Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

911 Call From Baldwin Movie Set: "We Need Help Immediately"; Family Lawyer: Brian Laundrie Was "Grieving" When He Disappeared Days Before Gabby Petito Was Found Dead; Jeffrey Clark To Testify Before January 6 Committee. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues right now. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We now have the newly-released 911 call in that fatal shooting, involving actor, Alec Baldwin, on a movie set, in Santa Fe, what he's calling a tragic accident. I'm going to play you the 911 call.

But really, the freshest information, to help us understand, the questions being asked, by investigators, are in the search warrant that literally just came into my hands, as we were going to air. I'm going to keep reading it, while you listen to this sound bite, and then I'll take you through it.

Here's the 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Santa Fe Fire and EMS, what's the location of the emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bonanza Creek Ranch. We've had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.

We need some help. Our director and our camera man - camera woman has been shot.

Are they going to take him to the road?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was it loaded with a real bullet or--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't, I don't, I cannot tell you that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two injuries from a movie gun shot. I was sitting. We were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out, we all ran out. They were doubled over the A.D. (ph), and the camera woman and the director.


CUOMO: So, here's what I'm finding in this search warrant. It is interesting, for two reasons.

One, it's a very wide universe of what they want. They want all the clothing that was involved. They want all the video that they can get that can show them what happened.

They want all of the technical equipment. And I don't know why. Any media capable of storing data, I have to believe that that's about them trying to understand the protocols involved, for preparation of the prop guns, the movie guns.

Again, there're two different incidents, here, of asking for any of the tape that captured any of the event, any photos of the structure that this happened inside of.

And then the main ask is for, point four of the six-point ask, which is the firearm, firearms components, documentation that establishes ownership, ammunition, that's really the key thing, used or unused, whether it be live ammunition, or prop ammunition, projectiles, casings, whether spent or unspent.

Now, a big part of our understanding, of this whole situation, really plays to this last line, OK? Used or unused, whether it be live ammunition, or prop ammunition, projectiles, casings, whether spent or unspent.

So, the questions, for us, going into this, Alec Baldwin is preparing for a scene. He's with this Director of Photography, and his Director. He fires this weapon that is handed to him.

In the narrative from the officer here, known as the affiant, the person who puts together this affidavit, of what happened, asking, for the search warrant, Alec Baldwin is told it is a "Cold gun." What's a cold gun? A prop gun that didn't have a live round.

Now, again, do they put real ammunition, in weapons, on movie sets? It's hard to believe that that could ever be "Yes," as an answer, right? They don't want to really shoot anybody.

So then, what kinds of rounds, or ammunition, or charges, or casings, are put in these prop guns that could be dangerous? None? Some? What are the circumstances? What did they use here? We're going to have to find all that out. And we will get some of the answers in just a moment.

But in terms of why we're doing this, Alec Baldwin is one of the best- known actors in the world. He fired this weapon, on set, rehearsing a scene. And now, his Director of Photography, who was only 42-years- old, young woman, with a family, is dead. And his Director, apparently, whatever came out of that prop gun, didn't just hit the Director of Photography. It went through her, and in to him, the Director, broke his clavicle, or something, in his upper body.

What would be in a movie gun that could have that type of power? Or is it about so, you know, what is in that thing, in that gun? Two, is that what was in that gun, or was something else, but was it really a live round put in there? How could that ever happen, right? And if so, is this something that has to be an accident?


There's absolutely no question, at this point, surrounding the actor, Alec Baldwin, as to whether or not his role here accidental. There is absolutely no indication, from anybody, or any set of circumstances, to suggest otherwise.

But what about the people who prepared the weapon, or gave him the weapon? It is possible that somebody did something, to the weapon, that, wound up resulting in this injury, either intentionally or unintentionally.

But let's begin at the beginning, because this is just horrible. They're making a movie. Nobody's supposed to get hurt, not like this. And yes, there is some reporting that people had concerns about safety, including weapons safety, on the set. What does that mean?

