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Travis McMichael Describes Moment He Shot Arbery; Rittenhouse Defense Seeks Mistrial Over Video Requested by Jury; Peng Shuai Missing After Accusing Former Leader of Sexual Assault; U.S. House Censures Congressman Paul Gosar; Northwest U.S., Canada Grapples with Devastating Floods. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London, and just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him to stop, stop, stop, so he hit me. I had nothing to do.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Travis killed Ahmaud all on assumption.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the worst nightmare of every parent, but especially parents of color.


SOARES: The man charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery testifies on his own behalf. But will jurors believe his version of the story?

Congressman Paul Gosar becomes the first House member censored in more than a decade over a Photoshopped video that shows him killing another member of Congress.

And the Women's Tennis Association threatens to pull out of China after a Chinese player has not been seen now in public.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Hello, everyone. Happy Thursday, it is November the 18th. And we are watching two criminal trials in the U.S. where who fired the fatal shot is clear. But the question of guilt is not. Both touched on racial divisions and future claims of self-defense.

Now, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a third day of jury deliberations will soon get under way in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse as his defense team seeks a mistrial. Rittenhouse is charged with killing two men and wounding another at a racial justice protest.

And in Brunswick, Georgia, the white man who shot and killed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery will take the stand for a second day of testimony.

Well, on Wednesday jurors got to hear Travis McMichael describe what happened on the day he shot Ahmaud Arbery. In the coming hours about 200 pastors are expected to head to Brunswick. A midday rally is planned at the courthouse followed by a march in the afternoon in support of the Arbery family. CNN's Ryan Young has more on Wednesdays testimony from Brunswick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do?


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Travis McMichael fired his shotgun three times, killing Ahmaud Arbery. And he took the stand in his own defense today.

MCMICHAEL: He'd had my gun. He struck me. It was obvious that he was -- it was obvious that he was attacking me, that if he would have got the shotgun from me then it was -- this was a life-or-death situation. And I'm going to have to stop him from doing this.

YOUNG (voice-over): McMichael the first witness for the defense appeared emotional at times as he described his encounter with Arbery in February of 2020.

MCMICHAEL: I turned around. We got over there and pulled his hand down from under him. And realized that he was deceased. And I looked up and the police were right there. After that it was a blur. I mean, I shot him, it was a blur.

YOUNG (voice-over): During his testimony McMichael said a neighbor pointed toward the direction where Arbery was first running. Travis said he grabbed his shotgun and he and his father got in their pickup truck to try to find him.

MCMICHAEL: We finally stopped, asked him what was going on. He never says anything to me. He's still looking at me. This guy's -- this could be volatile. You know. We've got to watch it here.

YOUNG (voice-over): Both McMichaels told police they believed the man running was involved in the recent break-ins they heard about on social media. Minutes into the chase things took a deadly turn.

MCMICHAEL: I shot -- the first shot, another shot. But then the second shot I shot again because I was still -- I was still fighting. I was still -- he was all over me. He was still all over that shotgun and he was not relenting.

YOUNG (voice-over): In cross-examination the prosecution struck at the heart of the defense's claims. They were going for a citizen's arrest. LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Not once during your direct examination did you state that your intention was to effectuate an arrest of Mr. Arbery until your attorney asked you that leading question. Isn't that, right?


YOUNG (voice-over): The prosecution also pointed out that none of the defendants knew why Arbery was running that day.

DUNIKOSKI: But your dad just said he's running down the road. Correct?


DUNIKOSKI: And you didn't know where he was going when he was running down the road?

MCMICHAEL: I did not.


DUNIKOSKI: All right. And you had no idea what he'd actually been doing that day?

MCMICHAEL: Not at that time, no.

YOUNG (voice-over): And reminded the jury there was an alternative to what occurred.

DUNIKOSKI: You didn't tell your dad this is a really, really bad idea that could go really wrong for us and we should just stay here and call 911? You didn't say that did you?

MCMICHAEL: I didn't.

YOUNG (voice-over): Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, spoke about her own pain after watching today's testimony.

WANDA COOPER JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: Travis was on the stand wiping tears from his eyes. But again, Travis is alive. I mean, the tears he shed today was no -- can you imagine the tears that we have shared?

YOUNG: Very difficult day for the family as the processing all they heard from Travis McMichael. We know today there'll be another sort of moment when it comes to the fact that so many pastors will be traveling in from around the country. They want to make their voices heard. They're going to have a prayer vigil. There will be a march in the city. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out on a busy day, not only for the prosecution, but for what may happen in the streets of Brunswick.

