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Soon, Jurors Return For Day Two of Rittenhouse Deliberations; New Data Shows Drug Overdose Deaths Top 100,000 Annually For Time; Today, House Votes on Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Censure For Video Showing AOC Killing. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 10:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: Also this hour, brand new reporting of drug overdose deaths in the United States, those deaths reaching 100,000 annually for the first time ever.

We do begin though this hour in Kenosha where CNN Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is outside the courthouse. He's been covering this from the very beginning.

So, as we wait for the jury to arrive there, begin day two of deliberations, just remind us what happened on day one? What could happen today, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, day one ended with them asking for the instructions. By the end of the day, about five or so hours into deliberations, they asked for the complete set of jury instructions. In the morning, they only asked for the first six pages, which specifically deal with the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, but also deals with the self-defense and also deals with the provocation instruction that the judge gave them. So, those are two significant items obviously in this trial, two of the biggest things that the jurors are considering.

In the afternoon when they asked for more of the instructions, that involved the other incidents and also importantly the lesser included charges they are now considering.

We are now waiting to get word from the court that the jurors are back in the jury room. So far, we have not gotten any word. But, usually, this is pretty much a jury that arrives on time and things get started on time. So, they should start their deliberations. And once we get word on that and obviously any other news, we'll certainly let you know. But for now, we expect a jury to return and the deliberations to continue.

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching closely. Shimon Prokupecz outside the courthouse, thanks very much.

Let's speak to former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers about all that's involved here.

Listen, I don't want you to imagine you're a fly on the wall inside that jury room. Juries can be unpredictable, and this could take some time here. As they're considering this, I wonder in your experience, the jury of 12 people, average Americans, right, like all of us, they have got to consider very complicated issues here, the notion of self- defense, the notion of whether Rittenhouse put himself into that situation and, therefore, bears responsibility. How big a challenge is it for this jury going forward?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're exactly right, Jim. It's complicated. It's not really legally complicated but it's factually complicated. Because not only do they have to think about was Kyle Rittenhouse reasonable, is what he did in that moment reasonable or did he provoke those attacks on him, in which case he can't use self- defense.

But they have to consider all of that for multiple incidents. It's not just the first shooting. It's not just the second shooting. Three people were shot and there are charges relating to two others. And even with respect to the first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, the jury could find that the first shot was justified and the three follow-on shots were not. So, there's a lot for them to unpack and then to negotiate, right?

I bet when they walked in to that room, jurors felt differently over the issues. I've had many conversations over the last few days where people are differing about what they think happened here. So, they're trying to work with one another, persuade one another to their view points. And if they're methodically, they'll probably be going incident by incident, count by count in doing that. But you're right, it definitely takes time.

HILL: In terms of being methodical too, that would make sense that they would ask for copies of the jury instructions. I have to admit though, when I heard that yesterday, I immediately thought why isn't every juror given their own set of jury instructions from the outset so that they can refer to them at any time? Is that not common practice?

RODGERS: It is. Many judges send back either 1 copy or 12 copies of the jury instructions at the outset for that very reason, so they don't have to come back and ask for them. We certainly want the jury well versed in the law and considering the lat at every step. So, I am surprised the judge didn't do it here, especially because he kind of botched the reading of the instructions. But now he's done it so they have it. And as they move forward, hopefully, they'll be referring to it.

SCIUTTO: There's a range of charges here, we should be clear, different charges for different deaths, different folks who were shot by Rittenhouse here. When you look at this range of charges, what do you think of what Erica and I have heard from experienced trial judges and lawyers that oftentimes juries, when faced with such a range, will look for some sort of compromise? In other words, that they have a natural leaning towards assigning some sort of accountability here even if it's not the highest charge. And, by the way, I ask that with the proviso, I know we can't hope to guess how this particular jury will go.

RODGERS: Well, as you think about how jury of 12 people would think about this, they're negotiating, right? They come from all different perspectives. And so there's likely to be disagreements at the outset. And then they'll look for common ground because there's really a lot of pressure on them to reach a unanimous verdict here. If they do go out and say that they're unable to do that, the judge will likely give them a charge and send them back in to try again.


So, it's really on them to try to reach an agreement here.

And so as part of that, they will negotiate maybe. I mean, I won't say will, but they often do, right? They'll say, okay, we can't agree on the top charge, but maybe we can all agree on a lesser included charge. And that's how they kind of reach unanimity, which, of course, what they have to do to return a verdict.

