Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Biden Delays Departure in Effort to Save Agenda; 'Rust' Assistant Director Admits Failure to Fully Check Gun; WSJ Slammed for Publishing Trump Letter Full of Falsehoods. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2021 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October 28. I'm John Berman alongside Brianna Keilar.


And breaking this morning, rescue mission. It's all happening right now or not happening, which could be the biggest risk for President Biden. What a morning it is for him.

In the next few hours, the president will either be declaring victory on a deal on his social agenda or explaining why he couldn't bring Democrats together to pass a plan yet. A plan designed to help millions of kids, parents, seniors, and students in this country.

As we sit here, we genuinely don't know which way this is headed. We don't know exactly what's in the plan. We don't know exactly how they will pay for it.

We do know the president delayed his entire trip to Europe by a few hours so he can race to the Capitol this morning, in just a few hours, to meet with House Democrats. We also know he plans to give something of a speech or a statement before he leaves for Europe.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A source says the purpose is to convince progressives to pass the infrastructure bill that they have been holding up as leverage for the social spending plan.

And doing that may be harder now that another progressive priority, paid family leave, appears to have been gutted. This is one more concession to Senator Joe Manchin. And in the words of one Democratic colleague, people are pissed.

Last night the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said this on CNN about the president's effort.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Here's the thing. If there isn't a deal, which is what I'm still hearing, that we don't have agreement of Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema on a framework, even on a framework, much less on legislative text, then I'm not sure what the president is going to present to us. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House. The president very concerned here, Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. With no deal on the table yet, President Biden delaying that trip to Europe by a few hours.

He was slated to leave this morning. Instead, he'll leave in the early afternoon, only after first heading to Capitol Hill for one of these last-ditch efforts to try and convince progressives, it appears, to vote for that infrastructure bill.

But there is still no framework deal, even if that were to be enough for progressives, though they are still insisting that they want to see both of these bills move through the House at the same time.

And amid all of this, progressives losing out, as you just said, on one of those major priorities, with this paid family and medical leave expected to be scrapped from the reconciliation bill altogether because of opposition from Senator Joe Manchin, who explained why here. Listen.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): To expand social programs when you have trust funds that aren't solvent, they're going insolvent, I can't explain that. It doesn't make sense to me.

I want to work with everyone as long as we can start paying for things. That's all. I can't put this burden on my grandchildren. I've got 10 grandchildren. And I'll be -- I just can't do it.


DIAMOND: And beyond that issue of paid family leave, there is a mountain of issues that has still yet to be resolved. Everything from Medicare drug price negotiations, to this question of whether they're going to expand Medicare coverage to cover dental, vision and hearing.

Even the revenue sources, how exactly they're going to pay for this. So it's hard to see how they can cobble together a deal in the hours before President Biden leaves.

But clearly, the White House wants to make a full-court press. And finally, just before he leaves, we will hear from him in the East Room, deal or no deal, perhaps a recognition here at the White House that, given this full-court press at the last minute, they're going to have to explain to the public exactly what's going on before the president heads abroad -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Certainly will. Jeremy Diamond, live for us from the White House, thank you.

And let's talk about this more with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. She is co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Paid family leave, Congresswoman, gone from the bill?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Brianna, I think you had a very good report previously to my joining you about not what's clear, what's in and out.

I've been hearing for three days it's in. Four weeks, it's in, it's out. I know two United States senators who I have nothing but the utmost respect for are Patty Murray, who is not a progressive. She's just the -- I mean, she is. I mean, I think -- I hate these labels by the way. But she is a woman that's working very hard. And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are working very hard with Joe Manchin. They're friends. They respect him. To put paid leave on. And they had all night to work.

So I think one of the -- one of the challenges is this morning when the president is expected to come to our Democratic caucus at 9 a.m., is nobody knows. And I'm not even sure the speaker knows what's in the bill, what's -- what the revenue sources are going to be.

It has been in agreement. The revenue sources in this bill will cover all -- will cover all of the new programs. This will not add to the debt.

Now we need to know what's going to be in the bill. And there are -- you know, first of all, I want to say everybody wants to call this total chaos. People are divided. We're united on our values. We all know failure is not an option. And they're -- we've got to work together. We've got to figure it out.


What we do get in this bill is going to make the difference in a lot of people's lives. And we cannot fail, to not get something passed.

