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Don Lemon Tonight

House To Vote On President Biden's Agenda; Travis McMichael Grilled By Prosecutor; Julius Jones' Death Sentence Change To Life Imprisonment; McMichael's Defense Lawyer Intimidated By Black Folks' Presence. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): We're going to stay on it. There's going to be pressure. Because that is one of the reasons that the media in this country matters. We can apply pressure. We can ask the right questions. We can keep demanding answers, as long as I have a platform to do it.

Thank you for watching us. It's now time for DON LEMON TONIGHT with its big star, D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And we have to keep demanding answers. And maybe we're going to get answers tonight when it comes to the Build Back Better plan.

CUOMO: Not if you blame McCarthy has anything to say.

LEMON: My gosh. He says I got all night. He wants to talk. He wants to filibuster. He doesn't want it to happen. Of course, he is going to vote for it. That was sarcasm. Of course, he is not going vote for it. But we have to -- we have to continue and hold their feet to the fire as well. Especially, especially our elected officials here in this country.

CUOMO: You know, I had your boy Kasich on.


CUOMO: And --

LEMON: John and I often clash.

CUOMO: I like where he is coming from.

LEMON: I do. He is a little Pollyanna. I love him, but he's a little Pollyanna.

CUOMO: Well, look, I feel Pollyanna gets a bad name by the way. Having read several of the books, you know, she just had a good perspective on things. She tried to stay positive.

LEMON: I like that. CUOMO: But his idea of people will find their moment. Why would they have a moment when this is what is rewarded? Why are people surprised that the Republicans are closing ranks around Gosar? One, they like what he is doing. They like that he is making fun of people they don't like. Not so much Joe Biden, but they're learning to dislike him. And they certainly don't like AOC.


CUOMO: Why would they go after him? And now you give them reason to close ranks because they say you overplayed your hand on the left.

LEMON: OK. So here is the thing. You have to understand, or feel at least that you -- you have to understand that you're in a bad place, that you're in a bad way, that you're doing something wrong, that this isn't the way to go.

I don't believe the people who are running the show in charge of the party that they even understood at this point. I love John. Part of the Congress that he was involved in, and even the folks who come on this show or come on the network, as former lawmakers, it's not the same as when they were there.

CUOMO: It wasn't great when they were there either.

LEMON: It wasn't great, but this is a whole another show, as they say. The past five years have taught us something and showed us something that is unprecedented in history. Nothing matters anymore. You can flout the law. You don't have to show up for subpoenas. You can make, you know, a mockery of the justice system and of the Congress by promoting your blog and hey, it's great that you guys -- nothing matters anymore. And that is in large part because of the former administration.

But here is the thing. This is -- you know, you want to separate out the Republican Party from the chaos that is going on, but it's hard to do because it is members of the Republican Party --


LEMON: -- who are doing it. And you get John Kasich, this is the water I know. I had S.E. Cupp on last night saying this is the party I know. I feel like I'm on an island. You have Charlie Dent on saying this is the party I know.

CUOMO: They're also -- they're also not in office.


CUOMO: Find me some people in office who are saying this isn't the party I know. You got two of them, and one of them just got kicked out of her state party and the other is not running again.


CUOMO: And look -- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And she -- she is going to have a tough time.

CUOMO: When your party --

LEMON: She is going to have a tough time but maybe lose the election.

CUOMO: When your party says that you don't belong to your party anymore within your state, yes, you're going have a tough time. But look, opposition is a legitimate position.

LEMON: It is.

CUOMO: I'm telling you this, this two-party system doesn't work anymore. We need more parties that have real funding and that get seats so that they have seats at the table and they reflect the ideological spectrum. We've got more people who say they're independent --


LEMON: Excuse me.

CUOMO: -- than Democrat or Republican.

LEMON: It doesn't work anymore -- it would work if you had sense. You know, when someone says --


CUOMO: This is what works.

LEMON: -- when someone says hey, do you have money? And I say yes, and sense with it. So, you can be a lawmaker and have sense with it. But these folks don't because they actually, quite honestly, they don't care about what is best for the people they are serving.

What they care about is what is best for them. What is best for them is winning reelection.


