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Closing Arguments in Ahmaud Arbery Trial; New Subpoenas Out for Planners of Insurrections. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 17:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper today. Our coverage continues right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Closing arguments are done for the day in the trial of three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was gunned down while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia last year.

Also tonight, police in Wisconsin say the driver who plowed into a Waukesha Christmas parade has now been charged with five counts of intentional homicide. We have new details on the investigation.

And jurors in Charlottesville, Virginia have just wrapped up another day of deliberations as they consider whether organizers behind that 2017 white supremacist rally are responsible for the deadly chaos that ensued.

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."

We begin with the breaking news. Closing arguments are done for the day in Brunswick, Georgia where three men are charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Our senior national correspondent Sara Sidner is on the story for us. Sara, update our viewers.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the prosecution will start their closing arguments, rebuttal tomorrow. But today they hammered the defendants while the defense talked a lot about Ahmaud Arbery upsetting his mother.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: Everybody in this case have a gun except Ahmaud Arbery.

SIDNER (voice-over): The prosecution hammering the three men accused of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging down the street in February 2020 unarmed and unaware he was about to be killed. All three men face several felony charges besides murder. Arbery was shot at close range and still tried to fight back before dying.

DUNIKOSKI: How dare Mr. Arbery defend himself against their four felonies? Isn't that what they are saying to you?

SIDNER (voice-over): The defense began their closing blaming Arbery for his own demise.

LAURA HOGUE, DEFENSE LAWYER FOR GREG MCMICHAEL: He was a recurring nighttime intruder. And that is frightening and unsettling.

JASON SHEFFIELD, DEFENSE LAWYER FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: What was Ahmaud Arbery doing in Satilla Shores from October 2019 to February 2020? There is no evidence that Ahmaud Arbery ever jogged or exercised in Satilla shores.

SIDNER (voice-over): The men, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan were chasing Arbery in two vehicles. They claim they thought Arbery had committed a crime and they were going to perform a citizen's arrest.

SHEFFIELD: Travis believes he's committed the offense of burglary.

You do have a right to perform a citizen's arrest. You do have the right to have a firearm when you make an arrest. You do have the right to stop a person, and there is risk with that. And there are tragic consequences that can come from that.

SIDNER (voice-over): Travis McMichael is the one who shot Arbery. During the trial he was the only one who took the stand in his own defense.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't brandish any weapons?


DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran.

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running.

SIDNER (voice-over): His defense attorney said once he came face to face, McMichael defended himself.

SHEFFIELD: He wanted to stop him for the police to detain him. Don't be fooled by this word arrest. You don't have to announce you're under arrest. He told you why he raised the gun because he was afraid that he would be on him within seconds. SIDNER (voice-over): The prosecution said the defendant's claim of

self-defense is moot since they were the initial aggressors and when it comes to making a citizen's arrest, the law is clear.

DUNIKOSKI: A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence. So what's the problem for the defendants? Well, we all know that Mr. Bryan is on his porch fixing it. Where is Travis McMichael? He's on the sofa inside the house. Where's Greg McMichael? This all started when I saw him running down the street.

SIDNER (voice-over): The racially charged trial was inflamed by Kevin Gough, the attorney for William Bryan. Gough tried several times to get the black pastors showing up to support Arbery's mother kicked out of court.

UNKNOWN: We don't want any more black pastors coming in here.

SIDNER (voice-over): As the attorneys broke for lunch, some found themselves face-to-face with protesters, some armed to the hilt. Prompting Attorney Gough to call for a mistrial.

TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE, GEORGIA SUPERIOR COURT: I agree with the concern that is out there. With regard to the jurors having exposure to anything that may be going on outside, I'm not -- whatever is going on outside, I have -- it has not been brought to my attention on a security level.


SIDNER (on camera): And so the trial continues. A mistrial has not yet been granted for the many times that a mistrial has been called for by the defense.


There was a moment that really sent Arbery's mother out of the courtroom. She was very upset. Listening to defense attorney Laura Hogue Gregory, who is the attorney for Greg McMichael, she started talking about what Mr. Arbery looked like at the time. She said, oh, he had these baggy shorts on and long dirty toe nails. That caused a bit of a gasp in the courtroom and his mother could not wait to get out of there. Jim?

