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THE SITUATION ROOM
Juror: Zimmerman 'Got Away with Murder'; Weiner's Poll Numbers Tank After Sexting Scandal; 80 Killed in Horrifying Train Crash; In Search of a Fallen Comrade
Aired July 25, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news. A second juror in the George Zimmerman trial breaks her silence and shows her face. Just ahead, why the only minority on the all female panel now says Zimmerman, quote, "Got away with murder."
Plus, horrifying new video of that Spanish train tearing around a curve and breaking apart, killing at least 80 people, one of them an American, with speed to blame.
And the woman at the center of Anthony Weiner's revived sexting scandal speaking out in her very first interview. And she's sharing it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY "INSIDE EDITION")
SYDNEY LEATHERS, SEXTED WITH ANTHONY WEINER: He is an argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with the breaking news. A second juror in the George Zimmerman trial breaking her silence and showing her face, but not revealing anything more than a first name of "Maddie" (ph) for fear of her safety.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the only minority on the all female panel says she was the holdout juror that favored second degree murder, but in the end, the evidence wasn't there to convict and she's now wrestling with whether or not she made the right decision.
Let's bring in our legal panel.
Joining us, our CNN legal correspondent, Jean Casarez; CNN legal correspondent and criminal defense attorney, Mark NeJame; and our legal analyst, Lisa Bloom.
Guys, thanks very much. Let me read to you the excerpt of what this woman named "Maddie," what she had to way, black-Hispanic woman, the only minority on the jury.
"George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can't get away from God. And at the end of the day, he's going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with, but the law couldn't prove it." -- Jean, what do you make of that?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: CASAREZ: You know, I find so much fascinating in what she said. First of all, she said that if you do not have the proof that he killed him intentionally, you cannot find him guilty. For second degree murder, an element is not intent to kill. That is first degree murder.
Also, she said that she wished the charges -- she didn't think they should have even been brought.
Does that mean that she doesn't believe there was probable cause he committed any crime?
And she never addresses self-defense, because that was such a focal point in the case, not only for the defense, also for the prosecution. They had the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt there was not self-defense.
BLITZER: Lisa, what do you think?
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's no question that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin intentionally. According to his own statements, he intentionally pulled out the gun, pulled the trigger -- it has a long trigger -- and there was testimony at the trial that it wasn't done accidentally.
As Jean says, the only question is self-defense.
It's so disturbing, I have to say, to hear a juror speak after the fact about her regrets that perhaps she should have held out, that perhaps it was murder, when she had every opportunity in the jury room to voice how she felt, to stand her ground in the jury room if she wanted to do that. And, ultimately, she chose not to.
BLITZER: She chose not to. She chose to vote not guilty like the other five women -- Mark, go ahead.
You're -- when you heard this juror now explain -- "Maddie," as she's called -- explain her rationale, her decision-making, what did you think?
MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the parts that I'm extracting from it, I want to compliment about.
Look, trials are not moral tribunals in the United States. You're supposed to follow the law and apply the law to the evidence that was presented. So in many cases -- It happens every day in American jurisprudence -- people have a gut feeling. They believe that somebody, in fact, committed a crime and they might be everything from child molesters to murderers, to robbers and everything in between. But you have to apply the facts and you have to apply the evidence to the law.
And what she's saying is although morally, she believed what was done was wrong, she listened to the jury instructions, she read them. She indicated they were something like a small book. I think they were 27 pages, actually. And she applied the law and could not, in fact, find she found that there was reasonable -- she found that there was reasonable doubt.
I'm real nervous that when we start talking about second-guessing what jurors do, look, there's a chemistry. There's a soup that gets made when jurors get together. There's a dynamic that takes place. So people walk into a jury room with a preconceived belief, but then when they talk with each other, when they evaluate the evidence, when they listen to the facts or they address it from a different perspective, then they cumulatively come up a verdict. And that's what happened here. It happens all the time. Sixteen hours of deliberation...
BLITZER: All right...
NEJAME: -- means that they were deliberating.
