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NJ Governor Wins Nail-Biter for Reelection; Biden on Election Losses: Voters Want Us to 'Get Things Done'; 'Rust' Crew Member: Sabotage Suggestion is 'Dangerous'; Iowa Grants Unemployment to Fired Unvaccinated Workers; 11 White, 1 Black Juror Selected in Trial of Arbery Killing. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 04, 2021 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, November 4. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.


Overnight, CNN projecting that Governor Phil Murphy has won re- election in New Jersey. He is the first Democratic governor in the state to get re-elected in more than 40 years. This was a huge relief for Democrats. Huge. But the race was much, much closer than anticipated, highlighting the new enormous challenges facing Democrats.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Tonight, I renew my promise to you, whether you voted for me or not, to work every single day of the next four years to keep moving us forward. And so importantly, forward with a deeper sense of fairness and a commitment to equity, forward by rejecting the divisiveness and chaos that permeate too much of our politics.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the win staves off another major Democratic defeat, following the one that we saw in Virginia. The results in both states, though, are a wakeup call for Democrats and a sign of the shaky political footing for a party that is desperate to keep control of Congress in the midterms.

This is coming as Congress struggles to pass Biden's domestic agenda, which remains in limbo. The Democratic divide and the election losses have heightened the blame game within the party, and the president says voters are taking notice, and the time for action is now.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people want us to get things done. I think we should have -- it should have passed before election day, but I'm not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in the red districts who were Trump voters. But maybe, maybe.


KEILAR: First, let's break down what we saw in New Jersey in the governor's race. Berman, show us at the Magic Wall what's happened here.

BERMAN: I will show you all the magic. First, let me just explain where things stand right now. Phil Murphy ahead by 35,000 votes, 88 percent reporting. CNN is projecting that Phil Murphy has been reelected.

Let me tell you a little bit about why that is, because in the counties that still have substantial vote left to count, Phil Murphy is winning by a lot. I'm talking about Hudson County, where Jersey City is. You can see, Phil Murphy's got 73 percent of the vote there. Eighty-one percent in. So Phil Murphy should be able to stretch his lead out there.

And then in Essex County, where Newark is, again, Phil Murphy at 73 percent. Just 84 percent counted at this point. So Murphy should be able to stretch out as the counting continues.

A bigger question for Democrats at this point is, yes, winning is good, but it was nerve-racking, much more nerve-racking than they were hoping. This is the figure I want to show you right now.

I pointed out, Phil Murphy ahead by 35,000 votes at this point. Well, what did Joe Biden do in 2020, just one year ago? He won by 700,000 votes. There's a big difference between 725,000 and 35,000, Brianna.

I want to show you also, if I can, the counties that Joe Biden won and the difference with Phil Murphy. Sorry, I've got to switch back to the governor's race here.

So here are the counties that Biden won that Murphy did not.

KEILAR: I don't hear it.

BERMAN: You're seeing here Morris County there. Jack Ciattarelli won it. Biden actually won it by 4 points. So Ciattarelli won it by 14. Biden won it by 4. That's a 14-point [SIC] swing.

Go down here to some of these more working-class, blue-collar counties. Atlanta County, Ciattarelli won it by 12 points. Biden won it by 6. That's an 18-point swing, again.

And then another county I want to point out here is -- is Bergen County, if I can. Bergen County right here is a county that Phil Murphy was able to win, but he's leading it just by five points. Joe Biden won it by 16. Sixteen points, Biden won. There is a huge difference there, about a 12-point swing county to county, or greater, if you look at this.

So the difference between Phil Murphy and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia might have been that Phil Murphy just had more pad to work with, since Biden, the Democrats there won by 16, as opposed to 10, which was the case in Virginia. So that may be the difference between Phil Murphy and Terry McAuliffe, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. No, it's all in the margins. And it's easy to say, Oh, you know, if you're a Democrat, you say, Oh, Murphy won. Well, not so fast. There is a big lesson to be learned here for Democrats. They need to figure this out.

Berman, thank you so much.

So Democrats are reeling after a disappointing election night. President Biden touching down in Washington to a resounding question, which is who's to blame?

Arlette Saenz is live for us at the White House. Arlette, I wonder how the White House, how the president are responding to this very loud message from voters?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, President Biden, speaking to reporters yesterday, refrained from accepting some responsibility for Democrats' loss in Virginia on Tuesday night and instead diagnosed the American electorate as being upset and uncertain about a host of issues, from the pandemic to the economy.

But certainly, right now the president and Democrats are facing an incredibly different political landscape. And the finger pointing has been swift, with some in the party blaming President Biden and others Congress for not passing the president's agenda.

But take a listen to how President Biden assessed the mood of the electorate and what he believes the remedy is.



