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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Jury Begins Deliberations Today in Kenosha Homicide Trial; Tear Gars, Water Cannons Used on Migrants at Belarus-Poland Border; At Least Two Explosions Rock Uganda Capital Kampala; Biden-Xi Summit: "Healthy Debate" But No Major Breakthroughs. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Tuesday, November 16th. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks so much for getting an early start with me. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine is off today.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We begin this morning in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse will soon be in the hands of a jury. As they begin deliberations this morning at 10:00 a.m., the judge yesterday dismissed one of the charges against Rittenhouse, the one for a misdemeanor gun possession.

So the jury now has five felony charges to consider including homicide, and lesser included offenses the jury can consider if they find Rittenhouse not guilty on the major offenses in the case.

In closing arguments yesterday, the defense argued Rittenhouse was under attack that night and acted in self-defense. Prosecutors pushed back, though, telling jurors, quote, you can't claim self-defense on a danger you create.

Trial consultant Richard Gabriel says both sides were playing on the jury's fears.


RICHARD GABRIEL, TRIAL CONSULTANT: The jury's fear in a Kenosha community about whether they want somebody like Kyle Rittenhouse to come and protect them, or whether they in Kenosha also feel like they want to be afraid of an active shooter in the community.

So, aside from evidence and burdens and testimony and legal instruction, jurors are looking at what's the story I most believe? And that comes back to what would I do in that situation? How do I feel as a member of this community?


JARRETT: Joining me here for three questions in three minutes, we have criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Bernarda Villalona.

It's so nice to have you on EARLY START. So nice to see you in person.


JARRETT: So, closing arguments now over. What did you find effective on Monday and what do you think fell flat?

VILLALONA: Well, both sides definitely brought in the heat. They brought in the fire for closing arguments because you got the closing arguments the last time the jury is going to be able to hear from you, be able to see you, hear what your arguments are.

In terms of the prosecution, they were dead on when they said, look, these victims, did not pose imminent danger for these -- for Rittenhouse. So, there was no need to use this deadly force. He was the attacker in this case. He was an active shooter.

Now, the defense, the defense came out, tried to humanize Kyle Rittenhouse. He's 17 years old. He likes to go to the Dinosaur Museum. He was not an active shooter. He was out there trying to protect this community, trying to serve this community, and that at no point was he the threat in this situation.

Let's see at the end what the jury is going to decide. Is Kyle Rittenhouse a vigilante or is he a victim?

JARRETT: So, when they go to the deliberation room today, they go back there with a stack of instructions. And you and I both know jury instructions are always a slog, it's always exhausting. But the judge reading yesterday through the instructions was a real struggle. Listen to a little bit of what happened.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment, again, determining -- whether the circumstances -- utter disregard for human life, whether the conduct showed any regard for human life, and all other facts and circumstances -- the circumstances related to the conduct.


JARRETT: Okay, I don't know about you, but I cannot follow a word of that. How is the jury supposed to make any sense of had?

VILLALONA: That jury instruction was a hot mess. I was like, what is going on at this point? But I think what it is that Judge Schroeder, he tried to ad-lib it and lost parts of his concentration, which is crazy because when you're dealing with jury instructions, especially in a homicide case, convictions have been overturned over the missing of one word in giving out the jury instruction.

But even with that, there are so many terms that are so hard to follow. And this is for attorneys. So just imagine for the jury. Now you're sending them back with a clip of papers. Here, find the law and follow it, apply it to the facts.

How are they supposed to follow that? That's why it is the job of the prosecutor to lead them through the charges and try to make it plain language for them to be able to apply.

JARRETT: And you saw the prosecutor try to do that in sort of a clean-up mode. He tried to say, look, this case is simple. Here's what you need to know. Again, it remains to be seen whether the jury will find that effective or not.

It strikes me this case might be one of those where the public perception of it and what's actually happening in the courtroom and the legal process might be in conflict. And you think back to last summer, sort of the heated protests for racial justice.


