Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

January 6th Panel Targets Right-Wing Extremist Groups with New Subpoenas; Jury in the Ahmaud Arbery Case Asks to See Video Amid Deliberations. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 09:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: In Brunswick, Georgia, we're learning, this just in from the courtroom, in the trial of the three men who were charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, the jury we've learned has asked to see a video. That's according to a sheriff's deputy who came in at 9:27 a.m. Now which video they're asking to see is not clear at the moment. Also not clear if the jury will need to be back in the courtroom to watch that. But we're going to monitor those developments and we'll keep you posted as we know more.

Meantime, we are also keeping a firm focus on the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Five new subpoenas issued. Lawmakers are now targeting in those new subpoenas right-wing extremist groups that were involved in the attack. Among them, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Dozens of members of both groups are already facing criminal charges tied to the Capitol insurrection.

CNN's Paula Reid joins us now from New York.

Paula, what does the panel hope to learn from these groups? What are we learning as well by who they're targeting with these subpoenas?

PAUL REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting that they're targeting this group. It appears that they are focused on planning, preparation and wanting to talk to people who allegedly engaged in violence that day. Now here the committee has issued these five subpoenas, targeting right-wing extremist groups that were involved in the attack.

Now first on the list, the Proud Boys. Now lawmakers say the group called for violence leading up to January 6th. A few dozen individuals affiliated with the organization have been charged. The group's leaders were actually involved in some of the early clashes that overpowered police lines and breached the building.


Now investigators are also targeting the group's leader Enrique Tarrio. Now he was not in D.C. on January 6th because of a prior arrest, was allegedly involved in preparation for the events at the Capitol. Now, another subpoena went to the Oath Keepers and their leader

Stewart Rhodes. Now members of that group were seen weaving through the crowd in military formation and entering the Capitol rotunda. They're accused of even stashing weapons at a Virginia hotel before the riot. Now more than a dozen members have been charged and prosecutors have said that they conspired ahead of time to disrupt the electoral college proceedings. Now we'll note that Mr. Rhodes, though, he has not been charged.

Now the panel also subpoenaed -- sorry, Robert Patrick Lewis, chairman of the 1st Amendment Praetorian, a group that the committee says provided security at multiple rallies leading up to January 6th.

Now why are they targeting all these folks? Well, in a statement, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, said, "We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack."

Now at this point, several dozen subpoenas have been issued as part of this investigation. But they really had mixed success. Investigators say they've spoken to more than 200 witnesses, but most key Trump allies, they stonewalled lawmakers and refused to testify or even produce documents -- Jim, Erica.

HILL: We will continue to watch, though, for more developments. Paula, thank you.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates, who's also a former federal prosecutor and the host of "THE LAURA COATES SHOW" on Sirius XM Radio.

Laura, so Paula laid out for us why these five subpoenas that we saw yesterday, those were issued, as we know, we heard from Bennie Thompson, to look at how the violence erupted. Also the preparation there. Earlier in the week it was Roger Stone, Alex Jones, those subpoenas announced as well. The way that we're seeing these subpoenas issued, what can we take away from that if anything?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think you can take away that they know that this was not a spontaneous occurrence. That this wasn't a coincidence, that everyone showed up, had some level of coordination and as we saw everything unfold. It was the idea that this was premeditated in some way, they believe. That there was a coordinated flurry of activity that took place long before January 6th, and that was really not just the beginning of the story, but perhaps the middle near the end of it.

So trying to figure out who had a hand in the preparation and the planning, interjecting this notion that this is somehow a spontaneous event to which nobody could have prevented and nobody could have tried to undermine and no one could have stopped.

HILL: You know, Paula also laid out this sort of mixed success that we've seen. There is not a lot of expectation I think that Roger Stone and Alex Jones are likely going to talk, even Bernard Kerik who was issued a subpoena. He said he will comply but he wants an apology and also a little more time to determine if there could be some privilege claims for him.

How much is some of this stonewalling or this refusal to comply, how much is it in your sense that this is impacting the investigation itself?

COATES: Well, as it relates to privilege, there's going to be a spectrum, Erica, right? There are some people who are going to have a far more colorful and viable claim of executive privilege, people who may have been in the administration, in the inner Oval, so to speak. Then there are others who were not a part of the administration, not a part of the government, have made public statements, so if they even had privilege arguments, they already waved them. And so they're trying in many ways to build off of what Steve Bannon has tried to articulate.

