Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Fauci: Hospitalizations Rising Among Vaccinated Without Boosters; VP Harris Downplays West Wing Tensions Over Her Role. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Hyten, vice chair, central commander, vice chief of staff of the Army, said the other day that he thinks China is developing a first strike capability with its hypersonic missile. It's a version of being a bully. How should the U.S. stand up to it?

ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN (RET), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: John's exactly right. He is the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an incredibly bright guy and knows his business. And I did have a chance to see the interview, and the interviewer asked him if this was a Sputnik moment for us, in other words a moment where we can wake up and smell the coffee and realize that China is advancing on some of these technologies much faster than we expected. And a hypersonic missile could be, and John is very careful to say it could be used as a first strike capability, meaning that we wouldn't have a mutually assured destruction, that China could strike first maybe before we were in a position to do something about it.

So it is something to be concerned about, but, look, I don't think China is going to go to war with the United States. I'm not overly concerned about it. We need to focus on it, be thoughtful about how we deal with it, but not overreact either.

BERMAN: Is Putin a bully? And how do you stand up to him?

MCRAVEN: Of course, he is. And what you see with Putin, of course, is he is amassing forces right now on the eastern border of Ukraine. I think he is testing us once again, much like he did after President Biden came into office, he did the same thing. I think Biden did the right thing. He told Putin, look, we're 100 percent behind President Zelensky there in the Ukraine and make sure you don't cross that line. Putin, I think, is testing us once again.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about something that came out in Jonathan Karl's book from ABC News. He says retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn, a man who you know, called someone he knew at the Pentagon after the election last year and said you need to get involved here, you need to seize ballots, we need the military to step in to overturn the results of the election. As someone who has dedicated his life to service, how does that make you feel? MCRAVEN: One, I do know Mike well. He was a great officer in the

military. He and I served a number of times together, and a good friend. But since he retired, I will tell you, our feelings about how the country should be governed have diverged significantly. But nobody serving in uniform would ever think to involve themselves in the election process. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley made it very clear, our allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States, not to the president. And therefore, we in the military have a constitutional obligation to uphold the fundamental tenets of the Constitution and not get involved in the election.

BERMAN: I want to ask you for an update on an op-ed you wrote in 2018. This was after then President Trump was threatening to revoke security clearances from people, and you said revoke mine, too, if you're going to do that. You wrote at the time, "Through your actions you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and worst of all, divided us as a nation." That was 2018. Is there an update to that now after what happened on January 6th and since then?

MCRAVEN: What happened on January 6th was, I think, stunning, and again, a bit of a wake-up call for America to realize that maybe our democracy is a little bit more fragile than we had thought. And every day we have got to do the best we can to preserve this democracy. And my hope and my expectation is that Americans will come to the center. They will realize that you can't govern from the far right, you can't govern from the far left, you've got to figure out how we're going to govern from the center. And unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. And Trump has not made that easier, and frankly a lot of the candidates and a lot of those serving in government office have not made it easier. They have got to do what's right for the American people, every single day.

BERMAN: Admiral William McRaven, I appreciate you coming in. Congratulations on the new book, you're making a difference.

MCRAVEN: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

NEW DAY continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Thursday, November 18th. And America is on trial watch as three major cases play out simultaneously. First in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where jurors are set to begin a third day of deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse double homicide trial. They spent the day on Wednesday reviewing drone video evidence, including one that prompted the defense to make a second motion for a mistrial. Attorneys claim they received an inferior copy of the key video from the prosecution.

BERMAN: In Brunswick, Georgia, Travis McMichael, one of the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, took the stand in his own defense, telling the court he had no choice but to pull the trigger. And in Charlottesville, Virginia, juror this morning will hear closing arguments in the Unite the Right civil trial. A federal lawsuit seeks to hold white nationalists accountable for the deadly violence that erupted during the two-day rally in 2017. Let's go first to CNN's Martin Savidge live in Brunswick, Georgia, for the latest on the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. And we are expecting what could be a very vigorous cross examination today.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. The moment that the defense took over this case, the first question in everyone's minds were could one of the defendants possibly take the witness stand? And then the next question was, and who would that be? We got the answer in less than 30 seconds.