BLITZER: But, Jean, I want you to compare what this juror, B-29, as she was called, said, as opposed to B-37, the other juror who has now spoken publicly, what she told Anderson Cooper, what, about 10 days or so ago.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What did you think of George Zimmerman?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods and wanting to catch these people so badly, that he went above and beyond what he really should have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Jean, go ahead and compare these two women. One is saying that George Zimmerman got away with murder, but there was no enough evidence to convict him. Another one giving a little bit different nuance there.
CASAREZ: You know, the jury determines the issues of fact. And I think these jurors are diametrically opposed as to what they believe factually was the case. But they had to look at the law. And, obviously, the juror that Anderson interviewed was one that was dominant in that room to sway, then, this other juror that believed he had committed murder. And the jury instructions, I think, were pivotal in all this. You know, remember, this new juror that has come forward, she's a mother of eight. And she has one child that's 18, one child that's -- that is 15 and then younger twins, but right around the age of Trayvon Martin. And I think we have to feel for her emotionally right now, because she is a distraught woman.
BLITZER: Lisa, and she also goes on to say this, this Juror B- 29. She tells Robin Roberts of ABC News this. She says, "That's where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it. But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty."
So even though she was the holdout, she thought maybe second degree murder would be appropriate. In the end, she went along with the five other women and acquitted.
BLOOM: And you know what's fascinating to me, we know that initially in the jury deliberations, there were three to convict and three to acquit, one who wanted to convict of second degree murder who we now know is this woman. And we talked a lot during the trial about the racial makeup of this jury -- five white women, one minority. And that's the one who's speaking out now.
And you can how important it is. In this case, there's no question that there's a huge racial disparity in terms of the way people viewed this case from the beginning. And the fact that there were so few minority faces on that jury, I think you can see how it played out now, in terms of the way that they voted. This was the one who was most in favor of convicting on the top charge. And, ultimately, there was only one minority voice on that jury. There was just not enough to carry the day.
BLITZER: Mark, go ahead. Wrap this up.
NEJAME: Yes, no, I agree. I mean I was complaining from the onset that we did not -- the jury did not have more minority representation. But when you have a county that's only 11 percent African-American, and 30 percent of that comes from Sanford, the odds of getting an African-American on that jury were very slim to begin with. So then we have this cultural divide which we're all, you know, following day by day now.
BLITZER: Mark NeJame, Lisa Bloom, Jean Casarez, we're going to continue this conversation.
Thanks very much.
We're going to have more on what this juror is now saying about the case. That's coming up at the top of the hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, the woman at the center of Anthony Weiner's revived sexting scandal breaking her silence in a brand new interview, and she isn't holding back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY "INSIDE EDITION") LEATHERS: The exact wording was that he is argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man. And at the time, I was like oh, no, you're not. But, yes, he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The embattled New York City mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner's, popularity is now plummeting. In a brand new poll taken entirely, after that bombshell admission that he continued to engage in lewd online exchanges even after resigning from Congress.
The woman at the center of this scandal is speaking out for the first time to "Inside Edition."
You're going to see some clips from that in just a minute.
But first, let's bring in CNN's Mary Snow.
She's in New York.
She's got the latest numbers, numbers not good for Anthony Weiner -- Mary, right now.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. This new poll shows that Anthony Weiner's favorable rating among Democrats in New York City dropping more than 20 points.
Anthony Weiner is struggling to get his campaign back on track. But faced with questions about how many other women could potentially come forward, he admitted today, he had online relationships with several women since leaving office.
SNOW (voice-over): Anthony Weiner's photo-op at a soup kitchen summed up his campaign -- the heat is rising, but he has no plans to get out of New York's mayoral race.
With charts in hand, he tried to talk about non-profits. But two days after holding a press conference with his wife by his side and admitting he had a sexually explicit relationship online with a woman a year after he resigned from Congress, Weiner, for the first time, put a number on how many women there were since leaving office.
ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe I had any more than three.
SNOW: As for how many altogether?
WEINER: It's not dozens and dozens, it is -- it is six to 10, I suppose. But I -- I can't tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.
SNOW: Weiner has been trying to stress that his past is behind him and that he said all along that other women may come forward.
While he tries to move on, he was even asked if he has an addiction.
WEINER: I don't believe that it -- that it is. The people that I'm working with don't believe that it is. And I'll leave it, you know, there's some things I want to, you know, I want to have some modicum of privacy between me and the people that are offering me this help. But the answer is, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're still working...
