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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Sheriff Says Search Warrant Issued For Property On Set Where Alec Baldwin Fired Prop Gun, Killing Cinematographer; Judge To Hear Trump's Case Against January 6th Committee In November; Reports Say Trump Telling People He Will Run Again In 2024; Facebook Papers Show How The Company Failed To Halt "Stop The Steal" Movement; Authorities Trying TO Determine How Brian Laundrie Died; Pfizer Says Its Vaccine For Ages 5 To 11 Is 90.7% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid; Supreme Court Grants Expedited Review Of Texas Abortion Law But Again Lets It Stand For Now. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 22, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news and unanswered questions in the fatal shooting with a prop handgun on the set of an Alec Baldwin movie that wounded the film's director, Joel Souza and took the life of the Director of Photography, Halyna Hutchins.
It happened near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin himself pulled the trigger and harder than might be to believe, this is at least the third such deadly incident involving prop firearms.
In a moment, new word on working conditions on set specifically whether safety protocols were followed. We'll be joined by a "Los Angeles Times" writer who contributed to the reporting on that.
First though, the call to Santa Fe County 9-1-1, which was obtained by CNN affiliate KOAT, usual warnings about difficult content apply.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Santa Fe Fire and EMS, what's the location of your emergency?
CALLER: Bonanza Creek Ranch. We've had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.
911 OPERATOR: Okay.
CALLER: Bonanza Creek Ranch. Come on.
911 OPERATOR: Stay on the phone with me. We're going to get some help, okay? Don't hang up, okay? Hold on just one second.
CALLER: It sounds like somebody else is calling for two ambulances -- you better make sure. My goodness. Everybody should be -- we need some help, our director and our cameraman -- our camerawoman has been shot.
Are they going to take them to the road?
911 OPERATOR: So was it loaded with a real bullet or what --
CALLER: We don't -- I don't -- I cannot tell you that.
911 OPERATOR: Okay.
CALLER: We have two injuries from a movie gunshot.
911 OPERATOR: Okay, we're getting out there already just stay on the phone with me, okay?
CALLER: No, no, no. I'm a script supervisor.
911 OPERATOR: How many people were injured?
CALLER: Two that I know of. I was sitting, we were rehearsing and it went off and I ran out. We all ran out. They were doubled over, the AD, and the camerawoman and the dir-- and the director. They are clearing the road so they can come back.
We're back on the r -- we're back in the town. What's it called? Back in the western town.
911 OPERATOR: Is there any serious bleeding?
CALLER: I don't know. I ran out of the building, but we need (inaudible) --
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, I still have to go through these, okay? Are they completely alert?
CALLER: We don't know. I can't tell.
911 OPERATOR: Hi. I have protocol questions I need to ask. If you can just answer them the best you can, okay?
911 OPERATOR: Are they completely alert?
MAN: Um, yes. They are alert.
911 OPERATOR: Okay. What part of the body was injured?
MAN: I'm not sure. I'm not in there.
911 OPERATOR: Okay. That's fine. Is there more than one wound?
MAN: I think there's one on two individuals.
911 OPERATOR: One wound on two individuals. Okay? MAN: Yes.
911 OPERATOR: Okay, I am sending the ambulance to help you now. Stay on the line. I'll tell you exactly what to do next, okay?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: As we mentioned, there are many unanswered questions here as CNN's Lucy Kafanov is working the story for us, joins us now from Santa Fe -- Lucy.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson we've been told that a search warrant has been issued for the Bonanza Creek Ranch where this incident took place. Sheriffs tell us that they'll be carefully combing through the property this weekend searching for clues and evidence they say that they do not expect to update us before Monday.
Now, the DA's Office say they don't know at this stage whether any charges will be filed as authorities try to piece together how this tragedy could have taken place.
KAFANOV (voice over): Tonight, actor, Alec Baldwin says he is fully cooperating in the investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bonanza Creek Ranch. We've had two people accidentally shot.
KAFANOV (voice over): Officials say they are still in the initial stages of their investigation into what led to the fatal incident when Baldwin discharged a prop weapon on set.
Director Joe Souza rushed by ambulance to a local hospital with injuries. The film's director of photography, Halyna Hutchins was pronounced dead after being transported by a helicopter to the hospital. Police continued to interview witnesses and are looking into what type of projectile was fired from a prop gun commonly used on movie sets that aren't without their own risks.