Ryan Young, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOARES: Well, civil rights attorney Ben Crump represents Ahmaud Arbery's father. He says the defendant's claims of self-defense are ridiculous. Take a listen.


BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: This is a man who chased an unarmed black man and lynched him for jogging while black, for two miles, practically. When you add up all the distance that Ahmaud Arbery ran for his life. And it's so odd that he would say well, I was thinking about my 5-year-old son. If he was worried about his safety and his son's safety, instead of trying to take the law in their own hands, why didn't he simply call 911? Why didn't he let the police come and do their job? Or was it because they had prejudged this black man as something that he wasn't.

Why is it that Trayvon Martin unarmed and Ahmaud Arbery unarmed are looked at as criminals and thugs, not only by their killers, but also by the system? And with Kyle Rittenhouse who actually had an assault weapon and killed two of them is looked at as a kid and given the benefit of the doubt and the benefit and the presumption of innocence, when these dead black men were always presumed guilty?


SOARES: Real strong words there from Mr. Crump. Some people experts think Travis McMichael's testimony isn't doing him any favors.


MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: They chased Ahmaud like an animal in they ran him until he could run no more. And so, the one thing he could do when you -- it's fight or flight. They ran want to Spain, there was no more flight left in him. All he could do is fight to try to keep a guy from shooting him with a loaded shotgun. Why is Travis out of the truck? Why do you have a gun in his hand? If you're so afraid, why don't you get in the truck and drive off? What's your dad doing in the back with a 357. All he's doing is digging himself a bigger hole. Imagine what Ahmaud is thinking when he's running those last hundred feet before he gets to the truck. What am I going to do? What about my mama? Who am I leaving? This is great fodder in a great argument to be made by the prosecutor. And that's why I really think at the end of the day tomorrow, she is going to wear him out on the witness stand.


SOARES: And that was in Brunswick. Were also waiting of course for a verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse accused of fatally shooting to protesters last year. The jury will resume deliberating in just about six hours or so from now. Jurors were described as fatigued at the end of day two. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Kenosha, Wisconsin for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On day two of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse double homicide trial, the jury asked a question to the judge. That question was, can they review some of the evidence they had already seen in this trial? The judge decided they could. And the evidence was mostly video evidence that they had seen. One of which was a video, a drone video, taken by a civilian that is a big contention in this trial.

The defense saying it really shouldn't have been let in for evidence that is problematic, because the high-resolution version of that evidence wasn't handed over until five days into this trial. And the defense didn't get a chance to really look over it. Here's why they said they felt like the jury should not be able to continually go over this particular bit of video evidence and the prosecutor's response.

COREY CHIRAFISI, RITTENHOUSE'S ATTORNEY: We would have done this case in a little bit different manner if that was the situation. We didn't have the quality of evidence that the state had, until the case had been closed. I'm going to be asking the court for a mistrial.

JAMES KRAUS, PROSECUTOR: But their client lied about this on the stand is the state's position. There seems to be evidence to support the position that he lied on the stand about raising the gun. He was confronted with the exhibit. He denied it. The jury wants to see these exhibits.

SIDNER: The judge, however, did let that evidence in. However, there is already two requests for a mistrial from the defense. One of them has been filed. The judge taking that into account. The other is going to be filed, they said, and that is going to specifically talk about this drone video they feel was inappropriate to show this jury. The judge said he is concerned about it as well. He's going to let the case go forward. We will see what the jury decides, day three of deliberations begins this morning.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Kenosha, Wisconsin.


SOARES: And be sure to stay with CNN throughout the day of course for our coverage of Rittenhouse as well as the Arbery trial.

Now closing arguments are set to begin in the coming hours in Charlottesville, Virginia after testimony wrapped up in the civil trial against organizers of the deadly unite the right rally in 2017. Four final witnesses testified on Wednesday, some of those injured in a rally in Charlottesville, with two dozen white nationalists as well as organizations. The lawsuit accuses the defendants in the case of conspiring to commit violence. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Friday.

We now have new information on Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. Chinese state media has released an email supposedly from Peng Shuai. Claiming she's fine and denies making recent allegations of sexual assault. A post on her verified account earlier this month, accused a former communist party leader of pressuring her into having sex. That post was quickly deleted and Peng hasn't been seen since. Tennis authorities doubt the veracity of this new email in the tennis community fears for Peng's safety. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong with more. And Kristi, give me some more details about exactly what's in this letter and what the WTA response has been to this?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Let me just tell you that calls have been call for verifiable evidence from Peng Shuai because of this letter that's been circulating. It was on Wednesday when Xinhua, this is the English language Chinese state-run media outlet took to Twitter -- which is not available in mainland China -- to post a screenshot of an email on her Weibo page allegedly by Peng Shuai. It runs about 10 sentences long. There is bizarrely a cursor that you could see in the middle of the screenshot.

