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The Lead with Jake Tapper

January 6 Committee: Trump Was At Center Of Conspiracy To Overturn Election; Biden Blames Russia's War In Ukraine For Continued High Inflation; Uvalde School Police Chief Defends Delayed Shooting Response; House To Vote Next Week On Protections For Supreme Court Justices; Senior Officials: U.S. Preparing For "Reset" With Saudi Arabia; Life Grinds On For Ukrainians Living On The Front Lines. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 10, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Alexander was arrested for trespassing, battery, vandalism.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: That's going overboard. I mean, that's not what wedding crashers do. They just drink all the booze.

BLACKWELL: That's the fun way to do it.

CAMEROTA: That's the fun way to do it.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Yet another sign that costs of living won't be getting cheaper anytime soon.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Turbulence on Wall Street. As inflation hits a new 40-year high, the message from President Biden as he notes a sensitive spot in the supply chain.

And, making the case. The seven-part plan the January 6th committee says Donald Trump had to overthrow the government.

Plus, Biden's business relationship with the country he labeled a pariah, now his plans for a reset with Saudi Arabia, despite its record on human rights and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.


BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper on this Friday.

And we start with our politics lead, and the fallout from the first primetime hearing of the January 6th committee, where it laid out new evidence and its attempt to prove former President Trump concocted a massive conspiracy to stay in power, despite knowing he lost the 2020 election. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney detailing what she calls a seven-part plan by Trump and his allies to steal the presidency. And she says as part of that plan, Trump, quote, summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack, and then became angry when advisers told him to call off the rioters.

The committee also played a jarring new video showing exactly how the events of January 6th unfolded, including possible coordination between two of the far-right groups who were among the first to breach the Capitol.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson telling CNN there are witnesses who can detail conversations between those extremist groups and members of Trump's orbit.

CNN's Ryan Nobles starts off our coverage with how Democrats and Republicans are reacting to the new revelations and a preview of what's to come in next week's hearings.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th Select Committee has begun to make its case, that Donald Trump is to blame for what happened on January 6th, using the words of Trump's closest allies like Attorney General Bill Barr.

BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not see evidence of fraud.

NOBLES: And family members.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.

NOBLES: To lay the groundwork that Trump knew he lost the election but told his supporters he won anyway.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important to the American people to understand what truly happened. I tell you what, there's a lot going on.

NOBLES: The committee planning for seven public hearings in all. The second scheduled for Monday, the 13th. And the third on Wednesday, with a fourth to be held on Thursday the 16th.

Vice Chair Cheney teasing out the themes each hearing will hit on. She says hearing two will show Trump's massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information about the election. The third will focus on how the former president, quote, corruptly planned to replace the attorney general. Then a hearing to vote into what committee said was Trump's idea to get then-Vice President Pence to refuse to count electoral votes for Biden.

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

NOBLES: After that, testimony that Cheney says describes how Trump corruptly pressured state legislatures to hand him the presidency.

And finally, hearing six and seven, zeroing in on how Trump summoned a violent mob to the Capitol that led to a deadly riot. All with the aim of convincing the American people of a conspiracy to overturn the election directed by Trump.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It's a pretty simple story of a president who lost, who couldn't stand losing.

NOBLES: Republicans like Congressman Jim Jordan who was a focus of the investigation, attempting to downplay the committee's work.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This was a partisan production put on by the former head of ABC News. I don't think we learned anything new.

NOBLES: And Committee Chair Bennie Thompson telling CNN the committee has a lot more to share.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have a number of witnesses who have come forward that people have not talked to before. That will document a lot of what was going on in the Trump orbit while all of this was occurring.


NOBLES: And the impact of the violence on January 6th still being felt today.

CAROLINE EDWARDS, CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER INJURED ON JANUARY 6: That day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond any law enforcement officer has ever trained for.



NOBLES (on camera): And among the revelations last night was one by the Vice Chair Liz Cheney who claimed there were members of Congress that sought pardons from the former president in January of 2021.

