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Soon: House to Hold Vote on Biden Agenda Bills; Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) is Interviewed about Bills Under Consideration; Florida, Other States to Sue Over Vaccine Mandate; Trial Over Arbery Murder Begins Today. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 05, 2021 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Friday, November 5, and I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman.


It is decision day for Houses Democrats on Capitol Hill, or it could be. It is supposed to be. Will this finally be the day that the party can get enough votes to pass President Biden's sweeping Build Back Better plan and also that bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Here in two hours, House Democrats will reconvene on the floor to debate and to vote on both pieces of legislation. In the past, they have failed to meet these self-imposed deadlines to get the president's domestic agenda across the line in the House.

But after weeks and months of infighting between moderates and progressives, Democratic leadership in the House feel confident that this is going to get done today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: At least they say they feel confident, right? We've been through this before. Mostly, they probably just feel like they want to get off this hamster wheel they've been on.

President Biden worked the phones overnight, calling House members to see where they stand.

Let's find out where they stand. Let's go to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, live on Capitol Hill. Is this really the day, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That certainly is the big question up here, John. It is a very, very tense moment with a lot riding on today.

We have Democratic leaders who are projecting confidence going into today, saying there will be -- excuse me -- a vote on these two bills. But notably, the reality of the moment is there are still many outstanding issues. The bill -- the social spending bill is not finalized. And they still have to line up the votes.

It was a very chaotic evening last night, hours and hours of closed- door meetings, negotiations going on, ultimately pushing leaders to have to delay the planned vote last night into today.

But they were able to make some agreement. Most notably on that key sticking point of state and local tax deductions. They now have agreement on that. They will cap it at $80,000 a year.

But there are still big questions remaining over immigration parts of the bill. Also, some key moderates, at least five key moderates, saying that they will not vote today unless they have a CBO score. And CNN heard from one of those moderates last night.


REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Well, I think until we get some of that information it would be irresponsible until we get the final text, of course, and before we see the impact on the economy and on our country.

But, again, I -- we're supposed to get some of those numbers any minute now. We're waiting on those. And I think if we can get that analysis, that will be very helpful in moving forward.


SERFATY: And the House will be convening earlier than normal today in just about two hours at 8 a.m. Eastern, John.

And when and if the infrastructure bill gets passed through the House today, potentially, it would be sent straight to President Biden's desk for his signature.

But of course, a social spending bill, that will be sent over to the Senate where we are all expecting big, big changes to be made over there. So still a lot remains on this legislative agenda -- John.

BERMAN: I think that's such an important point, Sunlen. The infrastructure bill, if that gets passed, that will become law, today perhaps. As for the social spending side, just the beginning. Thank you so much, Sunlen.

SERFATY: Thanks.

KEILAR: All right. Let's talk now with Congressman Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania. He is a rare Democrat who won last fall in a district carried by then-President Donald Trump.

OK. Did you get a call last night from the White House, from the president?

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D-PA): No, not from the White House or the president. I got calls from a lot of members, wondering where we're at. I'm part of Democratic House leadership.

And by the way, Brianna, I'll thank John to refrain from referring to the United States House of Representatives as a hamster wheel.

KEILAR: I mean, but in fairness -- CARTWRIGHT: In fairness, you know, there's been a lot of process going

on. And you know, everybody is interested in what happened today and what did this one say and what did that one say?

But now in the end -- and, yes, we have a slim majority in the House. And on some level, that's a really good thing. Because you know what that means? Everyone's voice is heard. People don't get run over. And, you know, three people could stop the bill, so they have to be listened to.

KEILAR: It does seem like actually -- it's not that no one gets run over. It's that everyone gets run over. It this appears to be part of this process that we watch.

But look, this is -- this appears to be a big day. You believe there is going to be the votes to pass this today.

CARTWRIGHT: Right. And let me tell you that we are on the cusp of doing something amazing and transformative for America with these bills. We have the -- the bipartisan infrastructure bill which does so much.

I mean, $66 billion for increasing rail travel in this country. The roads, the bridges, the water systems, the sewer systems that haven't been invested in, certainly, in the entire time I've been in Congress. That's nine years.


