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Jury Deliberations to Begin Deliberating in Kyle Rittenhouse Trial; Biden and Xi Hold Critical Talks Amid Rising Tensions; President Biden Signs $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Into Law; Former Trump Adviser Defiant After Court Appearance; New Sanctions on Belarus as Migrant Situation Worsens. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kyle was not an active shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was plenty of evidence here to satisfy one side or the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same set of rules apply to the defendant as everybody else. There's no exception in the law for Kyle Rittenhouse.


FOSTER: All eyes are on Kenosha, Wisconsin where a jury will deliberate the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse.

American journalist Danny Fenster is free. What he told reporters about being imprisoned in Myanmar.

And President Biden taking a victory lap celebrating his historic infrastructure bill, but other pressing issues remain.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

FOSTER: This Tuesday, November the 16th, and just hours from now, a jury in Kenosha will begin deliberating the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse. The high-profile trial in Wisconsin has stirred debate on racial tensions and vigilantism in the United States. Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding another during anti-police protests last year. The teen has pleaded not guilty to all counts against him including intentional homicide. CNN's Sara Sidner has more from Kenosha.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone injured, straight ahead.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Was Kyle Rittenhouse practicing vigilante justice or self-defense?

THOMAS BINGER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Now you've heard the evidence and it's time to search for the truth.

SIDNER (voice over): The 18-year-old's fate now hinges on that question as attorneys make their final arguments to the jury starting with the prosecution.

BINGER: A lot of murder cases were in here trying to convince a jury that the defendant killed somebody, that's not in dispute here. That's the easy part. The question is, does it get a pass.

SIDNER (voice over): Rittenhouse killed two men and named a third last summer during the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was seen on the streets with an AR-15 style rifle, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher claiming to be an EMT.

BINGER: ... and putting the fire extinguisher on the ground and then raising the gun.

SIDNER (voice over): Prosecutors opened with graphic videos of the moments Rittenhouse shot and killed his victims starting with Joseph Rosenbaum.

BINGER: You can see from this video that Mr. Rosenbaum is not even within arm's reach the defendant when the first shot goes off. Whatever thread he might have posed, it's over, and the defendant doesn't stop after that first shot. He tracks Mr. Rosenbaum's body all the way down, firing three more shots.

SIDNER (voice over): But the defense painted Rosenbaum as an attacker in pursuit of Rittenhouse that night.

MARK RICHARDS, KYLE RITTENHOUSE ATTORNEY: He was a bad man. He was there. He was causing trouble. He was a rioter. And my client had to deal with him that night alone.

SIDNER (voice over): His defense continued claiming prosecutors unfairly portrayed Rittenhouse as an active shooter who had to be stopped.

RICHARDS: 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.

SIDNER (voice over): The prosecutors countered saying his actions were far from self-defense.

BINGER: You lose the right to self-defense when you're the one who brought the gun, when you're the one creating the danger.

SIDNER (voice over): Rittenhouse now faces five charges in addition to lesser offenses connected to the case the Judge allowed today. He has pleaded not guilty to all. The six-misdemeanor possession of a weapon under age was dropped after the gun size was found too large to qualify for that charge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it not a short-barreled shotgun or a short- barreled rifle, yes.

SCHROEDER: Either by barrel or by overall length?


SCHROEDER: All right. And then count six is dismissed.

SIDNER (voice over): A blow to the prosecution on what could have been their easiest win, after eight days of testimony and more than 30 witnesses, acquittal, of course, remains on the table. Both sides with clear arguments, leaving the jury to decide who's right.

SIDNER: The defense leaving the jury with this sentiment. And they're telling the jury every person who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse was attacking him. But the prosecution and its rebuttal and its closing arguments said that Kyle Rittenhouse brought a gun to what could have just been a fist fight.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Kenosha, Wisconsin.



FOSTER: Earlier CNN asked criminal defense attorney Patrick Cafferty and Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor to weigh in on the trial. Here is what they told us.


PATRICK CAFFERTY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Rittenhouse very easily could have put his weapon down at that point, put his hands in the air and said, please take me to the police. But he didn't do that. He kept on jogging down the street with the rifle. It almost looked at me at one point in time as if he pointed the rifle at someone who was verbally confronting him which would have been consistent with what the prosecutor was arguing he had done earlier in the parking lot.

