Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Actor Alec Baldwin Accidentally Shoots and Kills Cinematographer on Movie Set with Prop Gun; Friend of Cinematographer Killed on Movie Set Interviewed about Her Film Work; Manchin Okay with $1.75 Trillion for Spending Bill after Biden Meeting; Texas Man Arrested for Murder in Killing of Moroccan Immigrant. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 08:00   ET



DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is pretty run of the mill, which is partly their way of saying this is the kind of thing we do to the Russians as well and to many others.

So they are not as exercised about this one as President Biden was when he was in Geneva talking about ransomware and more sophisticated attacks. I think what it shows you is that the Russian campaigns just keep rolling on no matter what sanctions the president imposes, no matter what words he utters here. And that's been true for the last four presidents.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: David Sanger, important perspective. Thank you so much for sharing your reporting with us.

SANGER: Thank you.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, October 25th. And I am Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman this morning.

Some riveting new eyewitness accounts of the tragic movie set shooting involving Alec Baldwin. Director Joel Souza, who was also show, tells investigators that Baldwin was rehearsing cross-drawing his gun and pointed it at the camera lens when he fatally shot Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the film 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. Baldwin was sitting on a pew in a church when the gun fired, and the director says he was looking over Hutchins' shoulder when he heard a loud pop just before Hutchins' grabbed her midsection.

BERMAN: So an affidavit reveals 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. Earlier on NEW DAY I spoke to Steve Wolf, who is a theatrical firearms safety expert. He said this was an accident that never should have happened.


STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARMS SAFETY EXPERT: There's no reason to have a gun that can accept live ammo and introduce that possibility of error, when you could and should be using a firearm that can only accept blanks. So if you have a gun this can take ammo, and then you have live ammo on the set, and then point the gun at somebody, if you end up with a hole in someone, well, that's exactly what the equipment that they used was designed to do. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that they had an accident when they put all the ingredients together that would be necessary to make one.


BERMAN: Our Stephanie Elam is in Santa Fe with the very latest now. And Stephanie, we are seeing from the affidavits more and more information surrounding the event itself.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of information that we're getting out behind this tragedy, John. And what we can tell you is that according to Director Joel Souza in this affidavit, there were three people who were responsible for touching the weapons, and that would be the armorer, that would be the assistant director, and then also the talent who was going to be handling that weapon. We know that the weapons had been checked before lunch, and investigators were looking to see what could have happened here that something like this could have transpired.

But we also know that in this situation, you mentioned Reid Russell, the other cameraman that was on set when this tragedy happened, he also said that Alec Baldwin had been very careful throughout all the scenes that they had been shooting in using weapons, making sure that children were not around when anything happened here.

And we also know a little bit more about the assistant director David Halls. We have learned that there were two different productions that happened in 2019 that he was the focus of complaints. There had been complaints about how he had handled safety when it came to weaponry and pyrotechnics. CNN has reached out to Halls, and he has not responded to our request for comment on that. But we also know that according to a report from "Deadline," that Rust Movie Productions, that is behind the movie, that is the company making this film "Rust" here, that they were not aware of any complaints.

One other thing worth noting, too, John, is that they had some people walk out from the camera department that very morning. There were concerns about housing, concerns about pay, and so they only had one camera that was available at the time. According to the director, it was not rolling when they had this tragic incident happen. But he was standing there behind Halyna Hutchins, and he was there looking at the shot, how they were going to shoot this particular vantage point for this shot when the bullet fired, or I should the firearm fired, and that is when this tragically took place.

But obviously learning a little bit more about what they were dealing with that day and more questions around the armorer and also the assistant director and the roles they could have played about potentially stopping this from ever have happening. John?

BERMAN: Stephanie Elam for us in Santa Fe. Stephanie, keep us posted.

KEILAR: Joining us now is one of Hutchins' closest friends who also worked with her on many projects.


Rachel Mason is with us. She is an artist and a filmmaker herself. Rachel, I am so glad you could join us this morning. I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss and that of your community and your family and your friends. Can you tell us a little bit how you found out that she had passed?

