Return to Transcripts main page


Gunman Was Member Of Saudi Military Involved In Flight Training; Three Minnesota National Guard Members Dead After Black Hawk Crash; White House Says It Won't Participate In Impeachment Hearing; President Trump Calls For Water Efficiency Review; Elon Musk Cleared In Lawsuit Over "Pedo Guy" Tweet; George Zimmerman Sues Trayvon Martin's Parents, Claims Conspiracy; Finger Lickin' Good Fires This Christmas. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 7, 2019 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a dark day for a very great, great place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four people are dead including the shooter after an attack on a Pensacola naval base by a member of the Saudi military.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI investigators are looking into whether the shooting was related to terrorism.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you it's a horrible thing that took place. We're getting to the bottom of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump's legal team will not participate in House impeachment proceedings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new letter from White House Counsel pass a baloney all but tells House Democrats to get lost.

TRUMP: It's done by, you know, frankly, losers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi sources say, hearing out all corners of the caucus on whether to include elements of Special Counsel Robert Muller's report in the final articles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do expect to lose some and that's why I say it is a conscious vote.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, 7:00 here on the East Coast now. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Let's start now in Florida where a global investigation has begun after shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. WALKER: Three people were killed, several others injured when a man started shooting in a classroom building. I want to get to CNN's Natasha Chen with the very latest. Natasha, what are you learning this morning?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Amara, let's briefly walk through what happened here on Friday morning just before 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time, a call came in about an active shooter. Sheriff Morgan here says that he has a precinct really close to the base, so it took his deputies about three to five minutes to respond. Two of the deputies exchanged fire with the gunman and killed him.

Now, these two deputies also were injured but they are expected to be OK; and those two deputies are among the eight people injured currently being treated by Baptist Healthcare. And of course, as you said, three others, unfortunately, were killed in addition to the shooter. Now, the FBI last night, in a press conference talked about the fact that this is a large crime scene, and they have a team processing the evidence overnight, so presumably they're still working on it right now.

But the FBI would not talk about the shooter or his motivations. They said more may be released today. And law enforcement sources told CNN that the shooter is identified as Saudi national, Mohammed Alshamrani. A defense official says that he's been here since August of 2017, as part of a U.S. Air Force, a military training case funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. So, he'd been here about more than two years and he would have finished his training in August of 2020.

Now, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked about whether the vetting process for bringing foreign nationals to train here should be revisited. Esper said yes, he would be interested in looking at those procedures. But he said first and foremost, that priority is figuring out what happened here and why; what is the motivation here? President Trump also spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who expressed his sincere condolences. Here is what President Trump said about that phone call.


TRUMP: The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people so much.


CHEN: And King Salman has also ordered his security forces to cooperate with U.S. investigators in this case. Amara and Victor, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Natasha Chen for us there in Pensacola, thank you.

WALKER: Let's get the view now from Saudi Arabia. Let's bring in CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson in Riyadh. Nic, hello to you, what sort of message can we glean from this call from the Saudi King and President Trump? And has there been any other public acknowledgement there of what happened in Pensacola?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That has a lot. We can read -- and we can read a large amount into the fact that the King called so quickly on Friday, a day typically in Saudi Arabia where were official can move a little slowly. The fact that the King called President Trump so quickly, the fact that the King is involved in this really shows you that what the King is saying that this is heartfelt, that he really is upset by this, that this is a deep-felt anger by Saudis. This is what I'm finding here talking to people.

I talked to a senior, a former -- a retired senior military officer who was involved in training young recruits in the military here. I've talked to somebody else who's been involved, a Saudi, who's been involved in training, again, some young recruits have been through the Pensacola facility. Look, everyone is absolutely shocked by it. So, when the King says they're angered, and they feel deep sorrow, this has really come out of the blue for a lot of people here.


And the King, I think, has really doubled down with this real effort, quickly, to rip -- try to repair the damage that's being done here in the relationship between the two countries. He's told Saudi security services absolutely open up help the United States in any way possible. The FBI, obviously, has permanent representatives here in Saudi Arabia. So, undoubtedly, the King is instructing his people to work closely with them.

