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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Pfizer: Vaccine For Kids 5-11 Is Nearly 91 Percent Effective In Preventing Symptomatic Infection; White House: Biden "Deeply Engaged" In Negotiations As Deadline Looms; Migrants Arrested In Texas Border Crackdown Being Jailed Without Formal Charges, Legal Aid; State Department: Nearly 200 Americans Still Trying To Leave Afghanistan; Prosecutors: Unclear If Charges Will Be Fired In Death Of Filmmaker; Former DOJ Official Who Pushed Baseless Election Fraud Claims Expected To Testify Before January 6 Committee. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 22, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RAZIA JAN, CNN HERO: That gives me hope. Maybe it won't be the same, but we can do something to educate these girls because I'm not going to give in.
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And THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Vaccine news that could make Halloween the least horrifying day of the year.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Pfizer says its vaccine is super effective in little kids. Will they be able to get the shot by time for trick-or-treats?
Absolute shock on the movie set. Alec Baldwin responding today after he killed a woman with a prop gun in what appears to be a tragic accident.
Plus, a town in Michigan has its water supply cut off after poison was found in the pipes. Critics say this is a clear case of environmental racism.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We start today with our health lead -- vaccines for little ones ages 5 to 11. It's close. Pfizer says their dose, which is one-third the size of an adult dose, is safe and almost 91 percent effective in preventing any symptomatic infection in kids. As parents eagerly wait for those shots for their kids before the holidays, tens of millions of more American adults can now get a booster shot. The CDC director last night gave the final green light for eligible
people who got the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
CNN's Alexandra Field now weighs through the confusion about the guidance for mixing and matching booster shots as the CDC gives a sort of yellow light, saying it's okay to switch the brand of vaccine you use for boosters. They are leaving it up to you.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This is really great news because we now have a booster plan for all three COVID-19 vaccines.
FIELD: More protection for millions more Americans. Moderna and J&J boosters joining Pfizer now going into arms. And the CDC chief says people can choose which booster shot they get.
WALENSKY: Some people very well may prefer to get the vaccine they originally got but the CDC will allow new recommendations to mix and match. And we do not indicate a preference.
FIELD: The CDC also appealing to pregnant and nursing women to get vaccinated and to get boosters when eligible.
WALENSKY: We have relatively low rates of vaccination for pregnant women in general.
FIELD: Dr. Fauci says soon, even more people could be eligible for booster shots.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I would be rather confident that as we get further and further over the next weeks to months that the age limit of it is going to be lowered.
FIELD: FDA advisers meet next week to decide on shots for children as young as 5. They'll review new data from Pfizer posted today showing their vaccines are nearly 91 percent effective against symptomatic COVID among 5 to 11-year-olds. And that the vaccine appeared safe and there were no incidents of myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle in the trial.
The White House is already laying the groundwork to get the smaller doses into smaller arms.
WALENSKY: The administration is working really hard to make sure the vaccine is in the field so we can get started vaccinating immediately.
FIELD: And, Jake, there's also a really interesting new study out today. Since nearly the beginning of the pandemic we've been talking about the cases of brain fog experienced by people who have had COVID. This study is showing us that brain fog can persist for months after the illness and not just for people who have severe cases of COVID and end up in the hospital but for people who never go to the hospital. They are also coping with brain fog for months according to this study.
TAPPER: All right. Alexandra Field in New York, thanks so much.
Joining us now, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a cardiologist and a professor of George Washington University Medical Center.
Dr. Reiner, good to see you.
Take a listen to the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALENSKY: We will not boost our way out of this pandemic. Even after you boost, it remains important for us to remain smart about our prevention strategies while we still have over 93 percent of our counties with high or moderate community transmission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How much urgency should people eligible for a booster shot take to get that extra dose?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think they should do it right away. What we know is after six months, the efficacy of this -- of these vaccines to prevent infection wanes significantly. And the sooner you get boosted, the more your protection is.
I think if you've been -- not I think. We know if you've been vaccinated, you're very unlikely to get severely ill, should you get a breakthrough infection. But it's going to take you out of action for a couple of weeks. And more importantly, it then makes you more likely to infect somebody else who may be vulnerable, either unvaccinated or immunocompromised.