HILL: Laura, can I stop you for one second?


HILL: I'm sorry, because I know you're also following this case along with us as well. But we just want to listen to the judge who's back in the courtroom in the case for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Let's listen in.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: If I could ask you to read again that first thing, you said the original video?



WALMSLEY: OK. Which I understand would be the one that -- we'll make sure, but the short version as I understand it would be the video that was shortened at the scene in order to see if it could be transmitted. That's the way I understand that.

DUNIKOSKI: That was not entered into evidence. The only thing that was tendered, that's why I think we need to ask them about this short version, because the original video is from Ahmaud turning around and running back. If it's a different -- how do I put this? We did tender in about four different versions that were shortened that were high contrast, high definition, and things like that. So I just want to make sure --

WALMSLEY: Well, it's not in the -- I think we have to play the whole -- the longer version and indicate that it's not in evidence. If that's what they want. We'll clarify.

DUNIKOSKI: Thank you, Judge.

KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And what -- while playing the enhanced, however we want to call it, just make sure that we've identified it as such for the jury. WALMSLEY: We'll identify it by exhibit number.


DUNIKOSKI: We are -- it would be our position that if they've asked for the short version and we know where that short version begins, the large -- long version, we just start the video at that point.

GOUGH: That was going to be my suggestion. I think maybe have the foreperson explain it, just the foreperson. They just want to pick it up from after Mr. Bryan picks his camera -- phone back up again if that's what they're looking for, then we could adjust it with the one that's in evidence.

DUNIKOSKI: And, Your Honor, I think I may have discovered what they're talking about. State Exhibit 190 is the complete video. 191 is the half speed individual video and that is the shortened video, and then we have the high contrast video at 192. So I believe that may be what they're talking about, with the 191 half speed and 192 high contrast.

GOUGH: As long as the half speed video is clearly identified as such, otherwise I think Mr. Bryan would rather have the whole video --

WALMSLEY: Well, let's see what they're asking for. Go with that -- give those numbers, OK, 191 is the half speed short version. 192 is the high contrast version. You said 190 is?

DUNIKOSKI: The actual full video.

WALMSLEY: Full video.

GOUGH: And then the 911 call.

WALMSLEY: And the 911 call is the 223, 911 call by Greg McMichael?

DUNIKOSKI: Yes. And that would be -- I believe it is state's Exhibit 144.

GOUGH: And are the alternates excluded from this, Your Honor?


GOUGH: They're not. OK.

WALMSLEY: No. I'll bring them in just so they're aware of what's happening. Although they're to begin deliberations again with the panel, if in fact somebody does not -- or somebody is replaced on the panel, I think it's good for them to know what has been presented to the panel as a whole.

GOUGH: Makes sense.

WALMSLEY: OK. So I'm going to ask for clarification. Once I get clarification that I'll make sure we are clear on what exhibits are going to be played. I'll ask the state to go ahead and play those exhibits, just maybe easiest way to do them on the board that we have. OK. We're good. Yes. Let's go and get the panel.

HILL: So the judge there calling for the jury to be brought in. This is after we have learned that the jury is asking to see a video, what we were just hearing there from the attorneys and from the judge. There we go, he's saying they'll play each exhibit three times. They're trying to determine exactly which video, Jim, the jury wants to see here. A question of whether it is a shortened version of the video, what it would be, would it be that video at half speed.


HILL: So as they're figuring that out, there's also just a mention of the jury, I believe, wanting to hear the 911 call that was made by Greg McMichael. And this is the first time they've asked for evidence.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Page Pate, Laura Coates, they're with us now.

Page, I'd like to ask your read and, again, with the proviso that a lot of things go on in the jury room, so we can't know what's inside their head, but in your experience when a jury asks for evidence, particularly video evidence to be played back and the specific evidence they're talking about here, what is the significance?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Jim, as we were talking about earlier, I was surprised they had not asked to see a video and now they have. So that doesn't surprise me. I don't think it's they're trying to figure out what happened. I think what we have here, and I've seen this many times in my own trials, is, one, two, three, we don't know how many people, but there is some disagreement about what happened in that critical moment that Ahmaud Arbery was shot.

