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Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Censured By House Over Violent Video; Rittenhouse Jurors End Day Two Of Deliberations After Video Review; Defendant Charged With Murder In Arbery Death Takes The Stand; Moderna Seeks Authorization For Boosters For All Adults; "QAnon Shaman" Sentenced To 3+ Years For Insurrection. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The U.S. House of Representatives censures one of its own for the first time in over a decade. Republican Paul Gosar rebuked and kicked off committees over a cartoon showing him attacking President Biden and killing his Democratic colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Also tonight, jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial just wrapped up their second day of deliberations after reviewing video evidence in a cleared courtroom. We'll break down the significance of the images they saw.

In another high-profile trial, one of three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery takes the stand, claiming he shot the black jogger in self-defense. I'll ask the lawyer for the Arbery family, Ben Crump, about this critical testimony.

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

We begin with the House chamber -- the House censure, I should say, of Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, and the partisan anger laid bare today during the historic vote.

CNN's Jessica Dean has our report from Capitol Hill.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The House will be in order. Will Representative Gosar present himself in the well.

By its adoption of House resolution 789, the House has resolved that Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona be censured.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Democratic-led House of Representatives took rare and serious step of censuring Republican Representative Paul Gosar after he posted a Photoshopped anime video showing him appearing to kill Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden. REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It's pretty cut and dry. Do you find -- does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable?

DEAN: Ocasio-Cortez addressed the House before the vote framing the situation as a question of, quote, what we are willing to accept?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.

DEAN: In his remarks, Gosar did not apologize but instead doubled down on the message in the video about undocumented immigrants.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): For this cartoon summoned Congress suggests I should be punished, I has said decisively there is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat of the immigration poses to our country. And no threat was intended by my staff or me.

DEAN: The final vote was 223-207 with just two Republicans, Representative Liz Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger joining Democrats. Republican Representative David Joyce voted present. Gosar was also stripped of his two committee assignments. Democrats argued the video was beyond the pale.

PELOSI: Death threats from our colleagues, death threats from members of Congress?

DEAN: This is the first time a House member has been centered in 2010 when Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel faced the punishment over multiple ethics violations. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Wednesday's vote an abuse of power.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It's an old definition of abuse of power. Rules for thee but not for me, that's exactly what's happening here today. House Democrats preparing to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.

DEAN: Ocasio-Cortez criticized McCarthy for his inaction. She said neither he nor Gosar ever reached out to her following the video.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: In response to the Republican leader's remark when he says this action is unprecedented, what I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body.

What is so hard, what is so hard about saying that this is wrong?


DEAN (on camera): And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested today that there could be retribution toward Democrats if the GOP retakes the House majority in 2022, that they may seek out and censure or punish or strip Democratic members from their committee assignments.


One moderate, House Republican Don Bacon, says while he doesn't want that to happen, that he thinks it's bad for the institution, that it's likely that would kind of play out, Wolf.

And one more thing, I caught up with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar earlier this afternoon as well and asked her if she was concerned about retribution and she called the whole thing childish, this threat that there could be retribution following today's vote. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jessica, thank you so much, Jessica Dean up on Capitol Hill.

Let's stay on Capitol Hill. Joining us now, a key House Democrat, Representative Jackie Spear. Representative, thank you so much for joining us.

You are the author of this resolution that passed today. Why was it so important to you, Congresswoman, to censure Congressman Gosar today?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): It crossed a red line, Wolf. That's why. We have never had a member, a colleague within the House choose to create an environment in which he kills another member even if it was a cartoon, as he put it, a cartoon. There was nothing funny about it. He was inciting violence. And when you incite violence, you create violence.

So, it was -- it crossed the line. As a victim of violence myself, I recognized what was being done there. The radical right continues to use Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a means by which they can whip up the base. Well, it's time for all of this to stop. And I said on the floor, if a Democrat did this, I would have introduced a resolution to censure them as well.

