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President Biden Meets Virtually With Chinese President; Trump's New Legal Argument; Ahmaud Arbery Trial Continues; Rittenhouse Jury Begins Deliberations. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: "The Hunt For Planet B" premieres right here Saturday 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.

Self-defense or did he provoke the deadly encounter? Kyle Rittenhouse's fate is now in the jury's hands, as the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, braces for a verdict. The 18-year-old is facing five felony charges after killing two men and wounding another during protests over a police shooting last year.

Rittenhouse this morning pulling the names of the 12 jury members from the original 18 who are now weighing several complicated legal questions as they discuss for the first time everything they heard and saw, 31 witnesses taking the stand, including the accused killer himself.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live outside the courthouse.

Shimon, what more can you share about this jury? And I understand they have already asked a question.


Just a short time ago, we got word that they submitted a note to the court asking for a copy of the jury instructions. And what we have learned since then is even more information, very specific stuff, questions that they have on the jury -- from the jury instructions, and what they asked for was for pages one through six.

Now, most of that has to deal with the self-defense and provocation instructions. The provocation instruction was only given to the jury after the prosecutors had argued for it at the end of last week, a small, but perhaps significant victory for prosecutors in getting that instruction told to the jury. The other thing, what we learned is that on page four of these

instructions focuses on the intent to kill, and then five and six pages, five and six, focus on the reckless homicide charge in connection to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum.

Joseph Rosenbaum, of course, is the man that the defense has painted this -- as this person who instigated the entire incident, that he ambushed Kyle Rittenhouse, prosecutors obviously arguing that Kyle Rittenhouse instigated the whole thing. That's where that provocation charge comes in.

Also, just one last note, one final note is that the charge relating to Joseph Rosenbaum is on the first page of the verdict sheets. So, you have a 14-page verdict sheet. On page one, it begins with a charge, with a count against Joseph Rosenbaum.

CABRERA: OK, so, Shimon, thank you for giving us that update.

I want to bring in Areva Martin, civil rights attorney, and Sara Azari, criminal defense attorney, to discuss where we are in this trial, which is at this critical phase, Areva, seven women, five men. Only one man is a person of color. That is who is deliberating as we speak.

Based on the evidence, the closing arguments we all heard live here yesterday, how hard do you think it will be to come to a unanimous verdict? And do you read anything into that one question that has so far been sent to the court?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and I read into that question what I think everyone saw, which was the confusion that the judge created by reading the jury instructions.

First of all, self-defense as an instruction is already difficult enough, and then you add the additional charge of provocation. So now you have complication upon complication. Then you have the judge reading the instructions. He would stop, he would start. He would read a paragraph over. He would have discussion. He would hold his head.

So I'm not surprised that the jurors have asked to see those pages again, because they want to make sure that they are clear. The jury instructions are a road map for them, so not at all surprised by that.

I think the prosecution, though, overall, Ana, did a fantastic job of laying out the facts of the case and painting a vivid picture. They told a really compelling story and used language like active shooter and chaos tours.

And I think those phrases are going to stick with those jurors as they deliberate.

CABRERA: Sara, the core issue here is self-defense and whether Rittenhouse's use of force was justified.

The two men Rittenhouse killed were unarmed. And the prosecution in closing made this point to jurors. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES KRAUS, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: No one is saying that Mr. Rittenhouse did not have a right to defend himself. Punch him in the face. Kick him in the testicles. Knee him in the face. Hit him with your gun?

You don't just immediately get to shoot someone.


CABRERA: Sara, how significant was this argument in terms of the charges Rittenhouse faces and the lesser charges as well being allowed?


SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Ana, the prosecution's key arguments -- and, by the way, I disagree with Areva. I don't think they have established their case. I don't think they have met their burden.

But the idea here is that they argued, he provoked what ensued, calling him a chaos tourist. And provocation was the headline of their closing argument, that he didn't have to kill, but did. And they even compared him to the third victim who survived, saying that he had a pistol. He chose not to shoot.

Well, the threat to one is not necessarily a threat to another, and that they ultimately argued the force, the force that was used was not proportional to the threat that was posed. And that might have been the strongest argument they had.

But I think one of the things that really struck me is how wrong the DA was in arguing to the jury that, just because Rosenbaum was unarmed, that somehow there's no self-defense with respect to him. You can absolutely defend yourself, even if the person you're before that is posing the threat is not armed and does not have a weapon.

