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Don Lemon Tonight
Russian President Vladimir Putin Orders Deployment To Breakaway Regions; Former White House Assistant Press Secretary Asked To Voluntarily Cooperate With 1/6 Committee; Jury Begins Deliberations In The Federal Hate Crimes Trial Of Three White Men Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery; Heavy Snow And Freezing Temperatures Expected Across The Country. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired February 21, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Time now for the news. DON LEMON TONIGHT. Our breaking news, Russian troops could be arriving in Ukraine at any moment. That after Vladimir Putin announced that he will send what he calls peacekeeping forces into two pro-Moscow Ukrainian territories. He recognized it as Independence Day.
But let's be real. These are not peacekeepers. These are Russian troops, nearly 200,000 of them. They're not keeping the peace. You don't need thousands of troops to recognize two breakaway regions, which I should note, no other government has recognized.
At an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting today, that just ended, by the way. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called Putin's recognition of the two territories -- and I quote here -- "an attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine," and said his claim that Russian forces entering those regions are peacekeepers is nonsense.
And look at this, a Russian media outlet posting video of a military convoy towing howitzers through the streets of Donetsk. Now, we can't positively identify them as Russian, though.
Ukraine's president, Zelensky, addressing the nation at about 2:00 in the morning, local time, saying that, "we are not afraid of anything and anyone, and we don't know anything to anyone, and we will not give away anything to anyone," end quote. That as sources tell CNN U.S. officials had private conversations with President Zelensky about going to the Lviv, a city more than 300 miles from the capital if necessary.
The White House publicly said that Zelensky's whereabouts are a decision for him to make. But all of this is about more than to break away regions, really. Putin is saying so himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): It is important to understand that Ukraine has never had a consistent tradition of being a true nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): For Vladimir Putin, this is personal. And multiple U.S. and western officials tell CNN what Putin is doing could be the beginning of a larger potential military operation targeting Ukraine.
And as thousands and thousands of Russian troops are breathing down the neck of Ukraine tonight, a senior administration official says diplomacy will be pursued -- quote -- "until the tanks roll."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeting, Putin's actions recognizing those so-called republics as independent -- quote -- "requires a swift and firm response and will take appropriate steps in coordination with partners."
So, what will it take to stop Putin? Where does this go from here? President Biden signing executive order, imposing new sanctions on trade and financing in two territories. The White House says that this is separate from what they call swift and severe economic measures they will impose with allies in response to a further Russian invasion, the kind of measures the secretary of state promised a month ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: If a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way, as I said, that will trigger a swift, severe, and united response from us and from Europe. And again, there are other things that Russia could do. They fall short of actually sending additional forces into Ukraine. And again, across the board, we are prepared with Europe for a swift and calibrated and great united response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): The world is watching and democracy is in peril. And CNN is covering it all for you right now. Let's get right to CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, MJ Lee is at the White House, Michael Holmes is live of us in Lviv, Ukraine, and CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. So good to have all of you on. Hello to each and every one of you.
Oren, I'm going to start with you. The U.S. expects Russian troops to move into these two separatist regions in Ukraine at any moment. What does this mean for the threat of a larger Russian invasion into Ukraine?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that threat is very real. This statement -- and U.S. officials believe this -- was never about Vladimir Putin recognizing these two republics, these breakaway republics, the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic, as independent self-governed -- essentially regions backed pretty much by the Kremlin and supported by the Kremlin.
We can look again at that military convoy, the video you showed just a short time ago. Those are weaponry moving in to Donetsk. Again, it's unclear whether there this is Russian or Russian-backed separatists.
But frankly, there isn't much of a difference there. This is force either backed by the Russians or Russians themselves moving into these two breakaway regions.
And based on what Putin said earlier in the evening, it appears he is setting up, U.S. officials say, a cause for war, a justification for further invasion.
You don't need 190,000 troops, including the separatist forces, to declare the independence and your recognition of these two regions. You're really looking at those types of numbers if your ambitions go well beyond that, if it is for a full-scale invasion.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying just over the weekend, he thinks it is highly likely tanks are rolling to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, quite soon.
