publicly about the case. And she appears to be pushing for a change in the laws that led to the not guilty verdict. In her statement today, the juror known as B-37 wrote this.

"My prayers are with all those who have had the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than not guilty in order to remain within the instructions. No other family member should be forced to endure what the Martin family has endured."

Many critics who listened to the juror's interview with Anderson Cooper, they say she sounded more sympathetic to George Zimmerman than to Trayvon Martin and his family. In a portion of the interview that aired Last night, she spoke about the Martin family and her own anguish.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did you cry in that jury room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cried after the verdict. I didn't cry out when they were reading the verdict out in the jury room because we were all crying before we went in, and then --

COOPER: What do you mean you're crying before you went in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were in a separate room when the foreman handed the bailiff our verdict and then we were crying back there before we went into the jury room. So they gave us about 20 minutes to try and get everything together.

COOPER: What do you think you were crying about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pressure, the pressure of all of it and everything just kind of came to a head because I kind of tried to keep everything out, emotionally out during the whole process, and then it just flooded in after it was done.

COOPER: But you want people to know and the reason you're speaking is you want people to know how seriously you took this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I don't want people to think that we didn't think about it and we didn't care about Trayvon Martin. Because we did. We were very sad that it happened to him.

COOPER: And you wanted his family to know that, as well?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. And I feel bad that we can't give them the verdict that they wanted, but legally we could not do that.

COOPER: Do you think Trayvon Martin played a role in his own death, that this wasn't just something that happened to him, that this is something he also --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe he played a huge role in his death. He could -- he could have -- when George confronted him and he could have walked away and gone home. He didn't have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.

COOPER: And the other jurors felt that, as well?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They did. I mean, as far as I -- my perspective of it, they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A little while ago, I spoke with the Martin family attorney, Ben Crump, and I asked him to respond to the juror effectively blaming, at least in part, Trayvon Martin for his own death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF TRAYVON MARTIN: She says an adult confronted a child, and because the child didn't get away fast enough or decided that they were going to defend themselves, we should blame the child?

It just flies in the face of common sense. When you really think about it, Trayvon ran from him. We have objective evidence from the 911 tapes, we have the friend he was with on the phone. And it's clear to everybody Trayvon was running away from George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman ran after him and now we're going to blame the kid?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's discuss what we just heard.

Joining us now, the criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky.

Darren, thanks very much for coming in.

Let's talk a little bit about this juror. In the interviews that she gave to Anderson, the juror says legally they could not get the Martin family the verdict they wanted. What does that indicate about the laws in Florida, as opposed to the specific case and the specific charges that the prosecution leveled?

DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, I'm not entirely sure that the premise is a correct one. The job of the jurors is to make factual findings and then apply it to the law that's given to them by the judge.

And in this particular case, we know that some of those factual findings may have actually been influenced by some inadmissible evidence. And, Wolf, if you think back to during the case and during the interview with Anderson, when this juror said one of the important things that these jurors were influenced by was the opinion of Detective Serino that George Zimmerman was telling the truth, and this was something that the jurors deemed to be an important fact in assessing the credibility.

But if you will remember, that opinion was introduced at the end of testimony one day. And the next day, the judge admonished them that this was impermissible, that they were disregard it. And clearly one of the things we learned from Anderson's interview was that that wasn't done, that they were actually influenced and swayed by it.

So I don't know that -- by the way, that's just one example of what happened inside that jury room. My point is, though, I don't think this is about changing the law, as much as it is respecting the job of the jurors and we asked them to do an insanely difficult task.

BLITZER: Well, if -- obviously they're human beings. If they hear one of the investigators say that, even though the next morning the judge says, don't pay any attention to it, how you can you not pay attention to it, if you have heard it in the courtroom? What do you do about a situation like this?

KAVINOKY: Well, you're exactly right that we're essentially asking them to unring a bell. Once that information is out, it's hard to disregard it. But they're specifically told that they are to do that.