All right, so now that we have the universe of our questions, and our concern, and the stakes, let's go to the beginning, of how does this work, all right? We have a weapons expert, who's worked on many films. And he'll take us through what the possibilities are here. He is firearm trainer, Bill Davis.

Thank you for taking this opportunity, sir.


CUOMO: So Bill, literally assume the people you're talking to, starting with me, know nothing.

And this sounds completely wild that how does a movie gun hurt somebody? What are the possibilities, in your mind, about what could have gone wrong here?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, I'm hearing a lot, on the news, different news outlets that were talking about, movie guns, prop guns. There is no prop guns. These are real live firearms that are being used to fire blanks. So, we're talking about live weapons here that are what apparently--

CUOMO: So, the weapons are the same as the ones that you and I would buy for home safety. There's no difference between this revolver and a revolver that would shoot real bullets? DAVIS: Right. I have one here, which according to the - well, I've heard about the show. It's a Western.

So, I'm going to say that we probably got a weapon here that is going to be approximating what he was shooting, if it was a pistol. It could have been a rifle. It could have been a shotgun. I don't know that. I haven't - don't have that information.

But I can tell you that these are the type weapons that are very dangerous, because there's no restrictor, in the end of their - in the barrel, to build up gases, like you would have, on a machine gun, or a semi-automatic pistol. You need gas to blow it back and cycle it.

This is our old-style cowboy guns, Colt Peacemakers. And these things have, I mean, they're very easy to operate, and they're very easy to show that they're unloaded. The fact remains that somebody died, and another person's seriously injured, because somebody didn't check the ammunition.

Now, I also have - excuse me for a moment.

CUOMO: Go ahead, Bill.

DAVIS: These are two rounds of ammunition This is a live round. This is a blank round. If you can see it? I'm putting it closer. You get your depth in there. You'll see that one has a bullet coming out of it.

CUOMO: And one doesn't.

DAVIS: And one has just a crimped case.

CUOMO: So the--

DAVIS: So, there's no way you can look at this--

CUOMO: --so the one with the crimped case is a blank?

DAVIS: Correct. There's no projectile in it. It has everything that a normal bullet would have, a normal loaded round of ammunition, except the bullet. It doesn't have a projectile in it.

CUOMO: Have you ever heard? So, all right--

DAVIS: So, someone--

CUOMO: --so then, what happened here? Does that mean that somebody put a real bullet, in the gun, or could a blank go through somebody's body?

DAVIS: Well, number one, on our armor protocols list is no live ammunition is allowed to be on set, at all. Period. End of story.

Now, somebody brought a live round in there. Whether it was the weapons handler, if they have an actual armor, it doesn't sound like they had an actual armor. They had maybe somebody that's a local, I don't know.

But whoever was handling the weapons was not handling it safety - safely, because you can see, as you're loading the weapons, you can click the cylinder, and you can insert one round, turn the cylinder, insert another round, turn the cylinder, insert another round, till you get all six in there.

The first A.D. (ph) would say load five, or load six. We'd load them, de-cock the weapon, hand it to the actor, and say, "The weapon is hot. Fire in the hole, five or six shots," whatever it may be.


Now, the actor should be standing, right there, watching this procedure, which is what I insist upon, on my shows. And then also, the gun handler is inspecting each round, visually, as he's putting them into the weapon.

So, what's happening here is you're getting it inspected, multiple times, by multiple people. And there's no reason that this should have happened. There's just no reason for it.

CUOMO: So, some questions, just so we can take one more step here. So, is - have you ever had in your experience--

DAVIS: Sure.

CUOMO: --where people thought they had blanks, but they actually had live ammunition, by mistake that they were preparing to, or did load, into a weapon?

DAVIS: Not on my shows. Any shows that I've worked on, I've been on set, more than 300 sets. I can tell you it doesn't happen with me, because I - we do a safety inspection every day.

When we first come in, to report, on set, at call time, we say, "OK. Bill is going to do a safety meeting." And I tell people, at that point, "We're using ammunition today that's loud. So, protect your eyes and ears, at all time."

CUOMO: Right.

