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Chaos At Atlanta Airport After Passenger's Gun Fired At Atlanta Airport; U.S. Boosts Booster Eligibility Amid COVID Concerns Ahead Of Holiday; Trump's Promoters Of The Big Lie Running For Elected Office; Police Search For Person Who Brought Gun Into Atlanta Airport. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 20, 2021 - 19:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Panic at Atlanta Airport after a weapon is accidentally fired inside the terminal packed with holiday travelers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's people all over the outside of the airport. People are just waiting, confused, trying to log on to the news and figure out what the heck is going on.

BROWN: Also tonight, local COVID spike sending European countries into lockdown.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The fourth wave has hit our country with full force.

BROWN: The CDC quickly approving boosters for all adults as the urgency to get a third shot increases. Meantime Kyle Rittenhouse victim Anthony Huber's father speaking out.

JOHN HUBER, VICTIM ANTHONY HUBER'S FATHER: We're still in shock that this is the outcome. We still can't believe it. We're going to fight until there's justice.

BROWN: And stormy weather threatening to cause chaos for millions of Thanksgiving travelers.


BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. Nice to have you along with us.

And at any moment we're expecting a news conference on this afternoon's terrifying incident at the busiest airport in the U.S. As Thanksgiving travelers lined up at the main security checkpoint in Atlanta, the sound of a gunshot sparked panic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get over here. Get over here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down.



BROWN: Chaos as crowds scrambled at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and it spilled to the outside of the terminal. Three people were injured in the evacuation. And officials say the weapon went off by accident but of course there was no way of knowing that at the time.

CNN's Nadia Romero is at the airport. So walk us through what happened, Nadia. What do we know?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, what we know is that a lot of misinformation spread very quickly and turned the scene inside of the airport into chaos and confusion for thousands of passengers. Initially the reports came out that there was an active shooter in one of the terminals.

And when you could imagine how people were responding to that, running and evacuating from the airport, going into terminals, leaving their luggage and all their belongings behind, hiding and hunkering down, believing that there was an active shooter and that rumor spread much quicker than the truth.

It was shortly after that that the Atlanta Airport came out and said this was not an active shooter but instead an accidental discharge. But that information did not get to the thousands of passengers inside quick enough before so many of them became frustrated and confused and very fearful for their lives and the safety of everyone around them.

So we do know that it was an accidental discharge. How exactly it happened, well, a spokesperson from the Atlanta Airport tells us that someone, a passenger was going through the TSA checkpoint area and it was spotted. His bag was flagged for having a firearm inside. Then the TSA agent went to look inside that bag and the passenger lunged inside, grabbing the firearm and then accidentally discharging that firearm.

And when that happened, everything seemed to happen all at once. People began screaming and running and hiding, and that passenger fled, leaving the airport in the middle of all of that chaos. So the investigation continues into who exactly that man was, what his intentions were with that gun. But the domino effect still continued thereafter. There was a temporary ground stop, so all the flights coming in and out were stopped here at the airport.

People were not allowed to take the trains or escalators. They were basically in a holding pattern while they waited for more information. Well, airport employees didn't want to scare anyone so they gave very limited details telling them only that there was an emergency at the airport and they weren't allowed to leave.

Well, people then went to social media where they found plenty of misinformation and believed that there was an active shooter until the truth about what happened actually came out and spread to combat the active shooter rumor that was spreading so quickly.

Now right now the airport is back to normal. You could probably hear the planes that are going all around me. That's a good sign here at the busiest airport in the country because it was pretty silent there for a while this afternoon with plenty of cars that had backed up trying to pick up passengers, drop people off, and so much information was going around about what happened. Now we're seeing the sense of normalcy coming back.

But, Pamela, this is far from over. The ATF, the FBI, the TSA, as long as -- as well as Atlanta's airport officials are all investigating exactly what happened and there is a big problem at airports all across the country.


People bringing in guns, loaded or unloaded, to these TSA checkpoints causing major problems -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Nadia Romero, thank you.

And I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem, a CNN national security analyst and a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security.

