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January 6 Committee Subpoenas Roger Stone And Alex Jones; Closing Arguments Wrap For Day In Arbery's Death Trial; Parade Suspect Charged With Five Counts Of Homicide; Trial Exposes Chasm Between Who Plans White Nationalism's Battles And Who Does The Fighting; Top Health Officials Urge Booster Shots Amid Concerns Over Waning Immunity, Holiday Surge. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 18:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening Now, breaking news, the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection has just issued a new round of subpoenas targeting five Trump allies. The list includes long time Republican Operative Roger Stone and Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones.

Also a breaking, closing argument just wrapping up for the day in the trial of three white men charged in the killing of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Details of what one defense lawyer said that prompted Arbery's mother to leave the courtroom.

Plus, new information about the man suspected of plowing his vehicle into Wisconsin Christmas parade killing five people tonight, he's charged with homicide and we're learning what happened in the moments leading up to the holiday horror.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta and you're in The Situation Room.

And let's get straight to the breaking news in the investigation into the Capitol insurrection, new subpoenas targeting allies of former President Donald Trump.

CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild is working with story for us. Whitney, the targets of these subpoenas -- these new subpoenas include some high profile names. We've seen these names before. They've been in trouble before.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are names we've been waiting for. We've thought they've be subpoenaed, finally they are. We're talking about Alex Jones -- excuse me, ye, Alex Jones and Roger Stone. Forgive me. They are two people at the very center of these Stop the Steal rallies. Those are the two most well-known names in this list of subpoenas, which includes other names, Dustin Stockton, Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Budowich, now the spokesperson for former President Trump. But these in totality indicate that they are really going for the people who were at the very center of the Stop the Steal moment and involved in the organization of the Stop the Steal rallies that preceded the riot. The subpoena for Alex Jones, for example, notes that he was denied a speaking role at a the Stop the Steal rally on January 6th, but indicates that the White House either told or asked Jones to leave the march to the Capitol from The Ellipse to the Capitol on January 6th after that rally.

The subpoena quotes also directly from Jones' own remarks in December in which he said, quote, finally, Trump has done the right thing. He is now calling on we the people to take action and show our numbers. The time for action is now. Where were you when history called?

Roger Stone's subpoena points out that he promoted his appearance at the Stop the Steal rally and asked for donators from supporters to pay for his security. While he was in D.C., he reportedly used members of the far right extremist group the Oath Keepers as personal security guards, several of whom according to the subpoena were reportedly involved in the attack on the Capitol and at least one of those people has since been indicted.

Unlike the Jones subpoena, the Stone subpoena points out that he was also invited to lead a march to the Capitol on January 6th, but he ended up not even going to the rally at The Ellipse on January 6th and did not lead a march from The Ellipse to the Capitol that Day, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, they're expanding the net. They're widening the net. And I think what's interesting about this is that, yes, we recognize these big names in Alex Jones and Roger Stones, but these lesser known individuals, they are the ones we're told by our sources that are cooperating with this investigation and helping out providing information. So, it will be interesting to see of how these plays out.

WILD: Right. What's become clear is that the committee is doing two things. They're going for the big fish, but also trying to squeeze lesser people who know a lot who may not have the means of a Steve Bannon, of a Mark Meadows to shore up their own defense. And from a strategy stand point, Dustin Stockton's subpoena is really interesting because it points out that he was in direct contact with Mark Meadows and President Trump.

The Meadows part is significant because we know that Meadows is not cooperating with the committee in the way they want. So, if the committee can get other people in his circle, all of the people he was talking to, that gives them -- that takes a little bit of the pressure off the committee to actually get Meadows, but it also makes it more difficult for him to wiggle out of very pointed, informed questions.

ACOSTA: He may want to cooperate.

WILD: Yes.

ACOSTA: All right, Whitney, thank you so much.

Let's get more on the breaking news with CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He's the Author of True Crime and Misdemeanors, The Investigation of Donald Trump. We're also joined by CNN Legal and National Security Analyst Asha Rangappa. Thank you, both of you, so much for being with us, Asha and Jeffrey.