So, I think a jury that looks at that, particularly somebody who came to the box with a strong belief that resorting to lethal force should be the absolute last thing that somebody does, is going to look at that and say, yes, this guy had other options. He didn't need to resort to lethal force in every one of these situations.

LAURA COATES CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The idea was it reasonable in this jury's mind that at the time he felt that the chaotic place that he perceived enabled him to act this way. And that's why it is such an odd thing to have used the use of force expert in the testimony. They're trying very much to align him as if he is some member of law enforcement or somehow an extension of that. And that's dangerous obviously for our society. This is a 17-year-old with an AR-15 who only got off with possession over a technicality at this point. But that's the theme of their defense case now.


FOSTER: In the coming hours, 12 people from the jury pool of 18 will be randomly selected to decide Kyle Rittenhouse's fate. CNN will, of course, follow that story and cover all of the live trial proceedings throughout the day for you.

Now, we are getting more details about what happened at Monday's virtual U.S./China summit. A senior U.S. official said talks between President Biden and Xi Jinping were a healthy debate. A read-out from the White House says Mr. Biden raised human rights concerns over Xinjian, Tibet and Hong Kong. He also spoke about the need to protect workers and industries from, quote, unfair Chinese trade and economic practices. Here's what Mr. Biden said was laid out at stake.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our bilateral relationship evolved, seems to me we'll have a profound impact not only on our countries, but quite frankly the rest of the world. I think it's important we communicate honestly and directly to one another about our priorities and our intentions.


FOSTER: Well, we're learning there more about the heated words about Taiwan as well. For the latest Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang is live in the Chinese capital, Will Ripley is in Taiwan for us as well. Will, if we can just start with you, because it is the sensitive topic here. It seems intractable as well. What did you learn in terms of progress on Taiwan?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is the number one issue when it comes to U.S./China relations from the Beijing perspective. I know Steven can probably speak more to that. From the mainland's perspective, Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Here in Taipei, they feel very differently. They've had their own government and their own military for more than 70 years, since the end of China's civil war. They want to forge friendships, if not alliances, with countries that will acknowledge Taiwan as an independent self-governed -- you can't say country because China -- it's a red line for them. But in Taiwan they call this island, this self-governing island, its own country and they want to be recognized as such.

But they fall short of declaring independence because they don't want to push Beijing over that red line that President Xi talked about in that read-out with President Biden. China putting out more explicit detail about the Taiwan issue. Saying that essentially if the U.S. gets too close to Taiwan and tries to build a closer relationship, Taiwan is essentially playing with fire. And that Beijing has said and they reinforced this repeatedly, they will respond if need be. But President Xi did say he hopes for what he calls a peaceful

reunification, even though again, the Communist rulers in Beijing have never actually controlled this island since the end of China's civil war. But they still feel that they have the legal right to represent all of China including Taiwan. So, here in Taipei, of course, what they want to know, and they'll be meeting at the minister level with U.S. officials in the coming days to get a read-out of what was actually discussed.

Because here in Taipei, they want a closer relationship with the United States. They're buying billions of dollars in weapons from the United States and they don't want to be essentially -- if U.S./China ties were to warm back up, they don't want to feel like they did for many decades, which is essentially ignored even as they made repeated complaints that they were, in their view, being bullied by Beijing.

And of course, we've seen military intimidation with Chinese war planes flying near Taiwan at a near record pace. And a lot of other things that have the leaders here on this island concerned, but they are quick to point out that they are talking to the United States. They're cooperating with the United States.


There's military cooperation, hundreds of U.S., you know, service members or at least civilian contractors brought in by the military are here working with the Taiwanese military. Helping this island continue to prepare to defend itself if things were to cross from, you know, rhetorical escalation to an actual conflict.

FOSTER: OK. So, Steven, from China's perspective, they laid out again, really, didn't they, in this call from what we know about it, the standard position. But what did we learn about the way that was presented to the United States?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Max. Taiwan is just among a series of sensitive issues the two leaders apparently discussed at length and in a very candid matter according to both governments. But you know, in a way, both leaders very much stuck to their governments' talking points with their officials, then cherry- picking the part that would sit best with their domestic audiences after the fact.

