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New Details On The Shooting Incident At Film Set; Trump-Backed GOP Candidates Help Spread The "Big Lie" In Arizona; Queen Elizabeth At Hospital; 15th Anniversary Of CNN Heroes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 24, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

It's been three days since the deadly accident on the set of Alec Baldwin's latest film, and now we are seeing some of the first pictures of the aftermath. Here Baldwin is with the husband and son of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer and actor accidently shot killed with a prop gun after being mistakenly told it was not loaded. Instead, when Baldwin fired the weapon on Thursday Hutchins was killed and the film's director Joel Souza was wounded. Last night mourners gathered at a vigil for Halyna Hutchins.


REBECCA STAIR, LOCATION MANAGER, IATSE LOCAL 480 MEMBER: We were about to strike this past Monday for safer conditions, and if the world didn't believe us about what's going on, maybe they believe us now.


ACOSTA: Meanwhile, new details about two key crew members involved in the accident could provide important context about the deadly series of events.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is on the scene in New Mexico.

Lucy, we're starting to learn more about two of the crew members who handled this gun. The film's assistant director and the armorer. That's obviously going to be important in all of this. What can you share?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. And the reason that they are important is according to the affidavit they appear to be the last people to handle the weapon before it was handed to Alec Baldwin. David Halls, as we discussed previously, picked up the gun that the head armorer placed on a tray outside of the structure, walked it inside, handed it to Mr. Baldwin shouting "cold gun," which should have meant that it wasn't loaded with anything that was harmful.

Of course, we tragically know what took place. Now sources do tell CNN that David Halls was actually accused of safety violations on previous productions, at least two productions that took place back in 2019. They were things like, for example, violating pyrotechnic and gun safety rules, consistently blocking fire lanes and exit. Also some questions about inappropriate sexual behavior.

I want to tell you or at least read you a quote from one of the sources who spoke to CNN. She is a pyrotechnician who worked with Halls on Hulu's production of "Into the Dark" series. She said and I quote, "He neglected to hold safety meetings or to make announcements prior to the appearance of a firearm on set on a daily basis.

The only reason the crew was made aware of the weapon's presence was because the assistant's prop master demanded that Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day. I am appalled regularly by the lack of awareness around firearms, real or not, on set, watching a primary cast member scratch their head between takes with a cold gun is very upsetting to me."

Now, another crew member told CNN that when Halls did hold those safety meetings, they were short and he was dismissive. It does raise questions about the track record here. Now CNN has reached out to David Halls for comment. We have not yet gotten the response.

But also new details, Jim, on Hannah Gutierrez. She was the head armorer in this production. We know she was 24 years old or is 24 years old. She grew up by her own admission on movie sets. Her father was the legendary gun Feld Reed who started teaching her about gun safety. And this was actually her second time ever working as the head armorer on a film production. The previous experience she had was working with Nicholas Cage on a Western film called "The Old Way." And she gave a podcast interview in which she shared some doubts about her ability to do that job. Take a listen.


HANNAH GUTIERREZ, ARMORER FOR THE MOVIE "RUST": I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, like, it went really smoothly. Dad has taught me everything. But a lot of things, you know, I kind of just caught on by myself and everything.


GUTIERREZ: Yes, just observation, watching him do things or, like, just knowing how the firearms work. I think loading blanks was, like, the scariest thing to me because I was, like, I don't know anything about it. But, you know, he taught me that. And eventually by the time I was, like, trying to figure out how to make a specific blank go when you want it to rather than it hitting, like, the empty cylinders and everything.


KAFANOV: Now, it's important to stress that we still don't know what took place or what caused this killing of Halyna Hutchins, who was just 42 years old. This is still very much an active investigation and we're waiting for an official update from authorities. We know that that's definitely not coming this weekend. Perhaps we'll hear something on Monday, but right now we're all waiting to hear an official word -- Jim.

ACOSTA: So, so awful. All right, Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much.

Joining me now is firearms trainer Bill Davis. He worked as an armorer on the Netflix show "Ozark" and he's also a former police officer.

