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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Announces "Historic Economic Framework" Before Europe Trip; Interview With Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm; Interview Wth Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO); Sex Crime Complaint Field Against Former Governor Andrew Cuomo; Sheriff: Investigation Focused On Three People, No One Is Cleared; China Responds To CNN Interview With Taiwan President. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 28, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: It's like a snowboarder's boot. So, it's actually comfy as long as you're not standing on it.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And you wear the sneaker, too. Okay.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, you're going to get all of that.

BLACKWELL: Full commitment.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Speaker Pelosi's final pitch to Democrats: don't embarrass Joe Biden when he's overseas.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden acknowledges his presidency could be on the line and he calls on Congress to get his agenda done but one progressive congresswoman says she feels bamboozled and she will join us next.

Fears that the world is on the precipice of a global energy crisis, perhaps the worst in decades. What might it mean for you and your family? As we head into winter.

And the Santa Fe sheriff revealing who investigators are focused on as they try to get to the bottom of that fatal on set shooting.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start with the politics lead. Air Force One is in the air and so is President Biden's entire domestic agenda up in the air. He's en route for a major foreign trip and leaving behind frankly a mess of Democrats' own making here in Washington over his agenda.

Just hours before departing for Rome, Biden portrayed a done deal for that legislation -- the Build Back Better Act, social safety net programs you've heard so much wrangling over. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm pleased to announce that after months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have an historic -- I know we have an historic economic framework.


TAPPER: Yes, without question there's been progress. Democrats seemed to be all in for universal pre-K, large investments in clean energy, some Medicare expansions, but a done deal? That's not what we're hearing from Capitol Hill. Neither are the Senate Democratic moderates who have been the holdout so far, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will publicly say they are committed to vote for the bill and -- well, here are sop progressives.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): I feel steady with what we talked about as progressives, at least some of the progressive caucus up until now saying we need both bills to rise together and we don't have that right now.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I'm going to do my best to make a good bill even stronger.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We intend to vote for both bills when the Build Back Better Act is ready.


TAPPER: With a possible vote tonight on the infrastructure bill, progressives maintain they will tank it if they are not happy with the other, larger, Build Back Better Act. A source toll CNN speaker Pelosi is urging her caucus not to embarrass President Biden on the world stage.

Let's bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She's in Rome, ahead of the president's arrival.

And, Kaitlan, is the White House anticipating a vote on the infrastructure bill or Build Back Better Act or both will happen tonight?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, when it comes to timing, they are really deferring completely to House Speaker Pelosi on this saying she knows her caucus best and will know when to make the decision to actually have those votes. But make no mistake: there is a reason that President Biden delayed his trip by several hours today instead of leaving for Rome this morning and that was because he wanted to go to Capitol Hill and make this last-minute pitch especially to the progressive members you just heard from to get onboard with his agenda as he is trying to build momentum behind it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden making the hard sell.

BIDEN: We have a framework for my build back better initiative.

COLLINS: The president delaying his departure to Rome so he could make a last-minute appeal to Democrats on his domestic agenda, arguing that his legacy and theirs is on the line.

BIDEN: These are not about left versus right, or moderate versus progressive.

COLLINS: But the $1.75 trillion framework that would reshape the social safety net and address climate change is just that, a framework that isn't final.

BIDEN: We spent hours and hours and hours over months and months working on this. No one got everything they wanted including me.

COLLINS: Biden arguing this agenda including universal pre-K, hundreds of billions to fight climate change, and a one-year extension of the child tax credit, is what his supporters want.

BIDEN: The agenda in these bills is what 81 million Americans voted for.

COLLINS: But the latest version is missing several major campaign promises. From free community college to lower drug prices to a federal paid leave system.

BIDEN: The American families plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave and medical leave, family medical leave.

COLLINS: As the president made his pitch, progressive Democrats argued it was incomplete.

SANDERS: What you don't want to see is the infrastructure bill pass and then not have the kind of Build Back Better bill that we needed.

COLLINS: Senator Bernie Sanders providing cover to progressives as Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema decline to explicitly say they're a yes.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): It's quite clear that they backed this framework. This framework would not have been announced without their support.

COLLINS: Biden now headed for Rome before going to Scotland for an international climate conference where he was hoping to sell leaders on his climate plan.

