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At This Hour

Biden Calls On Energy Companies To Cut Gas Prices; Cheney: 1/6 Committee Could Make Criminal Referral Against Trump. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 04, 2022 - 11:00   ET



RHETT WILLINGHAM, EMT WHO HELPED SAVE SISTER AFTER SHARK ATTACK: And then we put the tourniquet on her, and then got her back to the land as fast as possible.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Addison will have her leg amputated above the knee tomorrow. But she says she's looking forward to the surgery because it will give her more long term mobility. Certainly wish her the best of luck. All right, thanks for joining us today. I'm Christine Romans. At This Hour with Boris Sanchez starts right now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Kate Bolduan. Today we're celebrating America's independence amid the chaos at airports and higher gas prices. Plus, Liz Cheney is teasing the possibility of a criminal referral against Donald Trump. And oversees Russia taking control of another key city in eastern Ukraine. That's what we're watching for At This Hour.

Hey, thank you so much for sharing part of your Independence Day with us. After a hiatus caused by the pandemic, Americans are celebrating Independence Day with fireworks cool, parties, and barbecues. But flight cancellations and delays are impacting travelers in a major way. More than 1.500 flights have been canceled since Friday morning amid staffing shortages. And this all comes as we're seeing a big increase in demand for air travel.

And even if you plan on driving today, you're going to be paying a lot at the pump. Take a look the nationwide average for a regular gallon of gas 4.81. That's nearly $1.70 more than it was last year. Let's start live at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, one of the busiest airports in the world with CNN's Nadia Romero. Nadia, you were there all weekend, serving as almost a grief counselor to these passengers that watch their flights get delayed, delayed, delayed and then ultimately canceled. What's it like there now?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. It was a rocky weekend. But today, it has been going pretty smoothly here at the airport despite seeing those wait times about four minutes at some times over the weekend, then that would dramatically spiked up to 45 minutes, just when you had waves of passengers coming in because a lot of people wanted to take those early morning flights. So the middle of the afternoon this time of the day is probably the best time to travel on any day, including a holiday weekend.

Take a look behind me. This is the main security checkpoint area, you can see people have just a little bit of a line as they make their way through to standard general boarding. This area was full of people earlier this weekend. And if you take a look at those numbers, just yesterday, about 2.1 million passengers made their way through TSA security checkpoints. That number was a bit higher the day before on Saturday at 2.4 million or 2.2, excuse me. The highest mark though was Friday, 2.5 million people making their way through TSA security checkpoints. That's the highest point since February 2020, so before the pandemic and Thursday at 2.4 million as well.

So that makes sense, right? Because many people wanted to travel before the holiday weekend to get where they were going as soon as possible to enjoy that long four or five day weekend they were going to have. Now we spoke with a traveler who was on the back end of her travel. She spent 10 days in London and she's just trying to get back to Cincinnati but instead she had quite a travel trip. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My flight from Orlando was delayed twice. I ended up having to spend the night. I spent 22 hours traveling to have to delayed flights and stay where my final destination is not. They send my bag home to Cincinnati and it's just sitting there so hopefully it's there when I get to Cincinnati. I guess we'll see.


ROMERO: She has a really good optimistic outlook. I want to show you this though. These are something that we haven't seen it a lot of airports, these big signs for no weapons beyond this point, no firearms, no loaded guns, no brass knuckles, whatever stuff you got it your house, leave it behind, don't bring it in your carry-on bag. That's the message coming from TSA. Last year, this time Boris, they confiscated 70 guns going through, trying to go through at least during the holiday weekend. Boris?

SANCHEZ: It always amazes me the kind of stuff that TSA finds on passengers who thinks you could get on a plane with that kind of stuff. Nadia Romero from Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, thank you so much.

Amid the high cost of travel, President Biden is calling on energy companies to lower gas prices. In a tweet over the weekend, the President claimed that gas stations should lower the cost of fuel. But as we get over the White House in CNN's Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, that doesn't line up with the complications of the world oil market. It's much more complicated and the President is presenting it.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are some very volatile market dynamics at play here, Boris. And so the President is getting some flack for that tweet in which he said bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you're paying for the product and do it now. Listen, it is true that the price of a barrel of oil has gone down about $15 over the the last month but only dropped since in terms of the price of gas per gallon and that's where the White House's frustration is coming into play. But they are oversimplifying it, according to experts.


