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Sources Say, Biden Planning to Announce Bid for Re-Election Next Week; Charges to Be Dismissed Today Against Alec Baldwin in Rust Shooting; House Democrat Knocks Colleagues for Totally Faking Outrage. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2023 - 07:00   ET


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but also the Oklahoma legislature has been so much involved in this case.


And we just learned that Kevin McDougal, who the representative, who's really been the leader of that, this effort is basically saying that he's going to try to change the state law, get the governor to sign it to try to bring this case back to the criminal court of appeals. And if that doesn't work, he's going to even try to impeach these justices. So, this could get very explosive in Oklahoma.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And what's so notable about him is he's a Republican who is pro-death penalty, but not in this case.

GINGRAS: Yes. He said, why should someone die if they didn't do it? Like, you know, what that should be reserved for people who -- you know, other crimes, I should say.

HARLOW: Brynn, thank you very much.

CNN This Morning continues right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden's announcement to run for a second term now may be days away.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's clearly a desire in the American public to see a generational change, but voters are willing to put that aside if they feel like the alternative is a much bigger problem.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'd plan on running, Al, but we're not prepared to announce it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just didn't know when, the when appears to be next week.

COOPER: Criminal charges will be dropped of the 2021 fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the western film, Rust. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't convince jurors beyond reasonable doubt that Alec Baldwin is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you, prosecute people, you change and affect their lives.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR AND PRODUCER, RUST: Someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it's not me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that the person holding the gun is not responsible is absurd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A note left behind by the gunman in another mass shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The notes show that at least part of the motivation here was to show how easy it is in the United States to get an assault weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is so much easier to get a weapon in this country than it is to get mental health services.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's straight out of a Hollywood script, $15 million worth of gold stolen from an airport value.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This high value container was removed by illegal means from the holding facility. Our investigators have got their eyes opened all avenues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Starship of SpaceX sending out a massive (INAUDIBLE) as it lifted off and then tumbled and exploded about four minutes later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were describing scenes in their neighborhoods that it was raining sand on them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My, expectations were here, and today, we went here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one word, holy smokes.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, people were excited about that. Listen, there's a lot to talk about. There's lots to talk about guns, including, you know, with people that have been making mistakes and then getting killed and are severely injured for it, but also the gun on the set of Rust, the Alec Baldwin movie. Prosecutors have dropped the criminal charges against him, but now there's new reporting as it relates to the gun.

And you want to stand by for also Smartmatic, now saying they're not going to settle for anything less than what Dominion got from Fox News.

HARLOW: Fascinating. LEMON: Plus, they want an apology, all of that coming this hour. Good morning, everyone. We're so happy that you could join us and we're going to start with this, President Biden about to make it official. Sources are telling CNN he is planning to formally announce he is running for re-election next week. We're expecting a campaign-style video announcement to drop on Tuesday.

It is a symbolic day for the president. Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of him entering the 2020 presidential race. New polls -- I should say, a new poll shows more than 80 percent of Democrats say that they would either definitely or probably support him in the general election if he is a nominee.

So, let's straight out now to the White House, CNN's Arlette Saenz joins us. Arlette, good morning to you. The president loves an anniversary next Tuesday. Is that going to be the day?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, the waiting game may soon be over President Biden for months has said that he intends to run for president. But it appears the plans to actually do that are finally being set into motion. His team is eyeing next week as a possible venue for his launch and doing that through a video possibly to be released as soon as Tuesday.

Tuesday is a very important day for President Biden, as it was the day four years ago that he launched his last bid for the White House, which he ultimately was successful on. Now, this would put to end months of speculation about whether the 80-year-old president would seek a second term in office. Sources have told us that he settled on Wilmington, Delaware, as his campaign headquarters. But we're still waiting for some of the other campaign apparatus, details to shake out.

But one thing his advisers are eager to get the ball rolling on is fundraising. Sources have told us that top Democrats from the president's last campaign in 2020, they have been invited to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the president on Friday, and the advisers are hoping that they can really ramp up fundraising when it comes to both grassroots supporters and those big dollar donors.

LEMON: Okay. But what about real support people really want him to want run, Arlette?


