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Justice Dept. Targets Trump's Fake Electors With Subpoenas; Uvalde School Police Chief Suspended Over Botched Response To Gunman; Airlines Cancel Thousands Of Flights As Summer Travel Heats Up. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 11:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We thus held firm to the position that the department would not participate in any campaigns or political party's legal challenges to the certification of the Electoral College votes. We also insisted that there must be an orderly and peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution.

Now, when this hearing wraps later this afternoon, at that point, the hearing will go -- the committee will go quiet for some time. There will not be any public hearings next week as what was originally expected because they are going to go through all that new information, including that footage from that documentary filmmaker, and then they may come back in mid-July to present any of their new findings here. But today will be the latest in this effort to show what Donald Trump was trying to do and what he failed to do, which is to overturn the electoral results. Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And we will be watching it all, Manu. Appreciate it. Thank you. One of the members of the panel, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger spoke with CNN about why he thinks it's so important for people to watch today's hearing.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R-IL): A lot of disinformation is known a lot isn't. And we're going to show what happened well as the president was doing his best to basically put the Department of Justice stamp on his lies and conspiracies to embolden people. So I would encourage folks to tune in and see yet another prong of what the president -- the former president tried to do to take away no -- matter who you voted for to take away your vote.


HILL: Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and CNN Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt, good to have you both here. Kasie, as we look at this and setting up for what we're about to hear this afternoon, should we read anything into the fact that it will be Adam Kinzinger who's leading this hearing today?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it's actually a really interesting choice, Erica, for a couple of reasons. You know, Kinzinger is only one of two Republicans on the committee. And it's very clear that as the committee has thought through what this presentation is going to mean to the American public, they are using the Republicans who are present to add credibility and weight to what they're doing. Hopefully, they believe in the eyes of Americans who may want to vote for Republicans who perhaps voted for Donald Trump, but who may be open to a new understanding based on what the committee is presenting. So the fact that they chose him for this, I think underscores the weightiness of what we can expect to hear today.

And so the point that Kinzinger was making, he did say we're going to learn a lot of new information about what was going on at the Justice Department. And, you know, the committee has blended together known facts, along with some of the new information that they have uncovered, as well as added new voices and information to our understanding of this. So I do think it's pretty significant that they've chosen him to do this today.

HILL: You know, as we look at where we are, while we wait for that testimony later this afternoon, Jen, the DOJ, as we know, as we've mentioned, has its own investigations into January 6. Yesterday, this sort of new subpoena dumped to people in several states who were -- who had signed on to this fake electoral scheme, and most notably, the Georgia Republican Party, the leader of -- the head of the Georgia Republican Party, Chairman David Shafer. Again, this is entirely separate from what the House committee is doing. Should we make anything of that timing, though, that this happened on the day after we heard all of this testimony about those fake electors?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, Erica, because I really wanted to hear more about that in the hearing, I wanted to hear from all these people who were recruited as electors and how they were recruited, who was pulling the strings what they knew. But I think the reason that we didn't is because we know DOJ is investigating this. They have already announced that for some time now.

And how it usually works when DOJ is investigating is they try to put a stop or a hold on other folks like Congress doing their own investigations. So, they want to develop the evidence in the witness themselves. That's how it traditionally works. So I think maybe the reason we didn't hear so much the other day is because DOJ already was getting into that information, issuing those subpoenas, as you mentioned, so I don't know that they're working off of what the committee is doing. I think, really, it might be a little bit of the reverse. But, of course, it's good to see them working hard on this.

HILL: So the timing is just a coincidence.

RODGERS: Well, you know, I think usually you start with different kinds of subpoenas.

HILL: Right.

RODGERS: Sometimes you start with your bank subpoenas and so on, the witness subpoenas tend to come later so I'm inclined to think it's a coincidence because in this particular piece of the plot, right, I think they're not following. They're more than the leading camp.

HILL: Which is interesting you know you talk about sort of the following and the leading. Kasie, there has been more than one request from DOJ to the committee. They want access to these private witness interviews. They're more than a thousand I think they're asking for. And the committee is continuing to put the DOJ off. It seems like politically, it would be a win for the committee to help the DOJ here, it adds some validity. Why is there such resistance? Do we have any more information on that?

HUNT: Yes, it's a really interesting question, Erica. And we know that the committee also has a pile of data that they have amassed throughout the course of this investigation, information on text messages, things from people's phones, etcetera, that would be particularly potentially critical at least.


