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Don Lemon Tonight

President Joe Biden Expresses Optimism About Deal On Expansive Domestic Policy Agenda; House Votes To Hold Steve Bannon In Criminal Contempt Of Congress; Sheriff's Office: Alec Baldwin Fired Prop Gun That Killed One, Injured Another On Movie Set; NYT: NFL Scrapping Race As A Factor In Concussion Settlements. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Biden in CNN's town hall tonight optimistic that Democrats will come together and pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and his social safety net plan, saying, and I quote here, "I do think that we'll get a deal," and saying that he's open to altering the filibuster on issues like voting rights and the debt limit increases.

Also tonight, the House voting to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

And late tonight, the CDC director approving booster shots for the Moderna and J&J vaccines, endorsing the recommendations from the agency's vaccine advisory committee.

So, we've got a lot to talk about. Let's bring in now CNN senior political commentator Mr. David Axelrod, a former Obama senior advisor, and political commentator Mr. Bakari Sellers. Good evening. Bakari, thanks for the tie. Yeah. David, hello to you. So much at stake --


LEMON: No, no, no. Bakari is not wearing a necktie. I said tie. Tie, T-I-E.


LEMON: So, there's so much at stake --

AXELROD: Should I take my tie off?

LEMON: No. We're good. We're good.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I'm going for the youthful, sexy look tonight at 11:00. That's what I'm going for. Okay, guys? LEMON: Well, it's 11 o'clock and it hasn't happened. So, I guess --

AXELROD: I'm not going to attempt the youthful, sexy look. So, let's just keep going.

LEMON: Okay. Back on the tracks. So, there is a lot at stake for the president tonight. He had to sell his domestic agenda, which still isn't over the finish line yet. So, how do you think he did, David?

AXELROD: You know, I think he did pretty well. I think he did well -- you know, he's always good at expressing support for people who are struggling and working hard out there in middle class families. He did that.

Mostly what he did, Don, was he really gave us a look at what is actually going on and where this bill is and where it's likely to land. That was really useful. I thought he was incredibly candid about that.

He said one thing that I thought was really instructive. That sort of framed the whole discussion. He said, when you have 50 Democratic senators, everyone is a president.

LEMON: Everyone is a president.

AXELROD: And that was so true. And that is what he is dealing with. And therefore, we learned what was in and we learned what was out. And we learned about some of the compromises that he's going to have to make in order to get this done. And so, you know, I thought that was very useful.

LEMON (on camera): So, Bakari, President Biden made big news on the filibuster tonight. Listen to this and then we'll talk.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you saying once you get this current agenda passed on spending and social programs that you would be open to fundamentally altering the filibuster --


COOPER: -- doing away with it?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, that remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally -- on whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up. There are certain things that are just sacred rights. One is a sacred obligation that we're never going to renege on a debt. We're the only nation in the world. We have never ever renege on single debt.

COOPER: But when it comes to voting rights --

BIDEN: Voting rights are equally as consequential. COOPER: When it comes to voting rights -- just so I'm clear, though -- you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.

COOPE: And maybe other issues.


LEMON (on camera): So, what does this mean for voting rights? What did you think of that?

SELLERS: I'm excited. I mean, it took us a long time to get to this point. I think that David was actually right in the fact that tonight -- this is one of the things that you have to either love or dislike. If you're a campaign operative, you dislike about Joe Biden. If you're somebody who voted for him like I did or support him like I do, you absolutely love that he is so honest that he shows you all the sausage making.

He shows you how things get done. And tonight, he did that. And tonight, he actually talks about things that actually matter to the American people. That's why these town halls are such a plus for him. And I will tell you this.


SELLERS: Look, I've been disappointed in the fact that we have not had results on issues that matter, when you have a democratic House, a democratic Senate, and a democratic White House, on things like criminal justice reform, on things like voting rights.

Sure, the infrastructure bill, the reconciliation bill, these things are important. The work they've done on COVID cannot go unnoticed. But the fact is there are a lot of people who voted for simple issues like justice. And the fact that he was able to say finally that he's coming around on eliminating, on narrowing, I think, is even better. Narrowing the filibuster on an issue like voting rights is so important.

