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U.S. & Germany In Standoff Over Sending Tanks To Ukraine; Biden Speaks At Conference Of Mayors; Anti-Abortionists Attend March For Life "With Fresh Resolve"; D.A.: Baldwin Should Have Checked Gun To Make Sure It Was Safe; Soon, 5 First Responders Arraigned In Death Of Elijah McClain. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 20, 2023 - 14:30   ET



BRIG. GEN STEVE ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY RETIRED: And they are getting conscripts. They are pulling out inmates from their prisons to throw them on the front lines, I mean, just sending them to the slaughter.

The Russians are 10 years away from having a really competent, professionalized army. We are seeing it every day.

I don't think that anything is going to change by virtue of a new designation of the Wagner Group. They are a still going be bad army. And they're still going to be losing ground to the Ukrainians, I think.

Particularly, if we can give the Ukrainians all of the equipment that they so desperately and vitally need and deserve.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Retired Brigadier General Steve Anderson, thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK. We are taking you to live pictures now. This is in Washington, D.C. Anti-abortion activists are rallying there. This is the March for Life demonstration. This is the first time that they have been at a march like this since "Roe v. Wade" was overturned.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the Actors Union and the Screen Actors Guild are coming to the defense of Alec Baldwin, arguing the charges against him indicate a lack of understanding of how a film set operates. We will ask a prop master if he agrees.



CAMEROTA: We are going to take you live to the White House. President Biden is speaking live at the Conference of Mayors. So let's listen for a second.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it matters that the -- (INAUDIBLE). If the garbage is picked up, and the potholes are fixed and the buses you can catch to work and continue to be there on time. And so much of significance consequence.

But those things are consequential, and they affect people's quality of life more than any other group of people in the world.

And mayors know that the measure of success is not in how many partisan points you score, but how many problems you fix. Can you fix the problem?

So when I came to office, we had a lot of problems.

Can you hear me now?

The pandemic was raging. Our economy was reeling. But we acted together. Now, two years in, it is clearer than ever that our plan is working.

And we are building the economy from the bottom up, and the middle out and not the top down. And when we do that, the middle-class can have a little breathing room. And the economy that benefits folks in the heartland and the cities and all across America.

And so, you know, I know that when -- as I said, my family, when I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when coal died, we had to move. And the joke was everybody was from Scranton.

And think of the towns that you know that you are mayors of. They go through school, and they want to stay where the families are, and the relatives are, and they know everything.

And then you have to say that you have to leave, because there's no jobs here. There are no jobs here in my town. I am deadly serious. Earnest.

And what we trying to do is to not bring back the economy, but bring back the pride, and the pride and the sense of belonging, and the sense of where I want to live now, and where I want to do what I want to do.

That is the whole purpose of the cities to build out. But now they are starting to build back in. And the cities are growing. And not just small cities, but the economies as well.

You can have a college degree, but you don't need it. Two years ago this week, 218 million people out of work, and now it is under 1.6 million, and that the lowest level in decades.


BIDEN: The unemployment rate is as low as in 11 years.

And where in the hell is it written that we can't be the manufacturing capital of the world. I mean it. It is not a joke.

I got so sick and tired of us exporting the jobs and importing the product. And we are now importing the jobs and exporting product. That is what we are going to do. That is what we are doing. I really mean it. Because we are beginning to invest in ourselves again because of you all.

Over the last two years, more Americans applied to start a small business than any year in history, any year on record, and make up 50 percent of all of the economy in America. Fewer families are facing eviction than before the pandemic. And families in the community are starting to breathe a little bit easier.

But folks, it is not only that, but pride is coming back to American communities, and to American cities. And that is not just on the coast, as I said, but it is in every part of the country, including many towns and cities and local communities forgotten for much too long. Much too long.

It is not an accident. It is a strategy. When I came to office, a strategy that we stuck to even in the face of criticism, and a strategy that we put into action, and a strategy to recover and rebuild and invest in America.

You know, I have to take a second to digress a little bit. We used to invest 2 percent of our GDP into research and development every year. That's what we did in America.

And then along the way, we stopped investing in American research and development. And now we are investing 0.7 of 1 percent.


We used to be number one, now China was number two. We're number -- I mean, it is things that allowed to happen, and it is not conscious, but it slipped up on us.

