National media attention has focused in on the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man charged with murder after shooting his attackers during the Kenosha riots of August 2020. As Rittenhouse took the stand himself to testify, facing harsh interrogation from the prosecution and accusations of faking his own emotional breakdown while on the stand, even CNN’s own experts were forced to conclude that his testimony was compelling. On Thursday, the liberal cable channel took a different tack: actually complaining that people are allowed to carry firearms in public.
CNN’s chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, began by introducing the self-defense case as partly “a matter of public policy. What is a 17-year-old with no training, no gun permit, no ties to this community, doesn't even live in the state of Wisconsin, going in the night -- in the middle of the night to a riot to help out? Just an incredibly stupid irresponsible decision.”
Newsroom host Jim Sciutto appeared very concerned that people can exercise their Second Amendment rights by carrying firearms. Ignoring the fact that Rittenhouse was allegedly in Kenosha to provide medical aid and put out fires, Sciutto asked Toobin, “Do we as a country, in effect, allow people from anywhere to show up anywhere else and sort of self-appoint themselves sheriff, right? Or sheriff's deputy. Are there any laws that govern that...are there any laws that bar me from showing up somewhere else and saying I'm going to help fight crime?”
Toobin replied by lamenting the fact that he has recently seen more people openly carrying guns:
One of the big changes in state laws over the last two decades are the increasing freedom that is being granted to individuals to carry concealed weapons, to carry publicly you know, visible, visible weapons. I mean, it is such a sea change in, in how the, how the law works. And, you know, I was just in Oklahoma the other day, in Arizona. You just see people carrying guns in public that you didn't used to see.
He went on to suggest again that Rittenhouse was appointing himself as law enforcement, despite all the evidence in court thus far pointing to him acting solely in self-defense.
This commentary followed a line of questioning by the prosecution in the trial wherein the prosecutor seemed to imply that carrying a firearm is only acceptable when someone is actively in danger. This type of dangerous rhetoric tramples on the Second Amendment and makes everyday gun-carrying citizens into villains, just like the liberal media has attempted to make Kyle Rittenhouse into a villain.
Read the transcript of the full segment below by clicking Expand:
JIM SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss, CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, he’s also a former federal prosecutor, author of The American Heiress. Jeffrey, always good to have you. It's a self-defense case. As a lawyer, tell us how well the prosecution and defense made their cases so far. And noting that there are two different shooting deaths here, right, with somewhat different circumstances.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: Right, and, and, you know, there are two ways also of looking at this whole case. One is, this is a matter of public policy. What is a 17-year-old with no training, no gun permit, no ties to this community, doesn't even live in the state of Wisconsin, going in the night -- in the middle of the night to a riot to help out? Just an incredibly stupid irresponsible decision. But that's not what he's on trial for. He's on trial for murder and I thought he was an effective witness on the issue of self-defense because he could testify that there were other people with guns, somebody swung a skateboard at his head. That is not – I mean, that, that suggests self-defense, and the prosecution, I thought, did not do a very effective job in cross examining him.
ERICA HILL: The prosecution has faced a fair amount of criticism. But, what I found really remarkable is -- and this is not the first time, but the judge and the judge's demeanor, and even the tone toward the prosecution throughout the trial has been interesting. Specifically yesterday, there were a couple of moments where the judge really scolded the prosecutor. I just want to play part of that.
JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER: You're an experienced trial attorney and you're telling me that when the judge says, I'm excluding this, you just take it upon yourself to put it in because you think that you found a way around it? Come on.
HILL: So, this was about specific video evidence that he was trying to refer to that they had been told early on was not going to be allowed in. So there’s the question of, is the judge right in this case? He should know better. But also, am I the only one who sees some of this reaction from the judge and says it seems like he's a different set?
TOOBIN: Well, the, there were two big controversies during the cross-examination. One I thought the judge really had some merit where it did seem like the prosecutor was referring to the fact that, that Rittenhouse had not spoken before, which is commenting on the silence of, of, of a defendant. The 5th amendment entitles him to be silent. That is something that, prosecutors should know not to tread in that area. The other issue involved something he had ruled off limits earlier. But, the custom, in my experience, is that when a defendant takes the stand, you have wide latitude to introduce subjects that maybe had been ruled off previously, so I thought the judge was a little unfair there. I think we may be overemphasizing that whole issue of the judge getting angry. All of us who have been prosecutors have been yelled at by judges --
HILL: Fond memories.
TOOBIN: That's right, but it generally doesn't matter much. The jury was not present in the courtroom during that. I think that it's not going to be important to the outcome.
SCIUTTO: You bring up the big public policy issue here. Do we as a country, in effect, allow people from anywhere to show up anywhere else and sort of self-appoint themselves sheriff, right? Or sheriff's deputy. Are there any laws that govern that? I mean, it seems like in this one beyond the circumstances of the actual shooting, whether he had a permit for the gun, but are there any laws that bar me from showing up somewhere else and saying I'm going to help fight crime?
TOOBIN: Fewer and fewer. One of the big changes in state laws over the last two decades are the increasing freedom that is being granted to individuals to carry concealed weapons, to carry publicly you know, visible, visible weapons. I mean, it is such a sea change in, in how the, how the law works. And, you know, I was just in Oklahoma the other day, in Arizona. You just see people carrying guns in public that you didn't used to see. And we also now have people like Kyle Rittenhouse who are appointing themselves, in effect, law enforcement officers in difficult situations with no training and it's a, it’s a terrifying result, especially in a case like this.
HILL: And there’s been a pull back from training in some states. I mean, Texas is a perfect example.
TOOBIN: You can, you can use a gun with no training.
SCIUTTO: And the Supreme Court now, considering whether, whether New York can pass its own law -
TOOBIN: Whether it’s even permissible to have those laws.
SCIUTTO: Big picture point. Thank you.
HILL: Jeff, thanks.