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Kyle Rittenhouse Takes Stand in His Own Trial for Murder; Judge Admonishes Prosecutors in Kyle Rittenhouse; CNN: January 6th Panel Eyeing 5 People in Pence's Inner Circle. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2021 - 08:00   ET



AL FRANKEN, HOST, "THE AL FRANKEN PODCAST": President for a while, and that seems to be an indication that he's looking for any opening he can find.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Al Franken, great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

FRANKEN: Good to see you, sir.

BERMAN: Be well.

NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Thursday, November 11th. It is Veterans Day. You're seeing live pictures of the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, semper fi. Thank you to all who serve or have served.

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse resumes this morning after a dramatic day in court with the accused killer crying on the stand, the judge berating the prosecution, and the defense demanding a mistrial. Rittenhouse, this is what the jury saw, he burst into tears on the witness stand as he described what led him to fatally shoot two people and wound a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.


KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: There were three people right there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a deep breath, Kyle.


BERMAN: His mother also cried as she watched the testimony.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And moments ago we heard from a man who was also shot by Kyle Rittenhouse that night and was the only one to survive. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GAIGE GROSSKREUTZ, SHOT BY KYLE RITTENHOUSE: To me it seemed like a child who had just gotten caught doing something that he wasn't supposed to, more upset that he was caught and less upset about what he had done and what he had taken, and the numerous lives that he affected through his actions that night.


BERMAN: Let's bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He is live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He's been covering this trial from the start. But this, Shimon, was by far the most dramatic day we've seen.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the most dramatic, the most riveting. It was a highly anticipated moment. Kyle Rittenhouse was expected to testify. Certainly, him taking the stand is going to come down as one of the biggest days of this trial. He told the jurors he had to shoot to defend himself. But it's also the judge. The judge in this case making headlines after lashing out at the prosecutors during a line of questioning that he felt was appropriate, which then ended up causing the defense attorneys to ask for a mistrial.


PROKUPECZ: Kyle Rittenhouse testifying in his own defense, telling jurors why he shot three men, killing two.

KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself.

PROKUPECZ: The defense's star witness explaining why he decided to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year.

MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: On August 25th of 2020, did you come to downtown Kenosha to look for trouble?


PROKUPECZ: Rittenhouse describing his encounter outside a car dealership with Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person he would shoot and kill that night.

RITTENHOUSE: He screamed -- sorry for my language. He screamed, if I catch any of you -- alone, I'm going to -- kill you.

PROKUPECZ: While on the stand, Rittenhouse telling jurors what led up to him fatally shooting Rosenbaum.

RITTENHOUSE: 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 three people right there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a deep breath, Kyle.

RITTENHOUSE: That's when I run. PROKUPECZ: The judge calling for a break. Rittenhouse's mother also sobbing from her seat. He returned to the courtroom without tears to continue his testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you see him lunging at you, what do you do?

RITTENHOUSE: I shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how many times did you shoot?

RITTENHOUSE: I believe four.

If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people if I would have let him get my gun.


PROKUPECZ: Rittenhouse testifying about when he shot and killed Anthony Huber, who he says first hit him with a skateboard.

RITTENHOUSE: He grabs my gun, and I can feel it pulling away from me, and I can feel the strap starting to come off my body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what do you do then?

RITTENHOUSE: I fire one shot.

PROKUPECZ: Rittenhouse also discussed when he shot Gaige Grosskreutz, the only surviving victim.

RITTENHOUSE: I lower my weapon, and I see Mr. Grosskreutz with his hands up. And as I'm lowering my weapon, I look down, and then Mr. Grosskreutz, he lunges at me with his pistol pointed directly at my head. His pistol is pointed at me, and that's when I shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times did you shoot him?


PROKUPECZ: During cross examination, the judge asking the jury to leave the room twice, first when the prosecution asked Rittenhouse about his post arrest silence, a right solidified in the Fifth Amendment.

JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: The problem is this is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant's silence. And you're right on the -- you're right on the borderline. And you may be over, but it better stop.

PROKUPECZ: Lashing out at the prosecution for attempting to ask Rittenhouse questions related to evidence he already banned from the trial.

SCHROEDER: Don't get brazen with me! You knew very well -- you know very well that an attorney can't go into these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the presence of the jury to do so. So don't give me that.

PROKUPECZ: The defense outraged, making this appeal.

COREY CHIRAFISI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: At this point, the defense is going to be making a motion for a mistrial. However, that motion is going to be requested with prejudice.

