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Biden Races Against Clock As New Splits Threaten Spending Deal; 1/6 Committee Seeks Testimony From Ex-DHS Officials, Talks To Five Trump White House Staffers; FDA Panel Backs Pfizer Vaccine For Children Ages 5 to 11; Anti-Defamation League Slams Facebook For Allowing Hate Speech To Spread On Platforms; Biden Preparing To Meet With Pope At Vatican As Only Second Roman Catholic U.S. President. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn.

Our coverage continues right now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden is racing to break a stalemate and advance his agenda as new splits within his own party threaten to derail a long-sought spending deal. We're taking you inside the fever pitch negotiations with time running out.

Also tonight, the January 6th select committee sets its sights on more Trump administration insiders seeking interviews with two former homeland security officials, this as we're learning that at least five Trump era White House staffers have indeed been cooperating with the investigation.

And FDA advisers just voted to recommend Pfizer's COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. 28 million kids here in the United States now a critical step closer to being eligible to get their shots.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's go straight to the White House. Our CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us. Phil, the president is about to go overseas on Thursday. That's adding to the urgency right now to try to get this deal done.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Wolf, that urgency and the stakes of the moment have been repeatedly things that the president has tried to convey to lawmakers behind closed doors, in private conversations, I'm told, over the course of the last several days. He did so again today when he brought 12 -- almost more than a dozen House Democrats to the White House to try to urge them forward on his proposal.

But there's no question about it, as they try and get to the finish line, there are still very real issues at play.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have said this before. It's not going to be everything that he wants in this package.

MATTINGLY (voice over): Tonight, a clear message from the White House and Democratic leaders as negotiations hit a fever pitch.

PSAKI: There are realities of governing, and realities of policymaking, including the fact that the alternative to what is being negotiated is not the original package. It is nothing.

MATTINGLY: Pressing congressional Democrats to unify as they work through the thorniest outstanding issues of Biden's $1.75 trillion economic and climate package. Grappling with whether to scale back or eliminate entirely key elements like paid family leave, Medicaid and Medicare expansion, and the scale of climate provisions, not to mention a feverish scramble to finance the whole thing, all part of an effort to secure the commitments of key centrist senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and do so in roughly 48 hours as they press to finalize an agreement to bolster Biden's hand when he arrives at the U.N. climate change conference.

PSAKI: It would be his preference. Yes, that's why were pressing so hard.

MATTINGLY: Publicly, Democratic leaders pressing that even in a scaled-back form, it's a domestic agenda that would rank amongst the most transformative in American history.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We had the new deal era. We had the great society civil rights era. We're on the verge of delivering the build back better era. And we're closer than we have ever been.

MATTINGLY: A message also delivered behind the scenes by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to her caucus today, sources say, in the full court press to get Democrats behind the plan. It's an agreement that would clear the way to pass Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal, but White House officials and Democratic leaders clear-eyed about the scale of the challenge.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Doing big things in Congress is always hard. But we didn't choose elected office just to pursue the easy things.

MATTINGLY: Yet those challenges spilling today into full view, with key progressive Senator Bernie Sanders breaking with Sinema and Manchin and demanding the inclusion of prescription drug and Medicare expansion proposals.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Any reconciliation bill must include serious negotiations on the part of Medicare with the pharmaceutical industry to lower the cost of prescription drugs. That's what the American people want. And serious reconciliation bill must include expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses. MATTINGLY: As one critical question still remains unanswered, what will it take on the economic and climate package to insure progressives will vote for Biden's infrastructure bill.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): The agreement has always been that there was one big package. It might take multiple votes, but it's important that the pieces keep moving together.

MATTINGLY: After a meeting with House Progressive Leader Pramila Jayapal, Pelosi responding to Jayapal's shared position with Elizabeth Warren with this.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Jayapal just said that a framework agreement is not enough to vote for the BIF.

PELOSI: I think it is.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, to kind of book mark things given how fluid everything is at this moment, there are really only two things that matter, what progressives need to be able to move forward on the infrastructure package and whether or not the leadership and the White House can deliver that on the policy side of things.

One thing to keep in mind here, the president is very willing to get involved and try to push progressives towards that vote if they reach a solid agreement on the second part of his domestic agenda. At this point, though, they're not there yet. Wolf.