And the way in which we've changed and dealt with the corporate law and a whole range of things, but we are changing it. We are changing it. As I said, we are going to export product and not jobs.

With your support, I signed into law the American Rescue Plan to deliver immediate economic relief to families and communities that need it the most.

BLACKWELL: You are listening to President Biden speak to the Conference of Mayors there at the White House, list off some of his accomplishments and talking about legislation, investment. Also highlighting some of the mayors in his administration.

This starts the back half of the term. Two years ago today, the president was inaugurated there, January 20, 2021.

And the president is speaking to a group of mayors at the White House. We will continue to listen if any news comes out of that.

CAMEROTA: Also happening in Washington is a group of anti-abortion activists from around the country are gathering for the first time since their decades-long mission was accomplished, when the Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to an abortion.

BLACKWELL: But many advocates say that, even though Roe was overturned, the work is not done.

CNN's Brian Todd is live there with the marchers.

What are you hearing from the people around you?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Alisyn, you really do get a clear impression out her that this is a pivotal moment for the anti-abortion movement.

They are celebrating the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But there's a big debate, a lot of questions being asked as to where the movement goes from here?

I am here with a family of seven from Upstate New York. Melanie is from Upstate New York and she is here with her husband and five children. She has been walking and walking in lock step the whole time.

And, Melanie, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, what is the main motivation for coming at this point?

MELANIE SOBERON, BROUGHT 5 YOUNG CHILDREN TO "MARCH FOR LIFE" RALLY: We want the lawmakers to know that the right to life is the most fundamental right. We must protect the unborn and all people of all stages of life.

TODD: And Fernando -- this is Fernando Soberon, her husband.

Fernando, with the overturns of Roe v. Wade, do you think that the movement's tactics and approach to this agenda need to change, and how so?

FERNANDO SOBERON, BROUGHT 5 CHILDREN TO "MARCH FOR LIFE" RALLY: It don't think they have to change, because it is about changing hearts and minds. And the changing of the legislation is one step, but it doesn't change the mission. The mission is changing hearts and the minds of people to understand the truth about it.

TODD: Thank you guys for talking to us. And thank you for showing us your beautiful family and good luck.

F. SOBERON: Thank you.

TODD: So, guys, this is a march, symbolically, has always stop in front of the Supreme Court. Of course, it is stopping here now in a couple of moments.

But they say that, symbolically, what they want to do is to show that they are stopping in front of the capital to symbolize that the fight goes from the Supreme Court to the legislatures.

A lot of the marchers are telling us that they want to keep it now and turn it more into the grass-roots movement to go door-to-door to get the agenda across.

And one lady told us that she wants to focus on what she calls the flooding of abortion pills into the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

So you're seeing things like that, discussions like that taking place as to how the tactics have to change for the anti-abortion movement.

They are not maybe holding as many marches like this in the future. They may not hold, if any, in Washington, but some say they want to take it to all 50 states -- Guys?

CAMEROTA: Brian, so interesting. The people we're seeing around you right there look young. I'm seeing what look like teenagers and 20- somethings. And a different sort of generational grass-roots movement now that is changing.

BLACKWELL: Huge banner that says that "We are the post-Roe generation" there in front of the court.

CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you very much for the reporting.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Brian.


Five first responders are set to face a judge. They were charged in connection with the death of Elijah McClain, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of police. We will look ahead at the trial, next.



BLACKWELL: The district attorney investigating the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" said Actor Alec Baldwin and the armorer had a responsibility to check the gun.

Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed both face involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

CAMEROTA: Baldwin maintains he did not know the gun held live rounds.

One actor's union argues it's not the actor's job to be a firearms or weapons expert.

Let's bring in veteran Hollywood prop master and armorer, Dutch Merrick. He's also the founder of Prop Gun Safety.

Dutch, great to have you here.

What do you think? Was it Alec Baldwin's responsibility to check the gun and make sure there were not real bullets in there?

DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER & FOUNDER, PROP GUN SAFETY: Well, it's not a simple situation. This is not a shooting range. It's a film set.

Understand that the role of a prop master and an armorer is to create an environment that's realistic as possible for an act actor, and at the same time, entirely safe. Over his 35 or 40 years of acting, I know he has grown confident in

the crew around him to not only -- he's not going to hurt anybody. They carefully choreographed these gunfights so that the little bit of fire that does come out the front, nobody gets hurt.