Juliette, nice to see you. So we keep getting new layers to add to our reporting, including the passenger lunging at the weapon after it was discovered by X-ray. Does that surprise you that the gun remained within reach after detection?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. I mean he lunged at it but didn't get it and our understanding from the TSA statement which came a little bit after operations were started at the Atlanta Airport was that in -- that it went off as it was in possession of the TSA. So let's just -- you know, this is where things that -- numbers that will shock you. 450 firearms have been confiscated in the last year at the Atlanta Airport alone.

People bring or try to bring or forget that they have in their bag a gun. You are not allowed to have a gun unless you're law enforcement on an airline. It has to be checked. It has to be in a special box. It has to be disclosed to the airline that there are guns. So none of this is lawful behavior. And so I think the only sort of -- not the only but the main part of the investigation is where is this person.

The TSA announcement said that he or she left the airport. They're going to find this person within moments, I would guess, because they have the bag. But that is the big question right now, was the intent to do something ill or was this a panic moment after the gun goes off and the guy goes running out of the airport.

BROWN: Right. I mean, how does that happen? Do you view that as a security failure that then the man just runs out?

KAYYEM: Runs out. That seems surprising to me just given how crowded airports are this weekend. We're all back and moving again. It's the holiday weekend. People are traveling for the first time in about 18 months for a lot of folks. So that does surprise me. There's going to be lots of videos. But remember, the gun goes off, everyone thinks it's an active shooter incident so people may not be paying attention to the -- to the person running off. So this may have happened in moments.

I have no doubt that they're going to figure out who this person is and then figure out intent. So we should not assume anything right now. This is, you know, they've been trying to hold off a lot of rumors about what is going on. It was not an active shooter case. And people like me who look at what happened, I'm weary of saying this, but in many ways these systems anticipate breaches, that is why we built security systems, layered security systems.

That's what happened today. And so the Atlanta Airport quickly shuts down everything because they don't know what might be in store which was a totally appropriate behavior and then it takes about two hours to get the processes back up and running. So that in that two-hour period it could seem like chaos, but in a weird way it's a managed chaos. It was an appropriate reaction by Atlanta and now get the airplanes and people moving again.

BROWN: All right. And I just want to point out as we await this press conference.


BROWN: As you well know, Juliette, sometimes initially you don't get all the right information. But our understanding is that the passenger lunged for the gun and actually was able to grab the firearm and accidentally discharged it. So --

KAYYEM: Yes. That's right.


KAYYEM: So, yes. So that's -- no, that is -- the weapon is, from the TSA statement is seen by the TSA agent. At that moment the TSA agent takes it. Now remember, for a TSA agent, this is -- you know, these instances are happening once a day. So this is not viewed as something that's likely absolutely shocking. They're having 450 of these every year.

So that is when the passenger lunges at it. And so we're going to have to figure out a protocol where the passengers do not have access to the gun on the other side. Right? In most instances of the gun was detected, everything would have shut down. So that's where the review is going to be.

BROWN: All right. Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BROWN: And we are awaiting that press conference.


BROWN: Adding to the chaos in Atlanta today, and around the country, all the people trying to get from point A to point B. According to the TSA, Friday broke pandemic air travel records. More than 2.2 million people going through security screenings and that was just the first day of the Thanksgiving travel period. And those are just the planes. Add the trains, the automobiles and we're setting up for a chaotic travel scenario. Especially with the storm set to wallop much of the eastern U.S.

Of course, that has to happen right now. Right? Meteorologist Gene Norman has the very latest. Rain, wind and even some snow, right, Gene?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right, Pamela. We have all three and the main thing to think about, there are two storms. One is doming on Monday and the other one is coming on Wednesday. So if you have travel plans around those days, that's what you want to focus on. The first system is just getting itself organized in the middle of the country.


There's been a little bit of light showers as you can see from Chicago, back out toward Denver. Nothing much in the way of heavy snow right now and in fact down in Florida we've had 30-minute delays in Orlando earlier today.

Now that first system gets itself going tomorrow and notice the airports colored in orange. Those could have some moderate details. We're talking about Minneapolis back toward Cincinnati, even in Atlanta, because if we get some rain here at Hartsfield, if you've ever traveled through that airport you know things can really slow down. And then late in the day there may be some minor delays in the northeast.