RACHEL MASON, BEST FRIEND OF SHOOTING VICTIM HALYNA HUTCHINS: Thank you. A friend of mine who we had worked together on a set here in L.A., a producer friend, Jeff Vespa, called me, and I honestly thought first he was giving me some sort of weird, sick joke, as I guess we do sometimes, but not on that level. So I didn't understand how he could possibly be coming up with something so bizarre. And I just, it didn't seem in the realm of real, honestly. It just didn't. But when he said no, Halyna's actually dead, the first thing I did was I checked in with her husband, who is also my dear friend, to see if he's OK. And he said yes, we're on a plane to Santa Fe. And so I thought, oh, my God, it's actually real.

KEILAR: How are they doing? I know that your families are very close. I know that you just, you get together. You're good family friends. How are her husband and her son doing?

MASON: I really have -- I don't really know because we haven't actually been communicating that much in the last couple days, obviously. But I just think Matt is, he's a really strong guy and I know he has his head screwed on, but I think he's probably on autopilot. All I have to say is my heart just breaks for her kid, who he's almost like my own kid. We hung out and have been together for years. And I guess on some level, I wish I had told Halyna that I would step in if she needed anything, be his godmother or something. But I didn't even think of something like this. It wouldn't have even been something I could ever have imagined, honestly, happening.

KEILAR: I'm sure she would be comforted to know that. You two are very good friends, and obviously she valued very much your contributions to her family. And Rachel, one of the things we've heard so much about Halyna, is I think we all recognize the tragedy to her family, but also we've heard so much about her being someone on the cusp of really making huge contributions in this field that you two work in. And can you just tell us a little bit about this? Because this was someone who was making big waves.

MASON: Just to hear you say that is so devastating, because I guess her and I were both on this career path where we both switched into filmmaking maybe a little later in our lives. I'm the exact same age as her, 42. And we were both working so hard to just dive into the film world. And I came out of the arts, and so I would always still continue to do art project type work. and I worked with Halyna because she would jump in on almost anything I came up with in a creative way while I was working on my film projects, and vice versa. I would say, hey, if you're available, come shoot something.

And she just -- what I saw her do in my own work, which is avant-garde and experimental, I think was her just testing out all these ideas that she was going to carry forth in these huge productions. And the projects she was working on right now was like her humongous leap. And for me, I had just had a big career leap with a documentary called "Circus of Books" on Netflix, and we just had leaps in the last year. And literally I have projects and I have storyboards for things I want her to look at right now. And she was that director who you could show your drawings to. She was a cinematographer you could show your drawings to, and she could come up with ideas. She could read my mind and then present it. Just that synergy is so rare.

And yes, what we've lost on the level of a great creative and female talent in the field where there's so still few females, and just balancing it all is such a loss for me, not just a friend, a collaborator who I loved working with, but just a role model. She was truly being a mom and a filmmaker at a time when it's still really hard to actually gain that level of respect.


And most females in this industry are still really cautious about saying they're a parent because it's hard to get jobs. And if that's just one more strike, even though we have women's liberation, it's not that easy to say that. And you can be easily discriminated against.

KEILAR: So clear that she's been a role model for so many. I know that you know Alec Baldwin and you spoke to him. What was that like?

MASON: He was a huge supporter of "Circus of Books," my film, and that's how I met him. And as soon as it happened, I wanted to reach out because I wanted him to know that even though I am so devastated about what happened and I'm so deeply saddened, I just don't think any person who was in that position as an actor, no matter where the responsibility ends up lying when people pull it apart, he is so not responsible for this tragic, horrific nightmare of taking the life of my friend. And I wanted him to know that I felt that really strongly, because I know that he's a decent human being, and he feels terrible obviously. And so I just wanted him to hear that. We just had a call about that, and I just am so grateful that I was able to tell him that because I don't want him burdened with that for the rest of his life.

KEILAR: How is he doing? What did he say to you?