But there have been two senators who've had way too much control, and you've got a House of 435 members, 220 Democrats, who want to have their say, want to know what's in it, and aren't going to vote for something that they don't know what's in it.

KEILAR: Well, but are they going to vote for it without paid family leave in it? You heard our report. People are pissed. People in your party.

DINGELL: Look, I'm going to -- I've been trying to say this a long time. And there are things that I'm going to keep fighting for. I mean, you know, I use Medicare for all, universal health care as an example.

My father-in-law was the first person to introduce it. He introduced it right after he authored Social Security. It took us 25 years to get Medicare.

Then we got the Children's Health Insurance Program. We got the Affordable Care Act. Life sometimes goes -- you keep making progress, moving forward. I

believe I'm here so that, ultimately, every American has health care coverage.

You take -- you take the win and start fighting again that very next day.

I don't know what's going to happen on paid leave. I think there are a lot of us that feel very strongly. We're only one of six countries in the world that doesn't have it. The average paid leave in -- for women globally is 29 weeks. For men, I think it's 16. Maternity leave is 16 weeks.

KEILAR: But Joe Manchin seems pretty clear that this isn't going to be in the bill. He has said the country can't become an entitlement society. He has said the budget reconciliation, which is this process where you only need 50 Democrats in the Senate, which is the only way you can pass anything right now, that this isn't the way to do it. What do you say to that?

DINGELL: Well, what I say to it is I'm going to keep talking to him, on probably maternity leave. I'm going to keep talking to him.

But, you know, there are two secret weapons that are over in the Senate working him right now, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. If you ever have those two intensely on either side of you, trying to work. And Joe does respect his colleagues over there.

And, you know, legislation is the art of compromise. That compromise isn't a dirty word. You bring everybody to the table. You listen to their perspectives. You've heard the old Will Rogers saying, which I think is probably more in play than I've ever heard it. People with weak stomachs shouldn't watch sausage, or laws, being made.

I don't think I've quite seen the sausage making this difficult, but this, you know, making you sick to your stomach. But we're not done. We don't know what's in it. Let's hear what the president says.

KEILAR: OK. I hear you saying and I heard others saying you don't know what's in it, which seems to be a way to assuage concerns of people who are upset about paid family leave being gone from it, saying it's not necessarily gone. But look, it seems like the ship is sailing on this.

Is that a poison -- What does Joe Manchin need to know? Is that a poison pill in the House for Democrats, if it's not in there?

DINGELL: You -- you all want to keep making a poison pill. We are going to have to land this plane. At some point, we've got to see what's in the president's -- I hope he's going to come talk to us, tell us what's in there.

He needs to be talking to more than two senators. You've got 435 of us have to vote on something that we need to know what's in it.

And by the way, it's the combination of the bipartisan bill and the Build Back Better bill, which is the vision that the president laid out when he ran for president. And that's what he told he was going to deliver to the American people. So we need both of these bills.

KEILAR: Sure, but this is -- but this is a tough one for many Democrats to take. That in a pandemic where we have seen watched people incentivized to go to work. And during a time where Democrats have promised that, hey, even if you're not going to have 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, women, you're going to have four to foot in the door. You know, are you saying that progressives will need to, if this is not in the bill, they're going to need to suck it up?

DINGELL: I'm telling you we need to know what's there. We need to know what the total package is. I think failure -- I mean, honestly, failure is not an option. We can't lose all of it.

But we don't have to agree to vote on things until we know what's in there and it's a package that people can support. So you're not going to make a decision on just one thing. We talked about why it does matter. Really. To be only one of six countries worldwide that doesn't offer this? It's a reflection on this. It doesn't make it in a communal (ph) society.

KEILAR: Can you vote for it without paid family leave?

DINGELL: I have not. I'm an undecided person right now, because I do not know what is in that bill. And I've made it very clear to people that both aren't here at this hour. But when it comes to Capitol Hill, you know, people do need to tell people what's actually in it. I don't know --


KEILAR: But can it pass without paid family -- can it pass without paid family leave in it?

DINGELL: I think that it could. But it depends upon what else is in that bill. And he needs to talk to all the members of the caucus.

And, if for some reason, it isn't in there, and I refuse to give up that it's not in there right now, we are going to start right back on that, day one after this is done, to get that. Because it matters to too many families across this country.

