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CNN This Morning

Biden Planning to Announce Bid for Reelection Next Week; Charges to Be Dismissed Against Alec Baldwin in Shooting; Fellow Demos Raise Pressure on Biden to Negotiate with McCarthy; SpaceX Starship Rocket Explodes Minutes After Launch. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2023 - 06:00   ET






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drake is No. 1 on that song, with "Search and Rescue." Here's No. 2.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morgan Wallen with "Last Night." No. 3 --




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on that note, I'm done. I'm sending it off to you all at CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Omar Jimenez.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.


LEMON: So I'm going to get in trouble, but you look fantastic.

HARLOW: Thanks! You see, he said that to me when I was walking in. And you know every -- every once in a while, I'm --

LEMON: What did you say to me?

HARLOW: -- a tired mom needs to hear that.

LEMON: What did you say when I said, I don't know how you walk in those shoes.

HARLOW: And said I don't either? I don't know, guys. I might change my shoes by the end of the show.

LEMON: Do those -- I'm always fascinated, because there are shoes that don't leave the office, right?

HARLOW: These don't leave.

LEMON: No, you don't walk in --

HARLOW: These don't leave. Wait, OK? Yes, I know. They're my -- I wish I was 30 again heels. But you know, thank you. You always look good.

LEMON: You look like you're just going to church for Easter.

HARLOW: Or brunch?

LEMON: I feel like a Southern live down South and --

HARLOW: How about a fancy brunch after the show.

LEMON: We'll have a mint julep.


LEMON: How about that?

HARLOW: OK, all right. We're so glad you're with us today. Kaitlan is off. Let's get started with the five things to know for this Friday, April 21, 2023.

President Joe Biden set to run again. Sources tell CNN it will be official as soon as next week, with Tuesday being the day eyed for the official launch.

LEMON: We could be just hours away from learning the fate of an abortion pill. The Supreme Court has a midnight deadline to decide if mifepristone will stay widely available.

Also, charges against actor Alec Baldwin about to be dismissed in that deadly shooting on the set of his movie, "Rust." A special prosecutor said new evidence in the case led to this decision. We'll update you on that.

HARLOW: Also, Canadian police investigating a heist: $15 million in gold and other valuables taken from the airport. The thieves still on the run.

LEON: And what's next for Elon Musk and SpaceX after the historic Starship launched got off to a good start before this explosive end. We'll discuss if this is what success actually looks like.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: So Biden's going to do it. He's going to run again. LEMON: I know. But this is, like, the longest, like, "I'm going to do

it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it." Who did this? Somebody else did this. I can't remember.

HARLOW: I don't know.

LEMON: I can't remember.

HARLOW: But we'll see. His polling is good. He has good new polling this morning.

LEMON: His polling is better.

HARLOW: Yes. Good point.

LEMON: Getting better.

HARLOW: In the right direction.

LEMON: In the right direction, yes.

HARLOW: We'll talk about all of that, because, as we've learned overnight, President Biden is getting ready to officially announce his -- He is running for re-election next week. Sources tell CNN the president's team is planning to drop a campaign-style video announcement on Tuesday.

That day is significant, because it will mark the four-year anniversary of Biden entering the 2020 race.

A new poll from the Associated Press. This is what we were just talking about. It shows only 47 percent of Democrats want Biden to run again. But look at that. It's improved from 30 percent -- 37 percent of the same group that said that in January.

Our Arlette Saenz at the White House with more.

He loves, you know, moments -- right? -- marking history, marking anniversaries. So it would make sense for this to come on Tuesday.


President Biden really relies a lot on symbolism when he gives his speeches. And so that Tuesday, a possibility for announcement really falls in line with much of his mantra.

And for months now, the president has been indicating that he intends to run for president. But it appears that those plans are finally being set into motion.

His team has been working behind the scenes to sketch out a campaign apparatus, and now they are eyeing that -- launching that campaign with the video, possibly as soon as to Tuesday, which is four years to the day that he launched his last campaign, which he has billed as a battle for the soul of the nation. Now, this expected announcement would put to rest months of

speculation about whether or not he would run again. We've learned that the president has settled on Wilmington, Delaware, is his campaign headquarters, but they were still waiting to hear a bit more of the details about what this campaign will look like.

