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New Day

Prosecutor It was a 'Legit Gun' in Fatal Set Shooting; FDA Advisors OK Pfizer Vaccine for Ages 5-11; GOP's Greene Justifies Capitol Attack; At Least 5 Trump Aides Speak Voluntarily with Committee; Dems Float 'Billionaire Tax' to Fund Biden's Social Spending Plan. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 27, 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 Wednesday, October 27. And I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

[06:00:09]

And for the first time since a fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's movie "Rust," one of the film's actors is now speaking out. Ian Hudson says he felt vulnerable during his scenes, especially the shooting scenes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN HUDSON, ACTOR, "RUST": When the rounds were released, when they shot at me, I actually did feel the blanks hitting my face and my body. And I could feel the wind from the shotgun, you know, being discharged. It was heavy. It was strong. I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards, and we all agreed how intense that was and how scary and real it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Hudson also stressed that some of the more seasoned actors took extra precautions with weapons to make sure that they weren't loaded. We'll have a lot more of that interview ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, there are new developments with the shooting investigation. The D.A. there in New Mexico says she hasn't ruled out criminal charges in cinematographer Halyna Hutchins's death. She told "The New York Times" that the term "prop gun" is misleading, and that the gun that killed Hutchins was a "legit gun."

According to court documents obtained by CNN, a fanny pack with ammunition was also seized, along with two ammo boxes and loose ammo from a tray.

Chloe Melas, who's been covering the story from the beginning for us, joins us now with the latest. Real guns. Real ammo. Real possibility of criminal charges.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a terrifying situation that truly came to light. You know, we're learning more about those moments right before her death.

Today there's going to be a big press conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the district attorney's office, the sheriff's office. And we may finally hear will criminal charges be pressed. More on that in my piece.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELAS (voice-over): With filming for "Rust" shut down indefinitely, more behind-the-scenes details from the production are coming to light.

HUDSON: Everyone on the camera crew was protected by shields. And the camera was protected by shield. So that made me question me being in front of the camera and sort of in between all of that fire.

MELAS: One of the actors from the movie speaking out, describing a scene when his character is shot and killed. Ian Hudson also telling TMZ he thought one scene he filmed felt life-threatening.

HUDSON: When they shot at me, I actually did feel the blanks hitting my face and my body. And I could feel the wind from the shotgun, you know, being discharged. It was heavy. It was strong. I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards, and we all agreed how intense that was and how scary and real it was.

MELAS: Hudson recounting discussions about an on-set accident that killed the start of the movie "The Crow".

HUDSON: Brandon Lee having died in '93, you know, that conversation came up a couple times between my fellow cast members and I. Just, you know, we're doing this the same way they did it then, 30 years ago. Got to double-check, got to make sure. And honestly, I think the armorer, having been pressed for time as much as she was, was doing a fantastic job.

MELAS: Neal Zoromski says he declined working on "Rust" over multiple concerns, including being asked to work as both an armorer and a prop master.

NEAL W. ZOROMSKI, HOLLYWOOD PROP MASTER: That premise is flawed. There are so many things that go on in between the foreground and the background, and to have to cover that amount of territory and do it well is challenging for even a seasoned professional.

MELAS: Meanwhile, an inventory list from a search warrant reveals investigators found three revolvers, nine spent casings, and ammunition, loose in boxes and in a fanny pack on set.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was it loaded with a real bullet? Or --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't -- I cannot tell you that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two injuries from a movie gunshot. MELAS: It's still unclear just what projected from the gun that killed

director of photography Halyna Hutchins.

MARCUS COOLEY, PROP MASTER AND PRODUCTION DESIGNER: As far as the live ammunition, there's no reason it should ever, ever have come onto the set.

MELAS: Criminal charges have not been ruled out. CNN confirming reporting by the "New York Times." A New Mexico district attorney telling the paper, quote, "There were an enormous amount of bullets on the set, and we need to know what kinds they were."

The D.A. telling "The Times" detectives are focusing on whether live rounds or blanks were used on set.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We've heard all these allegations, Don, about the relaxed safety policies, that safety policies were not followed, that there wasn't proper supervision on this set. And not surprising at all, that the district attorney says everything is on the table.

[06:05:11]

MELAS: This could be the last photo of Hutchins, seen here on set with Alec Baldwin. The image posted on social media by a crew member.

HUDSON: Discharging any type of projectile is terrifying. Having been shot at multiple times and faking my death for the camera, was enlightening to me in all the wrong ways.

