Was the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict Inevitable?

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S1: Hey, real quick, there are a couple of swear words in this episode. They’re used in the context of quoting people at a protest. You’ve been warned. If you hadn’t already heard your fill from Kyle Rittenhouse, Fox News was happy to give you one more chance to listen to him Monday night.

S2: Good evening and welcome to Tucker Carlson tonight in

S1: watching Tucker Carlson interview Rittenhouse. It was easy to forget that this teenager was facing homicide charges just last week.

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S2: Why are you so calm? I’m a naturally calm person. I don’t find I find it to be a problem when people are overreacting because things are out of our control, so I try not to deal with that, huh? I mean, just for that, believe me on the inside, I’m freaking out. Well, you must be. I mean, for the record,

S1: I kept waiting for Carlson to ask some pretty simple questions like, have you apologized to the families of the people you hurt? But this was not that kind of interview.

S2: What a sweet kid that comes through loud and clear.

S1: Instead, it was all about Kyle, the teenager who brought an AR-15 to racial justice protests and ended up shooting three people. He was now declaring,

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S2: I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating, and I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of

S1: it sounds a little bit like, well, the real Kyle Rittenhouse, please stand up,

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S3: right? Right. And I think that’s been a question like the the entire time.

S1: Stacy S. Clair reported on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial for the Chicago Tribune.

S3: I mean, he was painted by prosecutors as a chaos tourist who just wanted to impose his own sense of justice and the people that he thought were doing bad things in the city of Kenosha. And then defense paints him as a do gooder. If if a naive one who who went and tried to help a community, Stacy says.

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S1: If you’ve got whiplash watching an interview like this one, she gets that Stacy was in the courtroom when Rittenhouse burst into tears on the stand as he recalled fearing for his life the day he killed two people.

S2: And I was cornered from in front of me with Mr. Semansky, and there were. There were people a

S3: lot of people ask me, like, do I think that was real emotion and I do.

S1: Just take a break anyway.

S3: I was in the courtroom when it happened and I don’t think anyone’s that that good of an actor. I also think the prosecution raised a legitimate question as to, you know, who was he crying for? Was he crying for himself? Was he crying for the people he killed? Was he crying for just the complete tragedy of the whole situation?

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S1: These kinds of unanswerable questions about Kyle Rittenhouse and his motivations have dominated the discussion about what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a year ago. But today on the show, we’re going to pivot the camera ever so slightly and stop asking so much about Kyle Rittenhouse to figure out whether the jury’s decision was inevitable. I’m Mary Harris. You’re listening to what next? Stick around. The Kyle Rittenhouse trial became about so many different things a referendum on Black Lives Matter protests, a Rorschach test for how Americans feel about guns. But Stacy S. Clair says to understand the verdict here, you’ve got to understand that for the jury, their decision wasn’t about any of those things. They’d been told to see the night through Kyle Rittenhouse his eyes. And on August 25th, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse showed up at a Kenosha car dealership, looking to guard it against racial justice, protesters and potential looters. He brought a medical kit and an AR 15. He ended up shooting three men Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gage Grosskreutz. Only Grosskreutz survived. And the reason Rittenhouse started shooting. He told the jury he felt his life was in danger. The court just needed to decide whether that belief was reasonable,

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S3: and that’s why Kyle Rittenhouse testimony was important because really, he goes up there and says I was afraid for my life, and it’s it’s really hard to disprove something so subjective is that.

S1: So were you surprised when Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all charges?

S3: It wasn’t, you know, criminal cases are terrible referendums on on larger issues like I understand all the larger issues that are that are being talked about and are on trial outside the courtroom. But inside the courtroom, I know the jury had a very technical question to answer. And then when you have to think about what happened that night and what a 17 year old could have reasonably believed, then I thought the jury it was quite possible would would find him not guilty on on all counts

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S1: because you and I aren’t on the jury. I’m wondering if we can shift the perspective a little bit and look at what happened the night Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people from different perspectives perspectives, not his own because we got those at trial. They were just complicated. I wonder if we can start with the victims, the people who were there, the night that he used that gun. Can you start, maybe with Richie McGuinness, who was an observer? He wasn’t hurt, right?

