Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Jury Deliberations Underway In Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial; Jury Finds Defendants Liable For Over $26 Million In "Unite The Right" Trial; Fox News Host Praises Rittenhouse As Hero And "Sweet Kid"; Human Rights Watch Accuses IOC Of "Sportswashing" Case Of Tennis Star; Biden Considers "Diplomatic Boycott" Of Chinese Winter Olympics; Dollar Tree Hikes Prices 25 Percent, Pushing Everything Up To $1.25. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 15:30   ET



DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: So what we do, we show up. We rally the troops, we all kind of look after each other and try to take care of our community like we've done for so long.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, I know that your community really appreciates it. Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you. We always like talking to you.

DAVIDSON: Thanks a lot. Have a good one.

CAMEROTA: The fate of the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery now lies in the hands of the jury. So we're going to live outside the Georgia courthouse, next.



CAMEROTA: The jury is now deliberating and the trial of the three men accused of killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. In its final rebuttal this morning, the prosecution argued that the defendants' claims of a citizen's arrest were unlawful from the start. And during yesterday's closing arguments, the defense tried to paint Arbery as an outsider and a recurring intruder in the neighborhood.

CNN's Ryan Young has been following along at the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. So Ryan, tell us what you're hearing.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, we actually have some new news. At this point, we heard that according to a bailiff, the jury actually deliberated through lunch. So that is good news in terms of the pace that they are keeping so far. It's also nine women and three men who are on this jury.

I can tell you the emotions have really been fluctuating throughout the day. We saw that closing from the prosecution that really zeroed in on some finer points and details that rebuttal was quite fantastic in the way it went piece by piece through all the portions of the law. Emotions were still running high after court.

And in fact, when I talked to you last hour, I told you that I was able to catch up with Kevin Gough, he is the defense attorney who's rankled so much sort of outside the jury's view with his claims about black pastors and some of the other allegations and calling for multiple mistrials. I asked him a question about pressure and the pressure he may be feeling at this point, take a listen.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN: There's no pressure on the lawyers. Win or lose, we go home. The pressure is on the clients. You know, and I feel for the Arbery family. This has been an ordeal for them, you know? Some of this testimony and evidence presented about their son has been graphic.

And, you know, we try to make sure that nothing happens in the courtroom that will interrupt or interfere with proceedings, but to be a mother and see that stuff up there about your son here, it's got to be tough. And, you know, for Marcus Sr. tough, it's got to be tough. And, you know, problem for the lawyers is we, you know, we're focused, we get tunnel vision for our client, you know? But there's a lot more going on here than just an M, and they're the ones most greatly immediately impacted.

But this family's waited a long time, they're had their day in court. And we don't know what justice looks like in this case for them. But, you know, we don't want to lose sight of the fact they're human beings too.


YOUNG: Alisyn, that was a sort of a fantastic answer. I was really surprised to hear him talk about the pain for the Ahmaud Arbery family, especially considering him directing all his attention to the black pastors that were inside court trying to give them solace at some point. But you sort of see this divide in terms of what happens in court, and what happens outside of court.

And speaking about that, when we saw the final pictures of Ahmaud Arbery in that courtroom, people were aghast. I mean, it was really difficult to look at those pictures, especially the picture of him while he was alive. And that final picture, we didn't show it on TV because it was so graphic. Just imagine what that family is going through. In fact, when they walked out of court, they made a statement today about all this -- the proceedings, and finally getting this to a jury.


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

MARCUS ARBERY SR. AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: What I 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 this man. So I know we're going to get --


M. ARBERY: -- get the verdict (ph) on this man.

JASON SHEFFIELD, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: 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's innocence. And now we'll see what the jury feels as justice, and we will accept the verdict, whatever it is.


YOUNG: Alisyn, when you think about the composure that all these families have had to sort of keep while this is going on, very emotional testimony. At some points when you're looking at the video what's going on in court, that is a very small courtroom. You can actually see all the families sort of stacked up row by row. You can only imagine what each of them is feeling at this point.