JOSEPH FISHER, PROP MASTER ON MOVIE SETS: Prop weapons do have a dangerous factor to them, even though they're a lot safer than using live fire on onset.
KAFANOV (voice over): Forty-two-year-old Hutchins who posted on Instagram from the New Mexico location only days ago lived in Los Angeles with her husband and son and was credited in the production of dozens of film, TV, and video titles.
Today, Baldwin tweeting from the account he shares with his wife, "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins. I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family."
These tragic accidents and movie sets have happened before after Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee was killed in 1993 on the set of the movie "The Crow" when a fragment of a dummy bullet became lodged in a prop gun, which fatally wounded Lee in the abdomen. Shannon Lee posting on her brother's verified Twitter account, "Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joe Souza, and all involved in the incident on 'Rust.' No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period."
COOPER: And Lucy, have we heard anything from the families of those who were shot?
KAFANOV: Not Joel Souza, who possibly is still in the hospital. We have heard from the husband of Halyna -- pardon me, Hutchins who spoke out to insiders saying quote: "I don't think there are words to communicate the situation." By all accounts the 42-year-old was a rising star in the film world, but also just in, Anderson, prior to Thursday's incident, prior to the shooting, there have been new news reports indicating that several crew members actually quit the production over concerns about safety, COVID safety procedures, but also apparently gun safety procedures.
These are according to reports by "The LA Times" and other media outlets. Obviously, we're trying to track that reporting in further detail -- Anderson.
COOPER: Lucy Kafanov, appreciate it.
We have more actually on that reporting tonight from "The Los Angeles Times." Here's a passage attributed by "The Times" that three people familiar with a matter who are not authorized to comment. I am quoting now from "The LA Times," "Safety protocol standard in the industry, including gun inspections were not strictly followed on the 'Rust' near Santa Fe, the sources said. They said at least one of the camera operators complained last weekend to production managers about gun safety on the set."
Joining us now is "LA Times" writer, Anousha Sakoui. Anousha, thanks for being with us. What are you able to tell us based on your reporting about the on-site conditions?
ANOUSHA SAKOUI, WRITER, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, I just want to shout out my colleagues, Meg James and Amy Kaufman as well, who, you know, have been updating the story this afternoon. And we've all been sort of like, you know, all hands at it trying to confirm what's happened on this set.
The information is sparse, but what we've been able to confirm is that about half a dozen camera crew workers walked off just before, you know, hours before this incident happened. They had actually turned up that morning to collect their gear and had witnessed other -- according to our reporting -- others sort of non-union crew coming to sort of replace them, and that is sort of relevant because obviously when -- you know, a lot of Hollywood production is unionized, and with that comes certain training and qualifications and whatnot. And so that's one of the big things is that they -- the crew were
unhappy, part of the crew were unhappy walking off. Part of that was about gun safety, misfires that some of the crew have reported. And also, you know, being asked to drive 50 miles from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, which is something that is really a big issue for crew generally, which is adding to long days and tiredness.
COOPER: The -- was this a -- I assume this wasn't a big budget film. It sounds like they were sort of -- I mean, if they're telling the crew to drive, you know 50 miles, instead of staying in Santa Fe, I guess, to save money. Do you know about the budget?
SAKOUI: Yes, my understanding is that this is a low budget movie, probably just a few million dollars. We don't obviously have the exact numbers, and they fall under a different sort of category of contract that, you know, productions work on. Different with major movies and that, you know, that are made -- and TV shows in Hollywood.
Those require, you know -- major contracts require certain amount of rest between days and so forth, and actually earlier this week, you probably know there was going to be a strike over the terms of these contracts. That was called off because crew were offered by producers as part of a deal, you know, a guaranteed 54-hour break from what was zero.
So you can kind of get an idea of the working conditions. And, you know, to my understanding, these low budget productions are not necessarily having to adhere to the same kinds of protocols.
COOPER: I understand, you've learned more about the cinematographer who was killed and what she had been advocating for in terms of safety on the set.
SAKOUI: Yes, so Halyna Hutchins had been you know, as your reporter had said, a rising star and also, you know, rare to have a female cinematographer in the industry, you know, rising up and also doing genre films like a Western and she had apparently been advocating for safety on the shoot. And, you know, I guess felt alone or left behind by her crew, colleagues, and she sort of stayed, but she was obviously upset and in tears as had been reported by the situation before this fatal incident happened.
