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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

A Report Cites Alec Baldwin was Rehearsing Gun Draw When it Fired; House Democrats Hoping for Mid-Week Vote on Infrastructure Package; Soldiers in Sudan Take Over Government After Arresting Sudanese Prime Minister and Wife. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Good morning everyone, it is Monday, October 25th, it's 5:00 a.m. in New York, thanks so much for getting an early start with us, I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: And I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We begin this morning with brand new developments in that tragic shooting on the Alec Baldwin's movie set. The film's Director Joel Souza telling authorities that Baldwin was rehearsing drawing his gun when it fired killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring Souza. We're also learning more about Hutchins final moments.

JARRETT: Even before Thursday's shooting, some crew members had walked off the production set over safety concerns. Crew members told the "L.A. Times", there had already been two accidental gun discharges on the set of "Rust". This weekend, Baldwin visited Hutchins husband and son, saying he wanted to offer his support. Here with us now, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas joining us on set. So nice to see you, Chloe. All right, a ton of developments already over the weekend.


JARRETT: What's the latest here?

MELAS: So, the latest is that the director, Joel, he actually spoke to police, and now we have those documents at CNN. And so he says that this was actually not filmed. So, actually there might not be an actual record of this incident unfortunately. But Baldwin was supposedly sitting in a pew and that he was doing a cross-draw where the gun was in like a holster, and he was pulling it out across his shoulder to show the cinematographer, Halyna, where his gun would be for the shot. No one knows exactly how it went off, right, if this accidentally went off.

We still don't know if there was a live round of ammunition in the gun, but we know that this is what happened and then Joel was standing right next to her, which is how he got hit in the shoulder. But he talks about how, you know, she talked about pain in her stomach, and then saying that she wasn't able to feel her legs anymore. Really disturbing information. But the biggest question is how did this breakdown happen? Because when you have guns or prop guns on set, there is supposed to be a chain of command.

There is an armor as we've talked about. This woman in this case, her name was Hannah, 24 years old, only her second film that she had ever been, you know, not putting the onus on her, but she's the armorer here.

ROMANS: Right --

MELAS: Then you have the assistant director which is supposed to then check it before giving it to the actor. And in this affidavit that CNN has, Joel, the director, told authorities that cold gun was set, which meant that this gun was safe for Alec Baldwin to be handling.

ROMANS: Wow --

MELAS: Right --

ROMANS: Cold gun, and then of course, it wasn't --

MELAS: It was not, right --

ROMANS: They knew it wasn't safe. There were some other complaints on the set, right, in the days before this event. Complaints about how far away the crew was staying. There had been some turbulence on the set, yes?

MELAS: Yes, so, I actually spoke to someone close to production, and we know this now because Joel also said it in the police report, that there were members who walked off of the set who were part of the camera crew who were upset about lodging, housing, issues unrelated to safety --

ROMANS: Right --

MELAS: On set. Although there are reports that there were guns that accidentally misfired while filming and during rehearsals. There were reports that some members of the crew were concerned about safety on set. And there are -- there's a new report on CNN that the assistant director had had issues in the past on previous film sets with safety. But really, there are so many questions left unanswered. There is this active investigation by authorities, but also an internal investigation --

ROMANS: Right --

MELAS: With the production company.

ROMANS: You mentioned -- go ahead.

JARRETT: No, I was just going to say, a firearm safety expert actually weighed in on some of these issues over the weekend. I just want to take a listen a little bit of what this expert said just so that we have that kind context and then get your reaction on the other side of it.


are three ways that they messed this up here. First, they took a gun that was capable of having live ammo introduced into it. Live round, gun, OK? On a prop gun this wouldn't happen. If I switched this out for the prop gun and try to put this in here, it doesn't fit in there. So if you have an actual prop gun, not just a gun that's being used as a prop, you wouldn't be able to introduce live ammo into it.

Area two, right, don't put live -- don't have live ammo on set. No reason for this. And number three is, don't point guns at people unless you want to see a hole in them. Pretty straightforward.