HILL: The burden, ultimately, as we know, in a case like this, is on the prosecution. But there has been a lot made of the defense and the case that the defense put on, specifically the decision to put Kyle Rittenhouse on the stand. Who important do you think that will be as they're deliberating, as they're walking through the evidence and the testimony that they heard?

RODGERS: So, when a defendant testifies, it tends to overshadow everything else. It happens pretty rarely actually. But when it does, that's what everyone remembers and that really does tend to be what everything turns on.

My assessment was that he was actually a very good witness. But at the end of the day, the jury is going to have to think about what he said, but also the other evidence too. But I do think in these cases, the defendant's testimony is something that's extremely key, and he performed well. So, I think that will help him.

SCIUTTO: From a perspective of precedent, and we should keep in mind that there are laws particular, for instance, the state of Wisconsin about when and how -- and they're relatively liberal in Wisconsin -- someone can show up with a firearm, right, in the midst of something like this. But, nationally, do you see the potential for setting something of a precedent for how folks react, if they see violence, riots, protests in another city and whether they can show up and whether they'll have some legal protection for doing so?

RODGERS: So, there's a really interesting conversation going on around all of this. There was an article in The New York Times about it the other day. As jurisdictions pass laws about their citizens being able to carry firearms openly around the streets, we're going to have more situations like this. More gun violence will happen and we'll have more cases like this where someone ends up getting shot, who wouldn't have been had there not been a law allowing someone to carry a gun like that. So, as a society, I think we really need to grapple with this issue and think about whether we want to do something about all these guns on the street that unquestionably are leading to more gun violence. Unfortunately, that's a bigger issue for our legislators to ultimately to decide upon.

HILL: Jennifer Rodgers, always good to have you with us. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And this just in to CNN, a story we've been covering for years. For the first time ever, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have topped 100,000 in a single year. New data from the CDC found that the record death toll, and that is a record, took place during a 12-month period ending in April of this year. Experts found that the pandemic, as well as a rise in use and spread of fentanyl, were key contributing factors.

HILL: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us now to discuss. So, what more are we learning from these numbers, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are the depths of despair, as they've been called for some time, even before the pandemic. As you mentioned, part of the reason that life expectancy in the United States was dropping, even before the pandemic started. So, this has been on ongoing story, as you mentioned, for some time.

Let me show you the numbers. As you mentioned, these are the highest that we've ever seen, the number of overdose deaths topping 100,000. Look at the change from the year before. Again, April to April, nearly a 30 percent increase. And if you break it down more specifically and say, well, what are the specific drug overdoses, what's causing them? It's primarily opioids. We've known that for some time. But even more specifically within opioids, that's the yellow line, it is this elicit fentanyl, which is finding its way into all sorts of different drugs.

You do see that there's been increases in things like stimulants. Methamphetamine is a stimulant, for example, and a little bit of an increase in cocaine. But this is primarily an opioid problem, primarily a fentanyl problem and it got worse during the pandemic, in part because people were self-medicating more, mental illness, and also in part because support structures were not as prevalent during the pandemic. People couldn't get the typical support system that they had before.

SCIUTTO: Yes, isolation. Two consecutive administrations have vowed to address this. The Trump administration made it a priority, the Biden administration as well. The White House holding a call right now to address what they're calling an overdose epidemic. What's working? Is anything working?

GUPTA: Well, I think for a long time, the focus was on cutting down on prescription opioids because people believed that was the genesis of the problem. And that may have made some impact. But now, pretty clearly, the issue is illicit fentanyl.

[10:10:00] So, there are all sorts of different strategies that people are focusing on things, like buprenorphine, for example. That's going to be part of the discussions today. That helps treat addiction, should that be more widely available? Narcan, which is a medication that can actually help reverse someone who's in the throes of an overdose, should that be more available? These are classic harm reduction sort of conversations that come up over and over again.

There's another thing as well, something that we've been reporting on, fentanyl test strips. What happens is this fentanyl, oftentimes illicit fentanyl, will find its way again into all sorts of drugs, not just opioids, but other drugs. People using this fentanyl to try and cut their drugs, to try and cut down on costs. These strips, very simple strips here, and I've seen this work, people will use them to try and figure out is the drug that they're taking, does it have fentanyl in it or not.

Again, it's a controversial topic around harm reduction. Some people say that this actually increases drug use. Other people say it can help save lives because people actually know what they're taking. But these are the sorts of conversations that are happening.

