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Biden Arrives In Rome After Reaching "Framework" For Spending Deal, But Infrastructure Vote Delayed Again; Sheriff Mendoza On The "Rust" Movie Set Shooting Investigation; Father Beck On Biden's Meeting With Pope At Vatican. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 28, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The Airline's CEO calls it "One of the worst displays of unruly behavior" he's ever seen.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME," live from Rome. Chris?

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

I am Chris Cuomo. And (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Roma. We're here for the G20. You know it. It's the annual meeting of top countries, to discuss world economic crises.

President Biden is on the big stage, hoping to show a new face, to allies, who are desperate for answers, and also a little bit, to save face. His Democrats continue to delay historic legislation.

As you see, Air Force One just landed.


CUOMO: And we're going to take you through the latest reason why there's no deal yet.

But don't forget, Biden's high-stakes meeting here with the Pope. There's a big controversy swirling around both of these men, the issue of reproductive rights. Now, that meeting and what message is sent, specifically by the Pontiff, may mean as much back home, for Biden, as anything that happens here.

But the buzz, certainly about the Democrats, still getting, in their own way, on spending bills that will do more, for more people, than we have seen, in a generation, still, describing the bill, by the price tag, which is now, $1.75 trillion.

My feeling? That's part of the reason that public support for these programs isn't louder, because the programs themselves are very popular, but price-tag politics, dicey, especially with Independents.

The real challenge for Biden, are the people in his own party. And he once again, implored Democrats, to do the right thing.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No one got everything they wanted, including me. But that's what compromise is. That's consensus. And that's what I ran on.

The agenda that's in these bills is what 81 million Americans voted for.

So, let's get this done.


CUOMO: Will they listen to President Biden? Can Speaker Pelosi deliver the House?

She may want to tap back in to the mother tongue of Italian. I can hear Pelosi, looking at her people, and saying, (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). "Enough! It's time to make a deal." Instead, another self-imposed deadline has come and gone.

No vote, tonight, and no real reason, for Pelosi, to keep setting markers that she has to know her party's progressives are not in line with. Listen.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I know that is something the Speaker wanted. I have signaled for days that we simply did not have the votes for the bipartisan bill, without the other bill, the Build Back Better Act, which has 85 percent of the President's agenda that we really care deeply about.

But our members have been saying for months that these two bills need to be - need to go together, and that we need to have the legislative text.

We have the text. And I really think, it's going to be - it's going to be quick here, for us, to pass both these bills, through the House.


CUOMO: Now, we keep saying, "AOC may get the hype." There's the power. Jayapal is the one who speaks for these progressives, and they need to be listened to, within that party.

Trust issues. Jayapal doesn't trust the holdout senators. And they don't trust the House. Hey, why should these people be any different than the rest of us, right? Does anyone in this country trust anyone or anything anymore? It's our biggest issue.

And how will all of this, look to parties here, as President Biden arrives, asking them to trust that America is back, as an ally?

Perfect guest to discuss the inside and outside elements of this. Here, we are, in Vatican City, in front of the big Basilica, two familiar faces, from La Familia, Phil Mattingly and Jim Sciutto. It's Italy. So, you got to talk with your hands a little bit more, all right?


CUOMO: So, inside game?


CUOMO: The deadlines from Pelosi? Yes, we understand. If you don't set a deadline, nobody does anything. But how many times do they want to keep missing their mark, before it starts to really color the perception of what should be an historic victory?

MATTINGLY: Yes, I think this would be the last time, and this is probably one too many. There's a reality on Capitol Hill. It's the oldest adage in the book. Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline.

That last deadline they missed? They made more progress in about a 12- hour period, in terms of the negotiations, than they had in the six weeks prior. Today's deadline that they missed? They were able to set a topline number. They were able to set a framework that everybody seems to be behind, right now.

But the idea of bringing the President, to Capitol Hill, making clear the stakes, making clear the urgency, saying explicitly, from Speaker Pelosi, behind closed doors, "Don't embarrass the President," and they're not being able to deliver on that? It's a problem. It's a problem for perception. It's a problem for power.

But I think more than anything else, it's a misjudgment. The idea that you can force progressives, to crack, the assumption that, "Yes, progressives have laid out their position. But if we bring this weight up here, they will have to give in."