We've talked to the uncle of the attacker, that he says: look, there was nothing in this young man's background to indicate that he was going to do something like this, that had been in contact with his nephew over the past couple of years while he'd been in the United States and none of that had change. The tribe that he comes from a saying, look, this is this is outrageous, it's disrespectful, we don't support it, it's, it's wrong. It's against our King. It's against our country. It's against what we believe in.

So, I think this is the message that is coming across loud and clear here. You've had the Deputy Defense Minister, a son of the King, Khalid bin Salman, former ambassador to the United States. You've had the Saudi ambassador to the United States, herself also expressed condolences and the foreign minister here, express condolences. Officials are all over this. And in terms of sorrow, regret and condolences.

WALKER: And Nic, I want to ask you just the big picture because you know, more than most about the United States and Saudi Arabia is very strategic and complicated relationship. And obviously, Saudi officials are very concerned; can you talk about what they're concerned about and also what you make of President Trump's quite measured response to all this and how this might further, you know, put a strain on the relationship if you see it that way?

ROBERTSON: Oh, absolutely. And I, and it's kind of a little bit conspicuous to me, or the absence of Crowned Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in, in the condolences that we've heard so far, the voices coming forward, that his conspicuous by its absence. So, the King is taking charge. President Trump, clearly, takes political heat for the defense contracts that he has with Saudi Arabia setting a large amount of, of weapons. So, I think clearly there's something here, so President Trump and the Saudis, but if the Saudis lose the support, the political and public support in the United States, such that they would lose valuable weapon systems that they buy and military support in the region. That would expose them to their enemies in the region like Iran, and that would be a huge concern.

WALKER: All right, Nic Robertson, appreciate your expertise on this, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Nic. We're learning that three members of the Minnesota National Guard died, Thursday, after their Blackhawk helicopter crashed during a routine maintenance test flight.

WALKER: According to our CNN-affiliate, WCCO, a mayday call was put out about an hour and a half after the helicopter went missing. They say it was found tangled in trees on a family farm. The U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker is sending investigators to determine the cause of the crash.

BLACKWELL: So, this morning, we've learned an American prisoner in Iran is coming home. But there are some details about his release that the President did not disclose in his statement about this. We'll have more on that in a moment.

WALKER: Also, Democrats facing the very real possibility of having an all-white presidential debate later this month. Coming up, how the most diverse field of candidates ended up lacking diversity?

BLACKWELL: President Trump has some issues with water conscious toilets, and showers, and faucets, and he's longing for the good old days when you just had to flush one --


TRUMP: They take a shower and the water comes dripping out, is creeping out -- very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times 15 times as opposed to once.




BLACKWELL: We're following breaking news this morning. An American graduate student who has been held in Iran since 2016 is coming home.

WALKER: Let's go now to CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes in Washington. Kristen, what do we know about his release?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, so this is 38- year-old, Xiyue Wang, and the details of the actual release are still trickling and we have just learned from a source who says that he is not yet on US soil. But according to the statement from the president, he is on his way back to the United States. And I want to talk here about what exactly happened, we only have a statement from the President that says that this prisoner was released from Iran, that this American is coming home.

However, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that this was all part of a prisoner swap, that Xiyue Wang was essentially traded for an Iranian who had been in U.S. custody since 2018 -- a stem cell scientists. So, waiting to hear back on the White House on that part there. Now, let's talk about who Xiyue Wang was, he or is, he is a Princeton graduate student; he was in his final year, getting his Ph.D. in History when he traveled to Tehran in order to do research. This is when he was arrested back in 2016 on charges that he was a spy or a potential spy.

Now, he is coming home. And I want to read you part of a statement that I think is very moving; this is from his wife who put out: "Our family is complete once again. Our son, Shaofan, and I, have waited three long years for this day and it's hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make it happen." And I want to make one thing very clear here: President Trump has made releasing American prisoners in foreign countries a big part of his agenda.

