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CNN Tonight

The Man Who Killed Jordan Neely Is Identified; Trump Reacts Under Oath To Rape Accusation; Americans Will Pay The Price If U.S. Defaults On Its Debt; Alisyn Interviews Producer Shonda Rhimes; A Massive Dump Of Pasta In New Jersey Sets Off A Fury Of Interest. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 05, 2023 - 23:00   ET



CHRIS WALLACE, BROADCAST JOURNALIST: Thank you for watching. You can catch my full conversations with senators Cardin and Cassidy as well as with Miranda Lambert any time you want on HBO Max.

And please join us here CNN every Friday night to find out who's talking next.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. Prosecutors will be pouring over videos and interviewing witnesses this weekend, trying to decide whether to charge the 24-year-old former marine who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the subway. Tonight, we have the first statement from that 24-year-old.

Plus, Donald Trump has until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday to tell a judge whether he wants to take the stand in the E. Jean Carroll rape and defamation case. But the jury has already heard from him in a newly- released video deposition. He claimed Carroll was not his type, but then mistook her -- mistook her photo for his second wife, Marla Maples.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't even know who the woman -- let's see. I don't know who -- it's Marla.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You're saying Marla is in this photo?

TRUMP: That's Marla, yeah. That's my wife.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Which woman are you pointing to?

TRUMP: Here.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The person you just pointed to was E. Jean Carroll.

TRUMP: Oh, I see.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: And the great macaroni mystery. Who dumped hundreds of pounds of pasta in the woods in a New Jersey town? We're going to ask the mayor tonight.

Okay, but let's start with what we know about Justin Neely's death on a New York City subway. The 24-year-old man who put him in a chokehold has been identified by his lawyer as Daniel Penny, a college student and former marine. Jordan Neely's father is demanding answers and an arrest. And protesters want action.


UNKNOWN: Why is the killer free? Why is the killer free? Why is the killer free?


CAMEROTA: Okay, let's bring in my panel here with me tonight. We have Emmy winner W. Kamau Bell, criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, former Senate candidate Joe Pinion, and former congressman Max Rose. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here with me here on a Friday night. Great to have all of you.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: Emmy qualifies me to be here with all of you.

CAMEROTA: It does.


CAMEROTA: Oh, for sure. Okay, so, Joey, can you just explain? Let's just say that it is as his attorney says. And what he said was -- quote -- "Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death." In that case, do prosecutors charge?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Uh, you could still charge, right? So, think about the narratives that are going to be here. First of all, when you have an instance like this, you have prosecutors who are going to examine a few things.

Number one, was there immediate fear of death or serious physical injury to anyone who was in that subway car? Now, you have a right to exercise self-defense not only on yourself but for a third party.

Number two, after you get through immediate threat of harm, of fear or death, the issue is, was there any reasonability to his actions, right? Meaning, when he put him into chokehold, did you need to do it? Was that reasonable?

Number three, was that force proportionate or disproportionate to what, if any threat, was being posed at the time? And then you can get into all the questions of, well, did he know? Did he foresee? You have to foresee, right, the law says.

Now, just to make this point very clear, when you charge someone, it doesn't have to be murder intent. It could be various, right, sort of --

CAMEROTA: Manslaughter?

JACKSON: Yes. So, it looks like this: You can be careless in your activities. You can be reckless in your activities. There are certain grades that you do that. So, that is what prosecutors will look at.

Now, obviously, his defense is going to make all those arguments and say, listen, people were in reasonable fear out of maybe death or serious physical injury. His actions were reasonable under the circumstances. It wasn't only he was speaking. He was maybe engaging in furtive gestures towards someone. So, there are going to be these narratives.

At the end of the day, I think what happens, you can be in a grand jury, you give all the information to the grand jury, you get all the witnesses and statements and everything else. A grand jury consisting of 23 people makes determination as to whether or not there's proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

But whether there is reasonable cause to believe a simple majority of the 23, if there's reasonable cause to believe a crime has occurred, you bring it before a jury, you get indicted, and a trial jury will make an assessment as to guilt or innocence.

CAMEROTA: How do you see this case?

BELL: I mean, you know, this is why it's great to have an MMA fan on the panel.


