Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Sheriff's Office Documents in Maine Shooting; Blinken and Austin Go Before Senate; Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) is Interviewed about Foreign Aid; Halloween Brings Big Business. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 31, 2023 - 08:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Over Gaza City. You see smoke rising there as airstrikes, artillery strikes and a ground incursion continues. We will keep you posted as we learn the latest from what's happening.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Also, to the mass shooting in Maine. Very disturbing new details about so many glaring warning signs before it that left 18 people dead and they just weren't followed up on. According to newly-released documents from the sheriff's office, the shooter's ex-wife and son went to the police in May to report their concerns about his paranoia. Police visited the gunman's residence twice in September after his Army unit reported that Card was, quote, "having psychotic episodes where he is hearing voices that are insulting him, calling him a pedophile. Card is also making threats to shoot up the Seco National Guard facility."

Our Shimon Prokupecz has been doing all of this reporting on the ground in Maine and joins us live this morning.

What are the facts, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The facts are, as you said, the warning signs were there. They were there in May. They were there in July. They were there in September. And instead of someone saying, hold up, wait a second, we have to do something about this, we have to get this man help, we have to get his guns away from him, we have to potentially take him off the street, everyone just sort of acted like social workers here. Certainly the law enforcement officials, the military, all saying they were going to try and get him help. They were using the family to try and get him help. But clearly, based on these documents, none of that was working. And here we are today with 18 people dead and something that certainly people across this country, from law enforcement officials, people in this state to the families believed this could have been prevented had someone just taken the action.

When we look through these documents, you see that back in July when the shooter was in training in New York, he had an episode. There was a mental breakdown. A fellow soldier complained that he was sort of talking about potentially doing some kind of a mass shooting. Talking about violence. Talking about hurting people. And they were concerned. And they went to military officials. So much so that we found out yesterday that the Army, in a statement, said that they basically instituted a policy. They said that he can no longer handle weapons or ammunition. But yet somehow he continued to be able to possess his personal weapons.

And then we see, as we know now in September, the family, the military, all went to the police saying that they needed to get him help. And while he just remained on the street. And here we are today.

MATTINGLY: Shimon, these documents, I think, kind of bring into sharp focus the back and forth you had with the governor on some of these missed warning signs last night. What did she tell you at the time?

PROKUPECZ: Well, look, my questioning of the governor comes after we've repeatedly - in the days after this -- went to her officials, the head of the Department of Public Safety here, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. We knew this information. And we asked him many times, what were the contacts between law enforcement? He didn't want to answer that. And he was evasive about it for days. And they have refused to answer these questions.

So, yesterday, when the governor decided to have a press conference, we went ahead and tried to ask her and get her reaction to our reporting that there was this law enforcement contact. And, well, she also didn't want to answer.

Take a listen to what she said.


PROKUPECZ: We know that there is an alarming concern from the law enforcement community that activity and information here was ignored. And the simple answer is, why was that done and are you concerned about that?

GOV. JANET MILLS (D-ME): I think those kinds of facts are yet to be determined. You're making assumptions. I'm not willing to make assumptions.


PROKUPECZ: And there you go. You know, the thing for her to say is that we're making assumptions. We're not making assumptions. We have the documents. We have the proof. You know, we're also talking to sources and officials here on the ground, senior law enforcement officials who are all raising concerns over how the sheriff's office handled this.

MATTINGLY: Shimon, keep digging. Great work. Thank you.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

HARLOW: In just about an hour, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will sit for a key Senate hearing on defense funding for both Israel and Ukraine.

MATTINGLY: And that hearing will happen as we continue to see smoke rising over Gaza. Military operations still very much underway.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: These are live pictures to the left on your screen where smoke is rising over Gaza. On the right, a picture of Capitol Hill this morning where in just under an hour Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will both make their case to Senate lawmakers for the Biden administration's $105 billion emergency aid request for Israel and Ukraine.

MATTINGLY: Now, that funding has relatively wide bipartisan support, but a growing number of Republicans have become resistant to the idea of additional money for Kyiv, putting its overall approval in jeopardy.

CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill.

Manu, is this hearing going to change any minds?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is unclear. There is significant divergence between the House Republicans and Senate Republicans about how to proceed on this matter, particularly among the leadership. The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who is pushing hard to include Ukraine aid, along with Israel aid, as the White House pushes for $105 billion in emergency funding, along with dealing with the South Pacific, dealing with issues along the southern border with Mexico. They want all of that.

