tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN May 18, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EDT
>> dead of cancer at the age of 63. but was 9/11 to blame? plus the queen of soul aretha franklin pays her own tribute. also the political ad that's so dirty. they pulled the plug and mitt romney said this. >> i repudiate that effort. i think it's the wrong course for a pac or a campaign. >> why obama versus romney is bound to get ugly. also the man who says it's an evil genius campaign. and only in america. saying good-bye to donna summer. this is "piers morgan tonight." we start with breaking news in the trayvon martin case. evidence directly connected to the shooting. never before seen is being released. photographs and video and documents and tapes. what do they reveal and mean for the murder charge against george
zimmerman? joining me is benjamin crump, attorney for the trayvon family. dramatic developments tonight with the release of a lot of evidence. i want to go through some of this with you in order if i may. first of all, the revelation that there were traces of thc, a by-product of marijuana, inside of trayvon martin's body. what do you make of that? is it significant? is it relevant? >> there's no significance that there was trace amounts of marijuana in trayvon martin's system. piers, what's really relevant is the fact there was no toxicology report done on george zimmerman and we don't know what else was in his system with the prescribed medicines he was on to have him get out of his car, and profile, pursue, and confront trayvon martin and kill trayvon martin in cold blood,
even though he was unarmed. so the trace amounts of marijuana is irrelevant. >> the second point is this photograph. quite fascinating. it seems to have been taken in the back of the car after george zimmerman is taken to the police station from the scene of the incident. it's a very grainy photograph, but it quite clearly appears to show that george zimmerman's nose looks like it's been broken. what do you think of that, particularly video from the station doesn't seem to show that? should we be taking this at face value? >> well, again, you have to put it in context, piers. george zimmerman pursued and confronted trayvon martin after he profiled him and initiated an altercation. we believe trayvon martin went to his grave not knowing who this strange man was that was confronting him. and trayvon martin was fighting
for his life. he was fighting a man with a .9 millimeter gun and he was in a fight for his life. tragically, he lost the fight. and he tried to defend himself. it was self-defense for trayvon martin. if george zimmerman suffered a superficial injury, trayvon martin suffered a fatal injury. george zimmerman did not have to go to the hospital that night for his injuries. trayvon martin certainly was taken away in an ambulance. george zimmerman did not leave in an ambulance. >> it appears that there was a small abrasion on one of trayvon's fingers, i think his left hand a quarter of an inch. not a massive mark by any means, but again, consistent with some kind of scuffle. on behalf of the family, are you basically accepting now from everything you have seen and the stuff that has come out today, there clearly was a physical fight between them? >> well, piers, the family has
always said if there was an altercation that it was started by george zimmerman. we have heard objective evidence. we have heard the 911 tape that he said "these a-holes always get away." we heard him breathing hard. so anything that happened, it was started by george zimmerman. and if george zimmerman would have just done what neighborhood watch supposed to do, none of this would have happened. he was neighborhood watch, not a neighborhood cop. if he would have just stood down. >> you bring me to possibly one of the more significant parts of the evidence that emerged today, which hasn't been seen before, which is that police believe the encounter between george zimmerman and trayvon martin was "ultimately avoidable if zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival
of law enforcement." clearly, they are saying, if he stayed in the car, as we suggested to him, then none of this would have happened. how significant is that in relation to any defense george zimmerman might have on stand your ground? >> if george zimmerman stays in that car, if he does what every neighborhood watchman yule tells and instructs and instructs him to do, none of this happens. as i have said many times before. if george zimmerman would have stood down, there would be no reason for him to stand his ground. and that's the case. it's real simple. this is completely avoidable. if he was in fear, he could have just drove away. but he profiled trayvon martin. he pursued him. he confronted him. and he shot and killed trayvon martin. trayvon martin, and we have
heard these tapes now, he's crying, screaming, saying help, no. and yet we still hear that riveting gunshot. we have to keep it in full context. this unarmed teenager was simply walking home and had george zimmerman not got out of his car, they never would have met. >> benjamin crump, thank you for your time. >> thank you, piers. >> i want to get reaction from george zimmerman's attorney mark o'mara. i know you can't talk about for legal reasons about specification, but on a general level, what's your reaction to all this coming out now? >> well, we knew it was coming. it's several pieces of the puzzle that we now have to put together. i would only ask until everyone wait until we have all the pieces to put it all together. >> do you accept as one undeniable fact that if george zimmerman had stayed in his car
then none of this would have happened? >> yes, as simply if trayvon martin hadn't been in the complex, none of this could have happened. but you're going back to circumstances that we look at now, and i don't think it's reality though. >> george zimmerman's ability through you to defend himself under florida's stand your ground law rests entirely on proving, i guess, that he was attacked by trayvon martin. is that really where we are with this case? >> i think that a lot of people believe that. i think the analysis of the law is a little bit different than that. but that's what's going to be so fact intensive from what the evidence shows us. >> am i right in thinking there's still a chance, perhaps even quite a good chance, that this may never come to a full trial? >> well, the only way that would happen is if there's some resolution beforehand, and that could include pretrial motions that might end in dismissal of the charges.