We know at least a dozen prisoners have been released since he took office. But this negotiation with Iran is particularly interesting, and there was a lot of skepticism that he could actually get these American prisoners released, any of them, there are still several that are in Iran being held, and that was because of the enormous amount of tension between the United States and Iran.

You have to remember, President Trump has enacted these severe economic sanctions, and even as early or as recently, as this week, we heard from Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, who said that there is a new U.S. intelligence that essentially shows there might be some kind of threat or Iranian threat to U.S. troops. So, unclear, how this will play out in that realm, but it'll be fascinating to watch. And clearly, of course, the main takeaway here is that this American is coming home.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kristen Holmes for us there in Washington. Thanks so much for being with us.


Also hearing from Princeton University, they just put out this statement: "We can confirm the announcement of the White House this morning and we are working with the family and government officials to facilitate his return to the United States."

WALKER: Well, the White House will not participate in the impeachment hearing process that's happening right now in the House. They rejected an offer from Democrats to present any type of defense for President Trump during those hearings. In a strongly worded letter, the White House Council call the proceedings baseless, reckless, and a charade. Joining me now is Michael Moore, Former U.S. Attorney for a Middle District of Georgia, and Lynn Sweet, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun Times. Welcome to you both.

Lynn, first to you because the Judiciary Committee could vote to move on articles of impeachment next week and that could include Robert Mueller's findings of obstruction of justice and we're hearing just how frustrated some of the moderate Democrats are getting about that. What are the potential risks if the Democrats do expand the scope of impeachment beyond just Ukraine?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: The potential risk for Democrats in general does endangered matter. It's in particular, is that it backfires politically and it gets them in trouble in Trump leaning districts, there is a remedy. And we know that from the Clinton impeachment in 1998. And here's how you give some of these people at least some cover, and that is you put in Clinton -- gave the Clinton Congress had four articles of impeachment that were voted on to actually went to the Senate. So, that means there will be if the Mueller related articles of impeachment are put out there, they could easily be voted down and that gives cover to the moderates that you're talking about. I would not be surprised if that strategy surfaces in the coming days.

WALKER: Do you think that'll be successful? Do you think that Mueller's findings will be included?

SWEET: It's possible because if you're looking at the whole story of, if there is an obstruction charge, there is a point to be saying this isn't just a one off. This isn't an outlier. This isn't something that we could debate was an accident, that there is a pattern in practice. That's what the Mueller report could show, but you can remedy that by giving these endangered Democrats, articles of impeachment to vote down, and still in a sense, let the public know what you're talking about.

WALKER: Yes, sounds like it'd be a risky move. Michael to you, I mean, no surprise at all, right? I mean, that the White House is saying, look, we're not going to be participating in the House impeachment proceedings. So, what we have now is the president, the White House, they're focusing on the upcoming Senate trial. They're focusing on what the defense is going to be. We know that the White House advisors, White House counsel, they've reached out to particular lawmakers in the Senate. What is the defense going to look like, you think?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGE: You know, I think they'll ultimately, if the -- they'll say, well, he was acting within the scope of his authority that there was nothing here that he did that was particularly improper or out of the ordinary, that he has the duty to protect the country and to negotiate certain things with world leaders, and they'll push off there. I mean, we've been listening to him talk about, you know, every, every excuse, you can come up with the things like let's tear the country apart, let's wait a year, let's let the voters decide. Those things are a red herring.

When it comes down to defending the phone call, and that's going to be a tougher case for them because the sense of the phone call, the transcript, is by and large just an admission. I mean, it's, it's, it is a confession that he, in fact, reached out to a foreign leader to ask him to look into the conduct in the behavior of an American citizen and that's, that's going to be a big hurdle for them to overcome if they've moved forward, which would that is a lot of defense.

WALKER: What about the testimony, quickly? Do you expect the Senate Republicans to call, you know, the likes of Hunter Biden and even the anonymous whistleblower to testify?

MOORE: You know, I think they may try to do that, that will likely backfire on them. I will say that I hope in the Senate that we get more evidence. I mean, I think there are reports that the House is doing some practice rounds on some of the hearings coming up. And that really what they did last time was talked too much about academics.