MASON: I think he's kind of in a similar state of everyone else, just in deep shock and sadness and feels terrible for the family. That's really to me a testament to him being a really good person, and I have to say I am really, just I hate the way people communicate on the Internet sometimes and that the things they're immediately jumping to the conclusion he's a psycho murderer or things like that. Alec Baldwin is not a murderer. He's an actor, and he was literally at the center of something horrible that should have never happened ever to anyone. And film sets are going to learn from this. Film production companies are going to learn from this. And I think he wants to figure out as much as anyone else does what happened.

KEILAR: I know we are talking about some of the unfulfilled potential of your friend, but she'd also done a lot already, and I wonder what you want people to know about her.

MASON: I would really love for everyone just to go to Halyna's IMDB and look up her small but powerful mountain of work. She worked with every kind of director. I as this artist, experimental filmmaker, who is a documentary filmmaker, I shouldn't have such, I shouldn't be one of 20 IMDB credits of hers. I should be -- she should have hundreds of credits, blockbuster films. And that was what was in store for her.

But because she doesn't -- I think it's a testament to her work to look through the work that's she done right now and find it and just watch it, see what she was doing. It's so beautiful. I would say she had a knack for finding the most beautiful moments. And I always was thinking when I was going to edit anything she shot, I hope she likes what I did with the edit, because her eye was so right on. If I didn't get the right shot, she would even tell me, you know what Rachel, I think you missed the best shot. And I would go back in and adjust. And there's usually not that level of dialogue with the cinematographer. The roles get handed off as soon as the production is shot. And I just wanted to know everything about what she thought.

And her record is in her work, and it's so poignant, and it devastates me that it's over. It should not be over. I have so many things I wish I could be working on with her. But I really believe if you could try to find also in her work her incredible joy for life. She just loved the actual process of filmmaking. She loved everything about it.

KEILAR: Rachel, it's so clear talking to you to know that the world has lost a beautiful soul and a beautiful artist, and we're so sorry that you have lost your friend and your collaborator, and we thank you for talking with us about her.

MASON: Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: Rachel Mason, thank you.

And so now that we are getting a clearer picture of what happened on that movie set, what are the legal implications for the assistant director of the film, for Alec Baldwin, maybe for others as well?


And Texas's Lieutenant Governor, a Trump ally offered a massive payout for anybody who could identify voter fraud. It turns out the single case of fraud was committed by a Republican.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a potential breakthrough this morning on President Biden's spending bill. Will it be enough to win over voters? A Democratic pollster has a dire warning for the midterms.


BERMAN: So big developments this morning in negotiations over President Biden sweeping social spending package. 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 all of this moving forward by midweek.

So how much could this help Democrats in elections in Virginia and New Jersey and heading into the 2022 midterms?

Joel Benenson, former pollster for Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns joins me now, and Joel, you've done a big poll, a pretty big poll on voter priorities, and one of the things you say for Democrats is, you know, history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

What do you mean here?


BERMAN: No, but here.

BENENSON: Obviously. I think that you have to treat every election as its own dynamic. We're dealing with a moment in time where in fact the thing that people were most gripped by in our poll is they don't think our economy is going to improve until the pandemic is completely solved. So that says there is a lot of anxiety around where we still are in terms of the pandemic and the economy.


BENENSON: But what I really mean by that is that to win elections in the United States, we don't have a majority of liberals or a majority of conservatives, you've got a plurality of moderates. Like you've got to appeal to the center to win and it was one of the things that I think President Obama did very well throughout his presidency. I think President Biden did it very well during this campaign.

I think Democrats in Congress have to understand that the moderate wing of that party is central to their success going forward.

BERMAN: Specifically, what your poll found is the issues that Democratic voters think are most important are different than the issues that Independent voters think most important.

BENENSON: To some extent. I mean, right now, everybody thinks that the economy won't get better until the pandemic is gone. Right? So on economic -- on the economic forefront, that's the case. But what I would also say is, I often look at moderate voters, it's the ideological center.

And if you look on an array of issues, the ratings of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, if I'm a Republican Congress looking at moderate voters right now, I would be really worried about what my ratings are, because there is a significant gap between where moderates are on their favorable rating of Democrats in Congress, which isn't great. You know, it's about plus three and Republicans are about minus 17.

So, the only thing that will help them is, you know, the gerrymandering and the reapportionment lines that they have drawn, but they're losing the center in the public vote.