but it's too early to decide what motions or the possibility of success to be. >> that would come down to you having some kind of motion with the judge based on the stand your ground hearing, if you like. >> and that's been talked about since day one. it's certainly a possibility the more facts we see, the more it's a possibility. i hate to hazard a guess until i see all the evidence. >> obviously, this evidence that's been put out there today, all it does is put it back into the headlines again. were you enjoying the fact that the story, if you like from a media perspective, had calmed down so that the legal process could work its way? and is this unhelpful in that sense because for your client, all it does is put it right back at the top of the news agenda again. >> since day one, i had this montra of we need to calm things down and let the process work. this needs to be decided in a
courtroom. certainly, the media has their right and their purpose in all of this, but when it comes out peace meal, we try to offer significance to that and we can't do that because we have to look at the whole picture. so whether it's an autopsy report or a medical record or some video or even a picture, it's what becomes the peoples' focus, but it's only one small sliver and they make the decision on the sliver and that prejudging the facts carries through to the next fact. it's just not appropriate. >> mark o'mara, thank you for joining me again. >> sure thing. >> i want to bring in cnn's legal analyst mark nejame. i have spoken to both the lawyers here. one wasn't able to talk much about the detail. one hadn't seen much, although he expressed an opinion. you have now seen a lot of the stuff that's come out. what's your overview of its significance? >> well, there's a lot to die
digest in a short period of time. there's significant levels of marijuana in trayvon martin's system. what does this mean? we have to figure it out and extrapolate the marijuana level. thc can be in your system for up to 30 days. it could suggest there was a lot being ingested. we don't know if it was current use or past use. normally it wouldn't concern me, but it does relate back to the 911 call where it says that it looks like someone was on drugs. we don't know any of that. >> the report, just to jump in, the report doesn't say significant. it says traces. >> it has .75 nanograms per millimeter on one portion, and 1.5 on another. the 1.5 doesn't bother me greatly. in some states, it's borderline whether you can drive or not.
i'm not saying it was five times. we haven't got a toxicology report. we just have the medical examiner's report. the broken nose is significant. from the start, i have been saying it appeared from the information coming in that we had mutual combat going. we need more to extrapolate. i don't know if the marijuana is relevant or not relevant, but i do know that the fact that there's been cuts and that there was from the report that came out earlier as it relates to zimmerman with the broken nose, it shows that a fight was going on. >> it raises as many questions as it answers in many ways. mark nejame, thank you as always. when we come back. the queen of soul on the death of her good friend, donna summer. [ male announcer ] they were born to climb...
that donna summer had had cancer or was fighting this battle. was it a shock to you? >> i never heard that in all of this time. i never had an idea she was sick. >> i went to a dinner party last summer. and donna was there, barbara streisand was there. it was a delightful evening. i sat next to her. i would never have known that she was remotely unwell or anything. so you do wonder how quickly this took a grip of her. >> my god, you just don't know. and many times you really don't know what's happening with people. so it's always a good thing to just maintain the positive and try to treat people the way you would like to be treated because you never really know what's happening with people sometimes. >> what was she like, donna
summer, from your experience? >> i thought she was a very gracious and a very nice person. always beautifully gowned and well spoken. and i liked her. >> i found her very engaging. i also -- she sang at the end of the evening. she sang "amazing grace." it just reminded me what an incredible voice she had. wonderfully powerful, a really moving moment to experience at close hand. how does she rank as a singer? >> a very good singer. we won't forget all those many hits she put out there. you know, "bad girl" and "last dance" and all the hits, we won't forget those. >> you were the queen of soul, but she was the queen of disco. really incredibly important to that it era, the disco era.