So I think everyone who is eligible for a booster should get a booster.
TAPPER: The CDC's official stance on mixing and matching, so if you got a Pfizer vaccine, whether you get the Moderna, J&J or Pfizer booster, their official stance is, quote, we will not articulate a preference as to whether or not you should stick to the same brand.
But shouldn't people exercise some discretion? We know, for instance, people who are worried about blood clots with the J&J vaccine, shouldn't they get one of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine boosters? And if people have a history of heart inflammation, shouldn't they stay away from Moderna or Pfizer and get a J&J booster?
REINER: Absolutely. I think the CDC missed yet another opportunity to be clear with the public. What I've been telling my patients is the following. If you haven't had any issues with your first do doses of an mRNA vaccine, stick with the mRNA vaccine. TAPPER: Just to be clear, the mRNA is Pfizer and Moderna.
REINER: Pfizer and Moderna.
REINER: So, if you've had Pfizer, get a Pfizer booster. You've had Moderna, get the Moderna booster which is actually a reduced dose. It's half dose. If you've had J&J, I think most people would benefit from getting mRNA booster, not the J&J booster, particularly women under the age of 50 where we saw that rare but serious complication of cerebral venous thrombosis.
So, I would suggest again, to keep it simple, if you've had one dose of the J&J vaccine, get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as a booster.
TAPPER: And most importantly, talk to your doctor if you've had any sort of side effect one way or the other.
REINER: Probably the first thing to do is talk to your doctor.
TAPPER: Yeah. You heard Alexandra mention this study that shows a quarter of patients in the Mount Sinai Health System Registry had brain fog, a quarter. It was worse for people who had been hospitalized with COVID but also happened in people who were not hospitalized with COVID.
What causes this brain fog and is there any treatment for brain fog as a long haul COVID symptom?
REINER: So think of brain fog as your computer is running a bit slow. You are having difficulty processing information, recalling things, managing lists, doing more complicated mental calculations. We think it's a combination of things perhaps caused by an inflammatory response in the brain. Perhaps caused by hypoxia from the pneumonia you get with the virus. Perhaps even in some instances caused by direct involvement of the brain by the virus itself.
And again, it leads to, in a significant number of people, these problems with what we call executive function, sort of the higher process. And it can last for months. No one is quite sure exactly how to treat them. Long COVID clinics around the country have noticed this for a long time, really since the virus began. It can dissipate over time and there might be some rehab techniques to help folks get through this.
TAPPER: A study published on the CDC website shows people who got any of the COVID vaccines were less likely to die from any cause. Not just COVID compared with people who were unvaccinated. What's the significance of that?
REINER: You know, there's been this conspiracy, disinformation that the COVID vaccines themselves lead to death. That somehow, you know, the CDC and federal government have been covering up the deaths caused by the vaccines. Now this study shows, I think, very convincingly, not only is there no increased mortality associated with getting vaccinated, but, in fact, it looks like the mortality rate is lower in folks who were vaccinated.
TAPPER: Lastly, the CDC director said this morning there's been a 15 percent drop in cases compared to last week but only a 4 percent drop in deaths. Is that because deaths are a lagging indicator first whether it goes up or down, first come the cases, then hospitalizations, then deaths?
REINER: Right. So it takes about a week or so to get sick enough to get hospitalized and then it takes another week or two, sadly, to die from this virus. So, as our case loads drop, we'll see hospitalizations drop next and we're seeing that now. About 15 to 20 percent drop over the last two weeks. And then two to three weeks later, we'll see a decline in death. So it's coming.
TAPPER: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much. Have a good weekend.
Time is running out to convince the senators who could cost President Biden his entire economic agenda. Today, the House speaker offers new hope.
Plus, a tragedy born from Hollywood. Alec Baldwin responds after he's involved in a shooting death on set. A stunt coordinator who just spoke to the detectives on the case will join us ahead.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, an elusive target coming into sharper focus. House Democratic leadership aiming to vote next week on the president's infrastructure and social safety net bills. This on the heels of an optimistic Biden using CNN's town hall last night to convince the American people or try to anyway, that his plans will make a huge difference in their lives.
But a deal still does remain just out of reach, with four or five major outstanding issues including the rather important matter of how to pay for it.