BIDEN: We make these investments, there will be no stopping the American people or America.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We wanted to go as strong as possible.

COLLINS: Speaker Pelosi telling her caucus not to, quote, embarrass Biden by voting down his agenda. As the president offered his own warning, saying it's not hyperbole to say that the house and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week.


COLLINS (on camera): And, Jake, the president also saying repeatedly to Democrats he wanted to have an agreement in his hands when he went to this trip to meet with world leaders and to go to that international climate conference. The White House says they are confident they can get all 50 Senate Democrats onboard with this framework that the president unveiled today. But, of course, that remains to be seen right now.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

Kaitlan Collins in Rome, ahead of the president's arrival there, thank you so much.

Let's go now to Capitol Hill and bring in CNN's Jessica Dean.

Jessica, progressives have said they want more than a promise. They need to see the text of this bill before agreeing to anything. Has Speaker Pelosi delivered on that?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She has. The text is out and making its way through the Rules Committee which is the latest procedural step in all of this. So, the text exists.

What is becoming clear right now is it may not be enough for progressives. We are hearing now from the head of the progressive caucus, Congresswoman Jayapal, that they want both bills to move together not just the text. They want to see both of these bills moving at the same time. In fact, they are circulating a resolution right now doing two things. Number one they want to affirm support the framework or the Build Back Better Act, which is good news for Democrats and for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that progressives will support it.

The second piece of that is they are affirming they want to see these two bills go together. We also know that just in the last few moments, that Congressman Jayapal walked into a meeting with a group of senators that includes Senator Kyrsten Sinema and that is key because right now, think of it this way, you've got House progressives on one side, you've got Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin on the other. And they need to build some trust because the house progressives are saying, look, we don't want to move forward if we don't have more assurances from the two senators if they're going to stand by this bill and of course the two senators have wanted to see the text as well. It's now out, Jake.

So, the question now is does that move forward tonight? Or is this days in the making? We're going to find out -- Jake. TAPPER: Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, thank you.

In just a few minutes I'm going to speak to one of the progressives live. But before then, let's talk with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

Secretary Granholm, great to see you as always.

So, Speaker Pelosi is telling members of her caucus don't embarrass President Biden by voting down this infrastructure bill. But since Biden announced the framework of the Build Back Better Act, progressive Congresswoman Cori Bush said she felt bamboozled. She said Manchin and Sinema are not acting in good faith. Congresswoman Rashida Talib said she's hell no for the infrastructure bill if it comes to vote today, along with many others in the progressive caucus.

Is the infrastructure package going to be voted on today? And if so, will it pass?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, that's a process question I will have to leave to Nancy Pelosi but the great news is, Jake, they are saying they want both bills, which is great. The two bills are going to pass. It's just a question of sequence and timing, and what it really means is this incredible investment in America. And that's -- I mean, to me because as the secretary of energy I am very focused on building out a clean energy future and making sure we address climate change.

The provisions in these two bills, bipartisan infrastructure deal and the framework, oh my gosh, so fantastic for addressing climate change. So, the fact everybody is in favor of both bills and it is just a question of a few days or, what -- you know, what the sequence is, that to me is fantastic.

TAPPER: I haven't been able to get anybody in the Biden administration to say, point blank, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will vote for the Build Back Better Act. Will they?

GRANHOLM: Here's what I can tell you -- I haven't talked to Senator Sinema, but I talked a lot to Senator Manchin and the White House obviously has talked a lot to both of them. And the stuff in the framework are things that have been discussed over and over and I know the White House would not have put it out there without feeling very confident that these issued have been sussed through, shaped, pared down and put into an acceptable frame. I can't say for sure because I am not them but I know the White House feels very confident.

TAPPER: Sources tell CNN that president Biden told Democrats this morning the house and Senate majorities with the rest of his presidency will be determined by what happens over the next week.


That doesn't sound like an argument or negotiation from a position of strength. I'm not saying it is wrong but it's kind of like you have to do this -- it sounds a little desperate in some ways. GRANHOLM: Well, I disagree. I mean, what he really he's saying -- I

mean, he's been in office ten months and he's gotten all these amazing things potentially through, and certainly the American Rescue Plan is already gotten through. He's got the bipartisan infrastructure deal through the Senate, and it's sitting in the House. The House members say they will vote for the bill and the only question is this third piece which is the framework. He's done amazing work in this first year in office.

