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Vigil Held For Victims Of Christmas Parade Crash; Suspect in Wisconsin Parade Crash Charged With Homicide; Jan 6th Committee Subpoenas Stop the Steal Rally Organizers. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 04:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello, and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I am Max Foster in London. Just ahead on CNN Newsroom. Why a driver plowed his car through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin after five people are killed and more than 40 injured? What police are saying about the suspect's motives? Another trial weighing vigilante justice versus self-defense, the jury in the armored Ahmaud Arbery murder case expected to get the case today. Plus, January the 6th fallout, five news subpoenas to major players in Donald Trump's orbit, including some high profile names who were involved in the Stop the Steal rally.

As Waukesha, Wisconsin comes to terms with Sunday's Christmas pray tragedy. We're learning new details about the man accused of driving into the crowds and his criminal past. A vigil was held on Monday night for the victims and schools across the city remain closed. Five people were killed and almost 50 injured in the incident. Authorities say, there's no connection to terrorism. They say the suspect 39-year- old Darrell Brooks was out on bail for unrelated charges in a domestic abuse case. And he was involved in another domestic disturbance right before the prayed incident. CNN's Omar Jimenez has the details from Waukesha.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A shocked community learning the names of the neighbors they lost.

DANIEL THOMPSON, WAUKESHA POLICE CHIEF: Virginia Sorenson, 79-year-old female LeeAnna Owen, 71-year-old female; Tamara Durand. 52-year-old female. Jane Kulich, 52-year-old female. Wilhelm Hospel, 81-year-old male.

JIMENEZ: The victims five and all ranging in age from 52 to 81-years- old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have multiple casualties' people down in the street. 40 casualties down Main Street.

JIMENEZ: Along with the dead, 48 people were injured, some as young as three-years-old, 18 children including three sets of siblings are being treated at Children's Wisconsin, a hospital in Milwaukee.

THOMPSON: Two of the 48 are children and they're in critical condition.

DR. AMY DRENDEL, CHILDREN'S WISCONSIN: Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries.

JIMENEZ: Police identified the suspect as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.

THOMPSON: The suspect prior to the incident was involved in domestic disturbance.

JIMENEZ: Brooks was released on $1000 bail earlier this month in connection to charges including domestic abuse. He allegedly ran over a woman with his car, and the incident came after another 2020 case where he was charged with two counts of reckless endangering safety. He allegedly fired a gun during an argument. CNN reached out to his attorney from the incidents, but did not get a response.

Meanwhile, new audio of the parade incident makes clear the chaos of the moment heard in the voices of the first responders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A red escape, black male, I couldn't stop it. He's going westbound, blowing his horn Alert all the hospitals.

JIMENEZ: Along the parade route Kaylee Staral thought at first the vehicle was in the parade. Seconds later she realized it was--

KAYLEE STARAL, WITNESS: You see people running around and screaming and crying and running into the storefronts and you realize that like this is real, this is serious and people are hurt because of it.

JIMENEZ: Among those dead, members of Milwaukee's dancing grannies posted their Facebook page said, those who died were extremely passionate grannies. Their eyes gleamed with the joy of being a granny. They were the glue that held us together.


JIMENEZ: Now as the community here continues to try and recover the investigation into the suspect, Darrell Brooks continues, he has a criminal history going back to the 90s. But on that incident earlier this month that he posted $1000 bail for, the woman he allegedly ran over claimed to be the mother of his child and she also claimed that the car part of it didn't happen until after he allegedly hit her with a closed fist.

Now, when we reached out to his attorney for that incident and haven't gotten a response on that. But the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office called the amount that the bail was set for inappropriately low saying that it was not consistent with their risk assessment procedure.

The suspect has his initial court appearance for this Christmas parade incident on Tuesday, where police have said they would be referring five counts of first degree intentional homicide Omar Jimenez, CNN. Waukesha, Wisconsin.

FOSTER: Many visit videos of the incident were posted on social media


Of course. Last Hour CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem. I spoke to our Rosemary Church about how those videos could be used as evidence.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: In terms of his conduct while he's doing that, his defense if one assumes that he's going to have a defense, it is clearly going to be that this was not purposeful. It was a horrible, horrible accident. That's hard to say when you make a turn going however many miles per hour into a crowded area, you are more likely than not to harm or kill someone. And so, the videos will be utilized to counter that of any potential defense. He clearly knew what was happening. He did not stop, he did not try to, to help in any sort of way. And that's why all of these videos are so important.