And one of the things that was surfaced during Anderson's interview was that exactly that did not happen. And in looking at it, I think that's an important fact. You know, what we do during juror selection or perhaps more appropriately jury de-selecting, when we're getting rid of jurors that we don't want, is we're -- we're asking a bunch of laypeople, because usually we get rid of the lawyers -- we're asking a bunch of people with no formal legal training to come into a case to get the law delivered to them in rapid-fire fashion, if you think back to how those jury instructions were read.

It was -- it was almost like an auctioneer selling something to those jurors. And we put them back there with no real legal training and ask them to make incredibly difficult, complicated decisions. It's no wonder in looking at high-profile cases like this, while there is such a calling for professional jurors, there's some kind of way to change the system to function more effectively.

BLITZER: The juror also says that, at the end, that she felt Trayvon Martin wasn't really as well-known by the jury let's say as George Zimmerman obviously.

What does that reflect as far as the prosecution is concerned? In other words, did they do enough to paint a picture of Trayvon Martin to the six women on the jury?

KAVINOKY: I don't think they did. And candidly, I think there were many prosecutorial missteps in the presentation of this case.

Look, there were failures that went back as far as the investigation. We heard about these during the trial, the improper handling of the forensic evidence at the scene. Probably one of the biggest blunders in looking back at it was that when the police had the initial interviews with George Zimmerman, they failed to ask the tough, specific questions.

They allowed George to speak in generalities, and then, of course, when we got into the presentation of the case, the prosecution made what I considered to be one of the most enormous tactical blunders in the presentation of the evidence, that they played those interviews, at a time in the case that effectively removed any need of George Zimmerman to take the stand himself.

And, of course, while the prosecution can never force a criminal defendant to take the stand, because of the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, from a practical matter, when we're looking at the presentation of evidence and the chess game that goes on between lawyers in a criminal trial, whenever the defendant claims self- defense, there's got to be some evidence of what was going on in their mind at the time, to make it reasonable to do what they did.

And in the way that the prosecution handled this case, we got George Zimmerman's state of mind from those interviews, not from Zimmerman himself, where he would have been subjected to cross-examination. I think it would have made for an entirely different trial.

BLITZER: We will never know about that for sure, but good analysis. Darren Kavinoky, thanks very much for joining us.

BLITZER: You bet, Wolf.

Up next, people across the Northeast right now, they are coping with very dangerous heat and the forecast for when it will end.

And a deadly disaster at sea is now a courtroom drama, with a ship's captain facing charges.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: For many people across the Northeastern United States, stepping outside is like stepping into a steam room. It's hot, it's humid and it's dangerous. Look at the heat index in cities across the region. The high temperatures and moist air are making it feel like it's around 100 degrees or more.

Here in Washington, D.C., the heat is pushing up ozone levels to code orange, a threat to the young, the old and the ill. And in New York City, that city is close to setting a new record for electricity use, with so many people cranking up their air conditioners.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is standing by at the CNN Weather Center to tell us how long this will last.

But, first, let's go to CNN's Emily Schmidt. She's here on the hot streets of the nation's capital.

What are you seeing, Emily?

EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is hot out here on the National Mall. You see a few people trying to brave it behind me, but temperatures are in the mid-90s and they're expected to stay that way for the rest of the week.

It officially constitutes a heat wave. We asked a few people to take this infrared thermometer to see how tough is it going to be to ride the wave.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will it feel hot and uncomfortable out there this afternoon? Absolutely.

SCHMIDT (voice-over): Sometimes, weather is a job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The heat wave lingers on.

SCHMIDT: Sometimes, weather gets in the way of a job, like working on a Washington, D.C., roof 13 stories above the scorching city.

SAM BERRY, CONSTRUCTION WORKER: You try to stay hydrated.

SCHMIDT: Sam Berry and Tim Urbey (ph) were looking for any relief they could find.

BERRY: And that building where there's no air moving, it's terrible. It's hot. You are just sweating all day constantly.

