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The Lead with Jake Tapper

New Report: Consumers Are Feeling Less Confident About The Economy; Biden Meets With Fed Reserve Chairman As Inflation Plagues Economy; Uvalde School Police Chief Faces Scrutiny For Delaying Order For Officers To Enter Classroom; Ukrainian Officials Report Complete Information Blockade In Several Southern Russian-Held Cities; Yellow Ribbons A Symbol Of Resistance Against Russia Rule; Biden Touts Economic Gains In Op-Ed Despite Record Inflation; Average National Gas Price Hits New Record, Now $4.62 Per Gallon; Shanghai Eases Towards Reopening After Months Of Lockdown; "Top Gun" Sequel Breaks Records At The Box Office. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Part of a month long White House efforts to convince the public that the Biden administration is in fact working hard to address higher prices even if most Americans feel otherwise.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My top priority and that is addressing inflation.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden once again trying to pivot to the American people's economic concerns.

BIDEN: My plan is address inflation, starts with simple proposition. Respect the Fed. Respect the Feds independence, which I have done and will continue to.

LEE (voice-over): Biden hosting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in the Oval Office, as elevated prices across the country, including at grocery stores and at the gas pump continue to frustrate American consumers.

In a new Wall Street Journal op-ed, the President acknowledging that many Americans understandably feel anxious but also trying to offer reassurance writing that, "With the right policies, the U.S. can transition from recovery to stable, steady growth and bring down inflation." The President laying out a three part plan of giving the Fed the space to act, finding ways to lower prices, boost production and address supply chain problems and reducing the deficit.

But the Biden administration under intense scrutiny on whether it did too little too late to proactively tackle inflation. Last summer, the President predicted that inflation would be a temporary problem, by late November Fed Chairman Powell acknowledging that inflation is not transitory. JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: It's probably a good time to retire that that word and try to explain more clearly what we mean.

LEE (voice-over): And trying to reassure the public that the central bank is sympathetic to U.S. consumers concerns.

POWELL: We understand completely what they're going through.

LEE (voice-over): Now the Biden administration signaling that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

CECILIA ROUSE, CHAIRMAN, W.H. COUNCIL OF ECONOMICS ADVISERS: Russia has warned Ukraine disabled not only gas prices and food prices, but also disrupted supply chains. We didn't foresee delta we didn't foresee all Macron. And so, yes, there had been unexpected challenges, which have disrupted the natural equal -- getting us back to equilibrium which would help bring down those prices. But I -- we are optimistic, forecasters expect that over the coming months, inflation will ease.


LEE: So those predictions from last year that inflation might be temporary or transitory. We are seeing that sort of come back to haunt the Biden White House now.

And Brian Deese, Biden's top economic adviser, was asked about that at the White House briefing just this afternoon. And he said that the economic recovery has been uncertain and unexpected. So what we're seeing is the White House weary of trying to play the prediction game, but also trying to inject some optimism into the conversation. That is of course, a very tough juggling act. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee at the White House for us. Thank you so much.

Let's get to CNN's Richard Quest. He's the host of "Quest Means Business."

Richard, this push by the White House comes as Americans views of the economy remain deeply pessimistic. According to a new Gallup poll released today, only 14 percent of American adults rate the economic conditions as excellent or good, 46 percent call them poor, 39 percent rate them is only fair. Gallup went on to say, quote, "Americans economic pessimism took a turn for the worst this month, and it is likely the lowest it has been since the end of the Great Recession."

Do you see this as a policy failure, a communications failure, both, neither? What do you think?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": It's a reality, Jake. The economy is OK but it's not going gangbusters. There's very possibly going to be a recession on the horizon. And whichever way you look at it, Jake, interest rates are going up, growth is going to slow, stocks will continue to be under pressure, and eventually unemployment is going to rise. That is the way Jay Powell's medicine that he is putting forward is meant to work. There's no great mystery about this anymore. That's what's going to happen.