But one thing advisors are really keen to get the ball rolling on is fundraising. Announcing early in April would allow him to start mobilizing grassroots and higher-dollar donors.

We know that the team has invited top donors and fundraisers from President Biden's last campaign to meet with him here in Washington next Friday as they gear up for a very, very expensive race.

HARLOW: Yes. A very expensive one. What about the other part of this new poll this morning: 78 percent of Democrats approve of the job Biden's doing. What should we take from that?


SAENZ: Well, mobilizing those types of Democrats will be key to President Biden's re-election.

The president has long felt that his legislative agenda is something Democrats should be proud of, when it comes to infrastructure, healthcare and climate change.

But in additionally, he's also felt buoyed after Democrats' stronger than expected performance during the midterm.

But it's not just Democrats that President Biden will need to win over if he is going to win a second term. He's going to have to reach out to those moderates, also independent voters, especially as he heads into a possible mass match- up with former president Donald Trump, who is his main rival back in 2020.

HARLOW: Thank you very much. We'll wait for Tuesday. We'll see if it officially comes.

LEMON: And hours from now, the suspect accused of shooting a 6-year- old neighbor and her parents in North Carolina will appear in court.

Twenty-four-year-old Robert Louis Singletary turned himself into authorities over 500 miles away. He was in Florida on Thursday.

The shooting happened after a basketball rolled into Singletary's yard on Tuesday, angering him and allegedly leading to Singletary opening fire outside, wounding 6-year-old Kinsley White and her parents.

Well, Kinsley's mother told CNN that doctors removed bullet fragments from her cheek. Her father remains hospitalized.

HARLOW: Later today, special prosecutors in New Mexico will drop involuntary -- involuntary manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin for the deadly "Rust" film set shooting. A year and a half ago, you'll remember, Baldwin was rehearsing with a

prop gun on set when it fired off and killed the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. It hurt director Joel Souza.

A source familiar with the investigation tells CNN prosecutors are dropping the charges, because evidence shows someone modified that gun.

Our Chloe Melas is with us now, with all of this reporting. We all remember your interview with Alec Baldwin. We all remember when he said to you that he didn't pull the trigger. Now this.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That is what he has maintained all along. And this is explosive. It is not what people were expecting, but this is something that his legal team has been working on diligently. Take a listen.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: It's my only question is am I being charged with something?

MELAS (voice-over): Alec Baldwin no longer accused after New Mexico prosecutors made a stunning announcement Thursday. Quote, "New facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis. We therefore will be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation."

Baldwin reacted on Instagram, posting a photo of his wife, saying, quote, "I owe everything I have to this woman (and to you, Luke)," his attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you in the room when that lady was --

BALDWIN: I was holding the gun. Yes.

MELAS (voice-over): Baldwin admitted to holding the gun that fired a bullet, killing Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on Baldwin's film "Rust," but told police he did not know he was handed a loaded gun.

Baldwin resumes filming on "Rust" this week, with production moved to Montana.

This was Baldwin last year.

BALDWIN: Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me.

MELAS (voice-over): The dismissal is a win for Baldwin's legal team, which challenged the motives and politics of one of the original prosecutors.

ANDREA REEB, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It doesn't matter if he's a liberal Democrat, and I'm a conservative Republican. My job has always been to prosecute crimes. MELAS (voice-over): In February, Baldwin's lawyers filed a motion to

remove special prosecutor Andrea Reeb, who at the time of the investigation was running for state representative in New Mexico.

In an email later revealed in "The New York Times," Reeb suggested being involved in the case, quote, "might help in my campaign." Both Reeb and the district attorney who hired her ultimately recused themselves.

Their replacements dropped the charges against Baldwin, his attorneys saying they, quote, "encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there live ammo that's kept on set?


MELAS (voice-over): The film's weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is now the sole defendant in the case, facing 18 months for involuntary manslaughter.

Her attorney says she will plead not guilty and that, quote, "We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated."

MATTHEW HUTCHINS, HALYNA HUTCHINS' HUSBAND: Are we really supposed to feel bad about you, Mr. Baldwin?

