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Officers Waited before Engaging Uvalde Gunman; January 6th Fourth Hearing; Children under Five Get Vaccinated; Gas Tax Holiday Decision. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


We are following two major stories this morning.

First, they were heavily armed, they were protected, but still waited nearly an hour to save children's lives. Stunning new details and the images this morning on law enforcement's response to the mass shooting at a school last month in Uvalde, Texas. We are learning that 11 officers responded to Robb Elementary School within three minutes. They were armed to the hilt. They had protective gear, bulletproof protective gear, but they still waited. Why?

This image obtained by "The Austin American Statesman" shows an officer with a ballistic shield. The time, 11:52 a.m. Just 19 minutes after the gunman first entered the school, 58 minutes before he was then shot and killed.

HARLOW: Another image obtained by "The Texas Tribune" shows officers with rifles, ballistic shields, and an ax-like tool. So, they had all of this. But we do not know -- we should note, at this point -- what point in the standoff this image was taken.

This morning, a father of one of the students killed in the mass shooting tells CNN he cannot fathom why officers would wait so long to act.


JOSE FLORES SR., FATHER OF UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM JOSE FLORES JR.: They're supposed to be, I mean, trained professionals, bulletproof vests, you know, heavy automatic weapons in their cars. I don't understand the reason why they stood back that long for them to go back in. I mean, somebody has to pay for it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": When you say you want them to pay, pay how?

FLORES: I mean, somebody's getting -- 21 charges - 21 lives under his -- under him. So, I mean, murder charges. There you go, 21 murder charges counts. Like something.


HARLOW: You just heard that father talking about accountability.

Well, we have just learned, in the past few moments, that School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo will testify today before the Texas house committee investigating the shooting. That will be behind closed doors. We'll have more on that in just a moment.


HARLOW: Also today, in public view, the January 6th committee holds its fourth public hearing. It is expected to highlight former President Trump's role in the scheme to get an alternate rogue slate of electors submitted to try to overturn the 2020 election results. And a focus on how Trump and his allies pressured state level key officials to do that. Among the witnesses this afternoon, key state officials from Arizona and Georgia.

But let us begin this hour in Texas with that critical senate hearing next hour. We begin with Rosa Flores there.

What are we learning, though, about this timeline? I mean just those images, the time stamps, what they had, what they were armed with, what they were protected with, while children had nothing and were trapped.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, this raises so many questions about the law enforcement response. If you were concerned about the law enforcement response before all of this tranche of documents, videos, transcripts were released through various news organizations, now you're even more concerned because now we are seeing for the very first time, timestamped photographs of police officers inside the school with long guns, with firepower, with ballistic shields, and the timestamp is 11:52. We know that the shooter entered the school at 11:33.

I had a conversation with a law enforcement source that's close to this investigation, and he read a portion of this new timeline to me. And in that timeline, what it shows is that in the first three minutes after the shooter entered the school, 11 police officers entered the school as well. This included officers with long guns, this included Police Chief Arredondo, the individual who now is set to testify before the Texas house behind closed doors.


One minute after that, the shooter, according to this timeline, the shooter actually fires his weapon through the door and injures some of these police officers. What this preliminary investigation shows so far is that in the 73 minutes that followed, no one tried to enter through that door.

Now, here are other things that happened during those 73 minutes. Children were calling 911 asking for help. The shooter kept shooting sporadically. Again, all of this is according to the timeline. And also this, a transcript that Chief Arredondo said the following, quote, it's an emergency right now. 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 pistols. I don't have a radio. I need you to bring a radio for me.

We had, of course, heard about him not having the radio before, but this includes new details.

Also, an exchange among agents. Agent number one saying, are there still kids in the classroom? If there is, then they just need to go in. Agent number two, it is unknown at this time. Agent number one, you all don't know if there's kids in there? Agent number two, whoever is in charge will determine that.

It's important to note that we've reached out to Arredondo's attorney, and we have not heard back, Jim and Poppy. But we continue to push for answers here and to try to obtain as much information to get a clearer picture, of course, of this law enforcement response.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: it's a disturbing picture.

Rosa Flores, thanks very much.

Let's get some deeper analysis here. Joining us now, Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, CNN's senior law enforcement analyst.

Andrew, we're learning more every day, really, here. And you see that, that according to the transcripts, the commander on the scene, Police Chief Arredondo, did not want the police to go in because they didn't have enough firepower, but you are seeing images that they have both firepower and protective equipment, including ballistic shields.