Now, CNN has already reported some of those names but a new name revealed by the committee was Representative Scott Perry. Perry responded to that claim in a tweet today. He said the idea that he sought a pardon for himself or another member of Congress is a, quote, absolute shameless and soulless lie.

Pam, the committee claims they have evidence of Perry's attempt to do so. We'll have to see if we see that evidence in the coming weeks.

BROWN: Yeah. That would be key.

All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thank you.

And joining me now to discuss is former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.

Hi, Preet. Good to see you.


BROWN: So you warned about the danger of these types of presentations either becoming too clunky or being too overly produced. Did this hearing change any minds, do you think?

BHARARA: I don't know.

With respect to the production, you know, there had been Republicans complaining someone who used to be a news executive had some hand in this. I don't see what the issue is. In courtrooms all around the country every day, the parties and particularly the prosecutors in criminal cases present their evidence, they have audio visual aspects to the presentations. You weave together documents, testimony, video, charts that are put together in some form, and it was very professional and crisp, didn't go overtime.

So I think the production was right on, and well done and effective and compelling. Did it change any minds? It depends on who was watching. I think there are a lot of people whose understanding of what happened on January 6th, and there will be six more hearings but for the people who watched the first episode, I think probably their concerns were reaffirmed.

My worry is there are lots and lots of people who didn't tune in because it's not shown everywhere or their mind is already made up. With respect to one of the things that was mentioned in the package that just aired a minute ago, where Republican dismissed what was going on by saying there was nothing new there. Number one, there was new material here, there was new evidence here, including new video.

And the second thing I don't know what it means to say there's nothing new here if the original facts that had been known before are not accepted by that congressman and by other people. So for many, many people in the country, this stuff is new.

BROWN: Yeah. That's a really good point. And we're going to get to what was new in just a second.

But, first, I want to ask you about my colleague Evan Perez's reporting that Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Justice Department officials were watching the hearing last night to see what crimes the committee thinks it has uncovered. Did you see any home run evidence of a crime in this hearing?

BHARARA: Not home run evidence unless you consider the whole amalgam of things, the collection of things that we heard and some of the things that were previewed that we're going to hear in the future, all put together, I think there's a reasonable case that it constitute a crime. A federal judge has already indicated in connection with the discovery dispute that there's more likely than not evidence there were commissions of crimes here, including by the former president of the United States.

And many, many legal experts have made that same observation, that there could possibly be sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt guilt with respect to conspiracy to defraud the United States or obstruction of an official proceeding, and maybe seditious conspiracy, which are charges that have already been brought against a number of people, many of whom were there that day and some of whom were not there that day.

So, I think the way prosecutors think about this and the way the committee chairs thing about this is, it's piece of evidence by piece of evidence. You add it all together, and that gives you, I think, convictable proof.

BROWN: Republican Congressman Liz Cheney revealed that multiple Republican members of Congress sought pardons from President Trump after January 6th. Committee member Jamie Raskin said, quote, it's hard to find a more explicit statement of consciousness of guilt.

What is the significance of this to you?

BHARARA: It's exactly what Jamie Raskin said.

That concept of consciousness of guilt is something used in courtrooms again around the country every day. Sometimes if the circumstances are right and someone flees, that's consciousness of guilt. If someone lies about their whereabouts when there's no reason to lie about your whereabouts, that could be consciousness of guilt.

And here, if you're seeking the ultimate protection preemptively with respect to something you and your colleagues have said was merely tourists going to a historic site, that tells you something about their state of mind. It's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but added it to list of other evidence, and it shows you if it's true that these members of Congress were really concerned about their own behavior and thought they might be prosecuted.

I think it's also interesting here that some of this stuff that Liz Cheney and others said, the chairman said last night, they brought it to us and they showed us video and evidence. Some of it they just previewed. It's a pretty concrete and significant thing she said about these pardons and you have a complete absolute blanket denial from Representative Perry.


I'm really looking forward to seeing who has the right side of the evidence on that.

