Return to Transcripts main page
Don Lemon Tonight
Government Not Shutting Down; Alec Baldwin Believe He Is Not Responsible To Halyna Hutchins' Death; President Biden Unveils His Plan To Combat Virus Surge; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Was Interviewed About What's Going to Happen To Jeffrey Clark This Saturday. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired December 02, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But analysts are concerned about her actual condition.
UNKNOWN: If you don't think that she is under an enormous amount of psychological pressure from the CCP, from the authorities, given that she has put very embarrassing charges against a senior Chinese official. You're crazy.
I think it is safe to say that she is under very tightly controlled circumstances, that she does not have the ability to communicate freely with the outside world.
TODD: Experts say, one potential nightmare scenario for Beijing, has to do with the Winter Olympics its hosting in a couple of months.
UNKNOWN: I think this is absolutely going to increase the pressure to at least not have diplomatic presence at the Winter Olympics. Beijing is unhappy about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (on camera): That was Brian Todd reporting. The news continues. Time to hand over to Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for joining us.
A big news night. We've got breaking news on multiple big stories from a major vote on Capitol Hill, it happened just moments ago.
To what Alec Baldwin is saying tonight about that fatal shooting on the set of his new movie "Rust." He is speaking out in a raw emotional interview. You have to hear it describing what happened before and in the moment the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I was told I was handed an empty gun. Whether there was cosmetic or whatever there was nothing but a charge at all, a flash round. Nothing. She goes down. I thought to myself, did she faint?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And he is insisting that he is not responsible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is but I know it's not me. I mean, honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. And I don't say that lightly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): That's just a little bit of it. You are going to hear more from Alec Baldwin in just a moment here.
But we have breaking news, it's in Washington. Congress averted a government shutdown just hours ago -- just hours to go, I should say, until the deadline tomorrow. The Senate voting to pass a stopgap bill that kicks the can down the road to mid-February. And handing a defeat to conservative Republicans who tried to force the Biden administration to knuckle under on vaccine mandates by threatening to shut down the federal government.
So, CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox is on the Hill for us. She joins us now with more. So, Lauren, good evening to you. What's the latest?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Don, with about 26 hours to go, Congress was able to avert this government shutdown. Like you said, there was a last-minute question mark of whether or not two conservative senators were going to hold up this process.
Remember, that because they waited until the last minute as Congress often does, they had to have a unanimous consent agreement. Meaning they have to had all 100 senators in agreement to expedite this process to make sure that the government did not shut down. Well, two senators said they wanted a vote to defund the president's vaccine mandates.
We should note for viewers back home that these mandates require for people to be vaccinated or get tested regularly before they go to work. They do have that opt out option and that is something that the Democrats on the Senate floor were pointing out in spades tonight during this debate. But that vote was defeated.
So, of course, the president's mandate still funded as part of this continuing resolution. There is also now going to be an aversion of that government shutdown. Meaning the government will not shut down tomorrow at midnight.
Both Republican and Democratic leaders were on the floor celebrating that fact. Arguing that it was very important that both sides came together to make sure that this didn't happen tonight or tomorrow night, Don. A very important moment for Congress. But we should note, this is only a government funding until February 18th. So we get to do this whole thing again in just a couple months.
LEMON: So, February 18th we go back through all of this one more time. It seems like it just -- we just went through it.
Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Lauren, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us this evening.
Now I want to turn to our other breaking news story. It's about Alec Baldwin and his first formal interview since the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on New Mexico set of his movie "Rust." You've got to watch this because it is very emotional.
I want to bring in Lucy Kafanov is here. Lucy has been following the story. Hi, Lucy. An emotional interview for Alec Baldwin tonight. What did we hear?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an emotional interview, Don. And a long interview, nearly an hour-long. He described he got upset and emotional when he described meeting the husband of Halyna Hutchins, as well as her young son who was left without a mother. He teared up in talking about that.
