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At This Hour

Rittenhouse Jury Deliberates; Violence at Belarusian-Polish Border; Taiwan Remains Flashpoint after U.S.-China Summit. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Did his actions provoke deadly violence?

Playing with fire. A warning from China to President Biden about Taiwan, fascinating details from this virtual summit.

Violence erupts at a critical border. Polish troops clash with migrants on the border with Belarus. CNN is live on the scene of this growing humanitarian crisis.


BOLDUAN: Thank you for being here, everyone. We begin with the breaking news, though, the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse now in the hands of a jury.

Deliberations are now underway following a two-week trial, that included dozens of witnesses and very graphic video of the deadly shootings. The judge having Rittenhouse himself randomly pick the 12 jurors from a raffle basket. They will decide what happens now. Six others will serve as backup jurors.

Rittenhouse faces five felony charges for killing two men, wounding another, during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The most serious charge carries a mandatory life sentence.

The big question facing this jury -- and there is a lot that has been said and a lot of evidence and a lot of witnesses -- but the key question is whether they believe Rittenhouse was scared and fired his gun in self-defense.

Or was he armed, dangerous and the one who provoked the deadly violence?

Let's begin with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, live outside the courthouse for us this hour.

Hi, there, Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Hi, Kate. So, right, that jury now selected; it's five men, seven women; one person of color on the jury. That is one of the men.

As you said, they have now started their deliberation, probably about 45 minutes into it. And a series of charges, of counts they need to consider; the verdict sheet, 14 pages. They will go sheet by sheet, page by page, in whatever order they want, in trying to decide if Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty or not guilty.

One of things as you said is the self-defense case, so they need to take into consideration what it is that Kyle Rittenhouse believed, what it is that he was seeing, what it is, from his perspective.

And one of the things that the judge read to them to help them try and understand that, is a charge, it's one of the instructions on the belief and how they need to look at that and sort of on his belief as to what a reasonable person in that situation would do.

So that is something that they will be reading to themselves. Of course, when the judge read the instructions to the jury, it was confusing. They will now have the chance to look it over on their own.

Of course, the charges that Kyle Rittenhouse faces, one of the most serious would carry a potential mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. That is a first-degree homicide charge, if he was to be found guilty on that. It is the most serious charge. So he would be facing a mandatory life in prison.

There are two lesser included charges that he will also -- that he is also facing, that the judge added, that the jury is going to be considering. And that is sort of like a second degree homicide murder charge. That is something else that the jury will consider.

So we're about 45 minutes into the deliberations and so now the jury gets to work.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, stick close. Let's see what comes of it, any questions from the jury.

Joining me for more is CNN legal analyst Elie Honig and CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers.

First, Elie, can you take us inside the jury room?

What happens now?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Kate, this is one of the great mysteries of our legal system. We know the jurors have been instructed as to the law. But they're not told to do when they get in there.

Typically they will first elect a foreperson. But then different juries approach it in different ways. All we are going to know is we'll get little hints maybe periodically over the next several days. They will send out notes, perhaps ask to see certain evidence, to have testimony read back to them and we will try to figure out if that looks good or bad for one side of the other.

And eventually they will hopefully send out a note that says we have a verdict and we'll take the verdict. They'll vote on each of these counts individually. It's not all guilty or all not guilty. We could have guilty on some counts, not guilty on others.

BOLDUAN: Let's jump into this, you guys, because from jury instructions to closing arguments, it was a marathon day yesterday for the jury and what they were expected to take in. We saw it play out on air and it was confusing. It was a lot.

I want to play some of the moments that stuck out to both of you.

Elie, I want to play this moment from the very beginning of the prosecution's closing argument, then I'll ask you about it. Listen to this, please.


THOMAS BINGER, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is a case in which a 17-year-old teenager killed two unarmed men and severely wounded a third person with an AR-15 that did not belong to him.


BINGER: This isn't a situation where he was protecting his home or his family. He killed people after traveling here from Antioch, Illinois, and staying out after a citywide curfew.


