tv Washington Week PBS November 19, 2021 7:30pm-8:00pm PST
yamiche: the verdict is in. >> we the jury find the defendant kyle h. rittenhouse not guilty. yamiche: kyle rittenhouse found not guilty. >> it's a good thing for the constitution of the united states. >> we deserve to march and rally peacefully without having our supporters murdered in the streets. yamiche: the nation reacts to the homicide trial in kenosha, wisconsin. meanwhile, the trial of three men accused of murdering ahmaud arbery unfolds. plus president biden celebrates signing the infrastructure plan into law. >> build back better bill is passed. yamiche: the house voteses to pass its larger policy bill and that heads to the senate for another round of negotiation.
and paul gosar is censured in the house over a violent video next. ♪ announcer: this is "washington week". corporate funding is provided by -- consumer cellular. by the estate of arnold adams. koo and patricia yuen with the yuen foundation committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities, saundra and carl delay magnusson, roy herschel. robin and susan rosenbaum the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again from washington, moderator yamiche alcindor. yamiche: good evening and welcome to "washington week." tonight, the nation's eyes are
fixed on kenosha, wisconsin after kyle rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges. last august, rittenhouse using an ar-15 rifle and killed two people spark bid the police shooting of jacob blake. it set off arguments about the second amendment, vigilante killings and race. rittenhouse argued that he acted on self defense. on friday, he was acquitted of first degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges. here's that moment and a lawyer from rittenhouse speaking after the verdict. >> kyle h. rittenhouse not guilty. as to the fifth count of the information, we the jury find the defendant kyle h. rittenhouse not guilty. >> we're thankful in more ways than one that the jury finally gotter that true story. yamiche: meanwhile, the family of one of the men killed said in
a statement that the verdict "sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence and use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street." and an uncle for jacob blake criticized the verdict. >> this is like martin lutherking said back in the days , african-americans got to uncash check out there. we deserve the respect of this country. we deserve to walk the streets of this country. we deserve to march and rally peacefully without having our suorters murdered in the streets. yamiche: jury of five men and seven women deliberate for more than 23 hours over the past four days. joining me to discussion the verdict and the news of this week, it was a busy news week nancy chen. and joining me here at the table, the white house correspondent. ryan j. riley senior reporter
fehr huff post and jonathan rucker. thank you all for being here. nancy, you are there in kenosha. i want to start with you. talk a little bit about what led to this verdict. why wasn't the prosecution able to prove its case? nancy: we had this trial going on for about three weeks it's been a contention three weeks with jurors hearing from over 30 witnesses and hearing about these different argument that is both sides have made the prosecution arguing that kyle rittenhouse was an instigator who was looking for trouble, crossed state lines with that ar-15 weapons style weapon and provoked the confrontation that led to the death of two men and another being serioly injured. the defense argued that rittenhouse came to kenosha that night essentially looking to provide medical help and also protect personal property but ended up in in a fast-moving and
chaotic chain of event that is ledo him ultimately having to defend his life. yamiche: and there have been a lot of calls for peace. we know the wisconsin governor mobilized some 500 national guardsmen in -- in -- really to get ready for this verdict to come down. you're there on the ground. what's it like there? how are people reacting? nancy: it's been relatively calm. when that verdict was first announced, there was a crowd of demonstrators and protest ors. they cheered. and many honked hair horns. there were also those who were upset about the verdict. but now, as nightfalls here in kenosha, it's relatively calm the crowd that was behind me on those court steps has now disapated and while security and law enforcement are keep ago close eye on what happens tonight, so far it's pretty quiet. yamiche: you talk a bit about how people are reacting to the judge's role and what message it stone other people across the
country in the sense of some folks especially critics of this verdict saying that it sends a message that some other people, vigilantes can come out and get away with it, again, kyle rittenhouse was found not guilty of doing just that? nancy: that is trial and a verdict that has been very divisive. a lot of opinions and a lot of thoughts about how this might send the wrong message the attorney general of wisconsin saying that he does not believe in vigilantism. president biden said he's angry and concerned like many americans. but he believes in this verdict, a verdict that was arrived at over four days of deliberation. and president trump weighing in on this that he congratulates kyle rittenhouse. and that's just a small taste of what you're hearing from many different sides because there are so many different issue that is were at play here in this one
trial. yamiche: president bind and vice president harris reacted to this. here's what they stood say. >> i stand by what the jury has concluded. the jury system works. >> the verdict speaks for itself. as many of you know i've spent a majority of my career making the criminal justice system more equitable and clearly, there's a lot more work to do. yamiche: the president said i stand by this verdict. our jury system works of there was a written statement saying i share in people's concerns. what you do make about the president's reaction? and what's the thinking behind it? and this show that is our criminal justice system needs some work from the vice president. >> it's a clearly to anticipate the rise and tension but also to try to calm that tension.