BLITZER: They're not there yet. Phil Mattingly, I want you to stand by. I also want to bring in CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and our Senior Political Analyst, former President Adviser David Gergen.

Gloria, high stakes meetings, frantic negotiations, ultimatums, isn't that exactly where the Democrats were a month ago when they blew past their original September deadlines?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is but it's also a little different, Wolf. I mean, nothing focuses the mind like a president who is going abroad and who has been calling people in, saying don't embarrass me. We need to have some kind of agreement here on climate before I go to this summit.

Also, nothing focuses the mind like an election coming up next week, where you have two Democratic governors who are very, very much worried about this. The Democrats have to prove that they can be a governing majority. And I think you've got these Democrats running for election in New Jersey and Virginia who are saying, get something done.

So you put those two things together, and there is a different kind of a feeling right now, which is they have got to get to the finish line. It's always a problem before it's not a problem. And so, you know, there's a lot of issues that remain to be resolved, but I think Democrats, progressives, as well as the moderates understand that they have got to get this done because this is about self-preservation at this point. If they fail, they will really fail, and they will hurt themselves and they will hurt a Democratic president.

BLITZER: Yes. And, of course, the president is flying to Rome on Thursday for the G20 summit. And on Sunday, he flies from Rome to Scotland for the climate summit. David, as the spending plan gets whittled down, and it has been whittled down dramatically, Senator Bernie Sanders laid out his must-haves. As you heard, he supports -- his support potentially could be at risk right now. What's it going to take for President Biden to break this logjam?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very hard question these days, Wolf. You know, in the past, what normal politics meant was you could have these fights right up until the end to the climax and then people would come together, give up their differences and move on. Now, this doesn't smell like that at all. It smells like it's getting more complicated as the stakes get higher.

You, know we didn't -- who would have expected we would still be talking about Medicare expansion? That wouldn't have been settled here on threshold. Who would have expected we would be talking about immigration still and they want to put it in the reconciliation bill where it has some real problems being part of a reconciliation bill.

But with the one that really surprised me, Wolf, in the last 24 hours is this emergence of a billionaire's tax, a tax on the top richest ten people in the country, which smacks of sort of class warfare. And beyond that, half of these ten people have signed the giving pledge. They pledge to give away half their assets in philanthropy, and they're being attacked and feel like they're under attack from this new plan emerging in the Senate. I'm really surprised to see that happen.

BLITZER: You know, Phil, Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez told Politico, and I'm quoting now, he said the Senate needs to start saying yes or no on issues and stop, in his words, f'ing talking. Just how high is the frustration level at this point?

MATTINGLY: Well, Wolf, as you know well, the frustration level with house members when it comes to United States Senate is pretty much always at a peak level, but I think it surpassed that over the course of the last couple weeks. Look, there's a lot of frustration and I think everybody understands the stakes here.

This was the biggest thing that Democrats have tried to do in decades at this point in time. It's the most transformative. But also there are a lot of very specific things in the package that may be falling out or may be scaled back that a lot of individual members care deeply about.

The recognition of what's happening and what the actual endgame or outcome here is I think what you're hearing Democratic leaders and the president trying to stress. You might not get your favorite thing, or it might not be as big as you want, but overall, this package is transformative. It's something we haven't been able to do at any point in the last 60 or 70 years.

And I think the question right now is whether that pitch wins out. White House officials are confident that if they get far enough along, it will win out. But it is still an open question right now. And to David's point, this was a day that even though they made progress on the policy side, no question about it, on the political side, and I think on the public comment side, it certainly looked like things were moving further apart at various points.


BLITZER: Yes, it certainly looked like that.

You know, Gloria, as you heard the progressive chair, Pramila Jayapal, is making it abundantly clear that just the framework, agreement in principle if you will, a framework on the bigger spending bill won't be enough to get her caucus to vote for the traditional infrastructure bill. Do Democrats have a path forward after all these months of really hard work?

BORGER: Well, and you heard what Nancy Pelosi said. You know, Pelosi says, a framework is fine. We need a framework. And so I think they're all going to have to get together and decide either they trust each other or they don't trust each other.

If you have a framework and say, we're promising X amount on climate and we're promising to do this on Medicare -- I don't understand how Democrats at this late date cannot get in a room and say to each other, we will trust you This is what we're planning to do. It is remarkable to me that after all of these weeks, they can't seem to do that. And so you've got Pelosi saying one thing, Jayapal saying another.

