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Dramatic Week For Race, Justice After Verdicts and Exonerations; Prosecutors Tell Trump Org Exec He Likely Won't be Charged; The Reality Vs. Perception of U.S. Economy Are Out of Sync. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 25, 2021 - 07:00   ET



DWYANE WADE, AUTHOR, DWYANE: No. I understood that his decision was super hard, especially leaving his hometown. I didn't pressure him. I'm just a little nervous, making sure. But I knew at the same time. I just -- Chris Bosh said just sign with us. So, if he had a change of heart, we were still going to all right, it was going to be fine.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: You had a championship under your belt already.

So, listen, current and -- actually, no. It is not really in the current NBA but it's in the current news. It has to do with another big team. I'm talking about the Chicago Bulls and what's going on between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Jordan did his whole documentary. And now, Pippen has got this book.

And he writes something about Michael Jordan here, I want to get your take on. He says, I may go so far as to say Mike ruined basketball. In the 80s on the playgrounds, you've had everyone moving the ball around, passing to help the team. That stopped in the 90s. Kids just wanted to be like Mike. Well, Mike didn't want to pass, didn't want to rebound or defend the best player. He wanted everything done for him.

WADE: Yes. They need to sit down and smoke a cigar and have a drink. It's a simple as that. It's not for me to comment. I was not there. I grew up a fan of both those guys. I play the game of basketball because of those guys, both those individuals. I love them. And so sometimes you need to get in a room and have a cigar and a drink, just wine or something. They'll be all right.

BERMAN: Dwyane Wade -- and they should read the book. And I think that both feel a lot better and at peace with themselves with their own lives if they read your book.

WADE: No, did they find, how did they find. But I appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: Dywane Wade, thanks so much for coming in. I appreciate it. Congratulations on the book.

WADE: Thank you. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, November 25th. I'm john berman. Brianna is off. Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins here for this Thanksgiving morning. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN NEW DAY: Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone at home is pouring their cup of coffee and putting their turkey in the oven.

BERMAN: This morning, as Americans pause to reflect, there is new fallout from this consequential week for race in this country and justice in this country.

First, in deep south Georgia, a jury of 11 whites and 1 African- American finding three men guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged down the street, this after weeks of defense lawyers making racially-charged remarks by in the courtroom.

In Charlottesville, a jury finding the white supremacist who organized the deadly 2017 rally liable for the ugly and deadly chaos, awarding plaintiffs more than $25 million in damages, those white supremacists that used the trial to promote their messages of hate.

COLLINS: In Kenosha, Wisconsin, a jury finding Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in the deaths of those two men during the unrest there last year over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man. Rittenhouse now emerging as a darling of the political right, as Republican lawmakers are even fighting to hire him as an intern on Capitol Hill.

The case putting the debate over vigilantism in the spotlight and landing Rittenhouse with an audience with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Also this week in Florida, four black men were wrongfully accused of raping a white teenager in 1949 have now been exonerated. And a black man named Kevin Strickland is now free after 43 years behind bars for a triple murder he did not commit after being convicted by an all- white jury. Strickland says he wants to spend the rest of his life looking at the ocean and making sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.

BERMAN: We're going to start with the guilty verdicts on the trial for the men now convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery. I want to bring in Criminal Defense Attorney Stacey Richman and CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson.

Joey, I just want to reflect on this moment, because what happened in Georgia, the deep south, you had an almost all-white jury convict three white men for killing a black man. Now, I don't want to say that's never happened. It's not something that's never happened before, but it was significant. It was an important moment. What made the difference, do you think?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John, it was really incredible. And as I reflecting upon it, I was thinking the fact that we were so nervous in the light of overwhelming evidence, is it a reflection of where we are or does the verdict speak to where we have come, right? And so those are the conflicts as I go through in my mind, like why -- how could you be so nervous in light of such overwhelming evidence, but the jury got it right.

And I think that there is a system and you could focus on a couple of things in this case. You could focus on the issue as it relates to the first prosecutor really trying to otherwise protect these defendants, right? You remember, she's under indictment herself for the fact that she intervened in an improper way and she'll have to deal with that. And then she gives it to another prosecutor. John, what happens? He writes a memorandum saying there is nothing to see here. And then we have 74 days, two and a half months go by and they're not arrested.

You could focus on that and you could focus on the fact that the system ultimately got it right. You had people of goodwill rise up and say, you know what, there's evidence here, we want a closer look. There are things that are amiss here. We want you to dig down, peel back the onion and see what's going on here, and they did that.


And so, finally, we thought there wouldn't be any justice as a collective, right, and then here we are where we have a jury trial and there's so much that's there.