The question though is, can he get president Sinema and president Manchin on board? I mean, because, look, whatever the president of the United States said, I mean, he did say that, you know, we still have these two presidents out there that are just in the wind on these issues.

And my plea for Manchin and Sinema would be simply that the reason that you're in the majority, the reason that you have this leverage is because people fought and died for these rights that apparently don't ring that alarm for you but ring that alarm for me, and I would hope they would get on board.

LEMON: David, do you want to respond?

AXELROD: No. Look, that's absolutely right. I was a little actually confused by his answer on voting rights because his initial answer was, I couldn't -- I can't -- I don't want to talk about this because I'll lose three votes on these other bills if I talk about this.

Then he said, I'm for a -- I would like to try a standing filibuster, which is something that Manchin said he would support, you know, reinstating the old rule where you actually have to stand on the floor and hold the floor in order to filibuster. And, you know, people were broken by that at times.

But then he was asked, would he consider a carveout for voting rights, and he said, that and other things. And so, I don't know exactly where he is on this. And the key question is the one that Bakari asked. Bakari says, why haven't we gotten stuff done on criminal justice reform, on voting rights, on a whole range of things. The answer is the filibuster.

And the question is, are the senators who have opposed changing the filibuster -- Manchin and Sinema are public about it. I think there are others who probably share their view.

SELLERS: Correct.

AXELROD: Are there 50 votes to end the filibuster?

SELLERS: I mean, but let's -- I mean, Don, let's be extremely clear. I mean, our good friend, the 44th president of the United States, somebody that David Axelrod worked for, called the filibuster what it is, which is a relic of a racist past. I mean, that is what the filibuster is.

And so, the question -- that is -- that's the frame that we have to look going forward. 2022 is not going to be easy for Democrats. And I'm going to be out there campaigning across the country for Democrats. What are you giving me to campaign for? That's the question.

LEMON: You're not happy with Democrats, what they're doing?

SELLERS: No, I'm not. I'm not happy. I'm in the same boat as many other Democrats. I am not happy. I'm not 38 hot or pissed off yet, but I'm just not happy because I gave you a majority. You have to understand what people in Georgia went through. People in Georgia waited in line for four or five hours --

LEMON: Sometimes longer.

SELLERS: Sometimes longer. They overcame the person running for Georgia, the governor of Georgia being the secretary of state and dictating all of these things. They overcame so much. And just particularly in the state of Georgia. We won't even talk about Milwaukee. We won't talk about Detroit. We won't talk about these other places. So, no, I'm not happy.

Democrats actually have to perform. And one of the things we've always said -- and I'll surmise here. I'll wrap up here. One of the things we've always said is that when Republicans get in leadership, the reason they always suck is because they can never govern and they can never produce. Now, we're doing the same thing over and over again. Like, give me something. Give me something to campaign on.

AXELROD: Well, I'm confused only because we began this discussion about Biden talking about, you know, coming close to having a deal on two of the really large packages that we've seen in decades and decades and generations on both the social side and on infrastructure.

That doesn't obviate the fact that, you know, on issues like voting rights which are fundamental to democracy and criminal justice reform and others, that progress has been slow because of the filibuster. I'm sure Biden would like to make progress on those things.

But I will say this. I suspect that yes, people stood in line in Georgia to elect those senators and they want them to vote for those things. I'm not sure that the people who voted for Joe Manchin in West Virginia feel the same way. And that's the -- that is the challenge of democracy.


AXELROD: Joe Manchin represents a state where Trump won by 40 points.


AXELROD: And so, you know, that makes it a little bit of a different conversation. I'm not defending him. I don't think that you should take a partisan stance on democracy.

Democracy should be something that's beyond party. And there are things that are happening in this country today that are going right to the heart of democracy. And I do think that Congress and the Senate should act. And I think Manchin should act and Sinema should act and they should all stand as one on this.

But Bakari is a very smart politician and he understands, I'm sure, that Manchin has a different set of political imperatives than someone from another kind of state.

LEMON: President Manchin?

SELLERS: No, I think that -- let me just say Ax is absolutely correct. All of this is Cal Cunningham's fault. That is what David Axelrod said. If Cal Cunningham wins in North Carolina in 2020, then we don't have to deal with president Manchin.

