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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Zimmerman Trial and Immigration Reform


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CROWLEY: That is now a famous sound bite from President Obama about a month after the death of Trayvon Martin. We want to bring in Congressman Chaka Fattah. He's a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressman Raul Grijalva. He's a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Both of you have been in meetings with the president this week not about this particular item and we'll get to that later.

But first, I want to talk to you about your reaction to the verdict and the reaction afterwards which generally seems to be that the justice system is still unfair to minorities. Your take congressman?

FATTAH: I think there was the same kind of response when Casey Anthony jury came back. You know, people have different opinions about this. But I think most people

CROWLEY: But there's no race element to it.

FATTAH: Well, if you take race out of this, would you have as a young person who died going to buy candy was innocent, was not involved in any criminal activity and a person who officials had asked not to follow him took a gun and killed him. And now, that person will get his gun back. George Zimmerman will get that gun back.

He will be out, and I think the notion that the jury is saying to him that if he did the same thing again today, or tomorrow, or next week, or someone else did it that there would be no punishment is not a great signal to send.

CROWLEY: So, you think the signal is that this was an injustice. You think there should have been a guilty verdict? Is that what you're saying to me?

FATTAH: I think that there's an innocent boy dead. A person was asked not to follow him and he took a gun and killed him. And yes, I think that there should be been a punishment for that and more over, the fact this this gentleman will have his gun back or others like him could go out and do the same thing tomorrow with a belief that our criminal justice system has now said that that's perfectly fine.

That that set of facts are fine. That if someone tells you not to follow a kid, that you follow him, that you get out of your car and you shoot him and you kill him, that that's OK.

CROWLEY: But the following was not a crime, obviously and the killing, at least according to the jury was not. But Congressman Grijalva, help us here. Do you think that the U.S. justice system continues to be a racial divide that Whites get a far better deal in the justice system than African-Americans?

GRIJALVA: Yes. I think you just have to look at incarceration rates, who's in jail and who's not. You have to look at the fact that poor people, and unfortunate, predominantly of color have the least effective defense in their cases. And you have to look at this particular case, I think, it's right to ask the justice department to fully, fully pursue civil rights violation because, you know, we all respect the jury system.

CROWLEY: To investigate or to have charges leveled?

GRIJALVA: To lead to that consequence. To lead to a consequence of charges, if necessary. But there's a precedent here that I think is very dangerous, that not only did the jury find Zimmerman innocent, even of lesser charges, but, you also validated the stand your ground kind of laws that are in other states.

One in which, you know, empowers the individual citizen to basically take the law into their own hands. I think that's a precedent everybody should be very concerned about because that's the movement.

FATTAH: To wrongly take the law into your own hands. He was not even -- this wasn't a vigilante acting against a criminal. This was a set of assumptions that were wrong in which an innocent child died. So, it's beyond that. And that's what is concerning here. What the jury is saying is here's George Zimmerman back.

Here's his gun back and what he did is perfectly fine and he's coming to a neighborhood near you or someone acting the same way he acted, and that's what's dangerous.

CROWLEY: So, if I could because I have to move you on to this other subject before I run out of time. Both of you believe that the judicial system, in this case, was unfair to an African-American young man, teenager, and it was not justice. Is that your --

GRIJALVA: Initially, I think it's unfair, but like our justice system works and it's well said by your previous person, we need to continue to pursue. It's not the last word.

FATTAH: I think justice will be done, eventually. That is to say that there's a situation right now where a jury has ruled. But I don't think that we've seen the end of this. That is, if there's a real problem here with what the Florida justice system has said about what is permissible for a person to do and get away with.

CROWLEY: I'm going to deliver minimally here and ask you quickly, both your caucuses met with the president this week. Immigration reform looks like a true mess on the House side. It looks like you may not be able to deliver. It is -- is it your sense that immigration reform will not pass the House this year in any way that it could be merged with the Senate bill?

FATTAH: I think we will pass it. I'm going to be asking my house colleagues when we come up for any type of vote on this to offer the Senate bill as the Democratic alternative. Let's get to a vote.

CROWLEY: And the immigration bill.

FATTAH: The immigration bill. As the Democratic alternative and under regular order in the House, the minority always has an opportunity to offer its own proposal.

CROWLEY: But might never make it to the floor --

GRIJALVA: The leadership, both on a morale and on a necessary policy initiative is in the hands of Boehner and the leadership of the Republican Party. They can piece peel it (ph). They can pick it to death. They can try to take away a pathway to citizens which are nonstarters for many of my colleagues or they can go forward and allow something comprehensive, something that is bipartisan and something that will move us off this position. But right now, the comments by Boehner have been anything but encouraging.

CROWLEY: Looking dark.

GRIJALVA: And not looking good.

CROWLEY: Congressman Grijalva, thank you so much. Congressman Fattah, thank you very much.


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