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Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty On All Charges; House Passes Landmarks $1.9 Trillion Biden Spending Bill, Federal Judge Says Trump Has Responsibility For January 6th, Calling Rioter A Pawn; CDC Authorizes COVID Vaccine Boosters For All Adults; Jury Wraps First Day Of Deliberations In Trial For White Supremacists Who Organized Deadly Rally In Charlottesville, Virginia. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're going to tell you how that could impact the pandemic amid deep concerns about a potential winter spike in cases.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And we begin this hour with the breaking news out of Wisconsin, the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. I want to go straight to our Senior National Correspondent Sara Sidner. She is there on the ground for us. Rather emotional day for all sides, Sara, in this trial. What's the latest?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, a big day here. A jury has come back and returned not guilty verdicts on all five counts against Kyle Rittenhouse. There was acceptance by the prosecution but disappointment and there was relief from the defense.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty.

SIDNER (voice over): Kyle Rittenhouse now a free man, overcome as the jury acquitted him on all five counts in his homicide trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anyone that does not agree with the verdict says read (ph)?

SIDNER: Defense attorney Mark Richards saying the wait for a verdict had been torture but his client is relieved.

MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: He wants to get on with his life. He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of these would have ever happened. But as he said when he testified, he did not start this.

SIDNER: The prosecutor responding, while we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected.

The family of one of the victims Anthony Huber, saying we are heartbroken and angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Hannah.

SIDNER: Huber's girlfriend spoke outside the court.

HANNAH GITTINGS, GIRLFRIEND OF ANTHONY HUBER: We know that this system is a failure. I think the question that most of us are feeling right now is what can we do next.

SIDNER: The governor has called for calm as a small crowd in Kenosha continues to react to the news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That young man is a man among men.

SIDNER: A spokesman for the Rittenhouse family echoed the plea for peace.

DAVID HANCOCK, RITTENHOUSE FAMILY SPOKESMAN: The family calls for calm, calls for calm. I mean, this was not an injustice.

SIDNER: The unanimous decision did not come swiftly. Weighing a life sentence for 18-year-old Rittenhouse, the jury deliberated for almost four full days before delivering the verdict.

JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: Members of the jury, it is for you to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each of the offenses.

SIDNER: The jury ultimately had to answer one question, did Rittenhouse kill two men and maim another as a form of vigilante justice or self-defense. The defense seized on the testimony of Gaige Grosskreutz. Video shows Rittenhouse shot and destroyed Grosskreutz right bicep in the melee. Still, the survivor gave perhaps the most compelling argument that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun, now your hand is down pointed at him that he fired, right?



SIDNER (on camera): An attorney for Gaige Grooskreutz, Kim Motley, sent off a statement about today and was very disappointed, heartbroken over the verdict today because she is representing one of the clients who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, saying that while today's verdict means that justice is delayed, it will not be denied. Wolf?

BLITZER: Sara, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in our team of experts. CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson, he is also a CNN Legal Analyst.

Laura, this jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges. What is your reaction?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, honestly, not surprised by the ultimate verdict in this case because the prosecution had a very hard road ahead of them. The threshold in Wisconsin for trying to establish self-defense made it such that prosecution had to disprove that Kyle Rittenhouse's belief that he was in fear of his life or grave bodily harm was somehow unreasonable. And he gave very compelling testimony when he testified on the stand. And so the prosecution had to try to disprove that.

Remember, the jury instructions here are so key, Wolf. Not only did they talk about having the jury have to view through Kyle Rittenhouse's eyes, not Monday morning quarterback, or hindsight of the jury, but also the idea of notion of did he do everything he could to try to escape even if his presence with the AR-15 was somehow provocation?


I think the prosecution had a very uphill battle trying to overcome not only the burden of proof but also the burden of persuasion in this case.

BLITZER: Joey, what is your analysis of this verdict?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This was the battle two of narratives, really. You had the narrative of the prosecution. This was an interloper. He came into town with bad intentions. He was fancying himself a police officer. He was fancying himself an emergency medical technician. He didn't need to be there and he set off a deadly chain of events that were avoidable.

From the defense's perspective, they honed in on the facts and they asked the critical questions. Number one, was he in immediate fear of death or serious bodily injury as to each and every person that he exercised self-defense on? Number two, was his use of force proportionate to the threat that was posed? And number three, did he act reasonably under the circumstances?

