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Don Lemon Tonight

Steve Bannon Indicted On Two Counts Of Contempt Of Congress; Defense Attorney Offers 'Apologies' For Saying "We Don't Want Any More Black Pastors Coming In Here"; Don Lemon Interviews Ben Crump Regarding Arbery Trial And Astroworld Tragedy; When Law And Order Turns To Vigilantism; Judge In Charge Of Rittenhouse Trial Faces Backlash. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, here's our breaking news tonight. Steve Bannon, the one-time chief strategist to the former president, indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress for ignoring the subpoena by the House January 6 Committee. Bannon charged with refusing to appear for deposition and refusing to turn over documents.

This major development as Trump incredibly appears to defend the January 6 rioters who are calling for then-Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged as the insurrection unfolded, saying in a taped interview -- quote -- "the people were very angry" and once again pushing the big lie.

The Bannon indictment a boom to the January 6 committee's investigation. We're covering all fronts with CNN's legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, senior legal analyst Laura Coates, and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Good evening to all of you.

Paula, I'm going to start with you with the reporting since you broke the story, you and your colleagues. This is a huge win for the January 6th Committee. What is next for Steve Bannon and this investigation, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Don, I have to give a huge shout out to our newly-minted associate producer Hannah Rabinowitz, who is really one of the big reasons we broke the story. She has been staking out the courthouse and she will continue to do so as we watch this process unfold.

We expect Bannon will self-surrender on Monday and then appear in court Monday afternoon. And then, like anyone, this criminal process will play out. He will have the opportunity to engage in plea deal negotiation though that is not expected. And he has the resources to fight this through a criminal trial. If he's convicted, he can also appeal. So, this could be a long, drawn-out process. But, in the immediate future, the biggest consequence is for the committee. Without any consequence for Steve Bannon's blanket defiance of this committee, this investigation, Don, would have been crippled.

I've spoken to witnesses who have been subpoenaed in this case and they've been watching to see what was going to happen with Bannon. Would there be any consequence? And now that they're seeing criminal charges, those come with a cost. Not only cost, potentially, to your reputation, but also legal bills.

Now, those witnesses will have to weigh how they want to proceed and it is likely that we will see more engagement between some of these targets and the committee, though it's not necessarily true that there is going to be total cooperation and that they're going to get everything they want.

LEMON: Merrick Garland, Paula, is under a lot of scrutiny for how long this took. What is he saying tonight?

REID: He was under so much political pressure here, Don. I mean, even President Biden weighed in in favor of prosecution. Now, our colleague, Evan Perez, reports that, look, the Justice Department just didn't see this as a very simple case. It's complicated and it's rare. We are told that the decision to charge was made by career prosecutors. It was supported by the attorney general. And he released a statement today.

Look, not all indictments come with a statement from the attorney general. But in the statement, he said, since my first day in office, I promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law.

So, clearly trying to do some reputation rehab for the Justice Department that took a lot of flak, a lot of rightful criticism during the previous administration.

Now, there is another big question here that is going before the D.C. Court of Appeals. There's ongoing litigation between former President Trump and the committee over this big question that the Justice Department has been grappling with here, which is question of potential privilege, executive privilege.

The Biden administration believes that a former president, President Trump, does not have the power to keep secret records when the current president, Biden, of course, wants them released.

So far, one federal judge has agreed with that. But those arguments, that's going to go before the Court of Appeals on November 30th. And that too, Don, will be huge, not only for the former president and his witnesses, but for the committee and the success of its investigation.

LEMON: So, listen, you mentioned that if Merrick Garland hadn't done this, it would've just taking the wind out of the sail for this committee. So, what about the other people who have so far stonewalled this committee? I mean, they have got to be, I would imagine, pretty nervous because it's expensive to defend oneself, correct?

REID: Very expensive and likely talking to their lawyers about their options. All of these witnesses certainly have the option to comply.


We don't expect full compliance. Traditionally, you engage in a negotiation with the committee, trying to narrow down and barter about what you are willing to talk about, what kind of documents you are willing to provide. And if you can come to an agreement, then, perhaps, you get a deposition or some documents.