MERRICK: -- anticipated --

CAMEROTA: Dutch, sorry to interrupt you. In other words, it's not his responsibility?


Here's the thing. Ultimately, if someone walks right in front of the barrel of the gun and he's ready to fire when the camera's rolling, that would be the moment where he would point the gun up or not fire.

(INAUDIBLE). We make it ready to go. We do it under their watchful eye and make it ready for the continuity of the scene and hand it to them and they go.


But it's not his mandatory responsibility to check the gun. It is not.

BLACKWELL: So we're having a couple of technical difficulties, but we're going to try to get as much out of this interview as we can.

If not Alec Baldwin's responsibility, whose responsibility is it? Where does it land?

MERRICK: This event -- (INAUDIBLE) -- the hiring practices, by hiring people that had inadequate training, experience, paying very little, having not enough prep. And the vendors they chose.

The person that supplied actual live cartridges and marked them as dummies, that's one of the biggest things in this case. Not a lot of people are talking about that.

But as you work your way down the food chain, the prop master, very inexperienced. The armorer very inexperienced.

And they didn't do the due diligence or practices of checking each of the blank rounds or the dummy rounds to make sure they are what they say they are.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Dutch, we're so sorry we're having technical difficulties where your audio is dropping in and out. But we always look forward to talking to you because you have so much experience with this. So we'll have you back.

Thank you very much for your time and for being here today.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Dutch.

CAMEROTA: OK, a new twist following the arrest of a former Republican candidate in New Mexico accused of plotting to shoot up the homes of political rivals.

Investigators now looking into whether his campaign was partly funded by fentanyl sales. His attorney is going to join us ahead.



CAMEROTA: An arraignment will take place this afternoon for the five Colorado first responders who were indicted in the death of 23-year- old Elijah McClain.

BLACKWELL: In August of 2019, McClain died six days after a violent encounter with police when he was injected with the drug ketamine to sedate him.

Now, one of the most difficult moments of the body cam footage you're about to see is when McClain pleads with officers related to his mental health.




MCCLAIN: I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I'm speaking.


MCCLAIN: Stop. I'm going home.



BLACKWELL: CNN's Lucy Kafanov is live in Colorado.

Lucy, remind us what happened after what we just watched and what ultimately these first responders were indicted on.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Alisyn, the five defendants are expected in court in less than an hour to enter their pleas. This is after months of delays.

Three police officers and two paramedics were indicted on charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of Elijah McClain. The exact cause of death is still to be determined or at least in question. Now back in August of 2019, McClain, a young black man, was walking

home from a convenience store with some iced teas. He was listening to music in his headphones when he was confronted by three Aurora, Colorado, police officers, who say they were responding to a call about a suspicious person.

And even though he wasn't doing anything wrong, the police attempted to apprehend him. One of the officers, Nathan Woodyard, tried to restrain McClain with a chokehold to the neck that has since been banned, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.

The other two officers helped him restrain him on the ground despite repeated pleas that he could not breath.

The paramedics were then called. They injected him with ketamine. It later turned out it was too much for his body weight and he died a few days later. Brain dead. Then dead at 23 years old.

Now the initial autopsy report listed the cause of death as undetermined, but it was amended to say his death was actually caused by complications from that ketamine injection following restraints. The manner of death remains undetermined.

The various defendants, meanwhile, have been pointing fingers at one another as to who was responsible for the death.

Which is why, this week, a judge ruled there will be three separate trials. Former Officer Nathan Woodyard, the one who performed the chokeholds, will be tried independently.

The other officers, Randy Roedema and Joseph Rosenblatt, will be tried together. And the two paramedics, Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper, will also be tried together.

And I should note that Elijah's death, guys, almost slipped through the cracks. Initially, the local D.A. didn't even take the case up, saying there was not enough evidence.

It took statewide protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd for the state attorney general to gather and convene this secret grand jury, which is why we are now here today -- Guys?

CAMEROTA: It's amazing. It's just amazing to see what happens when you shine a light on something.

Lucy Kafanov, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, new information about that T-Mobile hack from last November that involved the personal data of more than 30 million customers. We'll have more in the next hour.