Trials add to tensions as perceptions diverge and divide: The Note

What happens in two courtrooms will tell us something about the national mood.

November 11, 2021, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Trials are always first and foremost about the facts of an individual case and what goes on inside the courtroom itself.

But we now stand at a moment when what happens in two courtrooms will tell us something broader about the national mood and could impact the political landscape along the way.

It's also not just that both incidents that led to these trials drew national and international attention during an extended period of reckoning over racial justice. It's not just that the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse is in battleground Wisconsin or that the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is taking place at the same time in Georgia.

It's that these two very different trials are linked in how perceptions and assumptions have been drawn from the start.

The basic facts of the cases -- who shot whom -- are not in real question. Virtually everything else about the incidents are, even with video evidence and a large number of direct witnesses.

Verdicts will depend on the perceptions of the jurors. What happens after that could serve as poignant reminders of how many people have already made up their minds about what's right and what the consequences should be.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

As President Joe Biden aims to sell the bipartisan infrastructure plan this Veterans Day, absent from the legislation is the $18 billion initially proposed by the administration to upgrade Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics.

The proposed sum is an apparent casualty of the slimmed-down plan and months of negotiations, as the agency deals with an aging and outdated portfolio of facilities.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about the recently passed $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at the Port of Baltimore, Nov. 10, 2021, in Baltimore.
President Joe Biden speaks about the recently passed $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at the Port of Baltimore, Nov. 10, 2021, in Baltimore.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

According to the White House, while private sector hospitals average about 11 years old, Veterans Affairs hospitals have a median age more than five times that -- 58 years old.

The bipartisan legislation does, however, provide significant investments in training and outreach to veterans for job opportunities on infrastructure projects. It's a fact the White House brought attention to in its Veterans Day proclamation.

"I remain committed to ensuring that every veteran receives the care and support they have earned," Biden wrote. "The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create millions of good jobs for veterans and grow opportunities for veteran-owned businesses."

According to the White House, Biden will sign the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday, joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress at a White House ceremony.

The TIP with Danielle DuClos

After 13 House Republicans broke rank Friday and voted to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, conservative GOP members were swift to attack their colleagues for providing key votes in getting part of Biden's Build Back Better agenda across the finish line.

Former President Donald Trump was quick to criticize Sunday and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted the phone numbers of 12 of the 13 Republicans, saying they facilitated a "communist takeover of America." Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton said he has received over 1,000 calls, including death threats, since the vote and alluded to Greene's tweet as likely contributing to the deluge.

PHOTO: Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) stands outside the Capitol Building after a vote, on May 3, 2017, in Washington.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) stands outside the Capitol Building after a vote, on May 3, 2017, in Washington.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

While the backlash from Republicans has been fierce, the vote does not appear likely to trigger extensive political fallout in the midterm elections. Of the 13 House Republicans to join Democrats last week, three -- Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, Adam Kinzinger and Tom Reed -- have already announced they won't be seeking reelection, and another three -- Reps. Don Bacon, Andrew Garbarino and Jeff Van Drew -- don't currently have any challengers for the GOP nomination in their districts.

For Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko and Nicole Malliotakis, their challengers' campaigns are virtually nonexistent aside from their filings for candidacy. That leaves only Upton and Reps. David McKinley, Chris Smith and Don Young with underdog challengers who could use the infrastructure vote in their favor to scoop the nomination. But with the midterms less than a year away, it does not appear that any of these challengers have the resources or momentum to do so -- yet.

ONE MORE THING

Children ages 5 and older can now be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the decision marks a turning point in the pandemic for millions of Americans as they can worry a little less and live a little more. For more than a year and a half, we've been told that the worries of adults have changed the lives of kids in all sorts of deleterious ways. So how have kids and teens fared during the pandemic? A new FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll out Wednesday found that 89% of teens aged 12 to 17 have good mental health and 96% of kids 5 to 11 reported feeling good. The poll also found that parents are more likely to be concerned about their children's mental health than the children themselves.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's episode features testimony from Kyle Rittenhouse as he takes the stand in his own defense. ABC News Legal Analyst Channa Lloyd discusses what we've learned in the trial so far and why calls for a mistrial were being thrown around yesterday. Then, ABC News' Kayna Whitworth is in Colorado where the state is combating a rise in COVID hospitalizations. And, a new study on so-called "magic mushrooms" finds they could lower your risk of depression, according to one expert we talk to. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden hosts veterans and members of the military community at 9 a.m. before the group heads to Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day. There, the president and first lady participate in the Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony on the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11 a.m. and the president delivers remarks at the National Veterans Day Observance at the Memorial Amphitheater at 11:15 a.m.
  • At 7:35 a.m., Vice President Kamala Harris attends an Armistice Day event and then the Paris Peace Forum in France.
  • Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton speaks at the Federalist Society's annual National Lawyers Convention at 7 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

    Related Topics

    ABC News Live

    ABC News Live

    24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events