MELAS (voice-over): Halyna Hutchins' husband has been a vocal critic of Baldwin, saying he should face charges.

HUTCHINS: The idea that the person holding the gun, causing it to discharge, is not responsible is absurd to me.

MELAS (voice-over): But now justice for Halyna Hutchins moves forward without a star defendant.

BALDWIN: And she was great at her job and she died. And she died. And that's -- that hurts me every day.


MELAS (on camera): So the special prosecutor coming out, saying that this is, you know, temporary, potentially. That they are dismissing the charges against Alec Baldwin for now, pending a further investigation, interviewing, reinterviewing more witnesses.


Because, remember, like I just said, there is that new special prosecutor.

And then Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's attorney coming out, saying that they hope that this means that she, too, the armorer, will be exonerated, as well. LEMON: And they're quiet, as of now, Alec Baldwin and his wife,

Hilaria, as of now. And they are just waiting to see what happens next, right? If it's dismissed. Because it's dismissed now without prejudice.

MELAS: I think we'll hear --

LEMON: And they're waiting for --

MELAS: I think we'll here from him sooner than you think. But for now, he's posted on Instagram.

LEMON: Good. OK. Thank you, Chloe.

HARLOW: Thank you.

LEMON: Good to see you.

So live pictures now. The sunrise -- my goodness. Sun comes up early now. This is the sunrise in Washington, D.C., this morning. Look at the Capitol. It's looks beautiful.

That's where President Biden is facing growing pressure from fellow Democrats to negotiate with the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, on raising the debt limit to prevent a financial disaster.

Kevin McCarthy has proposed huge spending cuts and slashing major parts of Biden's agenda in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling. It's setting up a high-stakes showdown that could tank the economy.

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, live on Capitol Hill this morning.

Lauren, good morning to you.

The president has been adamant that he wants a debt limit raised with no strings attached.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. But what he's starting to hear from some members of his own party, many members who are up for re-election this next cycle, Don, is the fact that they want to see some negotiations; that they are starting to believe it may not be tenable for the president to hold this position that he wants just a clean increase of the debt ceiling.

The argument coming from some of them why doesn't he sit down once again with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy?

What you heard this week from Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from the state of West Virginia, weighing whether or not he's going to run for reelection again in this next cycle, is that while he doesn't agree with every part of the Republican plan to increase the debt ceiling, he does argue it's the only bill right now that's actually moving through Congress.

I also caught up yesterday with Josh Gottheimer. He is a moderate Democrat. Here's what he told me.


REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): I think it's critically important than now ever that that both sides sit down. The idea that we would ever default is -- has to be off the table. And we can have a serious conversation about our fiscal health and our fiscal future. We should.

But the idea that you would play any politics, any -- you know, that you would play Russian roulette with the fiscal health of the country and the full faith and credit of the United States is totally unacceptable.


FOX: And pressure is going to mount next week. That is when House Republican leaders are going to bring their debt ceiling proposal to the floor for a vote. They're feeling very confident that they're going to be able to get their conference in line.

We're going to get a sense next week whether or not that's the case -- Don.

LEMON: Lauren, is it a vocal minority of Democrats calling for Biden to negotiate as a majority of his party still support his stance?

FOX: Yes, definitely. A majority is standing by the president. In fact, yesterday, our colleague Manu Raju caught up with Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, and he just repeated over and over again, clean, clean, clean, arguing that the debt ceiling should not be attached to any spending cuts, that if there is going to be a debate about the fiscal future of this country, it should be in the appropriations process and not when it comes to just raising the country's borrowing limit -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Thank you, Lauren.

HARLOW: It is today. Deadline day. The Supreme Court could decide on the fate of a very common widely-used abortion drug called mifepristone.

On Wednesday, Justice Samuel Alito extended an administrative stay on a lower court ruling that would have limited access to that medication, giving the court some more time to think about it. That extension expires tonight just before midnight.

At the heart of this issue is the scope of the FDA's authority to regulate the drug, which has already been deemed safe and effective by the medical community. Millions of women across the country have used it for more than 20 years.

If the Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling, here is what could change.