But he also talked about in more detail what exactly it was that unfolded in those fateful moments before she was killed. The big revelation from Alec Baldwin this evening he says he did not pull the trigger. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: It wasn't in the script for the trigger to be pulled.
BALDWIN: Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you never pulled the trigger?
BALDWIN: No, no, no, no. I would never point a gun and pull a trigger at them. Never. That was the training that I had. You don't point a gun to a man and pull the trigger. On day one of my instruction in this business people said to me, never take a gun and go click, click, click, click. Because even though it's incremental you damage the firing pin on the gun if you do that. Don't do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And Lucy, how did --
KAFANOV: Now in that scene --
LEMON: Go on. Sorry. Finish your thought. Sorry about that.
KAFANOV: Well, I was just going to say, you know, he was practicing in that scene sort of, a cross straw. Right? Pulling the weapon out. And Dave Halls, the assistant director, handed him the gun, saying that it was a cold gun, meaning it was safe to use.
Baldwin actually said that Halyna Hutchins was the one who asked him to position the gun in her direction. He said that she was asking him to point it near her direction. He asked her whether he should cock the gun. She said yes. He then says he let go of the hammer, and according to Baldwin the gun went off.
Again, him insisting he did not pull the trigger. That's of course is going to be an interesting point for forensics experts and weapons experts to look at. But he stressed multiple times that he wants answers about how a live round ended up on the set but made very clear that he does not blame himself for this, Don.
LEMON: Yes. He talked about what you were saying about pointing the gun and what she asked. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Countless people online saying, you idiot, you never point a gun at someone. Well, unless you are told it's empty and it's the director of photographer who is instructing you on the angle for a shot we're going to do. And she and I had this thing in common where we both thought it was empty and it wasn't. And that's not her responsibility. That's not my responsibility. Whose responsibility? It remains to be seen. But I will --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But there are some who say you never to point a gun at anyone on a set no matter what.
BALDWIN: Unless the person is the cinematographer who's directing me where to point the gun for her camera angle. That's exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAFANOV (on camera): And the world -- the word responsibility, Don, came up quite a few times in this interview. One of the other things that was discussed was whether Baldwin should have checked the gun before handling it. Now he said in his experience it's the head armorer whose job it is to do that. When she wasn't on set, he said the assistant director Dave Halls would hand him the gun after having checked it.
He did say that it was highly unlikely that he thought he would be charged with anything criminally but he did talk about Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the head armorer. He said that she gave him a demonstration on gun safety when they first began shooting.
Asked whether he thought she was up to the job. He said he assumed she was because she was there and she was hired that she was up for the job. But he said he is not a producer that hires the crew. And that could be an important point as the investigation continues and as the question of liability comes up, Don.
He also made the point, sort of, stressing that he founded unsettling that two people, Serge Svetnoy, the lighting technician and another woman on the set had filed civil lawsuits. He said that he thought that the husband of Halyna Hutchins, Matthew Hutchins should have been able to file his lawsuit first. Don?
LEMON: Man, what a mess this all is. We just said all the way around. Lucy, I appreciate your reporting. Lucy has been on top of this story. She'll continue to report on it until we get more answers. Thank you very much for that.
Joining me now Sharon Waxman. Sharon is the founder and CEP of The Wrap. And Dutch Merrick, he is the prop master and armorer. I appreciate both of you joining us.
So, Sharon, Alec Baldwin he is asking himself how did, you know, a live bullet end up in that gun. Watch this then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, as far as I am concerned, someone put -- the investigation is going to find out, but someone put a live bullet in a gun. A bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property. And this is the thing I hope that the sheriff's department doesn't give up on. That they follow this to the ends of the earth.
Where did that bullet come from? Somebody brought live rounds, plural, on to the set of the film. And one of them ended up in that gun. And if the bullets didn't come on the property, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): I mean, this is still, Sharon, under investigation, this fatal shooting. But this was a stunning interview. He didn't even know in the moment that he had shot Halyna. He said he thought she had fainted. What stood out to you as you watch this?
SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER & CEO, THE WRAP: Well, that was the headline of the story that we just put out on The Wrap about this, which is that he thought that she had a heart attack or that she had been hit by something with a dummy bullet or (Inaudible) as he used to called it.
And that he didn't realize he said for 45 minutes that she had been shot. Just lying there and the notion of that is just crazy to me. And then, but it also indicates to you just how remote the notion that a live bullet would have made it into a set.
And then he said also that he had only found out from the police a couple of hours later when they were interviewing him that she had died. So, the whole thing feels like to him it was some kind of, you know, through the looking glass kind of experience.
But everybody is talking about this, it strikes me as the sort of supernatural experience. Like where did this bullet come from? Somebody did bring it but the armor herself has said I didn't do it. Who would do that? And people pointing fingers and basically saying this couldn't have happened. And yet it did happen.
The one thing I'll point out, Don, is that look, we reported very early on that people had taken the guns off the set during the day and gone sort of shooting at cans in the desert, plinking, and brought the guns back.
I have not heard that account knocked down, confirmed anything. But I don't think anybody really think that somebody was out to sabotage. That seems to be this remote conspiracy theory that's out there. And Alec Baldwin was asked about that tonight and he said he didn't think it was like that. So much more likely that was an accident.
But it seems like this very sort of strange thing that everyone seems to agree was impossible to happen and yet it happened.
LEMON: Dutch, you've been watching this. This is your expertise and your field. As you are watching that interview, what did you think? Talk to me.
DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER: Well, first of all, the story just seems to get more and more bizarre as it unfolds. The layers are mind- boggling. When he said that he had pulled the hammer back but didn't pull the trigger.
Well, how did the hammer come forward? The design of that gun it's 150-year-old design. That was a modern reproduction. Was it entirely unreliable gun? That you pull the hammer back and it just goes forward? I'd like to get a look at that.
As far as the claim of plinking, I think no credence has been given to that since it first came out. He said that the armorer was not in the room when they were rehearsing the scene. That's one of the most alarming things to me. As an armorer, we stay with the gun. There is a relationship between the armorer and the actor. And nobody should get in between that relationship.
Certainly, the 1st A.D. can take a look at the gun and check it for safety and observe everything we're doing absolutely. A second set of eyes is great. So, you can examine the dummy rounds we're putting in, the blanks we're putting in, check the gun with us but you won't take the gun from the armorer and hand it to the actor?
That's absolutely unheard of in Hollywood in entertainment. And Alec did say that there is occasions where he hands it off to the 1st A.D. The armorer should be right there and should be allowed to be at his side and to be there to arrange the blocking and show him where to point the gun. Make sure there's no people where that is. Remind him to keep his finger off the trigger until he's actually ready to fire. And why were there any dummy rounds in the gun at all during this blocking rehearsal? It should have been either a completely empty gun or they are rubber gun.
LEMON: So, in that interview and not necessarily from Alec but the views in the handling of the gun, did you see negligence in that? In the process here? Is that what you are saying?
MERRICK: It's not for me to judge negligence or not negligence but the standard practice in filmmaking is that the armorer has custody of the gun and the ammunition at all times. It's from the armorer to the actor --
LEMON: In a chain of custody is what I mean, I couldn't think of the term but in the chain of custody, did you see a problem with that?
MERRICK: Yes. Why was -- in the affidavit that I read it said that Dave Halls, the 1st A.D. handed the gun to Baldwin on the set. Why is that? Why was the 1st A.D. acting as the armorer for that moment? Why was the armorer, the armorer reports on her affidavit she was not allowed on the set because of too many buddies?
So, that should never be allowed to have it. The armorer should be there at all times with the gun and be the one the last person to hand it off to the actor. And be there at all times when it's in action.
