Return to Transcripts main page
Reports Indicate Actor Alec Baldwin Accidentally Shot Two People, Killing One, With Prop Gun on Filming Set; President Biden Reveals Positions of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on Senate Reconciliation Bill During Town Hall; President Biden Indicates Supporting Reforming Senate Filibuster in Order to Pass Voter Protection Legislation; 5 Military Veterans Advising Sinema Resign Over Her Behavior. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired October 22, 2021 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Say a prop gun fired by Baldwin killed the film's cinematographer and wounded the director. A spokesperson for the production called it a tragic and devastating accident.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Filming has been shut down for the time being. Photos have appeared, appearing to show Baldwin distraught after he was questioned by the Santa Fe County sheriff's department. No charges have been filed, and officials say the investigation remains open and active.
Joining us now is Tessa Mentus, anchor and managing editor at KOB TV in New Mexico who has been covering this story. There are so many questions here, Tessa, about what happened. What can you tell us about maybe the weapon, what this was? Do we know anything?
TESSA MENTUS, KOB 4 EVENING ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR: So at this point, Brianna, and thank you both for having me this morning, all we know is that it is a prop gun. The questions remain as to what the projectile was that was discharged from the gun. There has been comments, unconfirmed reports, that we received into our newsroom very early in all of this that a potential live round of ammunition was in a gun.
I want to make it very clear, though, I know for me and for a lot of people in our newsroom who aren't so familiar with prop guns on movie sets that are supposed to have blanks, especially in these western movies, blanks are still very dangerous in certain situations. So that continues to be the main focus of the investigation as far as we know with Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies is what kind of projectile was actually discharged from that prop weapon. Was it a blank that just malfunctioned of some sort? Or was there something else inside that prop gun?
There are very meticulous and intricate procedures that go into these prop guns. We have spoken to many local movie crew members here in New Mexico who have worked on multiple sets, who are actually prior law enforcement, they're hired to handle these prop weapons and give them to the actors in a scene. And they're very careful, and as I said, very intricate and detailed to make sure something like this doesn't happen. So that's what we're hoping to find out today from deputies is what in the world actually happened with this prop gun.
KEILAR: Well, Tessa, we know you've been covering this more closely than anyone, and we appreciate you joining us from New Mexico. Tessa Mentus, thank you. We'll have more on this ahead.
MENTUS: Thank you.
KEILAR: President Biden made big news on several fronts at last night's CNN town hall in Baltimore, and he gave the American people an inside look at the struggle between the White House and Democrats to strike a deal on his social spending plan, a struggle the president seems confident that he can overcome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you close to a deal?
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think so. Look, I've been -- I was a senator for 370 years.
BIDEN: And I was never -- I was relatively good at putting together deals.
Look, it is all about compromise. "Compromise" has become a dirty word, but bipartisanship and compromise still has to be possible.
COOPER: You're also proposing for the first time ever federal paid parental leave. At one point you talked about 12 weeks. Now there is reports it is down to maybe four weeks.
BIDEN: It is down to four weeks. The reason it is down to four weeks, I can't get 12 weeks.
COOPER: One of the other things that Democrats are looking to do is expand Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing. Will all three of those still be covered?
BIDEN: That's a reach. And the reason why it is a reach -- I think it is a good idea. It is not that costly in relative terms. But here's the thing. Mr. Manchin is opposed to that.
So far, Mr. Manchin and one other person has indicated they will not support free community college.
COOPER: There's a lot of Democrats in the House and Senate who are confused about where Senator Sinema actually stands on things. Do you know where she stands?
BIDEN: First of all, she's smart as the devil, number one. Number two, she is very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period.
COOPER: Should police officers, emergency responders be mandated to get vaccines? And if not should they be -- stay at home or let go?
BIDEN: Yes and yes.
BIDEN: By the way -- by the way, I waited until July to talk about mandating because I tried everything else possible. The mandates are working.
COOPER: Are you saying once you get this current agenda passed on spending and social programs, that you would be open to fundamentally altering the filibuster, or doing away with it?
BIDEN: Well, that remains to be seen, exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we end the filibuster straight up.
COOPER: When it comes to voting rights, just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue. Is that correct?
BIDEN: And maybe more.
COOPER: A week ago you said the Department of Justice should prosecute those who defied subpoenas from the January 6th committee. Was that appropriate for you to weigh in on?
BIDEN: No, the way I said it was not appropriate. I did not, have not, and will not pick up the phone and call the attorney general and tell him what he should or should not do in terms of who he should prosecute.