BROWN: Yeah, you heard Ryan Nobles saying there is evidence. We'll have to wait and see if we see that evidence. I think that is an important part of this, but CNN reported even back then, I reported along with a couple of my colleagues, Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, that there were several GOP congressmen reaching out to the White House seeking pardons.

So, of course, when I heard the congresswoman say that, I wasn't surprised at all because our understanding back then was it was happening.

Other evidence they showed was this video testimony of people at the January 6th riot claiming they only went to the Capitol because Trump told them to. Let's listen.


ROBERT SCHOMACK, SENTENCED TO 36 MONTHS OF PROBATION: I did believe, you know, that the election was being stolen. And Trump asked us to come.

ERIC BARBER, CHARGED WITH THEFT AND UNLAWFUL DEMONSTRATOR IN THE CAPITOL: He personally asked for us to come to D.C. that day. And I thought, for everything he's done for us, if this is the only thing he's going to ask of me, I'll do it.

JOHN WRIGHT, AWAITING TRIAL FOR FELONY CIVIL DISORDER AND OTHER CHARGES: I was there, and that's because he called me there. And he laid out what is happening in our government.


BROWN: How could this be used in a criminal case?

BHARARA: Well, to the extent it could be shown that Donald Trump understood the effects of his words and he used those words and they were responded to in the way those witnesses just described, it goes to his state of mind, and it's not nothing.

BROWN: All right. Preet Bharara, thank you so much.

And up next on this Friday, inflation hitting historic highs. What President Biden today calls his number one priority may very well be his biggest liability.

Plus, too dangerous to stay, but too poor to leave. Life on the front lines in Ukraine where few even flinch when the blasts go off.

And when sci-fi gets real, a robot outfitted with human skin cells. The must-see science coming up.



BROWN: And in our money lead, President Biden is blaming Russia's war in Ukraine for the painful inflation numbers today. Now at 8.6 percent, according to May's consumer price index. That is the biggest jump in prices in more than 40 years.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, President Biden says bringing prices down is his top economic priority.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand Americans are anxious, and they're anxious for good reason.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDNT (voice-over): President Biden staring down a massive political liability. BIDEN: Make no mistake about it: I understand inflation is a real

challenge to American families.

COLLINS: New data shows consumer prices soared last month, sending inflation climbing 8.6 percent from last year, the highest since 1981. Biden delivering the bad news today after predicting six months ago that the inflation crisis had hit its peak.

BIDEN: I think you'll see it change sooner -- quicker, more rapidly than it will take than most people think.

COLLINS: Prices are now higher for everything from food, fuel, rent, to used cars. As Biden officials say that taming inflation is their highest priority.

CECILIA ROUSE, CHAIR, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We are open to ideas. Again, some of them require working with Congress. The president is focused on lowering costs for families.

COLLINS: But those same officials say that the bulk of the response will fall to the Federal Reserve, as Friday's numbers only offer more reason for the Central Bank to continue raising interest rates.

ROUSE: As part of his plan, I know this doesn't sound like a plan, but first and foremost, he respects the independence of the Federal Reserve.

COLLINS: The troubling figures could spell doom for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections this November as Biden lashed out as Republicans, shipping conglomerates, Russian President Putin, and oil companies.

BIDEN: Exxon made more money than god this year.

COLLINS: A new poll shows only 28 percent of U.S. adults approve of Biden's handling of the economy.


COLLINS (on camera): And, Pam, obviously, higher gas prices makes people think about summer travel. We do have a bit of news today, which is that the CDC is going to lift its requirement to have a negative COVID-19 test to get into the United States. That's something that's been in place since January 2021. And we're told they're going to re-evaluate it every 90 days to make sure no troubling new variants have emerged or anything like that.

But it will be welcome news for the travel industry, which has advocated for that. It goes into effect tomorrow night at midnight.

BROWN: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Defending his actions, up next, why the embattled school police chief in Uvalde says he left his radios behind on purpose, and why he didn't think he was the person in command.