And when he also saw Jeff Bezos coming out and accusing the President of either, quote, misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics. Listen, the White House is sticking by the President's messaging, which is something we've heard from him over and over again, trying to put more pressure on these oil companies and on the gas stations. And ultimately, this is the President trying to look for something that he can do at a moment when he has fewer and fewer tools at his disposal to get after these gas prices.

He's already released millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He proposed this gas tax holiday that went nowhere in Congress. And so now at least he's trying to show Americans that he is on top of this. The President will be returning from Camp David, in just a few hours from now. He'll host a barbecue for military families. And we already have the President chiming in on Twitter with a message for this Fourth of July, telling Americans that this is a sacred day, and ultimately, encouraging Americans to have a happy holiday. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Fewer options for the White House on gas prices, meantime, midterm elections not that far away, the President certainly feeling the pressure of that, Jeremy Diamond from the White House, thank you so much.

Let's dig deeper now with CNN economic and political commentator, Catherine Rampell. She's also an opinion columnist for the Washington Post. Catherine, Happy Fourth, we're glad that you are with us. You said that the President calling out gas companies as unpatriotic is not going to work. What's behind this messaging? Is this about the midterm elections?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. It's about the midterm elections. Incumbent politicians know that voters hold them responsible rightly or wrongly for rising gas prices, as well as broader macroeconomic trends, which maybe they can affect on the margin. But they, you know, don't have -- the President doesn't have a dial on his desk that can address gas prices. But he needs to be seen as doing something, right, to address this problem.

Unfortunately, I don't think this something is going to have any effect whatsoever. Nor have many of the other actions or at least rhetoric that this administration has adopted to try to put downward pressure on gas prices. There's like a few things they can do on the margin that they don't seem super interested in doing. But for the meantime, they're mostly doubling down on this sort of punitive rhetoric, like what we saw today or yesterday, rather.

SANCHEZ: Notably, more than half of Americans now say they are worse off financially than they were just a year ago. That has gone up 11 points, just since April. That was what like two-ish months ago. What can the White House do now to ease inflation? They initially said it was transitory it's obviously not.

RAMPELL: It's obviously not. And look, to be fair, a lot of economists, good economists got that forecast wrong last year as well. But as the year dragged on, in 2021, it became more and more obvious that inflation was going to be a non-transitory problem, or at least it was going to last longer than anyone was comfortable with.

The official body that is tasked with dealing with price stability with getting prices down is the Federal Reserve. And I think the most important thing that can be done is to let the Federal Reserve operate independently and let them raise interest rates, so that they can try to tamp down demand and therefore, get inflation a little bit more under control.

But there are some things that the administration could do that might modestly help with this project of trying to get prices or price growth down. That might be things like repealing some of the Trump era tariffs or making our legal immigration system, which is severely bottleneck right now work a little bit more functionally, because the delays in visa processing are also contributing to labor shortages.

It might be things like suspending the Jones Act, which basically restricts which ships can move oil among other goods from one U.S. port to another U.S. port and contributes to the cost of gasoline. So there are some things they could do. They've so far been reluctant to pursue them.

SANCHEZ: Catherine, I want to nail down your thoughts on one specific thing you mentioned, and that is the removal of tariffs. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that Biden could announce rolling back some tariffs on Chinese imports this week, there's the economic impact that can have but then the political strategic impact that could have as the United States tries to change the course of the Chinese Communist Party's actions not just limited to the South China Sea, but their aspirations to be a world power. How do you weigh the pros and cons of removing tariffs on China?

RAMPELL: I think it is quite important to think about these other kinds of objectives we have with respect to China, whether it's about human rights or their control over the South China Sea or their actions in the South China Sea, I should say, the influence that they exert within East Asia, all of those things are quite important.