But the House Republicans are going at a different approach. The new speaker, Mike Johnson, announced planned to move on a standalone plan just for Israel, $14.3 billion, to punt on the issue of Ukraine. And also as part of that $14.3 billion package, including spending cuts, cuts to the IRS enforcement, something that Democrats say they will absolutely not accept. So, there is -- there are major questions now on Capitol Hill about whether Israel funding can get approved, whether Ukraine funding can get approved.


And in talking to Democrats and Senate Republicans yesterday, it was clear there was significant difference of opinion about how to proceed and uncertainty about what will ultimately be accomplished.


RAJU: I mean, do you see any way that a bill like that can get out of the Senate?

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): I would think that would be very hard in the Senate. So, I think what we're going to do is, all right, you know, I think the burden is on our shoulders is to pass a very bipartisan bill that has Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, disaster relief, border in it and then send that over to the House.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think that's a mistake.

We can have a debate about Ukraine. My views on that are well known. But let's not slow down the Israel aid package.

RAJU: How do you feel about Senator McConnell's push to include Ukraine as part of the Israel supplemental?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Well, I mean, it's something he's passionate about, as are a lot of our members.

RAJU: Do you support it?

THUNE: Well, I think we need to continue to support Ukraine's effort to stop Russia. Russia is an adversary. They represent a national security threat to the United States. So, I support that. And how that gets done is another question.


RAJU: And that is the big point there from the number two Senate Republican. How that gets done is another question. It's a big question.

Later this week the House will try to pass that stand alone Israel bill with cuts to IRS funding, get that through the House this week. That is uncertain whether it can get past the House and it's dead on arrival according to top Senate Democrats in the Senate. So, just a lot of questions at this time of international crises about whether Congress can respond or whether, once again, things could get stalled and lead to uncertainty about helping the United States partners overseas.


HARLOW: Manu, thank you for the reporting. Get back to you soon.

MATTINGLY: And joining us now, Republican congresswoman from Indiana, Victoria Spartz. She's the first U.S. Congress member born in Ukraine.

Congresswoman, we appreciate your time.

To start, you have been an unequivocal supporter of Israel and their need particularly to defend themselves in the wake of October 7th. Do you believe this proposal, which Senate Democrats say is dead on arrival, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell disagrees with, is the right course of action?

REP. VICTORIA SPARTZ (R-IN): Well, thank you for having me.

And I'm very disappointed to hear that, you know, that we're not wanting to deal with our fiscal issue. We do need urgently need to help Ukraine. We need - and we need urgency to help Israel.

But I think it's important for us also to deal with our spending. And I think this package is very reasonable, what our new speaker is proposing. We need to understand that we already give $12 billion per year appropriations to IRS. $80 billion for additional appropriations. So, what it does is just give less increase to IRS, which is really, you know, not doing a good job anyway and harassing a lot of Americans.

So, I think we need to move Israel aid quickly. This is very urgent. You know, people of Israel are fighting very serious battle that they need to win. And they need to stabilize in the whole region and can really get us involved in very, very significant crisis. So, I think that needs to move first quicker. And then we have to deal with Ukraine.

HARLOW: But if -- if this funding for Israel, Congresswoman, is contingent on those cuts to the IRS, you run into the issue that the Nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget did the math and they say, well, you cut the money to the IRS, that dilutes their ability to, you know, get revenue, and their projection is that it adds $30 billion to the deficit.

SPARTZ: Well, this is how like, you know, gimmicks (INAUDIBLE). But in reality, it doesn't. You know, what we're just talking, we're still significantly increasing, you know, funding for IRS. We have regular appropriations, $12 billion per year. So, this is $80 billion that will given an additional. So, it's going to be over $60 billion. Still giving more to IRS. This is plenty of money. We need to see first what they use it for.

So, I think that is a very reasonable approach considering the amount of debt we have right now and where we are fiscally.

HARLOW: Look, and you've been so clear where you stand on the debt and you've been calling for a debt commission. I understand that. But I -- those are the projections from the nonpartisan committee. Is it worth stopping funding to Israel over that?

SPARTZ: No, we're not. We need just to have a conversation. No one is stopping that. This is an actual - a very reasonable proposal. And we are going to say - and we need to understand, this funding -- funding that was given funding for IRS was given over ten years. So we need to see first what they're spending on.