BROWN: In our national lead, embattled Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo is now defending the more than hour-long delay in confronting the gunman who killed 19 children and 2 teachers. Chief Arredondo told "The Texas Tribune" he never considered himself the scene's incident commander and denied he halted attempts to enter the room and take down the shooter.

But as CNN's Omar Jimenez reports from Uvalde, families of the victims are struggling to reconcile the many conflicting accounts.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperately trying to find a key to open the door. Leaving his police radios behind so they wouldn't slow him down or give his location away. Embattled Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo explaining his actions for the first time in an interview with "The Texas Tribune". He said he wasn't aware of the 911 calls coming from inside the classrooms at Robb Elementary School through dispatch, unable to hear those desperate calls for help from the children.

Chief Arredondo telling "The Texas Tribune" he called for tactical gear, a sniper, and keys to get inside, holding back from the doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking sprays of gunfire. According to the article, he also said officers couldn't enter the steel re-enforced door without a key, but he tried dozens of keys before finding the right one.


Each time I tried a key, I was just praying.

Seventy-seven minutes after the shooting began, officers were finally able to unlock the door and kill the gunman. A separate report from "The New York Times" referencing transcripts of body camera footage reported that law enforcement officer could be heard saying, people are going to ask why we're taking so long. Some parents of the victims are criticizing the delay.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ, PARENT OF CHILD INJURED IN ROBB ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: They failed, they cowarded out. Like it was one man with one gun, and hundreds of hundreds of officers, and you can -- there's other videos of me and her, like I'm trying to get in. Like, there's other parents trying to get in.

JIMENENZ: Arredondo said he never issued instructions to wait to breach the building, telling "The Texas Tribune" he didn't consider himself the incident commander, despite earlier law enforcement information saying he was in charge.

I didn't issue any orders. I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.

Arredondo, who said he attended Robb Elementary as a boy, told "The Texas Tribune" about his priorities that day.

My mind was to get there as fast as possible, eliminate any threats, and protect the students and staff.

Now, the families of the victims continue to mourn their loved ones and struggle to reconcile what they're learning from that day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was in my son's classroom.

JIMENEZ: Gumacho (ph) said her son was in the classroom of Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles. Both of them killed in the shooting. Friday morning was the funeral for Mireles. Gumacho's son was injured, inside the room where so many of his classmates died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That makes me so mad.

MARTINEZ: He named every single one of the children who lost their lives. He named every single one by name and where they got shot.


JIMENEZ (on camera): And his parents say he's just not the same kid as he was before the shooting. That he even came to this memorial at night with his parents and saw all of his classmates, his friends and teachers looking back at him.

On some of the new details that have come out on the investigation and Arredondo, we reached out to Arredondo's lawyer who told us he's no longer doing interviews. We reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the school district but haven't heard back.

BROWN: They have not been exactly forthcoming with key information.

Omar Jimenez in Uvalde, Texas, thank you.

Well, up next, the fine for an NFL assistant coach who said this about January 6th.


JACK DEL RIO, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS DEFENSE COORDINATOR: People's livelihoods are being destroyed. Businesses are being burned down. No problem. And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down.


BROWN: Several lives lost, just a dust-up. How much that comment will cost him, even after he tried to clean it up?



BROWN: We are back with our politics lead. The House next week is due to vote on a bill to enhance security for Supreme Court justices and their families. This comes in the wake of the arrest this week of an armed man near Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home who told police he was targeting the justice.

As CNN's Nick Watt reports, federal officials warn America is a heightened threat environment for members of the judiciary.


DISPATCHER: He came from California. He took a taxi from the airport to this location.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home, carrying a Glock pistol and zip ties, says the FBI, planning to kill Kavanaugh. He found the address online.

JOHN MUFFLER, CHIEF INSPECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICES (RET.): The nine justices, all nine justices are in danger because that information is out there.

WATT: According to the complaint, he was upset about the leak of a recent Supreme Court draft decision regarding the right to abortion. The publish disclosure on 2nd of May prompted a significant increase in violent threats, reads a DHS memo circulated last month. Some of these threats described burning down or storming the U.S. Supreme Court and murdering justices and their clerks. Abortion has long fueled fury since the roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago, anti- abortion extremists have carried out multiple bombings and murders.

