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Jury Finds White Supremacists Liable in Charlottesville; January 6th committee Subpoenas Proud Boys and Oath Keepers; Documents Reveal Epstein's Final Days; Hatice Cengiz is Interviewed about Her Letter to Bieber; Steven Cohen is Interviewed about the Belter Rape Case. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 06:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to cost them a lot. White supremacists who organized the violent Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have been found liable and will have to shell out more than $26 million in damages.

Jason Carroll joins us from Charlottesville, where jurors, Jason, they didn't agree on all of the charges but they certainly agreed that organizers need to pay up big time.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do. And they now have the legal muscle to go after these defendants in any way that they can. They can garnish their wages. They can lean -- put liens on their property, bankrupt them if they need to. I mean, basically, at this point, what the plaintiffs' attorneys are saying is, this is a major step in holding these defendants responsible for the violence that occurred that day.

There were 17 defendants. As you know, some of them individuals, some of them organizations designated as hate groups. And while the jury ended up finding them liable for millions, they did end up deadlocking on two of the federal conspiracy charges, conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence and failing to prevent a conspiracy. But, the jury did end up finding them liable on four other claims, including state conspiracy claims and subjecting plaintiffs to racial and religious harassment.


AMY SPITALNICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTEGRITY FIRST AMERICA: This verdict sends a very clear message that violent hate won't go unanswered. That there will be very serious consequences for the sort of extremist violence we saw here four years ago.

JOSHUA SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The defendants in the case are destitute. None of them have any money. I don't know how any of the plaintiffs are going to get anything for any of this.


CARROLL: Well, despite what he's saying there, they are saying that they will be able to go after them financially.

And, Brianna, as for those two claims that they were deadlocked on, plaintiffs' attorneys say they're -- this is not over. They're not done yet. They say they are going to go back and relitigate those claims, saying that they intend to get a verdict for those claims in the future.


KEILAR: Yes, look, they'll go after future earnings, you know, if there are any, even if they don't total $26 million.

CARROLL: Exactly.

KEILAR: Jason Carroll, thank you for that report.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, new subpoenas rolling out of the January 6th committee. This time the House panel is demanding information from at least two high-profile extremist groups to probe their possible connection to the Capitol attack.

CNN's Paula Reid here with me with those details.

This is interesting. Individuals and organizations this time.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's really interesting to see their strategy here, who exactly they're targeting.

Now, the House Select Committee investigating January 6th issued five subpoenas on Tuesday, and they were targeting right-wing extremists groups that were involved in the attack.

Now, first on the list, the Proud Boys. Lawmakers say the group called for violence in the days leading up to January 6th. A few dozen individuals affiliated with the organization have already been charged by the Justice Department. Now, the group's leaders were involved with some of the early clashes that overpowered the police lines and breached the building.

Now, in addition to the organization itself, lawmakers also targeting their leader, Enrique Tarrio, who was not physically in D.C. on January 6th because of a prior arrest but was allegedly involved in preparations for the events at the Capitol.

Also receiving a subpoena, the Oath Keepers and their leader, Stewart Rhodes. Now, members of the Oath Keepers were seen weaving through the crowds in military formation and entering the Capitol Rotunda. Now, they're accused of stashing weapons at a Virginia hotel before the riot. More than a dozen members have been charged in the attack on the Capitol and prosecutors have said they conspired ahead of time to disrupt the Electoral College proceedings. Now, it's important to note, Mr. Rhodes has not been charged.

Now, the panel also subpoenaed Robert Patrick Lewis, chairman of the 1st Amendment Praetorian, a group that the committee says provided multiple security from multiple rallies leading up to January 6th.

Now, in a statement, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Missouri Democrat who chairs the committee, said, we believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack.

Now, several dozen subpoenas have already been issued as part of the investigation with mixed success. Investigators say they've spoken to more than 200 witnesses. But we know, of course, many of the key allies, Trump allies, have stonewalled the committee and not provided documents or certainly any depositions.

BERMAN: No, but now they have a whole bunch of subpoenas out there. They have a whole bunch of -- of hooks that they've cast, as it were, lines that they've cast. I'm very curious to see how many people come back. They're going to be very busy if these people start coming in and talking.

REID: It's going to be a process. There's likely going to be some ongoing talks now that we've seen the consequences for Steve Bannon. It's typically a negotiation. You try to work out a way to cooperate. But for anyone who believes they could potentially have any criminal liability, they also have the option to show up and just plead the fifth. It's not clear they're going to actually get anything out of these folks.

BERMAN: And we haven't seen anyone do that yet.