At a certain point, they have to say okay, we're going to join hands here and get this done so we can save ourselves, so we can save the governors, those Democrats who are running for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, and get this done for the president of the United States.

BLITZER: David, deal or no deal?

GERGEN: I think there's going to be just a partial deal. They'll put off some of this until next year. It will be seen mostly as a negative by the press.

BLITZER: David Gergen, thanks very much. Gloria, Phil, guys thanks to you as well.

Coming up, CNN has learned at least, get this, five former Trump White House officials are now in serious talks with the January 6th select committee investigating the insurrection. Just ahead, I'll ask a key member of the committee what he's learning from them. Stand by.



BLITZER: Tonight, the January 6th select committee is taking direct aim at two former Trump officials who held top jobs at the Department of Homeland Security.

Let's get some more from CNN's Ryan Nobles. He's joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Ryan, so what could the committee learn from these two former Department of Homeland Security officials?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is significant because these two top DHS officials, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, were in power during the time between the November election and what happened on January 6th. And we know during that timeframe, the Trump White House was going to great lengths to try and get government agencies to get involved in what they believed or at least tried to claim was election fraud across the country. In fact, there's even a report of Rudy Giuliani, the former president's lawyer at the time, reaching out to Ken Cuccinelli and suggesting perhaps DHS needed to go in and impound some election voting machines across the country.

So, the committee could ask both of these men serious questions about the pressure campaign that was put on the Trump White House to the Department of Homeland Security during that period of time, and what if anything that could have possibly led to what we saw here on January 6th. We should point out though, Wolf, at this point, they have just been asked to voluntarily ask questions from this committee. There's no sign yet that they have actually taken that step, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're also learning, Ryan, that at least five staffers who worked in the Trump White House are now talking to the committee. How significant is that?

NOBLES: It's very significant, Wolf. And it shows just how wide the net this committee is casting as it comes to try to find as much information as they can about who knew what and when during the lead- up to January 6th and what happened on that day. And these five White House officials are above and beyond the ones that we have already known that they have issued subpoenas for or even those that have come before the committee.

Now, we don't know exactly what questions they're asking but we do know they have been asking questions, they've been getting answers from some of these White House officials. And in addition to the five we know that have come forward and have voluntarily cooperated on some level, we know they have asked questions of many others, some who have turned down their requests to be interviewed. Wolf?

BLITZER: They might be subpoenaed. All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss all of this with a key member of the January 6th select committee, Congressman Pete Aguilar. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. What are you learning from the former Trump White House staffers, at least five, we're told, who are actually now speaking with your committee?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, I'm not going to comment on the specific of what we're hearing from them, but I will tell you that we have had dozens of interviews with individuals and every day we're getting more information, more details about the events that transpired. And this is all in the pursuit of the truth. And that's what we have told the public that we're going to do and that we are undertaking, and it's what we have told our colleagues is our main focus, and that continues to be the goal that we have.

BLITZER: Does this group of former Trump White House officials, five of them, include the former communications official of the White House, Alyssa Farah? Are there any others you can tell us about?

AGUILAR: Yes. I can't tell you about the specifics and the individuals that we are in consultation with, but I can tell you that every day, you know, we're reaching out, we're pulling these threads to find out what transpired. And those interviews and those discussions are leading to more discussions that we're having. And so that becomes part of the investigative process that we're undertaking.

And I just wanted to tip my hat to all of the investigators and attorneys who are helping us with this.


They're doing an amazing job, and they're going to help us get to the truth.

BLITZER: And all these former officials who are answering questions, it's all under oath, right?

AGUILAR: Well, some. It depends on the interview. But some are preliminary discussions and then some could be interviews that are transcribed. And so there's various levels of interviews that we're undertaking. But we are keeping detailed notes. The committee is getting read out on the material, and we're taking an active role in searching for the truth here.

BLITZER: Your committee is also seeking testimony from two former very high ranking Trump officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli. What specifically are you hoping to learn from them?

AGUILAR: Well, what we have said specifically within the Department of Homeland Security is we want to know about the intelligence issues. We want to know what intelligence was out there, which was sent over to Capitol police, what was not. And we want to know their role between the Election Day and January 5th and January 6th.

They play a key role, and so we have asked them questions. We have asked questions of the National Archives as well for DHS material. And so that continues to be something that we want to get to the bottom of.