JARRETT: It seems like some pretty easily identifiable ways to keep people safe on set that aren't currently happening right now --

ROMANS: And he talked about using mirrors too, so that you never really should be pointing a gun --


ROMANS: At anyone on set.

MELAS: Right, well, so multiple things here. So, let's go back to Hannah, right? So, Hannah, this 24-year-old woman who is the daughter of a very famous Hollywood armorer who's worked with Brad Pitt and tons of stars over the many decades of his career. This was only her second film that she had been the head armorer on. She had worked on a film a few months ago with Nicolas Cage called "The Old Way", and you know, a director from that film has now come to her defense saying that she was, you know, always very poised, and knew a lot about these guns, but did cite the fact that she was very young.

You also have production members coming out and saying, the productions need to spend more money where it's important, when it comes to safety and when it comes to hiring people that have, you know, decades of experience or having more people on set to have a better chain of command. Also though, I want to talk about, there are unions in Hollywood --

ROMANS: Right --

MELAS: That are calling on reform and change because there are -- there is no blanket set of rules when it comes to prop guns and gun safety. It's all state by state, it all varies. I think in New York, you're just not allowed to fire a gun between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. That's it. And there are rules about pyrotechnics. But you would think that when you're talking about guns and --


MELAS: Prop guns, there would be laws. So, some people are talking about maybe now, as sad as it is, that this has to prop be the tipping point that maybe a Helena's law --


MELAS: To make universal gun reform when it comes to these movie sets. And then also, you know, I think that something that's important to realize is that there is this chain of command though that is in place. So, we still don't know if this gun accidentally misfired, right? If there was a live round of ammunition. There are still unanswered questions. And then I do want to just point out that many films and TV shows are starting to use CGI for gun blasts and bullets and things like that --

JARRETT: Instead of having an actual --

MELAS: And so, a woman, I think it was the director of "Mayor of East Town", she came out and she said, look, we did CGI for our gun effects with Kate Winslet. You can tell that it's not real, but I would rather have CGI and have a set be safe than to be actually be dealing with firearms --


MELAS: Where these things could happen.

ROMANS: It is certainly just a tragedy. It's just an awful tragedy and new details coming out every moment. Chloe Melas, thank you so much.

MELAS: Thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning.

JARRETT: Thanks so much --

MELAS: Good to see you too --

JARRETT: Being here bright and early for us.

ROMANS: Yes --

MELAS: Appreciate --

ROMANS: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right, this week, a pivotal week ahead for President Biden as he tries to fulfill the historic promises of his administration rebuilding the social safety net here at home and reclaiming America's leadership role abroad. After weeks of in- fighting among Democrats, the president's spending an infrastructure plans may be nearing the finish line at last. CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us live from Washington on all the details. Jasmine, good mornings. Could we actually see a vote at long last in the house this week on the bipartisan infrastructure deal at least?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Laura, that is the plan. The goal is for the house to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill on either Wednesday or Thursday, a source told our own CNN's Manu Raju yesterday because at this point, President Biden and Democrats appear to be the closest they have been for quite some time on approaching a framework on his expansion of the social safety net package set to be a historic investment in that social safety net, and the idea here, Laura, is that if they have a framework agreement on that reconciliation bill, that would really motivate progressive Democrats to then cast their vote for that bipartisan infrastructure bill, something that they have not been able to do, saying that they won't do because they want to pass both of those things at the same time.

Really, as President Biden has been pressing Democrats for the last week or so to come together on a deal on the social safety net expansion package, but which would include theoretically climate provisions trying to send him with a big win on his way when he heads to Europe at the head of the week for that climate forum in the U.K. So President Biden in a rare move invited Senator Joe Manchin who has been a key critical vote, swing vote in the Senate, in these negotiations over to his house near Wilmington, Delaware, yesterday, along with senator -- Senate leader Chuck Schumer really tried to iron out some of the final details that Manchin is holding out on including on the climate and paid leave and other issues, really trying to come to a deal before the end of this week, trying to get something on paper.

