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Biden to Release Oil From Strategic Petroleum Reserve; Suspect in Waukesha Parade Tragedy Due in Court; Jury Deliberates in Ahmaud Arbery Case. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Victor is off today.

The fate of the three men accused of killing him Ahmaud Arbery is now in the hands of the jury. Each of the defendants face multiple charges, including malice and felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The jury may consider lesser charges for defendant William "Roddie" Bryan, who videotaped the shooting.

The prosecution wrapped up its rebuttal, arguing that the defendants' claim of a citizen's arrest was unlawful from the start.

During yesterday's closing arguments, the defense team attempted to paint Arbery as an outsider and intruder in the neighborhood.

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

So, Ryan, you just spoke to one of the defense attorneys. What did he tell you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I was able to speak to Kevin Gough as he was outside of court, wanting to ask him a few questions just about the pressure of this moment.

So, as we were going through and just talking about this closing, you got to think, this is the man has been at the center of so much controversy. He's the one who talked about black pastors. He's the one talking about people coming into court. So you really wanted to ask him questions about what his thought process was when it came to that.

He did tell me he did not want to talk about that just right now, because he believes it should be focused on the jury. So I said to him, tell me about the pressure that you feel right now. He says, actually, he feels like all the attorneys in this case have no pressure. He believes it's the families involved in this case that have all the pressure on them at this point.

And he even said he feels for Ahmaud Arbery's family. I think that actually gave us a little bit of a pause. Do we have that sound ready or not, so we can play that part with Kevin Gough? OK, so we don't have that part right now, Alisyn. So here's the thing.

He basically went on to say he feels for both families involved in this case. He said, as a lawyer, he was trying to press his points to make sure his client was able to go home.

What we do have though, is after court today, Ahmaud Arbery's family stepped out of court. And we were able to ask them questions about how they're feeling, especially on this momentous day.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: I think Linda did a fantastic job. I think that she did -- she presented that evidence, again, very well. I do think that we will come back with a guilty verdict.

MARCUS ARBERY, FATHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: What I have seen in that courtroom this morning, it just really was devastating. But I'm just thanking God that God showed us everything, showed us all the evidence to convict these men.

So I know we're going to get a...


ARBERY: Get the verdict on these men.

JASON SHEFFIELD, ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: The jury can finally start deliberating. We feel very confident in the case that we put forward. We feel very confident in the evidence of Travis' innocence.

And now we will see what the jury feels is justice, and we will accept the verdict, whatever it is.


YOUNG: Alisyn, I think the toughest part of watching this case sort of unfold is the toll on the parents. And the last part of this case, which a lot of us will remember for quite some time, is how the prosecution decided to close this case.

We actually didn't show the pictures they decided to show at the end of the case because they were too graphic for television. And what they did was they took a picture of Ahmaud while he was alive, and they compared it to a picture of Ahmaud Arbery after he was dead.

And they put that up as the prosecution made their closing arguments. It really sat with a lot of people. You're talking about a jury where there was a jury who was constantly falling asleep, and people were complaining about it.

Nobody was sleeping today. Everyone was zeroed in on this part of the conversation. The other part that you have to think about right now, especially when it comes to the defense, this all really comes down to a cell phone video. If it wasn't for the cell phone video that Mr. Bryan got of what happened would we even be here right now. And that's a part of the conversation that's been happening over and

over again. And then the other thing that stood out today -- and I think a lot of people have been talking about it -- the fact that even though Ahmaud is dead, people feel like he's being victimized over and over again.

I remember yesterday when we were on television together, and we were talking about they brought up his toenails. That has really stuck out in people's minds all day long. And you heard the prosecution even say, blaming the victim is a part of defense strategy 101.

So, all this playing out right now. The jury is up there and gets to make a decision. We're told, if they ever make a decision, they will give us a 10-minutes heads up. So we will have some information about that later on. But at the end of the day, a lot of pressure in this community, because everybody's watching these last two weeks play out -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Ryan Young, thank you for all that. We're about to get into those themes that you raised a little deeper.