And for real people, I mean, I know the inside baseball process stories are super hot for the media but really, what the story is, Jake, is that people with kids are going to see huge benefits, massive tax cut essentially, extending the child tax credit for parents. If you've got a child who's under 6 years old, you get $300 a month for another year. If you have children that are over 7, it's another $250 a month.

For those families, the child care costs, I mean, you know, you've got kids, you know how expensive child care is. The fact people will not have to pay more than 7 percent of their salary if they earn $300,000 a year or less, that is an amazing help for every day citizens. The fact you can now have universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year-old, we've never had before.

We've been waiting for this. We're one of the only countries in the advanced nations that don't have it and now, we'll have it.

All of that is just massive for middle class families, working families. It's just -- it's huge. So, all these process stories, you can have them. I'm all about the substance of what is going to do for real people.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about the substance, because you and Pete Buttigieg and others in the administration have been coming on "STATE OF THE UNION" and THE LEAD and talking about things that you're excited about in the bill.

And one of those things is no longer part of the bill. It's not in the framework, and it's paid family leave, which was going to help some 100 million Americans get access to paid time off after becoming a new parent or caring for a seriously ill family members. So, it was going to be 12 weeks, then it was going to be four weeks, and now, it's zero weeks.

Are you guys done? Is that it? What do you say to Americans who want paid leave?


TAPPER: OK. What's the plan?

GRANHOLM: OK. So, he has -- he has been in office only ten months. His term is four years. He says he's going to go back at it. It's the -- I mean, this whole notion of striving for a more perfect union is we are continually improving. So, we didn't get it this time around. I heard Senator Gillibrand say she met with Senator Manchin and he

would continue to work with her on this. It is a priority for her and for so many people. And it -- you know, I mean, the fact that so many women had dropped out of the work force because they had to care for their kids and child care was so expensive, I mean, this is really about moving our economy forward as well.

The things that have been left out are not -- we're not dead on any of them. We're going to live to fight another day. They will continue to be part of the priority, but for this -- this historic investment, we have never seen this in our country.

And people should be feeling like, man, this is action. This -- you know, assuming that we get it across the finish line but I really believe we will, and real people are going to feel real impacts as a result.

TAPPER: Let's talk about something else that real people are going to feel real impacts about, but I need you to stay right there because I want to bring our viewers up to speed. I'm going to get your reaction to some new reporting, with the backdrop of this global environmental summit in Scotland where President Biden is heading right now, experts feel -- experts fear now what could be potentially the worst global energy crisis since the 1970s. It could have a huge effect on the world, on your wallet, as we head into winter.

Take a look.


TAPPER (voice-over): A perfect storm of global events fueling concerns among experts we could soon see the worst worldwide energy crisis since the 1970s, where gas outages swept the nation and then- President Jimmy Carter had to ask Americans to reduce fuel consumption as the entire world struggled to get by.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent. There is no way we can solve it quickly.

TAPPER: Now, the climate crisis is playing a major role in today's energy supply threats. Droughts in China and Brazil cut hydropower output, causing China to ramp up its reliance on coal, though it's now experiencing a mass shortage, prompting rolling blackouts and factory stoppages which is across the country, and leading to universal demand for other sources of electricity.

As a general rule demand is out pacing supply, with hurricanes in the U.S. having shut down and delayed shipments of oil.

BIDEN: It's important to know that the region hit by Ida is a key center of our nation's oil production and refining infrastructure.


TAPPER: Crude oil this week topping $85 a barrel for the first time in seven years now up 120 percent from a year ago. The hurricanes also hurt U.S. exports of natural gas and that combined with China going on a spending spree for natural gas, plus Russia playing politics with its pipeline has sent prices through the roof.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told its Kremlin controlled energy company to start pumping gas to Europe once Russia finishes restocking its own supply.

Natural gas prices in Europe are wild, earlier this month, trading at the equivalent of $230 per barrel in oil terms. That's up more than 130 percent since the beginning of September. And more than eight times higher than the same point last year, according to data from independent commodity intelligence services. And those natural gas shortages have also prompted Europe to return to coal production.