WEINER: The answer is no.
SNOW: While Weiner, with his wife's support, has stressed his issues are personal, a poll of registered Democrats taken after Tuesday's press conference shows a steep drop in support.
In June, he was five percentage points ahead of Christine Quinn. He's now nine points behind her.
Asked if he should drop out of the race, 47 percent said no, 43 percent said yes, and 10 percent are unsure.
In the Jewish Orthodox neighborhood where he campaigned Thursday, there were mixed feelings.
ISAAC ABRAHAM, NEW YORK VOTER: Well, as congressman, he was flying as high as an F-14 and maybe not listening too much to the people on the ground, these problems might have landed him. But again, as a voter, that doesn't concern me as much. He didn't do anything illegal.
GISELA FRESCLH, NEW YORK VOTER: I felt that being that it happened even after he resigned, that it happened again, I'm a little bit doubtful about his sincerity and doubtful about his capabilities.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SNOW: And Weiner's behavior isn't fading from the spotlight now that Sydney Leathers is giving an interview to "Inside Edition" about her online relationship with Weiner.
We did reach out to the campaign. The campaign said it had no comment about her interview -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much.
And this just coming into CNN. We want to bring you a little bit more on Sydney Leathers right now and her exclusive interview with "Inside Edition" chief correspondent, Jim Moret.
Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY "INSIDE EDITION")
JIM MORET, HOST: How would you describe him?
I read one quote that suggested you thought he was a dirty old man.
LEATHERS: He actually said that about himself to me. He -- the exact wording was that he is an argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man. And at the time, I was like, oh, no, you're not. But, yes, he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Jim Moret is joining us now, our former CNN colleague.
Jim, let me play one other clip from your interview with this woman. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEATHERS: I felt manipulated.
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Why?
LEATHERS: Because, obviously, I felt like, you know, he's saying one thing to me, saying another thing to his wife, saying another thing on the campaign trail. I don't know who the real Anthony Weiner is, I guess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this woman, Sydney Leathers. What was she like? What is her motivation? Give me a sense of she is?
MORET: Well, she's a now 23-year-old college sophomore. And she was enamored of Anthony Weiner, the politician, and was very disappointed when he fell from grace from Congress and basically wrote to him online on his Facebook page, telling him he was disappointed.
About a year later, last summer, she said that he reached out to her on a social media site under a pseudonym, Carlos Danger, who he soon revealed to be himself and basically started an online relationship, which she said became explicit and dirty very quickly. And you know, I asked her, I said, how could you let this happen? You knew what he had done before, she said she doesn't really even know.
She was 22 at the time. She was caught up in the fantasy of it all. They never actually met, but the relationship soon went to sexting and then phone sex very quickly. And he spoke to her and had phone sex with her, according to her, at least twice a week, often more.
BLITZER: For how long of a period did they have this online and phone relationship? MORET: According to Sydney Leathers, she had this relationship with him for six months. And what's interesting, Wolf, is that this was right around the time when "People" magazine ran the photo piece showing Anthony Weiner and his wife and their new baby saying that all of this was behind him.
He was a changed man. He was a good husband. His wife had forgiven him and he had learned his lesson. And within a matter of days after that article came out, he began this relationship with Sydney Leathers.
BLITZER: Let me play one more clip from your interview. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORET: So, at what point did it break off and why?
LEATHERS: There wasn't really a specific reason why and neither one of us ever really officially ended it. It just kind of started to fizzle out. He got a little bit controlling with me towards the end.
MORET: How so?
LEATHERS: He would tell me that he would be jealous. He would look at my Facebook frequently and he would tell me that he would get jealous if other men would complement me and just little stuff like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Did she say how the relationship ended?
MORET: She said that -- it was interesting. She posted on Facebook something from the show "House of Cards" in which Kevin Spacey plays a politician caught up in an affair with a reporter. And she quoted that and she got a comment from him on Facebook saying is this about me? Is that though show about me? And she felt it was very controlling, and they eventually broke it off.
I want to be very clear about something, Wolf. She does not portray herself as the victim. She takes responsibility for what she's done. She knows it was a mistake. She does feel manipulated by Anthony Weiner. She said that the one person who deserves an apology, and frankly, she did apologize to her on "Inside Edition" was to Anthony Weiner's wife.