Because what he's doing, the choke he's applying, and I'm citing other MMA expert, Luke Thomas from Morning Kombat, that's a choke that if you're trying to either get someone to submit or get them to pass out, it's less than 15 seconds. By the time you've done it for 15 seconds, they will be well passed out. The fact he held him for 15 minutes is the problem. That is not reasonable at that point. That is not reasonable for that particular activity.


I didn't go to law school but, to me, that looks like somewhere around murder. I don't know what the legal charges are, but it definitely seems like careless at the very least. Certainly, he did. After you hold that choke for more than 15 seconds, you're killing someone.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, obviously, you served in the Afghan war. You're a vet. This Daniel Perry was a marine vet. We understand his attorney that he has just hired, Thomas Kenniff, as you may know, he ran for D.A., he was a veteran. Does any of that tell you -- I mean, the fact that he has hired this Thomas Kenniff, does anything tell you about the future of the case?

MAX ROSE, FORMER NEW YORK REPRESENTATIVE: I think it's really upsetting that in the coverage of this case thus far, he is always referred to as a veteran each and every step of the way. We all know what that inference is.

CAMEROTA: What is that inference? What does it say to you?

ROSE: They're inferring that he has PTSD. they're inferring that he has some type of trauma. They're inferring that veterans are dangerous. They're inferring that there is some type of instability associated with that.

CAMEROTA: Hold on here, congressman.

BELL: I hear it differently.

CAMEROTA: I hear it differently, too, because I've been saying that and the reason that I've been saying he is a marine vet is we didn't know his name. We didn't know much about him. So, I was trying to identify him in some way.

ROSE: We could say college student. We could say bystander.

CAMEROTA: I didn't know he is a college student until this --

ROSE: The point that I'm trying to make here is that for particularly post-9/11 veterans in which I'm proudly one of them, for so long, we have been fighting this notion that somehow we are victims rather than assets, that our service meant that we actually gained something, that we could contribute to society rather than being something that someone thanks for their service and then they walk away fearing that we might have an outburst at any point that could be either violent or somehow unstable.

And I just find it deeply disappointing. Look, this is horrific, what occurred, and the judicial process will play out, but it -- we should not just pass it over that he is constantly referred to as a veteran --


ROSE: -- and the insinuations associated --

CAMEROTA: I appreciate that perspective. I truly hadn't thought of that. But that is a helpful perspective in terms of how we're going to describe this going forward. Joe, your thoughts of where we are tonight?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, it's for me -- and there's obviously -- I can appreciate Joey kind of walking us through the nuances, but it just feels so clinical on one side, and on the other side, just rage that overcomes what happened here.

I think that we have a victim who was failed many, many times by the state and by our system before he ever stepped foot on that subway car. And then you ask yourself about the impulse to act in a world where so many of us have walked down the street past homeless people wondering whether that person is just sleeping or dead. And now when you have someone saying, I'm not afraid to go to prison for the rest of my life, is that impulse to act a good thing? And then to your point, juxtaposed with the reality of the length in time for which he had him in that hold, at what point does it become unreasonable?


PINION: I watched, you know, what happened with Tamir Rice (ph). It seemed, on its face, unreasonable. We all watched what happened with George Floyd. It seemed unreasonable. In this case, I think we just need more information.

But I do think that, notwithstanding, it is reasonable to have a conversation about was the use of force at that particular point in time justified. But I think some of the rhetoric that has now kind of seeped in prevents us from, I think, having a critical conversation about the many, many, many failures in our government, in our systems, that led to this tragedy.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I think that's a great point, and we'll know more this weekend when we hear from investigators and prosecutors. But I do want to get to Kamau's documentary. This is on HBO. It is called "1,000% Me." Let's watch a little clip.


BELL (voice-over): When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

UNKNOWN: I like to think that mirrors don't show everything. Like mirrors show the outside of you, but they can't tell like the inside of you or how you identify like just by the look of you.

BELL (voice-over): And if I ask you what ingredients make miles, what are the ingredients that make you?

UNKNOWN: Um, ingredients are family, friends, happiness, thoughtfulness, lots of emotion.

UNKNOWN: Black, Asian, and love. And a lama and a corgi. That's it.


CAMEROTA: Can those kids be president?


BELL: I mean, I feel like the age is too high, so let's lower to like seven.

CAMEROTA: Let's lower for them. Whatever they are, let's do that.

BELL: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: So, tell us about this.

BELL: I mean, it's a documentary about mixed-race kids.


