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Self-Defense Argument on Display in Both Murder Trials; Violence Erupts Between Migrants and Polish Forces; At Least One Dead from Mudslide in British Columbia; Pathologist Who Conducted Arbery's Autopsy Testifies. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His cause of death was multiple shotgun wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clearly Ahmaud was murdered for no apparent reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone has different biases and different thoughts and different views.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will pay no heed to the opinions of anyone even the president of the United States.


FOSTER: Two political trials are putting America's political and racial divisions front and center. Possibly revealing flaws in the nation's justice system.

Deadly flooding in the Pacific Northwest. What this could mean for holiday travel.

And more COVID restrictions across Europe, surging cases have officials worried it could still get worse.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

FOSTER: It's Wednesday, November 17. Right now, two high-profile criminal trials are gripping the United States highlighting deep divisions over race, guns and legal rights over self-defense. The stakes are high is jurors in both trials consider similar narratives. In Brunswick, Georgia, defense attorneys argue Travis McMichael fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery is self-defense as they wrestled over McMichael's shotgun. McMichael was accompanied by two other suspects in the racially charged case. We'll have much more on this trial later this hour. Meanwhile, Americans are awaiting for a verdict in the Kyle

Rittenhouse trial. His lawyers argue he shot three in self-defense amid racial justice protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. Prosecution say Rittenhouse instigated the shootings. The jury is a lot to consider when the resume deliberations later today. CNN's Omar Jimenez reports from Kenosha, Wisconsin.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After close to nine hours of deliberations on day one from this jury, still no verdict. Early in the day, they requested more copies to pages one through six of the jury instructions. And that's significant because those pages deal with crucial concepts like self-defense and provocation. It also deals with the concept of intent along with the charges connected to the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum -- the first killed by Rittenhouse back in August 2020.

Later in the day, the jury requested extra copies to the rest of jury instructions indicating that they want to be through at least as they move through this. To begin the day though on Tuesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, we saw him literally himself pull the either names or numbers of jurors out of an old school lottery tumbler. These were the names or numbers of jurors that would be selected as alternates in this. Some saw that as unusual but the judge made a point at the end of the day, Tuesday to say that this is how he's done things in this courtrooms for at least 20 years.

Now moving forward or I should say outside the courtroom, we have seen protests that have come in at points throughout this trial but maybe got to its largest in size over the course of Tuesday. Even still overall small. But among the people that have come some have been in support of Kyle Rittenhouse. Some have called Kyle Rittenhouse a killer. Others have praised survivors like Gaige Grosskreutz for being a hero. But what is clear, is that no matter the verdict, there will be people upset here in Kenosha. Back to you.


FOSTER: Well, as Omar reported the jurors asked the judge in this trial for extra copies of their jury instruction. CNN asked a juror from another high-profile case what to interpret from this move? Take a listen.


BRANDON MITCHELL, JUROR IN DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL: The instructions are tough a little bit. I think with our case, this Chauvin case, the judge did a great job of telling us what to follow and how to follow it. There instructions for this Rittenhouse case is a lot more in depth, there's a lot more charges. The language is a little bit difficult. I think that might be a hiccup f or them. I think is going to take them some time to go over it and really come to a conclusive idea of what is being they're being asked because there's just so much more information. But that's definitely a discussion in itself is how to interpret each one of these counts of what argument that they're going for.


FOSTER: Well, it's possible the Rittenhouse jury could reach a verdict is early as today. Do stay with CNN as we follow all of those developments for you.


Another lawsuit has been filed in the wake of a deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas earlier this month. A $750 million suit was filed on Tuesday on behalf of more than 125 attendees and family members of those who died. Performers Travis Scott and Drake, along with concert organizer Live Nation are amongst those named as defendants. 10 people died and dozens were hurt during the festival when the packed crowd surged towards the stage. So far at least 140 lawsuits have been filed.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote today on resolution censoring Paul Gosar and stripping him of his committee assignments. The Arizona Republican posted a doctored anime video on social media earlier this month showing him attacking Democrat Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and President Joe Biden. Gosar says he didn't watch the video before he posted it. He eventually removed it but he didn't apologize.

The migrants stranded at the Belarus/Poland border are facing another day of uncertainty after Tuesday's chaotic confrontation. That's when desperation gave way to fury and Poland met that anger with water cannons and tear gas. While some of the migrants are ready to abandon their goal of reaching Europe, others insists they won't give up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are fighting to stay alive here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, to stay alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you go back to --?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's going to die, who's going to die here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you go back to Iraq?



