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Ahmaud Arbery Trial Continues; House to Vote on Censure Resolution Against Paul Gosar. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 14:00   ET



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is the man who killed Ahmaud Arbery.

That's not an allegation my part. That is not in contest here. We know it happened because millions of people have witnessed the altercation, which was that video that was taken by one of the defendants, William "Roddie" Bryan, on his cell phone that shows the moment in which Travis McMichael, who is armed with a shotgun, is aiming in the direction of Ahmaud Arbery on that terrible day, and a struggle ensues over the shotgun.

There are three blasts, two of which we know struck Ahmaud Arbery and killed him. So what we have been hearing in this testimony so far is, number one, the element of concern of crime in the neighborhood. This is something that the state has not wanted to bring up.

But it's an essential element, the defense says, to understand the mind-set of these three men as to why they were so concerned about, at that time, a stranger they didn't know who Ahmaud was being seen several times inside their neighborhood on a home that was under construction.

And then, after that, you saw Jason Sheffield, who is Travis McMichael's attorney who's doing all the questioning here, he then sort of moves on to Travis McMichael's background, which is, of course, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He did that for about eight years from I think 2007 to 2015.

And then what you have been hearing is going over very specifically the training, and not just the training of how to rescue people in distress on the water, law enforcement training. What kind of understanding did he have about the law? How do you approach and how do you try to apprehend someone?

And then talking about the various ways that the techniques escalate from talking to someone to all the way up to confronting him, perhaps using deadly force, although Travis testified that never in the Coast Guard did he have to result to deadly force.

And then now the reason you're having this break here is the jury has been sent out because the state objected after it was asked after the Coast Guard, had Travis McMichael ever had a need to use his weapon? It appears he did. We haven't heard why, because the state objected. And now that's what the argument is going on inside the courtroom over whether or not to allow that testimony.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, Martin Savidge, thank you very much for all of that. Please bring us developments as they happen.

It's a very busy news day here. So we're going to turn to Capitol Hill right now, because lawmakers are about to begin their debate on whether to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments.

Gosar, you will remember, posted that Photoshopped anime video on social media that appeared to show him stabbing his Democratic colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden. Gosar took the video down, but he never apologized to his colleague or showed any remorse.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Now, Gosar, we know, is no stranger to controversy, big perpetrator of the big lie. Most Republicans have given Gosar a pass, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

But Democrats believe that this violent imagery against a colleague is dangerous, especially after the Capitol insurrection. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Gosar's actions warrant the attention of law enforcement.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.

So, Manu, there was a question as to whether or not he would even show up to take his punishment. So is Congressman Gosar are on the floor right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is on the floor. The question is going to be what will happen later today. That's when the actual votes will occur to censure him. And we do expect that to be approved by the House. We expect all Democrats to vote for it, a handful of Republicans at least to vote for it as well.

We know Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, the two Republicans, of course, who have broken with Donald Trump who are on the select committee investigating January 6, at the opposition of the Republican leadership, they are expected to vote for it. Will others? That is a question.

One congresswoman, Nancy Mace, who voted to hold Steve Bannon, that Trump adviser, in contempt just a few weeks ago, I asked her whether or not she would vote for this as well. She said she had not made a decision yet. But she said that threats of violence cannot be tolerated.

Now, there are some moderate Republicans who have broken from the party leadership and told me that they are also expected to vote against this. One of those is John Katko. He was one person who had voted for that bipartisan infrastructure bill. He was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. He said that he is going to be a no on this. He calls this overly broad. Same with another Republican voted to

impeach Trump. That's Tom Rice of South Carolina, told me he is not going to vote for it. He said it is a -- quote -- "stupid tweet," but not something deserving of censure.

So we will see how this plays out. It'll be approved, but not many Republicans expected to support it -- guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

We will bring you that debate when it happens.

Let's go now back to the courtroom in Brunswick, Georgia, as Travis McMichael, one of the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, is on the stand.

TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: Coming through to get cash for -- I think it was for the watch for the station.


I will pull in. I see two younger males next to the side. I thought it was a little weird that they were paying attention to me and been paying attention people going in and out near there. So I stepped out of the truck and went to the ATM. As soon as I went to the ATM...

