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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

NYPD Arrest Man With Tools Of Mayhem In Vehicle: Gun, Axes, Weighted Whip, Knives, Body Armor, Stun Gun; House Recommends Contempt Charges For AG Garland Over Refusal To Turn Over Biden Special Counsel Audio; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Talks About Republican's Contempt Of Congress Against Merrick Garland; Trump Plans To Meet With GOP Republicans On Capitol Hill Thursday; How Powerful Is A UAW Endorsement For Biden In Must-Win Michigan; Trump, Biden Battle For Support Of Blue Collar Workers In Michigan; Russian Navy Ships Arrive In Cuba As Cold War Allies Strengthen Ties; Sandy Hook Survivors Graduate, Remember Those They Lost; Atlanta Bus Hijacking Suspect Arrested, One Passenger Dead. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 12, 2024 - 20:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Reading the names of all 20 students who were murdered in that attack, also leading a moment of silence and honoring, of course, the six teachers and administrator who were also killed. Wearing white and green ribbons on their gowns, each inscribed with "forever in our hearts" to remember the victims.

It is a tragedy that has understandably shaped the course of their lives. Many of the survivors now activists, some of them meeting recently with Vice President Kamala Harris to push for gun control.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Erica Hill. AC360 starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360 breaking news, a gun, eight clips, two axes, one weighted whip, knives, handcuffs, a stun gun and one suspect. All we are learning about the man arrested in New York with all this in his SUV and what authorities think he had planned for it.

Also tonight, what happens when the Attorney General of the United States is held in contempt of Congress and the effort is led by a congressman famous for defying a House subpoena.

And later, this will both fill your heart and break it. Randi Kaye with surviving first graders of the Sandy Hook massacre, now high school graduates.

John Berman here in for Anderson and we do begin with the breaking news. And I just want to show you again what New York Police officers found in the back of a Ford Explorer they pulled over early this morning in the city's Queensborough. It is frankly terrifying. CNN's John Miller himself, a veteran of the NYPD and FBI joins us now along with former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

And John, just tell us what more authorities are learning about this man and what they found in his car.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, they're doing the deep dive. You've got the NYPD's detective bureau, but also the NYPD's intelligence bureau, which specializes in counterterrorism matters and the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI, all peeling back his life.

On one hand, what you're not finding yet and may never find is that he was radicalized, that he was in contact with an overseas terrorist group or that he had a plan to commit an act of terrorism. The concerning piece, as you have very well framed with pictures, is that he was driving around in a car equipped to do so. Not only the weapons, but a collapsible baton with the words carved into it in Arabic, God forgive me, a social media page that displays and this isn't secret information. I went to his social media page and looked. It has a flag that has been used before by al-Qaeda in one of the images. So they have to figure out what's going on with him.

From family members, what they're hearing is troubled, having problems with drugs, perhaps meth, paranoid, and somebody who may just be going through some mental health issues, but the danger is clear.

BERMAN: Did they just pull this guy over randomly?

MILLER: They saw that his license plate were covered by one of those plastic things. You can buy them at auto stores. It's basically meant to thwart the red light cameras and the speed cameras. On the traffic violation, they looked in the car and they said they saw a knife on the seat, asked him to step out of the car, saw a taser and then a gun also between the front seats, and that led to the arrest for weapons charges and the search of the car.

BERMAN: So not complete luck that they found it, but it's certainly something that could have slipped through had he not had the license plate.

MILLER: Well, it's a great example and Andrew McCabe will tell you this, of how routine police work, sometimes better than the best intelligence, is what can keep you ahead of one of these incidents.

BERMAN: Andy, that arsenal that this man had in the SUV, combined with the qualities that John just described there, how much damage could it have done?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Oh, I mean, John, there's a - there's really no limit to what this guy could have done with that sort of arsenal. And the thing that really jumps out to me is the nine magazines, nine loaded magazines to go along with the Glock semi-automatic pistol. I mean, that is someone who is ready to shoot a lot.

So even if there is no connection to terrorism here, even this is - if this is a lone actor, he's very heads up, on the ball. Police officers may have stopped a mass shooting, may have stopped some sort of a stabbing spree in a large group of people, which you can find anywhere on the streets of Manhattan pretty much any time you want. So what they may have stopped here we'll maybe never know, but no question, John's absolutely right. This is the result of really solid police work, taking a look at something that's clearly illegal, doing this sort of reasonable investigation that follows from that, picking up on all the signs and taking a step to really make sure that New Yorkers are safe.