SCHMIDT: There's good reason. Construction superintendent Mike Hammer (ph) measured the morning heat on the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-fifteen, 116, 117, 118.

SCHMIDT: One-hundred and eighteen degrees on the construction site, 174 degrees above the grill in a Korean barbecue food truck, 124 degrees on top of a double-decker tourist bus, where a visiting Texan found not everything is bigger in her home state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's 85 in Dallas. It's hotter here.

SCHMIDT: It's not just Washington. In the Northeast, the high temperatures and humidity have pushed the heat index so it feels more like 110. Connecticut set up cooling centers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's around 100 degrees. What can be nicer than being in the nice cool room here?

SCHMIDT: Utilities officials say New Yorkers are seeking the cool so much, they may set a new record for electricity usage. Some Baltimore residents discovered what happens when the heat knocks the power out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just suffered it out. That's all I can do.

SCHMIDT: In Iowa, Francine Lions (ph) was glad to see a repairman when her air conditioner went out just as she needed it most.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cranked open the window and looked and it was -- I could see the line was all frosted up.

SCHMIDT: It's summer in Washington.

Construction workers labor. Tourists crowd the National Mall. The Sentinels guard Tomb of the Unknown -- their call of duty doesn't melt away in the heat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHMIDT: It turns out it is too hot to do some things, though. I talked to a roofing company who said they kept their crews home because they thought it was too dangerous for them to be up working with shingles on the 13th story of that building. They decided not to use any tar today, because it was too hot for that.

He said, well, they will wait until it cools off. But, Wolf, if you look at the forecast, it could be a couple more days before that happens.

BLITZER: Well, we're going to look at the forecast, Emily. Thanks very much.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

BLITZER: Coming up, new details you have never heard before about what actually happened on the deadly wreck by the Costa Concordia. Stand by.

And outrage over a magazine cover featuring the surviving Boston bombing suspect, why some stores are now refusing to sell "Rolling Stone" magazine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A disaster at sea is now a courtroom drama in Italy. The captain of the Costa Concordia is on trial, facing charges stemming from the deadly shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany a year-and-a-half ago.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau is covering the case for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Captain Francesco Schettino was in court today to face charges of multiple manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and causing personal injury to 150 people when he slammed the Costa Concordia cruise liner into rocks off Giglio in January 2012.

He faces 20 years in prison for these charges; 32 people lost their lives in that disaster. Two bodies have never been recovered. And the court today heard how each and every one of those people died, including whether or not they were wearing life vests.

Captain Schettino listened very seriously, but he was a little bit fidgety as the court read -- went through the details of the disaster. There were 250 civil plaintiffs whose cases will be heard in court in tandem with the criminal charges. We're expecting the trial to last up to a year or more before a verdict is reached.

This is Barbie Nadeau in Grosseto for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Up next, the NSA leaker in a political tug of war here in the United States. Might it end up with a boycott of the Olympic Games in Russia?

And second-term blues. Is President Obama stuck in a paralyzing rut right now?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: the NSA leaker stirring up more international tension -- this hour, a new call for the United States to boycott the Olympic Games in Russia.

Plus, President Obama is six months into his second term, but some critics now say it feels like his administration is practically over.

And the backlash over the new cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine that makes the Boston bombing suspect maybe look like a rock star.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The case of the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, is threatening to cast a chill on next year's Winter Olympic Games in Russia. One senator is pressing the White House for a U.S. boycott, at least potentially.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us with details.

Jessica, what's going on and what's the reaction over at the White House?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, all this trouble is caused by one U.S. senator who stands alone in suggesting that the U.S. press Russia to send them a strong message by boycotting the upcoming Olympics.

Well, his threat have gotten so much noise that now the U.S. Olympic Committee has issued its own statement, saying these kinds of boycotts just don't work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney batted away questions about fallout if Russia grants NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to engage in speculation about that.

You guys are not jumping to a superficial headline, are you?