>> absolutely. she and her producer really put those hits out there. they had a lot of repetitions per minute. that was the disco cliche of the day. but truly, that will be her legacy. she was the disco queen. >> did you have a favorite song by donna? >> i liked a lot of them. as i said, "last dance." "hard for the money", i really liked that. my granddaughter loved that too. >> what do you think donna would have liked her legacy to be. you're a fellow great singing artist. from a singing point of view, what do you think she'd want her legacy to be? >> exactly what it was, a reigning queen of disco. >> it's a sad day isn't it? >> it is a sad day. my god, i just couldn't quite believe that.
i saw that flash across the screen on the ticker on the bottom of one of the news shows here in detroit. so sorry i have to call on this occasion, but my heart goes out to her family and to her friends and fans. it's really a sad day. >> yeah. i think i totally go along with that. it's been a real shock to people. as i said at the start, many people had no idea she was even sick. it was never made public. i think somebody who always looked very well and healthy, and having reached this stage so quickly, it's very sad. >> i found her to be a very gracious and kind person. >> i did too. aretha, thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you. >> donna summer's publicist said she died from cancer, and
possibly from dust particles from the 9/11 attacks. joining us is dr. sanjay gupta. it's a fascinating twist to this very sad occasion. she believed and told friends that she first contracted lung cancer from particles related to the 9/11 attack. what do you make of this? >> reporter: well, she's not the only one. this has been a subject of intense study. as you probably know, people have been looking at this just this last year, which was the ten-year mark after 9/11. there were several scientific studies that came out. the most significant involved the fire department of new york. we spent a year with these guys investigating. what they concluded, and it's a long study, but simplifying what they concluded is there was a 19% increase in all types of cancers among firefighters who had been exposed to toxic dust at ground zero.
they did not specifically parse out lung cancer, but all different types of cancers overall, there was an increase at least in that study. >> it is fascinating. how long would these particles, these toxins, be in the atmosphere for somebody like donna summer, who presumably wasn't a first responder, i don't even think she was in the city on the day. she'd had a premonition and told that story in public about leaving for the hamptons and came back afterwards. so how long would the risk of exposure exist to somebody from this kind of inhalation? >> reporter: there's a really good question. a couple things that play here. first of all, if you analyze what happened on 9/11, it was a very different situation than other attacks or other sort of toxic exposures because it was a plume of dust, which was a very unusual amount of chemicals.
that went high into the atmosphere for some time and dissipated slowly over time. that's relevant because it wasn't just a day or so of potential concern as far as exposure. it could have been a longer period of time and more widely dispersed. but the second point, i think, you're making an important one is that if you had an exposure and that lead to cancer, how long would it be between the exposure and the cancer developing? that's called a latency period in medicine. and with lung cancer in particular, they say it's usually more like 20 years. not a couple three years, not even ten years, but 20 years. which makes the likelihood of someone who developed lung cancer, you know, immediately in the aftermath of 9/11 having anything to do with breathing in that dust. >> we'll never know will we? >> we're unlikely to know in her case. if you looked at the data
overall, i think most people would say it's unlikely that 9/11 had anything to do with donna summer's lung cancer. within a ten-year period, it would still likely be too soon based on what we know. but let me tell you something. the various chemicals that came together on that day, mercury, bromine, hydrocarbons, all of it super heated by the fire, the jet fuel. the researchers told me when we were doing this investigation that that was an unprecedented thing. no sort of collection of chemicals burned at that super temperature had ever been seen before in the world and not been studied before as was done. so i bring that up only to say that we may never truly know. but it's also hard to relate this to anything else that's happened. in medicine, you want to say it doesn't follow patterns that we know. so it was a truly unique
circumstance. >> i think to be fair to donna summer, and the fears that she had, quite clearly in the case of first responders, there's clear evidence that would suggest it's possible this could have happened to people outside of first responders. but it may remain a mystery. certainly an intriguing part of this sad story. thank you, sanjay. coming up why a billionaire pulled the plug on an attack ad on president obama. [ thunk ] sweet! [ male announcer ] the solid thunk of the door on the jetta. thanks, mister! [ meow ] [ male announcer ] another example of volkswagen quality.