HENNING GLOYSTEIN, DIRECTOR OF ENERGY, CLIMATE AND RESOURCES: A lot of countries across Europe are quietly switching on coal stations again that have been moth-balled in the last few years because rather than run something dirty and run out of electricity.

TAPPER: Also increasing demand, economic activity has bounced back from the pandemic shutdown last year, the pace few experts saw coming. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, before the pandemic, the world was consuming an average of 101 billion barrels of oil every day. Now, during the pandemic slowdown, that plummeted down to 84.9 million at one point. But now this year, it's predicted to average more than 97 million barrels a day, and that will continue to climb which has forced a surge in pricing with no end in sight.

BIDEN: My guess is you'll start to see gas prices come down as we get by going into the winter, excuse me, into next year, in 2022. I don't see anything that is going to happen in the meantime that is going to significantly reduce gas prices.

TAPPER: Complicating all of this is the desire to move to clean energy where the infrastructure is not yet up to speed.

BIDEN: Everyone has a role to play. And everyone is building a clean energy future in a stronger economy.

TAPPER: With winter coming, the cold could bring soaring energy prices, straining pocketbooks of already struggling American families. In other parts of the world, it could lead to no energy at all, which experts predict could lead to more chaos.

STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, BLACKSTONE: We're going to end up with a real shortage of energy. We're going to get very unhappy people, around the world, on the emerging markets in particular but in the developed world.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Seeing it at the moment in Europe.

SCHWARZMAN: That what happens then, Richard, is you've got real unrest.


TAPPER: And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is back with me.

Madam Secretary, so how bad could energy prices be this winter here in the United States?

GRANHOLM: Yeah. Let me just take it separately. One is that gasoline prices, according to the Energy Information Agency, which is the agency that objectively looks at and projects where pricing is going -- gasoline prices they project will be down to $3.05 on average at the beginning of December and continue to stay around in that range.

So it will come down. Natural gas prices are slightly different. Again, that's very regional. It's what is happening in Europe, natural gas prices are not the global market that oil prices are.

So, in the U.S., our natural gas supplies are okay. The prices, though, are high because they're not as robust -- the supply is not as robust as they had been.

So, this is all coming off as you note in your report, a real downturn in the economy due to COVID. You can't flip a switch and turn all of the rigs back on. They are coming on but it's slow.


GRANHOLM: So, that's one of the reasons why the prices are high. Of course and the gas on the gasoline oil side, it is a global market and that's what we're seeing. Europe has it much worse than we do.

TAPPER: Right. Gas prices in California hit an all time record, $4.75 a gallon in San Francisco, according to the fuel savings platform GasBuddy.

Now, earlier this month, you said that a ban on U.S. crude exports is a possible tool to calm oil prices, to keep that production here. Keep the product here. Also, you said on the table, tapping the strategic petroleum reserve.

Could it come to that? Could it come to both those actions?

GRANHOLM: Well, I -- there is a whole array of tools that could be put on the table. Some are more realistic than others. But remember, of course, that oil and gas are not regulated in the United States.


We unlike other countries do not own any oil or gas companies. The federal government doesn't.

So, it is a free market and they are allowed to do what they are going to do and a lot of that is just based on supply and demand.

So there are some tools. Some are more extreme than others. The president will make some decisions about whether to use any of them based upon whether there is an emergency or not. $3 a gallon gasoline probably doesn't fall into that category. You know, we also have some ability to help low income households when

it comes to natural gas, help to pay for their price. Particularly for example in the northeast where there is a heavy reliance on home heating oil and propane. Those prices are also very high. But in that American Rescue Act that was passed earlier this year we did a significant increase in billions of dollars in low income heating funding to be able to help households to meet their energy needs during the winter.

We really encourage states to make that fully available to citizens in places where natural gas prices are high.

TAPPER: All right. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, great to see you again. Thank you so much for joining us.

So, will the Biden agenda and everything in it for families actually happen? We're going to talk to Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush who says she feels bamboozled by how this is playing out.

Plus, brand new images of Alec Baldwin, some of the first we've seen since the tragedy on the New Mexico film set.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with the politics lead and members of the Democratic Progressive Caucus in the House, signaling today the draft tax just released on the social safety net package, the Build Back Better Act, is still not enough for them if Speaker Pelosi wants them to vote yes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed in the Senate. They want a vote on both bills together.

