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Criminal Charges Not Ruled Out in Alec Baldwin Shooting; Judge Says, Men Killed By Rittenhouse Can't Be Called Victims at Trial; Democrats Plot Billionaire Tax to Fund Biden's Social Spending Plan. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 07:00   ET



IAN A. HUDSON, RUST ACTOR: It was heavy. It was strong. And I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards and we all agreed how intense that was and how scary and real it was.

But some of the other actors who had worked on a lot more sets than I have as principal characters, they were double and triple-checking our weapons after the armorer gave them to us, whether they were cold or hot.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Now, the D.A. in New Mexico says the investigation is active and criminal charges are not being ruled out at this point. And that, and this is important, that it was a legit gun. This wasn't a prop gun. This was a gun that could have been used with real bullets, and that is the gun that fired the deadly shot here. Ammunition, some of it loose and also blood was found on the set, that was collected. And according to that actor, Ian Hudson, shields had to be used for protection when blanks were being fired.

And then just take a look at this. This is a haunting image of Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. This may be the last photo that was taken of her on set. She is there, she is wearing a tan beanie with headphones covering her ears.

Stephanie Elam live for us in Santa Fe with our top story. Steph?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, when you hear that actor, Ian Hudson, talk about what he experienced on the set, he found his part before, but he had been here on the Rust set, it does strike a chord and also speaks to the fact that we're hearing more revelations about safety on the set.

Just take a listen to him speak a little bit more about his experience.


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

Brandon Lee, having died in '93, you know, that conversation came up a couple times between my fellow cast members and I.


ELAM: Now, it's worth noting that Rust Productions that's behind this movie said that they had no official complaints about safety with props or weapons on the set of Rust, and the state of New Mexico saying the same thing.

The district attorney for the county of Santa Fe saying that this could take some time, that the autopsy could take six to ten weeks before we actually know what the forensics show what caused for Halyna Hutchins to die.

Nevertheless, they are focusing on the ballistics, we are learning. We have heard from the district attorney telling The New York Times they want to determine what kinds of rounds were used. And they also want to find out who placed them in the gun. And we know there was ammunition found on set. In fact, the district attorney, she said there was a lot of it.

And according to the list that we see from the investigators here, there were nine spent casings, three revolvers. There was also ammunition both in boxes, some of it loose, some of it loose in a fanny pack. All of this was seized during their search of the Rust set, but it is not clear if some of those were dummy rounds or live ammunition.

And that is something we are planning to learn about more today as we have this press conference on tap (ph) for later this morning from the sheriff's department and also expected to hear from the D.A. here as well, Brianna and John.

KEILAR: Yes. It just really makes you wonder when you hear him saying, Steph, that the death of Brandon Lee was on his mind and the mind of other actors in this movie. We'll see. Is that normal in movies like this? Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

We're going to talk with a cinematographer coming up who says the guns should never be allowed on sets.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: COVID-19 shots could start going into the arms of 28 million children in the United States as early as next week. An FDA advisory committee voted to recommend the Pfizer low dose shot for kids ages 5 to 11. The committee says the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

The Biden administration plans to start rolling out the Pfizer doses as soon as it is granted emergency use authorization by the FDA and the CDC.

KEILAR: 130,000 lives lost to coronavirus could have been saved had former President Trump and his administration listened to the science instead of worrying about the election. That is the message coming from Dr. Deborah Birx, saying, quote, I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increase testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range. She, of course, talking about the death toll under the Trump administration, where she worked.

And joining us now to discuss this is Nurse and COVID Survivor Liza Billings. She also lost her brother to COVID-19. Liza, I'm so sorry. I know that that probably just feels like yesterday. And I've heard about your brother, Leo, and he sounds like he was just an awesome guy. And I wonder what you think when you hear Deborah Birx saying a lot of these lives didn't have to be lost?


LIZA BILLINGS, E.R. NUNRSE AND COVID SURVIVOR: Hi. Good morning. When I heard the testimony of Dr. Birx, it's heartbreaking to hear it, to know that tens of thousands of people didn't have to lose their loved ones through a simple task like enforcing and encouraging people to wear their masks or to socially distance. I believe it's something that was so simple and just didn't -- President Trump didn't want to do it at the time.