Now, is it necessary? Yes. Eight percent inflation is too high for the United States economy. And the only way to get rid of it is to increase interest rates. There will be a deep, deep, deep political argument over whether or not the Biden stimulus package which was introduced when the administration took office was too much, too rich, too frothy, and basically poured gasoline on flames.

TAPPER: A survey that tracks consumer confidence, how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are regarding the economy, regarding the labor market, that was released today for the month of May. And while it is not as low as was expected, it's still down for the second consecutive month. Plans to buy appliances, homes, cars all declined from the previous month. What does that tell you?

QUEST: It tells me Americans are worried. There's the anxiety that the President talked about. And for good reason, it's estimated $5 trillion has been wiped off retirement accounts and savings accounts as a result of asset falls.

Now look, those stocks markets may have been well overvalued and we may have all been foolish for continuing to believe it could carry on ad infinitum, but the reality is people are feeling poor, they're going to start to feel more uncertain. It won't last forever, but there are some very difficult months ahead as Americans get used to the idea of higher interest rates to bring down very high inflation.


TAPPER: All right, Richard Quest, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's turn now to CNN's Economics Commentator Catherine Rampell.

Catherine, thanks for joining us. Ahead of the President's meeting with the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, Biden came out with his op-ed in the Journal that said quote, among other things, "The Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation. My predecessor demean the Fed and past presidents have sought to influence his decisions and appropriately during periods of elevated inflation. I won't do this," unquote.

So let me ask you, what can Biden do that he has not already done?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, OPINION COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I am delighted to see the President emphasize the political independence of the Fed. First off, I just want to praise him for that. Very important to do. He's right that his predecessor did the opposite.

There are limited tools that the President United States has available to deal with prices, right? The President doesn't control macroeconomic trends, doesn't control inflation. But there are some things he could do, things like liberalizing trade, right? Trump imposed a ton of tariffs, you could -- they were condemned widely by Democrats at the time.

Biden could unilaterally repeal some of those, it would have a modest one time effect on prices, for example, the immigration system was also sabotaged by Trump, further complicated and backed up by the pandemic, that's contributing to the labor shortages we see today, which are in turn feeding into inflation. The administration has been really slow in working to repair some of those problems, which again, they didn't -- they weren't caused by him. But there were some relatively easy steps that they could have taken a while ago just to try to get the system back up and running so that you have more seasonal workers, for example, right now. You have more workers in lots of fields where there are currently labor shortages.


RAMPELL: And for whatever reason, they have been dragging their feet.

TAPPER: Well, why do you think -- what do you think the reason is? Is it because -- it's very easy to see Republicans criticizing either those moves as soft on China or soft on the border? Is that what's going on here?

RAMPELL: I think that's part of it. I think the administration was in denial for a long time about the problems of inflation, thinking that -- the threat of inflation was itself inflated by the media or by Republicans, or what have you. These kinds of measures carried some near term political risk at the very least. Why bother to take that risk of inflation was going to go down on its own, if it was going to be transitory.

And even today, I think that they have continued to drag their feet, in part, because they're really worried about this very near term, potential political blowback. You know, they'll get a few days of bad headlines, for example, if they repeal some tariffs on China or otherwise. And we tariff a lot of things that are not from China, like solar panels, for example, those were put in place by Trump.

My view is, rather than optimizing for what polls well today, they should be optimizing for what will poll well come November, right, if these kinds of measures could even have a modest impact, bringing down prices. Which I think that they could. They're not going to, you know, get us back to where we were, but they would have a modest impact. That will be helpful to Democrats come November.

But I fear that they are so worried about, you know, Republicans attacking them for open borders or soft on China or what have you. They're not really thinking longer term about the consequences of not taking every possible action they can to deal with inflation.

TAPPER: So, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, was one of the first two or one of the first people on the left, even if he's kind of more on the center, to raise the alarm about inflation. A year ago, he warned that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan would be a problem. He said at the time, quote, "While there are enormous uncertainties, there's a chance that macroeconomic stimulus on a scale closer to World War II levels than normal recession levels, will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we've not seen in a generation. Given the commitments the Fed has made, administration official's dismissal of even the possibility of inflation and the difficulties in mobilizing congressional support for tax increases or spending cuts, there is the risk of inflation expectations rising sharply."