BLITZER: What does it say to you, Congresswoman, that only two House Republicans, there you see, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted with the Democrats to condemn -- to censure Congressman Gosar?

SPEIER: What it says to me is that this has become a blood sport. Rationality does not play a role anymore in how we conduct business in the House floor. And it troubles me greatly and I think that we have got to start to return the quorum and comedy to the House floor. And that means that we are all going to have to tamp down the rhetoric.

BLITZER: You warrant just a little while ago on the House floor that, in your words, inciting violence begets violence, and you connected this to the fear, the personal fear you felt during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, the violence you faced at the start of your own career surviving a shooting. How worried are you right now that Republican inaction is actually encouraging potentially a dangerous trend?

SPEIER: I'm very concerned. When you don't call out that kind of behavior, it is registered as tacit approval. And that's what hasn't happened. We haven't seen an apology or heard an apology from Mr. Gosar or Mr. McCarthy. And as you heard on the House floor, they were doing everything to deflect attention away from what we were there to discuss.

The problem is that the minority leader chose intentionally not to take any action. Now, if you choose not to take any action and you are going to place that kind of risk to House members, then we truly have a problem.

BLITZER: Both you and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, say this type of behavior is especially meant to intend women to serving in office. What do you say to anyone trying to scare women out of public life?

SPEIER: I think it's very intentional. And we've had -- service have been done of women, legislatures around the world. 82 percent of them said that they have been the victim of psychological threats and 42 percent had been victims of specific threats of rape or bodily harm. So, it's clear what's being done here. This is also misogynistic because it is suggesting that women do not belong in public power positions. So, they're going to silence them and they are going to discourage them from running.

BLITZER: As you know, the Republicans are warning of what they call retribution, saying it could be the Democrats who'll be facing similar punishment if Republicans become the majority after the midterm elections next November, which is possible. What do you say to that?

SPEIER: What I say to that is if a Democrat were to suggest that they were going to want to have a colleague murdered, then they should be censored as well. That's what we are talking about.

Now, the fact that one of my colleagues on the Democratic side, you know, it's important for you to speak up and get in their face and call out their behavior.


That is not causing someone to be killed. That is not suggesting that someone be murdered.

BLITZER: Representative Jackie Speier, thank you so much for joining us.

SPEIER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the second day of deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the second day has just ended. So, what might jurors have learned today from their review of video evidence?

Stay with us. You are in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on the historic vote today in the U.S. House of Representatives to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar.

[18:15:01] Let's get reaction from a former Republican member of Congress, CNN Political Commentator Mia Love, also joining us, CNN Senior CNN Political Analyst, former Presidential Adviser David Gergen, and our Chief Domestic Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Jim, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked her Republican colleagues why it's so hard for them to say this behavior by Gosar is wrong. Why is it apparently so impossible for them, Jim, to condemn this?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: It boggles the mind, Wolf. I mean, Paul Gosar should have been censured long ago just because of he is Paul Gosar. This is somebody who has associated himself with white nationalists, appeared at events with white nationalists. He sent out inflammatory tweet on January 6th, warning Biden, if he didn't concede, that he was going to come over there, don't make me come over there, and now comes this creepy anime video that he put out about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Biden.

Wolf, if the Republican Party is not going to punish people like Gosar, who is the nuttiest of the GOP fruitcakes at the country's door, they're never going to stand up to Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Mia, you served as a Republican in Congress. Did you ever think you would see so many Republicans simply brush off this type of threat, a threat to kill a fellow lawmaker?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's really interesting because I have always believed that respect is the beginning point of any productive conversation, debate and progress. And when I went into Washington, I did everything I could to gain the respect of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

So I just want to start off by saying yes, Gosar's actions are worthy of censure. But, sadly, I have to say, being in Congress and seeing the things that I have seen, neither side can claim the higher ground here. I think that there is rhetoric that has been pushed out on both sides. I was there when Steve Scalise got shot. I feel like members of Congress really need to go back and read everything I should have learned. I learned in kindergarten so that they can start treating each other with respect. I also hate the hypocrisy that I see in terms of seeing the House Freedom Caucus stand behind Gosar in this place where they're willing to go after members of Congress that voted for an infrastructure bill.