I have three mixed-race daughters in my house. The first one is my daughter. Don't say anything bad about that kid.

CAMEROTA: She's fantastic.

BELL: She's great. I'm a good parent.


So, it's about mixed-race kids. I think there's a lot of talk about the mixed experience but not a lot of talk to mixed-race kids. And so, I got my daughter -- my two daughters and some of their friends and some other kids to talk about what it's like to be mixed in this 21st century.

CAMEROTA: That's fantastic. So, we can watch it when?

BELL: Streaming now on HBO Max.

CAMEROTA: I can't wait.

BELL: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. Thank you all for the conversation. All right, next, what will the jury make of the newly-released video of Donald Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll rape and defamation trial?


CAMEROTA: Newly-released video shows former President Trump testifying under oath about E. Jean Carroll's claim that he raped her in the mid-90s.


The Trump legal team rested its case yesterday without calling any witnesses. CNN's Paula Reid has the story.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the defense has rested in this case, but the judge is giving Trump until the end of the weekend to decide if he wants to testify in person. If he doesn't, though, this newly-released video would be the only time the jury in this case heard directly from the former president.


TRUMP: She's accusing me of rape. A woman that I have no idea who she is.

REID (voice-over): Brand-new video released showing former President Donald Trump being grilled for nearly an hour in the civil battery and defamation case that writer E. Jean Carroll brought against him.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): What you're saying there is Ms. Carroll fabricated her claim that you sexually assaulted her, correct?

TRUMP: Yes. Totally. Hundred percent.

REID (voice-over): The tape coming out in evidence during a weeks- long trial all centered around Carroll's allegation that Trump forced himself on her in a New York department store in the 1990s, a claim Trump has denied both in public and during his deposition under oath in October of last year.

TRUMP: She said that I did something to her that never took place. I will tell you, I made that statement and I said, well, it's politically incorrect, she's not my type. And that's 100% true, she's not my type.

REID (voice-over): Trump at times getting combative with Carroll's lawyers questioning him.

TRUMP: The worst thing you can do, the worst charge -- and you know it's -- you know it's not true, too. You're a political operative also. You're a disgrace.

REID (voice-over): At one point, Trump confusing Carroll for his ex- wife in a 1980s photo with him in it.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did you say Marla is in this photo?

TRUMP: That's Marla, yeah. That's my wife.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Which woman are you pointing to?

TRUMP: Here.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The person you just pointed to was E. Jean Carroll.

TRUMP: Oh, I see.

REID (voice-over): This was the only time the jury in the trial heard from Trump as there's now no plan for him to testify and closing arguments are expected early next week.

Carroll took the stand early in the trial telling the jury, I'm here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He lied and shattered my reputation and I'm here to try to get my life back.

Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, known for his brash and sometimes confrontational-style defending clients, pressed Carroll on her allegations. Using your own words, the facts you have alleged in the story you have alleged here are odd, Tacopina said. Carroll responded, certain parts of this story are difficult to conceive of, yes.

Tacopina pressed Carroll on why she wasn't making a scene during the alleged assault. I'm not a screamer. I was too much in panic to scream. You can't beat up on me for not screaming. Tacopina shot back, I'm not beating you up. I'm asking you questions, Ms. Carroll. Through tears, Carroll asserted, I'm telling you he raped me whether I screamed or not. I don't need an excuse for not screaming.


REID: And a lawyer on one of Trump's criminal cases tells me he would really prefer if Trump not get on the stand. In this case, he is concerned about how Trump could potentially open himself up to further legal jeopardy. The jury is expected to start deliberations after closing arguments early next week. Alisyn?


CAMEROTA: Okay. Paula, thank you very much. Let's bring in CNN legal analysts Jennifer Rodgers and Joey Jackson. Do either of you think that Donald Trump shows up to take the stand next week?


JACKSON: Not at all.

CAMEROTA: No chance?


CAMEROTA: Um, how -- give me your assessment of that deposition and what that would mean to a jury.

JACKSON: I don't know that a jury would evaluate that favorably for a number of reasons. First of all, toggling back to why he doesn't come testify, when he comes and testifies, it becomes all about him. And I think also his attorneys don't want to credit the testimony too much and him showing up may seem to suggest that they're in bit of trouble, so he doesn't come.

In terms of the deposition testimony, I just think, you know, you can't be obnoxious in a deposition. And when you --

CAMEROTA: Why? What happens if you're obnoxious?

