Bass calls 'Black pastors' comment during Arbery trial 'despicable'

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassOn The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 For Democrats it should be about votes, not megaphones MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday said the “Black pastors” comment made by a defense attorney representing one of the men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery was “despicable.”

Kevin Gough, a lawyer representing one of the three white men accused of killing Arbery, a Black man who was jogging in Brunswick, Ga. in February 2020, told the judge on Thursday that he did not want additional “high-profile members of the African American community” in the courtroom, arguing that it would influence the jury.

“Obviously there's only so many pastors they can have, and the fact that their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now, that's fine, but then that's it. We don't want any more black pastors coming in here, or other, Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week sitting with the victim's family trying to influence a jury in this case,” Gough said.

“I think the court can understand my concern about bringing people in who really don't have any ties to this case, other than political interests,” he added.

Asked by host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperMcCaul says US withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened Russia on Ukraine Sunday shows - Voting rights legislation dominates Texas Republican: FBI probe into synagogue hostage taker spreads to London, Tel Aviv MORE on CNN’s “State of the Union” for her reaction to the remarks, Bass said it was “despicable,” before criticizing other parts of the highly anticipated trial.

“But when they were selecting the jury, remember, they selected pretty much an all-white jury. And then the judge acknowledged that that was a problem and allowed the jury to be seated anyway. So, I think that particular trial is off to a bad start,” Bass said.

Gough, who is representing William “Roddie” Bryan, apologized in court Friday “to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended” by his remarks, but they had already sparked outrage from some individuals, including Sharpton.

The reverend said the comments illustrated “arrogant insensitivity,” according to The Associated Press.

Bass on Sunday said it is “really sad” how the country’s outlook toward racial justice has shifted since last year’s nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing by police in Minneapolis.

“A year ago, we were talking about racial reckoning, and it seemed to be an enlightened period. And now we have had major setbacks. And I think that people understand that you can use race politically. It charges people up. It's a highly emotional issue. And I think it's just really sad,” Bass told Tapper.

The congresswoman said she is “very concerned” about the outcome of the Arbery trial, in addition to the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who is charged with killing two and injuring another during protests in Kenosha, Wis. last year after the police-involved shooting of Jacob Black, a Black man.

In the Arbery trial, Bryan and his co-defendants — Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael — face nine criminal charges, including felony murder, in connection to the fatal shooting. 

Bryan and the McMichaels say they approached Arbery because they believed he had played a role in a series of burglaries, and attempted a citizens arrest before things turned violent. 

In a video taken by Bryan, Travis McMichael is seen shooting Arbery three times from a close distance.

Bass on Sunday said the Arbery case is “a trial of a lynching.”