And remember this is about the shooting of Jacob Blake. That's why Kyle Rittenhouse is there.

Where do you think this goes if the jury finds him not guilty on some of these charges?

VILLALONA: Look, it's sad because it's playing out in two different places. It's playing out inside of the courtroom and it's playing outside of the courtroom how you just stated.

The thing is the people outside the courtroom, unless you followed this trial from the very beginning to the end and followed the legal analysis to break it down for you, it's going to be hard for anyone to actually grasp the meaning of what this verdict means, because in the courtroom there's a lot of things I could have told you last year, absolutely, Kyle Rittenhouse, he's going to be found guilty. He's going to be held accountable.

But from following the trial from the beginning to end, I have a lot of hesitation because the defense was able to poke holes. Where does that leave the public?

The public may be like, you know what, here we have a 17-year-old kid who was with an AR-15 walking around in Kenosha, Wisconsin -- hey, maybe I should walk around with an AR-15.

JARRETT: It comes down to the evidence. Thank you so much for being here with us.

VILLALONA: Thank you for having me.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

All right. Now to breaking news out of Belarus. Right now, dramatic scenes as the migrant crisis there escalates and violence erupting along the border. CNN has just confirmed tear gas and water cannons were fired from the Polish side. Protesters charging the barricades and throwing stones.

Our Matthew Chance joins us live from the Belarus/Poland border. Tell us what you're seeing.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) right now, there are helicopters in the sky with water cannons firing right behind me here on the migrants (INAUDIBLE). Polish guards over there -- the water cannon. One second.

JARRETT: These pictures are just incredible. We're trying to get Matthew's shot back up there. As you can imagine, it's spotty. Incredible the escalation here.

It appears to have been prompted by some standoff as we know. The migrants there have been camped out for over a week now. We will try to get him back as soon as possible.

For now, let's go live to CNN's political and national security analyst David Sanger.

David, thank you so much for joining us. Serious -- a serious escalation here at the border.

What is the significance of the Poland side here deciding to use force to stop these migrants from crossing over the border?

DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, this has been brewing for sometime. And as you could see from Matthew's report, it's gotten pretty chaotic. But behind that is a pretty deeply cynical ploy by Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus.

You will remember that last summer he lost an election, then exiled the -- his opponent who would have won, has jailed journalists, opposition leaders, and has been subject to a lot of Western sanctions.

And so what he appears to have done is invite a number of Middle Eastern migrants, about 2,000 or more, to these camps and literally flew them on Belarus airlines into Minsk, dumped them on the border of the European Union. And the basically the message has been, if you don't loosen the sanction on us, we will be a conduit for migrants to come your way.

It's essentially a state (INAUDIBLE).

JARRETT: And obviously the migrants are the ones caught in the middle of this.


JARRETT: There are small children there, there are babies, there are toddlers. But what's the off ramp? It doesn't seem there is any side backing down here. It seems like a real standoff. How does all this end?

SANGER: The Europeans have not stood down at all. And, of course, what Lukashenko and, of course, what Lukashenko knows in 2015 with the issue of Syrian migrants, it caused huge disruption in Europe, including here in Germany where I am right now.

And so, he is basically threatening to recreate that crisis unless they lift the sanctions on them. And the poor people you see here who are being hit by the water cannons, apparently from the Poland side of the border, they are literally caught in the middle here as pawns. They were lured into this spot and now you see what's happening to them.

JARRETT: All right. David Sanger, thank you so much for joining me and jumping up early with me. I know it was a last-minute scramble, but we were hopeful to get your analysis.


We may need to come back to you very soon depending on how this plays out.

So, thank you, David. We appreciate it.

SANGER: Always good to be with you.

JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, playing with fire. The warning Chinese President Xi has for President Biden, and what else the two leaders discussed for three hours. That's next.


JARRETT: Breaking overnight, Ugandan police say two explosions rocked the nation's capital Kampala this morning, one near the central police station and another near parliament. Authorities are now closing off streets and trying to assess the damage.