ROBERT RUBIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me stop you. Let me stop you.

Did you have a gun on you at the time?


RUBIN: What kind of a gun was it?

MCMICHAEL: It was a 1911, U.S. Army service pistol.

RUBIN: Did you have a permit or license to carry?

MCMICHAEL: Yes, I had a concealed-carry permit and it was a concealed weapon.



RUBIN: All right, so you're at the ATM. What happened?


And as soon as I put my card in, the two males approached on either side. One of them told me to give me his money. All I did was pull up my shirt and showed that I had a weapon. And they turned and jumped the fence and was gone.


MCMICHAEL: I pulled the money out and went to work.

RUBIN: OK. Did you call the police or report it?

MCMICHAEL: I didn't call the police on that, because it was -- that was it.

RUBIN: All right.

What is the second time that you had to use your gun? I say use your gun. That time, you didn't really have to use it. You just showed it.

MCMICHAEL: Yes, I just showed it.

The second one was in Pascagoula as well. It was in 2012 -- 2011. And I was going into work. We had a high value asset coming in. So I was coming in at 8:00. And the road I was coming in on was on -- it was destroyed by Katrina. It was real dark. Everything was -- it was the industrial side of town.

I was stopped at a red light. Had the windows down in the truck, and sitting at the red light, listening to music on the radio. Somebody came to the passenger door and popped the lock and was opening the door on me.

RUBIN: Let me stop you.

Popping the lock, meaning was the window down?

MCMICHAEL: The window was down. He just popped it. It was a GMC. So it was right there. He popped it open.

RUBIN: OK. All right.

MCMICHAEL: And opened the door, and started yelling to get in the truck. So...

RUBIN: What -- you said he started yelling.

MCMICHAEL: Yes, I don't know what he was saying. But it was -- he was yelling.


MCMICHAEL: And so I had the pistol between my -- I had a holster between my seats. And I pulled the pistol out and pointed at him, and told him to get out of my truck. He got out and ran off.

I got to the station. And we had three Reservists that were actually with the police department there, told them about it. And I believe we had a report made on it.

RUBIN: OK. All right.

All right, I want to focus your attention back to Satilla Shores.

MCMICHAEL: OK. RUBIN: Was there ever a time that you yourself tried to figure out if

any particular person was involved in some of the crime that had been happening over that summer in 2019?


RUBIN: OK. Can you tell us a little bit about that circumstance?


So, around -- I believe it was July, 1 July. My neighbor at the time, Kim Ballesteros (ph), she had her purse stolen or told us that her purse was stolen out of the vehicle. And so we were -- we -- the neighbors talked about it. This is -- something else has happened.

A few days later, a week or so later, I was coming back from a fishing trip. I have a boat doing charters on the side. And I was actually coming back to my house with some clients on Fancy Bluff Creek. Do you have a...

RUBIN: I do have a map here.

MCMICHAEL: Yes, so...

RUBIN: I kind of had this up already. Fancy Bluff Creek.


Under the bridge, the Highway 17 bridge, yes, we got under there.

RUBIN: I'm just going to pull this back too. The state has a similar exhibit that they have used, this being the Google Earth image.


So, yes, I was coming from the north and coming back down towards still Fancy Bluff.

RUBIN: You were where?

MCMICHAEL: Where your finger is.

RUBIN: On the water?

MCMICHAEL: On the water, in my boat, yes.


MCMICHAEL: And got under the bridge and saw a bunch of trash, tarps and a little tackle box down there, and just a bunch of trash under the bridge and said, this looks like a homeless camp. And it's very close to the neighborhood.

There's a trail that goes to it actually. Drove on by, started thinking that we just had -- a neighbor just had a purse stolen. So let me check this out. This might be -- this homeless person -- or if there is homeless people under there, these might be the ones going into the neighborhood.

So we got home, finished with the client.

RUBIN: Let me stop you there.

When you say you got home, we don't see it on this map here, but does this connect coming up around over onto this side?

MCMICHAEL: It does. Yes, Fancy Bluff Creek joins little Satilla south of the neighborhood.


So you boated around back to your dock?




RUBIN: Go ahead.