COOPER: It's just so awful for her family and everybody involved. Anousha, appreciate it. Anousha Sakoui, thank you.
COOPER: Joining us now is Larry Zanoff, who has 59 film and TV series to his name. He is a gun handler armorer. Also with us, because of all the questions this raises potentially about civil and criminal liability, CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
Larry, I appreciate your time tonight. This is obviously still an ongoing investigation. There are limited details we have, just in layman's terms, can you then walk us through how prop guns are usually handled on film sets and the safety guidelines that should go along with them?
LARRY ZANOFF, HOLLYWOOD WEAPONS EXPERT: Of course. In the television and film industry, the safety guidelines and protocols when handling firearms are governed by safety bullet number one, the correct recommendations for handling of firearms and blank ammunition on set. That gives us all of the guidelines required for what we do with the guns, how we handle them, how they're stored, as well as the blank ammunition, all the protocols as well.
They are very stringent protocols. The firearms are always under the control of the prop master or someone designated by the prop master and that is usually the armorer to be responsible for the firearms when they're on set.
COOPER: And I mean, have you come across scenarios where projectiles of some kind are found in prop guns, even if the prop gun has whatever -- you know, whatever they have that that makes it look like it's firing a real bullet, is that something that can become a projectile?
ZANOFF: Yes. I have not personally myself come across a situation like that. And of course, as you mentioned earlier, we really don't know yet exactly what the situation was. So, I hesitate to speculate on that at this time.
COOPER: What is normally in a prop gun?
ZANOFF: Usually, if you see gunfire on set, it's a firearm that is set up to shoot blanks. A blank is a form of cartridge where in the real world that cartridge would include a bullet or a projectile, which is the part that goes flying downrange. A blank does not have that projectile.
By design, it is created so that we can simulate gunfire. You can get the audible bang, you can get smoke and some flash coming out the muzzle, but no projectile is propelled downrange.
COOPER: And Laura, you heard this "LA Times" reporting about alleged concerns among some crew members about safety on set. Again, we have no idea if that has any impact on what occurred. If it's accurate, I mean, what are the potential legal liabilities here?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know what a tragedy. It's so unfortunate to even be talking about this. But when I hear the words about complaints, the immediate legal term that comes in my mind is notice -- that somebody was on notice about safe or unsafe working conditions. And if that's the case, it can trigger a whole range of things in terms of civil liability, in terms of who was in charge and making sure that the workplace was safe, that whatever safety protocols should have been enforced or implemented were in fact followed.
And if complaints were told or said that indicate that there was a lapse of either due care or the normal course of due care you're supposed to expect, then you have issues.
You also have, frankly, on the criminal side, nobody wants to try to introduce that. We understand why it's not -- you know, we don't know anything in terms of the intent or anything, but the law does recognize the idea of there can be some liability even in the case of an accident.
Now, New Mexico does have a code, a statute that talks about excusable homicide -- homicide, meaning death at the hands of another person. It doesn't necessarily mean intentional murder or premeditation, which we don't have any indications occurred here. But if it's a matter of misfortune they're talking about or accident, as long as the person was engaged in an otherwise lawful act and they exercise, the due care that you would ordinarily expect, then you do have some ways to alleviate that liability.
But there are so many concerns that have been raised, the reasons you've given, but really it comes down to what was known, what protocols were actually followed, and whether due care was actually used.
COOPER: Larry, with a prop gun, is there a certain distance between actors that is advised, you know, if it's going to be fired? Also, if even if it's not in a scene, would an actor under the rules be handed a prop gun to just kind of hold on to or even during rehearsal hold on to?
ZANOFF: Yes, so as far as the minimum safety distance goes, it's not advised, it is mandated. Part of the protocols mandate that there's a minimum 20 foot safety distance between the muzzle and anything that could be harmed by any potential hazard.
COOPER: Twenty feet. Wow.
ZANOFF: Due to the blank gun -- now, there is a lot of different ways that you can film a scene. You can do it with long lenses where the camera is actually much further away than 20 feet. If you, for whatever reason, had to be within 20 feet, you could put up a physical barrier, in other words, a sheet of Lexan that can actually separate the muzzle from anything that's in the danger zone of that 20 feet. So there's a lot of different possibilities there.