Once again, the jury work through lunch. We're not sure about the schedule for the rest of the day. Do they go to 6:00? Do they come back tomorrow? It's going to be up to the jury. So we'll continue to watch. If we have any more news, of course, we'll bring it to you.

CAMEROTA: Ryan, you're so right about their composure and strength. It has been a marvel to watch how they're getting through this. Thank you very much.

OK, we continue to also follow the breaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia. There's been a partial verdict reached in the "Unite the Right" trial. Why the plaintiffs' attorneys say they are beyond thrilled with this outcome?



CAMEROTA: OK, we're following this breaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia, where a partial verdict has been reached in the trial of white nationalists behind the deadly 2017 "Unite the Right" rally. CNN's Jason Carroll is outside of the courthouse for us. So Jason, tell us what we know about this partial verdict.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we've been adding up the numbers since the last time we spoke. And in doing that, it now looks as if these defendants are now going to be responsible for $26 million in damages. That is pretty much what we've come up with in terms of adding up what the jurors have found here.

But I should note $12 million of that is -- goes to one person, James Alex Fields. He was found liable for $12 million in civil damages after he drove his car into the crowd of counter protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others, people like Natalie Romero, who testified during this civil trial that after she was hit by his car, at one point, she felt as though she wouldn't stay alive unless she was able to stay awake.


And so again, millions of dollars in damages awarded to these nine plaintiffs but still a mixed bag here because on two of the biggest claims here, the first one being conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence and failing to prevent a conspiracy, the jury in that situation and those two claims were deadlocked.

They simply could not come up with a unanimous decision about whether or not the defendants here, and there are 17 defendants here, whether or not they had committed conspiracy with those two claims. Again, 17 defendants here, some of them are individuals, white nationalists, Neo Nazis, others are organizations designated as hate groups.

So again, we've got the breakdown here, $26 million in civil claims here that will be awarded to the plaintiffs in this particular situation. But again, the jury still deadlocked on two of the biggest claims that jurors had to deliberate over. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK. Interesting to hear those numbers. Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

OK, so last night, Fox TV's Tucker Carlson interviewed acquitted gunmen, Kyle Rittenhouse and praise the teenager comparing him to an American hero.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Kyle Rittenhouse struck us as bright, decent, sincere, dutiful and hardworking, exactly the kind of person you'd want many more of in your country. He's not especially political. He never wanted to be the symbol of anything.


CAMEROTA: CNN's Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter joins me now. It's interesting Brian, you know, Tucker Carlson talks a lot on his show about manhood, and real manhood and masculinity. And I guess now we have a vision for what Tucker Carlson means by that when he imagines manhood.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he certainly acted more like a promoter of Kyle Rittenhouse than

an interviewer in this sit down. And of course, there's going to be a documentary Tucker is promoting next month as well.

It's about presenting that kind of Legend of Kyle Rittenhouse, a rewriting of what was reported last year. And look, some of the facts were not clear when this case first erupted, when these men died, when Rittenhouse was jailed.

The story did fully come out at trial and it's important to reflect on what we now know. But it seems to me like there's this hero worshipping of Kyle Rittenhouse now underway by the life of Tucker Carlson when you have Carlson leaning into those questions. And now Rittenhouse using legal language.

When we're an 18-year old, he was unfortunately had to learn a lot about the law. He now uses phrase like -- phrases like actual malice and defamed, suggesting maybe he's going to go after people who he believes defamed him in the future.

He also told Carlson he is studying right now to be a nurse, but he's thinking about going into law instead. And it seems to me we're going to be hearing more from the right both valorizing Rittenhouse. And I wonder, frankly, by this time next year, are we going to see Rittenhouse on stage at conservative conferences being held up as a hero?

CAMEROTA: It's just so different from what his attorney thinks --


CAMEROTA: -- should be the future for Kyle Rittenhouse who thinks his attorney who knows him better than these other folks thinks he should change his name and get out of town.


