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Democrats Close to Infrastructure Agreement?; New Details Emerge in Alec Baldwin Shooting; FDA Meets to Discuss Vaccine For Kids 5-11. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Appreciate your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you so much for being with us.

It is a big, busy day. They have been reviewing the data for hours and soon and FDA panel will vote on COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11. So how soon could these shots go into younger arms? And what about concerns among parents? We have a doctor standing by.

Plus: live ammunition set, crew members reportedly target practicing hours before the shooting death of an up-and-coming cinematographer. The big question still, was Alec Baldwin handed a loaded gun?

And major mistakes. Police now revealing how they lost track of Brian Laundrie, at one point thinking his mother was him, resources money time all wasted, as the lone person of interest in Gabby Petito's death got away.

We began with Elizabeth Cohen and this key vaccine meeting going on right now.

Elizabeth, walk us through what's happening today, the data they're looking at, and what happens next.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, all eyes right now on this advisory committee, vaccine experts who advise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These are outside experts. They have no skin in this game.

They are just wanting to look at the data. So let's look big picture at the same data that these experts will be reviewing and have been reviewing today. So Pfizer did a large clinical trial with children ages 5 to 11. And what they found was that the vaccine was 90.7 percent effective at preventing children from getting sick with COVID- 19.

What they did is, they took more than 1, 300 children in the trial and gave them to the vaccine, followed them for a period of time. Three of them became sick with COVID-19. They gave a placebo, a shot of saline that does nothing, to 663 children, a much smaller number, but 16 became sick. So, many more became sick with the placebo than with the vaccine.

So the vaccine advisers will be going over all this data, really picking it apart, and we expect a vote by the end of the day. So let's take a look at what happens next, because I know parents of children this age wants to know, when can they bring their children in to get a vaccine?

So, again, today, the advisers will be voting on whether or not to recommend an emergency use authorization for Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11. By November 1, so, by Monday, we expect the FDA to give their yea or nay. And then November 2 and 3, so next week, CDC advisers will meet, and they will recommend to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, what she should do with this. Should she say yea or nay?

And we expect to hear from the CDC director very soon after November 3. What this all boils down to is that Dr. Anthony Fauci says, look, if the FDA and the CDC give a thumbs-up, he is optimistic that children could be getting shots or will be getting shots some time in the first two weeks of November, so very soon -- Ana.

CABRERA: Now, before this meeting, I understand one FDA official asked this committee to keep the discourse civil today. Any fireworks so far? Why they need to say that?

COHEN: Yes, it was sort of an interesting admonition. It was a little odd. And it sounded a little bit like he was talking to the members.

But when you listen to it again, he actually -- it sounds like he was talking to the public. These -- the members of this committee, they're professors, they're M.D.s. They are usually very, very respectful of one another. You don't usually see them sniping at one another.

However, we know that, on social media, we see lots of sniping. We see lots of people who are anti-vaccine giving out misinformation, when the truth is, yes, children do tend to not get as sick with COVID-19 adults do. But you never know what's going to happen if your child gets infected. You never know if your child is going to be one of the ones who unfortunately gets sick and dies.

So why would you want to roll the dice? You should get your child vaccinated to protect them and to protect the people around them.

CABRERA: More than 700 children have died of COVID-19 in this pandemic.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you, as always.

Let's discuss all of this now with Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.

Dr. Reiner, should this panel vote to authorize the vaccine today for younger children? DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. The data from Pfizer

suggests that the vaccine is both safe and very effective.

Over the last six weeks, about a million kids in the United States have been infected with this virus. And, as you said, we're not just printing the children, who, sadly, 700 have died -- of whom 700 have died, but we're also protecting their community, the vulnerable people in their community, people who have not been able to mount an antibody response because of either coexisting illness, cancer, chemotherapy, other medications they take.


So, this is a really important reservoir of the virus right now. About 25 percent of the new cases are in kids. And we have the ability to put that fire out by vaccinating children.

CABRERA: And the White House says it has enough vaccines ready to go for this age group, for every 5-to-11-year-old in this country. That's about 28 million kids.

Pfizer's trial, though, the size of this trial was just over 1, 900 kids. Are you confident the trial size and the data collected is large enough?