That's storm number one. Beginning to organize but watch what happens on Monday. It intensifies and we've got a big mess here from Boston back down to D.C. Rain, heavy wind, 40 to 60-mile-an-hour gusts, that can slow planes down. A little bit of light snow maybe from Buffalo back down to the south toward Pittsburgh.

Then things quiet down for a bit. We get a bit of a break on Tuesday but then storm number two starts to take hold in the middle of the country. Notice some snow for Denver by Wednesday. But also strong winds from Chicago back down to St. Louis as storm number two comes in and we'll see some rain again from the Great Lakes back down to the Gulf Coast.

That will split the country in half for turkey day, Pamela. So regardless of whether you're flying or driving or taking the train, I hope that you get there safely and check in with us for updates.

BROWN: All right, sounds good. Gene Norman, thanks so much.

And remember you can sign up to get e-mail alerts from CNN meteorologists and reporters in the field any time at

Coming up this hour, how a man who admitted to sexually abusing four teenage girls managed to avoid a jail sentence. The lawyer for one of his victims joins us. And then this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we do speak out, especially about Satanic things, there's always people who come and will try to disrupt.


BROWN: The colorful big lie supporters running for positions that could help shape the outcome of our future elections.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At approximately 1:30 p.m. a passenger submitted his accessible property for X-ray screening at our main security checkpoint. During the screening process, a prohibited item was detected inside of his property which was subsequently flagged for a secondary search.


During that secondary search, the passenger lunged into his property, grabbing a firearm that was located inside which ultimately discharged. The passenger then fled the security checkpoint through an adjacent exit lane with his firearm. We're fortunate that when the firearm went off nobody was seriously injured.

A short time later Atlanta Police had secured the scene and given us an all-clear at which point we resumed normal operations at the airport and within a few hours had cleared out all of the passengers waiting outside of our security checkpoints. Thank you.

MAJ. REGINALD MOORMAN, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good evening. My name is Major Reginald Moorman, commander of the Airport Section for the City of Atlanta Police Department. M-O-O-R-M-A-N.

Today around 1:30 we responded to an accidental discharge at one of the main checkpoints here at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Once we responded, we were able to conduct an investigation as to what happened at that checkpoint. We determined that someone who was going through the checkpoint submitted their luggage through TSA and there was an accidental discharge of that firearm.

No one was injured. We were able to address that particular incident as well as people evacuating, self-evacuating from the airport. So my team, they focused on crowd control as well as traffic control and partnering with our partners here at TSA, as well as Fire here at the airport to deal with this situation.

Based on the investigation, we have identified the suspect as Kenny Wells, 42 years old. We have taken out warrants for carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct. We are actively pursuing this individual as we speak. And of course once we conducted our investigation here at the airport, we was able to give the all clear and return back to normal operations. Thank you.

MICHAEL WINFREY, DEPUTY CHIEF OF AIRPORT OPERATIONS, HARTSFIELD- JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Good afternoon. My name is Michael Winfrey. W-I-N-F-R-E-Y. I'm the deputy chief of airport operations here at Hartsfield Airport. Atlanta Fire assisted with the evacuation today during the incident.

There were reports of three injuries but none reported with the self- evacuation. We provided services to those in need and helped to return the airport back to normal business continuity and that is all. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So again as I've said, we'll open up for questions right now. Want to make sure that you guys get that. There were three reported injuries associated with this. Chief Winfrey can talk a little bit about that as well. But I know that there are some social media reports out there saying that there were some other issues.

We have three right now. There was one person who was transported if I'm not mistaken as well, Chief, if that's correct. OK. Good. I would imagine everybody now wants to talk about the suspect so I'm going to bring Major Moorman on up here and he'll be able to address any questions that you may have. What do you have?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned he had warrants out. Can you elaborate on the previous or past criminal history that you might have found about this individual?

MOORMAN: I'm sorry, I cannot.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You can't elaborate?

MOORMAN: No, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he have any past criminal history? Can you say that?