She feels that is the only victim in this case and she is getting ready for the onslaught of bad publicity that she sure to come her way because she's believes she is a target now by the Weiner campaign.
BLITZER: Because you know there are -- the critics of her are already coming out saying she's been compensated. She wants money. That's why she's coming out and saying all of these things. You've heard those suggestions about her. I don't know if you asked her about that, but what do you make of that? MORET: I think that if she wanted to make a lot of money, she could, and I didn't perceive that as being her motivation at all. She felt disillusioned, especially after the "New York Times" article came out, that this man was a fraud in her view, that he really isn't a changed man. And, when Anthony Weiner said today that there were, perhaps, two or three other women, I asked her, did you believe you're the only one that he was doing this with.
And she said, you know, no. That would be foolish to believe that at this point now. She did, at one point, believe she loved him. She felt that he loved her. She did not believe he was going to leave his wife, but she was caught up in this -- what she called this dirty little secret fantasy.
BLITZER: The campaign, as you know -- the Weiner campaign is not commenting on your interview right now, but I guess, it's just causing a lot of stir out there. This woman, what is she going to do now? Did she say what she's going to do next in her life?
MORET: Well, she's planning to go back to school in the fall, which is actually next month for her. And she's frankly more worried about that than anything. She's gotten the support from her father. She lives with her dad, and she told him what happened. He said he loved her, he supported. Yes, it was a mistake, bad judgment, but, you know, she's 22.
And 22-year-olds do foolish things sometimes, and Anthony Weiner is not 22 and he has a wife and he has a child, and he's been through this before and should know better. And she feels that she came forward because he is a fraud in her view and she wanted the voters of New York to have the full story before they went to the polls.
BLITZER: She was 22 during that time of the six months as she says of this online and phone affair. She just turned 23 years old now. Is that right?
MORET: Yes. I have to tell you, Wolf, she was very emotional at times during the interview, especially when we showed her a clip of Anthony Weiner's wife. She began to cry, frankly, and she feels very guilty about the pain that she feels responsible for causing in their marriage. However, she doesn't take full responsibility. She says much of that falls on Anthony Weiner.
He always called her. She did not have his number. He would call from a block number. He called her repeatedly. He reached out to her repeatedly. She was a willing participant, but she also feels that he is culpable and responsible for his actions.
BLITZER: Jim Moret is the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition." Jim, thanks very much for joining us.
MORET: Glad to be here, Wolf. Thanks.
BLITZER: The Democratic House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, is blasting Anthony Weiner, another former House Democrat under fire for alleged sexual transgressions, Bob Filner. When asked about the scandal earlier today, listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Let me just say before I leave that, let me be very clear, the conduct of some of these people that we're talking about here is reprehensible. It's so disrespectful of women. And what's really stunning about it is they don't even realize it. They don't have a clue. And it is really -- if they're clueless, get a clue. If they need therapy, do it in private.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi was the speaker of the House back in 2011 when the Weiner sexting scandal first surfaced, forcing him to resign from Congress.
Coming up, word of a possible plea deal in a horrifying crime. Will the man accused of holding three women captive for a decade avoid a trial and possibly the death penalty?
Plus, gripping new video of a deadly train disaster and important new clues about what may have caused it.
BLITZER: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in the situation room right now. What's going on, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a scary scene at an airport just north of Miami today. Miami Dade fire and rescue responded to a call today about a 55-gallon drum containing depleted uranium. It was located in a junk yard where they dismantle planes at (INAUDIBLE) airport. A fire and rescue official says it is not a spill. The uranium is contained. And no injuries were reported.
A source tells CNN a plea deal is closed for Ariel Castro, accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for a decade. Castro was set to go on trial August 5th on almost 1,000 charges if a plea deal is not reached. A court source says negotiations are close but nothing is final.
And actor, Brian Cranston, hasn't exactly struggled to find work in recent years from "Malcolm in the Middle" to "Argo" to his Emmy award-winning role at AMC's "Breaking Bad." But he told CNN there's another job he'd like to try and also gave a shout out quite literally to a familiar scene and anchor. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN CRANSTON, SITE OF "BREAKING BAD": This is CNN. I want to get the voiceover gig for that. This is CNN. You know, I could kill people if they didn't give it to me. I wouldn't kill them. Wolf Blitzer!
