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Cheney and Cruz Exchange Jabs; Bill Maher Comments on Trump Run; Signs of a Robust Recovery; Pentagon helping struggling Families; Abdur-Rahman Muhammad is Interviewed about the Malcolm X Murder. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 06:30   ET



S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Will fall away when they get power again.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to talk about Liz Cheney and Ted Cruz.

So, Ted Cruz, senator from Texas, accused Liz Cheney, who, by the way, did vote for censure there and, among other things --

CUPP: She did. Not Ted -- right. (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: So, she did. She voted. She -- she voted for censure, not Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz accused her of having Trump derangement syndrome. And this is how Liz Cheney responded.


SEN. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think that Trump broke Ted Cruz. Ted used to say he was a constitutional conservative. But now he is like so desperate for political approval that he will even advocate, suggest, succession. And I think that a real man would be defending his wife and his father and the Constitution.


BERMAN: Of course Donald Trump smeared Ted Cruz's wife during the 2016 campaign and suggested --

CUPP: And his father.

BERMAN: And suggested Ted Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

CUPP: Right.

BERMAN: What just happened there?

CUPP: Listen, Liz Cheney is doing great at sort of clapping back at these guys. But I don't like any of this. I mean I wish this isn't -- you know, this wasn't where we're at. But they're coming for Liz Cheney in a really sort of below the belt ways. I saw Sean Hannity the other night saying that she was just up on her high horse. Her high horse, meaning, defending democracy, that -- that high horse.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, well, he's in the streets, right, doing the real work. "Sesame Street," by the way, fighting Big Bird.

This is where the party is at. Liz Cheney is up on the high horse, defending democracy, Ted Cruz doing the real work, fighting big bird.

BERMAN: Now, Bill Maher, whom I know you know and you have been on his show frequently as his number one guest as far as I'm concerned.

CUPP: Yes.

BERMAN: He was on with Chris last night.

CUPP: I saw the whole hour, yes.

BERMAN: And more or less, everything you've just said, right, Bill Maher says, even with all that, this is still going to happen for Donald Trump.

Let's listen.


BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": The Republican Party, as much as I keep hearing about, oh, Trump, he's not as relevant anymore. Trust me, he's going to run. Absolutely. He's going to get the nomination. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he just won the election. But even if he doesn't win the election, he will say he won the election. There is no doubt that he will say he won.


CUPP: Well, here's where you misspoke. You said even with all that, maybe Trump -- no, because of all that. It's because of everything that Republicans have done to condition this environment, making nothing matter, lowering the bar, forgetting about things like hypocrisy and intellectual consistency and honesty, things you and I care about but no one else does. That's why they will get to get power again. And that's why Donald Trump will 100 percent have another shot at destroying and dismantling democracy.

BERMAN: S.E. Cupp, thank you. I know you were on late last night.

CUPP: Well, I'm sorry.

BERMAN: You're hear early this morning.

CUPP: Sorry for the bad news, but --

BERMAN: You know, I appreciate it. Thanks for coming in.

CUPP: I slept here. So, it's fine. BERMAN: So, a remarkable economic recovery is underway. Christine

Romans has the numbers.

Plus, the whereabouts of a top Chinese tennis star still unknown. Why an email is raising concerns about her safety.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And a significant sentencing for the QAnon shaman. You'll recognize him. He stormed the Capitol on January 6th. How much time he got and why some critics say it's too harsh.



BERMAN: We keep hearing about inflation. Companies are raising prices. Gas prices, the highest in years. People absolutely feel this. But a broader look at the economy shows a remarkable recovery underway after an unprecedented global pandemic crash.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans here to explain what's happening.


An important gut check here, John, on the economy. America's factories are humming. Consumers are shopping. And paychecks are fatter. Let me show you here.

First, manufacturing. U.S. industrial output is racing ahead at a nearly two-year high, back above pre-pandemic levels. Auto manufacturing last month bouncing back. Factory output would be even stronger if not for those hiccups in the global supply chain.

Corporate profits, John, enviable. Big companies are managing well the supply chain woes and they're passing the cost on to their customers and they're even padding their profit margins along the way. The biggest publicly traded companies have fatter profit margins today than before the pandemic.

And your retirement account is where you can see that. Look at stocks. The Dow up 17 percent this year. The Nasdaq and the S&P up almost nearly 25 percent. Step back a little further. Since the market crashed in 2020, some stock averages have almost doubled.

OK, amid all of this, workers have the upper hand. No question. You've heard it called the great resignation. Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers for better jobs with better pay. Look at how many, 4.4 million last month alone jumping ship for a better job. And it's been happening for months. After decades of sluggish wage growth, paychecks are fatter, especially for low wage workers. Wage growth now 5 percent almost.

And it shows in Americans' savings. John, thanks to higher pay, Covid stimulus and child tax credits, Americans have $2.3 trillion in excess savings since the crisis began. JP Morgan says its median bank account, it's checking account, 50 percent higher this summer than the summer of 2019.

