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At This Hour

WH: Biden's Meeting With Saudi Officials Will Include Crown Prince; CNN: Preliminary Report On Uvalde Police Response Likely In Mid-July. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 11:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone, I'm Dana Bash in for Kate Bolduan. Cancelled flights, high gas prices, inflation fears, and a White House trying to reassure Americans.

A slow moving investigation into the Uvalde School massacre won't provide answers for weeks.

And a new mission to take to the moon it would bring America and the world a giant step forward. That is what we're watching At This Hour.

We begin this Monday with America's economic anxiety. And the White House trying to calm fears that the country is headed into a recession. The stock market is closed today for the Juneteenth holiday. But the Biden administration and officials around it are not taking the weekend off. In fact, yesterday I spoke with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm who projected optimism despite economic challenges.


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: The President is really focused on preventing these inflationary increases to the extent he can. Inflation obviously is happening globally. And recession is not inevitable. The President really wants to have a steady and stable recovery. But of course, one of the biggest pieces of these inflationary increases that we're seeing is the price of fuel.


BASH: A growing number of experts disagree with that assessment, 44 percent of economists surveyed by "The Wall Street Journal" now believe a recession is likely within the next 12 months. That is as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, a move that should cool inflation at the risk of also hurting economic growth. Among the top concerns when it comes to inflation, those record high gas prices, the White House says, it's looking at all options to help consumers tired of paying more than they used to, a lot more than they used to for gas. Let's begin with CNN's Alison Kosik. Live in New York. Alison? ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dana. You know the Federal Reserve's in the middle of a real pickle, it's trying to lower inflation, which by all accounts seems very stubborn and seems to be accelerating. So it's trying to lower inflation, and to prevent the U.S. economy from going into a recession. So the Federal Reserve is using the best tool that has, interest rates. It's raising rates at a bigger clip that it has since way back in 1994. And the idea here is to you know, cut inflation without causing a recession.

But the thing is, there's no guarantee that even raising rates is going to impact inflation, lower inflation, and there's no guarantee that it won't plunge the U.S. economy into a recession. Fed Chief Jay Powell even said last week that the CPI number, the inflation number that we most recently got, it was eye catching. And he said, look, the Fed there are some things that are out of the Fed's control, that includes higher oil prices, supply chain issues, supply chain constraints, and this unwinding out of the pandemic.

So we have the Fed trying to raise rates aggressively. It is a delicate dance. It can cause the R word. And it's something that you saw a parade of Biden administration officials come out and talk about. Listen to what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said over the weekend.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I expect the economy to slow. It's been growing at a very rapid rages, the economy, as the labor market has recovered and we've reached full employment. It's natural now that we expect a transition to steady and stable growth. But I don't think a recession is at all inevitable.


KOSIK: So their concern is that this could cause sort of a self- fulfilling prophecy where everybody sees, you know, high inflation, people pulling back on spending, and that could cause a recession. I mean, certainly not helping, Dana, is what we're seeing in the stock market. We're seeing the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ sitting in a bear market. The Dow getting close to it, even if you're not invested in the stock market, it's hard to have confidence when you see those kinds of headlines.

BASH: It sure is. Thank you so much for that report, Alison. High prices aren't the only headache for Americans this holiday. More than 900 flights were canceled on Sunday, as airlines complained of a critical pilot shortage and disruptions come just as air travel hits the highest level since the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. CNN's Pete Muntean is live at Reagan National Airport with the details. Pete, what's it looking like today?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, so many people still trying to get home today. You know these new cancellation numbers are huge, but the cause of this really is not all that new. In fact, we've been telling you over and over again how airlines got a lot smaller over the pandemic that has led to these massive cruise shortages and the deck of cards really comes tumbling down when summer weather strikes. We saw major storms on the east coast on Thursday, then again on Friday. Look at the cancellation numbers according to FlightAware.


More than 1,700 flights canceled on Thursday, more than 1,400 on Friday. Now airlines really tried to play catch up on Saturday and Sunday, unsuccessfully. More than 800 flights canceled nationwide on Saturday, more than 900 on Sunday. This really hits some of the nation's biggest airline hubs. We're talking Charlotte and LaGuardia and New York. I want you to listen now to a passenger we spoke to at New York's LaGuardia Airport. She had her flight canceled on Saturday. It was rescheduled to a flight on Sunday, only to have that flight canceled. Listen.


TERRIE CHERRY, AMERICAN AIRLINES PASSENGER: We left North Carolina on Sunday, came to New York, it was supposed to go back to North Carolina yesterday and got delayed and we got on the plane, went out on the tarmac, sat on the plane for four hours. Four hours before they took us back to the terminal. Anyway, they told us to go to gate 11. Gate 11 was 400 people trying to rebook a flight.


MUNTEAN: This is happening as so many people are traveling. In fact, this may be one of the biggest travel weekends we have seen since the start of the pandemic not only the long Juneteenth weekend, but also Father's Day weekend, 2.38 million people screened by TSA at airports across the country just yesterday, 2.44 million people screened at airports across the country on Friday, the highest number we've seen since Thanksgiving 2021.