LEMON: So, what do you do? You appeal to the lowest common denominator. You appeal to the Paul Gosars of the world, the Boebarts of the world, the Marjorie Taylor Greene's of the world, the Matt Gaetz of the world who really have no more care. They just care about coopting, corrupting them and staying in power.

And so, you know, that's -- but if you have people there -- I know you say that's it's too high-minded -- I'm too high-minded sometimes. If you had people there who actually believed in the Constitution and believed in what the country was built on, then, you know, -- what our founding fathers were looking forward to us trying to achieve this imperfect, right, union. Or more perfect union, excuse me, then you wouldn't have the type of behavior that you have from the people -- (CROSSTALK)


CUOMO: You know, even that phrase, I did a little research on it. More perfect union. How can it be more perfect? Isn't it perfect like that's it? Because that's how determined they were to not besmirch the dream of the experiment.


CUOMO: And that it was so beautiful what they were putting together.

LEMON: That it what's --


CUOMO: That it was already a perfect idea that they'd make more perfect. Now they don't appreciate it except as a function of the success.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And what is successful is always going at the other person. That's why we put rules together not to allow it and four of that have to be about more than that. At trial, I can't look at you and say did you hear that what this guy just said? Don't listen to him. He's not -- you can't do it. You can't do ad hominems to the person in a courtroom --


CUOMO: -- because it's too dangerous to do it.


CUOMO: It dilutes real arguments. In politics, that's all they're doing now, don.

LEMON: The only way you can perfect -- the idea is not perfect. You may have a perfect idea, but it becoming perfection, more perfect in its execution, which is something that we need to continue to think about.

I got to get to the breaking news, because you never know. Kevin McCarthy, you know, maybe he has run out of wind or he has run out of fuel or who knows. Hi, there.


CUOMO: Your boy.

LEMON: Hey, it was great. I loved your show last night, but I did miss having The Handoff with you. I shall see you later. The new episode by the way of our Handoff and podcast drops today.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I love you, too, brother. I'll see you soon.


And as I said we went on a little bit because we know Kevin McCarthy is tap dancing up there, and they're, you know, just trying to filibuster or do whatever they can.

But this is, it's our breaking news tonight. The House is expected to vote tonight on Joe Biden's Build Back Better bill. Live to Capitol Hill now. And so, you'll see the live pictures of the capitol. We're going get to the floor in just a little bit.

But that's where the debate and eventually the vote stretching on into the night, that's where it's when it's going to happen.

Democrats gearing up to pass. It is a sweeping $1.9 trillion bill, dramatically expanding social services for Americans, working to address the climate crisis, increasing access to health care, and delivering aid to families and children.

The bill is the pillar of the president's domestic agenda, and passing it would really be a major victory for his party, even if it faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

So, let's get right there now to CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean. She's live in the capitol for us this evening. Jessica, hello to you. It has been a very big scramble today after the Congressional Budget Office came out with its score on the president's social safety net package. Where do things stand right now, ma'am?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Don, we are waiting for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to wrap up his remark, and it could be a while that is certainly the feeling here. Right now, he's got what they call the magic minute. It means there is unlimited time for him to talk.

And if anyone is taking a look at the House floor, there is a big binder in front of him that he is reading from. So, a lot of material there. So, he is going to talk as long as he would like.

And in fact, at one point, Democrats were kind of jeering him, and he said to them, look, I have got all night. And they said so do we. So, people are kind of locked down, waiting for that to wrap up. And then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak after that. Again, she'll also have unlimited time.

So, at this point, it's kind of a moving target as to when they will actually vote on this bill. We do expect this bill to pass along party lines. Again, remember, it's only a three-vote margin that Pelosi has to work with here. And it was a handful of moderates that were really the holdouts, waiting on that CBO score, which ultimately came in late this afternoon.

The White House advisers have been here talking through all of that with these moderates, Don, and it appears at this point that they have the votes to get this done. But as you just mentioned, after it leaves the House, if they get it passed here, it's got to go to the Senate where it faces a very uncertain future in terms of what it will actually look like once the Senate is done with it.

LEMON: OK, speaking of, it's going to go to the Senate once it passes the House, if it does, along party lines. But they got to get Senator Joe Manchin has to sign on. He just told CNN that he is not on board yet. So, where does this go, Jessica?