Look, democrats have to win elections, but in order for Democrats to win elections, they have to communicate ideas. And I think one of the lessons that we can learn from the Affordable Care Act is that people actually appreciated the Affordable Care Act more after they knew what was in it. They didn't know what was in the Affordable Care Act until the Republican Party tried to take it away.

And this is the same thing over and over again with "build back better," with the infrastructure bill. People -- we need to communicate our ideas better. We need to tell them what is in the legislation. We need to go out on the road and do these things. And then we need to actually show up when elections matter.

Right now, my only point is Democrats have to do a better job in leadership of giving us something to vote for. I've been ringing that alarm for a long time. If people want to listen to it, that's fine. If they don't want to invite me to the White House Christmas party, that's fine as well. But I'm just telling you --

LEMON: If you heard me last night, I'm definitely not getting an invite.

AXELROD: You have to wear a tie if they do, you know.

SELLERS: First of all, I am going for millennial sexy. I told you that already. That is what this is about.

LEMON: Okay. I'm going to go. Let me just say this. The reason Bakari is dressed that way -- and I was very proud to be there with you and your lovely wife, Ellen, tonight, the American Liver Foundation, the 45th anniversary legacy gala. He and his wife were the co-chairs and because of the issue that they've had with liver and their little girl.


LEMON: So, that's why --

AXELROD: Good work. Good work, Bakari.

LEMON: Thank you, Bakari. Great to be there. As much as we can help, continue to let us know. But anyway, we love you and we're glad that you're here.

SELLERS: Appreciate it. Thank you.

LEMON: So, I want to turn now to the full House voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying the January 6th Select Committee.

CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams is here, and he is wearing a tie. Ellie, good evening to you.


born in this tie. You will get a necktie off my cold, dead body. It ain't happening.

LEMON: Baby, I was born this way.

WLLIAMS: Not going for sexy. Not going for sexy. But talk to me, Don.

LEMON (on camera): Good evening. Tonight, the Bannon contempt referral sits with the U.S. attorney. This is what Attorney General Merrick Garland said about the decision of whether to prosecute him. Here it is.


MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances, will apply the facts in the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution.

LEMON: What do you think will happen?

WLLIAMS: I want to say a couple of things. First, when he made those comments, Don, that was maybe six or eight hours before this case even existed, right? So, it would have been irresponsible and inappropriate for him to go further than that.

Look, I think they're going to take a close look at it and there's a basis for charging him with a crime. The committee put out a pretty long, detailed report indicating all the ways in which Steve Bannon sort of didn't respond to communications and sort of was blowing off the committee. So, there's a basis for a charge to say that he willfully violated a subpoena. So, we shall see.

LEMON: How long do you expect it's going to take the AG, AG Garland, to ultimately make a decision?

WLLIAMS: You know, look, I -- you know, I hesitate to impose timing on anybody. I think anybody is aware of how politically sensitive and how much public interest there is in this. So, I would think that the Justice Department has probably been looking at it already and we'll get to a decision soon. Whether it's hours, days or weeks, it's just hard to say, Don.

LEMON: Okay. I've got to ask you this. Sometimes, it's hard to find the truth in these --

WLLIAMS: Oh, yeah.

LEMON: Oh, yeah. So, Congresswoman Liz Cheney revealing today that Congressman Jim Banks has been claiming in official letters that he is the ranking member of the January 6th committee, but he's not even on the committee.


LEMON: So, how can he possibly make that claim?


WLLIAMS: Because it's a fabrication. Look, you know, Jim Banks was in the negotiations earlier on to be a part of the committee and chose not to, and his party chose not to. So, that's very unfortunate.

The committee is clear. It is bipartisan. It has Democrats and Republicans on it. I don't know how he's able to make that claim, but it is simply not true.

It's a dually authorized committee of Congress, right, that the House of Representatives have voted on. So, it seems odd for a Republican member of the House to claim even membership on it, let alone being the head of it.

LEMON: Thanks to Elliot and his tie this evening. Appreciate it.

WLLIAMS: Thank you, Don. Take care.

LEMON (on camera): Thank you. The House voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee. But more than 200 Republicans refused to take the stand and voting no, coming down on the side of the former president and his big lie.


REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): That is what fear looks like. That is what fear of Donald Trump looks like.