Now, that may not be possible in all cases. These witnesses still have the opportunity if they want to show up to invoke their Fifth Amendment if there are questions that they don't want an answer. And at least showing up, you make it harder for the House Committee to argue that you should be held in criminal contempt. They'll refer you for contempt.

The person who should be worried right now is former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, because he defied a deadline to show up early this morning. He has really followed the Bannon method here, complete defiance. No nuance, just completely defied a subpoena and argued privilege to everything. Even a lot of what he was asked about really wouldn't cover a privilege even if he had it.

So, he's definitely going to be watching what is going on in the Court of Appeals and the committee has signaled they could potentially pursue criminal contempt against him as well.

LEMON: I appreciate that. Paula, thanks so much.

So, joining me now, CNN's senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director. Mr. McCabe, good to see you. Thank you.


LEMON: So, you say that the biggest part of the Bannon indictment is what it means for the other witnesses. Look at Meadows. He refused to testify. Do you think tonight's news might change some minds here?

MCCABE: I think it's going to weigh very heavily on many of these witnesses for a variety of reasons. You guys have already touched on the expense issue. You know, this is in many ways an easy decision for Steve Bannon, right? His entire media personality is built around this image of being a fighter and resister. So, this is all very good for his brand.

So, it's also easy for him to raise money to assist with the defense. I'm not so sure that every other witness who is associated with the former administration can say the same thing. Plus, many of those folks are going to make the opposite assessment of Steve Bannon, and that is that being indicted by a federal grand jury is not a good thing for your reputation. It's not a good thing for your career prospects.

So, I do think, Don, that folks are recalculating how they want to proceed now, realizing that the committee is going to stand up and DOJ is going to back them up under the right circumstances.

LEMON (on camera): Steve Bannon probably, as you said, like to fight. He thinks it is good for his brand, right? This is what he was saying the day before the insurrection. Watch this.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST AND SENIOR COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, okay? It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in. The war room a posse. You have made this happen. And tomorrow, it's game day. So, strap in.


LEMON (on camera): Okay. I mean, I'm not really adding anything. It's kind of obvious, right? It sounds like he would have a lot of critical details about January 6, like he knew something.

MCCABE: Yeah. I mean, once again, in almost a very Trumpian way, this guy has basically painted himself into a very troubling corner with his own statements. You know, I think we are very, very far way off ever actually having someone sit in front of Steve Bannon and ask him questions. I'm not convinced that will ever happen.

But if it did, this is right where you go at. Here he is clearly indicating some sort of advanced knowledge of something that is going to happen on January 6th. I opened with, Steve, let's talk about what you said on your podcast, what did you mean?

LEMON: Yeah. You know, I'm kicking myself for not asking this earlier, so I will ask you. What are you expecting on Monday when Bannon says that he's going to turn himself in?

MCCABE: Oh, I think it'll be the standard kind of, you know, bizarre pageantry around a high-profile arrest. I'm quite confident that his lawyers will negotiate a self-surrender. You'll see Bannon pulling up at the courthouse, walking inside, and then the cameras will catch him on the way out.

It's a very ministerial process. He is informed, officially informed of the charges against him. I'm sure his lawyers will ask that he be released on bond. That is likely to happen. He'll go home Monday night. He's not going to be detained. And then the case will begin its slow grind forward.

LEMON: Well, there you go, slow. Okay, well, slow and steady. Let's hope that that means something in this case. That old saying. Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate it.

MCCABE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, now, I want to bring in CNN's senior legal analyst Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor, and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Laura, you have earned this week. I've seen on television all day for the trials, for this, there's a lot going on.


So, good evening to both of you. Laura, let me start with you. The January 6 Committee needed this win. I mean, big picture. Is today an affirmation of congressional oversight that, you know, their subpoenas should not be ignored?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and actually it was a win for the rule of law. This is really an open and shut case in the sense that if somebody is issued a congressional subpoena, it ought to and should mean something and should carry some weight.

There was some contemplation by the Department of Justice. It was likely around the notion of what the other 34 witnesses we try to assert. Was there some colorable claim for them as to privilege? Preparing for a case-by-case assertion of that privilege with the idea of, it was very simple, was there a congressional subpoena issued? Yes. Did you comply with it? No.