LEMON: Well, Dutch, I want you, and Sharon, to sit back because, you know, we have more of this interview. Alec was asked about he got criticized for not checking the gun. We're going to hear his response and much, more from that interview. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Well, I would go to any lengths to undo what happened. I would do any length to undo what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): That's our breaking news tonight Alec Baldwin speaking out about the shooting on the set of his movie "Rust" that killed film cinematographers Halyna Hutchins and wounded the director Joel Souza.
Baldwin telling ABC News tonight that he never pulled the trigger.
So back with me, Sharon Waxman, the founder and CEO of The Wrap, and Dutch Merrick, he is a prop master and an armorer.
So Dutch, Baldwin responded to that criticism of him not checking the gum himself. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: If your protocol is you check every time, well good for you. Good for you. You know, I probably handled weapons as much as any other actor in films. With an average career. Again, shooting or being shot by some. And in that time, I had a protocol and it never let me down.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why did you choose in your 40 years not to check the gun yourself?
BALDWIN: What I was taught by someone years ago was, as I said, if I took a gun and I popped a clip out of a gun or I manipulated the chamber of the gun they would take the gun away from me and redo it. The prop man said don't do that. When I was young. And they would say, one thing you need to understand is we don't want the actor to be the last line of defense against a catastrophic breach of safety with the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It sounds similar to what you are saying, Dutch, but does any of this makes sense to you?
MERRICK: Yes. There are actors that are really sort of fastidious about checking a gun every single time, and then there are other actors that perhaps they stay so in the zone that they particularly check it and they instill a trust in the armorer that they're working with.
There is a relationship that we build. And just as a prop person providing food in a scene the actor needs to know that they're not going to get food poisoning from that. They are going to trust the armorer that the gun is as they say they it is. And the armorer has done the checks and the double checks.
So, again, it's an actor's right to check get it, absolutely, they may check it all day long. And if they choose not to and they say OK, give me the gun when it's ready, they take it and they go to the scene, that's perfectly acceptable in my understanding.
LEMON: Sharon, Alec Baldwin was also asked about cost cutting if that was a factor. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: When people say cutting cost, I don't say this with any judgment or any cynicism. Spielberg wants to save money. Tom Cruise wants to save money. Everybody who makes movies has a responsibility not be reckless and careless with the money that you are given. You know, those are men who make movies that cost $205 million. And I'm making movies that cost 5 million.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The question though, were cost being cut at the expense of safety and security?
BALDWIN: In my opinion, no, because I did not -- now I did not observe any safety or security issues at all in the time that I was there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): He says costs weren't an issue there but do you think -- what do you think about that? Because we've seen media reports that crew members quit over safety concerns and --
WAXMAN: That's right.
LEMON: -- COVID protocols prior to shooting, et cetera. I'm not sure if any of that has been confirmed or if that's true. But it's --
WAXMAN: It's totally confirmed. It's totally confirmed. The people on the production, this guy, Lane Luper, for example, who wrote a letter to the producers before they quit, you know, the night before the shooting talked about exactly these things.
So, what Alec said is that when he got wind of the complaints he offered or he was in the process of offering to give up some of his own salary so that the crew members could stay in nicer hotels or stay in hotels or some are sleeping in their cars apparently to cover those costs.
But he said he didn't know anything about safety issues. But that's just not the case. Because there is say -- there is in this letter they talk about in addition to housing issues, they talk about safety issues. And that there were two instances in which guns went off and shouldn't have gone off and then this happened.
So, you know, everyone see -- who needs to take responsibility and who had jobs in this production see -- when they go on the record they seem to say no, everything was great. But that really just doesn't add up. When you look at what was going on, when you look at the e-mails and the texts, the documentation of people who are unhappy on the set.
So, it's possible there were some people on that set who are perfectly happy. But there are certainly were people who raised concerns about safety and not just about the accommodations that the crew was having to live with.
LEMON: And Dutch, listen, this is your business, you are in Los Angeles, you are in Hollywood. What has this done, I'm sure it reverberated around the industry. What has happened since this accident?