The people are -- It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat. Eighty percent of the American people want that piece in this bill.

KEILAR: Congresswoman, look, we know things are a little bit muddy this morning. We're looking forward to see -- to see what comes out of this meeting, quite frankly, between the president and congressional Democrats. Thank you so much, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

DINGELL: Thank you.

BERMAN: The congresswoman speaks her mind. I mean, she doesn't hold back about how she's feeling. When she says she's never seen the sausage making quite this painful, quite this difficult, and it's making her sick to her stomach that tells you something. I mean, people are criticized for focusing too much on process. She says the process here is making her sick to her stomach.

KEILAR: I also think that there's a lot of anxiety with Democrats. A number of Democrats looking at what Joe Manchin is doing. I do think that this cut is something that cuts more deeply, and I think hurts them a little more and makes this a little -- more difficult for them to say, Hey, yes, this is something that we're going to champion.

BERMAN: And I told people at the top, we don't know what's going to happen this morning. We don't. Neither does Debbie Dingell. What's the president going to show up at Capitol Hill with? Is he going to have the details that she's looking for, for what's in the bill? We've got to wait and see. This is going to be a busy morning.

Also developing this morning, the assistant director of the film "Rust" says that he didn't check all of the rounds loaded into the gun before handing it to Alec Baldwin.

And we are now hearing from investigators that it was a bullet fired from the gun. As to whether anyone might be held criminally responsible, here's what the Santa Fe district attorney told CNN's Josh Campbell.


MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's a terrible tragedy. We don't know how those live rounds got there. And I think that that will probably end up being kind of the linchpin for whether a decision is made about charges.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson, as well as CNN legal analyst and former New York City homicide prosecutor, Paul Callan.

Joe, we heard -- Joey, we heard that the D.A. there say that how those live rounds got in the chamber, that will be the linchpin to this investigation. Why and for whom? For which people involved here? I'm talking about criminal culpability.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning. Good to see you. Good to see you, Brianna.

Look, the bottom line here is that it has to matter. That's significant. When you have a set like this, and we know the history. Apparently, there were people who were very concerned with respect to the safety, the lack of protocols being followed. You have guns everywhere, apparently with live ammunition, et cetera. You have people taking shooting practice and other things.

Your job specifically is to ensure that, when a gun is used, it is a cold gun. What does that mean? It means it does not have the capability to fire. To the extent that that is your job and your responsibility and you don't do it to the letter, and the reality is as a result of your conduct, the person you just referred to, something happens like a death, then you have to look and evaluate the distinction between civil liability, which is monetary damages for something that's careless, and whether or not it escalates to the level of criminality.

Now, whether that does escalate for the individual who's in charge, and there needs to be -- and I'll sum up very quickly -- a chain of custody. Where was the gun? Who secures the gun? Where does it go when it gets from one container to the other? When it gets on set, where do you place it? Does anyone else have access to it?

When you hand it to a particular actor, have you looked and assessed and ensured?

And so in the event that you acted in a negligent way, then unfortunately, that's a criminal act. That's a law, involuntary manslaughter. You act without due caution, and circumcision [SIC], then liability criminally can attach.

BERMAN: Joey -- Paul, I should say, the D.A. also talked about the standard for criminal culpability in New Mexico. Listen.


CARMACK-ALTWIES: Our standard for involuntary manslaughter, which is our lowest level of homicide, whether it's intentional or unintentional, is a willful disregard for the safety of others. And that key word is "willful." So that almost equates to a reckless standard, which is -- which is higher than negligence.


BERMAN: OK. Willful disregard. What does that mean, Joey -- I keep saying Joey. What does that mean, Paul, for the person who put the bullet in the chamber, and also the person or persons who were supposed to check and make sure that it wasn't there?


PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think we heard from the sheriff and we heard from the district attorney who the potential people being looked at, in terms of a criminal indictment, are in this case.

Of course, you have to start out with Alec Baldwin. I don't happen to think that he's going to get indicted. But the district attorney said something that was very telling yesterday. She said handling a gun is like dealing with a live snake. All right?

Now, if you're dealing with a live snake, you're going to be very careful about how you handle the snake.

Baldwin heard that the gun was a cold gun, meaning it had no live ammunition in it, but he didn't really go beyond that, in terms of checking the gun. And he did something else from what we're hearing. He was doing what

one report is a cross draw, practicing a cross draw, which is reaching down into a holster like this and coming across, and the gun then discharged, killing Ms. Hutchins.