And yesterday, when talking to our own Jake Tapper, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she sounded really optimistic about the prospects of getting something down on paper so that they can cast a vote this week. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): That's the plan.

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, THE LEAD: That's the plan.


PELOSI: And right now, we are just, as you indicated, the two Senate -- leader Schumer, Mr. Manchin, Senator Manchin and the president are having the meeting on some of the particulars that need to be finalized. And I'm optimistic that we can do that because, again, when one basket was climate --

TAPPER: Right --

PELOSI: Which is the jobs bill, and a bill for the children for the future is the health care piece of it, strengthening Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and expanding Medicare.


WRIGHT: So all those things that Pelosi just mentioned are some of the final details. Now, it does not appear that a deal was reached. The White House in a read-out later called it productive. But there are still a few unknowns as we head into this really critical week for the president, including that overall price tag, yesterday Manu reported that sources said that Manchin had conveyed to Democrats that he would be OK with $1.75 trillion which would be, of course, as we know, a huge decrease from that initial $3.5 trillion proposal as well as exactly what is in this bill.

We know that for all intents and purposes, community college -- free community college is out as well as a corporate tax hike. So, we're still waiting to see some of these details in terms of what that framework agreement could potentially look like if it is reached this week, but still Democrats are optimistic ahead of this really critical week for Biden, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine Wright live in Washington, thank you Jasmine.

ROMANS: Meantime, inflation watch. Americans have been dealing with sticker shock at grocery stores and gas stations for months now with strong demand from consumers unable to keep up with supply. Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Jake Tapper, inflation should improve next year.


JANET YELLEN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: On a 12-month basis, the inflation rate will remain high into next year because of what's already happened. But I expect improvement by the end of -- by the middle to end of next year.


ROMANS: Middle to end of next year. Companies have been announcing price increases left and right. Last week, Unilever which makes Dove and Ben and Jerry's said it raised prices by 4 percent in the third quarter to offset its rising costs. Nestle said it hiked prices by 2 percent and would keep raising them as needed for the rest of the year and into 2022.

JARRETT: Still ahead for you, a flood of Facebook's internal documents set to be released this week. More on what's inside the Facebook papers next.




SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What we're hearing from Facebook is platitudes and bromides. When it says it wants regulation at the same time, it is fighting that regulation tooth and nail, day and night with armies of lawyers, millions of dollars in lobbying. And so, I must say -- Facebook saying it wants regulations is the height of disingenuousness.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Red flags ignored, misinformation running rampant and

algorithms pushing users to extremes. That and more all detailed already in the so-called Facebook Papers. This week, the social media giant will be forced to reckon with a mountain of even more internal documents that show what the company chooses to police and what it doesn't. Joining us now to discuss is CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. Brian, good morning. So much has come out already. What are you watching for the most this week?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right, these are documents coming from Frances Haugen, she shared them with the "Wall Street Journal", now they've been shared with a consortium of 17 news outlets including CNN. Some of them already coming out over the weekend. Stories about January 6th and staffers inside Facebook who were so disturbed by what was happening on the platform. They were trying to raise alarm bells, but in some cases they felt they were ignored. Really striking stories over the weekend also about how Facebook has stoked religious hatred in India. How so many staffers are aware of the dangers of this platform, and as you said, more coming out today and later this week.

This is significant because Frances Haugen left Facebook with thousands of documents, and now we are seeing more of them ourselves.

ROMANS: Yes, this, essentially the takeaway of putting profit ahead of public safety essentially, and knowing full well the damage its platform could do. In the context of what happened January 6th, it's striking how these internal chat boards among employees there seem to show politics driving decision-making. What info is allowed to remain on the site, what isn't and why? What do you make of all that?