MOORMAN: One of the charges he was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. So he is a convicted felon.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you elaborate on the accidental shooting? Did he at any point point the firearm at agents? Did he accidentally put his finger on the trigger? Did the gun drop? Can you kind of explain the (INAUDIBLE), what happened, how the gun went off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The passenger reached inside of his property and in doing so accidentally discharged the firearm.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And was this on the inspection counter where people were pulled aside (INAUDIBLE) their luggage aside?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. So through that plexiglass divider?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us where he's traveling to?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But it was in that domestic north baggage claim area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was at the main security checkpoint but it's -- I don't know where he was traveling to.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You all have his picture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we'll have the picture. We'll be able to send that out from the Atlanta Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So that he -- when he ran out, do we know if he got in a car or do we have any idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, the investigation is ongoing. So the details will be released. As the major said there's a warrant out for his arrest right now and that's the information that we'll share with you. We'll also provide a picture and a description because there was of course a warrant out for his arrest.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just one more on the injuries. Can you talk about a person was sent to the hospital? Just to be clear, all these were people who were injured during this entire process, whether they fell or --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We -- again, we don't want to give specific information but we do know that there was one person who trip away from this incident. Whether or not it was connected, we're not quite sure. But this was not at the atrium at the main security checkpoint where it took place. We'll have more information as it becomes available. As I had said, if you would like a picture of the suspect, reach out to APD and they'll provide it as well. Thank you very much for coming. I appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is he still in possession of the gun?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is he still in possession of the gun? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, the investigation is ongoing. We'll let you

know. Thanks. Come on now, guys. Thank you.

BROWN: Let's bring back in CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem.

We just heard there, Juliette, from officials talking about the incident earlier today at the Atlanta Airport where earlier in the afternoon we know that a gun was accidentally discharged. They say that the passenger had put the, you know, suitcase through the X-ray machine. It picked up that gun and then once that was detected for secondary screening the passenger lunged and was able to accidentally discharge the gun.

Now an update here is that they have been able to identify the person and there is now a warrant out for his arrest. What did you make of the charges that they announced?

KAYYEM: So this is someone who is clearly known to law enforcement. He has a previous felony conviction. Whether he is allowed or why he is in possession of a gun, we do not know. And what was interesting about this is whether, you know, whether there is a security breakdown. There clearly is, you don't even want an accidental discharge, is that he lunges past that plastic barrier that when the luggage comes out of the X-ray.

So that is when it's identified, from the chronology that TSA has provided, that is when the gun is identified. At that moment, they then are going to grab the bag and see what's going on, why is it a gun, why is it a gun, you know, you shouldn't have a gun. That's when he either realizes he's caught or realizes he has a gun in his bag and lunges after it, so -- and then runs off with it. He has the gun.

This seems to me, I'm not sure how that happens and that is going to have to be reviewed. I also have to just say, I don't -- I never understand having been around and with law enforcement a long time why they are not disclosing at the press conference who the person is because the person is on the run. You're going to want the community to help you. And they're going to disclose it to the media when asked.

Things like that are just sort of antiquated rules. At this stage you just want to get this person. They have a gun and they've gotten caught and are responsible for a big inconvenience and something that injured three people. So there will be an investigation into what happened at that moment. But it shouldn't have happened. I mean, in other words, that's a security breach of some kind on the TSA as the TSA officer was getting the bag.

BROWN: Right. I mean, the suspect should not have been able to run off with that gun.

Let's talk about these charges, there are four charges. Charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a felon, discharging a firearm, reckless conduct.

KAYYEM: Yes. BROWN: One thing that stood out to me from this press conference, too,

is one of the officials said the passengers self-evacuated. It seems like from talking to other passengers there, there wasn't good communication.


BROWN: There wasn't, you know, right away overhead instruction to evacuate the airport. That seems like something that should have happened, right?

KAYYEM: Yes. Yes. It's clear that the communication strategy -- I'll say the Atlanta Airport was out quickly with that this is not an active shooter. As images were appearing on Twitter at least. But there should have been constant communication in particular, we had reporting throughout the afternoon when I was on earlier that people were just sort of waiting. I remember also in a pandemic, so people are waiting, masked, they're nervous, they're fearful.

The decision to then open up the airport, which was absolutely the right decision, no reason to close down those gates, also needed to be disclosed quickly so that people knew they could get back up started.


Atlanta is a huge hub. People have now missed connections. You have airplanes in the air. So that is also something that is going to have to be addressed. Why were so many passengers and people around the security area sort of unaware of what, in fact, was happening at this stage.

