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The Situation Room

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (ph) Says, House To Vote On Infrastructure Bill Tonight; Biden Gets Boost From Stronger-Than-Expected Jobs Report; Trump-Era DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark Stonewalls January 6th Committee; Virginia Lieutenant Governor-Elect Becomes First Woman Of Color Elected To Statewide Office In The Commonwealth; Washington Comes Together To Remember Colin Powell. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 05, 2021 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Bidding closes November 14.

Be sure to tune-in to the State of Union Sunday, among the guest New York City Mayor Eric Adams, mayor-elect, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Maryland, the governor, Larry Hogan. That's at 9:00 and noon Eastern.

Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. See you next week.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, House Democratic leaders say a long-awaited final vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill will happen tonight. We'll break down their new strategy, what it means for the broader Biden agenda and whether dueling progressives and moderates are onboard.

This comes as President Biden is getting a boost on the economic front. He's touting a stronger than expected jobs report, claiming it shows his plans are working as stock prices hit record highs.

And a former Trump Justice Department official who pushed bogus election fraud claims stonewalls the January 6th select committee, Jeffrey Clark refusing to answer questions for 90 minutes.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're standing by for a House infrastructure vote promised by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, tonight after weeks and weeks of false starts and infighting. Final passage of the bipartisan bill would be a huge and hard-fought victory for President Biden. But there is still uncertainty hanging over the vote and there is more work to do on the other -- the broader piece of the Biden agenda.

Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly and our Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean are working this breaking story for us.

Jessica, things have been moving very fast. Give us the very latest on Speaker Pelosi's plan to actually hold an infrastructure vote tonight, despite serious objections from progressives in her own party. JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. And this was supposed to be the day when there was going to be a vote both on the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better, but that is not what we are seeing. Instead, right now, Democratic leadership says that they want to move forward with a vote on the infrastructure bill and a rule, which is a procedural vote, on the build Back Better Act.

Now, as you noted, that is not what progressives want. They have said from the get-go, they see these as linked. And now progressives are threatening to tank the infrastructure vote. We're told as many as 20 could be prepared to say, no. And my colleagues, Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju, reporting that President Biden did call the chair of the Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Jayapal, and she told him she is a no right now on the infrastructure bill. Listen to Democratic leadership from just a little bit ago.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We had hoped to be able to bring both bills to the floor today. Some members want more clarification or validation of numbers that have been put forth, that it's top-line, that it is fully paid for and we honor that request. So, today, we hope to pass the BIF and also the rule on Build Back Better, with the idea that before Thanksgiving, it should take another week or so to get the numbers that they're requesting.

I do believe that there are a large number of members of the progressive caucus who will vote for the bill. That is my understanding. I'm with the members all the time. And my own -- now, Mr. Clyburn has the official whip count. I have speaker's secret whip count.


DEAN: And she said there that she has a good feeling for this. But, Wolf, the fact remains that we do not know if they have enough votes to pass this infrastructure bill.

And the hang up here, the reason they're not going forward with the original plan for today, is that a small handful of moderates, you heard Pelosi talking about it there, wanted a CBO score, which takes days, perhaps even weeks to get back. That's not coming today.

And they said they would not vote until that got back to them. Progressives said, fine, wait on that and let's vote on both of them together. But instead, House leadership pushing forward, Wolf, and now we will see if progressives will vote for the president's agenda or if they will hold the line and let this bill fail on the floor.

BLITZER: Unless some Republicans in the House decide to go ahead and vote in favor of it. There were 19 Republicans in the Senate who voted for it. We'll see if Republicans bail out Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats this time around. Stand by.

You know, Phil, the president started the day with strong economic news. And tonight, he's involved in some serious, as we just heard, backchannel efforts to try to get this basic bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate over the finish line and let him sign it into law.


Give us the latest.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. If you flash back to 8:30 A.M., when the jobs numbers came out, the White House had all the makings for a monumental day for this administration, beating estimates on the jobs number, the real possibility that both pieces of President Biden's dual $3 trillion domestic agenda could pass through the House. One of those pieces, the infrastructure bill, would end up on his desk, signing a bipartisan and significant proposal into law.

And what transpired in the hours that followed was intensive work from White House officials, first, trying to get that group of six moderates to be okay, to some degree, with the White House's own internal estimates about the cost of the bill and how it would be paid for.