Bill, thank you very much for lending your expertise.


I want to read you a key part of this affidavit that details what happened. It reads, "During the filming of the movie, the assistant director Dave Halls grabbed one of three prop guns that was set up by the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, which was on a cart and was left outside of the structure due to COVID-19 restrictions. He took it to the actor identified as Alec Baldwin who was inside of the structure.

"As the assistant director handed the gun to Baldwin, he yelled, quote, 'cold gun,' indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds. The assistant director did not know live rounds were in the prop gun."

You know, is there anything in this that stands out to you? And I have to ask you, Bill, so many people who have asked me about this story have asked me, you know, how is it that there are live rounds in this prop gun on a movie set? Help us out here.

BILL DAVIS, FIREARM TRAINER FOR FILM AND TELEVISION: Well, thanks for having me on, by the way. The level of negligence on that movie set is -- I'm just astounded by it. I'm surprised they had enough experience to get the cameras to work. This was inexcusable. The first A.D. doesn't touch the guns. He doesn't touch it, period.

While I'm doing a show, you know, I handle the guns, I demonstrate their condition, whether they're ready to fire or whether it's a safe condition or a cold condition. And apparently that wasn't done here. They didn't defer to -- and nobody had experience enough to know what was going on. And so you've got a 24-year-old girl, and this is her second movie job. She couldn't even legally handle guns until she was 21.

So it's -- this is just astounding to me that this type of thing would happen where you hand an actor a gun and say it's a cold gun. And I've heard other information about what's been going on about this -- with this show for the last week or 10 days. But I can't verify it so I'm not going to talk about it.

It's just a sad state of affairs to have these people working with firearms when they don't know what they're doing. They have no experience level, no training. We just heard on that sound bite that she was nervous about loading the ammunition, the blanks.

ACOSTA: Right.

DAVIS: And I have several things to show you when you're ready.

ACOSTA: Yes. Sure, Bill, go ahead and show us. Yes. Go ahead and show us, Bill.

DAVIS: OK. Well, the type of weapon that we're talking about here is a Colt 45 single-action army. And it's a single-action gun. You just rotate the cylinders. You can see if it's clear here. You can see here that it is on the sides over here and over here you'll see daylight. And that means if you can see through there, there's nothing in there.

ACOSTA: Right.

DAVIS: Now, we'll also take a rod or even a pencil, stick it down the barrel until it makes its appearance down here in the cylinder. That signifies this gun is completely empty and there is no way it's going to discharge. Last thing --

ACOSTA: Bill -- go ahead. Go ahead and finish that. I just want to ask you one question, though.

DAVIS: OK. This is a loaded blank. This is a blank round. If you'll notice you'll see that the crimping at the very top here. The whole brass case is just crimped. There's no cotton, there's no wax, it's just crimped. This is a loaded round. You can see the difference. One is crimped, one has a led projectile. This one will kill you, this one just makes noise if you use it safely. So that's pretty much what happened. This ammunition, live ammo has no place on any movie set or television set.

ACOSTA: But, Bill, getting back to earlier, why would they be using live rounds on the set? Why would that even be, you know, anywhere near the set? Obviously you're not going to use live rounds.

DAVIS: No, it's like I just said, they have no business being on the movie set. Somebody screwed up here. Now I heard gossip that the actors were shooting a -- you know, a short distance away, they were doing target practice with live ammo. But, see, this is where major negligence comes in. You keep that ammunition separate. It does not come back onto the prop truck.

ACOSTA: Right.

DAVIS: It does not come back on the set, period. And that's -- I mean, that's just how you kill people.

ACOSTA: And do you think, Bill, that major safety changes across the industry as a whole are needed in light of what happened?

DAVIS: No. I'll tell you what. When I heard that the first A.D. was grabbing guns willy-nilly, he wasn't checking with the armorer in that set, our protocols are fine the way they are. They're not that strict, but they do mention that you're not supposed to have any live ammunition on the set.


