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COVID Vaccine For Children Likely Available Soon; Live Round Fired on Deadly Movie Set Shooting. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And we will bring you more tomorrow if the attorney general makes more news.

Appreciate your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow.

Busy news day. Don't go anywhere. Ana Cabrera picking up our coverage right now.

Have a good day.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and thanks for being with us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We begin with breaking news.

We now know it was a live round that was fired from the gun Alec Baldwin was holding when cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured.


ADAN MENDOZA, SANTA FE COUNTY, NEW MEXICO, SHERIFF: We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin. This is the -- this is the firearm we believe discharged the bullet.

We also believe that we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun. The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza. The projectile was recovered by medical personnel where he was being treated and turned over to the sheriff's office as evidence.

We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin.


CABRERA: This shooting happened last Thursday on the set of Baldwin's new movie, "Rust," being filmed in New Mexico. But for almost a week now, it has been unclear what exactly was fired

from that weapon. The sheriff in Santa Fe today provided this explanation.


QUESTION: Was it an actual bullet that was fired, not a blank, not a dummy? It was like what people think of when you say bullet?

MENDOZA: So we would consider it a live round, a bullet live, because it did fire from the weapon and obviously caused the death of Mrs. Hutchins and an injured Mr. Souza.


CABRERA: And as we look at one of the last images of Halyna Hutchins and the crew taken before the shooting, I want to share a little bit more about what we learned.

The sheriff says 500 rounds of ammunition, including some suspected live rounds, were collected from the set, the district attorney saying she's not ruling out criminal charges. And "Rust" producers have also now hired a firm to investigate.

Let's get right to CNN's Stephanie Elam.

Stephanie, you were at this presser. What more can you share?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's noteworthy about what we're hearing, Ana, for one thing, it is too early to hear about charges. That's according to the district attorney. She made it clear that the investigation here is ongoing.

But she's not ruling it out, because they're waiting for testing. Also worth noting that the sheriff did say that it's a suspected live round, that they want to test it, but they do believe they have the right firearm in their custody right now.

What's also noteworthy is that he said that there were three firearms that they found on set, and that is one fully functional, which is the one they believe that Baldwin used. They also said there appeared to be a second one that appeared to be modified, and then the third one that they refer to as plastic and non-functioning revolver. They also noted that there was no camera that was actually rolling at the time of this tragic incident.

So there is no video footage of what happened at the time. He also said there are about 16 people that were inside this one room where they were shooting at the time. He says everyone on the crew has been cooperative. He says that they have interviewed and talked to the armorer.

They have talked to the assistant director, two people that people have been really wondering about because they were responsible for what they call props, but, in this case, we now know is a functioning weapon, and that there were some 90 to 100 people on the overall set overall that they want to talk to and interview them as well, because they want to get more information, including we have heard reports that there may have been other misfires on the set of "Rust."

They want to get more information about that, but they did not have that at this point. I think the most important thing here, though, is learning more about those firearms on set and knowing, at this point, it sounds like only one of them was actually functional. And that is the one that was handed to Alec Baldwin, Ana.

CABRERA: Stephanie Elam, really appreciate you recapping all of that new information for us.

And now joining us is CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell, and armorer and weapons master in the film industry Bryan Carpenter.

Thank you all for being with me.

Elie, the Santa Fe FDA -- excuse me -- DA is not ruling out criminal charges. She says that this is a complex case. So help us understand how she may be thinking about this. What charges might she be considering and who could be in legal jeopardy?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana, so the DA made clear that the charge that's potentially in play here is called involuntary manslaughter.

We heard the DA use the phrase criminal negligence several times. I think the DA said something else really interesting. She said, this is a complex case and every detail is going to matter, because it's important to note there is no book on this kind of scenario.


It doesn't happen that often, in contrast to something like a car accident, where you might be looking at an involuntary manslaughter charge. There's a standard checklist. Was the person drunk? Was the person speeding? Was the person texting? This is an on-set shooting with what turned out to be apparently a live firearm. There's no precedent. There's no stack of cases on this.

So how does a prosecutor make that decision? I think there's a misperception that prosecutors are mechanical or robotic. You just take all the facts, plug them in, and the answer comes out, yes, charge or don't charge. That's not the way it works. Prosecutors are human.

Ultimately, a decision like this will be made from the gut and sort of just common sense. They will sit down and say, what do we think? Is this criminally inexcusable? Is this something we can charge? Is this something we can argue in front of a jury? So that's a really difficult decision the DA is going to have to make.

CABRERA: Well, and the sheriff said that right now it appears everybody is cooperating who they are trying to interview, including the armorer, including the assistant director who apparently handled the firearm before handing it to Alec Baldwin.

Who do you see as in most legal jeopardy right now, Elie?

