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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Jan. 6 CMTE Appeals For Former White House Lawyer To Testify; Rep. Stephanie Murphy, (D-FL), Is Interviewed About January 6; 4th Jan, 6 Hearing Focuses On Trump's Intimidation Of State Officials; RNC Chairwoman Testifies To Trump's Direct Involvement In Election Plot; Blinken To Speak With Families Of Detained Americans Tomorrow; 76- Year-Old Russian Says Police Took Away Her Art Criticizing Russia; TX DPS Chief: Police Response To Shooting Was An "Abject Failure"; COVID Shots Begin For Children 6 Months To 5 Years Old; Air Force U.S. Airman Arrested In Connection With Insider Attack That Injured Four Americans In Syria. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, one hour, 14 minutes, eight seconds, that's how long police officers stood outside Uvalde classroom with a gunman inside. It's 19 children and two teachers were killed. The horrific testimony about the police response that has been called a quote, "abject failure."
Plus, it's going to be a problem for President Biden. That's what a top State Department official says is Russia claims he could execute the two American fighters who went missing in Ukraine.
And leading this hour, the January 6 Select Committee has wrapped up its fourth public hearing this month. The takeaway, Trump not only never stopped claiming that there was election fraud in Arizona and Georgia that there was not, but he continued to put pressure on election officials to overturn the legal legitimate results, even when they could not provide any evidence of fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), JAUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBER: At some point, did one of them make a comment that they didn't have evidence, but they had a lot of theories?
RUSTY BOWERS, (R) ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER: That was Mr. Giuliani. He said, we've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence. And I don't know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn't think through what he said. I said, what would you have me do? And he said, just do it and let the court sorted out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But Rusty Bowers, the Arizona Speaker of the House and other elected officials were not just facing pressure from the Trump team. Many also endured harassment, and in some cases, actual violence from people in their own states who believed Trump's election lies. Listen to this tape from the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Forty-five minutes later, we started to hear the noises outside my home, and that's when my stomach sank and I thought it's me. And then and then it's just -- we don't know what's going to be -- the uncertainty of that was what -- was the fear. Like, are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house?
I'm in here with my kid, you know, I'm trying to put them to bed. And so it was -- that was the scariest moment just not knowing what was going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We also heard from a former Georgia election worker, Wandrea "Shaye" Moss. She and her mother Ruby Freeman were the targets of Trump's lies, specifically lies about them. The former president accused them falsely of moving suitcases of ballots on election night. Moss describe the toll this has taken on her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all. This affect my life in a major way in every way all because of lies. Only doing my job, same thing I've been doing forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But despite facing terrifying threats of violence from Trump supporters, CNN's Pamela Brown reports those state and local officials refuse to upend democracy, they refused to do Trump's bidding.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BOWERS: You're asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rusty Bowers, the Republican House Speaker in Arizona offering powerful testimony about the pressure he faced from former President Trump and his legal team to decertify Arizona's legitimate election results showing Joe Biden as the winner.
BOWERS: He said, just do it and let the court sort it out. And I said, you're asking me to do something that's never been done in history, the history of the United States, no, sir. He said, well, that's -- my suggestion would be just do it and let the courts figure it all out.
BROWN (voice-over): Bowers also telling the committee Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani acknowledged they didn't have any proof of fraud.
BOWERS: He said, we've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence.
BROWN (voice-over): Bowers remaining steadfast in the face of a constant barrage of calls.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Speaker, this is Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, we're calling you together because we'd like to discuss, obviously the election.
JENNA ELLIS, LAWYER: Hello, Mr. Speaker. This is Jenna Ellis and I'm here with Mayor Giuliani.
GIULIANI: Hey Brian, it's Rudy, I really has something important to call your attention that I think really changes things.
BROWN (voice-over): Bowers even disputing a claim Trump made about him shortly before the hearing.
BOWERS: Anywhere, anyone, anytime has said that I said the election was rigged. That would not be true.