LEMON: MJ, the Biden administration not making it clear whether this movement of Russian troops into these regions is considered further invasion. How is the White House weighing how to respond to this newest escalation, though?
MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, for now, the U.S. is not saying that the addition of Russian troops into this region in Eastern Ukraine would amount to essentially a new invasion.
A senior administration official earlier tonight held a phone call with reporters and was pressed on this several times for clarification. They said, look, essentially, Russian forces being present in that region is nothing new. That Russian forces have been in the Donbas region since 2014.
Now, what they said also was that what they're going to do is continue to assess the situation overnight, try to get a better handle on exactly what Russia is going to do, and depending on their actions and the coming hours and days, the U.S. is going to take appropriate measures.
But, of course, a reminder, too, that earlier today something that was announced were these sanctions measures against the region that we're talking about here. Those are, of course, not the same, as you mentioned, as the broader sort of package of sanctions that the U.S. has been talking about, but these are targeted sanctions and sort of first steps that we have seen President Biden take. This was by way of executive order.
LEMON: But they say there can be more severe sanctions coming soon. Talk to us a little bit more about that. LEE: Yeah. You know, the U.S. has said all along that if Russia
invades Ukraine, what they're going to see are swift consequences. We saw Antony Blinken in that clip saying that that has been the message from the administration. We're talking about a huge, frankly, package of sanctions that would be triggered if Russia were to invade Ukraine.
I think that's why our continuing discussions about sort of this definition of how the U.S. would define an invasion of Ukraine is so important, because I think at this moment in time, it is not clear whether Russia sending these so-called peacekeeping troops into that region in a new way would actually amount to that kind of response from the U.S.
That's not the response we have seen so far, but this administration official did also say that we should be seeing more actions tomorrow.
LEMON: Michael, let's bring you in. You're in the region. Very important there. U.S. officials say that they had conversations with Ukrainian President Zelensky about leaving Kyiv and moving to where you are now in Lviv. And Zelensky is coming out strong after Putin's actions. What is he saying?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, indeed, strong is the word. That televised statement you mentioned, he urged Ukraine's allies to act immediately while at the same time as he has really all along calling on the Ukrainian people to remain calm.
You mentioned what he said and it is important. He said, we're not afraid of anything and anyone. We won't give away anything. Now, he has always said that he won't leave Ukraine and there is certainly no indication that he will. He also made that clear at the Munich Security Conference, remember, a couple days ago.
U.S. officials reportedly wanted him not to go, fearing that Russia would claim he fled his country. He rejected that. He Went to the conference. As he put it, he was home in time for dinner. He has been firmed all along, Don, in saying that Ukraine will not compromise on his territory.
It's difficult to see what his next move might be. I mean, certainly if he be acted, you know, militarily against the so-called peacekeepers, that would potentially give Russia an opening to go even further on the ground in response. So, over a delicate balance, Don.
LEMON: Cedric, if Putin is calling these forces peacekeepers, but -- here is the thing. It seems like he's doing everything but calling it what it is. And so, I'm wondering what is -- how should the U.S. and allies react against that, because he is saying, I'm not -- it's peacekeepers, I'm not actually invading, but all indications are that he is actually doing that, he is just not calling it that?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED COLONEL: That's right, Don. I think that is one of the biggest problems with this because we are used to people being relatively direct, maybe not honest but at least direct about what they're going to be doing. And in this particular case, he obfuscates. Putin is one who is going to cloak everything he says in legalistic language.
He is going to look at things in a certain way and then he will tell you kind of what you want to hear. And he will make it sound reasonable, but he is making a reasonable gesture when we protect his own people and those kinds of things.
But the fact of the matter is -- this is what we always have to peel things back -- the fac of the matter is he is actually taking territory that officially, internationally belongs to Ukraine. And that is where things can get out of hand very quickly. When people make decisions such as to whether or not to impose sanctions or do other measures, they have to really take into account what Putin is really doing, not what Putin is saying.
LEMON: Cedric, what I'm saying is, shouldn't the U.S. and allies, shouldn't we be acting as if he is actually doing it instead of -- it seems like we are acting on his pretense that is not doing it.
