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Powerful Gang Kidnaps 16 American Missionaries, 1 Canadian in Haiti; Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Three Men Accused of Chasing Down, Killing Ahmaud Arbery; Democrats Face Tough Choices Over Major Economic Package in Pivotal Week. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 10:30   ET



REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Chairman Cicilline has certainly led the way in that.

But what we're looking for are answers so that we can develop the very best legislation to deal with this type of monopoly.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Okay. Another topic before we go, because we have a Republican and a Democrat here, we have a major budget proposal before the House and Congress.

First, to you, Congressman Cicilline, are moderates and progressives among House members in the same room, are they talking? Do they have a path forward to reach a compromise agreement that can get both votes in the House and the Senate?

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Yes. I think you will see us pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the president's build back better agenda. The negotiations are under way to determine what of the president's proposal should not be included. There are many of us in the caucus who believe all of the president's plans should move forward, child care, paid family leave, lower prescription drugs prices, and the list goes on and on.

There are others who are arguing for less of an investment. But this is really about reducing costs, about creating good-paying jobs, dealing with the climate crisis, and most importantly it's all paid for by making sure the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share. Those negotiations are ongoing. I'm confident we're going to get both things done.

And I just want to say one final thing, if I may, Jim, Ken Buck has been a terrific partner in this work as a ranking member of the Antitrust Subcommittee and I salute him as well.

SCIUTTO: That's good to hear, and I love having you guys on together, right, to discuss. And here's a shared priority here. The fact is on the budget, as you know, Congressman Buck, not shared in terms of passing this Republican opposition as unified. But as you know, there are elements of this that have broad bipartisan support, among them expanded Medicare benefits, right, going to dental, hearing, et cetera, even universal pre-K.

I wonder are there elements of that broader bill that you as a Republican would, if it was sort of taken out, support?

BUCK: Well, the problem I've always had with the budget bill is under Republican administrations and Democratic administrations is the spending. We've had approximately $30 trillion of debt at this point and we can't keep going forward. So, I absolutely am in favor of some of the proposals. But we've got to find areas to cut in order to pay for those proposals. We can't just keep adding debt onto our national debt.

SCIUTTO: Okay. We'll see if you find a way. Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Ken Buck, thanks for joining the program this morning.

CICILLINE: Thank you.

BUCK: Thank you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Still ahead, we are following developing news out of Haiti. 17 missionaries, including five children, kidnapped over the weekend. What we know this morning about the gang who reportedly took them and what they want.



HILL: Right now, 17 missionaries are being held hostage in Haiti after being kidnapped by a violent gang over the weekend. Five children are among the 16 Americans and 1 Canadian who were abducted. A source telling CNN the 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be responsible.

Now, this comes as there has been a major uptick in kidnappings in Haiti, a majority of the victims Haitian citizens.

SCIUTTO: I want to bring in Garry Pierre-Pierre. He is the founder and editor-in- chief of the Haitian Times. Good to have you on, sir, this morning.

My first question is what is the danger right now that these missionaries, including five children, are in based on how these gangs operate? Are these in general ransom operations or should we be genuinely concerned about their lives?

GARRY PIERRE-PIERRE, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HAITIAN TIMES: Well, of course, Jim, we should be concerned about their lives. But if we are worried about whether or not they will be killed, I don't think so. Being in captivity is nothing to be cheerful about obviously.

So the main goal here is ransom. They want money and they probably are looking for millions of dollars for their freedom. This is the kind of money that they've asked in the past when Haitian Americans have been kidnapped or when they know that people have families overseas. So they ask for a large amount of money. HILL: So, this is about the money. But, you know, I think it's important to point out too that the kidnappings are not new in Haiti. In fact, up nearly 300 percent since July often, and until recently, mostly Haitian citizens. This shift now maybe going after foreigners, what does that signify to you? Is it that these groups are after something more now? Is it more notoriety? Do they want more control?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, basically all of the above. But above all, they want control and they have control. The government is very weak. It cannot -- it's not a match for them. The police inept at trying to uproot these gangs. Many attempts at going into their stronghold and ending up in abject failure.

Right now, yesterday, we had a very, very meaningful incident that happened. The prime minister was traditionally going to the tomb of the country's father, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. It's something that prime ministers and presidents have done routinely.


And it even paid the gangs to allow safe passage. But when the prime minister didn't go, one of the gang leaders dressed in white, Jimmy Barbecue Cherizier of the G9 gang, went instead and laid that wreath, okay? So, this is a very disturbing development here where the gangs are actually in control of the country. They're performing governmental duties right now. And this is alarming and disturbing to me.

HILL: It is alarming and disturbing, I think, to put it mildly. Gary Pierre-Pierre, we will continue to follow this. And we really appreciate your insight. Thank you.

PIERRE-PIERRE: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: These are live pictures now out of Brunswick, Georgia, where jury selection begins today, this in the murder trial of three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. Heavy challenge of seating a jury, coming up.


HILL: Jury selection begins this hour in Georgia in the murder trial of three men who were accused of chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through a neighborhood in February of last year. Arbery's mother says she is really concerned though about who could ultimately end up on that jury.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: I have my concerns being that the jurors will be picked from this community. There has been lots of miscommunications in the beginning on what happened on that day. But I'm hopeful that we'll get the right people in the right place to make the right decision. (END VIDEO CLIP)


HILL: Joining us now, Criminal Defense Attorney, CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson.

