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At This Hour

Job Growth Slows In Dec. To 199k, Unemployment Falls To 3.9 Percent; Ahmaud Arbery's Family Speaks Ahead Of Sentencing. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We do begin with breaking news. The Labor Department reporting a second straight month of disappointing jobs reports, the U.S. added just 199,000 new jobs in December, that's the fewest jobs added in any month of 2021.

On the bright side, though, unemployment is down 3.9 now to 3.9 percent. We're waiting right here a live look at the White House at this very moment to hear from the President to come out and speak for the first time about this jobs report and probably to remark on the state of the economy as we round out one year and head into the next.

Joining me right now for more on this is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar she's a global business columnist and associate editor at the Financial Times. John, what's your take on today's jobs report as we wait to hear from the President because I don't think people will be are alone if they are yet again, somewhat confused by what's coming out?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, everyone should be confused because all the experts are confused. They were projecting job gains of twice as much. It's difficult to know what to make of these numbers. First of all, so often, over the last several months, we've seen revisions upward in previous months. So there are funky things about how businesses are reporting job gains during the pandemic, depends on what time of the month they're conducting that survey of businesses, you also have the dimension of small business formation, which may, some people who are not going back to work for large companies are starting their own businesses.

There's also the question of how many of the jobs that were lost since the pandemic are actually going to come back because there are some people who were closer to retirement age who may have decided not to reenter the labor force, and they've seen their stock of 401(k) plans and their real estate get more valuable during the pandemic. And they think, why do I need to do that?

As you noted, the unemployment rate is down to 3.9 percent. That's very low. And it fell without a decrease in the labor force participation rate. So, all of that was potential good news. I think the bottom line is solid recovery. The job market is pretty strong. But there a lot of question marks that are generated by the pandemic that we don't have answers to right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Rana, I'm curious what your question marks are. Because, you know, we know November marked the weakest hiring all year to this point. But that was revised up this month, as we saw. And then we see this, this picture coming out this morning. What questions do you have?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yes, so it's a really interesting jobs report for a number of reasons. One, this data was collected before this latest variant of the virus really took hold. That makes the disappointing numbers, in some ways even more disappointing, you know, 200, its trend and, you know, that's an average number to be created if we were in a normal economy. But, you know, we're dealing with this variant. That probably means that the next month figures are going to be a little lower than we would have expected to.

The other thing that's interesting is, we're in a really tight labor market, you know. I mean, yes, the jobs numbers were disappointing, but pretty much everybody that wants a job is working right now. And that speaks to another issue that's on everyone's radar, which is inflation. You know, some wage inflation is good people need more money in their pocketbooks, if they're going to spend. We are in an economy that is 70 percent consumer spending.

But at the same time, companies don't want to see runaway inflation and the Fed doesn't want to see runaway inflation. And that's something, you know, going to the point about asset prices going up. Yes, we've seen a lot of gains in the last couple of years in 401(k) values in home prices, but the Fed is getting ready to tighten rates and pull back on its bond buying program, which is going to probably result in some kind of correction in the asset markets. That's all because of this inflation.

BOLDUAN: So John, I mean, the country now has the now that we have this report in hand, this rounds out the first full year of the jobs picture for Joe Biden. What is the story do you think of the Joe Biden economy right now because he's, you know, he's going to paint the picture. He's going to paint his picture when it comes out to speak to us in just a moment.

HARWOOD: Well, it's generally positive, it generally a portrait of economic recovery. But as long as this pandemic is with us and as we just heard this the survey was done before Omicron took off. And so you're likely to see an impact of that.


As long as the pandemic is turning much of normal life upside down, it's going to raise a question mark about the economy itself, and also how people feel about the economy. Inflation is a concern that undercuts the good that people would feel about the fact that jobs are readily available to those who want it. But as long as people are concerned about the pandemic, they're going to feel sour overall about circumstances in the country, and that colors how they feel about the economy. BOLDUAN: Rana, and you mentioned the Fed. I'm curious if you think or how the impact this report and kind of this picture we're looking at now has on the Feds decision of when to start raising interest rates.