I mean, the damage is already done. The troops are already being moved in. There is a threat of sanctions. Shouldn't that be coming now? Shouldn't we be doing, meaning the U.S. and U.S. allies, shouldn't we be doing what we would be doing if he were actually calling it an act of aggression or an invasion?
LEIGHTON: I think in part, yes. You know, again, it depends on how far he is going to go. But, you know, we have already seen pictures of, you know, Russian or Russian separatist units moving into Donetsk. They probably about to do the same thing in Luhansk if they already haven't done that.
And, you know, it is one of those things where we should in essence take some parts of Zelensky's position, which is, hey, he's doing this stuff, it is time to punish him. And this is where we really need to be quite resolute in that. Yes, to answer your question, that's exactly what we need to do.
LEMON: Michael Holmes, if U.S. and allies don't act that way, isn't it too late? Is it too late already because Putin is already moving everything into place to do what he -- what needs to be done, just, again, calling it something different than what it actually is?
HOLMES: Yeah. I think you're going to find a lot of people in Ukraine thinking that as well. I mean, you know, the argument that Russians have been there all along, that's true. They've been on the ground.
They've been advising and if not, hands on with what's been going on in the Donbas.
But, you know, to say that because they have been there, this is somehow not a major change just seems ridiculous. I mean, this is a formal stepping over the border --
HOLMES: -- if you like. So, it's different to Russians to sort of having been under the radar on the ground helping these separatists fight the Ukrainian government. They have stepped over the border.
HOLMES: That is something.
LEMON: Yeah. Absolutely. You're right on. And so, when do we hear from the White House again, MJ? Have they put a lid on it? Is it not until tomorrow? What is going on?
LEE: It is likely not going to be until tomorrow (INAUDIBLE) was called earlier this evening. Look, I think one thing that is worth emphasizing here is that the U.S. continues to say, even tonight, that diplomacy is still the preferred method.
The senior administration official told reporters just a few hours ago -- quote -- "We will continue to pursue diplomacy until the tanks roll." But I think it is just so important to emphasize to our audience that we have got an indication after indication over the past several days that that door to diplomacy was closing and closing.
And I think, Don, what we are about to learn in the coming hours, perhaps the coming days, is whether that door has completely shut closed. The U.S. is very much hoping that that is not the case, but that is what all signs point to.
Two things I just want to quickly note in terms of what we might be seeing in this coming week. There was supposed to be a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian, the Russian foreign minister, on Thursday. And, of course, President Biden himself had agreed in principle to a meeting, a conversation with the Russian president. All of those things are contingent upon Russia not invading Ukraine.
So, I think it is safe to say that U.S. officials right now think that those meetings, those conversations continuing to move forward, that is probably not likely.
LEMON: Oren, quickly please, because I got to get to the break here, but I just want to ask you, look, the early indications are coming from the Pentagon with situations like these. Is there any indication that this will escalate in any way? When we will hear from the Pentagon or someone in charge?
LIEBERMANN: Well, the Pentagon is certainly watching everything that is happening here. I think the Pentagon is going to defer to the White House and State Department in terms of saying how this proceed because the Pentagon has also made it clear they would prefer to see this play out through diplomacy.
But everyone here is well aware that is maybe not how this goes and certainly not how it's looking it will go.
HOLMES: U.S. officials here have already given the warning, if Russia chooses to go all out, that is if Vladimir Putin chooses to go all out, it will be horrific for the millions of refugees heading west into Europe as Russian forces -- air, land, sea, cyber -- all bear down on Ukraine and not just the Ukrainian military but Ukrainian civilians as well.
LEMON: I see Cedric agreeing with you. Thank you, Oren. Thank you, MJ. Thanks, Michael. And thank you, Cedric. I appreciate it.
Is Vladimir Putin laying the groundwork for an invasion of Ukraine? Certainly, looks like it. And what will it take to stop? I'm going to talk with former defense secretary next.
LEMON: Here's our breaking news.
LEMON: A senior U.S. official telling CNN Russian troops could move into Donbas, the Donbas region of Ukraine, as soon as tonight or in the morning after Vladimir Putin recognized two pro-Moscow territories as independents.