Joey, a thousand people have received jury summons for this case. It's about ten times what it would normally be for this courthouse. So, we have to factor that in, right, as we talk about the difficulty of seating a jury here. What I think is also interesting is that prosecutors were actually pulled in from Atlanta because there were concerns, you know, in this small county. Should those concerns be in place for the jury? How do you get through all of that? You heard the concerns from Ahmaud Arbery's mother.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Good morning to you, Erica. Well, you'll get through it with some difficulty, but you will get through it, right? You noted that a thousand jurors have been called in, at least to be evaluated by the defense and the prosecution. I think that's important because, of course, in a case like this, you're going to have many people who have heard about it and many people who have opinions about it.

But the core matter is not when you've heard about it, and even have opinions. We all have opinions about everything. Can you base what you find at the end of the day on what you hear in the courtroom, the facts, the circumstances, the evidence, and nothing else? And if you can't, it's not a jury for you. If you can, then you're impaneled. But I'm confident that with 1,000 members that were called, you'll be able to cull out those who legitimately and properly can serve in judgment on the case.

This is a system of justice that we use in this country and we've worked it and, you know, sometimes it works more effectively than others but I think they will get there. It may take some time though.

HILL: There is there understandably a lot of focus on what will and will not be brought in as evidence in this case. I want to focus on the license plate specifically on this truck. So, the defense has asked the judge to keep the prosecution from using a photograph of that license plate, which has images of a confederate flag on it, the old Georgia flag. The judge hasn't yet ruled on that. How do you think he'll decide in that matter?

JACKSON: So I think, Erica, trials are always about really setting the ground rules. And any defense attorney is going to make motions to preclude evidence that's harmful for the client. Ultimately, the judge has to really weigh whether or not this is so prejudicial and so really inflammatory to the jury as to exclude it, and he may very well do that.

I think in the event he does that, remember, and basing the case, they're also going to be as prosecutors pointing to his social media, that is Mr. McMichael, the elder, his social media imprint, which allegedly has some not-so-nice racial slurs on them, in addition to a racial slur he allegedly made at the time of the incident.

I think judges need to be careful in making the case about what it's about. And I think based upon that you could see the exclusion of that, but you could see the inclusion of other evidence that's relevant, germane and proper to what happened on that day at that time in that place.

HILL: Video of the incident is going to be key here. Video was key when it came to the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin ultimately convicted in his death. The video here, as I said, important, but it's a little different. We don't have all the angles that we had in that trial for Derek Chauvin. How integral is it to this case?

JACKSON: Yes, it really is important, Erica. And, absolutely to your point, we don't have everything. In the George Floyd case, we really had everything from beginning to end. And I'm sure both sides will seize upon those aspects of the video that are essential and important to them.

And so, yes, while a picture might be worth 100, 1,000 words, videos are worth everything. It's how that video was translated. I think the prosecution will use it to demonstrate that shouldn't have happened, didn't need to happen. He was indeed kidnapped, he was detained, he was confined and he was murdered.

That will be the prosecution's narrative. And, of course, the defense will argue that he was a person who was going about the neighborhood, they believe was, you know, meant something improper. Whatever way you interpret it, I believe that it will be a very important aspect of this case.

HILL: Joey Jackson, I always appreciate it. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you, Erica.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, this may sound familiar, Democrats return to Capitol Hill and to go face-to-face with Senators Sinema and Manchin, both currently roadblocks to President Biden's larger economic agenda. Party leaders now pleading with President Biden to take a bigger role in negotiations.



SCIUTTO: This morning, yet more pressure on Democrats to finally make some progress on their sweeping social and climate spending package.

HILL: All of this comes as we're learning Democrats are now calling for President Biden to take a more forceful public role in outlining what he wants to see in the final plan.

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joining us on Capitol Hill. Here we are again. I know I don't need to tell you that, Manu, but what are we expecting as senators do return to the Hill today?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, along with Joe Biden, had a discussion last Tuesday. Sources tell my colleague, Isaac Dovere and myself, that they both made very clear they want these negotiations to end. The question is how and can they get their whole party in line.

We still have the same divisions that have been playing out for months, happening publicly and privately. Liberals, like Bernie Sanders, want to move as progressively as possible on a whole range of issues, offer all the benefits in their proposal but pair back the number of years potentially to reduce that price tag. Moderates, like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, want to reduce the programs it all together, and Joe Manchin, in particular, is pushing back on the major climate initiatives that have been proposed in this proposal.

How do they get together, unclear, but Democrats are telling us that they want Joe Biden to make clear what he will ultimately accept and force this deal through to get both sides of his party together.

But, publicly, the divisions are playing out. Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin going at it last week. Bernie Sanders writing an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail going after Joe Manchin of sorts and saying, why this larger package is needed, saying that poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation.


Yet the political problem we face is that in a 50/50 Senate, we need every Democratic senator to vote yes. We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, and that includes Joe Manchin.

And responding, Joe Manchin putting out a blistering statement going after Bernie Sanders, saying it isn't the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them. He goes on to say, no op-ed from a self-declared independent socialist is going to change that. Guys?

SCIUTTO: Wow, friendly fire there within the Democratic Party. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today on quite a news day. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: That it was. I'm Erica Hill.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts after the quick break.