Return to Transcripts main page
Details Emerging about Fatal Film Set Shooting; Manchin OK with $1.75T for Spending Bill; Anti-Vax Mob Swarms NBA Arena in Protest Over Kyrie Irving. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, October 25, and I am Brianna Keilar, with John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Alongside.
KEILAR: That's right, alongside.
And we do have some unfortunate and chilling new details this morning on the deadly shooting involving Alec Baldwin. This includes some of the victim's last words.
Director Joel Souza, who was also injured, tells investigators that Baldwin was rehearsing cross-drawing his gun and pointing into the camera lens when he fatally shot Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the movie set.
Cameraman Reid Russell told investigators that after the firearm was discharged, he remembered Joel having blood on his person and Halyna speaking and saying that she doesn't feel her legs.
We're told it happened during a rehearsal inside of a church. Baldwin was sitting on a pew, and the director says he was looking over Hutchins' shoulder when he heard a loud pop, and then Hutchins grabbed her stomach.
BERMAN: The affidavit states that assistant director David Halls yelled "cold gun" before handing the firearm to Baldwin for the scene. That means the gun should not have been loaded.
Two sources tell CNN that Halls, the assistant director on the film set of "Rust" had been the subject of complaints about safety and his behavior doing two productions -- during two productions in 2019, including a disregard for protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics.
Chloe Melas is here with all the latest details. And Chloe, a lot of new information coming out overnight in these affidavits.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
We are finally getting more information in those moments that took place right before Halyna was fatally shot. Still, many questions looming, but we have more answers.
MELAS (voice-over): Investigators are searching for how and why Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by a prop gun on a movie set.
The accidental shooting happened while Alec Baldwin practiced drawing the gun for a scene for the film "Rust." That's according to director Joel Souza, who was also injured in the tragedy.
According to a search warrant, Souza said, quote, "He was looking over the shoulder of Halyna when he heard what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop."
Investigators also writing Souza said he believed Baldwin was given a cold gun.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now, that would indicate that the gun was in a safe condition. Baldwin knowing that or thinking that that was true, then fired the gun in the rehearsal. And unfortunately, he fired a shot that ended up killing somebody else on the set.
MELAS: Baldwin tweeted that he is, quote, "fully cooperating" with the police investigation, and no charges have been filed against him or anyone else in the incident.
The search warrant affidavit says a cameraman told the detective the actor, quote, "had been very careful" while using the firearm filming previous scenes.
The fatal shooting happened after several camera crew members walked out of the film. Camera operator Reid Russell told detectives it was because "the camera crew was having issues with production involving payment and housing."
This comes after "The Los Angeles Times" reported crew members raised safety concerns before the accident. The paper also says there were two additional accidental prop gun discharges on set, despite being told the firearm was cold.
STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARMS SAFETY EXPERT, WOLF STUNTWORKS: There is no reason to have live ammo on a set.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bonanza Creek Ranch had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.
MELAS: Authorities responded to calls of the shooting on the set of "Rust" Thursday, which left Hutchins dead and Souza injured.
Baldwin, outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, distraught.
The actor tweeting about the incident Friday, writing, "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins."
These images show Baldwin with Hutchins's husband and their 9-year-old son the next day. Matthew Hutchins tweeting about his late wife, saying, quote, "Halyna inspired all of us with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words."
"Rust" cast member Jensen Ackles calling Hutchins, quote, "an inspiration. There just aren't enough words to express what an immense loss this is."
This message one of dozens of friends and colleagues, heartbroken over the cinematographer's death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feel a deep and tender wound, because someone precious to us is no longer a part of our life.
MELAS: In New Mexico and Los Angeles, hundreds gathered for memorial services and vigils over the weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Thursday morning, all of us got up and went to work like we always do. And one of us didn't come home. And that's not right.
MELAS: Honoring Hutchens's life and calling for change within the movie production industry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No scene, no project is worth someone's life. It's an absolute heartbreaker. And it's just -- it's an absolute heartbreaker.
MELAS: Two people who worked closely in 2019 with the assistant director who reportedly handed Baldwin the gun, complained that on previous sets, he disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics use.
He did not respond to CNN's request for comment on the allegations.
Now, "Russ" movie productions, in a statement to "Deadline," denied being aware of any complaints on the set concerning weapon or prop safety. Now, CNN has reached out to them for comment, as well.
BERMAN: All right. Chloe Melas, thank you so much. So many new details coming out day by day here. Appreciate it.