Now as you know, there are other issues including the supply chain problem because of the pandemic and the pandemic itself. But why was the White House in such denial, so refusing to listen to what Larry Summers was saying?

RAMPELL: It wasn't just the White House to be fair, most economists disagreed with Larry Summers at the time. I mean, the Feds projections for example, for what inflation were going to look like were in retrospect much too optimistic. So -- and major forecasters on Wall Street, et cetera. So, this was a widely made error a year ago.


As the year wore on -- I mean, I made it too by the way. I did not expect inflation to get as bad as it did. As the year wore on, however, it became harder to deny that inflation was not going to be transitory, that the supply chain issues were taking much longer to unwind than anybody thought, that the juicing of demand both by the American Rescue Plan as well as expansionary Fed policy, monetary policy, those things we're combining to have much longer, more lasting inflation than expected.

And then of course, we got hit with a bunch of really unlucky shocks in the last several months. So this is not only about choices made last year, you also have the war in Ukraine, you have the lockdowns in China related to COVID, you have an avian flu, you have a drought in California, a bunch of things that -- besides the geopolitical consequences, have also disrupted commodity markets, among other things, and have made inflation worse.


RAMPELL: So, you know, it's like one thing after another. There was too much optimism last year, everything had to go right. Not everything went right and here's where we are.

TAPPER: And Catherine, before you go, I just want to ask, we've heard a lot of sound and blame and finger pointing from the White House about corporations being greedy, that that's the reason prices are going up.

RAMPELL: You know, corporations are always greedy. It's called profit maximizing. The question we want to ask is, why have prices been -- why have they been able to act on that greed today when they weren't two years ago when inflation was very low and profits were falling? The answer has to do with supply and demand.

And I just think it is at best a distraction and a relevant sort of demagogic -- demagoguery claim to talk about corporate greed. At worst, I fear that it is encouraging Democrats to not pursue the kinds of actions I was talking about that would be helpful and potentially pursue ones that could be actively harmful. If you look at some of the legislation that Elizabeth Warren and others have introduced in Congress recently that are in response to this corporate greed, profiteering price gouging, whatever you want to call it, narrative, you know, they're basically about setting price controls or new kinds of taxes that would probably discourage oil production right now. So, I just think this is a really unhelpful narrative that the populist left has doubled down on rather than thinking through what's causing inflation and therefore, what might be able to help alleviate it.

TAPPER: All right. You might want to stay off social media for the next couple hours.

RAMPELL: I know. I know. You should see my feed.

TAPPER: Catherine Rampell, thank you for your honesty. We appreciate your take.

How some Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country are publicly but silently protesting the Russian occupation. Then new audio from during the Uvalde shooting is raising more questions about what law enforcement officers knew and when they knew it. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Now to our national lead, saying goodbye, the Uvalde Texas community coming together for the first funerals for the victims of the school shooting. Service is being held today for Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez, they were only 10 years old.

Today the Texas Teachers Union marching to Texas Senator Ted Cruz's office in Austin, teachers calling on the Senator to work to pass gun reform measures that would make classroom safer. CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Uvalde where the police response is under more scrutiny.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pray for us sinners --

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One week ago, 19 families sent their children to school and they never came home, leaving loved ones only memories as community members even Matthew McConaughey (ph) whose hometown is Uvalde come to pay their respects. Those close to the 21 killed can't help but think about those last moments as they prepare to lay their own to rest.

DESTINY ESQUIVEL, COUSIN OF SHOOTING VICTIM MAITE RODRIGUEZ: Her classmates say that she was brave. That she was grabbing all the other students and telling them where to hide before the gunman turned on her because she was so brave and courageous to tell the kids to hide.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The funeral for that 10-year-old girl, Maite Rodriguez is tonight. A heartbroken community attending five services today, two funerals and three visitations for four children and one teacher among the 21 killed. As more details come to light, it's unclear at what point during the shooting this video was taken. The apparent radio call was videotaped by a man who told CNN he heard the dispatch from the radio of a Customs and Border Patrol vehicle outside the school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you in there?