In it she says quote, everything is fine. And then she goes on to backtrack to recant her earlier sexual assault allegations against a very powerful man Zhang Gaoli, the former vice premier of China.

Now it also goes on to say this -- let's bring it up for you.

If the WTA -- the women's tennis Association -- publishes any more news about me, please verify it with me, release it with my consent. As a professional tennis player, I thank you for all your companionship and your consideration. I hope to promote Chinese tennis with all of you if I have the chance in the future. I hope Chinese tennis will become better and better -- unquote.

Now this alleged email has not been verified by CNN. I should also note that it was not reported by any domestic Chinese media. The Women's Tennis Association has issued its statement casting serious doubt on the veracity of this email, so do human rights organizations. So, let's bring up this statement.

This is from the Chinese Human Rights Defenders they say this, quote, Peng Shuai's latest statement released through state media should not be taken at face value. The Chinese government has a long history of arbitrarily detaining people involved in controversial cases, controlling their ability to speak freely and making them give forced statements. Until Peng Shuai is free the burden of proof should be in the Chinese government to prove that she is not detained -- unquote.

In the last few hours, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held their daily press briefing. The case involving Peng Shuai was raised. And according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said, because it is not a diplomatic issue that they declined to comment. Look, Peng Shuai is a national icon. She is a sporting hero in China for being a two-time grand slam champion of winning in Wimbledon and the French open in women's doubles tennis. It was on November 2nd -- this is just about two weeks ago, when she made that accusation that Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex with him. She made that accusation on her verified Weibo page. It was shortly and immediately taken down. She has not been seen or heard from ever since -- Isa.

SOARES: And so much focus, Kristie, has been on Peng Shuai and her -- I think it's fair to say -- incredibly courageous post. Which like you said has been taken down. What about the man she accuses of this? I mean the former vice premier Zhang Gaoli. Any word from him on this? What kind of pressure is he facing at home?

STOUT: Immense pressure and no word yet. Zhang Gaoli is the former vice premier of China. He was one of the seven individuals in the politburo standing. This is the highest-level decision-making panel in China.


He literally rubbed shoulders with Chinese President Xi Jinping until he retired in 2018. And now he is the target of this very serious sexual assault allegation by but this Chinese tennis star, Peng Shuai. We have also reached out for China's state council of information office for any comment. Nothing back yet -- Isa.

Keep us posted, Kristie Lu Stout for us in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Kristie.

Now one of the most recognizable figures from the January 6 insurrection, is given one of the longest prison sentences so far. Just ahead we'll explain what it could mean for other defendants.

Plus, a rebuke from a U.S. Republican Congressman, why the U.S. House censures Arizona's Paul Gosar and stripped him of his committee assignments.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): I did not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have.



SOARES: Well, it hasn't happened in more than a decade, a member of Congress censured by a member of the House of Representatives. But now Arizona's Paul Gosar holds the dubious distinction thanks to a Photoshopped video he posted online. CNN's Jessica Dean explains.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The House will be in order. Will Representative Gosar present himself in the well.

By its adoption of House resolution 789, the House has resolved that Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona be censured.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Democratic-led House of Representatives took rare and serious step of censuring Republican Representative Paul Gosar after he posted a Photoshopped anime video showing him appearing to kill Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It's pretty cut and dry. Do you find -- does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable?

DEAN (voice-over): Ocasio-Cortez addressed the House before the vote framing the situation as a question of, quote, what we are willing to accept?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.

DEAN (voice-over): In his remarks, Gosar did not apologize but instead doubled down on the message in the video about undocumented immigrants.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): For this cartoon some in Congress suggest I should be punished. I has said decisively there is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat of the immigration poses to our country. And no threat was intended by my staff or me.

DEAN (voice-over): The final vote was 223-207 with just two Republicans, Representative Liz Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger joining Democrats. Republican Representative David Joyce voted present. Gosar was also stripped of his two committee assignments. Democrats argued the video was beyond the pale.

PELOSI: Death threats from our colleagues, death threats from members of Congress?

DEAN (voice-over): This is the first time a House member has been censured since 2010 when Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel faced the punishment over multiple ethics violations. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Wednesday's vote an abuse of power.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): 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 preparing once again to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.

DEAN (voice-over): Ocasio-Cortez criticized McCarthy for his inaction. She said neither he nor Gosar ever reached out to her following the video.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: In response to the Republican leader's remarks when he says this action is unprecedented. What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body. What is so hard, what is so hard about saying that this is wrong?

