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Closing Arguments Today in Rittenhouse Trial; Ex-Trump National Security Advisor Calls for 'One Religion' in U.S.; Water Cannons Aimed at Migrants in Dramatic Border Standoff; Biden to Sign $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Today. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2021 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.


On this NEW DAY, closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial set to begin. National Guard troops on watch. We have new details on how each side will present the case.

Steve Bannon expected to turn himself in this morning. What could it mean for other Trump allies who are stonewalling the January 6th investigation.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And brand-new CNN reporting about frustrations between Vice President Kamala Harris's team and the West Wing. The exasperation running both ways.

And two of music's biggest stars returning to the stage and letting us in on the heartbreak behind their songs.

BERMAN: The heartbreak behind their songs. Making us a little sad on Monday morning.

Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, November 15, the ides of November.

We're on watch for a major development in the January 6th investigation. We have live pictures of Steve Bannon's home in Washington, D.C. The former chief strategist for President Trump expected to turn himself in this morning to face a two-count indictment for contempt of Congress.

Bannon defied a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. He faces up to a year behind bars on each count and is expected to make his first court appearance this afternoon.

KEILAR: In a courtroom nearly 800 miles away, closing arguments are set to begin in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial. Prosecutors will try to convince the jury that Rittenhouse is a teenage vigilante who shot and killed two people during a night of protests last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He claims that he acted in self-defense.

This morning, 500 Wisconsin National Guard members are on standby in case there is violence after the verdict comes down.

BERMAN: All right. Joining me now, senior legal analyst Elie Honig, a former state and federal prosecutor. We've been watching this trial very closely. Closing arguments set to begin today. Let's talk about what each side needs to do. The prosecution.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John, so first things first. In any case, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, there are six criminal charges in this case.

Count one relates to the shooting, the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum. This is the person who we've seen chasing Kyle Rittenhouse across that auto dealership parking lot. Rittenhouse turns around, shoots him four times.

Now, count two relates to the same incident. This is a charge of recklessly endangering Richard McGinnis. He's the journalist. He's a few feet behind Rosenbaum in that parking lot when the shooting happens. He was not hit; that's why the charge is just recklessly endangering.

Count three, now we move out of that parking lot onto the street. It's about a minute and a half later. Kyle Rittenhouse has now fallen down. He's on the ground in the street. Count three relates to recklessly endangering this unknown male. They've been calling him jump kick man, the guy who runs up, kicks Kyle Rittenhouse. They don't know who he is. Again, it's a reckless endangering charge because Rittenhouse fired at him, did not hit him or kill him.

Count four relates to the first-degree intentional homicide of Anthony Huber. This is the guy who runs up, hits Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard. Rittenhouse shoots him once and kills him.

One important note: We are going to hear the judge decide this morning whether he will let the jury consider lesser-included offenses. And what that means is, if the jury does not find him guilty on the most serious charge, they can consider the next charges down. For example, reckless homicide. That's important. It could give the jury a middle ground here.

Next up, count five. We have the attempted first-degree homicide of Gaige Grosskreutz. This is the guy who testified. He said, I pointed my gun at Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fired back at me. Grosskreutz gets hit in the arm, wounded, not killed.

And then finally, the least serious by far charge in this case, count six, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 at the time. Obviously, he possessed a weapon. But that's a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty here is nine months. People usually don't go to prison for misdemeanors alone.

BERMAN: All right. That's the prosecution. How about the defense?

HONIG: Yes. So there will be a strong self-defense claim here. This is a strong self-defense claim. What does that mean legally? They have to show that Rittenhouse reasonably believed, not necessarily correctly, but reasonably believed that his use of potentially lethal force -- firing a weapon certainly qualifies -- was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. Imminent, meaning close at hand.

So how's that going to play out? It's really going to break into three pieces.

First, with the parking lot, the argument is going to be Rittenhouse was threatened. He was chased. We've seen that on video. He ran away, turned and fired. They will argue that he reached for the barrel of the gun. And -- this is important -- that other shots were fired nearby within seconds of Rittenhouse firing his gun.

BERMAN: And even a lot of that was in the prosecution's own case.

HONIG: Absolutely. There is absolutely evidence from the prosecution's case the defense will point to.

Moving out into the street, the argument is going to be Rittenhouse is down. He gets jump-kicked in the head. He gets hit over the head with the skateboard. The argument that we've heard the defense made is he was scared he was going to be knocked out, stomped, other potential serious bodily injury.


And then, as to Gaige Grosskreutz, I mean, forget about it. The guy testified in the prosecution's case: I pointed my gun at Kyle Rittenhouse first. And then he shot back at me.

An important thing to remember: The law is really favorable for the defense here in Wisconsin. The prosecution has to disprove self- defense beyond a reasonable doubt. That's not easy to do.