YELLIN: What headline? South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham floated the idea of a U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia, in March. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I guess we should go to Russia and have a party and celebrate the Olympics. That just seems disconnected to me.

YELLIN: He told CNN's Jake Tapper strained relations with Russia have been made worse by the Snowden mess.

GRAHAM: We have to up our game when it comes to Russia for -- before it's too late.

YELLIN: Graham also took issue with the president's plans to visit St. Petersburg for a long-planned G-20 summit in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't go to St. Petersburg. I would ask for a change of venues.

YELLIN: The White House is dismissing both ideas.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're focused on working with the Russians.

YELLIN: So is this Republican.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I love Senator Graham. We've been close friends for 20 years, but I think he's dead wrong. Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?

YELLIN: This Russia expert agrees.

(on camera): So what are the chances the U.S. ends up boycotting the Russia Olympics.

JEFFREY MANKOFF, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think the chances that happening are probably somewhere south of zero. Again I think it's because one, it makes the United States look like the villain in this saga more than Russia and it would also further damage the bilateral relationship even as we're trying to work together with Russia to settle all of these other issues, Iran, Syria, withdrawal from Afghanistan, counterterrorism, cyber security, a lot of different things.

YELLIN (voice-over): And today Russian President, Vladimir Putin signalled he wants the Snowden situation resolved saying --

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): We warned Mr. Snowden that any action by him that could cause damage to Russian- American relations is unacceptable for us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now there is one bit of leverage that the White House continues to play with, Wolf. The White House has repeatedly said the president still intends to go to the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia in September. But they will not say clearly whether or not the president plans to keep a scheduled one-on-one meeting with President Putin in Moscow that's to take place beforehand.

It would seem that they're staying vague on that to use it as a leverage to sort of push Russia to resolve this situation with Snowden. Now if that doesn't work we could find the unusual situation of the U.S. president in Moscow, at the very same time that the NSA leaker is not far from him in the same city -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, we'll see what happens in early September at the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Jessica, thanks very much.

Fareed Zakaria is joining us right now. He is the host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS" that airs Sundays here on CNN. Fareed, how tough does the Obama administration need to get to deal with the Russians on this whole Snowden issue? You heard what Lindsay Graham is saying.

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Yes, I'm puzzled by what Graham is -- Senator Graham is saying because it sounds more like posturing, masquerading as foreign policy. He says he doesn't want to boycott the Olympics, but he wants to get their attention. Well, you know you're not going to get their attention by an empty threat, which is a bluff.

Remember what the Russians did, which caused Jimmy Carter to boycott the Olympics in 1980. They invaded Afghanistan. That seems like a proportionate response. Here we are dealing with a complicated case, where this guy has been exposed, has exposed the fact that the U.S. is engaging in espionage activities against the Russians, against the Chinese. The Russians therefore have every incentive to make this difficult.

Frankly, we would do the same if it were the tables were turned and President Putin has actually been pretty responsible on the issue. He has kept saying, look, our relations with the United States are more important than this guy. I'm not going to let him derail it. So the whole idea that the Russians are playing some kind of nasty game, I don't know, maybe I'm seeing a different set of news items than Senator Graham is. Putin has actually been more cooperative, certainly than the Chinese and many, many other countries and as I say, if the roles were reversed, I'm not quite sure what we would do.

BLITZER: Even other Republicans, like John Boehner, the speaker and John McCain, they disagreed with Lindsay Graham. What about this other notion that Lindsay Graham says forget about the Olympics next year, but what about the early September G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia? What about simply moving that to a different location?

ZAKARIA: Well, no other country would agree to that and again, we have to remember, this is, the premise of all this, is that the Russians are behaving in some completely outlandish fashion. They're not, they're dealing with a complex situation, they're certainly not supporting us and giving in immediately and they're protecting their own interests and exploiting what is an awkward moment for the United States. Countries take this sort of espionage fairly seriously. When they catch somebody, they exploit it to their fullest advantage. You know better than anyone, Wolf, Jonathan pollard, the American caught spying for Israel, is now in jail in the United States. It's been four Israeli prime ministers who have repeatedly asked for release from the United States their closest ally.