As far as an actor not being in the scene, handling a weapon, if the gun is not in front of camera and it's not ready to be used in front of camera, it should be secured by the prop master or someone designated by the prop master and that is usually the armor and then just before the scene is filmed, the guns would be returned to the actors.
COOPER: Larry Zanoff, I appreciate your expertise and I'm sorry that it's needed tonight in this circumstance. Thank you so much. And Laura Coates as well, thank you.
All right, up next, there is breaking news in the January 6th investigation where the central pusher of the big lie and a key figure in the scheme to overturn the election now has a date to testify. Later, new reporting on Facebook and January 6th, what the company's
own analysis reveals about how it failed to halt the growth of the movement dedicated to the election lie.
COOPER: There is breaking news tonight about the senior Justice Department official the former President was scheming with to overturn the election. In fact, he nearly named Jeffrey Clark, acting Attorney General the highest law enforcement official in the land and was only stopped when faced with the threat of mass resignations in the Department of Justice.
Now two sources familiar with the House Select Committee's investigation say Clark will testify a week from today. This comes at the end of the day that also saw a Federal judge set a November 4th hearing date on the former President's executive privilege claim on January 6th related documents.
More now in all of this from CNN's Evan Perez who joins us from the Capitol. So, what more do we know about Clark testifying before the committee?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is -- he is going to be testifying as a result of the subpoena that the Committee issued. His former bosses Jeffrey Rosen, Rich Donoghue, the former Attorney General -- Deputy Attorney General at the time, they testified voluntarily, and so this testimony, which we expect to happen next week really will give this committee a window into a central character of that drama that happened in those days, those key days, the end of December, early January, when Trump was trying to get the Justice Department to weigh in on his side and these baseless claims that there was fraud in various states.
And so we know that Clark was having conversations with Trump. One of the things the Committee wants to know is who was he working with, besides Donald Trump himself? Some of the legal things that he was trying to do, some of the legal documents that he came up with, was he working with others inside the U.S. government? Was he working with people outside? Those are the questions that are at the top of the mind of the members of this Committee.
COOPER: What about the upcoming hearing in the former President's executive privilege claim? Is there any expectation on that?
PEREZ: Well, yes, so this is going to be a big hearing, Anderson, because I mean, look, after five years, you know, we keep talking about the norms that Trump broke. This is another example of this. Donald Trump is going to go to court claiming that he has the right to intervene and try to stop some documents from being produced from the National Archives to the January 6th Committee.
The current holder of the office, Joe Biden has waived privilege on this set of documents and we have not really had a legal fight like this before. And so we're going to see what this judge does. We expect, probably that Donald Trump will lose at least in the first round, but it's not going to be over then. You can bet that he is going to try to appeal and we'll see what -- how this shakes out.
COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it.
There is new reporting in AXIOS outlining the extreme likelihood of the former President being the 2024 Republican nominee, CNN political analyst and AXIOS Managing Editor, Margaret Talev shares the byline. Also with us tonight, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, advisor for Presidents of both parties since the Nixon administration.
Margaret, I want to ask you about some of your latest reporting that the former President is thinking seriously about running again, even going so far as to tell some of the people around him that he is running. Can you just talk about more of what you've learned?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Anderson, I mean, I don't know whether Donald Trump is actually going to run again, whether he could actually get elected again, given that he is still perpetuating a lie that the election was stolen, and given his role on January 6th, but Mike Allen and I are hearing from people close to the President now that there has been a shift since the end of the summer until now that they now believe it is definitely more than 50 percent likely.
And another person told me this week that if Republicans win the Senate as well as the House next year, this could be irresistible to President Trump.
COOPER: And, David, what do you make of that?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the signs are just as Margaret says. They are saying that he is increasingly interested. Strikingly, Anderson, his interest seems to intensify when he sees Biden in trouble.
During the Afghanistan situation, he was really chomping at the bit. According to various reports, he had to be talked out of it. And now with Biden's approval rating sinking down into the low 40s and the economy still not straightening out, and the pandemic still not over, you know, that just makes Trump very, very hungry.
I think it's going to take something usually unexpected or a dramatic change in his health or a prison sentence to stop him.