for this president and the administration in the days ahead if they were to ve protests break out, it's something they want to avoid and also trying to avoid being being put in a position when you're asked, what do you do? do you support these protest ors? or a protest that may turn into looting or a certain -- are you put into a box you need to answer the question do you support the message that these protest ors are actually putting out there, door you condemn any potential violence from the crowd? it was a position that the president was in last year when protests were erupting in portland and it was a moment during the campaign where for some he was criticized for his answer. but what the statement really doesn't address, both the written and the white house statement and from the president and the vice . are some of the takeaways from this case that are sparking anger besides just the the decision from today, besides the acquittal.
also the fault line that is it exposes when it comes to the self defense argument and how much that is engaged in the united states. and also who has the privilege of having the right to defend themselves and what a self defense argument in court means when it comes to assessing a threat and a country where we very much shape who is threatening based off of race. yamiche: you're talking about ult lines and who has the right to self defense. former president trump weighed in. he said in a statement that he was congratulating rittenhouse and he said "if that's not self defense, nothing is." this was a polarizing case. and there were a lot of people questioning that if kyle rittenhouse was an african-american teenager would he have the samability to claim self defense? what does that say about our society and when it comes to the race of who gets to claim self defense? >> no, he would haven't that same argument because he, you know, say this was an individual who lived in a city. there are going to be different laws just on the books.
and you can't go walking around in the streets of a city if you're a young black man with a gun and a weapon. it's hard to imagine a scenario where somebody who has been threatened before, but that person is going to be charged with a crime if they're found on the street even if it was for the self defense claim. i mean, what's interesting here you sort of have the situation where there's an individual who unlawfully got a weapon. it was a straw purchase by a friend of his. and now actually the person who might be held the most accountable could be that person who purchased that weapon illegally. yamiche: that's sort of incredible. >> that case is sort of on hold up until process wept forward. but straw purchasing is a problem. it's a jase federal prosecute ors aren't as ambitious about because there are so many case that is you could bring in that category but it's something that if you want to talk about gun purchases
, straw purchases is something that federal prosecute ors need to focus on. yamiche: in some ways kyle rittenhouse has been a cause to celebrate for the right. president trump praised him and defend him. you are -- you have this conservative endorsements when you think about vigilanteism and the c.r.t. and that being the critical race theory, abortion. talk a little bit about the politics of all of this and what it means that now kyle rittenhouse might be someone that is called up at conservative rallies. >> he very well could be. there's a rallying cry on the rightful we've seen republican members of congress say they would invite kyle rittenhouse to be an intern in their office. they want to mentor him and give him career opportunities after this trial. he certainly is going to be a cause celeb on the right and you also have to think about the politics ton left because remember how angry and
frustrated so many americans were 18 months ago when george floyd was killed. the system is still broken. nothing has really changed. people elected democrats to take the majority in the house and the senate and the white house. and yet, even a year into that unified power here in washington, the system has not changed. and that's got to be a point of frustration for a lot of americans. >> it makes you go back to the president's comment a couple of weeks ago in a cn town hall where he was asked by somebody as well, what about police reform? what about voting rights and these issues? he said look, i'm concerned about that. but i've been focusing on infrastructure and my social spending package. the other issues have been sidelined. and that is going to be brought up. yamiche: and the other case that we're watching closely is that in brunswick, georgia, the trial of three men accused of killing amaud arbery.