BROWN (voice-over): The committee revealing how Trump aligned members of Congress like Arizona Republican Andy Biggs urged Bowers to throw out Biden electors and detailing how Trump's election lies inspired many of his supporters around the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We like to open on fire (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The punishment for treason is death.
BROWN (voice-over): Some supporters even threatening election workers.
BENSON: We started to hear the noises outside my home and that's my stomach sunk and I thought it's me. That was the scariest moment just not knowing what was going to happen.
MOSS: I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere. This affect my life in I'm in a major way in every way.
BROWN (voice-over): The committee use Trump's own words to make its case playing audio of an hour long phone call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have.
BROWN (voice-over): Raffensperger, who was Republican, insisted Georgia's election results were accurate.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Every single allegation we checked. We ran down the rabbit trail to make sure that our numbers were accurate.
BROWN (voice-over): Trump's top two officials in the Justice Department also testifying.
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITES STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We didn't see any evidence of fraud in the in the Fulton County episode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed.
BROWN (voice-over): State officials are already investigating Trump's pressure campaign in Georgia and that call specifically for any criminal wrongdoing.
FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: That is a case that we are investigating. I named the crimes that I thought could be impacted. And if there's ever a crime and it is ongoing, we are going to look at everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And looking ahead to Thursday's hearing, that's going to focus on Trump's pressure campaign against the Justice Department and former top DOJ officials in the Trump administration who resisted that pressure campaign. They are expected to testify.
Now the committee wants Trump's former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify as well. You heard Vice Chair Liz Cheney talked about that today saying that the American people deserve to hear from him. A person I spoke with close to Pat Cipollone says that he is resisting those calls as of now and that he believes he has sufficiently cooperated with the committee and meeting with them in an interview behind closed doors with the permission of Trump and the Biden White House. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
Joining us now live to discuss is Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida. She serves on the January 6 Select Committee.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. So let's start with what Pamela Brown just reported. The committee's appeal for testimony from former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, how close are you? Do you think he will agree to testify?
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: I think it's important that he testifies he was there providing the President with legal advice as he embarked upon this effort to try to overturn the 2020 election and stay in power. As we've heard from other witnesses, he -- the president was receiving advice that indicated to him that what he was trying to do was not legal or was not ethical, was unconstitutional, and yet he pushed forward anyways. So I think it's very important that we hear from Mr. Cipollone.
TAPPER: But do you think he's going to testify? Is it going to happen?
MURPHY: You know what, it's Washington and I hate to crystal ball anything. TAPPER: One of the most emotional parts of the hearing was when two longtime Georgia election workers testified about the horrifying threats they received after being targeted and terrorized by Trump and his minions. They say their lives and identities were changed permanently. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER FULTON COUNTY, G.A. ELECTION WORKER: I was sure that proudly proclaim that I love and I am Lady Ruby. Actually, I had that shirt on. I had that shirt in every color. I wore that shirt on Election Day 2020. I haven't worn it since. And I'll never wear it again.
Now, I won't even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I'm worried about who's listening.
I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I'm always concerned of who's around me. I've lost my name, and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security all because of a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: There are a number of House Republicans from your home state of Florida who are all in on this election lie, on the big lie. Do you think that that incredibly disturbing distressing testimony will have any impact on them?
MURPHY: You know what I found very powerful about the hearing was that there was testimony from elected officials, the House speaker in Arizona to the Secretary of State in Georgia to average ordinary citizens who so valued their power to vote that they made a career out of helping other people vote. And yet three generations of that family have been terrorized by the rhetoric that the president irresponsibly use to drum up violence towards them. It really was a heartbreaking hearing.
Whether or not anybody in Florida on the Republican side has that touch their conscience and change their mind in their path is for them to decide between them when (ph) they're gone (ph).
TAPPER: There was a moment of potential legal significance, a number of them actually, but one in particular, I think. I want to play this moment from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel's deposition with the committee. She acknowledges in this testimony that Trump himself was directly involved in the scheme involving fake electors, sending a slate of fake electors to Congress into the National Archives. Take a listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RONNA MCDANIEL, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing change the result of any dates. I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them. But the my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What was the significance of that? And do you think it's legally significant for Donald Trump?