JACKSON: Well, when you don't recognize your own wife, you know, that's a problem, or someone who's not your wife and then you indicate someone is not your type, but yet it was someone you're married to, that's problematic. When you say that the attorney who is asking you questions and you're not my type either, that becomes also a problem. And when you explain away an "Access Hollywood" tape in which you're saying some pretty inflammatory things, that's problematic as well.

That is what I mean by obnoxiousness. So, I just know how that lands with a jury. I couldn't imagine that it would land very well.

CAMEROTA: Jennifer, how about that moment where he mistakes E. Jean Carroll for Marla Maples after saying that -- his defense, basically, what he has said repeatedly for why he wouldn't rape her, I guess, is that she's not his type. And then he mistakes her for his ex-wife. So, I think that it's safe to assume she might have been his type.


RODGERS: Yeah. Well, this is problematic on multiple levels, right? Because, first of all, rape is not about sexual attraction, right? It's about power and control and domination. So, you can't really defend a rape allegation saying, I don't like the way you look, I wouldn't have raped you. Right? So, point number one.

But point number two, yeah, you're not my type, so I wouldn't have raped you, but I can't tell the difference between you and my wife. It is just -- I mean, it obviously puts the light to that.

So, on so many levels, problematic and undercuts what he is trying to say as his defense. His defense is, I didn't do it. Here is how you know. Well, we don't know that for reason, right, because it has been undercut by this ridiculousness with the photo.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Let's talk about another legal case that Paula Reid, our great correspondent, is also reporting on. And that is about Hunter Biden. And Hunter Biden's legal team is apparently going on the offensive. And he has hired Abbe Lowell, which apparently, according to Paula, there's some consternation in the White House about taking an aggressive tact, which maybe Abbe Lowell would do. On MSNBC, President Biden was asked about this tonight.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS HOST AND SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST: Sir, there is something personal that's affecting you. Your son, while there's no ties to you, could be charged by your Department of Justice. How will that impact your presidency?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him. It impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.


CAMEROTA: Okay, your thoughts?

JACKSON: Look, it's a father defending his son. And not only in defense of his son but, you know, ultimately, he's trying to say that this is -- there's nothing to see here.

But on the issue of bringing in Abbe Lowell, I mean, this is a person who's a real deal. Defended John Edwards successfully, right, the senator of North Carolina who was accused of corruption. Defended Bob Menendez as well. Defended Ivanka Trump, Jared Trump.

You know, the bottom line is that -- Kushner, excuse me. The bottom line is that I just think that going on the offensive sometimes could be effective. Everyone has a different style. No one has a monopoly on wisdom. But I think the fact that he is spinning this in the way Abbe Lowell on behalf of this client to say that, listen, this is political and I want to go after you, meaning all of his detractors, I think, could be very effective.


RODGERS: I think that there are political implications here that really aren't in my wheelhouse. Legally speaking and ethically speaking, the Biden administration is doing the right thing with this. They've separated themselves away from the criminal investigation. He's not involved at all in any of that. So, they're doing the right things that they need to do as far as the legal and ethical stuff.

Politically, you know, that's a whole other kettle of fish. But he is doing what he needs to do. As a father, as Joey said, you know, he is defending his son. He is saying I love him no matter what and that's the right thing to do in that category, too.

CAMEROTA: Okay, friends, thank you very much for your expertise.

JACKSON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay, we have an update tonight on Richard Glossip. That is the inmate who has been on death row in Oklahoma for so long he has been given three last meals.

Today, as Glossip was meeting whit his wife for what they thought would be the final time, he got the news that the Supreme Court has granted him a stay of execution after the state attorney general said he could no longer support Glossip's murder conviction.

Glossip told CNN's Brynn Gingras that he will continue the fight.


RICHARD GLOSSIP, PRISONER: The fight is still not over. I'm going to continue to fight. I'm going to continue to get my message out to people. I want people to continue to stand up because until they rule and they get it right, the fight is never done.


CAMEROTA: And Richard Glossip's attorney says they hope that the court will vacate his conviction once and for all.

Okay, so what happens if talks to raise the debt ceiling fail and the U.S. defaults on its debt as soon as next month? The ripple effects are potentially catastrophic for all of us. We'll explain, next.