SAENZ: Yes. You know, there's some interesting polling that shows just exactly how many people want President Biden to run in 2024. If you take a look at those numbers, his numbers are actually up a little bit amongst both Democrats and the overall public, but right now, only 47 percent of Democrats say they want him to run and 26 percent of the overall public say they want him to seek a second term.

But as you noted, those Democrats in that poll also suggest that they would possibly fall in line with a presidential re-election bid, with 81 percent of Democrats saying they would probably support the president in his run for the White House. Now, energizing and mobilizing these Democratic voters will be key for President Biden as he heads into this re-election race, but he will also need to win over those moderate Republicans and independent voters, especially at a moment where he could face a possible rematch with former President Donald Trump.

LEMON: Arlette Saenz at the White House for us this morning, thank you, Arlette, I appreciate it.

HARLOW: Today, as Don was saying, prosecutors in New Mexico are set to drop all charges against Alec Baldwin in the 2021 deadly Rust film shooting. A source familiar with this investigation tells CNN prosecutors made this decision after new evidence showed somebody modified that gun. Those sources say that leaves open the possibility that, indeed, Baldwin did not pull the trigger, and this is something he has repeatedly said.


BALDWIN: I never once said never that the gun went off in my hand automatically. I always said I pulled the hammer back and I pulled it back as far as I could. I never took a gun and pointed at somebody and click the thing.

I let go of the hammer the gun and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun, the gun goes off.


BALDWIN: That was the moment the gun went off, yes, that was the moment gun went off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't in the script for the trigger to be pulled.

BALDWIN: Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you never pulled the trigger?

BALDWIN: No, no, no, no, no. I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never.


HARLOW: Baldwin was facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deadly shooting of the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. A year-and-a-half ago, the actor was rehearsing on set with a prop gun when it fired off killing Hutchins and hurting director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said a crew member yelled, cold gun, meaning it had no live rounds in it before handing him the weapon. Prosecutors announced they will drop the charges during a hearing today but they say their investigation is still active, they could press further criminal charges later.

What would those be? Where does this go? Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Jackson is here. Good morning.


HARLOW: Wow, two weeks before trial.

JOEY JACKSON: Vindication, vindication.

LEMON: This is vindication?

JOEY JACKSON: I think in a significant way. He's been claiming repeatedly that he did not at all pull the trigger. The modification seems to be consistent with that. What modification? The gun modification. But it's more troubling than that.

The trouble for me is that I'm horrified with respect to how prosecutors have handled this case. This happened in October 2021. You're telling me now that you have information with respect to the gun? Would that not be critical to know before you charge someone? Would it not be critical to know before you proceed and really say that someone is responsible criminally?

And the significance of this is really twofold as it relates to the law. Number one, if you're charging someone with being reckless, right, or negligent even, now we have the issue of the gun, which suggests, hey, maybe he wasn't. Now, you have the second issue with respect to causation, causing of the death. If the gun were modified and he did not pull the trigger, then you have an issue with causation. But he was charged and he was charged in January of this past year, 14 months later. You didn't know that? And so I'm very troubled.

LEMON: So, this, for now, they said, they dropped the charges. But then how do you go back because his attorneys will say, you already said the gun was modified. You said that. So --

JOEY JACKSON: I think what prosecutors need to do really is to come clean and really just say, look, we investigated the case, and this is a tragedy, by all accounts. But we know that many tragedies not result in prosecutions. There are times when there's a tragedy that results in civil litigation as this has, right, civil relating to monetary damages, carelessness, et cetera.

LEMON: Do you think he should have been charged? Are you saying that --

JOEY JACKSON: I'm saying that, initially, he shouldn't have been charged in the first instance. Why? The prosecutors don't even consult the union, right, with respect to this. Why is that important? Would it not be critical to know what an actor's responsibility is? When the union came out and said to them, look, actors are not firearm experts, we're going to hold them to that standard.

Then prosecutors charged him, this is important to note, under a law that wasn't even in existence at the time, which is called the enhancement law, where you get five years in the event that you discharge a firearm at someone. I mean, it was dismissed because of the fact that it shouldn't have been charged.