And much longer, even though we heard about Infrastructure Week after Infrastructure Week in the last administration. Democrats are delivering now. And we're not just delivering the hard infrastructure. We're delivering broadband Internet for every place in America. It's like the Rural Electrification Act from 80 years ago. We're going the get this done.

And then the Build Back Better Act, that's amazing. I mean, that just got scored by Moody's Analytics. And it's going to create 1.5 million jobs every year for the next 10 years. That's 15 million jobs in 10 years.

And it's going to cut the deficit, as well. It's going to cut the deficit by about $60 billion by the end of 10 years. And then, by the end of 20 years, it will cut the deficit by $2 trillion.

This is something Americans want. It's going to deliver wonderful things for our country.

KEILAR: Has it been scored by the CBO yet, which is an issue for some Democrats?

CARTWRIGHT: Well, we've a score from The Joint Committee on Taxation. And it's going to be not only revenue neutral, but it's going to reduce the deficit.

KEILAR: Can I ask you, though? There will be no CBO score before the vote?

CARTWRIGHT: I think the Senate needs a CBO score before the vote, before their vote. Of course, this -- the BBB has not gone to the Senate. So we're going to have a very good handle on what they think, too.

But it's going to be good news. Because what we're seeing from the JCT, the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is nonpartisan, says that this is going to reduce the deficit over 10 years in the terms of $62 billion and into the trillions in the second decade.

KEILAR: Have you been able to read the whole bill?

CARTWRIGHT: I've read -- I've read the parts that are problematic. My staff are -- they all have to change their eyeglass prescriptions now. They've been poring over this bill constantly. And any time something comes up that they want me to look at the actual text, that's what I look at.

KEILAR: Why do you have the votes today? What's the difference between last night and this morning?

CARTWRIGHT: Work. Working, talking, and a lot of listening. And I have to say, Democratic House leadership, I've never seen them working so hard. And you know why they're doing it? Because they realize, certainly after Tuesday night -- don't think that wasn't a wakeup call. Americans want Democrats to deliver, and we are ready to stand and deliver.

KEILAR: So let me ask you about some of the things in this bill. This SALT, so the State and Local Tax deduction, up from 10,000 to $80,000 in the House bill. It may not obviously be the final bill.

Why is that OK, a tax break for arguably wealthy people, when you're -- you've seen things cut like Medicare expansion.

CARTWRIGHT: Well, you can see parts of the country where the SALT makes a difference. The state and local taxes. Places like on the coast, where everybody's real estate costs a lot more. So they have to get a much bigger mortgage, just to -- a middle-class family to live.

And so this is the restoration of the traditional deduction of state and local taxation. It doesn't blow the cap off completely. But these are things that people living on the coast, even people living in relatively modest homes --

KEILAR: Eighty grand?

CARTWRIGHT: -- have been screaming for. That's the cap, 80 grand. That's right.

KEILAR: That's high.

CARTWRIGHT: It certainly is high in Scranton, where I live. But --

KEILAR: I don't think that's what the SALT deduction elevation is for, for sure.

And then just finally real quick, before I let you go, immigration. There has been a fight to get work permits in this for some immigrants and protection from deportation. Do you have buy-in from enough Democrats on that?

CARTWRIGHT: I think we do. I mean, these are people that are contributing to the economy. I mean, we've been looking at this for years, and it's pretty obvious.

If we go out and deport 11 million souls who are contributing to our economy, the economists have shown that you're talking about the loss of 4 to 5 million jobs of American citizens because of the hit that our economy would take. I see this as just a reflection of what the economic realities are right now.

KEILAR: And the time of the vote, what do you think?

CARTWRIGHT: You're taxing me now, Brianna. I'm going to say --

KEILAR: Before noon? Would you say before noon?

CARTWRIGHT: I think we'll get one done before noon and the other one shortly after.

KEILAR: All right. All right. We will check that out. Congressman Cartwright, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

CARTWRIGHT: Great to be with you.

KEILAR: So up next, a CNN exclusive. Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies challenged under oath on their debunked election lies. What those deposition tapes show.

And today, Governor Ron DeSantis and other states besides Florida promising to sue President Biden in the latest attempt to undermine workplace vaccine mandates.


BERMAN: A juror in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial joked about the police shooting of Jacob Blake. A juror, supposed to be impartial in a case that deals with killings after that very police shooting. Find out what the judge did it about it, next.