HUNT: The sources I've talked to have pointed to that as like really the trove, but of course, there are the transcripts of witness interviews and the depositions. My understanding is there is some concern that the Department of Justice in receipt of this information would then have to turn it over as part of the discovery process. Now, of course, I'm not a lawyer, you're sitting next to one so it'd be interesting to know what her take is on this. But my understanding is, they're a little bit concerned about the political ramifications of allowing that into the hands of people that they're trying to prosecute at this moment in time because they really are kind of walking this high wire of trying to make sure that their hearings are as impactful with the public as possible.

Because while on the one hand, yes, this is something that's incredibly important to the Department of Justice, and what does Merrick Garland do, there's also an incredibly important set of political considerations. And if you look particularly at Liz Cheney, I mean, I remember talking to her in the hallway right after she was thrown out of her leadership post, and I asked her, you know, what she was willing to do to keep Donald Trump from becoming president again.

And she essentially told me she'll do anything it takes. And that's going to take political convincing, as well. It's going to take a continued and -- you know, look, we saw Republicans in the last election, many of them voted for Republican lawmakers, members of Congress, and they didn't vote for Donald Trump. You saw that in the state of Georgia, for example. So I think that that's one of the key political goals of the committee.

HILL: Yes.

HUNT: And that may ultimately end up being just as important as the judicial process.

HILL: Yes. We're unfortunately out of time but it's interesting what you see -- when you see the setup, right. Normally, it's probably the DOJ, Jen, that's a little worried about giving information to Congress because you know there are some leaks up there on the hill. But here we are in a reverse. Jennifer Rodgers, Kasie Hunt, I appreciate it. Thank you both.

RODGERS: Thanks, for having us.

HILL: CNN's special coverage of today's insurrection hearing begins right here on CNN at 1 p.m. Eastern, please be sure to stay with us for that. Just ahead here, the Uvalde School Police Chief now on administrative leave as a lawmaker in Texas filed suit demanding answers over what happened during that horrific mass shooting. He's going to join us next.



HILL: In Texas right now, the embattled police chief for the Uvalde School District, Pete Arredondo is on administrative leave. This, after weeks of outrage over the delayed police response and action during the massacre at Robb elementary school that resulted in 19 children and two teachers being killed. Joining me now is Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde. It's good to have you with us this morning. You know, as we heard again from Colonel McCraw yesterday, he's squarely pointing to Pete Arredondo for a failure to act as being the person responsible here. Now that he's been put on administrative leave, do you believe that's the right move?

ROLAND GUTIERREZ, DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR, TEXAS: Well, again, I think that the city needs to handle and the school district needs to handle all of their issues on their own, and I'm not going to get in their space. The people that are accountable to me are the Department of Public Safety. To say that Peter Arredondo is squarely responsible, I think is more than disingenuous. I think that every law enforcement entity that was there, including the Department of Public Safety has their own responsibility to bear.

We had 91 DPS officers there, 91. Within 16 minutes, the first one of those was in the room and clearly moved out and was in the direction of nobody, including Pete Arredondo. And so we've got a lot of finger- pointing here. The people in my community, in Uvalde, they want to see that stop. They want law enforcement to take responsibility for their actions and move on to get the clearer picture of what happened here.

HILL: In terms of getting that clear picture the state senate has oversight over DPS, over the Department of Public Safety yet you're now suing DPS, specifically for information related to the shooting. What do you believe the DPS is holding back?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I don't know. But we got a dog and pony show the other day with everybody's body cams, but theirs. They cloistered their body cams behind an open record request exception. And so that's why I sued them. I think that we need to get the information. You know, the colonel is willing to tell us that we're everybody else failed, but not his own team members.

The fact is there was a Texas Ranger in that hallway, there was 12 other officers in that hallway, they weren't -- they didn't stand down to Mr. Arredondo's direction as he testified in my cross-examination of him. They had no joint training with these units beforehand, these were all the governor's operations Lone Star Task Force. The vast majority of them, including his commanders, were there. Why didn't they take over as McCraw says that they were supposed to do under active shooting protocols?

We had significant failures on that day, including not one single radio working in that school building. We have to get these things addressed. And the only way we're going to address them is by seeing all of the evidence before us not just whatever Colonel McCraw thinks he can select.

HILL: So I know as you wait for them, right? There's a waiting period there but you filed, you -- for people outside of Uvalde, right? You look at what is happening in the community, and you're heart breaks for these families, for the community.


HILL: Every time there is a changing narrative. There's a different storyline. There's different fingerpointing. Can you -- can you explain, I think for people who are watching, why has -- why has it been so tough to get answers? Why is it so hard for the families to get an answer?