PROKUPECZ: That means that, if granted, Rittenhouse cannot have a retrial. Judge Bruce Schroeder says he's taking the request into consideration. Rittenhouse faces five felony charges and a misdemeanor, including first degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, and attempted first degree intentional homicide. Prosecutors asking Rittenhouse why he brought an AR-15 style rifle with him to Kenosha during the time of unrest.

THOMAS BINGER, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Why do you need the gun when you go out there?

RITTENHOUSE: I need the gun because, if I had to protect myself because somebody attacked me.

BINGER: Why would you think anybody would do that?

RITTENHOUSE: I don't know.

BINGER: But you clearly planned on it? You were prepared for it, you thought it was going to happen.

RITTENHOUSE: No, I didn't.

BINGER: That's the whole reason you brought the gun, isn't it?

RITTENHOUSE: I brought the gun to protect myself.

PROKUPECZ: And pressing Rittenhouse on why he claimed he was a medic.

RITTENHOUSE: We're running medical and we're going in and getting people.

BINGER: You lied to him, correct?

RITTENHOUSE: I told him I was an EMT, but I wasn't.

PROKUPECZ: The prosecution also focusing on what led Rittenhouse to shoot Rosenbaum and his two other victims.

BINGER: You just assumed that he was going to use it, that he was going to try and take it from you, first of all, and then you assumed he was going to try to use it on you.

RITTENHOUSE: If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum get my gun, he would have killed me.

BINGER: But you had already pointed your gun at him?

RITTENHOUSE: Yes, because he was chasing me. BINGER: Did you want him to think that you were going to shoot him?

RITTENHOUSE: No. I never wanted to shoot Mr. Rosenbaum.

BINGER: Why did you point it at him if you didn't have any intention of shooting?

RITTENHOUSE: He was chasing me. I was alone. He threatened to kill me earlier in that night. I didn't want to have to shoot him.

BINGER: But you understand how dangerous it is to point a gun at someone, don't you?

RITTENHOUSE: I pointed it at him because he kept running at me, and I didn't want I'm to chase me.


PROKUPECZ (on camera): And the defense says they have three more witnesses to call, including one this morning who is a use of force expert.

The other thing we're waiting to see is if the defense attorneys actually file a motion for that mistrial. We'll see if that gets filed, and obviously the prosecutor's response.

The other thing to look for is the judge today, obviously. I'm curious to see, this judge has been very sensitive over media coverage of this trial. It will be interesting to see if he responds to some of the reports that are now out there certainly going after him over the way he reacted to yesterday's testimony.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly will be. Shimon, thank you so much for that report.

Let's discuss this now with attorney and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers as well as civil rights attorney and former New York prosecutor Charles Coleman. Gentlemen, both you, Bakari, starting with you, what did you think of Kyle Rittenhouse's testimony?


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that as a criminal defense attorney, like I am, you have to take the calculated risk of putting the defendant on the stand. I don't think that you get a mistrial, I don't think that you get a hung jury, I don't think you get a not guilty verdict without putting Kyle on the stand. And yesterday, I think that his testimony was persuasive to some, not to me, but to some, and maybe to enough jurors to get you to a hung jury or even a not guilty.

The prosecution did a great job of showing him to be inconsistent, showing him to be a liar, showing him to be callous. But it's very difficult in this case when you have defense attorneys who are doing their job, and you have a judge who is bending over backwards to protect the interests of Kyle Rittenhouse. This is a fascinating case to watch because this judge is going out of his way to somewhat shield Kyle Rittenhouse and treating him as if he's a child when he's actually on trial for taking lives of two individuals and shooting another. So I'm not necessarily sure what's happening in Kenosha, but I do know that it's going to be an uphill battle to get a guilty verdict for the prosecution.

KEILAR: Charles, what do you think about that?

CHARLES F. COLEMAN JR., FORMER NEW YORK PROSECUTOR AND TRIAL ATTORNEY: Listen, Brianna, it's very clear that the defense had a clear strategy in terms of what they were trying to do with putting Rittenhouse on the stand. All they need to do is to get one, two, three, a few jurors. They don't need the entire jury, they just need a few jurors who will be unwilling to convict Kyle Rittenhouse, and then ultimately, they win. That is their strategy. The prosecution is not going to be able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt if they are able to do that.

And I do think, to Bakari's point, you saw a relatively composed, a very, very, very well-prepped Rittenhouse take the stand. Regardless of what you may believe regarding his crocodile tears, whether he forced that crying almost on command or on cue during the course of the testimony, the reality is when the jury saw that, when the jury saw his mother cry in court, there were some members of the jury who were visibly affected by that, which means that the defense did effectively do what it is that they set out to do in this case.

