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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
House Censures G.O.P. Rep. Gosar For Violent Video; Sen. Cruz Attacks Rep. Cheney; Rittenhouse Jury Views Drone Footage Of Shooting; Defense Renews Calls For Mistrial Over Video; Travis McMichael Takes The Stand As The First Witness For The Defense; Growing Concern For Missing Chinese Tennis Star Who Accused Former Communist Party Leader Of Sexual Assault; 2 Men Convicted Of Killing Malcolm X Expected To Be Exonerated. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 17, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That, as the C.D.C. headquarters in Atlanta and a lab in Russia and now, we are finding out, that even the United States, small pox maybe in more locations.
Small pox is seen as one of the riskiest possible bioterror weapons because no one is vaccinated for it anymore. Vaccination stopped in 1970 when the disease was considered eradicated due to vaccinations. It killed and disfigured millions before that. The C.D.C. is investigating.
Thanks for joining us. It's time for Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Quite a day. Just two Republican House members today stood up against the idea that you can threaten the life of a colleague, and not face any consequences for it. Only two voted to censure Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and strip him of his Committee assignments for posting a PhotoShopped video depicting himself murdering Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and menacing President Biden with swords.
He neither apologized to the Congresswoman today, nor to fellow members. In fact, he again made light of the video on Twitter earlier today. He is out with a statement tonight boasting of being called a warrior by the former President and comparing himself to the murdered cartoonist of the French magazine, "Charlie Hebdo."
Just a short time ago, he retweeted a tweet containing the very same clip that he was censured for. So much for any regrets, let alone remorse or decency. He has none.
However, his fellow Republicans certainly have excuses for him or for doing nothing about him. Some don't make much sense, but you should see them all the same because they reflect the kind of hyper- aggressive, personalized, conspiratorial climate the video itself embodies. That and a sprinkling of hypocrisy on top.
First, some quick perspective, which might help shed light on the hypocrisy. This was only the second time in a decade that a House member has been censured. The last time was December of 2010 when Democrat Charlie Rangel was taken to account for ethics violations. Democrats actually led the effort and a wide majority voted for censure.
This time, only Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Kinzinger voted yes. Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy after a week of virtual silence, defended Gosar by pointing finger elsewhere and neglecting the fact that the last censure vote was an example of Democrats disciplining themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When a Democrat Congresswoman said Israel has hypnotized the world, that supporting Israel is all about the Benjamin's, and that 9/11 was -- some people did something. The Democrats actually defended her.
Why? Rules for thee but not for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, when Congressman Ilhan Omar tweeted those remarks, the House Democratic leadership condemned them, which she also apologized for, which did not stop Congresswoman Lauren Boebert today from launching a string of allegations against her another unnamed colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): The jihad squad member from Minnesota has paid her husband and not her brother-husband -- the other one -- over a million dollars in campaign funds. This member is allowed on the Foreign Affairs Committee while praising terrorists.
A Democrat Chairwoman incited further violence in the streets outside of a courthouse. And then, the cherry on top, my colleague and three- month presidential candidate from California who is on the Intelligence Committee slept with Fang Fang, a Chinese spy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A lot of things inaccurate in those statements, but even going through them is going down a rabbit hole that is designed to deflect from the actual question at hand, is it appropriate for a Member of Congress to post a PhotoShopped video revenge fantasy, in which he murders a colleague? Here is Congressman Andy Biggs trying to turn Congressman Gosar's efforts into art.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): This is an anime. It is Shingeki no Kyojin. Highly popular, stylized. Intended to demonstrate the alienation people feel, particularly young people in their cultures.
Now, does anime have violence? Yes. It's highly-stylized violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It makes it okay. Now, it's art, apparently. Or maybe it's just that Congress is a special place where threatening violence is okay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): My colleague just referenced the phrase "any other environment," that there would be some consequences. Well, this is not any other environment. This is the House of Representatives. We have constituents who elect us, send us to Washington to represent them, engage in debate, engage in often-heated discussions with each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This really wasn't a discussion, heated or otherwise, unless debate these days is conducted via animated-revenge fantasy. Speaking of which, Congressman Roy then segued into his own vision of payback when Republicans controlled the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY: And we are now getting into the business of chilling debate and discussion about censuring our members and going down the road of pulling each other off of Committees. Where is this going to end? When Republicans are back in majority, where is that going to end?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So by that reasoning, he is condemning the move against Gosar for being partisan, and then perhaps threatening partisan retribution down the road. His colleague Don Bacon underscored that threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I just it's a mistake to take people off Committees because this is a precedent that the Democrats are going to have to live by when they are the minority and I say that as someone I think it's bad for the institution.