Let's bring in Congresswoman Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

You're among Democratic progressives who say releasing this text is not enough. Why not?

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): No. I mean, we've been very clear from the very beginning that both bills -- the infrastructure bill, as well as the Build Back Netter Act, have to go together. Those bills have to come to the floor together. We need to vote together because our work has to touch the greatest amount of people as quickly as we can. There are immediate needs that are not captured just in the bipartisan infrastructure framework.

And so, this is us keeping our promise to all of people that we represent.

TAPPER: You also came out of the caucus meeting today saying you felt, quote, bamboozled over the pending vote that had been announced on the infrastructure bill. Who bamboozled you? Speaker Pelosi? Is that a consensus among the


BUSH: Whose ever idea this was to -- I mean, we heard from several voices just hearing that today that we would -- they would bring to the floor the bipartisan infrastructure deal, package. Because I didn't hear that yesterday or earlier this week, last week, you know, that this would come and this would be a stand-alone bill, that had not been the conversation.

And so, to bring that up today, I just felt bamboozled. I didn't have time to talk to my community. I didn't have time to reach out to St. Louis to ask them how they feel about it because the last thing that I know was that they told me -- fight for us. Those are the calls I get. Fight for us.

And I'm talking about the child care workers, the home care workers. I'm talking about the teachers. I'm talking about people that have lost loved ones to gun violence that are saying we need the community violence intervention money.

Those that showed up at my office yesterday, elders showed up at my office yesterday with pictures of flooding and rats and mold in their homes saying, please, fight for us.

And I remembered that I'm only here because of them. And so, I cannot move without them.

TAPPER: So, what would you say to someone who says to you, if you vote tonight against the infrastructure bill, if it comes up, you will be voting against getting rid of the estimated 330,000 lead pipes in your home state of Missouri alone. You'll be getting rid of expanding broadband Internet, so kids everywhere including your district have access to the Internet. You'll be getting rid of investments in electric vehicles. All of that is part of the infrastructure bill.

I know you want the Build Back Better Act also, but that's in the infrastructure bill.

How will you explain that to your constituents or the struggling communities around the country?

BUSH: Because it won't happen, because we will have both. That's how. We won't -- and the thing is, if people feel like if I don't vote on this today, then it won't happen that we will have the electric vehicles, that we'll have the investments for our lead pipes which we desperately need in St. Louis, especially in our schools.

If we -- if we say that, then that means that there was actually really no commitment from the two Democratic senators which -- and that's where everybody is placing their trust.

So, if -- have they said yes or no, or are we still trying to figure that out? So, that's the question.

And so, if the answer is yes, then it wouldn't matter because we're going to get there.

TAPPER: Right. Because Sinema and Manchin have not said out loud, we are committed to the Build Back Better Act yet.

BUSH: Exactly.

TAPPER: That might satisfy you, that might prompt you to at least entertain the notion of voting for infrastructure today, but they haven't said that. Am I -- am I hearing you correctly?

BUSH: Yes. That is correct.

And let me be clear. My -- I'm not going to -- I don't plan to vote against the infrastructure package because we need those investments, even though it is not all I would like to see, even though it does not help our environment enough, even though it is bringing harm to our environment in some ways, but I actually would vote for it as long as there is this human infrastructure piece as well.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri, thank you so much. Good to see you.

BUSH: Thank you. You, too.

TAPPER: Breaking news a criminal complaint alleging that a sex crime has been filed against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. That's next.



TAPPER: Breaking news now, a criminal complaint has been filed against former Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, alleging inappropriate touching.

Let's get straight to CNN's Brynn Gingras. Brynn has the breaking story in New York.

Brynn, what else do we know about this complaint?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, so this is a misdemeanor criminal complaint alleging a sex crime that was filed in the Albany City court today.


We have that confirmed and it alleges the former Governor Andrew Cuomo forcibly touched someone in the governor's mansion back in December of last year. That complaint is one page long and it doesn't give any informing as to who the victim is but if you recall back to the scathing attorney general's report and the admission of Brittany Commisso when she went public on TV, talking about the governor alleging that he groped her in the governor's mansion while she served as an aide for him. But, again, her name is not mentioned in this complaint. We can only assume it is her because of course we also know that after the attorney general's report came out she went to the Albany county sheriff's department and filed a complaint and was interviewed several times by the sheriff's department.