The window to obtain the drug would narrow to seven weeks. Dosages would change. In-person visits to a doctor would be required. No more virtual visits to get it. The doctor would need to prescribe and administer the drug. And the generic version of the drug may no longer be available.

So a lot of changes on the table.

House Democrats vowing to protect access to it, including Democratic whip Katherine Clark, you saw her just on this show yesterday. Here's what she told us.


REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): We can look at putting people on record here in Congress, bringing -- forcing these votes on the floor to make sure that we are putting everyone on record on where they stand on making women second-class citizens in this country.

One option is -- is to have the FDA go through the process again for this drug.


HARLOW: If they do that, if the drug is ultimately sent back to the FDA to sort of start over again for re-approval, we should note the FDA typically has 10 months to review an application. If new data is needed, if they need to do new trials, that would take years.

LEMON: So SpaceX's Starship rocket, the most powerful ever built, exploded minutes after liftoff. I had no idea. I was texting everyone. I was, like, "Did it -- did the rocket explode?"


HARLOW: I know. I was surprised.


HARLOW: But then Elon Musk is sort of like, this is success.

LEMON: Yes. So we're going to talk about what went wrong during the unmanned test flight and what Elon Musk says went right, as well.

HARLOW: And speaking of Elon Musk, a new era of Twitter has begun, removing legacy blue checkmarks from some of the world's most prominent users, including the pope. Who got to keep their checkmark, ahead.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC'S "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": And somehow, I lost my blue check, but Jimmy Fallon got to keep his blue check. I guess it means he's the only real Jimmy now. I don't know.

Guess who else still has a checkmark? You ready for this? O.J. got to keep is checkmark.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was icing on the cake.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There as we saw, as we promised, an exciting end to the Starship inaugural innovative (ph) test flight.


LEMON: Yes. So I was a little confused by yesterday. I'll explain when we'll have Sarah in just a minute.

But that was SpaceX's Starship, lifting off and then exploding during yesterday's test flight. Musk called it an exciting test and said his team learned a lot for the next time.

It was just part of an eventful week or Elon Musk.


In addition to that, his car company, Tesla, saw its stock plunge yesterday after reporting lower profit margins and further -- I should say, excuse me, future price cuts for some of its models.

Musk also facing backlash for his decision to remove legacy blue checkmarks from Twitter accounts as a way to get people to pay for the mark.

So with us now, CNN's media analyst, as I told you, Axios media reporter Sara Fischer. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Good morning. I'm doing well.

LEMON: Let's get to business. What do you -- do you want to to rocket first? Or do you want to do --

HARLOW: I want to know why it's a success that the rocket blew up.

LEMON: OK, let's do rocket first, because I was -- I had gone to the doctor and I didn't -- so I wasn't plugged in. And then I saw -- someone sent me just a picture of a rocket. And I said, did the rocket explode? What happened?

Because I was getting Challenger vibes.


LEMON: It's unmanned. Right? But yes. But they're saying it was successful.

FISCHER: Well, the big thing about this rocket is it's absolutely massive, and it's really heavy, so you need a lot of energy to be able to propel it up into the sky.

And I think what they consider a success is the fact that they got it off the ground and that it was live up for about 4 to 5 minutes.

The other thing that makes it successful is that obviously nobody was hurt. There was no damages that was reported. Sometimes when you're putting a rocket ship into the air, the debris can come. It can cause damages.

The FAA is responsible for overseeing that and making sure that nothing goes wrong from that end, and nothing did go wrong from that end.

So I can see why Elon Musk and his team is saying that this was a great learning experiment, because that's really what it was.


HARLOW: I just keep thinking about how much everyone costs that explodes for them.

But talk about the week for Musk. So also, Elon Musk with a lot of news on Tesla this week; also took away our blue checkmarks. I'm not going to pay for one. There's a lot going on with Musk this week.

FISCHER: So much, and you know what struck me? You can listen to Elon Musk on an earnings call for Tesla, which is a publicly-traded companies, so they have to inform their investors or record about what's happening, and he sounds so measured.

Talking about the company's profits plunge, he was saying that a lot of it has to do with macroeconomic factors. People still aren't buying cars at the same clip as they were pre-pandemic.