FOROOHAR: You know, I think when you look at unemployment this low, and you look at inflation at a 40 year high, they have to start raising rates. But it's a tricky moment, Kate, you know. I mean, there are so many factors out there that are changing now, not just the pandemic. But if you go back even before COVID, we had an economy over the last 10 years that's really been driven by the Fed, not so much by wage hikes, not so much by big job increases.

So you know, where are we going to be after the Fed pulls back the juice? You know, the music stops playing, as they say, on Wall Street. If we see a big correction in the market, how is that going to make people feel? What's that going to do to some of those big housing price increases that we've seen, that's the kind of thing that makes people feel secure. When you see you know, if you see a 20, 30 percent dip, which is possible, that changes the whole picture, and it could change the picture before the midterm elections.

BOLDUAN: So interesting, well, we're standing by to hear from President Biden. We'll bring you those remarks live and we have them. Until then, John, thank you so much, Rana. I think he was always, really appreciate it.

But we're also monitoring breaking news out of Georgia, where the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery are in court right now to learn their sentences. So far, what we've seen in the courtroom is both sides making various motions and arguments. The Prosecutors are seeking life sentences without parole for all three men we could hear and this could be -- there could be emotional moments in this sentencing hearing. We could hear from our Arbery's killers. We could also hear from Ahmaud Arbery's mother before the judge reveals his sentencing decision. We'll be bringing you that when that happens.

But meantime scenes, Dianne Gallagher is live outside the courthouse in Georgia with this breaking news as this is unfolding before us, Dianne, what has happened in court so far? What's -- what are we looking at?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so Kate, so far, what we basically heard from is the attorney of one of the defendants William "Roddie" Bryan, offering motions attempting to get those motions accepted by the judge before the hearing for the sentencing could actually began, the judge denied those motions. And we have just in the past couple minutes, moved on to the state presenting its case, if you will. Whatever new evidence it may want to present, and to deter -- explain why they believe that the sentence is applicable.

And really here in this situation what's important to know is that life in prison is the sentence that goes with the charges these three men were convicted of. What is in question today, and what the judge will decide is whether or not any of these three men will have the opportunity to seek parole after 30 years. And of course, that would then be up to a parole board at that time. And so the argument that we are expecting from the defendants and each of their attorneys will have the opportunity to present their cases individually after the state is to try and argue for that opportunity to seek parole.

Now, we spoke with Ahmaud Arbery's mother beforehand and she said that it has been very difficult. She lost her child. Listening to in excruciating detail, his last moments. He was not just a black man jogging through an mostly white neighborhood who was chased by a truck of men and then shot at close range. He was her 25-year-old son. This is what his father said beforehand about how he feels.


MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: Man, Ahmaud, he was 25 years old. We were going on looking down his face. My baby boy, our baby boy, that hurt me so bad to see him land and still dead that my boy got killed in a car wreck or something like that, I say (INAUDIBLE), but a 12 gauge shotgun. And you must have think you all for giving them, you all got to go that proven that. I'm going to tell something, you want me to tell you what I want you, what I want you to come out but I'm going to say it, (INAUDIBLE).



GALLAGHER: An emotional day a difficult day, understandably, of course for his family. And Kate, it's not over. The attorneys have said they plan to appeal these convictions. And also there was another trial set to begin next month on federal hate crime charges against these three defendants.

BOLDUAN: All right, Dianne, thank you so much. We'll be getting back to this as things continue to develop in that courtroom in Georgia. In the meantime, joining me right now for more on this is CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin and Bernarda Villalona, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. Areva, what do you see as the options here for what we could be hearing from the judge at the end of today?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the correspondent put it correctly, Kate, there are only two options here. It's going to be mandatory life in prison, either with parole the opportunity to go before parole board after 30 years, or it's going to be mandatory life without the possibility of parole. And those are really the only two options before this judge.

We heard of William Bryan's lawyer trying to make an argument about somehow the mandatory sentencing statute in the state being unconstitutional. The judge did allow him to make those arguments but quickly dismissed his claims of unconstitutionality and said move forward. So I expect very emotional testimony from Ahmaud's mom. We know, she's going to get up and talk about her son and how devastated her family has been as a result of this loss. And we'll probably hear more from Ahmaud's dad as well. We know, victim impact statements are allowed in the sentencing hearings. So I expect both of them to talk about just how difficult it has been for them to have witnessed, you know, what has happened to their son.