Retribution's not good. I think it's going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: By the way, Congressman Bacon is one of 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is now facing the threat of being stripped of their Committee assignments by fellow Republicans.
Just one headline on "The Washington Post" opinion pages puts it, "In today's G.O.P., voting for infrastructure is heresy, threatening violence is not." And at the end of the day, that's what this was. It wasn't robust political debate, it was the opposite. At the end of the day, it was reducing a human being -- a colleague --
to a fantasy-cartoon murder victim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): What is so hard -- what is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's get CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, who joins us now.
For anyone wondering, Dana, about the sincerity of what Gosar and his Republican allies said today, do they need to look any further than the fact that he retweeted that very same violent anime tonight?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they don't. It is complete defiance and you know, you said that a lot of these Republicans defended him. It was -- it was some defense, but it was mostly deflecting -- deflecting from the reality of what he did and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at the end there, really boiled it down to the most basic question. A question that most Republicans said no to, which is, is it okay -- are you willing to condemn your colleague for threatening the life of another?
Now, they say -- some of them said it is art. I don't remember that defense coming out when a comedian did the same thing, a similar thing about a Republican President. I don't remember them saying that about countless other examples.
And it is completely hypocritical. There is no question about it. When you talk about, at its core, what this was about which was inciting violence, Anderson. It was inciting violence and it shouldn't be done against any member, but it definitely shouldn't be done against somebody who we know has serious threats against her.
COOPER: Were you surprised at just how hard Republicans went to the mat today in support of Gosar? I mean, it was only Cheney and Kinzinger who voted to censure. How much was that about him? How much of it was about not running afoul of the former President or Kevin McCarthy?
BASH: Yes. I think some of it was not running afoul of the former President, other was just the cultural moment that they think that they are in right now. Which is, don't get -- from their perspective -- I'm not saying that this is the reality that we're living in -- but don't get railroaded by Democrats trying to tell us what to do or tell us what to say.
That is not what was going on. What was going on was Democrats trying to use the means that they have in the House of Representatives to punish somebody for doing something that they believe was untoward. Having said that, I did speak with one Republican member who tends to
be a lot more sympathetic to this kind of punishment who said that if the resolution was just about a censure, there would have been a lot more Republican votes, but because it was a censure and taking him off Committees, that perhaps is why it limited the vote to just two Republicans.
COOPER: For all the false equivalency, do you think if Republicans take over the House after midterms next year with McCarthy possibly becoming Speaker, they are going to go after Democrats who they called out today?
BASH: It would not surprise me. There is absolutely no shame left. The notion of irony is pretty much gone these days. And the fact that you have Republicans in their -- I mean, Congresswoman Boebert is a great example. I mean, in her defense and you were absolutely right not to go down the rabbit hole of trying to fact check all of them, but the jihad squad? I mean, are you kidding me?
Just that term, alone, in any other time, might be enough to have leadership say -- condemn it may be even go even further to have some kind of condemnation. So, irony is kind of dead when it comes to the Republicans who came out and feigned outrage that the House Democrats would act on something as core and as basic as this.
COOPER: Yes, Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thanks.
A few reporters are better equipped to put today and the ugly climate surrounding it into perspective than our next guest. He is ABC News chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl.
His new book just out is titled "Betrayal: The Final Act of The Trump Show." Jon, it is great to see you. Congratulations on the book.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
COOPER: So many -- so much news coming out of this book. I mean, is this -- what we saw today -- just the latest example of what the former President's Republican Party is now?