REID: Yet.

BERMAN: All right, Paula Reid, thank you very much.


BERMAN: So, we have brand-new reporting on Jeffrey Epstein's final days. What new documents reveal about the weeks before his suicide.

Plus, he raped four girls, admitted to it, received no jail time. Why the judge let him walk free.

KEILAR: And, moments ago, NASA launched an Armageddon-style mission to smash an asteroid in order to alter its path from earth. Their attempt to save humanity, ahead.

BERMAN: I think it's a "Deep Impact"-style mission.

KEILAR: Yes, maybe.


BERMAN: This morning, new information about Jeffrey Epstein's final days in prison before the disgraced financier took his own life.

[06:40:00] Just released prison documents reveal that despite warning signs, Epstein denied having any suicidal thoughts. Honestly, that's just the beginning.

Brynn Gingras here with CNN's new reporting.

Brynn, what have you learned here?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just beginning because this was a 2,000-page report that actually "The New York Times" obtained first, and we received these documents as well.

And this is really a postmortem report that was within these 2,000 pages by the Bureau of Prisons, essentially kind of outlining how Jeffrey Epstein was behind bars. And it's very much what we sort of have known about him outside, in the outside world, of having these two -- sort of two different personas. You know, psychologists were noting that he was withdrawn. Meanwhile, he's talking about his life with celebrities and he's gloating to prisoners and he's have -- really living these two different worlds.

And, essentially, he was in and out of psychological observation in those 36 days when he was behind bars. And, really, what these documents are just showing is the mishaps that were going on behind bars too leading up to that date of when he took his own life. Not only are those two guards that we had learned so much about in the -- in the -- after this, but the fact that the log books weren't kept up, the fact that his intake form said he was black when he is white, the fact that he -- it was said that he was never a sexual predator when we know he was a sex offender that was convicted back in Florida.

So, there was so many blunders that were taken by the Bureau of Prisons during this just 36 days that he was behind bars, that it's noted in these 2,000 pages of documents. And in response to that, the Bureau of Prisons did release a statement, that they said in part, quote, as a general manager, BOP has launched a task force that will address mental health implications of housing individuals alone in a cell and is committed to improving its suicide prevention program. And they go on to say how they have learned from this and essentially they're going to make a lot of changes. And we know that prison, of course, where this all happened, has closed down after that DOJ investigation.

BERMAN: Yes, I mean, obviously the psychological part is just part of it, but the ham-handedness of it all, I mean the mistakes they made.

GINGRAS: Over and over and over again. I mean just -- the day before he took his own life, he said he was going to make a phone call, left his lawyers early, who he spent much of his time with, not in the cell but actually with his lawyers. And he said he was going to call his mother. Well, his mother had been dead for more than a decade at that point. I mean just things like that, that -- that they're just mind- blowing in this report.

BERMAN: Finally, "The Times" makes a point of say it, you know, it went through all the documents. GINGRAS: Yes.

BERMAN: There's nothing in there that draws any question to the fact that it was a suicide.

GINGRAS: Right. Correct. There were all those conspiracy theories after the fact. "The Times" even went into deeper with the documents and said that even a cell mate had said they heard the bed sheets ripping when -- before this happened. So, there's just no question there that this was a suicide. And, again, there's just so many mistakes that were made on behalf of the Bureau of Prisons.

BERMAN: Brynn Gingras, thank you so much for that.


KEILAR: A desperate plea from Jamal Khashoggi's fiance to Justin Bieber, don't perform for the murderers who killed the love of her life. We will speak with her live, next.

BERMAN: And new doorbell video shows the arrest of the Waukesha suspect in the deadly Christmas parade crash. And we're now -- we're now learning a sixth victim has just died.



BERMAN: The fiance of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi calling on Justin Bieber to cancel an upcoming concert performance at Saudi Arabia's inaugural Formula One racing event next month. Hatice Cengiz writing an open letter published in "The Washington Post," quote, this is a unique opportunity to send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the representation of a regime that kills its critics. Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal. Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.

Hatice Cengiz joins us now.

I really appreciate you being with us.

Why did you think it was so important to write this letter?


Good morning, everyone.

It has been three years, actually, and I am seeking for justice in every place that I found, or every -- every way that I can speak out and telling my story or reminding what happened to Jamal. And when I -- when I heard and -- that Justin will sing in Saudi Arabia, and I decide to write this letter because it is so -- so weird. So -- it's a shame for -- for someone, like a singer, a very famous singer, and -- and behaving -- the kind of -- something -- not happen. So -- and it is a he main reason that I wrote this letter. And when I -- what I did, it is -- it is very, very important to remind him again that the Saudi do not deserve that (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: What does this performance -- what does it give to the regime? What does it give to Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia?

