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Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) is Interviewed about Rep. Gosar and Build Back Better; Unite the Right Trial. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 08:30   ET



REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): And that is why we should hold every member to a higher standard. And when someone sends out a tweet or any other illustration of him or her murdering somebody on the House floor, that, to me, goes far beyond the pale and that person should not even be a member of this body. In fact, a lot of his family members are telling the whole world that he should not be a member of Congress. And I think it would have been the right thing to do to move to expel him. But it is not what we have decided to do as a collective body because we think, quite frankly, the Republican confidence has some responsibility here. They have been totally silent on this. What is that about? Oh, you know, I don't -- I just don't understand how we can, as members of Congress, expect for the public to respect us when we don't demonstrate that respect ourselves.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I guess Kevin McCarthy called him privately.

I want to make clear that there are no Democrats posting fantasy murder videos about Republicans, as far as I know. So I'm not trying to both sides this at all.

What I am doing is reporting on what Republicans say, which is that, if they take back the House, they're going to do this to Democrats. You will see censures. You will see Democrats stripped of committees. What happens then?

CLYBURN: Well, if they take back the House, they're free to do that. But if they really want to be representatives of what America is all about, they will take each case, and deal with it the same way we're doing.

Nobody's out looking for anybody to censure. The American people will know whether or not this is a standard in this particular instance. If they want to play childish games, then that's for them. I don't think the American people is going to stand for that. I certainly will not.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the Build Back Better plan, which may come to a vote in your chamber this week.

The Joint Committee on Taxation reports that the wealthiest Americans, largely in the northeast and out west, are going to get a huge tax break for this. And this has to do with raising the limits on the SALT, state and local tax deductions. People over -- making over a million dollars are going to save a lot of money and it's a big item in this bill. It's one of the most expensive items in this bill.

Why do these people need tax cuts?

CLYBURN: Well, this is not to give them a tax cut alone. The state and local taxes affect everybody. You own a home, you own an automobile, all of these things affect you as well. And so we're not here to punish people who do well (ph), we're here to do what we can to give the assistance of (INAUDIBLE) income people. And I think that's one of the best things we can do. The SALT tax for state and local taxes, is what it stands for, and I think that everybody who owns a home, who owns an automobile, they know what that means and they benefit from that as well.

BERMAN: It's really -- it's the -- you know, 80 percent of this money is going to people making over a million dollars. This is primarily not going to people in the middle income.

I do want to ask you about one more item in regards to Build Back Better. The Congressional Budget Office, we're still waiting to get their full report from the CBO on how much this will all cost. It seems as if the signals are that it will not all be paid for according to the CBO.

I thought that the White House had promised that it would be paid for.

CLYBURN: Well, yes, the White House had promised that, and we had promised that. We don't know what the CBO will determine. We have determined that it will be paid for. We have determined that no taxes will be raised on anybody under $400,000 a year. We have determined that we will raise taxes on more wealthy people to pay for it.

Now, if CBO comes back and some other determination, that's something we'll have to deal with at the time. But they're the experts. We'll be guided by what they say. But that's not what we think.

BERMAN: What does that mean? Is there a difference between being guided by what they say and believing what they say?

CLYBURN: There's always a difference in what those of us who are not experts in this sort of thing. We may project something and that's what we're projecting. But even the president's not an expert in CBO scoring standards. And we know what happens with CBO. They take what may be happening over at point a and how it will affect point z. And everything in between. And we don't do that kind of analysis every time.


What we try to do is use our best knowledge to project what our taxes will bring in, and what expenditures will go out. And sometimes you may miss something in between. And that's why we have CBO, to give us their best knowledge and then we'll be guided by that. That's exactly why they exist. If you were the ones to do it and all, we wouldn't need CBO.

BERMAN: Congressman James Clyburn, you have a busy day, a busy week potentially ahead. Thank you for joining us.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

BERMAN: White nationalists on the stand today, defending themselves over the deadly 2017 Unite the Right Rally. We're live in Charlottesville, next.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. What it could mean for the U.S. relationship with China and what it could mean for the games.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will not replace us!


Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!


KEILAR: The organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead and dozens injured are now on trial with jurors about to decide if the 20 defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.

Joining me now, CNN correspondent Elle Reeve and CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll.