And progressives have made clear, time and again, "We have our position. We are not moving off of it. When we get there, we'll deliver."


CUOMO: So, that's the dynamic is waiting for the progressives, to accept what's happening, or is it bouncing the ball to the other side that it's Manchin and Sinema, and will they move, like who has to move last here?

MATTINGLY: Look, it's both. And I think that's part of the problem, is they both want specific - both sides want specific things. Both sides don't trust one another. One House Democrat texted me earlier, "It's not a lack of trust issue. It's a no-trust issue, at this point in time."

Sinema and Manchin refused today, to explicitly back the framework, explicitly say that they were going to be "Yes" votes. But progressives have said, for weeks now, they want both bills. They want the text of both bills. And they want both bills to pass at the same time. The assumption has been that they would just have to move off that, if the President asked them to.

CUOMO: Never seen a party--

MATTINGLY: They haven't.

CUOMO: --fight making history, in a way that will be a generational change, for more Americans, than we've seen effected, in our lifetimes, by government policy. But here we are.

Now, so here comes Biden, comes off the plane, this is him showing the face to the world. "America's back." He wants that message. What does he need to do? And how does what's happening at home affect that?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, AUTHOR, "THE MADMAN THEORY": Listen, the President himself articulated this, as he made his case, to lawmakers, privately saying that "It is damaging to me, and the country, to arrive here, empty-handed." He's arriving empty-handed, in effect, right? And that's short-term and long-term.

Short-term, climate change is a big issue on the agenda here at G20. And, of course, when they do the U.N. Climate Summit, next week, he needed those commitments, from this legislation, to say, "Hey, this is how we're going to meet our commitments, to cut CO2 emissions," short- term.

Longer-term, Biden also articulated that this is about soft power, right? We have to show the world that democracy works. "Democracy can solve problems," because, of course, the message from China or Russia is that "Authoritarianism works," right? "We can dictate from the top, and we can solve problems better than the U.S."

So, on both those counts, for now, Biden has lost those arguments. Now, to be fair, when you talk about what is in this, if they get through the framework, this is more than the U.S. has ever spent, on climate measures, in its history.

CUOMO: And they're way ahead of a lot of other countries--

SCIUTTO: We're talking half a trillion dollars.

CUOMO: --who will be present there.

SCIUTTO: And again, there's a lot of fuzzy math here, as you know, on these things. But if these tax incentives, for solar panels, electric vehicles, and so on, work, and are applied over time, with executive action, you could conceivably cut emissions, from the U.S., by about half, in nine years.

I mean, so if you do get there, then you've made progress. Trouble is he's arriving here, for those talks, without that progress.

CUOMO: The reason - and it's not just because we're sitting here, in front of St. Peter's Basilica, but - and it doesn't matter that I'm Catholic. The issue of reproductive rights is becoming a stronghold, on the Right fringe.

We're going to spell that out for you later in the show.

What have you heard, from the White House, about what is the point of purpose, behind meeting with the Pope? Is it simply because the President's in Rome?

MATTINGLY: I think it's something, you know, it's interesting. White House officials, we've known G20, was going to be here now, for several months, actually, for longer than that, but since the President took office, certainly.

And there was no question, when the President, landed, in Rome, he was going to meet with the Pope. He goes to church, every single Sunday. He's a Catholic. He's made clear he views himself as a devout Catholic. But he's also very protective of his faith.

He understands that when it comes to abortion, when it comes to reproductive rights, that, he is in a different place than the Church. That is a problem, obviously, particularly with certain Catholics, with Conservative Catholics with, frankly, where the Vatican sits, on this issue. There's no question about that.

I think when you talk to White House officials, they make clear two things.

One, this isn't something the President is discussing, on a regular basis, with staff, his faith and kind of his view of the Church.

Two, what the Pope represents, what Pope Francis represents, on several other issues, very much aligned with where the President is talking, about climate change, talking about poverty, talking about inequity.

Those types of things, I think, are the issues the President wants to discuss, with the Pope, and, hopefully, take a unified message out, when you talk to White House officials.

CUOMO: It's very interesting to me, because I mean, you understand these issues very well. And the Pope said things, about President Biden that the Clergy, in the United States, doesn't agree with.