BLITZER: Republican Congressman Mo Brooks is denying that he had a role in planning the January 6th rally, but said he would, quote, be proud, his word, proud, if any of his staff did help organize it. What questions does that raise for your investigation?

AGUILAR: Well, I would hope that my colleague would also be proud then to come speak and to tell his side of the story and to get it on the record. But we want to get to the facts. We want to search for the truth. And anyone with information, whether they are a colleague of ours or not, should be willing and anxious to tell their story and to tell their perspective.

But it's honestly disgusting that they would undertake that and that they would be -- that they would use those terms about the activities that happened, this from an individual who said -- who clearly questioned his own safety because he wore a flak jacket underneath when he went and spoke at The Ellipse.

BLITZER: Congressman Pete Aguilar, thanks so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you.

AGUILAR: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Breaking news next, a very, very important recommendation on COVID vaccines that impacts 28 million American children. Our medical experts are standing by to discuss. We will when we come back.



BLITZER: There's breaking news in the COVID pandemic tonight impacting 28 million American children. Just a little while ago, an FDA advisory panel voted to recommend that children here in the United States between the ages of 5 and 11 should be eligible for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

Let's dig deeper with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She's the Author of the new book entitled, Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Also with us, a key member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, Dr. Paul Offit, his new book is called, You Bet Your Life, from Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, The Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation.

Dr. Offit, you were part of the FDA meeting today. Tell us why you voted to recommend the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for these children ages 5 to 11, if you can. What was going on in your mind?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Well, the question is do the benefits clearly and definitively outweigh the risks. And I think that's true. If you look at sort of what has happened to the 5 to 11-year-olds so far, there's about 1.9 million cases in that age group, about 83,000 -- I'm sorry, 8,300 hospitalizations. One third of those hospitalizations have required an ICU admission. There's been about 2,000 cases of multisystem inflammatory disease, and about 140 deaths. So, children can suffer and be hospitalized and die from this virus.

So then the question becomes, is it safe? I mean, what do we know about the safety? Well, we know that there was a 2,400-child study, 1,600 got the vaccine, 800 got placebo, and there were 16 cases in the placebo group, three in the vaccine group, so an efficacy of 91 percent sort of period effective.

But what everybody worried about and what was the center of the discussion today was myocarditis, the inflammation of the heart. Will that be a problem here? And there were a lot of things that made us feel better. What made us feel better was that it looked like for the 12 to 15-year-olds, the incidents of myocarditis is less than in the older group. That's good. It also looks like -- and that's been true in the United States and Israel.

And also if you look at sort of classic myocarditis caused by viruses, it's usually sort of a post-pubertal, not pre-pubertal phenomenal. So, I think all of that taken together made us feel that we knew enough to move forward on this vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds.

BLITZER: Yes, it sort of a very major moment indeed. Dr. Wen, if the FDA and the CDC join these advisers and approve this shot, as expected, 28 million kids here in the U.S. could be eligible to get vaccinated in early November. That would have an enormous impact, wouldn't it?

DR. LEANA, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. It could have an impact on the trajectory of the pandemic, especially as we head into the winter. But I think the major difference is the change that it's going to make in parents' lives and in kids' lives. There are so many parents who have been really worried about sending their kids to school, especially if their school doesn't require masks. And to have that level of protection with the vaccine would be really game changing.


Also, kids have not had a normal existence since COVID. Many kids have not been in extracurricular. They haven't had sleepovers and indoor birthday parties. And now with the vaccine, many kids will be able to resume so many aspects of pre-pandemic life. And so I think it's really important what the Dr. Offit mentioned then, COVID-19 is really serious for younger children, and having this additional level of protection will help parents and kids have an additional peace of mind.

BLITZER: You're not only a physician, you're also a parent, Dr. Wen. What do you say to parents out there who might be hesitant about taking their young kids to get this shot?

WEN: I would say that I totally understand. We as parents want the best thing for our children. There are going to be some parents who are already so sure that they want to be first in line. They'll do anything to get their kids vaccinated. I would say if you're one of those parents, talk to your pediatrician, find out when you can get the vaccine. But if you're not sure yet, it's okay to wait and see what the experiences are of the kids who go first. And then if you have questions, talk to your pediatrician. We trust our pediatrician with other aspects of our kids' health. Let's trust them when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine too.