COOPER: And Margaret, the former President has been obviously endorsing, you know, loyalists who back his fraud claims around the country. He is still clearly pushing the big lie. That would -- I assume be part of his campaign. He can't stop talking about it and pushing it. Is there any sign that it's cost him politically?
TALEV: You know, there is new polling this week, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows more than three-fourth, it is almost eight in 10 Republicans who say they want Trump to win. It's very early. It's too early to read anything really lasting into poll numbers.
If you look at the overall numbers, a majority of Americans definitely do not want him to run again, and a majority of Independents even are against it. But that's not what primaries are about. Primaries are about the base and there are a couple of other factors.
David is right. All these things -- Afghanistan, bad jobs numbers, Biden's numbers going underwater, but there are a couple of other things to watch. One is the acceleration of this January 6th Committee. One is out at his own rally in Iowa, and the last part that I will keep an eye on is the really intense Republican anger around both the school masking rules and what is happening with the backlash against public schools teaching really anything about racism that gets put under this umbrella of critical race theory, but it's not about illegal theory, it is lessons teaching children about the modern day impacts of the legacy of racism that these have been galvanizing forces and that Trump sees different opportunities, a different window for what a 2024 run could look like.
COOPER: Your reporting also some really interesting information about Mike Pence.
TALEV: Yes. Yes. Look, obviously Trump is keeping an eye on everyone who could be competition for him. Is it Ron DeSantis? Is it Mike Pompeo? We know it's not Nikki Haley. She's already said if he is on the ballot, she's not going to run.
But Mike Pence notably has not said that and Donald Trump is paying attention. Could Mike Pence beat Donald Trump at a primary? No Republican that I talked to thinks so. But could he make it really interesting? And what would he say? He was the Vice President and an extreme loyalist until this breaking point around January the 6th, and even now, he is careful in his critique and his criticism and the way he talks about it.
So where is this all going? I don't know. But this is a subject of actually intense interest among Trump and his allies.
COOPER: Yes. I'm sure -- I mean, David, can you imagine Mike Pence running if the former President is running? I mean, that seems hard to imagine.
GERGEN: No, no, no, it does. It would be -- wouldn't it be a dramatic contest that all of us would follow with great interest? It would have almost Shakespearean qualities to it.
But Mike Pence and his various pronouncements has made it pretty clear, he doesn't really care what Trump's going to do. He's going to do what he wants to do. And if Trump gets in, fine. He obviously would prefer him not to get in.
I would also, Anderson suggest, it is time keep an eye on the Republicans in the Senate. There are many anti-Trump rebellion that is happening there of senators who are really worried about losing the Senate if this race can be turned to contest about Trump himself for Trump versus Biden. And it may be that after a long, long period in which all these Republicans have been held hostage by Trump that a few influential people will follow McConnell and start challenging him.
TALEV: It is interesting, you know, we talk about what impact it would have on turnout for 2022 that Trump isn't on the ballot, but I think in a sense he is. His allies say he is much more likely to run if Republicans win back both chambers, and we haven't seen it yet, but I think we'll see whether Democrats are going to start really leaning into that argument to try to turn out their voters next year.
COOPER: Interesting. Margaret Talev, fascinating reporting, thank you. David Gergen, as always, thank you.
Breaking news on dissent within Facebook in the wake of the insurrection, what some inside Facebook were saying about the company's culpability leading up to the attack on democracy.
COOPER: Busy night, more breaking news what CNN has learned from internal Facebook documents about how the company fell short in tamping down the so-called Stop The Steal movement that culminated in violence on January 6. Facebook spokespeople as you know have touted their effort but now we're learning from these documents that internally, it was viewed as a different story.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has the report.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On January 6, Facebook executives condemned the attack on the U.S Capitol, but internally, some employees began to push back. Facebook they suggested was culpable one writing an internal Facebook company chat, all due respect, but haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence. We've been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control. Another wrote, they were tired of thoughts and prayers from Facebook leadership. There were dozens of stop the steal groups active up until yesterday and that her Facebook employee responded.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Stop that steal, stop that steal.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Stop the steal, the conspiracy theory movement that helped fuel the insurrection had been organizing on Facebook for months.
(on-camera): How did you guys hear about this event today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Through facebook.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Facebook events, Instagram, how have you been?