And hiring is even stronger than we thought. The government revising the number of jobs added this summer, 626,000 more jobs added from June to September than the government initially reported.


Overall, 5.8 million jobs added back this year.

So call it the Covid economy contradiction, right. Inflation concerns hog all the headlines. But most other indicators are roaring ahead. Frankly, consumer sentiment gages, they don't reflect the strong economy. Two reasons here. Americans are exhausted by the pandemic. And they are bombarded daily with higher prices at the grocery store and at the gas station. Everybody drives and eats. Not everybody has stocks.

John, later this morning, jobless claims will be reported. And I'm expecting these numbers are probably back to pre-pandemic levels, normal levels of layoffs now, John.

BERMAN: That's really interesting to see. It is a contradiction.

Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Much needed relief is on the way for thousands of military families struggling to make ends meet. The Pentagon says it is pumping money into new housing allowances and food security programs as accelerating U.S. inflation may be putting more service member's families in that category.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has been following this story. He is live at the Pentagon with more.

This affects so many people, Oren, so many military families and Americans who are realizing it are just astounded to find out this news.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You would think the military is able to fully support all of its enlisted and its officers. But it turns out that particularly when it comes to lower ranking enlisted, in tough times, it can be incredibly difficult on them.

And it's not just one single problem with a simple solution. First, they may not know what financial resources are available. And, second, perhaps facing financial difficulties for the first time, they may not be ready or willing to seek help. And that's where the Department of Defense is trying to step in here and ease that burden a little bit.


LIEBERMANN: It was hard enough when Rachel Szabo's husband deployed during the pandemic. Harder still when she lost her job, pregnant with her now 11-month-old son.

RACHEL SZABO, MILITARY SPOUSE: I think anyone who has never gone through this, they don't really know how difficult it is until they've actually had to go through it

LIEBERMANN: Like so many other military families, Szabo found herself struggling financially. She turned to military food pantries at Fort Bragg, which helped make ends meet until she returned to work and her enlisted husband received a promotion.

SZABO: Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. So you might as well take advantage of it.

LIEBERMANN: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Wednesday that more help is on its way. In addition to an increase in housing allowances in high-priced areas, active duty troops will get financial education and better access to financial resources.

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our men and women in uniform and their families have enough to worry about. Basic necessities like food and housing shouldn't be among them.

LIEBERMANN: The steepest rise in inflation in decades has pushed the cost of food, fuel, and housing even higher, all during the Covid-19 pandemic. Unemployment amongst military spouses worsened and affordable child care for military families became harder to find.

ADM. WILLIAM FRENCH (RET.), PRESIDENT AND CEO, ARMED SERVICES YMCA: I think Covid really was that -- was that point. My -- we saw an increase in the demand for food at most of our locations by as much as 400 percent. And, again, I tie that back to spouse unemployment and child care.

LIEBERMANN: As many as 125,000 active duty service members struggle with food insecurity according to Feeding America, a non-profit that runs a national network of food pantries. Shannon Razsadin, director of the Military Family Advisory Network, says their food distribution events draw thousands of families across the country, especially in high-priced areas.

SHANNON RAZSADIN, PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MILITARY FAMILY ADVISORY NETWORK: And they're going through and they're coming out relieved. You know, we've had families literally tell us thank you so much. I didn't know what I was going to feed my kids tonight.

LIEBERMANN: As costs of basic staples keep rising, shoppers today are paying over 5 percent more for their groceries than just a year ago, which concerns advocates who worry that members of the military experiencing financial hardship for the first time may not seek the help they need.


LIEBERMANN: There are, of course, military families all around the country and all around the world, for that matter. But this is felt sharpest in those areas with high prices. For example, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, Joint Base Lewis McCord near Seattle. And as you know, Brianna, these are areas with very high military populations.

KEILAR: Yes, look, and this is why we talk about military spouse unemployment. Before the pandemic, it was at depression levels, about 30 percent. It got even worse, as you mentioned in your report. They want to be employed. They're qualified. But it's hard when you're moving every two to three years.

LIEBERMANN: Absolutely.

KEILAR: And now we're seeing why it matters. I mean you have to put food on the table, Oren.

Oren Liebermann --

LIEBERMANN: Very much so. And that's one of the other steps that the secretary of defense is taking, trying to extend tours at bases to make sure, for example, that military spouses can find work and keep it.

KEILAR: Yes, it's essential.

Oren, thank you so much for doing this story. I know that so many people are paying attention to it.

Coming up, two men found guilty in the Malcolm X assassination expected to have their convictions thrown out. What took so long and what we're now learning about the investigation?

BERMAN: And Julius Jones, scheduled to be executed today. Will Oklahoma's governor step in?