BIDEN: But I answered the question honestly.
COOPER: Would you consider the National Guard to help with the supply chain issue?
BIDEN: Yes, absolutely, positively I will do that. But in addition to that, what you've got to do is you've got to get these ships in and unloaded. And one of the things in my infrastructure plan, there's $16 billion for port expansion. We have to be able to move things along.
I don't want a cold war with China. I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views.
COOPER: So are you saying that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacked?
BIDEN: Yes, we have a commitment to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Want to bring in CNN's chief Washington correspondent and anchor of THE LEAD and STATE OF THE UNION Jake Tapper. Mr. Tapper, thank you for waking up and speaking to us this morning. Look, President Biden, we now know where Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are because President Biden laid out exactly where they are behind closed doors in the negotiations. I guess my question is, what's next, who do we need to hear from now? The progressives?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: No, I think we need to hear, in order to figure out whether or not this big economic package and then the infrastructure bill have a future, we need to know if there is any way to pay for the bill in any way that Senators Manchin, and especially Senator Sinema would support, because it's pretty clear from Biden's -- President Biden's statements and also from reporting, we know that Senator Sinema opposes increasing the corporate tax rate and raising tax brackets.
So if that is her position, and she will not move, even though 49 other senators, including Manchin, seem to be open to that idea, as well as majority of House Democrats, then what is she willing to support? And I have heard on my show, and I'm sure you heard on your show too, talking to other Democratic members of Congress, ideas for maybe measures that she would support. Senator Warren has legislation, for example, that would make sure that corporations don't pay zero in taxes if they've made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that year. It's a corporate minimum tax.
So would she support something like that? I don't know. That is a way to pay for some legislation. I don't know how much it would ultimately net. But I think that's where we as people covering this bill and the people who are negotiating it, that's the next step. What is she willing to support? And as senator -- I'm sorry, President Biden. I'm old. I used to cover him as a Senator.
BERMAN: It's 370 years.
TAPPER: As President Biden said -- I've been doing it for 300. When you are dealing with 50 senators, it's as if every senator is a president. Every single one of them is very powerful.
KEILAR: There's the logistics of paying for it, Jake, but there's also the politics and the promises that President Biden made on the campaign trail about corporations and the wealthy paying their fair share. So politically can he get away with dropping something like this?
TAPPER: I think that, first of all, if there were a move to make sure that corporations that make hundreds of millions of dollars in profits don't use the tax loopholes to pay zero in taxes -- this has been a problem going -- I remember when I was a White House correspondent for ABC News and I used to cover how Jeff Immelt, the head of General Electric at the time, how GE would pay zero in taxes. I used to cover that all the time on what was President Obama's, some economic task force there. This has been a problem for a long, long time, corporations using the tax code, using it legally to get out of paying any money. Amazon is the most notorious example. I think that there is a pitch to make to the American people there, like, look, we couldn't get these tax increases through, but we're doing this.
I don't think that that would cause a backlash in the polls necessarily. I'm sure some progressives and others would be disappointed, but it's not nothing in terms of ways to pay for the bill.
BERMAN: Other outlets, "Bloomberg" and others, are reporting that people close to Sinema are leaking she's come up with $2 trillion worth of revenue somehow to cover this. We just need the details of what that's going to be. And I think, Jake, you're right, over the next 12 hours I imagine, by the time you come on the air at 4:00, I bet you we know more about that. And it will be interesting to see how progressives react.
A little bit of other news last night. The president did seem to move substantially on the issue of the filibuster, what he would support. He can't change it himself. I think that needs to be clear to everybody. He can't change the filibuster rules because he's not in the Senate anymore. But saying he would support changing the filibuster rules in order for votes on voting rights and maybe much more than that, what is the significance of that, Jake?
TAPPER: It is significant. And I think for those people in the Senate -- and look, it's not just Manchin and Sinema. They're the ones taking the heat for it. But there are probably at least 10 Democratic senators who have real misgivings of getting rid of the filibuster. Now, would they be willing to get rid of the filibuster just to preserve voting rights? That's a different subject, that's a different matter. Perhaps they would be willing to support some sort of carveout.
I think for those institutionalists in the Senate, whether we're talking about Republicans or Democrats, if they are concerned about this, this would be a time for them to get together and try to craft some form of legislation that would protect voting rights in this country as they come under assault, specifically from people who are preparing to, if they need to, undo democracy in 2024, and also those who are passing legislation based on the lie of widespread voter fraud, which we know did not occur, widespread voter fraud.