ACOSTA: I'm sure that's the case. Sara Sidner, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and a former co-counsel for Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Chris Stewart. Chris, as closing arguments wrap up for the day, which side do you think has made a more effective case, do you think?

L. CHRIS STEWART, FORMER CO-COUNSELOR FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I mean, clearly the prosecution especially when we saw today the defenses that are being put on. It was disrespectful. It was horrific. And Attorney Hogue should be ashamed of herself. To bring up his feet in the middle of trial? What's wrong with you? Not only disrespecting Ahmaud, but you know his mother is right there. It was horrific. Attorney Sheffield tried to make Travis into a cop which he's not a

cop. He's not trained like our law enforcement are. And Mr. Gough, I have no earthly idea what he was saying or what he's trying to defend.

ACOSTA: Yes, Jeffrey, as we saw in the Rittenhouse trial, self- defense can be a difficult thing to disprove. What do you think? Has the prosecution effectively laid out why the actions of these defendants don't qualify as self-defense in their view?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Boy, I am so struck by the differences between these two cases. The Rittenhouse case, as we said from the beginning, struck me as a difficult case from the -- for the prosecution because even though young Mr. Rittenhouse shouldn't have been there in the first place, he was chased. He was hit with a skateboard. Someone did pull a gun on him.

What did Mr. Arbery do? Absolutely nothing except jog. And this notion that one of the attorneys said today is like, well, there's no proof that he had jogged there before. So what? You're not -- I jog. No one tells me where I can jog and where I can't jog.

I mean, this is a much stronger case for the prosecution. I mean, the idea that he somehow brought this upon himself simply by jogging, unarmed is to me a very difficult argument to refute by the defense. So today, as listening to the closing arguments, I was struck by the differences from the Rittenhouse case, not the similarities.

ACOSTA: Certainly the case. I think you're right, Jeffrey. Chris, the prosecution has only brought up issues of race sparingly throughout this trial. What do you think of that strategy given that 11 members of this 12-member jury are white? At the end of the day, is race going to be a factor?

STEWART: I mean, it's a factor because, you know, they have alluded to it as the prosecutor said today. You know, they made assumptions because he was a black man jogging down the street. You know, I don't think they have to shove it in the jury's face. Everyone knows it. That's why they chased him. He was a black man jogging in their neighborhood. You know, everyone knows it.

But they have such good facts. They're sticking to the facts and winning. But as you see Ms. Hogue, she tried to animalize Ahmaud Arbery, talking about his feet, making him a bad guy. That's what happens whenever a black man is killed in this country. You use terms like large and strong as an ox or something like that and they did it again today. And it was desperate and it was below them.

ACOSTA: Yes. It was an appalling moment. I mean, there's just no question about it. And Jeffrey, the three defendants in this case all played very different roles in the killing of Arbery. How do attorneys on both sides navigate that to ensure the jury can differentiate that because I suppose that's something the jury is going to have to wade through when they get down to deliberations?

TOOBIN: It is. And even more unusual, you have a case where one of the three defendants testified. Usually, no defendants testify or all defendants testify. Here you have one who did, two who didn't. You know, the prosecutor obviously said as the judge will say, you have to consider each defendant separately.

This case is different against the three. Obviously there's only one of them was the shooter. This is something the jury is going to have to sort out. It suggests that the deliberations should take some time because each of the three will have to be considered separately because, as you point out, the evidence is different against all three.

ACOSTA: And Sara, this is such an important question because when this thing is all settled and we have a verdict in this case, you are going to be out there and you're going to be dealing with what is going on outside that courthouse. We've seen armed protesters outside the courthouse. What's the mood on the ground in Brunswick, Georgia right now as this trial wraps up?


SIDNER: You know, if you talk to people in the town, they will tell you this is pretty much, they are looking at the justice system and wondering if it's going to work. And depending on how you think this case should go, people are really -- this is kind of a test to them of the justice system.

The black folks in the community that I was able to talk to, talked about wondering if this is going to end the way that, as they say, it always ends with someone being able to take someone's life and not pay for it, particularly a black person's life. And so you have folks on both sides of this, of course, but those who have come out here to protest are watching this trial very closely and they are spending their days out here in support of the Arbery family.