Jeffrey, let me start with you first. How important are these five individuals? I mean, Roger Stone, he's already been pardoned once. He's not going to get a pardon obviously from this president, and Alex Jones, I mean, they're two of the most ridiculous, cartoonish liars on the face of the earth. I mean, do we really expect them to cooperate all that much with this investigation or are we really getting to what he was just talking about a few moments ago, these lesser known individuals. They may hold a lot of information that's going to be very helpful.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the committee has to act as if they can get every witness they want. They have to go out and try to interview everyone who has relevant information. And, clearly, Roger Stone and Alex Jones would have relevant information about what went on January 6th.

The question of, first of all, will they cooperate, and, second of all, can the committee force them to cooperate, those are obviously important questions, but they're secondary because you've got to ask first. And all of these committee's -- all of these individuals are -- have significant information, they were issued subpoenas, and let see what they do. Some of them may cooperate. Some may not. Some may go to court to fight the subpoenas. Some may wind up being held in contempt. But you have to start that process somewhere and that's what the committee is doing.

ACOSTA: Asha Rangappa, Stone and Jones are well-known fire brands, much like Steve Bannon. Should we expect, I suppose, they're going to fight these subpoenas. What do you think?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jim, I mean these are not people who have any colorable claim of executive privilege or something like that, though they may very well try to fight it. As the, you know, reporting noted, there are other people, and I think we need to see the bigger context in which this is happening.

The committee has interviewed over 150 witnesses, including some of the people who actually stormed the Capitol. And so they are in possession of information that will potentially make the link between the planning and organization and the instructions that were given to the people who were there. So, it's not a fishing expedition. They're going to have specific lines of inquiry.

And I think this really raises the stakes for them because it means that, you know, they don't have a lot of wiggle room to lie and we know Roger Stone was previously indicted in the Mueller investigation for lying to Congress. And so I think that they are potentially in the crosshairs of, you know, some very specific information that this committee is looking for. ACOSTA: And, Jeffrey -- yes go ahead.

TOOBIN: And just -- if I can just point out. I mean, the key issue in this entire investigation is establishing what tie, if any, between the rally on The Ellipse, which was a public rally that is protected by the First Amendment, there is nothing wrong with Donald Trump protesting about what he saw falsely as a corrupt election. There's nothing wrong with the rally. The issue is, what is the connection of all the people who were involved in that rally and the riot, the criminal activity that followed. That's the central question and that's what the committee is looking at.

ACOSTA: Right. I mean, I guess, Asha, I mean, one of the key questions is whether all of those folks were brought to the rally with the purpose, you know, from some, involved in the planning and all this, to then send them off to the Capitol so they could disrupt the constitutional process of counting those electoral votes officially and making Joe Biden the next president of the United States.

RANGAPPA: Yes. And we already know that, you know, there's one link there. As the reporter noted, Roger Stone had the Oath Keepers as his security and one of those people was -- has already been indicted for criminal activity at the Capitol.

So, I think that it's likely that Roger Stone and Alex Jones are at least under, you know, some scrutiny by the FBI for their involvement or connections to what happened at the Capitol and here's where I think there is a potential landmine for this committee is that if these people do show up and they try to claim the Fifth on certain lines of questioning or specific questions, the temptation might be to offer them Congressional immunity to testify.

And I know Jeffrey will know this because he was involved with Iran- Contra. That can cause potential problems for criminal prosecutions later on. In Iran-Contra, they were thrown out because of Congressional immunity. So, I think that that is something that the committee is going to have to really be careful about, negotiate with DOJ and make sure they don't mess that up.

ACOSTA: And, Jeffrey, I want to --

TOOBIN: I'm sorry, go ahead.

ACOSTA: No, I was just going to ask you because it's important. You have interviewed Roger Stone. And I'm just wondering based on your dealings with him, he deals with a lot of reporters around Washington. But based on your conversations with him, how likely is he to be helpful or cooperative? How do you think he's going to this respond?

TOOBIN: I think he will make every legal effort to avoid testifying. I don't think he is going to court an indictment the way Steve Bannon will, but I think he will make every effort to avoid testifying.


And I think it's important to point out, as Asha did, that there is a simple way to avoid testifying, which is take the Fifth. I mean, all of these people, their behavior is under investigation at least in some broad sense by the FBI. They certainly have the right to take the fifth and that --

ACOSTA: Yes. That's the thing I don't understand in this whole thing, Jeffrey. I don't understand why they won't go up there and do that. Is it just to drag this out and to throw a monkey wrench into it?

