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Vermont Shooting Details; Musk Makes Comment for Advertisers; Rep. Marcus Molinaro (R-NY) is Interviewed about Santos; Court Resumes in Young Thug's Trial. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 30, 2023 - 09:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: About his view of whether this crime was hate motivated, a hate crime. What's he saying?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, here's the statement that he gave, which actually lays out the incident. And Kinnan Abdalhamid says, "I heard a thud on the ground. And then he started screaming. A split second later" -- I'm sorry, I've got the pages reversed here.

"On the way back we see this man on his porch essentially looking away from us. He turns around, looks at us, and without saying a word -- it was almost surreal -- he went down the steps, pulled out a pistol and shot my friend. I heard the thud on the ground and then he started screaming. A split second later, he shot my other friend and I heard the thud on the ground."

He, of course, Kinnan, didn't know he was also wounded. And once he found blood coming from his back, he used his training as an EMT and told the police, don't wait for the second ambulance, this is a -- this is a serious wound and, you know, I'm losing consciousness. I need to get to a trauma center.

BERMAN: Yes, it's a terrifying description.

What's the latest on the investigation, John?

MILLER: Well, the investigation has gone from fast, which is identifying a suspect and getting him into custody, which happened literally, you know, within the first few hours. And it's a smoking gun case, John. I mean according to the affidavit filed with the arrest, they literally found the gun that ballistically matches to the crime in the apartment with the individual who they've charged, along with a box of bullets which match the brand that was used in the shooting. The question is, how do you get from the attempted murder and aggravated assault charge to the hate crime charge, which has become a major concern to the victims, the victims families, the Arab American community, the Palestinians across the country. And that is a tougher legal issue. To do that, the state's attorney has to be able to prove that hate was the chief motivator, or a -- a factor in the assault. And the challenge they face is the statements of the witnesses that he approached them and didn't say a word before opening fire. BERMAN: All right, John Miller all over this for us. Thanks so much

for that.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, go f yourselves. Not you, obviously. That is Elon Musk's words for advertisers. He was lashing out at the advertisers who were boycotting his media site X.

Take a listen.


ELON MUSK, CEO, X: If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.


MUSK: Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED): yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.


SIDNER: I'm not sure advertisers would think that was so funny because they are boycotting not blackmailing. Musk has been under fire for amplifying anti-Semitic posts on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Our Oliver Darcy, thank goodness, is here with me now. Also joining us, Lance Ulanoff, U.S. editor in chief for "TechRadar."

Thank you both for being here.

Oliver, first to you.

This is a man who is a billionaire, but he did borrow, correct, to buy Twitter for a heck of a lot of money, which is now undervalued. You now have this boycott by advertisers because of something he did. Why do this? What is -- what is the purpose? Does he not need the advertisers to fund X?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: I can't get in Elon's head, but he does need the advertisers to fund X. And what's really interesting about this is he's refusing to take any responsibility for why they've left X. I mean they're not blackmailing him --

SIDNER: Right.

DARCY: They are leaving X after, you know, they put up with quite a bit, to be honest. But they're leaving X because he made this anti- Semitic endorsement and because hate speech has surged on the platform explicitly because of many of the decisions that Elon Musk has made since taking over the platform.

So, this is an entirely self-inflicted wound. And Elon Musk talks about, he says, you know, this is going to kill the -- kill the website, kill the platform because they can't, you know, they can't survive without advertising money. It's their life blood. But then he goes and does this.

He could have, you know, wooed back advertisers yesterday. He could have said, you know, I'm responsible for that. I am so sorry. You know, I want to assure you that I understand my actions led to this consequence, but I want you back on the platform. But instead he tells them to go f themselves. So, apparently he doesn't really care about his $44 billion investment.

SIDNER: Have you heard anything from any of the advertisers, like Disney? Have they responded at all? Their response may be nothing and they just stop advertising completely. But any -- anything yet?

DARCY: Well, I was talking to one advertising executive who said that if there was any chance that these companies, like Disney, would return to X at some point in time, he just nuked that possibility really. I mean they're not probably going to return. Like Disney -- you know, Elon Musk basically called out Bob Iger, the CEO of that company, and told him to go f himself as well.

SIDNER: Right.

DARCY: And so hard to see how Bob Iger is going to return back to that platform.


But they've been very clear, you know, that they have brand safety concerns.

And we should also say that it's not just that they're not advertising on this platform. Disney -- a lot of the main accounts have actually just stopped using it. Like so Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, they used to regularly post on X, on Twitter. Now they have completely stopped. And they've actually shifted over to Mark Zuckerberg's text based social media platform Threads.

SIDNER: Threads. That's right. There was a whole shift in movement to that.

But X is still popular. I mean there's still quite a few people that use both now.

Oliver Darcy, stick with me.

I want to go to you, Lance.