And I think what made the difference to sum up in the heart of your question is it's about facts and it's about the law. And the verdict speaks to the facts, John, and it speaks to the law because when you have issues of relating to I'm going to invoke a citizen's arrest but there is no crime, how do you do that? I'm going to invoke a citizen's arrest. It certainly doesn't happen in your presence, nothing happened but him going and looking at the construction site. And then when you look at the issue of self-defense and you have -- you provoked the attack, you were the initial aggressor, you were the ones ultimately committing the felonies, I think the jury looked at it.

And last thing I will say before Stacey, and that is look at the verdict too. The verdict was just not, okay, let's just go home. They really had a nuanced verdict with respect to issues that they found issues of guilt and issues of not guilt. At the end of the day, they got it right. It's an overwhelming day. And I just think it's speaks to where we could really be as a country if we focus on facts, focus on issues and focus on what's right and proper and just, and that's a good thing. . BERMAN: Stacey, the end of this trial made me reflect on the beginning of this case, which was 74 days before the arrest or charges were brought, 74 days. And it was because the video came to light that there were ever any charges. This is what I said made me reflect on the beginning. The video was more or less handed over by two of the defendants because they thought it helped them. And it made me just think about the prism with which they and society looks at this.

STACEY RICHMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Without question. They probably were quite proud of the video. They thought that it demonstrated everything that they needed in terms of their defense, that they were just, that they were right. And this reflects the prism of the problem in our country. They saw a black man running, which was their 911 call. That was their emergency, black man running. Why can't a black man run through any neighborhood?

So, it does reflect still the racial divide within our country and within some people until each one of us can see our other that may look different than the other as themselves. That racial divide remains. That is the work of our nation. But in this particular case, these three defendants, I'm sure that they are baffled about how this can be. They probably still see themselves and their actions as just, and that's terrifying.

BERMAN: An appeal. All the defense teams have already said they going to appeal. Any grounds here for appeal?

RICHMAN: Yes, there will be grounds for appeal. The defense attorneys throughout have tried to lay down certain bombs throughout. There are complaints about the jury pool at the beginning. They were complaining there were not enough white men over 40 in the jury pool. But then you ended up with a white jury with one black juror. So, there was 11 white and 1 black.

And I think this does reflect social progress. As noted, trials are typically to decide if someone has committed a criminal wrong in our community. Sometimes, however, they do reflect social progress, and that happened here.

BERMAN: Joey, and just, again, looking forward, there are still federal charges here.

JACKSON: That's right.

BERMAN: What will that case tell us?

JACKSON: I think it will tell a lot. First of all, it's telling that there is even a federal case to begin with, right? Because you can have simply a state case and it go away. But the federal government says, we're going to take a deeper dive into this and we're going to do something a little different. That case is going to be about the interference of Ahmaud Arbery's rights predicated upon him being African-American. It will be about their actions as it relates to and how they were motivated by that very fact.

And in keeping with that, John, we're going to hear evidence that we didn't hear in this case with respect to text messages, allegedly, that were exchanged between the defendants that don't really put them in the best light with regard to a particular slur that was made by Travis McMichael, the son, at the particular crime scene. Exactly, Stacey. And so it's going to be a different type of dynamic with respect to what the federal government has to prove.

But I think it's necessary it should be done and that's what justice should be in this country.

BERMAN: Joey Jackson, Stacey, Happy Thanksgiving to both of you. Thanks so much for coming in this morning.

JACKSON: And you, John. Take a day off, will you?

BERMAN: The rest of the day. First, I had you guys coming in. I'm not going to miss that. Have a wonderful day. Thank you for coming in.

RICHMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: A top Trump Organization executive, Matthew Calamari, is off the hook, at least for now. New York City prosecutors are telling him that they do not intend to bring charges as part of their ongoing criminal investigation into the Trump business.

CNN's Kara Scanell joins us now with more. Kara, Matthew Calamari had been under a lot of scrutiny. So, what's behind this decision by prosecutors?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, good morning, Kaitlan, the prosecutors here now telling Matthew Calamari that they will not bring charges against him for now. This suggests a shift in where the investigation is going. They had been looking at Calamari as part of a tax fraud scheme, whether he had received off-the-books compensation and didn't pay taxes on it.


By putting him aside for now, it shows that they are really intensifying their focus at the core of what this investigation has been looking at all along, and that is whether the Trump Organization that artificially inflated the value of some of its properties, office towers, hotels, golf courses when they were seeking loans or tax breaks, and then lowering artificially those same property values when it came time to pay their taxes.

So, now, we are in the home stretch here. There are five weeks left in the term of the Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance. He did not seek re-election. And he has wanted to wrap this investigation up before he left office. But the clock is really ticking here.

And they have been beset by delays. Of course, this investigation, had a subpoena fight that went up to the Supreme Court twice. And in addition, there is an ongoing subpoena happening behind closed doors in a sealed proceeding that we don't know that much about. But that has all led to some delay in this investigation.