Joining us now to discuss, we have lawyer and jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.

Alan, the first thing I want you to do is just peel back the curtain for us on what's going on in that jury room. In the first hour or two when a jury gets the instructions and goes into that room, where do they begin?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT: Typically, jurors just start a free-flowing discussion about the case. It doesn't necessarily follow the verdict questions that they're supposed to answer, because, if you think about it, after not being able to speak about the case for so long, finally, they get to take a deep breath. And there's a lot to talk about.


So, what will initially happen before they get into the verdict questions and into the meat of it all will be some perspectives offered. People will weigh in a little bit, and then slowly, but surely, factions will emerge. And, pretty quickly, it'll be evident what the split is in the jury, if there is a split.

As time goes on, you will see or the jury will see who's on what side and who's arguing on behalf for an acquittal, who's arguing on behalf of a guilty verdict. All that gets thrown in. And that leads the way for more of a focused discussion the verdict questions.

CAMEROTA: Joey, I want to play for you one of the things that the prosecutor said today about how she believes the entire argument about a citizen's arrest is basically invalid. So listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LINDA DUNIKOSKI, COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Travis McMichael never said to the police: I was making an arrest. I was trying to arrest him for the crime of this.

Wouldn't that be really, really important? He's asking Ahmaud about what he was doing that day, that day, because he didn't know what he had done that day. But he assumed the worst. He must have committed some crime.

What's your emergency? There's a black man running down the street.


CAMEROTA: Joey, the defense had made the point earlier that you don't need to declare, I'm making a citizen's arrest. So who's right?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not a matter, Alisyn, of a declaration. It's a matter of what specifically you really are doing. What is your state of mind at the time?

I think it's very difficult for the defense to make the argument of citizen's arrest just based upon the law itself. What does the law say, Alisyn? It says that a crime has to be committed in your presence. What crime are we speaking of? I think the prosecution was very effective with respect to saying, there is no crime. So how are you relying upon that?

OK, if it's not in your presence, certainly, it would be in your immediate knowledge. The defense has pointed to issues in the community that have occurred a week or two weeks before on February 11. They have repeatedly referred to instances of the community being on heightened alert because of these burglaries or what have you that were months before.

The prosecution's point is, what happened then, such that you would have the knowledge such that the citizen's arrest law would be implicated, such that you can actually follow him detain him and ultimately do what you did to him?

Critical point. And that's this. In the event you don't have the benefit of the citizen's arrest law, and you have no business approaching, detaining him, or anything else, then everything else falls. And that was her point.

Last point I'll make here is that self-defense, they also -- the prosecution attacked that, pointing out the three exceptions. You don't get self-defense if you're the initial aggressive. You don't get self-defense if you're committing felonies, like aggravated assault, like false imprisonment. And you don't get self-defense in the event you're provoking the attack, very powerful arguments by the prosecution, what really appears to be carrying the day, in my view.

CAMEROTA: I want to sit with you for one more second, Joey, because I want to talk about what Ryan Young just brought up. And that is what sounded to many people as just an unvarnished, racist trope that one of the defense attorneys brought up in terms of Ahmaud Arbery. So let me play what she said yesterday.


LAURA HOGUE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR GREG MCMICHAEL: Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts, with no socks to cover his long dirty toenails.


CAMEROTA: Joey, that was so jarring to so many people to hear. Was that surprising to you to hear that tactic?

JACKSON: You know, it was deplorable.

And, quite frankly, it was surprising. And here's why I say that. I understand that we, as defense attorneys, you have to represent your client. You have to do it in a way where obviously you want to be vehement in your representation. And you want to be a zealous advocate.

That, I think, transcends the bounds of that, because what is the relevance of that, other than to dehumanize him, having that jury believe that he's less than, speaking to what you got, if you're the defense, which was an 11-member panel who are white jurors, and one African-American.