KARL: You know, it's so reminiscent of what I saw in 2019. I don't know if you remember this. But there was a video shown at the Doral Trump Resort in Florida at a Republican event, a pro-Trump event that showed an animated Donald Trump shooting down and stabbing and mass murdering people in a church that were CNN, ABC, you know, news organizations. It's so reminiscent.
I mean, so what Gosar did is entirely keeping with what we have seen Donald Trump, himself, do.
COOPER: When you hear Gosar say in a statement tonight that, you know, that he is a warrior for Trump, how much does the former President need to hear those things? Live for those things? KARL: He absolutely lives for those things. You know, I went down and
visited him in the writing of this book at Mar-a-Lago, had a couple of interviews with him. But all he wanted me to know was how many people were coming down to see him. How they all -- it's like Grand Central Station, he told me.
COOPER: It's his version of a rating.
KARL: Yes, and I also describe the scene where at dinner when he comes in for dinner, all the guests at Mar-a-Lago stand and applaud. He loves the adulation. Obviously, it was a tough transition going from being at the White House where they play "Hail to the Chief" when you walk in the room. So, he has tried to re-create it.
COOPER: And the Republicans -- the fact that they are all defending Gosar, were you surprised that only two would censure him?
KARL: Well, I think that Dana got -- as she often does -- exactly what that was about and that's the fact that they were going to strip the Committee assignments. And I would have loved to have seen a vote that didn't strip the Committee assignments just to see how many Republicans would refuse to actually simply condemn his words because this was condemn, but also take away his Committee assignments.
It is striking that it's just Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, just those that were willing to stand against the Republican leadership and serve on the January 6th Committee.
COOPER: But, I mean, in all the reporting you did for the book, privately, do Republicans on the Hill -- I mean, do any of them express embarrassment, shame, concern about the future of the party?
KARL: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. And I'm sure Dana can talk to this because she has spent so much time with them. But you know, Gosar, I mean, the way Republicans would talk about Gosar privately is entirely different from what you saw the spectacle today of coming in and effectively defending him.
COOPER: It's more along the lines of the way his family talks about him.
KARL: Yes. Yes, basically along the lines of how his family talks about him.
COOPER: It seems like the more people actually know him, they have a different --
KARL: Yes. I mean, they say he has lost it. I mean, they say that he is -- I mean, I have had top Republicans tell me about Gosar specifically before this episode. You know, he is not all there.
COOPER: But I mean, is it just -- is it just fear of, you know, being primaried by somebody farther to the right who is supported by the former President that keeps people from speaking out, Republicans?
KARL: It's a real fear. You know, I also -- go back to the impeachment vote. It would have been interesting to see back when the House voted to impeach Donald Trump over what happened on January 6th, if there had been simply a censure resolution, you know, because you can get into the tangled arguments of, can you impeach a President this late in the presidency and da-da-da? But I mean, how many would step forward and just condemn the guy?
You heard Kevin McCarthy in that impeachment debate back then, actually condemn Trump and say that he was responsible. He survived, although, let me tell you when I talked to trump, he is still bitter at McCarthy for doing that.
COOPER: Well, I mean, he is obviously also bitter at McConnell. He called him a broken old crow, Mitch McConnell. He talked about -- saying that he should resign. It reminded me of what came out of your book, of something he said to head of the R.N.C. when he was leaving the White House, he was going to create his own party and she said, words to the effect of, no, you can't do that. And he said, you know, he didn't care about the party.
I mean, Mitch McConnell has -- there is a lot of things you can say about Mitch McConnell, but he is certainly a loyal Republican who has worked very hard for Republican values.
KARL: There is a scene I describe in the book right after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Right after she died. Trump's said -- you may remember -- he was at a rally. He came over, talked to reporters, and pretended he was hearing for the first time. He walked up the stairs of Air Force One and he called Mitch McConnell and McConnell told him, right there and then, here's what you do, wait until the Memorial is over and then announce Amy Coney Barrett as your nominee for the Supreme Court.
And he did exactly that and he -- it was Mitch McConnell more than anybody that got Donald Trump another appointment on the court. So, it is remarkable. But, you know, the scene on January 20th, also on Air Force One when he gets on the plane for the last trip on Air Force One to go to Florida and he gets a call from Ronna McDaniel, this is what you are referring to and he says flatly, I am leaving the party. It wasn't I am threatening I am going to leave if you don't do it, I am leaving the party and creating my own party and she pleads with him, you will destroy all of us. We will all lose. You will destroy the party, and all those who have worked for you and he didn't care.