BERMAN: Today Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he will file a lawsuit against the Biden administration's COVID testing and vaccine requirements. Three other states have already filed. The White House announced that, starting January 4, workers with companies with more than 100 employees will have to either test weekly or be fully vaccinated.

Joining me now, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. So these three states and Florida -- who knows? Others will join in. There are companies that are suing, also. The basis of this lawsuit, what does it say?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: OSHA, which is the part of the government that is establishing these requirements, is issuing an emergency regulation. And under that emergency rule, they can impose a requirement if there is a grave danger to workers. That's the standard.


And the question in these lawsuits is, is there a grave danger justifying this action by OSHA? And frankly, based on what I understand of the law, it's not entirely clear. I think these lawsuits are not obvious in how they're going to come out. And there may be different results in different -- in different parts of the country. So I wouldn't be surprised to see this wind up before the Supreme Court before too long.

BERMAN: There have been, at this point, plenty of decisions in regards to certain vaccine requirements around the country. And basically speaking, they've all held up, but this is different.

TOOBIN: It's different because it's the federal government, and the federal government has limited jurisdiction in this area. States actually have bigger -- have broader jurisdiction and much clearer right to impose these sorts of requirements. The federal government is somewhat different, more limited. And we'll see if this holds up.

BERMAN: All right. I want to play some sound that CNN obtained exclusively. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, the former president's lawyer, deposed in a defamation case dealing with Dominion Voting Systems and other voting systems here.

I just want to play the former mayor here. Let's see it.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: We had a report that the heads of Dominion and Smartmatic, somewhere in the mid-teens -- you know, 2013, '14, whatever -- went down to Venezuela for a get-to- know meeting with Maduro so they could demonstrate to Maduro the kind of vote fixing they did for -- for -- for Chavez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the heads of Dominion and Smartmatic?

GIULIANI: Yes. That's what I was told.

Before the press conference, I was told about it.

Sometimes I go and look myself when stuff comes up. This time I didn't have the time to do it.

It's not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me. Otherwise, you're never going to write a story and you're never going to come to a conclusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So we've known some of that content before. It had been reported. We hadn't seen it before. Giuliani basically saying he repeated things out loud at a press conference, but he never bothered to check at all.

TOOBIN: You know, in order to win a libel case like this, the plaintiffs have to show what's called reckless disregard for the truth. That deposition, to me, looks like the definition for reckless disregard for this truth.

I mean, the idea that you will go out in public and damage the reputation, as Giuliani clearly did, of these companies without any sort of checking, without any sort of concern for whether what you're saying is true, seems to me clearly libelous.

And I think just Giuliani maybe will be on the hook for millions of dollars, because you know, the libel is supposed to address harm to reputation. These company's reputations were horribly damaged by these total falsehoods that he put out there with, it seems to me, reckless disregard for the truth.

So I think these libel cases are going to be disastrous for him. And they may well be disastrous for the media outlets, including FOX News, that put it on uncritically.

BERMAN: What about his demeanor? What did you make of his demeanor and overall appearance, and how much does that matter in a case like this?

TOOBIN: Well, if a case ultimately goes to a jury, it could matter a great deal, because jurors evaluate how people behave and how they look and how they sound.

And -- and his complete failure, it appears, to recognize the seriousness of what he was doing and -- and the impact of what he was doing and his complete lack of interest and lack of curiosity and lack of work in determining what he was saying was true, or even had any factual basis at all, other than with someone would -- something someone told him, it's just outrageous.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, he just said out loud, I didn't go check the facts at all, before I repeated it.

TOOBIN: At all. At all.

BERMAN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin --

TOOBIN: Berman.

BERMAN: -- great to see you. Thanks so much for being with us.

TOOBIN: All right.

BERMAN: Opening statements begin today in the trial of three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, with a nearly all-white jury.

KEILAR: And a juror tried being funny when he made a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The judge wasn't having it. What happened next.



BERMAN: In just hours, opening statements will begin in the trial of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, the three white men charged for the death of the unarmed black man. Race is a central factor in the case. And the nation's attention is on the nearly all-white jury.

Amara Walker live in Brunswick, Georgia. What are we expecting today?