SCOTT PRESLER, STOP THE STEAL ORGANIZER: Yes. Well, I created a Facebook event for yesterday's event. And I posted after the fact that we were again coming today I will be again making another event in regards to tomorrow.
JOAN DONOVAN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, HARVARD SHORENSTEIN CENTNER ON MEDIA, POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY: Facebook provided the fundamental coordinating infrastructure, they were sharing ride share information, they were sharing resources they were talking about, you know what they were going to wear and if they were going to have Trump flags.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): We now know that an internal Facebook report describes the company's attempts to crack down and Stop The Steal as piecemeal. That document leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who spent her final months at the company photographing thousands of internal documents and company chat logs.
DONOVAN: These documents are vindication that what we've been saying as a field has been true all along, and that Facebook knows it and could take action on it and decides not too.
LAWRENCE LESSIG, ADVISOR TO FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER FRANCES HAUGEN: For many years, people have been talking about the Facebook effect what Facebook is doing to culture to society to politics, but we didn't really know from data from Facebook, whether these theories were true. What Frances has given us is an extraordinary archive of material that helps us see exactly what's going on and what they know is going on. And it is the biggest and most important contribution to understanding this incredibly important problem that we've ever had.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The leaked documents many just becoming public were given to a consortium of news organizations, including CNN formed the basis of a complaint to the SEC, where Haugen alleges the company misled investors and the public about its role perpetuating misinformation, and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6, insurrection.
(on-camera): Facebook executives, like Nick Clegg will say, it's unfair to blame Facebook, for the insurrection.
DONOVAN: It's a red herring to say people are blaming Facebook for the entire thing. That's not what's happening here. And you can't at the same time be Facebook and trying to take responsibility and being very proud of all the organizing work that you've helped Black Lives Matter do or the Occupy Movements or Standing Rock, you can't take credit for all of that, and then say, oh, that thing called the insurrection we had nothing to do with that.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Another revelation from the documents an internal memo, including details of a Facebook staffer setting up a test account to see what Facebook's algorithms were recommending to users.
Two thousand nineteen, a Facebook employee sets up an account designed to look like a 41-year-old conservative mom living in North Carolina. Her name is Carolyn Smith. She likes a few pages. She likes Trump. She likes Fox News. But in a week, she's getting a QAnon recommendation. I saw in there, that after three weeks, there was actually a recommendation for a page that was the three percenters the militia, self-described militia involved in the insurrection.
LESSIG: Yes, no, I mean, again, we've suspected this dynamic.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes.
LESSIG: What's striking about what Frances has revealed, is that we now know that Facebook itself saw this precisely. So these are like potato chips that they feed to somebody who's got a potato chip addiction, and that is the reality of the platform. It is an addiction engine, and it profits, the more it can manipulate us to consume what we want to consume most.
COOPER: Donie, how is Facebook responded?
O'SULLIVAN: Hey, Anderson. Yes, Facebook, stressing that it wasn't just them, right? A lot of this stuff the Stop The Steal content, of course, was on Twitter and YouTube too. Specifically here's a statement from a company spokesperson Andy Stone, he said the notion that the January 6 insurrection would not have happened, but for Facebook, it's absurd. The former president push a narrative that the election was stolen, including in person a short distance from the Capitol building that day. The responsibility for the violence lies with those who attacked our Capitol and those who encouraged them, he says Facebook has a long track record of cooperation with law enforcement, including the agencies responsible for addressing threats of domestic terrorism.
But Anderson, I just want to highlight there from that report. I mean, what's really remarkable and what really is insightful about all of this is that test account, Facebook itself set up as a 41-year-old conservative mom living in North Carolina in the summer of 2019 liked a few conservative pages on Facebook within a week was being dragged down a QAnon rabbit hole, and within three weeks was being recommended pages about the tree percenter militia.
COOPER: Fascinating. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it as always.
Up next, the latest on the identification of Brian Laundrie's remains, will investigators be able to determine a cause of death.
Plus, new information from the family attorney who says he spoke with Laundrie before he vanished.
COOPER: As you know the search is over for Brian Laundrie but there are more questions about that after the discovery of his remains this week in a Florida Preserve. Laundrie vanished last month of course after his fiance Gabby Petito's reported missing but before she was found strangled to death and Wyoming.