CAMEROTA: Brian Stelter, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: OK. The International Olympic Committee is accused of, "sportswashing, serious human rights violations" as new questions emerge in the case of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. All the mystery about this next.



CAMEROTA: Human Rights Watch is now accusing the International Olympic Committee of ignoring human rights violations and collaborating with Chinese authorities in the case of Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai. The head of the IOC claims he spoke with the tennis star in a video chat over the weekend and that she is OK.

Rennae Stubbs, an ESPN tennis analyst and a former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion. Rene, thanks for being here. Let me just read to you the IOC statement about all of these, OK, because the world has been wondering about Peng Shuai's whereabouts, her wellbeing, her status. OK, here's what they say.

"In the 30-minute conversation, she was very clear in confirming that she is safe and well. She also mentioned that she will be taking part in some activities with friends and family, and will continue to be involved in tennis." They're not suspicious of where she's been in all this mystery. How do you explain this? RENNAE STUBBS, ESPN TENNIS ANALYST: Well, they should be. I mean, the first question I would have asked her is can I see everybody in the room that's around you? Because obviously, what we've seen come out of China over the last couple of days is Chinese-related media. It's not her making a video, it's not her sending it to the WTA, it's not her getting on a phone or FaceTime or what --

CAMEROTA: It's somebody sending it to Chinese state video --

STUBBS: That's right.

CAMEROTA: -- and then there are pictures of her that appear to be at dinner but she's not speaking much.

STUBBS: That's right.

CAMEROTA: They have sort of date stamped it with somebody in the room saying the date.


CAMEROTA: But it's all very sketchy.

STUBBS: Well the sketchy part about it is the WTA I've really tried to reach out. I know I've spoken to them recently and they've said, look, anytime we've tried to call, she knows the numbers, we all know the numbers, every player has to give their phone number to the WTA. So to be able to reach out to her, it should be easy right for her to pick up the phone and say, yes, Steve, I'm OK, et cetera, et cetera. Or here's a video of me, here's me playing, this is me. This is where I am.

We're seeing all of this, this state media stuff that that she -- and listen, I've been to China, I've been to many, many times. We all know what China is like. I mean, they're not exactly the most open country in the world.


So what we see is exactly what they want to put out as opposed to what we want to see and also what we want to hear from her. So it's very concerning.

CAMEROTA: What do you think about the boycott Beijing Olympics movement?

STUBBS: Well, I mean, look, if we could pick it up and take it to a different city right now, I think everybody would love to see that. My only issue with that is, it's the athletes are the ones that suffer. And we had this issue with Russia back, you know, not that long ago as well, when they had the LGBTQ issues going on. Now we've got this situation with punch way. And the answers that we want are not coming in the IOC are not helping out.

And so I think that WTA, I'm so proud of the WTA, because they're really standing up. We have eight to 11 tournaments every year in China. And the amount of money that the WTA may lose, if they pull out is extraordinary. And over the last couple of years with the pandemic, that's money that the the WTA really needs to function.


STUBBS: So for them to take this stand, I'm very proud of the WTA and I think the IOC, I think the NBA, all of these different sporting factions, they need to stand up right now because I feel like the WTA the only ones that really the big boys in the room or the big girls in the room.

CAMEROTA: Rennae Stubbs, thank you. Always great to see you. Thanks so much --

STUBBS: You're welcome. Thanks.

CAMEROTA: -- for being here. We have more breaking news out of Wisconsin. The man accused of plowing through a Christmas parade, killing five people is expected to appear in court for the first time within the next hour.


CAMEROTA: Make sure you bring an extra quarter next time you go to the Dollar Tree. One of the country's last remaining Dollar Stores is raising the cost of most of its items 25 percent from $1 to $1.25. The Dollar Tree insists this is not a reaction to short-term market conditions but falls in line with the rising inflation that is hitting retailers across the country.

Thanks so much for watching NEWSROOM today. "THE LEAD" starts right now.