JIMENEZ (voice-over): The radio traffic audio adding new concerns about what law enforcement knew during that hour they were still waiting to enter the classroom and before they killed the gunman. One off duty Customs and Border Patrol agents ran to the school when he heard about shots fired.

JACOB ALBARADO, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION AGENT: The kid -- the police were breaking out the windows on the outside and the kids were jumping out to the window.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Officials say at least two children called 911 multiple times begging police to come while the gunman was still inside their classroom.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: With the informations flowing in, why doesn't DPS have that information, the sheriff's office, the federal guys, the local police? This is a failure at every level.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The Texas Department of Public Safety Director says one child told a 911 operator eight or nine students were still alive. Audio from an unconfirmed source revealing at some point law enforcement was aware kids were inside the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Child is advising he is in a room full of victims.


GUTIERREZ: At what point do people not use some common sense here listen to 911 calls that are coming in, understand that kids are still alive inside and know that they have to go in there, do their jobs under the active shooter protocol.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The families now left with more questions than answers as they focus on the lives that are lost.

ESQUIVEL: She isn't just another victim, but she's a hero. That 10 years wasn't enough.


JIMENEZ: And the funeral for young Maite set to begin within a few hours, is of course part of what is going to be a long and solemn process here in this area. Even today, as I walked around, it was hard to find anyone who wasn't connected to this. If not directly, they knew someone who was, they grew up with someone who was, they went to school at Robb Elementary.

So, while we will see families mourning at these funerals, it is not an understatement at all to say it will be a community that is right there mourning with them. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Omar Jimenez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is Jonathan Wackrow. He's a former secret service agent. He is a CNN Law Enforcement Agent.

Jonathan, good to see you. The Uvalde School Police Chief, Pete Arredondo, was the one who made the decision to stand back and wait for reinforcements before telling officers to try to breach the classroom. Do you think this decision, which does not stand up to the facts or the light of scrutiny, do you think he could even face some criminal liability for that decision?

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Listen, I'll let that be determined by the lawyers. But that decision, Jake, is going to haunt those parents who lost their children on that day. Again, it goes against every protocol around hostile assailant or active shooter procedures that law enforcement knows.

The reality is in modern day policing, active shooter situations are almost routine calls. And you know, nationwide officers know how to respond to that. So why in this critical incident was there such a failure, a failure of leadership, command and control not to follow that protocol?

TAPPER: What was your response, Wolf Blitzer interviewed a police spokesman last week and the policeman when asked why they didn't rush the school -- rush the classroom said something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, because the officers could get hurt, the officers could get shot, could get killed. What was your response to that?

WACKROW: Shock. Shock that a member of law enforcement would use that excuse. A member of law enforcement that even had a pocket knife had more ability to attack that aggressor, the person who is actively killing children than the defenseless children that were in that room.

The first priority of responding officers is to stop that attack in the killing that's in progress. They have a moral and ethical duty to draw fire away from defenseless individuals, in this case, children, and draw that fire to themselves. That's the job that they chose. And the fact that these officers, whether it was, you know, by design, whether they were restricted from breaching that room or otherwise, they had to act and they didn't. And my assessment is that lack of action cost lives on that day.

TAPPER: Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday that the police chief never gave the command to enter the classroom, but Customs and Border Protection Agencies eventually got frustrated and just did it on their own. We know some officers were on the scene for more than an hour, should they too have bucked the chief's decision and sooner?

WACKROW: Absolutely, 100 percent, because there was a breakdown of the incident command structure. Obviously, there were people like the Border Patrol agents that ended up breaching that room, they knew better, right? They knew that there were children inside that room, and they were the defenders of those children. And they weren't going to let a door stand in their way of potentially saving lives.

We needed to have action much quicker than we did. And again, I am stunned at a lot of the points of failure on how this critical incident was managed one week ago.