MURPHY: It is unprecedented for a president to organize alternate electors that do not reflect the will of the American people or the voters in any one of those states that he organized those electors. And I think it's quite telling that the Trump campaign lawyers distanced themselves from it. They -- when they heard that this was the path forward, they either left or said, hey, that's on you if you all are going to execute on what is clearly illegal.
I think, you know, it's a real problem that the President used his power and tried to subvert our democratic process in the way that he did.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman, member of the January 6 House Select Committee Stephanie Murphy of Florida, thanks so much to you.
Coming up next, the secretary of state of New Mexico, another state where fake electors mad and tried to overturn the 2020 elections, how distrust in results is playing out in the midterms in New Mexico right now, we'll talk to her.
Plus, abject failure a top law enforcement official in Texas calls out the police response to the Uvalde school massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What new images and a timeline reveal and the crucial three minutes that could have saved lives.
TAPPER: And we're back with more on the January 6 hearings where committee members laid out the details of Trump's fake electors' scheme. With me to discuss is New Mexico's Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. New Mexico was one of those states that Trump targeted in his fake electoral scheme. Madam Secretary of State, thanks for joining us. So in your state just two weeks ago, a county commissioner and the county commission refused to certify primary results. The chairman of the January 6 committee Bennie Thompson talked about this commission in his opening remarks earlier today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, CHAIRMAN, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Two of the three members of the commission finally relented, one steel refuse, saying his vote, quote, "isn't based on any evidence, it's not based on any facts. It's only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition. And that's all I need." By the way, a few months ago, this county commissioner was found guilty of illegally entering the Capitol grounds on January 6.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's really obviously no way to run elections based on feelings as opposed to numbers. Are elections on shaky grounds in New Mexico?
MAGGIE TOULOUSE OLIVER, (D) NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF STATE: I think elections are on shaky ground everywhere. And I think unfortunately, we're seeing a through thread coming from the 2020 general election. What happened on January 6, the whys, the big why, especially in the mis and disinformation that have been spread and continue to propagate throughout a particular part of our electorate. You know, it's really starting to take root and starting to affect.
Even groups like this county commission who, you know, while they have a very narrow focus, a very narrow statutory authority with regard to elections is looking to do whatever they can to impede our election process. And I think it's something we all need to be deeply concerned about.
TAPPER: And just to be clear, this this guy's feelings were based on his belief, I guess, in the conspiracy theories having to do with Dominion software, ones that are completely without any merit at all. And it's just so odd how they never ever talk about Dominion voting when it has to do with electing Republicans. It's only when a Democrat does well that they start talking to these individuals, they start talking about fraud in Dominion software and the like.
OLIVER: Well, you know, Jake gets even worse because in this particular case, and this particular county in New Mexico have they followed through with their threats, had they not certified the election results. One of the very commissioners, a Republican down in that county, who was on the ballot for reelection this year, would have completely erased his name from the general election ballot.
So you know, it's gotten to the point where it's not even political anymore, it's completely nonsensical. And it's just about obstructing the election process at any cost. And clearly, you know, disenfranchising 1000s of voters in that county, ensuring that many candidates, even Republican candidates who are on the ballot down there didn't make it on the general election ballot is a cost that they were willing to take.
TAPPER: Yes. So, there's disenfranchisement, there's these delusions and these lies, and there's also intimidation. There was an emotional moment from the former Georgia elections worker who testified today, she talked about how she wished she had never become an elections worker because of what she's had to endure. We also heard from your counterpart in Michigan in talking about threats to her outside her house. What happens to our democracy if good people, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, are scared to run for office or to be elections workers?
OLIVER: I mean, this is the challenge. You know, we are all under threat and we are all under attack. And my heart just absolutely goes out to my colleagues, whether they be chief state election officials or just folks who are working on the frontlines of our democracy of all parties.
