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Insurrection Probe; Rittenhouse Jury Begins Deliberations. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 14:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Victor Blackwell.


Jurors in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse have been deliberating for more than three hours. Five men and seven women will decide if the teen acted in self-defense or committed homicide when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third with an AR-15-style rifle that he brought to a racial justice protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, August of last year.

BLACKWELL: Rittenhouse is on trial for five felonies. The most serious count is first-degree intentional homicide.

If found guilty of that alone, Rittenhouse would spend the rest of his life in prison.

CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is outside the courthouse in Kenosha.

Shimon, what have we heard from the jury so far?


This morning, they sent in a note saying that they needed copies of the jury instructions. Of course, there was a lot of confusion during the time that the judge was reading the instructions to the jury, but they're asking for specific information from the instructions.

They're asking for pages one to six, some of which has to deal with the self-defense argument by the defendant, and then the provocation instruction, which the prosecutor asked for on Friday, asking for this charge. There were arguments over it and then the judge agreeing to give this instruction to the jury.

This was a big win for the prosecution to have this instruction given to the jury. So we could kind of see how the jury perhaps is working through the law, working through these instructions. The other things that they asked for has to do with an instruction the intent to kill and then also on the instruction relating to the law surrounding the death of Joseph Rosenbaum. Joseph Rosenbaum, as you will recall, is the one -- is the first

person that Kyle Rittenhouse shot. He is the man that the fence has been arguing sort of ambushed Kyle Rittenhouse, started these chain of events.

Prosecutors have been arguing that Kyle Rittenhouse provoked this entire attack. So the jury, as you said, now spending just about over three hours in deliberations. They had a pizza break for about 40 minutes or so. And now we believe they have resumed their deliberations. And that's all. That's all we have heard so far from the jurors today.

One thing is, we don't know how long today is going to go. The judge did say that he would give maybe an hour to two-hour notice, public notice, for the verdict. That's again not set in stone. As we know with this judge, things kind of happen on the fly. So we will see how that goes, but for now jurors certainly continuing their work here, guys.

CAMEROTA: Shimon, Kyle Rittenhouse's mother also made a request. What does she want?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Well, she needs money.

She said in an e-mail to supporters of Kyle Rittenhouse, she said she needs money, that just in the month of November, right -- we're in this month. We're not even -- we're kind of midway through this month at this point perhaps. It's already cost them $110,000 in legal fees.

And she's asking for help to continue the legal fees. Obviously, we don't know what's going to happen, but perhaps they're anticipating that they may need to -- some money for appeals and other things. So, certainly, she is trying to get money off of the last few days, certainly off of the closing arguments, and as this trial has come to an end here, and now, of course, we're just waiting for the jury to reach its verdict.

CAMEROTA: OK, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you.

Obviously, come back to us when there are any developments.

Let's bring in now Kim Wehle. She was a federal prosecutor and is now a law professor at the University of Baltimore. And Alan Tuerkheimer is a jury consultant and a senior litigation communications expert.

Great to have both of you.

Let me start with you, Kim.

I just want to play for our viewers what happened yesterday in terms of I think the crux of the matter of the closing arguments, one from the defense attorney, one from the prosecution, of what I think this hinges on. So listen to this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS BINGER, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There is no doubt in this case that the defendant committed these crimes. The question is whether or not you believe that his actions were legally justified.

And I submit to you that no reasonable person would have done what the defendant did.

MARK RICHARDS, ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle, one with a skateboard, one with his hands, one with his feet, one with a gun.



CAMEROTA: Kim, do you have an impression of which will be more convincing for the jury?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Well, I think it depends in part on which death the jury is focusing on.

And I'm not surprised in the lead-up that the jury instructions are confusing, 36 pages of jury instructions. So the first person who died, Mr. Rosenbaum, was apparently mentally ill, had just been released from a hospital, was acting erratically and did -- you saw it on videotape -- run towards Mr. Rittenhouse, throw a plastic bag at him.

And at the same time, somebody else shot a firearm. So the question there is, did Mr. Rittenhouse feel that he was in harm's way. That's, I think, a little easier for Mr. Rittenhouse and harder for the prosecution.

After that, he started running. He left this dead body and then started running with a gun. And then Mr. Huber, unarmed, with a skateboard went to try to stop what many people it sounded like thought was an active shooter. For there, self-defense I think is much harder. And the provocation instruction, which, in my view, is actually quite confusing in the actual jury instructions, but under the Wisconsin law, if Mr. Rittenhouse provoked Mr. Huber's actions with the skateboard, then he can't use self-defense.

