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U.S. House to Vote Today on Build Back Better Bill; Defense Rest in Ahmaud Arbery Trial After Suspect's Dramatic Testimony; Concern Deepens for Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shua's Safety; Belarusian Foreign Minister Denies Russia is Fueling Migrant Crisis Flooding Chokes Transport Out of Canada's Top Port. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 19, 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.

A massive speech by the Republican minority leader has delayed the final House vote on the Build Back Better Plan. In fact, he is still speaking right now. The Democrats say they will not be deterred.

The defense rests in the trial of three white men charged in murdering Ahmaud Arbery. We'll explain what is next.

And new pressure on China to answer questions about a missing tennis champion who has accused a prominent party leader of sexual assault.

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

SOARES: Hello, everyone. It is Friday, November 19th and we begin with U.S. President Joe Biden's sweeping plan to fight climate change and expand the social safety net for Americans. The U.S. House of Representatives was supposed to vote on it last night, but a massive speech from Republican leader Kevin McCarthy went well into the early morning hours. In fact, it's still ongoing. Democrats say they didn't want to vote on the bill in the dead of night, so they'll do it this morning. But McCarthy just kept talking. Take a listen.


REP. KEVEN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You know when I look at this bill, it angers me. We are so better than this. You are spending so much money, never before, we've spent less defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Japan than you're spending tonight. We spent less but it cost us lives. And you're celebrating it.


SOARES: Well, Democrats insist they have the votes to pass the bill but it's fate really in the Senate is much less certain. More now from CNN's chief Congressional correspondent Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet another twist after months of painstaking negotiations among Democrats to get their large social safety net expansion together that cost roughly $2 trillion. To get it passed out of the House, they were very close to doing that late Thursday night, until they hit a road block. The Republican leader Kevin McCarthy effectively delayed the House vote until Friday morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time is when the House is set to reconvene.

Because Kevin McCarthy used procedures that are allowed to him under the House's rules. He is the minority leader, has the ability to speak for as long as he wants, at the end of a floor debate, that's called for so-called magic minute in the House. Well, he used that magic minute and spoke for hours and after midnight, the Democrats said they didn't want to have a vote in the middle of the night on this bill. As the Republicans, they believe, wanted them to do, to have a vote in the dead of the night. So, they said we're going to do it in broad daylight. Instead, we're going to delay this vote until the morning. And let Kevin McCarthy speak for as long as he wants.

But they made that decision after more than three hours of Kevin McCarthy on the floor railing on the Democratic agenda, railing on Joe Biden and going after all aspects of this bill, which would dramatically increase different aspects of the public social safety net. Whether it's increasing Medicare, providing more money for the Affordable Care Act, also universal pre-school, this is a part of this plan, child care, housing, billions of dollars in dealing with climate change.

A massive bill that the Democrats have been trying to put together for months and months and months. They are at the point where they are expected to get this out of the House. Now, despite the delay, it is expected to pass the House, on Friday morning, Jared Golden is the one Democrat in the House who said that he will oppose it. He's a Maine moderate. He comes from a swing district.

But the majority of the House told me early Friday morning after midnight that is the only Democratic defection at this time. They can only afford to lose three votes in the House but this should be enough to get it through.

Now this is just a first step in the process.


Even if it gets out of the House, on Friday, as it is expected, then it goes over to the Senate, where there is a whole different dynamic. 50 Democratic Senators, all of them need to vote to advance this bill, because one, any one defection could scuttle this, since no Republicans are expected to support it. And there is one very big swing vote on the Democratic side, in the Senate, Joe Manchin, who is still not certain whether he will even vote to begin debate on this and wants a number of changes to the bill.

So, this is going to be a significant step forward for Democrats to advance this agenda. But can they get there, get it through the Senate, get it back approved in the House, a final time, get it over to Joe Biden's desk? That is a project that is going to be weeks and weeks in the making with more bumps undoubtedly to come.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


SOARES: Thanks, Manu.