FOSTER: Well, the initial charges will be filed in the coming hours and more charges are possible as the investigation unfolds. In Southern Georgia jury deliberations are expected to begin soon in the trial of three men charged in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and unarmed black man. CNN's Martin Savidge is following the racially charged case.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the trial reaches its critical final days, protests outside the Glenn County Courthouse have grown in size and volume. For the first time, armed citizens with semi- automatic weapons were seen patrolling the perimeter of the courthouse grounds. While inside the courthouse, attorneys began making their closing arguments Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael and William Roddie Bryan face murder charges and potential life in prison for the killing a 25-year-old jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: This case is really about assumptions and driveway decisions. They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street.

SAVIDGE: And reminding the jury, the definition of a citizen's arrest according to the law.

DUNIKOSKI: They never ever said on February 23, 2020 that they were doing a citizen's arrest. A citizen's arrest is for emergency situations when the crime really happens right in front of you. They never said it. None of the defendant saw Mr. Arbery commit any crime that day. SAVIDGE: Travis McMichael's defense attorney attempting to drive home the argument that his client was simply acting out of civic duty and responsibility.

JASON SHEFFIELD, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Travis McMichael spent almost a decade of his life learning about duty and responsibility.

SAVIDGE: Arguing to the jury, his quote, duty was necessary that February day.

SHEFFIELD: This neighborhood was being covered in suspicious persons, in extra watches and neighborhood patrols and concerned citizens.

SAVIDGE: Insisting Arbery's presence was suspicious.

SHEFFIELD: There is no evidence whatsoever, that's Satilla Shores was a place of exercise and jogging for Ahmaud Arbery.

SAVIDGE: Gregory McMichael's attorney continued the theme Arbery was in the neighborhood up to no good, suggesting that was obvious by his appearance.

LAURA HOGUE, GREGORY MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It 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.

SAVIDGE: Laura Hogue repeated over and over that Arbery was to blame for his own death.

HOGUE: He was a recurring nighttime intruder and that is frightening and unsettling.

SAVIDGE: And William Bryan's attorney Kevin Gough, arguing there wouldn't even be a trial where it's not for his client, his cell phone and the video he took.

KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM RODDIE BRYAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Roddie Bryan didn't shoot anyone. At the time of the shooting. He was some distance back. He was armed only with his cell phone. Isn't it time? Isn't it time, ladies and gentlemen, that we send Roddie Bryan home?

SAVIDGE: But the growing protests outside the court threatened the proceedings. The presence of demonstrators with guns had Bryan's attorney Kevin Gough again motioning for a mistrial. It was denied. The judge did say he decided to move the jury deliberations to an interior room in the courthouse to keep jurors out of sight and earshot of the demonstrations.

After court recess for the day, Attorney Lee Merritt said the Arbery family appreciated the support from protesters, but urge them not to go so far as to possibly interfere with the trial itself.

LEE MERRITT, AHMAUD ARBERY'S ATTORNEY: The community's presence here has been a great encouragement to the family. But we can never allow anything to disrupt justice in this case. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: The jury is expected to get this case later or sometime around midday on Tuesday, but here's the problem, you get Wednesday but then Thursday in the United States is a major holiday, Thanksgiving.


And there is a concern that that kind of time pressure could impact the jury's decision if they wanted to try to make a decision before the holiday. Martin Savidge, CNN Brunswick, Georgia.

FOSTER: (Inaudible) trial defense attorneys have tried to present Ahmaud Arbery as a criminal on Monday, Laura Hogue, one of the defense lawyers went even further, saying Arbery had long, dirty toenails. A gasp could be heard in the court room after his remarks and Arbery's family was outraged.


BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING ARBERY'S FATHER: This was very difficult for the family. You saw them at different stages walk out the courtroom, because literally, after those men in that courtroom assassinated their child. Now they're sitting here, assassinating his character.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: Regardless of what kind of toenails he had, what size legs he had, that was still my son. And my son actually was one it was like, in that description.


FOSTER: Some legal experts were also outraged by the toenail comment.


PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That was one of the most disgusting, disgraceful things I've heard an attorney say in a criminal proceeding throughout my career, I can tell you this, if you said something like that in a northern courtroom, you'd be held in contempt of court. There might even be a mistrial. It's such a clearly racist and improper statement.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Beyond the pale and in addition to that, which he was repeatedly doing was making references to our neighborhood, and this neighborhood had to be a certain way and we wanted the neighborhood quiet and the neighborhood was peaceful and the neighborhood, the neighborhood, the neighborhood, and what I really think she was doing is really trying to relate, right, this is where we get back to the issue of 11 white jurors, and one African American juror, notwithstanding the 75 percent white and 25 percent breakdown in the community.

And so, I think she was really playing to them. And I think she overplayed her hand. It was really despicable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, CNN will continue to monitor this trial as jury deliberations get underway, and we'll have live updates for you on any new developments. In the coming hours, the jury will resume deliberations in the trial against the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At the center of that case is where the defendants conspired and planned the violence that broke out to ignite a racist and religious war. The Far Right rally reached its tipping point when one attendee drove his car into counter protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League says the violence was a glimpse of the chaos we saw in the January 6th attack in Washington.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: What we saw in Charlottesville was a preview of what was to come from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh, El Paso and then Capitol Hill, there has been a through line, the normalization of extremism. And while we saw the architects of extremism now getting served in Congress, people like Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, these are their shock troops, who now are seeing the folly of their actions, and discovering that hate has consequences.


We FOSTER: mentioned Roger Stone and others being subpoenaed by Congress, much more on that coming up as well. Now, more than three and a half years after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the families of the shooting victims have reached a settlement with the Justice Department related to their lawsuits over the FBI's failure to act on tips warning about the gunman.

17 students and staff members were killed when a gunman opened fire on the campus last February. Lead counsel for the families says whilst the financial details are currently confidential, it's a historic settlement.

As we heard lawmakers investigating the U.S. Capitol riot have summoned prominent allies of Donald Trump to testify why one observer says they won't be able to resist the opportunity to spar with that committee and the White House hopes to offer some relief on gasoline prices, but the plan relies on international cooperation. Details on that ahead.



FOSTER: A longtime Republican operative and allowed conspiracy theorists are amongst the latest allies of former U.S. President Donald Trump to be called to testify at Congress. Roger Stone and Alex Jones have been subpoenaed by the committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers are shifting their focus to the organizers and funders of those so-called Stop the Steal rallies. He relentlessly lied about the election fraud and whipped up this mob into a frenzy. Ryan Nobles has the story.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The January 6th Select Committee issuing five new subpoenas, five individuals who are closely associated with the planning and execution of the rallies leading up to January 6th, including that big Stop the Steal rally that took place in front of the White House. Many of the people who participated in that rally ended up here on Capitol Hill in an attempt to interrupt the certification of the November election.

There's two big names in this group, Alex Jones and Roger Stone, two major conservative provocateurs people that had been longtime supporters of the former President Donald Trump and of course played a big role in peddling the lies about the election that Trump was the leader of, they also helped to raise money and convince people to come to Washington on January 6th, with the implicit goal of trying to interrupt the Democratic process.

But it's not just a Jones and Stone. There are three other names Taylor Budowich. She's currently the spokesperson for the former president in his capacity outside of the White House. And then two other individuals Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence. They are an engaged couple. They have been behind the scenes players in all of this, closely associated with Steve Bannon, also closely associated just on the outer ring of the Trump campaign.


And the Trump political effort. They had a lot to do with the organization, the raising of funds and the spending of funds as it relates to those rallies on January 6th. There is a big question though, is just how cooperative these witnesses will be, particularly Alex Jones and Roger Stone, who have a pension for either ignoring congressional in legal requirements that are put on them or outright lying to panels like this. This is what the one of the committee members Zoe Lofgren had to say about both of these individuals coming before the committee.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Mr. Stone raised money for security through his websites He reportedly had an affiliation with the Oathkeepers that led some of the assault on the Capitol. He made remarks that he was planning to lead the march to the Capitol from the ellipse of that day. Mr. Jones claims to have raised the majority of the funds for the staging of the rally. So, we want to find out what they know we're following up with other leads that we have received about the funding.


NOBLES: This ultimately, though, is about connecting dots. There were obviously three layers to all this right, there was the peddling of the election lie first, there was the effort to bring people here to Washington. And then the final step would be convincing people to come into the Capitol on May that day to try and interrupt the Democratic process.