That is open and shut. Everything in between, though, the assertions of privilege, relate to somebody who was not an employee of the executive branch, was not an adviser since at least 2017, does not have the same even plausible colorable claims of privilege as, say, perhaps Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, which might be more likely to gain the attention of the court looking at valid assertions of privilege.

Steve Bannon's case was probably a likely test case, figuring out all the different scenarios of what were the contingencies, what going to be the arguments made, and ultimately preparing for the next 34 potential stonewalls by people subpoenaed by this actual committee.

LEMON: I don't know if there's a strategy here, but is this a warning shot from Merrick Garland to other witnesses?

COATES: Yes. And it is more than a warning. It's a federal indictment now.

LEMON: All right.

COATES: It's a grand jury independently finding that that is actually what is happening. And it's not just a warning shot. Although the trial may be a long away, this actually bodes well for appellate court looking at the issue to figure out is there a legitimate legislative and oversight function here. Asking to have a blanket assertion prematurely before even a question is asked is not going to cut it.

LEMON: Mr. Brownstein, let me ask you. Trump and his followers want us to believe that this is about defending executive privilege. Isn't this really about people flagrantly defying Congress, trying to shut down questions about an attempted coup?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. And it's also about, I think, fundamentally about trying to normalize and excuse and explain away the insurrection itself. I mean, one of the biggest macro issues we have been dealing with since Trump came down the escalator is whether our institutions, all of our institutions, are capable of defending the rule of law and democracy as we have known it.

And you know, we have seen those defenses being much rickety on many fronts for many years than most people expected. I still find it incredible that so few Republicans in Congress are willing to stand up to the institutional prerogatives of Congress, to compel testimony and to obtain information that it needs from the executive branch.

We saw that when Trump is in office. He tried to stonewall completely. In fact, did on the impeachment committees. And now, we see it extending even beyond the office and still crickets from Republicans in both chambers refusing to stand up for Congress's authority, which ultimately, you know, they will need someday as well.

And I think that before we celebrate kind of the victory for the rule of law, we still have to see whether those Republican justices on the Supreme Court, probably at the end of this line, are going to have to decide whether to toss out those claims of privilege for a former president, and I don't think we know that they're going to do that.

LEMON: Laura, I was looking for Jim Jordan tweeting this. Let's put it up. Joe Biden has eviscerated executive privilege. There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from Ron Klain and Jake Sullivan when we take back the House.

He's threatening to go after the Biden administration, but none of them staged a coup. I mean, is this all just B.S. and -- I mean -- yeah.

BROWNSTEIN: First of all, there's a difference between executive privilege and Laura can probably speak to this better than I can, but there's certainly a difference between executive privilege for current administration and executive privilege claim by a former president, kind of this blanket claim of privilege that Trump has done.

But yeah, look, I mean, you know, the larger context of this is you see Trump in the tape that you played earlier, that I'm going to talk about later, defending the attack. You see a decline in share of Republicans saying this was inappropriate. You see threats of violence becoming more routine in American politics from not only the top but even at the local level with school boards and public health officers.

[23:15:00] The character of the democracy is changing and it is frankly not only distressing but astonishing that there haven't been more Republicans willing to enter effectively a popular front to defend the basic rules of democracy against the threats that Trump has mounted.

And you see, if anything, people like Jordan kind of abetting Trump, enabling Trump by threatening those who would stand up against his kind of assault on democracy.

LEMON: He said he invoked your name, Laura.

COATES: Well, you know, executive privilege is not about protecting the political ambitions of the incumbent. It's really about preserving the institution of the presidency and there are instances when you do want to have the protection of these frank candid forthright open discussion with members of your cabinet, members of your advisory panels, people who are close to the sort of not only the inner circle but the inner Oval Office as well.

And so President Biden is already said that they're going to look at it through a case by case basis as to what to assert privilege and what not to because, as I said, there is certainly not a colorable claim of executive privilege. We were talking about Steve Bannon, not a part of the executive branch, not a part of the administration in any way, had the bad blood, was out and ousted for quite some time at least in 2017.

