Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Police: Suspect Charged With 5 Counts Intentional Homicide; Police: Suspect Involved In Domestic Dispute Just Before Parade Ramming; Police Chief: 48 People Taken To Hospital After Parade Ramming; Interview With Former Trump Personal Attorney, Michael Cohen, Who Has Been Released From House Arrest; Attorneys Deliver Closing Arguments In Trial Of Ahmaud Arbery Killing. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 14:30   ET



CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, just trying to be cautious. Because what we don't know is, if during the course of the disturbance, is if there's another charge this person may face if he somehow injured an individual there.

So they're just being cautious as to the amount of information that they put out.

But this is going to put police agencies and emergency managers around the country on alert. Because, I mean, everybody has Thanksgiving and Christmas parades coming up. This one happened to be a little earlier than many.

But looking at how they're securing the area, using vehicles to block streets, those kinds of things, I'm sure right now there's some additional planning going on.


We want to bring in Adrienne Broaddus. She's there on the scene for us.

Adrienne, what is the latest there?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was an emotional news conference for Chief Thompson. As he told us the names of the five decease the victims at moments he paused, swallowing his words, struggling to get out their names and their ages.

Those victims range in age from 52 to 81 years old.

We also learned in this news conference that one of the deceased who was transported to a nearby hospital had already transpired before they arrived at the hospital.

And as you have been talking, we do know the same of the suspect in this case. He has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.

Facing multiple charges, according to law enforcement here. Initial charges will be five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

This all happened just a few blocks from where we are right now at what was supposed to be a celebration, a traditional parade for families, starting, beginning to kick off the holiday season.

About an hour ago, we heard from the president of the United States. He addressed it before talking about other news of the day. And he also mentioned that he hopes people can hold on to that hope and that celebration.

I do want to give you some more information about some of the victims, Alisyn.

Earlier in the day, we did hear from representatives with Children's Wisconsin, where some of the patients were transported. They have at least 10 children in the intensive care unit at Children's Wisconsin.

And the injuries range. There's a variety of injures ranging from facial abrasions to broken arms to serious head trauma.

We learned earlier that when some people showed up the hospital, they were not conscience. They were unable to speak and tell about what happened. Others were conscience.

This, after what one member of law enforcement here called a nightmare when describing that parade on Main Street.

So there's a lot that we still want to learn about this suspect, the 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.

Investigators here told us, prior to this incident there was some sort of domestic incident. We don't know a lot about that. But police were clear and said that there was no chase.

They did mention a member of law enforcement fired his weapon or fired their weapon but didn't fire any additional shots -- no one was hurt -- because of the number of people in the crowd.

So, this community will need support. And the injuries are beyond physical. Some of the children, three sets of siblings that were injured.

And school in this district has been canceled until after the Thanksgiving holiday -- Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: It is just horrible, Adrienne, on so many levels.

Stick around for us if you would.

Juliette, so about that, this wasn't just, as we now know -- I mean, I think people suspected right away, this was not some sort of horrible accident. This was intentional. This driver had to blow a barricade.

And so the chief was talking about how, what do you do about this? This is the parade season. This is the season for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah and everything coming up. And so do you think that communities around the country will change

their policies because of this?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think some will. But it is hard to do. It is expensive.

Here was the thing about the press conference. At maximum capacity, they said they had something like 30 firefighters working. That is a small community. So these take resources.

So some of the things that we think about is can you do cheap things, like trash -- a big trash truck, you put them in, away where there might be people congregating at the beginning and end of the parade or other cars that could stop vehicles from coming through.

There's planters that are put down. All of them are expensive and they do -- they have an aura of sort of security in the sense that people want to go to a parade and not want to feel they're under threat all of the time.

So it is sort of a balancing at this stage, given what each community is going to feel as a particular vulnerability.


But there are certain ways that you could secure openings and the beginnings and ends that communities are learning about. Their relatively cheap. You just take some trash trucks and put them there to protect the moment number of people.

CAMEROTA: Chief, as we've learned, a police officer fired his gun trying to stop this driver. You know, thank god, nobody was injured from that.

But what else could any police officer have done once this guy blew through the barricade?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, his being down the street, and the question is whether or not, at the time of the officer fired the rounds, whether or not that was, you know, the best course of action.