TOOBIN: I think that's part of it. I think they also want to vindicate former President Trump's claim of executive privilege, which requires litigating that issue before Congress.

But, you know, all of these people have the right to take the Fifth and that will put the committee in a very difficult position regarding whether they give immunity or not.

ACOSTA: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, Asha Rangappa, thank you so much to both of you. We appreciate those insights. Thank you.

And there's more breaking news next, the trial of three white men accused of killing black jogger Ahmaud Arbery is at a critical junction tonight, moving closer to jury deliberations. We'll go to Brunswick, Georgia, live, next.



ACOSTA: There's breaking news in the trial of the three white men accused of killing unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Closing arguments have just wrapped up for the day after defense attorneys blamed Arbery for his own death.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Brunswick, Georgia, for us tonight.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ahmaud Arbery's mom, Wanda Cooper-Jones, joining in prayer outside the courthouse before attorneys begin their final pitches to the jury. As Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William Roddie Bryan face murder charges and potential life in prison for the killing of Arbery, the state making their closing argument.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: This case is really about assumptions and driveway decisions.

SAVIDGE: then one of the rare times race has been invoked in court.

DUNIKOSKI: They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street.

SAVIDGE: And reminding the jury the definition of a citizen's arrest according to the law.

DUNIKOSKI: They never, ever said on February 23rd, 2020, that they were doing a citizen's arrest. A citizen's arrest is for emergency situations when the crime really happens right in front of you.

SAVIDGE: McMichael's defense attorney attempting to drive home the argument that his client was simply acting out of civic duty and responsibility.

JASON SHEFFIELD, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Travis McMichael spent almost a decade of his life learning about duty and responsibility.

SAVIDGE: Arguing to the jury his, quote, duty was necessary that February day.

SHEFFIELD: This neighborhood was being covered in suspicious persons and extra watches and neighborhood patrols and concerned citizens.

SAVIDGE: Insisting Arbery's presence was suspicious.

SHEFFIELD: There is no evidence whatsoever that Satilla Shores was a place of exercise and jogging for Arbery.

SAVIDGE: Gregory's attorney continued the theme Arbery was in the neighborhood up to no good, suggesting that was obvious by his appearance.

LAURA HOGUE, GREGORY MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails.

SAVIDGE: Laura Hogue repeated over and over that Arbery was to blame for his own death.

HOGUE: He was a recurring, nighttime intruder, and that is frightening and unsettling.

SAVIDGE: And William Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, arguing there wouldn't even be a trial were it not for his client, his cell phone and the video he took.

KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM RODDIE BRYAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Roddie Bryan didn't shoot anyone. At the time of the shooting, he was some distance back. He was armed only with his cell phone.

SAVIDGE: Outside the courthouse, the number of protesters swelling with the presence of the New Black Panthers, including some member who were armed, something that drew the defense of defense lawyers on lunch break.


SAVIDGE (on camera): And it was the presence of those armed protesters that had Defense Attorney Kevin Gough once again rising in court filing a motion for a mistrial. And, again, the judge said, no.

The judge had hoped that the jury would be beginning their deliberations this evening or early tomorrow. That's now been delayed as a result of closing arguments that were delayed that will continue tomorrow morning. Jim?

ACOSTA: And we'll be covering it. CNN's Martin Savidge, thanks so much for that report.

And let's get more on all of this with our Legal Analyst Joey Jackson and Paul Callan.

Joey, it was difficult to sit through portions of Martin's piece just now. We'll talk about some of this. At this point, which side do you think has made a more effective case? What do you think?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim. I think that the prosecution was really effective today for the following reasons. I really believe that this citizen's arrest law that the defendants are predicating their defense upon and I think what she's doing, that is the prosecutor, is really removing that from the table. How? She's arguing that the citizen's arrest law allows you to make such an arrest if a crime was committed in your presence or if you have immediate knowledge as to a crime.

Now, the defense has been relying upon these neighborhood break-ins, things that have been happening, a neighborhood on edge, people concerned, but nothing with respect to a crime being committed in their presence, the three defendants, or that they had any immediate knowledge of.


And so she's hammering the point home, why, so that they will not, the defendants, not get to avail themselves to any type of citizen's arrest defense. So, she's trying to really knock that out of the box saying there was no basis or reason to stop Mr. Arbery in this first place.