SAVIDGE: The defense beginning their case with a key witness, the man who fired his gun three times killing Ahmaud Arbery.

TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: I want to give my side of the story. I want to explain what happened and to be able to say what happened from the way I see it.

SAVIDGE: Travis McMichael testifying on his own behalf saying he shot Arbery in self-defense.

MCMICHAEL: I get to the front of the truck, and by the time I get to the front of the truck, he is at the front corner panel on the righthand side, and he turns and is on me in -- is on me, in a flash, immediately on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you're doing what?

MCMICHAEL: He grabs the shotgun, and I believe I was struck on that first instance that we made contact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking at that moment?

MCMICHAEL: I was thinking of my son. It sounds weird, but that was the first thing that hit me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do?

MCMICHAEL: I shot him.


MCMICHAEL: He had my gun. He struck me. It was obvious he was -- obvious that he was attacking me, that if he would have got the shotgun from me, then it was it was a life or death situation. And I'm going to have to stop him from doing this. So I shot.

SAVIDGE: McMichael is one of the three men facing felony charges in connection with Arbery's death. He and his father Greg McMichael chased Arbery in a truck while he was jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, in February, 2020. McMichael testifying he began following Arbery because he believed he was responsible for a series of break-ins in the neighborhood.

MCMICHAEL: We finally stopped, asked him what was going on. He never says anything to me. He still looking at me, and I thought this guy's -- this could be volatile. Just kind of watch it here. I ask him again, what happened down the road? Why are people pointing down the road? What are you running from? He didn't say anything, and he's still in the same spot he is. He's not squaring up or anything like that, he's just standing there. And I said, hey, the police are on the way. As soon as I said the police, he turned and ran straight back down.

SAVIDGE: The defendant describing why he decided to reach for his shotgun.

JASON SHEFFIELD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: As he's running towards you at this moment, what are you thinking?

MCMICHAEL: That I'm pretty sure that he is going to attack.

SAVIDGE: Disturbing video of the fatal incident captured by his neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan's cell phone.

MCMICHAEL: A shot, the first shot, and then a shot, and then the second shot I shot again because I was still -- I was still fighting. I was still -- he was all over me. He was still all over the shotgun, and he was not relenting. So I shot again to stop him. That third shot, which I thought was -- that final shot he disengaged. And at that point he let go, he turned and continued to run down. And at that point I was in shock.

SAVIDGE: McMichael telling jurors what happened after he shot Arbery twice.

MCMICHAEL: I turned around, we got over there, and pulled his hand out from under him, and realized that he was deceased. And I looked up and the police were right there. I stood up, realized that, that I got a gun here and that he is -- that he's passed away. The police are on scene. So I walked over to the side and put my shotgun down. After that, it was -- it was a blur.

SAVIDGE: Defense attorney Jason Sheffield asking McMichael about his use of force training in the coast guard.

SHEFFIELD: Did you ever have to use intermediate?


SHEFFIELD: Or deadly force?


SAVIDGE: In cross examination, the prosecution asking him about that training.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: You were taught that deadly force is only to be used as a last resort, correct?

MCMICHAEL: That's correct.

SAVIDGE: Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski saying there is no proof McMichael tried to conduct a citizen's arrest.

DUNIKOSKI: You just testified under oath that you're not going to chase or investigate someone who is armed. That's correct, right?



DUNIKOSKI: And not once during your direct examination did you state that your intention was to effectuate an arrest of Mr. Arbery until your attorney asked you that leading question, isn't that right?


SAVIDGE: She also questioned McMichael about rumors versus evidence of crime in the neighborhood.

DUNIKOSKI: So it's fair to say you had incomplete information about who was committing the crimes in Satilla Shores?


SAVIDGE: And asked if he knew why Arbery was jogging there that day.

DUNIKOSKI: But you said he's running down the road, correct?


DUNIKOSKI: And you didn't know where he was going when he was running down the road?