Joining me now, former Defense Secretary William Cohen. Good evening, secretary. There is so much to talk about. I have a whole bunch of question for you. But I'm just going to say, where are we right now? Officially, you can't call it an invasion. It seems like he is doing everything but calling it something else. Where are we right now? What is your assessment?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He can call it whatever he wants. The reality is it's an invasion. To say that we now have these new republics that's just created and if they invite me in, well that's not an incursion, I think it is an incursion, it is an invasion. I think the administration has to move really strongly tomorrow, not with all of the sanctions but at least a good portion of them that sends a signal it is going to be painful for you.
But the administration also has to persuade the American people it's going to cost us, too. In other words, gas prices are going to go up and inflation will go up. We are going to have supply problems as far as the supply chains. So, we are going to pay a penalty, but we have to prepare the American people. When this happens, it's Putin's problem. It's Putin who is doing this, not Biden.
Because what Putin is doing, he is about to commit mass murder on innocent people, and we have to frame it that way, in terms of an informational warfare that we have to carry on with him, telling the truth about what he's doing. He's prepared to kill between 25, 50, maybe more thousands of people, innocent people, in order to say Ukraine is mine.
So, I think we will try to deter him. I don't think the door to diplomacy was ever really open. I think he has played us over and over. Yes, he has 100,000 troops, maybe 120,000 troops. Now, it's 150. Guess what? It's 190 and we're watching it unfold.
COHEN: So, I think the time is now to say, okay, we understand what you're doing, we are going to take some action, collective action, all of us are together on this, and I think he is betting that we will fold in terms of the impact upon the west than he will as far as the impact upon him.
LEMON: You just answered what I was asking our experts in the last segment, our correspondents, reporters and military experts. Same thing. But here's the question. You know, the U.S., the president has been saying, stronger sanctions, more sanctions, stronger sanctions. What does that do in the short term? Does that do anything?
Because it doesn't seem as though it is going to deter Vladimir Putin, except in the long run. I hate to put it this way, but you break it, you own it. That is what he wants. So, what do sanctions mean? What is it going to do?
COHEN: I don't think any sanctions in the short term are going to be a deterrent to him. If you listen to what he was saying and he has been saying it for years now and I heard it in Munich back in 2007, he is determined to go and take Ukraine.
But it is not just Ukraine. And that's where we have to persuade our allies and the American people. It's all of the countries who have become free since the Soviet empire collapsed. What he wants to do is go back and put them all under the Russian rule. As I've said before many times, in the Russian jail.
But this is just the beginning. He wants everything back. And you have to ask yourself, ask him, why did all of these countries choose to join NATO, choose to join the E.U.? They want freedom. They want the ability to engage in commerce and prosperity as opposed to living in a prison constructed by oligarchs and him.
So, they made a choice, we want to be free, we have a NATO alliance dedicated to freedom. And so, he's challenging that, saying, I want them all back. Not just Ukraine. I want them all back. I want the U.S. out of Europe altogether. And we have to make a decision, saying that's not possible.
He wants to be known as not Peter the Great but Putin the Great. That is not a course that will take him to greatness. That is going to take him into, I think, a very course difficult place for the Russian people, unfortunately.
They are the victims of this because they have -- they are beautiful people. And they have been the victim of this kind of autocracy in which you have very few people control all of the wealth, steal all of the natural assets, and bury their assets and various investments in this country. It should not happen in the United States.
LEMON: The question, I mean, what you're talking about is traditional diplomacy. U.S. senior officials are saying that they're going to pursue diplomacy until the tanks roll. But, I mean, at this point, what is diplomacy actually look like as this -- it looks like it continues to ratchet up or escalate.
What is diplomacy look like?
COHEN: He is not interested in diplomacy. He has made it very clear he wants surrender. He wants Ukraine to send up the white flag. He wants the west to do the same. Saying this is mine, you took it away, I want it back, even though Ukrainians took it away by voting for freedom.
But I don't think he is interested in diplomatic solution. If he were, there are things that we can do. There is an agreement or agreements that could be made. I don't think he's interested. I think he is now interested in showing I have Russian military power and I'm going to exercise it. So, the west, be on notice that our freedom is at stake here in the short term and the long term.
LEMON: The U.N. Security Council meeting tonight over the crisis, top NATO countries, and they're saying that Putin's moves today will not go unanswered. Are Russia's moves strengthening the western alliance? What is happening at this point?