Well, one Senator Joe Manchin's main concerns about the Build Back Better bill is now it might affect inflation which is at a 30 year high in the United States. And that is a claim President Biden rejected this week in his visit to Detroit, Michigan. Have a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The infrastructure law we just signed in the Build Back Better Plan are being considered this week in Congress, will not add to inflationary pressures in the economy. Not one. You heard one of the agencies say, and I quote, the bills do not add inflation pressure. Let me repeat that. Do not add inflation pressures. The reason? Because the policies I propose, quote, help lift long-term economic growth via stronger productivity, labor force growth, as well as taking the edge off inflation.


SOARES: Well, when the vote finally does happen, CNN will bring it to you live, these are live images as you can see there at the moment, we expect that vote to happen about four hours from now. So do stay right here with CNN for that vote.

Now, defense lawyers have rested their cases in the trial of three white men accused of killing a black man in Georgia last year, prosecutors say Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and shot to death while he was jogging. The crime was caught on video. Ryan Young has details on Thursdays testimony.


TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: I just killed a man. I had blood on me still. It was the most traumatic event of my life. I was scared to death.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dramatic testimony today in the trial in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery as defendant Travis McMichael was back on the stand facing additional cross-examination.

McMichael is one of three defendants in the case including his father, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan. The younger McMichael testified he acted in self-defense when he shot Arbery in February 2020 after a chasing confrontation in the coastal Georgia neighborhood.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski pressed McMichael on his actions leading up to the shooting. LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: How many times have you pulled up on strangers that you don't know next to them with a pickup truck to ask them what they're doing in your neighborhood?

MCMICHAEL: I don't think I have in that situation.

YOUNG (voice-over): And his first initial encounter with Arbery.

DUNIKOSKI: Did he brandish any weapons?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran?

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running.

YOUNG (voice-over): The prosecution also pointing out inconsistencies between McMichael's statement to police and his testimony in court.

DUNIKOSKI: You agree with me when I say that you never, ever told the Glenn County Police Department or in your written statement that you said to Mr. Arbery, the police are coming?

MCMICHAEL: I don't know if I did or not.

DUNIKOSKI: Do you remember telling this jury just yesterday that that is what you said to your dad, call the cops, there he is. He starts acting funny. He takes off running.

MCMICHAEL: I believe I said have you called the cops yet.

DUNIKOSKI: So nowhere in here do you indicate to Detective Nohilly that he stopped long enough for you to say the police are on your way and that's why he took off running? Nowhere in your statement is that indicated.

MCMICHAEL: In those terms, saying it in that verbatim, I did not.

YOUNG (voice-over): The prosecution also pointing out something Travis McMichael's father Gregory told police that his son didn't recall on the stand.

DUNIKOSKI: You stopped. You get out. You yelled at him stop, stop, stop. That's when your father yelled stop or I'll below your (BEEP) head off.

MCMICHAEL: I don't think so. No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: All right. Well, you don't think so. I mean, you were standing right there. You heard your father say this? Yes?

MCMICHAEL: I don't think I heard him say this, no.

DUNIKOSKI: But you know that's what he told the police he said.

MCMICHAEL: In here in court, that's what I head, yes, ma'am.

YOUNG (voice-over): Shortly after there was this exchange between the state prosecutor Larissa Ollivierre and a witness which spark a public admonishment from the judge.

LARISSA OLLIVIERRE, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, COBB COUNTY: Do you believe someone stealing is deserving of a death penalty?

KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The question would be the way another argument in this case was characterized as being reprehensible.


TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, GEORGIA SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: The court does find that the question that was presented was inflammatory and irrelevant.

YOUNG (voice-over): Defendant William Bryan's attorney also bringing up again his concerns related to who is in the public gallery, specifically calling out Reverend Jesse Jackson.

GOUGH: I think he is back there in the dark shirt. Putting that on the record.