And we haven't done that these issues of espionage can be quite complex. But Putin says he doesn't want to jeopardize the relationship with our friends and partners, the americans, he said that at a student forum and the students started laughing, because Putin's reputation is of a hard-line Russian nationalist and anti- American.

So I think this is case where this is more posturing and be bellicosity. We don't live in that world anymore and maybe we never did maybe it exists in senator graham's imagination, but not in reality.

BLITZER: Fareed Zakaria, as usual, thank you.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

BLITZER: Up next, should the president say more about the George Zimmerman verdict? We're going to talk about a series of controversial issues facing the Obama administration and the president right now.

And did "Rolling Stone" magazine actually glorify the Boston bombing suspect by putting him on its cover?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's talk about politics and president of the United States for a fourth day for a fourth day in a row, the president has avoided making any comments about the Zimmerman case, the Zimmerman verdict. He did release a written statement on Sunday respecting the jury's decision, saying that should stand, some political observers say the trial has gotten so much attention in part because Americans have lost interest in the president.

Six months into the president's second term, certainly has a lot of unfinished business to do. So what will he get accomplished over the next three and a half years? Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, along with our CNN contributors, Ross Douthat and Maria Cardona.

First of all, Gloria, does the president need to speak directly to the American people right now about the Zimmerman case?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, at some point, he's going to be asked about it so he's going to have to answer the question. I'm sure he'll be prepared for it. I think it's a difficult balancing act when you're the president of the United States. He's already said, if I had a son he would look like Trayvon. But I think that when you're president and you have a Justice Department that could has an open investigation, into something. And there could be a civil suit, I think you have to take a step back and let things move along on their own without polarizing things because the minute the president starts talking about this, the issue will become about President Obama and not about --

BLITZER: You remember a year ago, he said if he had a son that son would look like Trayvon Martin. He's avoiding any personal reflections right now, even though Eric Holder, the attorney general is really stepping out making some personal references.

ROSS DOUTHAT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I, I agree completely with Gloria. I think it would be politically insane for the president to turn, try and further politicize what is obviously already a very fraught issue. I think it would be different if there were actual severe violent riots that followed in the wake of the trial. At the present, there's no sort of, I think everybody handled themselves reasonably well.

BLITZER: Maria, you know he was prepared to talk about it. He did four interviews yesterday with Spanish-speaking actors and none of them -- were you surprised that nobody asked him about this?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I actually wasn't surprised, Wolf, and I tweeted this out today when I saw your piece today about how the president hadn't been asked about this on Hispanic media and I've gotten a lot of questions as to why, why did this happen. The focus for Hispanic media right now and a lot of Latinos across the country is immigration reform, laser-like focus on immigration reform.

It doesn't mean they don't care about the Zimmerman case. I'm sure as journalists they would have loved to ask the president about it, but they have a limited amount of time and so they're going to ask about the number issue that they know that their viewers care about and that is about immigration reform.

The fact of the matter is that the president is pushing this and he is doing something else too. He is telling Latino voters to actually push Republicans to do the right thing. The one thing that we've seen on Hispanic media is that Republicans and especially John Boehner is getting pummelled by the Hispanic media and already writing the narrative that if immigration reform doesn't happen, it's going to be the Republican's fault.

BLITZER: Does the president have a problem right now, six months into his second term in getting some important stuff done?

BORGER: You think? Yes. He's got a big problem. It's sort of like they hit the pause button. Now they're trying to get to reset and they haven't been able to do that there are certain things that happened to them like the Boston marathon bombing, the Edward Snowden surveillance issue and they've been criticized for the IRS, Benghazi, leak investigation and gun control and they're trying to figure out how to push this other stuff away so they can focus on what they want to focus on without polarizing Republicans whom they need.

BLITZER: And they, the president himself had delayed at least for a year, a key part of Obamacare, those mandates.