COHEN: I just heard from General Jim Mattis. He was at the conference in Munich. He said that there was really strong sentiment that is opposed to Russia. Even the neutral countries like Finland and Sweden came out against it. You have countries like Singapore, you have Indonesia and others who are coming out against it.
So, globally, he's losing this propel for legitimacy. It will be seen as an illegitimate war. And frankly, he and all this National Security Council, we ought to be preparing a list of war criminals, just as he is preparing a list of people to assassinate and murder in Ukraine. We ought to have a list of potential war criminals and pursue them as we did with others when they did the same thing.
LEMON: Secretary Cohen, thank you. Stay close by the phone because we will be needing you. We appreciate you joining.
COHEN: All right. Thank you, Don.
LEMON: We got more on our breaking news out of Ukraine tonight. But there is also a major development on the January 6th investigation to tell you about. The committee now seeking cooperation from another former White House staffer. A lot to talk about with Congressman Jamie Raskin. He joins us next.
LEMON: It's a holiday, but in the midst of all that, we still have a lot of breaking news. News out of Ukraine, but there is also news from the January 6 Committee tonight. They want voluntary testimony from the former president's then assistant press secretary, Jalen Drummond. He was part of a meeting with Trump and White House staff on January 5th, and he was with Trump during the rally on January 6th.
Joining me now is Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee. Representative, thank you very much. I want to get your reaction to this breaking news tonight. We're going to talk all about. The Ukrainians are bracing for the worst. Putin is saying, basically, they don't even have the right to exist as a sovereign nation. Is the U.S. doing everything it can to help them?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I think we're looking for every possible way to help. I mean, this is a naked form of aggression against the national sovereignty of the people of Ukraine and it is an attack by one of the world's leading autocracies and authoritarian governments against democracy.
So, we are going to organize all of the democratic governments of the world and the democratic peoples and movements of the world to stand strong against this.
And, you know, it's a pretty shocking thing and it will set a precedent for other authoritarian governments like China, for example, just to move into Taiwan if it wants to. And so, we got to draw a very strict line here and mobilize the world to do everything we can to prevent this nightmare from happening.
LEMON: Let me ask you this, if any additional Russian troops or armor crossed into Ukraine, and we've been seeing it happen, Vladimir Putin is saying, oh, these are peacekeepers, nothing is happening, is that an invasion in your eyes?
RASKIN: Well, I mean, I suppose at some point, it's along a spectrum. At some point, it becomes an invasion. He is clearly pushing the boundaries here. I like the idea of very aggressive diplomacy and pressure on Russia to come back and join the community of civilized nations. Ultimately, we cannot accept this kind of naked aggression against a peaceful democratic country.
That is, of course, why it's such a threat to Russia. It is because it's a democratic country exercising its own independence and sovereignty in Russia's neighborhood. Putin said that, you know, as the former head of the KGB, that the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has this idea of rebuilding the Russian empire under his autocratic form of government.
LEMON: Let's turn now and make sure we get to the latest on the January six investigation, congressman. We learned today that the committee wants former White House assistant press secretary, Jalen Drummond, to voluntarily testify. What do you hope to learn from him?
RASKIN: Well, first of all, I like the fact that you emphasize we are asking for voluntary testimony, which is what we do with everybody. We start assuming that everyone wants to cooperate and help us get to the bottom of these events. You know, we've zeroed in recently on the question of what happened on January 6th, series of efforts to try to get Donald Trump to essentially call off the dogs and to deescalate the situation.
These efforts, whether they came from his friends in the news media or they came from family members or they came from people in Congress, were rebuffed or ignored by Donald Trump as far as we can tell. But we want to try to nail down that sequence of events from every different angle, vision on that day.
LEMON: What about obtaining testimony from Vice President Pence and Ivanka Trump? Anything new on that front?
RASKIN: I don't think we have anything new to report there. We do believe that everybody, everybody who has got a story to tell, should tell it. Of course, it is an obligation to tell us. The Supreme Court has said that when Congress issues a subpoena or asked for people's participation, people have responsibility to participate.