Again, it's not necessarily about the facts. It is about getting a few jurors who believe that there may be reasonable doubt or may believe that Rittenhouse was in fear for his life, and they did accomplish that.

On the other hand, the prosecution, unfortunately, was not able to have an effective cross examination. While it was technically sound, it was boring. A lot of the jurors after a point stopped paying attention. They were wiping their eyes and there was just simply fatigued and exhausted because the technical aspects of what the prosecution was doing weren't resonating with the jury in the same way that the emotional testimony that Kyle Rittenhouse got out on direct when he was directed by his attorney affected the jury in a positive way. And so that creates, in addition to what Bakari pointed out with the judge, an uphill battle for the prosecution to climb.

KEILAR: You mentioned, Bakari, the judge. And I want to play some sound of the judge admonishing the prosecution -- this is one moment. There were many, but let's look at this most heated moment.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: 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.

Don't get brazen with me! You know very well that an attorney can't go into these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the presence of the jury to do so, so don't give me that.

I don't believe you. There better not be another incident. I'll take the motion under advisement.


KEILAR: And Bakari, I wonder what you think of this. I will say, the jury wasn't there. And as a layperson, I was surprised to hear today from a judge on our program as well as a lawyer who said this kind of thing does happen at times. It's not totally out of the blue. But I wonder what you felt about this moment in this high-profile trial?

SELLERS: I got my behind handed to me about two weeks ago in a federal sentencing where basically I was told to sit down and stop digging. So this happens. This back and forth does happen when you are in a trial.

However, you have to look at the totality of the judge's actions. You have to look at the rulings that he's made. And I said it yesterday, and I'll be extremely blunt. It appears that this judge is auditioning for the cameras and looking for his next gig on FOX News or OAN, or whatever it is. This judge is going beyond the pale in trying to show off for the country his conservative credentials, or whatever it may be, and he's shielding Kyle Rittenhouse, treating him as if he's a child. And so I think that the behavior of the judge in totality is the problem.

And the prosecution did -- the prosecutor is a habitual line-stepper. I've noticed that during this trial, and he did step on that line where you get into that constitutional danger zone by going into the lack of communication, or Kyle remaining silent after the arrest.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- he did step on that line where you get into that constitutional danger zone by going into the lack of communication or Kyle remaining silent after the arrest.


The problem with that with this judge is he's attempting to hang his hat on anything to protect Kyle. I would not be surprised, although I think it would be wrong to do, I would not be surprised if he get granted the mistrial without the ability to retry Kyle Rittenhouse for these crimes.

It's as if he wants to do that. That would be problematic for all of us. I think that's a problem for the judge. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't be surprised.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Charles, I wonder what you thought about a very interesting moment yesterday which was Kyle Rittenhouse saying he got this AR-style rifle because he thought it was cool, and he also admitted -- he obviously is not an EMT and he lied about that.

Tell us about him saying that about the gun, that it's cool and what that means.

CHARLES F. COLEMAN, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Brianna, earlier when Bakari was talking about the fact that this was a calculated risk in terms of putting Kyle Rittenhouse on the stand, this is exactly the sort of thing you think about as an attorney. When you have a teenage client and you are facing a murder trial, this is a big risk because that the a bad sign for the defense. That is not something you want to hear your client say on the stand. It's kind of cringe-worthy. I think ultimately, it's something that is problematic and not good for their case overall.

There have been so many other factors including the judge and sort of home court advantage, if you will, granted to the defense that I don't necessarily know it's going to play very well. It was a cringe-worthy moment and I thought to myself, this is exactly why you don't want to put a teenager on the stand, because something like that slips out, and were this a case that was in greater doubt in the minds of the jury, that could sway them in a particular way.

I want to also point out, Brianna, one of the things that the prosecution has had a challenge with is that every witness they put on did something to help their case and did something to hurt their case at the same time. They all talked about it being a chaotic scene. Many witnesses talked about actually having firearms and things of that nature. They admitted to chasing Kyle Rittenhouse, in terms of the confrontation.

And so, these are things that the prosecution has not done in terms of doing itself any favors in addition to the habitual line stepping that got them chewed out by the judge.

KEILAR: Yeah, this is -- you know, we're going to see today. There's a use of force expert. We'll see what the prosecution does with that, if maybe they clean up some of the difficulties they've had.

Bakari and Charles, thank you to both of you.