He thought they should be punished because he lost, everybody should lose.
COOPER: Jon, stick around. I want to talk more about that, and a lot more about Jon's book. How Jon's reporting informs the fuel that erupted today between Senator Ted Cruz and Congresswoman Liz Cheney with her questioning his manhood.
There is also breaking news tonight in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial with the jury asking to see a specific piece of video. We will tell you about that, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: I am talking with ABC News chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, author of the newly released news-making account end of the former administration. It is a fascinating book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show." Except, it is not really curtains yet. We will see what the final act is.
Part of the drama is Republicans attacking other Republicans who dare criticize the man. Some of course, utterly without irony, Senator Ted Cruz, for example, who was so badly bullied by the former President in 2016, here he was last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I look at the situation of Liz Cheney and I just think it's sad. I think she falls into the category of people who Donald Trump just broke, just shattered. She is lashing out at Trump. Republicans and everything, she's become a Democrat and it's sad to watch what has happened. It is Trump derangement syndrome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congresswoman Cheney had this to say to it all today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Trump broke Ted Cruz. Ted used to say he was a constitutional conservative. But now, he is like, so desperate for political approval that he will even advocate, suggest secession. And I think that a real man would be defending his wife, and his father, and the Constitution.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Back with Jonathan Karl. I mean, what is it with somebody like Cruz? I mean, is it -- is it just pure political calculation? He was a failed presidential candidate himself and spoke very -- you know, against Donald Trump when he thought he had no power and wasn't going to win and then he obviously saw the writing on the wall.
KARL: I mean, go back to what Cruz said about Donald Trump. I mean, it was the harshest condemnation of Donald Trump that anybody has ever done, and he did it for good reason. I mean, as Liz Cheney points out. I mean, he accused Cruz's father of being part of the Kennedy assassination. He attacked the looks of his wife.
I mean, it -- but the calculation here is quite simple. The vast majority of Republican voters -- at least two-thirds in virtually every poll -- fully support Donald Trump, want him to run for President again, and even after all of this.
So these -- Ted Cruz still wants to be President. There is no doubt about that. And he wants to -- to do so, he has to get elected, nominated by a party where rank-and-file voters support Donald Trump.
COOPER: But I mean, could not -- had they just stuck to their guns after January 6th and, you know, Lindsey Graham stood -- not that anyone is waiting to hear what is coming out of the mouth of Lindsey Graham, but I mean, stood by his guns, and you know, he said he was out. He could no longer do it.
COOPER: Mitch McConnell -- would it have made a difference? Would it have broken the Trump hold over the Republican Party? Or would all of those people, then, just been killed off by the Gosar's of the world?
KARL: It is a critical moment when the Senate came to hear the impeachment trial and McConnell ends upcoming to this position that we can't convict a former President. That that removing a President that's already out of office doesn't make any sense. That was his position.
You can argue it. I mean, it's a serious position, one way or the other. But it was close. I mean, McConnell, I know had conversations and was considering jumping onboard to convict Donald Trump to finally be rid of him.
But then, what happened is, he goes to Mar-a-Lago, and somehow the hold on the party faithful is still there, and McConnell reverses course. There's a scene in the book, I describe where McConnell comes out and he comes out against forming an independent commission to investigate January 6th along the lines of the 9/11 Commission.
And Liz Cheney sends him a text message pointing to this statue in Statuary Hall. It's of the Goddess Cleo and she is writing notes. She keeps notes for history, the Goddess of History, the Muse of History. And McConnell doesn't answer her and she's kind of gets called a couple weeks later. She thinks McConnell is going to be basically apologizing, saying or explaining look, sorry, but this is what it had to come.
But instead, McConnell is calling Liz Cheney to tell her, lay off Trump. It's not good for you. It's not good for the party. Whatever you or I think of him, enough.
COOPER: Wow. There are so many fascinating things in the book. You interviewed the former President about Mike Pence and how he handled the election results. This made a lot of news. I want to play a clip from your interview with him.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KARL: There was a report -- and excuse my language.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go ahead.