(END VIDEO CLIP) SNOW: And there you go. Cnn caught up with Cranston at the premier of "Breaking Bad's" final season which returns on August 11th. And Wolf, maybe he should come to the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Yes, he's welcome. More than welcome. Come on over. We'd be excited to be here in the SITUATION ROOM. It's a lovely room. All right. Thanks very much, Mary.
President Obama blasting what he calls phony scandals. Does that include the one over the IRS targeting of political groups.
Plus, new details on that horrific railway tragedy in Spain. Americans are among the casualties.
BLITZER: Happening now, a juror breaks her silence and drops a bombshell saying George Zimmerman, quote, "got away with murder."
Dramatic new video and chilling new details on one of the deadliest train accidents in years.
And CNN goes inside North Korea with two American veterans on an extraordinary mission.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama blasting what he calls phony scandals. Does that include the IRS scandal over the targeting of political groups?
Let's bring our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's been reporting on the IRS controversy for months.
There's the suggestion is this is a phony controversy, Dana. What's going on?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, look, there is legitimate controversy about unfair delays in Tea Party IRS applications but so far sources from both parties investigating tell me they have not yet traced it to Obama officials.
Now there was some buzz recently about a conservative columnist writing about a new bombshell in the IRS story and that there was a connection to an Obama political appointee. What she was referring to was testimony that the office of the IRS chief counsel was involved in scrutinizing Tea Party applications. She called that a bombshell because the chief counsel is one of only two Obama political appointees at the IRS.
But -- Wolf, this is a really big but. There is no evidence the actual IRS chief counsel, a man by the name of William Wilkins, knew anything about the Tea Party targeting. There are 1600 employees in the Office of the Chief Counsel. A few of the career lawyers in the office were brought in to deal with the Tea Party applications but so far no evidence Wilkins himself was, and again, that comes from Democratic and Republican sources. One GOP source summed it up this way. He said, what we learned is meaningful but it's not a bombshell.
BLITZER: Dana, Republicans, though, they are already using this issue in their campaigns for next year's midterm elections.
BASH: They sure are. It is too juicy for Republican to pass up. It's already woven into the broader on President Obama and the Democratic Senate. We're going to watch two campaign videos from the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Senate candidate Liz Cheney, accusing the president of using the IRS for political advantage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: He's used the IRS to launch a war on our freedom of speech.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president believe? Does the president believe that would be illegal? The law here, well, the law is irrelevant.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to punish our enemies and we're going to reward our friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Look, that's misleading. There's no evidence that there is, again, any motivation in the case of the president to deal with the IRS and Tea Party applications.
Now in the case of Mitch McConnell, he did warn early on -- many people wouldn't listen to him -- that Tea Party applicants were getting inappropriate questions, unfair delays. And clearly he's trying to capitalize it in his own reelection campaign, never mind the real specifics of this.
And, you know, Wolf, you could argue that the White House may have been guilty of jumping to conclusions. But who is responsible? They tried to brush it off at first by arguing that it was just limited to IRS employees in the Cincinnati office. It's now abundantly clear that's not true. Washington headquarters was engaged. But this is really the important point. So far these are Washington bureaucrats, not Obama political operatives.
BLITZER: Good explanation. Dana, thanks very much.
Let's get a little bit more right now with our chief political correspondent, the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION", Candy Crowley, and Zeke Miller, political reporter for our corporate cousin, "TIME" magazine.
Let me play the clip. This is the president of the United States speaking out on those so-called phony scandals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Free checkups and cheaper medicine on Medicare. So they don't think that's a problem.
The point is with an endless distraction of political posturing and phony scandals and lord knows what, Washington keeps taking its eye off the ball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So he's trying to deflect right now. That's why he's launched these series of speeches today, earlier in the week. He's going to be doing a whole bunch more. Can he succeed in getting away from these -- what he calls these phony scandals?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on what is he's talking about? I mean, and what is he talking about? We're talking about the IRS, they are legitimate questions. Is he talking about Benghazi? Legitimate questions. Is he talking about following reporters who have sources and trying to find out? Legitimate questions.