That ended up not bearing fruit. Therefore, they shifted over with Speaker Pelosi to this idea of trying to get progressives to let the infrastructure bill through. There have been calls throughout the day by President Biden, including, as just mentioned, to Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. Those calls have not, at least to this point, unlocked the path forward on the votes.

The president's top advisers have been both physically on Capitol Hill and working the phones back here at the White House trying to figure out or at least help to any degree they can, Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team's effort to try and get things in order.

And I think when you look at what's going on right now, Wolf, compared to where they were just a few hours before, 531,000 jobs, the unemployment rate dropping down to 4.6 percent. The message the White House has wanted to get out amidst talk about rising prices and concerns about the economy. And instead, they're back here once again just trying to unlock the path forward for his legislative agenda, Wolf.

BLITZER: And the Dow Jones, Wall Street reaching another record, up another 200 points today. Phil Mattingly, thank you. Jessica Dean, thanks to you. Both of you stand by. If there are breaking news developments this hour, we'll, of course, get back to you.

But let's discuss what's going on with a key player in this push and pull over the Biden agenda, Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida is the Democrats' Chief Deputy Whip. She's also a key member of the January 6th select committee. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know the House speaker says the plan is to move ahead tonight with votes, but right now, about 20 of your Democratic progressive colleagues say they won't vote for the infrastructure bill without the bigger spending bill at the same time. Democrats could only afford to lose three votes, unless Republicans come in and vote in favor of the legislation. What do you think? How do you get there?

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Well, great to be with you, Wolf. And I am so grateful to see that Speaker Pelosi is putting forward a path forward, so that we can continue to work towards achieving President Biden's agenda. First, we get an opportunity to vote on the infrastructure bill, which has been sitting in the House since August 11th, when it was sent over from the Senate, after achieving a bipartisan vote, including a vote from Senator McConnell.

I think it is a historic bill that makes significant investments and it's long overdue. Let's not keep the American people waiting any longer on that piece of legislation and those investments. And then, we will take a vote on the rule, which enables us to proceed on the path to review and consider the Build Back Better agenda, when that bill is ready. And I hope that we have success there as well.

BLITZER: Do you think these 20 progressives, the Democratic progressives, are bluffing right now when they say they're not going to vote in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

MURPHY: I can't say what they're thinking, but I would think that it would be a missed opportunity not to be a part of a historic investment into broadband, ensuring that communities have clean water, that people's commutes are safer, that there is public transportation, so many things that are so important for the American economy as we try to pull out of the recession that was a part of the pandemic.

BLITZER: As I pointed out, 19 Republican senators voted in favor of the bill and it's already passed the Senate. Do you think Republicans in the House are going vote in favor of the legislation if it comes up tonight for a vote?

MURPHY: I think there will be some Republicans that will vote in favor of this historic bill, because they, too, have constituents who need this investment into their roads and bridges and broadband and clean water.

BLITZER: You say that you want to actually see a score, an accounting from what's called the Congressional Budget Office on the bigger $1.75 trillion spending bill before a vote. But progressives had been ready to vote for both bills, they say, at the same time, and put their trust in moderates. Why couldn't you do the same right now?

MURPHY: I know it might seem like a really radical idea to want to know how much money that you are spending when you vote for a bill, but that's all that we're asking for. We want a sense from an independent Congressional Budget Office to provide us with a little bit more information about the bill.

You may not know this, but the bill text came out -- the final bill text came out at midnight this morning, basically. And so, when we're talking about investments in the American economy that touches people's lives, from the time they're born until the time they die, it really is important for us to understand exactly how much taxpayer dollars we're spending and what good things can come out of that and also what exactly is in the bill.

This is good governance. And I think it's what the American people expect out of their legislators.

BLITZER: Text, I take it, correct me if I'm wrong, is what at least 2,000 pages, is that right?

MURPHY: Yes, it's 2,130-some pages. So, we're working through all of it. And I look forward to getting additional information so that I can make an informed decision on behalf of my constituents and deliver for them the incredible climate change provisions that are in this bill, as well as the provisions that are supporting working families.