It's really unfortunate to have what happened happen, because, you know, they were just trying to make a movie.

MELAS: And as the investigation continues, many in the film industry are still in shock by the loss of their friend and colleague and the tragic way she died.

ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, ACTOR AND PRODUCER: We lost a very talented director of photography, camera operator, dreamer, and future director.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELAS: So at this press conference today, we're wondering if we're going to hear more about the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez. And then also, are we going to hear more about Dave Halls, that assistant director?

Because in -- in the chain of command like we've talked about, Hannah would have been the one to have checked those guns, then given it to the assistant director, who then would have given it to Alec Baldwin. So hopefully, we'll learn more about that, too.

BERMAN: Obviously, so many questions still unanswered, even as we are learning more. The fact that this was a legit gun, as the D.A. says.

MELAS: And all those bullets on the set. Right? So a lot of concerns. And were they doing target practicing, right, pilling.

KEILAR: The plinking.

MELAS: Plinking, right.

KEILAR: Yes, plinking beforehand or sometime earlier in the day.

It's just worth pointing out, you know, Berman spoke with a prop master, who was explaining there's two types of guns. The prop gun is the one you can't put a bullet into it. It doesn't even accept a bullet.

BERMAN: You can use a prop gun that doesn't take bullets.

KEILAR: Right.

BERMAN: That's a choice. So right from the very beginning this may have been messed up.

Chloe, thank you so much for being with us.

MELAS: Thank you.

KEILAR: Kids 5 to 11 could begin receiving Pfizer's low-dose COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week. A panel of FDA advisors recommended the shot. They said the benefits far outweigh the risks for some 28 million kids who would be eligible here.

And this is looking, of course, like the next big step toward ending the pandemic.

Let's talk about this now with pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Tanya Altmann.

Doctor, it's a big day. Thanks for coming on to talk with us about this. Just tell us about this. Tell us about what this is going to mean in changing the game for COVID.

DR. TANYA ALTMANN, PEDIATRICIAN/SPOKESWOMAN, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Well, good morning.

Yes, children make up a significant part of our population. And vaccinating this age group can really dramatically change the trajectory of this pandemic, decrease community infection rates, and help things return to more normalcy.

But this is only the first step of the very thorough and thought-out four-step process. The FDA advisory committee did vote in favor of asking the FDA to grant the EUA, but the FDA still has to meet and discuss.

Then it goes to the CDC. And then the CDC director has to give the go ahead before myself, as a pediatrician, other pediatricians across the country, pharmacies and children's hospitals can begin vaccinating this age group. But hopefully, this will happen in the next week or two. KEILAR: So let's talk about -- I want you to address some of the common misconceptions or concerns that parents have here. That the vaccine is too new. That the side effects include myocarditis. Some are concerned that's, like, a widespread risk. It isn't. And that potential mistakes may be made administering the vaccine. What do you say to that?

ALTMANN: So these are things I talk to families in my practice about every day. So let's go through each of them.

So first of all RNA technology has been around for decades. And clinical trials for other diseases, cancers and other rare diseases it has been used for.

Also, as of last week, 11.2 million teenagers 12 to age 18 are fully vaccinated, making them 10 times less likely to get sick. And we know that there have been very few side effects in this age group.

But myocarditis is one that does come up. And the FDA advisory committee spent a lot of time yesterday discussing this. They looked at modeling data. What if this happens in the younger age group. I don't think it will because it's much -- it's a much lower dose of the vaccine, but it's something that they need to consider.

And they looked at five different scenarios. And in all of them, they determined that the benefit of vaccinating this age group outweighed the small risk of myocarditis.

Now, what is myocarditis? It is heart inflammation. And I think it's really important for people to understand that not all myocarditis is the same.

When you see it as a side effect from a vaccine, it's usually mild heart inflammation that goes away on its own, usually within a few weeks.

[06:10:04]

Whereas, when you get myocarditis heart inflammation from an infection, such as COVID-19, it is much more severe. It can cause permanent heart muscle issues. It can cause death. It can stick around and be long-lasting in your body and not go away like the mild cases that he see with the vaccine.

KEILAR: Such a good point.

ALTMANN: The last thing was dosing errors. So the -- the FDA has taken this into account. And Pfizer has made the vials for the pediatrics vaccine which is a lower dose. It is a third of the dose, 10 micrograms. They're a different color. They're labeled differently. So that way it is very clear which vaccine is for the kids.