But I still think, notwithstanding that composition, that that backfires, because if you want to argue that, you know what, your clients were in heightened fear, they didn't know, they made a reasonable assumption that he really could have been the person who was committing crime, you want to argue that, argue it.

But to completely annihilate, dehumanize, and be so insensitive at that moment, I think that that backfires no matter who the jurors are, and that will be problematic. We will see if I'm right. I think we will get a verdict as early as tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Alan, what do you think?

I mean, you are a jury consultant. You know how they -- you have gone into the minds of jurors. What do you think about using the tactic that that defense attorney did?

TUERKHEIMER: I would have to think saying something like that would mean the defense lawyer who said it is thinking one or two jurors that might appeal to, because, overall, clearly an objectionable thing to say.


And what do you want to do with your closing argument, at the end of the day, when all the evidence is in, all the testimony comes through, most people have made up their mind. Most jurors are pretty close to knowing which way they want the case to turn out, not necessarily all the verdict questions.

But going into closing arguments, if you're the lawyers presenting, you want to empower or, for lack of a better term, give jurors on your side ammunition in deliberations to argue your case. So the defense attorneys should have been focusing more on things that the jurors can use in deliberations. They don't want the jurors talking about why she used that term and referred to Ahmaud Arbery in such an offensive way.

CAMEROTA: Alan, in just a few seconds, do you agree with Joey that we could get a verdict as soon as tomorrow?

TUERKHEIMER: I think we could.

I don't think it's going to take that long to go through everything. One interesting thing is -- and this has been -- I don't know how much it's been talked about, but there is -- and Joey referenced it -- one black juror out of 12. That's a huge difference between an all-white jury.

Now, it's not palatable entirely, and we'd like to have maybe three, so that the percentage of the jurors represents the percentage of Glynn County. But things are very different when there's the presence of just one juror. Studies have shown that and deliberations are different.

So I do think that they're going to be methodical. A lot of viewpoints are going to be covered. And, ultimately, they will render their verdict after deliberating. And it could take a day to get through this.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, gentlemen, for all the insight. Great to talk to you.

JACKSON: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, this just in. A doorbell camera captured the moments of surrender for that suspect accused of driving into that Christmas parade, killing five people.

A Wisconsin man says Darrell Brooks, the suspect, showed up at his door asking for help getting in touch with an Uber.


DARRELL BROOKS, SUSPECT: Hey, can -- I called an Uber, and I'm supposed to be waiting for it over here, but I don't know when it's coming. Can you call them for me, please?


CAMEROTA: OK, the man was unaware of the mass casualty event and let that suspect, Brooks, use his phone?

The camera then recorded the moments that police closed in on Brooks. OK, Brooks is expected to be in court later today. Waukesha police believe he had been involved in a domestic disturbance before he mowed down people, they say, at that parade. The 39-year-old was out on just $1,000 bail for a third incident earlier this month when he allegedly tried to run over a woman who says she is the mother of his child.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is tracking developments from their for us.

Adrienne, so what is going to happen in this court hearing?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In just a few hours, Brooks will be formally charged.

According to the chief of police here in Waukesha, initially, Brooks is likely going to be charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide. But this isn't the first time the 39-year-old man has been slapped with charges. In fact, he has an extensive criminal background dating back to the 1990s.

Most recently, according to documents CNN obtained, he was involved in another domestic disturbance earlier this month. According to a criminal complaint, Brooks used his vehicle to run over a woman in the parking lot of a gas station. Now, according to this criminal complaint, the woman, who is only identified by initials, alleges she and Brooks share a child together.

She says, before Brooks ran her over with that vehicle, he hit her with a closed fist. Now, he was charged in that case, a number of charges surrounding that case, but prosecutors also charged him with bail jumping, because he was already out on bail from another incident stemming from the summer of July 2020.

And investigators say, minutes before, he drove down this stretch of Main Street, plowing into all the people who were here celebrating, people who were at the parade, he was involved in another domestic disturbance -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Adrienne, it just doesn't make sense. I mean, it doesn't make sense that he was out on such a low bail with that history that you have just defined.