Does that, based on what you know so far, show this response to be negligent?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Jim, it's inexplicable how the chief could have been providing reports from the scene, from inside the school, that directly contradict what we're now seeing in these photographs. It is yet another instance of what is not just negligence, it appears to be just a complete failure of law enforcement command in the middle of an unbelievably intense and important crisis incident. It's just - it's inexplicable. And it's also, you know, made worse by the fact that we've been given really nothing but kind of conflicting misinformation since this shooting took place.


MCCABE: And you can't really take pretty much anything that officials in Uvalde tell you at face value, which is why this great reporting by folks in that area really helps us understand what's happening. SCIUTTO: As more evidence comes to light, do you see any potential

here, is it getting closer in your view, to criminal liability for law enforcement?

MCCABE: Well, as I think most people know, it is incredibly hard to hold law enforcement officers criminally responsible for things that they do during the execution of their duties, when they're within the scope of their employment as the law defines. It's even harder to hold people responsible for failing to do something that in retrospect you think they should have done. So, even though this is a -- seems to be a clear case of negligence and you can certainly expect multiple civil suits by these parents and people involved against the school district, criminal penalties against folks who were part of the response from my perspective still seems probably unlikely. But, boy, you never know.

SCIUTTO: There was a tremendous, in fact, a lot of firepower - a tremendous amount of firepower there. You saw the weapons the officers were carrying. They had ballistic vests. They had ballistic shields. I even saw military-like vehicles outside that classroom. And yet they waited more than an hour to go in.

What does this do, in your view, to the argument we often here after shootings like this, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?

MCCABE: Well, it eviscerates it, Jim. I mean, look, I can tell you, speaking as a former FBI SWAT operator, the weapons and the protective equipment that you see in those photographs, that's what you need, right? That is all you need. And, in fact, the Texas training for active shooter response for school-based law enforcement makes it very clear, you don't wait when there's a shooting going on and there's victims inside this.


You don't wait. You go, even if it's just (INAUDIBLE) have. But, clearly, had (INAUDIBLE) the power (INAUDIBLE) chief said. They had multiple AR-15s. They had ballistic shields. There's no explanation for why they waited, other than the fact that they were just horribly, horribly led by the command at the scene.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean that's the guidance around the country, go in quickly.

Andy McCabe, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Well, just a few hours from now, the January 6th committee will gavel in its fourth public hearing. It's expected to present evidence connecting former President Trump to the scheme to try to get an alternate rogue slate of electors submitted to overturn the 2020 election results. It will also highlight the pressure campaign on several state -- high level state officials.

SCIUTTO: Today we're going to hear from state officials in both Georgia and Arizona, two states that Trump lost. This includes Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who resisted Trump's effort to pressure him to, you'll remember the quote, find the votes necessary for the then president to win Georgia in this now infamous January 2021 phone call.

Have a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.


HARLOW: Joining me now is former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers.

So, Jennifer, let's begin with the first witnesses, Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, who in so many ways was blocking illegal things from happening. I mean he withstood this pressure campaign from Trump, from Giuliani, from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He's expected to talk about stopping Republican-backed bills to -- that would have allowed the state legislature to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He got phone calls from Trump. He got phone calls from Giuliani. He got emails from Ginni Thomas. I mean look at all that incoming he took and yet he blocked it at every point.

What are you listening for specifically from him?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so we know that the call to Brad Raffensperger, which we just heard a little piece of, was recorded, of course, so we've heard that. We haven't heard a recording, I don't think one exists, of these calls and this pressure. So it's really going to be interesting as to hear from Bowers and his own words, what was said, what was he told, is it similar to what Raffensperger was told. You know, these people were on the front lines and they did withstand the pressure, which, obviously, is hugely important for our democracy. But we need to know what was in Trump's mind, what was in the mind of those around him as they fulfilled their goals in this plot. So that's what I want to hear.

HARLOW: One of the things that we are going to get some more insight into the president's thinking and those conversations from -- we just learned that -- from "Politico's" reporting this morning that the select committee has sent a subpoena to a documentary filmmaker by the name of Alex Holder, who apparently had huge access, extensive access, in the words of committee, to not only the president but his entire team for months leading up to this, throughout the 2020 election.

The letter that the committee sent to Holder says, we understand you have raw footage depicting the January 6th attack and of President Trump and others discussing the November 2020 presidential election results.

How significant could that be, especially to the key question of intent?

RODGERS: So, this could be huge because the defense that we're hearing both from the former president in his remarks he's making now and every day and from his supporters is that he really believed he won the election.


RODGERS: So, in other words, he wasn't trying to steal an election, he was trying to fix the wrong that had been done to him.