That is who you are seeing out here. Those who are armed or standing in support of the Arbery family. There were some interesting moments where the defense attorneys came out of court to go to lunch and walked right past a group of folks who were armed to the hilt with semiautomatic rifles as they walked past.

There were no threats made, but that was brought up in court. And one of the attorneys, Mr. Gough, asked for a mistrial saying that there was, you know, this is going to make the jury feel fear and pressure them to come up with a certain kind of verdict. But the judge said no. At this point in time, he has moved the jury to a more insular room as the protests start to go around the courthouse.

Before it was just in front. Now, people have been marching around the courthouse. But there is a real sense of worrying about how this case is going to come down and what that might mean for this entire town. Jim?

ACOSTA: And Jeffrey, I want to ask you to respond to something that Chris was just talking about a few moments ago. In the way that the defense has tried to inject race into their case. You know, that moment where we heard the defense attorney, and it was played in Sara's piece, you know, saying no more black pastors. The way that they talked about Ahmaud Arbery's appearance. Can that have an effect? I suppose that's why they're doing it. It can have an effect on the jury. I just wonder what you thought of that.

TOOBIN: You know, this is one of the tough questions in the criminal justice system that I know I've struggled with throughout both being a prosecutor and as a journalist is. You know, I have no problem with the idea that defense lawyers are obligated to defend their clients aggressively, strongly, make all the best arguments they can.

But how do -- how much do you draw on the ugliest parts of Americans' character? How much do you play on white people's fear of black people, especially in a jury where there are 11 whites? I don't really have a great answer to that question. I don't know where the line is.

But it does seem like the defense lawyers here, particularly during the trial when asking to have black pastors excluded, that seemed to me completely beyond the pale. And the judge fortunately said that public courtrooms are public courtrooms and people can come if they want, including black pastors.

ACOSTA: All right. Well, Jeffrey Toobin, Chris Stewart, Sara Sidner there in Brunswick, thanks to all of you for that analysis. We appreciate it.

Up next, police provide new details about the suspect and what led to the horrific events that left five people dead and dozens injured at a Christmas parade.



ACOSTA: Breaking news, the January 6th Committee has just targeted some of former President Donald Trump's most provocative allies with a new round of subpoenas. CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill with these late-breaking details. Ryan, some familiar names in this list. What can you tell us?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: yes, that's right, Jim. This is five new individuals who have been subpoenaed by the January 6th Select Committee. They've been asked for documents, in some cases, in-person depositions to discuss what they know about the planning and execution of the "Stop the Steal" rallies that took place in the days leading up to January 6th and then, of course, on January 6th itself.

Perhaps the two biggest names on this list, conservative provocateurs Roger Stone and Alex Jones. Of course, Alex Jones, the well-known infamous online radio host who is one of the biggest distributors of misinformation out there. Jones, of course, one of the many who are encouraging people to come to Washington on January 6th, and also peddling falsehoods about the big lie through his massive online media presence.

Roger stone, too, was someone that was raising funds and encouraging people to come to Washington for the "Stop the Steal" rallies and is someone who has been a longtime ally of President Trump and also someone who enjoyed a pardon from the former president in the closing days before he left office.

Now there are three other names on this list. Taylor Budowich, who is currently the spokesperson for former President Donald Trump in his life outside of the White House. He is being asked for information related to a social media and radio advertising campaign that he was involved in in the days leading up to January 6th that was encouraging people to take part in these rallies.

And then two other key figures who are by no means household names but individuals who the committee has very keen interest in. Dustin Stockton and his fiance Jennifer Lawrence. They, too, were both very involved in the organization and planning of the "Stop the Steal" rallies. Also people with, you know, in-depth knowledge between the relationship between the Trump campaigns, the White House, and how these different groups may have been interconnected in the planning of these rallies.


Of course, Jim, one of the big things the committee is trying to learn is how the organization of these rallies led to the violence and chaos here on January 6th. The organizers of the rallies have tried to push it off in saying that these were just peaceful protests. They had nothing to do with people storming the capitol.

But what the committee wants to learn is if the peddling of this false information fired people up and that was by design to try and encourage people to make their way from the ellipse in front of the White House down here to Capitol Hill and try and interrupt the democratic process.