So, we have to have not this blank checks to these agencies. So, we're still giving more money. Inflation Reduction Act gives $80 billion on top of it. So, it's still -- even if it reduces $14 billion, it will still go to over $60 million extra. This is a lot of money given to the agency that we haven't seen working efficiently. And are they going to really doing their job or really harassing small businesses and not really helping them?


So, I think it's something we have questions to ask. So, I think it's reasonable.

MATTINGLY: I think the money's in part to enhance efficiency to some degree.

I do - I do want to ask you, the lack of Ukraine funding, Speaker Johnson has been clear he wanted to separate the two issues, but he's not mentioned what the pathway for Ukraine funding is. He's not put anything on the table. Pay fors or no pay fors, what is the path right now?

SPARTZ: I think we need to make sure that President Biden is accountable to Congress and American people. You know, even if we look at all of these packages, you know, there are a lot of associated causes with Ukraine. Congress never really got an answer, what are these causes? Where's the money spent? We spent over 100 billion already. And we wanted to know, which countries we're sending money to. What is these causes and why they're not sending enough in weapons to Ukraine. Every package only 10 to 20 percent goes to weapons. The rest of it goes to a lot of causes.

So, we need to understand because President Biden has grandiose statements about Ukraine winning, but he's sending aid not to lose. And that is not a strategy that we need to have dealing with very aggressive country like Russia.

MATTINGLY: Well, the secretaries of state and defense I'm sure will be asked about that today in the Senate.

Representative Victoria Spartz, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

SPARTZ: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: Lawyers for Donald Trump looking to block a witness from testifying for the prosecution at his civil fraud trial ongoing here in New York. We'll tell you why.

MATTINGLY: And the actors' union in Hollywood studios appear to be making progress in their negotiations. We're going to update you on where things stand. That's next.



HARLOW: Actors in Hollywood studios seem to be getting closer to a deal. SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents more than 150,000 Hollywood actors and the major studios have made significant progress in their negotiating sessions in the last couple of days. That is the word from people familiar with the talks. A deal cannot come soon enough. The studios need to imminently resume production if there is any hope that the winter half of the television season can be salvaged, and thousands of actors are in increasingly dire need of their paychecks. If production does not resume soon, these shortened television seasons could be scrapped altogether. So, there's hope.


HARLOW: We'll see. MATTINGLY: Well, lawyers for former President Trump looking to block a

witness from testifying for the prosecution at his civil fraud trial here in New York. They're claiming the attorney general plans to use an expert witness to substitute for evidence it did not present to the judge. It's unfolding just before Trump's adult children (INAUDIBLE) should be called to the stand.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live to help us unpack this.

I feel like there's going to be a TV show written about the ups and downs of this trial.


MATTINGLY: Why don't they want this person to testify?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's going to be a crazy two weeks.

So, this is a witness that's an expert witness according to the New York State attorney general, essentially going to testify to the fact that insurers and lenders wouldn't have given the deals it gave Trump Org had they - had they known that these, you know, properties were evaluated and basically inflated. So essentially saying that there's wrongdoing here and the money would not have been given to the Trump Org.

Now, they're also supposed to testify to the fact of how much money should be paid back from Trump Org to the state, what they call disgorgement. And, remember, at the beginning of this trial, the New York attorney general was asking for $250 million.

So, the defense, as you've said well, saying here, listen, you can't just fill in the gaps with this witness -- expert witness to testimony we should have been hearing for the last four months. This is all speculative. So, we're going to have to see how the judge rules on this once court begins at 10:00 this morning, but we'll see.

HARLOW: Former President Trump's children have to take the stand.



GINGRAS: Coming up. Tomorrow. Don Jr. is first on the list. Now, listen, the schedule could change a little bit based on the testimony, how long it takes for both sides. But Eric Trump also expected in the next couple days, this week. Then we might hear from Ivanka next week. She might appeal that. But also the president, former president, going to take the stand as well.

And, listen, they're - they're integral to this, right? I mean we have heard their names, either through emails or from witness testimony, their names spoken in court. Eric and Don Jr. are defendants in this trial. So, their testimony is going to be integral to this. So, we'll see. The former president not going to be in the courtroom, though, when his children take the stand. So, that's an interesting part of this. But, like you said, it's going to be a little bit crazy although the next couple of weeks will be (INAUDIBLE).

MATTINGLY: I maintain, the most New York City trial ever.

HARLOW: I know. The most New York trial.

Brynn, thanks for covering all of it.

GINGRAS: All right.