But it's a responsible way forward from a government perspective. And that's all we're asking for, is a little more information and a bit more time.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Congressman, you're also a key member of the January 6th select committee. You were supposed to hear directly from the former Trump Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark today, but he showed up, but he didn't answer any questions. The chair of your committee says contempt is certainly on the table. How soon will you decide that?

MURPHY: Well, we were deeply disappointed that somebody who so recently held an office of public trust to uphold the Constitution willfully shown in front of our committee and tried to obstruct justice and refused to provide information. So, he will have a short amount of time before we take our next step, but we don't have a ton of patience and we are willing to use contempt.

BLITZER: I suspect that will happen. All right, Representative Stephanie Murphy, good luck to you. Thank you so much for joining us.

MURPHY: Great to be with you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we're going to have more on that former Trump Justice Department official appearance before the January 6th committee and his refusal to answer any questions. We're going to take a deeper dive into how the former president has been trumping democracy.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: The House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection heard from one of its most highly anticipated witnesses today, but it didn't hear much.

Our Congressional Correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is joining us. Ryan, this witness is a former high-ranking Justice Department official who pushed then President Trump's lies about the 2020 election, calling them fraud. Tell us what happened.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. And the committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, said that he refused to answer any questions about the substance of the events leading up to January 6th.

And the committee is reacting pretty harshly to that. The committee chairman putting out a statement in just the past few minutes that reads in part, it's astounding that someone who recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution would now hide behind vague claims of privilege by a former president, refuse to answer questions about an attack on our democracy, and continue to an assault on the rule of law. As prescribed by the House rules, I have considered Mr. Clark's claim of privilege and rejected it. He has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully. And the question tonight, Wolf, will the committee take the step of criminal contempt against Jeffrey Clark?


NOBLES (voice over): For weeks, the January 6th select committee has been trying to talk to this man.

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL: Good morning. I'm Jeff Clark. I'm the Head of the Civil Division.

NOBLES: Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump-era Department of Justice Official, was seen in this exclusive video Friday morning entering a House office building to answer questions from the committee. The meeting did not last long. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Clark did not answer any questions.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): My understanding is he did not cooperate. And we will look forward after our meeting this afternoon as to next steps. I have, as chair, the ability to rule on some of the issues that were raised.

NOBLES: One of those steps could be a criminal contempt referral of Congress.

Clark is a key figure in the January 6th probe, a Trump loyalist, who peddled false claims about election fraud within the department, with the goal of getting the agency to investigate the claims.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Clark had a lot to do with this plan for January 6th and he also was apparently making a play to become the attorney general.

NOBLES: Clark's efforts were rebuffed by the two men running the DOJ at the time. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, both men had already sat before the committee for lengthy interviews.

Clark's current attorney is Harry McDougal, a Georgia-based lawyer with connections to Sidney Powell. Powell and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were part of the public push by Trump allies to spread the big lie and sow doubt in the 2020 election results. New video obtained by CNN shows Powell and Giuliani testifying under oath in a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems in august. At one point, Giuliani concedes that he often had no proof to back up his wild claims about the election.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: It's not my job, in a fast-moving case, to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me. Otherwise, you're never going to write a story, you'll never come to a conclusion.


NOBLES (on camera): And another big focus of the January 6th select committee, the intelligence failures that led up to the chaos on that day. CNN learning that the committee interested in the roles of two individuals brought in to the department just two months before January 6th, who implemented changes that some Capitol police officers say led to all the confusion on January 6th.



BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thank you very much, Ryan Nobles reporting.

Let's get more on all of this. Joining us now is CNN's Jake Tapper, the anchor of The Lead. Jake, thanks very much for doing this and thanks for your reporting. We're going to talk about it in a moment. But this obstruction that's going on by Jeffrey Clark, it seems to be right out of the Trump playbook.

TAPPER: That's exactly right. If you have nothing to hide, why not answer questions? I mean, it seems very clear that other Trump Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and others, have answered questions. Why not answer questions? When you work for the government, this isn't an opportunity to advance yourself. These are acts for the American people.

Now, obviously, there is such a thing as executive privilege and obviously, there's such a thing as not wanting to share everything you do. But if Jeffrey Clark had nothing to hide, why not answer the questions?

BLITZER: And you would think a former high-ranking Justice Department official would be willing to do so.