I can tell you that my former colleagues and John's former colleagues at the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I'm sure are all over this right now. They're - as John said, peeling this guy's life back. But what they're most concerned about right now, John, is who this guy may have been talking to.


They want to fully frame out his network of associates, people he's corresponding with on social media, what were those conversations and those communications like to the extent that they can be recreated. They want to know if this guy has anyone else in his orbit who is similarly armed or similarly inclined.

BERMAN: You know, Andy said the clips are what was most concerning. What about the MTA vest and the police bulletproof vest, what does that indicate?

MILLER: That's interesting. The two least too deadly items on the table could be the ones that tell us the most. You know, an MTA vest, that will get you into restricted areas in the subway, believing that you're a subway worker. The police bulletproof vest is not the standard vest. It's the heavy vest. It's the plate carrier that is meant to stop heavier weapons and he has put an NYPD patch on it.

So we're talking about someone who is driving in a black SUV that kind of looks like an unmarked police car with this other indicia. You wonder what it was for.

BERMAN: And Andy, just finally, this is a day after the sources tell CNN that eight Tajik nationals with potential ties to terror and possible links to ISIS members overseas were arrested in the U.S. Again, the NYPD stressed it's way too early to determine if this arrest today has any connection to terror groups, but you do get the sense that authorities right now are on alert for potential attacks.

MCCABE: John, this is a beacon. It should really get people's attention to the fact that even though we're not talking about stuff like this every day, our intelligence folks, our law enforcement folks, people who are focusing on the counterterrorism targets and threats, they are at a very high state of alert. We know this because what the leaders have told us recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified recently about the increased threat awareness from the community in this country that may be inspired by or connected to Hamas actors.

So there is a whole broad range of very concerning threats and we're fortunate to have those folks watching those things closely.

BERMAN: Andrew McCabe, great to see you. John Miller, we'll get you back to digging. Find out what you can. Thanks very much.

More breaking news on Capitol Hill late today, the Republican- controlled House made Attorney General Merrick Garland the third attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress. Garland now joins Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and Trump Attorney General William Barr in the history books. In this case, it's for refusing to turn over audio recordings of interviews that President Biden did with the Special Counsel who later declined to prosecute him.

The vote was both politically driven and somewhat rich in that one of those pushing hardest for this, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, defied a subpoena to appear before the House January 6th Committee. With us now from Capitol Hill, CNN's Melanie Zanona.

So how did the vote break down today, Melanie?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, John, this vote fell almost entirely along party lines. Just one Republican, that's Dave Joyce of Ohio, voted against this contempt resolution while all Republicans voted for it. And of course, all Democrats voted against it.

So now it's really up to the DOJ to determine whether they're actually going to prosecute Attorney General Merrick Garland, which of course is very unlikely to happen, especially since President Biden did assert executive privilege over those audio recordings, which were of his interview with the special counsel in relation to the classified documents case.

But Speaker Mike Johnson said, regardless of what ends up happening or not happening, this was an important step for the House to take. Just listen.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): We did our job on the contempt and I think it sends an important message. We're defending Article One and our authority for oversight and we have to do that. We'll see what happens next, but - I mean, the House has to do its work and I'm pleased with the outcome of that.


ZANONA: So again, this is a largely symbolic vote. It's much more likely to end up in federal court than it is in a prosecution, but it is a dramatic escalation in the feud between Congress and the DOJ with Merrick Garland now become just the latest attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress, John.

BERMAN: So we did mention that Congressman Jim Jordan defied a subpoena to appear before the House January 6th committee. Did he ever face any consequences for that?

ZANONA: Yes. So he never complied with that subpoena to appear before the committee to talk about his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. And the House, which was run by Democrats at the time, opted not to hold him in contempt of Congress. So no, Jordan did not face any repercussions for his decision to defy that Congressional subpoena.

But Speaker Mike Johnson was asked at a press conference earlier this morning, how could Republicans hold Merrick Garland in contempt for - of Congress for defying a congressional subpoena when several of their own Republican members have done exactly that? But Johnson just responded by attacking the January 6th Select Committee and falsely calling it an illegitimate panel, John.

BERMAN: Yes. We'll get to that. Melanie Zanona, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

With us now, Maryland Democratic congressman, Jamie Raskin.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. What's your reaction to the House vote to hold the Attorney General in contempt? And in your mind, what help could the audio recordings provide that the transcripts cannot?