So that provocation argument is much stronger for Mr. Huber's death for the prosecution than it is, I think, for Mr. Rosenbaum's death, because it was really between the killing of Mr. Rosenbaum and then the killing of Mr. Huber and injuring others that I think the jury is going to have an easier time finding Mr. Rittenhouse's actions unreasonable.

BLACKWELL: Alan, let's talk about this jury. These are the first few hours of deliberation before lunch.

What are these first few hours like and what do you take away from the first request we received from this jury?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT: It's not surprising they asked for the law.

There's so many terms in there, things that they're not familiar with just. Hearing it once, it's impossible. They're ambiguous terms and terms that need repeating. So it's pretty typical of jurors to request the law, go back over it to set the road map in the course of deliberation.

One of the things -- and I'm pretty sure this is happening too -- is the jury now, as they start -- they get to unburden themselves. They get to talk about the case. That's one thing that jurors don't get to do.

So think about it. In people's lives, there's nothing akin to having to sit through a week, two weeks testimony, witnesses, all this, and you can't say a word about it. So what I have noticed in mock jury deliberations and in talking to jurors after a case is that right out of the gate they just start talking about different aspects of the case.

Did they like this witness? Did they not like Kyle Rittenhouse on the stand? This is how I feel. It's unburdening. It provides relief. And so once that happens, personality start to emerge, alliances form. And then that that will set the course of what will be a fascinating deliberation.

CAMEROTA: And then I have another question about the jury, Alan, for you.

I mean, you heard Kim say that the instructions were confusing. They were incomprehensible. I mean, so who is the person who takes this bull by the horns and shepherds the jury through trying to figure out what all of that meant?

TUERKHEIMER: ... so much the judge can do, even though he shows sometimes he's willing to insert himself into the process.

One or two jurors are going to have to step up. And they're going to have to really focus in on certain parts of the instructions that they think are relevant to the deliberation, and they're going to have to build some consensus. They're going to try to derive some meaning from the different aspects of the instructions, and then go from there.

It's a hard -- it's an arduous task for the jury, and they have their work cut out for them.

BLACKWELL: Kim, back to you.

I want you to listen to what Judge Schroeder here said in charging this juror -- jury, and the political element that were part of these instructions, and then we will talk on the other side. Here's Judge Schroeder.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: You will pay no heed to the opinions of anyone, even the president of the United States or the president before him.

The founders of our country gave you and you alone the power and the duty to decide this case based solely on the evidence presented in this court.


BLACKWELL: I mean, you're the prosecutor here, but I have never heard anything like that. What do you make of what we heard from the judge?

WEHLE: Well, I think that might be partially in response to the defense's argument that this is a political prosecution, that essentially Wisconsin, the state, was looking to have a scapegoat for what happened in Kenosha in August.


I mean, there are political implications here, many of them, of course. There's -- race is a big issue. Of course, many people, I think rightly, would believe that if Mr. Rittenhouse were a person of color, it would been handled very differently, particularly the part of the video where he's literally walking by police officers, after having killed two people and injured a third very seriously, blew off his shoulder, essentially, people calling out that person killed someone and they let him walk away.

The second thing I think has to do with Wisconsin's open carry law. This is really a bizarre clash of legal principles here. On the one hand, we have the Second Amendment, which I think many people believe is unlimited. Not true, actually, as a matter of constitutional law.

But also we have this self-defense that's built into Wisconsin criminal law. So the question is, sure, we have self-defense, but you also have open carry laws with an AR-15 and Mr. Rittenhouse at 17, who testified that he had no idea what the gun's capabilities were or -- I'm paraphrasing -- or what the ammunition capability was.

So there are major political overtones. And, as we know, the governor of Wisconsin has 500 National Guard troops at the ready with the expectation that either an acquittal or conviction could cause some serious chaos or maybe even more violence in the streets.

CAMEROTA: Alan, about that, how much do you think that the individual jurors feelings about gun rights will play into their decision here?

TUERKHEIMER: Well, I'm sure it was thoroughly discussed at voir dire, and all the parties asking the questions will know about it, the prosecution and the defense.

So they know really well about these 18 jurors. Now, voir dire was somewhat limited, so they didn't get to delve into as nearly as many topics as I think they would have wanted to. But they have a pretty good sense of what their attitudes are about guns and things that are related to that.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alan Tuerkheimer, Kim Wehle, thank you both. WEHLE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection drew a hard line with Steve Bannon, but they are now debating whether to hold former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt as well for not complying with their subpoena.