Obviously, many departments actually prohibit the firing of a gun at a moving vehicle. Unless there are exigent circumstances. Obviously, this would fall within that category.

But you have to be concerned about the background, are you likely to strike any innocent person, should you miss? All of those kinds of things.

But the reality is, that we've seen, especially in Europe, cars have been used to run down people. It is part of terrorist attacks.

This is not easy. It is a decision that has to be made in a split- second.

And so I wouldn't question the officer's judgment. But the internal investigation will take a look at all of those types of things.

CAMEROTA: One last question, Chief. Police are asking the public for any video that they have to aid them in their investigation.


CAMEROTA: What more could the video tell them than what we know about the aftermath of this horror?

RAMSEY: Well, again, they're just making sure that they collect every bit of evidence that they possibly can.

There's going to be a criminal trial. That is going to take place. You have someone charged with five counts of homicide. And so they don't want to leave any stone unturned.

And when you have parades like this, people have their cell phones out and taking photographs and videotaping.

Anything that they have, even if they don't think it is evidence, they should still give it to the police and let them determine as to whether or not this is something that could be used as evidence in a trial.

CAMEROTA: Chief Ramsey, Juliette Kayyem, Adrienne Broaddus, thank you all very much for helping us get through that press conference.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: It is a very busy news day.

Now to another story we've been following. Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, was released from prison and House arrest today.

In 2018, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for a series of financial crimes stemming from his hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who say they have had affairs with Donald Trump while he was married to Melania.

Outside of the federal courthouse in New York today, Cohen vowed to expose all that he knows.


MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Today, I will not cease my commitment to law enforcement.

I will continue to provide information, testimony, documents, and my full cooperation on all ongoing investigations to ensure that others are held responsible for their dirty deeds.

And that no one is ever believed to be above the law.


CAMEROTA: As of this morning, Michael Cohen is a free man and he is stopping by our NEWSROOM set for his very first interview.

While serving his sentence, Cohen also woke the book, "Disloyal, a Memoir." And he's the host of the "Mea Culpa" podcast.

And Michael joins us exclusively now.

Michael, great to see you.

COHEN: It is great to be here, Alisyn. I've been waiting for this day for a long time.

CAMEROTA: How are you feeling?

COHEN: I feel tired. I had to get up very early this morning. I went to the Bronx to pick up the papers at 6:00 a.m.

And down to 500 Pearl Street, which as you saw, had quite a few gaggles going on there. It was an interesting day to say the least.


CAMEROTA: People have been following these past three years of your journey and the fact that you've been speaking out about what you've learned from your association with Donald Trump and having gone to prison and House arrest.

You know, I talked about how all of this stemmed from the hush-money payments to Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal.

You were the only person prosecuted for the hush-money payments. How do you explain that?

COHEN: You can't explain this.

But I make this promise, I may have been prosecuted, and right now I am the only one, but I will not be the only one at the end of the --

CAMEROTA: For this crime?

COHEN: For this crime and for others.

CAMEROTA: Who else will be prosecuted --


COHEN: I will leave that to the district attorney and the attorney general to continue their investigations and continue their --


CAMEROTA: But I mean who else was involved?

COHEN: Well there were quite a few people involved. Eric Trump was involved. Alan Weisselberg was under indictment. And Don Jr and Ivanka. There were a slew of people involved in this. I was certainly not alone. This wasn't a one-on-one conversation with

Donald. It was a -- it was a much bigger group. Let's just leave it at that.


CAMEROTA: As we just played, this morning, you vowed to continue helping investigators.

And we know that you have been helping the Manhattan district attorney in their investigation against the Trump Organization and Alan Weisselberg, the CFO, who you just mentioned.

I think that you've met with them, according to reports, like a dozen times or something.


CAMEROTA: And what is the status of that?

COHEN: The status is they're working on it. They're working on it hard.

And as you know, Donald is -- they want to ensure that they have everything in order before they bring this. Obviously, they don't want to bring disrepute to the office.

And they have to make sure that when they do file those indictments against anyone whose last name is Trump or others, that those indictments stick.

CAMEROTA: When did you last meet with them?