And there are protocols that we go through on how to, like, when I conduct my daily safety meetings, I'll say, OK, guys, today we're going to be shooting a 3030 rifle or a shotgun or a couple of pistols. We've got a gun fight coming up, so protect your eyes and ears. We've got ear plugs here on the set for you always. And we've got eye protection here for the crew that actually have to be on the set working.

I'm curious as to why that gun was pointed directly at the DP and the director.

ACOSTA: Right.

DAVIS: Because we never ever allow that to happen.

ACOSTA: Right. I mean, that's the other issue is how is it that these people were in the way of these rounds or of that round in question? And so what you're saying here is that this is not a call for changes across the board in the industry. It is just simply how things were handled there. As far as you can tell, based on what you know at this point that that is why we're dealing with the tragedy on the set of that movie.

DAVIS: It was a juxtaposition of unfortunate circumstances resulting from negligence because of lack of experience. That's what happened.

ACOSTA: All right, Bill Davis, thanks very much for joining us and for that brief demonstration. And we know that you have a laptop in front of you. You were on Skype. So when you were handling that firearm there, you were obviously taking all the precautions necessary.

Bill, thanks very much for your time.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up next, new signs of how deeply the big lie is now embedded and growing in Arizona state that went for Joe Biden but has now gone politically off the rails.


KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The presidency kind of like O.J.'s innocence.




ACOSTA: At this point, Trump's big lie has been hammered so hard and so often, it's spread far beyond Washington and infected the rest of the country. In fact, supporting the big lie is basically the price of entry for Republican candidates running for office in Arizona. And these candidates are dug in way in.

CNN's Kyung Lah reports.


LAKE: No masks in here? Another round of applause. Of course, the media is all masked up because --


LAKE: They want to spread the fear.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is our introduction to Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a Donald Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for 2022. Rising star of the right-wing and proud spreader of lies about the 2020 election results.

LAKE: You can say Biden won the presidency kind of like O.J.'s innocence. It's the same kind of --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're amazing.

LAH: Lake is among a group of 2022 Arizona candidates putting election falsehoods at the heart of their candidacy.


LAH: Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem also endorsed by Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Great job, Mark. You're going to win big, Mark.

LAH: Is repeating the very lie Trump wants followers to believe.

FINCHEM: By removing the fraud, Donald Trump won.


LAH: Ignoring facts and reality, Finchem, a four-term state representative, wants to be Arizona's chief elections officer. But Lake has gained early attention. A presumed frontrunner in Arizona.

LAKE: I'm Kari Lake with a look at the top stories.

LAH: A longtime former Phoenix television anchor who quit her job, Lake has built a name I.D. and a dedicated following like the students who insisted on gathering around her.

(On-camera): You have a crowd.

LAKE: Hi, everyone.

LAH (voice-over): As she agreed to speak with CNN.

(On-camera): Are you going to win?

LAKE: I believe we will, yes.

LAH (voice-over): A cornerstone of Lake's campaign, baseless fraud claims raised by the Republican-led sham review of Maricopa County's 2020 presidential election.

LAKE: The system is corrupt. Have you not followed what's happening in our election here?

LAH (on-camera): Absolutely. I covered the audit.

(Voice-over): Relentlessly repeating misinformation.

LAKE: Do you think that it was the right thing to do to delete a bunch of million files the day before the audit?

LAH (on-camera): That was roundly debunked.


LAH: By -- not by the press but by the Maricopa County Recorder's Office.

LAKE: OK, well, you're buying into everything they say. These are the same people who did not want this forensic audit. I know what you guys are trying to do. You don't give a damn about our elections. You've got a narrative and you're trying to push it. And we --

LAH: And what is that narrative?

LAKE: The narrative is everything -- it's fraud, it's fake. I will be damned if when I'm governor we're going to have another election run this way.


LAH (voice-over): Tyler Montague is an Arizona Republican strategist who fears the damage of his party's election-denying candidates.