I mean, this is from a trial point of view, what you want to do is if you're talking about a murder case, you would never want to talk about the murder; you can bring in the pathologist to the academic stuff later to decide was it an accident or homicide, but you need to get them hooked. Here, the House kind of went backwards.

Hopefully, the Senate we're going to actually get to real testimony or actual evidence that people get hooked on -- and away from some of the campaign speeches in the, in the, in the time wasting by the lawmakers by saying things like, thank you for coming and I believe this -- we've heard that. Let's get on out of here what the witnesses have to say.

WALKER: And Lynn, I mean, despite, you know, this impeachment cloud, that's been hanging over the White House. I mean, the reality is the economy remains strong. We just got recent numbers: unemployment is at a 50 -- excuse me, excuse me, a 50-year low. And if you look at some recent polling that CNN did, you'll see that, you know, and we do have graphics of that. According to the Republicans, and those Republican leaning registered voters that were polled, the economy is the most important issue.


And then also, among all registered voters that were pulled, the economy is in the top three of most important issues. And if you look closely there, the impeachment inquiry ranks much lower than the economy, except when the Democrats are pulled on this. So, I mean, at the end of the day, Lynn, if the economy remains strong through election day, I mean, is that going to be Trump's ticket to reelection, never mind the impeachment?

SWEET: He has a clear path to reelection even if he is impeached and has a Senate trial, which we all know right now won't result in a conviction because you need the super majority of senators and because there's enough Republicans to prevent his been convicted and removed from office. So, you have exactly the point. And that's where the Democrats have the political problem of being seen as overreaching. It's, it's a problem because the -- you know, the Clinton impeachment took place in December of 1998.

The midterm had just happened. Even though the Republicans controlled the House, the Democrats had picked up five seats. So, they had some built-in immunity to an immediate political backlash. Here, the Democrats don't, because we're going into an election. Hey, Trump might be an impeach on December 19th, that's the night of the next Democratic debate. So, you have all these moving parts happening at one time. So, and a good economy which is a -- just a blessing, and a sense for Trump at this time.

WALKER: All right. Lynn Sweet, we'll leave it there. Michael Moore, thank you to you both. Thanks for joining me.

SWEET: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So, President Trump was talking about toilets with business leaders at the White House yesterday. He wasn't joking around about a call for more water efficiency. Watch this.


TRUMP: We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn on the faucet, you don't get any water. They take a shower, and the water comes dripping out, is creeping out very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion.


BLACKWELL: The President also blamed environmentally friendly light bulbs for giving off the certain glow; he says they make them make him look orange. He doesn't like that. The Trump administration has rolled back energy efficient rules on light bulbs.

WALKER: Your comment on that?

BLACKWELL: President says there that the water was just dripping quietly, seem sentimental about it.

WALKER: Passionate.

BLACKWELL: Dripping quietly.


BLACKWELL: 15 times you going to flush some toilet. 15 times. Thanks.

WALKER: Well, we are just weeks away from the next Democratic presidential debate and there is a real possibility. The debate stage won't look anything like the makeup of the party. Coming up, why the December 19th debate may feature only white candidates?

BLACKWELL: Plus, a big job up tick but beneath the big numbers are the warning signs in the Trump economy. Some people say, yes.

WALKER: And this holiday season and may not be chestnuts you smell roasting on an open fire. Kentucky Fried Chicken is hoping your home might smell finger licking good.



BLACKWELL: Well, the stage of the next Democratic presidential debate may look radically different than the actual party, and the rest of the field. Senator Kamala Harris has exit from the race this week, means that the debate on December 19th could include only white candidates. The December debate, thus far, based on who has qualified, includes: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Businessmen Tom Steyer.

Let's talk about this. Joining me now: Steve Phillips, Founder of Democracy in Color, and Author of the New York Times bestseller "Brown is the New White: How the Democratic Revolution has Created a New American Majorities," also Host of the Democracy in Color Podcast. Steve, welcome back.


BLACKWELL: So, let's start here with this debate and I'm going to get to some other issues of race in the party. Most diverse fields in the history of the process, to potentially an all-white debate stage, is this the reflection of the party process the candidates, the electorate, what do you think?