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, it's a ridiculous motion and a ridiculous decision. You know, it's really the first time in American history that someone's been held in contempt by the U.S. Congress for complying with a subpoena from Congress. There's been overwhelming compliance in this case. What they were interested in was President Biden's testimony before the special counsel. The Attorney General in the Department of Justice turned over the entire testimony verbatim, the entire transcript. They turned over all of the correspondence related to it. And they even produced the special counsel himself, Robert Hur, who came over and spent several hours testifying and answering all questions about it.

So, you know, they were saying they wanted the audio tape, like they wanted the e-book. It wasn't enough to have the book itself. They wanted the audio book to go with it. And everybody on Capitol Hill understands that they are looking for in President Biden's more than five hours of testimony, which he gave during the time right after the terrorist atrocities on October 7th, some verbal lapses, some mispronounced words or some ums or some uhs or something like that, and that's all for the purposes of creating a political TV attack ad. And everybody knows that that's what it's about.

And it's a ridiculous waste and abuse of Congressional resources. And it was particularly rich, as I think you said and as I said on the House floor today, that this is coming from people who did not support contempt citations against people who really completely blew off Congress and produced no documents and no testimony, people like Steve Bannon.

And some of the members who spoke on the floor on behalf of holding the Attorney General of the United States in contempt themselves had never responded in any substantive way to the subpoenas that were sent to them by the bipartisan January 6th Select Committee, which, by the way, was found to be perfectly legitimate by multiple courts when our jurisdiction or authority was challenged in any way.

BERMAN: Well, let me play what House Speaker Mike Johnson had to say about that, specifically the idea of Jim Jordan who did not comply with your subpoenas, you were on that committee, listen.


JOHNSON: Oh, I'm so glad you brought up the January 6th Committee. We'll be talking a lot more about that in the coming weeks. There's been a lot of investigation about that committee. I don't think it was properly constituted. I don't think it was properly administered. And now we know that apparently some of the evidence was hidden and some maybe even destroyed. So you'll see - you'll hear much more about that in the days ahead. You talk about apples to oranges. There couldn't be a more clear contrast between that and what we're talking about here.


BERMAN: Do you see this as apples and oranges and respond if you'd like to his charge that your committee was unlawfully constituted?

RASKIN: Yes, it's of course the exact opposite of what Speaker Johnson just said. Every federal court to look at this said that the January 6th Select Committee, which was a bipartisan committee with a Democratic chair and a Republican vice chair, was completely lawfully constituted and lawfully operated. And none of the people who tried to litigate against us won in any way.

So they're just repeating a bunch of stale, obsolete charges that have already been repudiated by federal courts.

BERMAN: Congressman Jamie Raskin, we do appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much for being with us.

RASKIN: You bet. My pleasure.

BERMAN: And then looking ahead to the former president's meeting with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill tomorrow with a party now almost totally remade in his own image.

And the latest on John King's all over the map series tonight. He talks with deeply divided auto workers in the swing state of Michigan about their presidential choices in November.



BERMAN: With only a few exceptions, the former president will meet with Republican senators tomorrow in Washington. Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, both of them critics of his, say they will not be there. Several others have either not committed or would not say. But by and large, most Senate Republicans are now Trump Republicans, even if it means rewriting history or at least tweaking it as Minority Leader McConnell seemed to today.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I said three years ago, right after the Capitol was attacked, that I would support our nominee regardless of who it was, including him. I've said earlier this year, I support him.


BERMAN: Wasn't exactly right after when he said that it was almost two months later, February 25th, but just 12 days after the attack, he said this.


MCCONNELL: There's no question done that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.


BERMAN: Lindsey Graham will also meet with the former president now a convicted felon. Here is what he said the evening of January 6th.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Trump and I, we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. Oh, my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he's been a consequential president. But today, first thing you'll see. All I can say is count me out, enough is enough.


BERMAN: Actually, for him, it wasn't. He later claimed that what he said there did not really mean what it plainly does. Then he endorsed the man almost unconditionally.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And just to underscore something you said earlier, if he is convicted, you will still support him and vote for him?

GRAHAM: Absolutely.


BERMAN: The former president is also expected to meet with House Republicans tomorrow and separately members of a business roundtable. With us now, New York Times senior political correspondent, Maggie Haberman, also former Colorado Republican Congressman Ken Buck.