TAPPER: Take a listen to the sound of an off duty CBP, Customs and Border Protection Agency, agent who was able to go inside the school on the day of the shooting because wife worked at Robb Elementary. Take a listen.


ALBARADO: I was able to go in and I announced who I was and made my way through. As I was going in, I could just see kids coming out of the windows and kids coming my way. So I was just helping all the kids out. I was trying to contact my wife, see where my wife was at.

Trying to make my way towards the door. I wasn't, like I said, I didn't have any of my gear. I was off duty. So, I didn't go in.


TAPPER: So, this is an off duty agent allowed in when other other parents and other loved ones were standing outside the school at the time. Some of them even reportedly being handcuffed or sprayed with some sort of agent. What's your response?


WACKROW: Well, listen, again, this is a clear example of the complete breakdown of the incident command structure. The fact that the public was allowed to get so close to this critical incident site is shocking to me, it breaks all these protocols. What should have happened is they should have established a family reunification center and then set perimeters around this critical site. They just didn't do that.

Again, we have to look back. This is why the critical response review by the Department of Justice is so critical, because we have so many unanswered, you know, questions right now, Jake, that need to be answered. And they need to be answered, one, so we can, you know, take lessons learned and become better.

But we also need answers for the family. They need closure. They need to know why their child died. And that's part of the grieving process. And this is why it's so critical that we get to the truth around this.

TAPPER: Yes. I don't know if there's ever going to be a good answer, but I understand what you mean. Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. Coming up, why Ukrainians hope these yellow ribbons scare the Russians. That's next.



TAPPER: Turning to our world lead now as the battle for the East intensifies, Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are focused on establishing control over the city of Severodonetsk forcing civilian evacuations to be suspended as Ukraine's military says Putin's troops now control most of that city.

CNN's Melissa Bell reports on the ways that Ukrainians living in Russian occupied parts of the country are attempting to resist.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An explosion in the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, blamed by Moscow on Ukrainian resistors.


BELL (voice-over): And on Sunday, Melitopol is Ukraine, chanted in the heart of a town that's been in Russian hands for nearly three months. Yellow ribbons more defiantly displayed than elsewhere in Russian-held southern Ukraine. From Crimea to Kherson, symbols of silent resistance.

But Melitopols noisily resisted from the start. After the early chants of its people were silenced, and when the town's mayor was kidnapped by Russian forces in early March, some locals turned to armed resistance.


BELL (voice-over): Now when Ukrainian government held Zaporizhzhia, even federal says Melitopol will never give up.

FEDOROV: They can kidnapped, they can kill, they can't make some tortures, but we can't give support because our citizens don't want to live in Russia. I know it. Melitopol will return to Ukraine.

BELL (voice-over): Melitopol fell quickly. And even as Russian forces pulled back to the south and east of the country remained on the wrong side of a line that has hardened.

MYKOLA KRASNY, UKRAINIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE (through translation): Russia is using hybrid methods of occupation. That means the Russian Federation is trying to identify and destroy sensitive resistance, Ukrainian partisans, such people are often uncovered and will sometimes disappear in Russian prisons.

YAROSLAV BOZHKO, YELLOW RIBBON MOVEMENT: Idea of the yellow ribbon was -- BELL (voice-over): Which is why the Yellow Ribbon Movement has become

key according to its spokesman in Kyiv.

BOZHKO: He tells me, the ribbons allow people to pass on the message that Ukraine is present here, that there is no other South, then under the Ukrainian flag.

BELL (on-camera): Here in Zaporizhzhia, there's also a sense that that line between Russian controlled Ukraine and the rest of the country is hardening even as it continues to move forward. We can hear here the regular sound of outgoing artillery fire, but we can also see an emerging refugee crisis.

(voice-over): Hundreds of families living in their cars as they tried to get back to their homes now in Russian controlled cities.


BELL: Now, Jake, in a further sign that that line between the two Ukraine's may be hardening today, we've been hearing that communications for those Ukrainians living in Russian controlled cities have been cut off, they're being told buy Russian SIM cards. And that's why you're seeing the counter offensive near Kherson with Ukrainian forces trying to push that line back fighting for Severodonetsk even now.