DOUTHAT: Did anyone who watched the last presidential campaign sit back and think this president, is campaigning on an agenda that he'll have no trouble pushing through Congress. No, the president ran a campaign on fear of Mitt Romney. Defense of his record and basically a promise to stay the course and the one exception is immigration reform.

BORGER: And repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy, which he did immediately. So once he did that --

DOUTHAT: But the president was clearly, if you watched his convention speech in the campaign, he was clearly going to be some kind of a lame duck six months into his presidency. I think this was all foreshadowed in the kind of campaign they ran, which was very successful as a conservative I have no problem with the politics.

BLITZER: If there's going to be gridlock for the next three and a half years, there would be pretty bad for the whole country.

CARDONA: Of course, it would be bad. That's why the president when he does talk about this. He puts the power into the hands of the American people to make their voices known, to make sure we actually try to get stuff done for them. But let's remember, what did this president run on in 2008? He ran on the economy, is anybody talking about the economy anymore? They're not, there needs to be a budget and tax reform -- the president keeps pushing that, but the economy is actually doing OK. There needs to be more done, the economy is doing OK. Consumer confidence is record high, the auto industry, record jobs, record creation --

DOUTHAT: So Washington has reconciled itself to what is by historical standards, probably the worst recovery we've seen since the great depression and moved on to gun control and immigration. But in reality, everybody in the country is still -- this is agenda of Washington, this is not a Democratic problem, it's a bipartisan problem. The agenda of Washington is gun control and immigration, issues that are about number 19 and number 20 on voter priorities. The number one voter priority --

CARDONA: The American public believes if you look at the polls that the economy is getting better.

BORGER: The economy is getting better. It's not getting better as quickly as anyone wants. To talk about the president, he has a problem because he is working. He's working behind the scenes, but if he comes out publically. He alienates people so he's got to get things done. If he gets some pieces of immigration, it will be a success for him.

BLITZER: He says he's vetoing anything that doesn't include a pathway to citizenship. Getting it through the House of Representatives right now, we've got to leave it there because we're out of time. It's obviously very problematic.

CARDONA: Yesterday the House said that they are looking at trying to get something done on immigration.

BLITZER: OK, Thanks for the discussion. Up next the backlash against "Rolling Stone" magazine, for a cover featuring the Boston bombing suspect, there he is, Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is coming in to CNN. We're now learning that Justice Department officials spoke with civil rights leaders Monday about the Trayvon Martin case and calls for federal civil rights charges to be filed against George Zimmerman. An official telling CNN that the Attorney General Eric Holder was not on the call. The official described it as a listening session. We are told nothing specific about the Justice Department's investigation of the case was revealed.

Right now, many Americans are seeing the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a new way and critics are saying that is a problem. Tsarnaev is featured on the cover of the new issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine looking a bit like some of the rock stars usually profiled by the magazine. This is causing quite a controversy nationwide.

CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATIONA ROOM, he has been looking at what the reaction has been. Brian, what do you see?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the fallout is significant on several fronts. There is a temporary boycott against "Rolling Stone" by some of the big chains that sell its magazines and in Boston, as Wolf, mentioned a perception that "Rolling Stone" is equating Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the likes of rock's biggest legends.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): He's got the hair, the same bruiting demeanor, but Dzhokar Tsarnaev isn't Jim Morrison and there is palpable outrage that "Rolling Stone" magazine has Tsarnaev on its August cover. When Bostonians found out --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to talk about that nut case. I don't like it. He shouldn't get it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am surprised. I'm shocked he'd be there. It is kind of sad, actually.

TODD: "Rolling Stone" touts the article of an in depth investigation into how the alleged Boston marathon bomber went off track in his life. The caption on the cover alludes to Tsarnaev turning into monster, but a Boston firefighter still calls it insulting.

ED KELLY, PRESIDENT, PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS OF MASSACHUSETTS: The actual picture that they chose really portrays the innocence of youth. He gave up any innocence he had on April 15 when he took the life of an innocent child, two women and went on to execute a police officer.