Maggie, first to you. What is on the agenda for this meeting, particularly the Senate meeting? What does Donald Trump and the Trump campaign hope to gain from it?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They've been pretty vague about the specifics of what they're hoping to talk about. It's been left sort of in broad strokes about policy, the border, Medicare, Social Security and I expect we will hear a lot about that.


But I think this is mostly, as one lawmaker put it to me, about Trump trying to garner enthusiasm. The senators in particular, as you know, this is the first time he's going to be in a room with Mitch McConnell since 2020 and the Senate Republicans, unlike House Republicans, have been a group that have been not more resistant to him, but certainly less pliant in terms of his demands.

However, what we have seen in the days since his conviction in Manhattan is a pretty broad array of Republicans, including senators, rallying around him and saying that this conviction is improper or that Democrats should be investigated or prosecutors should be prosecuted. And I think this might be a different tone of meeting than we've seen him have with senators before.

BERMAN: You know, Congressman, in 2017, when Trump took office the first time, there were some Republican members of Congress who went their own way or pushed back on some controversial statements or some policies that he had at the time. Are there any of them really left? Do non-Trump Republicans have any power in Congress anymore?

KEN BUCK, (R-CO) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: One, I think this is going to be a great opportunity for President Trump to be surrounded by Republicans after felony convictions and show that he is still the leader of the party and still generates enthusiasm. I think that there are some Republicans who are running in Biden districts, districts that President Biden won in 2020, that will be concerned about being too close to President Trump. And I think President Trump understands that they have to win their races.

So while they won't push back verbally, they won't push back publicly, they will certainly have some distance before their election in November.

BERMAN: So Maggie, as we said, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski won't be there. I guess not for them specifically, but maybe others who haven't been fully in the Trump camp, what outreach has there been from Trump or the Trump campaign, do they do the outreach thing?

HABERMAN: They do actually do the outreach thing. They have people who work in Trump's world or close to Trump's world who do a lot of Congressional relations. You know, Brian Jack, before he ran for Congress himself, did a lot of that work. There are others who have taken over the political work. There are people who work for Trump directly who have their own relationships.

They do, do outreach. But again, it's not always the kind of traditional political outreach we have experienced before in the past or seen in the past. In some cases, it is.

I mean, one thing I will say about Trump is he has been working the phones a lot himself. I mean, there are Republicans who have been shown over and over as these primaries took place that Trump is dominating and he's not going away and he is the presumptive nominee now. And yes, there are some people who have races that are - it is more sensitive to be close to Trump and they need some distance from him. But they recognize that he is potentially going to win.

The polling at the moment is showing him slightly ahead in a number of polls, not all of them, but in a number of them. And so they're cognizant of the fact that, that he is faring well and the message is clear to him that they may not want to be so at odds with the leader of their party.

BERMAN: Congressman, as we mentioned, in addition to the congressional meetings, he's going to speak with CEOs at a business roundtable. I want to play you a portion of a speech he gave in New Jersey and get your reaction.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll give you a Trump middle class, upper class, lower class, business class, big tax cut. You're going to have the biggest tax cut.


BERMAN: So big tax cuts across the board, including new business tax cuts, I guess, on top of the 2017, 2018 tax cuts. Is that even possible?

BUCK: Well, anything's possible. It depends on who has majority of the House and who has the majority in the Senate. If the Republicans are in the majority of both and President Trump wins re-election, then certainly something's possible. You only need a majority vote in the Senate to pass the tax cut as we did the last tax cut.

I'm not sure what the appetite is going to be for a big tax cut. I think that he may want to play around the margins, but it'll be interesting to see if he can get a majority of Republicans, if - especially if it's a small majority in either the Senate or the House, to go for a big tax cut.

BERMAN: So in the Senate, Maggie, tomorrow, you've got J.D. Vance, Tim Scott, Marco Rubio, on the House side, Byron Donalds, these are all people on the VP list, at least the ones that we know about. And how much auditioning do you think might be going on in public behind closed doors for everyone to see?

HABERMAN: I don't think it's going to be that different than what we've seen in public, John. I mean, what we've seen in public is a number of these folks, not all of them, but a number of them show up at the Manhattan courthouse where Trump was on trial. We have seen them hold press conferences and denounce the charges against him. We have seen them defend him.

I mean, I think there are few defenders that Donald Trump has on television anyway who are as vocal as J.D. Vance and I expect we will continue to see that.