MONTAGUE: They have a losing message. They are strongly identified with the conspiracy that the election was stolen from Trump and a strong majority of the voting public does not believe this.

RON WATKINS (R), ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hey, everybody, I just went behind enemy lines.

LAH: Ron Watkins, the man many internet sleuths believe is the Q behind the QAnon conspiracy, is another denier of the truth. A longshot Republican hopeful for Arizona's First Congressional District. The first-time candidate just moved to Arizona to run for office.

(On-camera): What do you think happened in November 2020?

WATKINS: President Trump did win the election, and that the election was certified to President Biden and that Biden is currently occupying the White House. But the de facto leader is still President Trump.

LAH: But President Trump didn't win the election.

(Voice-over): Despite overwhelming evidence against it, Watkins believes there was fraud.

WATKINS: Well, it could potentially be a hundred thousand, it could be a million votes. We don't know because the databases --

LAH (on-camera): By what math?


WATKINS: The databases were deleted and we don't know.

LAH: They're still there.

WATKINS: Well, Miss Lah, let me tell you. Everybody has a super power. And I'm a computer programmer and my super power is abstract math, and I'm able to look and see things and patterns that most people are not looking for.

LAH (voice-over): While he denies his rumored role as Q.

WATKINS: And I'm not Q, I've never posted as Q. I don't know who Q is.

LAH: Watkins is an influential leader. Trump re-tweeted him multiple times leading up to the January 6th Capitol riot telling followers to go to the Capitol. Some waving Q flags led the violent insurrection. To this day Watkins struggles to see the consequences of the conspiracies he spreads, including what happened on January 6th.

WATKINS: They were there because they were upset that their representatives --

LAH (on-camera): Were they wrong for what they did?

WATKINS: I'm not going to go into what was right or wrong. What I will go into is that I ask people --

LAH: People who stormed the Capitol trying to kill representatives, you're not going to condemn that?

WATKINS: I asked people to go there peacefully. And --

LAH: You're not going to condemn what they did?

WATKINS: I condemn crazy people doing crazy things.

LAH: Like Capitol rioters?

WATKINS: Look, Miss Lah, I condemn crazy people doing crazy things. And --

LAH: But not the Capitol rioters?

WATKINS: Are they crazy people doing crazy things?

LAH: Storming the U.S. Capitol?

WATKINS: That's a pretty crazy thing, and crazy people did that. And I condemn crazy people doing crazy things.

LAH (voice-over): Once on the fringe, conspiracy theorists and election deniers are now leading candidates fighting to bring their beliefs and their base into the halls of power. This time not by force but by vote. With one catch.

(On-camera): Do you agree with President Trump when he says that Republicans should not vote unless 2020 is adjudicated again?

LAKE: I think that everyone should vote. I think everyone should vote.


ACOSTA: And our thanks to Kyung Lah for that report.

Joining me now, editor-at-large for "The Daily Beast," Molly Jong- Fast, and former George W. Bush strategist, Matthew Dowd, who is now running to become the next lieutenant governor of Texas as a Democrat.

Matthew, I'm sure you both listened to that piece, scratching your head, the way I was. To hear that one Republican Arizona candidate say that claiming Biden won is like saying O.J. is innocent, it's almost like this is a joke to her. More candidates are running on the big lie, though. And I'm just wondering when you watch a piece like that and you see the way that misinformation is spread to the point where it's almost -- it's just like a disease now, how do you combat this?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH ADVISER: Well, you can't combat it, as we've learned, with rational thought. This is not a rational exercise we're in anymore because that lie has seeped in so badly and so deeply in a certain segment of the population. There's no rational outlet out to this. The only outlet out to this, in my view, is obviously all of us continuing to tell the truth. But these folks, the GOP in this moment, it's not about Donald Trump. Donald Trump lost.

It's not about Donald Trump anymore. It is about GOP politicians who think they can achieve success by continually lying and stirring up these crazy conspiracy theories. And to me the only way out is if they're beaten up and down the ballot in this because otherwise our democracy is fundamentally broken.