HARLOW: It is Halloween. Happy Halloween. The holiday brings tricks and treats to families around the world. It also brings in a serious amount of money. Our Harry Enten here, of course you're wearing a Bills uniform.

MATTINGLY: I was squinting because I could see Harry out of the corner of my eye and I was completely terrified about what was happening.

HARLOW: Here with the numbers behind the candy as we listen to "Monster Mash."

MATTINGLY: Hi, Harry. Hi, Harry. Thanks, man.

HARLOW: I want the candy corn. Thank you.



HARLOW: It's Halloween. If you have not bought your costume yet or candy you still have time and you all should have seen Phil's costume when he came to work this morning. Tell them.

MATTINGLY: Scooby Doo.

HARLOW: It was epic.

MATTINGLY: I like fun and Halloween.

HARLOW: Clearly. We have numbers on the most popular candy and costumes, and Harry as the Bills.

Good morning.


MATTINGLY: You are the Bills.

ENTEN: I am the Bills. I am Jim Kelly right here. Great Bills quarterback from the late '80s and through the mid-'90s.

Look, let's take a look. Halloween is big business. How much is expected to be spent this year? $12.2 billion. That's a record high. Seventy-three percent of Americans celebrated in one way or another. Perhaps you're going to go out and trick or treat. Perhaps you're going to appear on television and dress as your childhood idol. One of the two perhaps different for different folks.

Now, of course, we're talking about costumes. So, what are the top - some of the top Googled and TikTok costumes this year? Barbie perhaps not too much of a surprise given the success of the film earlier this year. How about if you're a couple, how about Swift and Kelce. Spiderman always a classic. And witch. Or Wednesday Addams. You know, I always did enjoy that show growing up. Perhaps you two did as well.

What are you - you were Scooby Doo, where are you.

What are you doing?

HARLOW: This but not what you expect. I'm weird barbie -

ENTEN: You're weird -

HARLOW: With all the makeup and the wig and the whole thing.

MATTINGLY: Have you seen the movie?

ENTEN: I have not seen the movie.

HARLOW: Come on.

MATTINGLY: Never mind. Well, we should --

ENTEN: So, you know what's sad? Sara Sidner went to see that film with my mother and they didn't invite me. This is actually a true story, by the way.

MATTINGLY: An actual, true story.

HARLOW: Of course she did.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you, though, I want to talk about the important things.



ENTEN: Candy.

MATTINGLY: What does America love on the candy front?

ENTEN: You know, number one, Reese's peanut butter cups.

HARLOW: Reese's.

MATTINGLY: I like that.

ENTEN: Thirty-six percent.


ENTEN: Snickers, 18 percent. HARLOW: Oh.

ENTEN: M&M's, 11 percent. The big divisive one here, candy corn at 6 percent. I have to ask you, candy corn?

HARLOW: I just -- you just gave me candy corn going to commercial.

ENTEN: Correct.

HARLOW: I just tried to give it to Grace -

MATTINGLY: And now it's on set.

HARLOW: Our great anchor producer, who does -- didn't want it because apparently it's not the best Halloween candy.

ENTEN: Well -

MATTINGLY: I think it is divisive.

ENTEN: I like candy corn. I think - I think it's a perfectly fine candy. But you'll also notice that a lot of these on here are chocolate. They're chocolate. So, here's a chocolate. I got this downstairs. I will note, I didn't actually go out and buy the candy. Someone was giving them downstairs out in our lobby and I was, like, you know what, this would be great for television.



ENTEN: So that's what you call utilizing everything that's going on.


MATTINGLY: Can I just ask real quick, you said you had a fun one.


MATTINGLY: What's the fun - is this the fun one?

ENTEN: I think this is a fun one.


ENTEN: Americans who believe in ghosts. In 1979, it was just 11 percent. Look where we are today, 39 percent of Americans believe in ghosts. Do you guys believe in ghosts?

HARLOW: OK, I have to wrap you up here. We have 15 seconds left and I want to leave you all with this. This is what I walked into in the office this morning. Scooby Mattingly. Not, spill Mattingly, Scooby Mattingly.

MATTINGLY: I like fun.

HARLOW: You like fun.

MATTINGLY: And backpacks because apparently I'm 15 years old.

HARLOW: That is amazing.

MATTINGLY: Everybody have a great Halloween.

Harry, thank you, as always, my friend.

HARLOW: Thanks for the fun.

ENTEN: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.