Do your investigation. If the investigation determines his criminality, move forward. If it doesn't don't do it for political reasons or because he's Alec Baldwin.


Say we don't have the evidence and don't move. They did and here's where we are.

HARLOW: I was thinking all morning, you know, when are we -- we haven't -- just to be clear, because I want to keep a focus also on the woman who died, Halyna Hutchins, we don't have a statement -- a new statement from her family yet. Obviously, we will bring viewers out when we have it and want to hear their voice in all of this.

But you bring up an interesting point. Because now the lawyers for the armorer, right, they're responsible for getting the guns ready, all these props, et cetera, says they expect that the charges against her will also be dropped. Is it apples to apples because of this?

JOEY JACKSON: So, they're not completely similarly situated, and here's why, Poppy. You have one who is the armorer, who is responsible for the care, custody and control of that firearm. Where is that firearm? Is it loaded? Is it loaded with dummy rounds? Is that really secured properly? Is it given to the actor in a condition where it is a cold gun, meaning not going to go off? So, they're not similarly situated to the extent that the actor, Alec Baldwin, reasonably relies upon a team right?

So, while it's different, the result could be the same in terms of the dismissal. If the gun was defective, would it be her responsibility also? Would she have known that? And so I think the prosecutor is going to have a problem as to her also. That might be the next dismissal to come.

LEMON: Okay. Look, can I ask you about -- the prosecution had some missteps, said that ultimately forcing the case to be assigned to a whole new team. I'm wondering if politics could be interfering in this because you have -- you seem to have concerns about the prosecutor. There was this email from a prosecutor saying at some point, though, I'd like -- I'd at least like to get out there that I am assisting you as it might help me in my campaign, LOL.

HARLOW: That was the first prosecutor, right?

JOEY JACKSON: So, this was crazy. What happened was a special prosecutor apparently was running for office at the time or held the position as a state senator, or some such thing. What ended up happening was that she was also prosecuting the case. You can't prosecute cases predicated upon politics. You have to prosecute them predicated upon facts, although we see the political element you know, coming into these all the time. And so she steps aside. Another special prosecutor is appointed. The actual district attorney steps aside and then you have new special prosecutors who say, guess what, there's new evidence, we have to dismiss this case. It should not have been brought.

HARLOW: Joey Jackson, wow, indeed. Thank you.

JOEY JACKSON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Moving on, we're going to talk about the suspect accused of shooting a six-year-old neighbor and her parents in North Carolina will appear in court today. 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary turned himself into authorities in Florida on Thursday. Singletary allegedly opened fire after being angered by a basketball that rolled into his yard on Tuesday.

Joining us now from Gaston County, North Carolina, is CNN National Correspondent Dianne Gallagher. Dianne, good morning to you. I mean, wow, this is unbelievable . We're learning that there's some clear red flags here with this man in the neighborhood. What are you hearing about that?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: that's right, Don. I spent all day yesterday with the people of that neighborhood who told me that they had not slept since that shooting because they were so afraid because this alleged shooter, Robert Singletary, was still on the loose. There was a manhunt that involved U.S. marshals. But yesterday evening, on Thursday, he turned himself into authorities nearly 600 miles away in Hillsborough, Florida.

Now, he does have a hearing later today regarding potential extradition here back to Gaston County. Neighbors told me that, look, there were issues since about a couple of weeks that he had moved in to stay with his girlfriend in a room she was renting in a house there. He had been yelling at children. He did not seem to like the children of the neighborhood, and they said it's a very kid-friendly neighborhood.

Dozens of them were outside on Tuesday evening when a basketball rolled into Singletary's yard. According to neighbors, they say that a parent came to confront him about cursing out his child, and then Singletary went inside, got the gun and began shooting.

Of course, six-year-old Kinsley White, her father and mother were all shot, Don. I talked to that mother after the arrest, and she told me that she was glad and she felt relieved. But she also wasn't sure exactly how he managed to get all the way to Florida.

LEMON: And also the little girl speaking out yesterday as well. What is the latest on the health of all of the people who were shot?