But this is a good way to say, don't pay any attention to all of these. These things that really have hurt him and eaten into his poll numbers. And so we're seeing the president under 50 percent, I can't remember, 47, around there the last time we saw him. And he needs to get back out there and build them up because he's got great old big fights coming up in September about the budget.
BLITZER: Because his suggestion that the oppression is, you know what, let's not worry about all these silly side issues, if you will, we've got major economic issues affecting the middle class, poor Americans, we've got to focus in like a laser beam on the economy.
ZEKE MILLER, TIME POLITICAL REPORTER: Exactly. I mean, that's what he -- the message he's trying to convey to the American people, while members of Congress, certainly while they've been pushing the economic message -- you know, for years now, they've also run into trouble, you know, they've been trying to use these scandals as a way to hurt the president, undermine his credibility, trying to drive those poll numbers down to weaken him before the fight in September.
So as the president wants to stop talking about them, House Republicans certainly want to keep talking about them, and that's going to be a -- sort of a problem for him going forward.
BLITZER: Can he succeed? You know, you and I, Candy, we've seen presidents try to move away from a specific scandal or whatever it's called, an uproar at one point, trying to focus in on other issues.
What do you think? What are the prospects of him over the next few weeks and months getting on his agenda, as opposed to the Republicans, the critics' agenda?
CROWLEY: They have to turn to the economy come September 30 because that's when the fiscal year expires and they're supposed to have new bills, which they haven't had for years, but new bills that will fund the departments, et cetera. But I think you've -- you know, that the short run of what the president is trying to do. I mean, right now he's trying to kind of set that table for himself. So -- when those arguments come up. The longer range thing is this is about the midterms. This is about next year.
This is about saying, I could do so much except for I've got this House that's filled with Republicans and what I really need is a Democratic House because then I could move forward. So there's the short-term thing, September 30th, there's the long-term thing, November 2014.
BLITZER: He's got major issues right now he's got to deal with. What do you think of that strategy?
MILLER: I mean, it is -- I think it's even bigger than the midterms. It is -- the entire second term, we've seen the president try to set himself right for the legacy, 20 years, 30 years down the line from the climate change in the --
CROWLEY: Right. But he can't do that legacy without a Democratic House so it all kind of --
MILLER: Well, at least he's on the right side of the issue and I think that's a lot of what we're seeing here is the attempt to sort of say all of the right things, even if he know he can't do them. And so that when people look back, when they write the histories in 30 years that they're going to be putting him on the right side and try to rank him pretty high up on the list of best presidents. So I think that's what he's shooting for right now.
BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much.
BLITZER: Just ahead, is getting there quickly worth the risk? We're taking a closer look at the safety record of high-speed railroads.
Plus why the North Koreans are celebrating. We'll speak with a CNN correspondent who is allowed to make a rare visit to that closed country.
BLITZER: Turning now to Spain and horrifying new video of that train tearing around a curve seconds before flipping over and smashing into a wall of concrete. At least 80 people were killed, more than 175 others injured, including at least five Americans. The State Department says one U.S. citizen is also among the dead. A full-scale investigation into the terrifying crash is now under way, but there are also growing suggestions speed, speed may have been a factor.
Our Brian Todd has details.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a railway spokesman in Spain says that train is capable of going about 150 miles per hour. Experts say some high-speed trains can get up to about 250.
We're looking at the dangers of high-speed rail and whether it's worth the risks.
TODD (voice-over): In an instant, a gasp-inducing moment of destruction. Spanish media quotes sources within the investigation as saying the driver reported going more than twice the speed limit around that curve. The deadly accident in Spain now raising serious questions about the safety of high-speed passenger trains.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: You really have to monitor your track.
TODD: When he was managing director of the NTSB, Peter Goelz investigated more than half a dozen serious train accidents. None of them were high-speed. There's no high-speed rail travel in the U.S. but Goelz knows what can go wrong on those tracks.
(On camera): Not much margin for error coming around a curve like this at high speed, right?
GOELZ: No, you've got to follow the posted speed when you're coming around. And in fact, if you don't, you're putting the whole train in jeopardy.