HILL: Before I let you go, Sanjay, we just want to check in on COVID. Booster shots expected to officially open up essentially to all adults, anybody 18 and older who is six months past that first shot later this week. Six states have already expanded eligibility. How much of a difference do you think this will make?

GUPTA: Well, we'll hear for sure by Friday on this. But I think the difference that it will make will be in terms of messaging, because it has been confusing for people. It wasn't that long ago that people were told that only certain people needed boosters. As we've gotten more data in, we do see increased evidence of the vaccine's effectiveness waning over time.

And there are people who say, look, from the start, people believed this would be a three-shot sort of regimen. So, I think that basically everyone in the country will be eligible for boosters as things stand now because of pre-existing conditions.

But that graph on the screen, I think we should never talk about this without reminding people that what we are dealing with is primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated. It's really good to bolster up the protection that people in that white line have. I think that's important. But overall, still 40 percent of the country has not received a vaccine.

Some of these people may have protection just because they've been previously infected. They may have some infection-acquired immunity. But this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The message has to be to the people to get vaccinated in the first place more than anything else.

HILL: And we don't know how long that protection lasts, right? Everything that we know so far is that the vaccine will protect you much longer than those antibodies from getting sick in the first place.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always good to see you, thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, it could be the heaviest sentencing connected to the insurrection yet, the so-called QAnon shaman in court this hour.

Plus, House Democrats setting the stage for an attempted reckoning, bringing a vote to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar. How he expect to see that play out at the Capitol, today.

SCIUTTO: And in Georgia, the defense attorney who has been in the spotlight all week for his comments about black pastors sitting with Ahmaud Arbery's family in the courtroom gives his opening statement as the defense begins its case. Stay with us.



HILL: This afternoon, the House will vote on censuring Congressman Paul Gosar and stripping him of his committee assignments. The Arizona Republican is facing official condemnation after he posted a Photoshopped anime video that showed him killing Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and attacking President Biden.

SCIUTTO: This would be the first congressional censure since Democrats condemned one of their own, this over ethics violations back in 2010.

CNN's Manu Raju joins us from Capitol Hill. Manu, I believe a couple of Republicans may go along with this. How do we expect the vote to go?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, maybe a couple, maybe a couple more but not many more than that. We do expect this to be largely along party lines, different from the last time member was censured, Charlie Rangel, in 2010, a Democrat from New York. Most Democrats at that point voted to censure him. Republicans did as well.

And then after an individual is censured, they have to go down to the well of the House and listen to essentially the charges that the censure resolution says, why they were subjected to a rare form of punishment by the House.

But also, in addition to this, Paul Gosar is poised to have his committee assignments stripped, two committee assignments, including one very influential one on the Oversight Committee, as well as one on the Natural Resources Committee.

That is also a rare action. The House Democrats did that earlier this year, unprecedented action, when they stripped Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments. Now, they plan to do it as well to Paul Gosar in the aftermath of that violent video that he tweeted last week.

Now, I caught up with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, about all this last night. And I asked her about why they are taking this action.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Why go after him?

RAJU: Yes.

PELOSI: Because he made threats, suggestions about harming a member of Congress. That's an insult, not only a danger to that member of Congress but an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives. We cannot have members joking about murdering each other as well as threatening the president of the United States.



RAJU: Now, Paul Gosar has not publicly apologized for this. He has taken down that tweet. And, privately, he did address the Republican conference yesterday, even contended that he did not see the violence in that video before it was tweeted itself. And he got some support from the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, who did talk to him privately, has not condemned him publicly but has pushed back against to what Democrats are doing. And this comes, Jim and Erica, as they are -- Republicans are warning if they're in the majority, they'll punish Democrats and strip them from committee assignments in the minority.

SCIUTTO: McCarthy might need Gosar's vote for speaker after 2022 if they get the majority. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

HILL: Today, President Biden heads to Detroit as his latest stop to promote the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure, now law. He'll visit a General Electric vehicle plant -- General Motors vehicle plant, where he's expected to highlight those electric car provisions in that legislation.

My next guest is set to make that trip with President Biden, Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat from Michigan. He's also the chief deputy whip and serves on both the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. Congressman, nice to have you back with us this morning.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Thank you.

