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"Rust" Movie Set Shooting Investigation Still Ongoing; Democrats Hope to Vote on Infrastructure Bill this Week; FDA, CDC Set to Consider Vaccines for Children Ages 5-11; U.K. Hospitals Strained Amid Spike in Covid Infections; U.S. Lawmakers Slam Facebook's Claim It Wants Regulation; Massive Storms Blasts Parts of Western U.S.; Sudan's Prime Minister and Wife Arrested, Taken to Undisclosed Location. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the word. I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have no business being on the movie set. Somebody screwed up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't point guns at people unless you want to see a hole in them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the world didn't believe us about what's going on, maybe they'll believe us now.


SOARES: New details on how a movie set turned into a tragic scene as family members in the film community mourn the loss of a cinematographer killed by a prop weapon.

It is a crucial week for President Biden. Time is running out to pass his economic agenda, but Democrats remain optimistic.

And developing this hour, protests erupt in the Sudanese capital as the military forces detain Sudan's Prime Minister. The U.S. calls it deeply alarming, we have the very latest in a live reports.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: It is Monday, October 25th. We begin with new details emerging about the fatal shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin film "Rust." The film's director, Joel Souza, was injured in last week's tragic accident. A new release warrant says he told authorities Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun for a scene when the weapon discharged the live rounds striking cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Now Souza told investigators she grabbed her mid-section after she was shot and a nearby camera operator recall Hutchins saying she can't feel her legs before dying. The director said the camera wasn't rolling when the tragedy occurred.

Well, as investigators continue to gather evidence in the case, mourners are pausing to honor Hutchins life. This was a vigil in Burbank, California on Sunday, paying tribute to the slain cinematographer. Listen as one mourner reflects.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely unnecessary. Absolutely heartbreaking and gutting and no scene, no project is worth someone's life.


SOARES: Well, Hutchins is survived by her husband Matthew and her 9- year-old son. CNN obtained these photos of Baldwin meeting with them after the shooting. The actor set his heart is breaking for the family.

Well, CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in new Mexico with more on the death investigation. Safety concerns, of course, surrounding the film set.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities are still conducting their investigation. We know they spent the weekend combing every inch of that Bonanza Creek Ranch -- the set of the film "Rust" where this tragic shooting took place on Thursday. But we are getting some new details about the assistant director David Halls. The affidavit names him as someone who picked up one of the prop weapons. Who walked it inside the structure where the crew was doing their filming that Thursday, handing that prop gun to Alec Baldwin while shouting cold gun, which should have meant no live rounds. Of course, we know what followed.

According to the affidavit, Alec Baldwin shot the weapon, as a result Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old director of cinematography killed. The director, Joel Souza, 48-year-old wounded in the shoulder. Now sources do tell CNN that David Halls was accused of things like, quote, disregard for safety protocols and weapon pyrotechnics, fire lanes and exits being consistently blocked. Also instances of inappropriate sexual behavior on at least two productions that were film back in 2019.

Now, one pyro technician who worked with Halls told CNN, and I quote, the only reason the crew was made aware of weapons presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day. She said that he consistently failed to announce the presence of the firearm to the crew.

That's a pretty usual safety procedure for most film sets. You announce the presence of a weapon, whether it's a prop or not. Another crew member told CNN that when Halls did hold these safety meetings, they were short and they were dismissive. She said that he told crew members that guns would be the same as the production always used and questioned why they'd have to hold those meetings in the first place. CNN did reach out to David Halls for comment. No reply as of yet.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Santa Fe, New Mexico.



SOARES: Well, safety measures on film sets can make a difference of course between life and death. CNN spoke with two firearms experts and asked them to weigh in on how they believe the accident may have occurred on the "Rust" film set. And here's what they told us, take a listen.


STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARM SAFETY EXPERT, WOLF STUNTWORKS: There are three ways that they messed this up here. First, they took a gun that was capable of having live ammo introduced into it. Live round, gun. OK. On a prop gun this wouldn't happen. If I switch this out for the prop gun and try to put this in here, it doesn't fit in there. So, if you have an actual prop gun, not just a gun being used as a prop, you wouldn't be able to introduce live ammo to it.

BILL DAVIS, FIREARMS TRAINER FOR FILM AND TELEVISION: This is a blank round. If you'll notice, you'll see that the crimping on 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 and this one will make noise if you use it safely. Well, that's pretty much what happened. This ammunition, live ammo, has no place on any movie set or television set.


SOARES: Of course, we'll continue to follow this story and bring you the latest as it develops.

Now an autopsy done on Gabby Petito's fiancee Brian Laundrie has come back inconclusive and could not determine how he died. An attorney for Laundrie's family says his body will be cremated and they will not have a funeral. His remains were found on Wednesday, if you remember, in a Florida nature reserve. Authorities were hoping Laundrie would have some answers about Gabby Petito's final days. They were on a cross-country road trip when Petito disappeared in late August. Her body was found almost a month later in Wyoming. The corner determine she died by strangulation but little else is known about what led up to Petito's death.