DEAN: Right. That's such a great question. None of us know the exact answer because we're going to have to see ultimately, Don, what Senator Joe Manchin is willing to accept. Also, Senator Kyrsten Sinema. But it appears that she has kind of come around on a lot of the contours of this bill, of this framework that President Biden had laid out.

But Senator Manchin is one that continues to push back on a lot of these issues that remain in here, and certainly on issues that are coming over from the House version of this bill, which include -- included four weeks of paid leave. You remember that got dropped from the framework that was floating around. So that's likely to come out.

Also, the expansion of Medicare. That's something that Bernie Sanders has said is incredibly important to him, to include vision, dental and hearing. So, it's issues like this that's going to be the push and pull over the next several weeks.


Senate -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling us he hopes to have this on the floor by Christmas. Don, that's going to be quite a lift to get that done. Remember, they've got debt limit. They've got government funding. They've got other things they've got to deal with on the Senate floor as well.

But in the end, they got figure out what Joe Manchin is willing to accept. And you can expect President Biden to be very involved once it goes over to the Senate, because these House members, these progressives have trusted that the president is going to be able to bring -- bring the Democrats home on the Senate side. So now we'll see if that happens.

LEMON: I know quite a lift for Christmas. I mean, for us in the news business that seems like wow, you have that long for a deadline? Usually, I need that video in 30 seconds. We're on the air and someone --


JEAN: Right. It's so fast.

LEMON: Yes. There you go. Thank you, Jessica.

JEAN: Yes. LEMON: We will check in with you. Jessica will be there and we will be covering it. So, let's turn now to our chief political analyst Gloria Borger for some analysis on this. Gloria, walk us through this. Good evening to you. So, they're trying to vote --


LEMON: -- on the president's Build Back Better plan tonight. But you know Kevin McCarthy speaking for more than an hour. What is this all about?

BORGER: Well, for Kevin McCarthy, it's a show to his conservatives that he's got enough to become the next speaker of the house. You know, they've been unhappy with him. You know, they think, you know, why did you let those 13 Republicans, those turncoats vote for infrastructure, for example.

You know, they're -- you know, they don't like him. And so, today, he also came out and said, you know, if I were speaker, I would put Paul Gosar back on his committees, Marjorie Taylor Greene, too. So now he is standing on the floor for an hour with a binder full of talking points. And he's going to go on and on for goodness knows how long.

LEMON: He is really trying to appeal to that --


BORGER: So, it's just kind of a show --

LEMON: -- the Trumpy base of the party.


LEMON: Because he knows that he screwed up when it comes to what happened on January 6. So, he is trying to win back the hearts -- the heart of the president and the minds of the folks who support him.

BORGER: And to Trump.

LEMON: Yes. The former president, I should say.

BORGER: And to Trump himself.


BORGER: I mean, the -- yes. And the irony here of course is that Donald Trump really doesn't love McCarthy. Apparently, they spoke this morning. But he doesn't really love McCarthy. So, McCarthy could well win back the majority in the House, and then Donald Trump, the ever- loyal Donald Trump could turn on him and decide he wants to back somebody else for speaker.

I mean, Mark Meadows just suggested that maybe Donald Trump --

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: -- ought to be the next speaker of the house.

LEMON: Speaker of the House. Right.

BORGER: So, you have to consider this in its context. Which is just kind of flexing his muscle a little bit because he can.

LEMON: Yes. Just I'm talking to my colleague Gloria Borger here, because we're awaiting a vote on the president's Build Back Better plan in Congress. We should get it soon, if Kevin McCarthy decides to give up the floor. He is speaking now, as we've been saying. Kevin McCarthy is giving this --

BORGER: Right.

LEMON: -- long drawn-out speech on the floor. Some Democrats jeered McCarthy and he said that's all right. I got all night. And the group of Democrats responded so do we, adding the Build Back Better, we have been waiting for this for quite a long time.

BORGER: Right.

LEMON: So, Gloria, the White House keeps saying this bill is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit. How does that square -- we're learning from the CBO tonight, because they're not -- that's not what the CBO is saying.