HILL: So, President Biden set to make his way to Detroit today touting these provisions in the infrastructure bill. Meantime, roll call reporting this morning that this electric vehicle tax credit that's in the social safety net bill really could be hanging in the balance at this point. We know that Senator Manchin opposes it, specifically because it doesn't apply to all electric vehicles, only those made with union labor. You wrote that provision. Is there room there to expand it, to broaden it? KILDEE: Well, the actual language does include all vehicles, including for the first five years vehicles that are not even manufactured in the United States. The question is whether or not we have an additional bonus provision for those companies that enter into negotiations with their workers and provide them with good wages, good benefits and worker protections. I know Senator Manchin opposes that.

But to be clear, the base electric vehicle tax credit of $7,500 would apply to all vehicles, and then in year six would only apply to domestically-produced vehicles. That additional benefit, $500 for a domestic battery, $4,500 for union-produced, is intended to strengthen the economy by supporting union jobs, which we know have a really significant external effect on the whole economy of a community. We know Senator Manchin opposes that.

HILL: He does oppose it. Is there any wiggle room in that provision?

KILDEE: Well, we'd like to hear what his thoughts might be other than just saying no. But --

HILL: So, he hasn't offered you an alternative?

KILDEE: No, he has not.

HILL: Okay. When we look at -- we know everybody is waiting on the final CBO score. It could come by the end of the week. We're expecting it to come by the end of the week. There's a new analysis from the joint committee on taxation, which shows that the social safety net bill would actually benefit some high earners, especially those making a million dollars annually. This has really been billed as a package that will help middle and lower-income Americans. Are you concerned that more benefits for high earners could cost you some votes within the caucus?

KILDEE: I don't think so. And a lot of this, of course, has to do with the fact that there's at least one senator that is unwilling to increase rates on high income earners. And there's a natural impact of that. And, unfortunately, that may mean that some will continue to enjoy the benefits of the tax code, and, again, it's because a single senator is unwilling to increase the top rate.

We do have additional taxes for very high income earners that help us pay for much of the investments we make because we think they need to pay their fair share, but some of these anomalies I don't think will dissuade Democrats in the House, because we intended to make sure that the tax code would apply as fairly as possible. And, unfortunately, we're not going to get as high as we would like, again, because we have a single senator who is unwilling to make that step.

HILL: You also said, I think so, when you're talking about not needing to or perhaps not worrying about losing any Democratic votes in the House. Do you have the votes, do you think, at this point?

KILDEE: I believe we do, just based on the conversations that I've had with some of the members who originally were quite reticent about this. Awaiting the CBO score, understanding that process leaves some room for interpretation. Everything I've heard says that we'll have the votes to pass this legislation once those scores come in.

HILL: The headlines have not been great for the administration in terms of how the American people are looking at how effective President Biden has been in getting things done. I know you've seen those numbers. There was a hope of a bump after passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That didn't happen. And in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, looking at congressional seats, early midterm vote preferences, 51 percent, a ten-point margin, said they would choose the Republican candidate over a Democrat.


You have been targeted by the Republican National Congressional Committee as a vulnerable Democrat in 2022. That's a pretty big margin there when you're looking at 10 percent that separates you. Why are these numbers so low?

KILDEE: Well, I think there's a lot that goes into this. I think there's a lot of fatigue with this COVID pandemic that causes people to hold the party in power responsible. The difference, of course, between Democrats and Republicans is that when we are in position -- in the position of authority, we actually take action. It takes time for those actions to be felt by the American people.

The legislation that we just passed, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will take some time for people to feel the effect of it. When they do, they'll understand that the entire Democratic Party was on board with it and just a small number of Republicans were willing to vote for it.

It is kind of interesting to note that there are Republican leaders who are trying to take away the committee seats of those Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill but won't vote to take away a committee seat for someone who posted an image of killing a fellow member of Congress. It's a pretty stark, I think, contrast in those two positions.

HILL: We'll certainly be watching to see how that vote plays out today. But just real quickly, as you noted, it takes time, it does take time to get things passed. It takes time for people to feel the impact. Do you have enough time before 2022?

KILDEE: I think we do. I mean, the president was sworn in in January. In his first year, he was able to get an infrastructure bill across the line. Donald Trump declared infrastructure week every week for 48 weeks and was never able to get one thing done. We're getting our work done.

And if we focus only on the politics and not on the substance, we'll always get it wrong. We're focused on the substance, and we just think that once we do our work and the American people feel it, the politics will take care of itself.

HILL: Congressman Dan Kildee, thanks for joining us today.

KILDEE: Thank you. SCIUTTO: Still ahead, the defense takes over in the trial of the three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The attorney who drew backlash for comments about black pastors joining Ahmaud Arbery's family in the courtroom, he's going to be making his argument this hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)