Now U.S. President Joe Biden starts the work week focused on his Build Back Better agenda ahead of a critical Congressional vote. He'll travel to New Jersey in the coming hours to rally public support really for the bipartisan infrastructure deal. Democratic leaders hope to vote this week and there has been some movement among conservative holdouts. Mr. Biden met with Senator Joe Manchin over the weekend and sources say Manchin is now willing to compromise on the price tag. Here's Arlette Saenz.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden is hoping Democrats can seal the deal on his infrastructure and sweeping economic agenda as he prepares to head abroad later in the week. Democratic leaders struck an optimistic tone over the weekend. And sources say they are hoping to hold a vote on that bipartisan infrastructure plan on Wednesday or Thursday. In order for that to happen they would also like to see an agreement on the larger social safety spending bill in order to get progressives on board with that bipartisan plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told our colleague Jake Tapper she believes in agreement is in sight.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: We have 90 percent of the bill agree to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made. It is less than was projected to begin with but it's still bigger than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America's working families.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: By the time he leaves for Europe do you think you'll have a deal, by Thursday or Friday?

PELOSI: I think we're -- I think we're pretty much there now.

TAPPER: You think you have a deal now?

PELOSI: We're almost there. It's just the language of it.

SAENZ: Now one big question is what the size of this bill will be. And sources say that Senator Joe Manchin, one of those holdouts, told Democratic leaders he is open to a $1.75 trillion price tag. That is higher than his initial holdout for 1.5 trillion and a bit closer to what President Biden has been floating in $1.9 trillion over the course of the last few weeks.

Now President Biden hosted Senator Manchin and also Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to talk about these negotiations. And the White House says that those conversations were productive.

Another outstanding question is how exactly to pay for this. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had been opposed to the corporate tax hike. And Democratic leaders have acknowledged that will not be a part of this proposal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying that they are considering a wealth and billionaire's tax in order to make up for some of those pay-for. Now President Biden is hitting the road Monday traveling to Newark, New Jersey, to sell the components of his plan. But he's really hoping that Democrats will be on board this week as he's looking for a legislative win to take with them as he travels abroad.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOARES: Well, Democrats are generally optimistic the sweeping infrastructure bill can be passed, despite months of squabbling over the content, as well as the price tag of the legislation and some lingering disagreements over the particulars. Take a listen.



REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): If 50 Senators agree with it, if you could get Senator Manchin and Senator Sanders to agree on something, I don't think you're going to have the House vote against it. So, if the president represents the 50 Senators are on board with the framework, he'll have the House. No, if there's a holdout, a progressive Senators are opposed to it, then there's a problem.

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA): It will still be the largest investment in workers and in families in the history of this country. I'm on the Ways And Means Committee. It would be the largest investment in green infrastructure and combating climate change in the history of this country -- even if the number is lower. So, we're not going for the ideal. We're going to do what we believe is going to really set the course for this country for the next 50 years.


SOARES: Well, one major concern moderate Democrats and Republicans have with President Biden's spending package is how it could affect inflation. Prizes are on the rise at grocery stores, at fuel pumps as well, as the pandemic takes its toll on the economy. Something that we covered here on the show. Well, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicts inflation levels will drop to a set level by late next year.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The COVID crisis markedly diminished spending on services and caused a reallocation of spending towards goods. And the supply of goods to Americans has increased substantially but there's still pressure there. Monthly rates of inflation have already fallen substantially from the very high rates that we saw in the spring and early summer. On a 12-month basis the inflation rate will remain high into next year because of what's already happened, but I expect improvement by the end of -- by the middle to end of next year.


SOARES: So, some optimism there. Let's have a look at U.S. futures, mostly higher. Traders are really preparing for the federal reserve to start winding down the financials that began at the start of the pandemic. At the moment sort of mixed.

Now parents of young children likely won't need to wait until next year to get their kids vaccinated against COVID. FDA advisors will meet Tuesday to discuss whether to approve Pfizer's vaccine for kids as young as five. CDC advisers will weigh in a week later. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says he expects the shots will get the final green light within the next few weeks. Take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You never want to get ahead of the FDA in their regulatory decisions nor do you want to get ahead of the CDC and their advisers on what the recommended would be. But if you look at the data that's been made public and announced by the company, the data looked good as to the efficacy and the safety.


SOARES: Well, the vaccine won't be approved for younger kids before Halloween but the CDC director says it should still be safe for them to trick or treat. Especially if families stay outside and avoid large crowds.