BIDEN: People are upset and uncertain about a lot of things, from COVID to school, to jobs, to a whole range of things, and the cost of a gallon of gasoline. And so if I'm able to pass, sign into law my Build Back Better initiative, I'm in a position where you're going to see a lot of those things ameliorated quickly and swiftly.


SAENZ: Now, when you talk to White House officials and top Democrats close to Biden, they all argue that this -- these elections are proof that Congress needs to act on those major legislative items, that infrastructure package, as well as the larger social safety net package.

But already, some members in swing districts like Representative Abigail Spanberger, who is from Virginia, they are warning about the impacts of this election on 2022, when Democrats are facing an uphill climb to defend their majorities -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Arlette, thank you so much. Let's talk to someone now who just interviewed Abigail Spanberger recently, CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin. He is also the national political correspondent for the "New York Times."

We'll talk about this great piece that you have out today in just a moment.


KEILAR: First, though, what is the lesson here for Biden about the path forward on his agenda?

MARTIN: Well, that there's now greater urgency to get his agenda passed. I think there's a frustration among Democrats. Over the last few months, they were talking about the process, talking about the intricacies of the sausage making rather than the actual final product. And that's not a great message to convey to voters.

And I think the other thing, Brianna, is just the voters are in a sour mood. They're tired of COVID after 18 months on every level. They want to move past it. And, you know, there's real frustrations about the price of goods and the scarcity of goods. Everybody is living this every day. Stuff is more expensive; it's harder to find. And that's frustrating them.

KEILAR: Yes. They have little reminders all day long, and it's hitting them right in the wallet.

MARTIN: And they blame who's in charge. Right.

KEILAR: Yes. Just natural, right? So you did talk with some moderate Democrats --


KEILAR: -- including Abigail Spanberger, who is the congresswoman for Virginia's 7th Congressional District. This is a tight race that she's going to be in.

MARTIN: Oh, yes.

KEILAR: Understatement here in the coming midterms. She said it was very fascinating. Nobody elected him, Biden, to be FDR. They elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.

MARTIN: Right. And that sort of encapsulates the view of a lot of Democrats and certainly the independents and Republicans who voted for Joe Biden, which is just he was elected, in their eyes, on an "I'm not Trump" platform. Get Trump off my TV. That was the overwhelming motivation among that crowd for electing Joe Biden.

And I think it's sort of frustrating for those people to sort of see him do anything but focus on trying to restore the country to some degree of post-Trump normalcy.

Now, progressives, though, in the party believe, no, he had a sweeping agenda that he ran on, and we're trying to help him pass that. And by the way, going back to normal wasn't working for a lot of people in this country already. We've got to improve the country, not just go back to what it was pre-COVID.

KEILAR: You know, Spanberger was saying not only should you not overthink that you have a mandate, but if you're looking at those things we were just discussing, the pocketbook issues --


KEILAR: -- don't gloss over them.

MARTIN: Right.

KEILAR: She thinks her party is glossing over them.

MARTIN: Yes. It was fascinating talking to her. She said, you know, we take the pandemic so seriously as Democrats. Vaccinations, masks, every possible precaution.

But yet some of these issues connected to the pandemic, like the cost of goods, like the scarcity of goods, like trying to find more labor, which has obviously been difficult post-COVID in the work place, they don't have a sense of urgency on those issues, as well. And those are the issues that most Americans are most frustrated by.

KEILAR: House Democrats put paid family leave back in the Build Back Better Act.


KEILAR: Will that survive?

MARTIN: I think there's still a ways to go before we know what's going to come out of this final bill. But this is part of their problem, is that it's just -- it's not clear what they're actually going to pass, what's going to be in the final bill. And instead, what we cover is sort of the negotiations of what's in and out.

I think until they have a final bill and can actually trumpet that bill, they're not going to reap any kind of benefit at all from it.

KEILAR: It's going to be a second until we find out what that is, so --

MARTIN: The wheels turn slowly here in the nation's capital.

KEILAR: They sure do, and it's not pretty.

Jonathan, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: A jury finally seated in the trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and all the jurors, except for one, are white. BERMAN An eyebrow-raising claim from the attorney of the armorer about

what took place on the set of "Rust." What he said about the gun that killed the cinematographer.

Plus, unvaccinated, apparently, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID. He told the world in August he had been immunized. So what's going on here?



BERMAN: This morning, attorneys for the armorer who oversaw weapons on the "Rust" movie set floating a theory about how a fatal live round ended up in Alec Baldwin's gun. That theory: sabotage. But the film's camera chief, speaking to CNN, dismissed that as dangerous and irresponsible.

CNN's Laura Jarrett, anchor of "EARLY START," joins us now. These are some pretty serious allegations, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes, John, if you're going to go on national TV and make such an explosive claim about sabotage, you'd better have some evidence to back it up.