TODD (voice-over): But factors other than excessive speed can cause accidents.
GOELZ: High heat can distort rail and it cause what they call heat kinks. And particularly in a welded track, it can separate, just slightly.
TODD: A slight separation of track, all that's needed to cause a deadly action, though Goelz says that's rare.
Goelz and other experts say high-speed rail travel is very safe. They say one reason it still hasn't made its way to the U.S., the infrastructure just doesn't fit in the areas where it would be most needed like the stretch between Boston and Washington. There are too many structures too close to where the tracks would go. Experts say for high-speed rail, buildings have to be dozens of yards from the tracks.
(On camera): Another reason, junctions like this what experts call at grade crossing where roads go right over the tracks. There are hundreds of thousands of places like this in the U.S. And safety experts say you can't have them on high-speed lines.
(Voice-over): In the U.S. alone, a person or a car is hit by a train about every three hours.
GOELZ: The force is enormous. And if you multiply that speed to 150 miles an hour, you'll have a real disaster.
TODD: Is high-speed rail worth these risks? Safety expert Richard Beall, a former train engineer, says absolutely.
RICHARD BEALL, FORMER TRAIN ENGINEER: If you want to get point A and point B, and you've got a high-speed train, I'm going to be on it every single time, even above airplanes because it's -- the time you go to the airport, park and do all the things you got to do, and I can hop on the train and be there in no time at all.
TODD (on camera): In the U.S. the debate over high-speed rail isn't just about safety but over policy. The Obama administration is pushing a network of high-speed rail lines. But so far states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have rejected the idea partly because of the cost. In California, though, there is plan to put high-speed rail lines in place between L.A. and San Francisco with trains that could go over 200 miles an hour -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
We're going to have more on this story coming up in our next hour as well. Also coming up, bombshell remarks from the only minority on the George Zimmerman jury. Why she says he got away with murder.
And CNN right now inside North Korea with two American veterans on a quest for a comrade's remains.
BLITZER: Still no sign of Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker remains holed up inside the Moscow airport where he's been for a month. He's waiting for paper work that will allow him to enter Russia while the country weighs his request for asylum.
The former President Jimmy Carter sparked an uproar when he was quoted as calling Snowden's leaks beneficial. He told CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, that's wrong. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: May I ask you about Edward Snowden?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
AMANPOUR: You've been quoted by a German magazine.
CARTER: Which was incorrectly. But go ahead.
AMANPOUR: Was it incorrect?
AMANPOUR: I just want to know for the record. Because they quoted you as basically saying that what he did was beneficial to the situation by revealing the extent of the NSA under surveillance.
CARTER: Well, that's almost right. What I said was that Snowden has violated the law. He had to be punished if he gets under the domination of the United States and he knows that. But that the revelation of what has been done, not the details of it, but the fact that we will listen to and with that telephone calls and cell phones and everything else, well, Snowden has now precipitated a debate, even among members of Congress who didn't know about it ahead of time before him.
So it opens up the question of how much intricacies should be given to the government to extract from our communications. They were not really known about by the American public. So I think that part of it has been good. But what Snowden did is obviously a serious violation of the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Snowden has been -- Snowden has been charged with three felonies for revealing details of government surveillance programs.
More than half a century ago, he took extraordinary action to try to save a comrade. Now an aging American veteran has returned to North Korea on equally extraordinary missions.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is in North Korea and explains.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last time Captain Thomas Hudner was in North Korea, he was fighting. Sixty-three years later, he's on a mission of peace.
An invited guest to watch North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un inaugurate the Korean war cemetery in Pyongyang. The final resting place of those he and fellow American veterans fought against.
THOMAS HUDNER, KOREAN WAR VETERAN: It's really an opportunity I never thought that I'd have. Very impressive and to see the turnout on the part of the civilian population is quite inspiring. It is wonderful -- it's a wonderful experience for them, too. And I'm glad that we had an opportunity to be a part of it.
HANCOCKS: Hudner and a second Korean war veteran, Dick Bonelli, are here to search for the remains of a fallen comrade, Jesse Brown. But the region where his plane crashed is flooded and access is impossible.