MERRICK: Well, it's shaken us. It's really shaking us to the core, because this is just an example of a really bad actor. Not an actor in the acting sense but someone that is doing something that's bad. And this production seems to have cut every corner. Alec talks about being frugal with your money or trying to cut costs
but it's clear from the outset this film didn't staff appropriately, didn't offer enough preparation time or enough training for the actors with the guns. They had an armorer doing two jobs. A brand-new armorer at that. Doing armorer and propping.
So, and it's hard to say whether Alec knew of all of the challenges on the set or if he was more of a producer in name. But this show is an outlier to what we do every day in Los Angeles and across the country and across the world honestly. We make movies and we do it safely.
We do tremendous cars stunts where some car will careen out of control or fall off a building. And it looks as though there's a person in the car, but we've done safely. We figured everything out how to do it safely. And firearms are no exception. We literally fire millions of rounds on the shows that I work on alone.
MERRICK: And there are no injuries or deaths. We do this day and day out. So, it just shows --
LEMON: All the western --
MERRICK: -- there's an anomaly.
LEMON: All the westerns and all of the, you know, people being -- guns being fired and movies over the decades.
Sharon, you know, Alec Baldwin --
MERRICK: In 100 years.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. He said that he doesn't feel guilty but he did say someone is responsible. What do you think of that?
WAXMAN: I don't believe that. He also said he isn't often sleeping at night, that he has nightmares, you know, and he has dreams about guns going off and that never used to happen to him. I highly doubt that he doesn't feel some sense of guilt even if he knows that he is not responsible -- that he is not, how do you say that he's not -- that he didn't consciously take the life of Halyna Hutchins.
But I think it has got to be a very heavy burden to bear just from a personal ethical and moral standpoint completely apart from whatever legal liability he must be facing. He also said he didn't care if he ever did another movie ever again. And that doesn't surprise me that that's how he's feeling right now.
But you know this -- it's a trauma. You said this it is a tragedy all the way around. I got to meet Matt Hutchins last night at an event that we hosted. Your heart just breaks to meet the man. And it just feels like pain and loss for reasons that should never have been. So, I mean, I think Alec Baldwin has many, many mixed emotions, you know, about this.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Sharon. Thank you, Dutch.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
The Omicron variant now in multiple U.S. states. And President Biden is putting out a new plan for how to combat a winter COVID surge. We'll be right back.
LEMON (on camera): The President of the United States, Joe Biden, laying out his nine-point plan to stop the deadly winter COVID spike in its tracks. Plan focuses on stricter testing requirements for travelers to the U.S. and providing increase access to vaccines, boosters, and at home testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to reiterate Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins believe that if you are worried about Omicron variant the best thing to do is get fully vaccinated and then get your booster shot when you are -- when you are eligible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, let's talk about this now. Dr. Robert Wachter, he is a chair of the Department of Medicine at U.C. San Francisco where a lab worked on the first U.S. Omicron case. He joins us now.
Doctor, I really appreciate you joining us this evening. Thank you so much.
The first Omicron test came to one of the labs where you work at UCSF. You say from what you have seen so far you are not changing the precautions you take. What are you watching for as we learn more about Omicron?
ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: Yes. I think we are all watching for the same things, Don. We are watching to see whether it's more infectious, whether it's more severe and whether it evades immunity. And we have tidbits of evidence of all three of those but not enough to put together a full picture.
The reason I said I wasn't changing my behavior is we now have a couple of cases here and there. I'm sure we're missing a few more. There are probably more than we're more catching, but it's certainly is not a dominant player.
Today I'd be much more concerned about Delta which is got to be 99.9 percent of the cases. It's severe enough. I'm still careful when I go inside, I still wear a mask when I go inside unless I'm sure everybody is vaccinated. So. But I think if Omicron takes often becomes one or two or five percent of the cases in the U.S., then I think we have to factor it in our decision-making.