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is it an inevitable sign of things to come in the campaign? joining us is deval patrick. it's a pretty nasty stuff, this is. what is your view of how this has come out, front page of "the new york times" saying it was ever going to be made into ads, the backtracking and mitt romney's reaction. what do you make of it all? >> it's gotten an awful lot of attention. it's sad, but frankly not surprising. the republican party announced years before the campaign began that their priority was tearing down this president. and you compare that, and i think the american people will, with the president who for four years has been asking americans to turn to each other, not on
each other because we have big challenges in front of us. it's going to take all of us working together to solve them. >> but the interesting thing, i guess, is that in this publication, it's a multi-page document that's been prepared for the view to get obama out campaign. if you study the detail, what is expressed there is a regret that john mccain didn't press this button in 2008. and you get a feeling it's been sitting there waiting to be repressed. whether it now gets turned into ads or not, it's out there. the image is out there. the claims are out there. jeremiah wright is back in the headlines. people will be pouring over it, just as we are now. so in a way, that could have been one of the tactics all along. normally, he couldn't get them on air. >> it's possible. you know, we have seen other kind of moves by the hard right, who have been trying to campaign, and when they have had
an opportunity to govern by fear. but as i write in the book "faith in the dream", you mentioned at the top of the segment, really what's happening right now is not just a contest of politics. it's the notion that the american dream itself is up for grabs. and it's going to take all of us working together and coming together to save it. and the president is the only candidate in the race who believes it's worth fighting for. that it's about our coming together and reaffirming our commitment to the american dream. >> perhaps the most poisonous part of this document is that it would get a conservative-style radio host who would go out there and sell the proposition that barack obama was misleading the country by "pretending to be a metro sexual black abe lincoln." that's really offensive, isn't it? >> it's more than offensive. it's, i think, self-defeating.
one of the things that the hard right has brought on this country, i think, is to limit our can-do spirit, to make us feel that we can't reach beyond our grasp, which has been so characteristic of the american miracle for such a long, long time. this president is trying to reintroduce that in his policies and in the way he's governed. and time after time, he's asked these very same people to come in and be a part of the solution, and they have shown they would rather tear us down rather than lift us all up. that's what's on display right now. i think the american people are going to make the wise and right choice when they choose barack obama. >> deval patrick, thank you very much. turning now to kelly anne conway and hilary rosen. you are a republican. are you as disgusted by this as mitt romney seems to be? >> i haven't seen the particular ad, but some of the things you're talking about in the document --
>> this is a document in preparation for the mother of all ad campaigns designed to destroy barack obama using jeremiah wright. >> i would reject those tactics, but i will tell you back before people knew barack obama as president, when jeremiah wright hit the tv screen, not the sanctimony of the left, it hit a disturbing effect, particularly on america's women, who then in the democratic party were pretty much supporting hillary clinton. that forced the famous race speech, where he can say i can no more disavow than i could my own white grandmother. days later -- >> let's assume alls fair in love and war in politics. what jeremiah wright did for barack obama is a lot. i mean it's not underestimate it. a hugely-close relationship.
he ended up marrying barack and michelle obama. very close spiritual advisor for him. is he fair game? maybe not to do it in this way, this is frankly pretty poisonous, but is there a legitimate way of using his comments and outrageous stuff against barack obama despite the fact he's denounced him? >> it's unnecessary and we know why. in 2010 republicans, conservatives swept everything running against the presidency and nobody mentioned jeremiah wright. they ran on the economy and the bailouts and the failed obama care. so we know what the magic formula is. i will say that it's ironic to me that both campaigns are puffing out their chests and saying let's have a positive campaign on the issues. that would be terrific. but that's not what we have seen. >> hilary rosen, i can hear you snorting with derision.