S3: Richie McGuinness, he’s the director of videography at The Daily Caller. And he had met up with with Rittenhouse earlier in the evening at Rittenhouse, he said told him he was an adult and that he was a certified medic. Rittenhouse is neither. He was, you know, 17 and a lifeguard at the time of the incident.

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S4: You doing out here, obviously you’re armed and you’re in front of this business. We saw burning last night. So what’s up?

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S2: So people are getting injured and our job is to protect this business.

S3: And McGuinness followed around for a little bit, got separated from him and then saw sort of a chase began between Rosenbaum, Joseph Rosenbaum and Kyle Rittenhouse

S1: and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 year old victim of Kyle Rittenhouse, and also had just been released from the hospital after having some issues with mental illness. Is that correct?

S3: Yes, he had been in the psychiatric wing of a Milwaukee hospital, had been dropped off at the Kenosha bus station that day and needed to get some prescriptions refilled. But because of the unrest of the pharmacies were closed, so he had no way to get his medicine. But he had taken his his medication earlier that morning and he was carrying around that night sort of the plastic bag you get at the hospital. He had a water bottle in it and some like deodorant, but like nothing, nothing that would be considered a dangerous weapon.

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S1: So what did McGinnis say about how how he perceived of the interaction between Kyle Rittenhouse and Joseph Rosenbaum?

S3: So McGinnis, I thought of all the witnesses was perhaps the most credible one that testified he really didn’t take a side either way, and he scored points for both sides. Actually, he he said that he thought the presence of Kyle, Rittenhouse and the other, you know, armed guards sort of heightened the tensions in a way that he hadn’t seen in places like Portland and and other cities that he had been in. And he worried about the escalating tensions that those the presence of those rifles and sort of the military garb created.

S4: But I wouldn’t say that I was specifically fearful of them individually. I was fearful of what might happen. You’re fearful of the situation in Kenosha on August 25th, 2020, all the armed people, the rioting, the chaos and the social unrest and the guns and the guns. Yeah.

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S3: And he said that when the when the chase started, Rittenhouse was being chased by Rosenbaum, Rosenbaum yelled, Fuck you and then lunged unsuccessfully. For Kyle, Rittenhouse is gone. And he said he wasn’t sure whether Rosenbaum actually touched the gun or and that if he did touch the gun, it was a glancing touch and he started to lose his balance because he had lunged and missed, essentially. And as he was sort of falling toward the ground, that’s when Kyle Rittenhouse. Fired his gun,

S1: and only one of the three people who Kyle Rittenhouse shot survived their encounter, Gaige Grosskreutz, what did he say when he got on the stand?

S3: So Gaige Grosskreutz, when he got on the stand, he sort of gave his background and that is he is a trained paramedic, and he had been going to protests and areas of social unrest throughout the summer and Wisconsin and offering medical assistance to people mostly said it was dehydration. Sometimes it was rubber bullets. But he was there in that same role that night, and he said he actually never participated in the protests themselves because he felt like he needed to be more of a of a neutral player if he was going to provide medical assistance.

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S1: He was also carrying his own weapon.

S3: Yes, he said, that he is a big believer in the Second Amendment and that any time he left his house to go to a protest that summer, he always took his keys, wallet, phone and gun, and he was nearby when Kyle Rittenhouse shot. Joseph Rosenbaum, he didn’t see it, but he heard the gunshots. He knew what they were, and he started running toward the shots, believing someone might need help. He’s also recording it on his phone, and he crossed paths with Kyle Rittenhouse, who was running away. Richard McGuinness had actually asked Kyle Rittenhouse to call 9-1-1, which McGuinness was trying to save Joseph Rosenbaum’s life.

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S1: That was the Daily Caller videographer.