I will say, just, you know, I said this earlier, a gun at a security checkpoint in Atlanta is happening more than once a day at this stage. 450 people or firearms have been captured in the last year alone. So people are doing stupid things. They are not abiding by federal law, so this is the criminal laws that you are looking at. TSA rules are pretty clear that you have to check it. You're allowed to travel with guns or have guns on the other end. You're just not allowed to have them in the -- under lap in the airplane, thank goodness.

And so I think, you know, there is an automatic violation right there, criminal law, and then he clearly has a felony, a felony past that may have -- that probably prohibited him from maybe having a gun and that was why he lunged after it. We don't know right now. But this is what has to be determined at this stage.

BROWN: What do you think the solution is?


BROWN: Given what you've laid out? I mean how many guns are confiscated day in and day out in this airport?

KAYYEM: Yes, so, you know, people -- I've been on and off. I have strong feelings about certain guns that I don't think the public needs to have. But the public and this country has handguns. People carry them. They want to go from point A to point B with a gun. And so we always hear about gun rights advocates talking about responsible gun ownership.

You know, if that's the case, this is something in which maybe lots of people can agree on, which is, you know, this -- I don't know what it is. Either it's laziness or it's not knowing what's in your bag, or it's just thinking that you can do this because you don't want to be without your gun.

That is not responsible behavior. So when the same way that gun rights advocates want to support continuing gun ownership and constantly talk about responsible gun ownership, this is something that, you know, one airport alone is facing this more than once a day.

People who own guns are trying to get them on to planes. This is -- you know, this is something that we can all agree on. Harsher penalties, greater surveillance and get the message out that this is -- you know, I have to say, penalty is no more flying, no-fly list, all sorts of stuff to get people smarter who want their guns on the other of their flight.

BROWN: Right. Absolutely. Juliette Kayyem, as always thank you for your analysis.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BROWN: Perspective on this situation that unfolded earlier today at the Atlanta Airport.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BROWN: And we'll be right back.



BROWN: It is almost turkey time and this year, we can be thankful for how far we have come compared to 2020. Remember this? Check out some of these headlines from last Thanksgiving. 'Health officials and experts are recommending people stay on for the Holiday." "COVID cases spreading fast and everywhere."

Well today, good news here, nearly 100 percent -- 100 percent of people 65 and older have gotten at least one COVID vaccine shot, around 80 percent of people, 12 and older have done the same. And now, the C.D.C. and F.D.A. are endorsing a third shot, a booster for all adults, and this comes at a significant time.

We are seeing the spike in cases in Europe and experts see signs of a winter uptick here in the U.S. One key metric to watch is of course hospitalizations.

According to this data from Israel, cited by Dr. Anthony Fauci this week, the unvaccinated are clearly the most vulnerable. We've known it, the numbers show it, 53.8 per every 100,000 people face severe COVID consequences, much more than those who were vaccinated with two vaccine doses, and far more than those who were fully vaccinated and also got a booster.

All of this reinforces what we also have known that vaccines work. Look at the numbers. Now, 33 million people have gotten a third Pfizer or a Moderna dose, some 114 million are currently eligible, according to the C.D.C., and the Republican Governor of West Virginia makes this case to both the unvaccinated and vaccinated.


GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): This is not over. It's not over. If we want to live this same, same Groundhog Day forevermore, our ticket to doing that is not get vaccinated. And absolutely with all in me, I can't fathom how someone made the choice to get vaccinated, and then is messing around with the idea of not getting a booster shot.

Or we're going to say, we're just going to live with it. And we're going to lose 20 to a hundred people from now, every other day. Every other day, that is how many people we're going to lose. Are you happy with that? Well, I am sure not.

I mean, for crying out loud, we can do something about it.


BROWN: CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner joins me now. Hi, Dr. Reiner, thanks for your time tonight.

So, the C.D.C. and F.D.A. have now signed off on boosters for everyone 18 and older, but you think the messaging from them on booster should be stronger, how so?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Hi, Pam. Once again, they model the message.

So what C.D.C. said yesterday is that now, anyone over the age of 18 who received their second dose of mRNA vaccine more than six months ago, or J&J vaccine, may get a booster. What they didn't say was that everyone over the age of 18, who got an mRNA, more than six months ago, should get a booster.