Mark meadows, a chief of staff, you could see that there might be some indication and some conversations that actually could be merit and worthy of thinking about how you want to deal in the future with that sort of conversation.

But you don't get a blanket level of privilege and protection if the nature of the conversation is antithetical to democracy, is somehow involved in a criminal enterprise or otherwise. You'll get to say, listen, because I spoke to the president of the United States, then all bets are off.

So, they have to actually make that claim on a case-by-case basis. And Bannon versus Meadows, there is a wide spectrum in between, but the person that actually has Bannon's case, for example, is somebody who is already ruled twice against interests that Trump has tried to assert, whether it be the Dominion voting and the big lie or aspects of handing over his taxes to the House of Representatives.

The idea of balancing democracy against transparency for the public is always a paramount concern and a Supreme Court worth the assault should recognize you cannot use the privilege for political gains. It has to be about something that is colorable, meritorious and not trying to destroy democracy.

LEMON: Laura, Ron, thank you. By the way, Laura, you've been on television all week, but I know behind the scene, you're Marie Kondo'ing (ph) your place and --

(LAUGHTER) Between live shots. She's been spring cleaning in the fall. I just thought I'd let our viewers know that.

COATES: I have been trying to spark -- I had to find my way to spark joy, okay? That's my decompression. Thank you very much. You know what? Whatever. I've been calling goodwill. Pick up a lot from my house. All I'm saying.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, we all need that.

COATES: Out with the old.

LEMON: Thank you, Laura. Thanks, Ron. I'll see you guys.

BROWNSTEIN: All right.

LEMON (on camera): So, I have some new developments to tell you about today in the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The defense attorney says that he is apologizing to anyone who might have been, his words, inadvertently offended when he said this.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN, JR.: We don't want any more Black pastors come in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family, trying to influence a jury in this case.




LEMON (on camera): A defense attorney in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery trying to walk back outrageous comments he made yesterday when he said that he doesn't want Black pastors in the courtroom. He claimed that he didn't want their presence influencing the jury. Now, he's apologizing, sort of.


GOUGH: If my statements yesterday were overly broad, I will follow up with a more specific motion on Monday, putting that and those concerns in the proper context. And my apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended.


LEMON (on camera): Okay. Well, CNN's Martin Savidge is covering the trial, and he joins me now. Martin, good evening. Overly broad and inadvertently. Okay. There was huge outcry over what that attorney said yesterday. This incident shows just how big of a role race is playing in this case.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, as if we didn't already know that. And, of course, there are so many ways that race has been impacted. You got three white men who are up for murdering a Black man. You got basically an all-white jury with one African-American serving on it.

And then on top of that, there are all these insinuations that in the community in which it is all taking place, there is a divide. You have Brunswick itself which is primarily African-American or mostly African-American, but Glynn County which is predominantly white. So, over and over and over again, race plays an issue.

And then you got Kevin Gough who just gets up and makes that statement. What does he mean by overly broad? I mean, I just found that, when I listened to his explanation, it made no sense.

And, of course, the defense, other defense teams were outraged because what they fear is that the blowback is against all of them. Whatever Kevin Gough said is going to make all the defense teams look bad and thereby their defendants.

In fact, it was Jason Sheffield that came out at the noon break and he just unloaded against Gough. Here is a sample of what he had to say.



JASON SHEFFIELD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: There has been a lot of reporting on the statement made by Kevin Gough yesterday in court about wanting no more Black pastors. That statement was totally asinine ridiculous.


SAVIDGE (on camera): You know, I will point out that Kevin Gough in giving his apology today said he'll be filing a motion early next week on the subject matter. So, it sounds like Kevin Gough has still got more to say when it comes to the issues of Black pastors.

Meanwhile, we know that there is just dozens and dozens and dozens, perhaps even hundreds of Black pastors that are now planning to make their way to Brunswick, Georgia next week, and among them is Jesse Jackson, who Kevin Gough mistakenly said was in the courtroom the other day when in fact, he was not. But Jesse Jackson says he will be there next week.

LEMON: When he was being overly broad. He said that, made those claims.


LEMON: Thank you, Martin. I appreciate it.

