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Blame Game on Gas Prices and Inflation; Admiral Brett Giroir is Interviewed about Covid Guidance; Gloria Allred is Interviewed about a "Rust" Lawsuit. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 08:30   ET



BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Going to get the nomination and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he just won the election. But even if he doesn't win the election, he will say he won the election. There is no doubt that he will say he won.



REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D-CA): Absolutely. You know, he's shown that. And that's why the work of the committee is so important. This was a violent attack on democracy, and the hallmark of a democracy is a peaceful transfer of power. And so that's why we want to chase the facts, collect the information, and tell the stories so this doesn't ever happen again. But that's not going to stop someone like the former occupant of the White House to declare that he wins under any circumstances. But we're going to do everything we can to make sure that we know the dog whistles that exist so we know that it's coming.

BERMAN: Congressman Pete Aguilar, appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.

AGUILAR: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: The "Rust" script supervisor pointing the finger at Alec Baldwin for the deadly shooting on set. Why she says he shouldn't have fired the gun in the first place.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And who is really to blame for the rise in gas prices? John Avlon's "Reality Check" is next.



BERMAN: New this morning, the Biden administration is asking states and localities to use Covid relief funds for skyrocketing energy costs. Republicans in Congress say this is all Biden's fault, but are they really?

John Avlon with the "Reality Check." JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yesterday, Paul Gosar became

the 24th congressman in history to be censured. The vote came down to whether you think it's to threaten to kill your colleagues, which really shouldn't be a tough call at all, right, especially after January 6th.

But, of course, most Republicans didn't really want to deal with this. All but two voted against it, deflecting with a flurry of campaign- style talking points like this.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): I voluntarily took the cartoon down, not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was.

If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Under the Pelosi president, all the members that I have mentioned earlier will need the approval of a majority to keep those positions in the future.


AVLON: It's the talking points that really jumped out at me were about gas prices, and inflation, and they were hit over and over again.

But here's the question, Republicans blaming Biden for gas prices and inflation are real concerns. They eat into real wages. Creating the feeling that the economy is in trouble, even when most indicators point to a robust recovery.

But is it true that Biden's policies are to blame, or as the president asked the FTC, is there something more sinister at work? Well, the reality is neither side is going to be totally satisfied with the answers.

Let's tackle gas prices first. They're at seven-year highs. The price of oil is skyrocketing. And, typically, U.S. oil companies used to ramp up production at even the slightest hint of higher prices, as our colleague Matt Egan points out. But now, oil companies are in no rush to solve Biden's gas price problem. After the massive cash (ph) crash during Covid, when the cost of a barrel briefly went negative, oil companies are taking in record profits to offset those losses. So even though oil prices have surged more than 65 percent, oil production is about 14 percent less than before Covid. They're looking after their shareholders as Wall Street applauds after a dismal decade for oil producers, even as electric vehicles threaten their long-term business.

Likewise, the OPEC cartel, which could lower prices by increasing supply, is reaping profits at the expense of people at the pump worldwide. Now, both OPEC and big oil would probably rather have Republicans in charge for reasons ranging from less emphasis on human rights to climate change denial. But profiteering is guiding their decisions more than just partisan politics. And while gas prices are often a political issue, there's actually very little presidents can do to lower them on their own. Tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, for example, is seen as more symbolic than market-moving.

But if you take a big step back, you'll see that this is a global issue. It's the result of relatively rapid recovery from Covid lockdowns and the spike in demand for oil as the world gets moving again. And that's the case for inflation as well. The global supply chain woes are just that, global. And while there are some signs of improvement, this isn't turnkey. That's why we're seeing inflation around the world.

For example, China's industrial producer price index jumped 13 percent last month. In the U.K., inflation is at a ten-year high. In Germany it's a 28-year high. And world food prices are up 30 percent according to the U.N.

So, this isn't just a U.S. problem at all. And that's why Republican attempts to blame Biden while politically predictable are not all that credible. And while the trillions in Covid relief payments passed under Trump and Biden may have added somewhat to inflation, they also helped families stay afloat to save the economy from sinking.

If politico's (ph) actually wanted to help families from inflation and gas prices who are effecting the most, they'd probably try to pass the Build Back Better plan because it would reduce costs for child care and elder care while providing pre-k and paid parental leave.

But when it really comes to taming inflation, the biggest impact will be Biden's upcoming decision about the next Fed chair, because, domestically, this is mostly a question of monetary policy. And that said, the most effective inflation hawk who ever served was Paul Volcker and his decision to raise interest rates definitely didn't help Jimmy Carter's re-election prospects.