It's cracked right now, and the building is teetering in the midst of this because people have lost faith and trust in elections, especially one major political party now advocates for this. But the only way out of it is not logic, it's not reason. It's everyone has tried to do in this is they have to lose and they have to lose badly.

ACOSTA: And I want to turn to Molly, but just to follow up on that. Matthew, do you think you can win by telling the truth?

DOWD: I think you can win by telling the truth to a certain segment of the population, which I believe is a majority here in Texas. I think the vast majority of folks here are good and decent folks who want to hear the truth. But I think they've been lied to so long by so many different politicians especially by Donald Trump, you have to set a whole new standard on this. And you have to demand -- we have to go back to the time where we wanted basic human values in our leaders.

Just basic human values like integrity, like honesty, like compassion, like treating everybody with decency. And I think that should be our call. We have to call people to basic values, the same values they learned as children, and the same values we all taught our children. That's the demand we have to have in this moment. And I think if we demand that there's enough people that we'll resonate with.

ACOSTA: And, Molly, we talked about Arizona. You have another far- right candidate running for governor in Nevada. Let's take a look at what she's putting out.


MICHELE FIORE (R), NEVADA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Michele Fiore and I'm running for governor. Let's start with a three-shot plan. Ban vaccine mandates, ban critical race theory and stop voter fraud.


ACOSTA: Yes, Mommy, we talked about this on the show yesterday. There are these Republican candidates who are trying to look tough by blowing things up or shooting guns out and that sort of thing out in the desert, but they can't act tough in the way that it takes to tell the truth. What are your thoughts on this?


MOLLY JONG-FAST, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, the Republican Party is in a fascinating place. Right? The primaries are a race to the bottom. You've got that in Ohio, too, with Josh Mandel and JD Vance.

I mean, people are sort of trying to out-Trump each other in these primaries. But then you see when they get to Virginia they have to pretend how to not be Trumpy, which is what you have with Youngkin. And so it is this weird dichotomy. They know that Trumpism doesn't really scale to general elections, and you know, Trump has already lost two elections. Right?

So there is a sense in which there's already some precedent that he can't get enough of a critical mass. But in order to get these Republican primary voters, they have to just do anything and say anything, and sort of the more dishonest, the more that the base loves it. And so it really is this sort of just terrifying race to the bottom.

ACOSTA: And, Matthew, we went up to the Hill to talk to some of the Republicans who voted no on holding Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying that subpoena in the January 6th investigation. I've talked to Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia. Let's take a look.


ACOSTA: What was the rationale behind your vote? REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The rationale behind my vote is

I'm not self-absorbed like the rest of these jerks here in Congress. They're all ignoring inflation. People can hardly buy food. Gas has gone up.

ACOSTA: But why call them jerks if you don't mind --

GREENE: Because they're self-absorbed. All they care about is Congress. They don't care about the American people that pay all the taxes.

ACOSTA: There was an attack on --

GREENE: All you want to talk about is your Trump derangement syndrome and all you want to talk about is January 6th where there's a riot here.

ACOSTA: Why are you protecting Steve Bannon? Why protect Steve Bannon?

GREENE: Because I care about American people.


ACOSTA: But they are protecting Steve Bannon, aren't they, Matthew?


DOWD: Of course. But actually the funny thing is about that is talk about a person that's projecting as more that you could ever imagine. Self-absorption. Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn't even sit on a committee and she constantly holds these press things.

I mean, talk about somebody that's completely self-absorbed and unwilling to admit reality in any way at any point in time in this. I mean, that's the problem. We don't have -- the GOP no longer, I can't find one, maybe Liz Cheney, and maybe Adam Kinzinger, who are interested in actual public service and the idea of servant leadership.

None of them, it's all a reality show to them. It's all how can I say something crazy or do something crazy to sort of highlight my own self in this? There's no longer a desire in the Republican Party for public service.