As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, the White House today saying now is not the time to take our foot off the gas.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden trying to seal a deal with Democrats.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We had a very positive meeting this morning. I'm very optimistic about where we go from here.
COLLINS: Biden meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as they attempt to unite their party on his agenda.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The alternative is not a larger package. The alternative is nothing.
COLLINS: Biden optimistic about getting an agreement on his plan to reshape the social safety net and fight climate change while candidly revealing during a CNN town hall the difficulty of negotiating.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you're in the United States Senate, and you're president of the United States and you have 50 Democrats, every one is the president's.
COLLINS: Biden conceding his plan for two free years of community college won't make the final cut.
BIDEN: So far, Mr. Manchin and one other person has indicated they will not support free community college.
COLLINS: His proposal for federal paid leave slashed to one month.
BIDEN: It is down to four weeks. The reason it's down to four weeks, I can't get 12 weeks.
COLLINS: One of the most popular parts, raising taxes on corporations to pay for it, likely won't happen in light of Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema's opposition.
BIDEN: First of all, she's smart as the devil. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people. Period.
COLLINS: Also plans to expand Medicare benefits to dental, vision and hearing also now seems like a stretch.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Will all three of those still be covered?
BIDEN: That's a reach.
COLLINS: The bill is still expected to include some of the biggest Democratic priorities, including expanding Medicare, universal pre-K and billions for climate change.
Biden also taking his strongest stance yet on ending the filibuster amid attempts to pass voting rights legislation.
BIDEN: I also think we'll have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster.
COLLINS: But Biden add anything push to end the 60-vote threshold in the Senate would have to wait for the passage of his spending bills.
BIDEN: If, in fact, I get myself into, at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes.
COLLINS: Of course, Jake, we know the president doesn't have any votes to lose here and Democrats are up against a self-imposed deadline today of agreeing to a framework on that bill. But so far, no deal has been announced by Democrats on Capitol Hill, though the White House does say President Biden will continue to speak to lawmakers throughout the weekend, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
Let's go to Capitol Hill where the White House enthusiasm meets with some skepticism. Democrats can reach a deal by next week.
CNN's Lauren Fox joins us live now.
Now, Lauren, progressive Democrats are telling you that they are feeling a little nervous today?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right because the president was so specific and really laying out the contours of where these negotiations stand. It became very clear to progressives today on Capitol Hill that the center of gravity has really been moving toward moderates like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin because they have to have every single Democratic senator in the U.S. Senate agreeing to get to yes on this bill.
So they are concerned about some of the provisions on climate and whether they're going to make it in there, whether they're going to be strong enough. There are also concerns about reductions in paid family leave. It used to be at 12 weeks, now they're looking at something around four weeks. And that's something the president laid out yesterday. The child tax credit used to be many years. Now, it is just one year of a renewal. So, that's a concern for a lot of progressives up here on Capitol Hill.
That doesn't ultimately mean that they won't vote yes for this bill. They realize how important this is to the president's agenda but they argue these are all things we campaigned on. These are all popular provisions. Why are we giving in to people like Manchin and Sinema when these are things we all agreed on? Jake?
TAPPER: All right. Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
The Texas governor ordering the arrest of hundreds of migrants, throwing them in jail without charges or a lawyer. Now, some are speaking to CNN.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, accusations of constitutional rights violations in Texas after a recent surge of arrests at the border. In June, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott ordered the arrest of people on state trespassing charges if they were found illegally crossing the border. So far, around 1,300 migrants have been detained in this new crackdown. Many held in repurposed prisons without formal charges or legal representation.
CNN's Rosa Flores travelled to Texas to speak to these jailed migrants, some of whom fear retaliation for telling their stories.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He said that he was told he had rights to an attorney.
(voice-over): This husband and father from Mexico sat in a Texas prison on suspicion of trespassing charges.
But did you get an attorney?
FLORES: For 52 days without being formally charged, said his attorney. 43 of those days without access to counsel, and for weeks, without being able to call family.
He says that he just went up to his cell, started crying.
His attorneys let us interview him through Zoom, but we can't show you his face because he fears retaliation.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We created a system to arrest and jail illegal immigrants.