LEMON: Doctor, the president's plan comes as the U.S. is facing a potential winter surge. Last winter we saw a horrendous spike of COVID after the holidays. Do you think this plan is going to prevent a similar rise in cases?
WACHTER: It should help some but I think that it's kind of baked-in that we're going to see a significant spike. Unfortunately, we still have too many people who are unvaccinated. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of vaccinated people who should be getting boosters that have not done it yet.
And unfortunately, in a lot of parts of the country people are kind of over COVID and they decided they don't want to wear a mask anymore. And they, you know, as people go inside because of the colder weather it's a setup for them to be slammed.
I think we're hearing a lot about Omicron but Delta is bad enough. And so, I don't think the spike that we're going to see, the surge we're going to see are quite what we've seen in the past. But you know, we're still seeing 1,000 deaths a day, and so it's still not a very good situation even forgetting about Omicron for a second.
LEMON: You know, doctor, I'm glad you said that the people are over COVID, because just people are over COVID it doesn't mean that COVID is over. And I'm hearing all kinds of conspiracy theories that must be something. Something is wrong. Why does this continue to go on and people, because they're tired of it, they start to make up these scenarios in their mind that somehow this COVID is not real.
WACHTER: Yes. It's going on because it's called science and it's virus, and it does what it's going to do. And we, unfortunately, we've responded extraordinarily well in terms of our science that the vaccines, now these new oral antivirals on the horizon. We've done quite well in innovating and doing the science.
But the fact that 40 percent of Americans have chosen not to take a vaccine that is miraculously effective, and many people have not yet gotten the booster, and people are choosing not to wear masks when they really should, shows that this is not just science. It's science plus sociology, plus obviously, some politics.
And we've got to get all of it right. And if we give this virus a toehold, it takes off and that's what it's doing. It's continuously surprising us. And it will continue to do that. It has a lot of curveballs in store for us and when we say we're done we don't want to pay attention anymore the virus couldn't care less. LEMON: Is it mutating because people are just -- people are not
getting vaccinated so it continues to spread and it continues to mutate. Is that part of it?
WACHTER: Yes. I mean, every time it replicates it gives itself an opportunity to have a little typo.
WACHTER: And the vast, vast majority of those are completely benign, but every now and then in some ways through dumb luck on the part of the virus it will figure out a configuration that will really set us back. And that appears to be what it's done now. And it is because of the number of new cases around the world.
We've not successfully vaccinated the number of people we need to in the United States and certainly not around the world. And that gives the virus just a myriad of chances to have new viruses, and each one is an opportunity for mutation.
LEMON: Yes, 25 percent of the eligible U.S. population still hasn't been vaccinated. That's according to the CDC.
Doctor, you know, more than 30 countries - I want to put up a map - including the U.S. have already identified Omicron cases. Do you think stricter testing for people applying to the U.S. will really slow any potential spread?
WACHTER: You know, it may slow it down a little bit but maybe by a week or two. I mean, the case that was just reported in Minnesota was by, was someone who went to New York and did not travel abroad. So, it's already here, and as we test more, we'll find more cases here.
I understand the restrictions it may give us a little bit of extra wiggle room but really on the matter of days or a week or two. Fundamentally it's not the answer. The answer is going to be to figure out this thing, figure out how nasty it really is.
And it may seem paradoxical when we say the vaccines may not work quite as well, get vaccinated. But it actually makes a ton of sense. You need to have the highest possible level of immunity, and that means vaccination, and for most people plus boosters.
Because, for example, this variant is let's say, 20 or 30 percent vaccine resistant. If you start with a super high level of immunity because you got vaccinated and boosted, you're still in pretty good shape. If you start with no immunity, you're in terrible trouble. And if you start with a modest amount of immunity, for example, from prior infection with a vaccination, you may be in pretty bad trouble as well.