HONIG: I think those two people. And I think it's significant that they are cooperating, because, sometimes, when a person is in a position of perhaps getting charged, they will take the Fifth. They have the right to remain silent, as they're advised. The armorer and the A.D. here have decided not to do that.

But I think the key question is really the one that Josh Campbell, who's with us here, asked the DA directly. He said, how did he live round wind up in that gun? That is the question I want to know as a DA. Who's responsible for that? Did someone fail to do their job? That's where you're going to see potential criminal negligence.

CABRERA: Bryan, the sheriff says three firearms were located on set, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition, dummy rounds and what they suspect are live rounds. He says he believes that they have the spent shell casing from the live round that was fired that killed Halyna Hutchins.

And they also have a lead projectile that was recovered from the shoulder of the director, Souza, who was injured. What's your reaction to hearing all this?

BRYAN W. CARPENTER, ARMORER: Well, the three weapons that they found and then they recovered on a cart makes sense with shooting an average scene. You would have had the weapon capable of firing a blank round.

A lot of times, they will have a very realistic replica that may be modified so that it cannot accept a blank round. That would be for camera work, close camera work. And then, of course, the true prop gun, which is a plastic or rubber gun. These have been -- and I think people are starting to understand now the difference between a real gun, which we call a really -- on set, it's slang, between a real gun and a prop gun.

So those three guns would have been president for a scene in case you wanted to bring in a stunt performer or any of the variations there. As far as the rounds are concerned, having 500 rounds on a movie like that, most of those would have more than likely been blanks for shooting the scenes with.

The idea of a live round being present in any of that scenario is just -- it would be an example of the nuclear option. It just never occurs. It's the worst-case scenario.

CABRERA: Wow. Nuclear option, you're calling it to even have a live round present in a scenario like this.

It was interesting, Josh, because the sheriff was asked to clarify some of his comments that we played when he described this projectile as a bullet at one point. And he then said, well, a suspected live round is what was fired, a suspected live round. Why are they calling it suspected? As we pointed out, it's been six days now. Why can't they be sure what was fired? JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, part of that is


And you have to understand this case is far from over. What we heard was an update from officials, with the sheriff's department and the district attorney giving us a preliminary update on what they have found so far. Now, to be sure, the sheriff was very confident in describing what they believe.

And that is, in his words, that this projectile struck Halyna Hutchins, killing her, in the sheriff's words, and then injuring the director as well. But, again, this is preliminary. The audience here that they are speaking to is the public, the American people, who obviously have been focused on this case, wanting to know answers, including people in the entertainment industry or around the world, who want to know, how are these conditions so unsafe?

But you have to keep in mind that if charges are actually brought, there will be an entirely different audience. And that is where investigators will be relying on the final report, the forensics. We know that these cartridges of ammunition, some of the ballistic information is being sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico. That will be analyzed. They will come up with a finalized report that can stand scrutiny inside of a court of law if it comes to that.

So that is the semantics right now. But one thing is clear, is that the sheriff did not waver in how he thinks Ms. Hutchins died here, saying that he believes that it was this projectile, which, of course, as you mentioned at the top here, that is a big question that we have all been wanting to know. We now have that answer.

CABRERA: And, Josh, given your experience as a former FBI agent, how long does it take to process evidence in a case like this?


I know this is a very kind of unprecedented, very, very rare type of case or circumstance, but are we talking about days, weeks, months?

CAMPBELL: Well, there's two parts there.

I mean, investigators can look very quickly and determine whether something is an actual real bullet, the kind of thing that you would buy in a sporting goods store, vs. something that's inert or the type that you would find on a Hollywood set.

The issue here, we're talking about volume. I think there were over 500 rounds that they found. So there will be sorting out, which are the rounds that are supposed to be on a movie scene, and which are the live rounds? And they're going to treat that part, the live rounds very carefully, because, again, we're talking about potential criminal liability here.

The one question that we still have is how that live round made its way into that gun. Investigators will be working their way backwards to determine, was there some kind of negligence? We know who handed Alec Baldwin the gun. Still questions about maybe whether this gun had been used in target practice.

And so that set of evidence, the potential live rounds, will be handled, again, very methodically, very carefully. And we won't hear from investigators until they're certain that they're ready to provide that report, hand it over to the DA. She will make the determination whether there will actually be charges brought.

CABRERA: The firearms, the ammunition are among some 600 pieces of evidence collected, we are told.

Elie, you say they must have had a search warrant to go on set to gather this evidence. What does that tell you?

HONIG: Yes, it's been reported that they did get a search warrant. That means the prosecutors and police had to write out what we call probable cause, meaning more likely than not that a crime was committed.