I would not have supported the bill but these are your colleagues. These are the people that you stand arm to arm with and you work with. And I find it so incredibly hypocritical and the tribalism to me is what's killing Americans. That's the reason why Americans are hurting. This is the reason why we can't solve the issue when it comes to gas. We can't solve the issue when it comes to inflation.

BLITZER: There's a lot of tribalism, a lot of partisanship obviously going on right now.

David Gergen, you have been around for a while. What did you make, first of all, of the rambling statement we heard from the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy? Some are already suggesting he was speaking to an audience of one.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly was speaking to that audience of one. I think he probably wanted to go beyond that. But I think he completely misreads the situation. This is not fundamentally about a joke made by a congressman who continues to dismiss it. It is about preserving our Constitution.

And the guardrails that have surrounded the Constitution for a long time, for centuries, we have agreed that we not only are guided and instructed in the law by the Constitution itself but by the traditions they have grown up. And one of those traditions is you do not threaten another member of Congress with violence. You do not -- and especially coming out after June 6th and realizing this an open carry country these day, it's so close to the edge, some 18 -year-old or 19-year-old is going to take it upon them self to pick up a gun and go for it if we are not very, very careful.

BLITZER: Yes, you make an excellent point.

Jim, these lawmakers saw firsthand how words actually turned into violence on January 6th. How dangerous is this trend, in effect, normalizing violence?

ACOSTA: Wolf, this is very dangerous. And I think what we have a problem with in this country right now is there is an incentive structure for inciting political violence in the United States. And that incentive structure is basically there for people like Donald Trump, people in leadership and the Republican Party, you know, people on the far right, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorne, Paul Gosar and so on, yes.

Today, for example, the QAnon shaman, the so-called QAnon shaman received his prison sentence. Sure, the Justice Department can go after people like him. They can go after the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. But until this government, until this Justice Department gets serious in going after the people who incite political violence in this country, it is going to continue.


That incentive structure is going to remain in place. And we are going to have this problem until, unfortunately, we may have some sort of cataclysmic event in this country.

And I think to play off of what David was saying just a moment ago, this is a legacy-defining moment for Kevin McCarthy. If Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker of the House, the closest way to become speaker of the House by allowing all of this to go on, then he owns the consequences of whatever happens from a domestic violence, domestic extremism front, domestic terrorism front, if it's carried out by the far right while he's speaker of the House. There is just no other way around it.

BLITZER: We're going to have more, by the way, on the sentencing today of the QAnon shaman later this hour. Stand by for that. Everybody stand by. There is a lot more news we're following here in The Situation Room, including a review of video evidence and a request for a mistrial as jurors spent a second day deliberating the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse. All of the breaking news on the trial, coming up next.



BLITZER: There is more breaking news we are following tonight. The jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has just ended its second day of deliberations with no verdict.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for us.

Omar, the jurors reviewed some video evidence before leaving for the night. One of the videos the jurors asked to watched actually prompted the defense to call for a mistrial. Tell our viewers what happened.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. So, this basically all stemmed from -- or the main dispute today stemmed from a piece of drone video that showed what happened back on August 25th, 2020. The main dispute as part of this was that basically a Kenosha police detective obtained this video, to begin with, air dropped it to the prosecution and then separately emailed it to the prosecution and the defense. And the reason that was an issue because the email compressed the video, meaning some of the quality was lost there.

And the defense said today that is not fair, especially because they did not find out about this loss in quality along with the state until after testimony in this trial had ended but before closing arguments. So, they argued, we would have done this a little differently if we had as clear a view at the evidence, as you all did.