LEMON: I ask this question but with a caveat because I know, listen, I just did international travel for the first time for the holidays and so I have to be tested and I did -- and at home tests, you know, the one where you sit there in the computer and there's someone on the other side watching you take the test. And this is the home test. They're not cheap, doctor. And if you are
going to go into a doctor facility to get a cheap, they're not cheap. I'm talking about for the average American families. Especially if you have a big family with kids.
LEMON: I'm fortunate enough that I can afford them but they're not -- they're not cheap. Do you think at home testing would help? Would that make a difference here?
WACHTER: Absolutely. And part of the plan that the president announced was to have insurance cover them. I kind of wish he had figured out a way and his people figured out a way to just make them cheaper to subsidize them because insurance is a pain. And what would be easy is I go into the pharmacy and rather than each one costing me 10 bucks, it cost me a buck.
And if I wake up in the morning I have a little sniffle, I get it and no big deal. It's going to become increasingly important, Don, to have that testing available because when these new oral antivirals come out, if I feel sick, I wake up in the morning and I have a headache or a fever or a sniffle. I want to really be able to be tested.
And if I'm positive, I'd to be able to call a doctor up and get a prescription for this oral anti-viral. And so, in order to make that work the testing is the first leg of that relay race and it has to be absolutely a simple as can be.
LEMON: Dr. Wachter, thank you so much. Be well.
WACHTER: Pleasure. Thank you.
LEMON: Former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark facing one last chance to cooperate with the committee investigating January 6th. He's expected to plead the 5th. Will a full House go through the contempt vote if he stonewalls?
Congressman Adam Schiff is here. He's next.
LEMON (on camera): CNN learning new details tonight about former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows efforts to pursue bogus claims of election fraud including the wild conspiracy theory that Italian satellites were used to change votes.
It comes as the January 6th select committee is giving former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark one last chance to cooperate with their investigation.
So much to discuss tonight with a member of the committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He is also chair of the House intelligence committee. We're so glad to have you here. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
So, Congressman, Jeffrey Clark is intending to take the fifth when he meets with your committee on Saturday. So, when he does that -- OK, apparently, we don't have the congressman. Let's make sure we have him. A technical glitch. I think he is filming this from home tonight. OK. So, we're going to get it fixed.
He's filming from home tonight through via computer. We'll take a break. We'll have Congressman Adam Schiff on the other side of this break. We'll be right back.
LEMON (on camera): All right. So, we worked it out. And we have the congressman back. Let's -- Congressman, are you there?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, I sure am.
LEMON: OK. Good. All right. First question again. So, Jeffrey Clark is intending to take the fifth when he meets with your committee on Saturday. When he does that, will the full house still vote to hold him in contempt or not? He is, you know, a justice official. I mean, it's remarkable really.
SCHIFF: It is remarkable. This was a senior Justice Department official who is now telling us that if you were to testify and answer our questions that it might implicate him in criminal activity.
But honestly, we don't know what will happen on Saturday. Because the correspondence we've received from Mr. Clark's (Inaudible) has been a confusing hodgepodge of legal theories. When he last appeared before our committee and refuse to answer questions, he didn't do so on the basis of any fifth amendment concern about self-incrimination. He had a whole range of theories and then in more recent correspondents he added to those and complain about the composition of our committee.
And now most recently he has said that he has a fifth amendment concern. So, we'll ask him the range of questions that are pertinent to our investigation with some that he may take the fifth, with others he may, you know, use these other, you know, other assertions of privilege which we think have no merit.
And on the basis of that does happen, we'll make a decision about next steps.
LEMON: So, this deposition in person? Remote?
SCHIFF: It's in person. I mean, there will be an opportunity for members to participate remotely as well but it will be in person.
LEMON: OK. You, Congressman, you've already met with his -- Clark's former boss, Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue. And they didn't take the fifth. Do you already have information you believe implicates Clark in things like election interference or fraud possibly?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't want to comment on that, Don, for the reason that I don't want to give Mr. Clark any, you know, any false reason on his part to claim the fifth. And so, I don't want to speculate about that. But you know, I will say that the witnesses you mentioned who were his seniors at the Justice Department have testified openly before the Senate.