Now, the Laundrie family attorneys revealing some details while investigators trying to determine how Laundrie died.
Our Randi Kaye joins us now from North port Florida. So, talk about some new information you have about conversations Laundrie had before he disappeared.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, I spoke with the Laundrie family attorney tonight Steve Bertolino, and he confirmed to me that he had two conversations with Brian Laundrie before Brian disappeared. Those took place on September 12th and September 13th. Remember Gabby was reported missing on September 11th. So these are key dates in the investigation. And then on the 13th is when Brian disappeared.
I asked him what took place during those conversations, what was said, he said that was privileged information and he could not tell me, Anderson.
COOPER: What's the latest on the investigation?
KAYE: Well, right now we don't have a cause of death. But we do know from the family attorney that Brian's remains have been sent to a forensic anthropologist, remember these were just skeletal remains they were bones he was identified by dental records. So, this type of expert will really study these bones and hopefully come up with a cause of death and even a time of death because the family lawyer is also saying that he had discussed with Brian's parents the possibility that Brian took his own life. So of course Anderson, they are looking for some answers.
COOPER: And is anything known about Brian Laundrie state of mind before he disappeared?
KAYE: Well, there are some clues possibly in this notebook that was found along with his remains and some personal belongings. We know from a source close to the investigation telling me that this notebook is possibly salvageable. We don't know what's in it, but it's possible that he wrote something to give an indication of his state of mind or maybe about something that he had or hadn't done. The parents are not talking about Brian Laundrie state of mind, but the lawyer is he spoke to WABC, and he was asked about Brian's state of mind, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BERTOLINO, LAUNDRIES ATTORNEY: Chris and Roberta knew that their son, Brian was grieving. They knew he was so upset. And, you know, they just couldn't control that he was leaving and he left he walked out the door, and Chris has said to me I wish I could have stopped them but I couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And the timing of this is key because if he was grieving on September 13th, remember there hadn't been a homicide reported yet, Gabby Petito's remains hadn't been found yet. So what was he grieving about? What did he know? And what did he share with his parents? [20:45:11]
The family lawyer was asked about that on Good Morning America this morning, what if anything, Brian Laundrie had told his parents, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERTOLINO: That's not something I can comment on right now. And I'd like to just leave it at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well if you can't comment on it means you know something about it.
BERTOLINO: Well, I think everybody out there knows that, you know, whether the family or myself have some information to share, but you know, there's not much we can say at this point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And the Laundrie family lawyer was asked on Good Morning America if the Laundrie parents had any message for the Petito family, and he said, we have absolutely nothing to say with respect to the Gabby Petito incident. Anderson back to you.
COOPER: Randi, appreciate it.
Quick programming note, join Randi later tonight for an in depth look at the Gabby Petito investigation. The "CNN SPECIAL REPORT GABBY PETITO AND THE HUNT FOR JUSTICE" is on at 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.
Coming up, what Pfizer is saying about the efficacy of its vaccine for children ages five to 11. And a private school in Florida, where students who get a COVID shot are told to stay home for 30 days. Experts say that doesn't make sense.
Next, what our Gary Tuchman discovered when he talked with parents
COOPER: Pfizer has released new data showing its COVID vaccine is 90 -- 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID in children ages five to 11. On Tuesday, an FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet to discuss whether the agency should grant emergencies authorization for the shots for that age group. Children 12 and older can already get it.
And for those students at one Miami private school strange vaccine mandate is in place. Any student who gets a shot must stay home for 30 days. The problem is it's based on bogus claims. The Florida Department of Education has sent a letter to school officials telling them they should review their policies and conform to Florida law.
Our Gary Tuchman has more on the controversy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oscar Ascanio has a son who goes to Miami Centner Academy.
OSCAR ASCANIO, CENTNER ACADEMY PARENT: Well, you know, I think he's a family decision. And we should respect you know, like everybody privacy.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): It is a family decision, but it makes everyone safer because so many people have gotten the vaccinations, tens of thousands of people are not dying.
ASCANIO: There's a lot of people who get the vaccine and is dying right now.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): That's not true.
ASCANIO: No, it is true.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): No, it's not.
ASCANIO: Fox News says the truth.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Fox News as a shoe but that's definitely not true. It's false. That's the problem.