FLORES: He is one of hundreds of men who were arrested under Governor Greg Abbott's effort to arrest undocumented immigrants for trespassing into private property who claimed their constitutional rights were violated.
During a recent state legislative committee hearing, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission testified 155 people were arrested and went weeks without counsel.
How was it for you to be in there without knowing why you were in jail?
He says it was very frustrating.
In some cases, attorney Amrutha Jindal says the arrestees practically disappeared. Their families couldn't find them.
AMRUTHA JINDAL, ATTORNEY, RESTORING JUSTICE: Because charges hadn't been filed against them, there was no official record in the clerk's office they were even -- that they even existed.
FLORES: And while Governor Abbott announced he wanted to arrest criminals --
ABBOTT: Very dangerous people who are involved in human trafficking, drug trafficking.
FLORES: So far, over 1300 men have been arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing and the attorney whose legal aid group represents about 560 testified many of them are asylum seekers.
JINDAL: We have journalists, political activists, university students.
DAVID MARTINEZ, VAL VERDE COUNTY ATTORNEY: The facts are what they are.
FLORES: David Martinez, the Val Verde County attorney who prosecutes these misdemeanors, says that from June to September, he rejected or dismissed about 40 percent of Val Verde County cases, mostly because the migrants were seeking asylum.
Like the Venezuelan man in the body camera video showing Texas state troopers standing by an open gate.
MARTINEZ: They should have stopped him and said this is private property, but instead they even point to this general area.
FLORES: Appearing to point the migrant onto the private property, Martinez says, and then arresting him.
MARTINEZ: I rejected the case.
FLORES: The Texas Department of Public Safety declined to comment.
Martinez says that another troubling case happened in this area where 11 men allege that law enforcement zip tied them in pairs, walked them for about 20 minutes, made them jump a three-meter fence and they were later arrested by Texas troopers for trespassing.
MARTINEZ: Immediately I noticed that there was no supplemental reports from border control. There's a directive to all troopers that they tor wear body cams. When I first received the case, there were no body cams.
FLORES: In a statement to CNN, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the 11 men fled on foot into private property when they were stopped by agents. Texas DPS did not answer CNN's questions but told "The Texas Tribune" that the migrants' claims were inaccurate.
MARTINEZ: My concern was I didn't have tangible evidence that I could rely on. So I made the decision to dismiss the case.
FLORES: And though state officials testified they're now meeting regularly to ensure arrestees get counsel in a timely manner, CNN talked to two jailed migrants last week who say several men in their pods have been in jail for up to three months without counsel.
How are the men who have been there for 80, 90 days? He says that it's very depressing for them.
CNN made the state of Texas aware of this and public defenders are looking into it.
JINDAL: What we're seeing is a system that is not respecting their constitutional rights.
FLORES (on camera): I asked Governor Greg Abbott for an interview and that request was declined. Then I sent his office an email with specific questions about the content of this story. And my questions were not answered. Instead his press office sent me a statement saying it's the Biden administration that's ignoring border communities and that the state of Texas is investing $3 billion in border security.
And, Jake, I learned late last night that since I've been asking about this, the state has found at least one migrant who had been sitting in jail since May. I'm told that that migrant now has counsel -- Jake.
TAPPER: Rosa Flores, thank you so much.
Turning to our world lead. Almost 200 American citizens remain stuck in Afghanistan desperate to leave but unable to get out. This new number from the State Department represents a sharp increase in the number of Americans the Biden administration acknowledges are trying to get out of the now-Taliban-controlled country, a much higher number than the administration publicly stated at the time of the U.S. withdrawal. We do know now that 234 U.S. citizens and 144 permanent residents have safely left since August 31st.
CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now live from the State Department.
And, Kylie, in August, Secretary of State Blinken said the number of Americans who remained in Afghanistan and wanted to leave was, quote, likely closer to 100.
What is the actual number? How did they get it wrong?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, Jake, based on the information that the State Department had at the time, that's what they were saying, that there were likely 100 to 200 Americans who wanted to get out of the country who were still in Afghanistan when the U.S. withdrew. So, it's a little confusing because since then, there have been more than 200 Americans that the United States has helped facilitate get out of the country.