We are not confirming I think witnesses before our committee but they did both testify. Neither claimed any kind of executive privilege. So, the idea that a more junior person of the Justice Department would have an executive privilege claim but the seniors did not is I think pretty ludicrous.
But we will have to see what assertions he makes with respect to what questions. One thing I can tell you is that the fifth amendment does not permit him to refuse to answer questions merely because he wants to cover up for Donald Trump. He has to feel that his own activities and answering questions about them would expose him to potential prosecution.
LEMON: Yes. Look there are so many names. And it's Donoghue, Rose, Bannon, Clark. But they had to look at say wait a minute when I talk about? Mark Meadows expected to appear for a deposition next week. He says that he is going to honor Trump's executive privilege claims. Will you accept any effort that he makes as a claim of executive privilege if he does that?
SCHIFF: Well, we have reserved judgment. We have essentially not acknowledged any claim of privilege because the privileges, the holder of that privilege is predominantly Joe Biden who has said he is not asserting privilege.
And what's more even if there were a privilege that could be asserted by a former president to be preferred over the current president which I think will never be the case. But even if it were, that privilege gives way when there is a compelling public need as indeed it did during Watergate.
And here what could be more compelling than the need to get to information about an attack on our democracy in which people died. And the need to protect the country going forward. But we'll see, you know, whether Mr. Meadows is acting in good faith or whether he in fact is using just another strategy to avoid having to provide incriminating evidence against his former boss.
LEMON: Look, I'm not sure I have ever seen someone downplaying information or in some way refuting information that's in their own book. As you know Mark Meadows has written this book about his time at the White House. I mean, does that undermine his claim that his experience there is protected by executive privilege?
I was talking, you know, when I said that I was talking about the COVID, you know, the president getting COVID. But does that undermine his claim that he has protected by executive privilege when he has written a book about his time working in the White House? SCHIFF: Absolutely. In particular if has written anything about
January 6th. And it's hard to imagine him writing a book and not writing about January 6th. Then he clearly is waving any claim he has to keep confidential his communications with the former president or what happened in the White House.
After all, if he can say it in a book, why he can't he say it before Congress in an investigation? But Don, he is not the first to potentially try. You may remember John Bolton refused to testify in the House because he wanted to save it for his book. And only after he realized that he might never, his book might not see the light of day because the Trump White House was trying to refuse to certify that it wasn't classified, he did offer to testify before the Senate.
I think in the hopes that that would pierce the executive branches' ability to suppress his book.
LEMON: Yes. Congressman, CNN is reporting that Meadows is trying to get government officials to pursue baseless election flawed -- fraud conspiracy theories. I mean, according to one source he reached out to the FBI to the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the office of the director of national intelligence.
I mean, he also pressured the Justice Department. Those are not conversations with Trump. Should he be able to answer questions about contacts with those officials? Because I don't think those would be considered executive privilege. He was reaching on behalf of the president or at least trying to help the president not, this wasn't some conversation he was having with just the president.
SCHIFF: You are absolutely right. Those conversations would not be protected. And you know, he way very well try to assert some form of privilege. Certainly, at the last four years is any guide in both the Russia and Ukraine investigations.
The Trump administration had asserted all kinds of privileges. In fact, they asserted the right not to answer questions because some future point they may want to claim privilege. So, you had people like Corey Lewandowski trying to assert privilege when he wasn't working in the White House. And about periods of time when the president wasn't even the president.
And so, they are no strangers to making completely baseless claims of privilege. We will evaluate what Meadows does. Is he really cooperating or is he merely trying a new stratagem to avoid having to answer questions? And then we'll make a decision about what should follow.
LEMON: Yes. Second time is a charm. We got it all in. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: Thank you. You take care.
LEMON: You be well as well. President Biden announcing new steps to combat COVID through the winter months as new Omicron cases emerge. A big key to slowing any potential surge? Vaccinations.