LEMON: The House of Representatives voting to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt. But if most Republicans had their way, this

referral would never have passed, okay?

So, joining me now, CNN political commentators Scott Jennings and also Ana Navarro. Good evening to both of you. Good to see you. Scott, I'm going to start with you. This was the deadliest attack on the Capitol in two centuries. Republicans remain hell bent on whitewashing it all in the name of what? Donald Trump and his big lie?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, obviously, the Republicans would like to talk about something else and they didn't want this committee in the first place. And so, it made sense to me why if you didn't want the committee in the first place, you wouldn't want to hold somebody in contempt for defying the committee.

I mean, he quite clearly defied a Steve Bannon, and it is quite clear that this executive privilege claim is suspicious (ph) at best. And so, my suspicion is that the Department of Justice takes it up. This is, by the way, how these things are adjudicated. He's not going to stand a very good chance. So, we'll see how it plays out.

But, you know, I was actually in a position once when I worked for President Bush. I got subpoenaed by Congress, and I actually had to show up and then say, you know, the president was asserting executive privilege over my testimony. But I had to show up and do it.

In this case, Bannon is not only claiming privilege but he didn't show up to assert it. And so, it's an interesting case and one in which I don't think the facts are on his side, but I guess we'll see how it plays out.

LEMON: Scott, you're like, I don't really know what to say. You think about it, you said you can see why they didn't vote for it, but, I mean, you know, they are supposed to be setting an example, and for them to vote against holding Steve Bannon accountable, you don't think that's irresponsible?

JENNINGS: Well, they don't agree -- I'm just putting myself in their shoes. If they don't agree with the formation of the committee, which most of them didn't, then it makes sense to me logically why they wouldn't vote to hold someone in contempt who's defying the committee they didn't support in the first place. It doesn't necessarily make it responsible or right or proper --

LEMON: Yeah.

JENNINGS: But to me, the votes are congruent. If you voted against the committee in the first place, you might have voted against this contempt charge. Plus, the specter of the president hangs out there. I mean, there is no secret about that. He obviously wanted to vote that way and that's what most of them did.

LEMON: Ana, I see you shaking your head. You know, just before your response, Trump saying the insurrection was on November 3rd. He said the real insurrection was on November 3rd and that January 6th was a protest. We know that's a lie. It was all on camera. What do you make of this?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, thank God you came to me because I've gotten to love Scott Jennings and it's painful to hear him bend himself into pretzel shapes trying to justify what's happening.

It's unjustifiable. They are putting their loyalty to a cult leader that is Donald Trump above the law, above the Constitution, above the country, above patriotism and above their jobs. They're trying to whitewash what happened on January 6th. They want the country to move on.

And so, for those of us who don't want to move on, who want to learn the truth, who want to know how it happened, why it happened, who funded, who was behind it, how it was organized, who participated, we need answers.

And so, you know, they don't want to get to those answers because they want to pretend that it didn't happen, that it was tourists touring the U.S. Capitol. So, then they have to go along with this entire thing.

And in this case, Steve Bannon is a proxy for Donald Trump. And the bottom line is that but for these nine Republicans who still know what a backbone is, the rest are miracles of science walking about invertebrates, without a backbone. They have no spine. It's a miracle they can walk on two legs.

LEMON: I want to talk about Texas, what's happening in Texas. Let's talk about the new secretary of state there. Gov. Greg Abbott appointing John Scott, a lawyer who briefly represented former President Trump in his effort to challenge Pennsylvania's election results. What do you think of that appointment, Scott?

JENNINGS: I talked to some people I know in Texas. I don't know Mr. Scott but I'm told he's thought of as a qualified guy, somebody who had a number of different jobs in Texas State government, longtime lawyer, sort of a well thought of person. The Trump involvement here, though, makes the decision, you know, obviously a flash point.

I mean, this is not an appointment that would normally draw that much attention except for the fact that he was briefly, I think, for three days involved in the Trump litigation in Pennsylvania.


JENNINGS: So, on the one hand, seems like a qualified person. On the other hand, he's got this Trump involvement which has everybody up in arms. I guess we will see how he acts. They've gone through a number of secretaries of state down there.