And in pediatric offices, this is what we do. We give different vaccines to kids all day long. And we have many checks and balances where the nurses check the vaccine, draw it up. The doctors confirm before it is given to children. So when you get this vaccine in your pediatric office or in a

children's hospital or even a pharmacy that is set up to give vaccines, this young age group, I don't think this is going to be an issue.

KEILAR: Yes. Taking that precaution, it is foolproof.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, really important information for parents. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: So just moments ago, Democrats released the details of a major new tax plan that would hit only the richest few hundred billionaires. Two big questions: Is this the final piece to passing the president's domestic agenda? No. 2, is it constitutional?

KEILAR: Plus, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene attempting to justify the Capitol attack. And controversy erupting over the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial. A judge ruling that the men he shot and killed can be called looters and arsonists, but not victims. Why is that?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:16:03]

BERMAN: Stunning, but I suppose predictable statements from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, attempting to rewrite history, attempting to justify the Capitol insurrection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): January 6 was just a riot at the Capitol. And if you think about what our Declaration of Independence says, it says to overthrow tyrants. So there's a clear difference between January 6th and the Marxist communist revolution the Antifa BLM Democrat ground troops waged on the American people in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, it's an evolution, to the point where you now have Republican members of Congress celebrating the insurrection.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this has been an evolution that's been going on since January 6th.

Remember, right afterwards, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy denounced the insurrection, denounced Donald Trump. But what's been going on since then is this normalization process, that this is now becoming just sort of citizens expressing their political views.

And it's deeply pernicious, and it's wrong, but it's happening. And it's not just Marjorie Taylor green. It's much more mainstream members of the Republican Party, as well. KEILAR: Yes. It's growing. It's -- it's a cancer, and it's becoming

very normal and very widespread. And Kaitlan, I know that you have some new reporting on the January 6th Committee and the former Trump administration officials that are -- or confidants that are talking to the committee.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And our new reporting is significant, because what we know so far, of course, is there are several top former Trump officials that have been subpoenaed, legally compelled to come and speak to the committee. Some, like Steve Bannon, have defied those congressional subpoenas. Some are still talking to the committee. It's not clear how it will end up for people like Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff.

But we've also learned there are former Trump staffers who are going in voluntarily to speak with this committee that is investigating what happened on January 6.

And we know that at the heart of that investigation, of course, is to kind of paint a picture of what exactly was going on inside the West Wing that day.

Because yes, we saw the former president that morning at that rally on the Ellipse. Of course, we know after that, he was inside the Oval Office for several hours, kind of in this period where what was happening on Capitol Hill was going on. But there are questions about what he himself was doing.

And so these are five -- at least five former Trump staffers that we know who have gone in to speak with either committee staff or actual members who are on the committee to either -- to share, you know, really what they know from that day, what context they could provide from what was happening inside the West Wing.

And so some of these people are going in because they genuinely want to be able to just share information about what was happening that day. They think it's important. Some are worried about a subpoena potentially coming down the road. And so they're trying to avoid any kind of legal pathway here when it comes to sharing information with the committee.

But it is notable that, as the former president has an attorney sending out letters to those who have gotten subpoenas, saying don't give any testimony, don't give any documents, there are these five former Trump staffers who are going in and speaking with them.

And we also know from our reporting that the committee has reached out to several more of these former Trump staffers to see if they'd like to come in.

KEILAR: And what about John Eastman, the lawyer who drafted that memo that explained a coup, really, about how Mike Pence could refuse to certify the electors? What about him?

COLLINS: Yes, so John Eastman, of course, the big question is whether or not he's going to speak to them, as well. Because this is kind of someone who was not working inside the White House. He is someone who, of course, was part of that memo, claiming that yes, Mike Pence could go and not certify the electors, which of course, we know is that really last heated debate between the former president and vice president when it came to their relationship, over what he could actually do up on Capitol Hill that day.

John Eastman was the one circulating the memo, basically arguing that he could do it. And in light of his recent comments about the conversations that he had with the former president, he's also someone that is a point of interest, of course.

[06:20:05]

BERMAN: Jeffrey, I's going to go back to Kaitlan in just one second, because we have some tax news we have to get to. But first, you think, Jeffrey, that these voluntary discussions from former White House officials might be the only ones this committee gets?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I think this is the committee facing reality. You know, the -- the subpoenas are a route that leads to court, and court leads to delay.