Bottom line, these are global problems, reflecting interrelated worlds, merging from an unprecedented pandemic, and blaming Biden alone is about as foolish as Trump saying the virus was part of a plan to rig the election.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you for that.

So, CDC officials felt muzzled in the critical early days of the pandemic. New reporting, next.



KEILAR: New evidence released by the House select committee, subcommittee I should say, that is investigating the federal response to Covid details how Trump administration officials interfered with the CDC and how that negatively impacted the government's response to the pandemic. Top health officials said that they felt muzzled by the White House. They discussed the decision in August of 2020 to change testing guidance. You may recall that the CDC at that point had revised testing guidance to say that people who had been exposed to Covid didn't need to get tested if they were asymptomatic. Quote, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your healthcare provider or state or local public health officials recommend that you take one.

Now, Dr. Deborah Birx told the committee it has been revealed that this document resulted in less testing and less aggressive testing of those without symptoms that she believed -- she said I believed were the primary reason for the early community spread.

Let's talk about this now with the former assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Admiral Brett Giroir. He was the testing czar during the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic. He is a pediatric critical care specialist.

Sir, thank you for being with us to talk about this critical report.

Did you alter testing guidance, or did you allow guidance to be altered?

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR (RET.), FORMER HHS ASST. SECY. FOR HEALTH UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, of course we did our guidance as a group. And the testing guidance you're talking about was -- underwent discussion for over two weeks. That included Dr. Birx. It did include Dr. Atlas, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield. Dr. Walk (ph). After two weeks of discussion, we decided that that was the appropriate guidance. And Dr. Fauci did sign off on it. Dr. Redfield published it in the CDC. And that was the guidance.

It was highly misinterpreted by the public and the media. And, to be honest, Dr. Birx thought it might be that way, and it was revised within two weeks.


But everything was done in a scientific way.

When you said, did I alter guidance, we worked together as a group of scientific and medical professionals to make the best guidance we did, and that's what was put out.

KEILAR: The guidance said to people who were asymptomatic that they didn't necessarily need to get tested, even at a time where you, certainly the testing czar, knew, and all of the officials at that table knew, that there was pronounced asymptomatic spread. How did that happen and what did you do to try to stop that?

GIROIR: So -- so, let me tell -- let me -- let me -- let -- let me talk about the intent here.

What we saw happening is that a person who was exposed got a test on day three and then they went around their business without taking quarantine. The purpose here was to say that no matter whether you're tested or not, you have to be in quarantine to prevent asymptomatic spread. Now, I understand that was misinterpreted to say you don't need to be

tested. That was not the intent. And the action was quite different.

Remember, starting in July, I started surge testing sites. There were 643 in 23 states that was primarily meant to test the asymptomatic. So all our actions were to test the asymptomatic individuals. Testing went up. But that specific piece of the guidance, which, by the way, was signed off by Dr. Fauci, as well as presented by Redfield and Walk, that was CDC guidance, the intent was to make sure that if you were exposed you would remain in quarantine.

But, yes, if your doctor or public health official said you needed to be tested, please, be tested.

KEILAR: It was signed off by you.

GIROIR: Yes. It was signed off -- the group of physicians, before we presented it back to the task force, came to a consensus about what that should be. And, again, that included dr. Fauci, myself, dr. Redfield, dr. Walk, dr. Birx's input. And I want to say clearly, Dr. Birx did not -- did not like the language that was in there. She didn't stop it from being published -- this was a CDC guidance -- because she thought it would be misinterpreted. And in retrospect, she was right, it was misinterpreted highly by the media and it was changed within two weeks to the guidance that went forward.

KEILAR: I -- look, I -- I take -- I take issue with that. The media reported that this guidance was bad. We were talking to doctors, we were talking to scientists who immediately when they saw that it was out there, that you all had put it out there, they said this is -- this guidance is anti-science. And we were very clear. We were -- I'm just going to say, we were -- we were very clear -- we were very -- the media. And, look, you can't --

GIROIR: It's -- it's not a -- it's not -- it's not -- no, no, no, so -- so you talk to the -- you talked to the doctors that you wanted to talk to. It was not anti-science. It was absolutely right, that is, you're exposed, you need to be in quarantine whether you're tested or not. That is the science.

KEILAR: No, look, you -- look, sir, as you said -- no, you said -- look, you admitted -- you admitted, sir, that the guidance was revised because it wasn't good. And we -- the media, many outlets reported that it wasn't good from the jump.

