Chuck Todd on Rittenhouse Acquittal: ‘We’re In No Man’s Land Here as a Society’

Shortly after news broke Friday afternoon of Kyle Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all criminal charges after killing two men in self-defense during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, MSNBC host Chuck Todd wailed that the verdict left society in “no man’s land.” Left-wing legal analyst Joyce Vance chimed in to claim that the trial outcome endangered all Americans. “Two people died, another one near almost died, and nobody’s paying any penalty,” Todd bitterly declared late in the 1:00 p.m. ET hour. Vance, who earlier compared Rittenhouse to a violent bank robber, ranted: “...the notion that Kyle Rittenhouse, who for instance when he was released pretrial, hung out with members of the Proud Boys and flashed white power signs, and now will not face any form of accountability for his acts, that’s extraordinarily difficult for family members.”     Turning to former prosecutor David Henderson, Todd complained: “...this should have been presented by the prosecution as a failure in public safety and should have been focused on public safety. The state failed.” He then direly concluded: “And now we’re in no man’s land here as a society, where nobody’s gonna pay a price for these two dead Americans.” Henderson agreed with that sentiment and worried: “We’re at a point where we are bursting at the seams...I’m afraid of where things may go....just the need to help restore our society to a point where people have hope for the future and being able to come together better as a country.” Todd hoped that “the public safety umbrella might be the best way to change some of this conversation on the Second Amendment.” In other words, undermine the Second Amendment. Vance whined that the prosecution should have engaged in irresponsible fearmongering about Rittenhouse in order to sway the jury: “...this case should have always been about public safety and what the jury should have been considering from the opening statement....how they would have felt if they were in that crowd with Kyle Rittenhouse free to stalk through the crowd with his gun in hand and then claim self-defense for whatever he did.” She then proclaimed that everyone across the country was now less safe:    There will obviously be more Kyle Rittenhouses out in these crowds. The question that we now have to face is, are we safer after this verdict? Are we safe if we let someone like Kyle Rittenhouse kill people and then claim self-defense? Do we need better laws that protect us better? And the answer is clearly yes today. Todd eagerly doubled down on the notion that lawful gun owners would soon be taking to the streets to engage in violence: “You know, it’s pretty obvious to me, more people, the next time there’s a protest of some sort, and it may get politicized, that gun owners with a certain ideology may feel incentivized now, may feel even emboldened. And that does seem to be an uncomfortable message that may be received by some.” Henderson added: “I think that, yes, if you take your gun to a protest in the future or any heated situation, I think you’re inclined to feel like you’re within your rights to use it, and that’s very dangerous for all of us.” According to MSNBC, a defendant receiving a fair trial and being acquitted for exercising his right to self-defense is equivalent to society descending into a “no man’s land” and “dangerous” for the country. This breaking news coverage did not have any commercial breaks. Here is a full transcript of the November 19 discussion: 1:53 PM ET CHUCK TODD: Two people died, another one near almost died, and nobody’s paying any penalty. Now, some could argue that the trial itself was a form of penalty for Mr. Rittenhouse and the near – what was facing him. But how does the Huber family get closure? I don’t know if they ever will. JOYCE VANCE [PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA]: You know, it’s a really difficult issue. And I’ll speak to it personally because my father-in-law, who was a federal judge, was murdered because of his judicial service. And ultimately the man who was responsible for killing him was convicted at trial in both state and federal settings. And that fact of conviction does give families an enormous amount of closure. And something I’ve always been acutely aware of as a prosecutor is that there are a number of things that are important to victims. But among them is learning the truth and having people accept responsibility and be held accountable. And so in this setting, where yes, to some extent the family does know the truth, and they’ve been able in some cases to see video, as grainy as it is, yet the notion that Kyle Rittenhouse, who for instance when he was released pretrial, hung out with members of the Proud Boys and flashed white power signs, and now will not face any form of accountability for his acts, that’s extraordinarily difficult for family members. One of the goals of our system has to be restorative justice, helping everyone involved in these situations,

Chuck Todd on Rittenhouse Acquittal: ‘We’re In No Man’s Land Here as a Society’
Shortly after news broke Friday afternoon of Kyle Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all criminal charges after killing two men in self-defense during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, MSNBC host Chuck Todd wailed that the verdict left society in “no man’s land.” Left-wing legal analyst Joyce Vance chimed in to claim that the trial outcome endangered all Americans. “Two people died, another one near almost died, and nobody’s paying any penalty,” Todd bitterly declared late in the 1:00 p.m. ET hour. Vance, who earlier compared Rittenhouse to a violent bank robber, ranted: “...the notion that Kyle Rittenhouse, who for instance when he was released pretrial, hung out with members of the Proud Boys and flashed white power signs, and now will not face any form of accountability for his acts, that’s extraordinarily difficult for family members.”     Turning to former prosecutor David Henderson, Todd complained: “...this should have been presented by the prosecution as a failure in public safety and should have been focused on public safety. The state failed.” He then direly concluded: “And now we’re in no man’s land here as a society, where nobody’s gonna pay a price for these two dead Americans.” Henderson agreed with that sentiment and worried: “We’re at a point where we are bursting at the seams...I’m afraid of where things may go....just the need to help restore our society to a point where people have hope for the future and being able to come together better as a country.” Todd hoped that “the public safety umbrella might be the best way to change some of this conversation on the Second Amendment.” In other words, undermine the Second Amendment. Vance whined that the prosecution should have engaged in irresponsible fearmongering about Rittenhouse in order to sway the jury: “...this case should have always been about public safety and what the jury should have been considering from the opening statement....how they would have felt if they were in that crowd with Kyle Rittenhouse free to stalk through the crowd with his gun in hand and then claim self-defense for whatever he did.” She then proclaimed that everyone across the country was now less safe:    There