The defense also painted this very mob-like environment, right, their words, not mine, rioters around, mayhem, confusion, volatility, and that was in the context in which they wrapped up his conduct that is Kyle Rittenhouse and that is something that the jury accepted.

Last point. The last point is that I was one who believed in the event the jurors concluded that he acted in self-defense as to every single victim, right? They would then otherwise not even get into the lesser included, they would just completely acquit him. That's what they did. It is not a shocking verdict at all given the circumstances and the evidence as it came out in the courtroom, Wolf. BLITZER: Well, it was sort of complicated, Jeffrey, to those of us who followed it. Are you surprised it was not guilty across the board, that he wasn't found guilty on some of those lesser charges?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not surprised about the homicide. I am somewhat surprised about reckless endangerment. I thought this was a pretty strong case on reckless endangerment. But I think the facts were a big problem, as they always are in a courtroom, which on the three people he shot. One of them was chasing him. The other one hit him with a skateboard. The third one pulled a gun on him. Those facts were very difficult for the prosecution to refute as a -- on the issue of self-defense.

In a larger sense though, what is especially troubling about this entire case is the way the right-wing in this country made hero of this kid who never should have been there in the first place. I mean, we now know this is a tragedy, not a crime. But it sure is a tragedy and the idea that 17-year-olds with no training should be going to scenes like this with giant guns is a terrible message to send to the country.

BLITZER: Well, let's follow up on that, Laura. Rittenhouse, he came to Kenosha from Illinois, he then armed himself with this AR-15-style rifle and inserted himself into the protests. But how much did that actually factor into today's verdict?

COATES: You know, it doesn't factor into the ability of the prosecutor to actually meet their burden, because you can't essentially tell the jury he had no business being there. That is it. You're talking about the notion of a gun culture in Wisconsin that is not synonymous with crime.

The idea that you can possess a gun and not be transformed into a criminal is what the prosecution has to actually thread a needle around, how not to alienate a gun-owning community and also prove that the strongest argument they brought through in closing, the idea of him possibly being an active shooter. That is the strongest way of threading that needle, and suggesting, look, somebody had a right to self-defense that day but it was the people responding to somebody who had shot and killed somebody.

So, do you forfeit your life if you try to do -- act heroically and stop an active shooter? That was their main theme on the closing. The problem is they still had to overcome that burden of persuasion and burden of proof to show that he did not act reasonably with the perceived chaos.

And final thing here, remember, the jury is from the community. They also recall what happened a little more than a year ago. They probably have their own viewpoints about the chaos that ensued, their own perceptions and whether they themselves somehow would have armed themselves. So, you've got the community angle of it. You've got the idea of the active shooter not being persuasive enough. And the idea that he had no business being there, that simply was not enough to move the needle.

BLITZER: You know, Sara, you're there just outside the courthouse. What's been the reaction that you're seeing?

SIDNER: It's very calm tonight. Throughout this trial though, every single day, there have been protesters who would come to the steps, right on the steps of the court right up to the doors of the court every day. You would see that about two dozen people at max. Some of them were there to decry what they believed Kyle Rittenhouse did. Some of them were there to support Kyle Rittenhouse.


There was every day the uncle of Jacob Blake who was here. And people say, well, why was he there? Well, because the protests were in Jacob Blake's name. And when some of those protests turned to riots, he was there to talk about and to remember the two people killed and the person who was injured who were there out, some of them protesting in the name of Jacob Blake.

And so you saw this every single day. It never got violent. There were a couple small incidents that police were right on and took care of right away, the sheriff's department. And there were folks who were out here, two or three of them, who came out armed, one of them with an AR-15-style rifle. He was told to put that away. But it has been calm. This whole trial there has been noise but there has been the First Amendment right of those people to protest, nothing beyond that has happened. Wolf?

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, Rittenhouse was very emotional today hearing the not guilty verdicts. He broke down, started to cry. But a lot of us remember he also broke down while he was testifying on the stand. Did that resonate, do you believe, with the jury that a 17- year-old at the time, now 18-year-old, was actually crying?