And it's very interesting to see what he'll do this time, when he meets, because, an interesting distinction. You're right, the Vatican's position, the dogma, on reproductive rights, is clear. The Church though, is the people.

And if you measure Catholics, they're not different, than the rest of the American population, in terms of favoring reproductive rights.

How big a deal is this for Biden?

SCIUTTO: Pope Francis too, if you want to apply politics, he's a big- tent Catholic, right? CUOMO: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean, his approach to reproductive rights, to homosexuality, right, is to say, "We welcome. We're not about excluding. We're about growing the Church."

CUOMO: "Love, mercy," he keeps saying.

SCIUTTO: That's been his message.

CUOMO: "Just focus on that."

SCIUTTO: And, by the way, if you go back to another hot political issue, in the U.S., you remember, when Trump was talking about building the wall, Pope Francis is saying, "We're about taking walls down, not bringing them up."

So, you have a lot of overlap, between Biden and Francis view of the faith. But again, as a Catholic myself, I mean, we see this division very much, in the church, in the U.S.

And oddly enough, it's interesting the leadership of the Catholic Church, in the U.S., arguably, more Right, than the Pope, right, you know? I don't want to say "More Catholic than the Pope," but more Conservative Catholic, than the Pope, on this issue. And that's why you've seen this public disagreement with Biden, public disapproval of his position, on the reproductive rights.


CUOMO: But it's very interesting to see Clergy go against a sitting pope.


CUOMO: So, we'll see how it plays out here.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, mate.

CUOMO: It's good to share history with you. As always, gentlemen, appreciate you.



All right, so Phil Mattingly, Jim Sciutto, two of the best, you'll be seeing them all through the G20 coverage, and for good reason.

Now, I want to turn to somebody, who can take us inside, what is going on, with the Democrats, a key progressive, OK? What is going on?

But I'll tell you, Ro Khanna is a twofer for us, tonight. He did something today with his Co-Chair in a committee with big-shot oil executives, we've never seen. What? Next.









CUOMO: The only question, standing between President Joe Biden, and history, legislation that first of all, no matter Left, Right or reasonable, the policies? You guys like them, better than six out of 10. It will help more people in more ways than we've seen in a generation.

But it's not happening, why? Because, of the progressives, or two senators, or leadership? Let's ask somebody, who is very much in the mix, Representative Ro Khanna, Deputy Whip for the Progressive Caucus.

Congressman, always a pleasure to have you. And I appreciate you giving straight-talk, and dealing in good faith, with this audience, for weeks, on this issue. Thank you.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I've been honored to be on.

CUOMO: So, Congressman, to cut to the quick, how long will you guys, stand in the way, of making history, with this legislation, especially when it comes to blowing your own deadlines?

KHANNA: Chris, you're absolutely right, that it's historic legislation. I think we're almost there. Within a week, we will be there.

You know, who was pitch perfect today, was the President. He came in. He touted both the "Build Back Better" bill and the infrastructure bill.

When people started chanting "Vote, vote, vote today," he didn't say that. He held up his finger, and he said "Both." And he said, "We need to get this done, over the next week." He understands where the party is. He understands clearly the divisions. And he took a prudent approach, of how to bring us together, over a week.

CUOMO: Is the history being lost on the Progressive Caucus? If you were to get half of everything that you originally asked for, you would be getting more on climate, and literally a laundry list, of people's most pressing concerns that we haven't seen in a generation.

KHANNA: You're right, Chris. And that's why there hasn't been any real progressive, who's come out, and said, "We're opposed to the $1.75 trillion topline."

I thought the President was so eloquent, particularly when he spoke about education. This is the first time, in America, we're going to have universal preschool. Every kid is going to get to go to preschool. We're going to invest in childcare. And we're going to have the biggest investment in climate ever.

The progressives are on board. What is the issue? The question is, let's just get it written, so that it doesn't get further diluted in the Senate. And I think that's a legitimate concern, to wait a week, make sure all 50 senators are on board, and get this passed, by the end of next week.

CUOMO: What is it about you Democrats that makes you love price-tag politics? The only thing that starts to dampen public interest and appreciation is the price tags. You see what's been happening with Independent voters. People get sticker shock.

Why not just keep focused on all of the gives, instead of the get, here, in terms of what the price tag is going to be?