FOSTER: Fred Pleitgen is on the Polish side of the border with CNN' Nic Robertson is with me in the studio to talk about the more regional concerns. First to you though, Fred. Is it calmer today there or are tensions still very high?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, I think it was a little bit more calm overnight after that standoff, that melee that happened. It really seems as though a lot of people who were out there -- especially on the Belarusian side. A lot of those migrants were certainly demoralized after not being able to get through the Polish border crossing and get into EU territory. Of course, a lot of them also absolutely drenched by those water cannons, so that we saw, of course. Apparently teargassed was also used as well.

So, it seems as though the night was a bit more calm. The latest information that we have is that there were several attempts to cross the border overnight but none of those apparently were successful. But of course, yesterday, you did have that massive melee going on there. Where the Poles also said that apparently some of the migrants were throwing stun grenades. So, the Poles say they could only have gotten from Belarusian security forces.

Of course, Poland is blaming Belarus for playing a part in all this. And in fact, instigating and fanning this crisis that's been going on, on the border there. Meanwhile, Europe really very concerned about this situation. I want us to listen in really quick to what the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner had to say about what's going on there. Let's listen in.


DUNJA MIJATOVIC, COUNSEL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The situation is evidently extremely complex and problematic. We can see enormous suffering of people that are left in limbo. It is absolutely unacceptable what Belarus is doing and how the people are manipulated.


PLEITGEN: So, there you have there obviously Europe very concerned about what is going on there. Again, so far what the European Union is saying, what Germany is saying, is that -- of course, that is where a lot of these folks want to go ultimately -- is that they are not going to be taking in the migrants who are on the eastern border -- or near the eastern border with Poland. They say they need to return to their home countries. Of course, you have that diplomatic full court press that's been going on. I'm sure Nic obviously has a lot of insight into.

But right now, I think the most important thing and the most important information that we have from that border area is that at least some of those people were able to spend the night inside a shelter with a roof over their heads with some blankets in the warmth. So certainly, that does seem to be an improvement. However, there are still a lot who are camped outside. So, the situation still remains dire and still remains dangerous. And the big question for a lot of these people is what is going to happen next to them. The European Union says the only solution can be for them to go back to the countries of origin. Of course, a lot of people are saying they've come so far and they simply don't want to go back now -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Fred at the border, thank you. So, Nic, what sort of conversations are going on in the European capitals and Moscow, for example? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, one of the

points Fred raises there is that there are now people who've been -- some of these migrants, you know, women and children who have been sort of taken into a center close to the border. And that kind of reflects a conversation that the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is having with the Belarusian Foreign Minister yesterday that it was, you know, the importance there to stand down of the situation. But that there should be humanitarian help given to the people on the border.

And the Foreign Minister -- at least according to their press offices, saying, yes, we are. We want to get the UNHCR in there. We want to get the international migration officials in there as well. So, I think we're beginning to see, you know, there's a space for a de-escalation.


But there's also the Belarusian must recognize there that while there is anger, been extreme anger been shown at the Polish border forces there and police by the migrants throwing rocks at them. And that's an anger that could also turn against the Belarusians if they accept the view of the European Union politicians that this is a manipulation.

So, yes, there are conversations being had. Alexander Lukashenko spoke with President Putin yesterday. Angela Merkel spoke with Lukashenko on Monday. On Friday you had Angela Merkel speaking with President Putin. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Paris meeting with his country part there. So, those conversations are being had.

And if the upshot is this little de-escalation we might be seeing overnight, last night, then you can see there is this path for diplomacy and a way back from this. But I think it's in the hands of the migrants and the Belarusian authorities this morning.

FOSTER: And there's absolutely no way that border can't reopen. Is that a point of principle now for their European Union?

ROBERTSON: They've made it very clear. They've made this very, very clear that they are not going to do it. And this is a message -- this is a tough message for the migrants but it's a very clear message for both Lukashenko and Putin. The European Union will stand together on this despite all the disagreements with Poland, despite other internal issues. They will stand together on this and not be, as they feel, manipulated, coerced, bamboozled, pressured into a migrant crisis which becomes an internal political point inside the EU.

FOSTER: And Nic, thank you. Also Fred there from the Poland/Belarus border.

ISIS claiming responsibility of two suicide bombings in Uganda's capital that killed at least three people and injured 36 more on Tuesday. Security footage shows the moment each explosion went off in Kampala's city center.

Now one happened at the Parliament building, the other just outside Kampala's central police station. Police say they managed to thwart another would be bomber before he could attack. Officials are now urging people to remain vigilant. Saying the country is still facing an active bomb threat.

Right now, Indian's Supreme Court is taking up the issue of pollution in the nation's capital. A thick smog has been choking New Delhi and its surrounding areas for days now. Now the government is introducing new measures to reduce the toxic haze. Schools and colleges in and around the capital city will remain closed and all nonessential construction sites and thermal plants will be halted as well.