CENGIZ: As you know, he's a murderer of journalist Jamal, and the others also in prison right now. There is a lot of people, 100 and -- and -- 100 -- and 100 people in the prison. There is no justice in Saudi Arabia. There is no freedom in Saudi Arabia because of this, the -- the crown prince killed Jamal.

So, and, in this case, and very interesting, Justin calling his album is "Justice."


And another album also is "Freedom." And what I -- what I hope or what I need to understand in this case, when he called his album "Justice," he has to be on the side of justice. So, what -- what -- what -- the idea that he's thinking about the saying or calling that is (ph) justice. And at the same time we are staying injustice.

BERMAN: Have you had any response yet from Justin Bieber about what you've written?

CENGIZ: No, I did not.

BERMAN: And why pick on him? There are other artists, ASAP Rocky and others, who will be performing there as well? Why just focus on Justin Bieber?

CENGIZ: I'm not focusing on Justin Bieber. If you follow me, I'm -- I'm doing a lot of complaining against a whole people doing -- doing business with Saudi -- or not Saudi, with MBS, the crown prince. So when I heard from Human Rights Foundation, they are doing a campaign against this performing in Saudi with Justin Bieber. And I -- and joined them with this letter. And they organized trucks and planes to fly over the American Awards in last Monday.

So this is actually important because he is a very, very famous singer. And he has a big responsibility. And he remind us a couple of months ago, he has a mission. He has -- he has to remind people the kind of -- these values. So I just want to remind him in this situation because it is -- it is unacceptable for me to see someone really famous and the younger generation has a million -- more than a million followers. So then he's going and performing in Saudi Arabia at the same time these people -- the killers.

BERMAN: Hatice Cengiz, you message continues. We appreciate the work you're doing. We continue to be sorry for your loss and for pointing this out. People should know that Justin Bieber and Mohammed bin Salman, they're on the website, there's a picture of each of them on this website. The regime is using his performance really to promote Mohammed bin Salman at the same time. So very much connected.

Hatice Cengiz, thank you for your work and your message. Appreciate it.

New reporting from CNN this morning, House lawmakers describing a toxic and hostile work environment.

KEILAR: And ahead, from the movie to a real-life "Armageddon," almost exactly except for the ways that it isn't. What NASA here, not Bruce Willis, doing this morning to attempt to stop an asteroid from crashing into earth.



KEILAR: This morning, outrage as a judge, one month away from retirement, by the way, declined prison time for an admitted rapist. Twenty-year-old Christopher Belter, who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual assault of four teenage girls while he was also a teenager and then violated his probation is getting no jail time. The judge saying this, quote, I'm not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain, there was great harm, there were multiple crimes committed in the case. It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn't appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.

Joining us now is attorney Steven Cohen. He represents on of Belter's survivors, who Belter admitted to attacking.

Steven, your client must have been floored by this news.

STEVEN M. COHEN, REPRESENTS VICTIM IN TEEN RAPE CASE: She was horrified. She actually got sick when the judge said there would be no jail time and she threw up in the ladies room.

KEILAR: She was physically ill from this.

So, tell us, you know, how you see this. Belter admits to raping four girls. He gets probation. He violates probation, he gets more probation.

Why do you think the judge came to this decision?

COHEN: I have absolutely no idea. And this comes following promises that were made to these girls that if you -- they urged them, you know, speak out, testify against this criminal, you need to get him off the streets, you need to stop him from doing this to other people. And, yes, it's going to be painful to cooperate with the district attorney and with the police agencies, but it will be worth it in the end because you'll be protecting other people from this -- this criminal and you'll be -- you'll see justice. And none of that happened. None of that happened.

KEILAR: So, you're -- it sounds like you're concerned this judge has allowed someone to go free who you are concerned will actually rape other people. COHEN: It's not just my concern. I mean Dr. David Heffler, a renowned

expert in sexual criminal behavior, was asked to testify in this case. And Dr. Heffler testified that he is -- at an above average risk to reoffend. But when asked on cross-examination, what would be -- would it be in Christopher Belter's best interest for him to go to prison or for him to continue to receive therapy as a free man, the therapist properly said, well, it would be in Chris Belter's best interest for him to be able to regularly attend therapy and take libido decreasing drugs and not be incinerated.


But this shouldn't be about what's in Chris Belter's best interest. It should be about doing justice for