If there are people who are worried about the filibuster going, now is the time for them to work in a bipartisan way on legislation that can get 60 votes in the Senate and pass the House that will preserve at least -- provide some sort of basic modicum of protection for American voting. Now is the time to do that. Once this legislation, the economic legislation, the infrastructure legislation has gone, and President Biden starts more publicly talking about the need to pass a voting rights bill, including if that means carving out, getting rid of the filibuster just for this or for other items, it will be too late. If you're worried about it, now is the time for action.
I'm not convinced, by the way, that there are enough Republicans in the Senate who are worried about it because we haven't seen any effort, Democrats or Republicans, that I'm aware of, to come together to find some sort of bipartisan basic protection.
KEILAR: Let's talk about this weird thing that has happened here in Washington, I think weird even by current day standards. You have Jim Banks, who is a Republican in the House, who was struck from the possibilities of being on the January 6th committee by Nancy Pelosi because he is a coup enabler, and he has been sending out letters to government agencies, for instance, the Department of the Interior, saying, send me the documents that you are giving to the January 6th committee because I was essentially supposed to be on it, and he's signing it as the ranking member of the committee, which he is not. What do you make of this, Jake?
TAPPER: It's once again, one of the things that you learn when you cover Washington is that when standards and norms are destroyed, it's very difficult to return to the time you were in before those standards and norms were destroyed. They tend to just disappear forever.
And what -- we learned this, by the way, from Liz Cheney, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who introduced these letters into the record yesterday during the debate. If, in fact, Congressman Banks is doing that, and the statements that his office have given to the press haven't denied that he's doing it, they've just attacked Liz Cheney, that's just a complete violation of basic protocols. It's a lie. He's not on the committee. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his name and the names of all the other Republicans that he had put up to be on the committee because Nancy Pelosi wouldn't seat a couple of these, as you call them, coup enablers, these people who have engaged in the big lie about the election. Banks, of course, is prominent among them.
I don't think that there will be any punishment for him because Kevin McCarthy does not run that kind of Republican Caucus. But it is -- he's lying to the government. If you or I did such a thing, there might be a prosecution for it.
BERMAN: I sign all of my documents John Berman, anchor of "THE LEAD", by the way.
KEILAR: I'm the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper when I sign my documents.
BERMAN: Jake, you talk about this, you talk about the disappearance of shame. In Washington, I happen to think you're right.
TAPPER: It is crazy.
BERMAN: Jon Stewart he called you naive for it. I think he was being naive for not buying into it. But it disappeared there. You have Jim Banks willing to sign documents, ranking member of the January 6th committee, you have Marjorie Taylor Greene who I know in some cases is an outlier, but in other cases not so much. A screaming match --
TAPPER: She's not on outlier anymore.
BERMAN: That's the point. Talk about that. In a screaming match with Liz Cheney and Jamie Raskin that we talked about last hour on the floor of the House. The kind of thing I can't imagine seeing decades ago.
TAPPER: It's not really a screaming match, right? Congressman Raskin and Congresswoman Cheney are talking on the floor and according to my sources, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congresswoman Greene goes over to them and she starts screaming at them.
And, look, I'm not a licensed psychologist. I don't know her. But her behavior suggests somebody that has real issues. That is not tethered to reality or basic standards of decent behavior. We have seen video of her screaming at David Hogg from the parkland high school after the shooting. This is before she was a congresswoman.
And I think what is most notable here is not so much what happened on the floor of the house, but that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Liz Cheney really represent the two doors for the Republican Party right now. Which one does the Republican Party want to emulate? On one hand you have Liz Cheney, a life-long bedrock conservative, one of the most conservative members of the House, supported Trump policies. Policies, not personal behavior, but policies very strongly.
But at the end of the day, would not and will not traffic in the big election lie and has been punished for it. She's trying to preserve democracy. She's trying to preserve the idea that individual votes should matter more than one politician's fragile ego. That's Liz Cheney. All right?
On the other hand, you have Marjorie Taylor Greene who is somebody who engages in all sorts of dog whistle politics, conspiracy theories and I think Cheney mentioned the Jewish space lasers thing and their back and forth, but in all honesty, Marjorie Taylor Greene on Facebook was suggesting that wealthy Jewish Americans were using laser technology to cause fires in California for some financial incentive.
I mean, it is a deranged anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. And yet that is somebody with whom many Republicans are siding. And there is a story in "the New York Times" today, John martin reporting that one of McCarthy's acolytes, guy named Jeff Miller, very powerful and swampy lobbyist in Washington, Jeff Miller is out there telling political groups, consulting firms, that they have to side with either Cheney or McCarthy. You can't do both. You have to pick.