Meanwhile, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. is closer to the end of the Delta surge than the beginning. He also said the newest Delta mutation likely won't change that trajectory, but he added it could impact how future vaccines are made. Here's what he said.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: The U.K. is very good at identifying these new variants. They have better sequencing in place than we do. But we don't have good follow-up in terms of the epidemiological work to try to figure out whether or not these new variants are spreading more aggressively. This one, if it is more contagious, it appears to be perhaps slightly more contagious. Again, the vaccine should be protective and certainly people who are infected with Delta will be protected probably against this new variant. So, I don't think this is going to be a new variant that sweeps across the globe and were back at, you know, square one here. I think that this is something that's going to probably push us in a direction of eventually reformulating our vaccines for a Delta back one vaccine.


SOARES: Now staying with COVID, Europe is struggling to control a dramatic rise in COVID infections as well as deaths. Cases are climbing in many countries as restrictions are lifted. And falling temperatures of course drive people back indoors. France has reported more than 6,000 cases in the past 24 hours. Cases rose in almost every country over the last week as you can see there, with the exception of Finland.

Eastern Europe is battles its worst outbreak of the entire pandemic. In Western Europe new infections in Germany have soared to their highest level since mid-May. And here in the U.K. experts are warning that the latest surge could push the healthcare system to a breaking point. For more let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in London. And Salma, as we just pointed out there, infections continue to surge. Yet the government clearly not prepared to enact plan B. Give us a sense of what we're hearing about the pressures on the National Health Service here.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Isa. Because that here is the key question.


It's not just about the number of cases. It's not just about rising infection rates, it's about what the health care system can withstand. And even before the pandemic, even before the COVID crisis, NHS was under strain, the National Health Service was under strain. We're supposed to hear later this week about more budget being given to NHS. But Doctors and nurses across this country are saying that's too little too late. We are running out of beds space because there are people are getting sick with things beyond COVID that we need to care for. Take a listen to what one doctor said about the situation.


DR. KATHERINE HENDERSON, PRESIDENT, ROYAL COLLEGE OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: We're already in a terrible place where we have got large queues of ambulances with vulnerable people waiting in those ambulances to be offloaded into departments and other patients at home waiting to be picked up by the ambulance. That's the thing that really worries me that these are patients who have not yet received treatment that we don't necessarily know what's wrong with them, that we're really struggling to get into our healthcare facilities to then work out what we need to do.


ABDELAZIZ: You have to imagine, Isa, there is a backlog of thousands and thousands of patients, people who need treatment, who are ill, who have illnesses that they simply cannot have treated right now because the hospitals are overwhelmed dealing with a pandemic. So, that is the issue here. While the government says this is a matter of strategy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration say it's about getting more people vaccinated. It's about getting the young people vaccinated. It's about booster jabs. Doctors and nurses will tell you, look, it comes down to the number of hospital beds in this country. Because that's a finite number -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and that strategy, Salma, that you were just laying out has many people scratching their heads here. Salma Abdelaziz for us in London. Great to see you, Salma. Thanks very much.

Now staying in the U.K., Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen set to meet with members of the British Parliament in the coming hours to discuss the draft of a new online safety bill. Haugen testified earlier this month, if you remember, to the U.S. Senate. Detailing many allegedly dangerous practices of Facebook, claiming the company cares more about making profits then keeping the user safe. Facebook has denied these allegations. Meantime, Washington is calling for more regulation among social media sites and their algorithms. Something Facebook says it is in favor of. But not everyone believes them. Take a listen.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What we're hearing from Facebook is platitudes and bromides. When it says it wants regulation, at the same time it is fighting that regulation tooth and nail, day and night with armies of lawyers, millions of dollars in lobbying. And so, I must say Facebook's saying it wants regulation is the height of disingenuousness.


SOARES: Well meantime, things may get worse for Facebook. In a new internal memo obtained by CNN, Facebook's VP of global affairs wants employers to brace themselves for more bad press as thousands of leaked documents are finding their way into the hands of the media. The memo goes on to say press coverage has been negative because social media is taking the ability to gatekeep information from large organizations, empowering individuals to think for themselves.

Now still to come right here on CNN NEWSROOM, we are following fast- moving developments out of Sudan where protests have erupted after the Prime Minister was reportedly put under house arrest. We'll have a live report just ahead.

Plus, California is dealing with the effects of a massive storm and the danger isn't over yet. We'll have the latest from the CNN Weather Center next.



SOARES: A massive storm is wreaking havoc in in parts of western U.S., nearly 150,000 power outages has been reported -- as you can see there in California. In the Golden State various areas are under flash flood warnings which have triggered landslides -- like the one here. You are looking at a major highway in California that's now blocked. Officials say they expect it to stay shut for several days.