BLITZER: Were you and your colleagues, Dr. Offit, on this advisory committee pretty united or was there some serious debate going on?

OFFIT: Well, there was serious debate going on because it's a big deal. I mean, you're being asked to make a decision for millions of children based on studies really on thousands of children. So there's always a lot of careful looking at the data and making sure we all aired our concerns. But in the end, we all came down to voting yes, there was no one who voted no here. So I think we were united in that.

BLITZER: There was one abstention. Is that right?

OFFIT: And I think, sorry, one other thing, I think, Wolf, that the decision that we make, when we make these kinds of decisions, it's all based on one thing. Would we give this vaccine to our own children? I think no one would have said yes if they weren't willing to give it to their own children.

BLITZER: And so what was the biggest concern?

OFFIT: Myocarditis, I think because you don't have a lot of data here. So, you're trying to look at the totality of evidence in terms of what you can expect for the 5 to 11-year-olds, by what you have learned from the 12 to 15-year-old in this country, in Israel. What you know about classic myocarditis, meaning the typical viral myocarditis that occurs in the 5 to 11-year-olds, so all those sort of things.

And it's also a lower dose. And you know there's a -- the dose here is 10 micrograms per dose, not the 30 micrograms per dose that was given in the 12-year-old and above group. So, I think all those things made us feel better, that although myocarditis may happen, we think it will be very rare.

And, remember, I mean how many people have died from myocarditis? None. How many 5 to 11-year-olds have died from COVID? So far, 143 and counting.

BLITZER: Yes. That's a huge, huge moment indeed. Dr. Offit, thank you very much for all your important work. Dr. Wen, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, The New York Times is now reporting that criminal charges are indeed possible in the case of a deadly shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust. Stay with us, we have new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.


[18:35:00] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The New York Times just now reporting the Santa Fe County district attorney is not, not ruling out criminal charges in the deadly shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust. CNN Stephanie Elam has the latest.


IAN HUDSON, ACTOR, RUST: Life threatening. It felt too surreal.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, an actor from the film Rust describing in his own words the concerns he had for his own safety while filming shoot-outs.

HUDSON: When they shot at me, I actually did feel the blanks hitting my face and my body.

ELAM: That firsthand account from Ian Hudson, an actor, telling TMZ that extra precaution was taken on set to protect the camera gear.

HUDSON: The camera was protected by shield. So, that made me question me being in front of the camera and sort of in between all that fire. I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards and we all agreed how intense that was and how scary and real it was.

ELAM: CNN has reached out to Hudson but his manager said he is declining further interviews at this time.

Another crew member, Serge Svetnoy, sharing what he called the last photo of Halyna Hutchins on the set, Hutchins shown in a tan hat with headphones to the right of a camera with Alec Baldwin in the background. It's unclear when the photo was taken.

The production now shut down, as more details emerge about what the set was like before the fatal shot fired by Alec Baldwin that killed the film's director of photography. According to The Wrap, during downtime in production, some crew members took the onset weapons out for target practice, loading them with live rounds.

SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, THE WRAP: We learned that this happened the morning of the day that Halyna Hutchins was killed in the early afternoon. So what happened between the time those guns came back with live ammunition in them, and they should have been checked.

ELAM: CNN has not been able to confirm the Wrap's reporting. New court documents obtain by CNN show the presence of ammunition on the set. Some found in boxes, some loose in a tray and in a fanny pack. And several spent casings along with three revolvers.

The records do not indicate what type of ammunition was found, whether there were blanks, dummy rounds, or live ammo.

MARCUS COOLEY, PROP MASTER AND PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Hundreds of thousands of rounds are fired every year on the set. As far as the live ammunition, there's no reason it should ever, ever have come onto the set. ELAM: An affidavit reveals the assistant director yelled, cold gun, when he handed it to Baldwin, a term indicating the gun was not loaded with live ammo. But it was, the actor firing what he thought was a secured gun, instead killing Hutchins as she set up the camera shop and injuring Joel Souza, the film's director.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help immediately.

ELAM: It's a tragedy many say they saw coming. Including Veteran Prop Master Neal Zoromskim who told the L.A. Times he turned down the prop master job on Rust, calling the production an accident waiting to happen, and warning corners were being cut on safety.


NEAL ZOROMSKI, PROP MASTER WHO TURNED DOWN JOB ON RUST: I impressed upon them that there were great concerns about that, and they really didn't really respond to my concerns about that.