TAPPER: Yes. Unless he, of course, was proposing something that was unconstitutional, potentially even against the law, then, of course, I can understand why he wouldn't want to share that. But Trump still wields so much power when it comes to former officials of his and Republicans, in general, people are afraid of him.

You have a really important, very powerful documentary that will air later tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern here on CNN, and you spoke to a whole bunch of Republicans, Republicans who are deeply concerned about what Trump was doing, what's going on right now. I want to play this clip. This is from one former Trump official, former Trump official, who is terrified that Trump potentially could run again and maybe even win.


TAPPER: Do you think he will try to impose some form of autocracy.

ALYSSA FARAH, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: I think that he absolutely would. There were things he wanted to do when he was in power the first time that were well beyond the scope of what the U.S. president should be able to do. But oftentimes, it was simply like the motivation of hoping to win re-election that kept him from doing things. It's very different in the second term, and I think that's what scares me the most.


BLITZER: Strong words from her. In your documentary tonight, you highlight the fear that the effort to undermine democracy is going on right now.

TAPPER: Right. We talk to -- other than a few journalists, the people in our report tonight, our documentary, are all conservative Republicans, Alyssa Farah, who we just saw in that clip, the former Trump White House Communications director, a very conservative Republican. She used to be the spokesperson for the House Freedom Caucus. They are all worried. Not that Donald Trump will come into office and enact conservative policies. They support conservative policies. They are worried that because, A, they see him as having tried to subvert democracy, steal an election, disenfranchise millions of legal American voters, they think he's going to do it again, will be better situated, and as you just heard from Alyssa Farah in that clip, what will he then do once you undermine American democracy, what other parts of what make this country great will he undermine?

BLITZER: Is Merrick Garland, the attorney general, working fast enough to make sure that these witnesses actually testify, Steve Bannon, now Jeffrey Clark, for example?

TAPPER: I think there is a legitimate question as to whether anyone in the Biden administration or anyone in Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, is as aware and acting with the sense of urgency that they need to act to make sure that it never happens again, that we come that close to democracy being completely undermined. Whether it has to do with Merrick Garland holding individuals in criminal contempt of Congress or whether it has to do with working across the aisle to have some sort of bipartisan protection for votes, for voters, I think that you could argue that no one in power is acting with the urgency that they need to.

BLITZER: And what's really interesting, some of these Republicans you spoke to are breaking their silence in your documentary tonight, and we'll hear from them really for the first time. This is really important. Jake, good work. Thanks very much.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: I appreciate it very much. And to our viewers, be sure to watch Jake's CNN Special Report, Trumping Democracy, an American Coup. It premieres later tonight 9:00 P.M. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, a surprisingly strong October jobs report, so what does it mean for New York City? I'll ask the mayor-elect, Eric Adams. He's standing by live. He'll join us when we come back.



BLITZER: We have breaking news tonight. We're awaiting a possible House vote on one of President Biden's spending plans, the bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate. But it remains a question whether or not Democrats have the votes to pass it in the House.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's working the story for us. Brian, as this drama plays out on Capitol Hill, the president today had some very good economic news.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some news he may have been desperate to get, Wolf. We have new information tonight on the American job market, which seems finally to be getting its mojo back.


ADAM JONES, JOB SEEKER IN CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: There's been a lot of different options.

TODD (voice over): At a job fair in charlotte this week, Dustin Jones was looking for a position requiring a commercial driver's license or in an office. Jones said he wanted a job that could hold if there's another shutdown due to COVID, and he was optimistic.

JONES: This is the best time to get a job. And people are very desperate to hire. So, as far as like qualifying, there's a lot of paid training on the job.

TODD: The U.S. Labor Department wholeheartedly agrees with Dustin Jones. It says the U.S. economy added a whopping 531,000 new jobs last month, about 80,000 more than economists had predicted.

RANA FOROOHAR, GLOBAL BUSINESS COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATED EDITOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: What this says to me is that the delta variant is ebbing, more people have been vaccinated and there is a lot of pent-up demand in the system, post-COVID.


People want to spend and people are getting back to work.