It's not clear to me that this particular tool that has been used, which is placing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, mostly consumer goods, has any influence one way or the other, particularly since a bunch of studies have found that the cost of those tariffs has been primarily borne by U.S. consumers, American consumers and businesses, rather than the Chinese.


So I agree, good idea to be tough on China. We have a lot of other policy objectives here. But I have seen very little evidence that this particular method of being tough on China has made any progress one way or the other. I mean, these were put in place by former President Trump. And they were in conjunction with a broader strategy that included this so called Phase One China deal, China trade deal, that China did not keep up its end of the bargain on. So, you know, there are other objectives to consider, but I'm not sure that they weigh heavily one way or the other when we're talking about inflation here.

SANCHEZ: To be fair, the tariffs are actually one of the only things that the United States has done to punish China in the last 30 plus years for its actions that you noted in the South China Sea and elsewhere and of course, the genocide of Uyghurs that we cannot forget to mention. Catherine Rampell, always appreciate your perspective. Have a Happy Fourth of July.

After two years of muted celebrations, because of the pandemic, large fireworks displays will light up the sky tonight from coast to coast. CNN's Natasha Chen is live on Santa Monica Beach in California with more. Natasha, take us there.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, a lot of people were starting to see actually bringing out umbrellas, beach chairs, coolers really quite early in the morning for Pacific time because these firework shows in the area don't begin for another 12 hours. But they are very excited, including one person we spoke to who said that, because of a number of restrictions in some way or another of the last few years, he feels this is very exciting to be out and to feel like they are able to fully celebrate again.

Now this is happening though at a time when the entire western region is under severe drought and water restrictions. And so there are some modifications to some places, fireworks celebrations, some are changing the traditional show. For example, we have the governor of New Mexico actually banning certain types of fireworks. In Salt Lake City, there's a laser show instead of a firework show. In Claremont near L.A. here, because it takes 650,000 gallons of water to prepare that space each year leading up to the firework show, they decided because of water restrictions, they really shouldn't scale back and instead are just doing a concert this year.

So there are some modifications and of course fire officials are really watching out because so many fires are started each year because of fireworks and that's what they're looking for to stay away from this time, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Natasha Chen live in Santa Monica Beach. Thank you so much. Severe storms and the extreme heat that Natasha mentioned could put a damper on festivities in some parts of the country. So let's get a look at the forecast. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is with us now. Chad, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A few delays in and out of Minneapolis already this morning. And what expect to in Chicago later on as the storms get a lot closer. But there will be the threat of lightning in the air today, even some gusty winds. So if you're going to have a picnic outside or plan, make sure you either keep your radio on or keep a phone handy so that you can hear any warnings that might be coming. There'll be thunderstorms throughout the day, but then they mostly will go away after around sunset. That's good news. So will the heat go away? Now it's going to be hot. Don't get me wrong.

Temperatures are going to be in the 80s and 90s all across the country. But by sunset temperatures go down at least a few, New York, D.C., Philadelphia, all look really good for festivities today. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Glad to hear that. Chad Myers from the weather center. Thank you so much. And if you don't want to get caught outside in bad weather or you just want to not have to spend an arm and a leg on gas, join CNN celebration of the Fourth of July tonight at 7:00 Eastern. We'll keep you company with coast to coast fireworks and performances for more than a dozen stars, including Pitbull, Willie Nelson, Gloria Estefan, The Lumineers, and Maren Morris. Don't miss it. It's only on CNN. And it starts again at 7:00 p.m.


Coming up, Liz Cheney says the January 6th Committee could make several criminal referrals including for former President Trump. So will the Justice Department investigate Trump's actions? An important discussion still ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the Committee will or will not make a criminal referral?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We'll make a decision as a Committee about it as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's possible there will be a criminal referral. It would be effectively the Committee saying that he should be prosecuted and this is evidence that we've --

CHENEY: The Justice Department doesn't have to wait for the Committee to make a criminal referral. And there could be more than one criminal referral.