TOOBIN: In a criminal case, whenever the defendant takes the stand, and it usually doesn't happen, most defendants don't take the stand, it becomes by far the most important evidence in the case. And I think it is -- it was clear then and it's clear now that Rittenhouse was an effective witness. I don't know about the crying being so significant, but the fact that he could describe the threat he felt from each of the three people he shot was very important, I think, for the jury.

And the prosecutors in cross-examining him didn't have the kind of material that they needed, false statements, other bad acts, a criminal record, they didn't have those -- that cross-examination material and the jury obviously embraced Rittenhouse's story.

BLITZER: He's free right now, Joey. He's a free man, acquitted on all counts. But potentially he could still face some other legal problems down the road, right?

JACKSON: It's a potential that he could. I mean, it would mostly be in the civil context you can look to sue him. That is the victims from a civil perspective? What's the difference? The difference is, that civil cases involve money, they don't involve liberty like this, and the other thing is standard of proof is far different.

Remember in a civil case, Wolf, the standard is did you probably engage in some type of wrongdoing as opposed to did you do it beyond a reasonable doubt? And so that's the thing. And then were also calls for a Department of Justice investigation to see what if any federal charges would be potentially likely. I don't see that as a viable outcome given the federal statutes.

And, remember, you can carry a gun across state lines if it's legal to do so or possess the gun in your state or in the state that you go to. I'm sure the feds will vet that in addition to his age. And if there is something there, they'll pursue that as well. We'll have to wait and see in the days ahead.

BLITZER: All right, we certainly will. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're getting more reaction right now to the Rittenhouse verdict. I'll speak with the attorney for the family of Jacob Blake, the man who saw police involved shooting and set off the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Right now, we're getting more reaction to the breaking news on the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. We're joined by B'Ivory LaMarr, the attorney of the family of Jacob Blake. Blake's shooting sparked the protest last year that were happening when Rittenhouse went to Kenosha. You know, B'Ivory, thank you so much for joining us.

How are Jacob Blake and his family for that matter processing this acquittal right now?

B'IVORY LAMARR, JACOB BLAKE FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, unfortunately, I don't think the Blake family is surprised. I think just like many of Americans, you know, there are two different justice systems in this country. There's one for African-Americans and there is one for the rest, including the police department.

So, you know, I think what we just witnessed was an illusion of how the real judicial system is supposed to play out. So, unfortunately, when you have such an illusion as far as picking 20 jurors in one day and expect that they're not to be bias, that still exists in that jury pool. And when you come to the verdict, I don't think there is really a cause to be surprised about the outcome.

BLITZER: Kyle Rittenhouse, as you know, was not guilty on all charges today and the police officer who were actually shot Jacob Blake face no charges, returned to active duty. What does that say to you about the justice system?

LAMARR: Well, it says that we have a lot of work to do. I mean, I think, there is one positive takeaway from this Rittenhouse trial, and I think that is only that he was actually charged. In the Jacob Blake shooting he shot seven times, walking away, Officer Sheskey never had to even stand a day in court. So, I think that goes to show the testament of where we're at. And it goes to show how much work we have to do.

I think more importantly, you know, for all the supporters of Jacob Blake, all the individuals across this country who stood in solidarity with the Blake family, I think it's important to know that social justice is not a moment but it's a movement. And we still have a lot of work to do and myself, Attorney Ben Crump and all the other civil rights lawyers in this country have to come together and continue re- strategize as to how we're going to address these issues going forward.

BLITZER: The family of Anthony Huber, one of the men killed by Rittenhouse, says in a statement, and I'll read it to you, today's verdict sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up at any town, incite violence and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.


Do you agree? Does this embolden, do you believe, others to follow Rittenhouse's example?

LAMARR: Yes. I think this is a very, very dangerous precedent that has been set. I mean, as an attorney in the state of Wisconsin along with Georgia and Texas, I believe that, you know, it's important that we have clear standards in be able to hold individuals accountable for engaging and provoking situations. I think that you don't see the same thing occur when it's African-Americans. I mean, hey, I hate to make this about race but it is about race. When was the last time that we have seen an African-American in a highly publicized case, you know, not charged when having to use deadly force? That just doesn't happen.