You know, what happens is, you know, this is exactly I think what's being intended, is a complete and utter breakdown of our democracy. I think we are on the brink here in this country. And I -- you know, I'm reluctant to say such things, you know, I'm not a very hyperbolic person, but the reality is, I think that's where we are. And I think it's very scary. And I think every single citizen of this country, every single voter, should be taking this extremely seriously and doing everything we can in our power as citizens of this country to keep this from going over the cliff.
TAPPER: Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.
Coming up next, the troubling response from Russia when asked if two captured Americans would be spared the death penalty. Stay with us
TAPPER: Coming to our world lead now, the State Department has confirmed a second American has been killed in combat in Ukraine. Fifty-two-year-old Stephen Zablielski's obituary says he died in mid- May and was a volunteer fighting in southern Ukraine. This comes as a Kremlin spokesperson says the Geneva Convention which sets out how soldiers and civilians are to be treated in wartime does not apply, they say, to the captured American fighter is being held by Russian backed separatists. And as CNN's Kylie Atwood reports, the families of more than a dozen detained Americans are demanding a face to face meeting with President Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dire new threat from Russia to the lives of two Americans captured in Ukraine. The Kremlin spokesperson claiming Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh are soldiers of fortune and not protected by the rules governing prisoners of war. Dmitry Peskov saying this when asked if they would be spared the death sentence.
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: No, I cannot guarantee anything, it depends on the investigation.
ATWOOD (voice-over): Their families tell CNN both men were fighting in the Ukrainian army.
JOY BLACK, FIANCE OF ANDY TAI NGOC HUYNH, AMERICAN CAPTIVE IN UKRAINE: Andy and Alex are not mercenaries. They are not soldiers of fortune. They are a part of the Ukrainian military. They are a part of the military, meaning that they are prisoners of war and they should be treated as such under the Geneva Convention.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We have both publicly as well as privately called on the Russian government and its proxies to live up to their international obligations in their treatment of all individuals, including those captured fighting in Ukraine.
ATWOOD (voice-over): One American still wrongfully detained in Russian prison is WNBA star Brittney Griner. This week, her wife, Cherelle Griner expressed deep frustration with the Biden administration after Britney unsuccessfully tried to call her 11 times on their anniversary on Saturday.
The call had been planned for almost two weeks she said, quote, "I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can't trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife's behalf to come home? Because that's a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call," Cherelle told the Associated Press.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed regret and said the call has been rescheduled.
PRICE: It was a mistake.
ATWOOD (voice-over): Today, in an open letter to the President, the families of more than a dozen Americans wrongfully detained around the world are demanding a face to face with the Commander in Chief. "Mr. President, we need you. We need your clear leadership to prioritize the expeditious resolution of these cases," they wrote, in describing themselves "as exhausted, traumatized and beleaguered."
And the family of Matthew Heath, who's being held in Venezuela, voice dire concerns after he tried to take his own life this week. Now urgently asking the White House to act before it's too late.
EVERETT RUTHERFORD, UNCLE OF MATTHEW HEATH, WRONGFULLY DETAINED AMERICAN IN VENEZUELA: We do not think he is out of the woods. This particular suicide attempt was not successful, thank goodness. We have every confidence that he will try again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD: Now tomorrow, Jake, Secretary of State Tony Blinken is going to have a virtual conversation with the families of Americans wrongfully detained abroad and American hostages abroad, we're told by a senior State Department official. And we know that Matthew Heath's family is going to be one of the families on that phone call. That's according to what his aunt told CNN.
It'll be interesting to see how this call goes down, just given all of the circumstances that have happened over the last few days and weeks. And, of course, they are pressing to speak with President Biden, not the Secretary of State. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood at the State Department for us, thanks so much.
Today, a top State Department official saying diplomatic relations with Russia will, quote, absolutely not go back to the status quo as Russians express frustration in their own way. CNN's Fred Pleitgen meets a 76-year-old artist who wants Russia to repent for what Putin calls a special military operation.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Elena Osipova might seem a bit frail, but her will is strong and her creativity seems unstoppable. The 76-year-old artist has been detained for several anti-war protests since Russia began what it called its special military operation in Ukraine. But when we visited her in her apartment in St. Petersburg, she showed no signs of feeling intimidated, instead complaining that police have taken her posters.