The question for the jury is, did he act reasonably? The jury is ultimately, despite all the confusion with the jury instructions, et cetera, is going to think, what would I do in that same situation? Would I believe that I was facing an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death? And would I be justified in using deadly force?

Or would I have had to do some of these other things the DA alluded to, the kicking, the hitting or the running away? I think the defense, Ana, did a really good job at painting the real picture of Mr. Rosenbaum. He was not just this peaceful protester there. He was a violent, angry man who had been instigating, ambushing and threatening Rittenhouse.

And I think that really matters, because when you're talking about provocation, they have not been able to argue a single fact that supports provocation with respect to the response by shooting. Is it enough to be in Kenosha with bad ideas in your head? I don't think so. CABRERA: To that point, Areva, you say one key argument that stands

out in the prosecution's case is the use of that phrase active shooter.

Here's how the defense addressed that.


MARK RICHARDS, ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle. Ladies and gentlemen, Kyle was not an active shooter. That is a buzzword that the state wants to latch on to because it excuses the actions of that mob.


CABRERA: So, Areva, what does the evidence prove?

MARTIN: Yes, I think the evidence is clear that cow Rittenhouse was an active shooter. You can use the word active shooter, you can use chaos tourist, or you can use provocateur.

And contrary to what Sara just said, there was absolute evidence that he instigated this. He raised his gun at Mr. Rosenbaum. That is an act of aggression. That is an act of investigation. It's an act of provocation. And I think the prosecution did a really good job of establishing that.

And what I saw from the defense at the beginning of his argument was rambling, disjointed statements. I would say, at the end, he did make a more cohesive argument. He blamed everyone. He accused the prosecutor of lying. He accused all the witnesses of mine. He accused the dead people of being bad and even used the term crazy in describing Mr. Rosenbaum.

So, everyone involved in that situation was bad, wrong or a liar, except Kyle Rittenhouse, who we know lied about being an EMT, who we know told multiple lies about not having shot anyone. So to the extent anyone was a liar, we saw it plain and simply with respect to Kyle Rittenhouse.

CABRERA: All right, ladies, thank you both. For now, that's it.

Well, stay with us as we continue throughout the hour in case we get a verdict in this trial, the jury now deliberating nearly two hours. Really appreciate both of your insights and expertise.

I want to take everybody to Georgia now. The medical examiner has taken the stand in the trial of three white men charged with killing black jogger Ahmaud Arbery. And during his testimony, Edmund Donoghue described the gunshot wounds to Arbery's chest and wrist as the jury was shown graphic autopsy photos.

Donoghue also revised his estimate of how close the shotgun was to Arbery when he was shot.

CNN's Martin Savidge is covering this trial in Brunswick, Georgia. Martin, difficult testimony, obviously, for anybody to have to see those graphic images, especially the Ahmaud Arbery family. What was the prosecution hoping to show or do with this evidence?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think what is obvious, which is the fact that Ahmaud Arbery died an extremely violent death.

The medical examiner basically said that there were three shots fired, two of which struck Ahmaud Arbery. This is from a shotgun. And this is at very close range. The first one appears to have gone directly into his chest. The other one missed. And then the third shot appears to have gone up through his armpit.


The medical examiner said either one of those two hits were fatal. It would be the part of the prosecution here to want to show that not only did Ahmaud Arbery suffer terrible blows, but that he would have been weakened in his ability to strike or fight, because they believe this is going to be something that the defense brings forward, that Ahmaud Arbery was somehow pummeling or delivering blows to Travis McMichael.

And I think the state is trying to say her he was too weakened by the gunshot blasts, Ana.

CABRERA: Martin, one of the defense attorneys, Kevin Gough, has made headlines in the last few days. Again he complained today about prominent black pastors attending this trial.

And that did not keep Reverend Jesse Jackson away. It also didn't convince the judge that this was a real problem. What is the latest on Gough's complaints?

SAVIDGE: Well, this time, he decided to take his words and put it into a formal motion, which is what he said he delivered to the court this morning.

It seemed like he had changed or nuance the language somewhat, saying that now he wants the court to monitor all the people that are in the public area of the court. So I don't know, I haven't been able to see the motion, if he specifically mentions black pastors, but we know that that is his primary concern here.