[20:25:01] But the jockeying has been going on in private, in public. I don't think it will be a massive change in private. Tomorrow, I do think you will see Trump do what he often does, which is work the room, talking, you know, taking informal polls, praising this one, praising that one. It will very much be a topic.

BERMAN: Life is an audition. Maggie Haberman, former Congressman Ken Buck, great to see you both tonight. Thanks so much.

BUCK: Thank you.

BERMAN: Quick programming note, don't miss THE SOURCE with Kaitlan Collins. Her guest is former Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade who resigned from the former president's Georgia election subversion case, and that's right here at the top of the hour.

Coming up, can President Biden rely on union rank and file members to help him squeak out another win in Michigan? John King has the reporting for his "All Over the Map" series. That's next.



BERMAN: Part of our "All Over the Map" series with John King, which sees out crucial voting blocs in battleground states. We have reported on President Biden's struggles in must-win Michigan. Last month, John spoke with young voters upset with the President's role in the Israel- Hamas war. John has returned to Michigan, this time with a focus on what had once been a reliably solid Democratic voting bloc, union workers.

The United Auto Workers, for instance, has endorsed President Biden, but Donald Trump has made clear inroads into that once unquestioned support. And John King is with us now.

So, John, you spoke to auto workers, what do they have to say about the election?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, they're very happy with the new contract they got last year after a strike. Most of the auto workers told us they got more than they expected. Most of them, very happy, very proud. The President of United States, Joe Biden, came out to walk the picket line. That was a little bit of history. No president had done that.

But inside the factory, the President showing up to help in the contract fight does not translate into universal support. Donald Trump still has a lot of blue collar appeal.



KING (voice over): Thirty years at the same job means you develop a routine. So when the United Auto Workers called a strike last fall, Tonya Rincon was a little lost.

TONYA RINCON, MICHIGAN VOTER: We were scared. It was weird because none of us ever thought we'd actually be out on strike and we didn't know what to expect. And I mean, in living memory, Ford hadn't been on strike -- I think it was the early '70s. Shoulders, knees, hips.

KING: Right.


KING: Hard work.

KING (voice-over): For six weeks, the Local 900 Union Hall was the place to get a meal. Now, you can grab at Biden-Harris Yard sign. The president's pro-union record included joining the picket line.

RINCON: It showed solidarity with everyday men and women that are putting their lives on the line and putting their paychecks on the line for a better living. It mattered.

KING: Did it change the conversation about him at all?

RINCON: Inside the plants? No, I don't think it did.

KING: If you had a secret ballot in there, how would it come up?

RINCON: In the rank and file, it goes about 50/50. Maybe it'll move a small percentage in Michigan. It is a state where small percentages matter, so maybe it'll be 51/49.

KING: But no doubt for you?

RINCON: No doubt for me, no, I'm supporting President Biden in this election.

KING (voice-over): It's way down from Detroit's heyday, but 134,000 members still makes the UAW a force in battleground Michigan. Chris Vitale works in engine development at Chrysler and believes President Biden's push for more electric vehicles hurts business.

CHRIS VITALE, MICHIGAN VOTER: The government seems to be appeasing the coasts. Everyone who lives in Manhattan thinks everyone should drive an electric car.

KING (voice-over): Vitale says he will again ignore union leadership and vote Trump a third time, hoping to end the EV mandates and to get better trade rules.

VITALE: I've watched this region go from the arsenal of democracy to, now, we are happy if we can get a sports stadium or we are going to sell weed or fireworks or whatever, it is absolutely pathetic what we have sunk two now. And our politicians just -- they're good with it. He isn't, so that's the difference.

KING (voice-over): Bill Govier voted Trump in 2016 and 2020, likely Trump this time. First though, he wants to study Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Michigan election math.

BILL GOVIER, MICHIGAN VOTER: If I would really rather have Kennedy, but by voting for Kennedy, it means I think Biden would win; I might have to vote for Trump.

KING (voice-over): Govier is a 25-year Ford worker and UAW member. This is a side business, using dry ice to clean car under bodies and engine parts. He pours his savings into the business and is about breaking even right now.

GOVIER: We are going to use dry ice to remove all that stuff.

KING (voice-over): Govier calls himself a middle-of-the-road conservative, doesn't like what some people call him, or Trump.

GOVIER: The powers that be labeled me as some far-right white supremacist MAGA Republican, and you're still entitled to your opinion. But I just don't see him as the anti-Christ or Hitler. That is ridiculous.