BOLDUAN: And Bernarda on that note, I mean sentencing day, how important is this day for the, obviously this is important for these men to find out what their sentence is going to be. But how important is this day for the Arbery family, for any victim's family?

BERNARDA VILLALONA, FORMER PROSECUTOR: So the sentencing is the most important day for anyone who has lost someone to a crime. You got to think this is the day that Ahmaud Arbery's mother, family, has been waiting for since February 23rd of 2020, in order to see some kind of justice and accountability for the men that took away the life of this 25-year-old man.

So at this time, this is a day where they can speak without restraint as to their feelings, what they've been going through and try to get some kind of closure at seeing that the man who took away her son's life are going to be held accountable.

BOLDUAN: Areva as Dianne mentioned, this is far from over even after the judge hands down the sentence today. Because you have, well, you have an appeal that is expected by the defendants' attorneys, but you also have all three of them face federal hate crimes charges. What does that mean to kind of this entire thing, if you will, knowing that this federal trial is set to begin next month?

MARTIN: You know, what it means, Kate, is that the three men are likely to never see the outside of a prison cell. Even if the judge in the state case gives a sentence that is 30 years with the possibility of parole is very likely given what we saw in the state trial that they will be convicted on those federal hate crime charges. And that will carry with it yet another potential life sentence for each of these three individuals.

So when you look at the 30 years with or without parole they're facing today, plus the charges and the potential sentencing in the federal case unlikely that they will ever, you know, walk outside of a jail cell again, which for many people they believe that is what justice looks like in this case when you think about the heinous nature of the crime that was committed against unarmed Ahmaud Arbery, running through a neighborhood, doing nothing but jogging, and yet have these three men jump in pickup trucks, use those trucks as weapons to pin him down essentially falsely imprison him and then to shoot him in the way that they did taking his life for no reason, totally unprovoked murder.

So when you think about our criminal justice system, and who should receive the harshest penalties of this case looks like one of those cases that definitely the harshest penalty available under the law should be meted out by I believe the judge in this case indefinitely as we move forward and look to that federal case.

BOLDUAN: We're going to jump in. We're going to head into the courtroom now. Ahmaud Arbery's father speaking.

M. ARBERY: -- with me at this time. The man who killed my son has sat in this courtroom every single day next to his father. I'll never get that chance to sit next to my son ever again, not at a dinner table, not at a holiday, and not at a wedding. He'll never get to have -- I pray that no one in this courtroom ever has to do we did, bury

their child.


There's no word for that because no one knows that much pain. Not only did they let my son in broad daylight, but they killed him while he was doing what he loved than anything, running. That's when he felt most alive, most free. And they took all that from him. When I close my eyes I see his execution in my mind over and over. I'll see that for the rest of my life.

When I became a father, my life became bigger than me. He became about my family, about protecting him, protecting my boy. I know in my head that there's nothing cruel have done that day to have take my son, to have taken him from that evil and hate but my heart is broken and always will be broken because on my worst day or our lives (INAUDIBLE).

If I could, I have trade places with Ahmaud and our heartbeat. But I can't. So I am standing here today to do what I, he can and there's the fight for him. Fight for his memories, his legacy. And to tell you who he was because that's the one thing you didn't hear in this courtroom and more than anything else.

You should know who my boy was. We love our son and we will never have him with us to celebrate anything. Thanksgiving, Christmas, for his birthday. His killers should spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they did and what they've took from us. And they should do it from behind bars. Called me my family we got to live with his death the rest of our life. We'll never see Ahmaud again. So I feel they should stay behind the bars the rest of their life because they didn't give him a chance. I thank the court. I thank you for whatever you did for our family (INAUDIBLE). Thank you jurors. And be all glory to God. Thank you.



JASMINE ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S SISTER: Good morning. My name is Jasmine Arbery. Ahmaud is my brother and I would like to tell you a little about him. Ahmaud had dark skin that glisten in a sunlight like gold. He had think curly hair. He will often like the twist it. Ahmaud had a broad nose. And the color of his eyes was real with melanin. He was tall with an athletic build. He enjoyed running ahead appreciation for being outdoors. These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase him with guns drawn.


