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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Rittenhouse Takes the Stand in His Own Defense: Did It Work?; U.S. Inflation at Highest Level in 30 Years; Judge Rejects Another Trump Attempt to Slow Doc Release. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2021 - 05:00   ET






CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Tears, testimony, and a takedown from the judge. What it all means in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Americans are paying more, a lot more. How much longer the price spikes could last.

ROMANS: And the former president scrambling after a judge rules again he cannot keep key documents about the attack of the Capitol under wraps.

It is Thursday, November 11th, Veterans Day, folks. It's 5:00 in the morning. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: Glad to have you back, Christine.

I'm Laura Jarrett. Welcome to viewers here in the United States and all around the world.

We begin here this morning with a riveting day of testimony in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The defense teams plans to call several more witnesses today in the teen's murder trial, including a doctor, and a Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse broke down in tears on the stand Wednesday describing the moment before he fired his AR-15. He insists he was acting in self-defense and didn't do anything wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody that you shot at that night, you intended to kill, correct?

KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: I didn't intend to kill them, I intended to stop the people who were attacking me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By killing them?

RITTENHOUSE: I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By killing them?

RITTENHOUSE: Two of them passed away. But I stopped the threat from attacking me.


ROMANS: One problem with that testimony, in cross-examination, Rittenhouse said that he knew one of the men he killed was unarmed. The nation is watching closely to see the next move from the defense, the prosecution, and a judge who made headlines of his own.

Sara Sidner starts us off this morning from Kenosha.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday. It is a rare move in a criminal case to have a defendant in a homicide case, a double homicide case, take the stand. But that's exactly what he did. In his own words, he explained why he shot and killed two people and wounded another.

He got extremely emotional in some of that testimony, talking about what happened when the first person that he ended up shooting and killing approached him.

RITTENHOUSE: My point was to get out of that situation and go back down the road to where car source number two was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you get -- were you able to go in that direction?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe what happened.

RITTENHOUSE: I -- once I take that step back, I look over my shoulder, and Mr. Rosenbaum -- Mr. Rosenbaum was now running from my right side. And I was cornered from in front of me with Mr. Ziminski. And there were -- there were people there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a deep breath now.

RITTENHOUSE: I started to run --

SIDNER: The judge then stopped the case to allow Kyle Rittenhouse to gather his thoughts. And then came back.

When Kyle Rittenhouse returned, he was composed and he talked about and described why and how he ended up shooting the other two people that night, one of whom was killed. Anthony Huber.

We also heard the prosecution go after him. First of all, trying to point out some inconsistencies. And also asking him why he was here after curfew that night. And why he had hold of a firearm, an ar-15 to be exact, that the prosecution said he knew he shouldn't have had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you're telling us that the reason that you wanted Dominic to buy you an AR-15 as opposed to a pistol is the only reason because you felt you couldn't lawfully possess a pistol?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't pick out the AR-15 for any other reason?


RITTENHOUSE: I thought it looked cool. But, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't pick it out because you wanted to go hunting with it, did you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't pick it out because you were going to use it to protect your house, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You picked it up because it looked cool.

RITTENHOUSE: I thought it looked cool.

SIDNER: Some of the fieriest moments in the trial actually had to do with the judge and the prosecutor. And the jury never saw any of it. The judge telling the jury to leave so that he could talk to the prosecutor about his line of questioning, saying he tried to bring in evidence that the judge had excluded from the case in pretrial motions. And he admonished the prosecutor for questioning Kyle Rittenhouse about why he asked for an attorney when he turned himself in to police.

JUDGE: I was -- I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant's post arrest silence. That's basic law. It's been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that. I heard nothing in this trial to change any of my rulings --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was before the testimony?

JUDGE: Pardon me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't get brazen with me. You knew very well. You know very well that an attorney can't go in these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the presence of a jury to do so.

Don't give me that. You're an experienced trial attorney. And you're telling me when the judge says I'm excluding this, you just take it upon yourself to put it in because you think that you found a way around it? Come on. SIDNER: That was just a bit of the back and forth where the judge

gave the prosecution a tough-lashing. And the defense seized on that, saying to the judge that they plan on filing for a mistrial in this case. The judge said he would take it in consideration. But the trial is continuing. We expect to hear from one of Rittenhouse's friend in this case, the friend who bought him that AR-15 -- Laura, Christine.


JARRETT: Sara, thank you for that. A lot to unpack.

Let's bring in Ayesha Bell Hardaway, associate professor of law and co-director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western University.

Professor, so nice to have you on EARLY START this morning.