KHANNA: You're right. You know what I've been saying? This is less than 2 percent of our GDP. We're a rich country.

And for less than 2 percent of our GDP, we can give every kid a shot in this country. We can have childcare. We can have climate investments. We can give seniors hearing aids. We can get more people an opportunity to go to community college.

And the fight between moderates and progressives is do we spend 1 percent of our GDP or 2 percent of our GDP? But ultimately, the role of government, to do, good is, what's at stake. And it's going to be historic, when we deliver.

CUOMO: What is your level of confidence, in these two senators, and really, specifically, the one who has been quiet, Senator Sinema? Do you believe that she is playing aboveboard?

KHANNA: I do, today, because I had colleagues who I really trust, Joe Neguse, Pramila Jayapal, they sat down with her. They left pretty assured that she wants to make sure that this deal goes forward.

This is the first time I felt like that. And I really trust both Joe and Pramila. So, I feel - I actually feel more confident that we are aligned on the deal.

I think what is unfortunate Chris, just being candid, and with straight-shooting is that we're having these negative headlines. And we're so close to doing something historic. But what people are reading about is "Oh, Democrats are fighting, and not delivering, and missing deadlines."

We got to get past that, and talk about what we're actually going to deliver, come together, and start talking about all the good things we're going to do. That's my concern, not whether the deal will happen. CUOMO: One quick follow, and then I want to get to the big surprise, you gave us, today. You say you trust her today, which is, I guess, in politics, that's the best you can hope for, but not enough, to vote, today, on the infrastructure bill.

KHANNA: Well, it's not just her. It's also Senator Manchin, who, I've always thought is a straight-shooter. But he's out there saying, "Well, we're negotiating, we're negotiating in good faith."

And so, there are still things that have to be worked out, the details. And that is, do we have strong climate provisions? Do we have dental and vision for seniors? Do we have Medicare negotiation?


Now, if we just say, "OK, we're going to do the infrastructure bill today, as opposed to a few days, from now," and then basically give, Manchin and Sinema, a lot more power, in finalizing that deal, why would we do that?

Why not just all be part of the process, get a deal that everyone feels good with? I don't think that's the end of the world to wait a few more days, to have that process.

CUOMO: Now, look, I've been saying all along, you guys are delaying history. Whatever you get here, you're going to be giving people more than they've seen in a generation. That is not surprising to me.

What was surprising to me is what happened today, in your hearing with big oil executives.

First, I want to play for people a little bit, of what your angle of accountability was here, because it wound up leading to a huge development. Here it is.


KHANNA: You're funding these groups. And they're really having an impact. You know? They're spending millions of dollars in Congress, to kill electric vehicles. And they're spending millions of dollars against the methane gas.

And you could do something here. You could tell them to knock it off, for the sake of the planet. You could end it. You could end that lobbying.

Would any of you take the opportunity, and look at API, and say, "Stop it?" Any of you? Will you commit to - could you commit? Any of you?


CUOMO: So, my take on it was Congressman that they just were going to take their beating, and go home. "You know? Let's just - let's just - let this guy stop talking, and get out of here."

And then, you and Congresswoman Maloney met, and came out, and said, "You know what? We're going to subpoena you, for documents, on these third-parties, and where they're getting their money, and what this messaging is about, because you're not being straight with us."

Where did that move come from? And what do you think about swinging that big a stick?

KHANNA: It was the first time that oil executives have testified, in front of Congress, under oath, Chris. Can you believe that? They've never come before Congress on climate disinformation, before. And I was actually giving them an opportunity.

Here they are. They come out, they say, they're for tackling climate change. They're for the Paris Accords. They're for electric vehicles. They're for a methane tax. And then, they're funding a group, $10 million Shell is putting into it, Exxon is putting into it, Chevron's putting into it.

The Head of that group is there. And I'm saying, "Tell him to stop the advertising against electric vehicles. Tell him not to engage in climate disinformation." And not one of them is willing to tell him to stop. And so - and they weren't willing to admit some of the past misstatements that were clearly climate denialism.

So, Chairman - Chairwoman Maloney and I talked. And we said, "We have to subpoena. We have to get these documents. We're going to get the documents." And unfortunately, it's turning out like a "Big Tobacco" moment.