ELAM (on camera): Now, CNN has reached back out to Rust Productions to comment on the allegations they're being presented by the Wrap, and they referred us back to a statement they had previously put out, which said they had not received any official complaints about safety with props or weapons on the set of Rust. It's also worth noting that the state of New Mexico also adding that they did not receive any complaints about safety on that movie set either. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN Stephanie Elam in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Stephanie, thank you very much.

Let's get more on all of this. Joining us now, the Chief Correspondent for Inside Edition, Jim Moret. Jim, thanks very much for joining us.

I know you well. You're an attorney. Given this news that the Santa Fe County district attorney is not necessarily ruling out criminal charges, what do you think?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, INSIDE EDITION: Well, I certainly understand that. One of the potential charges could be negligent homicide. You don't need an intent to hurt or kill to bring charges of negligent homicide, but you do have to have a situation where your wanton disregard for the safety of others could cause injury or death.

And in this case, you have a situation where you have a real gun on the set. This was a real gun that Alec Baldwin used, it's not a prop gun, it's not a toy. It's capable of shooting real weapons as we see with this horrible fatality, and then when you hear that the gun was not under lock and key as it should have been, when you hear that there were live rounds on a set, which there never should have been, these weapons should have been under lock and key and under the sole custody of the armor or the property master, and they need to be checked each time they come out and each time they're handed to an actor, each time they're put on the table. You never hand a weapon to anyone without showing it to them, without checking to make sure it is safe.

And so in that sense, it doesn't surprise me that potentially the assistant director or potentially the armorer or possibly even Alec Baldwin in his role as an executive producer could potentially face criminal charges. That doesn't mean you'll see that, but it means it's a possibility.

BLITZER: Yes. Certainly is. And as you know, these court documents obtained by CNN show the ammunition was found on the set, some in a fanny pack, some in boxes, some loose ammunition out there. Does ammo like this belong on a movie set, first of all, real ammunition, at all?

MORET: Absolutely not. We talked to several property masters. I talked to Neal Zoromski, the person that Stephanie Elam had in her report. He was nearly in tears this morning when I talked to him because he saw this accident waiting to happen.

You never need live ammo on the set. And especially in a situation where you don't have that ammo under lock and key, and the weapons under constant surveillance. So the short answer is no, you should never have live ammo on the set, specifically because it's easy to mix it up.

BLITZER: We have been showing our viewers, Jim, this photo, we believe it to be the last photo of Halyna Hutchins. She's in front of the camera with the jacket, the hat, the tan jacket over there. Walk us through what you know, because I know you have been doing a lot of reporting on this.

MORET: Well, as best we're able to determine now based upon reports, she was behind the camera, but this was a rehearsal situation. So I don't believe that footage was rolling. But imagine what she was seeing, imagine what Alec Baldwin was seeing. You know your heart has to go out to Alec Baldwin because he's left with this memory, really, seared in his mind of what he saw. The last thing in the world he expected was to see that bullet not only hurt and kill his cinematographer but also the director, and just thinking of it is haunting.

BLITZER: Jim Moret, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

MORET: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're learning damning new information about the spread of hate speech on Facebook. I'll speak with the head of the anti-defamation league about the dangerous posed by the social media giant.



BLITZER: Facebook is under enormous fire after new documents reveal the company's apparent indifference to hate speech spreading on its platforms.

For more on that, we're joined by the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt.

Jonathan, thank you very much for joining us.

You say, and this jumped out at me, you say and I'm quoting you now, I don't think ever before a single company has been responsible for so much misfortune. That's an incredibly bold statement. Explain what you mean.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Well, what we have learned through the release of the Facebook files, wolf, is that many of the things that watchdogs like ADL had been saying, at activists had been claiming, all turns out to be true and then some. The situation is very simple.

We knew that the platform was perpetuating anti-Semitism and racism, extremism and hate. What we didn't know, what we couldn't -- it's hard to believe is how much management knew. I mean, it's shocking in some ways and still even surprising to learn that despite the fact that management understood certain extremist groups, thousands of them, should be banned. They kept them up on the site.


When they sent up experimental accounts, Wolf, to see how they responded like conservative accounts, a woman in North Carolina, in less than 48 hours, the account was inundated with QAnon conspiracies. And they knowingly misled legislators and the public about the role of Facebook in promoting the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.