CAMEROTA: The clock is ticking until the U.S. runs out of money. If Congress does not act, the country could default on its debt as soon as June 1ist. President Biden spoke about the potential crisis today.


BIDEN: We're not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills. And some of you cover a lot of foreign policy for other countries. You know this is becoming an issue in other countries. What's the United States going to do? Are they really fooling around with not paying their debts? The last thing this country needs, after all we've been through, is a manufactured crisis. And that's what this is, a manufactured crisis.


CAMEROTA: Our panel is back and joining us is CNN economics and political commentator Catherine Rampell. Catherine, we've all heard about the dire warnings, if there is some sort of default on the debt. But you spell it out --


CAMEROTA: -- about what exactly it could look like in this "Washington Post" piece. So, I'll just take people through it. These are basically the headline. Treasuries get downgraded, interest rates rise, the dollar could lose value, the stock market plummets -- that should get people's attention -- companies holding treasury suffer, there is a scramble to close out trades, infrastructure underpinning the financial system could become overwhelmed. Which one do we need to focus on the most right now?

RAMPELL: I mean, they're all a little bit scary. The term financial Armageddon was invoked with the last of those steps.


The idea that the clearinghouses where a lot of these trades take place could go under because you'll have some -- what people in finance would call a global margin call like basically all of the collateral underpinning, almost every transaction out there gets downgraded, and suddenly, brokers and clearinghouses are saying, you've got to close out all your trades, and then the system gets overwhelmed and goes down.

So, that would be terrifying in which case I would suggest everybody invests in bottled water, bullets and beans. And I really hope it doesn't happen.


CAMEROTA: Kamau is ready.

RAMPELL: There you go.

BELL: I've got half a bottle of water. I'm ready.

RAMPELL: You know, I really hope it doesn't happen. And a lot depends on what markets actually think is going on if we default only briefly but everybody thinks that a deal is imminent, maybe it's not so dire, but there -- we just don't know. We haven't been in this situation before. CAMEROTA: Congressman, can you explain why Congress plays chicken

like this? Why? What's the point of this game?

ROSE: When the Democrats were in this situation, they could have played chicken. They often did not. So, really --

CAMEROTA: During the Trump presidency.

ROSE: Exactly. So really what we're seeing right now is -- the original sin of all of this is Kevin McCarthy had to make a deal with 15, potentially more, extraordinarily extremist Republicans who are representatives of an extraordinary extremist base.

And one of the criteria, one of the pillars of that deal that they made, is he has got to engage in this suicidal mission, this politically idiotic effort to make the debt ceiling a political issue when during the campaign, 2022 campaign, they never once mentioned this issue. It was cost of living, it was inflation, it was Afghanistan, all politically-salient issues. They never once mentioned this. So, now, they're doing this ridiculous action, and they are going to fail.

CAMEROTA: Joe, I see your Cheshire grin.


PINION: It's bad for my blood pressure. I don't know what to tell you. Look, I --


Look, I think we have to remember what exactly the debt ceiling is. Right? It is money that we've already spent.

CAMEROTA: We've already spent, yes.

PINION: It is the credit card statement saying this is what you owe and here's the date these need to be paid.

CAMEROTA: So, why the game of chicken?

PINION: I don't -- I think -- respectfully, I think that's a misallocation of how we actually just talk about it. I think that if you look at what is happening right now, Democrats said that Republicans are going to basically dismantle Medicare. That is not what is happening. They said that Republicans are going to basically go and (INAUDIBLE) to social security. That is not what is happening.

I think if you're looking at what Americans are facing, record inflation that we know is harming people on main street, if you're dealing with economic uncertainty on main street, I don't think it's unreasonable after we printed $6 trillion to deal with a once in a generational pandemic, after we had $1.7 trillion --

CAMEROTA: Right. PINION: -- Omnibus spending package, to say, hey, the statement is here, like all families, perhaps we should consider having a conversation about tightening the belt.

I don't think that we're going to default. I think if you talk to the 217 Republicans that the president has labeled as extremists for trying to cancel everything from meal on wheels to the price is right on Twitter, that, yes, those people recognize we can't default on the debt, but at the end of the day, we should be having a conversation about responsible spending, and I don't think that's extremism. I think it's extreme to say that anyone --

RAMPELL: So, I agree with you. We have long-term fiscal problems. I think I maybe agree with you that they are largely driven by the structure of our entitlement programs and our demographic trends. I do not agree that there is any universe in which threatening to default on our debt solves any of those problems. If anything, it will make them worse.