ASCANIO: Fox News is the one that you can get, you know, like --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Let me just tell you, sir, the greatest scientists in the world know that this vaccine is saving life. So my question for you --
ASCANIO: (INAUDIBLE) is not the best scientists in the world. That's just my opinion, you know.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Yes, you're hearing bad information, sir. But with all due respect, I wish you good health.
ASCANIO: Thank you so much, same to you. Have a great day.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Thank you.
(voice-over): Alex Serrano has three children who go to the school.
(on-camera): When you got the letter that said the children would have to stay home for 30 days if they got the vaccine. Did you say to yourself, I'm glad they sent that out?
ALEX SERRANO, CENTNER ACADEMY PARENT: Yes. And I sent an e-mail to the owners of the school saying that I'm in complete support of the policy and thanking them for it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Parents here say the letter banning vaccinated children from returning to school for 30 days also declared that children who get the vaccine could potentially transmit COVID to other children, which is certainly not true. The school released a statement saying the policy as a prudent precautionary measure. The owners of the school or a woman named Leila Centner and her husband David Centner. This spring after Leila Cetner sent out another email declaring that teachers who get vaccinated can't come here, the students. She told CNN --
LEILA CENTNER, CO-FOUNDER, CENTNER ACADEMY: There were all sorts of evidence and stories that came out that said potentially unvaccinated people are being impacted by being around vaccinated people.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): There is no such evidence.
The Centner Academy has one building for preschool students and kindergarteners, a separate building for first through eighth graders. Most of the students aren't yet eligible for vaccines, but they soon will be. One child who soon will be is the daughter of this woman.
(on-camera): You are very relieved she's not in that school anymore.
IRIS ACOSTA-ZOBEL, FMR CENTNER ACADEMY PARENT: Very relieved.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Iris Acosta-Zobel, and her husband pulled their first grade daughter out of the Centner Academy last spring without getting any of their tuition back. Because they got more and more scared of the increasing anti-vax and anti-mask views at the school.
ZOBEL: The school encouraged the students to take their mask off.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And they told your daughter, your six-year-old daughter take your mask off.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And did your daughter tell you about that?
ZOBEL: She told me and she says, why -- you know why are you teaching me this but the school is saying this? So --
TUCHMAN (on-camera): It must have been infuriating.
ZOBEL: It was a very stressful time.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Academy is a non denominational school. Records from the Federal Election Commission do show that both Leila and David Centner donated very large amounts of money to Republican candidates and organizations. For example, both of them made separate donations to the Trump victory committee in 2020. Their donations, a half million dollars apiece. Leila Centner is active on social media conspiracy theories on her Instagram account, including this strange one declaring they told us the sun will give you skin cancer, but in reality, the sun prevents skin cancer. Of course that's untrue. Neither Centner would agree to talk to us this time around.
But some of the parents we talked with the school say they respect and admire her. However many parents have pulled their children out there respect if it ever existed, gone. ZOBEL: You don't indoctrinate, you educate. And much of what's happening there is an indoctrination that follows her beliefs.
COOPER: And Gary joins us now. So the letter I mentioned from the Florida Department of Education that was sent to the school, what's the school's response.
TUCHMAN: So the Department of Education told the school that it needs to respond to Anderson, my five o'clock Eastern Time today drum roll it does not appear the school responded. I can tell you that Department of Education says its investigation will be thorough.
If it shows that student rights were violated, they say the school could be punished which could include the stripping of scholarship funding. And as of now, there's no evidence at all. No public evidence that the school is worried. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks.
Up next, the Supreme Court's decision to act with some but not all deliberate speed on the new Texas law banning abortions after six weeks.
COOPER: The Supreme Court today said November 1st to hear challenged the Texas law barring abortions after just six weeks before many women even know they're pregnant. In setting a day just 10 days away, the court acted quickly whoever did not put the law on hold leading Justice Sonia Sotomayor to write in a stinging dissent to the decision, quote, the impact is catastrophic. I cannot capture the totality of this harm in these pages.
Justice Sotomayor pointed out that even though the court had agreed to fast track oral arguments that would offer quote, cold comfort to women in Texas seeking abortion care.
Just last month the court agreed to allow the law to go into effect in a divided five to four order, release late at night on the courts emergency docket.
The news continues right now. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thank you, Anderson. I'm Chris Cuomo and welcome to "PRIME TIME."