And you're likely to see even more resistance in those lands in Russian hands just to the 30 kilometers to the south of where I'm standing, not just the peaceful kind in the shape of these yellow ribbons but the armed resistance as well. What we heard from the mayor of Melitopol is that since the start of the war, Jake, there have been hundreds of Russian soldiers killed in that city by resistors.

TAPPER: All right, Melissa Bell in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Thank you so much.

Could one sticker sum up the White House's problem with soaring gas prices? That sticker next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, a new Gallup poll shows only 13 percent of Americans say the economy is good down from 18 percent in April, 20 percent in March. This is the lowest since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Poll also found when asked the open-ended question, what is the biggest problem facing America today? The second most common response was inflation after bad leadership.

Our panel joins us now. These are some Bad Omens in the (INAUDIBLE) Party. Jonah, let me start with your take on President Biden's Wall Street Journal opinion article titled "My Plan For Fighting Inflation." He says partly, "The job market is the strongest since the post-World War II era with 8.3 million new jobs, the fastest decline in unemployment on record, and millions of Americans getting jobs a better pay. The U.S. is in better economic position than almost any other country."

I mean, the the numbers are accurate.


TAPPER: But that's not what the American people think.

GOLDBERG: Yes, it's always fraud. Lots of presidents have tried to do this. I've tried to explain to the American people or the voters don't believe your lying eyes. You actually, you know, you shut up and like it, right? It's a sort of the approach. And I think it's particularly fraught for the Biden White House, in part, because inflation is so out of their control. It's just a difficult thing for any president to handle.

If what he should probably do is focus like a laser on something like supply chain thing, which is actually a more concrete logistical problem which would help with inflation but it also look like he's doing some.


But, you know, there was this amazing piece in NBC that NBC reported today where Joe Biden is basically like eeyore, and just doesn't understand why --

TAPPER: Every president becomes eeyore.

GOLDBERG: Very quickly, and --

TAPPER: It's really amazing.

GOLDBERG: -- sometimes more quickly than most.



TAPPER: And Karen, as Americans drive back from the holiday weekend today, the national average price per gallon of gas --


TAPPER: -- $4.62, that's up 44 cents from a month ago, up $1.57 from last year, at this time. Take a look at this sticker, a Biden on a gas pump in rural Pennsylvania over the weekend, a shot by one of our senior producers. Yes, what does it say, I did that.



TAPPER: I did that pointing at the gas prices. That's in swing state, Pennsylvania.

FINNEY: Yes. TAPPER: You heard Catherine Rampell talked about earlier that there are things he could do but there might be politically short-term fraud. He could get rid of the tariffs on China and other countries. He could bring in more immigrants to this country to deal with some of the labor shortage.


TAPPER: But there is a political risk.

FINNEY: Sure. Look, I think that's part of what he was trying to do in this op-ed was to say, I have a plan. Here's what I want to do. And going back to something he said, frankly, during the State of the Union, what's your plan to the Republicans and sort of tried to draw the contrast with what we've seen from the Republicans, which is the Rick Scott, let's raise taxes on people who making under $100,000.

TAPPER: Well, he said, let's raise taxes on -- everybody should be paying taxes.

FINNEY: Everybody should be paying taxes.

TAPPER: Right.

FINNEY: But the point being, look, I think, you know, as we know, there's not a lot the president can do so he's doing what he can do. And that is to say, I have a plan. Here's what I want to do. And here's who's standing in the way which it is at this point that Republicans in Congress, who are not interested in lowering costs, who have not shown any interest in -- he did talk about addressing supply chain issues, he has talked about reducing dependence --


FINNEY: -- on foreign oil. That's the best he can do. And the last thing I'll say is --

TAPPER: You don't buy it?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it was also Democrats who didn't want to play along. I mean, when he's laying out all of his plans in that Wall Street Journal op-ed, it's essentially Build Back Better, right?


