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Pres. Biden Speaks On November Jobs Report; Alec Baldwin: I Didn't Pull The Trigger. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 11:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It fully covers the cost of its investments by making the largest corporations and richest Americans pay a little more in taxes. I think that's a trade-off that's worth making. And by the way, those very business are going to do better having a better educated and more available workforce. Having those who've done very well pay their fair share is just the right thing to do in order to provide a little breathing room for millions of American families.

Throughout our history, we've emerged from crisis by investing in ourselves. And so, we're going to keep at this. We're going to keep making progress for our families and for our nation. I promise you that's what's going to happen. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops and keep everyone safe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, Mr. President, your voice sounds a little different. Are you OK?

BIDEN: I'm OK. I have a test every day to see, a COVID test. I -- they check me for all the strains. What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who had a cold, who likes to kiss his Pop. And he'd been kissing my -- anyway, so but it's just a cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, on COVID policy, it seems like the administration is starting to soften some of the language. There's this new op-ed where you talk about COVID and we're going to beat it back. Are you no longer going to shut it down?

BIDEN: No, we got to beat it back before we shut it down. Look, it's going to take time worldwide. In order to beat COVID, we have to shut it down worldwide. In the United States of America, we're doing everything that needs to be done to take care of the American people within our borders.

But look what's happened. You know, we were starting to make some real progress, and then you find out there's another strain. And the idea that you can build a wall around America to keep any COVID from around the world out is not there.

And besides, that's one of the reasons why, I know we get criticized, I get criticized for not doing more for the world. But we've done more for the world in providing vaccines available and help than any nation -- all -- every other nation in the world combined.

In addition to that, in addition to that, we've also, with regard to India and other countries and we're working around the clock. Remember, I suggested we suspend the patents, let everybody be able to have access to this so they can make the vaccine in their own countries.

And thirdly, in Southern Africa for example, South Africa has all the vaccines they need, and they don't want any more vaccines now. One of the things I'm considering is how can we help them deal with the issue of the -- as I said before, the biggest challenge we had in the beginning of this administration, in my view, was not getting the vaccines produced although that was not easy, and I've got to give, you know, President Trump, early on, went out and -- he got them to do the research to try to get the right vaccines.

But logistically, logistically, getting the vaccines from a container that gets delivered to you, to a hospital, to a state, to you, and getting it in someone's arm, that's a very, very difficult thing. And we did it better than anybody in the world has done it. But we got to try to help other people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Given that there are now multiple cases of Omicron here in the U.S., are you considering requiring vaccines for domestic travel or any other new measures for domestic travel?

BIDEN: The measures that I announced yesterday are, we believe are sufficient to deal with the proper medical precautions to deal with the spread of this new variant. We are doing, as you know, at NIH, as well as among the manufacturers, a lot of research to see the extent of its how quickly it spreads, how deadly it is, et cetera, et cetera.

But we do require for travel, we're going to continue to require people to have masks on, masks on, and in public places, and so, and federal buildings. So -- but I don't, at this point, because let me -- I think I know a fair amount about this issue. But I'm not a scientist, so I continue to rely on the scientists and asking them whether or not we have to move beyond what we did yesterday. Right now, they're saying no.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is happening in Ukraine, and what -- on the border between Ukraine and Russia? And what are you going to do about it?


BIDEN: I have been in constant contact with our allies in Europe, with Ukrainians. My Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor have been engaged extensively. And what I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do. But that's in play right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Putin soon, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you talk to Putin this morning, Mr. President?


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We've been listening there. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. You just heard President Biden speaking about several topics, the pandemic Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the November jobs report, jobs report showing hiring hit a speed bump falling well, short of expectations last month, just 210,000 jobs added well below expectations.

Let's get straight over to CNN, John Harwood. He's live at the White House for us. John, what stood out to you from what we just heard from the President?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, he's got a cold, which he acknowledged everybody could hear that in his voice. And he got a question at the end of the news conference in which he said he's tested for COVID all the time. This is simply a cold that he got from, he thinks he got from his grandson.

Setting that aside, on the economy of course, he unsurprisingly skipped over the most disappointing part of this very uneven jobs report, which was the just 2,000 -- 210,000 jobs added much below forecast. He noted that previous months have been revised upwards, which is true. The measurement has gotten very uneven in the last several months during the pandemic, but he focused on the large drop in the unemployment rate down to 4.2 percent.

And how far it's come down since he took office, after taking credit for some of the steps that he's taken that have, he argues has produced that unemployment drop. He pivoted to the current things that he is doing, including pushing the efforts to control the coronavirus, a multipart plan, which he outlined yesterday.