This all comes with an urgent message from transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the airlines, he met with him last week said, get your act together when it comes to the summer schedule, especially with July 4th on the horizon. What's so interesting here Dana is that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also found himself in the position that so many other travelers are in. His flight was canceled over the weekend between New York and Washington. No one can really escape this, Dana.

BASH: No, they sure can't. Thank you so much for that, Pete. Appreciate it. So if you're listening to Pete's report, or if you've had experience that he just described at the airport, you think, well, I'm going to get in the car. Guess what, there's not going to be much relief when it comes to your wallet there. Gas prices are dropping slightly, but they still remain near record highs. Nationwide, a gallon of regular gas averages $4.98. It's a drop of three cents from last week.

Joining me now is Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. I'm trying to find a silver lining here. And I don't know if you have one with those gas prices. It's three cents, but do you have any optimism given your experience and your read on this that those numbers that those prices will continue to at least in a small way come down as summer driving season really starts?

DE HAAN: Well, I'm trying to be a little bit more optimistic this morning. A lot of it's obviously been bad news as prices continued to march up. But now a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, I do think that we will continue to see the national average drift down as we get closer to July 4th. We're about 4.96 a gallon this morning, which is still very high, extremely high, but prices are moving in the right direction. And I think we could if we're lucky to see prices drop another 10, maybe 15 cents by July 4th. Now keep in mind, the market has been extremely volatile. Things could change overnight. But for now there is more room for prices to fall ahead of the holiday.

BASH: So Patrick, let's talk about the volatility. The President is going to head to Saudi Arabia next month. Is it realistic to expect anything that he says to the Saudi crown prince that will lead to lower gas prices, particularly in the short term?

DE HAAN: I don't think so Dana. I think the problem is not only oil supply, that's kind of a global issue right now. But will has come down a bit. There is some room to be made potentially. But the problem also is that there's simply not enough refining capacity across the U.S. And this has been a problem that's really accelerated in the last few weeks with the increase in demand that we've been witnessing, even as Americans are experiencing higher prices, more of them are getting out. And so you can have, you know, if the Saudis and the Biden administration make a deal, the next problem is getting that oil refined into something more valuable, like oil, excuse me, like gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. And that's where the new kink in the chain is. And this is not likely to greatly improve the outcome that we're expecting.

BASH: Well, I talked to the Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about these issues yesterday and I asked her about the White House efforts to get OPEC to produce more oil. Listen to what she said.


GRANHOLM: He's also very concerned about what people are experiencing at the pump and Saudi Arabia is head of OPEC, and we need to have increased production so that everyday citizens in America will not be feeling this pain that they're feeling right now. So all around the world, he is asking for people to increase production, but especially our own oil and gas producers.



BASH: So she's talking about production, you're saying it's not just production, it's about refinery capacity. How do you address that issue?

DE HAAN: Well, it's something that isn't solved overnight, we did see a lot of refining capacity about a million barrels a day, or 5 percent of the nation's total capacity was shut down because of COVID, which greatly curtailed consumption of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. So the problem the administration has is not only securing more oil supply, boosting oil production here at home, but then potentially, on the refining level.

Now the President has talked about there been rumors that he may ask oil companies that reactivate existing refineries that had been shut down, but this is not something that's easily answered. A lot of refineries have been converted from traditional refining to renewable products like diesel and that has curtailed the amount of capacity available as well. But the good news is there are some expansions happening that will come online in the next six to 12 months that should alleviate the situation. But for now, that doesn't leave us in a great position.

BASH: No, it doesn't. Thank you so much for that Patrick, appreciate it.

And coming up, delays in the Uvalde Texas School shooting investigation.



BASH: A violent holiday weekend in America including a deadly gunfight outside a Las Vegas casino. Police say a man was killed and an innocent bystander wounded early Sunday morning. The shooting happened at the Fremont Street Experience, an area typically filled with party goers and tourists. Police are still searching for the gunman.

And in New York City, nine people were wounded in one killed in a mass shooting over -- after a fight broke out I should say, during a barbecue early this morning in Harlem. So far, no motive is known and no arrests have been made.

And here in the nation's Capitol, a 15-year-old boy was killed, three others were wounded including a police officer after a shooting broke out near a concert one that did not have a permit. The shooting happened after two earlier incidents that caused panic and trampling at the concert.

In Texas, we finally know when a preliminary report on the school shooting in Uvalde will be released but that's prompting its own questions. The report from the Texas House Committee should be released by mid-July nearly two months after the shooting. It's leaving grieving community members wondering what actually happened on the day that gunman opened fire inside a classroom killing 19 children and two teachers. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Uvalde. So Rosa what is behind the delay?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Dana, here's what we know, according to a source close to this Committee, the investigation is expected to wrap up by the end of this month and writing the report could take up to two weeks. Now what could delay that is if some of the individuals who the Committee wants to hear from does not -- do not voluntarily come to testify either here in Uvalde or at the Texas State Capitol.

Now, if that happens, then the committee would issue subpoenas, that of course takes more time which could delay the issuance of this report. Now this is a fact finding report. This is a fact finding mission that this Committee says that they're on and one of the big questions today is will we hear from School Police Chief Pete Arredondo.