Well, the prosecution argued back, saying, it doesn't quite matter what's on your phones or how this was sent, because what was played in court that the defense and the jurors got a chance to see clearly is what really matters in this case. The exhibits are what matter versus the video that was emailed. Take a listen.


JAMES KRAUS, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, KENOSHA COUNTY: This exhibit was played. The jury is asking to see exhibits that they have seen, and that the defense saw when they were played in court. What's on my phone or my laptop or defense's phone or laptop is of no matter. What matters is the exhibit. And that exhibit was played. It was not objected to.


JIMENEZ: Now, regardless, the defense says they will be filing a motion for mistrial without prejudice, meaning it could be tried again based on this idea of fairness all around this one video. That the defense heard -- the judge, I should say, has yet to rule on this one along with previous motion for mistrial the defense filed on separate grounds.

BLITZER: All right. Omar, thank you very much, Omar Jimenez, on the scene for us.

Let's dig deeper right now with our CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the author of the book, The Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Investigation of Donald Trump. And we are also joined by the state attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida, Dave Aronberg. Dave, thanks very much for coming in.

What does it mean that the jury actually wanted to spend some time watching this footage once again? They spent about 45 minutes watching it.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, Wolf. I think it could go to the issue of provocation. That's a linchpin for the prosecution. Because if you show that Rittenhouse was the initial aggressor, then it takes away his self-defense rights, then he has the duty to retreat. So, this all goes to that.

And I'm not surprised that the jury wanted to see it, because when it comes to Rosenbaum, that is the one victim that is most likely to be convicted as far as the defendant. Because Huber and the Grosskreutz killings, Grosskreutz had a gun, Huber had a skateboard, Rosenbaum had a plastic bag that he threw at him. So, if they're going to convict on most serious charges, it's going to be about Rosenbaum. That's why I'm not surprised that the jurors want to see more evidence relating to his shooting.

BLITZER: I thought, Laura, it was interesting that the jurors only -- that the defense wanted the jurors only to see -- re-watch video one time. The judge rejected that argument. What does it tell you, if anything, about what's going on that the defense wanted to limit access to that video?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's absurd to think about the idea of limiting the ability of a jury to fully deliberate. They didn't ask them to get a flash of the jury instructions or any evidence that might be more conducive to their own defense.

The jury, when they have deliberations, are able to view whatever they like, we don't know what's happening fully behind those closed doors. I mean, if they want to see some the evidence, it's an inkling into where their minds, where the discussion is going. And so if the issue of provocation, if the issue of I want to see with more clarity what actually happen, frankly, if you are the prosecution or the defense, you are wondering what you did not explain or convey to witness testimony to your closing arguments to summarize it in some degree, and you are wondering where you are missing the most crucial aspect for this particular jury. But they shut every access and every right to evidence they like to see provided it was actually already in evidence, which this was.


BLITZER: It certainly was in evidence. Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorneys, Jeffrey, as you know, they are seeking a mistrial already. Do they have a solid argument?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think so. If you could establish that the prosecutors intentionally gave an inferior copy of the video to the defense, then there might be some grounds for a mistrial. But there is absolutely no evidence that that took place. And as the prosecutors pointed out, this video, this good copy of the video was played in court and the defense had no objections. So, I think this is an example of tempers getting frayed towards the end of the trial, which often happens. But I don't think this is a legally significant moment.

And I do think that it's good that the jury is looking at the evidence. That's what we want jurors to do, which is pay attention to the evidence and decide the case accordingly.

BLITZER: Yes, pay attention as long as you want, just study it and make a decision.

Dave, based on what we have seen so far over these past several days from the judge, Bruce Schroeder, what do you think he's going to do as far as mistrial motion is concerned?

ARONBERG: One thing we've seen, Wolf, is that this judge has very thin skin. He seems to go out of his way to complain about the media coverage. I think he should pay attention to his instructions to their jurors and stop listening to the media coverage. So, is he going to get as guilty verdict overturned to a mistrial with or without prejudice? I don't know if he's going to do that.