Technically, technically, prosecutors can charge someone with a crime based on probable cause, but no good prosecutor charges with that little evidence. You need more. But this tells me that they're at least part of the way to getting to the standard of evidence that they will need in order to charge a crime, and they believe there's probable cause, and a judge has agreed that a crime was committed.

CABRERA: Bryan, a "Rust" actor, so someone in this film, is now speaking out about his experience on this set previously, as the crew was filming with blanks. Listen to this.


IAN HUDSON, ACTOR: When the rounds were released, when they shot at me, I actually did feel the blanks hitting my face and my body. And I could feel the wind from the shotgun being discharged.

It was heavy. It was strong. I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards. And we all agreed how intense that was, and how scary and real it was.


CABRERA: Bryan, from what we have all been learning in the wake of this tragedy and thinking about Brandon Lee's death in 1993, was what this actor described breaking safety protocols in any way?

CARPENTER: You know, obviously, from what he described, yes, it would seem that the distances were not correct.

I mean, there's very well-established -- and any professional in the industry is going to follow these minimum safe distances with a blank. A blank at close quarters can kill. And we're talking a few inches, and which has happened before. Anything past a few feet, the damage becomes mitigated.

And you may get scorching on the skin, maybe some of the unburned powder hitting you. But that's why we take that distance and multiply it times sometimes a factor of four or more. So, you make sure that your actors, any of your cast and crew are -- number one, you always want to point off-center. There's never a time where you're pointing directly at.

If you're pointing at, then, obviously, you're breaching some type of safety protocol. And if you're feeling the effect of the concussion of that round going off, then you're probably, in my experience, within the threshold of the minimum safe distances, which shouldn't be happening.

CABRERA: A lot here to still discover as this investigation continues.

Bryan Carpenter, Josh Campbell, Elie Honig, thank you all. Really appreciate all your expertise and experience in this.

CARPENTER: Thank you.

CABRERA: A COVID vaccine for kids as young as 5 years old could be available in a matter of days. Why experts say the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for younger children.

Plus: the Biden agenda still in doubt right now, as progressives push back on Speaker Pelosi's plan for an infrastructure vote. Others remain divided over a billionaire tax.

And the committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack now planning to subpoena a conservative lawyer who tried to convince then- Vice President Pence that he could overturn the election.

A member of that committee, House Intel Chair Adam Schiff, joins us live.



CABRERA: Parents, you will want to hear this. Kids as young as 5 years old might be able to get their first COVID shot as soon as next week.

Just yesterday, Pfizer cleared its first regulatory hurdle for its vaccine in kids ages 5 to 11. FDA advisers voted to recommend it for emergency use authorization.

Want to bring in CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

And this would open vaccine eligibility, Elizabeth, to about 28 million more Americans. What happens now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. This is a big group; 28 million children in the U.S. are between the ages of 5 and 11.

And as any parent knows, children that age, well, they're good at spreading germs. My husband and I used to call our children when they were young our little disease vectors. And we meant it in a very loving way. But it is true.

So vaccinating this group doesn't just help the children. It also helps the whole family and the whole community.


Let's take a look at where we are with the process of authorizing this vaccine for children. So, Pfizer did a study. And what they showed was that the vaccine was 90.7 percent effective at preventing children from getting sick with COVID-19. So, that's the data that the FDA advisers looked at yesterday. They gave their thumbs up. Now the FDA itself has to review it, then a team of CDC advisers.

So these are folks who don't work for the CDC. They don't have any skin in this game. They are experts, doctors, et cetera, in this area. And after the advisers for the CDC look at it, then CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has to look at it.

Now, that could all happen and be done by sort of the middle of next week or so. So, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he is optimistic -- that's the word he used -- optimistic that shots could be going into children's arms some time in the first two weeks of November.

Now, we know that many American parents might be hesitant about giving this vaccine. That's one of the reasons why we're talking about all the different levels that it needs to go through.

A member of the FDA advisory committee, Dr. Paul Offit, he put it like this:


DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: The decision that we make, when we make these kinds of decisions, it's all based on one thing: Would we give this vaccine to our own children?

And I think no one would have said yes if they weren't willing to give it to their own children.


COHEN: Now, children will not be getting the same dose of the Pfizer vaccine if this all happens as adults and adolescents have been getting. Instead, children will be getting one-third the dose that adolescents and adults and adults have been getting -- Ana.

CABRERA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

Could Facebook be doing more to combat vaccine misinformation on its platforms? Leaked internal documents reviewed by CNN suggest it could and that the social media giant is having a tougher time managing the spread of that misinformation than it's letting on.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more.


Yes, folks might remember earlier this year when Joe Biden, when President Biden very harshly said that Facebook was killing people due to COVID misinformation. He sort of walked those comments back a little bit, but not before a Facebook executive in July really penned a very blistering blog post hitting back against the White House and against the president boasting about Facebook's work on tackling misinformation the platform.