BERMAN: Some of the issues that matter to the center -- the economy, ending the pandemic, immigration, whereas for Democratic voters, climate change ranks pretty high.


BERMAN: You know, taxing the rich ranks pretty high, and that doesn't register as high for Democratic voters.

BENENSON: Right. But taxing the wealthy, you know, people always, you know, taxing the wealthy and corporations is something that voters have voted on and for over and over again. They want people to pay their fair share, and they feel that people at the top are not paying their fair share on taxes and that burden gets pushed down to them, not just through their income taxes, but through very high property taxes that funds things like education in many areas around in this country.

BERMAN: I guess, what I'm asking is, President Biden spending a whole lot of political capital, not to mention energy and minutes and hours into getting this infrastructure bill and this social spending bill through, which will matter for kids, and the elderly, and students. It will make a big difference in a lot of people's lives.

But for all the energy and political capital he is putting into it. Is that with these moderate voters who you say are decisive, how much do they care about that? Will it be decisive for them?

BENENSON: Oh, I think on the infrastructure bill, definitely. I think this has been a very popular build from the beginning. I think the challenge for the Biden administration is, can you talk about these issues in a way that connects with people's lives. Don't talk about the dollar amount, don't talk about, you know, roads and bridges. Him, the President talking about clean water, it is critically important. Polling I've done showed it was a number two issue people clearly cared about on infrastructure. Getting broadband all over this country so no child has to sit on a school bus to do their homework.

I think the more they can connect things like that to actual people, instead of just talking about building on a big scale. Clean water coming out of our taps, we're dumping billions of gallons of sewage into our water pipes.

BERMAN: So you think there's a risk that Democrats writ large are missing the mark with moderates the way they're presenting certain things?

BENENSON: I don't think they're missing the mark. I think they're just not making the strongest arguments they can to persuade moderates to their point of view on a lot of the issues of the day. I think you have to talk about it. To win moderate voters, tell people why clean water is in their

interest. Tell them why broadband across America -- if you're a moderate and you're living in a city and you've got broadband, you might be scratching your head, but tell them. There are kids that are actually doing homework on school buses, and that is a shameful thing in the United States of America.

BERMAN: Joel Benenson, great to speak to you. Thanks so much.

BENENSON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: So a Texas man is facing a murder charge for shooting another man in his driveway. He claims the victim was armed, but no gun has been found. The details ahead.

KEILAR: Plus, the Texas Lieutenant Governor, a Trump ally promised to pay up to a million dollars to tipsters who uncovered voter fraud. We're joined by the poll watcher who is cashing in on fraud committed by a Republican.



KEILAR: A Texas homeowner turning himself in to face a murder charge for shooting and killing another man who pulled into his driveway. Terry Turner is claiming self-defense telling police that the driver had pulled a gun, but no weapon was found in the victim's vehicle.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us in Houston with more. Rosa, what can you tell us?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good morning.

Take a look at this mug shot. This is 65-year-old, Terry Duane Turner, he faces first degree murder charges in the killing of 31-year-old Adil Dghoughi. He is a Moroccan man.

Now, according to authorities and also to the arrest affidavit, on October 11th, at about 4:00 a.m., Dghoughi was sitting in his car in the town of Martindale, which is south of Austin when Turner went up to the car and fired gunshots.

Now according to the affidavit, Turner then picked up the phone called 9-1-1 and said, quote: "I just killed a guy." Went on to say, quote: "He pointed a gun at me and I fired a shot."

Deputies responded to the scene and they found Dghoughi in his car with a gunshot wound to the head. They did not find a gun on Dghoughi. They did not find a gun inside his car.

Now Turner told authorities according to the arrest affidavit that he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. He saw that there was an unidentified car in the driveway, he went to go get his gun, he ran outside, ran and chased the car and fired the gunshots.

Turner's attorney says that Turner was defending himself and his property and that he is cooperating with authorities.

Now, when CNN asked Turner why was Dghoughi a threat to Turner when he was inside his car? Turner's attorney said that he was not going to discuss the facts of the case.