HENDERSON: And we know what happened to Build Back Better, it ran into Joe Manchin, who was worried about, guess what, inflation. And so, a blaming Republicans not exactly what happened. He is out of options in so many ways, when you think about these massive problems that Americans encounter every day, when they go to the grocery store, when they go to the gas pump. And they've been feeling this way for a while.

I mean, you talk about the gas prices being high --


HENDERSON: -- really since last year, and Americans had been experiencing that. So Biden is trying to change how people feel and that's really hard.

FINNEY: You're letting Republicans off the hook by saying it was just Joe Manchin. That's one guy out of 100. If some of the Republicans would have been willing to join, we've maybe could have gotten some things passed. And look, politically speaking, your best bet at this point is to try to draw that contrast with the Republicans and say, this is what they want to do, this is what I want to do.

GOLDBERG: The context of inflation, saying if we only got Republicans to go along with spending $4 or $6 trillion more, or whatever it was, or billion more dollars, just -- the problem is is that you get like the policies that we already got, according to Larry Summers, and others are why we got inflation --

TAPPER: So Leigh Ann, the one of the problems here also for President Biden is we're now in the post Memorial Day --


TAPPER: -- part of the summer. We're like summer is starting. I know it hasn't officially started, everybody calm down here. But the unofficial start of summer has been on.


TAPPER: And people who are, if they haven't already tuned out, they're going to be tuning out from now until Labor Day and gas prices are just going to keep going up and up and up.

CALDWELL: And they're going to feel it in their summer vacations. They might not they're not only car trips, but their flights are extremely expensive right now. Everything they try to do for fun this summer is going to be more expensive. And then when that unofficial summer ends in Labor Day, that's when campaign season really gears up, and that is already going to have set the stage for what happened this summer leading in until November.

And Jonah, you talked about the supply chain stuff. There's one thing that Congress is working on to address the supply chain is this America COMPETES USICA legislation that is stalled right now. There are negotiations between Republicans and Democrats and the House and the Senate to address some of these problems. And they haven't been able to get it through these negotiations. And President Biden hasn't been talking about that lately, either.


CALDWELL: And so perhaps that is one area where he could actually engage and give Democrats and actually the country a big win if Republicans or Democrats can get this done.

TAPPER: Speaking of big wins. I never hear him talk -- I never hear anybody talk about the infrastructure.

HENDERSON: Infrastructure. And Lord knows we talked about it around this table (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Giant investments --


TAPPER: -- in broadband and bridges and roads, never heard it. I mean, seriously, just stepping away from it.


TAPPER: It was bipartisan, a very sizable legislative accomplishment.

HENDERSON: Yes, you're right. And it was supposed to be, you know, paired with Build Back Better and it was supposed to jumpstart the economy and do all sorts of great things. And you heard for time Biden saying he was going to go out across the country and Barnstorm and, you know, ribbon cutting and bridges being built and all that stuff, they haven't really done it.


TAPPER: And who's doing that instead? Republican governors.

GOLDBERG: Is it part of the problem the word bipartisan? Because both parties don't want to campaign about how they can work with the other party. If you go around bragging about how you can work with the other party, it undermines the base mobilization rhetoric that they're trying to use to get their own (INAUDIBLE).

The Ukraine aid package was the most earth shattering bipartisan legislative accomplishment you can imagine with huge buy in from Republicans. No one's bragging about the rebirth of bipartisanship, because they're all messaging about turning out their own base and how the other party is evil.

FINNEY: Yes, but the infrastructure package does give them something very concrete not to play on words --


FINNEY: -- to talk about and to show as you were talking about, ribbon cuttings. Here's what the new bridge is going to be. Here's where the, you know, we're going to build a new school, what have you. So they -- I think you're seeing members do it in their individual races, and you're right Republican governors. And it's definitely something Democrats need to talk about more.

And again, try to frame it in a -- because politically, there's just not a lot you can do. I agree with what Catherine said to you, by the way, do everything you can even if it's politically risky, so that people feel like you're trying to change the equation a little bit. Because as we know, a lot of these things, we're not going to feel the benefit of them for quite some time. So you've got to feel like he's trying to do something.