We have the same kinds of authorities that a court has, to demand people's participation when we are conducting an investigation. And even though this is not an investigation that is determined to lead to criminal investigation, it's all about finding the truth and then report to the American people. Still, everybody has an obligation to participate. And I would think that includes the vice president and members of the former president's family, too.
LEMON: Much has been made about those boxes of documents that were taken from the White House down to Mar-a-Lago. The National Archives confirming in a letter Friday that classified documents were removed from the White House, those 15 boxes retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. Can you shed a light on the nature of those and is this a threat to national security?
RASKIN: Well, it is definitely a threat to national security because Mar-a-Lago has been described as a haven for foreign spies, whether from China or Brazil or Saudi Arabia or -- anybody who Donald Trump happens to invite there. So, we know there is a lot of espionage taking place at Mar-a-Lago.
The documents he took were government property. They did not belong to Donald Trump. Those documents belong to the American people. Of course, Trump complained about far lesser kinds of transgression coming from Hillary Clinton. But to remove official government documents belonging to the American people and to take them to a very unsafe place where there has been known to be foreign espionage is beyond the pale.
So, that's something that we're really going to have to investigate and look at closely, not the January 6 Select Committee, but I think the Oversight Committee in the House. We will see what other committees want to determine to what extent that did become a major national security threat.
LEMON: Congressman, thank you. I appreciate your time.
RASKIN: My pleasure. Great to be with you.
LEMON: The jury has begun deliberating in the federal hate crimes trial of three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Witnesses testifying to the defendants' years-worth of disgusting casual racism. But is that enough to prove Ahmaud Arbery was killed because he was a Black man?
LEMON: Jurors in the federal hate crimes trial of three white men in Georgia convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery deliberating for more than two and a half hours today after hearing closing arguments. They will resume deliberations tomorrow.
Let's discuss it with CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Joey, hello to you. Thanks for joining. I appreciate it.
So, let's start with closing arguments. Prosecution used their time to bring up a lot of evidence that they've shown throughout this trial, recounting the testimony of the witness who said that Travis McMichael called her an N-word lover after learning she dated a Black man.
Another who quoted Gregory McMichael from a conversation they had while driving and saying one of those Black who's nothing but trouble should have died a long time ago. Then there were the texts from William Bryan, saying -- quote -- bootlip monkey N-word.
Prosecution is trying to prove Ahmaud Arbery was killed because he was a Black man. Did they?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Don, good evening to you. I believe that they did. You know, listen, the bottom line here is that the prosecution did a very effective job and speaking to the jury about who they are listening to, who they are judging, believe what you see, and when someone tells you who they are the first time, right, believe them.
And so, when I think this is compilation of various sources that they have, like what, like text messages, unfortunately, that you had to display, you had to, it is part of the trial, like e-mails, like people who knew that, who came before the jury and said that, you know, they harbored these racist views and values, I get you next question will be, not that I ever predict you, how do you connect that to this, right?
And think how do you that is you say, the bottom line here is that this is who these people were. Look at what was happening that day. Without any evidence with respect to any crime being committed by this young man, without any notion or belief that he actually stole a thing, not only did they want to chase after him, says the prosecution, but in addition to that, they bore arms to do so. And when not satisfied, that he, Ahmaud Arbery, was responsive, those arms that were born out ultimately faced him, shot him, and killed him.
And so, I get what the argument is. Don't judge him by that. Judge him by what they did on this day. They were chasing him because they had a good faith belief. If he were not an African American, would he be dead? That is the central question. I think the prosecution tied these messages in of hatred. I think they did it effectively. I think the defendants, all three, will be convicted.
LEMON: Okay. So, let's talk about the defense. We talked about prosecution. All three attorneys for the McMichaels and Bryan acknowledged their client's past racist language, but argued they didn't kill him Arbery because of his race, emphasizing they didn't use slurs that day, they don't belong to hate groups, they were worried about neighborhood security. How -- is that a strong defense? How strong is that?
JACKSON: I think the defense did what they had to do and what the options were to them, Don, legally, right? And so, what do I mean? I mean, that is the argument that they had to make, that they had a good faith belief, the defendants, that there was a crime being committed, they were concerned about the neighborhood, based upon the good faith belief that a crime was committed, that Ahmaud Arbery committed that crime, and based on the genuine concern that they wanted to protect the neighborhood, they therefore went after him. That's what they're saying.