MCMICHAEL: I did not.

DUNIKOSKI: And you had no idea what he actually had been doing that day?

MCMICHAEL: Not at that time, no.

SAVIDGE: During about three hours on the witness stand, McMichael's father, who is also a defendant in the case looking on, his mother also in the courtroom sitting close to Wanda Cooper Jones, who was listening to the man responsible for her son's death.

WANDA COOPER JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: Mr. Travis McMichael killed my son, all on assumptions. He had no real facts, so where Ahmaud was coming from, what Ahmaud had done. He just took actions into his own hands.


SAVIDGE: It was a remarkable day in court. And we're expecting a repeat of that again today, for a number of reasons. That vigorous cross examination will continue of Travis McMichael. Outside the courthouse today, though, there is going to be a gathering of black pastors. That's been an ongoing issue for one of the defense attorneys. There is going to be a rally that will include the Reverend Al Sharpton as well as attorney Ben Crump, and dozens of more people. And then on top of that, there will be a march that will go through the community. So inside and outside the courtroom today it will be a very important one, probably one of the most important of the trial. John and Brianna?

BERMAN: I have to say, this cross examination could be pivotal. Martin, thank you very much.

KEILAR: So let's talk about that and what we saw yesterday with the founder of the Hatchett firm and the host of "The Verdict" Judge Glenda Hatchett, as well as former head prosecutor in Morris County, New Jersey, and a host on the Law Network, Robert Bianchi. Judge Hatchett, just to you first, let's talk first about what we saw yesterday. What did you think about Travis McMichael's testimony?

JUDGE GLENDA HATCHETT, HOST, "THE VERDICT WITH JUDGE HATCHETT": I thought it was a disaster, frankly. I think that the defense was boxed in and felt they had to put him on the stand to try to establish the piece about self-defense. That's really what they're standing on. But I thought the prosecution yesterday, and I expect that to happen today, will just really tear apart the testimony.

First of all, the whole thing about the citizen's arrest was after the fact. That came up after the fact. And she systematically needs to really establish what was happening with Georgia law. He didn't have any information. There was no basis, assuming that that's what he now is going to claim, well, he is claiming, there is no basis for that. You have to have immediate knowledge under Georgia law, or you have to have a reasonable basis that there was a felony committed. None of that happened.

And then to say that this is self-defense when you brought the weapon, when you interfaced with him is absolutely ridiculous. And also the whole thing about his Coast Guard training I think is very, very important for the prosecution to have started there, saying, under these circumstances, how do you use lethal force? And I think today is going to be -- I agree with you all, I think this is going to be a pivotal day in this case.

KEILAR: Robert, let's listen to the moment where Travis McMichael is on the stand, and he is describing the moment when he approached Arbery.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you talked to him. What did he say?

TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: Yes, so I said, hey, stop for a minute. Stop. Please stop. Well, he didn't say anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he stop running? MCMICHAEL: No, at this point he's still running. But I notice that

he's -- he looks very angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe that, what do you mean?

MCMICHAEL: Mad. It wasn't what I expected for just coming up and talking to him. It was clenched teeth, closed brow. He was mad, which made me think that something -- something's happened. Why would --


MCMICHAEL: It's not what I expected at all.


KEILAR: He said he was angry for just coming up and talking to him. We have seen the video. We know what happened. That's not -- I'm sure you don't bring your shotgun in your truck when you're just going up and talking to someone. Is the jury going to buy that?

ROBERT BIANCHI, HOST, THE LAW AND CRIME NETWORK: This is a -- first of all, I think the state doing a good job with this case. But the defendant has to take the stand. He has to explain to the jury what was going through his mind at the time in order for them to determine whether or not it was reasonable.


And that defense attorney set up an environment where there were a number of burglaries going on, there was actually an encounter with Travis Davis and Ahmaud Arbery if you believe the statement previously, it is captured on a on, there was an encounter with on, there was an encounter with Travis Davis and Ahmaud Arbery if you believe the statement previously, it is captured on a 911 call 11 days before in which he says on the 911 call that Mr. Arbery, if in fact it was it, reached toward himself like had a weapon. So, when he was chasing him, defendant's story was he recognized it was the same person.