GUTIERREZ: Well, it's because law enforcement and those in power in the community don't want to tell us. And you know, in the mayor's defense, he was told by the district attorney not to give out any of that information. As of yesterday, he is asked if the DPS release all of their body cams. If they released theirs and he would release his. But again, I bet -- I'm of the opinion that this had been taken by DPS at this time because they are the ones that are in controlling this investigation, and clearly attempting to control the narrative. And the narrative that they don't want to tell us is the failure of Operation Lonestar along with these border communities.

HILL: We hope you'll let us know if and when you get that information you're seeking. Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, appreciate your time today, sir, thank you.

Just ahead. Another day of chaos at airports, you may be dealing with it in this very moment. Passengers are fed up over cancellations, flight crews struggling with staffing shortages. The leader of the flight attendants union joins us next.



HILL: The summer travel season is off to a rough start, maybe putting it mildly. On Wednesday, airlines canceled over a thousand flights, delayed nearly 3500. The travel chaos is caused, we're told, by a combination of factors. There's the bad weather, the one you can't control. There's also increased demand, airlines staffing shortages.

Joining me now is Sara Nelson. She's the International President of the Association of flight attendants. Sara, it's good to have you with us. You know, we're hearing all of these different elements which are coming together for this chaos. We saw this week over 1300 pilots. They were on a picket line in Dallas. They say they're overworked. They're underpaid. Is it the same situation for flight attendants?

Sara, it's Erica in New York, can you hear me? I don't know if Sara can hear me. So we lost Sara Nelson there. But again, this is an incredibly important story. We're going to stay on it. We're going to try to fix that technical glitch. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



HILL: As we take a closer look at this travel chaos at airports around the country, Sara Nelson, the International President of the Association of flight attendants is back with us. So, Sara, let's talk about what you're hearing from your members. We know over 1300 pilots were on a picket line in Dallas this week saying they're overworked, underpaid, same issue for flight attendants?

SARA NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Yes, it's the same issue across the industry. Airline workers were supposed to be going into negotiations in 2020 for improvements after we took all the cuts with the bankruptcies in the mergers following 911. So it's been 20 years that people have been waiting for improvements. And so we're going to be fighting for those. The airlines demand is back, people have had a really hard time, it's been a really hard time working through this pandemic, we need to be able to attract people to the job, and we're going to fight for better pay and benefits.

HILL: So we just learned today that United is cutting 12 percent of its flights out of Newark Airport in New Jersey, a major hub. That's about 50 flights a day. Earlier in the week, United's CEO had said the government needs to step in, that the airport simply doesn't have the capacity for the flights that are scheduled that there are issues with air traffic control staff. How much of that is causing what we're seeing in terms of these issues this summer?

NELSON: Well, 100 percent. The FAA needs to enforce the rules, and they have stopped enforcing the rules. So they need to do that. Because when you have too much capacity and you can't handle the flights on a good day. When it's storming, it's going to -- going to be even worse. This is the result of not properly funding our government functions and we can't step up when we do that. We also can't upgrade equipment. So the FAA needs to enforce the rules. And we need lawmakers to make sure that we don't have extensions of funding that are inconsistent. We can't increase pay and benefits and attract people to the work, and we also can't upgrade the equipment to be able to respond to the situations with the weather today.

HILL: I have to say I think about every time I fly, how being a flight attendant is probably one of the most difficult jobs just because of what I see among passengers, some kindness, a lot of kindness I saw last week, but not always. It's been rough for two and a half years with everything that flight attendants have been dealing with. When we see these delays, these cancellations, the schedule changes, flight attendants are often you know, sort of on the receiving end of this anger, even if it's not their responsibility. Are they getting more of that right now?

NELSON: So, Erica, I had a hard time hearing you, I don't know if you can hear me.

HILL: I can.

NELSON: But for all the people working on the front line, I want to assure the public that it's not always the airline's fault and we're going to put safety first. And when people are taking out their aggressions on flight attendants, what that can do is it can delay your flight, it can divert your flight, it is going to exacerbate the situation, so at the very least, it is going to inconvenience everyone and it's also going to set a tone that doesn't help us get these flights up in the air and get everyone safely to their destination.

HILL: Sara Nelson, sorry, Sara. Appreciate it. Thanks again for joining us today. Just a couple of notes as you're working to navigate this chaos at the airports, I should note Sara did tell us ahead of time a couple of things you could think about packing with you, bring yourself a protein bar, a little snack, pack your patients of course, and make sure to check your schedules before you leave for the airport.

Thanks to all of you for joining us this hour, I'm Erica Hill in for Kate Bolduan. CNN's coverage of the historic Supreme Court decision on guns as well as today's upcoming hearing of the January 6 House committee investigating the insurrection will continue right here on "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King. That starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very newsworthy day with us. It begins with this. The Supreme Court --