ACOSTA: And Molly, "Axios," other folks reporting that Trump is telling almost anybody who will listen that he's planning on running in 2024. Obviously we know that this could be a con and a grift just to keep people interested in him and so con. We've heard some of the same things here at CNN, but that he's keeping close tabs, "Axios" says on three possible rivals, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Ron DeSantis.

How do you see this playing out? I mean, they're obviously not going to be able to defeat Trump. And how much do you think of what Trump is doing is real, something we should pay attention to?

JONG-FAST: I mean, Trump has no reason to not run for president. I think it's likely he will. Remember, there is a whole presidential industrial complex, and there's money to be made that way. Like, remember that, you know, Rand Paul's dad did that forever. There is a kind of, you know, there have been numerous Republican candidates who've run, and Democrats too, who have run for president as a way to sort of -- you know, make money off of that.

So I see no reason why he wouldn't do it. I don't know if he'll like go through with it to the end. But my guess is probably -- I mean, the thing with Trump is Trump is always bad for democracy. And it doesn't matter if he -- you know, if he wins or if he loses, you know, it'll be another two years or three years now of him going out there and lying about the election and lying about COVID. And, you know, he really is sort of poisoning a good percentage of our country's brains.

And because of the way media is so siloed, you find people who really don't know the truth and who really can't even access the truth. So I think he's a real damage even if he doesn't ultimately win. It will further harden the divisions, which is really scary and problematic.

ACOSTA: No question about it.

All right, Molly Jong-Fast, Matthew Dowd, great discussion, great to see both of you. Thanks so much for coming on. We appreciate it.

DOWD: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Coming up, he deified a subpoena from the January 6th committee and now the fate of Steve Bannon rests with the Justice Department. What are the chances he'll actually face charges, though? Our "Cross-Exam" segment with Elie Honig is next.



ACOSTA: Follow the money trail. That's precisely what the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is doing. Listen to what committee member Jamie Raskin told me yesterday.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND, MEMBER OF U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE: You don't not go over to the U.S. Capitol and wound 140 officers and storm the Capitol and lay state of siege to the Congress without any money being behind it. This was an expensive operation. And lots of money was spent. Lots of money was raised. And we do intend to get to the bottom of the financial dimension of this attack on American democracy.



ACOSTA: CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig joins me now to answer your legal questions. He's also the author of the great book, "Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department."

Elie, great to see you, as always. What kind of financial crimes could the January Sixth Committee be looking for in a case like this? Because I thought what Raskin was saying yesterday was just so fascinating. That there is another dimension to this that maybe we haven't really thought too much about.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim, I thought that was really an important revelation there by Representative Raskin. First of all, any investigator always wants to follow the money, as the representative said. You need to know who's behind this.

Look, even the rally, itself, somebody paid for that. Somebody paid for that stage, for that audio setup. You want to know where is that money coming from? Did it violate any campaign finance laws? Could it be money laundering? All of that, I think, is in the balance.

And also, importantly, if this event was paid for with campaign money, then it's going to be a political campaign event. And that's important because Executive Privilege does not apply to conversations around political campaign events. It applies to policy discussions in the White House, but not to political stuff. So, if they can prove that this was politically paid for, then Executive Privilege is not going to apply in other context.

ACOSTA: That's fascinating. And, this week, the House voted to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt after he defied that subpoena issued by the January Sixth Committee. One of our viewers wants to know what criminal charges can a person face if he defies a subpoena from Congress? And how likely is Department of Justice to actually bring charges in that situation? I mean, this is kind of the million-dollar question in all of this, Elie, is whether or not Bannon can be compelled to testify and cooperate.

HONIG: It is. I'll take the easy part first. There is a federal crime for a contempt of Congress. It's a misdemeanor, meaning it's a lower- level crime. Maximum punishment is only one year. But there is a minimum of one month. So, if Steve Bannon is charged and convicted, he will be locked up for at least one month.

Now, there is a history of non-prosecution and failed prosecution, when it comes to this statute. It's actually not been charged by the Justice Department since 1983. And in that case, the person who was charged with it was acquitted. Was found not guilty by a jury.