S3: That was a Daily Caller videographer, and he’s he’s trying to find the wound and put pressure on it and he he turns to. He doesn’t really recognize who it is, but he turns to the person next to him who’s Rittenhouse and he says, call 9-1-1. He sees the person Rittenhouse grab his phone as if to call, and he assumed that that’s happening. But really, Kyle Rittenhouse has called a friend to say he just shot someone and he begins to run away while he’s running away. He crossed paths with Gaige Grosskreutz, the the paramedic, and Grosskreutz says to him, Did you just shoot somebody? And Rittenhouse says, No, I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m going to get the police. And he continues to run down the street as he continues to run down the street. More people are sort of following, and Grosskreutz testified, and I think this was crucial. He testified that as he saw Rittenhouse go down the street, he thought either Rittenhouse was going to be seriously hurt or someone following him was going to be seriously hurt. So he continued to follow as well. And if Gaige Grosskreutz thinks Kyle Rittenhouse is going to be hurt as this group is following him down the street, then why wouldn’t it be reasonable for Kyle Rittenhouse to think he was going to be hurt as the group was following him down the street? So Gaige Grosskreutz sort of follows the group down the street, Kyle Rittenhouse trips and falls. And we’ve I think a lot of us have seen this video many times. One man who’s never identified in court jumps over Rittenhouse as if to kick him doesn’t make really good contact. When he kind of lands on the other side of Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse fires twice at him and misses both times. There was a reckless endangerment charge filed against, you know, involving that shooting of the unknown man. The jury also found Rittenhouse not guilty for that. Then Anthony Huber tries to to stop Rittenhouse by sort of blocking him with his skateboard and Rittenhouse fires one shot into Anthony Huber’s chest, killing him almost immediately. That’s when Gaige Grosskreutz initially puts up his hands and he has the pistol and in one hand and his phone in the other and has his hands in the air. And he he sees Rittenhouse sort of look and fiddle with his gun, which he took to meant that that Rittenhouse was was preparing to rerack and shoot at him. And that’s when he sort of takes a step forward toward Rittenhouse and under defense cross-examination. Grosskreutz acknowledged that it does appear that his gun was pointed toward Kyle Rittenhouse, and he said, I wouldn’t have shot him. I wouldn’t have killed anybody. It’s not the kind of person I am, but to get that concession from him that the barrel is pointed toward Kyle Rittenhouse. I think the defense thought that was a, you know, a big moment for them, and it probably was

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S1: because it made it look like Kyle Rittenhouse was. Legitimately defending himself.

S3: Correct. I mean, if someone has a gun pointed at you and you shoot them, then it made it easier for the jury to sort of, you know, get to their decision on him.

S1: What’s interesting about you laying out the entire story like this and sort of telling the story not necessarily through Kyle Rittenhouse eyes, but through the eyes of other people around him? Is that it’s clear that Kyle Rittenhouse might have thought his life was in danger, but the reason for that was that a plurality of people around him thought he was behaving recklessly.

S3: Yeah, I mean that I think from the get-go people thought he made, you know, a bad decision and a reckless decision by showing up, you know, at all. His mother, even she didn’t testify, but she told me he had no business being there. And I think that’s that’s accurate. There’s a moment in one of Richard McGuinness’s The Daily Caller, a videographer. There’s a moment in one of his videos where Rittenhouse is walking through the streets yelling medical medical, offering his medical services to people, and it’s clear he wants to be taken up on it, right? Like he wants to have this role during the unrest. And McGuinness, by the way, who has extensive experience covering social unrest, said it was the first time he’d ever seen a medic at one of these things walking around with an AR 15. But as McGinnis is following him, you hear a bystander yell at Kyle Rittenhouse, you think you’re in a movie? You know, I think that’s the best description of what I’ve I’ve seen of Kyle Rittenhouse behaviour that night. You know, he’s trying to provide medical services that he’s not really qualified to to provide. He’s running around with a fire extinguisher, trying to putting out fires. He’s he’s speaking in police vernacular on these videos. You know, when other people were running away, he was going to be running into danger and sort of he had this like vision of himself that did not match the reality of the situation and ultimately, people die because of it.