SAVIDGE: Know what it means.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, sir. So, as Martin just said, he's not only bringing 100 Black pastors to pray with the Arbery family next week, but he is filing nearly 100 lawsuits over the deadly Travis Scott concert. Who am I talking about? Ben Crump. He's up next.



LEMON: Reverend Jesse Jackson out with a defiant statement in response to defense attorney in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killing, who said that Black pastors shouldn't be in court. He says -- quote -- "public trial involves public observation."

Arbery family attorney, Ben Crump, says next week, he plans to show up with 100 Black pastors to pray with the family. And Ben Crump joins me now. Ben, thank you so much. Good to see you.


LEMON: Let's talk about this defense lawyer. He's now apologizing for his comments. But you plan on bringing 100 Black pastors to pray next week. What is the message you want to send here, Ben?

CRUMP: First of all, to apologize (INAUDIBLE) he's not backing them up because they were racist only because people are calling him out for them being racist.

And so that's why Attorney Merritt and I feel we need to make sure the family of Ahmaud Arbery and any other victims who are trying to be marginalized by racism and discrimination know that the Black pastors are always welcome to pray for these families in need.

And so, we're going to be very careful not to give them any reason for a mistrial. However, we won't do anything to bridge the First Amendment rights of our clients, especially when it comes to prayer.

LEMON: You know, we see -- look, race is a central role in this case. We see it in the defense lawyers' ignorant comments. We see it with the makeup of the jury. While in the Rittenhouse trial, those who were shot can't even be labeled victims. What do these two trials show about the justice system in this country?

CRUMP: It is what I wrote about in my book, "Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People." It is bad that they kill us in the streets but it's even worse when they use the laws to kill us and try to justify them with technicalities.

Don, when you think about if the roles were reversed and you had a Black father and a Black son chased down an unarmed young white man and shoot and kill him, you would not find anybody who wouldn't say it was bloody murder and every ruling would go against that Black father and son.

And with the Rittenhouse trial, man, the judge seems to be so biased in favor of Rittenhouse even though this is a young man who killed two unarmed people.

Now, think about if he was a young African-American, and that's what the issue is in America. We can't have these two justice systems, one for white America and another for black America. And every time it happens, we have to hold a mirror to America's face.

LEMON: I want to ask you about the Astroworld tragedy. Boy, it is that -- it left nine people dead. You're representing more than 200 people, including a 9-year-old currently in a coma. You've already filed more than 90 lawsuits. What are your clients looking for, Ben?

CRUMP: Well, the biggest thing, Don, is you want to hold those accountable on every level, starting with Live Nation, the world's largest concert and music festival promoter. They do concerts all over the world. We want to make sure that they give justice to those who were catastrophically injured and psychologically injured.

But also, those families who are dealing with losing their children. Some of them in high school, some of them in college. Some sense of justice. But most importantly, we want to change the industry so we can make sure this never ever happens again.


Don Lemon, when you go to a concert, you should not have to risk your life.

LEMON: Ben Crump. Ben, I just want to say, in the Ahmaud Arbery case, can you please just give our regards to Mrs. Cooper Jones? I mean, I can't imagine what it's like being in a courtroom and watching that footage and just reliving this daily. So, thank you for what you're doing and I appreciate it. I'll talk to you soon.

CRUMP: Thank you, brother.

LEMON: Thank you. The January 6 insurrectionists, Kyle Rittenhouse, the three men charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, what happens when people take justice into their own hands? We'll talk about that next.



LEMON: The role of vigilantism, a key factor in the trials playing out in Wisconsin and in Georgia. But what does it have to do with January 6 and the rioters who stormed the Capitol?

Let's get right to it now. CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers and CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams are both here. Good evening to both of you. Happy Friday. Happy Friday.

Bakari, I want you to look at all the people at the center of these incidents: the January 6 insurrectionists, Kyle Rittenhouse, the three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery. What is the through line that you see?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, Don, you pointed out something in the word vigilantism. What you're seeing is that individuals are taking what they believe to be misdeeds in their own hands. You have people storm the Capitol because they felt like government wasn't doing their job.