SELLERS: Thank you.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: So, just 24 hours until the national archives could turn over documents to the January 6th committee about President Trump's actions and communications on the 6th. Trump was dealt another legal setback.

A security guard for the deadly Astroworld music festival walked off the job that morning. And he's here to tell us why.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we'll speak live to Ahmaud Arbery's mother after testimony pokes holes in the defense of her son's shooters.


BERMAN: Developing overnight, sources tell CNN the January 6th committee is interested in speaking to members of Mike Pence's inner circle. Among them is Pence's former national security advisor Keith Kellogg who was with former President Trump most of the day of the insurrection.

Joining me, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein.

Carl, this is Jamie Gangel and others reporting from yesterday. You think this is potentially significant. Why?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very significant. First of all, let's look what's happening here. We're talking about a conspiracy like none other in the United States, to undermine this election, led, this conspiracy, by the president of the United States.

And there are some people who work for Mike Pence who indeed are angry about the conspiracy and that Pence was brought into it indirectly. Finally, Pence did the right thing. He certified the election, presided over the election of the duly elected president of the United States, Joseph Biden.

But we have a year to go to find out what happened, until the Republicans in all likelihood take over the Congress, they're going to try to shut down this investigation. The press particularly, the committee, one year to go to find out what happened in the most grievous assault on democracy since the Confederacy and the Civil War.

BERMAN: You say there are people inside pence's inner circle who are angry.


BERMAN: Why is that important?

BERNSTEIN: Because there are people who believe in the Constitution of the United States. Even in the Republican Party there are still people who believe in the Constitution despite the fact that the party has been taken over by craven Republicans and made the party of Trumpism and authoritarianism.

But there are people there, and it is the job of the press, the job of this committee, particularly the press, to find a witness or several witnesses, perhaps among Pence's aides, not necessarily his principals as Jamie Gangel has reported, but maybe some aides to the aides, with very a year to get it to unravel this horrible conspiracy.

BERMAN: Someone, if that person exists, and if that person saw something, who would call it out publicly. You compare this to a John Dean character, whom you dealt with, obviously, when you were dealing on Watergate.

BERNSTEIN: If you look at Bob Woodward's and my papers down at the University of Texas, what happened in Watergate was we got to John Dean before he testified. We knew he was going to name the president of the United States as the head of the conspiracy in Watergate, and he was going to turn on the president of the United States.

Our job in the press right now, above all others, is to unravel this conspiracy before the Republican Party captured by Donald Trump is able to suppress what happened here. It is the business of the nation, and this committee might have a shot. I keep coming back to this idea of, in Watergate we got a list of everybody who worked for the president of the United States in his re-election.


The committee is trying to do the same thing and find a couple of these people. There are indications from Republicans I talk to -- it's not just the Republicans on the committee, but there are other Republicans in the House, in the Senate particularly who despise Trump, who believe this conspiracy can be unraveled if other Republicans talking to each other, which is happening now to some extent, keep pursuing this. It doesn't have to get out necessarily under oath. It could happen in pre-interviews, for instance, with some of the people who were named in Jamie Gangel's --

BERMAN: She's talking about Republicans -- i don't know if there are Republicans necessarily who want to go back and look at the insurrection more and find out the truth there.

BERNSTEIN: Well, that's the problem.

BERMAN: It does seem based on Chris Christie's comments this morning, I don't have time to play them again now, but he sort of punched the former president in the nose a little bit.

BERNSTEIN: Also Christie is looking to be president of the United States of him elf. You talk about threading the needle.

BERMAN: So, if you think that's the way to become president, it seems there are at least one Republican, others growing frustrated with the former president, too, maybe some are beginning to turn after Virginia?

BERNSTEIN: No, they're still embracing Trumpism. They're terrified of Donald Trump. There might be a few. Let's look again, this Republican Party, like the Democratic Party and the confederacy, particularly the southern Democrats in the Confederacy have been captured by the Trumpist movement, captured by an authoritarian movement, unlike anything we've seen since the secessionist Democrats led by Jefferson Davis in the Civil War who have sought to undermine the unity and the absolute basis of our democracy.

Let me go back to the press again. This is our job for the next year above all else. If we get this narrative, and I say this to all my colleagues out there, this is the story that we cannot lose focus on, and we'll get it if we pursue it.

BERMAN: Carl Bernstein, thank you for being with us.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: New clues into what went wrong in preparation for the Astroworld music festival and why inspectors on sight say it looked like a war zone.

KEILAR: Plus, a lawyer for the armorer on Alec Baldwin's movie "Rust," now claims she's being framed. What they say happened between the shooting and when police arrived.