But if he does, and, really, quite frankly, nothing surprises me with this judge, then if it's with prejudice, it could be appealed, although they're likely to give deference to the judge. And if this case is wiped out by this judge despite a guilty verdict, the feds could then step in and file federal homicides and weapons charges so it will not be over.

BLITZER: It won't be over if there is a mistrial.

TOOBIN: Look, slow down. I don't think this verdict is going to be overturned. There were some hot tempers but it is a very rare thing for a judge to declare a mistrial and especially a mistrial with prejudice, which would mean that he couldn't be retried. It's very common for defendants to ask for mistrials. It's very rare for judges to grant them.

BLITZER: What do you think, Laura?

COATES: Well, you know, in this case, mistrial has been thrown around probably even more frequently than the actual victim's names. But that was really a strategic decision to try to ruffle the feathers, to try to get under the skin of the prosecution. But there were some moments where the prosecution really towed the line. The idea of referencing the pretrial right to silence, the idea of really towing the line on these issues is problematic. I don't think it goes beyond the pale in terms of being a mistrial, but they are certainly trying to get under the skin of the prosecution.

Ultimately, however, the jury has a far more difficult task in just figuring out whether the antics of the judge are problematic, which they haven't largely seen. It's about whether there is a colorable claim for self-defense. And these jury instructions are going to turn this case. It's very determinative whether they will view it to the eyes of Kyle Rittenhouse, whether they think that he provoked it and did not exhaust all means to escape. That's what they're honing in on, because however he approached to Mr. Rosenbaum, that was the domino in terms of what happened for these subsequent shots, including one other person who was killed and another person wounded.

So, as far as the judge goes, my focus is on whether his jury instructions are going to yield a verdict of guilty or an acquittal.

We shall see day three of the deliberations tomorrow. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, a closely watched murder trial in Georgia also has ended for the day. One of three men charged killing Ahmaud Arbery testifying in his own defense. I'll get the reaction from the lawyer for Arbrey's father, Ben Crump. He's standing by live.



BLITZER: Only minutes ago, the first day of defense testimony ended in the trial of three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger shot in Georgia last year. The man who pulled the trigger, Travis McMichael, took the stand in his own defense today.

CNN's Ryan Young is joining us from Brunswick, Georgia. Ryan, McMichael was the first witness the defense called. Was that expected and what did McMichael say in his defense?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I actually think a lot of people today, Wolf, were shocked by this, because, obviously, there have been months where we've seen this video, we've seen it play out over and over, and the evidence that's been presented so far. He took the standing and sort of gave his explanation for what happened.

And, Wolf, I think people were surprised in court about what he was talking about, in general. He talked about getting training as an officer when he was in the Coast Guard. But take a listen to Travis McMichael in his own words.


TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, SHOT AND KILLED AHMAUD ARBERY AFTER CHASE: He grabbed 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: And what did you do?

MCMICHAEL: I shot him.


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


YOUNG: Wolf, the prosecution will start again tomorrow. I can say there is also something that's looming over this. We know pastors are going to be convening on this area tomorrow and they're going to have a prayer vigil outside the court. There have been a lot of conversations about pastors traveling to town.

But still, there are so many questions that prosecution will ask tomorrow of Mr. McMichael. It was also interesting to watch the dynamics play out in court today but there should be more questions about exactly what was testified to today.



BLITZER: All right. Ryan, we will stay in close touch with you. Thank you.

Let's discuss what's going on with the civil rights attorney, Ben Crump. He's an attorney for Ahmaud Arbery's father. Ben, thank you for joining us.

So, you just heard the defendant, Travis McMichael, say Arbery grabbed his shotgun leading him to believe he was in a life or death situation. What do you say to that?

BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR MARCUS ARBERY AND JACOB BLAKE: I would say, how did we get to this life or death situation, Wolf Blitzer? This is a man who chased an unarmed black man and lynched him for jogging while black for two miles, practically when you add up all the distance that Ahmaud Arbery ran for his life. And it's so odd that he would say, well, I was thinking about my five-year-old son. If he was worried about his son's safety instead of trying to take the law into their own hands, why didn't he simply call 911? Why didn't he let the police come and do their job? Or was it because they have prejudged this black man as something that he wasn't?

Why is it that Trayvon Martin, unarmed, and Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed are looked as criminals and thugs not only by their killers but also by this system and then Kyle Rittenhouse, who actually had an assault weapon and shot three people, killing two of them, is looked at as a kid and given the benefit of the doubt and the benefit -- and the presumption of innocence when these dead black men were always presumed guilty?

BLITZER: I want you to listen, Ben, to Ahmaud Arbery's mother as she responded to McMichael's defense. Listen to this.


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


BLITZER: Your representing Ahmaud's father. What more can you tell us about how the family is feeling after listening to this defendant today?

CRUMP: Well, obviously, they are very emotional. I mean, they are seeing the evidence of their son being shot with shotguns, I mean, ricocheting and pressing his hip, his shoulder, killing him in the worst kind of way. It is heart-wrenching. And that's why they need prayers and they need pastors praying for them just so they can try to keep their sanity.

I mean, if this is was your child, how would you be able to keep composure after you see these people lynch him and then you see them offer this self-defense and people are actually taking this as if it is credible? Travis McMichael said, we are going to blow your f'in head off. And then moments later, Wolf Blitzer, they actually killed their son and yet they're talking about self-defense? It is, I mean, just asinine and an insult to our intelligence.

BLITZER: So, how are Ahmaud Arbery's parents actually been holding up right now? This must be so painful, so difficult to watch all of this unfold.

CRUMP: It really is. And it is the worst nightmare of every parent, but especially parents of color who knows that any Tom, Dick or Harry, white men can shot their child and claim self-defense and people believed it. But yet if the roles were reserved and you had a black father and a black son go chase an unarmed white man while he's jogging and kill him, nobody would accept that. Everybody would scream bloody murder and the judge and the legal system all will make sure that they were held to the full extent of the law and put into jail. But while there is Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, we always have to hold our breaths because there seems to be a different perspective when it's a young unarmed black man lying dead on the ground.

BLITZER: All right, Ben, we will continue this conversation now that the trial resumes obviously tomorrow. Ben Crump, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

CRUMP: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, I will ask a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee about f the likely authorization of COVID booster shots for all adults, everyone 18 and older, here in the United States with a decision expected by Friday. Is the timing right?

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, Moderna has now officially asked the FDA to approve booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccines for all adults. The agency is expanding eligibility for boosters.

Let's bring in Paul Offit. He's a key member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee. He's also the author of an important new book entitled "You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation."

Dr. Offit, thanks for joining us.

I remember you voted against boosters for all adults, what, just about two months or so ago. Have you not changed your mind? What's your latest thinking?


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Not only did I vote against it, we at the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee, unanimously voted against it. And, frankly, the advice committee for immunization practices also struggled with that recommendation.

The reason was really primarily in the 18 to 29-year-old. You know that we did see myocarditis, this inflammation of the heart muscle, primarily in 18 to 29 year old, and primarily after the second dose. The reason it was after the second dose is that was a booster response and so the myocarditis was more common than after that booster. After a third dose, actually, threefold greater in terms of neutralizing antibodies than the second dose.

Now, this is a rare phenomenon and if the benefits outweigh the risks, then obviously that would be the recommendation. But what we know so far, both the mRNA vaccines and the vector virus vaccines of Johnson & Johnson induce excellent, apparently long-term protection against serious illness, at least up until the current time.