PHILLIPS: It's a response to the election of the president who has gotten into power, by fanning the flames of white racial resentment. And people are drawing an incorrect conclusion that the way to beat this president is to actually get a white guy to go after him. And so, that notion is very widespread and pervasive. And so, it really affects to the negative way, the candidates of color and the perception that a candidate of color is viable. And that's really what Kamala Harris ran into and what Cory Booker, and Julian Castro are facing.

BLACKWELL: You know, what's interesting is that one of the narratives of the 2016 primary was the difficulty that Senator Sanders had with resonating with black voters. When we look at the latest national poll from CNN, it shows that more than 60 percent. Let's put it up more than 60 percent of Democrats support either former Vice President Joe Biden, 39 percent, 22 percent for Senator Sanders; has he done something or is this just as you said, the narrative that you need a white, a white guy to beat another white guy?


PHILLIPS: That's the dominant narrative the Democratic politics right now. And that -- I mean, it's not -- it's hardly illogical when you put forward in 2016, probably the most qualified person ever run for president such as Hillary Clinton, against who was demonstrably the least experienced person to ever be president. And white people chose that white guy over the female candidate.

So, there's a lot of fear and trepidation. And so, the conclusion has been that well, then, we need to get our own white guy, we're actually going to win the White House, but that's not actually correct, and it's not rooted in data. And that half -- almost half of the voters on the Democratic side -- half of the voters who elected Obama are people of color.

And in point of fact, the only person to have won the White House in the past 20 years, actually has been a person of color.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about and I know you've written about this. Democrats investing in and supporting candidates who could be the next primary field.

And during the research, black governor's, black senators, it jumped out to me that there are now currently as many current white governors who have admitted to wearing blackface, as there have ever been elected actual black governors.

That is just striking to me that there are two sitting white governors who've worn blackface that we know of. And they've only been to elected black governors. What is the Democratic Party doing to invest in or support the next black governor -- the next black senator, so that there's a bigger field, the more diverse field qualified to run?

PHILLIPS: Right. And that's the challenge and that's the issues. What do we actually doing to identify, elevate, back, and back early? Both Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Ben Jealous, who were all democratic nominees in 2018 had to fight against the establishment in the system to become the nominees.

We should be looking now to identify the promising people, the promising talent getting behind them, building their networks out, giving them opportunities to hit national exposure.

And so, that the challenge before us. And that one of the things we need to be looking at is going to be committing early to making sure that the Democratic ticket is no longer desegregated.

Are we going to have someone like Stacey Abrams as a vice-presidential candidate? Now, we're going to be committed to making sure that it's not an all-white ticket.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you wrote ahead of the pick in 2016 that to pick Tim Kaine would be "an egregious political miscalculation, and a personal insult to people of color across the country."

So, a diverse ticket. So, minority voters are excited and engaged. Who does that? Because there's been a lot to talk about Kamala Harris, but her numbers with black voters weren't very high at all.

PHILLIPS: Yes, and Kamala, how much Stephanie should be in that conversation. She, again, was running against Biden, who people thought that, that was going to be the safest pick. And so, that was the calculation.

But clearly, Stacey Abrams is also somebody who needs to be on very high on a very shortlist. Stacy got more votes in the State of Georgia than any Democrat in the history of this country. More votes in Georgia than Jimmy Carter got when he ran for office.

So, clearly, she was able to inspire and bring forward the type of enthusiasm that's going to be necessary for Democrats to prevail in 2020.

BLACKWELL: Quickly, let me flip from the race of the candidates to the race of the electorate. Former secretary Julian Castro, for several weeks now, said that leading off with Iowa and New Hampshire just simply does not make sense.

So, when you look at the demographics, we have graphics to show the states are far wider than the rest of the country. 60 percent or so for the U.S. population. When you go to Iowa, it's in the high 80s, 90 percent for New Hampshire.

Is this important enough for there to be some reckoning for the party?