They took some away and haven't given them back, although they promised to give them back to me, she says. This has been going on for some time.
So she keeps painting more posters like this one, a bird symbolizing Russia with the writing, Russia is mourning and Russia is not Putin. It's a repentant bird, she says. A bird in mourning. And there are many such people in mourning here.
Elena Osipova is not afraid to speak out about even the most difficult topics, like the massacre in Bucha, where hundreds of dead bodies were found in the key of suburb after Russian forces retreated from there in early April. Ukraine and international investigators have launched investigations into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Moscow continues to reject its forces were responsible. The very large poster shows dead people with huge piercing open eyes and the text says the eyes of the dead will remain open until Russia repents. For me what was important in this poster is this word, repentance, she says. It was important to me to emphasize it.
While some Russians took to the streets to protest Vladimir Putin's special military operation during its early days, authorities have now effectively stopped any larger movement from taking hold, dismantling opposition groups and banning many media organizations not in line with the Kremlin's policies.
Elena Osipova says she understands people's fears. They are afraid of losing their jobs, she says, being expelled from college and there have been such incidents even if they see a photo on the internet showing someone holding a Ukrainian flag, that is already grounds for sacking.
But Elena Osipova isn't scared, she says. If the authorities keep taking her protest art, she'll paint more and even a battalion of riot police won't silence her creative mind.
PLEITGEN: And, Jake, just to give you an idea about the strength of character that we're talking about here, Elena Osipova, she told me that she's not just thinking of possible new posters to draw, she's also thinking of repainting some of the ones that have been taken away by the authorities. Now, of course, all this is very taxing at 76 years of age, but she says that as long as she's capable, she's going to continue to go out there and voice her dissent. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
It was a, quote, abject failure by police. The more details that emerge about the Uvalde School shooting, the more horrific the police response appears to be. Stay with us.
TAPPER: It took 24 seconds of the Uvalde shooter to enter Robb Elementary School and start shooting, 24 seconds. It took police officers one hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds to neutralize them.
Now in our national lead testimony today reveals the door to the classroom was unlocked the entire time. As new security footage shows, officers inside the school with long guns and ballistic shields while fourth graders and their teachers waited, according to the Texas Tribune.
CNN's Rosa Flores is in Uvalde that took a community reeling from grave failed by the very people whose job it is to protect them.
COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Three minutes would have made a difference. They've been dead.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, stunning new criticism of the police response in the Uvalde mass shooting.
MCCRAW: Three minutes after the subject under the west building, there were sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject.
FLORES (voice-over): Shown in this surveillance footage image obtained by the Austin American Statesman, showing 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school, three officers, two with rifles and one with a ballistic shield.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got shot.
FLORES (voice-over): Depicting in full color. The 77 minutes of horror children and teachers endured. According to the latest Texas Department of Public Safety timeline, at 11:33 a.m. within 24 seconds of entering Robb Elementary, the gunman started shooting. Just three minutes later, 11 officers also entered, two with rifles. 19 minutes in, the first ballistic shield arrives. At 11:54 a.m., 21 minutes after the shooting began, there's questions about whether kids are still trapped inside.
MCCRAW: The law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure.
FLORES (voice-over): The Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw, passing judgment publicly before a Texas Senate Special Committee, one of the biggest failures, he said, waiting.
MCCRAW: And while they waited, the on-scene commander, waited for radio and rifles, and he waited for shields. Then he waited for slot. Lastly, he waited for key that was never needed.
FLORES (voice-over): Despite earlier reports from the Texas Tribune, that school district police Chief Pete Arredondo tried dozens of keys that failed to work. McCraw today confirming the door to the classroom was unlocked. The preliminary investigation suggests not one officer even attempted to open the door until it was breached at 12:50.
MCCRAW: The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none.
FLORES (voice-over): In addition, the Texas Tribune obtained this screen grab from a Robb Elementary School surveillance camera showing officers in the hallway at 12:04. According to documents obtained by the Texas Tribune, Chief Arredondo called at 11:40 a.m. saying, "We have him in the room. He's got an AR-15. He's shot a lot. They need to be outside the building prepared because we don't have firepower right now. It's all pistol."