Well, on Thursday, the state and defense spent much of the day arguing what evidence should or should not be admissible when the trial begins this morning.

And one point of contention was a graphic body cam video worn by the responding officers. And what it shows is Ahmaud Arbery, gravely wounded after he was shot three times, as prosecutors say, by a shotgun.

And as you know, John, the jury selection process has been extraordinarily long. It finally ended this week. And in the end, it will be a nearly all-white jury that decides the fate of three white men accused of killing a black man.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's so much wrong with what has happened in this trial. It has been racialized from the beginning. And that was done purposefully by the defense.

WALKER (voice-over): Outside the courthouse, outrage and disappointment.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want people to understand that, in this moment, that there has to be some serious work done in our country.

WALKER: While more than a quarter of the residents in Glenn County where the trial is taking place are black, a nearly all-white jury, 11 white members and one black member, will hear opening statements this morning in the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. On Wednesday, the prosecution accused the defense of striking some

qualified black jurors based on race. While the judge seemed to side with the prosecution --

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

WALKER: He ultimately ruled that the case could move forward.

WALMSLEY: They have been able to explain to the court why, separate from race, those individuals were, in fact, struck from the panel.

WALKER: On Thursday, the prosecution and the defense worked on ironing out some pretrial motions, one of them whether a vanity license plate on defendant Travis McMichaels' truck needs to be excluded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just an old flag plate.

WALKER: The image in question is an old Georgia state flag that prominently features a Confederate flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would ask that the court limit the playing of any photograph or video of the front plate. Because it's inflammatory and because it injects into this case something that we all have been trying to avoid and trying to obtain jurors who don't have strong opinions about this, as well.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: This is something Travis McMichael put on the front of his truck. He wanted the world to know this. He put it out there for people to see him driving around with this particular plate on the front of his truck. A little disingenuous at this point to ask that it be blurred out, as if somehow, it's not relevant to this case.

WALKER: The prosecution claims the plate is relevant, because Arbery appears to have run away after he sees McMichael's truck coming towards him with the plate up front.

The defense argues there is no way of knowing that Arbery saw the plate. While the prosecution states they can't prove Arbery saw the flag, they say the placement of the vanity plate is essential evidence.

Judge Walmsley will issue an order on this before opening statements.

Just before court was adjourned on Thursday, one of the jurors, a white woman, was replaced by alternate 1. Another white woman for medical reasons.


WALKER: Now, all three defendants have pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, among others. Travis and Gregory McMichaels claim that they were conducting a citizen's arrest and acting in self-defense. While William "Roddie" Bryan maintains that he had no part in the killing. The trial expected to get under way in less than three hours, John.

BERMAN: Amara Walker, we appreciate you being there for us. Please keep us posted.

KEILAR: And joining us now is CNN political commentator and attorney, Bakari Sellers, and criminal defense attorney Stacey Richman with us to discuss what the case is.

I first want to ask you, Bakari, about the makeup of this jury, where you have the judge saying that there was intentional discrimination in jury selection. He accepted the individual arguments from the defense about their vetoes of several black potential jurors.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I've actually never heard a judge use the term intentional discrimination. It appears very difficult that when you echo that sentiment, that you can't walk it back.

I mean, one of the things that you'll hear a lot when you look at the layout of jurors is Batson. It's the challenge that you make when people are excluded simply because of their race.

What we also know about Batson, though, is that it's very easy to overcome. I mean, all you have to do is go up there and say that you didn't exclude this person because of their -- because of their race but you excluded them because of the fact that, you know, they were a part of MADD, or they were a part of the Democratic Party, or they were part of something else that was ancillary to their race.

And so it's very easy to get around. The problem that we have in these cases is people are seeing how -- how the law is doled out, is that when you have phrases like intentional discrimination, it is very difficult to believe that, even in death, Ahmed Arbery is going to get justice or fairness.

KEILAR: Stacey, what do you think?

STACEY RICHMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I have to agree. The concept of Batson was formulated to protect defendants conceptually that were minorities.

And it's very interesting here we have white defendants that are now benefiting by something that was supposed to benefit minorities so that they would have a fair jury.

And so it is fair play. But we do have to question whether or not this has been properly employed here. As was just stated, the judge.