BORGER: That's right. It's a difference that they believe is kind of both -- I mean, it's a lot of money, no matter which way you look at it. But over 10 years, they're telling moderates, look, this is sort of a negligible impact on the budget deficit.

The difference between the two ways of counting this is that the White House believes they'll get a lot more money from tax cheats than the Congressional Budget Office says. So, it's all about how much money you're going get from people and corporations who aren't paying taxes that should pay taxes.


BORGER: And the White House is saying, you know, this is deficit neutral because we're going get more money than the budget office thinks we're going get.


LEMON: Three hundred --

BORGER: So that's where the discrepancy comes in.

LEMON: Three hundred sixty-seven billion dollars --

BORGER: Three hundred sixty versus --

LEMON: -- in the deficit over a decade according to the summary, a net increase for the deficit --


BORGER: That's right, that's right.

LEMON: -- $367 billion. But that doesn't include that -- they're not counting any additional revenue --

BORGER: Right.

WATTERS: -- as you said that may be generated by additional for tax enforcement.

BORGER: Right.

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: And then the White House says they're going get more than the CBO believes they're going get.


BORGER: So, you know, that's where the discrepancy comes in. But it is -- you know, so the White House can go out there and say this is paid for, which is what the moderates want to be able to go home and tell their constituents, this is paid for.

LEMON: Gloria, we're going to need you. If you can do what my mom does when she has to, you can lay on the pillow, don't mess up your makeup and your hair, because we may have to come back to you.

BORGER: You got a lot to talk about tonight, Don.

LEMON: I know. Gloria, thank you for helping us out. We're going keep an eye. We appreciate it.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Don.

LEMON: We'll see you soon. OK.

BORGER: Thanks, Don.


LEMON: We're keeping an eye on that vote tonight. Right? And it comes as America is at a moment of truth on justice. The country is on edge over big trials in Wisconsin and Georgia. We have been covering for you. But they're coming to a head here.

A teenager with a military-style weapon shooting and killing two people, wounding another during protests in August of 2020 over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

And an unarmed black jogger chased down by three white men and shot to death. Big developments in both of those cases tonight.

In the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, the defense team for Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Roddie Bryan, Jr. rested tonight after presenting their case for two days, calling seven witnesses, including Travis McMichael himself who shot Ahmaud Arbery. He admitted during cross-examination that he never saw the man he killed with a weapon.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: You didn't brandish any weapons?


DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran.

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running.


LEMON (on camera): The lead prosecutor there going after him again on that self-defense claim.


DUNIKOSKI: You also could have stepped around the back of the truck and followed him in the path that way, is that right?

MCMICHAEL: Yes. But then he would have had open, unrestricted run around the truck and into my open door into my pickup truck. And could enter the truck.

DUNIKOSKI: So, you're telling this jury that a man who has spent five minutes running away from you, you're now thinking is somehow going to want to continue to engage with you, someone with a shotgun and your father, a man who's just said stop or I'll blow your (muted) head off by trying to get in their truck?

MCMICHAEL: That's what it shows. Yes, ma'am.


LEMON (on camera): I mean, yes, it really -- it gives you a window into how some people think or the authority that they think they have, even if they're not law enforcement, right? Just an average everyday citizen. Interesting how she just dismantled his defense there.

Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, the black pastors from all over the country gathered for a prayer event, supporting the family of Ahmaud Arbery. That after one of the defense attorneys complained about the presence of the Reverend Jesse Jackson and -- or I should say the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, claiming black pastors would influence a near all-white jury. OK, Ahmaud Arbery's mother speaking out.


WANDA COOPER JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: When Ahmaud was killed on the 23rd of February, I -- the family had some of the darkest times of our lives. We asked questions. We got no answers. We submitted e-mails with no reply back. But in the midst of all that, I prayed. I asked the Lord to somehow tell me what happened to our request.


LEMON (on camera): So, from Georgia now to Kenosha, Wisconsin. We're on verdict watch there. It continues in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The jury concluded its third day of deliberations tonight. They're due back today, tomorrow.