We saw in 2011 when we came close to defaulting on our debt, that raised the borrowing cost for the U.S. government by a billion dollars that year alone.

BELL: And who made us almost default (INAUDIBLE)?

RAMPELL: It was the Republicans.

BELL: Oh, that's right.

PINION: Look --

CAMEROTA: Hold on, Joe. Let me get Kamau in. Your thoughts as you listen to all of this?

BELL: I mean, we used -- when I was a kid, we made fun of other countries for doing what we do now. I mean, these are the kind of things that we wouldn't have made: Not paying their debts, not believing in science, not teaching the accurate history. We're doing all that stuff now.

And I would encourage people to Google Venezuela, a country that used to be on top of the world and doing very well, and then started playing games, started to restrict things. Suddenly, people are --

PINION: What type of games do they play in Venezuela? I think -- again, I don't think that any Republican is intent on defaulting. I think that if you talk to most people that are in the robust majority in the House, they're not planning on it.

RAMPELL: And so, I think it's true --

CAMEROTA: Last word.

RAMPELL: Well, I think McCarthy doesn't want to default. I think most of the Republicans don't want to default. I don't know that all of them believe that or that all of them realized what kind of crisis it would be if in fact we did.

PINION: The reality is we don't need all of them. We need the majority of members in Congress in order to --

CAMEROTA: Okay, so, go ahead, Max.

ROSE: My friend to the right of me both literally and figuratively is missing something absolutely critical here, which is that when these members say, we're not going to default, we're not going to default, but then they engage in this incredibly irresponsible action.


Let's judge them by what they're doing, not by what they're saying.


ROSE: And this is incredibly dangerous and merely representative of the fact that they're playing base politics. You know it.

CAMEROTA: Guys, I'm sorry, we're out of time. We have so much still coming up. Shonda Rhimes is here. But I will let you, guys, take this up -- yeah, yeah, stick around for this, please. Up next, I'm going to speak with Shonda Rhimes, the creative powerhouse behind some of the biggest T.V. and streaming hits in the 2010s and beyond.

And ahead of that, the great pasta caper. Someone dumped hundreds of pounds of noodles in one New Jersey town. It's a macaroni mystery.




CAMEROTA: The 2010s in the United States were perhaps the most consequential decade since the 1960s, marked by political and social unrest, the rise in social media, and capped off by the year that changed everything 2020.

Now, CNN's acclaimed decade series is back with the 2010s and a definitive look at that transformative decade. Up first, we examine the rise of peak T.V. and its impact on pop culture in America. Here's a preview.


UNKNOWN: The 2010s have ushered in a new era called peek T.V.

UNKNOWN: The like button was a mark of genius.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It can be frustrating this business of democracy.


TRUMP: -- president of the United States.

UNKNOWN: It was a moment that said we have to tell our stories.

UNKNOWN: I may be the voice of my generation or at least a voice.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is the creative mastermind of some of the biggest T.V. and streaming hits of the 2010s and beyond, including "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal," "Bridgerton," and the upcoming "Queen Charlotte." It is Shonda Rhimes. Shonda, it is great to see you.

SHONDA RHIMES, FOUNDER, SHONDALAND: Hello. I'm glad to be here.

CAMEROTA: So, Shonda, your body of work is obviously so successful. Can you just take us back to the beginning as you were starting to conceive of these various shows and what was your inspiration, what was your mission at the time?

RHIMES: You know, at the time, I really was wanting to make shows that I wanted to watch. I felt like I wanted to see shows that represented me, represented the women I knew, that showed women in various stages of being competitive or angry or dark or joyful. You wanted to see everything.

CAMEROTA: And so, if we look at three of your biggest hits of the 2010s, "Grey's Anatomy," which of course is still running now in its 19th season --

RHIMES: Uh-hmm.

CAMEROTA: -- I mean, incredible. And then, of course, "Scandal," which introduced viewers to the first Black leading lady in a drama in decades. And then "How to Get Away with Murder," which EGOT winner Viola Davis says put her on the map. So, each of these shows, of course, is groundbreaking in its own way. Is there a through line that you would say contributed to their success?