BOLDUAN: Elie, why was this an important moment?

HONIG: Well, so this was the very first thing the prosecutor said to this jury. I was taught, as a prosecutor by Jennifer, who was my supervisor and others, that the first thing you say to the jury is crucial, because they've just heard days, weeks of evidence.

And it's a lot and you have to cut through the noise, you have to get right to the heart of the matter. And I thought that opening line, essentially this is a teenager with a very dangerous weapon who killed two unarmed people and wounded another, I think that brought the jury right back to the heart of the matter.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, another moment from the state's closing. Listen to this.


BINGER: Here is the defendant running in between those parked cars, slowing down. And you can see just how close -- or rather how far away -- Mr. Rosenbaum was when the defendant shot him.

Mr. Rosenbaum is not even within arm's reach of the defendant when the first shot goes off.

There's no way Mr. Rosenbaum could have taken that gun even if he wanted to. He is already falling to the ground. You can't claim self-defense against an unarmed man.


BOLDUAN: This is showing, kind of a smattering, of the state walking through the video piece by piece, the videos.

Why do you think this was effective?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So what the prosecution was trying to do is really slow this down. They were saying there were lots of points along the way where Kyle Rittenhouse had a choice to make. He had options. He didn't have to shoot.

He could have, you know, gone back; could have retreated; could have hit him with the gun. He went through all sorts of things that could have resulted in something different. And then with respect to Rosenbaum, he said he didn't even have to shoot him again. He shot him once. Obviously, that stopped Rosenbaum.

But he shot him three more times. So what the prosecution is doing here is really slowing this down to say to the jury, hey, there are all sorts of places where Rittenhouse could have made a different decision and people wouldn't have died. And yet he didn't do that.

So conversely, the defense is doing the opposite, right, trying to speed it all up, because they're trying to set these different parameters. But that was really important for prosecution to say, other choices, other options, meaning he can't claim self-defense.

BOLDUAN: One thing -- both of you have been pointing throughout watching this trial is this was a tough case for the state, because the burden of proof, when it comes to disproving self-defense, was on the state.

So I want to play a moment that, Elie, you highlighted from the defense's closing about what they've done.


MARK RICHARD, RITTENHOUSE DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle -- one with a skateboard, one with his hands, one with his feet, one with a gun. Hands and feet can cause great bodily harm.


BOLDUAN: Elie, why do you think this was a good place for the defense to be?

HONIG: Yes, so, Kate, one of the things that the prosecution has tried to cast Kyle Rittenhouse as, is a live shooter, an active shooter. They used that phrase in their closing argument.

And I think the defense lawyer did an effective job, saying he was not shooting indiscriminately. In fact, he was physically attacked at least once, where he did not respond, the guy who hits him on the back of the head out on the street.

So I think the point here is he was under enormously dangerous attacks by these people and only shot when he reasonably believed, again, that's the key phrase, reasonably believed he had to use lethal force in order to protect himself from death or serious bodily injury. And I think they made that argument quite clearly there.

BOLDUAN: And, look, this is all now in the hands of the jury. They will go through it as you have laid out. But one thing -- and I think we can probably play this video again, Jennifer, that I think is kind of worth discussing -- because I know this is not new to you or Elie.

But just the fact that such a big part of our judicial system seems to be based on random selection, like watching Kyle Rittenhouse; watching, like, this bingo-style roller being used to choose who the 12 jurors are going to be, in the end, and Kyle Rittenhouse picking those numbers out himself.

Jen, that's you.

RODGERS: Yes. I mean, it is kind of nuts. But you know, one of the problems with jury selection here is that the judge didn't allow a questionnaire. Both sides wanted a questionnaire. The judge didn't allow it.

He then picked this jury, the 12 plus the alternates, in a day, in a case like this, with all the media attention, all of the political overtones. We are where we are not knowing much about these jurors and, frankly, not being confident they've been fully vetted for biases and exposure to the case because of what the judge did.