COHEN: I can't say any of that. But it's on a regular and ongoing basis.

CAMEROTA: You've always predicted, on our air and elsewhere, that Donald Trump and his adult children would be indicted. But that hasn't happened.

COHEN: Not yet.

CAMEROTA: Why not?

COHEN: The wheels of justice turn slowly. But at the end of the day, they do ultimately turn full circle.

CAMEROTA: I mean, if you have been providing valuable and legitimate information to the investigators, what is taking so long?

COHEN: That you'll have to ask Mr. Mr. Pomeranz and Cy Vance and Letitia. James. I believe personally they have more than enough to bring the indictments yesterday.

CAMEROTA: So you believe that you have provided actual receipts, actual evidence of crimes being done or do you just directionally point them in the right --

COHEN: Or a combination of both. A combination of both.

CAMEROTA: That is what you think? That you have?

COHEN: Mm-hmm.

CAMEROTA: And as you sit here today, you still believe that Donald Trump will be indicted for something?

COHEN: I do.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think he will be indicted for?

COHEN: Again, I can't say. I don't want to get into the sum and substance of the investigation.

Other than to say that they are working very hard. And they're working on a daily basis in terms of bringing this indictment.

And again, your point is very well taken. And one of the reasons that I made the statement that I did today when I left the 500 Pearl Street, that I will continue to cooperate. And I will continue to provide more documents and information.

And the reason that I did that is because I received so many text messages, tweets, asking me, once your free, are you going to continue to do what we're hoping that you're going to continue to do and that is provide the information.

And so the answer is an emphatic yes.

CAMEROTA: On a larger note, you've paid a very steep price for your association with Donald Trump.

You're not alone. By our last count at least 11 close Donald Trump associated have been charged with crimes for work that they've done that was somehow connected to Donald Trump.

Why do you think so many people around Donald Trump get charged with crimes and he does not?

CAMEROTA: Because we're stupid. I have no idea. I mean, in all fairness, I don't have an answer.

Donald never had an email address. And so even -- I talk about this in my book. He doesn't tell you what to do. He'll never tell you, go get me a Coke. He just screamed out "Coke."

So this is the way a mob boss speaks. This is what a mob boss does. They speak in code.

And that way, he thinks that that is going to stop them from being able to prosecute him for the actions that are taken at his direction and for his benefit and he would be wrong.

CAMEROTA: As you know, there's a lot of speculation about whether or not Donald Trump will run for president again in 2024.

Bill Maher has been talking about this a lot. Including he was just on with Chris Cuomo last week.

So here is what he said that night.


BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Trust me, he's going to run. Absolutely. He's going to get the nomination.

And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he just won the election. But even if he doesn't win the election, he'll say that he won the election.


CAMEROTA: Do you agree?

COHEN: No. I don't agree.

And Bill Maher is a great guy. I was on his show and I enjoy is very much. But he's absolutely wrong. Donald will not run.


COHEN: Because he has a fragile ego. He lost by, what, nine million votes? He will lose by more than nine million and his fragile ego could not stand to be considered a two-time loser.

CAMEROTA: Wouldn't he say that he won? Even if he loses, he'll say that he won't.

COHEN: He's already saying that for the 2020 election that he won and he'll continue that.

This is nothing more than the world's greatest grift. He's bringing in money, greater than when he had the Trump Organization with all of its assets.

So why would he give this up? And he will only give it up on the day of the election. He will drag this thing on all the way to the end.


I have the original document that Donald -- I penned it but he signed it, which is why I have it -- whereby he decide not to run in 2011.

And the reasons he talked about was his real estate, he was on "The Apprentice," and so on.

He's going to do the same thing. The only difference this time, versus last, is that he's making money each and every day by sending out more texts, "Donald is running, send $25."

CAMEROTA: You say it's just a fundraising scheme. But doesn't he like the power? Didn't he enjoy being the president with all of that power that we saw him --


COHEN: He's addicted to the power. But he doesn't need to be the president in mis mind to be the man behind the power, which goes to his adage, come and kiss the ring. That is a Donald adage.

CAMEROTA: He said that?

COHEN: All of the time. They're all coming to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring.