At this point, the committee has not shown direct evidence that those three stages have a direct connection and that those connections lead back to someone like Donald Trump. But that's clearly the role or the goal that they have throughout this process. Bringing together this group could be one piece of that big puzzle.

Ryan Nobles, CNN on Capitol Hill.

FOSTER: The former Deputy Director of the FBI predicts Roger Stone and Alex Jones will testify because they won't be able to resist the spotlight or the chance to publicly deal with the panel. Andrew McCabe also weighed in on the committee's strategy.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: The committee has kind of telegraphed what they're thinking with each round of subpoenas that we see coming out and it for my money, what seems clear, is they are focused intently, not on specifically the mayhem of the insurrection on January 6th, but on the days leading up to January 6th, they are trying to get to who was at the center of planning this activity, how was it funded? Where were those communication networks? Who was involved? Who was talking to who? And how does this potentially get back to the White House? And of course, the ultimate question was the violence part of the plan. And I think these subpoenas are a great way of closing down the loop on those questions and really getting to the center of it.


FOSTER: Meanwhile, a New York man has been sentenced to 19 months behind bars for threatening to assault or murder members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Brendan Hunt, whose father is a retired judge had also posted videos discussing the riots and encouraging others to go back to the Capitol on Inauguration Day and bring their guns.

And an Indiana man has been charged with carrying a loaded firearm to the Capitol grounds on January 6th and assaulting police officers, Mark Mazza told investigators that he never did get to talk to Nancy referring to Speaker Pelosi, and said he was glad he didn't quote, because you'd be there - be here for another reason, implying he would have harmed her. And Mazza lost his gun during the battle of police. It was loaded with five rounds.

Now just a matter of hours, President Biden will deliver remarks on the U.S. economy and his plans for lowering prices for American consumers with inflation on the rise and economic uncertainty, Mr. Biden opted to stay the course by reappointing Jerome Powell, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, some will no doubt question why I'm re-nominating Jay, when he was a choice of a Republican predecessor. Why I'm not picking a Democrat? Why am I not picking fresh blood or taking the Fed in a different direction? Put directly, at this moment both enormous potential and enormous uncertainty for our economy, we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve.

JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: Today, the economy is expanding at its fastest pace in many years, carrying the promise of a return to maximum employment. Challenges and opportunities remain as always, the unprecedented reopening of the economy along with the continuing effects of the pandemic led to supply and demand imbalances, bottlenecks and a burst of inflation. We


Know that high inflation takes a toll on families, especially those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials, like food, housing and transportation. We will use our tools both to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched.


FOSTER: Well, there's opposition to pals reappointment from the progressive wing of the president's own party, Senator Elizabeth Warren object to Powell's deregulation of banks and will vote against his nomination. She's also called him a dangerous man to head the Fed. The president needs bipartisan support for the nomination to pass. The ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee Republican Senator Pat Toomey says he'll support Powell's nomination however.

Now, President Biden is also hoping to announce his decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help bring gas prices down. The announcement is contingent on agreements from other nations. The U.S. has asked China, India, Japan and South Korea to join a coordinated effort to release reserves of crude oil, the White House hopes to circumvent OPECs resistance to ramp up oil production to meet rising demand.


BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL ECONOMY COUNCIL: The American consumer never likes to pay more at the pump. But we are focused on doing everything that we can to make sure that American consumers are not burying the short-end of the stick during these periods. And so that's what the president's going to be talking about tomorrow, taking actions where we can and where it is appropriate to try to make sure that we can provide some relief to American consumers and also make sure that when the price of oil comes down, that American consumers see that benefit at the price of the pump. That's not what's been happening over the last several weeks. And that's a concern that we have here.


FOSTER: Now curious minds want to know if the U.S. president intends to run for reelection in 2024. And so far, all eyes point to a yes. On Monday, the White House says President Biden will seek a second term something later confirmed again by White House press Secretary Jen Psaki onboard Air Force One. It comes amid reports the president and his inner circle are debating whether he could commit to another campaign given his age, President Biden turns 79 over the weekend.

Now, up next, COVID cases are ticking back up across the United States, just as the holiday season kicks into high gear as well. We'll break down the numbers for you just ahead. Plus, the pandemic isn't stopping millions of Americans in traveling this Thanksgiving, but the weather might stop them. We'll have the holiday forecast for you.