So what the judge said, the question is whether or not he's going to be able to avail himself of the citizens arrest law that was existing at that time, but moreover, it is going to come down to whether or not there was self-defense at the moment.

What strikes me about this case and the Kyle Rittenhouse case, the gun plot train. You carry a gun because you're worried about your self- defense. You have an incident, you pull that gun out. Then you may have a person on the other end of that gun that is in fear because a gun is being pointed at them.

That person goes to grab the gun to defend themselves from not being shot and the person that has the gun says I got to shoot that guy because he's grabbing my gun and he can use it against me. So we're seeing this same kind of idea that goes on, like in New Jersey and New York where the gun laws are more strict you don't see this happening so much. But here you do. So, the question is going to be very simple, was Travis the aggressor

or was he reasonable to believe he could use deadly force because his weapon could be taken away from him, or was Ahmaud Arbery a person who was confronting a weapon and trying to stop from being shot and therefore he's the victim. So that's a crucial answer.

Last point on this is as a former homicide prosecutor, look, when a defendant takes a stand, it is a big deal. You want to score points. But you also don't want there to be jury sympathy. There could be lesser included offenses down the line, as we have learned in the Rittenhouse case.


BIANCHI: When he got up there, I will say one thing, he came off as a very articulate, squared away, well-trained person in the military, talked about his son, and that was last thing that went through his mind, I'm not saying it is going to make the day, but it is a prosecutor I'm worried will he get one juror, just that one juror that says, I can't convict this guy based on this.

KEILAR: I think we'll see that. We have to leave it there unfortunately. I think we're going to see the prosecution try to turn around his military experience on him today, so we'll be looking for that.

Judge Hatchett, Robert Bianchi, thank you to you both.

HATCHETT: Very welcome.

BIANCHI: Pleasure.

BERMAN: Just in, a new warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci that they're seeing an uptick in COVID hospitalizations among people who are vaccinated but haven't had boosters.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins me now.

This was interesting to hear from Dr. Fauci saying that, yes, there are more vaccinated people in the hospital.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is interesting because that's been the whole argument, the whole discussion about boosters is do boosters keep people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19?

So let's take a look. I called Dr. Fauci and I said I heard what you said on NBC, can you give me the data behind this? And so here is the data that he gave me. This is Israeli data.

What the Israelis found when you look at severe cases of COVID-19, among people 60 and older, you can see, you know, well over half of them are in unvaccinated people. That's the big red line on the left. That's very clear that being unvaccinated is the biggest risk.

But interestingly, the middle bar is the number of cases for people who had two doses but have not been boosted. The far bar, the tiny one, is people who had two doses plus a booster. In other words, if you're boosted, you're more than five times less likely to get severe COVID-19. Now, that's among people 60 and older, and what the FDA is currently considering and we're expecting to hear from them today on this is whether there should be boosters for all adults, for everyone 18 and older.

Dr. Fauci says that if we're seeing this in 60 plus, we can expect to see it in younger people as well. He also -- he -- many people said will we see in Israel with boosters that we can expect to see in the U.S., Israel is ahead of the U.S. in their booster campaign -- John.

BERMAN: You know what? It's nice to have that direct number. Thank you for that clarification on what Dr. Fauci is saying. That's important data, Elizabeth Cohen.

Lover of violent anime, Congressman Paul Gosar, censured. New reporting on what his fellow Republicans really say about him behind closed doors.

And just in, Vice President Kamala Harris responds to reports of tensions within the West Wing.

KEILAR: Plus, comedian Bill Maher making a prediction about Donald Trump's 2024 plans.


BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: 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.