So whether it's promoting extremism in America, allowing the kind of hate in places like Asia that led to the slaughter of Rohingya Muslims or -- or Indian Muslims or even encouraging young girls to question their own self-esteem. Like, there is so much damage done here.

You know, for a long time, Mark Zuckerberg said that he saw himself as like Steve jobs. I think the right analogy, wolf, is Mark Zuckerberg is more like Joe Camel because, like big tobacco, Facebook needs, once and for all, to be stopped.

BLITZER: Yeah. I know you're exploring -- the ADL is exploring, Jonathan, responses to these revelations. That could involve advertisers.

How do you hold a company like Facebook accountable?

GREENBLATT: It's a great question. You know, Facebook is a behemoth. Their earnings yesterday, they announced $29 billion in the third quarter, alone. There's never been a tech company with this kind -- that's grown with such scale, and such sophistication in such a short amount of time.

They have nearly 3 billion users but they can be held accountable. Advertisers need to ask, do they want to subsidize such reckless behavior? Employees need to ask, do they want to enable such indifference as you called it?

And I think legislators need to ask whether it's time to, finally, rein in a company that put profits over people and there are different steps from the White House to Congress that government can take to finally, once and for all, get Facebook in line.

BLITZER: All right. Jonathan Greenblatt, I know you guys are working on this big time. Thank you very, very much.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, President Biden heading to the Vatican this week to visit with Pope Francis, but it's not their first meeting. We have details of their unique relationship. That's next. That's next.



BLITZER: Two of the world's most powerful men are poised to meet this Friday when President Joe Biden calls on Pope Francis at the Vatican.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He's got details for us.

They already have a special relationship, don't they?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have a relationship, Wolf, that is a based on more than their similar views on issues like climate change. This is a strong personal connection. Based on respect, faith, and dealing with loss.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we, Catholics, say, oh, my God.

TODD: A president with a devout and humble relationship with his faith prepares tonight to meet what observers say is a kindred spirit at the Vatican on Friday. Joe Biden is only America's second Roman Catholic president.

And when he meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, he will be the second Catholic president to meet with the head of the Catholic Church after John F. Kennedy did it 58 years ago.

JOHN ALLEN, AUTHOR, "THE FRANCIS MIRACLE": For Biden, in particular, getting the kind of warm embrace that he will certainly get on Friday from Pope Francis, that is tremendously important.

TODD: It's important, analysts say, not just because the two men share viewpoints on the issues of climate change, the pandemic, and fighting poverty. This connection, they say, is personal and deeply so.

PROF. MASSIMO FAGGIOLI, AUTHOR, "JOE BIDEN AND CATHOLICISM IN THE UNITED STATES": The life of Joe Biden, Catholicism has played a very important role to sustain him in the tragedies that he had to face, that had been (INAUDIBLE) through for the death of his son Beau.

TODD: In 2015, Pope Francis visited the U.S. just months after Joe Biden had lost his son, Beau, to cancer. During the visit, Biden escorted the pope at several of his stops. Biden later recalled that as he was saying good-bye to the pope in Philadelphia, Francis asked to meet with Biden's family and offered them comfort over the loss of Beau.

BIDEN: He provided us with more comfort than even he, I think, will ever understand.

TODD: But this visit also comes as Biden's broader relationship with the church experiences complications. Some influential church leaders, displeased with the president.

ALLEN: There are some Catholics, including some bishops in the United States, who believe that by supporting abortion rights and, thereby, contradicting the clearly and moral teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion, President Biden has, in effect, put himself outside the fold. And as such, should not be eligible to receive communion when he comes to mass.

TODD: But John Allen says that's a position Pope Francis himself does not agree with. The bond between these two leaders analysts say extends to the paths they have taken to the top -- two men who were written off earlier when the top positions in their arenas were heavily contested.

FAGGIOLI: They ascended to power, to the top position very late in their lives, later than anyone would expect for them to arrive there. So in some sense, they are survivors.


TODD (on camera): And analysts say there is another reason Pope Francis will be happy to greet the president on Friday and that's because the president is not Donald Trump. Trump and Pope Francis had a strained relationship after Francis criticized Trump's plan to build a wall at the border saying, quote, it's not Christian to build barriers.

Trump, of course, fired back calling Francis's comments disgraceful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, excellent report. Thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.