They believe these five individuals could have some answers to some key questions as they try and determine whether or not this was a coordinated event. Jim?

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And some key questions there. All right, Ryan Nobles, we know you have more digging to do. Thank you so much for that late-breaking news.

Let's get more from CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero and our senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. He's the author of "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." Andrew, thanks so much and Carrie, thanks so much for doing this. Let me get to you first, Andrew, how essential are Roger Stone and Alex Jones to the narrative that this select committee is trying to establish here?

I mean, I suppose one thing that these two men have in common is that they are going to present themselves as martyrs in all of this and they probably are enjoying the fact that this -- these subpoenas are heading their way.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Jim, much like Steve Bannon, right? These are two characters who stand to gain from the notoriety and the infamy around being subpoenaed and being given the opportunity, really, to resist the committee and protest and everything that we've seen so far. If you think Steve Bannon upped the drama queen value on responding to a charge of a misdemeanor, my guess is we ain't seen nothing yet with these two. But I think more importantly, what these subpoenas reveal to us is what we've had a sense of all along, which is that this committee is very, very closely focused on what led to January 6th.

Not so much the mayhem and the insurrection and the violence on the 6th. I'm sure that will be included in their efforts, but they are really peeling back the onion on exactly who the players were, who were the influential people that were driving these false narratives, organizing these events and to get to that center question of, were they doing it with the intent of preventing the certification of our election. That's clearly where the committee's focus is, and it will be interesting to see what they get.

ACOSTA: And Carrie, Stone and Jones are far more familiar, similar to Steve Bannon. They're familiar to the public and similar to Steve Bannon than they are to Mark Meadows. Do you anticipate they're going to fight these subpoenas? What's your sense of it?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's probably right, Jim. I mean, these are individuals who are in the president's orbit, have been advisers who are very public supporters of him, and also very flamboyant characters themselves. And so I do think that they tend to fall into the category of individuals who most likely are not ever going to testify, but instead are going to be good candidates for contempt.

If they don't cooperate, the committee has now demonstrated that they are fully willing to refer for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department and the Justice Department has shown that it's willing to bring a case as it has against Steve Bannon. So I think those individuals, it is probably more likely -- it's always hard to predict, you never know, but it might be more likely they are likely to challenge.

Some of these other individuals, whether it's the other three people that were mentioned or potentially future individuals subject to the subpoena, I do wonder whether some individuals, perhaps want to be compelled. And so in all investigations --

ACOSTA: Right.

CORDERO: -- and Andrew knows this as well, sometimes there are individuals who want to provide information, but because of their position, because of the environment that they work in or their friends or colleagues, they would prefer to be in a position to be compelled to produce information or testify.

ACOSTA: Yes. As a matter of fact, we know that in our own reporting and what we've been told by officials that some of these former Trump associates, aides and so on from the campaign or the White House, that they've wanted to be subpoenaed because that is how they can justify talking to the committee, to other people around them in Trump world.

But Andrew, does it make sense to you that the committee is subpoenaing people who we're likely never going to hear from? Should they be wasting their time with people like Alex Jones and Roger Stone? I mean, these are two, you know, bomb throwers. They are, you know -- they're not exactly the kind of people who are going to yield a whole lot of information, I would not think.


MCCABE: You know, I think you make a good point, Jim. I think it's unlikely that all of these people are going to show up and actually provide useful information. But I think the committee is probably playing the odds here. They know that if they subpoena a whole group of these folks, they are likely to get one or two of them.

Everyone isn't going to put up the same level resistance and histrionics in the course of doing so. So I think they are hitting everyone they think could be relevant and they're probably expecting that they won't have 100 percent return rate on those efforts, but what they do get, may very well be worth it.

ACOSTA: And Carrie, what is your sense of it, you know, could the subpoenas that have been issued to the people who aren't Roger Stone and Alex Jones, the names that people don't recognize, is it your sense that those folks are providing useful information to the committee given these types of cases that perhaps you've worked on in the past? I mean, sometimes it is those lower level aides and associates who are full of information and in some cases evidence.