CNN's Larry Madowo is live in Nairobi, Kenya, with more on this.

Larry, who did this?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, we don't know. We just don't know at this stage. There's a lot we don't know three hours after these twin explosions in the heart of Kampala. One just outside central police station, another on parliament avenue, in fact, they canceled today's sitting and told members of parliament not to go in because that entire area has been cordoned off as security forces try to figure out exactly what happened here.

We have seen somebody -- social media on the ground, at least one report on the ground telling CNN that they counted three bodies on the scene on the ground. We don't have an official statement from the Ugandan police. We are expecting an update from them in the coming hour so we'll know a bit more.

But some background, Laura, last month there were two other explosions in Uganda, one at a bar, another on a bus that were blamed on rebel Allied Defense Forces that that is an ISIS affiliate. Again, we don't know who is responsible for what happened today, but it plays into the wider context of security in the region.

It comes ahead of a trip by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He is expected in Nairobi today and later to Nigeria and in Senegal. This will be one of the issues that will come up.

JARRETT: That's for sure, Larry. Thank you for staying on top of that for us.

All right. Now to the high stakes summit between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping described as a, quote, healthy debate that ended, though, with no major breakthroughs. The virtual meeting lasted longer than planned, stretching to 3 1/2 hours. A senior administration official says it stayed respectful and straightforward despite escalating tensions over trade. The future of Taiwan and, of course, human rights.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing with more on this.

Steven, good morning. Is this summit considered a success? And if so, for whom?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Well, given how low the bar was in terms of judging progress in this relationship, I think this meeting does seem to have produced this desired effect of putting a floor on this free fall in this relationship which obviously began long before Joe Biden even took office. But his decision to keep most of his predecessor's harsh China policies talking about building this coalition of willing with like minded democracy us to counter China's rise has not been sitting well with Xi Jinping.

So, the fact that the two leaders with a reported history of rapport in the past would have face time via video link was a sign of progress, especially important now that Xi Jinping has established his disputed supremacy in this dictatorship. This personal relationship may indeed help stabilize this relationship in the near future.

Now, the two leaders, as you mentioned, discussed a series of thorny issues at length according to both governments. They seem to have mostly stuck to their government's official positions. More like talking over each other, at least from the U.S. perspective, the fact they were talking was very much needed at this juncture because they wanted to keep this kind of communication at the very top open to avoid any strategic mistakes or miscalculations that could endanger not just bilateral ties, but even global peace and prosperity -- Laura.

JARRETT: Steven, talk to me about Taiwan here. Obviously, issues there and China's escalation tempting the U.S., one of the big issues of the day. Where do things go from here? Any progress on that front?

JIANG: That's right. Taiwan was indeed one of those hot button issues they talked about. Again, they seemed to be mostly sticking to their government's talking points. With the Chinese special cherry-picking apart it would better serve their domestic audience after the fact after the meeting, emphasizing, for example, Biden saying the U.S. will stick to a One-China Policy, but Biden also said the policy was very much guided by the U.S. plan to sell arms to Taiwan to help the island defend itself. So, very much status quo, that seems to be the case in the foreseeable future -- Laura.

JARRETT: Steven Jiang live in Beijing -- thank you, Steven.

Coming up for you, violence erupting on the Belarus/Poland border.


CHANCE: Getting back into the European Union --




JARRETT: Back now to the breaking news out of Belarus. The migrant crisis is escalating with violence erupting along the border this morning as Poland tries to keep migrants from crossing over from the Belarus side.

Right now, tear gas and water cannons still being fired from the Polish side.

Our Matthew Chance joins us again live from the Belarus border with Poland.

Matthew, when we saw you earlier, we saw water pouring in, helicopters up high. What is happening right now?

CHANCE: Yeah, well, I mean, the situation as you can see, Laura, is still very tense. The children and the women that were here last night when it was a very peaceful scenario with them, sort of confronting, facing up against the border guards has completely changed. The women and children have been moved back, the men are brought forward and they're angry. They're throwing stones.