DAVIS: "If you don't have to be on the set, while we're shooting, don't be there. Be somewhere else." And we try to give them the biggest heads-up that we can.

CUOMO: I get it.

DAVIS: So, it's just a matter of - yes, OK.

CUOMO: So, no, I get it that you do it the right way, totally.

Now, by the way, the early investigation does mention an armorer, and that the person, who handed the gun, to actor, Alec Baldwin, yelled "Cold gun," indicating it did not have, what they're calling, live rounds. But they would have to be blanks, right? DAVIS: Well, yes, and no. I mean, there could have been - there are three categories of ammunition that we're talking about here. We have blank ammunition. We have dummy ammunition. And we have live ammunition.

That dummy ammunition, I'm sure, you've seen it in a million Westerns, where the cowboy's loading his gun. They give the actor dummy ammo. Looks real, but there's no propellant, there's no primer, so it will not detonate. Nothing comes out, no danger. And then, he closes the gun, puts it in his holster.

But that's dummy ammunition. And you'll see it in their gun belts, around the bullet loops, around their belts. So, as far as, as this goes with, with the dummy ammunition, that's fine, as far as it goes.

But in order to have live ammunition, on set, you have to be a buffoon. It's just - this is stuff that just shouldn't happen.

CUOMO: Now, do you guys make the blanks?

DAVIS: It couldn't have happened on a well-managed set.

CUOMO: Do you make the blanks?

DAVIS: No. I--

CUOMO: Or do you?

DAVIS: When I order blank - well, I'm in Northwest Georgia. And I actually order my blanks from Hollywood.

CUOMO: So, they come--

DAVIS: The manufacture's out there.

CUOMO: They come without the bullets.


CUOMO: You don't have to take the bullets off?

DAVIS: No, they come without. As a matter of fact, here's a box of ammunition.

CUOMO: Right. And those are blanks.

DAVIS: You can see, there's 50 rounds in here. These are all blanks. That's why we got blanks--


CUOMO: So, for something to have blown through this lady, Bill?

DAVIS: --on each one.

CUOMO: And I really appreciate this, by the way. For something to have blown through this young woman--

DAVIS: Sure.

CUOMO: --literally gone through her, and hit somebody else, is there any way that a blank could have done that?

DAVIS: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, one of our protocols--

CUOMO: So, it had to have been something with a bullet?

DAVIS: Yes. It would have to be a solid projectile to do that.

The only way a blank can kill a human being is like back in the 80s. They had an actor, named Jon-Erik Hexum, who put a gun to his head, and shot, and fired, and it killed him. But it blew the skull six inches into his brain. Then, that's a blank. It's called flame- cutting, and it just cut right through the bone.

But normally, it's not going to happen, because the blank doesn't have enough force, to shoot more than 20 feet. And at that - even at that distance, or closer, it's - your danger is to your eyes, mainly.

CUOMO: Got it.

DAVIS: Because the gunpowder is - gunpowder is inherently dirty. So, when it fires, it's going to put the eyes out. We try, all the time, to avoid stuff like that.

CUOMO: This has been very helpful, because now, we have our central question. There was something in that gun in all likelihood that wasn't supposed to be there. Was it an accident? Was it on purpose? And who did it?

Bill Davis, thank you very much. I appreciate you. And I also want to thank our affiliate.

DAVIS: Well one more thing, Chris, if I may say something?

CUOMO: Go ahead, Bill.

DAVIS: Chris, the other factor that nobody's looking at is that one of our protocols is we tell our actors, "Never point the gun, at another human being."

CUOMO: Even when rehearsing, even if you're going to do it, you don't point it at them.

DAVIS: Even when rehearsing.


CUOMO: I understand. And thank you.

DAVIS: Triple - we have rods that we stick down the barrel, and everything. You're welcome, sir.

CUOMO: Thank you, Bill. Appreciate the expertise.

And thank you, KOAT, for getting us the search warrant, very helpful. We're going to keep going through it. I'll see if there's anything else in there.

Look, we've heard of a couple of these before. He mentioned one, where a young actor put a weapon, to his head, and the blank literally wound up killing him.

