Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Prosecutor Asks GBI Agent If Police Searched Defendant's Vehicle; Interview With Reverend Jesse Jackson About Defense Attorney's Complaint About Black Pastors In The Courtroom; Taiwan Thanks Biden For Affirming No Change In U.S. Policy. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Today in Georgia, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ahmaud Arbery took the stand and gave graphic testimony about the gunshot wounds that killed him. Also, an attorney for one of the defendants complained again about who is allowed to sit in the courtroom insinuating that it could intimidate or influence jurors.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And now that same attorney complained Monday about the presence of Civil Rights icon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the courtroom's public gallery. Reverend Jackson was back at the courthouse again today.

CNN's Martin Savidge is covering this trial and joins us now. Martin, so tell us about what happened in court today and also with this medical examiner taking the stand.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the medical examiner is considered to be one of the big witnesses for the state here. And he was going over the wounds, the fatal wounds that Ahmaud Arbery suffered on the day he was killed.

There were three gunshots. Shotgun shots but there were only two that struck Ahmaud Arbery. Nonetheless, the medical examiner said either one of them would have been fatal. He also pointed out that first aid rendered by any first responders would have made no difference that Ahmaud Arbery would have died.

But then he started talking about the close proximity, initially, the M.E. thought the shots were fired from three to four feet away but he didn't know about the video. Then the video was made public and he went back and looked at his findings and now determined that, no, these shots were probably made at a distance of either contact or a couple of inches away from Ahmaud Arbery's body.

So, it was truly devastating blows. And one of the things the state is pointing out here is that Ahmaud is no position to fight back as much as the defense is likely to point that out.

And then the other testimony we heard from is Richard Dial. He is the lead investigator for the GBI, and this whole case changed when the GBI got involved. And he sort of was implying that when Glynn County handled things it didn't really go that well. Listen to his account of how they handled William Roddie Bryan, one of the defendants.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR, COBB COUNTY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Did the Glynn County Police Department search Mr. Bryan's vehicle?


DUNIKOSKI: Did the impound Mr. Bryan's vehicle?

DIAL: They did not.

DUNIKOSKI: Did they even pat Mr. Bryan down?

DIAL: No, ma'am they did not.

DUNIKOSKI: And Mr. Bryan was allowed to go home before he ever went to Glynn County P.D. to give a statement?

DIAL: That's correct, yes ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: And he took his truck home with him, didn't he?

DIAL: Yes, ma'am.


SAVIDGE: Getting back to that sensitive issue of black pastors in the courtroom, the Reverend Jesse Jackson says he's going to be here all week.

Kevin Gough, the defense attorney who made that complaint has now put in a formal motion that is to the judge. He's asking that everybody who goes into the public area of the courtroom be monitored and be noted. The judge has said he does not favor that but he hasn't officially ruled on this motion. So, we'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, 250 pastors are expected to show up here on Thursday to support the family of Ahmaud Arbery -- Victor and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Martin Savidge, thank you.

BLACKWELL: And the Reverend Jesse Jackson joins me now. Reverend Jackson, thank you for your time. Before we get to the Arbery trial, this is our first conversation since you were hospitalized for COVID. You suffered a fall at Howard University. How are you?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER AND PASTOR: I'm very well. You know, COVID hit me and I am asymptomatic had no temperature or nothing. And I took my wife to the hospital really and she ended up with COVID because she had not had test of pre-existing condition.

So, the doctor gave me a test and it hit me, I was positive. No symptoms. Five days of negative, negative, they put me to the rehab, took me -- I couldn't walk in three weeks, learned to walk all over again. Couldn't talk in two weeks. In rehab right now matter of fact.

BLACKWELL: Well, I'm glad you're back on your feet. Let's talk now about the trial and this defense attorney Kevin Gough who said he didn't want to see any more black pastors and then asked the court to keep you and others out.

He's not saying this in front of the jury. So, what do you believe the strategy is and why he doesn't want you, Reverend Sharpton, other black pastors in the courtroom?

JACKSON: Well, it's a major diversion from a weak case. He has a very weak case. Everybody knows that these men killed this Ahmaud, they know that. For them to who did what when. That's all that's left. So, he's looking for -- he wants a mistrial.


BLACKWELL: The judge called Mr. Gough's comments reprehensible. He also said that there were people coming to the courtroom because of what he said about not wanting black pastors there. You had not been in that courtroom before you were mentioned by Kevin Gough. Is that why you came in response to his effort to keep you and others out?