So, when we heard Rittenhouse testify he was afraid for his life when he fired his gun killing two people. How effective do you think the self-defense argument is so far? How do you think the jury is receiving this?

AYESHA BELL HARDAWAY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY: So, that's ultimately -- good morning. Let me say good morning and thank you for having me. That question is ultimately the one that only those 12 jurors will be able to weigh in on, right? But as we're watching this trial at home in our respective places, you know, it's clear that some believe that his testimony yesterday really hurt his credibility because of the way some view as milking to try to get those tears going, and to try to get the sobs going. It really may have hurt his credibility.

But in terms of the legal sort of requirement that he has to prove -- you know, that the prosecution actually has to prove three times over, that he did not act reasonably and necessary. And they said an imminent threat to protect himself, you know, that burden in Wisconsin as in many other states in this country now sits solely with the prosecution. He didn't have to take the stand in order for them to still have that very heavy burden to meet. They were going to have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

So, his lawyers decided that it was worth the risk to put him on the stand, in the hopes that emotional testimony would sway the jurors. And it also provided an opportunity for him to make the case for why he had the gun. And what his intent was at the time of having that gun.

ROMANS: So the prosecution got Rittenhouse to admit he knew it was illegal to have owned that gun in the first place. He shouldn't have had the gun in the first place. But he's sticking to the argument that he only fired in self-defense. Can he have it both ways here? He knows he legally couldn't have the gun but then he is said he was legally defending himself with it?

HARDAWAY: Interestingly enough, he actually has to have it both ways in order to win under the Wisconsin statute. Specifically what I'm talking about is, yes, if he illegally has a gun, the law does not allow him to use the self-defense claim, until he's able to show that despite his provocation, he retreated and did everything he could to avoid using deadly force but nonetheless, had to in order to protect an imminent threat of death.


And so, in order to be able to reclaim the self-defense law in the light of his illegal conduct, or the self-defense -- you know, motive for proof for acquittal, in order to do that, he has to show he testified about the fact that he did everything he could to retreat and avoid the threat of harm, but nonetheless had to use self-defense.

JARRETT: Professor, we also saw some testy exchanges between the prosecutor and the judge yesterday. Judge Schroeder stopped the trial twice so he could scold the prosecution, especially during the cross- examination of Rittenhouse. He's very concerned about the constitutional implications of commenting on a defendant's silence.

How big of an effect do you think that this judge's rulings have had on the trial? He's made some controversial ones, you know, in the past already?

HARDAWAY: Yeah, yeah, wow. I know even watching it at the beginning, at the top of the hour here, right, I know that causes many people at home to be shocked and, quite frankly, shudder at the harsh words coming from the bench.

For my perspective, the only thing that was surprising to me that it wasn't done at a sidebar outside of the hearing of everybody, except for the court reporter and the lawyers. Yes, I know the jury was excused from the room at the time. But the judge's practice of not using a sidebar is really the only reason why we're talking about this today, because otherwise, we wouldn't necessarily know all of these intricate details. Us lawyers would have to speculate, and probably rightfully, would be able to do so about the Fifth Amendment piece because it really is quite settled.

I was surprised to see the prosecution ask the question related to silence after the time he was arrested. This isn't the civil jury. This isn't the civil trial. The reality is under a criminal trial, any defendant has a right to not ever say anything and certainly, taking the stand in their own defense is the choice. And all prosecutors know you're not to ask a line of questioning around that decision.

JARRETT: Yeah, the judge has made a big point of having an open courtroom. He allows cell phones in the courtroom which is unusual. He obviously knows cameras are there. He's paying attention to our attention of it.

Very interesting. We'll see how this all plays out. Professor, so nice to have you this morning. Thank you again.

HARDAWAY: Thank you for having me.

ROMANS: All right. Just ahead, more damning evidence in another big trial, this one in Georgia, what the father of the gunman Travis McMichael told police moments after the shooting of the jogger Ahmaud Arbery.



ROMANS: Inflation watch, shoppers have been paying more for just about everything for months now and prices aren't coming back to earth anytime soon. Consumer prices rose 6.2 percent since last October, the biggest increase in 30 years, even when you strip out volatile food and energy prices. Prices rose 4.6 percent, that's the biggest jump since August 1991.

You probably noticed your grocery bills are more expensive, everything from steaks, eggs, flour, all jumping since October last year. Cereal was 5 percent more expensive. Baby food prices rose almost 8 percent annually.