CUOMO: Well, it's interesting that you make that the analog. They better hope not. But the paper has to be there. It's going to take you some time. They've got a lot of money, and a lot of lawyers. But you do have the U.S. government behind you.

We will be tracking this. You are always welcome to make the case. Huge implications for the American people!

Congressman Ro Khanna, you are really right at the crux of some very big goings-on in our government. It's good to have you. Thank you for taking the opportunity.

KHANNA: Thank you, Chris. Safe travels in Italy.

CUOMO: All right. New pictures tonight of Alec Baldwin, he's far from the Southwest, a week after a deadly accidental shooting, on his movie set, in New Mexico.

The focus of this investigation is now on two people. Baldwin is not one of them. But no one is in the clear yet. They don't know anything yet.

So, we have the Sheriff, leading this investigation. What matters, and why? Next.








CUOMO: We keep hearing the same thing, when it comes to digging into what happened, on this movie set, with Alec Baldwin.

There's no reason that a live round should ever be on set. This is make-believe. I can't even believe they still use real guns. We keep saying "Prop gun." These are real guns. And that's why filmmaker Halyna Hutchins is dead.

Detectives say "No one has been cleared in the investigation." Now that's being read by too many people as "Ooh, they're going after somebody." No, they're just starting their investigation. Why would they clear anybody?

There is an increasing focus, however, on two people, in particular, who handled the weapon, and what they have told police, about how chain of custody here got screwed up, because it did.

Court documents reveal 24-year-old armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, told investigators "No live ammo is ever kept on set." Well, how can that be? Then, what blew a hole in Halyna Hutchins?

Assistant Director David Halls acknowledged he didn't check all the rounds, loaded in the weapon, before handing it to Alec Baldwin, and saying "Cold Gun." That is the reporting. Why did he say that, if he didn't check?

His quote is he "Could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn't, and couldn't recall, if Hannah spun the drum," meaning turned the round barrel part, behind the barrel, where the ammo is.

All right, let's bring in the sheriff, leading the investigation, Sheriff Adan Mendoza.

It's good to have you on PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: Now, Sheriff, it's not fair for people, to be making, an issue of you, not clearing anybody. You're just starting. It would be completely unreasonable, for you to say that you are clearing anybody, at this stage. I understand that.

But, as you're entering into this, what are your avenues, of concern and consideration?

MENDOZA: So, I think, obviously, we want to get statements, from those involved, those who were that - that were closest to the incident.


Again, the focus is on the firearm, and the live rounds, the possible live rounds that we found, and the live round that was discharged. So, the focus is how that live round, ended up there, who brought it there, and why it was there? That's the focus of our investigation.

CUOMO: Sheriff, you say, possible live rounds. You don't know whether or not any of the rounds you collected, are live or not?

MENDOZA: Well, right now, they're suspected live rounds. They appear to be similar to the round that was discharged, by the firearm, by Mr. Baldwin.

But that won't be determined, until they're analyzed by the FBI crime lab, in Quantico, to verify that they are live rounds. But they have - they will be analyzed, and they will be sent off to the crime lab.

CUOMO: There's a confusing question, maybe you can clear up that it's going to take many months. We had some reporting before. We know what killed Halyna Hutchins. Why would it take so long to process, what happened with her? And what else could have put a wound in her like that, except a live round?

MENDOZA: Well, I think it's clear that a live round was discharged by the firearm, based on the fact that it did kill Ms. Hutchins, and it wounded Mr. Souza. That round - that projectile has been recovered. So, there's no question that this live round was fired from the weapon.

What makes it complicated is there are so many people on set. There's a lot of interviews to be done. And there's a lot of clarifying questions, like I stated, in reference to why that round was there, who brought it there, and what was it doing there?

So, it's going to take some time. We want to have a complete investigation, for the District Attorney, so she can have all the information, and facts, so she can make a decision, whether charges are necessary to be filed.

CUOMO: Do you believe people are cooperating fully, and truthfully, to this point?

MENDOZA: Well, the focused individuals have given initial statements. But again, we'd like to get these people back, and have some follow-up questions.

And we understand that some of these individuals have retained counsel. And we're hoping that they'll be cooperative in the investigation, come back, clarify some of the questions that we may have, and help assist gathering the facts for this, for the case. CUOMO: At this point, in the investigation, can you say whether or not you believe that you are contained, within the world of negligence, recklessness? Or do you believe that some of this could have been intentional?