KARL: Not mine, it was in the report.
TRUMP: Yes. KARL: That you talked to him that morning and you said you can be a
patriot or you can be a [bleep]. Did you really say that? Or is that -- is that incorrect?
TRUMP: I wouldn't dispute it.
TRUMP: I wouldn't dispute it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Is it clear to you where their relationship -- I mean, is there a relationship today?
KARL: Well, they do talk. And they do talk, you know, like Trump had called him on the birth of his -- of a grandchild just after I had been down there, but there is no real relationship.
And listening to the rest of that interview, I mean, as you know, in that interview, he justified -- he explained, he defended the people that were chanting for the execution of Mike Pence.
So he says he is a great guy, I like him, but those guys that were chanting to execute him were justified.
COOPER: They were very angry.
KARL: Yes, they were very angry. How could you pass on a fraudulent vote? I mean, this is a terrible thing. And he also said flatly, if Pence did what he wanted him to do, he would still be President.
COOPER: There is also -- but, you know, what's fascinating. I mean, Mike Pence who just, you know, not that he had a huge career before he became Vice President anymore. But, you know, he did everything the President wanted him to do. He was loyal.
KARL: Everything. He stood by him through it all. I remember seeing Mike Pence the day after the "Access Hollywood" tape broke during the first campaign. He didn't even criticize him then. I mean, nothing. Charlottesville, none of it.
But Mike Pence, I think is ultimately a constitutional conservative and he knew that it was insane to say that one human being could overturn the will of tens of millions of American voters and he was never going to do that.
But the pressure on him was immense. And I also got a chance to see these photographs of Pence during January 6th.
COOPER: Yes. What was that?
KARL: And that really -- there's one that's particularly kind of searing. These are photos that were taken by the official White House photographer that tracks the Vice President. And in one of these, after the Senate has been -- after Pence has been evacuated from the Senate and brought to this room behind the Senate. He is back there and he is sitting at a desk. This is before he goes into the bowels of the Capitol Building and Karen Pence is behind him pulling the drapes closed, pulling the curtains closed because she can see out the window the rioters coming and she is worried that they'll see Pence.
COOPER: Will those photos ever be seen? I mean --
KARL: They absolutely should be seen. They are government property. They are at the National Archives along with all the other photographs that were taken by White House photographers.
I asked Pence's office if they would let me use them. I went for months pleading with them. These are important for the history of that day and they refused. But I've got to believe the Committee is going to subpoena them because they show -- you see where he was afterwards.
He was in the bowels of the Capitol. He was in a parking garage, an underground parking garage because he refused. I mean, it was a moment of true bravery, true bravery, Mike Pence, because McCarthy, McConnell, Pelosi, Schumer -- all the leaders were taken away off of the Capitol to a safe location. He refused to leave.
And I think one of the big moments that we'll look forward to here is when the January 6th Committee has their hearings -- theoretically, primetime hearings, they will want Mike Pence to testify. Will he testify? Will he testify voluntarily? And if he does, what does he say about that day? Does he finally dramatically break from Trump?
COOPER: Jonathan Karl, we will watch. Thanks very much.
KARL: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: And again, the book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of The Trump Show." It is a fascinating read.
Coming up next, a very full day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. What jurors wanted another look out, plus a lot of drama outside the jury room surrounding the Judge and a defense motion for a retrial.
COOPER: There was drama in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial today. The jury is now ended deliberations for the second day with no verdict. Before that jury is asked to rewatch videos of the shootings that led to a new call for mistrial from defense attorneys.
CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now from the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So, there was one defense motion for a mistrial already filed on Monday. What's this latest one?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. So that first motion for a mistrial is tied to what the defense is calling prosecutorial overreach. And that mistrial would be without -- with prejudice, meaning it can't be tried again. This one is tied more specifically to the argument from the defense that they had access to a lower quality of evidence than the prosecution does, specifically around drone video that shows the moments leading up to the shooting and killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person killed that night.