He said he did not think he needed to go beyond that he got a question about whether domestic air travel, a requiring proof of vaccination should be part of domestic air travel. That's something that some public health experts have urged on him. He said that the people he's listening to say that's not necessary at this moment. And then he talked about efforts to smooth the supply chains and get inflation under control.

He talked about the recent decline in gas prices and targeted gas companies, said he wants to look into whether there's been gas price manipulation. And then he argued for his Build Back Better plan, saying that that would boost the economy, raise taxes on corporations, and try to help Americans with costs in their day to day lives.

And finally, he talked about the Russian menacing of Ukraine said he's putting together a plan that seeks to raise the cost of potential invasion on Russia, but didn't outline what the components of that plan would be.

BOLDUAN: At the moment, keeping that close to the vest. Thank you so much, John, I really appreciate it. Let me -- let's dig deeper into this jobs report. And what we just heard from the President. CNN global economic analyst, Rana Foroohar is here, she's columnist and associate editor for "The Financial Times," as part of the President's remarks, Rana, he said, simply put America is back to work. But it is not as simple as that when you look at this report.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, it's not it's a very complicated report, it reflects the sort of creative destruction that we're seeing in the economy right now and have seen for the last couple of years. So, you know, even before the Omicron variant became an issue, you were seeing still some issues with rising cases with Delta variants in the Midwest and the Northeast that was weighing on jobs numbers, you know, understandably, travel and tourism jobs were down.

But in other ways, you saw a lot of strengthening, logistics, transport. These are just booming. In fact, there are shortages as we as we all know, and jobs for truck drivers, ports, et cetera. So it's a very mixed report. Also, it depends on which surveys you're looking at, you know, a lot of the traditional corporate hirings down.

But when households are surveyed, they say that they're working more so there could be interesting mixes of the gig economy in there, you know, people mixing up different jobs. It's really, really hard to tell where we are and that is typical in pandemics.

BOLDUAN: Well, and that's what I was going to ask you because this report is confusing, but why is this so confusing?

FOROOHAR: Yes, well, you know, honestly, when you look back in history, big events, pandemics, financial crises, wars, these are when economies and societies just shift really dramatically and I mean one thing that we can all see around us happening is the geography of work changing, right?

I mean, a lot of companies aren't bringing people back five days a week, it's going to be two days, three days, folks have moved, you know, two or three hours outside of city centers. You see states like Indiana or Texas booming as opposed to coastal areas.


All this is going to take months, if not years to settle out. And it's going to make a difference in terms of what kind of hiring gets done, where the hiring gets done. We are in a period of massive creative destruction in our labor force right now.

BOLDUAN: The labor force participation rate increased for the month to I think it was 61.8 percent. And what I've seen is that's the highest level that it's hit since March of 2020. Since the crisis since this pandemic really began. So right, people are looking for jobs. FOROOHAR: They are absolutely and you know, when people can't find work, or can't go out, and look, they're typically citing COVID concerns or childcare concerns. And it's interesting that in this infrastructure bill has just been passed, there is quite a lot of money in there for childcare for early childhood education. So I think that you're going to start to see some of those things abate, but it takes time.

You know, the President was rightfully pointing out some of the progress that's been made around infrastructure reports, et cetera. But things like childcare and working out, you know, how families are able to get to jobs, that really does take time, I think we're going to be months away from really seeing things shake out fully.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And the pandemic is, well, basically, driving and in the background and driving all of this, what the Omicron variant, what becomes of it, how serious of a concern it is, we've already seen that amongst investors, as we've kind of followed that wild ride. But since the summer speaking of wild rides, every month numbers, Rana, have been revised up, what is going on here with these revisions? What story does this tell?

FOROOHAR: You know, I think it tells a story of the way we look at the labor force being kind of outdated. And this is something I've talked to the White House about this. I've talked to the Labor Department, folks in Washington are working very hard to come up with new and better metrics of how we measure who's working and where they're working.

I mean, just think of all the shifts that we've all gone through. I'm talking to you from my home office right now, on a broadband connection. Lots of people are working in different ways. We don't always measure those things correctly.

And so I think that that's why when you're giving a little more time, you often do see those revisions upwards. There's entirely new ecosystem of work right now. And we don't understand it as well as we should.

BOLDUAN: And we don't understand what Omicron means in all of this. When do you think you, when do you think when it -- when we're talking about the economy if and how much, I think a healthy dose of if, Omicron variant impacts the economy?