Is there any justification for self-defense? So you may have one or two people arguing that there is evidence of self-defense, the others say I don't think so. And they say, well, let's just get back in and look at the short half speed video because that way we can really see carefully what was going on at that critical moment.

HILL: And, Laura, remind us here, too, as we're looking at these charges, as the jury is looking at the charges, there are three defendants in this case. They're facing individual charges, but these charges are also charges in many cases that are about parties as it's worded, parties who were part of a crime. That's important as we look at what could be happening behind closed doors in that jury room.

COATES: It's extremely important. And in Georgia, they have a pretty broad notion of who can be a party to a crime, essentially you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas, be careful of the company you keep sort of mentality there, and the notion of this. And if you are a part of some criminal activity, even if you had a role that was not the actual shooter and we see it here, of course.


We know that the actual shooter is Travis McMichael. He has admitted to such. He is the one who took the stand, the only defendant to take the stand in his defense, articulating that he felt in fear, which is in stark contrast of course to what he told officers closer in time, and he also admitted on the stand that Ahmaud Arbery had not threatened him, he had not tried to hurt him in some way.

And so I think what you're seeing here are the jurors trying to figure out, not with respect to, say, a Roddie Bryan or Greg McMichael, who was on the flatbed of the truck, but with respect to what happened with this particular defendant. Now, even if they were to find that everything came down to Travis McMichael, you still had this very expansive notion of the party to a crime.

And finally, you know, the idea of showing the shorter video versus the longer video, think about the two sides of this case. The defense does not want this very limited portion, they want the more expansive notion, perhaps. They want to be able to have greater context, there's more wiggle room in context. If you're the prosecution --


COATES: You want that slowed down video to show that exact moment in time that Ahmaud Arbery was fighting for his life and lost it.

SCIUTTO: Laura, as you were speaking there, you saw the counsel stand up there. That's because the jury has now entered the room to rewatch this video. As the judge noted, I believe they played it three times for clarity.

As we continue to monitor, Page Pate, just from your experience in a courtroom, is a request like this from the jury at this point of deliberations good or bad for the prosecution?

PATE: It's really difficult to say. I mean, the only thing that I would take away from this is that there is some disagreement. It could be half the jury, it could be one person. But it's always --

SCIUTTO: OK, Page. Point taken. Hate to interrupt but let's listen to the judge.

WALMSLEY: Requests I have is we the jury request to see the following videos, three times each. One, the original video, short version. Two, the enhanced high contrast version. And then we would also like to listen to the 911 call on 2/23 made by Greg McMichael, and there was a request that folks could spread out in the gallery which obviously we have already addressed.

And I'm going to go ahead and play this evidence, although I want to make sure that we are in fact playing what is being requested. And the reason I say that is because on this first bullet point, the original video short version, the original video, the full video was tendered into evidence as Exhibit 190. There is a half-speed version of the short version of the video, which is Exhibit 191.

And then there is what was described as the high contrast version of the video, which is Exhibit 192. I do want to make sure that I understand what's being requested. We can play the full video, a shortened version of the full video, if I get a clear understanding of what exactly the jury is looking for, or 191 is the half-speed version of the short video. Did that make sense?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe so. We do not want the half speed version.

WALMSLEY: OK. So it's the video itself from what point? From where the camera gets picked up? That's what I'm understanding.




WALMSLEY: So when the camera -- OK. So can state find that point on the video? And then the high -- the high contrast version, I understand, is the shortened version that is in high contrast, and then I want to make sure that you all understand the 911 call made by Greg McMichael on February 23rd, the entire call is about five minutes. The first part of it was played and then there is some dead air and some follow-up just to see if somebody is on the line.

If I could get you to just raise your hand at the point at which we no longer need to keep listening to that 911 call, we'll stop it at that point. Do you understand?


WALMSLEY: OK. So we understand where we are?

DUNIKOSKI: Yes, Judge.

WALMSLEY: All right. Let's go ahead. I understand you're requesting that each of the videos be played three times each.


WALMSLEY: OK. Let's start with the original video picking up from when the phone comes up. That would be 190, a shortened version of Exhibit 190. Yes. Yes. You can sit wherever you are most comfortable. On the record, we'll say we're playing it from two, please.

DUNIKOSKI: Yes, judge.


For the record, the state is publishing state's Exhibit 190 beginning at 1:08.