Now, the DHS, since the leak of that draft opinion, that could overturn Roe v. Wade, also fears pro-abortion rights extremist violence. So there's now a high fence around the highest court in the land.

And --

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Last month, I accelerated the protection of all the justices' residences 24/7.

WATT: Threats against federal judges were already on the rise. In 2014, 768 threats and inappropriate communications against the judiciary, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which protects federal judges. Last year, 4,511, a near six-fold increase.

MUFFLER: Not that long ago, you know, I would write Nick Watt a letter and threaten him, right? Now we have social media. And so one person tweets something and 300 people glom on to that. This goes to both sides of the aisle, right?

WATT: One week ago --

JOHN ROEMER, WISCONSIN JUDGE: Devoted to hearing the motion.

WATT: This retired judge in Wisconsin zip tied and shot dead in his home by a man he once jailed.

[16:35:00] JOSH KAUL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have seen a rise in domestic extremism. I think it is important that we take a look at the protective measures that we have in place.

WATT: Nearly two years ago, a federal judge in New Jersey, Esther Salas, targeted by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist lawyer who once appeared before her.


WATT: Daniel, her son, was shot dead on their doorstep.

SALAS: Judges put their lives on the line to do their job, and really, judges do stand at the front line, insuring that democracy is live and well in our country.


WATT (on camera): And, Pamela, you mentioned that bill that would increase the security for federal judges. Well, it is actually named after Judge Salas' son, and one thing it would do is make things like Justice Kavanaugh's home address harder to find online -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Also in our politics lead, Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been fined $100,000 for calling the deadly January 6th insurrection a, quote, dust-up, and comparing the Capitol rioters to those who protested in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Let's get right to CNN's Abby Phillip and "The Washington Post's" Leigh Ann Caldwell.

All right. To you, first, Abby, Del Rio walked back the comments, but team's head coach brought back the comments and said it is clear January 6th was an act of domestic terrorism. What do you make of this?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's not that hard to understand the difference between, you know, people protesting police violence and using violence in the streets, which is actually not something that is new. There have been riots on -- as a result of protests or riots just in general in this country for a long time. But the first time that we ever had a riot on the Capitol in an effort to stop the peaceful transfer of power happened on January 6th.

That's a very different thing. So I think that that is -- you know, that comparison is actually pretty common on the right, particularly in right-wing media, so it doesn't surprise me that presumptively this individual is very fluent in that kind of propaganda and is repeating it. That's what a lot of Americans believe right now at the moment.

BROWN: Yeah, that's very true. It's like exact right-wing talking points that I have seen others put out there as well.

And, Leigh Ann, the ratings -- we found some of the early TV ratings are showing nearly 20 million people watched last night's hearing. You said the committee did a better than expected job. What do you mean by that?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, my conversations with members of the committee off the record and on background over the past several months, I have been asking them what they were going to present at these hearings, and they really lowered expectations, they -- throughout these last few months. And so I really didn't have high expectations, especially given the high task, the tall order they had to try to present to the American public, an American public that is very hardened in their positions right now, but I think last night what they did is they gave a very good overview of what the next month of hearings are going to be.

And what they did is they right off the bat, they said, you know, Donald Trump was told over and over again by people who worked for him, people who were close to him, that he lost the election, and despite that, he continued to move forward with this scheme. I thought it was a very powerful way to open those hearings, and especially using the deposition, the words and the video of those people instead of lawmakers just reading transcripts. It was much more effective.

BROWN: Right. People like his own attorney general, Bill Barr. They showed clips of his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

And, Abby, this morning, Trump responded specifically to that clip of his daughter. Here's what the committee showed.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): This is the president's daughter commenting on Bill Barr's statement that the department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.


BROWN: So now, Trump is saying Ivanka was not involved with election results and, quote, long since checked out.