mcmichael testified that he shot arbery a black man in self defense. >> he had my gun. he struck me. it was obvious -- it was obvious that he was attacking me. that if he would have got the shotgun from me, then it was a life or death situation. and i'm going to have to -- to stop him from doing this. so i shot. yamiche: but the prosecution pushed back on his argument. >> never threatened you at all? >> no, ma'am. >> didn't brandish any weapons? >> no, ma'am. >> never reached for anything, did he? >> no. >> he just ran? >> yes, he was just running. yamiche: nance contribution i want to come back to yup i know you're covering the case in wisconsin. but i wonder how much are these two cases tide in the timing of all this? are you hearing people talk about the arbery case? when you think about the self rights activist that got involved, they're talk about
both cases. nancy: i think the timing of both of these cases coming to bear at the same time, obviously, coincidental but note worthy when you talk about many themes that overlap. i think it's important, though, for this trial to stand on its own in many ways though because that's that's what we've heard from really all the lawyers involved in this case that they've urged people to consider exactly what happened on the events that all of this took place, august 25th, 2020. outside of all these other layers that could be considered. yamiche: yeah. and as you said, it's sort of the timing is coincidental but it's also sort of, inn some ways striking. i want to come to you because part of what's going on in the arbery case they're not talking about race in the courtroom. but there is an attorney who said at one point i do not want to see more black pastors in this courtroom. he was talking about the idea that reverend al sharpton and
jesse jackson, they were there in the courtroom the judge shhh shut that down. i'm not limiting who is coming into this court but now you see black pastors showing up to the courthouse to say we can be here if we want to be here. talk about the politics and how much race is playing into this? >> one of the jarring and pretty surprising things thus far is that that has been one of the few times that race has been brought up. i mean, the prosecutors in that case -- at the star of the trial had indication where is they were going to bring up the witness account saying that one of the defendants did say a racial slur after the killing. tried to bring up the fact that many would say actually yes, raceid factor into this -- this incident as well. but as the trial has gone on, you really haven't seen the prosecute ors dive into that theme at all. yes, you saw some hard conditioning questioning there. but you haven't heard them talk
about race. we heard a complain about those who aren't presenting evidence but are in the pews. it probably worth noting as well that while the defense has called that out, you know, it's worth noting as well you have 11-12 juror that is are also white. race is present and a factor in this case it curious how the prosecute ors are also avoiding it. yamiche: yeah, yeah. thank you, nancy for your report. i appreciate you coming on in i know what is busy night in wisconsin. meanwhile, i want to dive into the divided state of politics. the democrats celebrating the bill that now has to the senate that would expand social benefits, fight climate change. and fight tax laws. but the g.o.p. is blasting the plan. kevin mccarthy broke a record for the longest speech in the house. i was up last nights watching
this at 4:00 which i probably should not have been doing but he spent 8:32 minutes criticizing the package. >> this bill monumental. it's historic. it's transformative. bigger than anything we've ever done r. when i at this bill, it angers me. we are so better than this. you are spending so much money. never before. yamiche: still on monday, at the white house, president biden assembleed democrats an republicans to sign the $ -- trillion dollar infrastructure bill. >> despite the cynics, democrats and republicans can come together and deliver results. >> this bipartisan support for this bill comes because it makes sense for our constituents. but the approach from the center
out should be the norm, not the exception. yamiche: meanwhile, the number of threats against lawmakers is escalating. double this year according to the new york times that comes as the 13 -- "the new york times" that comes as 13 have been inundated with death threats. and the house voteed to censure paul gosar and removed him from two committees. the move was because he posted an animated video showing him killing alexandria oh casio-cortez. here is some of the emotional debate before the vote. >> this is not about me. this is not about representative gosar. but this is about what we are willing to accept. as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions astin our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.