So, again, I mean, this is a dangerous precedent when one can come from another state and engage in activities that don't affect him at all or he wasn't asked or required to be there and he ends up shooting and killing two individuals and shooting a third and injuring him. This is a complete dangerous precedent and I think we definitely have a lot of work to do to change it.

BLITZER: B'Ivory LaMarr, thank so much for joining us.

LAMARR: Absolutely. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. Coming up, a critical win for President Biden's domestic agenda after the House of Representatives passes his landmark spending bill. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is weighing in on the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. He's urging the nation to abide by the verdict, saying the jury system works. But he also says he recognizes that many Americans are feeling angry and concerned. Meanwhile, the president is also speaking out about a critical win for his agenda today now that House of Representatives has passed his landmark spending bill.

Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us right now. Phil, take us through this vote and what happens next.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. For President Biden, there is no question, getting the House to pass the $2 trillion economic and climate package is a significant victory. But it is far from the endgame, something White House officials are clear- eyed about as they look forward to what they need to do on the other side of the Capitol.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Build Back Better bill is passed.

MATTINGLY (voice over): Tonight, President Biden and congressional Democrats won major step closer to a cornerstone legislative victory.

PELOSI: This bill is monumental. It's historic. It's transformative. It's bigger than anything we've ever done.

MATTINGLY: A vote of 220-213 with all but one Democrat voting yes marked an end to months of House Democratic interparty warfare, advancing a swiping $2 trillion measure that would touch nearly every corner of the U.S. economy, from paid leave and universal pre-school to an extension of the enhance child tax credit, lower prescription drug costs and historic spending on climate change mitigation.

Biden in a statement calling the vote a, quote, giant step forward and clinching his second major win in a week signing his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday, but with clear hurdles ahead on that second piece of his domestic agenda in the form of two centrist Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have remained in touch even as we've been working to get it through the House at high senior staff levels, senior White House officials with Senators Sinema, Senator Manchin, other members of the Senate as we know that is the next important step here.

MATTINGLY: Neither senator onboard yet and both likely to force pieces of the House bill including paid leave to the cutting room floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer making clear Senate Democrats plan to move fast, pledging to, quote, act as quickly as possible to get this bill to the president's desk. And key House progressives signaling optimism about what's ahead across the Capitol.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): There are a few things that are not preconference. We're going to have to work those out. But I believe through my conversations and with those senators as well as the president's own commitment that he is confident, we can get 51 votes.

MATTINGLY: But one clear reality, there is no margin for error. All 50 Senate Republicans opposed to the bill and every House Republican voted no on Thursday night. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy setting a new record for the longest house floor speech, 8 hours and 32 minutes.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is the single most reckless and irresponsible spending bill in our nation's history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House is now in order.

MCCARTHY: That's all right. I got all night.

MATTINGLY: Designed in part to delay the vote but also to solidify his standing as the next potential speaker while also drawing a little snarky from the White House.

PSAKI: Kevin McCarthy said a lot of words, a lot of words. I just want to emphasize that, over the course of 8.5 hours.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, while Democrats may have dismissed Kevin McCarthy's remarks, at least one person, one rather critical person in the Republican Party seemed to like them. President Trump putting out a statement saying that McCarthy's remarks were, quote, great job.

Now, Wolf, the passage in the House came on the same day that President Biden went to Walter Reed National Medical Center to get his annual physical. It's the first physical the president has gotten at least that we've seen since 2019.

The White House physician releasing the six page summary of that physical. While there are a number of different elements in there, the key takeaway is this, that the president, quote, remains a healthy, vigorous 78-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the office.

It's worth noting there was some history involved with this visit. For at least a moment, a temporary transfer of power was given to Vice President Kamala Harris.


Obviously, she's the first woman to ever have a temporary power transfer, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, very interesting indeed, nice historic moment. All right, Phil, thank you very much.

I want to get more on former President Trump and his grip right now on the Republican Party. We're joined by Jonathan Karl, ABC News' Chief Washington Correspondent and the Author of a new book, already a major best seller entitled, Betrayal, The Final Act of the Trump Show. There you see the cover. Jonathan Karl, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, a federal judge just laid blame with the former president for the deadly January 6th riot here in Washington. Let's listen to what Trump told you in the aftermath of the January 6th attack. Listen.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Because you hear those chants? That was terrible. I mean, those -- you know, the --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He could have -- all the people are very angry.