MENDOZA: Well, it's too early in the investigation, I think, to determine whether those three things happened.

I use the word "Complacency." And I think that's very clear that there was a complacency, when, it came to safety protocols, when it comes to the ammunition, and the firearm.

Now, whether that reaches the level of negligence, and whether that reaches a criminal level, I think, that's yet to be determined. It's still early in the investigation.

CUOMO: What would you need to see to say that this wasn't just doing the job badly? This was doing it so badly that it rises to the level of a crime?

MENDOZA: Well, I think there's a lot to prove there. I think it's going to be a totality of the circumstances. And that may be based on what happened, at the scene, and what happened, during the incident.

But we're going to - we may look further than that. We may look at the history of what's happened, on other sets, the concerns that for people that were - that were on the set, if there were any.

And we're going to obviously, follow any avenue, to determine if there were other safety protocols that weren't followed. So, it's going to be the totality of the circumstances that obviously that we're going to be looking at.

CUOMO: And, just quickly, Sheriff, were you surprised to learn that they're using real weapons, and blank ammunition, and dummy rounds, still in this day and age?

MENDOZA: I wasn't surprised. I guess my question is, is why? And why did they need them? And why was there a fully functional firearm there?

There may be a reason. But I'd like somebody to explain that to the - to the investigators, and reference to why that is absolutely necessary. But, in my mind, there should be no reason that there would be live rounds on the set.

CUOMO: Sheriff, appreciate you. And I wish you good luck, in getting answers that are complete and quick.

MENDOZA: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

So, we are here, in Vatican City. President Biden is now here as well. He just landed, when we started the show. He's going to be meeting with Pope Francis, tomorrow. [21:35:00]

Reproductive rights is heating up as a big issue. You know what's coming in our Supreme Court, back in America. How will it play here?

We have something very interesting. There's a stark division between the man, who runs, the shop behind my shoulder, and Conservative bishops, in the United States. And it is playing out in ways, that you may not even know, when it comes to reproductive rights.

So, where is our country, on this issue? Where are Catholics? Where are other Christians? You're going to learn something about what this issue is really about.

We're going to have the Wizard of Odds. And then, we're going to have somebody, who is a player in this game. Next.








CUOMO: President Biden is going to make history, on Friday. He'll be only the second Catholic President, to meet with a sitting Pope.


Now, last time it happened, was nearly 60 years ago, 1963, JFK, Pope Paul the Sixth. It was also controversial then. Kennedy was still overcoming anti-Catholic sentiment. And he would be now perceived, as "Taking orders from the Pope, on how to run the country." Thankfully, that kind of stigma seems passe. At least I hope it does.

But President Biden's trip isn't without its own controversy. The issue of reproductive rights is heating up in America, and it is becoming a fringe political cudgel.

So now you have an interesting division, happening within the Catholic Church. Bishops say the President shouldn't be allowed to take Holy Communion, because he supports women's reproductive rights. But it's not what the Pope says.

Now, where are the people? Less than half of Americans say, religion, Catholicism or otherwise, is important to them. What should we make of this meeting, and what this issue means to Americans?

That's why I brought in The Wizard of Odds on this, Harry Enten, not a theologian, but he is a statistician, and he can help us understand, why this is much more, about politics, than it is about faith, at this point.

So Harry, let's look at just where we are, in this issue, and then keep getting deeper and deeper, into the types of people.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Sure. I know. No one would ever confuse me being a theologian. A statistician, I think, you're right.

Look, here's the situation. If you look at Americans' position, on abortion rights, what you see is, number one, the vast majority of Americans support it. 61 percent want to keep it legal, at least most of the time.

You also can look at whether or not they want to overturn Roe v. Wade. 70 percent say "No, they don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade."

Now, let's get a little bit deeper, right, and we can look at different religious blocs, because I think that really sort of gets at that this is a majority position, who want abortion to stay mostly or always legal.

Look at this on your screen. What you essentially see is, with the exception of White evangelicals, just 20 percent of them want to keep abortion mostly or always legal, Catholics at 56 percent, they do want to keep abortion mostly or always legal, even White non-evangelical Christians, 60 percent, Black Protestants, who can be quite conservative, 64 percent of them want to keep abortion mostly or always legal.