The judge said, I will have to review this motion and rule at another time. But the judge has already publicly twice said on this in court he is not going to start monitoring those who are in the public space, as long as they follow the decorum of the court, Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Martin Savidge. Appreciate that update.

Just into CNN, lawyers for former President Trump arguing in a new filing that turning over his White House records would give Congress too much power over the executive branch.

Plus, some friendly banter, but also a stark warning in President Biden's biggest talks yet with China. What sparked President Xi Jinping to say those who play with fire get burned?

And astronauts told to shelter in place in space after a Russian rocket blows a satellite to pieces, sending dangerous debris toward the International Space Station.



CABRERA: Former President Trump offering up a new legal strategy in his effort to keep documents related to January 6 out of the hands of Congress.

In a new filing just hours ago, his lawyers argue that, if the documents don't remain secret, Congress will be too powerful. They argue -- quote -- "In these hyperpartisan times, Congress will increasingly and inevitably use this new weapon to perpetually harass its political rival."

Let's discuss with CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates.

Laura, what do you make of this new argument?


I mean, the idea of our democracy is having oversight functions of a co-equal branch of government, not to elevate one over the other. But the mere attempt to try to get documents that go to the heart of the issue about our democracy, about the integrity of our elections and any role that a member of the executive branch might have played in contributing to, perpetuating and allowing to metastasize the big lie, that falls under the oversight and, frankly, the legislative function to be able to correct this behavior.

So this is an attempt, really, by the former president to suggest that, if the privilege argument doesn't stick, if that's no longer one that would stick on the kitchen wall, let's try this instead of an all-too-powerful Congress.

But, Ana, if Congress does not have the oversight function, cannot check and balance other co-equal branches of government, then doesn't the other branch that remains unchecked, isn't that that becomes all too powerful and isn't that the problem?

CABRERA: We will see what the judge rules here.

Let's talk about the other big battle under way. The House select committee investigating this Capitol attack is weighing a criminal contempt referral now for Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, after he denied their subpoena.

But Congressman Jamie Raskin on this committee says they -- quote -- "haven't gotten there yet." If Steve Bannon's indictment was meant to set an example for others, I think a lot of people are asking, why not Meadows? Why is this decision tougher? COATES: It's much tougher.

Remember, Steve Bannon was not a part of the administration, not an employee of the executive branch since at least 2017, frankly, had fallen out of the good graces of then-President Trump. So his discussions that he would have with a president would be akin to really President Trump talking to an Uber driver, right?

The idea of Mark Meadows, however, is far more of an interesting discussion about what we hope the executive privilege will achieve. We want members of the Cabinet, we want members of the inner circle, let alone the inner Oval, the chief of staff, to be able to have these frank conversations with the president of the United States without fear of having confidentiality compromised.

And so he's always had a stronger, more colorable claim about conversations with the president of the United States as potentially being privileged. Now, he hasn't have a slam-dunk case, because, remember, the executive privilege rests with the institution of the presidency and the incumbent, President Joe Biden, should trump, forgive the pun, the former President Donald J. Trump in the assertion of it.

But Mark Meadows and the decision of whether or not his conversations -- I would argue even for someone like Dan Scavino or even Kayleigh McEnany -- would be a much harder case because they are expected to have the kinds of conversations where the privilege might attach. But who holds it right now will ultimately be the decisive factor.


CABRERA: You and I were talking yesterday when Bannon was making his court appearance. Here is what his lawyer is telling CNN today.


DAVID SCHOEN, ATTORNEY FOR STEVE BANNON: For any person who does any kind of litigation, one would never head into a deposition where privilege is claimed and have the client just take a chance, oh, well, maybe some of the questions would be privileged, maybe they won't, but the privilege holder won't be there to have an opportunity to object.

It's the privilege holder who determines whether he needs to make an objection, and then it's resolved in a court. This is -- ought to be a civil matter resolved in the court. And Mr. Bannon's lawyer very responsibly told the committee that if a court orders him to answer any of these questions, he will answer them and comply.


CABRERA: Is that a sound argument?

COATES: No. Simply put, he's wrong.

There are many questions which the privilege would not attach. And if the privilege he believed was and could be validly asserted, he should argue that point after he arrives, complies with the subpoena.

For example, what's your name? The answer Steve Bannon is not going to be privileged. The idea of, what did you say publicly on your podcast to address said issues, that's not privileged. If it was, he's also waived it.