GALLAGHER: So, you know, we're talking to her mother. She says that Kinsley, she had fragments of a bullet in her cheek that doctors had removed. She has stitches in her face. And, of course, it's a traumatizing event. But right now, the big concern is the father, Jamie White. He was shot in the back, according to the family. He has damaged to his liver, his lung, his ribs were broken and his abdomen. And he has a very long road to recovery. Don, he remains in the hospital in Charlotte still this morning.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Diane Gallagher. And we wish all of them well.


Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Well, this morning, six people, four of them teenagers, are now facing murder charges in connection with the mass shooting at a sweet 16 party in Alabama last weekend. They were arrested over the course of the last week, all of them except a 15-year-old, who has not been identified or being held without bond in the local jail.

They opened fire last Saturday while the party was in full swing. Four people were killed, including the birthday girl's brother. At least 32 people were injured, 15 of them teens. This rampage is one of the latest 165 mass shootings in the United States this year. That's according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Congressman Jeff Jackson has only been in Congress about 100 days, but he's already calling out his colleagues for faking outrage to cameras. What he says his coworkers are really like behind the scenes, we'll ask him when he joins us live, next.

LEMON: And Fox News settled its Dominion case but now has to deal with Smartmatic. Why this lawsuit over the 2020 election lies could be the network's next big problem.



HARLOW: A freshman House Democrat known for his use of TikTok and gets 1.6 million followers, he's gone viral again this time for calling out some of his colleagues for fake outrage. Watch this.


REP. JEFF JACKSON (D-NC): It's really clear from working there for just a few months that most of the really angry voices in Congress are totally faking it.

The same people who act like maniacs during the open meetings are suddenly calm and rational during the closed ones. Why? Because there aren't any cameras in the closed meetings, so their incentives are different. What I've seen is that members of Congress are surrounded by negative incentives. There are rewards for bad behavior.


HARLOW: Fake it until you make it?


HARLOW: Joining us now is the man behind the video, freshman Congressman from North Carolina Jeff Jackson.

Don and I were stunned watching this and you thought we would know this is obvious, but to have you say it really says something. Who are you talking about? Both parties?

JEFF JACKSON: Well, sure. I think this is not unique to either party. I don't think it's the same in both parties, though. I think the incentive structure to win a Republican primary right now is basically to try and be the angriest voice in the room. I think we're seeing a lot of that this week.

But the reason I did the video was because, as the new guy, you have a special brand of credibility and being able to show up to a place and look around and then sort of report back to everyone what they need to know. And I thought people needed to know.

I don't think it was a newsflash to you or a lot of people who follow politics closely, but a lot of America doesn't know that this anger is fake, that you've got a group of people in Congress who are on team outrage. And what they're doing is auditioning every day to be the captain of team outrage.

LEMON: Do you have any specific examples? I have so many questions when it comes to this, but do you have any specific examples for us, Congressman?

JEFF JACKSON: I think you know the people on this list and what I would give people is the formula for figuring out who's on this list. It's not who gets angry. It's who is always angry. The folks who are always angry, they're the ones who are auditioning. They're looking for the media outlets who are trying to keep their audience angry. And so if you can get access to those media, which is a huge win for these folks, and they're up there not to do public service but just to get as much out access to those outlets as possible.

JEFF JACKSON: Okay, I'm glad you said that. Because we would often say that, especially during the 2016 election and then also in 2020 as well, people would say one thing in the green room, they'd say one thing in a pre-interview, they'd say one thing before the commercial break -- during the commercial break, and then when you came out on television, they say the complete opposite. All of a sudden, there was outrage and, you know, you are fake news and you know you libs or whatever, and they do that, right?

So this plays into what is happening now with Dominion and now Smartmatic. What was your response to the Dominion settlement and the Dominion case, and as it moves forward Smartmatic as it comes to suing media companies for not telling the truth?

JEFF JACKSON: I thought the settlement was justice for Dominion. It was clearly fair to that company but it wasn't the outcome that would have served our country the best. What would serve our country the best is an episodic explanation and textual proof that so much of this is fake, that it's intentionally -- it's intended to deceive people.

A long lesson in how the incentive structure really works behind the scenes to produce fake anger would have been very instructive for the American people. Basically, I was sad that it didn't go to trial.