So this all starts yesterday when lawyers for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film's armorer, as you mentioned, who was in charge of the weapons, claimed that Gutierrez Reed grabbed a box of what she thought were dummy rounds and loads them into the gun that was used by Alec Baldwin last month.


Her lawyer implied that those dummy rounds may have actually been swapped out by someone perhaps disgruntled on set. But a former crew member, Lane Luper, who quit that project before the shooting, tells CNN he doesn't buy that.


LANE LUPER, FORMER A-CAMERA FIRST ASSISTANT, "RUST": If they have any evidence of that, they should be, you know, talking to the sheriff and not morning television shows. It's dangerous, and it's an irresponsible theory to put out on TV.


JARRETT: Also, more credibility for these same lawyers for the armorer, initially claiming on Wednesday that they claimed that the gun that Baldwin used had been left unattended for hours. A pretty big deal.

They later corrected that eyebrow-raising claim, saying that the gun had actually only been unattended for about five to 10 minutes.

Meantime, CNN has also learned that just one day prior to the shooting, yet another crew member resigned from the film in protest, saying, quote, "I also feel anxious on set. I've seen firsthand our A.D." -- meaning the assistant director -- "rush to get shots, and he skips over important protocols. Sometimes the A.D. rushes so quickly that props hasn't even had the chance to bring earplugs, and he rolls, and the actors fire anyway."

CNN has reached out to the "Rust" representatives about that claim, but all these allegations about the lack of safety on set piling up. And yet, still no good answer as to how a gun that was not supposed to contain a live round ended up in that weapon that tragically killed Halyna Hutchins, John.

BERMAN: All right. Still these questions. Laura Jarrett, thank you so much for staying on it for us.


BERMAN: So 11 white jurors, one black juror. What Ahmaud Arbery's mother is saying about the jury pool deciding the fate of her son's killers.

KEILAR: And bad decisions, corruption, crimes and a whole lot of money. A new book takes us inside power struggles of one of the most influential organizations in the country, the NRA.



BERMAN: Iowa's Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, is trying to find a way around President Biden's vaccine mandate, and it's leaving business owners in a bind. Chief business correspondent and the pride of the Hawk Eye State, Christine Romans, joins us now.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: The Cyclone, I am. But it is the Hawk Eye State, you're right.

Look, John, jobless benefits in the middle of a pandemic in Iowa, no. Jobless benefits for anti-vaxers, yes.

Governor Kim Reynolds signing into law a guarantee that anti-vaxers get government checks if they use their job because they won't take the shot. Governor Reynolds cited freedoms. She says this: "No Iowan should be forced to choose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine."

Now, Iowa businesses have to pay the price either way. Right? They now have to choose between federal penalties if their workers are not vaccinated, or paying jobless benefits if they fire them.

Reynolds, who says she is vaccinated, opposes mask mandates, of course, and vaccine requirements. She says this is only the beginning of Iowa's legal challenge to the White House vaccine rules.

Iowa joining nine other states suing the federal government over its vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Last month, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, tried a similar move,

banning all businesses in that state from mandating the vaccine. But many companies based there said they're going to follow the federal rule anyway, and then it failed to pass the state legislature.

Public health officials and the White House say vaccinations protect the workplace, cut hospitalizations, save lives, and strengthen the economy. Businesses in Iowa now find themselves in the middle of contradictory state and federal rules.

Another Republican-run state that is supposedly pr -business putting businesses in a bind here.

BERMAN: By and large, or at least, as you say, many businesses that you speak with actually say they approve of the notion of these requirements, because it takes some of the pressure off them. Yes?

ROMANS: It takes some of the pressure off them, and they want a rule. They want to be able to go back to their workers and say, Let's move toward a vaccinated workforce. So it allows it to be the government to be the mandator, not necessarily the business.

But you're seeing businesses do things like deny death benefits if you don't get the COVID vaccine. You're seeing businesses like Delta, for example, saying it's $200 extra a month for your health benefits. Because it's $50,000 when one of your employees is hospitalized, even briefly for COVID. So there are costs associated with this. Companies want vaccinated workforces.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, Cyclone.

ROMANS: Cyclone.

BERMAN: Thank you --

ROMANS: From the Hawk Eye State, yes.

BERMAN: -- for being with us.


KEILAR: A nearly all-white jury has been selected in the trail for Ahmaud Arbery's killing, and the judge says he sees intentional discrimination in the panel of 11 white members and only one black member. But he's allowing the case to move forward nonetheless.