JACKSON: No, I was coming -- I've been involved in the Jelani Day case in Illinois for some time. Where another case where a young man was taken from campus, 60 miles away through Illinois and killed. Car down embankment, 22 miles away, about two miles on the other side of the river. And that was a terrible case, it was frightening.

And so, I planned to come here. He just simply extended an invitation I also couldn't refuse.

BLACKWELL: Will you be in the courtroom every day?

JACKSON: Well, near the courtroom, I want to be there enough -- not as a distraction. I convinced if this was a white been killed by a black police, black vigilantes (INAUDIBLE). Urging the vice president, the President of the United States Mr. Biden, to try and get involved in this case.

This is a tragedy upon tragedy. We cannot live in this because of black being killed and be silenced from the Department of Justice. I tell you again in this county, there's not a single judge would take the case.

BLACKWELL: You said that there needs to be response from across the country. There is this call for what's being described as a wall of prayer later this week. Pastors from around the country invited to Brunswick. What should we expect to see on Thursday?

JACKSON: I want to thank Reverend Sharpton for calling that meeting and attorney Crump, the wall of prayer and wall of activism. Because every citizen in the country, with the population of blacks in jail is disproportioned number in the population. So, across the South, in these small towns, like Illinois, you got small town there case, small town here in Georgia, small towns like it always was, we must send a demand (INAUDIBLE) body, that's our mission. Fairness for all.

I must say I'm delighted to see a generation of whites in Georgia who don't want to go backwards. I think that we may get a fairer outcome from the jury than we expect. Ten white jurors, female, one white male, one black male. I still think we may win this case on the facts. I think that people don't want this community to be a sanctuary for killers. They want to have a better reputation for themselves than sanctuary for killers.

BLACKWELL: All right, Reverend Jesse Jackson joining us from Brunswick right outside the courtroom where those three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery are on trial. Reverend Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this, those who play with fire get burned. That's a stark warning from Chinese Xi Jinping to President Biden. What that means next.



BLACKWELL: Well, during a virtual summit Chinese Xi Jinping warned President Biden against encouraging Taiwan independence. Now according to the read out from their summit the Chinese said that whoever plays with fire will get burned. That from the Chinese government.

CAMEROTA: China has been making moves to reunify Taiwan with the mainland while the U.S. has pledged to help Taiwan if China makes advances.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us from Taiwan. So, what's the reaction been there, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here they're pretty angry because they feel like China misrepresented what President Biden said on the issue of Taiwan which is the most important issue certainly for this self-governing island and also the most important issue for the authoritarian government in the mainland that wants to re-absorb this island into its communist system. Something that they wanted to do for more than 70 years, since the end of China's civil war.

So, what happened is that President Biden did acknowledge that the United States has not changed its One China policy. All the headlines in the mainland then say President Biden supports One China which from the mainland view includes China controlling Taiwan. Which it has never actually controlled. The Communist Party has never controlled Taiwan.

This has its own Democratically elected government but China doesn't acknowledge that and the U.S. doesn't diplomatically acknowledge Taiwan. But under the Taiwan Relations Act the U.S. provides weapons to Taiwan. U.S. soldiers and special military personnel are here training Taiwanese troops to potentially defend themselves if China were to try to move in and invade this island and change the status quo that President Biden said it is most important to him the status quo be maintained.

All those details weren't reported in the mainland. They just said President Biden supports One China. So let me read you this fiery response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to CNN here in Taipei.

It says: It would not be the first time that after bilateral meetings, Chinese state media mischaracterizes and misrepresents statements or positions by other countries. A breech of good faith internationally. It says we highly regret China's deliberate distortion of accounts.

Why is this important to Taiwan? Because the messaging matters especially when they are outspent 15-1 to China and if there is somehow some sort of a global perception that now all of a sudden, the United States agrees with China that they have the right to reunify with this island by force, if necessary, that is a big problem for Taiwan.

And that is why in the coming hours their officials at the lower level will be meeting with the United States to get a run-down of what was said in these bilateral talks. Because it matters to them here and it matters that the United States continues to support Taiwan's not formal independence but certainly its sovereignty -- Alisyn and Victor.