Second issue, she's really hammering, the prosecutor, the issue of you don't get to use self-defense. Why? You don't get to use it, because if you're committing a felony, that's an exception, you don't get to say self-defense. If you're provoking any type of activity with respect to Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, you don't get to use it. And if you're the initial aggressor in a situation by chasing and following someone, you don't get to use it. So, all that goes to her really talking about the issue of them acting not reasonably and I think her prosecution has been really powerful to this point.

ACOSTA: And, Paul Callan, as we saw in the Rittenhouse trial, self- defense can be a difficult thing to disprove. Did the prosecution effectively dismantle these arguments made by the defense in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they were very effective overall. However, I have to say I was shocked by a couple of the closings today. I mean, the primary one being Laura Hogue speaking on behalf of Greg McMichael, ending her closing argument to the jury by saying he had long, dirty toenails. That was one of the most disgusting, disgraceful things I've heard an attorney say in a criminal proceeding throughout my career. I can tell you this. If you said something like that in a northern courtroom, you'd be held in contempt of court. There might even be a mistrial. It's such a clearly racist and improper statement.

The other big surprise I think was how effective Kevin, the attorney for Roddie Bryan, was during his summation. He's been kind of a joke throughout the trial, making motions for a mistrial because there were too many black pastors watching the case and suggesting that because they were hearing on a federal holiday, they had to close down, he made a dynamic presentation on behalf of his client and may have earned an acquittal in this case. We'll see. But it was quite a day in court, Jim.

ACOSTA: It really was. And, Joey Jackson, I just want to get your reaction to what Paul Callan was just saying. I mean, that part in the trial just really jumps out to me. It was just such an ugly, offensive thing to say in a courtroom. It's shocking.

JACKSON: Beyond the pale. And in addition to that, which she was repeatedly doing, was making references to our neighborhood, and this neighborhood had to be a certain way and we wanted the neighborhood quiet and the neighborhood was peaceful and the neighborhood, the neighborhood, the neighborhood.

And what I really think she was doing is really to trying to relate, right? This is where we get back to the issue of 11 white jurors and 1 African-American juror, notwithstanding the 75 percent white and 25 percent break down in the community. And so I think she was really playing to them and I think she overplayed her hand. It was really despicable, as my esteemed colleague, Paul Callan, says, not something you ever want to do.

ACOSTA: No, and clearly pushing people's buttons, or trying to push people's buttons. All right, Joey Jackson, Paul Callan, our legal analysts, thank you so much for not holding back in this case. I appreciate it.

Coming up, police in Wisconsin provide new details about the suspect accused of plowing his vehicle into a Christmas parade, killing five people and injuring --



ACOSTA: In Wisconsin, a suspect has been charged with five counts of intentional homicide accused of plowing his vehicle into a Christmas parade killing at least five people and injuring dozens.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the scene working the story for us.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A shocked community learning the names of the members they lost.

CHIEF DANIEL THOMPSON, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN POLICE: Virginia Sorenson, 79-year-old female. LeAnna Owens, 71-year-old female, Tamara Durand, 52-year-old female, Jane Kulich, 52-year-old female, Wilhelm Hospel, 81-year-old male.

JIMENEZ: The victims, five in all, ranging in age from 52 to 81 years old, run down during the parade Sunday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have multiple casualties. People are down on the street, 40 casualties down Main Street.

JIMENEZ: Along with the dead, 48 people were injured, some as young as three years old. 18 children including three sets of siblings are being treated at Children's Wisconsin, a hospital in Milwaukee.

THOMPSON: Two of the 48 are children and they're in critical condition.

DR. AMY DRENDEL, CHILDREN'S WISCONSIN: Injuries range from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries.

JIMENEZ: Videos of the incident show a red SUV blowing through barricades, speeding down the parade route, just missing a little girl dancing in the street as it approaches a marching band and then plows right through it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a car going west bound (ph) (INAUDIBLE) a red Escape.

JIMENEZ: Police identified the suspect as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.

THOMPSON: The suspect prior to the incident was involved in a domestic disturbance.

JIMENEZ: The chaos of the moment clear in the voices of first responders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A red Escape, black male (INAUDIBLE) stop as he's going west bound (INAUDIBLE).

JIMENEZ: Along the parade route, Kaylee Staral thought at first the vehicle was in the parade.


Seconds later, she realized it wasn't.