And obviously, not a big surprise, the, religiously unaffiliated, 83 percent of them want to keep abortion mostly or always legal.

CUOMO: Now, do you see this as kind of architecting what this issue is becoming, which is not so much about religion, in general, but about fringe-right politics, as evidenced by the evangelical White community?

ENTEN: I think so. Look, one of the things that's really sort of changed, on the abortion issue, over the last 30 years or 35 years, is whether or not it's moral, right? There were a lot of people, who used to believe that abortion should stay legal, but they didn't view it as a morally acceptable position.

You go back to 1987, you see, just 26 percent of Americans believed that abortion was morally acceptable. Look at that now, in 2021, it's up to 47 percent. Meanwhile, the morally wrong stance, believing abortion was morally wrong, look at that, it dropped from 62 percent, down to 46 percent.

So, it's not just that Americans believe that abortion should be mostly or always legal. It's also that they're starting to say, "You know, it's OK, if someone should get an abortion. It's not something that should be kept hidden."

And we've obviously seen that, and a lot of women coming out saying that "I have had an abortion in the past. And it's an OK thing to do."

CUOMO: We often point out to people, you and I, that you have 50 U.S. senators that were elected by less than a quarter of the country. And that when you look at congressional districts that are Republican, you also see that they are evidencing minorities of populations, that they're mostly White, but that they're a minority.

ENTEN: Sure.

CUOMO: And you see it with this issue, is that they're playing to a minority position on this. It's not where the country is. It's not even where most religious people are. Is it, Harry?

ENTEN: No, it's not. What they're really playing to is Republicans. That's who they're playing to.

And there's still about a third of the Republican base, who believe, in abortion rights, in one way or another. But two-thirds of that base does not believe in that. And they're the ones, who are driving the nomination process.

And you see it in a guy like Donald Trump, right? He used to be pro- choice. He used to believe in abortion rights. That was the one big thing, in which he really changed in 2016, in order to win the nomination, and then win the presidency.

CUOMO: Harry Enten, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Now, this isn't just about politics.

ENTEN: Enjoy Italy!

CUOMO: Thank you, brother.

It is about religion. And there is an interesting dynamic to this meeting between the Pope and the President. And here's why.

Clergy, back in the United States, are basically saying that Pope Francis is wrong about this. Now, not only is that not their place, but it makes for a very interesting argument about position.


My next guest is someone you know. He is a priest. He's a member of the Catholic Clergy. But I also believe he became a casualty, in this division, between the Clergy, in the U.S., and their own Pope.

I want to talk about what the faith says, what Father Beck has said, and what happened, as a result, next.








CUOMO: Whether President Biden should be allowed to take Holy Communion, is dividing Catholics, and not just Catholics, but really, Catholic Clergy, and their Pontiff. It's a hot-button issue. It's big in politics. But the implications go beyond that.

Let's welcome back, friend of show, Father Edward Beck.

Good to see you father, as always.


CUOMO: The last time you and I were together, here in Rome, was for the Conclave, where then, Bergoglio, from Buenos Aires, became Pope. And, in fact, Father Beck was one of the only people, to suspect that he may be the choice. It was a big deal.


So, you've always had good insight into him. What are the implications of this meeting, for the Pontiff, and the President, tomorrow?

BECK: Well I think there's some very important issues that they want to discuss. I think they talk about what's possible, Chris, and where they meet together.

I mean, the Coronavirus is important to both leaders. And I think Pope Francis is a little concerned that there are developing countries that haven't received the vaccine, and that other countries are hoarding it a bit. I think he's going to talk to President Biden about that.

The Climate meeting is coming up in Glasgow. This is a Pope, who wrote a whole encyclical, on the environment, "Laudato Si," really important to him. I'm sure he wants to talk to Biden about that.

He wants to talk about immigration and migrants. Look what happened with Haitians, recently, on our own borders.

All these things really affect this Pope. So I think he's going to focus mostly with Biden, tomorrow, on issues of commonality, and where they can work together, for change, and really have some productive things happen.

CUOMO: Do you think that El Papa will take the opportunity, to say, "And to those Clergy, in the United States, who don't seem to like what I say, remember who's number one here? If I say that Biden can receive Communion, and I'm meeting with him now, that's what you should say, too."