CAMEROTA: OK, Will Ripley, thank you for explaining all of that,

Let's bring in now Boston College political science Professor Robert Ross whose research focuses on U.S./China relations. So, professor, thanks for being here. How do you interpret President Xi telling President Biden that, quote, whoever plays with fire will get burned?


ROBERT ROSS, PROFESSOR, POLITICAL SCIENCE, BOSTON COLLEGE: Well, beginning in the Trump administration, continuing through the Biden administration, the United States has challenged most of the norms established in U.S./Taiwan relations since normalization relations with China in 1979.

And from the Chinese perspective that's tantamount to telling the leadership on Taiwan we have your back. And for the mainland, their concern is to the extent America supports that leadership it may be encouraging that leadership to declare independence. And that has the mainland quite concerned.

The closer we get the more concerned that a leadership they don't trust might cross a red line. And so, the mainland leadership has been increasing their military presence, their warnings, be careful. You go too far we may have to react. We may have to warn you more forcefully that this is getting dangerous.

CAMEROTA: Professor, what about all of the issues? I mean China seems to be acting with impunity on a host of troubling issues, as from Taiwan to human rights, climate change, the origins of COVID. They did that hypersonic missile test recently. So, what leverage does the U.S. have to get China to behave differently?

ROSS: Well, the real issue for the United States is simply the rise of China. The rise of their economy, their improved technology, their growing navy and all this has the effect of undermining American security, its influence around the world.

So, when China takes small steps or even larger steps, the United States is finding it troublesome for American presence and wants to push back and challenge China.

Now of course this is all new for the United States. We often looked the other way when China challenged us. Now with China so much stronger, we're pushing back. But now our leverage is less, we're playing a weaker hand. And China's attitude is if you want more conflict, if you want to push back, that's fine, we'll wait you out but right now we feel the advantage is ours and things are going China's way.

CAMEROTA: Right, I mean President Biden says he does not want more conflict. What he said his goal was, was to establish some guardrails in the relationship between the U.S. and China. And establish some clear and honest communications. But is that what China wants?

ROSS: Well, what President Biden said is he plans to compete with China quite forcefully. But he doesn't want the relationship to cross the line into hostilities. He wants guardrails.

The Chinese on the other hand have said we want a consensus. We want to cooperate. We want to find ways to mutually advantage ourselves and so it's a very different perspective.

The United States wants to push back on the rise of China. And of course, the Chinese have benefitted from decades of stabilities, decades of cooperation and want to maintain that stability, that cooperation with the United States.

And so, as long as the two sides are coming at each other so differently, it will be hard to go forward with a cooperative relationship.

CAMEROTA: It seems like it. On a scale of 1 to 10 right now, 10 being the highest level of tension and conflict, where would you say U.S./China relations are?

ROSS: Well, we're -- the relationship is the worst it's been since normalization relations in 1979. And the United States has shown no interest in trying to dial it back, as you say, it wants to simply prevent it from getting worse.

Now, I don't think we're close to hostilities. We're not close to war. But the problem for the United States is as we challenge China on Taiwan in particular, we don't know where the Chinese red line is. We don't know what too far means. And so, we both sides run the risk of escalating the relationship and

finding ourselves in a situation neither side wants. So, that requires caution on both sides to try to restrain ourselves lest we find ourselves in a more difficult situation.

CAMEROTA: So, what's the next move for President Biden?

ROSS: Well, what this summit did, this virtual summit was establish a new atmosphere. You recall the two foreign ministers met over the spring in Alaska and that was not a good meeting. We basically lectured each other on human rights and foreign policy and political systems. In that environment the bureaucracies on both sides were not about to explore opportunities for cooperation.

This is a small step in providing a better environment and that the bureaucrats, the diplomats can begin to reach out and seek areas of cooperation. And that's a small step, but a very important and helpful step.

CAMEROTA: All right, Robert Ross, thank you for your expertise.

ROSS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: While Russia obliterates a satellite in orbit creating space debris that could threaten the International Space Station. Up next, how the U.S. is responding to that.



BLACKWELL: All right, this just into CNN. Congressman Bennie Thompson, who is the chairman of the January 6th Committee, says members have not made a decision on how to handle former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defying their subpoena. He said those discussions are still a work in progress. Now Thompson said that formally, the committee is not ready to pursue criminal contempt charges against Meadows.

Now Thompson also said that he expects the committee to release more subpoenas this week.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, the U.S. condemned a Russian anti- satellite missile test that created a massive debris field in outer space. The U.S. State Department called Monday's incident reckless and dangerous and said it poses a danger to astronauts inside the International Space Station.