Now, the State Department is saying, look, this number is constantly changing. The reason for that is because a lot of these Americans, a lot of them dual Afghan-American citizens, have been changing their minds.
You know, coming forth in recent weeks saying they want to leave whereas earlier they weren't saying they want to leave. So they're continuing to support those who want to leave. I do think it's important to note two things about the moments after
the complete U.S. withdrawal. First of all, it was incredibly chaotic.
So the picture that the State Department had of the situation on the ground of those Americans may not have been as entirely complete as it may be now.
And then the second thing is that the United States didn't know exactly how many Americans in total were on the ground in Afghanistan when the U.S. withdrew. And that's because Americans who are living there or visiting there are not required to tell the State Department.
TAPPER: Kylie, what is the Biden administration doing to help these Americans get out of Afghanistan?
ATWOOD: They are continuing to help facilitate these flights out of the country. It is an incredibly challenging situation there on the ground. The humanitarian situation is, of course, on the decline. I've talked to Americans who have been frustrated by the efforts from the State Department saying that some of their flights have been canceled after they have been booked. They're also working with outside groups, the State Department, who are able to get in touch with some of these Americans, to connect them to some of the folks trying to leave.
So this is an ongoing effort, and it doesn't seem like this is something that is going to be concluded any time in the near future because there are consistently these Americans, a lot of them dual citizens, who are coming forth in recent weeks and deciding they actually do want to leave Afghanistan -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood, thanks so much.
Coming up, actor Alec Baldwin shoots a prop gun on set, and it kills one person and injures another. We're going to talk to a Hollywood stunt coordinator who is also talking to detectives working the case. That's next.
TAPPER: In our national lead, a horrible tragedy on a film set in New Mexico. Actor Alec Baldwin says he is fully cooperating with investigators after he fired a prop gun which seemingly accidentally killed the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured the director Joe Souza. It's not clear if they were filming or rehearsing.
As CNN's Lucy Kafanov reports, prop gun accidents, while tragic and rare, are sadly not unheard of.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A very real tragedy on a Hollywood set. A distraught Alec Baldwin stood outside the Santa Fe County sheriff's office after authorities say the actor discharged a prop firearm on the set of the film "Rust" at the Bonanza Creek Ranch.
The director Joel Souza rushed by ambulance to a local hospital with injuries. The film's director of photography, Halyna Hutchins was pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital.
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 during her career.
Police were called out to the scene on Thursday afternoon and no one was charged. Though New Mexico's district attorney says they do not know if charges will be filed.
Authorities say they are still in the initial stages of their investigation into what led to the fatal incident on set and what type of projectile was fired from a prop gun commonly used on movie sets that aren't without their own risks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prop weapons do have a dangerous factor to them, even though they are a lot safer than using a live firearm on set.
KAFANOV: 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'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I'm in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.
These tragic accidents at movie sets have happened before. After Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 on the set of "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 heart goes out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza and to all involved in the incident on "Rust". No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set, period.
KAFANOV (on camera): And, Jake, we're just in front of the sheriff's office here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Officials here tell us that they have issued a search warrant on the property where the incident took place, where the shooting took place. They expect that search to continue over the weekend but because of the high-profile nature of this tragic incident, this tragic shooting, they do not expect any press releases or any press conferences before Monday. We're still working on getting more answers to why this tragedy took place -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Lucy Kafanov in Santa Fe, thank you so much.
Here to discuss is Steve Wolf. He's a stunt coordinator and a firearms safety expert for movies and TV. Steve has also worked with detectives in the past to investigate deaths on movie sets. Steve, I understand you have spoken to the investigators who are
working this case. What have you learned?
STEVE WOLF, STUNT COORDINATOR & THEATRICAL FIREAMS SAFETY EXPERT: I've learned that they are very busy trying to gather information about what happened. They're trying to figure out what type of firearm was used, whether it had the proper modifications to make it actually a prop gun. Anything that an actor touches on set, technically, is a prop. So if I'm an actor and this is a pen, this is a prop pen. Has this pen been modified to keep someone from getting stabbed in the throat? Probably not.
When you talk about prop guns, specifically talking about guns that have been modified where live ammo cannot pass through the barrel and live ammo cannot be placed into the cylinder.