So you know, you're never going to know exactly who you get. Jurors can be unpredictable no matter what.


RODGERS: But here it's worse than that because of the way the jury was selected from the get-go. We really can't be confident that these jurors are who we want them to be, which is people who come in without biases, blank slate, and they'll decide based on what they heard in the courtroom.

BOLDUAN: They are now deliberating as we speak. Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.

I want to turn now to another trial we are following closely. Testimony is resuming this morning in the trial of three men, accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia. The prosecution is calling its latest witness, the medical examiner, who is, I believe, testifying as we speak.

Just yesterday, the judge denied the defense's request for a mistrial and also publicly denounced one of the attorney's comments, objecting to Black pastors being allowed in the courtroom. CNN's Martin Savidge is live outside the courthouse there.

Hi, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. It looked like yesterday this trial would come to an abrupt and ugly ending with that mistrial motion filed by the defense attorney Kevin Gough.

He's been complaining now for several days, actually over a period of almost a week, about Black pastors in the courtroom. These are pastors that have come to support the family of Ahmaud Arbery; in particular, Ahmaud's mother. Here is some of that debate yesterday. You'll hear an angry judge that fires back at this defense attorney. Listen.


JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, GLYNN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: What we have now, with individual members or individuals coming into the courtroom, I will say that is directly in response, Mr. Gough, to statements you made, which I find reprehensible.

The Colonel Sanders statement you made last week, I would suggest, may be something that has influenced what is going on here.


SAVIDGE: So essentially the judge, in rebuking the attorney there, is saying, look, this is a problem you created with your own mouth, your own words.

And the judge agreed that the language that this defense attorney has used at times was, as you heard, reprehensible.

Meanwhile, on the stand right now is the medical examiner. This is a critical witness here. He's already said a number of things describing the severe wounds caused to Ahmaud Arbery by three shotgun blasts.

He actually said that two struck Ahmaud Arbery. He also said that, no matter what lifesaving measures police attempted on the scene, Ahmaud Arbery would have died anyway. More to come.

BOLDUAN: Martin, thank you.

Coming up for us this hour, Polish forces aiming tear gas and water cannons at migrants as violence erupts at the border. We're live at the scene next.






MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very dramatic scenes playing out, as you can see. The migrants angry at their reception by the Polish authorities, they're being disallowed from getting back -- getting into the European Union have reacted angrily. They've started throwing stones.

Oh, my god, we're being blasted by water cannons from the Polish side, tear gas has been thrown as well. There are flashbangs going off.

So I'm just wiping the -- as I say, it is quite -- oww -- it is quite acrid water, as I think I got some here, I don't know what.


BOLDUAN: That's CNN's Matthew Chance on the scene, as you can see, as violence erupted this morning at the border between Poland and Belarus. A migrant crisis there is escalating by the day, with thousands of people essentially trapped now in the middle of this in freezing conditions.

Matthew joins me live once again from the Belarus side of the border with more on this breaking news.

What's happening now?

CHANCE: Kate, the situation has calmed down considerably because it's nighttime now, as you can see. It's getting freezing cold. We're just trying to keep warm by this fire, along with these other migrants that have come here into this sort of tent camp they've erected very close to the Polish-Belarusian border.

The scenes earlier today were dramatic, violent and we witnessed them firsthand, of course. You can see over here, there's a big spotlight being shone now from the Polish side across the razor wire that is separating these migrants, who desperately want to go into the European Union from Poland; which is, of course, part of the European Union.

They didn't allow that to happen. They pushed back hard on those migrants trying to get through. And there were scenes of anger as stones were thrown and water cannon were fired to push the crowds back.

The majority, the worst of the violence, took place right here in this place behind me, the main gate from Belarus into Poland, where we saw these incredible images of young migrant men, predominantly men, smashing stones on the ground into smaller rocks and then throwing them, hurling them at the Polish border forces.