BLACKWELL: Russia's test forced the seven ISS crew members to scramble into their spacecraft for safety. The State Department official said this behavior will not be tolerated. While Russia called the U.S.'s accusations hypocritical.

Well, NASA is on the verge of launching an historic new space mission. In just a few weeks, the new James Webb Space Telescope will rocket into space eventually traveling 1 million miles from earth to help answer questions about the creation of our universe and the possibility of life on other planets.

CAMEROTA: The new CNN film "The Hunt for Planet B" will take us inside this ground-breaking mission.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Webb telescope is 100 times more powerful than Hubble. And telescopes keep getting bigger, because the bigger telescope, the better the resolution.

We wouldn't have built a telescope this big unless we needed to. And you need to build a telescope this big if you want to look at the very dimmest, most earliest galaxies in the universe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The James Webb telescope is not just a machine built by engineers and scientists to look after the universe. It's taking humanity on a journey. We're going to enter completely new part of observational space. What we've never trod before. And every time we've done this as a species, we've discovered new things.


CAMEROTA: I mean it's mind blowing actually. Bill Ochs is the program manager for the James Webb Space Telescope Mission at NASA. Mr. Ochs, thanks so much for being here. So just tell us in layman's terms, what will this telescope be able to show us?

BILL OCHS, PROGRAM MANAGER, JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE MISSION, NASA: Well, you already mentioned "The Hunt for Planet B" and talking about looking for the exoplanets. When we do that, we're actually looking at the atmosphere of these planets, and we're going to look and see if they have the basic elements for life as we know it. So, things like oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon and so forth.

But beyond that, we'll be looking at the formation of the first galaxies. How a galaxy is assembled? We'll be looking at the gases around new stars that try to determine how planets are formed and how a solar system is formed?

We'll also be looking at things like studying super massive black holes. Looking at the structure that's in between the galaxies that are out there. So, these are things I'm just mentioning that we're going to be doing within the first year of operations of the Webb telescope.


BLACKWELL: It's fascinating. And this -- I had a telescope as a kid. I feel like there should be a completely different name for what you guys are using versus what I had as a kid. Explain some of the technology behind this telescope. How it's able to do all of this incredible stuff?

OCHS: So as mentioned in the clip you showed from the film, two of the things that really allow us to do this, one is the size of our telescope. Our primary mirror is about seven times the size of the Hubble mirror. That allows us to collect a lot more photons and that allows us do the type of science that we're doing.

Plus, we're an infrared telescope. So, we look at a different part of the spectrum, it allows us light spectrum. It allows us to look back farther in time, back to about 200 million years after the big bang.

It also allows us to look through some of those -- if you some or the really pretty Hubble pictures, we have all the gases, stellar gases, we can actually look through those with infrared because you're looking at heat coming from there. And looking at things like stellar nurseries.

Part of that technology is in the mirrors. Our mirror like is said is seven times the size of Hubble. It's a segmented mirror which has never been done before. Each of those segments has gone through a fine polishing process. So, an example I like to use is if you took one of those segments which is typically the size of a coffee table, blew it up to the size of the continental U.S., the imperfections when you start off the polishing would be let's say, the size of the Rocky Mountains. When we got done with the polishing that we've done, that mirror, the Rocky Mountains would now be only an inch or two high. That kind of tells you the type of polishing and what we had to go through to produce the mirror that we have now.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. When will we start to get information from this telescope?

OCHS: So, once we launch, we go through 180-day commissioning period. It's broken up into three basic phases. The first phase is where we check out the spacecraft, but we also do our deployments. There are about 40 deployments on JWST. Those will occur during those first 30 days as we travel out to our orbit which is about a million miles from earth.

The next period, which goes from about launch plus 30 or 40 out to about launch plus 120, and we will take and align those mirrors to produce that perfect image of a star which we've already proven on the ground that we can do.


OCHS: And then the last couple of months is when we commission our four science instruments. And it is toward the end of that period we will be starting to release those first images. We haven't determined right when we're going to do that yet. But it will be somewhere in the last month of the mission.

CAMEROTA: All right, well, Bill Ochs, thank you for all the information. We can't wait to hear more and tune in the all-new CNN film "The Hunt for Planet B" premiers Saturday at 9 p.m. only on CNN.

BLACKWELL: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after a break.