So if you modified a gun like this, then it's a prop gun and cannot accept live ammo. It simply won't fit in there. That's one thing that we need to find out. Unmodified gun, called a prop gun or actual modified prop gun.
And then so far as what was put inside the gun. Were we dealing with live ammo, like this that has a bullet on the end of it or were we dealing with just a casing with powder in it? These are things we have to find out as the investigation unfolds.
TAPPER: You've been asked to go to the scene. What are the big things you'll be looking for?
WOLF: So I'd like to see the gun. See if it was properly modified to actually be classified as a prop gun. And I'd like to see the box that the ammunition came from. Was this a properly manufactured blank round? Or was this in fact, just ordinary ammunition with bullets, casing, primer and powder? These are some of the things we'll have to find out so we can note where we started to go wrong.
We went wrong in at least three directions, right? Wrong gun, wrong ammo and improper handling of the firearm in all likelihood.
Even if you have a bazooka and you fire it, live round going down range, you don't point it at somebody. You're not going to kill them. So the fact that this gun was pointed at someone and then discharged is, you know, an absolute inexcusable violation of firearm safety rules.
TAPPER: Do we know if Alec Baldwin was meant to be shooting in the direction of the director and the cinematographer when this happened? The director was wounded. The cinematographer was killed. Is it possible they were behind the camera and the shot was him pointing at the camera? What do we know about that?
WOLF: We don't know much about that and we have to really be precise with the words whether we say in the direction of or if we say at. Not to trigger anybody who has had a gun pointed at them. But if I say in the direction of, we're looking at something like this. If we say at we're looking at something like this.
So in the direction of why you're off 10 or 15 degrees, might be acceptable, even with a blank. You don't want to point that at somebody because wadding can come out and hurt somebody. Somebody lost their ear on a movie when a shotgun was discharged. Just the blank wadding came out and caught their ear and ripped it off. You want to be off by a margin, but it's greater than the stanchion of the possible projectile or anything coming out of the gun. And clearly that wasn't done.
TAPPER: You just heard in Lucy's piece a reference to the actor Brandon Lee who lost his life.
TAPPER: I believe that you looked into that as well. Explain to people how it's possible that shooting a prop weapon could kill one person, could injure another. Especially if there is not live ammunition necessarily involved in these prop weapons.
WOLF: So when we're dealing with a casing full of gunpowder, gun powder essentially explodes. It turns instantly from a solid to a gas. It creates a tremendous amount of pressure. When it's a blank, simply that pressure is released and some fire and noise with it. That pressure is capable of killing people. John-Eric Hexum was killed by the pressure coming out of the gun, pushing a piece of his skull through his brain.
In Brandon Lee's case, they were using what is called a dummy round which is different than a blank round. A dummy round has, for all external appearances, everything in common with live ammo except that it doesn't have gunpowder inside it. There's no propellant and there's no source of ignition at the back. No primer.
So you could put this into a gun if you needed to see an actor loading a gun on camera. Then you take this out and when you go to film later, you put in the one that has no ammo. What happened in Brandon Lee's case is the dummy round had been mis-manufactured. This had not been crimped properly, so the bullet came unseated and remained inside the cylinder.
So they put this in. They meant to take this out, but only this came out. And what remains inside was the bullet when they put the blank behind the bullet, now you had a complete cartridge, everything that was necessary to cause a fully discharging weapon. And that's how Brandon Lee was caught (ph).
It wasn't a bullet fragment. It was a portion of the entire cartridge. That portion consisting of an entire bullet, .44 magnum in that case.
TAPPER: Given how advanced special effects are, why do prop weapons even need to be fired at all?
WOLF: They don't. You can take this gun. We can go click, click, click, we can dub in the sound effects and put in the muzzle flash with CGI and many films do that. So unless it was simply a director's preference or an actor's preference, there's no reason to have a blank discharging gun on set.
TAPPER: Steve Wolf, thank you so much for your time and expertise. That really helped explain it. I appreciate it.
WOLF: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me today.
TAPPER: Just because you get a water bill does not mean the water is safe. CNN visits yet another town in Michigan where the water has dangerous levels of lead in it. But people are still being forced to pay for it.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, try brushing your teeth or showering or cooking with no running water. Well, that's the new reality for 10,000 people in one Michigan town. If this reminds you of the Flint water crisis, you're sadly spot on.