So, this is another in a line of appointments here. But it's quite obvious the governor of Texas is responding to the president who is obviously demanding an audit of a state that he won, which I find a little strange, frankly. But by putting someone that had some involvement with his legal team in his job, I guess they're hoping to gain favor there.

LEMON: And Texas State Democrats are calling the new secretary of state one of the architects of the Republicans' big lie. I mean, you know, he represented the former president. What do you make of it?

NAVARRO: Look, first I think I agree with Scott and I think Greg Abbott is trying to curry favor with Donald Trump. I think he either wants to be on Trump's ticket should Trump run. If he doesn't, you're going to see Greg Abbott along with Ron DeSantis running for the republican nomination.

This is one more thing that they are doing to impact voting in Texas. We saw the legislature. We saw that they just redrew the districts, congressional districts, eliminating some of the Hispanic districts and making them more easily won by Republicans.

And this is one more item on the agenda to lock up Texas, to affect the right to vote and the access to vote. A secretary of state can make many, many decisions. Let's remember the influence of Katherine Harris in the 2000 election in Florida when she was secretary of state. So, I think he's dotting the Is and crossing the Ts when it comes to how to affect and influence voting so that it benefits Republicans.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon.

So, we have some breaking news to tell you about. It's really odd. There's an accident on a Hollywood set that left a member of the crew dead and another injured. This is after Alec Baldwin fires a prop gun. We have the details right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



LEMON: President Biden confident that Democrats are coming together to pass his two big pieces of legislation, infrastructure and the social safety net bill.

During CNN's town hall tonight, the president talking specifics as negotiations continue and admitting that he is not getting a lot of the spending items that he wants. How do Americans feel about this?

I want to bring in now Harry Enten, CNN senior political writer and analyst. Hey, Harry. Good to see you. So, Biden was pitching his "build back better" agenda tonight. Do people even know what's in this plan?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Not really no. I mean, some do, right?

LEMON: Yeah.

ENTEN: You know, obviously, there are some people who pay more attention to the news than others. But if you look at a CBS News poll that just came out, what do you see? Only 53% of Americans know a lot or some of the specifics that are in this plan versus 57% who don't know anything or don't know specifics.

So, I would argue that this has been a pretty poor sales job by the president and his administration on this plan.

LEMON: Do you think "build back better" will help their families or do they think, I should say, because that's what really matters? If they think that something positive will happen to them and their families, it is going to affect them positively.

ENTEN: It doesn't really seem so. I mean, the polling is actually quite split on this. I think you're right, that this is a great way to phrase this question. And what you see is only 36% of Americans think it will help you and your family versus 33% who say says hurt. And even on the national economy, right, the broader picture, it's 41% help versus 38% hurt.

So, what we really see is that this is quite divisive when it comes to this. Even if they approve of a plan overall, they don't actually think it's really going to help them. I think that's part of the reason why this has been such a hard sales pitch for them.

LEMON: Listen, sometimes it's hard to quantify these things. It depends on the question, what you ask, right?

ENTEN: Sure.

LEMON: So, what are -- what's the concerns? What are Americans concerned about?

ENTEN: Yeah, I think this is part of the reason why this hasn't picked up a lot of steam. Because if you look at the polling, the number one thing that Americans are extremely concerned about is inflation at 53%. I don't really hear the president talking about that that much. Look at all the way at the bottom of that list, 27% on infrastructure.

Me and your producers are going back and forth how to get these many things on to the list. That's how low infrastructure is here. You have to add the dot, dot, dot, because it is not even the eight (ph). I think it was all the way down to 10th or 11th.

I think this just gives you an idea that although the president is trying to pitch this and people might think that we need infrastructure reform, the fact is they're not really that concerned about it. There are far more other things that they're much more concerned about in their day-to-day lives at this point.

LEMON: Can we put that one back up, please? Look at that when -- political divisions, very high up there. Health care, very high up. Migrants at the border, very high up there, as to what they're concerned about.

ENTEN: Yeah, that's exactly right. I think part of the issue is we've sort of seen this kind of build on top of each other, right? We've seen the president's approval rating decline over the last few months and people say, oh, what is it? Is it one particular thing? I don't think it's one particular thing. I think it's a combination of a lot of things.

LEMON: So --

ENTEN: Yeah, go on, Don.