CORDERO: So, well, the committee is casting a wide net in terms of its investigation. And they want to get to the bottom of how the January 6th events, including the "Stop the Steal" rally were planned. And importantly, they want to get to that question as to whether or not it was part of the planning to try to prevent the certification of the election.

I mean, that really is the key constitutional problem that Congress has to wrestle with in terms of making sure that they take action so that that doesn't ever happen again. So they need to understand what was involved.

And so they are casting a wide net from people who are very well known and senior advisers to the president as well the former president, as well as individuals who may be lesser known to the public, but had eyes and ears and were present and knowledgeable.

ACOSTA: All right. Andrew McCabe, Carrie Cordero. Of course, we're going to be watching this case as it develops. It sounds like the committee is expanding that net. No question about it. Thanks so much for your time this evening. We appreciate it.

And coming up, we'll have the latest on the Christmas parade tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where a suspect has been charged with five counts of intentional homicide.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Tonight, police in Wisconsin have charged a suspect in the Waukesha Christmas bridge parade tragedy with five counts of intentional homicide. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is joining us from the scene of the disaster. Adrienne, officials say the suspect was apparently involved in a domestic dispute just before plowing into the parade. What's the latest? Tell us more.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the chief of police told us this afternoon the accused was involved in a domestic disturbance minutes before driving through a crowd here on Main Street. Who that domestic disturbance involved is still unclear at this hour. But we do know tonight that 39-year-old suspect is facing multiple charges.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty casualties down Main Street. Alert all the hospital/

BROADDUS (voice-over): This horror at high speed.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Now revealed to be an intentional act.

CHIEF DAN THOMPSON, WAUKESHA POLICE DEPT.: Alone subject, intentionally drove his maroon SUV through barricades into a crowd of people that was celebrating the Waukesha Christmas parade.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Police say the driver of this vehicle scene racing through the Waukesha holiday parade Sunday will be charged with killing five people ages 52 to 81. As more victims continue to fight for their lives.

THOMPSON: The suspect involved in this tragic incident is identified as Darrell E. Brooks, male, 39 years of age who was a resident of central Milwaukee. And we are confident he acted alone. There's no evidence that this is a terrorist incident.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Police say Darrell Brooks was driving away from the scene of a domestic disturbance. It was not his first interaction with police this month. A criminal complaint from earlier this month shows a list of charges including recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct and battery. The complaint also alleges Brooks, "Intentionally and without consent, ran another person over with his vehicle while they were walking through the parking lot." He was out on $1,000 bail, a recommendation the D.A. says was, "Inappropriately low."

CNN reached out to Brooks's attorney regarding the incident earlier this month, but has not yet received a response. In addition to those killed, nearly 50 people were injured Sunday, including several children.

DR. AMY DRENDEL, DR. EMERGENCY DEPT. & TRAUMA CTR. CHILDREN'S MILWAUKEE: Six of these patients were sent to the operating room last night and two additional patients are undergoing surgeries today.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Children's Hospital Milwaukee confirms it received 18 patients Sunday evening, ages three to 16, including three sets of siblings.

DRENDEL: Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries.

MELINDA STOFFLE, WITNESS: I could see kids just laying on the street, people putting blankets over them and trying to attend to them. Kids screaming on the sidewalk.

BROADDUS (voice-over): At least one witness says the driver continued to speed through the street, even after hitting several people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hit at least two people right away, rolled over both of them and then kept going. It didn't stop.


BROADDUS: And the initial court appearance is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon for that 39-year-old suspect.


Initially, police are recommending to prosecutors five counts of first degree intentional homicide. Also telling us today, more charges could come later.

Behind me, the sidewalk and the parking spaces are still outlined with neon spray paint, highlighting where lives ended. Tonight, this community will hold vigil for the folks who died and those are -- those who are still fighting for their lives. Jim?

ACOSTA: And our hearts go out to the people in that community. My goodness. They are going through so much right now. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much for that report. We appreciate it.

Coming up, now that he's been cleared of homicide charges, Kyle Rittenhouse is speaking out on right-wing media. I'll ask Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump about what Rittenhouse is saying about himself now.



ACOSTA: There's a lot fallout from the not guilty verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. He was acquitted of all charges after claiming self-defense for shooting three people, two of whom died during last year's Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. To say the least, he's become a darling of the right-wing media. And he spoke with none other than Tucker Carlson, a Fox News.