MCMICHAEL: So, got back, finished with the clients, and told my father, hey, there's a -- looks like there's a homeless camp under the bridge. And this purse was just stolen.


Want to go see if there's anybody down there, and said, I will join you. So we get in my truck. I was -- I have -- carry a weapon everywhere I go, concealed weapon. So I was armed. Not sure if my dad was or not.

There was a trail. First, we tried on the other -- on the neighborhood side of the road.

RUBIN: All right, so that being this side over here.

MCMICHAEL: Probably, if you look at the...


RUBIN: Was there any access point to drive over here?

MCMICHAEL: There was a power line that parallels the highway between the neighborhood and the highway. It's an overgrown road -- or it's an overgrown field.


MCMICHAEL: We couldn't get to it from. There's rocks and stuff. It was just too bad.

So I drove across Highway 17 on to Fancy Bluff Road.


MCMICHAEL: And then there's a little four-wheeler trail.

RUBIN: So, Satilla Drive comes across 17.


RUBIN: Is that Fancy Bluff up here?

MCMICHAEL: I believe it is.


MCMICHAEL: I believe it is.

RUBIN: All right.

MCMICHAEL: And then there's a wooded lot right directly across.

And there's a four-wheeler trail that parallels the highway there.

RUBIN: OK. What did you do?

MCMICHAEL: So, me and dad walked down the four-wheeler trail. He's behind me. And he goes down, kind of meanders around a couple of trees. And he gets to the creek, makes a right. And he goes under the bridge.

So I turn and go down the bridge. I don't see anybody, then get under the northbound lane and see someone fishing right at the bank. And he had a machete, I guess, a real long knife. It wasn't a filet knife. It was a like a machete. It was next to him. He doesn't see me. I walk on, but get between him and the knife.

And then...

RUBIN: All right, let me stop you there.

And as you're doing this, you're going down there with your sidearm. How is it that you feel comfortable going down there to inspect the situation?

MCMICHAEL: I didn't see any threat. There was no threat. Yes, I was -- I didn't see -- first, I didn't see anybody down there. And if I did, then I would talk to him, just talk to him.


RUBIN: All right, so what happened?

MCMICHAEL: So I get to him. I get between him and his knife.

RUBIN: Why'd you do that?

MCMICHAEL: For safety.


MCMICHAEL: For safety.

And I talked to him. I said, how you doing? And he's a friendly guy. And I asked him if he's living down the bridge. He told us that he wasn't. He told us that he was living on a road off of Fancy Bluff Road and neighborhood. I don't remember what the road was.

And I told him, I -- straight up, there's a bunch of stuff being stolen in this neighborhood and seeing if there's anything down here. He said, no, I haven't seen anything. OK, . We looked around. I think my dad looked at some of the tarps. He said it wasn't his stuff.

I'm certain that he was living under that bridge. We didn't see anything. We left.

RUBIN: When you said you didn't see anything, what were you looking for?

MCMICHAEL: I was just looking for if there was any purses, or if there was any equipment, anything that obviously would -- if you see boat motors or tackle boxes or anything, purses, anything that is just...


MCMICHAEL: It would be odd.

I wouldn't pick it up and take it. What we did is, as soon as we left, my dad called the non-emergency number and informed the police. They were aware obviously of what's been going on in the neighborhood, and told them, hey, there's a homeless person under this bridge. Check it out for us.

RUBIN: All right, I'm going to stop you there.

And just to be sure we're on the same page...

CAMEROTA: OK, we're going to take a break right now from this Ahmaud Arbery trial of the man who is accused of murdering him.

And we're going to go to Washington, D.C. As we said, it's a very busy "NewsHour," because Nancy Pelosi is speaking on the House floor. Debate is about to begin on a censure resolution for Republican Congressman Paul Gosar. Let's listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): ... a House constantly invigorated by accountability to the people every year, a place where slavery was abolished, a place where we have taken our men and women into service to protect freedom and democracy throughout the world, a place where Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and so many institutions meeting the needs of the American people were established.

The list goes on and on about the distinguished nature of the House of Representatives. Maybe 12,000 13,000 people have been elected to this body over time, only a few hundred women, but all very distinguished, and great heroes of our country have served in this institution, including President Abraham Lincoln.