And basically what happened was a Kenosha police detective, got a copy of this video and air dropped it to the prosecution, then separately, e-mailed this video to the prosecution, but it compressed the file meaning there was a loss in quality. And that was the version that was sent to the defense and the defense is arguing that's not fair, especially because they didn't find out about it until after the evidence had closed in this case. And when they said they were going to file for a mistrial, they said it's because this loss in quality, uneven the playing field, take listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY CHIRAFISI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I can tell you what we think. But it doesn't matter what we think, because we don't get to present that to the jury anymore. We got a compressed version, which was not of the quality that they had. We learned that Friday after the evidence had been closed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: Now, the prosecution said that they didn't know that that loss in quality was going to happen. One, but that also the defense and the jury had a chance to view the high quality version of this in court as this played out, and that it doesn't matter what's on someone's phone or laptop. What matters is the exhibit that's actually played in court, the judge did not make a ruling on this motion. And that's where things stand as of now.
COOPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thank you.
I want to bring in criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara, who's no stranger to a high profile, politically charged cases having defended George Zimmerman. Mark, first of all, would you make the motions for mistrial?
MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This most recent one should not be granted. It's an interesting issue because of this compression and therefore degrading of the evidence. But the saving grace for the prosecution I think, is the one that was shown to the jury is the proper one. That's the one that's in evidence. And although the Defense has an argument to say, wait a minute, it was fuzzy and we couldn't present our defense with the more precise video. It is so minor in relation to most everything else that was present granted, the judge should not grant the mistrial on this one.
COOPER: What about the -- what we heard from the jury the questions the jury had today? O'MARA: Interesting that they're thinking it through, we want them to spend their time on it. You know, they're looking at these videos, we know that what they must be struggling with, after two days of deliberations is no question, he killed two people. The question is, did he provoke it by walking around sort of like a GI Joe with that type of a weapon, make him believe he's a medic, and therefore putting himself in the position. And I think the strongest thing that this state didn't focus on that the jury might be is, you know, one shooting, maybe you thought it in the moments that you had to decide.
The second shooting and the third shooting, and it didn't end in a death, you know, I think the jury is just thinking this kid 17-year- old at the time is just using this gun as the default response, rather than the last response, which is where it's supposed to be.
COOPER: Does the fact that there have been two days of deliberations to mean anything?
O'MARA: Well, you know, we all love to try and read the tea leaves. So, I'll try but no basis in this. I think that they are considering, obviously the two sides, one self defense, two murder. And I think they're considering a compromise verdict for (INAUDIBLE) or lesser included on some of the death counts. And that's something that the jury may view. Because don't forget, there could be 10 to two, eight to four, six to six one way or the other. But they know that they want to try and come to revert it to a resolution and one way to do it. It's not just horse trading. It's really the justice that they decide as the jury to compromise a verdict.
COOPER: What did you make of the of the prosecution's case in this trial?
O'MARA: I thought they did a fair job. And, you know, it's easy to armchair quarterback it, but I thought that they had some strengths in their case that they didn't focus on. And I also don't think that they properly took on the huge obligation, they have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and more importantly, to disprove self- defense beyond a reasonable doubt, to really get to that jury and focus on the fact that, and again, like I said, the second shooting with the second death and second injury, I think is much more significant, because it gives that sense to the jury of the way this guy was thinking that his gun is what is allowed to use, even though we know he shouldn't have had it.
COOPER: And there were some reporting the jurors looked fatigued today. I mean, I don't know that one could read anything into that I would, I'm sure I mean, I'm fatigued, I'm sure they're incredibly fatigued, they've got a load, huge weight on their shoulders.
O'MARA: They're fatigued, they're tired, they want to go home, they don't like the pressure of this case, we look at as observers and commentators and think well, OK, just do your job and keep going. But these are people who are not used to this system at all. And now they're sitting there trying to decide for a person's life sort of. And yes, I think that can also lead to that frustration. We might hear some yelling and back and forth out of that jury room to try and get to a result, it might hang, meaning that we may come back and try the case again.
And of course, there could be a conviction and this judge was some of his predispositions that he seems to have shown, he still has that other motion for mistrial in his pocket, and they could get a conviction and wants to be overturned by this judge granting that mistrial.