You had people in Kenosha or Rittenhouse in Kenosha allowing his mom to take him across state lines with AR-15, which still blows my mind because, I mean, my mom asks me if I had McDonald's money. So, I can't even imagine asking her if she would take me across state lines with an AR-15. But that's a whole another story about where is his father and because government was not doing their job.

And in Georgia, you had individuals who thought Ahmaud Arbery was breaking into homes or trespassing, and government wasn't doing their job. And so, there is this through line where white men feel as if they have to take, you know, this vigilantism into their hands and this is what happens, bloodshed.

LEMON: Well, isn't it similar -- we'll get to January 6 because it is the same thing. Government is not doing its job, then we got to take back our country. There is a whole thing there. So, what is it about justice in this country today, Elliot, where these people think that justice is to take matter into their own hands?


what Bakari said about the Rittenhouse trial, which is sort of the hot one right now. It is really remarkable that someone would, number one, procure a firearm that is unlawful under Wisconsin law, across state lines, if he did not intend to agitate and certainly not just to protect himself but to sort of cause trouble. So, it is a pretty remarkable state of people feeling empowered, right?

January 6 is a little bit different because it's tied into this political question of a president that started, going back to frankly June 20th, 2020 by my account, undermining faith in elections. It can't surprise anyone that then you reach January 6 that people are then taking up arms against the government because they believe that their cause was completely just because they were fed a diet of lies that just sunk in.

So yes, it's -- this is all a question of empowerment misunderstanding of the law and the entitlement to harm other people. Anyway, yeah, there it is.

LEMON (on camera): Bakari, I want you to listen to this. This is from court today. I know Elliot is, like, I'm done. This is from court today from Defense Attorney Jason Sheffield who represents Travis McMichael in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Here it is.


SHEFFIELD: It appears that the evidence in this case is overwhelming about one thing and one thing in particular. This case is not about a lynching. This case is not about racism or racist motives. This is just a neighborhood and some people trying to do the best they could to stop the crime in the neighborhood.


LEMON (on camera): Okay. Screams privilege to me but what do you say?

SELLERS: As a fellow lawyer, I mean, that is -- I mean, that's the best B.S. you can do. I mean, I hope he's getting paid top dollar for that one. Look, this is -- what we're talking about and just so every viewer understands this, this is a privilege that Elliot, Don, that Bakari cannot get away with in this country.

And I think that the resentment and I said this earlier today, it bears repeating, some of the resentment that I think that all of us feel is the fact that we've seen individuals who look like us succumb to the inability for the country to give people who look like us grace.

And when we see people be able to flaunt the system, to abuse the system, to (INAUDIBLE) the system or bamboozle the system, where our brothers and sisters are not able to even get the grace that this system is supposed to allow us, that's what bothers us the most.

And I always said, I think all of these cases bring to mind Kalief Browder. I think about him often in a Rikers prison, in a solitary confinement, hangs himself for stealing a backpack.


I mean, it's obscene.

And so, that's the frustration in this country that everybody doesn't understand.

LEMON: Yeah.

WLLIAMS: Don, just to add one additional point about whether the Arbery case is about race, there is at least an allegation in the case that one of the defendants uses an ethnic slur after Arbery is dead on the ground.

So, this whole idea of this is just people keeping their neighborhood safe, look, I want to keep my neighborhood safe, too, but this whole idea that race is divorced from it makes literally no sense.

SELLERS: They were driving -- Elliot, they were driving a truck with a confederate flag on the front. I mean, are we saying that's culture --

WLLIAMS: All of the above. But, you know, Bakari, set aside the question what the confederate flag means, right? We know what the "N" word means and there is at least this question that he uses it when the guy is lying bleeding out on the ground.

So, this whole idea that you can totally separate everything from race merely because it's people seeking to protect property or defend a neighborhood just makes no sense. It's just an allegation, I want to be clear, but that's a pretty significant one, Don.

LEMON: What is the distinction between patriotism or keeping your community safe versus just straight up vigilantism? You know, keeping the neighborhood safe seems to be like keeping those people out or from exercising whatever right that they have. I'm just -- you know.