But Dr. Birx did testify that the Trump administration was against testing people who were not symptomatic. You know that because you had the correct --

GIROIR: That's not true. That is not -- that is not at all true. We -- we -- we started in --

KEILAR: You -- you know -- the president was against testing because he felt -- if I may, sir -- may I -- may I finish?

GIROIR: No, that is not at all true. That is 100 percent incorrect. That is 100 percent incorrect. We absolutely supported asymptomatic testing.

KEILAR: May -- please -- may I finish my sentence, Admiral.

Admiral, the president was very clear about testing, that he didn't want testing because it revealed positive results. Of course there were a lot of asymptomatic --

GIROIR: Not true.

KEILAR: He said it publicly.

GIROIR: He never said that to me. We always wanted to increase testing. And we -- the only time testing decreases is after the Biden administration took office when it dropped 50 (ph) percent.

KEILAR: Wait, Admiral, he said it -- he said it out loud. It wasn't -- I'm not talking about in private. He said that publicly.

GIROIR: We increased testing at every stage starting from March. Testing went up dramatically. The only time testing went down is after the Biden administration was inaugurated, and it dropped by 50 percent because a lack of emphasis.


GIROIR: We always increased testing by home-based testing, 150 million Binax (ph), 643 surge sites. Testing went up no matter what. The intent of the guidance was not to decrease testing. The intent of the guidance was to make sure that anyone who is recommended by a doctor of public health would get tested no matter what. But if you were exposed, we did not want you to take a test on day three and then go expose other people. You needed to stay in quarantine no matter what the test said. That was the intent. I understand it was misinterpreted and we all decided to revise it. And that's -- that's the true history.

KEILAR: I -- I just don't know -- I don't know that that's fair. Dr. Birx testified that the Trump administration -- this is Dr. Birx. She testified that the Trump administration --

GIROIR: She is the Trump administration. She is the Trump administration. She was appointed by the president.

KEILAR: Was -- if I may finish, please. I let -- sir, I let you finish. May I?

Dr. Birx testified that the Trump administration was against testing people who were not symptomatic, despite what health officials were saying. And that resulted in less and less testing. Are you saying that she's lying?

GIROIR: We -- we were --

KEILAR: Is she lying?

GIROIR: We were -- we were the trump administration. She was the Trump administration. The Trump administration was not opposed to testing asymptomatic people. We did every action.

Remember, 643 surge sites in 23 states, primarily to test asymptomatic individuals.


That was my program. I know exactly about it.

When she talked about the Trump administration, I'm not sure. Yes, Dr. Atlas did not want to test asymptomatic people. The Trump administration did, and that was our actions.

KEILAR: All right.

GIROIR: That -- those are the facts. I was in the middle of it. I coordinated all the testing and all the recommendations.

KEILAR: All right, Admiral Giroir, thank you so much for being with us.

GIROIR: You're welcome. Thank you.

KEILAR: And here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, Rittenhouse jury reconvenes.

1:15 p.m. ET, Biden bilat with Canadian PM.

3:00 p.m. ET, Biden bilat with Mexican president.


KEILAR: The script supervisor of the film "Rust" is speaking out, detailing exactly what it was like on set in that very moment where Alec Baldwin fired the gun that he was holding and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.


MAMIE MITCHELL, SCRIPT SUPERVISOR ON "RUST": I saw Alec going through his movement with the gun for the camera. I was holding my script in my left hand and had taken out my iPhone and opened up my photos to check the continuity on his shirt and vest. Then an explosion. Deafening, loud gunshot. I was stunned. I heard someone moaning and I turned around and my director was falling backwards and holding his upper body. And I turned around toward Alec and I saw Halyna going down to the left of me.


KEILAR: Mamie Mitchell has filed a lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other "Rust" producers claiming that she suffered both physical and emotional damage from the shooting.

Joining me now is Gloria Allred. She is a victim rights attorney and she represents Miss Mitchell.

Gloria, what do you blame Alec Baldwin for here?

GLORIA ALLRED, REPRESENTS SCRIPT SUPERVISOR ON THE "RUST' PRODUCTION: Well, the discharge of the gun is just one issue. For one thing, Brianna, that gun was never supposed to be discharged and it was not properly handed to him. It should have been handed to him by the armorer, who was charged with securing weapons, and staying with weapons, and then that is the person who was supposed to hand it to the actor. Instead, the assistant director, Mr. Halls, is the one who handed it to Mr. Baldwin.