Lance, something that sort of stood out to me here is that Elon Musk, this is his -- this is just one of his companies. Very forward facing, but he has got SpaceX. He is intertwined with the U.S. government. He has government contracts. What is the U.S. government thinking right now about him and their dealings with him? Will this shift or change anything in your mind?

LANCE ULANOFF, U.S. EDITOR IN CHIEF, "TECHRADAR": Well, look, on the SpaceX side, fortunately he has someone else, a CEO that's not him, running the company. And he's -- he seems almost more or less hands off. So, maybe there isn't as great a concern there that he's going to do something publicly ridiculously in the SpaceX venue that's going to mess things up.

But, you know, you talked about his other companies. And, you know, tonight is the cyber truck launch. You know, very important, critical launch for Tesla. He will be there I'm sure at some point. He'll probably show up late. He always shows up late.

But this is a terrible look right before that to go out there and, you know, you want people to be excited. You want the excitement to happen on his -- the platform he owns. But more and more people are walking away from X because they don't feel safe, they don't feel comfortable. So, even though his companies are separate, they're run separately, they -- they -- the point of the (INAUDIBLE) --

SIDNER: All right, I think we --

ULANOFF: Impact on all of these other businesses to some extent.

SIDNER: We lost you for just a few seconds, but you were making some salient points there about, he is synonymous with all of these other company, Tesla, SpaceX and, of course, X.


SIDNER: And others.

In the end, how do you see this going for his social media platform? Do you think that the end is near?

ULANOFF: You know, well, he just said it, right? He said that they're killing it. And I feel like, was he opening it up? Was he sort of showing us what's really going on? Like that -- you know, the system is running. Things are still going on. But I really worry that six months from now X will be gone and it will be one of the most calamitous and most catastrophic collapses of a major business and social media platform we've ever seen. And all (INAUDIBLE) --

SIDNER: Lance, I think we lost you again just at the end there. But, yes, if it goes down, it goes down big.

Oliver Darcy, Lance Ulanoff, thank you so much. I think a lot of people have to remember, there was a huge layoff when he started. This means, if it does go down, more jobs lost in the tech world. Not a great thing. Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate it.


BERMAN: Go blank yourself. Not you, Sara. That's what Elon Musk said on the stage.

SIDNER: Uh-huh.

BERMAN: All right, 24 hours before he might be expelled from Congress, George Santos lashes out at colleagues saying there is dirt on them too. So, what do those colleagues think this morning? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: A few moments ago we heard from embattled lawmaker George Santos, who was awaiting a congressional vote to expel him. The Republican congressman once again said he will not resign, instead arguing he is being bullied and that the vote represents chaos in Congress.

With me now is Republican Congressman Marcus Molinaro of New York.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us.

George Santos, what do you think his job will be come Saturday?

REP. MARCUS MOLINARO (R-NY): He will no longer be a member of Congress, and he shouldn't be. The man didn't just manufacture his entire life story to defraud his voters, he stole from donors to personally profit. And he has yet to take any responsibility.

However, after a bipartisan, comprehensive ethics investigation, his due process, it is clear that he shouldn't be a member of Congress, and likely won't.

BERMAN: In this news conference he gave this morning, he seemed to imply, I have a lot of other dirt on members of Congress, and maybe you're about to hear that too. What do you think about that?

MOLINARO: Yes. Well, first, I wouldn't believe anything George Santos has to say. He's proven that he is incapable of leveling the truth. In fact, I don't know that he knows the truth.

But, more importantly, he's doing exactly what con men do. And, by the way, juveniles do, which is, instead of taking responsibility for his own action, pointing the finger and suggesting, well, he's no worse than -- than anyone. He is. He has conducted a fabulous fraud, manufacturing his entire life, in order to defraud voters of the honest option to select their representative in one of the greatest deliberative bodies in the world. He defrauded donors and took those dollars to benefit himself personally.

There are standards of conduct in public service. He has not met them. And he continues to avoid any amount of sort of personal responsibility. That investigation has produced a comprehensive report that without question says he is not only a con man but a criminal and he shouldn't be here.

BERMAN: You seem to feel pretty strongly about this.


BERMAN: Why do you think that House Speaker Mike Johnson doesn't feel as strongly?

MOLINARO: Oh, I think everyone -- I don't judge my colleagues. [09:45:02]

Everyone has to come to this conclusion very carefully. I understand the concept and the context of obviously not using expulsion -- by the way, or impeachment as a political tool. This is -- these efforts to provide oversight and accountability have to be used because someone has exceed what is either acceptable conduct, high crimes and misdemeanors, or something that undermines the entire institution. George has achieved that. We have a standard of conduct. I know there's some -- some Americans who don't necessarily believe so. There is a standard of conduct here. There are laws to be followed. He broke both. He exceeded that, and no longer should serve in Congress.

BERMAN: But if it's so obvious to you -- if it's so obvious to you, are you disappointed it's not as obvious to House Speaker Mike Johnson?