SANCHEZ: That is January 6th Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney raising the prospect of a criminal referral against former President Donald Trump. Joining us now to discuss CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz, also with us CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. Katelyn, first to you, there's been a back and forth between Cheney and the Democratic chair of the committee, Bennie Thompson on whether or not the Committee would actually recommend charges. This statement from Cheney sounds like something has shifted.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Boris. We are hearing Liz Cheney come out and talk about this possibility of making a referral to the Justice Department again. But, you know, this really isn't that big of a shift for Cheney herself. We have heard this from her before months before where she was saying that there was always the possibility that Committee could come together, talk about whether to make a referral to the Justice Department about Donald Trump.


But there has been a change that is notable since the last time we were on this carousel of will they won't they, and that is that we had this testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson last week, saying things under oath that have not been substantially disputed, that really do open Donald Trump up to the possibility that the Justice Department will want to investigate him specifically about what he knew about the rioters and his interest in either supporting them or condoning them on January 6th.

SANCHEZ: Paul, it's notable that Cheney said directly DOJ does not have to wait to pursue charges against the former president. In your mind, what are the possible indictments that we could see against the former President?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it seems to me there are two areas that are potential indictment areas and do pose great danger to Mr. Trump. The first is solicitation of violence, which is a federal felony. And it can be punishable by as much as 20 years in prison, depending upon what kind of crime you're soliciting. And we do have some substantial evidence supporting that charge against the president.

One would be that he told the crowd that they had to fight like hell, and they had to march to the Capitol or they wouldn't have a country anymore. We have further evidence we now heard earlier in the week, that he was aware that many of his followers were carrying weapons, and as a matter of fact, was encouraging the Secret Service not to scan them. So these are very, very strong items of evidence with respect to that count solicitation.

There's a second count you have to look at, and that is this business about the phony slates of electors that were being solicited in various states with the help of Mr. Giuliani and others. Now, that could be yet another federal crime in terms of obstructing the American election. So I think those are the two areas that he has his greatest danger of indictment.

SANCHEZ: Katelyn, these questions have urgency because we're now hearing that Donald Trump may jump into the 2024 presidential race early, potentially, as soon as this month. How does that play into the calculus for the Committee?

POLANTZ: Well, that's always something that the Justice Department at least will be looking at. The Committee obviously will be looking at this because there are many Democrats on that panel. There are Republicans as well, but they do, you know, Cheney has been very vocal. She does not want Trump to be in politics still. But the Justice Department will always be considering right around an election.

You know, in the two months before an election, either the midterms or the presidential. If a candidate is under investigation, they don't want to take overt steps. But the bottom line here is that whether or not Donald Trump is running for president in '24, it would not bar investigation against him. We have seen him under investigation before in 2016. Hillary Clinton also under investigation when she was running for president.

And at the end of the day, the Justice Department has to make policy decisions around Trump, not because he's going to be a candidate, but because what they would be investigating would be what happened when he was president at the outcome of an election. So that is really the area of focus that the Justice Department will have to look at. Boris?

SANCHEZ: We got to leave the conversation there. Paul Callan, Katelyn Polantz, enjoy your fourth. Thanks so much.


Coming up, body cam video captures a deadly encounter between Ohio police and a black man fleeing the scene. Days of protests now continue with the very latest on the investigation and a live report from Akron in just minutes stay with us.


SANCHEZ: New this morning, another day of protests in Ohio after Akron police shot and killed an unarmed black man who fled a traffic stop last week. Police releasing body cam video that shows officers pursuing Jayland Walker, and firing dozens of rounds as he fled. CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in Ohio with more. Polo, what's the latest on the investigation?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris in terms of the release of that body camera video, it's important to also note that there's a city ordinance that requires the police department to release at least portions of body camera video of police involved shootings within a week after the incident as well as at least 60 seconds preceding the moment of the shots. And that's why authorities releasing that crucial video to provide important context so it is extremely disturbing video to see.


In addition to that, to the series of body camera images, we also saw a still shot that was released by APD. And in it, you can see what police say is a muzzle flash coming from inside the car that was being driven by Jayland Walker a week ago today. That together with a loud pop led authorities to suspect that at least one gunshot was fired from inside the vehicle. There will be questions that still being asked here if that was the case then at who or what.