Of course, the pandemic hit the supply chain in certain ways, which made manufacturing more difficult, et cetera.

But at the same time, that very measured businessman can do some very erratic things that causes us to be very confused. And the latest example of that, of course, was Musk ripping the blue checkmarks away.

He said that, if you're not paying to remain verified on Twitter, that you're not going to keep your blue check. But what was so weird is that he said that he was unilaterally going to pay for some people to keep their blue checks, which to me defies the entire --

HARLOW: Who did he pay for?

FISCHER: So he said that he paid for Stephen King, William Shatner, the actor, and LeBron James. And all three of them, by the way, had publicly stated that they wouldn't pay to remain verified. Musk just said that, Oh, I'm going to do it myself.

I thought that was a little hypocritical, because he criticized the old verification system for sort of subjectively letting some people be verified. In him choosing three people to pay to be verified, he is subjectively choosing to have people be verified.

LEMON: This is the weird thing, like after like Twitter has been around for so long, like you know what LeBron's official account is. And I think someone -- I think I've lost mine, but people know my account already. So does it really mean --

FISCHER: I think verification matters, because when there's an emergency situation --


FISCHER: -- if there's a school shooting, if there's a natural disaster, people want to go to Twitter and find authoritative voices to know what's going on.

And that might be a journalist, but it also might be an emergency response unit in a local town, a mayor et cetera. And so if those accounts aren't verified, and they are easily spoofed, that could be an issue.

LEMON: All right.

HARLOW: Before you go, you have a great new piece this morning. BuzzFeed News shutting down. Didn't they win a -- was it a Pulitzer?

FISCHER: They did. They won their first Pulitzer in 2021? And they've done a lot of great reporting. In fact, a lot of the stuff that we've talked about with TikTok, that stemmed from a BuzzFeed News investigation into the ways that China is accessing right and into the ways that China is accessing user data, so it's a very sad time.

But broadly speaking, it speaks to how challenging it is to be surviving in the news environment right now. The ad market is slowing down dramatically.

And so BuzzFeed news isn't the only one feeling pressure. Insider, which is another digital media company, announced 10 percent layoffs yesterday.

I've been covering media companies doing layoffs all year. It's just a really hard time right now.

LEMON: Yes. That's it, but also, too. I mean, people are desperate for clicks. And so they're writing more -- things that are a little more --

HARLOW: Clicky.

LEMON: Clicky. A little more click-bait-y.

FISCHER: Well, that's --

LEMON: They want their eyes. FISCHER: When BuzzFeed launched, it was revolutionary, because at the time in 2006, a lot of traditional media companies were just copy- pasting their long, long articles and putting them online.

And BuzzFeed said this isn't working. Like, we need to create online- specific content. So from that regard, they kind of started an entire Internet revolution.

And I give them a ton of credit for that.

But at the same time, to your point, Don, once everyone else followed that strategy, it became such a saturated market, now we're moving back into an era where quality really counts. And that's why you see a lot of news companies launching today focused on hiring really, really high-end reporters.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that, because a lot of companies that people felt were credible, writing sensational things, and to go back to that sort of journalism.


HARLOW: Hiring really great reporters, like Sara Fischer.

LEMON: Sara Fischer. Wasn't that Ben Smith, was BuzzFeed. Is that him?


LEMON: Yes, it's Ben. Yes. Sara, thank you very much. Sara, appreciate it.

HARLOW: Ahead, a CNN exclusive report. New evidence shows a Russian mercenary group has been supplying Sudan's forces with heavy weapons to aid their fight against the country's army. What our team has uncovered, ahead.


HARLOW: New this morning, Sudan's warring factions have declared a 72- hour ceasefire. After almost a week of fighting, the country's paramilitary rapid support forces made the announcement on Twitter early today, local time, adding the truce coincides with the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan to, quote, "open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens and give them the opportunity to greet their families."

Sudan's military leader delivered these remarks Friday morning but did not mention the truce. Battles between the RSF and its rival, the Sudan armed forces, have left 330 people -- at least 330 people dead, forced tens of thousands of people to flee the country.

Yesterday, the Defense Department announced the United States military will be deploying additional capabilities near Sudan. Here's what the national security.