I know that you're continuing to look into it. Thank you very much for that reporting.

OK, any moment now, President Biden will address the country on the rising costs of just about everything and his new plan to bring down gas prices.

Also, this just into our NEWSROOM. Weeks after his remains were found, Brian Laundrie's cause of death is revealed.



CAMEROTA: OK, any moment now, President Biden will announce a plan to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic stockpile. This move is expected to help alleviate the global lack of oil supply

and bring down U.S. gas prices, which are currently at a seven-year high. Countries including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. are expected to take similar measures.

With me now is CNN business reporter Matt Egan and CNN economics and political commentator Catherine Rampell.

So, Matt, here is what one of President Biden's economic advisers had to say this morning about how soon and how much this will lower gas prices.



JARED BERNSTEIN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: It's a global market with lots of different players in it, so I don't think I can give you exactly the number of cents that we should expect the price of a gallon gas to come down.

What I can tell you is that oil is already down 10 percent since this discussion began. That will show up at the pump.


CAMEROTA: OK, so, Matt, will this release of these millions of barrels move the needle?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: I mean, I think it already has moved the needle. Prices have come down in the oil market by like 10 percent.


CAMEROTA: But that's before these were released.

EGAN: Exactly. So the rumor of the release caused oil prices to go down. And that has actually caused gas prices to level out at high levels, but level out and actually tick down by a penny over the last week.

And the experts I talk to say, yes, you know what? Gas prices could go a little bit lower, maybe 10, 15, 20 cents a gallon. But we need to caution people. This is not a magic wand to make gas cheap again. No one is calling for really cheap gasoline right now.

And even the White House, I think, realizes that this is going to have some limited impact. I mean, President Biden was advised that this is not going to solve all the issues. And that's because it doesn't really get at that underlying supply-demand imbalance. I mean, the world is growing quickly out of COVID. There's a lot more demand for energy. Supply is not keeping up.

Also, there's a finite number of barrels in there.

CAMEROTA: Oh, and here comes the president now to talk about all of this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... millions of Americans, including some of people in this room, are likely to be hitting the road, reuniting with their loved ones in cities and towns all across America to celebrate Thanksgiving.

As they do, I want to take a moment to talk about the economy, both the progress we have made and the challenges we -- remain -- that we have to face. We have made historic progress over the last 10 months. Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, two years faster than everyone expected. When we started this job, it was over 14 percent.

Wages are rising. Disposable income is up. More people are starting small businesses than ever before, and our economy has created a record 5.6 million jobs since I became president on January 20. There's a lot we can be proud of and a lot we can build on for the future.

But we still face challenges in our economy. Disruptions related to the pandemic have caused challenges in our supply chain, which have sparked concern about shortages and contributed to higher prices. Moms and dads are worried, asking, will there be enough food we can afford to buy for the holidays? Will we be able to get Christmas presents to the kids on time? And if so, will they cost me an arm and a leg?

I told you before that we're going to take action on these problems. And that's exactly what we're doing. It starts with my port action plan, a proactive three-month effort to invest in our ports and relieve bottlenecks; 40 percent of the goods, for example, that come into this country on the West Coast come through two ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

To help ease the congestion at these ports, I brought together labor and management and asked them to step up and cooperate, to move from operating the ports at 40 hours a week at those ports to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And I provided the resources to other key ports, including Savannah, Georgia, and, on the East Coast -- on the East Coast, and to help reduce congestion and undo damage caused by COVID.

We also met the CEOs of Walmart, Target, Home Depot, T.J. Maxx and others. Those retailers, large retailers, and others agreed to move products more quickly, stock their shelves more quickly. And, by the way, you may have heard the CEO of Walmart yesterday on the steps we have taken.

He said -- and I quote -- "The combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful." He went on to say: "All the way through the supply chain, there's a lot of innovation. Because of the actions we have taken, things have begun to change" -- end of quote.