Kevin McCarthy has chosen the Marjorie Taylor Greene direction, that is the MAGA direction, the Donald Trump direction, the election lie direction, that is the we are not going to care if people are engaged in racist anti-Semitic conspiracy theory politics. That's fine. And Liz Cheney provides the alternative view. I look at what happened on the floor of the House as much more
significant than just a squabble or just one congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, yelling at two people who are just having a conversation. This is the choice for the Republican Party. I don't know that they realize that. I think a lot of them think there is some sort of third option. There isn't.
It is Cheney or Marjorie Taylor Greene and I guess the question for all the members out there, which one are you going to follow?
KEILAR: Yeah. It reminds me of the scene from Jerry Maguire where he is leaving and he says he's like who's coming with me? And it is one other person and the goldfish. And that's it, even though you know what the right choice is.
Jake Tapper, thank you so much. We'll see you, not John Berman, to be very clear, in case there is any confusion, on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m.
BERMAN: You had me at hello.
TAPPER: I love your Jerry Maguire references, so relevant, so hip.
TAPPER: When did that movie come out 1980?
KEILAR: The '90s.
BERMAN: You're talking about covering the Grover Cleveland administration. So, you know, so lay off there, grandpa.
KEILAR: He has been covering Washington for 300 years.
All right, Jake, have a great day. We'll see you later. Thank you.
TAPPER: Good to see you.
KEILAR: Senator Kyrsten Sinema still fighting fellow Democrats over the Biden agenda. Now five of her advisers just quit. We're going to talk to one of them ahead.
BERMAN: Plus, we have new reporting on the breaking news overnight. Alec Baldwin involved in a deadly shooting on a movie set. We're going to speak with an expert on what could have gone wrong with a prop gun.
BERMAN: President Biden and the CNN town hall last night speaking out about one of the key holdouts in talks over his agenda, Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, she's smart as the devil, number one. Number two, she's very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation. Very supportive. She is supportive of almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from a family care to all those issues.
Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people. Period. And so that's where it sort of breaks down. A few other issues it breaks down on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Biden's comments come as five military veterans have stepped down from their roles on Senator Sinema's veterans advisory council.
The veterans are criticizing the Arizona Democrat for not backing key parts of President Biden's agenda, among other things in a letter to Sinema, they wrote, you have become one of the principle obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people. We shouldn't have to buy representation from you and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming. We do not know who has your ear, but it clearly isn't us or your constituents.
Joining me now is one of the five veterans who resigned, Sylvia Andersh.
Thank you so much for being with us.
As to have Senator Sinema's ear, it sounds like it is president Biden. She's talking to president Biden, right, who called her smart, said she supports most of the agenda, there is a disagreement on taxes. If it is enough for him right now to be in the negotiations, why not you?
SYLVIA ANDERSH, RESIGNED FROM SEN. SINEMAN'S VETERANS ADVISORY COUNCIL: We did this a few weeks ago. We came together and we decided that we were not pleased with the way this -- she was behaving and carrying on. So we wanted to give her this message and tell her how we felt about it. And I'm glad that there is some changes that seem to be happening. Hopefully this has had some impact.
BERMAN: You feel she might be coming around?
ANDERSH: I would love to hope so. I know that there was some changes yesterday in some of the things that she was saying or some leaks or whatever it was that they were talking about. I'm sorry I didn't see the whole episode. But I know that I have deep and sincere wishes that she will come to the table and really negotiate and I know she's a strong woman, and I'm hoping for the best.
BERMAN: Do you feel somehow that she changed or when you signed up to be on veterans council, do you think she was one thing and now you don't?
ANDERSH: Well, definitely we worked very hard to get her elected. And she -- she ran on prescription drug prices, and, you know, helping veterans. We have a lot of concerns right now about voting rights and that really came to us as a very, very significant problem.
Without voting rights we can't have a strong democracy and right now the Republicans are really making an effort, especially in Arizona, to limit our rights. And there are half a million veterans in the state of Arizona and many of those have PTSD and, you know, physical disabilities that make it difficult if not impossible for them to -- to participate in our democracy.
BERMAN: Sylvia Andersh, I appreciate you sharing your views with us. Thank you so much.
ANDERSH: Thank you.
BERMAN: We have new information on the breaking news overnight, Alec Baldwin involved in a deadly shooting on a movie set. We're going to speak with a prop gun expert about what we know.
KEILAR: Plus, new details about the last time Brian Laundrie's parents saw him alive.