REINER: And what we know from very solid data from this country and from other places like Israel, is that the efficacy of these vaccines, seriously wanes after six months. So the message from the C.D.C. should be that everyone who received a booster -- who received a shot more than six months ago, should go out and get boosted, not may.

If you come to see me in the office, and you ask me what to do, I don't say well, you can do that. I give you my recommendation and the recommendation for all Americans should be to get boosted. Only 18 percent of people who have received shots in this country have received a booster, it is not nearly enough. BROWN: Right. And from what I hear from you, the data shows sort of the sense of urgency, there should be for people to get boosted after the six months. To be clear, though, it takes a couple of weeks for immunity from a booster shot to kick in. So, it's not like you can go and get a shot on Monday and expect to be covered on Tuesday.

So what does that mean for traveling? How important is it to mask up is should we double mask? What do you suggest?

REINER: So, I think you need to assess your own vulnerability. If you are not boosted, you're not fully vaccinated. And if you're not fully vaccinated, you need a really good mask. And so, I would say everyone who is traveling, in fact, I think it's just solid recommendation for every traveler to travel with a KN95 mask.

If you try and travel with just sort of a bandana around your face, first of all the airlines won't let you on. Second of all, it won't really offer you much in the way of protection, so everyone should travel with a good mask.

Secondly, I think when you're on an airplane, I would skip the small glass of soda. Leave your mask on during the flight and open the air vent above you to improve airflow around you and keep some hand sanitizer, you know.

BROWN: All right, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you for that advice. We appreciate it.

REINER: My pleasure.

BROWN: And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Up next, taking you on a trip down the rabbit hole. When we do


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we do speak out, especially about satanic things, there are always people who come and will try to disrupt --


BROWN: The colorful big lie supporters running for positions that could help shape the outcome of future elections.

We'll be right back.



BROWN: One year ago today, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger certified his state's 2020 election results, despite mounting pressure from President Trump to steal the election. It is hard to see what would have happened if officials caved to Trump's demands. But the unfortunate reality is we could soon find out.

On ballots across the country next year, big lie promoters are running to take control of their state election systems.

And I take a closer look at some of them tonight in tonight's For the Record.


BROWN (voice over): First up, Kari Lake, a former Phoenix television anchor.

KARI LAKE, FORMER PHOENIX TELEVISION ANCHOR: I'm Kari Lake with a look at the top stories --

BROWN (voice over): Turned rising star of the right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former President Trump breaking his silence on the race for Governor in Arizona throwing his support behind, Kari Lake.

BROWN (voice over): And big lie fan girl.

LAKE: You can say Biden won the presidency kind of like OJ is innocent.


BROWN (voice over): Also, just so you know, not a huge fan of CNN.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: None of this makes sense to me.

BROWN (voice over): And then we have Kristina Karamo.


BROWN (voice over): Who Trump is backing to be Michigan's next Secretary of State.

KARAMO: Yes, I have President Trump's endorsement, which is massive.

BROWN (voice over): As she repeatedly amplifies his lies about election fraud.

KARAMO: It is not right. There are hundreds of thousands of votes that are allowed and considered as lawful, both we know they're illegal.

BROWN (voice over): And when she's not yelling from the big lie bullhorn, she's questioning science.

KARAMO: Guess what, I'm crazy. I'm an anti-vaxxer.

BROWN (voice over): Gender and sexuality.

KARAMO: There is no such thing as a person with two mommies and two daddies. That is just factually incorrect.

BROWN (voice over): And condemning premarital sex. KARAMO: When we normalize people fornicating and we normalize people living together with their boyfriends and girlfriends and all that stuff, we open a door for us to get to the point where we have people who want to normalize pedophilia.

BROWN (voice over): Neither Karamo or her campaign have responded to our request for an interview or for a comment about the views she has expressed.

Meantime, four-term State Representative Mark Finchem wants to be Arizona's Chief Elections Officer --


BROWN (voice over): The Arizona Republic reports Finchem was there on January 6th for the Stop the Steal rally.

There are also allegations he was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol. Finchem denies it.


BROWN (voice over): Then there's Nevada's Jim Marchant.