WALMSLEY: All right. That was three. All right. Just for the record, that was 190 starting at 1:08 played three times for the panel. I think we are at 192.

DUNIKOSKI: Now publishing state's Exhibit 192. (BEGIN VIDEO)

WALMSLEY: That was three. All right. Ladies and gentlemen, that was 192 three times as requested by the panel. And then we have 144. And again, Madam Foreperson, just raise your hand at the point in which we need to stop.



UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: 911. What's the address of your emergency?

G. MCMICHAEL: I'm at Satilla Shores. There's a black male running down the street --

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Satilla. Where at Satilla Shores?

G. MCMICHAEL: I don't know what street we're on.






UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Sir, where are you at?


WALMSLEY: OK. Thank you. All right. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would -- I'm sorry?

DUNIKOSKI: Did they want to hear that one three times?

WALMSLEY: No, that was just the request once.

DUNIKOSKI: OK. I'm sorry.

WALMSLEY: Yes. All right. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. If you would go and return to the jury room to continue with your deliberations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All rise for the jury.

HILL: The jury making their way back to the jury room now after hearing that 911 call placed by Greg McMichael and also rewatching some video there.

Page Pate and Laura Coates are still with us.

Laura, I found it interesting, I'm going to start here with the 911 call because the judge had asked, he said this call is about five minutes. There are some pauses. He said I need you to raise your hand, and the jury, raise your hand when you've heard the portion that you want to hear. The portion they wanted to hear was apparently right at the beginning where you hear Greg McMichael say, there's a black male running down the street. Then you hear him, it sounds like he's yelling, perhaps he's yelling stop, and then they ask for the call to end at that point, Laura, which is interesting to me that that's the portion they wanted to hear.

COATES: Well, that goes right back to what the prosecutor said in the closing arguments. Right? And the theme throughout the case. She's been criticized in some respect for not mentioning race enough during this trial. Keeping in mind there's a federal hate crimes trial that happened after this one even if there's an acquittal or a conviction. And so that moment in time is where the prosecution wanted to hone in, to suggest and say, look, this person was being pursued.

What was the crime he committed? They don't mention the idea of a citizen's arrest, they don't mention the potential of a crime having occurred, a burglary, a trespass, anything. What he says is there's a black man running down the street, that's the emergency. And so she's trying to fatally undermine this pretextual notion that they were trying to effectuate an arrest, that they had a legitimate basis to stop him. And instead, his only crime was that he was a black man jogging down the street.

SCIUTTO: OK. Let's acknowledge that we've just seen in high-resolution video the death of a person. We saw someone shot multiple times on the air. And I'm sure for folks at home, it was as shocking to them as it was for me to see it even if you've seen it before, and repeated.

I want to ask you, Page Pate, the significance of a jury asking for that particular piece of video. We're not going to re-air it. But what you see is Arbery, as the prosecution had described, running. The pickup truck with the McMichael father and son, they are blocking him. He seems to turn a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right, comes around the other side. Then you do see an altercation between the two of them.

Legally the significance -- well, first of all, the significance in your experience of the jury asking for that particular moment, but legally how the question enters into the conversation here of false imprisonment during the defense versus the defense's argument of self- defense.

PATE: Well, Jim, this is obviously the most critical piece of evidence in the trial. I mean, we knew that going into it. In fact, I don't think we would have the trial but for this piece of video evidence, the one that the jury was really focused on. So it's not surprising they want to see it. And again, we think of the jury as a whole right now, as one entity. But in reality these are 12 different people.

So it may be one or two who say, look, I'm not exactly certain how he grabbed for the gun. Did he really lunge at him? Was there that fear there? And then others may say well, let's just look at the video again. Then you can clearly see it's not. It's all how you perceive what happened. And remember, it's obvious to many of us that this is murder. But there were people who testified at this trial that they thought this video was clear evidence of self-defense.

So the perceptions can be very different. And then you go back to the judge's jury instruction, citizen's arrest, self-defense. And if they're walking through the legal issues, they want to apply the evidence to it and come up with their own conclusion. So there's some disagreement in there. Just don't know how many.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And listen, as you've noted and others, all you need is one. Right? All you need is one to have a different point of view to end up at a hung jury. But again, we don't know what's inside the jurors' heads.

Laura Coates, Page Pate, thanks so much to both of you.

We are watching for developments in the courtroom. Please stay with CNN for updates.