Most famous, or infamous, is probably the death of the actor, Brandon Lee, just a budding star, in 1993, Bruce Lee's son, filming the movie, "The Crow." And he was killed, after being struck by a bullet that was put into a gun that was supposed to just have blanks.

Now, we have his sister, an industry insider herself, to talk about why she - what did she learn about why that happened? And what did this mean to her, today, hearing about something so frighteningly similar? Next.









CUOMO: Shannon Lee is the daughter of the famous, and an absolute personal hero of mine, Bruce Lee. Now, that whole family knows the pain, of what we're all learning about, now, with this Western that Alec Baldwin was on.

Her brother was this rising star, Brandon. He was beautiful. He was talented. He was powerful, as an actor. He was just coming into his own.

He's on a movie set, making then, what would become a cult classic, "The Crow," just 28 years of age. And he dies on set, because of a gun accident, where a gun, being used in the movie, had live ammunition in it.

Shannon is with us now. She's in the industry herself, longtime actor.

It's good to see you. I'm sorry. It's under these circumstances. But I know that you never wanted to see it happen again.

SHANNON LEE, SISTER OF BRANDON LEE, DAUGHTER OF BRUCE LEE: No, definitely not. This is just a horrific and tragic set of circumstances. And my heart just goes out to everyone involved.

CUOMO: Now, in reviewing, what happened with your brother, and reading up on what we're getting, in real-time, here, there were no charges, in the case, with your brother.

They looked at a lot of different people, the people who prepared the gun, if somebody was out to get Brandon, may he rest in peace. Nothing ever came of that. How did the family understand and accept that?

LEE: Well, I mean, my understanding is, for there to be criminal charges, there has to be wanton, an intentional negligence. And there was definitely negligence. And there was a civil suit, in that regard. But, in terms of criminal charges, we were not able to bring those, at the time.

CUOMO: And I, look, I just want to say, in this conversation, for what it's worth. And I'm sure you've heard this. Forget about your dad. I mean, he's just a legend. He's as relevant today, as he was, when he was alive.

But your brother also made a huge impact on people's lives. And even though he was only 28-years-old, I just hope there's a measure of solace in that that those were 28 years that wound up lasting a very long time. Even my son's generation is 15, look at him, and the work that he did. So, the legacy lives on.

Now, help me understand this, as a movie insider. Bill Davis, the guy I just had on, he's been doing this, in movies, forever. He's a former homicide detective. How do real bullets find their way, onto a movie set, when they have no value there?

LEE: Well, I mean, it's a good question, and a question that is definitely going to need to be asked. Of course, I don't know what happened, in this instance, on this movie set. But with my brother, they were hugely negligent. They ran out of dummy bullets.

Bill was talking about the dummy bullets that look like real bullets, but they don't have any gunpowder in them. They ran out of those, for close-ups, of the gun, for the - on the set of "The Crow." And so, in order to get the shot, they needed, they went and bought live ammunition.

CUOMO: Now, the other aspect that Bill brought up, and we don't know the details in this situation, is that actors are told, "You never point a gun at somebody else," even if it looks like--

LEE: That's right.

CUOMO: --you're going to shoot me in the head, from point-blank range that there are all these angles you guys use. Is that your understanding as well? And is that your concern - is that what happened in Brandon's case?

LEE: I mean that is absolutely my understanding. You never point a gun, at anyone, on a movie set. You always shoot past that person. But you have to understand, when you're, in the heat of the moment, people forget. And people are not trained properly. In particular, the actors are not trained, about the weapons that they are holding.

And that's why the safety protocols are so important. There have to be a number of fail-safes, in the chain of events. And I know, in the instance, of my brother's accident, many of those were broken.

CUOMO: And look, those questions are being asked, here, in this Western, with Alec Baldwin.

Supposedly, some of the people were upset, in the crew, about safety. Some of the issues were irrelevant to what we're discussing here. Some of them were not. They were about how weapons were being treated.

The issue of what was the angle, and what was Alec Baldwin doing, when they were setting up, the shot, when the gun went off? Those are also questions that are going to be asked.