JAMES MARCHANT, JR., FORMER MEMBER OF THE NEVADA ASSEMBLY: I need your help to take back the House and support President Trump's agenda to Keep America Great.

BROWN (voice over): Who lost a court battle to overturn his five-point congressional loss to the Democratic incumbent in 2020. Now, he is running for Nevada's Secretary of State to -- and this is a quote from his campaign website, "Overhaul the fraudulent election system in Nevada."

And finally, we come to Rachel Hamm, who's running for Secretary of State in California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: California, it's time for something different.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: They're afraid of the Rachael Hamm's of the world.

RACHEL HAMM, CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE IN CALIFORNIA: I have built my life and career on telling hard truths. That's why I'm running for Secretary of State.

BROWN (voice over): She's already got the backing of plenty of Trump town residents, including Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and of course, the My Pillow guy.

HAMM: We know there was fraud. This election was stolen. Donald Trump is our President.

BROWN (voice over): Rachel Hamm, author, self-proclaimed influencer, a mother of four and outspoken truth teller on satanic cults. HAMM: He twisted off the neck of the bird and let the blood spot on my property to claim my property and to exert the power of Satan over my home.

BROWN (voice over): You know, property prices are crazy when even Satan is having a tough time getting a foot on the property ladder.

HAMM: When we do speak out, especially about satanic things, there are always people who come and will try to disrupt, always, that's a sign of satanic activity. I promise you that. I've got some experience with it.

BROWN (voice over): And sure, it's easy to laugh this off as someone with an overly active imagination. But Hamm is teaming up with other conspiracy theory spreading Republicans and running for positions in office that directly influence the outcome of elections.

HAMM: It's going to be dominoes is going to be a series of things that happen, and I don't think it's going to be won in a day. It's a process and that's hard. I get it because I love justice. But I think that the Arizona stuff is going to really be the first domino.

BROWN (voice over): Apparently, for these Trump supporting Republicans running for office, the only way an election is fair and free is if their candidate wins.


BROWN (on camera): CNN has reached out to everyone I just featured for a comment and asked them for proof of their claims that Donald Trump won the election. Rachel Hamm declined to comment and we're still waiting to hear back from the others. But as we know, the election was not stolen.

Well, a person who witnessed today's chaos at the Atlanta Airport joins us next as police put out a warrant for the man whose gun went off and triggered a panic.



BROWN: Police in Atlanta say they are actively looking for the man who reportedly lunged for his gun inside his carry-on luggage and accidentally fired a shot at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International. The gun shot as Thanksgiving travelers lined up at the main security checkpoint in Atlanta, sparking panic in the entire airport. You get a sense of it from this video we're showing you right now.

And joining us now with more is Erin Nelson who witnessed that chaos. Tell us what you experienced, Erin.

ERIN NELSON, WITNESSED CHAOS AT ATLANTA AIRPORT: Hi, well, I had just come through security and had been maybe one or two gates in past security checkpoint to the right. And all of a sudden, I just -- you could hear a rush of people and hear people "Move, move, move, run." And so I turned around just to see what was going on, because I figured it was just somebody trying to get to their gate quickly. But it was this horde of people just running through the airport at full speed, and then -- so I started running along with them.

And I heard just a little peep of "active shooter" and just kind of -- nobody really knew what was going on, but that was kind of what everybody was talking about. I looked back once more, and there was airport security back there with guns drawn. So, I definitely kept going.

BROWN: Yes, as you definitely should have. Do you feel like the situation was handled well by law enforcement?

NELSON: Sure. I mean, they got people out of the terminal relatively quickly. They just you know -- they were having people about the emergency exits, I ended up on a jet bridge of a flight that had been boarded and just kind of held there for a little bit and then was out on the tarmac for a while.

They didn't really communicate what was going on. And I know everybody was getting way more freaked out than they needed to because of that, but obviously, they had other things to worry about than communicating with the people on the tarmac.

BROWN: Right, and when you walked back in, what was it like in the airport?

NELSON: A desert. It was just so quiet. Nobody was there. Everybody was walking really slowly and just kind of taking everything in. Stuff was knocked over, people who had left their bags and purses and personal belongings just strewn about. It just -- it was surreal.