The judge apparently surprised when one of the jurors asked whether she could take the jury instructions home with her. The judge allowed it. Rittenhouse, who has become a hero to some on the right, getting what sounded like a job offer today.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): He is not guilty. He deserves a not guilty verdict, and I sure hope he gets it. Because you know what? Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern.


LEMON (on camera): I wonder if when he was saying those words if he was going wait, bring them back, bring them back. Maybe not. Who knows?

But there are more cases putting the American justice system under a microscope tonight. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has granted clemency to Julius Jones, communing Jones' death sentence just hours before he was scheduled to be executed for a 1999 murder that he said he did not commit.

So, he was with his attorneys in a room near the execution chamber when they found out about the clemency. Jones' sentence will be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But his jubilant family says now he has the rest of his life to fight for his freedom. He can fight on now.

Tonight, I'm going talk with Julius Jones' mother and his best friend. They were on last night. We're wondering what's going to happen. It has now happened. We will speak to them again. We're -- following -- we've been following this story for months and months on this program.

And then there is a New York courtroom. Two men who were convicted of killing Malcolm X more than 50 years ago were exonerated. The Manhattan district attorney apologizing in court for what he called a decades' long injustice against Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam. Aziz telling the court the process was corrupt.



MUHAMMAD AZIZ, EXONERATED FOR KILLING OF MALCOLM X: The (Inaudible) of the court today should never have occurred. So, the defense (Inaudible) process that was corrupt to its core. One that is all too familiar to black people in 2021.


LEMON (on camera): All right. And then we can go to Charlottesville. Closing arguments are under way in a civil case involving white nationalists who organized a deadly two-day rally in August of 2017.


CROWD: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!


LEMON (on camera): The more you look at that video, it's hard to believe that actually happened. But we lived through it. The higher did not. But then president (Inaudible) declaring there were very fine people on both sides.

Residents and counter protesters are seeking damages against 14 people and 10 white nationalists, and nationalist organizations. Like I said, America is at a moment of truth on justice. We will follow.

And there is a very dramatic day in the trial of the man accused of murder in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. Travis McMichael, who pulled the trigger, taking the stand. But what does the jury think?



LEMON (on camera): The defense teams in the -- teams in the trials of -- trial of three men accused of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery resting their case today, but not before the prosecution pressed Travis McMichael, the man who shot Arbery, on what was happening in those final moments.

Here is CNN's Ryan Young with the latest.


MCMICHAEL: I just killed a man. I had blood on me still. It was the most traumatic event of my life. I was scared to death. RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dramatic testimony today

in the trial in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery as defendant Travis McMichael was back on the stand facing additional cross-examination.

McMichael is one of three defendants in the case including his father, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan. Yesterday the young McMichael testified he acted in self-defense when he shot Arbery in February 2020 after a chasing confrontation in the coastal Georgia neighborhood.

Today, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski pressed McMichael on his actions leading up to the shooting.

DUNIKOSKI: How many times have you pulled up on strangers that you don't know next to them with a pickup truck to ask them what they're doing in your neighborhood?

MCMICHAEL: I don't think I have in that situation.

YOUNG: in his first initial encounter with Arbery.

DUNIKOSKI: Did he brandish any weapons?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran?

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running.

YOUNG: The prosecution also pointing out inconsistencies between McMichael's statement to police and his testimony in court.

DUNIKOSKI: You agree with me when I say that you never, ever told the Glenn County Police Department or in your written statement that you said to Mr. Arbery, the police are coming?

MCMICHAEL: I don't know if I did or not.

DUNIKOSKI: Do you remember telling this jury just yesterday that that is what you said to your dad, call the cops, there he is. He starts acting funny. He takes off running.

MCMICHAEL: I believe I said have you called the cops yet. DUNIKOSKI: So nowhere in here do you indicate to Detective Nohilly

that he stopped long enough for you to say the police are on your way and that's why he took off running? Nowhere in your statement is that indicated.

MCMICHAEL: In those terms, saying it in that verbatim, I did not.

YOUNG: The prosecution also pointing out something Travis McMichael's father Gregory told police that his son didn't recall on the stand.

DUNIKOSKI: You stopped. You get out. You yelled at him stop, stop, stop. That's when your father yelled stop or I'll below your (muted) head off.