PHILLIPS: It is important enough because that -- the issues that get dominated are the ones that are not necessarily the ones that are most pressing to the communities of color, again, who make up half of the democratic electorate.

So, one thing they could actually think about doing is actually rotating. I mean you have four state. You have South Carolina, Nevada that follow. You could rotate, why not start with South Carolina, and then have Iowa, and New Hampshire go later?

So that's -- that would change the issue set. And it would also play a different role terms of which candidates emerge as the ones who are the leaders.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Steve Phillips, always good to have a conversation with you, sir. Thanks for coming.

PHILLIPS: Thanks for having me on.

BLACKWELL: All right.

WALKER: And end to the legal fight between a cave diver and a billionaire. A jury comes to a quick decision over whether Elon Musk defamed a man he calls a pedo guy on Twitter.

BLACKWELL: Plus, he claims he was framed after the killing of Trayvon Martin. And now, George Zimmerman wants more than $100 million in damages from Martin's parents and others involved in the case. Does this lawsuit stand a chance in court?


[07:39:00] WALKER: In this morning's "LEGAL BRIEF", a jury in California says Elon Musk did not defame a British cave diver when the Tesla CEO called him a pedo guy, as in pedophile, in a tweet.

Vernon Unsworth was involved in the rescue of that Thai soccer team that got trapped in a cave last year. He criticized musk for trying to get involved in efforts to free the teenage boys and their coach.

Musk's defense team said the "pedo guy" tweet was meant as a joke. Unsworth's attorney argued his client was right to be angry.




WALKER: Criminal defense attorney and CNN Legal Analyst, Joey Jackson joins me to discuss. So, Joey, is this the outcome you expected? Elon Musk being cleared?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, interesting case, Amara. Good to see you. What did he say? If you don't sue, it must be true?


JACKSON: If the glove doesn't fit, you must to quit? Listen, I think the jury was moved by a few things. Number one, not every dispute rises to the level of a federal case. There were wars, of course, a dispute between the two, Elon Musk offering to help the person he was helping, suggesting it was a P.R. stunt.


JACKSON: Elon Musk being upset about that, saying pedo guy, ultimately apologizing. So, not everything rises to a federal case.

Number two, you know, when it comes to defamation, Amara, you have to establish that there were damages. Your reputation was injured. And, of course, you have the gentleman who said he was defamed, that he's out $200 million smiling with the prime minister was a successful rescue attempt, et cetera.

And I think, ultimately, number three, they were offended. You're asking for $200 million dollars? Boy, Amara, if everyone who insulted me, I got $200 million, life would be a different place.

WALKER: Right.

JACKSON: And so, I think the jury just said, you know what, enough, let's get rid of the case.

WALKER: Right.

JACKSON: And I think that's the right result. WALKER: All right, next case, eight years after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges related to the killing of Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed. He's now claiming he was the victim.

George Zimmerman was a victim of conspiracy and he is suing Martin's family for $100 million. Now, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, the family's attorney called the lawsuit unfounded, reckless, and a "shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others."

What are your thoughts on this, does it have legs?

JACKSON: Yes, you know, Amara, I don't think it has legs at all. I mean, initially, optically, it's just so horrific that you could think about taking a 17-year-old's life, and yes you were acquitted that's fine.

But now to go and then the be suing the parents who, of course, have lost their child, and are eternal -- you know, suffering as a result of that, I think that just optically is really so wrong.

To the merits of the case, it talks about malicious prosecution. Listen, there's nothing malicious about attempting to get justice. This is not a case where someone's framed, where evidence just came out of whole cloth.

This is a matter where a person was ultimately killed, it sparked a lot of controversy and the prosecution did their best to move forward and it to attempt to get justice. The fact that they didn't doesn't entitle you to $100 million.

And by the way, Amara, it just happens this lawsuit that is to be on the verge and on the face and really coming out when there's a movie talking about the Trayvon hoax that happens to be coming out.

And so, I wonder if that timeframe is somewhat coincidental final point of which is that the same attorney who had the Bertha lawsuit against Obama, which was unfounded is behind this.

And you know what? You always have to consider the source in any such matter.