To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who look like me and the people I love. Ahmaud was funny. He told jokes to lighten the mood because he was a positive thinker. Ahmaud had a big personality and never missed the opportunity to let it shine. Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him in the sense of violence.

He was robbed of his life pleasures big and small. He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams. Nor, he'll be able to start a family or even be a part of my daughter's life. The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family, some accident that the man that killed him be given the maximum sentence available to the court. Thank you.

WALMSLEY: Thank you ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Ms. Wanda Cooper-Jones

WALMSLEY: Good morning.


So, I want to first speak directly to my son, if I please. This verdict doesn't bring you back. But it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life. I made a promise to you. Today, I'll lay you to rest. I told you I love you. And someday, somehow, I will get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did today, that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life and I'm very proud of you.

Your Honor, these men have chose to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency. This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose they chose to target my son because they didn't want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community. And when they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him. My youngest son he was born on Mother's Day of 1994.

He had a smile so bright it lit up a room. He was a greedy baby. That seemed like he was always searching for something to stick into his mouth. He was always 11 baby who seemed to never tired of hugs, cuddling, and kisses. He loved he loved, he never hesitate to tell me, his sister Jasmine and his brother Marcus that He loved us. And your Honor, we loved him back. He was messy. He sometimes refused to wear socks or take good care obviously clothing. I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered.


My family is going to miss Ahmaud. We're going to miss this jokes, his impersonations, his warm smile. These men deserve the maximum sentence for their crimes. Ahmaud never say a word to them. He never threatened them. He just wanted to be left alone. They were fully committed to the crimes. Let them be full -- let them be fully committed for the consequences.

Your Honor, I'm standing here for you as the mother of Ahmaud Arbery asking you to please give all three defendants who are responsible for the death of my son the maximum punishment in this court, which I do believe is life behind bars without the possible chance for parole. Thank you. WALMSLEY: Thank you ma'am. Any additional evidence and aggravation from the state?

DUNIKOSKI: No more additional evidence from the State, Your Honor?

WALMSLEY: Argument?

DUNIKOSKI: Your Honor, the state is seeking life without the possibility of parole for the McMichael's based primarily on the evidence presented in this case. The state is not going to go through all of that evidence just a few very important items. First off, there was a demonstrated pattern of vigilantism by Greg and Travis McMichael. First off we have our July 13th, 2019 --

BOLDUAN: All right, so we're going to pull out of this for a moment here. Back with me is Areva Martin and Bernarda Villalona on this. Areva, I mean these powerful victim impact statements coming from the families, the family members of Ahmaud Arbery, I mean it just crushing.

MARTIN: Yes, Kate, I'm filled with so many emotions myself from a mother of three kids so I can totally empathize with the family. I sit here though so proud as a black woman because Ahmaud's mom, the biggest flex we've seen in the decade, that comments she made about her son's toenails, a direct response to that heinous and offensive statement made by Greg Michael's lawyer when she talked about his toenails being dirty and uncut, as if that's somehow justify his murder. And that did not go unresponded. Ahmaud's mom just in her face told her if my son knew that your client was going to kill him on that day, perhaps he would have cut and trimmed his toenails.

But she just personalized, humanized her son in a way that is so powerful. I cannot imagine that this, you know, didn't resonate with this judge, and that he won't have an impact on the sentencing that he gives, you know, shortly after these arguments. But I think that was one of the most powerful things I've heard all morning.

BOLDUAN: And even before that Bernarda when Wanda Cooper-Jones said these men chose to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They don't deserve any leniency. It's, I mean, it is they're called victim impact statements for a reason. It was -- it had such an impact.

VILLALONA: Let me tell you, Kate, I prosecuted homicides for 10 years. And in those 10 years, I will tell you that this is the most powerful victim impact statement that I've ever heard in a homicide case. And it only took these three, mother, father, and sister to come before this judge and you felt the trauma, you felt the pain, you felt that anger. I got goosebumps when a sister said and describe Ahmaud Arbery, his beautiful skin, his glistening skin, his hair, I mean, the beauty of being black. I felt so proud.


When the mom clapped back and spoke about the nails perhaps he would have cleaned it.