I am waiting for the opportunity for the government to create a COVID commission so that we can look at the response to the pandemic so that we can see what the mistakes we made and never make them again.

I am also waiting for the opportunity to encourage the government to provide -- to provide health care for everyone, to provide scholarships and help to children who lost their parents to COVID.

KEILAR: You know, look, I know you have a lot of criticism for former President Trump. What about people like Deborah Birx who were working with the administration? They will make the argument that they were trying to do the best under tough circumstances. Do you hold her accountable?

BILLINGS: The people I hold accountable are the ones who get in front of the camera and provide the information to others. I believe that the administration had the opportunity to say that to others to prevent misinformation. It is so much harder to deflect misinformation than it is to spread truth. And they had that chance.

Dr. Birx, I believe, was attempting to get the ear of the president but it sounded like she wasn't able to do so.

KEILAR: You've spoken a lot about how, you know, with all the bad of COVID, you have hoped that the sacrifice and the isolation is something that takes on meaning. When you hear that so many lives could have been saved, does that challenge that hope?

BILLINGS: I don't think so. I watch a lot of nurses every day, a lot of doctors and a lot of my ancillary staff at my hospital provide care to patients with COVID. And it is something that we are just naturally doing so that we can help people. I think we just need to continue to educate others, to encourage people to get vaccinated so that we can help those who are most vulnerable not get COVID.

We just -- I know that people want to move on, and I know that we want this crisis to be over, but we need to be aware that it is still here and we need to do what we can to prevent it.

KEILAR: Well, Liza, we appreciate the work that you do every day. Thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it, Liza Billings.

BILLINGS: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Kyle Rittenhouse is set to go on trial next week for murder. The teenager killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin during protests last year in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake police shooting.

Now, what has a lot of people paying attention this morning is a pretty controversial decision by the judge in a pretrial hearing as there were some ground rules set that the prosecution is not happy with.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: The word, victim, is a loaded, loaded word. And I think alleged victim is a cousin to it.

Let the evidence show what the evidence shows. And if the evidence shows that any or more than one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting or looting, then I'm not going to tell the defense they can't call them that.


BERMAN: Okay. Early Start co-Anchor, an attorney and Legal Reporter Laura Jarrett joins us now.

Let me just make crystal what happened there in case people didn't get it. The judge just said that the people say Kyle Rittenhouse killed -- and there's no dispute over the fact that he killed them, they cannot be called victims, the people that he killed. They can, the judge says, however, be called rioters and looters.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And that's the part I think people are finding so disturbing. The prosecution is calling it a double standard. And in reality, they're dead.


They cannot defend themselves at this trial, right? And, typically, when there is an agreement that somebody has been harmed, in some way, injured or been killed, victim is an acceptable term.

There are defense lawyers who have been arguing for years that it is prejudicial, that it implies guilt and that it taints the jury's mind. Courts are split on this. Jury instructions use the term victim all the time. Some people define it in different ways. But the bottom here, what you're pointing out is that the judge took it a step further by saying that the people who died should be cast in the light for the crimes that they committed, when, in fact, people go to jail for killing people who commit crimes all the time. And so I think that's the part that's really got people's attention.

And if you're the prosecutor in the case, you're going to say this is extremely prejudicial. But there's not much they can do about it. Because, remember, if Kyle Rittenhouse gets off on this, if he is found not guilty, they cannot retry him.

BERMAN: Yes. There's not an appeal for the prosecution. That's not how it works.

JARRETT: Exactly. And so it's interesting. I think one of the things to remember is why is this even coming up, right? Rittenhouse is going to say self-defense. He was going to say, I was so afraid from all of these looters and arsonists. But evidence 101 tells you that is not going to fly and that's why this evidence shouldn't have been let in. Because whether someone was setting fire to a building nearby should have no bearing on whether Kyle Rittenhouse was afraid for his life and thought that it was okay to shoot that person, right? Those two things don't go together.

So I think this trial is going to be extremely fraught. The judge has also decided that the defense can let in evidence that the police on the scene nearby told Rittenhouse and others, we appreciate you guys. So, you can tell this is just going to be fraught from top to bottom. And jury selection begins Monday.

KEILAR: They can't be called alleged victims. There's not even --

JARRETT: They have to be called, deceased, decedents or complaining witness, as if you were just complaining about the fact that you're now dead.