KEILAR: Joining us now to discuss the legal ramifications of this deadly shooting is Dave Aronberg. He is the state attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Dave, thanks for being with us. This is going to be, really, I think, one of the big next steps in this story. When it comes specifically to Alec Baldwin, does he have any liability as a producer here?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good morning, Brianna. Well, under New Mexico law, the criminal charge most likely to be
charged here, if there is a crime, would be involuntary manslaughter, which is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in state prison.
It's the unintentional killing resulting from a reckless disregard of others. It's like the amusement park operator who knows he has a dangerous ride and yet doesn't buckle up his passengers, and someone dies. That's involuntary manslaughter.
Now, as a prosecutor here, I would want to know the chain of custody of that prop gun. Who loaded it and who may have known that it contained some sort of live ammunition? I would want to know if the prop manager and the crew neglected industry safety standards.
And when it comes to Baldwin himself, as an actor, that necessarily wouldn't apply to him. But if he was reckless with the gun, if he was told in advance about the problems with that gun, that would be problematic for him.
But the reports are the opposite, by saying that he didn't know that the gun was live. He was told the opposite. By the new story that says that he was practicing his cross-draw instead of just horsing around. These are all favorable facts for him that will make it highly unlikely that he would be charged with a crime.
KEILAR: Reportedly, there were other safety issues with prop guns on the set preceding this fatal shooting. And I wonder if Baldwin's awareness, or lack thereof, response to the safety issues affect his liability.
ARONBERG: Well, it will all be considered by prosecutors about the past issues. But from a criminal standpoint, prosecutors can only charge when they have a reasonable belief that they can get a conviction beyond any reasonable doubt. It's a very high burden.
It's not enough that there were some general issues. It would have to be some specific issue to those guns, to those prop guns. And it's not enough that people walked out because of money issues or hotel issues. There needs to be a lot more that ties that gun to a report in the past or a specific misfire of that specific gun.
But, Brianna, when it comes to suing civilly, that's a much lower burden. And you can see that. I can see Baldwin and others being sued in civil court for negligence. All you have to prove is a violation of your duty of care. That's different than prosecutors would have to prove in criminal court, which is much higher: gross negligence or recklessness.
And in criminal court, you'd have to prove it beyond any reasonable doubt. In civil court, you just need to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. Is it more likely than not that there was negligence. It's a relatively easy burden.
KEILAR: The criminal or civil liability of, say, the armor. That's the person who is in charge of weapons, or that assistant director who handed Baldwin the gun, or even other crew members who may have handled the gun. What about those folks?
ARONBERG: Yes. I think it's more likely that they would be charged civilly. And also, by the way, Baldwin as a producer could be charged civilly, much more so than as an actor, because as a producer, he's part of management.
And so he could be liable for the acts of others. If he's just an actor, it's less likely that he would be responsible for the acts of others.
But ultimately, Brianna, it's a high burden for prosecutors to reach if they charge criminally. And that's why I think it will be in civil court.
Remember in 1983, Brandon Lee was killed on the set of the movie "The Crow." And after a five-month investigation, the district attorney there did not file criminal charges. Because you've got to prove beyond any reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury that it was more than an accident; it was gross negligence or recklessness.
So that's why I think, in the end, this will probably be settled somewhere in civil court. Although we still have to wait to see what the evidence shows us.
KEILAR: We're getting a lot of it. So many questions, though. Dave Aronberg, thank you.
ARONBERG: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: So after months of infighting, a potential big breakthrough this morning on President Biden's spending bill and one of the Democratic senators who had been holding out.
BERMAN: Plus, a new whistle-blower comes forward against Facebook, alleging that the company allows hate and illegal activity to go unchecked.
And chaos in Brooklyn as protestors demand the Nets let Kyrie Irving play, despite his refusal to get vaccinated.
BERMAN: Big developments this morning in the negotiations over President Biden's sweeper [SIC] -- sweeping social spending package. This package could lead to changes, major changes for seniors, new parents, kids, students.
A source tells CNN that Senator Joe Manchin has informed Democratic leaders that he will accept a spending bill of up to $1.75 trillion. And Democratic leaders want to get votes on this started by mid-week.
This news comes after Biden hosted Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at his home in Delaware yesterday. That's the first time he's done anything like that with members of Congress.
Joining us now, CNN political commentators Jess McIntosh and Errol Lewis.
Errol, I was just looking at Politico. They call this the nine biggest days of Biden's presidency at this point.
ERROL LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not an exaggeration in this case. This is the whole agenda. This is the whole ball of wax.
Among other things, it will enable him, perhaps, to go to the G-20 and to climate summit with -- with a win in hand. But the bigger picture is whether or not the Democrats have made good on their promises.
This is going to be the question in the midterm election. This is going to be the question in the re-elect for Joe Biden. This is the whole thing.