And when miss -- the industry wide labor management safety protocols that are -- that are supposed to be followed by everyone in motion pictures and everyone in television involving firearms says that everyone who handles a firearm should treat that firearm as though it is loaded. Mr. Halls apparently didn't show Mr. Baldwin, when he handed it to him, that -- he didn't demonstrate that there was nothing in the rounds, nothing in the chambers. He allegedly made a statement that it was a cold gun, meaning it wasn't loaded.

Mr. Baldwin should not have relied on that statement if, in fact, it was made, that it was not loaded, that it was a cold gun. In fact, Mr. Baldwin himself should have checked the gun to make sure that it was not loaded.

And another point, Brianna, which is very important, this was not even a rehearsal. The rehearsal had not been called, because if it had been called, it would have been on the slate. Script 118c. It wasn't written on there because the rehearsal had not yet been called. So this was a practice by Mr. Baldwin, and the gun was discharged. The script itself, 118c, didn't call for the discharge of the gun in that scene.

So, something went terribly wrong. And I think Mr. Baldwin has responsibility in this as well.

KEILAR: So, look, you're saying multiple levels of failure, but Alec Baldwin was one of them.

ALLRED: Exactly. Multiple levels of failure on this set. It was not a safe set. Even prior to this incident there were reports of misfiring of guns on the set. There were reports that guns and ammunition were left unattended, on a table, outside, on that day.

Yes, we all want to know, as one of the sheriffs said, that million- dollar question, how did a bullet get into this gun.


But that is not the only question. The question is, every -- how -- doesn't -- so -- so many people have responsibility for securing firearms. And those protocols were not followed. Those protocols are there for a reason, to protect people on the script -- on the set, like my client, the script supervisor, Mamie. She had 40 years of experience, Brianna, on sets, many of them had guns on those sets. She never experienced anything like this to happen. And if the script had called for a gun to be fired, she would have had to be outside.

KEILAR: And, look, I -- I think -- I think -- look, so many people say, obviously, they've never experienced anything like this.

This story isn't over. Gloria Allred, thank you for being with us.

ALLRED: Thank you.

BERMAN: Time for "The Good Stuff."

European scientists working on a new device called dog phone, so your dog can call you. Fido shake a ball, which triggers a nearby laptop to connect to you on video. But does it work? Well, one test dog actually sat on the ball, which I guess counts as a butt dial.

Back in a moment.


BERMAN: A chef in Phoenix cooked indigenous foods to heal herself after difficult pregnancies. Now she's helping others in today's "The Human Factor."


MARIA PARRA CANO, CHEF, SANA SANA FOODS: I am a classically trained cook. I learned very quickly that French cuisine is not my people's food. Creams and sugars and certain fats that really affected my body in a negative way.

I became diabetic myself with my first pregnancy. I went back to my mother's traditional foods, indigenous foods from central Mexico, like corn, beans, squash, chilis, cactus. Going completely plant-based after the birth of my last daughter, I really wanted to help other people try to heal their bodies through food.

We started our food business Sana Sana. In Spanish means to heal. Also, the Cihuapactli Collective. We are focusing on helping the community learn about different ancestral foods through cooking demos, classes.

It's really hard sometimes for people to have a well-balanced or healthy lifestyle when they don't have access to their traditional food or seeds to be able to grow it. We have terfery (ph) beans grown here locally. Nopalitos, or cacti. Not only is it high in fiber, but it also helps level blood sugars and reduce inflammation. And we have our indigenous food pantry.

Since March of 2020, we have been able to provide support to 15,000 families. A group of us went down to Mexico City, there met with elders and then really, given the cultural to spiritual permission to say, like, keep doing the work.


BERMAN: A delicious solution there. KEILAR: Yes.

So, what about that dog phone story? That's my favorite story of the day.

BERMAN: I mean why would your dog want to call you? I mean what --

KEILAR: That's all your dog would want to do? That's the issue I have with it. Is your dog going to do anything -- you'll spend your whole day ignoring calls because Fido just is calling you over and over.

BERMAN: What if your dog ghosts you? What does -- what does that tell you?

Also, you know, no one calls anyone anymore. So, I mean, they have to invent a phone where you can text your own. Like, I want to get a text from my dog, not a call. I don't pick up phone calls anymore.

KEILAR: I just want to know, so it's video? It's videophone, right?


You can have like a Zoom. Too many Zooms. I would like to have one with a dog, though. That's sort of an improvement, I think. I love it.