KEILAR: But then on the issue of being a looter or a rioter or an arsonist, it's not even alleged looter or alleged --

JARRETT: And it also is going to confuse the jury, right? If you are trying demonizing the people that die, it now means the prosecutors are going to be arguing about whether, in fact, they were looters or rioters. All of that stuff is going to come in, and it's not going to not focus on the actual person on trial.

BERMAN: But this is unusual, you say.

JARRETT: It's unusual. It's come up before, but judges, they have a lot of discretion. Judges in state courts can do anything they want on these rules of evidence and there's not much we're going to hear from the prosecutors.

BERMAN: Wow. All right, Laura Jarrett, thank you very much.

So, just a short time ago, Democrats released the details, this is for the first time, of a major new tax plan that targets the richest billionaires in the United States. So, is this the final evidence, final element that will finally help pass the president's sweeping domestic agenda? Also, is this plain constitutional?

KEILAR: Because it's a big question, right, huge.

So, also, there's new CNN reporting that election officials are growing more fearful for their lives as Donald Trump continues his big lie.

And ahead to the movie Social Network really get the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg right? I always wonder this. Well, the man who wrote the book behind the movie seems to think so.

BERMAN: I'll give you $6 if you get him to say Wiggleby (ph).



BERMAN: New this morning, Democrats have just released the details of what they are calling a billionaire's income tax. Here is how it would work. It would tax gains on assets every year instead of only at the time of sale, and it would apply to those with least $1 billion in assets or those month make more than $100 million for three consecutive years. This plan, it's estimated, would affect roughly 700 to 800 people in the whole country every year.

Joining us now, CNN Economics Commentator and Washington Post Opinion Columnist Catherine Rampell and Managing Director of the Eurasia Group John Leiber, he's former adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell.

Catherine, this is important really for two reasons. Number one, it is possible this is the last missing link or one of the last missing links for the Democrats to reach an agreement on how to pass their agenda. But the second part of this is this is a very, very different and very major tax overhaul. How exactly do you see it?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC COMMENTATOR: I think what happened is as much as Democrats like to tax the rich and taxing corporations, they have gotten cold field on basically all of the obvious ways to tax the rich and corporations. They have ruled out a number of pretty targeted proposals, things like eliminating the step up basis, or closing the carried interest loop hole, raising tax rates on corporations and high earners. And different members of their party have struck down or watered down, at least, pretty much all of the obvious ways to find money.

So, they're hunting around, trying to find something that will be politically palatable and it will raise significant revenue. Of course, go after the billionaires. Everybody wants to go after the billionaires. And, look, billionaires can't afford to pay more in taxes.

The question is whether this will actually work. It has constitutionality questions relating to it. Based on some of the vague details that were over the week so far, it is not exactly how well it would work, how easy it would be to game. What do you do, for example, if a billionaire loses money on assets from one year to another? Is Uncle Sam going to be cutting a big, fat check to Mark Zuckerberg? That's not going to be so politically popular.

So, I am concerned this may not wash, this may not raise as much revenue and may even get struck down by the Supreme Court. They should go back to some of the other things that are more solid ways to raise money.

BERMAN: John, there Democrats, like Ron Wyden, who is arguing for a version of this for years, who will say, this is how the ultra rich amass wealth. They don't get a salary like the rest of us. So, taxing their salary doesn't actually have them pay their fair share, they a mass wealth through assets, which grow as long as they live.


So what's wrong with making them pay for that wealth being amassed?

JOHN LIEBER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EURASIA GROUP: You can pay for that wealth but there are different ways of doing it. Catherine talked about some of them. One of them would be eliminating the step up basis death, which would subject a lot of these taxes -- excuses me, a lot of these assets to taxes before they're passed on to their heirs. It would get the same thing but over a much longer timeframe. So, the challenge of that plan is you wouldn't get the money right away the way you would here.

And that's really what this is about. This is about getting as much money as you can to finance the agenda. And what's going to result in asset sales by some of the billionaires that are listed, that are targeted by this and it's going to have unexpected effects. If the Supreme Court strikes this down, there won't be any revenue to pay for the spending bill that they are pushing right now.

This is a really controversial new way of doing this. We generally don't tax people on unappreciated gains because that doesn't count as income. The White House isn't pushing this new definition of income all year and it is effective with a lot of Democrats but probably not with all of them. And I don't think this is the endgame here. I think we're going to see a few other scramble for new taxes before we get to a final legislation.