For example, on Taiwan. The Chinese very much stressing Mr. Biden pledging to stick to the U.S. official policy of one-China. But what they did not mention, was Mr. Biden also said that policy was very much guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, as Will pointed out, that obligates the U.S. government to provide arms to the island to defend itself. And then this is the case on many other issues as well.

But the whole point of this meeting even before it began according to many, of course, was to put a floor on this free fall on this relationship. Which obviously began long before Mr. Biden took office. But his decision to keep most of his predecessors harsh China policy and the measures. And also, with him talking about building this coalition, if you will, especially with likeminded democracies to counter a rising and increasingly aggressive China. Obviously, have not sitting well with Xi Jinping and his government.

So, the fact that both men who did have a history of personal encounters were able to have some face time, was considered a positive step. And at least from what we have seen publicly, there seemed to be a softening in their tones. And here is what Xi Jinping said in his opening remarks.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): We face multiple challenges together as the world's two largest economies, and permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation. We should each run our domestic affairs well, and at the same time shoulder our share of international responsibilities and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development.


JIANG: So, a lot of buzz words being thrown around there, but no major breakthroughs as expected because the whole point is also to keep this kind of high-level communications open to avoid strategic miscalculation from each other. The best -- the concrete result actually out of this, Max, was now they have agreed to resume dialogue from lower-ranking officials to talk about potential resolutions on a series of issues. Given how low the bar was to begin with that can be considered progress -- Max.

FOSTER: That's good news. Steven, thank you very much indeed. Will as well.

A major win, meanwhile, for the Biden administration on infrastructure.


BIDEN: OK, here we go.


FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden will be taking a victory lap around the country to sell the Bill he signed into law to the American people. He'll be making his first stop in New Hampshire today. The legislation includes money for roads, bridges, trains and broadband, amongst other things. And President Biden says it also helps ease supply chain issues.


BIDEN: Here in Washington, we've heard countless speeches and promises and white papers from experts. But today we're finally getting this done. So, my message to the American people is this. America's moving again, and your life is going to change for the better.

The bill I'm about to sign enlarge proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results. We can do this. We can deliver real results for real people.


FOSTER: House Speaker Pelosi is telling Democrats that they won't be leaving for Thanksgiving until the Build Back Better bill is passed. It's the next major part of the Biden agenda, some fear it could drive inflation higher.

CNN spoke with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She explained how the bill might help Americans cope with soaring prices.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Inflation, which is something we certainly watch closely and any cost increase for the American people is something of concern to the president. But what this bill will do is lower costs. And the way inflation impacts people at home is it increases costs whether it's goods or housing or health care. And what this bill does is it lowers costs. It's going to cut the cost of child care, cut the cost of health care.


For people who rely on insulin, so it caps the cost at $35. That's going to have a huge impact. It will help invest in building housing units so people can go and find affordable housing. So, this is a bill about cutting costs. That's exactly what the American people need right now. And economists across the board will say this will actually help reduce inflation, address inflation over the long term.


FOSTER: Jen Psaki there.

And now to the investigation of the January 6th U.S. Capitol riots. The House committee is expected to discuss possible contempt of Congress charges for Mark Meadows when they meet later today. The former White House Chief of Staff is refusing to comply with the committee's subpoena to turn over documents related to January 6. A Democratic Congresswoman said it's no surprise that the Trump ally is remaining defiant.


REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Served with him on the oversight committee. I think he's someone who has been -- become enamored with the president and with power. Who is someone who has become a sycophant and is following the orders of Donald Trump even after he has left office. I think you know, it's the limelight that many of them believe they have from doing this, really doesn't let them see the long-term damage that they're doing to the democracy. And in the end, the sting that's going to be on their names as traitors to our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: Meanwhile, another former Trump adviser Steve Bannon will not be held in custody until his trial of contempt of Congress charges. He, too, is refusing to comply with the subpoena from the January 6th committee. Bannon made his first federal court appearance on Monday. Then delivered a scathing rebuke of Democrats, calling the charges against him the misdemeanor from hell.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: I'm never going to back down. They took on the wrong guy this time. If the administrative state wants to take me on, bring it. Because we're here to fight this and we're going to go on offense. You stand by. You see how we're going to go on offense.