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S1: When we come back dissecting the missteps of the prosecution. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the prosecutor in this case. I’ve obviously seen a bunch of videos of the judge berating him for his behavior. I’ve heard people say that he overcharged the case because he had so many little charges. He was trying to pile up here. I wonder how you think about the role of the prosecutor here because those witnesses you brought up. Well, they certainly gave the perspective of what was happening on the ground the night that Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people. They also introduced evidence it was really complicated for the prosecutor and may have bolstered Kyle Rittenhouse his self-defense argument.

S3: Right. I mean, Gaige Grosskreutz and Richard McGuinness were both considered victims by the prosecutors, and they gave testimony that the defense thinks benefited them. You know, in some ways, the prosecutors have to play with the cards they’re dealt, right? They can’t really change the facts of the case. You can’t change who your witnesses are and the witnesses in this case. Besides, McGuinness all had a side that they were on, and a lot of them were on Kyle Rittenhouse. Is there things you just can’t get around now? You know, the prosecution stunned legal experts by how close they came to infringing on Rittenhouse his right to remain silent, which led to sort of one of the famous big ratings that you know everyone has has seen. But the prosecutor, Thomas Binger, started to question Kyle Rittenhouse not talking to police after his arrest. And that’s, you know, one of the most sacred rights we have is to remain silent.

S5: 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. So I don’t know what you’re up to.

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S1: Some said that the prosecutor is trying to get a mistrial.

S3: Yeah, the defense definitely argued that. And the prosecution countered in a document filed just sort of a couple of hours before the verdict that the testimony went like they they largely expected it. So this is the case that they thought was going to result in a conviction.

S1: I think when the verdict came out, I expected some kind of reaction. And I was surprised that there weren’t tons of people in the streets in Kenosha. But I wonder if you were surprised as someone who had been in the courtroom?

S3: Yeah, I wasn’t surprised by sort of the lack of violence in Kenosha because there was definitely a reaction. There was all kinds of arguing going on on the courthouse steps. You know, during deliberations and and after the verdict. But I think there are two things. I think that the people who actually live in Kenosha didn’t want to see their city burn again. You know, they they were there are people who are very upset. You know, there were the social justice groups who were very upset with the verdict, but they also had spent the weeks leading up to and then during the trial, encouraging a different response to to the verdict. I was concerned because during deliberations, because it is an open carry state, you started seeing people on the street carrying guns. One person in particular is it. We dug in to him a little bit and turned out he was a fired Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who was fired in 2018, and he was standing there with an AR 15 on on public property. You know, public space. You know, screaming fuck BLM and accusing Black Lives Matter of supporting kiddie rapists because Joseph Rosenbaum did have several, you know, the conviction he was convicted sex child sex offender that really heightened the tension. But police did remove his gun, at least from from the scene. I mean, he put it in his trunk of his car, a block away. So I don’t know that it did that much, but at least it wasn’t out threatening people, huh?

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S1: You painted this picture of what it was like outside the courthouse with people talking one on one. It sounded kind of interesting where, like people who are pro-gun rights were sort of having these interactions with people who were there on the other side of the equation, and they would just go back and forth until they got tired.

S3: Yeah, it was an amazing was an amazing scene because in the morning they would all show up and they would put their food together, right? They would have pop tarts and Gatorade and Doritos, and they put all the food out so everyone could share from it. And then they would spend the day hurling just horrific insults at each other. They would get, you know, sometimes they would get in each other’s faces and you’d see spit flying and and lots of fingers in the faces kind of thing. And you know, I see that at lunch time right there. I believe at the end of the day and they be all tired and, you know, a guy holding a. Free Kyle sign would be sharing a cigarette with a guy in a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. And then they would like shake hands and say, See tomorrow and they would come back the next day and just hurl insults. They do it all over again. And they did it for the four days of the deliberations.