Trump says she only is trying to be respectful to Bill Barr, but, Abby, we know she was at the January 6th rally. My reporting after the election was that she wasn't checked out at all on this and she knew her dad had lost the election and was trying to sort of strategize with others on how to -- what to do, how to talk to him about it.


So what do you make of this? PHILLIP: It doesn't pass the common sense test, and it certainly

doesn't pass the facts test considering we -- you know, Pam, you and I were reporting at that time. We knew that, for example, President Trump in that period between the election and January 6th and when he was out of office on January 20th, didn't do a whole lot else other than talk about the big lie.

And so the idea that Ivanka Trump wasn't really aware or checked in to the thing that was preoccupying her father's life at the time is just simply not true. But I do think that video is just emblematic of what also went on pretty rampantly in the Trump White House, which is that most of the people around Trump knew that all of this stuff wasn't true, that it was pretty much made up, and they did nothing about it. I think that's the point that the January 6th committee was also trying to make.

BROWN: Right. And what do you think, Leigh Ann, what's your take?

CALDWELL: Yeah. I think that as far as what Donald Trump, he's going to have an aggressive response throughout this. It's proof he was watching last night or at least heard about it.

And moving forward, the committee is going to have to -- they have a plan. And on one of those days, they're going to focus on Mike Pence and in an interview with Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee earlier this week, I asked if they really thought Mike Pence's life was in danger.

Well, last night, they previewed that. And when they have a hearing focusing on Mike Pence and his role that day, I think that's going to be perhaps very shocking, and it's going to be very enlightening to see what happened and with -- how the president reacted, because as the committee said last night, the president said maybe he deserves the punishment -- Pamela.

BROWN: We'll have to wait and see what more we find out about this. Thank you both.

And be sure to join Abby for "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

Up next, Biden's reset plan with Saudi Arabia after once calling the nation a pariah.



BROWN: Turning now to our world lead. A dramatic about-face for President Biden. Senior U.S. officials telling CNN the president wants to reset the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia by effectively moving on from the 2018 murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. This after then candidate Biden campaigned on being tough on Saudi Arabia. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, THEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were going to in fact make them pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are. There's very little social redeeming value of the -- in the present government in Saudi Arabia.


BROWN: Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand.

Natasha, is this really just about convincing Saudi Arabia to lower global oil prices?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Pam, oil is not the only thing at issue here, but there's no denying that it is one of the key driving factors of the administration's desire to have this reset with Saudi Arabia, especially amid the kind of global glut of oil that we have been experiencing after so many countries have tried to cut off Russia's exports of oil to the rest of the world. So this is obviously a key priority for the Biden administration and something that Biden advisers have said openly.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was on CNN earlier this week and said while it is true that the crown prince and Saudi Arabia should be held to account for what they did to "The Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi, she caveated that with a very important comment. She said there is also no question that we have to increase global oil supply and OPEC led by Saudi Arabia is at the head of the pack for that.

So really kind of articulating there how important the administration sees Saudi Arabia to its ability to increase global oil production. Something they saw about a week ago when OPEC led by Saudi Arabia did agree to increase production by about 200,000 barrels per day in July and August. Not a huge amount but something that the Biden administration does see as a harbinger of the kind of thing Saudi Arabia could do if relations are better between the two countries.

BROWN: So how are administration officials justifying this exactly?

BERTRAND: Well, they say that this doesn't have everything to do with oil. They say that Saudi Arabia is a very important regional ally for the United States, and particularly because one of the Biden administration's key foreign policy and national security objectives right now is to cut Russia off from the rest of the world, and isolating Russia both geopolitically and financially is important to have Saudi Arabia on the U.S. side for that, not only because of the oil but also because of just kind of isolating Russia from any potential allies and partners in the region.

So what the administration says is that it's about continuing to isolate Russia. It's about of course continuing the truce in Yemen which the administration is very proud to have helped facilitate between the Saudis and the Iran backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and it's always about Israel and Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia have a warming relationship that the U.S. sees itself as again helping to facilitate, and the Iran question is a major one. And they see Saudi Arabia as potentially helping in their fight to hold Iran accountable and help potentially come up with a nuclear agreement and keep Iran's ambitions there at bay -- Pam.