YOUNG (voice-over): Gough also noting today his client will not be taking the stand. Ben Crump, the attorney for Ahmaud Arbery's father believes the younger McMichael's testimony that he acted in self- defense is ridiculous.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: They actually killed their son, and yet they're talking about self-defense. It is -- I mean just asinine and an insult to our intelligence.

YOUNG: All three have pleaded not guilty. And the defense rested on Thursday, but one of the things that happened outside of court today that caught everyone's attention is the fact that they had a large protest. A lot of pastors from around the country definitely listen to Kevin Gough as he called and said, he didn't want any more pastors here. More showed up. There was a march in the streets. And we could see people actually having their voices heard about this case.

Reporting in Brunswick, Georgia, Ryan Young, CNN.


SOARES: Now that was Brunswick. In Wisconsin, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial begins a third day of deliberations in the coming hours. The 18-year-old is charged with fatally shooting two demonstrators and wounded another during a protest against police brutality last year. The jury has been deliberating for about 23 hours or so before being dismissed. The judge raised some concerns on Thursday. Our Sara Sidner explains.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse double homicide case has done three full days of deliberations and still no verdict. However, one of the jurors asked if they were allowed to take the jury the instructions home, that 36 pages of instruction. The judge agreed that they could, as long as they didn't discuss the case with anyone. Now they were allowed to look over those at home before they came back for a fourth day of deliberations.

The judge also very concerned and put on the court record, something that happened outside of court, a freelancer for MSNBC was stopped and given a ticket. He was also -- according to police -- following the van that was carrying the jurors at night when they left the courthouse. That person was admonished, they were given a ticket, and was detained for a bit of time.

The judge saying that now, MSNBC has been banned from the courthouse. They are no longer allowed to come into the courthouse, because of the incident, taking very seriously, to make sure the jury has not gotten photos of them or any video of them, MSNBC and NBC News has put out a statement saying that it was indeed their freelancer that was involved in this traffic violation, but that he was not trying to take video of the jury or follow the jury themselves. At this point, in time, the judge just making sure that no one from that organization is allowed in court anymore.

We can tell you that in day four, the jury is obviously taking all of this very seriously, going over evidence and going over these questions, and the law. We will see if they come up with a verdict in day four of deliberations. Sara Sidner, CNN, Kenosha, Wisconsin.


SOARES: Well, in Charlottesville Virginia, jurors will begin deliberations today on whether white supremacist, a neo-Nazi should be liable for damages suffered in 2017 when they rallied and it turned deadly. 14 individuals and 10 groups that participated in the rally are being sued by those towns people and counter protesters who were hurt that day. One young woman Heather Heyer was killed when a white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of counter protesters injuring dozens of others.

Now, the tennis world is demanding answers on the where-abouts of Chinese player Pen Shuai. Coming up, the length the Women's Tense Association says it will go to ensure she is located.

Plus, a decision on COVID boosters for all adults in the U.S. could be just hours away. We'll find out when those shots could start getting into arms. Those stories just ahead.



SOARES: Now as demands grow louder for Chinese officials to reveal the where-abouts of the tennis star Peng Shuai, the response from Beijing has been silent. Peng vanished two weeks ago after accusing a former vice premiere of sexual assault. Now the head of the Women's Tennis Association is standing firm against Beijing saying the WTA is willing to pull its business from China over her disappearance.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong. And, Kristie, look, it's clear from the WTA and from all of the other tennis star we've heard from, that the eyes of the world are on Peng Shuai and her where-abouts. Have we seen those threats and that pressure by the WTA? Has this rattled Beijing at all?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not really. I mean, we have heard from the ministry of foreign affairs again today and they were asked about the case of Peng Shuai and their response was, we declined to comment because this is not a diplomatic issue.

But the pressure is ratcheting up where you have the head of women's tennis challenging the Chinese government. In an interview with CNN, you have the CEO and the chairman of the WTA, saying that he is trying to contact this Chinese tennis star. He is very concerned about her safety and her where-abouts. And also, that the WTA is willing to lose its very lucrative business in China, unless she is found to be safe, and unless there is a proper investigation into her allegations.