CAMEROTA: So that is why you think -- so why does he still hold sway over so many leading Republicans?

COHEN: Because he still has a base. A base of people who I truly don't understand, who don't understand that Donald Trump does not want to be president of this country.

He wants to be a dictator, autocrat or a monarch. He wants to be the Kim Jong-Un, the Vladimir Putin, the Mohammad bin Salman of America.

The problem is that is not what we want. We're a democracy. And you know, we have a Constitution.

And he's trying to shred this Constitution on a daily basis by violating people, like my First Amendment constitutional rights, and doing other things in order to grab the power that he thinks he's entitled to.

CAMEROTA: Today, a federal judge was sentencing one of the U.S. capitol rioters and said this:

"Al Gore had a better case to argue than Mr. Trump. But he was a man about what happened to him. He accepted it and walked away."

Meaning his loss.

Do you think that Donald Trump will ever move on from talking about his claiming that he won when in fact he lost by million --


COHEN: No chance. No chance.

Because, again, it would mean that he would have to acknowledge that he's a loser, that he lost to -- oh, my god, Joe Biden. How could I, the great Donald, lose to Sleepy Joe Biden? It is just not possible.

His mind, he is like I said, he has a fragile ego. So he cannot allow that to ever happen. Not in his mind.

And what his goal is, is to convince you that he won the election. And he's done that with this percentage of Americans that are so deep into the cult of Trump.

And trust me I know about the cult of Trump. I was one of its leaders. Maybe one of its founders.

And I see exactly the stupidity of people as I walk in the city or I get certain text messages on occasion from individuals who are so entrenched into this cult that they can't see straight.

CAMEROTA: What is the answer to getting out of it?

COHEN: Maybe incarceration.


COHEN: It was for me, anyway.


CAMEROTA: -- for all of that.

Let's talk about what is next for you. He were seen recently meeting with Kanye West, also known as Ye.

COHEN: He's changed his name to Ye..

CAMEROTA: What is that about?

COHEN: I would rather not talk about it.

One thing that I've done very well virtually my entire life was help resolve issues for people. We'll call it being a fixer, right?

This time, though, some of the issues that I'm talking about with Ye are nothing to do with porn stars or Playboy playmates. A lot if it is business related.

CAMEROTA: He has talked publicly about wanting to get into politics, maybe even run for president.

Are you giving him political advice?

COHEN: So, yes, I don't want to get into the sum and substance of what I'm talking to Ye about.

If you want me to give you his phone number --



CAMEROTA: Yes, I'd like that. What is that number? I'd like to call him.

But he also wore a mask while you were meeting with him. He's been known to recently been wearing masks.

We have a picture. I don't think this is as creepy as the one that he wore with you.

OK, we'll pull that up.

Here is one that he's been wearing around town, which is not as creepy as the one that he wore with you. What is that about?

COHEN: He took it out because, the second we sat down, we were getting mobbed by individuals who wanted photographs with him, who wanted -- he's exceptionally popular. More than even I expected.

I knew people would go crazy for it but not to the level that they did. We sat down within five minutes and there were at least 20 or 30 people that were there.

And then as soon as that 20 or 30 left, 20 or 30 more. And we had things to talk about so he decided to put on this mask. He put on his hat, his glasses.

And we ultimately were able to engage in a conversation because when those final 30, nobody knew who it was.

CAMEROTA: As long as you don't mind engaging in a conversation with a ghoulishly looking mask-clad Ye.

COHEN: I was in Otisville for 13 and a half months. I can pretty much talk to anybody.


CAMEROTA: You make a great point.

In the few seconds we have, left, what's next for you, Michael?

COHEN: I don't know. One day at a time.

I just know that tomorrow, I'm going to be joined by a friend of mine for long-awaited pancakes with chocolate chips, something I have been looking forward to for a long time.

Believe it or not, when you're on home confinement, you can't go to restaurants with friends. I was allowed out twice a week. Other than that, that was about it.

I'm really looking forward to those pancakes. Let me put it to you that way.

CAMEROTA: Congratulations on your freedom, Michael.

COHEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And we know this won't be the last time we're talking to you.

Great to see you, Michael.