KING (voice-over): Bob King worked at Ford for more than 40 years and served a term as UAW president when the industry was trying to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. He ties Trump's support among Union Auto Workers to years of lost jobs and lower wages.

BOB KING, MICHIGAN VOTER: People feel like the government and the establishment hasn't been delivering for them. It is they are (ph) like better now than it was ten years ago or worse? And for many, many working people, it is worse. Their standard of living has deteriorated. In some cases, their communities have deteriorated.

KING (voice-over): Walter Robinson Jr. bets about 40 percent of his Ford coworkers are for Trump.

WALTER ROBINSON JR., UAW MEMBER: He's never done a hard day's work, not physical work like you do in a plant. He has a solid gold toilet at home, so I mean, how can he really empathize with your life.

KING: And when you say, wait, Joe Biden walked the picket line with us. Joe Biden has been a pro-union precedent?

ROBINSON JR.: They say that, you know, guns, gays, abortion, Sleepy Joe, Hunter Biden.

KING (voice-over): Robinson says the new contract wins were impressive, but didn't fix everything.

ROBINSON JR.: Gas prices are still pretty high. Food when you go to the grocery store every time, it is just me and my wife and it is $200 every time I go to the grocery store.

KING (voice-over): His side job 'Meet DJ Furious' helps pay the bills. But Robinson says he does it mostly for fun and to make people happy, no matter their politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: Great discussions there, John. Looking back at the past two elections, how did union members in Michigan vote?

KING (on camera): Well, let's take a look. John. We will move this over. First big picture, this is 2020. Look, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, the blue wall, right? Joe Biden flipped them back from 2016. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump won them and the rest of course was history. So let's come back to 2020, keep that map up there and take a look. The union vote was a big part of it. Let me stretch this out for you. Forgive me for turning my back, but just to stretch it out, so you can see a little bit bigger.

Hillary Clinton won, but with just 53 percent to 40 percent for Trump in 2016, nine points better. Joe Biden gets 62 percent in 2020, part of his -- the coalition that helped him win in Michigan.


Now, look, Trump only went down to 37 percent, so it is not just a groundswell of union votes for Biden. Hillary Clinton lost a bunch of those blue color votes to third-party candidates. That's one of the big questions. A, can President Biden keep that number, keep close to 60 percent in 2020? Or remember, third-party candidates didn't matter much of 2020, they might this time. So, not -- watch not only Trump, John, watch to see if the blue-collar voters trickle over to the third-party candidates.

BERMAN: We're (ph) talking about. All right, John King, great to see you. Thank you very much. David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, joins us now. David, let's talk about John behind his back and his report that we just saw there. What do you make of that, that you have these union leaders, the UAW leadership, very pro-Biden, but rank and file with a mixed response.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I love what -- I love what John is doing out there, so we can talk behind his back. It is -- we've spent so much time sitting behind desks, bloviating about what people are thinking out there. And he's going on I'm talking to him and I think it is really, really valuable. This trend is not new. I mean, the fact is that this has been going on for some time, the sort of deterioration of the Democratic support among union workers, even though Democrats have advocated for the interests of union workers more readily than Donald Trump or other Republicans.

But this has been going on and it is cultural, as John mentioned, in many ways. Listen, there are 44 new factories in construction. I was just up in Michigan, 44 new factories in construction -- under construction in Michigan. Ask anyone up there if their hours have improved from 2019 to 2024, and the answer is yes because there is more going on, there is a manufacturing renaissance, so Biden has a good case to make. What he can't be doing is trying to jawbone people into thinking that this is the greatest economy we've ever had, and he tends to do that.

This country is doing better than others in terms of recovering from the pandemic. But that's cold comfort to people who, as that one gentleman said, go to the store and find that groceries are 20 percent more than they were a few years ago. And Biden needs to recognize that, make common cause with that, talk about the things he's fighting for to reduce costs, many of which Donald Trump opposes, and set up a contrast.

By the way, the support of Shawn Fain there is not inconsequential. He is a very, very popular figure among his members, and I think his advocacy in this fight down the stretch could be meaningful for Biden.

BERMAN: Talk more, delve into this a little bit more, David, because you've been talking about this for some time, about how you think that there are things President Biden needs to claim credit for without spiking the football as (inaudible).