The investigation based on some 700 interviews blames the police failure to intervene immediately squarely on Chief Pete Arredondo, who also testified today, but behind closed doors.
MCCRAW: The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.
(END VIDEOTAPE) FLORES: We reached out to Arredondo's attorney and we have not heard back. But Arredondo has told the Texas Tribune in the past that he did not consider himself the incident commander. Now Jake, Senators asked McCraw today if there was something in Texas law perhaps under the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which is the regulatory agency for peace officers here in the state of Texas, there was something to hold officers accountable. And McCraw's answer was no.
TAPPER: Of course, no. Rosa Flores, thanks so much.
Let's discuss all this with Terrance Gainer, is the former U.S. Capitol Police Chief and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. Chief Gainer, as we heard in Rosa's report, there were enough officers with enough guns and equipment to neutralize the shooter within three minutes. Is there any way that Chief Arredondo could ultimately be held partially responsible for this massive loss of life?
TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Jake, I certainly think he's morally responsible. And there's plenty of statutes at most city, state, county or federal levels about official misconduct, the failure to do what you're supposed to do, which then results in a loss of life should be considered. So we'll just have to see what the Texas law is and see if there's a federal violation of civil rights by his failure to do something.
TAPPER: Chief Arredondo --
GAINER: If you know over the --
TAPPER: Go ahead.
GAINER: I was just going to say over the last year or so, we've talked a lot about officer's duty to intervene when there's misconduct. There's an equal obligation to intervene when there's a failure to act.
TAPPER: Chief Arredondo testified before a closed door committee today. What questions would you want him to answer?
GAINER: Well, the disparity between what he has said earlier, and what he's saying now and somehow try to explain himself. If there's a way to do that, the man ought to be speak up. When you mess up, you speak up and take responsibility of what you did, so that we can all learn how to be better.
And I think he keeps the way this information leaks out like this or is dripped out in his failure to act just keeps putting a dagger in the hearts of each one of these parents, where they have to relive what happened to their children and their spouses of the teachers by someone's failure to act. It's patently unfair, immoral, it is a terrible failure.
TAPPER: Yes. Let's not forget that in the initial reaction by police and by public officials down there in Texas, was to praise how heroic the police were when it seems the response was the exact opposite. We also learned that the door to the classroom when the carnage was unfolding was unlocked, and that a simple test of the handle could have changed everything. Are officers normally trained to try a door handle before waiting for a key?
GAINER: They should have been exploring all options. You know, we've talked a little bit about this before.
There were probably a few brief seconds, maybe a minute, when the decision -- they're trying to figure out, was this an active shooter, or was it a hostage situation? Now I'm not defending what he didn't do. But while you're trying to figure out whether it is a hostage situation, you're supposed to have a plan to take action once the shooting starts, again.
And we have plenty of information now that there was ongoing shooting over a great period of time when the issue about whether this was in a hostage situation where you didn't want to do something that put more kids at harm. But when you add in the telephone calls from the children in there, the telephone calls from the teachers, the spouse, the things officers should have been doing while they're outside that door, even if they were at risk. That's their duty.
Our job as police officers not to come home safely at night. We have to do our best on that. Our job is to make sure those who were responsible for protecting that they come home. Someone failed dramatically. Not just that commander in the scene, but some of those officers. They have to explain why they didn't take some action when it was clear, based on what we know now, they should have.
TAPPER: All right, Chief Terry Gainer, thank you so much for your perspective today. We appreciate it.
COVID vaccines are now available for children five years and younger, but Pfizer, Moderna? We'll get an expert opinion. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Our health lead now, COVID shots and little arms. Vaccinations for kids younger than five are now available across the United States. A short while ago, President Biden and the First Lady visited a clinic offering some of the first vaccinations to young kids, as the White House marks this major milestone in the nation's fight against COVID.
I want to bring in Dr. Paul Offit. He's on the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the great Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Offit, good to see you.