But if Vance doesn't make a decision by the end of the year, this decision and this investigation will go to his successor, Alvin Bragg. He is a longtime prosecutor, has worked at the New York Attorney General's Office and it will fall to him to make the final decision. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: It is a big case to put on Alvin Bragg's plate when he starts that job. Kara Scannell, thank you for that.

Joining me now is CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams. So, Elliot, you just heard Kara there saying that the window of it is kind of closing when it comes to Cy Vance. His time is coming to an end. So, is this entering a critical phase? What is this looking like for this investigation?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, to be candid, Kaitlan, it just doesn't look like they have much of anything. A lot of these compensation cases -- and he would have been charged with getting unjust compensation and not paying taxes on it. Prosecutors usually don't charge them by themselves unless they have, tax crimes or something else. It seems they don't have anything else on them. So, what they're doing is just abandoning prosecuting him.

So, it seems and suggests that the case or the investigation isn't going that well against everybody, both Matthew Calamari and the whole Trump Organization.

COLLINS: Yes. So, they seem to be transitioning it away from just looking Matthew Calamari instead of going back to the original part of the probe, which was looking to see whether or not the former president had overinflated the value of his properties. But that seems pretty hard to -- it's a high bar, right, to prove that they defrauded the potential lenders?

WILIAMS: Let's take it a step further. Not only is it a high bar to prove, but who is going to prove it? So, Allen Weisselberg was the chief financial officer. He is not testifying. Matthew Calamari, who was, I guess, in effect, the chief operating officer, he is not going to testify. To prove a case like, you have got to put somebody on the stand who is going to testify against the company. It looks like they just don't have it.

COLLINS: I want to switch gears. It is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for joining us. But, obviously, what we are seeing this year a lot of people traveling that we did not see last year. And, of course, that is leading to more and more of these videos that you see of people on planes acting completely unruly and out of hand.

And, obviously, a lot of this is being prioritized by law enforcement. And the attorney general has sent out a memo telling federal prosecutors, and you're a former federal prosecutor, to prioritize these cases. And so what do you read from that memo from the attorney general?

WILLIAMS: Look, attorneys general do this all the time, put out memoranda to their folks, to states and locals, and just saying, look, work together to prioritize this these kinds of cases. This is going, as you said, Kaitlan, a tough travel season. And there are federal offenses that are being committed on planes, from assaulting flight staff to disrupting the flight or whatever. So, people can go to jail.

Look, another thing to pay attention to is, not a long ago, there was a memo from the attorney general with respect to violence at school boards that go incredibly politicized. I have a hard time seeing, for whatever reason, we're not going to get into that today, but I have a hard time seeing that this reaches that level of political drama just because this is important. You don't want people disrupting flights when there are already fewer flights happening in America.

COLLINS: Yes. It's one of those things where everyone --it is like just get on the plane. Everyone be nice, relax.

WILLIAMS: Get on your mask.

COLLINS: Go to sleep.

WILLIAMS: Don't punch your flat attendant. It's that straightforward and it shouldn't rise to the attorney general's desk, but here we are.

COLLINS: I know. Well, thank you for joining us and breaking it all down for us.

WILLIAMS: Happy Thanksgiving.

COLLINS: Happy Thanksgiving.

Coming up, JPMorgan CCEO Jamie Dimon has made a joke, and why is he apologizing to China's Communist Party.

Plus, the CIA director is sending a blunt warning to Russia. What he said would happen if Russia is behind the mysterious Havana syndrome attacks.

BERMAN: And a Thanksgiving gift to Kaitlan Collins from the coach of the Crimson Tide. Why he is going after the unappreciative fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one wants to win worse than they do. Not me, not you, and I don't care what kind of fan you are. Nobody wants to win more than the players that play, nobody.


We will get reaction from CNN's chief Alabama correspondent.



COLLINS: This morning, there are strong signs of a robust economic recovery. Jobless claims just hit their lowest levels since 1969. Retail sales are soaring. And the stock market is near record highs. And yet Americans have a pretty gloomy outlook on the economy.

Joining us now is CNN Economics Commentator and Washington Post Opinion Columnist Catherine Rampell and CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor at The Atlantic Ron Brownstein. Thank you both for joining us.

Catherine, I want to start with you. If you're at the White House and you're looking at these numbers, what are you walking away with this from?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: I think the White House has to be very careful. On the one hand, this is a pretty good economy. As you point out, right, good unemployment numbers, good jobs numbers, GDP is back where it was pre-pandemic. Stock market is doing well.


There is a temptation to do a victory lap, of course.