RHIMES: I think part of the through line really was portraying these women as they actually are, portraying women as they actually are, not idealized. I was telling somebody that before "Grey's Anatomy" came out, I didn't really see women who were competitive in their jobs and necessarily didn't like each other or fought for things that they cared about. On television, they were always somebody's lovely wife or mother or a perfect representation of a woman versus being a real woman.

CAMEROTA: And how big would you say a role does sex appeal play? Is that actually one of your sorts of secret sauces?

RHIMES: You know, I never thought of it as, you know, I can pick up somebody with sex appeal, but it seems to be a strange gift I have in casting, to sort of find the guy that people want to watch. It also helps that these guys are amazing actors.

CAMEROTA: For sure. And your women have a lot of sex appeal as well.

RHIMES: I guess they do. Yeah, that's true. But that's not it. I've been enjoying it so far.

CAMEROTA: Us, too. So, "The 2010s" saw the advent, of course, of streaming entertainment. And you embraced streaming with the Netflix hits "Bridgerton" and "Inventing Anna." So, did this new platform changed the way that you approach storytelling? And in general, how do you think it has changed the kind of stories or the kinds of characters that we see?

RHIMES: I don't think that it has changed the way I approach storytelling. There is some difference in how things are produced. You're making many less episodes than you were on network television. But I also think that it hasn't changed necessarily the stories I'm telling.

Perhaps the way I'm telling stories can be more adventurous and the depth we're going into with the characters can be a little bit more adventurous. There's a certain kind of show I was making for ABC. You know, Shondaland show. Now, it's a very different kind of Shondaland show because we have no boundaries.

CAMEROTA: That's great. I mean, no boundary sounds very delicious. So, there's, of course, lots of buzz about the premier of "Queen Charlotte" on Netflix this week. This is prequel, we should say, to "Bridgerton" and loosely based on an actual historical figure, Queen Charlotte. So, what made you want to tell her story?

RHIMES: You know, you watch Golda, who stars as Queen Charlotte in "Bridgerton." She is fascinating, the levels that she has given that character, the amount of depth. And I became really interested in how did this woman get this way, how did she become this person. You know, there's a real historical figure but there is also her as Golda made her. So, I wanted to see how that would play out.

CAMEROTA: And I read that it's your most personal project. How so?


RHIMES: I think one of the things I said was if I retired tomorrow, I would be content, because I really loved making this project. The actors, India and Corey, are working with everybody. They were such fantastic people. And the story we got to tell which went from the past to the present and back again is -- it was really a challenge for me to tell and to figure out how to tell it correctly.

CAMEROTA: Have you followed the drama of the real royal family?

RHIMES: You know what? I try not to because I always think these are actual people and we've turned them into sort of commodities to watch, and I sort of stay out that part.

CAMEROTA: So, as you know, the country's in the midst of some heated culture wars. Do you think that the entertainment industry has a role to play one way or another in those?

RHIMES: I mean, I think definitely the entertainment industry shifts culture all the time. People are definitely affected by what they watch. I think that's a good thing, and I think it's necessary.

CAMEROTA: On my program here on CNN on primetime, we do a lot of stories lately about artificial intelligence. Do you have anxiety about how A.I. will change your business?

RHIMES: I find it very creepy. I mean, I do. I look at that and I think this technology is -- I don't think necessarily it's going to damage my career. But the idea that you could make actors say things that they wouldn't normally say or make a film without actual humans is very disturbing to me.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, you're not alone.

RHIMES: They don't view necessarily fair in all that talent, yeah.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Okay, so, give us a preview of what we can expect to see out of Shondaland next?

RHIMES: Oh, wow. Well, first, we have "Queen Charlotte" coming up. So, hopefully, you're watching that and enjoying it. But after that, you know, we are making a wonderful project called "The Residence," which is set in the White House. It's sort of a mystery in the White House. I'm excited about that. That has been really fun to work on.

CAMEROTA: That is very cool. What do we need to know about "Queen Charlotte?"

RHIMES: "Queen Charlotte" is fun and sexy, but it is really just the examination of a complicated love story. It's not a fairy tale ending, but it is something that starts as a fairy tale and then grows into something more specific. It is a story of women in our friendships. I mean, we are watching a young woman come into her power.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome, Shonda. We can't wait to see it. It sounds fantastic. Thanks so much for your time. It's really great to talk to you.

RHIMES: Happy to be here. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Be sure to tune in, the all-new CNN Original Series, the "The 2010s," premieres Sunday with a special two-hour episode at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN. And we'll be right back.