KARL: They were saying, hang Mike Pence.

TRUMP: Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect -- how can you -- if you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent bill to Congress?


BLITZER: As you reported in the book, what stood out to you, Jon, about Mr. Trump's level of responsibility for that deadly attack and his actual lack of remorse?

KARL: Well, first in that interview down in Mar-a-Lago, Wolf, I was struck by how fondly Donald Trump looks back on that day. He really does see January 6th as one of the greatest days of his presidency. He thinks he looked out. He told me it was the biggest crowd he had ever spoken before. He told me there were more than a million people there. I mean, that was not true. It was a big crowd. And they came from all over the country. And in his eyes, they came to fight for him in a way that he fell a lot of Republicans around him weren't fighting. He said that it was marred a little bit later on. That was as close as he came to criticizing the actual riot but absolutely striking.

But, Wolf, I think that this book, what I tried to do was to demonstrate how throughout to 2020 you had a buildup to that moment, that Donald Trump set the conditions in place and worked to undermine American democracy in a very fundamental way and the culmination of it was January 6th. This was not something that happened overnight. He worked long and hard to bring that about.

BLITZER: And you also report in your new book, Betrayal, that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows actual emailed the vice president's office with a detailed plan to try to overturn the presidential election. Now, Meadows, says Trump should become the House speaker if Republicans win back the House of Representatives in next year's midterm election.

What did you learn about Meadows' role around the January 6th attack and what does that say to you about what he maybe up to now?

KARL: Meadows is a central figure in all of this. That memo that you mention was sent to the vice president's chief of staff on New Year's Eve. And it outlined in detail. It was written by Jenna Ellis, who was a campaign lawyer, and it outlined in detail how Joe Biden's election victory could be overturned beginning with Pence throwing out the electoral votes in six states that have been contested. But Meadows is at the center of so much of this.

I learned also that, you know, Meadows is the one that set up that phone call with Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state in Georgia. And when Raffensperger got in touch with him about doing this call and a staffer got in touch with Meadows, he was very upset. He said, I've been trying to get a hold of you. I've sent 18 different messages that have not been returned. And it turned out that Raffensperger had been getting messages from a Gmail account Mark Meadows. And he thought it was a prank message.

But this is just another indication of how that committee needs to get more information about what Meadows was up to. He was using a Gmail account and he was, you know, getting hold of local officials trying to overturn the election? There is a lot more I uncovered a lot about Mark Meadows. I'm convinced there is much more to get.

BLITZER: Yes. You've done some amazing reporting in this new book. Let me ask you about how then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell actually approached inauguration day. How worried was Mitch McConnell about what former President Trump might do to disrupt President-Elect Biden's then inauguration?

KARL: This is fascinating, Wolf. First, the context here, Donald Trump's very last tweet came on January 8th. That's when Twitter shut him down. The very last tweet he said, for those who have asked, I am not going to be attending the inauguration on January 20th. I thought that was strange because Donald Trump never announces anything that far in advance. He wants to build up the suspense and everything else.

What I found out is that Mitch McConnell, beginning when the members -- when the leadership came back to Congress that night on January 6, started talking to his top staff about how he wanted to get a letter together signed by the four top congressional leaders, McConnell, Schumer, Pelosi and McCarthy, saying that Donald Trump would not be invited to the inauguration.


And he told his staff that the reason why he wanted to do that is he didn't want to give Trump another chance to disrupt Joe Biden's inauguration. That's what he feared would happen.

The White House learned of it in part because Kevin McCarthy opposed. He was the only one of the four leaders that opposed this move. And Kevin McCarthy reached out and told the White House about it, but so did McConnell's chief of staff as a courtesy to Mark Meadows. And it was after the White House found out that Donald Trump put out that tweet saying he wouldn't be attended -- he wouldn't attend the inauguration. He was going to get disinvited.

BLITZER: Terrific reporting indeed, Jon. And I just want to point out. You've come a long way in your career but I just want to remind everyone that you got your start right here at CNN. There we see you, what, back in 2002. You're standing there. You're doing a live shot with me. I'm debriefing you. That other anchor that's talking you, he looks awfully familiar, doesn't he? Congratulations. Jonathan Karl, you've come a long way since those days. I'm very proud of you.