KYLE RITTENHOUSE, ACQUITTED OF HOMICIDE: This case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense, right? I'm not a racist person. I support the BLM Movement, I support peacefully demonstrating. And I believe there needs to be change. I believe there's a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case, but in other cases. And it's just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of somebody.


ACOSTA: And we're joined now by Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump. Ben, thank you so much for being with us. What's your reaction to what you just heard from Kyle Rittenhouse that he supports the BLM Movement, is what he said to Tucker Carlson?

BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR MARCUS ARBERY & JACOB BLAKE: Well, it's not so much what he says that matters, Jim Acosta, is his actions. And it's not even so much what he says as it is what institution of criminal justice in America says about him, a young white teenager being able to take the law into his own hands, and then to have everybody condone it, when we know if the roles were reversed. And this was a young black teenager who got dropped off by his mother at a protest with an assault weapon, that the results would have been very different.

You can't even imagine a black teenager being able to be given the benefit of the doubt in consideration like they Kyle Rittenhouse because we offer exhibit number one, Trayvon Martin, who didn't kill anybody, was walking home minding his own business. And yet, after he was assassinated, the criminal justice system sought to assassinate his character just like we're watching Jim Acosta, here in Brunswick, Georgia today when they assassinate Ahmaud Arbery's character after they assassinate him as person.

ACOSTA: And I do want to talk to you about the -- what happened with Ahmaud Arbery in just a moment because some very controversial remarks were once again made in this case we want to talk to you about. But just asked you about Rittenhouse -- one other question here. Given how this case was politicized and how Rittenhouse was championed by the far-right, does it surprise you at all that he gave this interview to Fox, apparently, Tucker Carlson had a crew behind the scenes with Rittenhouse during this trial, who knows whether the judge allowed that or was even aware of it? What do you make of all that?

CRUMP: Well, many of us were not surprised at all about by the support he's getting from all those people who claim to believe in law enforcement, but yet, they won't let law enforcement do their jobs, they feel that they have a right to take the law into their own hands. That's the message that has been sent about the Rittenhouse verdict, that it's OK for white people to go take the law into their own hands.

Now, if that were minority (ph) is doing that, I believe it will be a totally different result on every level. And so we have to continue to hold a mirror to America's face and say look at the two systems of justice America, you have to acknowledge that hypocrisy.

ACOSTA: And on the subject of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, you representing Arbery's father, what do you make of what you heard in today's closing arguments and just the way that the defense has tried to, I mean, just overtly and Jack Race (ph) into this? I guess, to try to push the jurors buttons, what did you think?

CRUMP: That's exactly right, Jim, it's Trayvon Martin 2.0 you remember and Trayvon the last witness of the trial was a white woman who said her home had been burglarized. And because of that, that she said it was a black man that every black person in the facility, there was a presumption of guilt and that Trayvon's killer was within his right to be able to detain any black person. That seems to spill over to Ahmaud Arbery.

It's almost as if because a black man was jogging in the neighborhood, we are allowed to presume that he is guilty into proven innocent. And after they kill him, then the white men are presumed innocent and allowed to go home and sleep in their beds at night after they killed unarmed black man.


And so, we have to continue to say that we can't have two systems of justice in America, one for white America and another for the rest of us. It has to be equal justice for every citizen in America.

ACOSTA: That's the only way the system will work. You're absolutely right. Ben Crump, thank you so much for being with us this evening. We appreciate it.

CRUMP: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Thanks as always.

And we're also keeping our eyes on deliberations in Charlottesville, Virginia where a jury is deciding a civil case against the organizers of the Unite the Right rally back in 2017. The jury is weighing six claims, the most serious being conspiring to commit racially motivated violence.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd in Charlottesville, Virginia. Brian, the jury had some questions for the judge on the second day of deliberations?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Jim. And just a short time ago, the jury was dismissed for the day by Judge Norman Moon, no verdict yet in this case, a second full day of deliberations. Now, that question that you just mentioned, it was a key question that the jury posed to Judge Norman Moon earlier today. They said, if we cannot come up with to a unanimous decision on counts one, two and three, do we have to be unanimous on counts four, five and six?