WLLIAMS: We have a system of laws in the country. There are times where you can defend yourself. It's going to vary from state to state when you can use force to defend your property. But you don't have a right in every state anywhere in the county to merely cross state lines to kill people. That's just vigilantism and it doesn't -- it's not a blanket license for violence.

LEMON: Got you. I got 10 seconds only, Bakari, please.

SELLERS: I mean, I can say it in 10 seconds. There is a difference between patriotism and prejudice.


SELLERS: And people in this country, they confuse the two so often and it's not a new concept. But the prejudice that people are putting forward is not patriotism.

Elliott, Don and myself are just as patriotic as anybody else. We just feel like nothing is reparable in this country. We just want to reimagine what she looks like and that's the fundamental problem they were having from -- it's a long story, but we'll talk about it another time.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you.

So, he makes inappropriate jokes. He plays jeopardy with the jurors. He yells at attorneys. And now, people are questioning if he's the right person to lead the court. We're going to look at the judge in charge of the Rittenhouse trial. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): Closing arguments set for Monday in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial and then jurors begin deliberations. Due to the notoriety of the case, Wisconsin's governor has put 500 National Guard soldiers on standby for the verdict in the event of unrest in Kenosha. The high-profile case has gained national attention, and so has the judge.

Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): So, if the statute --


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder as animated today --

SCHROEDER: I would not say that about this law.

LAH (voice-over): -- as he's been throughout the high-profile murder trial of defendant Kyle Rittenhouse. Wisconsin's longest-serving circuit judge, Schroeder is a known history buff, connecting with the jurors in a game of "jeopardy."

SCHROEDER: Both the 100 and 200 meters in the 1988 Olympics. Who is Florence Griffith Joyner?

LAH (voice-over): Trying to keep the mood light with jokes that sometimes fail, like this culturally-insensitive remark.

SCHROEDER: I hope the Asian food isn't coming. It isn't one of those boats in Long Beach harbor.

LAH (voice-over): But doesn't hold back when crossed.

THOMAS BINGER, PROSECUTOR: The court left the door open.

SCHROEDER: For me. Not for you!

BINGER: My understanding --

SCHROEDER: You should have come and asked. Don't get brazen with me.

JOBN ANTHONY WARD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: I've been yelled at. I mean, if you push the line, you will get him yelling at you. If Judge Schroeder is yelling at you, you know that you're still in the game. You're not going to get a mistrial.

LAH (voice-over): Defense Attorney John Anthony Ward says he's argued before Judge Schroeder hundreds, if not thousands of times, in nearly four decades of practice in Kenosha.

WARD: Judge Schroeder is not a pro-defense judge under any stretch of the imagination. Many a defendant have entered a plea bargain thinking they were going to get probation, to end up in prison, totally to their shock.

LAH (voice-over): Schroeder's every word, decision, and behavior has come under intense scrutiny in this two-week trial. Schroeder has not allowed attorneys to call the three men shot by Rittenhouse victims, a longstanding rule of this judge, but could be described as looters or rioters.

But Schroeder is no stranger to the spotlight. From a high-profile 2008 homicide of a woman, the ruling overturned and still being argued today, as Schroeder pointed out in court.

SCHROEDER: And one of the things that I've read over and over and over again is about how I messed up the state against Jensen case, which is now pending downstairs. Actually, I had it 100 percent correct in the first place.

LAH (voice-over): Schroeder was the judge in an unusual condition of parole for a woman convicted of shoplifting at the Pleasant Prairie outlet mall.


Schroeder ruled the woman had to tell any store that sells goods that she walks into that she'd been convicted of shoplifting, telling her it's going to embarrass you, of course.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin State Court of Appeals disagreed, saying Schroeder's ruling falls into the category of shaming.


LAH (voice-over): In the Rittenhouse trial, where national politics and race are clashing, even the judge's ringtone is being watched. That's "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood, one of Donald Trump's rally songs.

WARD: This judge is apolitical. If you try to define Judge Schroeder on the basis of politics, you're going to get lost. What's important to him is if the person is guilty, that he's found guilty, and if he's not guilty, then he's found not guilty.

LAH (on camera): All of this interest surrounding the judge is going to shift to the jury. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Kyung Lah, thank you. And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.