That Peng Shuai is of course a national sporting icon in China. She is a two-time grand slam winner and it was two weeks ago, on November 2nd, when she accused a very powerful man, a former vice premiere, of forcing her to have sex with him in his home. She made this accusation on a verified account on the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo. It was quickly taken down and she has not been heard or seen publicly ever since.

The WTA deeply concerned about her, as well as the international tennis community, and people outside tennis, even footballers have stepped forward with the #WhereIsPengShuai.


But I want you to listen to this from the chief of the WTA.


STEVEN SIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: We're at a crossroads with our relationship, obviously, with China and operating our business over there. There's no question about it. There's too many times in our world today, when we get into issues like this that we let business, politics, money, dictate what's right and what's wrong.


STOUT: Steve Simon there. Now, look, the WTA has very significant business interests in China. In fact, it's Asia-Pacific headquarters is in Beijing. And yet we heard from him, in that interview, he said, in regards to what's happening to Peng Shuai right now, this is bigger than business. That's what he said earlier. And number of commentators are saying this strong forceful response that we've heard from the WTA is far more strong than what we've heard from other supporting organizations let alone other governments -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and some saying perhaps this could be a water shed moment in what relates to the language, like you said, from the WTA. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Kristie.

Now Chinese authorities have been racing to wipe out any mention of Peng Shuai and her allegations from the internet, as well as broadcast media including our own program. Have a look at this. During my broadcast just yesterday, you can see as I began reporting on Peng's disappearance, the signal cut to a message reading no signal, please stand by. Be assured that we will continue to tell the story.

Now all this week, we have been showing you the crisis at the Belarusian/Polish border. The main migrant camp has now been cleared with some people being sent back to Iraq, Others moved to a warehouse near the border. The Belarus is refusing any blame for the crisis. CNN's Matthew Chance spoke exclusively to the country's Foreign Minister.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the airport in Minsk, a first repatriation flight waits to board. The passengers mostly Iraqi Kurds didn't make it to Europe, but at least their ordeal in Belarus is at an end.

This is the nightmare they left behind. Officials confirmed this forest camp on the Polish border is now empty. The shocking images of desperate migrants languishing in the cold here have left their mark.

Now for the first time, CNN is able to hold a senior Belarusian official to account.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: And to see how they suffered, it's very difficult for a normal human being. We are not interested in having this situation here in Belarus.

CHANCE: You say you don't want to see these scene. But you're accused, Belarus is accused of orchestrating this whole crisis, of encouraging these migrants to come here and of directing them towards that border. You created these scenes.

MAKEI: Yes, we have heard a lot of accusations that it was Belarus. This is false assessment of the situation.

CHANCE (voice-over): Also, false according to the foreign minister, U.S. and European allegations that Russia, which recently flew the strategic bomber flights over Belarus in support, is really behind the crisis. Encouraging its ally to distract the West while preparing military plans elsewhere in Ukraine.

MAKEI: In regard to this migrant crisis, I can definitely say Russia has nothing to do with it.

CHANCE (voice-over): But it was President Putin, he tells me, who set up telephone calls between the German and Belarusian leaders this week, helping to diffuse the crisis and it needed diffusing.

This was the scene when angry migrants tried to force their way into Europe past Polish border guards. The refusal of Belarus to intervene fueled rumors they encouraged these attacks.

CHANCE: The European Union says that Belarus has created this crisis to punish them in revenge for the sanctions that the EU is imposed against Belarus for its crackdown on the opposition. How do you answer that allegation?

MAKEI: It's -- it's -- it's lie. It's an absolute lie. Belarus has shown the dark side of the European democracy and you've seen yourself what is happening -- or what happened at the border within the last two or three days.