So, the big question here is, what will Merrick Garland do? I think the thing is, though, if you don't charge Steve Bannon, who are you ever going to charge? And if they don't charge Steve Bannon, you can bet all these other witnesses, who were, sort of, negotiating, maybe with the committee, Meadows, Scavino, Patel. If Bannon's not charged, they're going to have no disincentive either.

So, this is a crucial decision. This is why so many people are focused on what Garland will do here.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And Bannon's excuse for defying the Congressional subpoena is that he is covered by Trump's claim of Executive Privilege, even though he was not working for the government when this happened. But a viewer asked, is there any way that Executive Privilege could apply to communications between a president and somebody outside the Executive Branch?

HONIG: It's actually not as crazy as it sounds. There is a 2007 DOJ opinion saying Executive Privilege maybe could apply, if the president needs to consult with somebody outside the Executive Branch. There's no court ruling on this.

And, also, this conversation that would have been happening between Trump and Bannon is not the kind of thing covered by Executive Privilege. It's not a policy discussion. It's a discussion about how to steal an election. I don't think it's going to be covered here.

ACOSTA: And then, there are Bannon's conversations with other people, besides the president, too. I mean, that would obviously -- I don't know why he would have --

HONIG: Sure, absolutely.

ACOSTA: He's the president of his podcast. That's about it, I suppose.

All right, Elie Honig, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up, the mystery over the Queen's health scare. Why did she have to spend a night in the hospital after cancelling a trip to Ireland?



ACOSTA: The questions are mounting about what sent Britain's Queen Elizabeth to the hospital this week. The 95-year-old monarch spending one night there, after canceling a trip to Ireland on the advice of doctors. She's now resting at Windsor Castle.

I want to bring in CNN Royal Commentator Kate Williams. Kate, the palace has faced criticism for how they've handled the messaging on all of this. Why? You would think that they would know how to handle this.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Jim, there's been a lot of criticism, because, initially, the media were told that the Queen was resting. That she wasn't going to go to northern Ireland, just as she was saying she was resting in Windsor. And then, it, later, transpired she had been taken to the hospital in London. She had had some tests. She'd stayed overnight. You know, she hasn't stayed overnight in a hospital for, really, nearly 10 years. So, it's very significant that she did do this.

And there was, obviously, a lot of people saying that this is -- this is wrong. That they need to be told this. But, of course, it has to be balanced with the fact that this -- that, at the moment, she's 95. There should be privacy.

And, also, I think there's a lot of concern in the palace that if they tell the media that the Queen is in hospital, it'll be, suddenly, people, cameras, journalists all around the hospital, it will be difficult for the staff. But, certainly, I think, there's a lot of concern about the Queen's health. A lot of concern about her. And there is a feeling that we need to have transparency about what exactly is going on.

ACOSTA: And we have a brand-new episode of the CNN original series, "DIANA," airing tonight. And it looks at how Diana's popularity with the public put a strain on her marriage to Charles. Let's watch a preview.


JULIE MONTAGU, VISCOUNTESS HINCHINGBROOKE: It's five years into Diana and Charles' marriage. And, to the outside world, it's still the fairy tale. But the reality is something completely different.

ANNA PASTERNAK, BESTSELLING AUTHOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": Even though Diana was the most photo-ed woman in the world and everyone adored her, actually the one man she really wanted to adore her, did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it was because he was always in love with another person.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diana certainly believed that, all along, this, sort of, shadow of Camilla was always there. I'm not sure that that's entirely true. I think he did make a real effort to make the marriage work. But he was a selfish man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Princess Diana, when I asked her about Prince Charles, always said that he was the love of her life. If Diana's got the love and affection from Prince Charles, she would never have dreamt of looking elsewhere.


ACOSTA: You would think that the more popular Diana became, the happier the royal family would be. But that was certainly not the case. Isn't that right, Kate?