FOROOHAR: It's a great question. You know, part of that is going to be about the science. And I think that that's going to play out over the few months, particularly as we see whether the vaccines are as effective as they have been with Delta and whether we come up with new vaccines, but part of it is about what the Fed is going to do.

You know, one of the reasons I think that, yes, we've seen volatility in the markets, but you know, stock prices are still pretty high compared to what's been going on at the ground level in the economy. That was in part because the Fed had a bond buying program, rates were very low. We've heard Powell saying that may change in the New Year, and that's something I'm going to be watching very carefully, you might start to see some big corrections once the market realizes that that tailwind from central bankers really keeping the markets up is starting to go away.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you, Rana, thank you so much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Alec Baldwin speaks out about the film set shooting that killed cinematography, Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin insists he is not responsible for her death.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: You felt shock. You felt anger. You felt sadness. Do you feel guilt?


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: No, no. I feel that there is, I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is. But I know it's not me.


BOLDUAN: Alec Baldwin speaking out for the first time about the film set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Baldwin telling CBS -- "ABC News" rather that he did not pull the trigger and insisted someone else is responsible for Hutchins death. Baldwin was emotional throughout this lengthy sit down especially as for he remembered the filmmaker. Here's a look at his conversation with George Stephanopoulos.


BALDWIN: She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with and liked by everyone who worked with and admired. I'm sorry. But admired by everybody who worked with her.

Well, the trigger wasn't pulled -- I didn't pull the trigger.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you never pulled the trigger.

BALDWIN: No, no, no, no, no, I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never. No that was the training that I had. You don't point a gun at somebody and pull the trigger.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So this Colt 45, you just pulled.

BALDWIN: The hammer as far back as I could without cocking the actual gun.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're holding on to the hammer.

BALDWIN: I'm holding, I'm showing. I go, how about that? Does that work? You see that? Do you see that? And then she goes, yes, that's good. I let go of the hammer, bang, the gun goes.

Everyone is horrified. They're shocked. It's loud. They don't have their earplugs in, no one was, the gun was supposed to be empty. I was told I was handed an empty gun or they were cosmetic whereas nothing with the charge at all, a flash round nothing. She goes down. I thought to myself, did she faint? The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me to pop up, it'd be 45 minutes to an hour later.

At the end of, she was laying there. And she was there for a while. I was amazed at how long they didn't get her in a car and get her up. But they waited in a helicopter came. And by the time the helicopter took off with her and literally lifted off, we were all glued to that process outside.

When she finally left, I don't know how long it was she was there, 30 minutes, 40 minutes because it seemed like a very long time. But they kept saying well, she's stable, like nobody. Just as you disbelieved that there was a live round in the gun, you disbelieve that this is going to be a fatal accident.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you didn't know exactly how serious it was.

BALDWIN: The very end of my interview with the sheriff's department they said to me, we regret to tell you that she didn't make it, she died. They told me right then and there. And that's what I went in the parking lot I called my wife.


BOLDUAN: And there was so much more to this. Joining me right now is Dutch Merrick, he's a prop master and armorer who's joined the show previously and been very helpful and also with us CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Dutch, I want to ask you what you think of how Alec Baldwin describes what he was doing with the gun. What he says happened in that moment, when it fired. I mean he says he didn't pull the trigger, pulling the hammer back only as far as he could without cocking the gun. What does that mean to you?

DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER & ARMORER: Well, the way those guns are set up, there should be a half-cocked position, sort of a halfway in between, which is where you'll spend the cylinder to load it or unload it. So if he had pulled it back past that point, almost to the point of engaging the hammer all the way back, it should have dropped into the half cock.

So if it didn't do that, and I went past that, was there a malfunction in the gun? Or did he not pull the hammer all the way past the half- cocked where it would have stopped, there's a bit of a safety mechanism in there. Either way, when he did release the hammer, as he says, it was pointed at Halyna.

BOLDUAN: So there's still even with more explanation, if you will, there are still a lot more questions to be investigate -- to be looked into Dutch.

MERRICK: Well, what really came to my attention during that interview was he describes the physical positioning the relationship of the people in the room. And it sounds as though, Halyna, the director of photography was to the right of camera, what we call camera right would be as Alec is looking, she would appear left of the camera.

And then she was focused at the little monitor on the side of the camera. And I imagine this typically is the case with the director of photography or camera operator, they're very laser focused on just what's in that box. And they're not paying attention to what's here because that's their job. So she could have been giving him guidance, as he said, move the gun this way, this way, that way. OK, that's the spot.