That was before the chamber was the meeting ground. It was when the -- Statuary Hall was where his desk is memorialized to this day, the place where his desk was.


So, when we come to this great institution, we understand that there are 435 members of Congress, but only one from each district. Only one of us is -- represents the thoughts, aspirations, dreams, fears and hopes of our constituents.

There is no bigger privilege for any one of us in the House, be it speaker, whip, leader, any of the titles that caucuses may bestow on us, that is as prestigious as to say, I speak for the people of my district, in my case, the district of San Francisco.

So, when we come here, we have a responsibility to uphold a high standard of integrity, decency, and respect for this institution. The Constitution charges us to be accountable to the people. And we must represent of the United States House of Representatives in a spirit in which our constituents and all Americans should be very proud.

House Rule 23 provides for our code of official conduct. This provision of our rules requires that we -- quote -- "shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibly on the House."

Sadly, extremely disturbing actions taken last week by a member of Congress, threatening another member, wildly violate the standard. These actions demands a response. We cannot have member joking about murdering each other or threatening the president of the United States.

This is both an indictment of our elected officials and an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives. It's not just about us as members of Congress. It is a danger that represents to everyone in the country.

If you're viewing this and thinking, well, when you run for Congress, you get threats and the rest, you don't expect to get them from your colleagues. But, nonetheless, the example set in this House is one that is viewed across the country.

Women across the country particularly feel vulnerable if insults of the nature that existed in this House are allowed to stand. I will speak about that in a moment.

Again, when a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen to those words. And they can -- and they may act upon them. Words spoken by elected officials weigh a ton. People hear them very differently.

As the resolution that the committee is putting forth states, depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021.

It is inconceivable that a member of our community here would wish to repeat the violence of that dark day, that deadly day. As a woman speaker of the House, I want to be clear, these threats specifically target a woman, a woman of color, which is part, as the resolution states, a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them for seeking positions of authority and participating in public life.

Again, this is about workplace harassment and violence against women. Yet the member has never apologized for his actions. It's a cartoon. Relax, he said.

Really? A cartoon? Relax? And he wrote to supporters: "This hyperventilating and shrill accusations that this cartoon is dangerous are laughable or intentionally hyperbolic. I'm entitled to speak to the people and to do so in a manner that is engaging," he said.

Really? Is it engaging to depict killing a colleague or anyone -- it's not just about members of Congress -- anyone, threatening anyone? Disguising death threats against a member of Congress and a president of the United States is an animated video does not make those death threats any less real or less serious.

And, indeed, conveying them this way makes them potentially more dangerous by normalizing violence. It isn't funny. And, yes, you have a right to speak. And so do we have a right to react to what you're saying when you are threatening the lives of members of Congress and the president of the United States.

It is sad that this entire House must take this step because of the refusal of the leadership of the other party. Indeed, it took nine days for the minority leader to publicly spoke out about this threat. And when he did, he merely said, it was not the member's intent to ever harm anyone.


Really? And many other members on the other side of the aisle have refused to strongly condemn these actions. One member of leadership said: "Unfortunately, in this world we're in right now, we all get death threats, no matter what the issue is."

Death threats from our colleagues? Death threats from members of Congress? We all get death threats. Members think it is OK to use their platform to directly encourage more death threats against their own colleagues?

The resolution the floor today is about accountability. It is about integrity in this House, and it will serve as a reminder to this Congress and to this country that the House is committed to upholding the highest standards of decorum in all that we do, as is said in Rule 23, "shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibly on the House." In our actions, we must be mindful of all who make up our congressional community, including not only members, but also the committees, the committee staff, the institutional staff.

And thank you for your service.

The custodians of the Capitol, the Capitol Police, and others. As we proceed to make progress for the people, let us be guided by our love of this institution, respect for this institution in which we serve, and, again, an example that we wish to show to the world.

Again, a threat against anyone is wrong, whether you're a member of Congress or not. So this is just about the example, again, that is in total violation by the action of the members.

Yes, indeed, Madam Speaker, it is a sad day for the House of Representatives, but a necessary day, so that we can, again, behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibly on the House.