Jason, first, just tell us what each side presented. The cases that we've seen over the course of this trial.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you know, as you know, what this trial has been about and what it really just comes down to is whether or not the defendants in this case conspired to commit acts of violence during that rally. And if they did, what sort of monetary punishment should they face. Attorneys for the plaintiffs -- and, again, there are nine plaintiffs who were injured that day, presented evidence they say shows the defendants did plan for violence. They showed jurors text messages throughout the trial, social media posts indicating that flag posts could be used as weapons, to bring shields and to lie to police about the number of their people showing up for that rally.

Also telling rally goers they could use a car as a weapon. And, remember, that's exactly what Alex Fields did when he ended up plowing his car into a group of counter protesters and killing Heather Heyer. She was 32-years-old.

The defendants in this case, they are individuals and they are groups, some of them representing themselves in court. They are white nationalists. They are neo-Nazis. And there are about two dozen of them. They told jurors, look, you might not like who we are, you might not like some of the things we say, but they argue that they did not conspire to commit acts of violence and they tried to show jurors that some of them basically didn't even know each other before the rally started. They had a mixed bag of who they blamed the violence on, those on the far left, counter protesters, even at times blaming police.

The defendants clearly have a high legal hurdle to overcome here. A representative for the plaintiffs telling me just last night, John, our plaintiffs have provided overwhelming evidence that the Unite the Right Rally was never intended to be a peaceful protest, rather it was a meticulously planned weekend of racist, anti-Semitic violence.


BERMAN: So interesting to watch.

And, Elle, you've been there so much, including at the time reporting, during and after. So I think you see things that the rest of us don't see here. And you note on some of the interplay amongst the defendants.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying to blame each other. They're under a lot of pressure right now. And so particularly Jason Kessler, the lead organizer, and Richard Spencer, perhaps the most prominent white nationalist, are trying to throw each other under the bus. Spencer's representing himself in court and so that means that he's questioning Kessler directly. At one point he asked Kessler, when did you determine I was a sociopathic narcissist. And Kessler responds -- Kessler says, I recall one of the first times I met you, you sort of made my skin crawl. You were like a very slimy cold individual, like inhuman, like speaking to a robot or a serial killer.

BERMAN: It's really interesting to hear that, among the defendants themselves, Elle.


BERMAN: And what about the overall argument that they're making or defense because we saw the violence. We heard the chants. What are they arguing did or didn't happen?

REEVE: Well, that's another really astounding part of the trial. Christopher Cantwell, who I interviewed in 2017, has been showing many videos in slow motion of himself in the middle of these brawls. He seems to think they make him look better. But they do not. They make him look much worse. At one point he's in such a frenzy that another white nationalist literally pulls him out of the fight.

Richard Spencer, for his part, is trying to take head on a leaked audio call at the early piece of tape from the end of the rally in which he's ranting about how people of color and Jews look up to faces like his. He's tried to say that's an example of childlike rage and of powerlessness. But in the moment, he's not ranting that it's bad that Heather Heyer died. He's ranting that he wasn't able to do more. BERMAN: All right. Obviously, we're watching this very closely. I

thank you both for all the work you've done.

Elle Reeve, Jason Carroll, thank you.

Now here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, Rittenhouse jury deliberations.

11:00 a.m. ET, White House Covid briefing.

4:30 p.m. ET, Biden speaks in Detroit.



KEILAR: And just ahead, the Kyle Rittenhouse jury goes back to work in a little over an hour.

BERMAN: CNN speaks with Nascar driver Kyle Larson, who just won his first championship after a racial slur scandal. Hear what he told us.


KEILAR: Time now for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial reconvenes this morning for day two of deliberations. They deliberated for more than seven hours on Tuesday and requested more copies of the written jury instructions early on in the process.


BERMAN: The defense in the murder trial of three men charged with chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery begins its case today. Prosecutors rested their case after testimony for the medical examiner who said Arbery's shotgun wounds were so severe that nothing could have saved his life.

KEILAR: Covid booster shots could be made available to all adults by this weekend. The FDA says it is currently reviewing Pfizer's request to authorize its booster for everyone 18 and older and it is not holding a meeting of the outside experts, which means the decision could come at any time.