CNN's Martin Savidge has more.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER: I mean, that was devastating.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After two and a half weeks of jury selection for the trial of the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, only one black person was chosen to serve on the jury. COOPER-JONES: Seeing the African-American jurors come in, and they

were questioned so -- so harshly by the defense team. And seeing them all scrubbed, I mean, it was very heartening [SIC]. It was just, like -- it was, like, unreal. I mean, I just can't put it into words. I was very shocked that we only had one black African-American man.

SAVIDGE: Eleven white people make up the rest of the 12-person panel. Including the four alternates alternates, five are men, 11 are women.

JASON SHEFFIELD, ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: The jurors that we have found cut across all lines; cut across gender, cut across age, cut across race and ethnicity.

BARBARA ARNWINE, TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE COALITION: It's clear that the defense skirted the very edges of the law here by allowing one black on the jury.

SAVIDGE: Prosecutors filed a motion accusing the defense team of being discriminatory, striking several potential black jurors, they said, based on race. After two hours of arguments, Judge Timothy Walmsley seemed to side with the prosecution.


JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE: This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination.

SAVIDGE: But ultimately ruled that the case could go forward with the selected jurors.

WALMSLEY: In the state of Georgia, all the defense needs to do is provide that legitimate, non-discriminatory, clear, reasonably specific and related reason. They have been able to explain to the court why, separate from race, those individuals were, in fact, struck from the panel.

SAVIDGE: A member of the defense satisfied with the outcome.

SHEFFIELD: We're very pleased that we have been able to select, now, 16 members of this community, where this community can now decide the pending issues of this indictment. And we truly believe that they will do so fairly and in keeping with what we all understand justice to be about.

SAVIDGE: It was in February 2020 when Arbery was jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, when Gregory McMichael and his son Travis chased him in a truck, and Travis McMichael fatally shot him.

Their neighbor, William Bryan, recorded the incident on a cell phone and allegedly hit Arbery with his truck. All three men have pleaded not guilty to multiple state charges, including felony murder.

The 12-member trial jury and four alternates will be empaneled on Friday morning, before opening statements begin.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.


BERMAN: Joining me now is CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. He's a former New York City homicide prosecutor.

Paul, this county is 25 percent black. There's one black juror on this panel.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really shocking, especially in a case like this that clearly has racial overtones.

There are cases, federal cases, important cases, John, that say you should have a jury that reflects the diversity of the community. It's called the Batson test. And that case came down in the 1980s.

And the courts do try to get this kind of balance. But the question is why did they fail here?

Well, No. 1, it may be that a lot of the black jurors -- this is what the judge has said -- disqualified themselves in some of the answers they gave, indicating that they knew too much about the case or had already formed an opinion about the case. And that's one reason that you sometimes lose diversity on a jury. And I think we saw that in this case.

But the second thing -- and I think we have to be careful here, because this is a colorful judge who speaks sometimes in colorful ways, but not in very legally accurate ways. He said there was discrimination in jury selection.

But he did qualify that by saying that, when he questioned the jurors [SIC] specifically about why they knocked off some of the black jurors, they gave him what are called racially neutral reasons for having knocked the person off the jury. And under the Batson case, that's a proper analysis.

So I think when most lawyers would look at what happened in this case, it's very unfortunate. But probably, the judge acted legally.

BERMAN: Joey, is this a good situation for the prosecution? Who's to blame for this happening?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Listen, we could always blame anybody, John. At the end of the day, what you have is what you have.

The judge had a decision to make with respect to the composition. I think clearly, if you look at what happened as it related to the challenges that were used by the defense, I think they were used in a way that were discriminatory.

You have a number of preemptory strikes. That means you could strike jurors. They used them to strike 23 (ph). And those people happen to be African-American.

Let's go back one minute. You have a population which is 70 percent white, 30 percent black. Not even, 25 percent. You have one black juror? That doesn't represent a demographic that is consistent with what I think should be just, proper and legally tenable, quite frankly.

And so, at the end of the day, if there's an acquittal here, I think you're going to hear people screaming about racial improprieties. I think you're going to hear people screaming about a system of justice that doesn't work for everyone. I think you're going to hear people screaming about here we go again.

And so I think a judge had a decision to make. I think there's more, you know, to the fact, in terms of the decision that he did make. I disagree with it. But we are where we are.

And I'm just hopeful that we have a jury that listens to the evidence and, as compelling as it is, and makes a decision predicated upon that and not predicated upon race.

BERMAN: And the prosecution at this point has no recourse. This is -- this is done. This is cooked.

JACKSON: It is. So that's interesting about this, as Paul will note also, is that this is a reverse challenge. Right? Generally, what happens is this.

You have usually the defense arguing that the prosecution is, in essence, making a decision like that, right? In this particular situation, you have the defense making that argument.

And so I think it's a pretty interesting and unusual situation. But we are where we are.

CALLAN: Well, you know, lawyers.