Also, the Wyoming Republican Party cut ties with Congresswoman Liz Cheney for speaking out against former President Donald Trump.



CAMEROTA: Members of the January 6 House select committee are deciding what to do about Mark Meadows.

Trump's former chief -- White House chief of staff defied a subpoena from the panel to appear for a deposition Friday.

BLACKWELL: Now, some panel members tell CNN they are ready to do whatever it takes to get him to comply, including referring him for criminal contempt of Congress, like they did with Steve Bannon.

But Congressman Jamie Raskin says that they have not gotten there yet.

CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles, is with us now. So Ryan, the committee met this morning. Any movement on this?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We haven't heard anything yet, Victor and Alisyn.

But, hopefully, we're going to see some of the members of the committee here in the next hour or so to get a readout as to exactly what they talked about.

But what we have learned from our reporting is that the situation with Mark Meadows is a little bit more complicated than it is with Steve Bannon. Of course, Steve Bannon attempted to say that he was protected by executive privilege, which was the reason that he didn't come before the committee, but he wasn't even an employee of the executive branch at the time that the committee is interested in learning more about what he knew.

That's not the same for Mark Meadows. He was the White House chief of staff. So perhaps his privilege claims are a little bit stronger. Still, the committee believes that it is his responsibility to come before the committee and answer the subpoena, and at least attempt to answer some of the questions that they have before them.

But what the committee now is going to have to figure out, exactly how do they compel that testimony? And, of course, they have said that criminal contempt is an avenue that they could go down with Meadows. They all but threatened that on Friday. They have an issue, though, not only with the complications surrounding Meadows in his role, but also the calendar. The House is scheduled to wrap their business up before the Thanksgiving holiday on Friday. They won't be here at all next week. So to pack all the work that they have to do to move forward a criminal contempt referral between now and Thanksgiving seems very unlikely.

So it seems much more likely that a decision how to handle Meadows will come after the Thanksgiving recess. Still, at the end of the day, what the committee wants here, Victor and Alisyn, is not a big legal fight with Mark Meadows. What they would prefer is for him to come in and answer these questions, hand over the documents and get that information.

What they're trying to figure out right now is the best way to make that happen -- Victor and Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ryan Nobles for us on Capitol Hill, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, with us now, we have seen an illegal and national security analyst and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa.

Asha, great to see you.

I don't know if you saw the spectacle yesterday of Steve Bannon, but he seemed to be enjoying it. He didn't have to go up and make a statement at the microphone, but he took every opportunity to go up and have that bully pulpit and make threats, et cetera.

Do you think that his reaction is coloring the way the House select committee will approach Mark Meadows? I mean, they don't want another spectacle.

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Alisyn, I don't think it will color the way the committee approaches Mark Meadows, because I think, as Ryan mentioned, there are a few different things happening there.

But I do think that it's going to affect Steve Bannon's own criminal case. I mean, he's basically admitting that he defied this subpoena willfully, which is exactly what the Department of Justice has to prove.


And it's important to note that the indictment really does lay out that Steve Bannon made absolutely no effort, no even show of good faith to communicate with the committee, in an effort to try to accommodate or even make any semblance of being responsive to the subpoena, which is what makes the case against him very strong, in addition to the fact that he didn't have an official position.

So, I think what happens with Mark Meadows is really going to depend on whether there will be teeth, if they make a criminal referral, for the Department of Justice to follow through on it. You don't want to do a criminal referral and then have nothing happen. That would be bad. And maybe Meadows' lawyers will make more of at least some kind of

superficial good-faith effort to try to be responsive in at least a minimal way that Bannon was not.

BLACKWELL: One more quick beat on Steve Bannon here.

His on-defense defiance is the P.R. move, right? We saw that yesterday. But he also said they're going on the defense legally. Is there a plausible offense -- I shouldn't say on offense -- offense legally that matches the P.R. that we saw yesterday?

RANGAPPA: I don't think so, Victor.

I mean, he's really on the thinnest possible grounds when it comes to executive privilege. I mean, I suppose he could somehow suggest that he was relying on the advice of his lawyer to kind of counter this idea that he was willfully trying to defy Congress.