Now, the question about the discharge of the gun is, you never point a gun at another human being. That cross draw may have exposed cast members who were in that entire range of motions.

And it's also possible, of course, that the gun went off accidentally. This was a single action revolver from the 1880s. And it's -- Those things can go off accidently sometimes. So that's what they're going to be looking at with Baldwin.

Now, for Hall, who passed the gun -- Halls, who passed the gun to him, different standard there. Because the question is, he was on the firearms safety end of things. And it was his job to make sure that Baldwin was getting a gun that had no live ammo.

And the armorer in the case becomes the other potential target in the case. And, you know, the sheriff kept talking about the key to this case is who put live ammunition in the gun? And the armorer, she's the person in charge of checking those guns every day, securing those guns, as Joey said. And, obviously, that was not done.

The standard is, did you do something without due care and circumspection? And if you did that, and you killed somebody else, that fits the standards of involuntary manslaughter. And the question is, will it rise to that level? It's a really close call here, but it wouldn't surprise me to see criminal charges come against some of these individuals.

KEILAR: It seems like there are so many layers here where things went wrong. From there being live ammunition on the set to the fact that we've learned that cast members were plinking. They were just shooting beer cans. To the fact that it seems like did the armorer check the gun? Did the A.D. check the gun? You know, does the actor? Maybe the actor doesn't.

But as a producer or anyone in an oversight role who may be aware that there are problems, there have been accidental discharges, what responsibility did they have to do something about this? Is there a point where there's accountability that is so diffuse that actually there isn't even any accountability?

JACKSON: A great question, Brianna. I don't see that. I think that people have particular roles to play, and those roles are significant. And any job that people have, we reasonably rely upon others to do it effectively. It doesn't matter what you do.

There comes a point in time, however, where you have to pinpoint the dynamics of who is specifically responsible? So no, I don't think they're at the liability is broad basis to everything on the show. Should everyone have each other's backs at all times? Of course.

CALLAN: But the question, I think, is were they running this whole thing on a shoestring? Were there enough people devoted to safety on the set? The armorer, for instance. She's on her second job. She's 24 years old.

Now, her dad is one of the famous armorers in Hollywood. And I think that's why having here name affiliated with the movie gave it credibility. But she's only 24 years old.

There are a lot of guns around. There's a lot of scenes involving the discharge of firearms. And she's in charge of this.

She probably, it looks to me like they were understaffed. And if they were understaffed, who's responsible for that? "Rust" Productions LLC is the corporation that was running the operation.

But Alec Baldwin got a producer credit on this. You know, kind of the idea for the movie went back to him and the screenwriter. Will they say that he has some responsibility because of his producer role to ensure that --


CALLAN: -- to do with safety on the set?

JACKSON: Brianna's point, though, is that it's so diffuse. Right? Doesn't everyone have responsibility?

And I tend to believe that they're going to pinpoint those who are specifically responsible.

KEILAR: But they can tease now (ph).

JACKSON: But absolutely, that has to be the case.

The last point, John, Brianna, and that's this. I think as a result of this, obviously, you see the sheriff's investigation. I think they'll be, of course, on the show. It's on pause. Investigation as to how they should do things better. The industry itself will take a look at what they do.

And I wouldn't be surprised if there are not legislative efforts to look at safety on all sets moving forward throughout the country.

BERMAN: Joey, Paul, thank you both very much.


BERMAN: So President Biden headed to Capitol Hill in just a few hours to try to save his giant social spending plan. As that's going on, a hugely important economic report due out this morning. We will bring you the numbers, live.

KEILAR: Plus, a dangerous and scary moment at a right-wing conference when an audience member asks about killing people over false election fraud claims.

And China is issuing another stark warning to the U.S. overnight about Taiwan. We have a brand-new exclusive interview with Taiwan's president ahead.


BERMAN: This morning "The Wall Street Journal" is under fire for publishing this letter written by the former president, former President Trump, that is riddled with falsehoods and baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.


Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst, Washington correspondent for "The New York Times."

Maggie, a very smart person told me not long ago that this letter written by the former president contains things that have all been fact-checked by "The Wall Street Journal" itself. Yet, the "Journal" publishes this letter from Trump, which contains all kinds of wild things in there.