MCMICHAEL: I don't think so. No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: All right. Well, you don't think so? I mean, you were standing right there. You heard your father say this? Yes?

MCMICHAEL: I don't think I heard him say this, no, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: But you know that's what he told the police he said.

MCMICHAEL: In here court, that's what I head, yes, ma'am.

YOUNG: Shortly after there was this exchange between the state prosecutor Larissa Ollivierre and a witness which spark a public admonishment from the judge.

LARISSA OLLIVIERRE, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, COBB COUNTY: Do you believe someone stealing is deserving of a death penalty?

KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM BRYAN'S ATTORNEY: The question would be the way another argument in this case was characterized as being reprehensible.

TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE, EASTERN CIRCUIT OF GEORGIA: The court does find that the question that was presented was inflammatory and irrelevant.

YOUNG: Defendant William Bryan's attorney also bringing up again his concerns related to who is in the public gallery, specifically calling out Reverend Jesse Jackson.

GOUGH: I think he is back there in the dark shirt. Putting that on the record.

YOUNG: Gough also noting today his client will not be taking the stand. Ben Crump, the attorney for Ahmaud Arbery's father believes the younger McMichael's testimony that he acted in self-defense is ridiculous.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: They actually killed their son, and yet they're talking about self-defense? It is -- I mean just asinine and so intelligence.

YOUNG: All three have pleaded not guilty.

Ryan Young, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.


LEMON (on camera): Ryan Young, thank you very much for that. So, a man who knows Georgia law in courtrooms like none other Michael Moore is here. He is the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. I want to know what he thinks of Travis McMichael's second day on the stand. And guess what? He is going to tell us, right after this break.



LEMON (on camera): The defense resting in the trial of three men accused of the murder -- of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Only one of them testifying in his own defense.

So, joining me now to discuss Michael Moore. He is a former U.S. attorney, Middle District of Georgia. Michael, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

I just got the tickle in your throat that you can't get rid of. If I have to cough during, everybody, forgive me. I'm sure you've been there before. Right? Where did that come from? I can't get rid of it.

So, it was a very dramatic day in court. When you talked yesterday, you thought that Travis McMichael really hurt his case by testifying. What is your estimation of today?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: You know, I think it was more of the same. I mean, he just kind of continued to bleed out on the stand. I'm not surprised at the prosecutor's questions. I think she did a good job. She was methodical in her questions. She got to some legal points that were used when they argue the case to the jury during closing arguments, and she pinned him in on some key elements of his story.

One of the problems that defendants have and witnesses in general, but especially defendants have when they decide to take the stand is trying to keep the various versions of the stories that they've told before straight.

And so here you had a situation where he told the investigating officers one thing and then he is telling on the stand something that's a little different. And those inconsistencies can prove fatal to his claim of self-defense. And it sounds clearly -- again, she did a good job of this.


It sounds pretty clear that he didn't have any idea that there had been a crime committed. He didn't see him have a gun, none of the things that are out there that would have in any way, in any way, if it could have been justified, nothing justifies what they did.

LEMON: Michael, I stopped in my tracks watching. I was oof, oof, oof.

MOORE: Right.

LEMON: Filleted him.

MOORE: Yes, she really went after him. And I think that was the right thing to do. But again, he's -- he really is in a posture where he's claimed that he needed to be the police and go out there and make this arrest. So, he almost had to tell his side of the story. But it was pathetic at times.


MOORE: And this idea somehow that he was confronted at his truck, we know what will happen, don't get out of the truck.


MOORE: He tried to get out of the truck to chase him down.


LEMON: Let's play some of what you're talking about. And then I'm going have you come back on the other side. Here it is.




DUNIKOSKI: You never told the police that you said to Mr. Arbery "you're under arrest," correct?

MCMICHAEL: I did not.

DUNIKOSKI: In fact, you never did tell Mr. Arbery you're under arrest for the crime of fill in the blank.

MCMICHAEL: I didn't have time. I was still trying to get him to stop.


LEMON (on camera): Those initial statements that they made to investigators, it's coming back to these defendants, right?

MOORE: Yes. Absolutely. And, again, that's what gets people in trouble is they can't keep up the versions that they've told. And so, when they're confronted on the stand with inconsistencies and discrepancies in prior statements, then you see what happens. And he is left basically now having said you know something? I didn't really have reason to do it. But we did it, and here we are.