Lead in the drinking water is at dangerous levels in this predominantly black town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. And just as workers were trying to address the health crisis, leaking into people's homes, a decades old water main burst.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Benton Harbor, Michigan, for us. That's where residents are all too familiar with failing city resources.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Courtney Sherrod (ph) and her family of five go through a lot of bottled water.
COURTNEY SHERROD, BENTON HARBOR RESIDENT: About 200 bottles a week.
MARQUEZ: A week?
SHERROD: I have three children and a big husband at home.
MARQUEZ: She says they sometimes go to the gym in the next town over just for a shower.
SHERROD: My children had to go to school the next day so we went to the y and made sure everybody took showers at the Y the night before so that they could go to school.
MARQUEZ: The Y is in a different town?
SHERROD: It's in St. Joe, where the water is clean and they pay lower water bills than us.
MARQUEZ: Benton Harbor, population 10,000, the latest high-profile American town dealing with lead in the water.
TONY SMITH, BENTON HARBOR RESIDENT: I'm really concerned about it because I've heard the danger of it. So we want to stay away from it as much as you can.
MARQUEZ: What do you use bottled water for?
SMITH: Drinking, cooking and brushing your teeth.
MARQUEZ: Since 2018, samples of water taken from hundreds of homes here have shown lead above the federal threshold of 15 parts per billion gallons of water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody, nobody should have water that they can't drink that they have to pay for it. Nobody should have contaminated water. This is America. This should not be happening, to any community.
MARQUEZ: But Benton Harbor isn't alone. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, estimates some 22 million Americans, most in the Midwest and northeast, may be getting their drinking water, at least in part, from lead pipes.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, PEDIATRIC PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVE: They are concentrated in these older communities which also are disproportionately where we have more vulnerable populations. People who are poorer and predominantly people of color.
MARQUEZ: Michigan's Democratic governor signed an executive directive to expedite the replacement of lead pipes asking for more money from the state legislature. The Republican-led state legislature, so far, has responded by opening an investigation into the governor's response to the water crisis. None of it building confidence for those who live here.
The governor says they have a plan. They'll replace all the lead pipes in 18 months. Do you believe it?
SHERROD: Nothing has happened all this time. So why should I believe -- does Flint have new water pipes?
MARQUEZ: They're still working on it.
SHERROD: Okay. There you go.
MARQUEZ: Now, of course, people here in Benton Harbor and across the state of Michigan sensitive to the issues of Flint and the massive problem with their water they had several years ago. Problems they are still working through. The -- if everything goes right here in Benton Harbor, it will be 18
months before all the lead lined pipes are replaced. But even if that happens, there are so many other communities across the country that have similar issues -- Jake.
TAPPER: Miguel Marquez in Benton Harbor, Michigan, thanks so much.
Follow the money. And you'll find the seditionists. The new CNN reporting on the January 6th committee strategy.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, art of the steal? How President Trump's new social media venture that does not yet exist is causing a bloated mess of a frenzy on Wall Street.
Brian Laundrie is dead. Did he take with him his secrets about Gabby Petito's death? The latest on what authorities are finding in the swamp and what his family is saying.
But, first, leading this hour, new reporting on the January 6th committee. Sources telling CNN that the committee is following the money that paid for Stop the Steal rallies, rallies that mutated into the deadly riot, of course.
And there was more ugliness on Capitol Hill yesterday after the vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for ignoring the subpoena from investigators.
Let's get right to CNN's Ryan Nobles live for us on Capitol Hill.
And, Ryan, you have some brand-new reporting on who will talk to the committee.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Jake. CNN is learning that Jeffrey Clark, the former Department of Justice official who was among a group of Trump associates trying to peddle the big lie in the days after the November election even reaching out to state officials to try and convince them to at least investigate claims of voter fraud in different states, is set to meet with the committee next Friday.
You'll remember that Clark was initially negotiating with the committee trying to find some way to cooperate with them but the committee was unhappy with his level or lack of cooperation, which forced the subpoena. Well, the committee had set a date of next Friday for Clark to come forward and we are being told that both Clark, his attorneys and the committee, are prepared for him to come in next Friday.