will obviously be more Kyle Rittenhouses out in these crowds. The question that we now have to face is, are we safer after this verdict? Are we safe if we let someone like Kyle Rittenhouse kill people and then claim self-defense? Do we need better laws that protect us better? And the answer is clearly yes today. Todd eagerly doubled down on the notion that lawful gun owners would soon be taking to the streets to engage in violence: “You know, it’s pretty obvious to me, more people, the next time there’s a protest of some sort, and it may get politicized, that gun owners with a certain ideology may feel incentivized now, may feel even emboldened. And that does seem to be an uncomfortable message that may be received by some.” Henderson added: “I think that, yes, if you take your gun to a protest in the future or any heated situation, I think you’re inclined to feel like you’re within your rights to use it, and that’s very dangerous for all of us.” According to MSNBC, a defendant receiving a fair trial and being acquitted for exercising his right to self-defense is equivalent to society descending into a “no man’s land” and “dangerous” for the country. This breaking news coverage did not have any commercial breaks. Here is a full transcript of the November 19 discussion: 1:53 PM ET CHUCK TODD: Two people died, another one near almost died, and nobody’s paying any penalty. Now, some could argue that the trial itself was a form of penalty for Mr. Rittenhouse and the near – what was facing him. But how does the Huber family get closure? I don’t know if they ever will. JOYCE VANCE [PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA]: You know, it’s a really difficult issue. And I’ll speak to it personally because my father-in-law, who was a federal judge, was murdered because of his judicial service. And ultimately the man who was responsible for killing him was convicted at trial in both state and federal settings. And that fact of conviction does give families an enormous amount of closure. And something I’ve always been acutely aware of as a prosecutor is that there are a number of things that are important to victims. But among them is learning the truth and having people accept responsibility and be held accountable. And so in this setting, where yes, to some extent the family does know the truth, and they’ve been able in some cases to see video, as grainy as it is, yet the notion that Kyle Rittenhouse, who for instance when he was released pretrial, hung out with members of the Proud Boys and flashed white power signs, and now will not face any form of accountability for his acts, that’s extraordinarily difficult for family members. One of the goals of our system has to be restorative justice, helping everyone involved in these situations, from defendants, perpetrators, to family members, and victims, find a path forward. And this trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin has not done that for the families of the victims and the victims themselves. TODD: Yeah, David Henderson, essentially, and you talked about this earlier, this should have been presented by the prosecution as a failure in public safety and should have been focused on public safety. The state failed. The state failed to create an environment that was safe. The state failed to prove who did make that period unsafe. And now we’re in no man’s land here as a society, where nobody’s gonna pay a price for these two dead Americans. DAVID HENDERSON [FMR. PROSECUTOR]: That’s right, Chuck. And if there’s responsibility that lawyers have here, and I know people would laugh at this because it seems like our profession is so far away from this at this point, but part of what we have a responsibility to do, and this is especially true when you’re a prosecutor, is help people heal. And so building on what Joyce was just saying, one of the things I did when I was in special crimes is, I would always tell people, look, I cannot promise you an outcome and any lawyer who says they can is lying to you. But what I hope I can promise you is that when you look back, you won’t feel like you could have had a smarter lawyer who fought harder for you. And in the same way we make that promise to individuals, we need to make that promise to the country that we represent. And that is by letting them see the arguments that we make in court and how they can lead to healing for society. We’re at a point where we are bursting at the seams and if we don’t start doing more of that, I’m afraid of where things may go. And so the argument that I’m making with regard to public safety stems from that context, just the need to help restore our society to a point where people have hope for the future and being able to come together better as a country. TODD: Yeah. Joyce, the public safety umbrella might be the best way to change some of this conversation on the Second Amendment. VANCE: Well, I think David makes a really excellent point here that this case should have always been about public safety and what the jury should have been considering from the opening statement, maybe from voir dire, when they were selected onward, is how they would have felt if they were in that crowd with Kyle Rittenhouse free to stalk through the crowd with his gun in hand and then claim self-defense for whatever he did. Because that narrative was absent here, I think that much of the outcome that we saw today was attributable to that failure of narrative by the prosecution. And this is an important conversation to have nationwide, as we think about not just healing communities, but making them safer, preparing them for the next incident, because there will be more protests. There will obviously be more Kyle Rittenhouses out in these crowds. The question that we now have to face is, are we safer after this verdict? Are we safe if we let someone like Kyle Rittenhouse kill people and then claim self-defense? Do we need better laws that protect us better? And the answer is clearly yes today. TODD: I have to tell you, and to listen to the way Joyce just framed that, David, when she said, are we safer today? You know, it’s pretty obvious to me, more people, the next time there’s a protest of some sort, and it may get politicized, that gun owners with a certain ideology may feel incentivized now, may feel even emboldened. And that does seem to be an uncomfortable message that may be received by some. HENDERSON: I think that’s the obvious message that you take away from this, Chuck. I always try to look for the silver lining when I can. But here, let’s think about what happened. A kid had an AR-15 strapped to his body, and he argued that on the theory that I may face lethal force in the future because a person may – who never touched him – get his hands on my gun and wrestle it away and then once he’s wrestled away, turn and kill me, based on that theory of a potential fear in the future, the jury found that he was justified in shooting and killing someone in the present. And so I think that, yes, if you take your gun to a protest in the future or any heated situation, I think you’re inclined to feel like you’re within your rights to use it, and that’s very dangerous for all of us. TODD: Joyce Vance and David Henderson, you guys have been terrific, thank you for helping us get through and understand this verdict, understand the impact of it, where we could be headed next.