Parts of Washington state are reeling after days of heavy rain triggered widespread flooding. A state of emergency is now in effect. Officials a northwest town of Sumas say flood waters have damaged around 75 percent of homes there and workers are trying to restore power. The town shares a border with Canada.

Rescue efforts are also under way in British Columbia actually. Now police say two people are missing after rain caused a mudslide and at least one person has died. Evacuations are ongoing throughout parts of the province. Much more ahead on this for you.

Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who has the details. Really frightening scenes actually -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the way things have played out here, Max, has been pretty incredible. The amount of moisture directed toward this region, and of course, the persistence of this rainfall leading to this damage that we've seen, widespread coverage of rainfall, as much as four to six inches, a few pockets exceeding eight inches. And we have a classic atmospheric river pattern and I often talk about this plume of moisture that is essentially a narrow band of moisture, about two miles above the Pacific Ocean. And when it gets directed towards regions like the Pacific Northwest, typically you see that in the month of November, December into January.

It typically spells trouble and of course that has been the case here with the amount of rains that has played out. Again, incredible coverage of rainfall across this region and it's the persistence of rainfall that have been problematic.

Now there is some good news in the way that we think the last round of it for places such as Seattle, take place Thursday into Friday, rain showers beyond Friday, we think will taper off a little bit. Saturday and Sunday, maybe get you a dry weekend and then stable average into next week, certainly not going to be ideal conditions. But it is going to be far drier again, than where we've been the last few days.

That's across the western U.S. It also gets pretty interesting across the Eastern U.S. Big time warmth that we're talking about, some areas, 20 degrees above average. New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, temperatures into the 70s, just the week before Thanksgiving. That front, that comes through Thursday, through Friday, and once it does, significantly colder air back behind this, temperatures are going to nose-dive -- look at these readings. Chicago, climb up to almost 60 degrees on Wednesday. Dropped to about

40 degrees come Thursday and stay in that range for the next few days. While Washington enjoying a 74-degree afternoon by Thursday and then notice what happens here beyond that -- Friday, 49.


Atlanta, also kind of trends towards that direction and what gets interesting is maybe a sign of things to come. If you look beyond this, into early next week, of course, the busiest travel week of the year, frontal boundary pushes through, potentially brings with it some arctic air and maybe some snow. This is quite a ways out right now, looking into next Wednesday and next Thursday. But initial indications are that much colder air are going to be on the horizon.

Forecast looks as such right now, for Monday, 29 degrees in Chicago, mind you, it's almost 70 in areas across this region on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. And then you'll notice New York City about 53 degrees, but again, that colder air shifts farther towards the east next Tuesday. Temps 41 in New York City, maybe as cold as 49 down in Atlanta. So massive changes in the forecast going into the busy week --Max.

FOSTER: Yes, it's interesting. Pedram, thank you very much indeed.

Drugmaker Pfizer is seeking Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for its experimental COVID anti-viral pill. Pfizer CEO says the drugs latest clinical trial showed overwhelming efficacy. Data shows the pill is nearly 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations, or death from COVID.

The Biden administration is optimistic as well. A source says it plans to purchase 10 million doses of the pill. Pfizer also plans to offer it to developing nations once it's approved in the U.S.

Now still to come, Europe becomes the center of the pandemic as countries struggle to contain surging COVID cases. We'll look at the rules some are imposing to try to slow the outbreaks.

Plus, a new phase of the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial will start today as the defense begins presenting its case. Details just ahead.



FOSTER: The trial into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery will resuming in the coming hours. And today the defense is expected to begin presenting its case. Three white men are accused of chasing down and killing Arbery, the 25-year-old black man out for a jog last year near the city of Brunswick in Georgia. The prosecution rested after calling 23 witnesses in the case. And on Tuesday, jurors heard graphic medical testimony in Arbery's injuries. CNN's Ryan Young has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, at this time the state rests.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And with that the state rested their presentation of evidence in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial late this afternoon. Defense Attorney Kevin Gough previously reserved the right to delay his opening arguments and is expected to deliver them starting tomorrow.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: And what was his cause of death.

EDMUND DONOGHUE, GBI MEDICAL EXAMINER: His cause of death was multiple shotgun wounds.

YOUNG (voice-over): After eight days the last of the state's 23 witnesses took the stand today, including the forensic pathologist who conducted the 25-year-old jogger's autopsy.

Arbery was shot and killed after he was chased and got into a confrontation in a Brunswick neighborhood with three white men, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William Bryan back in February 2020. Disturbing X-ray images of Arbery's body were shown while Dr. Edmund Donoghue described the multiple injuries he sustained.

DONOGHUE: You see, shotgun pellets on the lower portion of the chest. That's the right lateral chest or the right side of the chest. You also see shotgun pellets in the right chest and left chest and shoulder injury and shoulder area.