KEILAR: This just in, Vice President Kamala Harris responding to CNN's exclusive reporting regarding the West Wing tensions and her role in the Biden administration.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Okay, let's talk about your role now. Vice presidents always face chatter about their role and the relevance, you're no exception to that. Even your close friends, like lieutenant governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, have expressed some frustration because they think you can be more helpful than you've been asked to be. Do you share that frustration? What do you say to your friends who are frustrated?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a good week. And this week when we got this bipartisan infrastructure act passed and signed by the president makes a statement about all the hard work that has gone into it, month after month after month. I've traveled around the country, as has the president. We have convened members of Congress, we have convened people around our nation, asking what do you want, and this is a response to what they want.

And it is actually going to hit the ground in a way that is going to have direct impact on the American people. We're getting things done and we're doing it together.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you don't feel misused or underused?

HARRIS: No. I don't. I am very, very excited about the work that we have accomplished. But I am also absolutely, absolutely clear eyed that there is a lot more to do and we're going to get it done.



KEILAR: Harris did not respond to Biden's tough poll numbers or questions of whether he'll run in 2024, saying she's focusing on their current tasks at hand.

BERMAN: The latest insurrectionist sent to jail time is the man known as QAnon Shaman or Jacob Chansley. He was sentenced to 41 months yesterday in one of the longest sentences for an insurrectionist yet. The Justice Department asked for Chansley to receive a harsh sentence as a way to set an example among the January 6th rioters.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar of California. He's a member of the select committee on the January 6th insurrection.

Congressman, what is your take on that sentence? You know, Chansley, the QAnon Shaman, a nonviolent offender, but serious infraction getting in the way of the doings of Congress.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, we'll leave the Department of Justice to handle those issues but I will say that it sends a strong message about the behavior and activity that happened on January 6th.

And so, some of the others that have yet to be prosecuted are more serious offenders, individuals who struck police officers and tried to continue to perform harm on them and so those could be even tougher sentences. But we'll leave the Department of Justice to do their job in prosecuting those.

BERMAN: Your committee has said it is going to send mark meadows the former chief of staff a letter specifying the information that it wants from him. He's so far refused to testify or cooperate, has that letter been sent?

AGUILAR: We're in the final stages of what we're going to be doing next steps here. But Mr. Meadows is on notice. He knows very well what we want the questions that we want to ask to him and there has been discussion with his legal representatives and so he just continues to stone wall. And I think we have shown very clearly what happens when individuals

stone wall. There is no such thing as absolute privilege, and we're going to take every step possible to ensure that we tell the truth and seek the facts related to January 5th and January 6th and those rallies and the insurrection and assault on democracy.

BERMAN: What does it mean to be on notice? Is that like probation? I mean, he's not cooperating. Either he's coopering or not, right?

AGUILAR: Well, I'll let the chairman answer those questions as far as next steps, but I can tell you the committee continues to have robust discussion on what those next steps are, we trust the process, we have a plan, the things that you see are just one aspect of a broader investigative effort that is being undertaken, that has led to 200 witness interviews, so there is a lot of activity, John. I think people understand -- yeah?

BERMAN: Just your opinion, Congressman, is there a difference to the privilege claims being used by Mark Meadows, and by Steve Bannon. How similar or different do you see those two cases?

AGUILAR: Well, clearly with Bannon it is completely cut and dry. This is an individual who did not work for government since 2017. Nothing that he discussed have privilege with the president or the campaign advisers that he was in coordination with. So that -- there is zero privilege with respect to Steve Bannon.

With Mr. Meadows, clearly as a senior adviser, you know, he played a role in giving the president advice. But what I will tell you is and the courts upheld this there is no such thing as absolute privilege. And the record will show the types of questions that we're going to answer have nothing to do with the conversations he had directly with the president.

BERMAN: But you do see them as different legally, that Mark Meadows might have a greater claim to some privilege?

AGUILAR: Yes, Mark Meadows might have a minor claim to some conversations, but his conversations about stopping a free and fair election, about criticizing and stopping the counting of electoral votes, about his coordination with campaign officials on private devices that were not turned over, all of those issues are not privilege worthy and he has some explaining to do.

BERMAN: Very quickly, Bill Maher was on -- on with Chris Cuomo last night and talked about what he sees as an inevitable future for Donald Trump and the Republicans. Listen.


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. [08:30:00]