To me, this is an example of the mainstreaming, the inch by inch, of the former president getting his lies into the mainstream.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He found a way to platform himself, right? I mean, he's off Twitter. He is not on most news programs, you know, with the exception of a couple of FOX, he has generally been relegated to things like OANN and so forth . And so he found a way, by writing a letter to the editor, to get it into the public.

Now, most people would say a former president having to do this kind of thing seems desperate. He doesn't care. You know, he got it into print. It got tweeted or talking about it.

But to your original point, these are claims that "The Wall Street Journal" reporters, and they're very good reporters in that newsroom, have fact checked and have talked about the fact that they're not true. And yet here they are, just being run in a way that, if an average reader stuff wrote in, they couldn't get this stuff in, most likely.

But Trump is very able and always has been, to use news processes against news outlets. And that's what he's doing here.

KEILAR: Because it doesn't matter that he's reduced to this. He doesn't care.


KEILAR: He doesn't have shame about it. And it's effective and gets out there for people.

HABERMAN: Yes. Look, we're talking about it, right? I mean, it was talked about on Twitter all day yesterday. Yes, it was still talked about, and this is not true. But people will still hear the details of his false claims. And that still leaves some kind of an imprint. And if you do this -- one of the things that he uses -- and I don't actually think this got enough attention during his presidency and certainly not during the 2016 campaign. One of the -- one of his methods is repetition. And he knows he's doing it. And so -- and he does -- he will say the same thing over and over and and over over again, because he knows that at a certain point, it does sink in.

And yes, there is a desire to treat him as if, you know, he literally has no idea what he's doing. He actually often, on this stuff, does know what he's doing. And this is an example.

BERMAN: Repetition is incredibly effective, as he has shown over time.

John Eastman, who was the lawyer behind the scenes who drafted a blueprint to overturn the results of the election, how Mike Pence could do it, if he chose to on January 6, he was caught up with by this activist who made a video. And I want to play what John Eastman said in that video. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of your legal reasoning is totally solid.

JOHN EASTMAN, ADVISOR TO TRUMP: Oh, yes. There's no question. But --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean like, you know, just supporting a supporter, like why do you think that Mike Pence didn't do it?

EASTMAN: Well, because Mike Pence is an establishment guy at the end of the day. In fact, all the establishment Republicans in D.C. bought into this very myopic view that Trump was destroying the Republican Party. And what Trump was doing is destroying the inside the Beltway Republican Party and reviving the Republican Party in the hinterland. Right?


BERMAN: Again, this was a Democratic activist who posed as a Trump supporter to get Eastman to talk right there. Eastman talking about this in ways that are different than other ways he talks about this. When he says, I wasn't saying Pence should do this. I was just saying he could.

HABERMAN: Yes, look, there's a separate issue about people posing as something other than they already are to get people talking on tape. Putting that aside, what he says here is very different than what he said to "The National Review." I'd like to know if he said more than that, and I don't know if he did.

But certainly, based on those comments, he's explaining why Mike Pence wouldn't go along with a plan that he said elsewhere he wasn't seriously posing.

And this has been one of the issues since Bob Woodward and Bob Costa's book came out, "Peril," which detailed this memo. Now, look, Eastman was saying a lot of that stuff publicly. But it was

just on paper. And the reason it's important was on paper, was that they had tried suggesting, Eastman and, you know, people around Trump had tried suggesting, we're not really saying overturn it. We're just saying you can send it back to the states. That was their second plan.

The first plan was overturn it. And that wasn't going to work, because there were not alternate slates of electors. Eastman has offered various, you know, explanations at this point. And so that's what makes the memo, frankly, more important.

KEILAR: An alarming moment that I wanted to get your perspective on. This was at an Idaho event for a conservative group, Turning Points USA, asking -- this was an audience member, asking an activist, a right-wing activist, Charlie Kirk, a particular question. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're living under corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns? No, and I'm not -- that's not a joke. I'm not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where's the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?

CHARLIE KIRK, RIGHT-WING ACTIVIST: So no. NO, hold on. No, stop. Hold on. Now I'm going to denounce that, and I'm going to tell you why. Because you're playing into all your plans. And they're trying to make you do this. What I'm saying is that we have a very fragile balance right now in our current time where we must.