KEILAR: Fifty-six years later, some major questions this morning over who killed Malcolm X despite the convictions of three men related to his assassination in 1965. We're now learning who was not involved in the murder of one of America's most prominent black leaders. Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam. After spending decades behind bars, a 22-month investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance found that evidence of their innocence was withheld at trial.

Joining me now is Abdur-Rahman Muhammad. He is a historian and an activist who has spent 30 years investigating the murder of Malcolm X. And if you've see the Netflix documentary "Who Killed Malcolm X," you are certainly going to recognize him from this.

Abdur-Rahman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

You know, I just wonder, because these two men were convicted decades ago. Decades and decades ago. One of them actually died in 2009. Most people involved in this case are dead. So what does this exoneration now mean? ABDUR-RAHMAN MUHAMMAD, SPENT 30 YEARS INVESTIGATING MURDER OF MALCOM

X: Well, I think in the first instance, it corrects the historical record, which is very important. There's always been a shadow or cloud cast over this case. And we, unlike the other political assassinations of the 1960s, we never got closure on the assassination of Malcolm X.


This conviction, 55 years ago, was never accepted in the African- American community because we knew that they had incarcerated two men who were not involved in it.

KEILAR: Will there be any restitution? I mean is this just a matter of correcting the record, or is there going to be restitution or, you know, in the case of Islam, who passed away, that his family might see?

MUHAMMAD: Well, I would imagine that he's -- he will file some type of lawsuit, you know, for restitution, but how can you really restore to a man 20 years of his life and a complete boycott from his family, you know, for the stigma -- bearing the stigma of being an assassin of Malcolm X.

KEILAR: Tell me what he's been through.

MUHAMMAD: Oh, it's been terrible. You know, first of all, he served hard time. You know, many of those years in solitary confinement. He watched his marriage dissolve. He had about five or six children who he completely lost touch with, and their grandchildren -- you know, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. And he's a very solitary man who tries to bear his pain with dignity. And he didn't even believe this day would ever come.

KEILAR: Is he hopeful? I mean he's -- he's up in years, but is he hopeful that he might reclaim some relationships?

MUHAMMAD: Well, you know, he's in good health. And, you know, we expect that he'll be able to live out the rest of his life with the, you know, the comfort of knowing that his name and his legacy has been cleared.

KEILAR: How does this news change the legacy of Malcolm X and the nation of Islam?

MUHAMMAD: Well, the legacy of Malcolm X is secure. He's an icon. He's a hero to millions of activists the world over. There's even a stamp in Iran that bears the image of Malcolm X. I mean so he's -- he's a -- he's an iconic figure whose place in American history is secure.

But I think this is an opportunity for us to interrogate the government. Because, OK, if we are exonerating him, these two men, then the next question is, you know, what kind of prosecutorial misconduct was involved here that led to this injustice, number one. And, number two, just how deep -- how deeply involved was the counterintelligence program of J. Edgar Hoover infiltrating black organizations, creating mayhem, and division and all types of chaos to destroy the rise of what he called a black messiah. So, there was a lot of destruction and havoc that was wrought during those years. And the United States government has to come clean on this.

KEILAR: Do you think we'll ever know who really killed Malcolm X?

MUHAMMAD: Well, we know who fired the weapons. We know, you know, who carried it out. We're pretty clear about that. But the broader conspiracy, that's what we hope to drill down here with the new evidence that's been ascertained by the district attorney in New York.

KEILAR: I really appreciate you joining us. It is -- it's not often you see something like this happen so many years later.

Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, thank you.

MUHAMMAD: The pleasure's all mine. Thank you.

KEILAR: Here in a few hours, Steve Bannon is expected to plead not guilty to contempt of Congress charges.

BERMAN: And the "Rust" script supervisor pointing the finger at Alec Baldwin for the deadly shooting on set. Why she says he shouldn't have fired the gun in the first place.



BERMAN: The East Coast bracing for the possibility of a huge storm that could potentially turn Thanksgiving travel plans into a nightmare.

Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, what's going on here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There's always that timing, isn't it? Just right on time.

A big wind event going to be moving through Chicago, all the way to the Northeast over the beginning of the travel season. That would be Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

This weather is brought to you by Servpro, the number one choice in cleanup and restoration.

So let's get to it. The storm begins in Chicago on really Saturday into Sunday. But what you're going to notice about this, yes, it's going to rain, but it is going to be windy. The winds are going to gust 40 to 50. And if you're flying Monday or Tuesday, I don't even care what the pilot says, keep that seat belt fastened for the entire flight. It is going to be a bumpy one across the Midwest. Even if they say you can get up, you still need to keep it on.

East to west flights are going to be holding onto the seats, I think. So be careful out there. We are going to see this storm eventually move on by. It will be a big event for the northeast. But it's a wind event.

Now, we're going to take you to today. There's rain coming in across parts of the Midwest. Really not too many people traveling yet today, but this is the area that's going to move on by and really cool our temperatures down from the 70s all the way down into the 50s.