and that is where we must draw the line independence of party identity or belief. >> i do not espouse violence towards anyone. i never have. i volunteer tearly took the cartoon down not because it was a threat but because some thought it was. out of compassion for those who felt offense, i self censored. yamiche: it was a busy -- it was a busy fry. it was a busy week. ryan, i want to come to you. i was going to start with infrastructure but we're talk about violence and all this. i wonder gosar's republican -- his lawmakers -- his fellow republicans in congress they fiercely defend him. i wonder what you make of him as you talk to national security and in terms of what message it sends and some in the republicans are ok with him depicting another lawmaker? >> there's a case today of -- a january 6th case they was
covering today, it involved this defendant who was sent to jail for two weeks. what they went throughn this case was how there was all this rhetoric around the election and all of this threatening of violence. but the judge was saying that, you know, unfortunately, it's people who are on the front lines the pawn who are going to be suffering the consequences. it's not the people that the election was stolen and inspiring this attack on the capitol. it's people who went about committing that violence. the people actually went about bringing about those threats and in this case, you know, that's a threat that he sort of puts out there is obviously going to inspire a lot more threats against the -- you know, a.o.c. it's going inspire a lot of threats against law makes. i could potentially threaten violence as we saw on january 6. the internet is the real world now. this is a situation where if you have people believing honestly that the election is stolen, they're going to do something about it. and you can't put these crazy
conspiracy theories because people are going to do something about it there are consequences that lawmakers are putting into the arena. yamiche: internet is the real world. we are seeing real world implications. democrats are issuing this warning that the g.o.p. are trying to destroy the country. but you see polls that republicans still have an inch oh edge. and president bind, his poll numbers are sinking. while this bill is heading to the senate, i wonder what the white house should be focusg on? should they be ignoring all of this and just try to get things done? what are you hearing from your sources? >> it's a couple of different lanes. for one, the poll numbers and the dwindling approval numbers the challenge for the white house now is you have to take one potentially two package that is really have been associateed with congressional gridlock and
washington moving slow and now turn it into snag is relatable, something you can sell to voters. voters who may be concerned about the rise in groceries at the local market and the rise in gas prices as well. how do you take something that is sprawling and really hard to understand for many americans and say this is something that will actually benefit your life immediately. talking to officials in the white house it seems that they're going to try to take something like infrastructure which does include climate provisions, does include investment that is would go towards racial equity and talk about it in terms of jobs. also the second package, the larger social spending package, when it comes to strategy, they're going to focus on bipartisan provision, empowering medicare to negotiate down prescription drug prices. they see that as a way to galvanize the base that they were missing. they're going to rely on the
president. look, he's going to be selling are people going to be buying? yamiche: in the minute we have left as the senior washington correspondent break down all the different things that president biden has to balance. there's the v.p.'s office and the sort of leaking out there that's going on. she lost the communications director. but there's inflation. there's covid. how is this white house sort of juggling all of this and what are the political implications as republicans want to jump all over them and use this against them? >> so many converging challenges and crises on this pesidency and we're atta year out from the midterm election which is will be the first major test of biden's political strength. and it's not all the things you mentioned. it's also foreign affairs t. war in afghanistan and the pullout there. he just returned from a trip to europe where he was immediate meting with our allies. it's not clear exactly where america is visa v our adversaries in the world. clearly the staff turmoil in the
vice president's office and the white house, that's kind of a mine or concern, but the key thing that owen was getting at these two infrastructure bills those policies are popular and biden has been unable to articulate a message to make him popular as the president who got it signed into law. and so that's a big hudle for him to overcome. he's got to try to inspire the american people and make them feel like he's got their backs amid rising inflation amid all the economic struggle going into these holidays. yamiche: yeah, it's going to be a thing that he's going to have to balance. when i talk to white house sources i hear the idea that they want to sell infrom have thetic cure they're going to be running around the country trying to do that. but it is a challenge trying to do that. very easier said than done. it was a busy week. this week two me exonerated in the killing of civil rights icon malcolm x. it was a powerful moment that illustrated the flaws of the criminal justice system. tonight, we will talk to the
producers of the netflix documentary that was key to finding evidence that showed then in were innocent and we'll speak to an author of malcolm x. thank you for joining us. and be sure to watch the pbs newshour on monday from lockdowns to vaccine mandates, the show will examine how some european countries are trying to manage their latest covid surge. i'm yamiche alcindor. good night from washington. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.visit ncicap.org] ♪ announcer:orporate funding for "washington week" is provided by
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announcer: major funding for "tell me more with kelly corrigan" is provided by the penner family foundation along with support from the gordon and llura gund foundation. ♪ kelly: so here's a bucket-list item. i am biking around new york city with david byrne. what dyou love about new york city? david: i love the mixture of people in new york city... kelly: yeah. david: that you encounter all the time. i just love it if you're open to them, they're totally happy to talk to you and tell you what they're doing. [distant siren] well, we got the sirens, people selling stuff on the street. there was a new vendor about a block from me who just set up a table [chuckling] with lots of stuff on it, and i thought, "yeah, this is pretty good, this is pretty good. i wonder what he's got."