They herded this young man like cattle. You think about that. And into a situation where at the end of the day, Mr. Arbery had no choice but to try to fight to keep himself from being shot because he didn't want to be shot in the back by a guy with a shotgun. So, I really think that the testimony will prove fatal to the defense -- of self-defense in the case.

LEMON: She said look, how many times, the guy was running away from you. He didn't want to -- how much did he have to run away from you and show you that he didn't want to engage with you for you to understand that he did not want to engage with you?

MOORE: Right.

LEMON: The prosecution put pressure on Travis McMichael's self- defense claim. How do you think a jury is taking in all of this, especially the idea the prosecution raised of a man running away and then, you know, and all of the sudden, he's a threat?

MOORE: You know, there is a movie that Matthew McConaughey is in, and he at the end of the day during his closing argument he asks the jurors to close their eyes and say, you know, imagine if the victim in this case was an African-American girl. Imagine that the victim was white. I want you to think about it. She may decide to do something like this.

Imagine if a truck full of young men perhaps African-American men chased down a clean-cut white man jogging in a neighborhood, if we'd be having these same discussions and whether or not the claim of self- defense would fit at all.

These guys chased somebody down who they felt like didn't belong in the neighborhood, and they decided to act like cowboys. And I really think that she has -- she has methodically gone in and answered those questions about self-defense that should satisfy the jurors' mind.

I've enjoyed listening to these ridiculous arguments by the defense lawyers about let's move the pastors out because they may influence the jurors. You know something? There is one black juror in this case. They're not concerned about influencing the jurors. This is, again, kind of moving the case around the issue of race.

And so, I just have to believe that we've got good people on juries, that they want to do the right thing. And the evidence is so clear in this case. And now by Mr. McMichael's own admission, they had no idea that Mr. Arbery had done anything wrong, and he hadn't done anything wrong. They just saw somebody that they decide they'd were going to go investigate and they jumped in the truck like a posse and took out after him.

LEMON: It was a real window into how this person thinks, that he believes the other people were thinking that way as well, because they were joining in on it. We're going to follow. Michael, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you.

MOORE: Good to be with you, Don. Hope you feel better.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much. A defense attorney keeps trying to keep black pastors away from the

trial, right? So more than 100 showed up today, including my next guest.



LEMON (on camera): So here we go. Black faith leaders from across the country gathering in Brunswick, Georgia today for a prayer event to support the family of Ahmaud Arbery. The whole thing planned. This came after a defense attorney for one of the men said this on trial.


GOUGH: We don't want any more black pastors coming in here or other -- Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family, trying to influence the jury in this case.


LEMON (on camera): I should say what the men on trial said. So, joining me now, Reverend Jamal Bryant, who was outside the court today. He is a senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.

JAMAL BRYANT, SENIOR PASTOR, NEW BIRTH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: Good to see you as well. Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Why is it so important for you and the other faith leaders to be there, supporting Ahmaud Arbery's family today?

BRYANT: I think that we had to make a stand. There was a stick drawn in the sand saying that we defy you to comfort. We don't want you to be priestly, that you can't be a supporter. This is unprecedented, even in jaded justice pursuits, to ban clergy from being a part all the more from a grieving family.


LEMON: Listen, one of the foundations of the country, right? Religious freedom. We believe at the core. In God, we trust, and so on.

What is -- what is your initial reaction when you heard that attorney specifically go after the pastors who were in court to comfort Ahmaud -- Ahmaud Arbery's mother during the trial?

BRYANT: It was a badge of honor, really, that it said that the black church still has influence, still has impact. You have to note Reverend Sharpton said absolutely nothing in the courtroom. It was the power of presence, which bespeaks that the community is waiting for clergy and the church to stand up, especially in the hour of crisis.

LEMON: Over and over, this same lawyer keeps calling for a mistrial over the presence of black pastors. I want to know what is he so afraid of? But I think the bigger question, what is he trying to do, reverend? What is going on here?