CHANCE (voice-over): It's shown the strength of European unity, too. For now, remaining migrants in Belarus are being housed in this giant, heated warehouse back from the volatile border.


But with Europe refusing to back down, it's Belarus that must now keep them or send them home.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Minsk.


SOARES: Well, French President Emmanuel Macron is calling on the European Union to keep up the pressure on Belarus to end the migrant crisis. He spoke with his Polish counterpart on Thursday. Now, Mr. Macron accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis, which he says puts many people in danger. The French President's office says he's also urging Russia to use its influence to calm tensions.

Now, catastrophic flooding is now choking Canada's largest port. The province of British Columbia has been hammered -- as you can see there -- by heavy flooding since early this week. But officials now say many roads and railways have been washed out or damaged, which is creating, as you can imagine, bottlenecks for transporting goods from its port. It could take at least two more days for the traffic to resume.

The flooding has caused landslides and evacuations in both British Columbia and in neighboring Washington state.

Let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Good morning, to you, Derek. And do you know, give us an idea, of how long this is going to last for? Any respite in sight?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, there's a respite now, and that's the good news. But two words come to mind when I think about telling this story and what has happened to British Columbia lately and this is weather whiplash. This has gotten fingerprints of climate written all over it. Not 140 days ago we were talking about record- breaking high temperatures in that province, for the entire country of Canada. Now we're talking about daily record rainfall events shattered for places like Abbotsford, in southern British Columbia. Where their previous records held back since 1998 of just under 50 millimeters was shattered on the 15th of November. So, on Sunday.

Quite an amazing thing, because just 140 days ago, roughly, we were talking about the highest temperature ever recorded within the entire province as well as the entire country of Canada.

All right, so I've got to transition to a different topic, because this is happening now. And if you get the opportunity to step outside, say you're walking anywhere from north America, parts of Asia, there is a partial lunar eclipse taking place -- not a solar eclipse, this has nothing to do with the sun. I guess indirectly it does. But it's actually the earth's shadow blocking out part of the moon at the moment. What makes this particularly unique, is that it is the longest duration partial lunar eclipse in over 580 years. We're talking six hours of the shadow actually impacting the sun.

And I took this photo outside. Don't pay attention to the numbers there on the screen. That's a mistake. We had to get these images in here at the very last minute. But nonetheless, I braved the elements outdoors. It's pretty chilly here in Atlanta and we saw the wonderful, wonderful partial lunar eclipse that is taking place just outside your windows. So, Isa, if you get the opportunity to step outside, in between your live shots you should be able to see it as well.

SOARES: OK, so I want to say, I heard you took a photo, is that your photo? No, that is NASA's photo.

VAN DAM: That is my photo.


VAN DAM: I'm going to try my best to block the numbers at the top. That's a computer glitch, that's my photo.

SOARES: I was expecting --

VAN DAM: My hands are still freezing from stepping outside.

SOARES: I was expecting something that small, but I'm very impressed. But I'm going to raise you because actually I can't see you here in London. But I'm going to raise you this. Have a look at the clip in Washington, D.C. -- have a look at this. It is fantastic. This is happening right now. This is something that we haven't seen in hundreds of years happening, I think, the last time I looked but look at this shot. Eclipse from Washington, 4:28 in the morning. Partial lunar eclipse created of course a blood micro moon. How long is this expected to last for? Do you know -- Derek?

VAN DAM: Six hours.

SOARES: Right, so --

VAN DAM: Six hours and -- six hours.

SOARES: Well, there you go. Brave the cold. Get your cameras out and try to beat Derek's photo. That's the challenge for today. Derek Van Dam, great to see you, my friend. Have a wonderful day.

Coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM. Boosters for all adults in the U.S. could be OK this weekend. We'll find out what is driving a push to get those extra doses into arms.

Plus, five decades after the murder of Malcolm X, two of the three men found guilty of the killing have been cleared of the crime. What led to the exoneration and the shocking reason they were wrongly convicted? Both those stories after a very short break. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.