Now he is not on today's witness list, on today's witness list, the city of Uvalde police chief, other members of the city of Uvalde police department, and also a Texas State Trooper but Arredondo is not on the list. Now as one of the Committee members was walking in Ms. Eva Guzman, I asked her if she was expecting or hoping to hear from Arredondo today. And she said that, quote, I think he's a key part of this investigation. I also checked with Arredondo's attorney, today Dana, and he said that he is not commenting on it or when Arredondo will be testifying.

But again, right now the testimony that's going on is all behind closed doors. All of testimony for this particular Investigative Committee is behind closed doors. And we'll be here asking questions figuring out if we can get anything from the witnesses as they enter.

BASH: Rosa, thank you. So many unanswered questions and they're not being answered in the short term because as you said, these hearings are happening behind closed doors.

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. So Juliet, I mean, let's just start there. This is happening in secrecy. You know, I guess there is some argument for protecting people in order to get a maybe a more fulsome understanding of what happened. But you are a former government official, at many levels, you've worked on many after action reports. What do you make of what is happening and not happening in Uvalde?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. I think, you know, looking at Uvalde and what happened, it's arguable that maybe this is one of the worst police responses we've ever seen and an active shooter in particular an active shooter school case. I would say that the investigation matches it. I've never seen anything like this before and I've been involved with a lot of after action reports.


I mean if -- we have to go through the chronology, when it originally happened you had a whole bunch of bravado from various law enforcement and the Governor Abbott about how great everything was, and everyone's chatting away and talking and everything is, you know, we protected the kids, you know, which is hard to hard to defend. Then within 48 hours, you have this this sort of regrouping, that something terribly went wrong, and that the police actually were there and didn't go in. And now you have silence.

So you have this sort of, you know, a couple of weeks, that's leading to the silence, no one's talking. No one is offering information. And so you don't have we -- even though everyone's saying this was horrible, you haven't had a single apology, you have had no accountability. And for the parents, no closure, no sense of what happened. And I'm not that confident in any of these investigations going on simply because everyone is covering their, you know, covering the rearview mirror so to speak.

BASH: Yes, they definitely are.

KAYYEM: Sorry I cut myself.

BASH: That's OK. That's OK. The question then Juliette is if witnesses don't testify voluntarily, if they are issued subpoenas, as Rosa was reporting might happen, this report could be delayed even further. And do we fee -- do you feel confident that at the end of this, no matter how long it takes, there will be a completely transparent rendering of what really happened and didn't happen on that horrible day?

KAYYEM: I am not sure right now. The Department of Justice has a separate review going on. That is not a criminal review. It's not even a culpability review. It's a sort of, you know, after action, maybe they will be able to find out more, there might be criminal cases brought that seems unlikely given both the politics of the area. And because under Supreme Court precedent, it is very difficult to charge someone's particular charge cops for sort of, you know, dereliction of duty or not living up to what we want them to do.

And so this may come out through dribs and drabs and these investigations. And, you know, also commending the reporting, which has actually been pushing a lot of the accuracy that we've been seeing. And I think that's why you've seen both the state and the local governments essentially go after reporters, they have these, you know, motorcycle groups out there sort of, you know, keeping reporters away from things, they're sort of, you know, it's, you know, they're not going after the assailant, they're not focusing on the cops, they're now focusing on reporters. And that's because I think we know that a lot of this is going to come out through reporting and not either criminal procedures or eventual civil litigation that the parents might bring.

But once again, the sort of lack of information is unprecedented. And that I think, is because they all are sort of protecting themselves. And in the meanwhile, we're not -- they're not having a conversation about the guy who killed lots of, you know, 19 children and what that means for our society and culture.

BASH: Juliette we're both parents. I was down in Uvalde. And I spoke to so many family members of those who were killed, or at least knew those who were killed. It is so complicated on so many levels, because you have these families grieving. It is also a small town, and I heard from more than one person well, there's also a bit of a rally around some of the local law enforcement because they're also part of the community. It's very complicated.

KAYYEM: It is very complicated, we say in disaster management, you know, that sort of a crisis comes to a community as it is, right? I mean, and others are not going to fix all that is so difficult in that community where we see racial divides, sort of power divides between law enforcement and the parents, the use of the police, I think to try to stop some of the parents from talking. Those are just sort of amplified through a crisis, including a community trying to protect its own or protect itself.

I mean, in the end, the parents deserve not just knowing that their child died, but knowing how their child died, because that is the true closure. And that only comes through an investigation. You can say generically 19 kids died in a classroom. That's not -- that's actually not enough. We need to know, you know, sort of the details and that's for fine, and yet necessary.

BASH: And I'll just add one thing to what you said whether the child had to die in that long period of time when the police were waiting outside the door. Thank you so much for your insight, Juliette. Appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you Dana. And for more information on how you can help the victims of the mass shooting tragedies and their families go to Coming up, the January 6th Committee now set to lay out proof of Donald Trump's direct involvement in a scheme to submit fake electors to overturn Joe Biden's win. We're going to discuss the importance of that next.