KARL: Thank you, Wolf. I spent eight great years at CNN, eight of the best years of my career. I loved every minute of it. And I loved working with you. Great to be back with you. Our first live shot together since 2003, so it's good to see you again.

BLITZER: Good to see you always. And to our viewers, once again, Jonathan Karl is the Author of Betrayal, there's the cover, The Final Act of the Trump Show. Jonathan Karl, thank for all your good work. Thanks for joining us. We really appreciate it. Good luck with the book.

KARL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, on the heels of two major trials this week, compelling conversations about racial injustice. CNN's Don Lemon is standing by live. We will discuss race in America when we come back.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and on a Georgia courtroom today, an inflammatory charge from the attorney representing one of the men on trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Defense Attorney Kevin Gough equated rallies around the case to a public lynching. Listen to this.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM RODDIE BRYAN JR.: Third parties are influence in this case. They've been doing it from the gallery in this courtroom. They've been doing it outside. This is what a public lynching looks like in the 21st century, with all due respect.


BLITZER: I want to bring in CNN's Don Lemon, the Anchor of Don Lemon Tonight. He also wrote a book, a very important book, there you see the cover, This Is The Fire.

Don, thanks for joining us. That same attorney who complained about black pastors being in the courtroom is now comparing this to, what, 21st century lynching. How offensive is that?

DON LEMON, CNN DON LEMON TONIGHT: With all due respect, Wolf, as he said, it is just by saying with all due respect, it does not -- it does not condone anything that he said, right? It gives him at least the right or the gumption to be able to say it.

I think it's ridiculous. I think it's very offensive, especially when you're talking about people, and about a young man, obviously, who was killed by these two gentlemen. When you're talking about people who were lynched, the legacy of lynching in this country and to say that it was a modern day lynching, I think it's very offensive to everyone.

Listen, I think the rhetoric considering what is happening in this country, these two trials, one that just concluded, I think everyone needs to take the rhetoric down, especially those who are involved in the process, who are right in the middle of the process.

BLITZER: It comes, as you know, as that Wisconsin jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges after he killed two protesters, wounded a third. Does this verdict reinforce the feeling that there are, and I've heard this now all day, potentially two different justice systems here in the U.S.?

LEMON: I understand, Wolf, what people say, what they mean when they say two different justice systems. But, unfortunately or fortunately, we -- unfortunately, I should say, we only have one justice system. And, unfortunately, that justice system is not always fair to certain people. And so I think the remedy is to fix that justice system, which is what so many people are asking for and fighting for.

What happened in the courtroom, we should respect the verdict and the conclusion that the jurors came to, and their work, and their service. But as Americans, we have the right to criticize it. We have the right to feel though however we want to feel about that. And so if you don't like what happened in that courtroom or in any courtroom or what is happening in Georgia or anywhere, what you have the right to do as citizens and what you should do is fight to change that, to make the system more equitable and equal and fair for all.

BLITZER: You write about all of this in your excellent book as well.

As you know there are few -- there are some Republican politicians who were latching on to Kyle Rittenhouse and a few, very few, but a few far right members of Congress have said they'll offer him internships. What does it say to you that he's being held up potentially as a hero on the right?

LEMON: I think that people will stoop to anything these days if they -- in order to stay in power, in order to own whatever side they want to own. And I think that the attorney, Richards, for Kyle Rittenhouse may -- said something that I thought that should be promoted here, and that people should pay attention to. He was asked about -- I think one of the questions was, what was the best thing you think you did in this case? And he said, he talked about why he took it. He took it for justice, and not for a cause. However you feel about it, he wanted to represent this young man.


And Mark Richards said, you know, when I took this case, I was hired by the two first lawyers. I'm not going to use their names. They wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that think was inappropriate. And I don't want to represent causes. I represent clients and the only thing that ended up mattering to me was whether he was found not guilty or found guilty or not.

And so -- then he goes on to say, they asked him, what was the best thing he did? He said getting rid of the first two lawyers. And that might sound like a smart alecky comment, but he was saying was, people have an agenda. And there with people who are using this young man, Kyle Rittenhouse, for their agenda. And I think it is reprehensible for lawmakers or anyone to be doing that.