AXELROD: Yeah, this is not a time for spiking the football. People -- the data is very impressive, but data doesn't buy groceries, data doesn't buy -- pay for the rent, and there is a sense that the economy isn't as strong as the data would suggest it is in terms of people's experience. Joe Biden's great superpower as a candidate and a politician has been his empathy, Joe from Scranton who understands how everyday people live. We need to see more of that from him.

He needs to show more of that in order to win some of these voters he doesn't -- he doesn't -- he shouldn't be President Biden from Washington, trying to jawbone people into feeling better. He ought to be Joe from Scranton, advocating for people in a challenging economy when it comes to cost of living.

BERMAN: David Axelrod, who never bloviates, I might add.


Thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

AXELROD: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't agree to that, but OK, thanks.

BERMAN: Appreciate it. Just ahead, a Cold War flashback and a real- time threat. These Russian warships, including a nuclear-powered submarine and warship, entered Havana Harbor today, putting it about 90 miles from Florida. We have images and interviews from inside Cuba, plus the story from inside Russia, next.



BERMAN: It is likely no coincidence that just as President Biden has touched down in Italy for a G7 meeting this evening with new sanctions against Russia, plus according to sources, a new long-term security pact with Ukraine, which recently got the OK from the president to return fire inside parts of Russia, that four Russian Navy ships arrived in Havana, Cuba, about 90 miles from U.S. shores. They include a nuclear-powered submarine as well as one of Russia's most modern warships.

It is a live picture looking at right now. It is a not-so-subtle reminder of Cold War-era geopolitics and Russia's continued nuclear threats. Matthew Chance reporting from Moscow has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Onlookers line to seafront in Havana to welcome these powerful Russian vessels, including the flagship of the Kremlin's northern fleet, the Admiral Gorshkov, and a nuclear-powered submarine, the Kazan. The message for many Cubans that Moscow, its Cold War ally, is back.

JUAN MARIA ORTIZ, CUBAN RESIDENT (through translator): We have historical ties with the former Soviet Union and now, with the Russian Federation says this Havana resident, something that in my opinion is very important for the country.

MARIA ISABEL QUESADA, CUBAN RESIDENT (through translator): I've never seen something like this so close says another, such a large ship of that magnitude. I'm very impressed she adds.

CHANCE (voice-over): But the real message is aimed at Washington. Russian defense officials say the strike group now just 90 miles of the U.S. Coast has been practicing the use of high-precision missiles against the mock enemy. U.S. officials are downplaying any threat, saying they don't believe the Russian vessels are armed with nuclear weapons. But U.S. officials tell CNN that ships and planes have been deployed to monitor the Russian exercises. And the naval deployment comes at a time of worsening U.S.-Russian relations, just weeks after President Biden green-lighted Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory with U.S.-supplied weapons, with Vladimir Putin warning Russia could arm U.S. enemies in response.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If the West supplies weapons to the combat zone and calls for their use against our territory, then why shouldn't we mirror these actions? I am not ready to say that we will do it tomorrow but we, of course, should think about it.

CHANCE (voice-over): There's no plan to supply Cuba with the kind of weapons these modern Russian warships usually carry, but the Kremlin could still make trouble in America's backyard.


BERMAN: And Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow. Matthew, what are you hearing from Russians there about these naval ships in Cuba?

CHANCE (on camera): Well, John, I think Russians are following this quite closely. Certainly, Russian state television which is controlled by the Kremlin, has been giving this considerable coverage. At one point, the state news anchors were saying the Pentagon doesn't even know where our submarine is located as it was going across the Atlantic. That doesn't track, of course.

But with what U.S. officials are saying, which is that they've been following this detachments of Russian ships from the outset in its whole journey, but it does point to the idea that this, for Russia, is very much the country flexing its muscles on the international stage.

BERMAN: Matthew Chance, so great to have you inside Moscow reporting. Thank you so much for being with us.

Next, a bittersweet milestone, the Sandy Hook school shooting survivors who lost 20 first-grade classmates and six staffers in the 2020 massacre, they graduate from high school and remember number those they will always miss. What two survivors told our Randi Kaye, that's coming up.



BERMAN: Tonight in Connecticut, a graduation ceremony for the 2024 class of Newtown High School, it is a major milestone in any student's life but this comes with mixed emotions. 20 of their classmates never got to leave the first grade, let alone make college plans. They along with six staff members were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre almost 12 years ago. Tonight, each of their names was called out in remembrance and two of the graduated spoke with our Randi Kaye on the eve of their graduation.