TODD: 22 million jobs were lost when the pandemic hit in March of last year. But since then, 18 million have been gained, a rebound of about 80 percent. The leisure and hospitality sector of the U.S. economy, which was hit hardest during the pandemic recession, is still about 1.5 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level. But analysts say the latest job numbers indicate a healthy rebound for that sector.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYST: Leisure and hospitality, that's where obviously we saw some really big gains, but, you know, construction, manufacturing, professional services, health care, all added very significantly, so all very encouraging. Really, the only part of the economy that didn't add to jobs was government.

TODD: And analysts say, certain demographics of people who reentered the workforce recently are fueling this surge.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC COMMENTATOR: Women were hurt especially badly early on in the pandemic, as you can imagine, because of the child care crunch. And I think we're finally seeing women catch up.

TODD: But, overall, the American economy is not free and clear of the pandemic.

RAMPELL: You have supply chain problems that are leading to inflation and shortages. You have consumers worried about the price of gas or about the price of groceries.


TODD (on camera): And tonight, at least one analyst is warning of what he calls a potential hard landing in the housing market, Wolf. Mark Zandi of Moody's says housing prices could really drop in the next few months.

BLITZER: We shall see. All right, Brian, thank you very much, Brian Todd reporting.

Let's discuss with the mayor-elect of New York City, Democrat Eric Adams. Mayor-elect, thank you so much for joining us, congratulations on your win. As New York City and indeed the entire nation right now seems to be recovering from this pandemic, you write in a new piece for, and I'm quoting you now, you write, when our cities succeed, America prospers. Do you think lawmakers here in Washington have forgotten that fact?

MAYOR-ELECT ERIC ADAMS (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): No, I just think from time to time, we don't stay focused on the core of the success of our country. Our national government, the lawmakers will make decisions, so, really, on is a city level, we have to carry out those decisions. And I think it's imperative that we keep our eyes, our ears and our focus on the cities.

BLITZER: Let's get to some of the specifics that you're going to have to deal with. During the campaign, Mayor-elect, you said you supported Mayor de Blasio's coronavirus vaccine mandate. Now, you say the city needs to, in your word, revisit how you address vaccine mandates. What exactly does that mean? What specific parts of the mandate do you want to revisit? ADAMS: I was extremely clear and have been consistent on this, that we need to make sure that we speak with the credible messengers on the ground. Those are the union leaders. And we saw today that the mayor was successful in coming to an agreement with union leaders after having a conversation. That is how we get this resolved. And I'm consistent about that. It's imperative that we speak to those who are impacted.

And one area I would look at. If you have a parent who has had the ability not to have a vaccine for any of their children because of religious observations, we cannot all of a sudden change that rule. If that is the consistency that this parent had for over 20-something years, then we have to respect that now, even with the vaccine now. And those are the areas I want to drill in and make sure that we continue with the success that we have witnessed.

BLITZER: As a result of the mandate, though, right now, we're told 92 percent of the New York City employees are vaccinated, so the question a lot of people are asking, why revisit something that seems to be clearly working and is keeping New Yorkers safe?

ADAMS: Because we are successful in it. And that's why we can revisit and make sure that we get 100 percent. What's stopping the next 8 percent? Let's find out. If we don't sit down and really dig into what is stopping that last 8 percent, we're not going to reach our goal.

One of the problems I'm finding in our country right now is no one is willing to talk anymore, to communicate with each other. Let's seek to understand so we can be understood, and we can get that last 8 percent, even if we get 6 percent of the 8 percent. There are 2 percent or probably even more who are saying under no circumstances would they do it. That's fine. Let's deal with as much as many as we can, and it comes with understanding better.

BLITZER: I'm a basketball fan. Let me ask you this question. As you know, some sports fans in New York City are hoping that you lift the vaccine mandate, which would allow Nets Superstar Kyrie Irving to return to the team. Should New Yorkers expect to see unvaccinated NBA players return to the court?

ADAMS: Well, let me tell you something. I'm a Nets fan, Brooklyn Nets, and I love Kyrie. I think he's a piece that we need for championship. And this is something that the NBA has made an agreement, if they are going to perform in the city, this is the agreement that they made.


So I believe that it's up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to an understanding of how they're going to get through this. And I believe they can come to a resolution.

BLITZER: But the NBA says it's the rule in New York City and they're simply obeying what New York City has ruled?