MOLINARO: No, not at all. And I think the speaker will come to his own conclusion, as we will. But, you know, I've seen it very close. We serve in the state of New York. There is nothing about George Santos that matches my belief of public service. I actually believe that public service is a dignified duty and we have an obligation to hold ourselves to a standard. George doesn't seem to understand that and shouldn't be here.

BERMAN: So, you brought up the word impeachment. There is an impeachment inquiry now into President Biden. It was begun by then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. It has not been voted on by the full Congress. It might be soon. How will you vote on making the impeachment inquiry official, for lack of a better word?

MOLINARO: And actually the marriage of these two things is important. We have a fundamental responsibility to hold ourselves to a standard and to conduct the appropriate accountability and oversight of the executive branch. There are issues of corruption and questions of impropriety. The two committees or three committees now are conducting their work. If they present the facts in a way that suggest that the next step is an -- appropriately is an impeachment inquiry, I can support that. But the committees of jurisdiction ultimately have to, just as the bipartisan committee judged George Santos have to present us those findings of facts and then we'll make a decision. If that threshold is met, it's our obligation. This isn't about politics, it's about providing the appropriate oversight of the executive branch and con men and criminals like George Santos.

BERMAN: Are you a yes vote on an impeachment inquiry today?

MOLINARO: I could absolutely be there. I want to see the report, the data and the facts as the committees present them to us, just as I know many of my colleagues wanted to see the bipartisan commission, Ethics Committee report, on George Santos. It's the same standard. Once we exceed the threshold, it's important that we provide the appropriate oversight.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Marc Molinaro, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it. MOLINARO: You bet. Be well.


SIDNER: All right, right now, court back in session in the racketeering trial against Grammy-winning rapper Young Thug and five other defendants. The charge being used against them, by the way, is the same one that is being used against Donald Trump in the same place, in Georgia. We are going to talk all about it, coming up.



SIDNER: Just moments ago court resumed in the racketeering trial for rappers Young Thug and Yak Gotti and four other people. It is the second day of testimony in what could be a landmark case in the state of Georgia.

In opening statements, prosecutors claimed what they're know as YSL, the acronym for Young Thug's record label, Young Stoner Life, also stands for the Young Slime Life gang.



ADRIANE LOVE, FULTON COUNTY CHIEF DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They created a crater in the middle of Fulton County's Cleveland Avenue community that sucked in the youth, the innocence and even the lives of some of its youngest members.


SIDNER: But the defense ridiculed the idea that the Grammy winner would spend his time running a small time gang.

CNN's Isabel Rosales joins us now.

Isabel, you're looking at this case. This case could have bigger implications, though, beyond the racketeering charges against Young Thug and several others. Give us an example of why it -- why this is worth watching for those who may not be fans.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sara, good morning to you.

This case is one of the most high-profile trials happening in the nation right now. And it is a test. It is a test of Georgia's expansive RICO law. The same one that is being used against Donald Trump and his associates. It's also a test of Fulton County DA Fani Willis, her reputation ahead of that coming Trump trial, and also the state's controversial decision to use rap lyrics as evidence.

Now, this is a decision that has drawn fierce criticism where many critics have said that this is a violation of free speech, a violation of artistic expression, and specifically black art. They are saying, you wouldn't see maybe country lyrics or, I don't know, pop music lyrics being put up in court. So, that is a big sticking point right there.

Day three yesterday of this trial, we saw prosecutors calling their first expert witness to the stand. That is Detective Mark Belkap. He is a part of Atlanta Police Department's Gang Unit. He described why YSL, as a gang, how they had their own language, their own dress codes, and their own gang signs.

Now, prosecutors are accusing Jeffrey Williams, better known as Young Thug, of leading this street gang YSL. And in the indictment they listed more than 180 acts against the group. Again it's six defendants so far, including Young Thug.

And these charges against them are murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, carjacking and drug sales. Among the more serious charges that Young Thug specifically is facing is renting a car back in 2015 that was then used by YSL members to commit murder against a rival gang member.

Now here is more sound from Young Thug's defense, Brian Steel, what he said.



BRIAN STEEL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He is not running this criminal street gang in Cleveland Avenue area of believeland (ph) to gain property, money or power.

He is not sitting there telling people to kill people. He doesn't need their money. Jeffrey's worth tens of millions of dollars.


ROSALES: And, Sara, this case drawing -- this trial so far drawing a lot of chaos and headlines, including just yesterday where the jurors' faces were accidently and briefly shown during a livestream.

SIDNER: Wow, a lot going on there. And just to be clear, you see that sort of YSL. It looks very much like Yves Saint Laurent. That is not what we were talking here. It looks like the same thing. It is absolutely not. It stands for Young Stoner Life.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Isabel Rosales, for all your reporting.


BERMAN: All right, thanks, Sara.

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