LEMON: Do you think Biden isn't concentrating on what's important to them?


ENTEN: I don't believe that he necessarily is, and I think that's part of the reason why even if you believe this plan is popular, which most of the polling does suggest that more people approve of it than disapprove of it, the numbers really aren't moving.

And I'm not sure even passing this bill will necessarily move it. It may help try and get this idea that Biden is actually doing something. Americans don't think he's accomplished that much so far. But I'm kind of on the doubtful side here. I don't think that this plan gets at what most Americans are concerned about.

LEMON: You know, all this Biden stuff will be in the background, right, on the minds of the people going to vote in Virginia. That race is tightening. So, what's going on? Show us the polls. What's going to happen?

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look, you and I have been talking about this. You texted me earlier today. You're, like, is Terry McAuliffe actually going to win? I'm kind of maybe, more likely than not. But you could see the races tightening here. Look at this. It was a five-point lead a few months ago in August. Then look at last month. It was three points. Now, it's two points. That's well within any margin of error.

When you see a lead like that, that race is just too close to call. That's the way I would describe it at this point. Maybe a slight edge to McAuliffe, but I really wouldn't bet on it.

LEMON: Look, it's not over until the polls close and all the votes are counted. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Harry Enten, see you.

ENTEN: Bye, Don.

LEMON: Bye. Breaking tonight. So, this terrible story coming out of Hollywood, one dead, another injured, after Alec Baldwin fires a prop gun on a movie set. We're going to tell you -- explain to you what's going on.




LEMON: Okay. So, here's the breaking news we've been telling you about. Law enforcement officials confirming tonight that one person is dead, another is injured after an accident on a movie set where Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun. The sheriff's office says it was an active investigation and no charges have been filed.

CNN senior national correspondent Sara Sidner, she is covering the story for us. What an awful story, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unreal that this has happened with a prop gun, according to the sheriff's department. What we know so far is sadly, the director of photography, a woman who is in her early 40s, 42-year-old, her name I now have is Halyna Hutchins, has been killed.

According to investigators, this prop gun that Alec Baldwin was apparently holding, it was obviously fired. They're trying to figure out what kind of projectile came out of the gun.

But there was also the director of this film that he was working on called "Rust" that they are filming, 48-year-old director, Joel Souza, has also been hit.

Now, we don't know what -- we don't know anything about any details about his condition, but we do know that the director of photography has been killed on set in this seemingly freak accident. We are unsure exactly how this all happened and why it may have been -- this prop gun may have been pointed at the director of photography. We don't know how exactly the director of the film was shot, but we do know that Alec Baldwin was really, really happy about being back on set in person. He posted on Instagram a photo of himself working on the film and almost disturbingly now, because of what's happened, there's a video or picture of him where he's got what looks like fake blood on his torso. He's sort of saying, just happy to be back on the set, and that's sort of all we've heard from him and that was way early on when they started filming.

And now we know two people have been shot by this prop firearm and one person has died. And, you know, the crew is reeling from this. It just -- it doesn't seem real.

LEMON: Yeah. Let me just -- this is a -- what they're saying here. The sheriff said that the investigation remains open and active and that no charges again have been filed. Again, this is coming -- as you see, Sara Sidner is reporting this -- coming from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Alec Baldwin on the set of a movie called "Rust." And they said witnesses continue to be interviewed by the detectives. This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives. That's what the sheriff's office is saying.

Halyna Hutchins, 42, that's according to investigators, a female victim identified as director of photography, she was transported to the hospital via helicopter, pronounced dead by medical personnel at the University of New Mexico Hospital. The other victim, 48-year-old Director Joel Souza, transported to the Christus St. Vincent Hospital by ambulance for care. We are checking on them.

Sara is going to continue to dig on this reporting. If she gets more, we'll bring her back. Sara, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.


LEMON: Bizarre story coming out of Santa Fe, New Mexico involving Alec Baldwin on a movie set. So, Black players are getting a win in NFL after suing over discrimination. We're going to tell you about it after this.


LEMON: Tonight, two house committees launching an investigation into the NFL's handling of allegations of a hostile work environment inside the Washington Football Team, allegations which include bigotry, racism, sexism and homophobia.


LEMON: The committee is requesting documents and information.