There are some legislators, John, who have spent their entire lives waiting for this moment. And to a certain extent, Joe Biden is one of those people.
They -- there's a lot resting on this. If they get this done, imagine dental and vision for seniors forever, or at least for a few years, and then it becomes forever. Imagine, you know, help for kids going to community college. Or at the other end of the scale, pre-kindergarten learning for people, the child tax credit.
This is big, big, big stuff. It's our own version of the New Deal. And so, yes. It will all -- we could know in nine days whether or not we get a new New Deal or more partisan fighting.
KEILAR: It is a huge social safety net. Right? Even -- initially, it was 6 trillion. Now it's less. But it's still gigantic. There are still pieces that need to be in place here, though, Jess. And I wonder, Joe Manchin is a key one. What about Kyrsten Sinema? What about progressives like AOC?
JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I think at this point, I want to see how much leverage does the Progressive Caucus still maintain. They were significantly stronger than we have ever seen them before in the negotiations that led us to this place.
I think we're looking at do we do -- do we address as many crises as we can for a shorter period of time or do we whole-cloth jettison jobs, or education, or childcare or care economy programs that we need?
I think this is a wildly popular agenda. The pieces that we are talking about are wildly popular, even in a bipartisan manner across the country. Nobody should be a afraid to run on this agenda. So I'm -- I'm hopeful. I will be looking for the attitude, that kind of attitude and hope that we do more in a moment when we need to be doing more.
BERMAN: How much of this is about the framing, though? It's interesting. You talk about what your worry will not be in it.
And Errol, I've been reading, quotes from members of Congress who say we've got to start talking about what people will be getting that they haven't been. Where there's zero now, there will be $1.7, you know, trillion worth.
ERROL LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. We've reported it for months now as $3.5 trillion. Will it get done? And to a certain extent, there are people are waking up this morning and will probably be disappointed to hear that it's only $1.7 trillion.
We've gotten, I think, a little spoiled in this pandemic era about a trillion here and a trillion there. You know, the -- the reality is that, if you're moving toward cutting child poverty in half, that is a monumental achievement that people have dreamt of for generations.
And to go further down that road, whether it's child care or other kind of enhancements, that's a big, big deal. You know, even if it's means testing. OK, fine. Let's keep moving forward. Big things can happen. And that underlying proposition, if it's not framed properly, could turn a victory into a defeat in the eyes of voters. And that itself would be tragic.
MCINTOSH: I will agree really strongly with everything that you just said and put into perspective, that this is ultimately going to be an outcome story not a process story. So these days are literally the worst days of having to pass historic legislation.
Five, ten years from now, we're talking about future generations of families that have been helped. We are not talking about Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
KEILAR: Well, let's talk about the coming weeks, because there are a couple of key races, including Virginia, where Terry McAuliffe has basically said, Guys, pass this. Throw me a line.
Is it going to be enough?
MCINTOSH: I mean, I think that the Virginia's governor's race is playing out along a lot of very strange -- Obama called it a phony culture war with Youngkin is -- is running.
It's playing out where Glenn Youngkin seems to think that this school board rage that's happening is the biggest issue for Virginia voters. And he's forgetting how much of that is just manufactured by his own party.
Terry McAuliffe is trying really hard to keep it on bread-and-butter issues. Most parents are worried about school safety when it comes to guns and COVID, not so much about critical race theory.
I believe that, if we get something done in the next nine days, that's just going to put a lot more energy into the kind of message that Terry McAuliffe is trying to bring to voters now. That's what they care about. It's not Dr. Seuss or Superman or whatever cartoon is frightening Republicans this week. BERMAN: We will find out, won't we? We will find out in Virginia. It's
a very close race.
But I don't think I've seen something quite like this, Errol, where both sides are trying to nationalize it. You know, Glenn Youngkin, who's the Republican, is trying to nationalize it around these issues that Jess was talking about, school boards and whatnot.
Terry McAuliffe is trying to nationalize it around vaccines, and frankly, Donald Trump.
LEWIS: Well, that's right. Terry McAuliffe, you know, was not some legislator in Virginia who rose to national prominence. Just the opposite, in fact. He started out as a member of the Clinton team, who then became a local official.
This is somebody who has to nationalize it. He's calling in every favor that he can. The polls are going in the wrong direction. He's having a very tough time.
And if he's going to nationalize it, he going to need some national help. And he is begging to Congress. I don't know which national officials haven't been through there. Right? But we've got Obama and Kamala Harris and Biden himself is going to try and wrap it up for him, even as the polls are going in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately for him, one thing that Republicans do really, really well is taking cultural-fueled rage and turning it into a turnout strategy. And that seems to be working right now, at least if the polls can be believed in Virginia. That's what the -- that's what McAuliffe is fighting against.