LEE: Yes.

CUOMO: But how you get a real piece of ammo, in a gun, on a movie set, is just mind-boggling.

LEE: Yes, it is.

CUOMO: Shannon Lee, thank you.

LEE: Yes.


CUOMO: I know this is not easy for you or your family. But I appreciate you help us bringing attention to the situation. May your father and brother rest in peace, and may the family, take solace, in knowing that their legacy, and their impact, lives on.

LEE: Thank you so much. And my heart just goes out to Halyna Hutchins' family, and everyone involved. It's such a tragedy. And thank you for your kind words.

CUOMO: All right, God bless, and be well, the best to the family.

LEE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, now, from the land of make-believe, to the land of real murder, and real killing.

Gabby Petito, her fiancee is dead. They know it's his body. They're trying to figure out how he died. It's a very secondary importance. How do the Petito family, how do they get any peace, about what happened here?

Likely, the only people, who know what happened, who are alive, are Brian Laundrie's family. Now, their lawyer is getting a lot of heat, because he just suggested that Brian Laundrie knew Gabby Petito was dead.

Is that what he meant to say? He says "No." But that is what he said.

I'll tell you what the words were, what the context was. And we'll bring in a very good legal mind, to tell you why it matters, next.









CUOMO: So, the FBI has confirmed, the remains found, in the Florida nature reserve, are Brian Laundrie's.

So, now what? Why did they let him leave the house? How did he die? Did he leave any notes in that notebook that they're talking about?

What do his parents know? And it almost defies reasonableness, for them, to know nothing. And whatever they know, do they have a responsibility, to tell authorities, or the Petitos? I'm not talking about legal duty, we know they don't have that, but in terms of a responsibility.

Now, also another question for us, the discrepancy between the attorney for the family, and police, about actions taken the night that Brian went missing, listen to this.


STEVEN BERTOLINO, LAUNDRIE FAMILY ATTORNEY: Let the record be clear. The Laundries reported Brian did not come home, the night he went out for the hike.

JOSH TAYLOR, NORTH PORT POLICE PIO: If we had that information, there's a million things we would have done differently. I mean, you can look at our actions, very publicly, that don't coincide with that information at all.


CUOMO: All right, now look, that was the Police spokesman.

Let's bring in top legal mind, Joey Jackson.

And Joey, let's flip roles for a second, here. I think I know the answer to this one. This is not a hard question. I've been talking to this lawyer for a while. He has always been consistent about this, OK? They never told the police that the kid was - had left.

And I'm sorry for calling him a kid. At my age, anybody in their early 20s, I still see them as children.

But that when the young man left, he contacted an FBI source, and told them that he didn't come home. They didn't tell the police. That's what happened. That's why the Police say "This never happened. They never told us." Yes, that's true.

But it's also true, I believe, because the guy's been consistent the whole time, and the FBI has never come out, and said, "They never told us the guy was missing." And they know that that's something that they might do, although they can be notoriously tight-lipped, as we both know.

So, on the score of what the family said, and didn't say, that's the easy part. The hard part is that they never would talk to the Petitos. They lawyered up, and wouldn't help the investigators.


CUOMO: So, where does it leave them now, Joey?

JACKSON: So, it leaves them a couple of places. So, the first thing that we have to know, and understand, which we do, is that the lawyer acting, on behalf of the Laundrie family, has two hats, right?

The one is there's a public relations imperative, in order that the family be really portrayed, in a more favorable way. We know the family has been taking a lot of heat. We know the lack of concern, right, which appears to be for Gabby Petito.

We know their lack of cooperation. We know what appears to be just disheartening, as it relates to them, not cooperating, when they could. So, he's trying to get a public relations advantage, by saying "Look, the heat's on me," and really conveying the information. That's the one hand. On the other hand, he's trying to protect them legally.

Where we go from here is a couple of places. The first place we have to go is really, I don't even want to say "Closure," Chris, or I don't want to say "A search for justice." I don't know what that means, as it relates to Gabby Petito's family. Heartbroken, distraught, and they should be, based upon what occurred.