But, even then, I think a lawyer would know better and would be trying to negotiate some kind of compromise with Congress. He did not have an official position. Many of these documents and testimony that Congress was -- that this committee is looking for were really outside the scope of even his conversations with Trump. This is about his personal podcast, which is not covered by executive privilege.

So I think it's a lot of show and I think Bannon just doesn't want to acknowledge the legitimacy of our system of governance. And this is his way of trying to break the system, which is, I think, his goal.

CAMEROTA: Well, speaking of breaking the system, the more we learn from reporters about what was happening in the days after Donald Trump lost the election, it just gets more chilling.

And Jonathan Karl has done some deep reporting into new things that we haven't heard yet. And one of them is that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, was calling over to the Department of Defense to try to enlist officials there and their help in overturning the election results or the coup or whatever. He ended up getting a hold of one of the officials, who described Flynn as sounding manic.

And he said, come on, you have got to -- basically, you have got to do something. We need to get the ballots. They need to be seized. And the Department of Defense official said, it's over. It's time to move on.

But, again, you just see, Asha, at every turn how, if one person hadn't been a guardrail, what could have happened.


And, Alisyn, I think that this latest reporting really illustrates why using the term attempted coup is not hyperbole. A coup attempt, this is going beyond even using some sophistic legal argument, like the John Eastman memo, to justify not counting all of the Electoral College votes.

This is actually trying to enlist the military in keeping Trump in office. This is exactly what coups are. They subvert the justice system, and they co-opt law enforcement and the military in the service of keeping a leader in power, or at least placing a leader in power.

And this is what was happening. By the way. For our viewers. I'd like to remind everyone that this was at one point our national security adviser for two weeks.


RANGAPPA: So I think we dodged the bullet big time.

BLACKWELL: Really, the reporting even on Sidney Powell is bizarre, where she says that the CIA director is in custody in Germany, she's been injured, we have to get her back.

All of it was made up, all of it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and very unhinged.


CAMEROTA: It's just hard to know what they were doing.

BLACKWELL: Asha Rangappa, thanks so much for being with us.

Let's now bring in CNN political director David Chalian.

David, thanks for being with us.

Let's start with what the Wyoming Republican Party decided would be their future with Liz Cheney, and they don't have one. They have voted that they will not recognize her as a Republican. So we now know and have known for some time any criticism of Donald Trump is anathema to the majority of the Republican Party.

What does this mean for her? What does it mean for the party?


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, listen, Liz Cheney knows she's in the political fight of her life.

She's in that Republican primary that takes place next August to try and get reelected to the House seat that she currently has. And she understood when she made her stand on all of this related to the president's behavior in the lead-up and aftermath of January 6, her vote to impeach him, her decision to join the January 6 House Select Committee and be vice chair there, all of that she understood could be a political death knell for her.

Now, she believes she's going to make the argument as to why it shouldn't, and that that could be successful in Wyoming. She's got -- I think there are four Republicans in total running, and Donald Trump has already endorsed in that race with one of her opponents. As you noted, Victor, the Republican Party of Wyoming did this sort of

like vote of their state central committee saying that they don't consider her a Republican, this after the Wyoming Republican Party earlier this year voted to censure her. So they keep doing these sort of show votes to separate her from the rank-and-file Republicans, clearly trying to put their thumb on the scale, not wanting to see her be the nominee of the party come next August.

CAMEROTA: And then you contrast that with how Republicans have dealt with or not dealt with Congressman Paul Gosar, who put out that violent, creepy video in which he is killing, I guess, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

What's the upshot there? What's going to happen to Paul Gosar?

CHALIAN: The Democrats are discussing possible vote on censuring him.

But isn't it really more about the Republican Party leadership and how they're sort of policing their own? I believe our Melanie Zanona had reported that Kevin McCarthy noted that that tweet came down after he had a conversation with Gosar, but still not making a public statement rebuking that totally inappropriate, unacceptable video from a member of Congress being put out.

So, I think we're still -- you are right to sort of put these two stories together, Alisyn. I think we are still very much inside a Republican Party that is completely loyal to Trump, to the big lie, to anything but sort of responsible leadership when it comes to these fundamental institutional, small-D democratic principles that used to be in place for both parties.

But it is clear that that's not the case right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's interesting what gets the soft touch from leadership there in the House.

David Chalian, thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BLACKWELL: Any moment now in New Hampshire, President Biden will take an infrastructure victory lap from a rundown bridge, as his other massive piece of legislation, the social safety net bill, is hanging in the balance.

CAMEROTA: There's a lot going on today. Here's what else to watch.