BERMAN: How do you do it? I mean, how do you disprove it when you have a guy like Grosskreutz saying, I pointed my gun at him?

HONIG: Yes, that one I really don't --

BERMAN: It's hard.

HONIG: -- think the prosecution is going to do.

The other ones are going to argue that either two things. One, they're going to argue he used too much force. Rosenbaum was unarmed. He threw a plastic bag at him. You're not necessarily in risk of death if you get hit with a skateboard. That will be the prosecution argument.

The other thing the prosecution is going to argue is a legal concept known as provocation. And the law in Wisconsin says that if a person is engaged in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or any conduct that's intended to get others to attack him, then he cannot argue self-defense.

So the prosecution's going to argue, essentially, he was a vigilante. He got a gun illegally. He came across state lines, and he was looking for trouble.

But the defense response to that is going to be he didn't do anything until he was chased. So watch for that. That's going to be a key legal battleground today.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, thank you for laying this out for us. People need to know, this is a tough case to prove --

HONIG: For sure.

BERMAN: -- for the prosecution. They have their work cut out for them today, to say the least. Thank you --

HONIG: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: very much.

KEILAR: Today, Steve Bannon is expected to turn himself in after being indicted for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th Committee. It's a warning sign to other Trump allies who are stonewalling Congress, as well, despite receiving subpoenas.

And Bannon, joining a long line of Trump associates who had been charged with crimes. Trump pardoned Bannon in charges of fraud over a border wall fundraising scam. A top fundraiser for Trump's 2016 campaign pleading guilty in a lobbying scheme. The man who ran Trump's inaugural committee indicted on charges of acting as a foreign agent and obstruction. Trump's former personal lawyer and so-called fixer serving time behind bars for several crimes, including for the hush- money scandal involving Stormy Daniels. He would, of course, become an informant.

And his former chairman campaign chairman pleading guilty in a conspiracy against the U.S.

His former deputy campaign chair pleading guilty in that same conspiracy. Like Cohen, Rick Gates became an informant. And one of Trump's foreign policy advisors pleading guilty to sex crimes involving minors. Another informal adviser serving time for lying to the FBI.

Trump's long-time personal and political adviser, Roger Stone, convicted of lying to Congress. Both of them getting a pardon.

And the Trump Organization's money man charged with tax crimes. And then finally also getting a pardon, Trump's former national security advisor, who lied to the FBI about his contact with Russia and illegal lobbying. That would be, of course, Mike Flynn.

So speaking of him, he's taking aim at one of the most foundational tenets of the U.S. Constitution. Let's listen.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: So if we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One -- one nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us together, working together.


KEILAR: Let's talk about this now with Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, retired CNN military analyst, former Army commanding general of Europe and the 7th Army.

General, Flynn said this over the weekend at the Reawaken America Conference in Texas, which I think tells you a little bit about the audience there. But it's not like he hasn't sworn allegiance to the Constitution before. He knows how bad it is what he's saying.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Brianna, that was quite a lineup you just gave a minute ago. But when we're talking about Mike Flynn saying this, ironically, on the Reawaken America tour, he probably reawakened the likes of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin Roosevelt, and multiple Supreme Court justices over our history who have spoken about the important topic of freedom of religion, addressed in the first line of the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights.

So, yes, it concerned me a little bit. You know, and this isn't just some guy practicing freedom of speech. This is an individual who is a former lieutenant general in the Army and, as a national security adviser, has taken the oath to protect and defend the Constitution at least 10 times in his life. And that oath says we, as military or s government workers, defend and support the Constitution of the United States.

So there seems to be a little bit of confusion in Mr. Flynn's mind about what he used to support versus what he's suggesting now.

KEILAR: And, you know, I think a lot of viewers are not going to know this, because they're not QAnon adherents. But part of this is that QAnon followers, who Flynn has just openly courted for some time now, came to believe that he was a Satanist. Right? This was one of the other conspiracy theories they had.


He's clearly here trying to make sure that he isn't. How concerning is that to you, that this is actually all wrapped up in his engagement with QAnoners?

HERTLING: Well, it -- it doesn't matter to me what the QAnon sect believes. It certainly is confounding, and confusing, and very dangerous.

But I go back to the point that you made earlier. This guy used to be in the military. And the reason I called him out is because of that.

You know, I was -- last week I was up in D.C. and actually had a chance to be with a bunch of fellow veterans that I served with. And in that group were Catholics, Protestants, a couple of Sikhs, some Jews, Muslims, Hindu, even a couple of atheists, Brianna, who had all sworn that oath to protect the freedom to choose and practice your religious belief.

If -- if Flynn is pandering to this group of QAnon supporters, that's very different than the great diaspora of people we have who joined the military, who take that oath and who see it as a very sacred duty to defend that Constitution, which protects all of us.