But I think, at a minimum, the authorities will close out the investigation after doing a thorough job, right? And I think that thorough job would include really meting out all the facts and issues.

I think the authorities, in addition to prosecutors, will finish presenting the case, that's my view, to the grand jury, potentially get a posthumous indictment, and then sit with the family, and be transparent, with respect to what their findings were, with regard to what the evidence shows, with regard to the circumstances, and everything. That's the first piece, Chris. Second piece, briefly then, is you have to deal with the Laundrie family. You have to do an investigation, with respect to what they knew, and when they knew it. You have to look at those text messages, if any. You have to look at emails, if any.

You have to look at what if anything they did, with respect to Brian Laundrie, and giving him potentially a head start, in making misleading or false information et cetera. And I think if there's any, crimes to be, had, then I think that will absolutely be pursued. And it should be.


CUOMO: Now, in terms of what they may have known, other than the obvious of common sense, and why they wouldn't talk to the Petitos, why they wouldn't return the Petitos' phone calls, before as far as we know they may not even have been lawyered up, the Petitos didn't even know Gabby was missing, listen to what the lawyer said, on "Good Morning America."


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: You told us that Laundries knew Brian was grieving the night he left. Trevor just reported that. That was on September 13. But Gabby Petito's remains weren't discovered until the 19. So, why did they think he was grieving?

BERTOLINO: Brian had been extremely upset.

You know, Chris and Roberta were very concerned about him. They expressed that to me that when he walked out the door that evening, they wish they could have stopped him. They wish they could have, you know, prevented him, from going out, but he was intent on leaving.


CUOMO: Look, either, he didn't mean to use the word "Grieving," and he just meant to say, distressed, but that wasn't his explanation.

And the only other explanation is, he said, "Grieving," because that's what was communicated to him, because the kid knew that she was dead. And there's only one reason that he would know that.

JACKSON: And he knew, right, that - that is Brian Laundrie knew that Gabby Petito was dead. And that he conveyed that information, to his parents, with regard to what he did, when he did it, and potentially how he did it.

And so, without getting into counsel's mind, I could say either A, he misspoke, either B, he really, didn't mean to say that, didn't mean for it to come out that way.

There's 100 ways that you can slice it. But let's slice it this way. I think it would defy reasonableness, for us, to sit here, Chris, and believe or imagine that there was no communication at all, with regard to what Brian did, how he did it, when he did it, where he did it, with his parents.

He was there for a period of time. I'm sure his parents asked him the question that's on everyone's mind. "Where's Gabby? Where were you? What did you do? How did it happen? What do we do next?"

And I think those conversations occurred. And I think the attorney, certainly, has to be careful, in conveying that, because then it leads potentially to culpability, that is responsibility, on the part of Gabby Petito's - excuse me, of Brian Laundrie's parents.

CUOMO: Look, the counselor is going to have to clean it up. And he's going to have to do it under not open-ended questions of a news variety.

It's going to have to be of a more direct examination, or across rather, about, "You know, we know you - you said you talked to this kid a couple of times, Brian Laundrie, a couple of times. Is that why you got the idea that he was grieving, because of what he told you?" He's going to have to answer those questions.


CUOMO: Joey, I appreciate you. No one is better. Have a good weekend. We'll rejoin soon enough.

JACKSON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: The January 6 committee may be getting some big testimony. We'll tell you who, and what, and why. When it comes to Trump's role, in the coup attempt, this guy, and what he has to say, could be key, next.









CUOMO: For all the focus on Steve Bannon, defying the January 6 committee, there are some key Trumpers cooperating.

Trump's point man, at the DOJ, is a guy named Jeffrey Clark. Now, he is notorious for backing up the "Big lie." He is expected to testify, next Friday. We also know Alyssa Farah, Trump's former Director of Strategic Communications, has spoken with Republican members of the committee. But given Trump's popularity, on the Right, will anything that the panel finds make a difference? Is this just for posterity? Or is there any sense that it would move the needle, in the present?