KEILAR: And does this come in time, the passage of this bill, assuming it happens, to counteract that? And are these forces strong enough? Because I wonder, Errol, you look at, for instance, Obamacare passed initially, unpopular. And then over time, very popular. Very hard for Republicans to weaponize.
KEILAR: Do you see any similarities between that and this?
LEWIS: Well, you know, it's not going to do Terry McAuliffe any good. I'll tell you that. Because just as you say, the bill itself will be somewhat popular. And then it becomes really popular after those checks start to flow, after people see the relief, after people understand what it means for their lives.
But we've got -- you know, we've got Americans who are in a very rambunctious mode right now. You know, we've got millions of people walking off the job with nothing on the other side of it. People are really, really fed up.
And I think, you know, a headline in the news isn't necessarily going to turn that around in the short-term.
KEILAR: Rambunctious move.
BERMAN: I know. Rambunctious move. It's Monday.
Errol, Jess, thank you both very much.
So chaos outside the Barclay Center. They were in a rambunctious mood. This is ahead of the Brooklyn Nets home opener. A mob of anti-vaccine protesters try to storm the arena, because Kyrie Irving won't get vaccinated and, thus, can't play.
KEILAR: Plus, a new CNN investigation reveals a critical early treatment for COVID that doctors are largely unaware of.
BERMAN: The Brooklyn Nets played their home opener on Sunday, losing to the Charlotte Hornets. But there was a big story outside the game: an anti-vaccine protest outside the Barclay Center backing star Kyrie Irving's refusal to get vaccinated.
Joining me now is Brooklyn Nets beat writer for "The Athletic," Alex Schiffer. He was at the arena on Sunday. Alex, thanks so much for being with us. Give me your perspective on this. Where were you? What did you see?
ALEX SCHIFFER, BROOKLYN NETS BEAT WRITER, "THE ATHLETIC": Yes. Good morning, John. Thanks for having me.
I was walking the main concourse pregame. And as I was kind of approaching the front entrance, you could see the protesters' flags. I mean, there was, you know, 30 yards between me and the protests, between the metal detectors and security and people coming in.
But you could see through the windows, the protestors' flags were close to the arena than I would have thought. And you couldn't really tell what was going around until maybe four or five security members, you know, raced past me for backup. And that's when I kind of started to realize just how serious the situation had gotten.
BERMAN: We're looking at the pictures right now. It was a mess. I mean, it was a mess. Do you get the sense that the Nets and the Barclay Center were prepared or are prepared for this being a thing going forward?
SCHIFFER: It's going to be interesting. I thought walking in around 1:45 p.m. yesterday that there was already more security guards in the front of the arena than there usually are. So I thought just from the onset that they were pretty well-prepared.
And, you know, we're going to find out really quickly. I mean, the Nets are playing back to back tonight against the Washington Wizards at 7:30. Looking around the Internet, I haven't seen anything to indicate there's going to be another one of these tonight, but I think we're going to kind of learn real quickly just how -- how many adjustments they made to be better prepared for this.
BERMAN: You know, it's interesting. Oftentimes, what we have seen with the vaccine issue from the very beginning is a vocal minority making a scene. A vocal minority being in the pictures here.
And I do wonder, again, if you're the Brooklyn Nets, not that they have a choice in this matter. It's a New York City decision to -- to not let Kyrie Irving play. It's a New York City decision to ban people who aren't vaccinated from indoor arenas like this.
But the Nets going forward, if they -- you know, if they see this coming, if they see this as a P.R. problem.
SCHIFFER: I don't see them changing their stance. You know, their owner, Joe Tsai of Alibaba, is very, very pro-vaccine. He's got two doses in his, actually. He got a shot -- or two shots in China before coming over to the states this summer.
And the vaccine he got in China wasn't recognized by the FDA, which is why he got the Pfizer vaccine when he got here.
So you know, as an organization, they're very pro-vaccine. And then he's been very adamant about it. I -- I think that they're going to try and keep their stance on this despite, you know, the distraction this could become.
BERMAN: And just in pure basketball terms, Alex, you know, if you had said to me over the summer that the Nets were going to lose their home opener to the Charlotte Hornets -- again, the Nets, with all the stars they have, this championship team. Do you believe what's happening with Kyrie Irving is affecting them on the court?
SCHIFFER: I wouldn't go that far yet. You know, they're one and two, obviously. They opened up against Milwaukee, the defending champions. They beat the Sixers, who are still a pretty good team, without Ben Simmons, which is their own mess, of course.
And I mean, Charlotte is still a pretty good team here. They have LaMelo Ball. They have some veterans. They enhanced their roster off- season.