And, again, the folks at the FDA are really accustomed to analyzing these data sets. And over the next two days, they will go through this really with a fine-tooth comb, look for any deficiencies in the data.

And if they find that this vaccine is both safe and effective, the American public should be assured that it is safe and effective. And parents should give this vaccine to kids.

CABRERA: So, I have talked to parents, my friend groups who are vaccinated themselves, but still have a little bit of hesitancy about what to do for their children.

What's your message to parents who think it could be more risky for their child to get this vaccine compared to the risk their child faces if infected?

REINER: I think they need to talk to -- start by talking to their pediatrician. Their pediatrician is really the -- most parents have a lot of faith in the doctors that they take their kids to. And that's where I would start. Talk to your pediatrician. Get the facts from them.

Don't get the facts from Facebook. Get the facts from your doctors. That's what I would tell parents to do.

CABRERA: Big picture here, new U.S. daily cases are down 57 percent since a peak on September 1. And, right now, we know there are still protests happening against vaccine mandates. Those protests are growing, as more places, including schools, drop mask mandates. So society seems to be torn right now about whether these mitigation

measures are still necessary. Everyone obviously is eager for a return to normal. What do you say?

REINER: I say we can't have it both ways. You can't both refuse to universally vaccinate the United States, and also drop mitigation measures.

And what I would say to folks, for instance, who really want their kids not to have to wear a mask in schools, then vaccinate them. If everyone in your school is vaccinated, there really will be very little reason for kids to wear masks in schools.

Look at your county. Look at your school board. Understand how prevalent vaccines are in your community. If your community is very well-vaccinated, at some point, you're going to get to the point where your kids can take their masks off.

I live in such a community in Montgomery County, Maryland. But, in other parts of the United States, where vaccine hesitancy is high and vaccine rates are low, you can't take your masks off in crowded places and kids should keep their masks on in schools.

CABRERA: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, I always appreciate your guidance. Thank you for sharing your expertise and your time with us today.

REINER: My pleasure, Ana.

CABRERA: We turn now to disturbing new details in the shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of an Alec Baldwin movie.

The Wrap is reporting that hours before Halyna Hutchins was killed, some crew members were using guns with live ammunition for target practice to pass the time. This is according to a person with knowledge of the set.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is joining us from a windy Santa Fe, New Mexico, today.

Lucy, we are also learning about spent casings and ammunition found on this set. Tell us more about that.


And I have to say I mean, there's a reason why they film these Western films out here. It's high desert and alongside winds as well. But, yes, CNN has obtained court documents listing some of the items that authorities seized from that Santa Fe, New Mexico, movie set.

They include things like a fanny pack with ammo, three black revolvers, spent cases, as well -- casings -- as well as boxes of ammo. Now, I have to stress that we'd simply don't know at this point whether the ammunition that authorities seized was real bullets or blanks or dummies. That wasn't specified in these court documents.

A sheriff's department, a sheriff's department official told CNN that they are still awaiting the coroner's report, and that might shed some light on what the projectile was that eventually ended up killing 42- year-old Halyna Hutchins.


It does appear, however, that there were all kinds of safety concerns on that set. We're hearing this from a variety of sources. One interesting recent news that came out is the -- there was a longtime Hollywood prop master who spoke to "The L.A. Times," and he said that he actually refused the job of being prop master on the movie "Rust" because it was -- quote -- "an accident waiting to happen."

And that kind of dovetails with what we have been hearing from sources. I spoke to a hairstylist, a veteran of the industry, she's been in the industry for 22 years, who was offered the hairstylist position on the film "Rust," and she also turned it out for safety concerns. Take a listen.


JOLYNNE NIETO, FILM HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST: The negotiations, they told me the terms were nonnegotiable, if I wanted housing, which was -- you know, I'm Albuquerque. It was being shot on the ranch in Santa Fe.

I felt like, at this point, that we needed to take think about safety. And I felt like the housing was important. And, also, my rate was being negotiated, and they said it was nonnegotiable. So, at that point, I -- there was just a few other little glitches that just felt very funny to me that just -- I'm a 22-year member.


KAFANOV: And the housing issue is important, because they were keeping crews in Albuquerque, 50 miles away from Santa Fe. That meant long drives, long working hours, and people potentially making more mistakes if they're sleep-deprived.