BERMAN: The release itself is called the billionaire's income tax. And the reason for that, Catherine, is because, legally, it needs to be income in order for it to be taxable. So, they're putting that word in their make the case, that it is income. Look, we'll let the Supreme Court or the courts decide on the legality. Again, I'm curious though about the politics of this because taxing the rich is popular. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. There's no question it's popular.

RAMPELL: It's popular as long as the rich means someone richer than me.

BERMAN: Well, that's -- you're talking about -- these people are. RAMPELL: Right. So, objectively speaking, we have already ruled out tax increases on the top 10 percent, on the top 5 percent of households, and those are within the top end of the income distribution. A lot of them are maybe constituents of the people who are considering passing these taxes. So, yes, taxing the rich and the abstract is popular.

You cannot deny that Elon Musk is rich, right?. I mean his stratosphere is richer than people in the 99th percentile, for example. So, yes, it should be popular. The question is, is this particular version of taxing the rich going to be legally and logistically workable.

BERMAN: Should they be able to get by not paying as much in taxes, John? That's the argument that you hear. And you have heard a long time from Elizabeth Warrens, Bernie Sanders and others of the world. We're talking about a minimum, a corporate minimum tax, which is interesting too, which is not letting corporations like Amazon and others get away with not paying hardly anything in corporate taxes here. Again, I ask you, is this a fair -- or why would not this not be a fair way to get at some of these inequities?

LIEBER: You can tax these people. I mean, they're probably not going to miss the money. It's a lot of money. They obviously have a lot more money. It's not about whether or not they can afford it, it is about the principles that we're going to use to tax people. And if we are doing this with billionaires, we are exempting people with fewer assets. Why? Because we don't think that it's really fair to go after those people.

I think one of the really interesting things that's going on here is what Catherine said. She said not only are high income, modest wealth Americans going to get away possibly without any tax increase in this Democratic tax bill, they might end up with a tax cut because of the salt tax. Because of the fact that the state and local tax cap is potentially lifted in this legislation, which will be a large tax cut for many of the highest income people in this country.

So, this isn't really about fairness when you look at income inequality, what the drivers are, it's about targeting a small group of people who have an awful lot of wealth and taking their money for other purposes.

BERMAN: It's a complicated discussion but an important one. Whether or not they choose to do this could be a linchpin in making this whole thing happen. So, Catherine Rampell, John Lieber, I appreciate you being here and helping us understand it.

So, the author who inspired the Social Network film responds to Facebook's existential crisis.

KEILAR: Plus, re-gifting and it feels so good. The Tampa Bay Bucs fan who received and then returned Tom Brady's historic 600th career touchdown pass will join us next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You signed the papers. You set me up. You're going to blame me because you were the business head of the company and you made a bad business deal with your own company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be like I'm not a part of Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It won't be like you're not a part of Facebook. You're not a part of Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is on the mast head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might want to check again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it because I froze the account?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think we're going to let you parade around in your ridiculous suits pretending you were the company?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, my Prada is at the cleaners along with my hoodie and (BLEEP) flip-flops, you pretentious douchebags.


KEILAR: Well, that was a scene you may recall from the movie, Social Network, the Oscar-winning film that came out in 2010 based on Ben Mezrich's book, The Accident Billionaires. And he says this movie got Mark Zuckerberg exactly right.

This comes as Facebook deals with new troubling revelations, internal documents suggesting the company is having a tougher time managing vaccine misinformation, among other things, than it is saying publicly.

And Ben is with us now. He's the author of the new book, The Antisocial Network. It is about the GameStop short squeeze, which is fascinating, and I can't wait for that, Ben.

But back to the Social Network, tell us about this. Because especially in light of now the evolution of Facebook and the most recent problems, you say that the film of the book got Zuckerberg exactly right. How so?

BEN MEZRICH, WROTE BOOK THAT WAS ADAPTED INTO 2010 FILM THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Yes. I really think that we captured what Zuckerberg was trying to do and who he really is. I mean, I think he truly believed that Facebook was going to make the world better but mostly people like him.


And what he discovered along the way was that it is a lot easier to get engagement if you get people riled up, if you get people excited.