TODD: In a statement, "Rolling Stones" editors said their hearts go out to the victims, but that they also felt it was important to gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. Former National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vitor says he thinks that's valid, but he also says this --

TOMMY VIETOR, FORMER NSC SPOKESMAN: There is the potential that the cover could make kids feel like terrorism is cool like you are going to get the rock star treatment by murdering people.

TODD: The economic fallout started with the second largest drugstore chain saying it will not put the August edition of "Rolling Stone" on the newsstands.

(on camera): CVS was out front in the brush back tour of "Rolling Stone." The company wouldn't provide anyone for an interview, wouldn't let us film inside their stores, but in a statement, CVS said as a company with a strong presence in Boston, it felt this was the right decision out of respect for the victims of the bombings and their relatives.

(voice-over): CVS was joined in this temporary boycott by other big chains like Walgreens as well as New England-based stop and shop grocery stores and Tadeschi food shops. "AdWeek' senior editor, Lucia Moses, said that likely won't hurt "Rolling Stone." She says only about 5 percent of Rolling Stones sales are in retail outlets. If advertisers pull out, she says that would hurt but --

LUCIA MOSES, SENIOR EDITOR, "ADWEEK": Usually when magazines or newspapers prepare to public a controversial story that advertisers might be bothered by they let advertisers know in advance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: "Rolling Stone" has not commented whether any advertisers have pulled ads or threatened. Moses points out that "Rolling Stone," might even get a boost from this controversy and its buzz. As you remember consumers are still talking about famous covers you are seeing here. The man of the year covers featuring Hitler and "Rolling Stone's" own cover image of Charles Manson in 1970 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All the commentators, observers out there think there should be outrage over this.

TODD: No, not at all. There is a guy named Slade Somo. He's the editor-in-chief of the web site called hypervocal.com, which monitors news trends. He says why are we complaining about a teachable moment here? The magazine is not endorsing the Tsarnaev brothers. They are trying to get you to read an important story. Nothing wrong with that in his mind.

BLITZER: All right, Todd, thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting. Coming up horse and rider, they defy gravity and only Jeannie Moos has this report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, it maybe a one trick pony, but what a trick. Here's CNN's Jeannie Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNIE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A horse is a horse, of course, not just any horse would tolerate what happened to ultimate decision.

RICK WALLACE, EQUESTRIAN COMPETITOR: He is such a low key kind of guy.

MOOS: Horse is also known as Mark. Mark was relatively new to competitive jumping when this happened earlier this month outside of Atlanta.

WALLACE: My feet were swinging and I'm not touching the ground. I figured let me see if I can crawl back on him.

MOOS: Mark's owner is exhibiting has a name. Rick Wallace is demonstrating stick ability trying to stay in the saddle or in this case get back to it. Listen to the announcer praise well known equestrian and when he defied gravity. There are even products and clothing that riders count on. They use a powder favored by pole dancers called mighty grip where they spray stuff to the boots or they use sticky bum breaches. None of that would have saved Rick Wallace.

(on camera): Why couldn't you get back up?

WALLACE: You are going to be rough on me. I think it took a lot of upper body strength. I was a gymnast when I was 15. I am in my 40s now.

MOOS (voice-over): Nevertheless, this 19-second effort made Rick a hero on web sites like horse junkies united. As for Mark that horse is a saint.

WALLACE: He wants you to love him and love on him.

MOOS: Not everyone was loving on Rick's stick ability. He is using the horse's knees as a step ladder not okay. We don't know if the horse was hanging on Rick's words but we know while rick was hanging from the horse he kept talking to it.

WALLACE: I was like we really have to think about this next time.

MOOS: Meaning how not to repeat missing the jump that threw rick partly obscured from you.

WALLACE: Gave him a kiss.

MOOS: Rick is a stickler for stick ability. Well done and well hung. Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Jeanne. That is it for me. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" starts right now.