GRACE FISCHER, NEWTOWN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: Super excited about heading to college. It is definitely a very bittersweet kind of emotion.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bittersweet because Grace Fischer is graduating Newtown High School without 20 of her classmates. They were killed in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary nearly 12 years ago. Emma Ehrens was there that horrible day too and lost her best friend.

EMMA EHRENS, NEWTOWN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: Thinking about all the what-ifs of what if they were sitting next to me at graduation, what if we were still friends? Where would we be?

KAYE (voice-over): Both Emma and Grace were just six-years-old in 2012 and seated in their first grade classrooms when the gunman stormed into their school.

EHRENS: We thought it was construction because it's been going on for the past couple of days on the roof and then a guy armed came into my classroom and started shooting all of my friends and my teachers and my classmates, his gun and had been jammed and a friend of mine, Jesse Lewis had yelled at us to run, and that's what we did.

FISCHER: We kind of sectioned ourselves into the cubby area, which is kind of like an indent. So from the door, we are absolutely hidden. I remember feeling like I was endangered.

KAYE (voice-over): Emma remembers bumping into the gunman in her rush to get out. The boy who yelled to her and others to run, Jesse Lewis, was fatally shot on the spot. KAYE: I mean, you believe he saved your life?

EHRENS: I do. I really do. In the hallway, right by the main entrance, there was chairs in front of the office and under the chairs were people. Because of the force of impact of the bullets, they were blown under the chairs.

FISCHER: When we got to the firehouse, we had to line up like by grade. And that's when my teacher was really like, this is really not OK. Because when we lined up by grade, like half of our grade was missing and everyone else was there.

KAYE (voice-over): In the year since, both girls have struggled to cope with the memories from that day.

EHRENS: I've gone to therapy for like six or seven years. I have survivor's guilt, PTSD.

FISCHER: There definitely is still like a lot of fear in me. And even now, I don't think I've been to a single concert in my entire life, just because I'm really worried about that big crowd of people and not knowing where to go in case of an emergency.

KAYE (voice-over): They've turned some of that anxiety into action.

EHRENS: I want to live in a nation that values children more than guns.

KAYE (voice-over): Both are members of the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, which promotes gun safety.

EHRENS: I do not want future kids of America to have to be scared in a classroom.

FISCHER: We really are pushing, obviously, for a federal assault weapons ban. Also, we do shift our focus to like safe storage laws and also mental health resources.

KAYE (voice-over): They've met with members of Congress about gun laws and just last week, Vice President Kamala Harris. And yet, school shootings continue.

EHRENS: It is definitely like a knife to the heart when you see it happen again and again after fighting so hard.

KAYE (voice-over): On graduation day, the names of those lost were read and ribbons marking the day of the massacre worn in their honor.

FISCHER: Because their lives were lost so early and I went through that at such an early age. I feel like it is my purpose to continue my life, like, in honor of them.

EHRENS: I know whatever I do, they will be proud of me. I like to believe that.

KAYE (voice-over): On the most recent anniversary of the shooting, Emma posted this photo on her Instagram, writing in part, I just want to live in a safe world. I miss you guys every day. I hope you are happy in heaven. The picture shows Emma with her best friend Avial Richmond (ph), who died in the shooting.


BERMAN: I hope you are happy in heaven. And Randi Kaye is with us now. What strength they all showed there. What are the plans for after graduation?

KAYE (on camera): They have plans for college. This fall, Emma is going to go to Roger Williams University and she plans to study legal studies, and Grace is going to Hamilton College and she plans to focus on law and justice.


They both really want to help people. But my guess is, John, that even though they're going away to college, that Newtown isn't going to be very far from their thoughts. Even Emma told me during our interview that she still runs this 5K in honor of her teacher who was killed every year. And they still visit the memorial on a regular basis they are in town. So I think even though they have big plans, they will be a way, Newtown will be in their hearts.

BERMAN: I have to believe that. I hope they have a wonderful future. Thanks so much, Randi Kaye. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Tonight, we have new details on Tuesday's deadly hijacking of an Atlanta area transit bus and police chase. It was remarkable and terrifying, the bus swerving uncontrollably through rush-hour traffic and hitting cars, then barreling on. Investigators said today it all started with an argument between two passengers, one of them was killed when, according to police, the other grabbed his gun and shot him. Investigators say the suspect then threatened others and ordered the driver to get on the road. This, as passengers frantically texted loved ones and call 911 for help. Thankfully, police finally stop the bus and arrested the suspect.