BREAKING: Judge boots MSNBC from Rittenhouse trial over jury tracking attempt; UPDATE: NBC confirms? UPDATE: NBC claims "freelancer" didn't attempt to "contact" jurors

Fair or not, MSNBC will cover the rest of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial from outside the courtroom. Attorneys for both sides got called into Judge Bruce Schroeder’s chambers a short time ago, which seemed to indicate that there may have been an issue with the jury:

And in fact, there was — but not with the deliberations. For the second time in this trial, police spotted someone tracking the jury, and this time they arrested the person:

Shortly afterward, Judge Schroeder disclosed that the suspect claimed to be working for MSNBC. To emphasize the point about interference, Schroeder banned the channel’s personnel from the courtroom for the remainder of the trial:

Did MSNBC participate in an attempt to doxx the jury? Or is this an activist who tried to claim status as a journalist to avoid arrest? If it’s the latter, then this is an unfortunate and unfair sanction on MSNBC, even if the judge likely had no choice but to send a signal pour encourager les autres. So far, we don’t have any confirmation that the suspect worked for MSNBC in any capacity.

If, however, this suspect does have some sort of relationship to MSNBC, then they and the NBC News division have a lot of explaining to do. That could be seen as jury tampering, especially given the rhetoric on MSNBC about this trial. That’s certainly a possibility for the suspect him/herself regardless of any connection to MSNBC.

So far, it doesn’t appear to have impacted the jury, which continues its deliberations. The motion for a mistrial with prejudice still remains on the table, so stay tuned.

UpdateHoo boy. If this is true, then NBC has a lot of explaining to do … and some lawyers to hire:

Late Thursday morning in court, Judge Bruce Schroeder said the person identified themselves as “James J. Morrison, who claimed he was a producer for NBC News, employed by MSNBC.”

Morrison allegedly said he was told to follow the jury bus by his boss in New York, identified as Irene Byon. “He was taken in for violating a traffic control signal,” Schroeder said.

According to Schroeder, nobody else from NBC News “will be permitted in this building,” the Kenosha County Courthouse, “for the duration of this trial. This is a very serious matter … Someone following a jury bus, that is a very serious matter that will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”

Channel 5 Chicago (NBC) confirmed that an NBC producer was the party involved Thursday morning.

Schroeder said that the individual was following the jury bus the night prior. “The jury in this case is being transported from a different location in a bus with windows covered so that they aren’t exposed to anything on one side or the other,” Schroeder explained. “That’s been done every day.”

Emphasis mine. If NBC has an explanation for this behavior, they’d better produce it tout suite. Morrison might want his bosses to cover the copious legal fees that he will have to start paying, too.

Update: NBC has now issued a statement that claims that this was a “freelancer,” who didn’t attempt to “contact” the jurors “during deliberations”:

There are enough caveats there to satisfy later denials, no?