Isn't it supposed to work that way in your church? BECK: Yes, well, first of all, it's "Our church." You happen to be Catholic too. So, don't just call it "My church." But with that correction, in mind--

CUOMO: Not when I'm a journalist!

BECK: I don't think the Pope is going to talk about Communion, with Biden, at all. I think that they both know, where each other stand, on Communion.

He's going to leave it up to the Cardinal of Washington, Wilton Gregory, and the Bishop in Delaware, who will deal with President Biden, with regards that issue. The Archbishop of Washington has already said he's not going to withhold Communion.

So, I don't think there's any reason, for the Pope, to get into this. And the Pope wouldn't talk, complain to President Biden, about how Clergy are treated him in the United States, I don't think. I don't think that's what he would do, with the President, tomorrow.

CUOMO: Yes. But it does seem to be that he's been getting pushback, from the Clergy and the Catholic Church.

And look, let's let people into your own individual situation.

Father Beck said the exact same thing that the Pope said. He adopted the Pope's position, about President Biden.

Then, all of a sudden, he gets asked to no longer be in a diocese, that he, and his Order, the Passionists, that he's a member of, had transformed in a year, out by where I live, changed the reality, for the people in that community, at the church.

All the sudden, the Bishop says, "Father Beck doesn't have to be here anymore," and won't give any reason.

Do you believe it had something to do with the fact that that Bishop doesn't agree with what the Pope said that you repeated?

BECK: Well, I think it's very likely. Again, it's speculation, on my part. But when the Bishop visited, in May, everything was hunky-dory, what a great job we were doing, I was doing, very grateful.

And then I wrote an OpEd, for, in June, about this whole issue of Biden and Communion, agreeing with Pope Francis, and other major religious leaders, by the way, in this country, including Cardinal Gregory, and Cardinal Dolan, and Cardinal Cupich, in Chicago, who do not think that Communion should be used as a divisive wedge.

And then I went on some CNN shows, to talk about the OpEd. And by August, I was given my walking papers, from the diocese, with no explanation. When we would, ask, "Well, why am I not being renewed? Why can we not stay?" he would say "It's simply the case. We're not giving any reason."

And so I think that that was the reason because that's the only thing publicly that was controversial that I weighted into, during that interim period.

CUOMO: The Pope keeps saying to the Catholic Church, back in America, specifically, "Love, mercy, focus on that, love, mercy. Don't get caught up in the rules. Don't get caught up in who's right, and who's wrong. Don't get caught up in politics."

And it seems that people, even the Bishop, in over your diocese, was choosing to play politics, instead of just loving mercy.

Father Edward Beck, you make me proud, to be a Catholic. And I'm proud to have you in my life. And I'm proud you spoke the truth. Thank you.

BECK: You make me proud too. Thank you, Mo. Miss you.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

We'll be right back with the handoff.



CUOMO: There'll be a whole big bunch of us, CNNers, working the G20, from now, all through the weekend of events. I'll be here on "NEW DAY" in the morning. We'll be back here, tomorrow night, in Vatican City. So, thank you for watching.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now. And D. Lemon has a very big show tonight.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, Chris, you will be interested in this as well, all of our viewers.

I got to sit down with the jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial, the George Floyd murder trial, the jurors who found Derek Chauvin, guilty of the murder of George Floyd. And man, listen, it is unbelievable, what you hear from these jurors, how they - what they focused on.

And quite honestly, surprising to me, you're going to hear tonight, Chris is that they didn't really talk that much about race. It was based on the evidence. And it was also based on, they say, Chris, not what Derek Chauvin did, but what Derek Chauvin did not do.

And they did their citizen - their duty, as a citizen, as citizens. And the verdict has been reached. And they should be respected for it.

CUOMO: And now, just so people understand, Derek Chauvin is not a regular citizen, when he's in that uniform, and on the job. He has duties.


CUOMO: He has responsibilities that go to what his actions are supposed to be, and his inactions are supposed to be about.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: So, it's not like "Well, how do, you commit a crime, if it's about what he didn't do?" Because he has a duty to act--

LEMON: To care (ph).

CUOMO: --and also a duty of inaction.