But if you look at consumer sentiment numbers, they're quite low right now. Americans are worried about the loss in their living standards because of inflation. So, the administration has to be careful about touting these numbers too proudly because they might seem out of touch or tone deaf or dismissive of the very real concerns that Americans have about inflation. They have to acknowledge those concerns and present a plan for getting to the other side of them.

BERMAN: What a political challenge, Ron. And I can't necessarily think of a precedent here. But you have a jobs market. You have GDP. These numbers are good, just really, really good. But you have a White House that doesn't seem to be gaining any political capital from it.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, inflation, you know, eclipses the sun, right? I mean, it is something that people feel every day, sometimes many times a day. We have not had many bouts of serious inflation in this country. But when we have, I think it ascended to obscure all other issues.

I mean, the hope for the White House has to be if the economists are right and that this is fundamentally temporary, driven in large part by shift in how we spend our money from services to goods, that it recedes at some point next year, kind of stops blocking the sun, and all of these other economic indicators gain prominence in the way people are assessing the economy.

And there's only so much they can do, as I'm sure Catherine can tell us, in the near term. They will try to market the Build Back Better agenda as helping families deal with their daily costs. And, in fact, it does have powerful measures to help people deal with child care costs, healthcare costs, prescription drug costs, put more money in their pockets with the child tax credit. But, fundamentally, I think this is a waiting game until inflation recedes and allow some of these other factors to come to the floor.

COLLINS: And, Catherine, it could be a pretty long wait game for this White House, because they are hoping that these numbers and these price increases will recede by next year. But people are celebrating Thanksgiving today. Their turkey is costing about a dollar more, which the White House has said. That is an increase we're not happy with it, but it's only about a dollar more. But, still, gas is more, where they're going to visit relatives, family, maybe for the first time since the pandemic.

And so how does the White House work with that as these holidays are happening? How do they deal and combat with these high prices and high energy prices?

RAMPELL: It's really tricky. As Ron points out, the administration, the president, in particular, has very limited tools to deal with inflation, in general. The president gets a lot of blame for whatever happens with the economy, including with prices but just doesn't have that many levers that he can pull.

Now, he is trying to show that he is doing something. That's why we saw this announcement about releasing barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve earlier this week, which I don't frankly think is going to move prices all that much. But he needs to show that he is doing something to address these concerns.

There are other tools he could deploy, you know, things like expediting the processing of work permits for illegal immigrants, things like that, things that they don't seem so willing to deal with right now. But even those wouldn't have much of an effect. So, I think you see this administration basically trying to say, hey, we understand your pain. We are doing something about it. They don't want to say acknowledge the truth, I think, which is that they can't really do that much.

And as Ron says, it is kind of a waiting game and they are hoping it will pass. And they are hoping that the tradeoff will be worth it, that the economy has run hotter, that means we'll have faster growth, faster hiring, we'll get back to where we need to be on a lot of other metrics, and this inflation will pass. And on the other side of it, things will look like it was worth the tradeoff.

BERMAN: Ron, the turkey thing is actually really illustrative of the challenge right now. Because the numbers that the White House put out, they're right, right? Was it a 20-pound turkey, which is a big bird that feeds a lot of people, will cost you $1 more. And the White House, I think, was putting that out to put in perspective and say it's not that much but they have to be careful because people do feel the pain.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. There's nothing -- I mean, as I said, there is nothing like -- there's no political issue quite like inflation in terms of how often people feel it during the course of their week and even their day. And so, you know, while inflation is high, it's hard to imagine they're going to get a lot of credit for these other things that are going on in the economy. To some extent, high inflation is the price that literally that you pay for the level of growth that they have kind of ceded through the rescue plan and some of their other measures.

But, you know, John, there is a lot of precedent here for kind of what we are seeing, which is a president comes in at a moment of economic turmoil, it doesn't turn around fast enough to prevent his party from having a bad midterm. As the economy stabilizes and gains momentum in the second half of his term, he recovers to win re-election.


I mean, that's pretty much the story of Reagan from '82 to '84, Clinton from '94 to '96 and Obama from '10 to '12.

So it's unclear that Democrats will get the credit for an improving economy in time for 2022. That depends a lot on how fast the inflation recedes. But I think there is more reason for them to be confident that they could be getting this kind of tailwind in time for the second half of Biden's presidency and this epic battle that we are shaping up for in 2024.

COLLINS: That's certainly something the White House is counting on. Ron Brownstein, Catherine Rampell, thank you both for joining us this morning.

BROWNSTEIN: Happy Thanksgiving.

COLLINS: Happy Thanksgiving.

A warning to Russia directly from the head of the CIA over the mysterious Havana syndrome attacks. We have new reporting ahead.

BERMAN: And overnight, an update from President Biden's doctor following this week's trip to Walter Reed. What we just learned about the president's health.