With that, I thank the distinguished chairman again. I thank Congresswoman Jackie Speier for her leadership in bringing this legislation forward, this motion -- resolution forward, and yield back the balance of my time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to yield one minute to the distinguished minority leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman's recognized for one minute.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It's an old definition of abuse of power, rules for thee, but not for me. That's exactly what's happening here today. House Democrats are preparing once again to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.

It's an open secret that the American people are facing substantial challenges today. Many of these challenges are Washington-inflicted of one-party rule caused by a Biden administration incompetence and radicalism, absolute chaos on the Southern border, out-of-control crime, record-breaking gas prices and inflation, a broken supply chain, a historic labor shortage, a failing education system, and, of course, the humiliating surrender in Afghanistan.

Will this Congress be remembered as the Congress that addressed those serious challenges? Not a chance. Instead, I believe this Congress will go down in history as the broken Congress. For nearly four years, as the House Republicans have been voicing the needs of millions of Americans, House Democrats have broken nearly every rule and standard in order to silence dissident and stack the deck for their radical, unpopular agenda.

They broke the motion to recommit, first time in the history of Congress. They broke impeachment not once, but twice. They broke in person voting and replaced it with proxy voting, the first time in history.

And they broke the minority's right to appoint members of its own choosing to committees. The speaker is burning down the House on her way out the door. What's worse, we got to this point on the basis of a double standard.

Democrats want to change the rules, but refuse to the apply them to their own caucus.


I listened to the speaker talk about the highest standards.

Madam Speaker, when a Democratic chairwoman flew to Minneapolis and told an angry crowd during a trial to stay on the streets, get more active, get more confrontational, we have got to make sure they know we mean business, that high standard? The Democrats refused to take action.

The trial judge actually singled her out on her comments on an ongoing basis, which he said could become an issue on appeal. But this wasn't the first time. No. This is three times.

At a rally in Los Angeles, that same chairwoman, she told a mob, if you see anyone from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them. And you tell them that they're not welcome anymore anywhere.

She later defended that comment in another speech in L.A., saying, the same chairwoman of the high standards, I did not threaten Trump constituents and supporters. I do that all the time. But I didn't do it that time.

This side of the aisle didn't ask that chairwoman to lose her committee. We simply asked for an apology. Meanwhile, that high standard with Speaker Pelosi and leader Hoyer defended her. When asked about her Minneapolis comments, Leader Hoyer described her as passionate. She believes in her issues. She believes she should get in your faces.

And Speaker Pelosi, oh, what did she do with that high standard? She compared her comments in Minneapolis to Dr. King's civil rights movement. You see, why would they do that? Rules for thee, but not for me.

Just this month, the dossier's principal source was arrested by a special counsel, Durham, for lying to the FBI. Think about everything that dossier put this country through for two years, based on fabricated evidence, the infringements of due process, the spying on the presidential campaign, and, of course, the $32 million spent by hard-earned working taxpayers for a Mueller investigation.

And yet the Democratic chairman says, I don't regret it. Why? Rules for thee, but not for me. When the speaker of the House on this very floor engaged in personalities, the floor shut down for three hours, because no one wanted to take it to the top.

Her entire caucus the believed in a higher standard voted to keep her words in the record, rather than strike them down. Why? Rules for thee, but not for me.

The speaker said, I stand by my statement. I'm proud of the attention that is being called to it. Never happened before in the history of this body. Why? Because it's a broken Congress that believes in rules for thee, but not for me.

This is part of a larger pattern. When a congressman on the Intelligence Committee was targeted by a suspected Chinese Communist Party agent for years, the Democrats kept him on the committee. Why? Rules for thee, but not for me.

When a Democrat congresswoman said Israel was -- hypnotized the world, that supporting Israel is all about the Benjamins, and that 9/11 was, some people did something, the Democrats actually defended her. Why? Rules for thee, but not for me.

When a member of the Democratic leadership tweeted a week ago, "Lock up Kyle Rottenhouse (sic) and throw away the key," in an attempt to sway an ongoing trial, the Democrats said nothing. Why? Rules for thee, but not for me.

Let me be clear. I do not condone violence, and Representative Gosar had echoed that sentiment. The video was deleted. But Democrats won't listen, because they will do anything to distract from the failures of one party-rule in one year destroying a nation.