COOPER: Mark O'Mara, appreciate it. Thank you.
Now the killing of Ahmaud Arbery today, one of the defendants on trial for his murder took the stand describe the moment he shot the 25-year- old black man. You hear his testimony, the reaction from Arbery's mother, next.
COOPER: The defense teams for the three defendants charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery started presenting their case to the jury this afternoon. Their first witness Travis McMichael, he and his father and their neighbor accused of chasing down and killing Arbrey who was 25 years old, he was out for a jog in February of 2020. On the stand Travis Michael said he wanted to tell quote, his side of the story, end quote. He also testified that he shot Arbery because quote, he was attacking me.
Ryan Young has the latest from Brunswick, Georgia. Warning some images you'll see are graphic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do?
TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: I shot him.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Travis McMichael fired a shot three times killing Ahmaud Arbery. He took the stand in his own defense today.
MCMICHAEL: He had my gun. He struck me it was -- it was obvious that he was It was obvious that that he was attacking me that if he would have gotten the shotgun from me, then it was a it's a life or death situation. And I'm going to have to stop him from doing this.
YOUNG (voice-over): McMichael, the first witness for the defense appeared emotional at times as he described his encounter with Arbery in February of 2020.
MCMICHAEL: I turned around, we got over there into pull the team down from owner and realized that he was deceased. And I looked up and the police are out there after that is there's a board, he's shot (INAUDIBLE).
YOUNG (voice-over): During his testimony, McMichael said a neighbor pointed towards the direction where Arbery was first running. Travis said he grabbed his shotgun and he and his father got in their pickup truck to try to find him.
MCMICHAEL: We finally stopped at what was going on. He never says anything to me. He's still looking at me, (INAUDIBLE) and this guy's, yes, this can be volatile, you know, it's just kind of watching here.
YOUNG (voice-over): Both McMichaels told police they believe the man running was involved in the recent break ins they heard about on social media. Minutes into the chase, things took a deadly turn.
MCMICHAEL: A shot, from the first shot and it was shot. And then the second shot, I shot again because I was still -- I was still fighting, that was still he was all over me. He was still over the shotgun. And he was not relenting.
YOUNG (voice-over): In cross examination, the prosecution struck at the heart of the defense's claims, they were going for a citizen's arrest.
LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEGAL PROSECUTOR: Not once during your direct examination, did you state that your intention was to effectuate an arrest of Mr. Arbery until your attorney asked you that leading question. Isn't that right?
YOUNG (voice-over): The prosecutor also pointed out that none of the defendants knew why Arbery was running that day.
DUNIKOSKI: But you had just said he's running down the road, correct?
DUNIKOSKI: And you didn't know where he was going when he's running down the road?
MCMICHAEL: I did not.
DUNIKOSKI: All right. And you had no idea what he'd actually been doing that day?
MCMICHAEL: Not at that time, ma'am.
YOUNG (voice-over): And reminded the jury, there was an alternative to what occurred.
DUNIKOSKI: He didn't tell your Dad this is a really, really bad idea that could go really wrong for us. And we should just stay here and call 911. He didn't say that did you?
MCMICHAEL: I did.
YOUNG (voice-over): Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones spoke about her own pain after watching today's testimony. WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: Travis was on the stand. Wiping tears from his eyes. But again, Travis is alive. I mean, the tears he shared it today was no -- was-- can you imagine the tears that we've shared?
COOPER: Ryan, and what happens tomorrow?
YOUNG: Yes. The prosecution really gets another go at this Anderson because there's so many questions that they're going to have to ask in that courtroom, especially with all the talk about the training that he received when he was in the Coast Guard. But let's not forget something else that we talked about last night Anderson, it's the fact that so many pastors are going to be showing up here for the demonstration tomorrow, there's going to be a prayer vigil outside. They're expecting hundreds of pastors, there's going to be a march to the streets. I said this before, you can kind of feel the temperature rising around this case, but today was such a surprise. The first defense witness was Travis McMichael. Anderson.
COOPER: Ryan Young, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, a mystery out of China where a star tennis player there is disappeared after allegedly accusing a former government leader of sexual assault. Now today a new twist. Details ahead.