However, the prosecution is saying, you can believe your eyes, you can believe what you're hearing about these defendants, you can believe with respect to who they are, what they've done in the past, their values, their principles, their beliefs, all of it was translated into them zoning and honing in on Ahmaud Arbery, who if had been white, would have been home in time for supper.
(INAUDIBLE) the prosecution in their opening statement, (INAUDIBLE) substance in their closing argument as well, I think that resonates effectively. I think they were able to make the connection between what the defendant said who they are and what they did on this particular day.
LEMON: You know, the evidence in this trial is uncomfortable. One jury even asked the judge if the court would provide counseling.
LEMON: One of the defense attorneys actually started his closing arguments apologizing to the jury for any offense that might have happened during the trial. Heading into tomorrow's deliberations, what do you think is going through the jurors' minds?
JACKSON: I think jurors genuinely, Don, in my view, we know just by way of recapping, you have 12 jurors, of course, they have to be unanimous, they all have to be in accord with what they believe, I think they're all just trying to get it right. What was the motivation behind this crime? It's compelling and, you know, the evidence is compelling and, to your point, very difficult to listen to. And to your other point, if the juror is asking for counseling and whether federal funds are available, you know it impacts them and it impacts them deeply.
And so, I think that they're trying to get to the bottom of why this occurred, what the defendants were thinking when it occurred, was there past values, beliefs, and views that led to creep into what they did, and I think the jurors are really going over that to determine, was the motivation hate, was the motivation race, and are these three defendants guilty? I think they will conclude that they are.
LEMON: Joey Jackson, thank you, sir. Bundle up, by the way. Bundle up. The cold is coming back, Joey Jackson. Thank you, sir. And I say that because nearly 70 percent of the country is expected to drop below freezing this week, 70 percent. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, hitting some areas really hard. We're going to tell you who's in the path of this storm. That's next.
LEMON: A series of late-winter storms affecting millions of Americans from the central plains into the Midwest and down through the Mississippi River Valley. And dangerous arctic air will push as far south as Texas.
Let me bring in our meteorologist, Karen Maginnis. She can tell us all about this. Karen, good evening to you. Millions under storm warnings. Tell us who is getting hit and when.
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, there are varying degrees of the severe weather. To the north, it is going to be icy penetrating cold air and blizzard conditions. To the south, it is going to be heavy rainfall and the risk for some tornados.
Here comes a frontal system. This is the real troublemaker. On this side, the very cold air. To the south, we have got temperatures in some cases in the 80s. Dallas was 85 degrees today.
So, we will see that return moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and that's the reason, as this front moves through, it is going to collide with this much colder air and trigger the severe weather. Take a look at this temperature. Fargo, minus 4. That is the actual outside air temperature, but it feels like it's minus 29.
Now, let me tell you about Fargo, what happened up there. Want to show you this video. This coming out of Castleton. This lies just to the west of Fargo.
[23:55:00] It was a terrible mix-up of cars. A multi-car, multi-vehicle mix-up on Interstate 94. Six people were injured in this. There were about five large trucks that were involved. The wind conditions here, they were blowing at about near 40 miles per hour. The visibility, as you can see, was very poor here, and they shut down the interstate for a while.
Conditions are not going to be improving. We have got temperatures remaining well-below zero. In Fargo, it is going to be below zero the next few days. Not until Friday where we will see about 2 degrees. But the deep south, it looks like, Don, the severe weather -- Texas tonight with tornados. Hail already reported here. So, we will keep you updated.
LEMON: Wow, that was white out conditions on that interstate. By the way, my Siri was trying to get in on your weather forecast. I don't know if you heard him. Hey, Siri, what is the temperature outside?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): It's 44 degrees outside.
LEMON: It is trying to get --
LEMON: -- on your weather forecast, Karen. Sorry about that.
MAGINNIS: Okay. Don't get used to it. It is going to get a lot colder by this weekend.
LEMON: Karen Maginnis, thank you very much. We appreciate it. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our live coverage with the latest developments on the crisis in Ukraine continues in just a minute.