COHEN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being here. Attorneys are delivering closing arguments in the trial of three men

accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. We are going to look at their key points next.



CAMEROTA: Closing arguments are underway in the trial of the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery.

The prosecution argues the defendants hunted down Arbery based on assumptions. The defendants claim they were fearful for their lives and had to act in self-defense.

CNN's Ryan Young is live at the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

Ryan, we just heard from the defense attorney from Gregory McMichael, who's the father. What were her arguments?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Her argument was, basically, this is a life-changing decision that quite honestly she believes that her client was forced in this position based upon the actions of Ahmaud Arbery.

They said they had reasonable suspicion to believe that something was wrong that day when they got in their truck and were chasing behind him. They believe if he would have said something, they could have avoided this entire situation.

Of course, we also watched in court people reacting to some of the words she was saying.

One thing sort of stood out to a lot of us there. At one moment, Wanda Cooper Jones left court when she got upset over a statement Laura Hogue made.

She said, "That day that Ahmaud was wearing no socks, khaki shorts, and didn't cover his long dirty toenails."

That was said during the part where, what he was wearing, as she described, and he seemed that really upset the family at that point.

From there, we've heard descriptions of basically how this family was a tight-knit family and they were trying to protect their community after so many calls to 911 about what was going on at that abandoned house.

And we should also mention, they're in recess right now for about 10 minutes. And during that recess, there was a defense attorney, actually moved for another mistrial again.

And the reason why is because, outside, we have had loud protests and there are people who have shown up with long weapons and long rifles today.

We're told there's going to be a Second Amendment protest around 4:00 this afternoon.

The defense attorneys walked by that during lunch. That upset them, and so they moved for a mistrial. That was denied by the judge.

I will also tell you, from this standpoint, so far things have remained very calm outside. You can't hear it when you're inside the court.

That was one of the questions, has the jury seen any of the action that has happened outside today? So far, they believe the jury has been kept away from what's happening outside.

One other thing that's an inside detail. There's one juror they believe is falling asleep. There's an argument back and forth.

They're going to continue watching that juror to make sure they're not falling asleep during hearings. That happened before when we had long testimonies going on.

So far, with this back and forth between the defense and the prosecution, it's kind of surprising that anyone would be drifting off today.

At this point, we believe one more defense attorney who is going to go. And then the prosecution will have a chance to bring it all together in the next, hopefully, few hours or so.

CAMEROTA: Ryan, thank you for catching us up on all of that. We'll check back with you.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Mark O'Mara, and criminal and civil trial attorney, Eric Guster.

Great to see all of you.

Elie, what jumped out at you today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The theme of the argument that we heard from Greg McMichael's lawyer: What did my guy do? He pulled no trigger.

And I think she's trying to drive home to the jury, my guy did not pull the trigger. He was standing in the bed of the truck at the time. Forget about him.

CAMEROTA: He was chasing Ahmaud Arbery down the street.

HONIG: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: Does that account for anything?

HONIG: Yes. That's the prosecutor's point. And look for the prosecutor to come back on rebuttal and say, if they had anything to do with this, if they promoted this, if they were part of it, if they encouraged it, legally they are all liable. That's the battleground to watch later.

CAMEROTA: Mark, one of the things the prosecutor pointed out today, how can you claim self-defense if you have been chasing the victim for five minutes while he is running away from you?

So here's that moment.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, STATE PROSECUTOR: That's Travis McMichael pulling that shotgun out. What are they going to tell you? They're going to tell you, oh, he was running towards me, and I could tell he was going to attack me.

Is that reasonable? Who brought the shotgun to the party? Who took the shotgun out of the car? Who pointed the shotgun?

The guy is running. Running away from them for five minutes.

You can't create the situation and then go, I was defending myself. You just can't do it.


CAMEROTA: What about those points, Mark?



Because, again, if you just stop this trial and only looked at Ahmaud taking that left-hand turn around the front of the car, if that began the evidence, you would look at McMichaels say, he came at me, he saw I had a gun, I had to protect myself.

I'm allowed to protect myself from deadly force if the gun is in play. Right?

So what the state might have to do is you must take it in context. And I thought she did a very good job of saying, look, you can't be the aggressor.