Any conversation that did not involve a direct discussion with the then-president of the United States, those don't fall under even an assertion, no matter how non-colorable, of assertion of privilege. And so the idea that you can just simply say, you know what, I'm going to decide blanketly that I don't even have to show up, I'm not going to answer a single question, even the most benign, even the most unrelated to any conversation with Donald Trump, is absolutely absurd.

And if the attorney says that, well, there's questions about the attorney as well, in terms of the advice that they're giving, because what happened is, you remember, just last week, there was a witness who showed up and didn't answer the questions he didn't want to answer, right?

But he has now a better chance of avoiding contempt charges than a Steve Bannon, who just said, kick rocks.


I believe you're referring to Jeffrey Clark...


CABRERA: ... the former DOJ U.S. official who reportedly was behind the scenes trying to orchestrate the DOJ to respond in a way that Trump would have liked, suggesting that there was something to investigate, that there was some there when it came to voter fraud, which the DOJ on record said there wasn't.

Thank you so much, Laura Coates, as always, for your expert analysis.

Turning now to the White House. With tensions between China and the U.S. on a constant simmer, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their most critical talks yet. Last night's virtual summit went three-and-a-half-hours, so it was longer than they had scheduled.

It was described as a healthy debate, which also included, according to the Chinese readouts, an ominous warning from -- about Taiwan from the president of China, who reportedly said -- quote -- "Those who play with fire will get burned."

CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House, and Will Ripley is live in Taiwan.

Phil, let me start with you.

It sounded like it was friendly enough. But, clearly, there were some tough topics. What are the takeaways?


And I think it's well-known that these two leaders obviously have a relationship, met for many, many hours over the course of the lead-up to their current roles as president of China, president of the United States.

And that was the basis of the conversations. And I think the best framing that I heard related to this three-and-a-half-hour virtual engagement was the idea that there were no breakthroughs to report and none were expected.

That wasn't the point of this sit-down of this bilateral meeting between the two leaders and their top advisers. The point was to establish a way to manage a relationship that's become increasingly tense, increasingly divisive over the course of the last 10 months, whether you're talking about Taiwan or trade or human rights issues.

More and more, you have seen the U.S. and China kind of head in the direction of running headlong into one another. And that more than anything else was what at least the U.S. side of this meeting was hoping to try and address, not necessarily to find solutions, not necessarily to have deliverables coming out of this engagement, but instead to lay the groundwork, to kind of set the stage for managing that relationship going forward.

And in that regard, administration officials believe they at least took the first step towards that ultimate endgame.


And, Will, remind our viewers why Taiwan is such a sensitive issue and explain why Taiwan's leadership is celebrating Biden's remarks coming out of this virtual summit.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There really is no more sensitive issue from the Chinese perspective than Taiwan, Ana.

When U.S. lawmakers visited Taipei just last week in a U.S. military plane, there was a quick fiery response from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing. And so for President Biden in this summit with President Xi to acknowledge that the United States still holds on to the one-China policy that was agreed upon back 40, nearly 50 years ago, when U.S. and China normalized relations, it is being celebrated in Beijing with positive headlines.

But, of course, what they're not mentioning in Beijing is that the United States is still adhering to its -- basically its policy that it's going to supply weapons to Taiwan and help Taiwan defend itself in the event that China were to try to disrupt this very, very kind of delicate balance that you have here, where you have an authoritarian government in the mainland, 1.5 billion people.


And then you have a self-governing democracy here on this island, an island that China claims as its own, and has for more than 70 years since the end of China's civil war.

So if you lay out the competing interests here, you have China that wants eventual reunification with Taiwan. You have Taiwan, which wants to maintain its sovereignty and even expand its role at the United Nations and other global organizations. And then you have the U.S., which wants to keep everything exactly the same, but yet has been moving closer to Taiwan recently.

And so from the Chinese perspective, for President Biden's to say one- China policy, that is being celebrated in Chinese state media as some sort of proof that, in fact, President Biden thinks that Taiwan is part of mainland China, which isn't entirely accurate, Ana.

CABRERA: OK. OK. Thank you for explaining it. It's complicated, obviously.

Will Ripley and Phil Mattingly, appreciate it, guys.

Vote on President Biden's spending bill or you won't be home for Thanksgiving, that coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she tries to force action on the president's Build Back Better plan. Details next.