But, internally, documents paint a very different picture. Take a look at these internal notes from just earlier this year, February 2021: "Our internal systems are not yet identifying, demoting and/or removing anti-vaccine comments often enough."

March 2021: "Our ability to detect vaccine hesitancy comments is bad in English and basically nonexistent elsewhere."

That is March '21. That is this year, not March 2020. Begs the question, what was Facebook doing for a year? A Facebook spokesperson telling us that Facebook has improved its systems over the course of the pandemic, even since those memos were written, and also says: "We approach the challenges of misinformation in comments through policies that help us reduce or remove the visibility of false or potentially misleading information, while also promoting reliable information and giving people control over the comments in their posts."

But, as you can see there, more revelations coming from these Facebook documents and a lot more to come. The documents are still rolling out -- Ana.

CABRERA: You have been doing a great job going through those. Thank you, Donie.

Joining us now is Dr. Leana Wen. She's a CNN medical analyst and the former Baltimore health commissioner. She's also the author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

Dr. Wen, I just want to get your reaction first to what Donie just reported, that Facebook is apparently having a tougher time managing vaccine misinformation than it's letting on? What do you make of this?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's actually very upsetting to hear the reporting, because it sounds like Facebook knew that they had a problem with misinformation and disinformation. They also knew what would have worked when it comes to preventing this disinformation or at least to reducing the amount, but they didn't do everything that they could.

And, look, so many of us in public health on the front lines, we have been fighting that disinformation every day because we recognize that right now we have a pandemic not only of the virus, but also of disinformation, that this disinformation is literally taking away people's ability to protect themselves and their loved ones.

We're doing our part. Now we need to see everyone, social media companies included, step up and do theirs too. CABRERA: Dr. Wen, next week could be big for families. Kids as young as 5 years old might be able to get a Pfizer shot. That's an additional 28 million Americans.

So what's your message to parents who might be on the fence right now?

WEN: My message is that it's OK to be on the fence. It's OK to question this and not be certain as to what you want to do when it comes to vaccinating your younger children.


There are some parents who are really sure that they want to get their kids vaccinated. There are some parents who have already been lying even about their kids' ages, so that their 10- and 11-year-olds can get vaccinated. There are other parents whose kids may be in schools that don't require masks where they may be exposed to high-risk situations. Those parents really want to get the vaccine.

It's OK to let those parents go first and get their kids vaccinated, then learn from their experiences, also very reasonable to go to your pediatrician if you have questions. We trust our pediatricians with so many other aspects of our kids' health. Pediatricians are also experts when it comes to childhood immunizations.

So I would ask your pediatrician questions that you have, and then also talk to your child, because, very likely, they will have a strong opinion as well. A lot of kids, for example, are really eager to resume sleepovers and indoor birthday parties and other things that they have really been missing.

And if the vaccine can help them do that, then having the conversation with your child to determine, is that a good choice for your family I think it's really important.

CABRERA: It is. And Dr. Paul Offit, I think, we have heard from, said they wouldn't have recommended this vaccine as part of the FDA advisory board if they wouldn't feel comfortable giving it to their own children as far as those questions around its safety and effectiveness.

Hopefully, that helps put some of the fears to rest.

Let me talk to you, though, about trying to get more people vaccinated and what appears to be an extra hurdle right now, because new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are continuing to fall nationwide, which is great news. The bad news is that fewer people are also getting vaccinated. And, in fact, the CDC reported the lowest number of first shots in the past week since they began distributing this data.

More than 22 percent of Americans who are eligible are still unvaccinated. What does that mean for getting past this pandemic?

WEN: There are a lot of unknowns about what's going to come our way this winter. It may be that we have a high enough level of immunity from vaccination and prior infection that we can get through the winter.

But it could also be that there are just pockets of the country with very high rates of people who have yet to experience COVID or who have yet to be vaccinated. And we could see another wave of the virus, especially as people let down their guard even more, especially as people move indoors.

We have no idea what other mutations could arise and what other variants could come our way too. And so I really hope that people will see this as a collective call to action. We all want this pandemic to end, and the best way for us to do that, the safest way for us to do that is for people to get vaccinated.

And, frankly, it's a shame, I think, for adults to now be saying, hey, kids, you can get vaccinated now. That's great to protect the kids. But the best way for us to protect our children is also for adults who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated ourselves. That should be our obligation to one another and to the most vulnerable, including our kids.

CABRERA: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you for all you do. Thank you for spending time with us today and sharing your expertise.

Democrats now risk missing another self-imposed deadline on the Biden agenda, as progressives battle with Speaker Pelosi over an infrastructure vote and divisions remain over a plan to tax billionaires.

That's next.