Joining me now is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, how long is this storm expected to last -- and good morning by the way.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Isa. Yes, you know we're actually at the tail end of the storm system. So, this is kind of the height of the storm. We expect conditions to begin to improve here going into Monday afternoon and Monday night. And sunshine returns, believe it or not, as early as Tuesday. But the damage already done. And this is the third of three storms that has impacted this region. Again, the wettest of the three storms that has brought with it as much as ten inches in portions of Northern California. And most of this just coming in the past 24 or so hours.

So, here's how things have playing out. Ranging from about 5 to 10 inches. The state capital of Sacramento picking up nearly 5 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour span. Keep in mind, they had not seen rainfall since St. Patrick's day, so it's 17th of March up until earlier last week. Now accumulating almost five inches in a matter of just 24 hours. But notice the coverage, the flood alerts that are widespread across this region. All of this because of the tremendous volume of rainfall and a lot of this coming town across burn scars.

About 2 million acres of land that have been consumed from the Dixie fire, points to the South around the Caldor fire. These are the regions here where, you know, debris flows are very likely and all of this of course occurring because of the extreme heat from the fire that has scorched the landscape, scorched also the vegetation. So, not only is there no vegetation to absorb the moisture that's coming down, but the layer, the top layer here of the soil has become hydrophobic and even more water repellent than even concrete.

So, that's why this is a major concern and any time you get this incredible amount of water that is hit this burned landscape, you get the ash, the Burka topsoil that becomes essentially just this mess of rocks, sand and soil that has moved downstream and creates the widespread damage that we've seen. And here's how things have played out with these highways that have closed now across portions of California.

Winds, they've also been extremely strong here. Almost 70 miles per hour.


Strong enough to bring down power lines and certainly upwards of 200,000 plus customers across parts of the Western U.S. Not just California but even in the Washington state that have dealt with the power outages here. And there is a system, Isa, pushing in the around the Midwestern U.S. that has produced its own line of active weather. Upwards of at least 12 reports of tornadoes in the past 24 hours or so across this region of the Midwestern U.S. So, the pattern is active across the entire U.S. right now.

SOARES: Do keep us posted on those developments. Pedram Javaheri, great to see you. Thanks very much, Pedram.

Now a U.S. special envoy says the United States is deeply alarmed by developments out of Sudan where the Prime Minister has reportedly been arrested. We've gotten conflicting information from government sources about this. Now the Prime Minister's economic advisor now says Abdalla Hamdok and his wife were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. But earlier, Sudan's information ministry said the Prime Minister was under house arrest.

Meanwhile, demonstrators are out in the capital Khartoum -- as you can see there --chanting and marching following reports of multiple government ministers had been arrested. Let's get the latest now from CNN's Larry Madowo, joining me now from Nairobi. And Larry, as we just outlined, there's a pretty confusing picture on the ground. Tell us what you're hearing from your sources this hour.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we know, Isa, is that there have been people on the streets for several hours now lighting bon fires and sometimes setting up barricades. And they've been asked to go on the streets to protect the revolution. That is according to the Sudanese Professional Association. This was the main activist body that was behind the popular protests back in 2019 that led to the ouster of long-running President Omar al-Bashir.

And right now, we also know that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is either under house arrest or according to his economic adviser has been arrested with his wife and taken to an undisclosed location. And a statement from the minister of information said he is calling on the Sudanese people to occupy the streets and to protect, to defend the revolution.

I spoke to the Prime Minister last month after a failed coup attempt, which he blamed on forces loyal to the former president Omar al- Bashir. This is what he told me.


ABDALLA HAMDOK, SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER: The more we are achieving some successes, the old forces will be extremely nervous. They have always having the dream of come being back.


MADOWO: The Prime Minister met with as recently as yesterday with the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, who also met with the military leaders including the chairman of the sovereignty council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and he's now put out a statement saying, Isa, Feltman saying it's unacceptable that these reports of a military takeover are taking place in Sudan. And he says any attempts to derail the democratic transition in Sudan by force will essentially risk U.S. assistance. So, that is a big warning from the U.S.

There's a lot of international condemnation already coming in. We do know that now the Internet is severely disrupted, according to NetBlocks, who tracks these sort of disruptions around the world. The Khartoum International Airport is shut down. There are no flights coming in or going out, according to our source telling CNN from the television association authority. And a lot of the members of the cabinet, the civilian members, have been arrested by the military -- Isa.

SOARES: Larry, do keep us posted on all of the developments breaking if you can in Khartoum. I know the situation is pretty unstable over the last few weeks and tensions have been escalating. So, do keep us posted. Larry Madowo there for us. Thanks very much, Larry.

Now still ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM, top U.S. health authorities push back against Republican claims about the origins of COVID-19 and their contractors work with Wuhan lab.

And then later Japan's Princess Mako will marry her sweetheart on Tuesday. But the couples experience has been no royal fairytale. Will explain with a live report from Tokyo.