Parents now have a choice between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for the little ones. If they choose Pfizer, it's a three-dose series for babies as young as six months up to four years old. If they prefer Moderna, kids six months to five years will get a two-dose series. What would you say to parents whose children are eligible for both vaccines? Which do you recommend? DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: I say get whichever one you can. I mean, both vaccines are highly likely to protect against serious illness for against a virus that can cause serious illness. I think what many parents don't realize is that this virus can hurt young children. Over the past two years, 45,000 children less than five years of age have been hospitalized, but 10,000 of those children have had to go to the intensive care unit, and more than 400 have died.
So this is a disease worth preventing, both of those vaccines work. Although I do predict actually that the Moderna vaccine probably by the end of the year will also be a three-dose vaccine. I think in the end, both will be three-dose vaccines in this era, where the Omicron sub variants are common.
TAPPER: What would you say to a mom or dad or caregiver who asks about potential side effects from the shot?
OFFIT: Right. So the good news is we have a lot of information on this vaccine. I mean, there's millions of five to 11 year olds who already been vaccinated and billions of people who've been vaccinated with these mRNA vaccines. These vaccines can cause fatigue, they can cause fever, rarely high fever, but those are the side effects or symptoms that are associated with immune response.
When your body makes an immune response, you make the kind of proteins that cause those symptoms. That's why this vaccine works so well.
TAPPER: So no real serious, long-term side effects are possible for a kid that gets a vaccine?
OFFIT: I think the one you worry about, at least what I worry about is myocarditis, this inflammation of the heart muscle. You definitely saw that in the 16 to 17-year-old group where that that side effect was as common as one in 5,000. Although, remember, the virus also does that at a much more common rate.
It was reassuring to know that for the 12 to 15-year-old, that was much less likely. And for the five to 11-year-old, it was much, much less likely. So I think that for this less than five-year-old, also, I think you'd feel confident that you're much more likely to suffer myocarditis if you're infected with this virus and if you get a vaccine.
TAPPER: And the ones who got myocarditis, it was treatable, right? It wasn't -- there was no long-term effects?
OFFIT: Exactly. What's -- it's really a short lived temporary self- resolving phenomenon. In many ways, you don't even need treatment, it just goes away on its own.
TAPPER: A recent poll shows that just 18 percent of parents are planning to vaccinate their kids right away. 38 percent say they want to wait and see, 11 percent will only do it if required. 27 percent say they're definitely not going to have their children vaccinated. What do you say to parents who are reluctant, who are hesitant? OFFIT: That they should get this vaccine? I mean, it's not surprising. If you look, we've had a vaccine for the 12 to 15-year-old available for a year but only 60 percent or so have got them. We've had a vaccine available for six months plus for the five to 11-year-old but only 30 percent have got it. So I'm not surprised.
I think people tend to see their children as those at an age where they're not going to be seriously infected, but that's wrong. I mean, the data show that if you work in a hospital, you would know that's wrong. So please vaccinate your child.
TAPPER: We heard the Surgeon General today say another booster might be necessary for adults in the fall. You're on the Vaccine Advisory Committee, what do you think?
OFFIT: Let's see the data. I mean, we are going to be presented those data on June 28th. I think the administration is interested in a bivalent vaccine, meaning, a vaccine that contains both the so-called ancestral strain that we're getting now plus an Omicron strain. If there's clear evidence that that's the value, then we'll recommend it but if there's not, we won't.
TAPPER: Dr. Paul Offit, thank you so much. Good to see you again.
Word of a U.S. airman arrested in connection with an insider attack in Syria. More from the Pentagon coming up.
TAPPER: In our world lead, the U.S. Air Force says an airman has been arrested in connection with an insider attack at a U.S. base in northern Syria. CNN reported earlier this month that the military was investigating whether an American service member deliberately set off explosives on Green Village base back in April. Four U.S. service members were wounded, with traumatic brain injuries in that attack.
The Pentagon is not disclosing any other details at this time, including possible charges. The Biden ministration maintains around 900 troops in Syria including special operations forces.
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