DEAN: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also suggested during his remarks on the floor on Wednesday that there could be retribution towards Democrats if the GOP retakes the house majority in 2022, that they might push to censure or strip Democrats from their committee assignments as well. One moderate Republican Don Bacon telling CNN while he thinks that would be bad for the institution, he does see that things are going that way.

Jessica Dean, CNN, Capitol Hill.


SOARES: Well, Republican members of Congress ran the gamut in their defensive Gosar. Some claim the move to censure him was only a distraction for President Biden's failures. Others explained Democrats have said similar things and gotten way with them. Take a listen.


REP. JIM JORDON (R-OH): Here we go again, censuring speech, the most fundamental liberty we have, our right to talk, our right to communicate, and they're going after that today because they don't like freedom.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Democrat policies are so pathetic and have done so poorly that the left has nothing else to do but troll the internet looking for ways to get offended. And then try to target members and strip them of their committees. This is a dumb waste of House's time.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I just think it's a mistake to take people off committees, because this is a precedent that Democrats have to live by when they're in the minority. And I say that it's bad for the institution. Retribution is not good. But I think it's going to happen.



SOARES: Well, a little more than an hour after the House vote, Congressman Gosar retweeted some praise from a conservative podcaster but the tweet also contained the violent cartoon video that got him censured in the first place. The post no longer appears on either of his Twitter pages.

Now, in North America, Washington state and British Columbia grappling with catastrophic flooding after days of torrential rain. Washington state's governor said floodwaters rushed in at stunning speed causing extensive damage. Search and rescue teams have found the body of a man believed to be swept away in floodwaters. It is the second storm related death in the region.

Meanwhile, British Columbia is under a state of emergency as Canadian officials warn the death toll is expected to rise in the coming day. The region is now bracing for more rain. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is tracking the situation in joins me now. Good morning to you, Derek. You were telling me in the previous hour that the rain is going to continue but there will be brief respite.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the respite comes this weekend, that's the good news. But we still have to contend with the precipitation today and then once again next week. But have you seen these videos, Isa? I mean, this is incredible to see what community members are doing in the Abbotsford region.

This is southern British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, this is just such a multifaceted disaster. Not only the humanitarian problem, the fatalities that have occurred from the flooding, the economic impacts but also the impacts on agriculture and the supply chain as well.

Just take for instance the port of Vancouver all inbound and outbound rail service the largest port within Canada has now been suspended because of these floods. And the satellite imagery tells white a quite a tale. In fact, what we're looking at here is an image from space. Here's Abbotsford, the area that's been struck hardest by some of the flooding. Here's Vancouver, of course we're on the West Coast of Canada in British Columbia, and I want you to notice that runoff from Fraser Valley River. This is an incredible amount of sediment that has just made its way into the open ocean. And this is concerning but it shows you just the significance of the flooding that has occurred here. In fact, the Copernicus, which is a European satellite monitoring agency can actually pick up on this flooded area right along the same region -- right along the Fraser Valley that shaded of blue -- the shading of blue is in fact the flooding that has occurred.

This is the precipitation moving through now. This is water vapor imagery, so plenty of clouds, plenty of moisture. We don't want more rainfall at the moment. But unfortunately, they do have light showers in some high elevations, snow moving through. But notice how it starts to clear. Pay attention to the time frame of this TV screen. You can see how it clears out by Friday afternoon and evening. There's the respite that we get into by the weekend. And then we have to start monitoring for the potential of more rain and more high elevation snowfall for Monday into Tuesday as yet what is called another atmospheric river aims itself at the West Coast of Canada -- Isa.

SOARES: And I know you'll keep us posted on that. Derek Van Dam for us there. Thanks very much, Derek.

Now India's capital has some bad air pollution. It typically gets worse in November, as farmers burn waste from their crops. And now the government is banning nonessential vehicles from entering the capital in an effort for them to cut down on pollution. They've also ordered five full-power power stations around New Delhi to temporarily shut down.

The Pakistani city of Lahore also has consistently bad pollution. But now an air quality group has declared it the world's most polluted city. The foul air in Pakistan which has grown worse in recent years, is attributed to diesel fumes, seasonal crop burning and other factors.

Still ahead right here in the show with his face paint, fur hat and horns, the man known as the QAnon shaman now admits he was wrong to attack the U.S. Capitol and deserves to go to prison. The judge agreed.

Plus, they now have shelter away from the cold. But what happens next to the migrants at the border between Belarus and Poland is still unclear. We'll have an update, next.