S1: What did that mean to you? Like in some ways, was that kind of healthy?

S3: I didn’t know what it meant just to see people like insult each other in the most vile ways possible and then split a pop tart. Hmm. We talked to Bishop Tavis Grant, who is the national field director for Four Rainbow Push, and he was out there during the deliberations and and he was very heartened by it. And he said, you know, this is the way the First Amendment is supposed to work. People can argue fiercely with each other and then put it aside and go home peacefully and then come back the next day and start it all over again. One guy brought pizzas for everybody on the steps, and they all prayed together before having pizza. They took a group photo together with both sides. It was. There was some really like surreal moments. I should know that the fired Ferguson police officer refused the pizza, but everybody else was loving the free pizza. The sheriff brought donuts and and coffee for everyone. It was, it was different.

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S1: I want you to do one more thing for me, which is I’m hoping you can talk to me a little bit about someone we haven’t talked about yet. Her name is Hannah Giddings. She was the partner of Anthony Huber, one of the people who was killed by Kyle Rittenhouse. And to me. She’s interesting because what she’s said publicly gets into all of the complexity of just laid out like she said, I think Kyle Rittenhouse was a dumb ass kid. Yeah, tell me what she said to you before and during the trial. And then after

S3: she was pretty quiet, she didn’t want to make a scene or do anything that she thought would sort of interfere with the trial. She has shown some empathy for Kyle Rittenhouse, you know, calling him a dumb ass kid who who got in over her head. Most of her ire is directed toward law enforcement, which she thinks deputized essentially Kyle Rittenhouse to behave that way to think he could act with impunity and impose, you know, justice on on, on their behalf that you know, the video of the police saying, you know, Kyle on the other arm, armed men, we’re glad you’re here and offering them water of the police who let Kyle Rittenhouse walk by them with their hand, with his hands up, trying to surrender. And they ignored him because they didn’t think he looked like an active shooter. So that’s where her anger goes. But, you know, she has shown some empathy to to Kyle Rittenhouse. But she’s angry that he has not shown any empathy back toward the people that he killed, and she has not seen it. She says she has not seen him show any remorse for the fact that even if he did act in self-defense and she wasn’t buying his his self-defense argument. But even if he had acted in self-defense, she wanted to know where the empathy was for the lives lost and for the people who loved those men. And I think that’s that’s a really fair question.

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S1: Current NASA’s never apologized, right?

S3: No, and he’s never apologized. He also, when he was in the witness stand, he didn’t. He didn’t say, like, I feel badly that people have died. He very purposely and I don’t know how much of that was his decision, how much of it was what he was sort of instructed or coach to do. But he never looked at any of the videos. The video of Joseph Rosenbaum dying is is one of the most horrific things I have seen in a courtroom, and I’ve been covering court cases for 20 years. And you hear Richard McGuinness trying to save him, trying to tell him, you know, just keep breathing. He’s clearly losing his ability to breathe. And in Kyle Rittenhouse, this turned his head and didn’t watch that. Any time it was shown when they showed Gaige Grosskreutz his bicep, which was basically blown off, Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t look at it. He never looked at what his his actions caused. But pulling the trigger did to these men. But that was that was the plan. They didn’t want the jury to feel empathy for the men who were shot and, you know, they stuck to it.

S1: Stacy St Clair, thank you so much for joining me.

S3: Any time.

S1: Stacy St Clair is a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. She covered the Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin, and that’s the show. Stay tuned tomorrow. If the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict brought up complicated feelings for you about guns, we’re going to have an episode you’ll want to hear about how some progressives are changing the way they think about gun control. All right, what next is produced by Carmel Delshad Mary Wilson, Danielle Hewitt, Davis Land and Elaina Schwartz were led by Alison Benedict, Alicia Montgomery and I’m Mary Harris. Go track me down on Twitter. You can see what happened to my Jack-O-Lantern after Halloween. Seriously, I’m at Mary’s desk. All right. Thanks for listening.

S6: I’ll talk to you tomorrow.