So what we know right now is a complaint has been filed for a misdemeanor charge against the governor, former governor of New York. What happens next we're not clear. We've reached out to the governor, former governor's attorney. We haven't heard back yet.

We've also reached out to other people's attorneys, Brittany Commisso, her, and her attorney. We haven't heard back yet, but, of course, we're going to stay on top of this interesting new development.

TAPPER: All right. Yeah, breaking news. Brynn Gingras will stay on top of it for us.

Let's bring in our CNN legal analyst, Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor.

Elie, walk us through what this means. It's a misdemeanor complaint alleging a sex crime. What does that mean?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So the crime appears to be what is called forcible touching, which means when a person touches another person without consent either for sexual gratification of the person doing the touching or to degrade or humiliate the person being touched. Now, this is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor means the maximum punishment is up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. They're less serious than felonies.

However, within the universe of misdemeanors, this is a class A misdemeanor which is the most serious type of misdemeanor.

TAPPER: So, Governor Cuomo, former Governor Cuomo, has denied any inappropriate conduct although of course there were many allegations and he resigned as a result of them. If this goes to trial, could this case lead to evidence coming from other complainants, other women who made allegations?

HONIG: Yeah. So, first of all, important to note,, even though this is a misdemeanor the governor, the former governor is entitled to a jury trial here because it is the higher level misdemeanor under New York law.

Will the evidence of the other complainants come in? That is going to be up to the judge and is what we call other bad acts evidence. The key evidence here of course is going to be whatever the complainant says. Prosecutors will be looking hard for other evidence that backs up the complainant but other unrelated incident I think are unlikely to come in under the rulings the judges usually do. They want the jury focused only on the charged crimes.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much for responding to the breaking news. Investigators are now zeroing in on two particular people as they try

to find out what went so wrong in the fatal movie shooting. That's next.



TAPPER: A tragedy in our pop culture lead today. Eye-opening new details emerging as New Mexico authorities try to piece together exactly what led up to last week's fatal shooting on the movie set.

The sheriff saying actor Alec Baldwin fired a gun that turned out to have been loaded with a real bullet, killing one person and critically wounding another.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in New Mexico following the investigation.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" zeroing in on key individuals.

SHERIFF ADAN MENDOZA, SANTA FE COUNTY: There are three people that handled the firearm prior to the death of Ms. Hutchins, so those people will be interviewed and are the focus of the investigation. So, nobody has been cleared as of yet.

ELAM: Actor Alec Baldwin who fired the gun that killed the film's director of photography Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza recently seen in these TMZ photos with his family keeping a low profile in Vermont.

Assistant director Dave Halls who told authorities he handed Baldwin the gun during the rehearsal and armorer Hannah Gutierrez who was in charge of weapons on the set according to investigators. All key to determining how a live round got on set.

MENDOZA: That is going to be the million dollar question is how a live round ended up in the revolver Mr. Baldwin fired.

ELAM: An affidavit for a search warrant for the prop truck where the guns were stored on set revealed that assistant director Halls acknowledged he failed to fully check the firearm when Gutierrez handed it to him saying halls could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them but didn't.

MENDOZA: We're going to continue the investigation. We like to do some follow-up interviews with Mr. Halls and get some clarification and exactly what he meant by that statement.

ELAM: The warrant also shows Gutierrez told investigators no live ammo is ever kept on set.

MENDOZA: That was a live round that struck and killed Ms. Hutchins, so that is not an accurate statement as far as I'm concerned.

ELAM: CNN has reached out to Halls and Gutierrez for comment but has not gotten a response.

MENDOZA: I think there was some complacency on this set.

ELAM: The actions of Halls and Gutierrez are key to investigators determining how and why live rounds were present and whether anyone will ultimately face criminal charges.

MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Can we get to that bar of somehow proving that reckless standard, that willful disregard? And it is just simply far too early to say.


ELAM (on camera): And the sheriff has made it very clear that there are plenty more interviews they would like to do.