And also tonight, an agreement to scrap race as a factor in NFL concussion settlements. "The New York Times" reporting the NFL and lawyers for Black players who accused the league of discrimination reaching the agreement.

Let's discuss now with Ken Belson, NFL reporter for the "Times," and also Ken Jenkins, a former player. Good to have both of you on, to see both of you again. We wanted you to keep us updated on this story and you all are, so thank you very much for that.

So, Ken Belson, it's been a long battle getting to this point. Explain this policy of race norming and what the agreement will mean.

KEN BELSON, NFL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. This started about a year ago, actually last August, so a little more than a year ago, when two former players sued the league, claiming that their claims for payouts for dementia under the concussion settlement were denied in part because race was used as one of the categories to determine whether they were -- they had cognitive decline.

And this was -- and there were two separate categories, one for Black players, one for white players, and the assumptions made for the Black players assumed a lower level of cognitive ability, and, therefore, they had to have a much steeper decline to get a payout.

So, this came to light more than a year ago. It is quite embarrassing for the league, especially when it is out there on the football field trying to say, end racism. And so, this became kind of an urgent matter to try and undo or replace, and that's what happened yesterday.

LEMON: So, Ken, I know you and your wife have been leading voices against the NFL's policy of race norming, but you say that it is not time to rejoice just yet. Why do you say that?

KEN JENKINS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, we have made some progress, but how much is really yet to be determined? The devil is going to be in the details, but we are cautiously optimistic. By the way, thank you, Ken, for posting the entire settlement. I have been working my way through it, sort of word by word and paragraph by paragraph.

But, again, it's hard to take a victory lap because blatantly racist policy has somehow been reversed. I mean, it is like setting your house on fire and then they say, hey, I'm going to come help you put it out.

There are some good things in there. What I have read so far, I'm cautiously optimistic if they can pull it off. One thing they have it in writing. It is another thing in practice, right?

LEMON: Yeah. So, Ken Jenkins, how much has this cost former players and their families? Is the damage really already been done here?

JENKINS: It depends on the family. There are a lot of men -- there were some men who have actually died during this process and their families actually get nothing. Right? And there have been families that are going through tremendous financial difficulty before their settlement gets reached or reviewed.

And it's been tragic in some cases. You know, men going into bankruptcy and falling further into -- their households into disarray. So, it has been difficult.

LEMON: Ken Belson, in your reporting, you acknowledged that as a result of the new agreement, no party can appeal claims based on the grounds of race or the use of race norms. I mean, what will happen to the hundreds of former players that have -- you know, their claims denied already?

BELSON: Well, this is one of the open questions that I think a lot of players will have. More than 7,000 players took a kind of preliminary test that was given for free as a kind of baseline or a benchmark test. And many of those players didn't know why their scores didn't qualify. And now, they will have to chance to go back and get rescored and perhaps have a qualifying diagnosis that will allow them to get a payout.

But as Ken Jenkins mentioned, years have gone by. The stress of waiting and appealing and having claims audited. You know, this was supposed to be a -- quote -- "easy to use settlement." That's the way it was portrayed to the players four or five years ago, and it's been anything but.

The second thing to add, which is not relevant to the race norming issue per se, is the guidelines or the reasons for players being disqualified. Let's say a player can still drive or, you know, do a radio or TV interview. Well, suddenly, the NFL might appeal that claim and say, well, he can't be -- he can't have dementia because he still drives a car. Well, as we know, there are many grades of dementia and cognitive decline.

So, there are many other things having nothing to do with race that are still holding up claims.


LEMON: I just have a short time left here, Ken Jenkins. You want the DOJ civil rights division to get involved?

JENKINS: Yeah. I think that's the only way that we are going to get full transparency of what transpired here. I think that if they do an inquiry and open discovery, then we're going to actually find out the demographic information of who has been paid and who has been denied and on what grounds. We will find out also whether it was purposefully done. That's really important.

We still -- we need a team of lawyers instead of just Chris Seeger. He seems to be no match for the NFL. We need full transparency and we need full reporting on the progress as the new settlement takes hold.

LEMON: Well, Ken Belson, thank you for your reporting. Ken Jenkins, thank you for appearing and my regards to your wife, please. She's not with you at this time.

JENKINS: She says hello.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.