Well, we'll get more now from CNN's senior U.S. justice correspondent Evan Perez.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Steve Bannon appeared before a federal judge and was allowed to go home as he awaits trial on two counts of contempt of Congress for blowing off subpoenas issued by a committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot. In court, Bannon was respectful and quietly agreed to surrender his passport, and to abide by restrictions on his movements.

But outside of court, Bannon sounded a more defiant tone, playing to his podcast audience of loyal Trump supporters. He live streamed his arrival at the local FBI office where he surrendered, and after the court hearing he emerged to microphones organized by his own media production team to attack a list of Democratic political enemies.

BANNON: That's what this country is about freedom of speech. They got their opinions. We have our opinions. OK -- hang on -- they have their opinions. I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One. And we're going to go on the offense. We're tired of playing defense. We're going to go on the offense on this and stand by.

PEREZ: If convicted, former Trump adviser faces up to a year in prison. The House January 6 committee, which referred Bannon for prosecution, has now turned its attention to other Trump allies who they hope take a lesson from the Bannon case and cooperate with their investigation.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Still to come, thousands of migrants still hoping to cross into Poland from Belarus despite repeated warnings that they'll be stopped.

Plus, after spending months in a Myanmar prison, American journalist Danny Fenster is once again a free man. The story behind his unexpected release just ahead.



FOSTER: The U.S. is preparing to follow-up sanctions on Belarus in response to the migrant crisis at the Poland/Belarus border. It'll adds to the new measures of the European Union for what it claims is the weaponization of migrants by Belarus. The German Chancellor in French President made calls to the Belarusian and Russian presidents to pushed for humanitarian aid and an end to the standoff.

In the meantime, thousands of migrants are stranded at the border and increasingly dire conditions. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is at the Poland/Belarus border with the very latest for us. What are you seeing this morning -- Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Max. Well, it certainly seems as though the situation there on the border between Poland and Belarus remains quite tense. In fact, the Poles came out this morning and said in the past 24 hours there had been 224 attempts to breach the border including one case apparently, a fairly large attempt that the Poles said that they thwarted.

Polish authorities also put out videos of what they say are Belarusian forces actually trying to cut the razor wire fence. Apparently, they stopped doing that once the Polish forces started shining light on them and also started filming them as well. So, you can see the situation remains very tense after, of course, you had that standoff that happened yesterday. We are hearing that there might be some commotion also actually going on right now at that border.

In fact, what we've seen in the past couple of minutes is an increase in Polish vehicles, first and foremost, police, but also, military vehicles rushing towards the area of the border. It is unclear what the situation is there right now, but you can see the Poles continue to take this very seriously.

Meanwhile, you have that diplomatic full-court press that's been going on by the European Union, by European leaders. Of course, the EU saying that there are going to be new and very tough sanctions, not just against Alexander Lukashenko's regime, but also against anybody who they say has been benefiting from bringing migrants to Belarus and then trying to push them across the border.

It was quite interesting because late last night, the German foreign minister -- of course, most of the folks who are on the border there waiting, wanting to go to Germany. The German foreign minister unequivocally said those migrants will not be taken in by Germany. The European Union, he says, must remain tough.

[04:25:00] He called this an attempt at blackmail against the European Union by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Fred Pleitgen in Poland, thank you.

Tensions are also high on the border between Russia and Ukraine. And Western leaders are warning Moscow about their military buildup in that area. France and Germany are urging Russia to be transparent and say any attempt to undermine Ukraine's territorial integrity will have serious consequence. NATO Secretary-General is also warning allies to be realistic about potential aggression from Russia.

The U.S. State Department is condemning Russia's antisatellite test as reckless and dangerous and says it threatens the interests of all nations. Moscow fired a missile against one of its own satellites over the weekend. But the U.S. said the test created hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris. Crew members on the International Space Station had to take shelter in their docked capsules for several hours as a precaution.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station as well as other human space flight activities. Russia's dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of our outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia's claims of opposing weaponization of states are disingenuous and hypocritical.


FOSTER: Russia's space agency down played any danger to the space station. Tweeting is now in the green zone.

Still ahead, an American journalist facing a life sentence in a Myanmar prison is now walking free instead.

Plus, why the defense in the Ahmaud Arbery case tried to argue that the presence of civil rights leaders is grounds for a mistrial.