He said there were some 16 people in the direct vicinity when the shooting happened and some 90 to 100 people on the set overall. He also said it is likely they may have to interview some of the people they've already talked to, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Stephanie Elam, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, China's response to the exclusive interview you saw right here on THE LEAD. We'll show you what got Beijing so fired up.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a forceful response from the Chinese government today after a CNN exclusive interview that aired here on THE LEAD.

Yesterday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen became the first Taiwan leader in decades to confirm that American forces are actually on the island helping to train the Taiwanese military.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That support includes sending some U.S. service members to help train Taiwanese troops?

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: Well, yes. We have a wide range of Cooperation with the U.S. aiming at increasing our defense capability.

RIPLEY: How many U.S. service members are deployed in Taiwan right now?

TSAI: Not as many as people thought.

RIPLEY: Is Taiwan more safe today than it was when you became president in 2016?

TSAI: If it is a threat from China, It's increasing every day.


RIPLEY: Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley from Taipei, Taiwan. You saw him in that exclusive interview with the president of Taiwan.

Will, I think it is fair to say Chinese government officials are not at all happy with what they heard in your interview.

RIPLEY: There was certainly some stuff in there they would find highly provocative. I think it's been an open secret for a while that there is some sort of U.S. military training presence here on the island of Taiwan probably going on for a number of years, but it has never been publicly confirmed. President Tsai Ing-wen is the first Taiwanese leader since at least 1979 to actually confirm the presence of the U.S. military training Taiwanese troops.

Even if it is small numbers, maybe talking about a couple dozen here, it is still considered an act of aggression by Beijing because they have a territorial claim over Taiwan. Even though the communist rulers in the mainland have never actually controlled the island since, you know, China's civil war ended more than 70 years ago, it was the opposition that basically set up, the losing side set up in Taiwan and brought about 2 million soldiers and refugees with them and now you have this vibrant democracy of 23 million people, its own government, democratically elected, its own military.

But Beijing never has formally acknowledged the island, you know, has separated from the mainland. Any even formal declaration or hint that Taiwan might say it is an independent country we're not even, you know, you will get in trouble and get lambasted on Chinese social media if you call Taiwan a country. Even though, you know, it looks like a country, sounds like a country, acts like a country but you can't call it a country. You call it an island. China calls it a breakaway province.

And so, if the U.S. military is here that is potentially very provocative. President Tsai -- I don't think the president was expecting that question which is stunning to me because she'll prepare 68 drafts for a speech like the one she gave for Taiwan national day a week ago. She had a stack of notes before the interview but as we talked she put the notes aside and I think she spoke more candidly and frankly about the situation here than she ever has publicly before.

And she said that the threat from China is growing every single day and that, you know, she knows, is well aware there are Chinese missiles pointed right now at Taipei that could arrive in a matter of minutes if a conflict broke out. You have this small island, relatively small military, Beijing is spending 15 times what Taiwan does on defense. They have a 2 million strong military. They just tested what is believed to be a hypersonic weapon. But yet President Tsai says this is not a time to back down, Jake. She

says it is time for the Taiwanese people to unite to show solidarity and strength and that includes apparently also training alongside some U.S. troops here.

TAPPER: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

President Biden and his agenda both up in the air as he leaves for his foreign trip as of now empty handed. That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, losing patience. The committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is now considering whether they need to take more aggressive action against one top Trump White House aide.

From your Thanksgiving turkey to school lunches, the food shortages in the U.S. impacting some who need it most. Leading this hour, President Biden right now on his way to Europe while his agenda hangs in the balance here in the United States. The president today announcing a $1.75 trillion framework for his plan to expand the social safety net and address the climate crisis. He called on Congress to, quote, get this done but, still, no deal among Democrats to get it passed. No commitment by the holdouts, just an attempt to create momentum.

According to a source, President Biden acknowledged Democrats earlier today that, quote, my presidency will be determined by what happens.

Let's bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Manu Raju. Kaitlan is in Rome ahead of the president's arrival. Manu is on Capitol Hill.

Kaitlan, before President Biden took off for Europe, he made something of an audacious claim and said his party had a, quote, historic economic framework and seemed to be suggesting a deal was done. Now, it is true a deal might be close but it is decidedly not done.

How does the White House explain the calculus made in this speech?