so what are you so incensed about? >> i was laughing because kelly anne started trickling out the talking points but then shifted to the economy. but you know, the interesting thing, i think, is that look at advertising in this campaign. we really have seen all of the negative advertising coming from the romney camp. what we know is, and it's just fact because it's out there, the obama campaign actually has spent the majority of their media money over the last month in their positive 60-second ad talking about the president and his accomplishments. >> but hilary, let's get real here on two facts. one against both of you, really. one is that mitt romney may stand there saying this negativity is beneath me, but he ran one of the most negative campaigns against fellow republicans.
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republican strategist kelly anne conway and hilary rosen. let's be realistic. barack obama said, i'm totally against all super pacs. and of course, now east all in favor of them because he realizes he has to have them against mitt romney. so there's some hypocrisy there. >> i think there's no doubt about that. but it is worth noting going forward in this campaign that one candidate, barack obama, tried to introduce legislation to stop super pacs from going forward and the republicans have blocked that. that hopefully is a conversation that will take place around kitchen tables because the ads are going to make everybody
sick. >> you were with newt gingrich and you were on the receiving end and dished out a lot of negativity with mitt romney. you saw him with his halo on saying i really am i palled by the negativity. you must have chuckled. >> i feel relieved. it's why americans love the debates. they are the insiders. people love them because you didn't have to write a check to have access to the candidates. you can hear them on your tv. so i'm happy to hear that, but it's also unrealistic. i think what it does is punts over to the super pacs the nastiness. people wash their hands and say i can't control of my super pac. it's going to get to a point where candidates are going to say, i no longer have control of my message. our colleague of ours said
recently in a speech we gave that something like 60% of messages now are not given by the campaign. >> but i think this is why i hate super pacs. because you're basically buying your way into politics. secondly, and more fundamentally, is that you can use them to do all your dirty work and pretend you have nothing to do with this. i don't believe for a moment that nobody in the romney campaign didn't know they were doing this. so what you're seeing is dirty tricks being done through the super pacs. that's why i wish barack obama had shown a little bit more courage and said, i'm not going to go with these super pacs. but he didn't. instead he said i'm going to do it too. >> i think he just had no choice. he couldn't disarm when he saw what happened. >> you can.
>> when we saw what happened to mitt romney's opponents in the primary where he spent millions of dollars destroying them, and i just think when you've got a record, you've got to do what you can do breakthrough on it. >> let me throw you meg whitman in california. if people don't buy into your message, it doesn't always work. wouldn't it be more gutsy to say, you can spend billions blowing me out of the water, but i'll beat you on the record. >> i think it would have been part in parcel if people saw him above the fray, the nonpolitical politician. he's now complicit in that after embarrassing the supreme court in the state of the union address. then go ahead in joining into the fray. >> hilary, you want to jump in there? >> i think, you know, this is
not the president's choice. he has tried to pass campaign finance reform. he's had those ethical standards all along. the republicans stopped it when the democrats were in the senate, kelly. that's true. >> they had the majority. >> well, you know that's not true. >> super pacs are just a bad idea generally for the american political system? can we agree? >> we'll be certain by the end of this election season, super pacs have done nothing but bring the tenor and emotion and the inspiration of this campaign down into the basement. >> i agree. kelly, do you agree? >> the supreme court said 36 years ago that political money is speech. money in politics is speech. and what's happened is you have such limits on what people can give. many think you should be able to give more. so everybody knows that barack obama goes to george clooney's house. i think it's a bad idea for
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a segment we call "keeping america great." is this even possible in this campaign environment? joining me is kurt andersen. welcome, kurt. >> hi. >> is it possible to have a great america when you have this kind of vile politics going on? >> it's tough. we have had a history of vile politicking, but it's got to an extreme. and the thing about this reverend wright ad that was proposed and according to the document we read, preliminary approved by whomever it was
addressed to is not just by a third-party vender. fred davis, who runs the firm that proposed this ad, was mccain's media advisor. these are the grown ups. >> that's what i was saying earlier. to me it's unfeasible that nobody in romney's camp, somebody in his campaign knew about this. the sinister aspect is, was it part of their intention to have it leaked to the front page of "the new york times" and you get all the publicity without spending any money? >> my suspicion is not. i don't go the next layer -- >> really? nothing about the behavioral patterns about the politicians in washington made you feel cynical? >> i feel entirely cynical but i think it's too stupid. i think this doesn't do them any good. if you're mitt romney's campaign, make the people who are uncomfortable with the black president feel uncomfortable
without ever mentioning black people. >> but mitt romney can stand as he did today and say i knew nothing about this. i'm appalled as you are. meanwhile, jeremiah wright is now all over the news agenda again. and you can bet your life that they will be repeating now all over cable stations in america, they'll be playing his incendiary comments. >> chickens coming home to roost. >> all that stuff. so he's back in the forefront of people's minds in relation to the president. >> you might be right. my belief is that what this does is not help romney with the independents, that small group of people truly in the middle who can go either way. this looks cynical and wretched and unappealing. >> yes. however, it may help him with lots of other peoples and galvanizing people who have a race element to their thinking. >> if you're an african-american, 90% of whom voted for president obama in the last election, you're looking at the republicans thinking this they're trying to make this race issue part of the issue again.