DUNIKOSKI: So, did it break ribs five through 10?


DUNIKOSKI: All right, so all the ribs over here got broken five to 10?


DUNIKOSKI: What happens when you break all these ribs that on the right lateral side?

DONOGHUE: Well, it becomes difficult and painful to breathe. And also, there is the intercostal arteries run on the lower edge of those ribs. So, you would bleed into the chest cavity.

YOUNG (voice-over): Donoghue also testified there was nothing that could be done to save over Arbery's life once the first shot to his chest was fired.

DUNIKOSKI: Was there anything EMS or the officers could have done on the scene to save his life from the torso shot?

DONOGHUE: Well, they could put an occlusive dressing on the large defect, but you would still have the exit defects in the back of the chest. And they couldn't do anything about the bleeding as long as the heart was beating.

DUNIKOSKI: In other words, is there anything they could have done on scene to save his life?


YOUNG (voice-over): The prosecution questioned the doctor about some plant like material found in one of Arbery's wounds, trying to illustrate how hard they say Arbery fought in those last moments.

DONOGHUE: It leads me to believe that it somehow gotten into the barrel of the shotgun possibly why they were struggling, and maybe pointed it down into the ground and came up with this botanical material.

Well, this is what is called the flight or fight reaction. And when you run up -- when you run into a situation that is stressful, or that you're afraid of, or is going to cause anxiety, and the brain will correlate a flight or fight response.

YOUNG (voice-over): But the defense took issue with that.


BOB RUBIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: I believe you testified on direct examination that someone in the fight or flight mode when they can no longer flee can fight.

DONOGHUE: They can.

RUBIN: OK. You didn't see any evidence that Mr. Arbery could no longer flee. Right?

DONOGHUE: Well, no, I didn't.

RUBIN: So, there was nothing physically preventing him from continuing to run. Right?


RUBIN: You have no idea what he was afraid of at that point in time, correct?

DONOGHUE: Well, there's a man holding a shotgun out there.

RUBIN: Right. So could have been afraid of being shot.

DONOGHUE: And there was a man following him in a pickup truck.

RUBIN: OK. Could have been afraid of being caught.


Do you know if Mr. Arbery was afraid of being caught?

DONOGHUE: I don't.

RUBIN: Right. You don't know what you don't know.

YOUNG (voice-over): Today's graphic testimony of Arbery's last moments was overwhelming for the Arbery family.

MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: I wouldn't put that on nobody family. You look at your kid laid out blown apart.

YOUNG (voice-over): Earlier in the day defense attorney Kevin Gough told the court he filed a motion asking the record reflect who's sitting in the public gallery during the trial. It comes one day after he took issue with civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson's presence in court with the Arbery family and days after a similar appearance for the Reverend Al Sharpton.

KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN JR.: This morning we did file a motion to prohibit any further conduct that may intimidate or influence jurors and otherwise interfere with fair trial. It raises same issues perhaps with more authority than were raised previously.

YOUNG (voice-over): Judge Timothy Walmsley denied the motion before adjourning court for the day.

YOUNG: Yet today was another tough day in court for the family, because the medical examiner was talking about some of the evidence, he was able to gather. So, you had a lot of tough images that they had to see. We also saw William Bryan talk for the first time in a limited capacity, because his attorney Kevin Gough was trying to get him out of the Green County jail, that didn't happen.

Ryan Young, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.


FOSTER: The defense attorneys have said their clients were trying to conduct a citizens, a lawful citizen's arrest of Arbery when they shot him in self-defense. But that may not be easy to prove.


PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think citizen's arrest is going to be hard for the defense to prove here. Georgia law used to allow somebody to go chase someone down, hold them for the police, if they saw them commit a crime, or had direct knowledge that they had committed a serious felony offense. None of that is present in this case.

Even if there's some argument this may have been criminal trespass, that Ahmaud Arbery was on private property, the McMichael's didn't see him on private property and they certainly had no evidence that he had committed a felony offense that would have authorized them to go chase him down and then arguably get into the scuffle and then shoot him. So, is going to be a stretch for the defense.


FOSTER: Well, we'll have continued coverage over this trial throughout the day here on CNN. Closing argues are expected to begin tomorrow in a Charlottesville,

Virginia, in a civil trial against the organizers of the deadly 2017, unite the right rally. Some of those injured in the rally in Charlottesville are suing two dozen white nationalists and organizations. The lawsuit accuses the defendants in the case of conspiring to commit violence. The defense is expected to call two more witnesses later today.

Now, in the coming hour, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to focus on his infrastructure win during a visit to Michigan, even as he continues to make a case for another major bill. We'll have the details for you from Washington.

And Mr. Biden says talks with his Chinese counterpart led to some progress on Taiwan. But he's now clarifying comments related to its independence. More on that just ahead.