And that Hollywood prop master told "The L.A. Times" he felt that the producers were cutting corners or -- pardon me -- that they were valuing cost over the value of the production, value of the film -- Ana.

CABRERA: Lucy Kafanov, thank you for filling in some more of the picture for us in terms of what happened, how this could have happened.

She mentioned this prop master who turned down a job to work on "Rust" now revealing that he had concerns about the film's production and he called it -- quote -- "an accident waiting to happen."

Hutchins tragic death is a painful lesson for the film industry and a reminder of the critical safety protocols crew members are supposed to follow.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Larry Zanoff is a renowned motion picture armorer, a weapon safety specialist in the entertainment industry.

(on camera): The idea is we have the cups here in this white background because we're going to show this is going to make a lot of noise, but there's going to be no residue and no cups knocked over because this is not a live bullet.

ZANOFF: Exactly. It is a blank cartridge.


ZANOFF: So I'll give you a countdown here, three, two, one.


TUCHMAN: No residue, no cups, created the illusion that you want in Hollywood without a bullet coming out.

ZANOFF: Correct.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We're at the Independent Studio Services prop house north of Los Angeles, props which they say include North America's largest private armory.

Safety in the industry starts with a lockbox for weapons.

ZANOFF: The gun that we're going to use is inside here. This is a single-action revolver. You can see that, at the moment, it's empty.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And you keep turning it, so we're sure it's empty.

ZANOFF: So, I show you this particular one has six cylinders. I will always click it over seven times, just to make sure that we didn't miss anything and that you're comfortable with the fact that it is in fact an empty firearm.

TUCHMAN: And I'm comfortable.

ZANOFF: Wonderful.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is what a blink looks like.

ZANOFF: It gets a cartridge case that's crimped over. You can see there's no projectile.

TUCHMAN (on camera): No bullet or projectile.

ZANOFF: No bullet or projectiles

TUCHMAN: But it has gunpowder.

ZANOFF: It does have gunpowder, has a primer in it. This is what's called a modern theatrical blank.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What looks like a typical bullet is sometimes used, for example, to show a tight shot of a gun being loaded in a movie or TV show. But under safety regulations, such a bullet...

(on camera): Is a dummy cartridge?

ZANOFF: Empty shell case, no gunpowder in it, totally inert primer. It can't go bang. There is a projectile on the end of it...

TUCHMAN: Bullet, yes.

ZANOFF: ... that you can see there's a BB.

I can rattle it next to your ears. You can hear it.

TUCHMAN: Which shows there's no gunpowder in it.

ZANOFF: It means that cannot go bang.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are many other mandated precautions.

ZANOFF: So, we have our single-action revolver. We have our blank cartridge. You can see there's no projectile.

I have measured out 20 feet for you here, which is the minimum safety distance on a film set. We have a target there. I'm going to load up the blank into the gun, and I'm going to announce that the gun is hot, so hot gun on set.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And it's a hot gun when there's something in the gun, in the chambers that will go bang.

ZANOFF: Correct. If the gun is going to go bang, it's a hot gun. If it's empty and it can't go bang, it's a cold gun.

We're going to go three, two, one.


ZANOFF: I'm going to unload the gun now. Presumably, they have yelled cut. And then I make, as the armorer, the announcement cold weapon on set, cold weapon on set.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): I asked the armorer what if someone walks what get in front of a person as they're firing a gun with a blank? Could you be seriously hurt?


ZANOFF: As you will see, there's some smoke and flame coming out. You might feel the effect of it a little bit, but there's no projectile.

TUCHMAN (on camera): OK? All right.


TUCHMAN: So, that's good to know.

ZANOFF: OK, counting down. Three, two, one.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN Los Angeles.


CABRERA: In the next few hours, that's when the number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, hopes to finally have a deal on President Biden's social spending package. But a last-minute battle over taxes for billionaires is among the final obstacle.

Plus, it could be a major blow to former President Trump's effort to block the Capitol riot insurrection and the investigation into it. CNN learns at least five former Trump White House staffers are now cooperating with the committee.

And they were supposed to be watching Brian Laundrie in the days after Gabby Petito went missing, but police in Florida just admitted they were accidentally tracking his mom.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay right there.



CABRERA: The clock is ticking.