>> is there any part of wright that's relevant to this campaign? is it unsellable for a republican like mitt romney or his campaign to use anything that jeremiah wright stood for against the president? >> nothing is unacceptable. i just think it won't work and people judged in 2008 that it was a minor, perhaps briefly disturbing, then put to rest by barack obama himself issue. so it's not -- it's ugly and it's stupid and perhaps beyond the pale by certain judgments but they can try whatever they want. >> this is an unpleasant undertone, the abe lincoln reference -- >> the metrosexual reference? >> yeah. when you watched the republican nominee race, that was pretty vile.
they were lobbing bombs at each over and then they kiss and make up and they're friends again. is the public not used to this? >> i don't think it's been as much like this and i think this corrosive cynicism that's afoot in the land as regards to national politics is made worse by this. i recommend that people go read this document closely. for instance, one of the things they propose is changing the name of the super pac to character matters. >> yeah. >> i mean, you can't -- aaron sorkin couldn't make that up. >> i totally agree. where does this leave us now as the race really starts to heat up quite literally with this, where does it lead us with relation to the whole super pac issue there's a double hypocrisy, mitt romney said he doesn't know what's going on under his name and barack obama said he's not going to get involved in the super pacs and then he plunges merrily in.
i think it's bad for him, bad for his credibility in the same way when he said he'd shut guantanamo bay and didn't. how damaging is the fact that barack obama is now going to do this deploy super pacs albeit as surreptitiously as romney when he said he wouldn't? >> it gives those people to withdraw and be disgusted more reason to do that. i think what it leads us to, ought to lead us to is talking about a constitutional amendment. as your last guest said, the supreme court has said money is speech. it's true. and the only way to get around that is to pass a constitutional amendment about money in politics. >> what happened to meg whitman in california, money can't buy you the world series, necessarily -- >> it buys you a good mayor in new york. >> right. yeah. i mean, there are arguments like that. but it doesn't -- if you're
fundamentally not the right candidate, people see through you. >> but in this 50/50 presidential election a lot of money might buy you the election either way. >> nice to meet you. come back. coming up, "only in america" saying good-bye to the great donna summer. ♪ ♪ last dance, last chance last season was the gulf's best tourism season in years.
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well, tonight for "only in america" remembering donna summer. she was quite simply as the queen of disco. the young woman who boston with an amazingly powerful voice, but more than the power to make people dance and dance we all did to donna summer's incredible song list from the '70s, '80s. "hot stuff," "she works hard for the money." she straddled generations whether you listened to her on the 8-track on an ipod today, one thing was the constant. donna summer made you get up on your feet and party. i'd like to leave you tonight
with my own favorite of so many great songs. "last dance." ♪ ♪ we have breaking news in the trayvon martin case. we have more information, brand new pieces in the puzzle of what happened on february 26, the day george zimmerman killed 17-year-old trayvon martin. now, the state of florida has released a mountain of evidence in the case, witness statement, me