Which means Alec was then pointing at her, which is odd in the sense that what was Alec focus on that he didn't know that he was pointing at her or he was just following orders. And there was no armorer there to say hey, that's an unsafe move. Don't point it there or she cannot stand there at that moment.

BOLDUAN: Let me play actually one of the moments when Stephanopoulos asked what we've heard from a lot of people, which is, you know, what we've heard from a lot of people since this has happened which is never pointing a gun at someone on set. Let me play this.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well there's some who say you never supposed to point a gun at anyone on a set no matter what.

BALDWIN: Unless the person is the cinematographer has directed me where to point the gun for her camera angle. That's exactly what happened.


BOLDUAN: So then Dutch with your experience, what do you think of that of what he said?

MERRICK: Well, the rule is true. You're never supposed to point at a person, the -- unless it's pointed at the cinematographer. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. Of course, had the armorer been in the room to observe that process and guide that blocking of the camera.

They would have immediately said no, you can't point the gun where that person is or let's have her step away and put the monitor on the other side of the camera where it is safe so those are very common practices if we do a scene like that. It's very common, you just move the monitor the other side, have the people stand over there where it's safe and there's no risk at all.


BOLDUAN: Interesting. Elie, what do you think of that?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So that looked like it was a very heartfelt interview and the statements that Alec Baldwin made seemed very genuine. But he also said some things that were really important legally, including the point we just made, right?

He said, one of the big issues of exposure legally that Alec Baldwin may have had is this idea that you never point a firearm at somebody even if you think it's unloaded, as Dutch just said, but Alec Baldwin explained in his accounting, the way that happened was Ms. Hutchins was directing me and had me manipulated where I pointed it to the point where I was pointing it at her.

So Alec Baldwin understands that everything he just said in that interview is fair play for a civil suit, potentially for a criminal suit, although there's no particular indication that he's in potential criminal trouble. And I think he thought it was important to make that point. It is an important legal point.

BOLDUAN: Elie, I also as you noticed as you watch again, I mean, he was very emotional throughout the interview. But when he was asked directly, he says, he does not feel guilt. Let me play that moment.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You felt shock, You felt anger. You felt sadness. Do you feel guilt?

BALDWIN: No, no. I feel that there is -- I feel that someone is responsible for what happened. And I can't say who that is. But I know it's not me. I mean, I honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. I don't say that lightly.


BOLDUAN: Elie, what do you think of that moment, which also leads to what do you think of him doing this interview at all before the investigation is complete?

HONIG: Anytime a person speaks in public, while there's a pending investigation, pending lawsuit, it's a risk to that person. And there are two particularly loaded words legally here that you could tell Alec Baldwin was on the lookout for guilt and responsibility. And what I read into that clip is what Alec Baldwin was told is look, you cannot acknowledge guilt or responsibility because those two things can come back to haunt you in court.

You can talk about your emotions. You can talk about your reaction, but watch out for those words. And you could see him said, you know, steering very clear of guilt and responsibility and focusing more on his emotional reaction, which is a safer place to be.

BOLDUAN: Dutch, I wanted to ask you because Baldwin says it very clearly like to him the only question to be resolved is where did that live round come from, where did that bullet come from? Someone brought those live rounds in on the set, and how they ended up in the gun. From your experience whose ultimate responsibility is it to make sure any weapon is safe on set?

MERRICK: Well, firstly, I would say that that's not the only question. There's several questions and it's maybe the biggest question is why and how there was a live round one or more on the set. But there's the entire chain of custody of the gun and how did it get loaded and how did it get handed to the first AD and it went to the actor without the normal processes?

It's really jarring to think that somehow a real round got onto a film set it's number one on the firearm safety bulletin for motion pictures and television is no live ammunition anywhere on a studio lot. Under the extremely rare situation where someone would need to shoot live rounds for a scene, they would go to a shooting range and be under very carefully controlled circumstances.

So is it something that migrated into a box of dummy rounds, somebody made them homemade or made them of poor quality or were rounds mixed up at a range on a previous day and brought onto set, any one of a number of combination of things could happen.

The rumor about the plinking has yet to be verified. The sheriff had reiterated that someone has said that that day or earlier they had taken the prop hero gun and done some actual live shooting with it. But that has not been verified. So I highly doubt that was the case.

BOLDUAN: So a lot of questions still. Dutch, thank you very much, Elie, thank you.


Coming up for us, new rules going into effect just days, stricter testing requirements for all travelers coming into the United States, what you need to know next.