BRYANT: He is unleashing weapons of mass distraction, is taking away from what is the bottom line, that an innocent young black man is found guilty of one crime, and that's jogging while black. It has nothing to do with Reverend Sharpton or Reverend Jackson or any other pastor, is that we have to stay focused with laser precision that America has got to see that we are not in a post racial society. We're still in the eye of the storm. And it has to be addressed through spiritual approaches. Legally, you can't change people's hearts or your minds. That's a conversion of spirit.

LEMON: I'm sure people are watching this and there are many people who are -- many of our brothers and sisters, shall we say, who are watching this, and for them it's just watching the trial, what's going on. But for black people, what is this week?

BRYANT: This week is a trauma roller coaster. To go from Rittenhouse, getting the weapons charge dropped to all of us holding our collective breath to see whether Julius was going live through this day.

And now in Brunswick, Georgia, waiting to see again will a black man's life have any vindication. This is in the backdrop of people who defied the notion that black lives matter. We got three instances in 72 hours that underscores with the exclamation point that America have to see that our lives matter.

LEMON: How do the last five years play into this, if at all?

BRYANT: It really just keeps building. We had diluted ourselves into believing that we were in a post racial society after the election of President Obama twice. We thought we were in Alice in Wonderland.

And now the proverbial sheets have been pulled off, and we see that racism is still at its peak where 2021 still feels like 1961. For pastors, they have to fly in to Brunswick, Georgia from Seattle, from Houston, from Detroit, from Washington to take a stand outside of a courtroom, we were almost reminiscent of what it must have felt like in the hour of Emmett Till.

LEMON: And speaking of that, of you know, Emmett Till's mom said I want this casket to be open. I want to have an open casket for this. Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones with some really moving words today about how faith helped her after her son was killed. And I want to play some of that. Here it is.


JONES: When Ahmaud was killed on the 23rd of February, I -- the family had some of the darkest times of our lives. We asked questions. We got no answers. We -- we submitted e- mails with no reply back. But in the midst of all that, I prayed. I asked the Lord to somehow tell me what happened to request (Ph).

My daughters talked to me like weeks after. She said, mom, we don't even have an attorney. And I prayed. I told Jasmine, I said "when the Lord get ready for us to have an attorney, we'll get one." UNKNOWN: Amen.

JONES: Not until then.


COOPER: I just want to say thank you.


JONES: My heart is full of just joy in the midst of this broken heart.


LEMON (on camera): Your response to that, reverend, will be the last words.

BRYANT: It is all the more unnerving was the response of the father. I'm grateful for the strength of the mother.


But I don't want to diminish the value of black fathers that are present, because it defies the narrative that black men are not present in their children's lives.

We've seen it from Trayvon Martin all the way up to this case. Look, father say even while I was growing as a man, I will be with my son to fight for justice even after his death. So, we pray for the mother but I want to lift up the arms of black fathers who are doing the work even when they don't get the recognition.

LEMON: Reverend Jamal Bryant. Thank you. I appreciate it.

BRYANT: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate your words. So, the head of the RNC says that President Biden did win the election. And take this. It's the first time she's finally admitting it.



LEMON (on camera): Take this. More than a year after Joe Biden won the election, almost ten months into his presidency, it took until today for RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to clearly admit President Biden won.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Painfully, Joe Biden won the election. He's the president. It's very painful to watch. I think there were lots of problems with the election, and I think it needs to be looked at. But yes, he's the president. It sucks. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (on camera): OK. So, facts first. There has been no proof of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and the DHS has called it the most secure U.S. election in history. The trump DHS.

So, stating the obvious shouldn't be newsworthy. But in this Republican Party where the big lie reigns supreme, it is. Some Republicans still won't admit Biden won, or won't do it without pushing bogus theories of unspecified voter irregularities.

So why won't republicans turn away from the former president? Is it because -- maybe the answer is here. A September CNN poll found that 59 percent of Republicans think believing trump won is an important part of being a Republican. Or is it because of this?


MCDANIEL: If he left the party, we would lose. If he left the party, Republicans would lose. He has built our party. He has added a new base.


LEMON (on camera): So, there you go. Up next, our breaking news tonight. The House trying to pass Biden's Build Back Better plan, but Kevin McCarthy has been stalling the whole thing for more than two hours.