UNKNOWN: Come over here (INAUDIBLE). You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start with a little bit of oil. You fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste. You fry to make sure it doesn't stick. You got it to a boil. You shove in your sausage and your meatballs. A little bit of wine.


CAMEROTA: Cooking for 20 guys (INAUDIBLE)? That is nothing. How about enough pasta for 300? Take a look. Somebody dumped several hundred pounds of pasta, oodles of uncooked noodles alongside the creek in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Roughly 15 wheelbarrows of spaghetti, ziti, and elbow macaroni. For more on this macaroni mystery, let's bring in Owen Henry, the mayor of Old Bridge.

Mayor, this is a crazy story. What did you think when 300 pounds of pasta showed up in your town?

MAYOR OWEN HENRY, OLD BRIDGE, NEW JERSEY: I wasn't surprised. As a mayor, you have to be ready for everything. So, it didn't come as a shock. It came as a little bit, okay, let's take care of it, as we always do.

CAMEROTA: Three hundred pounds of pasta did not -- along a river -- a creek bed did not shock you?


HENRY: It did not fall out of the sky, we hope not. Within hours, it was cleaned up. I can't believe it has taken on a life of its own like this. I guess I'm the luckiest mayor in the world. I'm on CNN and I'm not talking about a tragedy. We are talking about something that is pretty humorous, I think. A lot of people have made jokes about it. I can go on and on about the suspect.


CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. I want to talk about the pasta puns because when these pictures were posted on social media, people cooked up a ton of puns. And so, I will read some to you. Here's one from Dennis Hogan, who writes, some people will commit illegal dumping fusilli reasons. That is a good one. Obviously, it is a mystery but we can only know so much about what happened. These are awesome Italian puns.

Here's one. The police won't stop until the perpetrator is al dente- fied. And then here is one. We should send the perpetrators to the state penne-tentiary. So, what was your favorite joke about all of this?

HENRY: It goes on and on and on. Lin Guini is the culprit. We have so many of them. It is going on and on and on.


CAMEROTA: That is fantastic. But mayor, how did you get rid of all of these? HENRY: The Department of Public Works scooped it up with a machine and put it in a dump truck and disposed of it properly. There is no big deal.

CAMEROTA: No big deal. Mayor --

HENRY: I just wanted to get it away from that waterway because the forecast -- this was a week ago, last Friday. The forecast was very heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday. So, I thought, in the best interest of everyone, that this pasta did not get washed into the waterway and potentially clog up one of the basins of the pipe, was to get it out of there.


And we did. We took it out. Somebody made a mistake, obviously. Dumped this. This could be put out in the trash. It is food. I'm hoping that it was expired and not good pasta. That could have been, you know, accepted in one of our food banks or one of our local pantries. You know, nobody likes to see food wasted like this. But this was just not disposed of in the right way. That is something that you put out in your trash. We are under the impression that it posts no environmental issues.


HENRY: It was made of flour, water, and egg.


HENRY: There's no toxic materials that may come out of the pasta. I just can't believe it has taken on a life of its own.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. But mayor, who did this? Solve the mystery for us, the great macaroni mystery. Who did this? Why did they do this?

HENRY: We are looking into it. I'm pretty confident we are going to find out who did it and why they did it, and make sure they don't do it again. I'm comfortable we will find out who it is.

CAMEROTA: Okay, because there are reports -- there are media reports that it was somebody whose maybe elderly mom had passed away and she had perhaps stockpiled a lot of dry pasta and that he or she just wanted to quickly get rid of it. Is there truth to that?

HENRY: We are looking into it. I mean, obviously, I can't get into details that I don't know. I mean, a lot of this stuff on social media. I know you can't believe a lot of everything, what you hear and what you see, but we are looking into it. I'm confident we will find out.

CAMEROTA: Well, like you, I think that the biggest tragedy here is waste of pasta. So, I hope that you get to the bottom of it. Thank you so much for coming on today.

HENRY: (INAUDIBLE) pasta. CAMEROTA: Yeah. I hope you get to the bottom of the pasta bowl. Mayor Owen Henry, thanks so much. We will talk again, I hope --

HENRY: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: -- when you cracked the mystery.

HENRY: Thank you. Really appreciate. Thank you, everybody.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

HENRY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And thanks so much for watching. Our coverage continues now.