BERMAN: President Biden leaves the White House for Detroit this afternoon to talk up his new infrastructure law. The president will speak at the grand opening of a new GM electric car factory.

KEILAR: And American officials may be absent from next year's winter Olympic games in Beijing. The Biden administration is considering a diplomatic boycott of the games in response to China's human rights abuses. U.S. athletes, though, would still be competing. BERMAN: Those are the "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." More on

these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Go to You can also find it wherever you get your podcasts.

KEILAR: For newly crowned Nascar champ Kyle Larson, the past 18 months have been quite a ride. He was suspended. He lost nearly every sponsor after using a racial slur before being reinstated this season and eventually winning his first ever championship.

CNN's Coy Wire talked to Larson one-on-one.


KYLE LARSON, NASCAR SERIES CHAMPION: I've had a lot of success these last two years and it almost feels like I'm in some sort of dream.

Oh, my God, guys! Yes! Yes!

And just a lot of relief, really. The journey that it took to get to that point, I can't believe the last 18 months where the lowest lows to the highest of highs has been crazy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You were iracing (ph), used the "n" word to talk to one of your colleagues. And you didn't realize there was a broader audience listening. You lost your sponsors, got suspended. You said you didn't know if you'd ever make it back.

What kind of mental space were you in during that time?

LARSON: It was definitely, you know, dark, for sure. Getting all the hate messages and stuff. And knowing that I just embarrassed myself, my family, my friends, you know, a whole community of people, it just was definitely a dark place.

WIRE: What I found interesting was that you said there was ignorance. You used that word because you didn't understand truly how hurtful, how negative that word was. And I think a lot of people would want to know more about that because, in this day and age, maybe they would say, that's not really a good enough excuse.

LARSON: Yes. Well, I mean, I knew it was -- I knew it was a hurtful word, but surrounding myself there for a short period of time with just, you know, a little bit of bad influence led to the ignorance.

So, yes, just -- yes, I've learned so much ever since that night. Getting to talk to so many different African-Americans and learning their experiences. For months I was doing stuff every week, you know, whether it be doing stuff in the community or just having conversations, I just wanted to educate myself. And I'm, in a way, glad that I kind of went through all that because it's grown me into a much more mature person with a -- with a whole new perspective on so many different things.

WIRE: One of the people I know you've spoken to, Bubba Wallace. What were those conversations like? LARSON: It was tough. Immediately after the, you know, mistake I made,

I mean within a couple of minutes I had just sent him a text apologizing and, you know, finally I got to talk to him. And that was --

WIRE: What was his initial response when you reached out?

LARSON: Just -- just disappointed, you know, that -- that I would, you know, allow myself to make a mistake like that. So, yes, you know, I'm glad that, you know, he, as well as so many people, were able to forgive me. And then, you know, getting the chance to work with (ph) Hendrick, I never felt like once I got back that this was a redemption tour or anything. It's just a great opportunity for me to use my platform to show people that I have learned from my mistakes.

So, I'm a lucky person to get this opportunity, this second chance, you know, that I don't really necessarily think I should have gotten.

WIRE: Why do you think you didn't deserve a second chance?

LARSON: I think just because, you know, I'd -- I'd let so many people down. I had, you know, embarrassed the sport that I was competing in and made a huge mistake.

You know, I was accepting of the fact that, you know, I probably won't ever race in it again. So just thankful that I did get the second chance and I was able to, you know, do good things through it.


BERMAN: Coy Wire reporting there.

A judge is about to sentence the QAnon shaman. Why he could do more time than any other Capitol rioter.

KEILAR: And news on the concert tragedy that killed ten people. Travis Scott is now facing a huge class action lawsuit.



BERMAN: Today's "Good Stuff."

A Boy Scout who remembered his motto, be prepared, 12-year-old David King helped rescue a couple and their dog who were lost on a hiking trail in Hawaii. The couple's dog named Smoky had his paws cut up and couldn't walk. And the 100 pound puppy, that's a big puppy, by the way, was too heavy to carry. David used the skills he learned from his brother while getting his first aid merit badge and he made a stretcher for Smoky. David led them all back to the parking lot safely. And we should note that Smoky has now fully recovered.


KEILAR: Look at that construction. I mean, David is doing it right. BERMAN: Solid. Solid construction.

KEILAR: Amazing. I love that.