So again, it's one thing for a guy practicing freedom of speech to say something moronic. It's quite different for a former lieutenant general who still bears that rank when he speaks, to be saying these kind of things in front of huge audiences.

KEILAR: Yes, it is confounding. I mean, what happened to General Mike Flynn? That is the big question.

Lieutenant General Hertling, thank you so much.

HERTLING: You thank -- you bet, Brianna. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking this morning, a crisis on the borders in Europe, with thousands of migrants caught in the middle and it seems on the move as we speak.

CNN's Matthew Chance is on the ground in Belarus. Oh, Matthew, we see you just surrounded there. Tell us what's happening?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, hey. I mean, very dramatic scenes that have been playing out this morning. Here -- I'm here right on the border crossing between Belarus and Poland. Take a look here just to the left of your screen. You can see the Polish police, the border guards, have come here to prevent what could have been, what could be still, a mass exodus of these refugees here behind me out of Belarus into Poland.

Because that camp that we reported from a couple of days ago, where there were 2,000 people that have gathered on that border in very bleak conditions, well, within the last couple of hours, that camp has completely emptied. Almost every one of those people gathered their things, packed up their tents, their sleeping bags, what little belongings they had, put them on their backs, and they've come en masse all the way down here through the forest, right away to this official border crossing.

There's been a rumor, John, circulating for the past 24 hours inside the camp that the Polish side was prepared to open up their borders and open up a humanitarian corridor through to Germany, which is what the vast majority of these people, who are from Iraqi Kurdistan, for the most part, say they wanted.

But the Poles have been absolutely clear that that's not happening. They've sent text message to everybody on telephones, including to my phone, which says, Look, you know, don't listen to what you've been told. Don't be fooled, is what they say in the text message. We are going to defend our borders. We are not going to let you through.

And that message has been underlined by the fact they've deployed these police en force. This water cannon has just arrived in the past few minutes, as well, bringing to two the number of water cannons that are -- have their sort of barrels pointed in our general direction, the general direction of these refugees that have been brought here.

And I'll tell you, John, this is a challenge, a challenge directly to the Polish authorities, to the European Union, to let these people through. And look at them. You know, many of them are children, babes in arms, maybe. Families, who have come here from various countries, mainly Iraqi Kurdistan, in the hope of getting across into the European Union for a better life. Poland, in Germany, wherever is it they want to go.

Now, obviously, there's a blame game. The west, the United States, blames Belarus for making this happen, weaponizing these migrants, in the words of U.S. officials, in order to put pressure on the European Union and perhaps to distract from the buildup of Russian forces in the east of Ukraine. That's what Secretary of State Blinken has been saying.

The Belarusians say, and the Moscow authorities, who are backing them, is that the Poles are not living up to their obligations under international law. There have been reports of refugees getting across the razor-wire fences but then being pushed back by the Poles, which would be illegal under international law.


And certainly, the appeal now directly from these refugees is to let them pass, let them go through. But as you can see from these determined police officers on the Polish side, they're not prepared at this stage to let that happen -- John.

BERMAN: Matthew, I'm so glad you pointed out that each and every person standing with you, including these children, who are walking next to this razor wire here, they've already traveled thousands of miles to find a better life. These are people who are trying to improve their situation. And each and every one of them a human being. Thank you for pointing that out.

It is such a menacing situation that you are caught in the middle of right now, with the water cannons and the armed security just feet away from them. What's the communication back and forth here? And do these people around you know they're being caught in the middle right now?

CHANCE: Well, I think if they didn't know it at first -- and I think they probably did know that this was a gamble that they were taking. They certainly know it now.

In fact, I was speaking to one of the -- one of the organizers of the -- of the camp who's here, one of the people from Iraqi Kurdistan. He was saying, Look, we feel like we've been forced out by the Belarusians, because they're not giving us the kind of food, the kind of shelter, the kind of water, even, that we need to survive.

Also, the weather in that area is getting increasingly cold in this area and, you know, the desperation is sort of -- Dino (ph) -- Dino (ph). I'm going to bring in Dino here. If you want to kneel down.


CHANCE: He is one of the organizers of these refugees. You were telling me earlier you feel you have no choice but to leave this camp. Why?

DINO (PH): Absolutely no choice.


DINO (PH): Because, you know, somebody says this place you're sitting in, that's not legal. You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't. We don't let you back.

CHANCE: So the Belarusians have told you that they will not let you back?

DINO (PH): They no let you back, yes. You've got no choice there. Three days, the singles, the singles, no families. The kids and women, they got food. But the singles, nobody get one bread.

CHANCE: So single people without families, they don't get even bread. Have the Belarusian authorities told you, ordered you to come to this border?

DINO (PH): I did. I did the decision. Because I organized the people. We've got only chance to go on the border, on the main road, M-6.