Let's ask a man, who knows the strategy, of running a Republican presidential campaign.

Stuart Stevens, it's good to have you.


CUOMO: So, give me your general take, on this situation, and what matters?

STEVENS: Look, I think you're right. It's not going to make a difference with the Republican Party. The Republican Party has become a Trump party. It's a White grievance party. It's very comfortable being what it is.

Nobody made the Republican Party feel the way they're doing, act the way they're doing, back Donald Trump. They're doing it because they want to do it. And sometimes, I think we lose sight of that. We talk about how Trump like hijacked a party. None of that went on. Trump is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party.

And what this is about, I think, is not a search for posterity. I think it's a search for the truth, to help preserve democracy.

Because really, as much as I find it difficult to say this, because I'd spent 30 years, pointing out flaws, in the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is really the pro-democracy party, in America now. And Republicans have become an autocratic party that is basically anti-democratic.

CUOMO: I was talking to some good friends, who are - consider themselves, not Republicans, right now, but they're conservatives, and they've only been in that party.


CUOMO: They say, look, it's bad enough that they won't work on any of these popular policies that are in the spending bill, when they're so popular, and so important, to Red states, and Red counties, and Blue states.

But now, this "Big lie" thing, they don't even understand it, because they look at the names, and faces, and think they knew these people. And whether they're silent, or talking out there, you know what, about things they know aren't true, they can't understand, how these men and women think it's worth it.

What is your - what is your insight into that, as an insider?

STEVENS: I asked myself that question after 2016. And it led me to write this book, "It Was All a Lie." I'll say one thing. I'll never question how 1930s Germany happened again.

And I'm with your friends. I look at these people, I thought I knew. And a lot of them, I worked with. A lot of them, I helped elect. And I know that this isn't who I thought they were.

But you are what you do. You ultimately believe in what you will fight for. And when you don't fight for democracy, it's hard to say you believe in democracy.


And what kills me Chris is these are the legacy of the greatest generation. I mean, people, like my dad, it was just so common, three years in the South Pacific landings (ph). They came back. They passed off this great democratic legacy.

And these people can't even get their comms shop, to put out a statement, saying who won the presidential race? I mean they're not being asked to charge a machine gun nest, take a beach. It's a pretty low level of commitment. And yet, they failed. And it's shocking and depressing. But it's a reality.

CUOMO: Where does it lead us?

STEVENS: I don't think we know. I think that if you look at how modern democracies fade, they fade, not in coups, usually. It's not like an N day (ph) in Chile. It's like Hungary. They fade at the box - at the ballot box, and in the courtroom.

And I don't think we know how this is going to end. But I tell you this, one thing, I do know. I know a lot of these people, these - that are now autocratic people - forces. They think they are going to win. They're very confident. They're very patient.

There are a lot of buffoonish figures out there, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Matt Gaetz. But the people that are really at the core of this are not buffoons. They're serious people, who want to take America, to a very different place, than it is now.

They don't like the way America is changing. They don't like the fact that one out of 10, of the new Americans, in this current census, is White. They don't like the fact that if you're 15 years and under, the majority of Americans are non-White.

And ultimately, I think this is about race. And it is about a shrinking White power structure that is desperate to maintain power. And we don't know how it's going to work out.

I think if Donald Trump gets elected president, again, in 2024, which certainly could happen, it'll be the last election that we would recognize, as anything that we've known.

CUOMO: We've always been asking the question - I got to go.

But I want to keep talking to you about this, Stuart, because, I mean, look, I've been studying what you've been doing, for decades. But the - and people should read "It Was All a Lie," by the way. It is a really good digest of understanding past and present.

I've always thought about this, in terms of, "I wonder who will change this. I wonder what will change this."

I now believe there's as good a chance that the real poisonous part of your party just becomes more obvious with what this is about, and start saying, what you're saying now, and saying it with bravado, like Steve King, "We need more White babies." There's, I think, just as good a chance it goes that way, than that we get to a better place of being more inclusive.

I want to keep talking to you. I can't, tonight. I hope you have a good weekend. And I hope you come back soon.