ADAMS: Right. And New York City is not going to change their rule, and, again, it's up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to a full understanding on how to keep them on the Nets and continue to look at all of our athletes that are coming here. And, again, I think the NBA and Kyrie is going to come to a conclusion on this.

BLITZER: Do you want Kyrie to get the shot?

ADAMS: It's up to Kyrie. You know that is his determination. I don't want to dictate for him. It's his body. He has to make that determination on what he wants to do.

BLITZER: Well, congratulations again, Mayor-elect. You're the winner and you've got a lot going on. We appreciate your taking some time and joining us. Thank you very much.

ADAMS: Thank you. Take care.

BLITZER: The mayor-elect of New York City, Eric Adams.

Just ahead, the murder trial of three white men charged with killing black jogger Ahmaud Arbery begins with a nearly all-white jury. We have details of opening statements when we come back.



BLITZER: Opening statements have begun in the trial of three white men accused of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was chased down and shot to death.

Let's discuss with Ben Crump, he's the lead attorney for Ahmaud Arbery's father. Thanks very much, Ben, for joining us.

On this first day of the trial, jurors saw the video of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and his mother decided to stay in the courtroom as well. Let me play what she had to say about that choice. Listen.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I decided to remain there so I can get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud for the last minutes of his life. I avoided the video for the last 18 months and I thought it was time to get familiar to what happened to Ahmaud, in the last minutes of his life. So, I'm glad I was able to stay strong and stay in there.

That's the first time I saw the video in the entirety.


BLITZER: Ahmaud's father, as you know, decided not to watch that video. How heavy a day was this for Ahmaud Arbery's family?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, LEAD ATTORNEY FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: It was extremely heavy, Wolf. As Attorney Merritt and I talked, it is so hard when you watch the video and then when you watch the police show up on the scene. And even though Ahmaud is down there on the ground with his fingers shot off, bullet holes in his body, the police officers are more concerned about the killers. Are you okay, everything fine, Never given an ounce of consideration or humanity to this young unarmed black man who was Wanda and Marcus' son lying dying on the ground.

BLITZER: The defense attorney, as you know, Ben, argued today that the shooting was in self-defense. Does that give you a sense of what the family is bracing for with these arguments?

CRUMP: Absolutely. As we told our clients, this is going to be Trayvon Martin and all over again, Trayvon 2.0 almost ten years later, where they are going to try to justify this unjustifiable killing, Wolf Blitzer, by saying, it was self-defense from the scary black person, even though Ahmaud was running away from them.

And if they were in such fear, all they had to do, Wolf, is stop chasing him and call 911 and let the police do their job. I cringed when I heard the defense lawyer say Travis McMichael was chasing Ahmaud Arbery because he was concerned about the safety for him and his five-year-old son. Well, if you're that concerned about safety, why would you go confront the person? Call the police and let the police do their job.

It is insulting. It is just aggravating. It -- it makes us feel like they can say anything after they kill us and think that we're going to accept it.

BLITZER: Ben Crump, we'll stay in close touch with you as we this trial unfold. Ben Crump, thank you very much for joining us.

CRUMP: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: New developments tonight in the case against the former New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. CNN's M.J. Lee is working the story for us.

M.J., the Albany district attorney is now calling the charge against him, and I'm quoting now, potentially defective. So, how serious is this?

M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this is a significant development in the sex crime case against the former governor. The Albany County's district attorney, David Suarez, writing in a new letter to a judge that the filing that was made by the Albany sheriff's office last week is potentially defective, for one, he says that it did not include a sworn statement from the alleged victim, this is former Cuomo Aide Brittany Commisso, and it left out some testimony from her that could be potentially exculpatory in court. This is according to the D.A.

He also says that the complaint misstates the relevant law and one other significant problem that the D.A.'s office is raising, he said that the Albany sheriff's complaint last week was unilaterally and inexplicably filed. In other words, the D.A.'s office didn't know this complaint was coming. The sheriff's office acted without coordination, which I should note, CNN reported at the time was very unusual and noteworthy.

So, what all of this means now is that Cuomo's arraignment has been postponed until January of 2022. The D.A. is going to continue on with its own investigation before deciding whether to move forward with the charges.