The Poles are responding with water cannon, covering us in water. Sometimes that water is quite acrid, it has some pepper component and stinging your eyes a little bit and making you choke. But it's been successful in the sense it's pushed people back from the barricades which have been wrecked by the migrants over the past -- over the past couple of hours. You can see one of them here, a few people here. They're smashing rocks on the ground to get smaller pieces and then they're using those rocks to throw at the Polish lines.


They're back to that now, you can see. Okay, well, they are doing that. They were doing it. Yeah, a very tense situation.

Remember, the European Union, the West, the United States accuses Belarus of manufacturing this crisis to put pressure on the European Union, accuses them of driving these migrants to the border with the false hope they were going to get access to the European union, access to Poland. Many are from Iraqi, hoping to get to the European Union.

But that's clearly not happening at the moment. The Poles are saying they're not letting the migrants through and the Belarusians are not backing down. And so, what we got is a situation of thousands of migrants, very frustrated living in awful conditions in these camps very little in terms of facilities. The weather is getting increasingly freezing.

They're frustrated, they're angry, and they want their situation to be resolved, Laura.

JARRETT: Matthew, we saw, this has been sort of a powder keg just brewing there for nearly over a week now, I would say. I know you've been traveling along the border there. What exactly, though, prompted this latest sort of use of force from the Poland side that we're seeing now playing out live?

CHANCE: Well, what prompted it, I think, was this growing sense of frustration. There are also rumors swirling over the past 48 hours around the camp where the refugees have been located -- let's go a bit closer over here to where these people are. Swirling around the refugee camp that Poland was prepared to open a humanitarian corridor to allow these people to move through it to Germany where many of them want to end up inside the European Union.

The Poles for their part said that was not true. They sent text messages to people saying, you're being fooled. Don't try and breach the border. Force will be used.

But, nevertheless, at a certain point yesterday here on the border, we're just out of range from the water cannon, in a situation here. At some point the refugees had enough. Hundreds, if not thousands of them, got up, packed their things, put them in a bag and marched here towards the actual official checkpoint where they hoped they were going to get through, but they were greeted, instead, with this determined response by the Polish security forces, border forces who have said they will not back down, and they will not let these migrants through, Laura.

JARRETT: Matthew, as you mentioned, there are literally thousands of people there, and we're talking about mothers with their babies. Where are they supposed to go exactly? I know you mentioned they have been largely moved back, some of the women and children. But where are they supposed to go?

CHANCE: Yeah, I'm just bringing you back a short distance now. I don't know how much you can see. Just back from that area over here where the people are throwing stones at the barricades, sometimes there are surging forward people.

The majority of the refugees, the migrants are over here. They've pulled back. Some of them have got tents. There are women and children through here as well living in these very poor conditions, they're sitting on the tarmac. Some of them don't have any kind of shelter at all from tents. And so, we're looking at very bleak conditions, these people. The

majority of them that we're spoken to are from Iraq, from Iraqi Kurdistan. We've also seen people Cameroon.

Where are you from? Iraq, Kurdistan. There are people from Cameroon, people from Syria, people from Afghanistan, people from Pakistan as well. So, a whole cross-section of migrants from various countries that often produce migrant populations. And so, yeah, a very bleak situation as you can see.

There's very little sign at this stage, especially with this violence erupting on the frontier, that these people are going to get what they want to move through the border into the European Union.

JARRETT: And if they don't get what they want and they're still stuck there and facing this violence, what is Lukashenko do with this?

CHANCE: Could you repeat that question? I couldn't quite hear what you said.

JARRETT: No apologies necessary. You are in the thick of it, my friend. I was wondering what does Lukashenko do with this? They described them putting them on planes, almost a form of human trafficking. What does the Lukashenko regime do with this? How do they respond?

CHANCE: Well, they're not backing down. You're right, there is this allegation with some substance to it, a lot of substance to it, that the Lukashenko regime orchestrated this crisis. In fact, Secretary Blinken and the U.S. --