TAPPER: Do you think that it's -- that the Republicans that the momentum is so strong right now against the party in power, which is the Democrats, White House, House and Senate, that the Senate is seriously in play?

CALDWELL: The Senate is seriously in play. I mean, Leader McConnell said that today, he thinks that as long as we put in good candidates, the Senate is absolutely going to be in play. And of course, that comes to how -- it depends on how these primaries turn out.

But Republicans are very pleased with how things are. And I hear every single day and have been hearing this for the past several months, we wish the election was today. Of course, anything can happen in the next four to five months. But the environment is so good for them. They think that it's a good chance for them.

TAPPER: All right, thanks to our panel.

Trying to escape at the first chance they get, people walking dozens of miles with their suitcases after Shanghai starts easing restrictions after an 80-day lockdown. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, daily COVID cases in the United States are five times higher than this time last year, five times. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows U.S. average daily COVID cases were 21,000 at the end of May 2021 compared to nearly 107,000 a day. Now, hospitalizations are slightly up from last year but deaths are lower.

In China, COVID restrictions are starting to ease in some Shanghai neighborhoods that have endured a brutal monthslong lockdown. CNN's Selina Wang takes a closer look.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sprinting with shopping bags, residents racing to get out. After more than two months of a brutal city wide locked down, Shanghai is finally cracking open the seal. The city's main train station packed with people trying to escape, but actually getting out of here is a treacherous journey. The city says it will fully resume transportation today.

But earlier, people have been seen trekking miles across highways, dragging their luggage or strapping it to bikes. Even journeys of dozens of miles or more not swaying their determination. The train station parking lot has become a campsite, some leaving days earlier than their departure time. Terrified they could be locked down again if they stay at home.

The masses outside the train station, a stark contrast to the rest of Shanghai. Hundreds of thousands still remain locked in. But even the lucky ones allowed out face a laundry list of restrictions. There are checkpoints everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, this is definitely not freedom.

WANG (voice-over): This Shanghai resident and her son who wished to remain anonymous for fear of persecution from authorities were finally allowed out after more than 80 days. Her only solace is seeing her son outside and smiling for the first time in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My child now has depression because of the lockdown. He started waking up at night and crying and shouting and saying there were people wearing masks in his bedroom. And he stopped eating.

WANG (voice-over): That harsh reality miles away from what the government wants to show. Watch this state TV reporter pulled a microphone and camera away during a live interview when the resident starts to complain about the lockdown. She says, I've never lived through anything like this, being locked inside your home and not allowed to go out. What a big joke.

Officials say the city will start returning to normal in June, but residents are doubtful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this does feel like endless, endless nightmare.

WANG (voice-over): Her freedom lasted less than a week. One COVID case was found near her so she's back to lockdown. For over two months, Shanghai has had its freedom taken away. Residents imprisoned at home or forced into quarantine centers like these. No one knows when this nightmare will fully end.


WANG: Jake, people in Shanghai they are relieved but they're also in huge disbelief. They have really been left traumatized by this month long lockdown and it's really eroded people's trust in the government. And even though most of Shanghai's 25 million are finally able to step outside today, hundreds of thousands still running being locked inside.


These past few months have really been a wake-up call to Shanghai, that in authoritarian China, even if you live in the country's wealthiest most cosmopolitan city, your freedoms could be taken away in an instant. There is no assurance here, Jake, that all of this won't happen again.

TAPPER: Selina Wang in Beijing, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Movie goers feeling the need, the need for speed. What "Top Gun: Maverick" may tell us about the future of film. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to manage expectations.



TAPPER: Audiences are finally flocking back to movie theaters, at least to catch Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick". The sequel to the kind of cheesy 1986 blockbuster has made an estimated $156 million for its four-day opening weekend boosting hooks for summer cinema revival. That is the highest opening ever before or after COVID for a Memorial Day weekend. Congratulations.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.