And this whole Steve Bannon fight, which, you know, has just started and hasn't even reached the court yet, is almost certainly going to take months by the time it gets to the district court, and then the court of appeals, and possibly the Supreme Court.

I mean, this committee recognizes that they have a very limited window in which to conduct this investigation, and voluntary cooperation from -- from Trump officials is the only kind they're going to get. So I think facing reality, that's -- that's what they're seeking out.

BERMAN: Now Kaitlan, just a few minutes ago, Democrats in the Senate released some details of their plan for revenue. A new tax plan to pay for the domestic agenda that the president and the Democrats want to get through as soon as this week. What are the details?

COLLINS: Yes, this is something that they spent yesterday crafting and finalizing. Now of course, you're seeing what the details of this are going to be.

And the reason we're here, we should remind people, is because initially, the idea of raising taxes on corporations and high earners is something that was scuttled by the Arizona senator, Kyrsten Sinema. And now they've rolled out other ideas, including a billionaires' tax. This is something that would target the wealth of the richest Americans, as a way to pay for this plan, which they're of course, crafting in and of itself. The framework agreement here.

And so this would be a tax on unrealized gains. You heard the treasury secretary talking about this idea, giving life to it on Sunday, saying that, yes, it was a viable path they were considering.

But of course, this is -- it's a strategy that really hasn't been tried before. And so the question of whether or not it's feasible, is it going to face legal challenges, what does that look like, is still one that really remains to be seen.

And of course, this is critical to getting that framework agreement that the president wants to have in the next 24 hours before he heads for Rome for an overseas trip. And so it remains to be seen what we're going to hear from other lawmakers on Capitol Hill on this today.

But it is going to be a very big day for his agenda on whether or not they do come to an agreement on a framework. And this is part of it, of course. Because it's a big part of it, how they're going to pay for it.

KEILAR: Potential legal challenges, Jeffrey, because there's an outstanding question: is it constitutional?

TOOBIN: That's right. And the real issue is this question of unrealized gains. The way the law works now and the way it's worked for many, many years, is that you only pay taxes on stock when you sell it.

But this is kind of an obscure corner of constitutional law. But in 1895, the Supreme Court said there -- you can't have an income tax. That's not constitutional under Article I of the Constitution.

Congress responded right before World War I by passing the 16th Amendment, which was ratified by the states, which said you can have an income tax.

But the question is, is taxing unrealized gains, even on very, very wealthy people -- this of course, would only apply to people with great many, many assets -- is that income? Is that covered by the 16th Amendment? I don't think anyone knows for sure.

And now we have a verry conservative Supreme Court, not favorably disposed towards the Biden administration. So the question is, would the Supreme Court uphold a tax on unrealized capital gains under the 16th amendment. I don't pretend to know the answer to that question at this point. But it's certainly a legitimate issue to be explored before this tax is passed, if it's passed at all.

BERMAN: It's really interesting. Really in the fine print of the Constitution and the 16th Amendment, the Supreme Court records here. The precedent of the tax law. But you know, sooner or later, we may find out.

Kaitlan, Jeff, thank you both very much.

TOOBIN: All right.

BERMAN: So new damning revelations about Facebook, including new documents that show that the company is struggling to contain anti- vaccine misinformation, even as the company's top officials insist otherwise.

KEILAR: Plus, brand-new testimony from Dr. Deborah Birx, who says that tens of thousands of American lives could have been saved, had President Trump focused on the -- on -- if he'd focused on science instead of the election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:28:55]

KEILAR: This morning, there are new troubling revelations about Facebook. Internal documents suggest the company is having a tougher time managing vaccine misinformation than it's letting on.

A Facebook report in March, for instance, raising concerns about what people are saying in comments. Quote, "Our ability to detect vaccine hesitancy comments is bad in English and basically non-existence -- existent elsewhere."

Let's bring in Donie O'Sullivan. He is part of the CNN team that reported this story. And also with us, technology reporter for "The New York Times," Davey Alba.

Donie, the thing here is that Facebook is saying one thing in public and then, like the Facebook papers have shown us time and again, something else going on for real.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: What it shows is there's a lot of employees at the company who are real, right? They're being frank and honest.

Take a look at this comment from an internal site, where it says, "Vaccine hesitancy in comments is rampant."

We have all these sort of documents showing just how much trouble they're having tackling this internally. But take a listen to see what company executives are saying publicly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: I think that overall, both of these sides of the equation, showing authoritative information and limiting the spread of misinformation.