Stuart Stevens, appreciate you.

STEVENS: Thank you.

CUOMO: The book is called "It Was All a Lie." It's a good read. No, actually, it's not. It's a scary read. But it's an important one.

Now, we have a progressive member of Congress, on what the takeaway was, from Biden, last night, and what it means, about the timing, on when they stop trying to steal defeat, out of the jaws of victory, with the infrastructure bill, and a likely spending bill, next.









CUOMO: Democrats are about to miss yet another self-imposed deadline, on President Biden's legislative agenda. They keep saying they're close. But they were shooting for a deal, by the end of this week. And it's not going to happen.

Now, the hope is that they can get it hammered out, before Biden heads off, for the G20, next week. Why set that expectation?

Let's see where things stand, with a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Jimmy Gomez.

It's good to have you.

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA): Thank you for having me, Chris. CUOMO: I said, in the tease, to this segment, "Will they stop trying to grasp defeat out of the jaws of victory?" Do you understand why I see it that way?

GOMEZ: I do. I do.

Let me first start, by saying that your dad's speech, in the 1984 Convention, is not something I got to watch live. I was way too young. But it's a speech that I have read over and over, and have talked about to Americans.

I believe that the Build Back Better Act is to address a problem that your dad, defined, so eloquently, in 1984, that we do live in two Americas. And that we need to help lift up that America that's often left behind, people, who are working-class that are struggling to get by, working two, three jobs, like my parents did, to just put food on the table, and pay their mortgage, without health insurance.

So, that - we're going to be working hard to get this done. I got to meet with President Biden, on Tuesday, as part of the Progressive Caucus. And he said that the window is closing that we got to get this done. And I agreed with him.

But I told him, in the last five minutes, or the last inning, of any game, big things happen, dramatic things happen. And we're going to get it done. And we're going to get it done by, hopefully, by the end of next week, if not sooner.

CUOMO: One. I appreciate the good word. Two, I don't know that this is the same party that it was in 1984, when my father gave that speech.

Also, the timing matters, Congressman. And what you're saying would make perfect sense, if you were reassuring the President, "Don't worry. We'll get this job done with the Republicans."

But you're all Democrats. And it's like it's a Tale of Two Cities, within the party. How do you remedy that?

GOMEZ: One, first, we have to make sure that we listen to one another. It's a big family. And people fight. But we've been able to do that before.

I was actually part of a working group that helped negotiate the new USMCA. People thought we couldn't get it done. We ended up getting 194 Democrats, and 193 Republicans, and we got to pass the most progressive worker-friendly trade agreement, in the history of this country. It was ugly then. And this one is going to be ugly and it's going to be rough.


But as long as we're listening to each other, and at the table, we're going to get programs that are going to help people, everything from housing investing, and housing, making sure that we have enough investment in climate change, to actually stop some of the damage that's being caused, Medicare expansion, child tax credit. (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They're all very popular.

GOMEZ: They're all very popular.

CUOMO: In Red and Blue places.

GOMEZ: Exactly.

CUOMO: There's no question.

GOMEZ: It's going to - but it's not going to be exactly the way everybody wants. It's not going to be the ideal. But if it's--

CUOMO: But anything you get done, Congressman--

GOMEZ: Correct.

CUOMO: --is going to be historic progress in that area, since the New Deal. One last quick thing?


CUOMO: Do you believe that you'll really have something real, before he leaves, for the G20, in the middle of next week?

GOMEZ: That's our goal. And our goal is to put our shoulders down, to listen. And people are negotiating, as we speak.

CUOMO: All right.

GOMEZ: And we need a deadline. I mean, you know Congress. If it doesn't have a deadline, they'll keep debating forever, especially at the Senate. So, this is - the deadline is by the time he leaves. He has a framework in place that he can tell, on the national and international stage.

CUOMO: Right. Well, we'll see.

And I appreciate you. Welcome back - you're welcome back, anytime, to discuss it. Congressman Jimmy Gomez, God bless and be well.

GOMEZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, let me hop to break. We come back with the handoff.