Now those first three counts, Jim, are very crucial. They are at the crux of the plaintiffs' case. And that is the claim that these defendants, these white supremacist, conspired to commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville in August of 2017. So that question that the jury pose to the judge, very, very important. If we cannot come up with unanimous decision on those first three counts, do we have to be unanimous on the last three? Judge Norman mood told them that they have to continue to try to work to come up with a unanimous decision. Now, if there is a hung jury, in this case, because it's a civil case, then the plaintiffs do have the option of either dropping the case, or they can ask for another trial. So, even if there is a hung jury here, if they cannot come up with a unanimous decision, the plaintiffs do have the option of just presenting this case all over again. And it is a voluminous case. These are nine plaintiffs, people who were injured that weekend suing a 24 defendants, 14 individuals and 10 white supremacist organizations in relation to that weekend to violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

And then, of course, as we mentioned, the crux of the plaintiffs' case, accusing these defendants of planning, of conspiring to commit racially motivated violence that weekend. The defendants all say they did not do that, that they did not plan that violence. But again, this jury, Jim, seemingly struggling at the moment with those key counts that they're deliberating.

ACOSTA: And the people in that community are still waiting for justice, struggling to get justice four years after Charlottesville. All right, Brian Todd, an important case. Thank you so much for that report.

Coming up, will Thanksgiving celebrations cause another spike in the coronavirus pandemic? And what can you do to keep yourself and your families safe? That's next.



ACOSTA: Across the U.S., tonight people are getting ready to head to Thanksgiving gatherings with friends and family. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is on the move as well. Millions are traveling, justice were seeing an increase in new cases.

Let's talk about where things stand with Dr. Richard Besser, a former Acting Director of the CDC. Dr. Besser, an early Happy Thanksgiving to you. I appreciate you coming on. With just three days to go until the Thanksgiving holiday, what are your recommendations for the best way to celebrate safely this year?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: Yes, you know, Jim, I think the rules will vary depending on whether you're at a gathering where everyone is vaccinated or not. As you were mentioning, the rate of cases, the number of cases across the country are rising. And so it is important that people take precautions.

If you're at a gathering where everyone's vaccinated, I think you can feel pretty comfortable. You know, for added protection, if you have people coming in from from a wide range of areas, you could see if people would take a test before coming. That's what we're doing for the gathering we're having at our house. If you're gathering with people who aren't vaccinated, I think testing becomes an important part of it because without that, we are going to see an uptick in cases because of the number of people who are coming together from so many different places. ACOSTA: And Dr. Fauci says fully vaccinated family members can go maskless around each other this holiday season. Do you agree with that?

BESSER: You know, I do a lot comes down to risk comfort. So, you know, the risk isn't zero if you're together with people who are fully vaccinated. As we're seeing, the further out people are from vaccination, the greater chance there are for dropping their level of protection and for breakthrough cases. So if you're ever gathering and there are people who are at high risk for severe disease, you may want to open the windows, you may want to think about people wearing masks when they're around people who are at greater risk. It comes down to the level of comfort.

Here at our house where people are going to be vaccinated and will be tested, we are going to leave the masks off and and look forward to a gathering at a table mask free.

ACOSTA: It's hard to eat that drumstick with the mask on. That's a key point in all this. And CDC data just released today shows the risk of dying from COVID-19 is 14 times higher for unvaccinated people. It's an important reminder as time goes on, data just continues to support more and more this deeper vaccination, doesn't it?


BESSER: Yes. And, you know, and we're seeing an increase in the number of people who are getting vaccinated each day. A lot of that are people getting boosters and children who are now eligible to get vaccinated. I want to encourage people who have the opportunity to get vaccinated for the first time and still haven't, talk to your friends, talk to your health care providers, get your questions answered, because it truly could be at least a lifesaving measure. And if we can increase that, it will do a lot to bring this under control during the winter when viruses do so much better.

ACOSTA: All right, Dr. Richard Besser, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BESSER: Thanks, Jim. Happy Thanksgiving.

ACOSTA: Next, more on the breaking news -- Happy Thanksgiving to you too. More on the breaking news this hour, a new round of subpoenas from the January 6 Select Committee. There are some familiar names on the list.