HARLOW: That's really interesting, and that's what former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson also said that she wanted to go to trial to expose more of this.

So, I watched your TikTok a few times this morning. One of the things you say is that because there aren't cameras in the closed meetings, their incentives are different. And it got me thinking about the -- how you weigh the interests of transparency, right? Because there's a real press interest and a public interest in transparency, and seeing a lot of what you do what we pay you guys to do on camera, but at the same time, you're saying a lot of what's on camera is fake. How do you weigh those two things?

JEFF JACKSON: I think that's a really good question. I think your assumption here is correct. Behind closed doors, there's way more consensus, there's way more compromise, and then people step out into public and it's a lot of song and dance.

What I can tell you is that I had an assumption before I got to Congress about what percentage of people in Congress were serious and what percentage were basically team outrage. I thought team outrage was going to be about a third of the people who were there. It's not. It's less than 10 percent. And that's the good news. I try to give to my constituents when I report back to them about first impressions here.

LEMON: Yes. It's a Catch 22. You can see that the cameras in there, but they're also playing for the camera. So, right, I get it.


Can we talk about the debt ceiling now? The deadline is coming up. What do you think? Should the House negotiate with Kevin McCarthy?

HARLOW: The White House?

LEMON: The White House, I should say, excuse me.

JEFF JACKSON: Well, I think that's going to be very difficult until Speaker McCarthy puts forth something that's at least in the ballpark of reasonable. I don't think this initial bill from him is. And he's expressed a lot of confidence that he's got the vote in his own party to get this passed. I'm not sure he does. This is a lot of very steep cuts and a lot of different areas, Veterans Affairs, air traffic control, nutrition plans for seniors and to ask a lot of his vulnerable members.

He has 18 Republicans who are in districts that Biden won to ask them to vote for all of these cuts for something that we know is dead on arrival in the Senate. I wouldn't be surprised if they're being a little too optimistic about odds for passage out of his caucus next week.

HARLOW: Congressman Jeff Jackson, thank you. LEMON: Are you ready for the president to say he's going to run again?

HARLOW: Run again, right, on Tuesday?

JEFF JACKSON: I think that's the least surprising political news of the year. I think we've all been operating under the assumption for several months that the president will be running for re-election.

LEMON: Thank you. Are you going to vote for him?


LEMON: I like that answer. Yes, that's a good answer. Thank you for calling this out. It's something -- for calling out the hypocrisy. And we didn't talk about the people who come on and do interviews and then go on and, you know, raise money afterwards, right away. They're on social media raising money. Look, I gave it to the lib, I gave it to the liberal media, what have you. So, we appreciate you. Keep doing what you're doing. It's good stuff.

JEFF JACKSON: Thanks so much. Take care.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

So, let's talk more about this legal nightmare for Fox News just beginning. Really, the battle with Dominion is over for now, but the network is still facing an even bigger multibillion dollar defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic over broadcasting lies about the election.

Smartmatic's lawyer tells CNN that the company wants a full retraction and it won't accept anything smaller than the historic $787 million settlement that Dominion got.


ERIK CONNOLLY, LEAD ATTORNEY, SMARTMATIC V. FOX LAWSUIT: Clearly, Fox knew that the election wasn't rigged and they clearly knew the election machines weren't involved in rigging something. All that evidence is out there and we get to layer on top of that.

Smartmatic is in this case for the long haul. They are looking to take this case through trial. They are looking through the vindication of a jury verdict in their favor.


LEMON: So, Fox News has denied any wrongdoing and is fighting the Smartmatic lawsuit. A last-minute settlement with Dominion spared Fox from having to do an on-air retraction or apology about spreading election lies, and the network avoided a potentially embarrassing trial with Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson and other Fox News stars taking the stand.

HARLOW: The Smartmatic's lawyer will join us live in the next hour to talk about all of that. That will be really interesting. This morning, sad report, we've learned that an American citizen has died in Sudan amid these violent clashes. How the U.S. is bracing for more potential violence.

LEMON: And a Russian warplane accidentally bombed its own city. Look at the devastation. That's next.