BROWN: Yes, surreal is a good word for that. Erin Nelson, thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry you had to go through that.

NELSON: Me too.

BROWN: Well, NASA is on the verge of launching a historic new space mission. In just a few weeks, the new James Webb Space Telescope will be rocketed into space eventually traveling one million miles from Earth. The Webb telescope will help answer some of humanity's most compelling questions about the creation of our universe, and the possibility of life on other planets.


BROWN: Now, the new CNN film, "The Hunt for Planet B" will provide an inside look at this groundbreaking mission. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we started, the study was considered pretty fringy. We didn't even know if there are any planets beyond our solar system. And we spend a lot of time building up credibility, making a distinction between ourselves and the folks who report seeing little green men and spaceships and being abducted.

I mean, people would be writing books about the SETI pioneers and it would be -- what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this -- sort of questions. It was -- it was really hard.

QUESTION: Do you think there is life out there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, Nathaniel, whatever I think about life beyond Earth doesn't matter a bit. Now, for millennia, we asked the priests, the philosophers, whoever we thought was wise what we should believe.

Well, we can now change that verb into the verb to explore, anything else is religion, and we're not doing religion here, we're doing science.


BROWN: The film's director at the Nathaniel Kahn joins me now. This is a truly remarkable mission, tell us more about why you wanted to document it in this film?

NATHANIEL KAHN, DIRECTOR, "THE HUNT FOR PLANET B": Well, this is the largest science mission that NASA has ever undertaken. So being able to document that as a filmmaker is pretty thrilling.

And also, to realize that this is -- 10,000 people have worked on this project, it's taken almost 20 years. It's like the building of a Cathedral or something like that. So as a filmmaker, to be able to watch that coming together was utterly thrilling.

And as you saw just right there in the clip, the characters, the people involved in this project are just inspiring, wonderful. You know, it's easy to be cynical today with all the problems that we have, and they are very significant in the world. But it is wonderful to also remember that humanity does beautiful things, and this project is one of them.

So documenting it has been one of the thrills of my career.

BROWN: I love what she said that, you know, it doesn't matter what I think if there's life outside of Earth, what matters is, you know, the science, what does that show.

KAHN: That's right.

BROWN: And it really makes you think like this could potentially, you don't know what it might discover, right?

KAHN: Sure, I mean, that's the excitement of a project like this. And that's why it was so fun to document it, too, which is, you know, this is -- this is science as it happens.

This telescope has been a long time in the making, and it is launching December 18th. We're about to see things and discover things that we can only imagine today. So being able to see, for instance, the very first stars in the universe, the very first galaxies in the universe, we've never seen these things. These are things that will be revealed by this telescope.

Being able to look at exoplanets, and find out if there are signs of water on those planets. That's -- we know that -- as far as we know, water is necessary for life. Is there water out there? These are things we're going to be able to discover.

So really being able to answer -- beginning to answer some of the greatest questions that have haunted us since the beginning of time. Where do we come from? How did the universe begin? Are we alone? These are questions that we're actually technically capable of being able to answer at this time.

BROWN: I find this so fascinating. Nathaniel Kahn, thank you. Cannot wait to watch this.

Be sure to tune in, the all-new CNN film, "The Hunt for Planet B" premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

And finally, a woman with COVID defying doctors by waking up from a coma on the exact day her family was going to take her off life support. Sixty-nine-year-old Bettina Lerman went into a coma after more than two months on a ventilator.

Well, her family was told she would not make it. So they planned her funeral. They donated her belongings and they began to grieve. But then on the day she was scheduled to die, they got a call from the doctor.


ANDREW LERMAN, SON OF BETTINA LERMAN: He goes, well, I need you to come up to the hospital right away. I'm like, what? Is something wrong? And he goes well, your mother just woke up.

I literally dropped the phone. I was like -- what? I mean, because we were supposed to be terminating life support that day.


BROWN: Chills. Absolutely incredible. Her son tells us his mother is slowly improving and that she will be vaccinated as soon as she recovers.

What a story that is.

Well I'm Pamela Brown. I will see you again tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern. Outspoken NBA star Enes Kanter will join me.

A special edition of "CUOMO PRIME TIME" with special guest, Bill Maher, starts now.