In the past three weeks, the number of containers sitting on docks blocking movement are down by 33 percent. Shipping prices are down 25 percent. More goods are moving more quickly and more cheaply out of our ports onto your doorsteps and onto store shelves.

And so all these concerns a few weeks ago there would be -- there would not be ample food available for Thanksgiving. So many people talked about that, understandably. But families can rest easy. Grocery stores are well-stocked with turkey and everything else you need for Thanksgiving.

And the major retailers I mentioned are -- have confirmed that their shelves will be well-stocked in stores this holiday season. And that's good news for the those moms and dads who are worried about whether the Christmas gifts will be available. It goes for everything from bicycles to ice skates.


You know, today, though, I want to address another challenge that families are facing and the one I think they're most focused on right now, high gas prices. This is a problem, not just here in the United States, but around the world. The price of gasoline has reached record levels recently in Europe and in Asia.

In France, at the end of the last month, it reached about $7 per gallon. In Japan, it's about $5.50 per gallon, the highest it's been in years. Of course, it's always painful when gas prices spike. Today, the price of gas in America, on average, is $3.40 a gallon. In California, it's much higher.

The impact is real. But the fact is, we have faced even worse spikes before just in the last decade. We saw it in 2012, when the price of gasoline hit $3.90. We saw it in 2014, when it hit $3.69. And, as recently as 2019, we saw it surpass $3 in many places.

The fact is, we always get through those spikes, but we're going to get through this one as well and hopefully faster. But it doesn't mean we should just stand by idly and wait for prices to drop on their own. Instead, we're taking action.

The big part of the reason Americans are facing high gas prices is because oil-producing countries and large companies have not ramped up the supply of oil quickly enough to meet the demand. And the smaller supply means higher prices globally, globally, for oil.

To address these issues, I got on the phone with leaders from other countries grappling with this challenge to try to find ways to lower oil prices and ultimately to the price you pay at the pump.

So, today, I'm announcing that -- the largest ever release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help provide a supply we need as we recover from this pandemic. In addition, I have brought together other nations to contribute to the solution. India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom have agreed to release additional oil from their reserves, and China may do more as well.

This coordinated action will help us deal with a lack of supply, which, in turn, helps ease prices. The bottom line, today, we're launching a major effort to moderate the price of oil, an effort that will span the globe in its reach and ultimately reach your corner gas station, God willing.

I have worked hard these past few weeks on calls and meetings with foreign leaders, policy-makers to put together the building blocks for today's global announcement. And while our combined actions will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight, it will make a difference.

It will take time, but, before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank. And, in the longer term, we will reduce our reliance on oil as we shift to clean energy. But, right now, I will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump from the middle-class and working families that are spending much too much -- and it's a strain.

And you're the reason I was sent here, to look out for you. There's another issue we will be addressing as well, because the fact is, the price of oil was already dropping prior to this announcement, and many suggested in anticipation of the announcement. The price of gasoline in the wholesale market has fallen by about 10 percent over the last few weeks.

But the price at the pump hasn't budged a penny. In other words, gas supply companies are paying less and making a lot more. And they do not seem to be passing that on to the consumers at the pump. In fact, if the gap between wholesale and retail gas prices was in line with past averages, Americans would be paying at least 25 cents less per gallon right now, as I speak.

Instead, companies are pocketing the difference as profit. That's unacceptable. And that's why I have asked the Federal Trade Commission to consider whether potentially illegal and anti-competitive behavior in the oil and gas industry is causing higher prices for consumers, so we can assure the American people are paying a fair price for their gasoline.

I also want to briefly address one myth about inflated gas prices. They're not due to environmental measures. My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas or increasing its availability. What it's doing, it's increasing the availability of jobs, jobs building electric cars like the one I drove at the GM Detroit -- at the GM factory in Detroit last week.

For the hundreds of thousands of folks who bought one of those electric cars, they're going to save $800 to $1,000 in fuel costs this year.