DINO (PH): Down here. And waiting for --


CHANCE: Got it. What are the Poles saying? Are they going to let you in?

DINO (PH): The Poles, I spoke to them. But nobody answered.


DINO (PH): And probably the Polish and the soldiers, they don't have permission to talk to me.

CHANCE: Right. OK, good. Thank you, Dino, very much for your comments -- John.

DINO (PH): I'm worried about the kids. Look at this baby.


DINO (PH): Just this small. Yes?


DINO (PH): It's not his fault. I'm worried about him. Her. Don't worry about myself.

CHANCE: Dino (ph), thank you very much. We really appreciate it.

There you have it, John. Obviously, that is the humanitarian concern. Whoever's to blame for this crisis, these are genuinely desperate people caught in the middle.

BERMAN: I'm worried about the kids also, Matthew. As I look right behind you, there's a child having a snack near the razor wire, with the other kids sitting all around there. Obviously, a very tense situation. We're going to come back to you throughout the show. You and those around you, please stay safe.

So this morning, President Biden set to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. We're joined by a Republican who will be at the ceremony.

And developing overnight, a 9-year-old boy has become the 10th person to die as a result of the Astroworld music festival. Who will be held accountable?

KEILAR: And it's not over yet. Twenty-two states are now seeing a rise in COVID cases. Could this be the beginning of another winter weather spike? What the experts are saying, ahead.



BERMAN: In just a few hours, President Biden is set to sign the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law at the White House. The signing will include members of Congress, governors, and mayors from -- get this -- both parties.

Joining us now is the mayor of Oklahoma City, David Holt. He is a Republican and will be joining the president at the White House for the event.

Mr. Mayor, great to have you here this morning. You're a Republican. Why are you going to the White House today?

MAYOR DAVID HOLT (R), OKLAHOMA CITY: Well, because I'm a mayor. This is a celebratory day for mayors. We have fought for the better part of the decade to get this major investment in our nation's infrastructure.

So I'm very pleased that -- that Congress and the White House were able to work together finally to get this done. This means a lot of money for roads and bridges, wider infrastructure, broadband, passenger rail, transit, all the things that are core infrastructure and that cities like mine need help with.

BERMAN: Go into that a little bit more, if you will. What specifically will this bill do for the people of Oklahoma City?

HOLT: Well, you know, 60 percent of it is roads and bridges. This is a perennial issue for my city. We're a very large city. A lot of southwestern cities are large like us. We're 620 square miles, so we struggle to keep up with street repairs. And this would be help with that.

Also, public transit. Again, being as large as we are, we really could use a partner in the federal government on expanding our public transit system. So we're excited about that.

And I also noticed in this bill the major commitment to passenger rail. This would extend our Amtrak line, the Heartland Flyer, from Oklahoma City to the north. Currently, you can only go south. Extending it to the north into Kansas connects us up with the whole rest of the route. And that would be a real amenity for the people of Oklahoma City.


So to me, those are all core infrastructure needs. They're things that we can't do completely on our own. We certainly try to. And it would be great to have a federal government partner. And we think we'll have that after this infrastructure bill is signed.

BERMAN: Who deserves credit for this?

HOLT: See, in -- in the line of work that mayors are in, we don't worry too much about credit. You know? We think that it's just important to do the right thing and to get things done.

But I certainly am very grateful, and on behalf of all mayors, I know when I say this, I'm very grateful to all the members who voted for this, Republicans and Democrats. And obviously, I'm pretty sure the president is going to sign it this afternoon. And so we're grateful to him, as well, for working together and working across party lines to get something done.

I -- as excited as I am about the infrastructure spending, I'm also excited that this country finally demonstrated this year that people from both parties could work together to get something done. And you know, you had strong bipartisan support in the Senate, 19 Republican senators. And you couldn't have passed it in the House without Republicans.

So it definitely isn't -- it isn't bipartisan in name only. This was a very bipartisan effort on something really important for our country. And I think that's an important signal to the nation and to the world.

BERMAN: I have to clean my ears out, because I think what you're saying is that both Democrats and Republicans have worked well to make this a law, and you're excited for bipartisanship. I'm just not used to hearing things like that.

Mayor, thank you for being --

HOLT: That's what we do every day in city hall, right? That's what we have to do at city hall. We work in a bipartisan way. We love when we finally see our federal friends do the same. BERMAN: There's no reason it needs to stop at city hall, which I think

you know, as well.

Mr. Mayor, thank you. Have a safe travel to Washington, D.C. Bring that cool looking fireplace with you.

HOLT: Will do. We'll see you there. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, we have extensive new CNN reporting. Frustrations between Vice President Kamala Harris's team and the West Wing. What three dozen sources told CNN about the growing tension.

KEILAR: And Elon Musk versus Bernie Sanders. Why the world's richest man is trolling the senator.