And Democrats are racing against time trying to get President Biden's social spending plan and infrastructure bill across the finish line. Once again, this is a crucial week for the Biden agenda. And some major sticking points still stand in the way. One key issue remains, how to pay for this sweeping expansion of the social safety net.

Let's get an update on where things stand right now.

CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly is with us, along with congressional correspondent Lauren Fox.

Let's start on the Hill and you, Lauren.

A billionaires taxes this new proposal to pay for increased spending. But even Democrats aren't united on this. Why?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning, during a House Caucus meeting of the Democratic Party House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear that there still was not agreement or legislative text on exactly how this so-called billionaires tax would work.

One of the ideas that has been circulated over the last couple of days as Senator Sinema has expressed concerns about other taxes on high income earners was this idea that you could tax billionaires unrealized assets, and that this would apply to roughly 700 to 800 families or individuals around the country who make this much money.

But the issue right now is putting this on paper, writing it, as many Democrats complained to me after this meeting this morning of the Democratic Caucus in the House, we are in the midnight hour, these are the closing hours of this negotiation, or at least they are supposed to be, and yet we still don't know exactly or precisely how this provision would work.

It's complicated. And a couple of Democrats told me this was more of a P.R. stunt than it was actually an option. Now, part of this frustration has been this tension between the House and the Senate when it comes to the Democratic Party. Democrats in the House argue that they did a markup in their House Ways and Means Committee, that they already had plans to fully cover the cost of this larger social safety net bill.

But, of course, there is concern from people like Sinema in the Senate over some of those provisions that got through the House Ways and Means Committee. So some of this is tension. Some of this is sour grapes. But some of this is very real in causing questions over whether or not Democrats are going to have the financing that they need to cover the cost of this bill.

And this is just one of many sticking points that remain right now, as Democrats are trying to get a framework on this big social safety net agenda, Ana.

CABRERA: And the president has been promising the pay-fors will be there, that this bill will be paid for in its entirety.

Phil, President Biden, he wants a framework agreement before he leaves on his overseas trip Thursday. That's about 48 hours from now. What is he doing right now to try and get this plan across the finish line?


But I think that to some degree is the pitch here, that they want to pressure, they want to keep their foot on the gas, because they know that in Congress deadlines actually help focus the minds. And I think that's what they're pushing for at this moment in time.

And one of the things you're seeing the president do, Ana, over the course of the last six or seven weeks, and Lauren knows this better than anybody, the real focus of White House staff, their policy team has really been on those two outstanding centrist senators, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Today, they're broadening it out a little bit. They are bringing over the leaders of several key caucuses inside the House Democratic Caucus. You're talking the chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Equality Caucus, the AAPI Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Women's Caucus.

And it sounds like a laundry list. But these are all very, very critical constituencies inside the House Democratic Caucus, really inside the House Democratic or inside the Democratic Party, writ large. They will be coming to the White House. They will be meeting with the president's senior staff, his key negotiators, as they kind of map through those key elements of the economic and climate package.

Hakeem Jeffries, who's the Democratic Caucus chair, will also attend. I'm told the president isn't scheduled to be in the meeting, but there's a chance he will stop by. I would say it's probably a pretty good chance at this point in time.

But I think this is a critical element as these really intensive negotiations are going on about the thorniest issues that Lauren was just talking about, ensuring that every kind of element of the Democratic Caucuses in the Senate and the House feels like they have got part of this process, feels like they have equity, but also feels like they're comfortable about the direction things are going.

Selling it to everybody, socializing it with them, and making sure that, when an agreement does come, if it comes, everybody's on board to actually move it forward, is a critical piece of things. And I think you're seeing the White House kind of step up their efforts on that front today. I'm told it's likely it will continue tomorrow.

There's a possibility at some point there will be meetings in the Oval Office with the president, potentially a trip from the president to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats, depending on how things go.


Everything is on the table, which I think underscores this moment the White House feels they're in right now, Ana.

CABRERA: Well, I have also happened to notice that they aren't giving a specific vote deadline that they have given themselves in the past, even though they're trying to keep that pressure on.

Thank you so much, Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox.

Cooperating, against former President Trump's wishes, CNN learning at least five former Trump White House staffers are now talking to the January 6 Select Committee.

Details next.