STELTER: Well, you get the sense that they are making it up as they go along. And that there is an incredible amount of internal friction and tension associated with these decisions. Ultimately, it is Mark Zuckerberg's decision, and there are so many staffers underneath them who are disturbed by the decision-making process and by his choices. Even the Facebook oversight board is very concerned. They say the rules seem arbitrary, the rules are not clear, and when that happens in the context of a riot, you see real world consequences. Of course, Facebook says, you know, they don't think they have a lot to do with January 6th.

They think the media is beating up on them for competitive reasons. But that rings hallow frankly.

JARRETT: Brian, what's Facebook's strategy here? We know, they have this big event coming up on Thursday. We've heard about a name change floated out there.


JARRETT: You've talked to Nick Clegg a ton. You've had him on your show. What is the company's -- what is the company's response?

STELTER: I think it's partly to say, yes, we care about making profits, yes, we are a big business, but we care about our users, they say they are not trying to stoke religious hatred in India or cause more riots. Obviously, they say they are in -- acting in good faith, trying to do the right thing and making very complex decisions.


But this name changes are a part of what you can -- you know, you get a sense of what's really going on behind the scenes. Later today, Facebook announces quarterly earnings, they're going to show huge profits, they're going to show how strong business is. And then later this week, Mark Zuckerberg holding a conference, talking about the Metaverse. This melding of virtual world and real world, that's what he cares about. He's not looking backwards. He's looking forward, he wants to rebrand his company to make it all about the future. Whether he can do that though whiles there's so much focus on the past and the present, I think it's an open question.

ROMANS: Yes, I'd like to hear more from him and from Sheryl Sandberg frankly about all of this --

JARRETT: Really, have --

ROMANS: I mean, these are very high profile people --


ROMANS: Who have had a low pro -- I would say have had a low profile, right?


STELTER: Very --

JARRETT: Yes, we have heard very little --

ROMANS: Yes --

JARRETT: Of anything --


JARRETT: Brian, thank you so much for getting up with us, nice to see you, my friend.

STELTER: Thanks --

JARRETT: All right --

STELTER: You too, thanks.

JARRETT: The Prime Minister of Sudan under arrest. Military forces storming the state's broadcaster. We have the latest on this military takeover in Sudan. That's next.


[05:25:00] JARRETT: Breaking overnight. Sudan's prime minister under arrest. The

prime minister and his wife have both been taken to an undisclosed location according to a government official. Troops also storming Sudan's state's broadcaster building. CNN's Larry Madowo joins us live from Nairobi, Kenya, this morning. Larry, good morning. Bring our viewers up to speed. How did all this start?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sudan's Democratic tradition hanging in the balance today at crossroads really, after an apparent military coup in the country. The Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife, lots of other civilian members of the transitional government have been arrested by the military, and he has called on the Sudanese people to occupy the streets to defend the revolution. That's the same call that's been issued this morning by the Sudanese People's Association.

This is an umbrella body of lots of labor unions, of smaller organizations that were behind the ousting of Omar al-Bashir back in April of 2019. I spoke to the prime minister last month after a failed coup attempt. This is what he said.


ABDALLA HAMDOK, PRIME MINISTER, SUDAN: The more we are achieving some successes, the old forces will be extremely nervous. They're always having the dream of coming back.


MADOWO: Sudan has always been on -- in crisis, but especially after last month's failed coup attempt, and the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman has just been in Khartoum meeting with that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as well as other military leaders, and he has now put out a statement, saying he's deeply alarmed by these reports on military takeover. He's joining the U.N., other international bodies for condemning what has happened in Sudan. He says any attempt to derail that democratic transition by force, risks U.S. assistance.

But today, really disturbing developments out of Sudan. People on the streets, the U.S. and many other international agencies obviously, condemning that, but also expecting a statement from the military leadership any moment now.

JARRETT: All right, very alarming indeed. Larry, come back to us as soon as you get more information. Thank you for staying on top of this one, appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, in Brooklyn, anti-vaxxers out in force storming barricades in favor of an NBA player who won't get the shot to protect his team. We'll have the latest coming up.