He was found not guilty. He is not guilty under the law. But I don't think that he should be a cause celebre, and I don't think that his behavior and others in that situation, I don't think it is something to celebrate when you see people running around on open streets with assault style rifles, regardless if it's Kyle Rittenhouse or anyone. I think it's -- I think we should be concerned about that. And as I said in my last answer, if you don't like that, if you think that's wrong, then we should continue as citizens to fight to make it better and right.

BLITZER: Don, thank you very much. I know you're going to have a lot more on all the breaking news later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "DON LEMON TONIGHT." We, of course, will be watching as we do every night.

Thanks so much for joining us.

LEMON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, there is more breaking news. This in the last hour for COVID-19 booster shots as all adults here in the United States 18 and older are now eligible for an extra dose. More on that when we come back.


BLITZER: With breaking news. We just got a final-thumbs up from the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, officially authorizing booster doses of the COVID vaccine for all American adults ages 18 and up.

Let's discuss with CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She is author of the book life lines, a doctor's journey in the fight for public health.

Dr. Wen, thanks for joining us.

First of all, what is your reaction to the CDC now officially endorsing vaccine boosters for all adults?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it will help a lot because the messaging has been so confusing. In fact, at Kaiser family foundation poll found that 40 percent of vaccinated adults did not know whether they were eligible for boosters. So now, the FDA and CDC saying that everyone who is 18 and over is now eligible for a booster -- that will go a long way to clarifying the guidance. However, I do wish that the CDC went even further because right now, they are still saying that people 50 and under may get a booster. People 50 and older should get a booster.

I wish they would just say that everybody at this point should get a booster. The booster is not a luxury. It is not a nice to have. It's essential in preventing people from getting breakthrough infections, and preventing the U.S. from having another winter surge.

BLITZER: Does the effectiveness of the initial-two shots with Pfizer or Moderna begins to decline after six months, right?

WEN: That's exactly right. There are a lot of studies here in the U.S., and also looking in Israel that show that immunity wanes. Also, immunity to severe illness begins to wane and getting a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, for example, there was a trial that found if you get a third dose, you are more than 95 percent protected compared to those who whole got the two doses. Who wants a breakthrough infection?

I think those data are really clear that it's really essential to get a booster to protect our health.

BLITZER: It certainly is. The FDA as you know has endorsed what they call mixing and matching booster shot. Now that American adults are on the eligibility, should they consider getting a different vaccine than the return they initially received?

WEN: Not necessarily. My advice for people who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, unless you have a really compelling reason to switch to something else, for example, a severe allergic reaction, stick to what you got initially. And everybody, again, six months after their first-two doses of Pfizer or Moderna should be getting a second dose.

But people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two months after their first dose, they should be getting a second shot. For those individuals if you are a woman under the age of 50, you should switch to either Pfizer or Moderna. Everybody else, you can take J&J or one of the other vaccines.

BLITZER: Excellent advice as usual from Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, a jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, wrapping up its first day of deliberations in the civil lawsuit involving white supremacists who organized the deadly rally back in 2017.



BLITZER: On Monday, a jury will begin the second day of deliberations in the civil case involving self-proclaimed white nationalists and the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene in Charlottesville for us.

So Brian, what's the latest? What are you hearing?

Wolf, the jury just completed its first-full day of deliberations, a short time ago. No verdict yet. They are going to resume deliberations Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The plaintiffs have laid out some very substantial evidence in this case, accusing the defendants, these white supremacists of planning that violence, of engaging in a conspiracy to plan that violence that weekend. Of course, the horrible imagery of that weekend includes this graphic

video of white supremacist James Fields ramming into his car into a group of counter protestors on a Charlottesville street. And that incident, Heather Heyer, 32 years old, was killed. Several others were injure understand that horrific incident and some of those who were injured that weekend, Wolf, testified as part of the plaintiff case in this trial. Giving very, very emotional and riveting testimony about the injuries they suffered, the trauma they suffered. What they went through in those moments. the lingering effects of those injuries. They made a very, effective case.

Now, the defendants for their part say they are not -- they are not liable for this. They did not conspire to plan this kind of violence beforehand, that they didn't want violence and that some of them were actually trying to prevent violence, Wolf. So, that verdict would be pretty dramatic when it comes.

BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us. Brian, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.