BROWN: All right. Natasha Bertrand, thank you so much.

And you mentioned Russia -- well, today, a top Ukrainian intelligence official said Russia may have the resources to keep up its war for another year. But Putin may try to freeze the fighting soon to try to convince the West to drop sanctions that are crippling Russia's economy.

Back in Ukraine, life on the front line is grinding on despite no running water, lack of food, widespread power outages and buildings in ruins.

CNN's Ben Wedeman went to an eastern city of Bakhmut where residents barely flinch at the sound of rocket fire.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The daily bread has arrived. Two loaves per person in the front line city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. There's no gas here, the bakeries don't work. So the loaves, 10,000, are trucked ten hours here every day.

Lyliya has come with her two grandchildren and says she tries to shield them from the sounds of war.

We tell them there are some guys playing with tanks, she says. How can I damage their mental health? You shouldn't do that. It's impossible.

That's the roar of outgoing Ukrainian fire.

Tetyana is a volunteer helping to hand out the bread, leaving Bakhmut is out of the question.

I have two children and four grandchildren, she tells me. I love them all. I want all of us to live here. It's our land. Everything will be fine, god protects us.

Pavlo Diachenko's job is to investigate every strike, every damaged building for the Bakhmut police.

PAVLO DIACHENKO, BAKHMUT POLICE: Strike anytime. This morning, in the evening. We don't know when it's going.

WEDEMAN: He takes us to a school struck by Russian war planes Wednesday. Two passers by were injured, classes haven't been held for months.

Not far away, a complex of agricultural warehouses has been hit. Workers salvage what they can. Shrapnel tore into the roof of one warehouse containing a precious resource. We don't know the motives of the Russians for hitting this facility,

it's been struck three times, most recently on Thursday morning. But one cannot but wonder if all of this Ukrainian grain is the target.

Lyudmila and her two children have been staying at this city-run dormitory since March. They fled the shelling on her nearby town. She's pondering leaving to a safer part of the country but doesn't have enough money and in the end asks, what's the point? The Russians are coming.

It's the same everywhere, she says. When they, the Russians, she means, are done here they'll go further.

Yet others aren't so fatalistic, reminded as they wait for the bus out of the city why they should go. Igor, a beekeeper in peace time, is leaving with his cat, Simone Symonich (ph).

I left everything here, he says, my bees and my house with all of my belongings.

They load their bags on the bus. And go.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And of course, that high morale we saw among Ukrainians after they were able to push the Russians back from the capital Kyiv is starting to disappear as reality is becoming to bite in terms of just the intensity of Russia's artillery bombardment of eastern Ukraine -- Pamela.

BROWN: Ben Wedeman in Ukraine, thank you very much, Ben.

Well, flashback Friday or should we say flesh-back Friday for this one. See the robots with human skin bringing movies like "Blade Runner" and "Terminator" to real life.



BROWN: In our tech lead, while beauty may only be skin deep, researchers at the institute of industrial science in Tokyo have grown human-like living skin on a robotic finger. This high-tech epidermis can repel water and be repaired using collagen.

And while objectively creepy, I think we can all agree on that, experts say human-like features on robots will help androids seamlessly integrate into our lives. Hmm, not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

For example, instead of clunking around with a heavy metal exterior and imprecise fingers, a robot with skin will be able to pick up household items easily. Now, I do like that idea. Now the head researcher is setting his sights on making the skin self-sustaining adding veins to transport nutrients and one day sinking his fingers into adding hair, sweat glands, and even nails. Hmm. Wow. Well, coming up Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION", Democratic January 6th

member Jamie Raskin, Republican Congressman Chris Jacobs of New York, economist Larry Summers, and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, they're all this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and noon here on CNN.

And I'll be back tomorrow night at 6:00 for "CNN NEWSROOM". Until then, you can follow me on Twitter @PamelaBrownCNN or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN.

Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."