This is a crisis which, it's alleged by the U.S. and the Europeans, has been orchestrated by the Belarusian authorities, to create a humanitarian crisis on their border. The Belarusians, of course, deny that. But you know, the violence that we saw earlier today really was the first sign that we've seen that this crisis has been spiraling out of control.


CHANCE: You know, there have been developments tonight as well, because the Belarusian border agencies say that they started the process of clearing these camps out, of moving people back into Belarus, away from the border, away from the confrontation zone, if you like, with the Poles, and have started to put them into a processing center, where we're told they'll be given medical care, food.

It's inside, it's in a building, so that's a massive upgrade from the situation these desperate conditions people have been living in. And a decision will be taken, we're told, by the Belarusian border officials we've been speaking to, on whether to deport them or not.

Some of them I've spoken to do want to go back to their home country. The majority of people here are from Iraq, they're from Kurdistan. I spoke with lots of them. They say, look, we've had enough, we want to go back.

But there's also people here that don't. They're still determined, even after the scenes of confrontation earlier today and the determined response of the Poles that have made it clear they are not letting people in, they're still saying that they want to stay here and try again to get into the European Union, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Considering the conditions, something has to give, at least it seems. Thank you, Matthew, for your continued reporting. Thank you so much.

Still to come for us, a healthy debate, yet it comes with a pretty clear warning. President Biden and China's president meet for a virtual summit, going late into the night.

So what is the impact today?





BOLDUAN: "A healthy debate:" that's how the White House describes the nearly 4 hour virtual summit with Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. No breakthroughs announced but that might count as progress, considering how strained the relationship has become between the U.S. and China.

The talks ramped up with at least one clear warning from the Chinese president that, when it comes to Taiwan and any U.S. intervention, that's, quote, "just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will get burned."

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House joining us at this hour.

What are you hearing about that from the White House today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, no response from the White House to those comments from the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.

But senior officials saying they believe there was a healthy debate, based on this long-standing relationship that President Biden and Xi Jinping have had over more than a decade, going back to President Biden's time as vice president under President Obama.

We know that they discussed issues of disagreement, such as trade issues, for example, human rights concerns that President Biden raised, as it relates to issues in Xinjiang province, Hong Kong and more.

We also know that they discussed areas of potential cooperation, like on the climate crisis, for example, facing the world, talking about the importance of collaboration on that front.

But one thing that President Biden made very clear -- and this was during the beginning portion of this 3.5-hour meeting, when reporters were allowed into the room here at the White House -- President Biden talking about the importance of making sure that this -- these challenges that -- this competition, rather, does not devolve into conflict. Listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States to ensure that the competition between our country does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended; just simple, straightforward competition.

Our bilateral relationship evolved; seems to me that it will have a profound impact not only on our countries but, quite frankly, the rest of the world.


DIAMOND: And so now the question is, how will that work moving forward?

President Biden talked about the importance of setting up guardrails in this relationship and particularly on the issue of Taiwan, which has become so fiercely competitive.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, saying this morning that White House officials and Chinese officials will, going forward, have more conversations to try and establish exactly what those guardrails will be. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Jeremy. Thank you so much.

Joining me for more on this is Gordon Chang, a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and author of "The Great U.S.-China Tech War."

It's great to see you, Gordon. A healthy debate and no major breakthroughs, though.

What do you see as, you know, what this meeting really was in the end?

GORDON CHANG, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, this meeting was to establish the guardrails as they said. But we have tried this approach. We've had intensive diplomacy with China for three decades. And Chinese behavior has only gotten worse.

So I think we need to go beyond guardrails and start imposing costs on behavior that is not only unacceptable but in some cases malicious. So there needs to be a rethinking of the assumptions that have driven U.S.-China relations.

BOLDUAN: This warning about Taiwan, I wanted to know what you think Xi is actually warning, because, you know, should that and will this "don't play with fire or you'll get burned," should that change anything about U.S. policy on Taiwan right now?

CHANG: Well, U.S. policy on Taiwan has worked. It's one of strategic ambiguity. But it worked in a benign period. Now we are not in --