Representatives of the North Korean military met the veterans this week and promised to help in the search. Inviting them back in September. The military asked Hudner to tell the U.S. government they want the joint recovery work to resume.
Around 8,000 Americans are still missing in action in North Korea from the 1950 to 1953 war. Official U.S. efforts to find them were stalled in 2005 when relation soured.
Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 4th, 1950. He crashed his plane near Brown's to try to save him, but Brown was trapped in his cockpit and died.
With the search on hold due to the weather, Hudner and Bonelli have effectively been tourists in and around Pyongyang this week. The first day they were taken to the Palace of the Sun to pay their respects to the embalmed bodies of the two former leaders, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, which we were not allowed to film.
(On camera): Captain Hudner did not come to North Korea just so that he could attend these kind of ceremonies and also so he could be taken around the country as a tourist, but he does believe that even though he was not able to get to the northeast in part of the country and search for the remains of his fallen comrade, Jesse Brown, it is not a wasted trip.
Captain Hudner truly believe that this could help improve relations between the United States and the DPRK.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.
BLITZER: And our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is also in North Korea right now. He's joining us live on the phone from Pyongyang.
What's it like, Ivan? What are they letting you do? What are you seeing?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, we've only been on the ground really for a little bit more than 24 hours, Wolf. And we're -- our movements are strictly controlled. We're basically bussed with a group of journalists to different points in the city. We've been able to see the inauguration of a new veteran's cemetery that was attended by Kim Jong-Un, the young leader of North Korea. He cut the ribbon there. He didn't really address the elderly veterans of the Korean War that gathered there, but to tour the site and we saw some very emotional scenes as North Koreans visited the graves of their loved ones, former veterans passed away, I think by natural causes.
And this is just the beginning of what are going to be days of celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, which Koreans really view as a victory over the U.S., though I think many historians would question that judgment.
BLITZER: It's unusual to have one correspondent from CNN inside North Korea. We have two inside North Korea, Paula Hancocks and Ivan Watson. Ivan, we're going to check back with you tomorrow. I know you're going to be doing a full day of reporting.
Ivan Watson in Pyongyang for us right now.
When we come back, a shocking development in the George Zimmerman trial, as a juror now -- another one breaks her silence. And new information about what caused the nose gear on that Southwest Airlines jetliner to collapse. That's coming in as well.
BLITZER: Let's bring back CNN's Mary Snow.
Because, Mary, I have something I'd like to discuss with you and also with our viewers, something obviously of interest to me. The retirement of Jason Sudeikis from "Saturday Night Live." He announced it last night. He's leaving the cast.
His best character, of course, is me, his rendition of me in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's see how "SNL," though -- he wasn't the first. He was one of several "SNL" stars who have spoofed me over the years. And let's look at a little history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. Tonight on THE SITUATION ROOM, the president's poll numbers hit an all-time low and the fallout has begun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moving back full screen. I'm a newsman. No. No. Stop it. No more on-screen news for all the crawl is a privilege, not a ride.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer and my face is being haunted by the ghost of an old beard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So it's all pretty funny, Chris Parnell, Darrell Hammond, and Jason Sudeikis, others, by the way, over the years, over many years, they've been playing me. So here's the question, and I tweeted about it earlier, with Jason Sudeikis gone, who would you recommend, Mary -- I've got an idea -- to be the best candidate to play me on the -- on "Saturday Night Live?"
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, I would suggest perhaps George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, maybe those two guys might be able to --
BLITZER: Good. They're pretty good.
SNOW: That would be good. Well, you know, we do have a volunteer already.
BLITZER: I would love -- SNOW: There is a high-profile volunteer to do this. Austan Goolsbee. The economist. Former chairman --
BLITZER: I saw -- he tweeted. He was volunteering. You know who could play Wolf Blitzer excellently on "SNL"?
SNOW: Who's that?
SNOW: There you go. That would be perfect.
BLITZER: I have been training for that role my whole life. I think I could do it.
All right. Thanks very much, Mary. We'll continue this conversation down the road.
And happening now, one of the jurors who set George Zimmerman free says he got away with murder. Stand by for more of the bombshell remarks from the only minority juror.
Plus a woman who exchanged lewd message with Anthony Weiner speaking out. She says she feels manipulated by the New York mayoral candidate.