WILLIAMS: Yes, Jim, it's fascinating. Isn't it? Because Diana was a rockstar. She came into the -- she came into the royal family. No one could believe what was happening. She was so wonderful. So exciting. So brilliant. And, yet, the royal family couldn't seem to exploit her stardom. And there was so much jealousy. There was so much resentment. And, really, she was a lost opportunity.

ACOSTA: It really seems to be the case. All right, Kate Williams, thanks so much. And be sure to tune in. An all-new episode of "DIANA" airs tonight at 9:00, right here on CNN.



ACOSTA: Some unwelcomed news, if you live in the Northeast where the National Weather Service has issued several flashflood watches, including for New York City and Philadelphia.

Meteorologist Gene Norman is joining us now. Gene, just last month there was some flash flooding, as you know, in the Northeast that killed dozens of people. It was just awful. What's the risk now? How is this looking compared to what we saw earlier this year?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Jim, it could be as bad, but, again, there's no guarantee. That, of course, was from a Tropical Storm Ida that moved into the Northeast. And, if you think about it, the weather service isn't taking any chances. They're sell -- they're telling people, start getting ready now because this watch, technically, doesn't go into effect until tomorrow night. Monday night into Tuesday.

And you see the large metropolitan areas that are impacted by this, shaded by the green from Southern Connecticut all the way down to the Jersey Shore. And it does include Metropolitan New York and sections of Philadelphia.

Now, the system that's going to produce all this heavy rain is, right now, getting its act together in the middle of the country where there's severe weather erupting. Now, what's going to happen is this area of low pressure will move to the east. Intensify. And right around late Monday into early Tuesday, that's when the heaviest rain will fall. Not a good time. In the evening. In the overnight hours which may catch some people by surprise. And then, the system will begin to move out.

As far as the rainfall amounts. We'll be -- we could be looking anywhere from four to six inches, indicated by that orange shading that you see here. And that could extend all the way up into New England. So, they may have to extend this watch as the system begins to unfold and continue to develop.

And, as I mentioned earlier, this system is already producing tornados in sections of Missouri. Right now, there's a tornado watch there until 11:00 Eastern time. And tomorrow, that system will shift to the east and the Mid-Atlantic could be under the risk for some severe weather. Washington, D.C. all the way down to Atlanta.

So, how bad will it be, Jim? Still time will tell. But I think the fact that the weather service is putting this out now is giving people a heads up. Get ready. Don't wait until the first raindrop falls.

ACOSTA: That's right, Gene. And we hope people in the Northeast are paying attention, especially folks who live in those basements. You have to be very careful anytime this pops up in the weather forecast. Gene, thank you so much.

And also new today, singer Ed Sheeran says he's self-isolating after testing positive for COVID. The musician, whose biggest hits include "Shape of You" and "Photograph," told fans, on his Instagram page, he'll continue to do any planned interviews and performances from home. With his new album coming out Friday, just last week, Sheeran performed in London, as part of the inaugural earth shot prize awards hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

And this year marks the 15th anniversary of CNN Heroes. And we're checking in with many of our past honorees who continue to make a difference. Rosia John was recognized as a top-10 CNN Hero in 2010, for courageously educating girls in her native Afghanistan. But now, her life's work is at risk. CNN's Anderson Cooper takes a look.


RAZIA JAN: Which country in the world would fall in 11 days? It took 20 years for a woman to stand and be recognized. And to see that, it was awful.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the Taliban's all-male government, women have already lost ground. While they're still permitted at some universities in segregated classes, girls cannot attend secondary schools until so-called security concerns are resolved.





COOPER: Yet, girls, grades six and younger, are still in school for now. Razia says she's determined to build on that.

JAN: I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see these girls in the courtyard playing, and also in the classroom and trying to learn. It's just amazing. I am a great supporter of the community. And, the girls, they want to learn.


JAN: That gives me hope. Maybe it won't be the same. But we can do something to educate these girls because I'm not going to give in.


ACOSTA: On Friday, we'll be announcing this year's top 10 CNN Heroes on CNN's "NEW DAY" at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. For more, find out at