COOPER: Women's Tennis Association and some of the biggest names in the sport are concerned about former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, Peng Shuai. After weeks of silence from her Chinese state media is released an e-mail alleged to be from her claiming she's fine. The e-mail which has not been verified by CNN and also appears to backpedal Peng's alleged claim that a former top Communist Party leader coerced her into sex at his home three years ago.
Earlier this month, it's believed that Peng share the accusation on social media and the post was deleted by Chinese censors within 30 minutes.
Ivan Watson has more.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The royalty of professional tennis expressing concern about the welfare of one of their own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, it's shocking, you know, that she's missing.
WATSON (voice-over): Warnings echoed by other champions past and present. I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe into OK, writes Naomi Osaka adding hashtag where is Peng Shuai.
I've known Peng since she was 14, writes Chris Evert. Where is she?
Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis champion --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Peng Shuai, moves into the quarterfinals.
WATSON (voice-over): -- hasn't been seen or heard from in weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really extraordinary. A top athlete 35 years old, a name that a lot of people know. Formerly number one ranked doubles player in the world just goes missing. Gone.
WATSON (voice-over): In early November, Peng published this bombshell post on her Chinese social media account. An open letter to a former top communist leader named Zhang Gaoli, now aged 75, who Peng accuses of sexually assaulting her after the two had an affair. Why did you have to come back to me, take me to your home to force me to have sex with you, the post reads. Yes, I did not have any evidence and it was simply impossible to have evidence.
CNN cannot independently confirm these allegations. And we reached out to Peng as well as Zhang and his wife through the Chinese government for further comment with no results. Shortly after the controversial post, Peng's online profile more or less disappeared.
(on-camera): Until recently, Peng Shuai was one of the biggest tennis stars in China. But look what happens when you try to search for people with her name in the Chinese internet. You get the message. No results found. Censors have all but scrubbed this woman from the Chinese internet.
(voice-over): Now today a new twist, with Chinese state media releasing this e-mail purportedly written by Peng to the head of the Women's Tennis Association. It completely disavows the previous allegations of sexual assault, adding, I'm not missing nor am I unsafe and I hope Chinese tennis will become better and better.
WTA Chairman Steve Simon responded in writing saying the statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts. I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the e-mail we received.
Unable to communicate directly with Peng despite multiple attempts, he's calling for independent and verifiable proof that this Chinese tennis star is safe.
COOPER: And Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong. This isn't the first time someone who embarrassed the Chinese government has disappeared. What happened in those cases?
WATSON: Yes, I mean, this has happened previously this year, slightly different circumstances you have two-well known actresses Zhao Wei and Zheng Shuang. They were both cancelled with their movies and TV shows stripped from Chinese streaming services, their fan clubs erased and suddenly their very public profiles kind of disappeared online. One of those actresses was accused of tax evasion to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, the others there was no real explanation.
You have another example the tech mogul Jack Ma for some three months at the end of last year, he kind of went dark and reemerged as almost a shadow of his former public self even as Chinese regulators were going after his companies hard.
In the case of Peng Shuai, this is very different because there are allegations of sexual assault. And Anderson I cannot stress enough the sharp difference in tone between the allegations she made a few weeks ago in her initial post, where there's somebody who's in real distress, and this bizarre e-mail that the head of the WTA suggesting is basically a hostage e-mail. Anderson.
COOPER: It's incredible. Ivan Watson, appreciate it. Thank you. We'll stay on it.
Up next, why the convictions of two men convicted in the 1965 assassination of the civil rights activist Malcolm X are expected to be thrown out?
COOPER: After more than half a century, two of the men convicted of the assassination of Malcolm X are expected to be exonerated tomorrow. The man Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam always maintain their innocence in the 1965 assassination. A 22-month investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and their lawyers found that evidence of their innocence including FBI documents was withheld at trial. In a statement the Innocence Project and lawyers for Aziz and Islam say that with the agreement of the DA they'll file a joint motion tomorrow to vacate the 1966 convictions.
Malcolm X, one of the most powerful voices in the fight against racism in the nation was assassinated February 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City where hundreds had gathered to hear him speak.
News continues. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.