What happens, however, over time, is that neutralizing antibodies fade and with that, you get sort of an increase in asymptomatic other mildly symptomatic infection. But serious infection is not mediated by that, it's really mediated by immunological, which is apparently longer. So, that's what people are struggling with and I will be curious to see what the advisory committee for immunization practices does with this recommendation, come Friday. BLITZER: Because as you know, the FDA is making this decision without

consulting the vaccine's advisory committee. Do they already have all the data they need? Should they come back to your committee for more input?

OFFIT: I think the data that they have are that if you give a third dose of Pfizer vaccine, you get a booster neutralizing antibody and, therefore, you lessen the symptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection, which unfortunately, have been called breakthrough infections. Those aren't breakthrough infections. That's a vaccine that is working well is a vaccine that prevents serious illness. Meaning, keeps you out of the doctor's office, out of the hospital, out of the intensive care unit.

These vaccines are currently doing that. We set a much higher bar for this vaccine when we talk about protection against asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection. And I think, you know, if that's the goal, this -- this booster won't be the last one.

BLITZER: So quickly, do you think adults 18 and over should take -- get that third shot, that booster?

OFFIT: I think people who are over 65 years of age should get a third dose. I think people who are 50 to 64 years of age who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk of severe COVID should get -- get a third dose. And for the most part, I think that's it.

BLITZER: All right. Dr. Paul Offit, appreciate it very much. Thanks very much.

Just ahead. The man known as QAnon shaman receives a hefty prison sentence for his role in the capitol riot. So, what -- what could this mean for others involved in the January 6th insurrection?



BLITZER: Tonight, one of the most recognizable rioters on January 6th has now been sentenced. The so-called QAnon shaman ordered to serve three and a half years in prison.

Our Brian Todd is taking a closer look at what's going on. His outlandish costume certainly was impossible to miss during those awful days.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unmistakable, Wolf. You know, this was one of the toughest sentences handed out to any capitol rioter so far and analysts say it could send a message to other defendants to expect more of the same.



TODD (voice-over): Prosecutors call him the flag bearer among rioters at the capitol on January 6th. Jacob Chansley stopping around the Senate chamber, carrying a flag mounted on a spear, wearing a headdress and face paint.

Tonight, Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for obstructing congress's counting of the electoral votes that day. Chansley's lawyer says his client respects Judge Royce Lamberth's ruling.

ALBERT WATKINS, JACOB CHANSLEY'S LAWYER: He is absolutely embracing being held accountable for that.

TODD: Legal analysts say Judge Lambert's sentencing of Chansley could be a shot across the bow to the more than 600 other accused rioters charged in the Capitol attack, and those who defend their actions.

PROF. KIM WEHLE, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE LAW SCHOOL: It's a message to those that still feel that the whole thing was okay to climb over the Capitol, to deface the Capitol, to instill violence. All those videos that we have seen, people trying to deny that this was a serious event. It's a message, no, it's not okay for this to happen in America.

TODD: With his outlandish costume and brazenness, Chansley became the very symbol of the insurrection. He got to the podium in the Senate chamber just minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence vacated that spot.

Court documents say Chansley left a note for Pence.

Chansley's antics since the insurrection have also been controversial. He went on a hunger strike in jail until he was allowed to be served organic food behind bars. He asked for, and was granted, a transfer from one jail to another. His lawyer claimed he was suffering from mental-health vulnerabilities on the day of the attack.

JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Certainly, he changed completely from the day of January 6th and if you look at the video on how he acted on January 6th, this is a different person.

TODD: Chansley also angering Judge Lambert when he did an interview with 6 0 minutes plus and made a comment the judge later called out as a lie.

CHANSLEY: Police were waving people into the building.

TODD: Analysts say Chansley's punishment could influence other judges in Capitol attack cases.

WEHLE: Maybe, this will give political cover for judges that might be sheepish about stronger sentences.


TODD (on camera): For his part, Jacob Chansley spoke for about 30 minutes to the judge just before his sentencing. Chansley said he regretted entering the Capitol on January 6th and he would do everything differently if he could do it all over again, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you very much with the latest.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.