KAYLEE STARAL, WITNESS AND INTERN, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: You see people running around and screaming and crying and running into the store fronts and you realize that this is real, this is serious and people are hurt because of it.

JIMENEZ: Among those dead, members of Milwaukee's dancing grannies. A post to their Facebook said those who died were extremely passionate grannies. Their eyes gleamed with the joy of being a granny. They were the glue that held us together.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JIMENEZ (on camera): Now as the community here continues to try and recover, the investigation into the suspect, Darrell Brooks, continues. For one, he has a criminal history going back to the '90s, but earlier this month, he posted $1,000 bail in relation to charges that include domestic abuse after he allegedly ran over a woman in his car that was walking through a gas station parking lot.

Now, the Milwaukee District Attorney's Office -- the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office called that bail set inappropriately low and they've launched an internal review into it. Because of that, and on the Christmas parade incident, he has his initial court appearance tomorrow and we'll be watching to see what comes from that, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, some fascinating developments there. Omar, thanks for that report. We appreciate.

Joining us now, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow. Jonathan, thanks so much for being with us.

What a report there from Omar, my goodness, about the suspect, that new information there. As we see cars being used as deadly weapons more frequently, what can law enforcement do to better secure these kinds of outdoor events like parades?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, good evening, Jim. And, listen, that is a key focus for law enforcement around the country and has been for a long time. Vehicles used as weapons for gatherings, outdoor gatherings and parades is nothing new. We've seen that before. We've seen that in the Christmas market attacks in Berlin in 2016, the Nice -- the truck attack in 2016. We've also seen it like at parades. The Oklahoma State homecoming game in 2015 actually had somebody drive on that was on the parade route and injured many people.

So, this is something that is -- that law enforcement is keenly focused on. And to that point, the NYPD back in 2017 started deploying blocking vehicles around parade routes such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, heavy blocking vehicles, to stop different vectors of attack from either vehicles that are intended to cause harm or errant vehicles.

So, this is something that law enforcement has to look at. They have to figure out all of the different threat vectors that would impact that event and then apply the appropriate mitigation where they can.

ACOSTA: All right, some important insights. Jonathan, thanks so much for that. We appreciate it.

WACKROW: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: And Just ahead, more of the breaking news, a new round of subpoenas from the select committee investigating the insurrection. I'll speak with one of the committee members, next.



ACOSTA: We're following multiple breaking stories, including a new round of subpoenas issued by the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. We're joined now by a member of that committee, California Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

What do you hope to gain from these new subpoenas, especially from Alex Jones and Roger Stone? They don't seem like the most cooperative potential witnesses in all of this, to say the least.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, that's why we've issued subpoenas so that they will be required to come in and speak to the committee. We believe that all of the individuals subpoenaed this, today, have information that the committee needs about the organization, the planning, the funding, the receipt of funds for these so-called Stop the Steal rallies that led to the mob attacking the Capitol on the 6th of January. We expect each of these individuals to show up, tell us the truth and help us uncover all of the facts.

ACOSTA: But, Congresswoman, I mean, there really isn't anything you can believe that comes out of Alex Jones' mouth and Roger Stone, I think, you could put him in that category as well. Why seek to speak with them when you probably know in advance that whatever they say is not going to be true?

LOFGREN: Well, I would hope that they would tell the truth to Congress. It's a felony to lie to the Congress. And I don't think they want to do that. They are -- they spin tales. We know that. But this is an obligation to come in and tell the truth. You don't lie to the Congress or else you're going to fall into other trouble, criminal law trouble. So, they are characters, but they have to come in and tell the truth.

ACOSTA: And what is it that they know? What is it that the committee suspects that they know that would be helpful in terms of what you're trying to gain their perspective on? What holes are you trying to fill in what you know about what happened on January 6th and the lead up to January 6th?

LOFGREN: Well, for example, Mr. Stone raised money for security through his websites, He reportedly had an affiliation with the Oath Keepers that led some of the assault on the Capitol. He made remarks that he was planning to lead the march to the Capitol from The Ellipse that day.


Mr. Jones claims to have raised the majority of the funds for the staging of the rally.

So, we want to find out what they know. We're following up with other leads that we have received about the funding. Taylor Budowich reportedly solicited a 501(c)(3) organization to conduct the social media and radio advertising campaign to get attendance at the meeting. We want to know about that. Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Stockton helped organize a series of rallies in November and afterwards, and we want to know more about what they were doing and who was paying for that.