Shoppers have been dealing with rising prices throughout the mix of surging demand, material shortages and choke points in the global supply chain. The news is not something Americans or the White House are happy about frankly. Both the Biden Administration and the Fed have said price spikes will be temporary.

In a statement Wednesday, the president said inflation hurts Americans' pocketbooks and reversing this trend is a top priority for me. Octobers' report raises questions about the Fed, whether it needs to roll back stimulus even faster. Shoppers already preparing for high prices during their holiday shopping sprees.

JARRETT: Is there any rhyme or reason to which things -- just a moment, is there any rhyme or reason to which things might actually come down faster? Are there some goods that we say, look, give it a minute?

ROMANS: Look, it's all things going up fast and not coming down anytime soon. And the White House really has very limited options here, right. We came back from a crisis in the economy where those prices crashed last year because we weren't, you know, gobbling up all of these things and demand was down so much. Now they're bouncing back and the White House is promising to do something to reverse it, it's unclear what they can do.

JARRETT: Just seems like if they can pace themselves, then they are willing to tolerate it. If they just think this is an abyss, then they're more unhappy.

ROMANS: Maybe next year. I mean, next year seems to be more normal, but that's next year. That's not right now.

JARRETT: All right. Now to the breaking news overnight, we could be 24 hours away from a trove of documents former president Trump wants to keep secret being handed over to the January 6th committee. Late last night, a federal judge rejected another Trump fight to stop the release of materials. ROMANS: Yes, saying he now needs to try his hand at the court of

appeals. Judge Tanya Chutkan already ruled against Trump Tuesday, knocking down the claims of executive privilege, informing him he's not president anymore.


HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: What part of no, don't you understand is what she's saying to Trump? I told you this yesterday. He said he filed a renewed emergency motion. Clock is ticking and he's sweating.

He will, of course, go to the court of appeals. Just give me time, freeze the linebackers until I go there. He said, no, there's nothing new here. Things haven't changed since yesterday. No means no. Go to the court of appeals.


NORMAN EISEN, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNCIL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: This is one of the most urgent questions that is facing us, as the legal system and I think as a democracy today. If Donald Trump is allowed to run out the clock with his usual strategy of delay, lose all the battles but win the war by running the clock out, that means that the committee may not get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th.

It won't be able to prevent the next insurrection. It won't be able to consider legislation. And, Chris, Donald Trump is still doing it, that same incitement, that same big lie.


ROMANS: The issue could be headed to the Supreme Court. But it's highly unlikely Trump's lawyers will have enough time to get a favorable ruling before tomorrow.

JARRETT: Yeah. I think he's going to be really sweating. I think there's basically no way this can happen. He would have to go to the court of appeals first. And get a ruling then go to the Supreme Court and there's just not enough time.

All right. A little programming note for you here, the new CNN interview series "Being". Former Governor Chris Christie shares with Dana Bash what it's like to go to Trump supporter to sharp critic. "Being Chris Christie" airs Monday at 10:00 p.m., only on CNN.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

More disturbing evidence at the trial of three white men who have been charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. On Wednesday, Glynn County Police Sergeant Roderic Nohilly testified about the police interview of one of the defendants in the case, Gregory McMichael.

The prosecutor directed him to read from a transcript of questioning of McMichael on the day of the shooting.


PROSECUTOR: When asking Gregory to speculate what was going through the mind of Ahmaud Arbery, what does Greg McMichael say on lines 3 through 6?

OFFICER RODERIC NOHILLY, GLYNN COUNTY PD: He -- he was -- he was trapped like a rat. I think he was wanting to flee. And he realized that something, you know -- he was not going to get away.


JARRETT: In reading the same transcript, the defense said that McMichael believed that his son was in trouble during the struggle for the gun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there was no -- no hesitation on his part, when it came to Travis, I mean it was -- I think he was -- his intention was to grab that gun and probably shoot Travis. That's in my mind. That's what I saw, you know. And with that in mind, if he -- if he'd had got than shotgun and there was any separation between Travis and him, I was going to cap his ass.


ROMANS: A trial in the men that tried to claim they attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery that day. They claim Travis' gun was stolen a month prior and Arbery was seen around a home under construction.

So far, there's no evidence they actually saw him break into a house, steal anything or with a weapon anytime. Reminder, he was jogging through that neighborhood that day.

JARRETT: Yeah, and that's what started all of it, just seeing him jogging and the dad saying he must have been running from someone. So, a whole lot of assumptions there.

All right. still ahead for you, climate, historic climate talks with an unexpected twist. Why the U.S. and China are joining forces on emissions, and will it work?