But all of this basically raises some serious questions and even doubt about the viability of this complaint. I should also note, of course, that Cuomo himself has denied the sexual misconduct allegations that came from multiple women -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll watch it with you, as well. MJ Lee, thank you very, very much. Coming up, an historic election win has one state poised to see a woman of color assume a statewide office for the first time.


BLITZER: This week's election saw some historic wins, including in Virginia.

Here's CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns.



JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winsome Sears' victory this week was nothing short of historic.

WINSOME SEARS (R), VIRGINIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR-ELECT: I didn't run to make history. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it.

JOHNS: With her win in the Virginia lieutenant governor's race, Sears became the first woman of color elected to statewide office in the commonwealth.

SEARS: Are you ready to rumble?

JOHNS: The 57-year-old sears was part of a Republican sweep of statewide races in Virginia running alongside Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin.

SEARS: We're going to have parental school choice now. We're not defunding the police.


Let me tell you about me.

JOHNS: Sears, a conservative firebrand, has pointedly criticized critical-race theory even though it's not part of Virginia standard of learning and voices fierce opposition to COVID vaccine mandates, even refusing to publicly disclose her own vaccination status.

SEARS: We are not going to care what the media says because the media doesn't like us.

JOHNS: Born in Jamaica, Sears first came to the U.S. as a child.

SEARS: My father brought me here when I was 6 years old and here I am running for the second-highest office in Virginia. Only in America.

JOHNS: On the campaign trail, she often recounted her immigrant story, touting her family's bootstrap success and blasting a so-called victim mentality.

SEARS: And so, I say to you, I am not a victim. My father is not a victim. This is not 1963. We can live where we want. We can eat where we want.

JOHNS: Sears served in the Marine Corps before graduating from Virginia's Old Dominion University. She's also been director of a homeless shelter and ran a bible study ministry in a prison.

In 2001, Sears became the first black woman Republican in the Virginia state assembly. After serving just one term, she ran for Congress, and lost.

SEARS: As my name says, you win some.

JOHNS: After that defeat, she went on to start up a small business.

And last year, Sears led an effort to re-elect President Donald Trump. While Youngkin kept Trump at arm's length during the campaign, sears did not shy away from her embrace of the former president.

SEARS: I became the national chairman of Black Americans to Re-elect President Trump.

JOHNS: But that loyalty to Trump did not cost Sears in Tuesday's election, emerging as a leading voice of the Republican Party in Virginia.

SEARS: And they say someone like me should not be a Republican. I'm destroying their narrative because, you know, they say Republicans are racist. Well, I have been black all my life.

JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: Just ahead, an emotional farewell to General Colin Powell by his family and some of the most powerful figures here in Washington.



BLITZER: Washington came together today to remember General Colin Powell as a patriot, statesman, reluctant warrior, and loving family man. President Biden joined with former Presidents Obama and Bush and many other dignitaries at Powell's funeral at the Washington national cathedral. The former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs Chairman died last month from complications of COVID-19 at age 84. His son, Michael Powell, gave a very moving tribute to his father and the bond they shared.


MICHAEL POWELL, SON OF COLIN POWELL.: One of my most powerful memories comes from holding my dad's hand. I was hurt very badly and lying in an ICU bed following a bad accident. It was the middle of the night. Yet, father was by my side after a long day of work. I was squirming in pain and anguish. Without a word, he just took my hand, and squeezed it with a father's love. It instantly relaxed and put me at peace.

The last night of his life, I walked in to see him. Now, he was the one lying in an ICU bed. He could not see or speak to me. So, I took his hand, just as he had taken mine decades before. I knew everything was not going to be okay.

I wanted him to be at peace. But again, I felt my father's love in that hand, that hand that took my mother's hand in matrimony. That hand that held me as a baby. That hand that signed report cards, tossed baseballs, and fixed old cars. That hand that signed treaties and war orders, saluted service members, and just for joyfully whilst telling a story, that hand is still, now.

But it left a deep imprint on the lives of family and dear friends, soldiers and sailors, presidents and prime ministers, and a generation of aspiring young people.


BLITZER: I had the great privilege of knowing General Colin Powell and covering him going back to the First Gulf War in 1991. A great, great man.

My deepest, deepest condolences to his loving wife Alma, a very special woman, and the entire family. May he rest in peace, and his memory be a blessing.