ACOSTA: And should we expect more subpoenas before Thanksgiving? Is that possible?

LOFGREN: It's possible, but I think these are the last that we will announce this week.

ACOSTA: All right, but not the end of them. There will be more. You suspect?

LOFGREN: Well, we'll stop when we've got all the information. As I've said before the last time we spoke, there are people who are coming in willingly, don't need subpoenas and others who are more resistant and we're subpoenaing in that latter group. So, it's a mix and it's a lot of -- you know, it's hundreds of people who have come in and more than 25,000 documents that we're sorting through and lots of leads that we're getting. And we're working as hard as we can to make sure we find out all the information.

ACOSTA: Congresswoman, thanks so much. We appreciate it. Happy Thanksgiving.

LOFGREN: You too.

ACOSTA: All right. And just ahead, the latest from the trial of the organizers of 2017's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The trial has exposed to tactics of white nationalists.



ACOSTA: A jury in Virginia is deliberating the case against the organizers of 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally.

CNN's Brian Todd has a deeper look about what the trial has exposed about the tactics of white nationalist leaders.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The dramatic, bizarre civil trial of white supremacists who drew others to Charlottesville has exposed schisms among them. For example, some white nationalist leaders seem to prefer others to do the actual fighting for them.

Christopher Cantwell, a neo-Nazi, who took part in the violent clashes in Charlottesville in 2017 is representing himself in this lawsuit. On the stand, Cantwell was forced to listen to one of his own previous podcasts in which he said, quote, some of us got to be f-ing cannon fire for the race war.

Some seemed more open to over violence than others. During the trial, Jason Kessler, the main organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, was revealed in online chats planning the rally, encouraging other white nationalists to goad counter protesters into fight them. Quote, I want to talk S but as the event organizer, I can only do so much. People need to bully side them into confronting the alt right in Charlottesville, Kessler said according to an online chat shown to the court.

CYNTHIA MILLER-IDRISS, EXPERT ON EXTREMISM, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: They officially either disavow violence or will themselves not get their hands dirty. They're espousing very violent ideas that can incite, that can motivate, that can mobilize other people to be violent, but they themselves stay away from it.

TODD: And a new generation seems more polished, educated and aware of optics. Richard Spencer, one of the most far right leaders, who's also representing himself in this trial questioned another white supremacist Matthew Heimbach on the stand. Spencer asked Heimbach what Heimbach thought of Spencer back in 2017. Heimbach answered, quote, kind of always viewed you as a bit of a dandy.

AMY SPITALNICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICA: Over the last few decades, we've seen a rise in these younger, more polished suit and tie white supremacists. The Richard Spencers of the world.

TODD: And Spencer seemed to admit in court he didn't want to engage in the fighting. He said to Heimbach, quote, there was a discussion during your testimony about relying on people at this rally. Could you rely on me? Heimbach said no.

The trial has also exposed distrust among white nationalists. The Charlottesville organizers have long said they didn't know James Alex Field, the white supremacist who ramped his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer.

Amy Spitalnick, who's group Integrity First America sponsors this lawsuit this case has revealed a fracturing among some white nationalists.

SPITALNICK: Since the beginning, this trial, or since the beginning, this case has really led to a number of these defendants really pointing fingers at each other, trying to blame them for the violence that they were all a part of.


TODD: Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Christopher Cantwell and the many other defendants said they did not conspire to plan racially motivated violence that weekend in Charlottesville. If found liable, these defendants could face millions of dollars in damages, but this and other similar lawsuits have already succeeded, financially crippling some of them -- Jim.

ACOSTA: CNN's Brian Todd, thank you very much.

With us now is Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, thanks so much for offering your perspective this evening.

What do you make of some of these prominent white supremacist leaders essentially using people as pawns to advance their cause?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Look, at the IDL, we have been tracking these extremist movements for decades and I am not surprised at all to see this.


The fact of the matter is this trial in Charlottesville is so significant, Jim, because it is demonstrating, you know, when four years ago, we saw the horror of hundreds of these white supremacists marching with torches in that college town, that they are actually facing real consequences and in many ways, Jim, prior -- in -- in terms of your earlier segment -- what we saw in Charlottesville was a preview of what was to come from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh, El Paso, and then Capitol Hill. There's been a through line, the normalization of extremism and while we saw the architects of extremism now getting served in Congress, people like Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, these are their shock troops who are now seeing the folly of their actions, and discovering that hate has consequences -- legal, financial, operational. It's really an important moment.