WALKER: You sure do. All right, Joey Jackson, always a pleasure to have you on. Thanks so much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Amara.

BLACKWELL: All right, up next. Good jobs news across the country. But if you zoom in on three states that really matter in 2020, is it the same story?



BLACKWELL: So, if you've got money in the market, Friday was a pretty good day for you. The big three indices all up on some pretty good jobs numbers.

WALKER: Yes, unemployment went down again. Matching a 50-year low. But in states the president promised to help the most, the jobs picture is more bleak. Our Cristina Alesci with more.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, a gangbusters jobs report surpassing all expectations. Look, this data helps Donald Trump going into 2020, no doubt about it. He's going to continue to hammer how successful his economic policies have been.

But I'm also watching other data which shows a less rosy picture of employment in America. Swing states like Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, all lost jobs in the first 10 months of the year. That's according to the most recently available state-by-state jobs data which was analyzed by a think tank called, economic innovation group. The group focuses on the geography of economic growth.

And the fact that these states were shedding jobs is pretty stunning because most other states have obviously benefited under the president this year. Michigan, which the president narrowly won in 2016 lost about 26,000 manufacturing jobs from January through October. Wisconsin shed 8,500 manufacturing jobs, and Ohio registered a loss of 7,300 all in the same period.

But there's one important caveat here. We may see these numbers bounce back in November. That's because striking G.M. workers resumed work after a six-week strike that began in mid-September. And Trump's economic policy also doesn't seem to be working for the deep red state of West Virginia.

And the mountain state is on track to have the worst performing economy in the country over the next six months. That's according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia estimate.

This is damning for a state that Trump promised to help in 2016. Look at neighboring swing state Pennsylvania, and that's also hurting. The Philadelphia Fed says the state will likely experience an economic contraction into the second quarter of 2020.

Now, Trump might ignore the hardships facing these states which are deep-rooted and not easily solved by things like tax cuts and farm subsidies. Luckily for Trump, this kind of information doesn't grab as much attention as the monthly jobs report.

BLACKWELL: Cristina Alesci, thank you so much. All right, KFC, I got something new for you this Christmas. You can pick up a Yule Log that smells like chicken.



WALKER: The holiday season is when many of us overindulge including myself. In this installment of "FOOD AS FUEL", CNN Health Reporter, Jacqueline Howard, shares some tricks you can use to lighten up your holiday plates.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: With access to ample side dishes and tons of snacks, sticking with the healthy diet can be tough, but it's doable. First step, limit those high-calorie foods.

Fill your plate with seasonal nutrient-dense vegetables like sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts. Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, fiber, and vitamin A. While Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, vitamins, K and C. Both of these foods can help you stay fuller longer.

Swapping your butter for an oil low in saturated fat can lighten up your baking. Try canola olive or soybean oils. Some specialty oils like avocado or grape seed can be healthy choices too but may cost it's had more or be harder to find.

Keep that pumpkin pie flavor with this pumpkin pie yogurt parfait. Using Greek yogurt as the base of this treat can reduce sugar content. Greek yogurt is also packed with protein and calcium which is essential for good health.

Even with temptation at every turn, you can indulge in your favorite foods and still eat well too with the little planning.



BLACKWELL: OK. So, this holiday season, you can add 11 herbs and spices to the traditional smells of the season.

WALKER: I can't smile with this story and I'm so grossed out. Kentucky Fried Chicken is selling chicken scented fire logs. The Kentucky Fried timber will set you back $19 through

And we check the web site and the logs have a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars -- people like it. One reviewer wrote this will get your guest's mouths watering and ready for the holiday dinner. That isn't even there.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and you know --


WALKER: I mean, they would be angry.

BLACKWELL: Khalil, who's operating one of our cameras right now said, you know the worst thing about this is if you have the house smelling like fried chicken, and you get home, and there's actually no chicken?

WALKER: Nothing there.

BLACKWELL: That's just a tease.

WALKER: That is a total tease. You get all worked up and you're all excited and there's no food. BLACKWELL: Nothing. All right, stay with us. Next hour of NEW DAY starts after a break.