ACOSTA: And how important is it that these groups be held responsible?

GREENBLATT: It is critical that we hold accountable the people who would implement extremism in our streets. The whole world is watching this trial, Jim.

You know, after the Rittenhouse verdict last week and the Arbery trial that's taking place right now, people are looking to see, will these individuals face real legal consequences?

Let's be clear. They have already seen some impacts. Many of them have lost their jobs. They've been de-platformed from some social media services. They have faced real financial hardships, sanctions from the courts, the prospect of paying for this -- their defense.

But more than anything, I think it's critical, we haven't seen any of these large in-person rallies since Charlottesville because we've held people accountable. The movements have started to dwindle because we've held them accountable.

Now, we need the court to legally hold them accountable, once and for all.

ACOSTA: All right, John Greenblatt, thank you so much. We appreciate your insights as always. Very important. Thank you, sir.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Just ahead, Dr. Anthony Fauci urges adults to get a COVID- booster shot before the holidays. Will enough people heed that advice to prevent another winter surge? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ACOSTA: Concern is rising among health experts this Thanksgiving week, as Americans across the country prepare to celebrate holiday -- the holiday season amid a rising number of COVID infections and deaths. Mostly, among the unvaccinated.

Let's talk about that and more with Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and associate dean of public health at Brown University.

Dr. Ranney, thanks so much. Happy holidays.

Let's begin with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. You have suggested rapid testing immediately prior to gathering with family on this holiday. What else would you suggest that we do to stay safe this- holiday season? If it's cold out, do we need to throw those windows open? What do you think?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF PUBLIC HEALTH, BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, it really depends on a couple of things. First is what percentage of your guests are fully vaccinated? The more of them that are fully vaccinated, the better.

The second is how many people are coming? And are they coming from areas where there is a lot of COVID right now? That makes it a little higher risk.

And the third part is those rapid tests. They help to ensure you that no one is infectious the day of your get-together.

Depending on how those three variables fall, I do encourage opening windows, having air filters, or maybe even taking it outdoors if it is a lot of people and a lot of them are unvaccinated.

The goal, of course, is to come away from Thanksgiving without having spread COVID among each other. Most of all, keeping our older relatives safe.

ACOSTA: Right. Just -- just sleepy -- being sleepy after eating that turkey. That is the only side effect we want on this Thanksgiving, and Dr. Fauci says fully-vaccinated family members can go without masks around each other this-holiday season.

What do you think about that?

RANNEY: I absolutely agree and that's what I am planning on doing. I am having a multigenerational Thanksgiving dinner just like olden times and we will not be wearing masks. I don't know how you eat with a mask on.

ACOSTA: You can't.

RANNEY: And food is a big part of Thanksgiving.

ACOSTA: That's right. And I am always going for the turkey leg and if the mask is there, that's definitely not going to work.

New CDC data shows the risk of dying from COVID-19 is 14 times higher if you are unvaccinated and I -- every time one of these data points comes in, I just seize on it because as time goes on, the case for vaccination just keeps getting better and better, right?

RANNEY: That is exactly right and I cannot make that point frequently enough. Yes, we are seeing surges across the north as weather gets colder, people are going indoors. But the severe cases, the hospitalizations, the ICU stays, and the deaths are almost exclusively among the unvaccinated with a few unlucky ones who are immuno- suppressed or elderly. Those folks who are immuno-suppressed or older, please, please, please, go get your booster but the most important thing is to get that first series of shots to be protected.

ACOSTA: And I was just about to ask you about the boosters. Dr. Fauci says everybody -- every adult should get boosted once enough time has passed. What do you think? Should all adults get boosted?

RANNEY: So it's critically important for older adults or people on immunosuppressant medications or with diseases that suppress their immune system, those people, it is so important for them to go out and get their booster.

I take the case of Colin Powell, who unfortunately passed away from COVID, was on immuno-suppressants. I wish to God he had gotten his booster first.

For the rest of us, it's a nice to have. It can help protect us from getting COVID or symptomatic COVID. Nobody wants to miss ten days of work. So, good to have but most important for those older folks.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. We have to protect the people around us.

Dr. Megan Ranney, thanks so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.