But we have a lot of evidence that that's not true. And it sounds like this filmmaker may have additional evidence of that, if they're talking about we lost, of course we lost, but what can we do to overturn that election and keep me in power.

HARLOW: Right.

RODGERS: That's going to be key evidence.

HARLOW: OK. Jennifer Rodgers, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

RODGERS: Thanks.

HARLOW: Right now, children between six months and five years old are getting their first Covid vaccine shots. We'll take you live to a children's hospital in Washington, D.C.

SCIUTTO: Plus, Russia attempts to claim that Geneva Conventions do not apply to U.S. military veterans they have taken captive in Ukraine. I will share my conversation with the aunt of one of those men, Alex Drueke. There he is.

And, as we wait for Supreme Court rulings, big ones, to come in the next hour, CNN takes a look at how abortions have already become nearly impossible in the state of Oklahoma.



HARLOW: It is a day so many parents of young children have been waiting for. Today is the first time that authorized shots of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered to children six months to five years old.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us now from Children's Hospital in Washington.

And, Suzanne, it's interesting here because as vaccines have been approved for children, even in the five to 11 age category, not a lot of pickup there, right? Certainly, lower than among the adult population. So I wonder what's expected for children this young.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is one of the biggest challenges, Jim, they say is getting the parents to get the kids in here in the first place because, yes, I mean, health officials will tell you 70 percent of kids have been infected with Covid, but they also say that this is really important here. It will prevent deaths, as well as hospitalizations. And that it is critical that they try to provide at least as much protection as possible.

But here, this is where they're giving the Pfizer vaccine. And another one of those challenges, I want to point out here, you can see Maxwell in the background. He's just four years old. He is getting ready. You see the little - a comfort dog, facility dog, right there beside him, you know, just to try to distract him a little bit.


But we're talking about not just one vaccine here, there are three different doses. The first one, the second one comes three weeks later and then the third one eight weeks after that. And so it certainly is a commitment from the parents and from the families as well.

I had a chance to talk to Dr. Sarah Schaffer DeRoo. She brought in her own seven-month-old son and she says this is a game changer.


DR. SARAH SCHAFFER DEROO, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL PEDIATRICIAN: We have been restricting our lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And having the opportunity to protect my children is of the utmost importance.

This will change a lot. We'll allow our older son to do a lot more activities. Right now we've been restricting him to things that can be done outdoors and masked. And so now we'll feel a little more comfortable taking him outdoors and unmasking him there.

It will probably take us a little bit of time to adjust to the unmasking in indoor spaces, but it will certainly allow us to have more freedom with our personal lives and what we do. And for the baby we'll feel like we have cloaked him in as much prevention as -- protection as we can.


MALVEAUX: OK. And we're back to Maxwell. He did an awesome job.

Maxwell, great job, buddy. Great job. Oh, there we go. We got a wave, and applause, yes.

He's just got 15 minutes and he's just going to wait here and they'll observe him. But this is just one of three.

Maxwell, you've got two more. You going to do it? Two more? Thumbs up!

One of the other things they say, a big thing that they have to do, the art of distraction, right, dad, the art of distraction. That's good. That's why they've got the facility dogs and they provide games and just sometimes just a squeeze of a hand or a hug will do the job.


MALVEAUX: So, there you go. Congratulations to Maxwell.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's how it works. That all works even with some of the grown-ups, right?

MALVEAUX: That's right.

HARLOW: You know, last week I was so sad when my six-year-old went to get her booster and I said, come sit on my lap. She said, I don't need to, mom, I got this. You know, so take it while you can get it with them getting the shot on their lap.

MALVEAUX: Oh. Oh, that's a heartbreaker.

HARLOW: Suzanne, they - I know. Suzanne, thank you for the good update there from Washington.

MALVEAUX: Yes, absolutely. All right.

HARLOW: Stay with us, next hour we'll speak one on one with the CDC director, Rachelle Walensky.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, guys.

SCIUTTO: Well, despite rising gas prices, it does seem that the Americans are still ready to hit the road for vaccination this summer. AAA already predicting that more people will drive this July 4th weekend than ever before.

HARLOW: President Biden, though, is considering a federal gas tax holiday. It could lower gas prices as much as 18 cents a gallon.

Here with us is CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

So, I mean, it's -- a lot of politicians float this.


HARLOW: I remember Obama, McCain, Clinton.


HARLOW: Politically it's advantageous.


HARLOW: It sounds good. But there are some real downsides to it as well.

ROMANS: Well, the public really likes it. You know, the idea of having 18 cents off on a gallon of gas. You need Congress to do this, by the way, too. So it couldn't be just the president alone. But it polls very, very well and it would be an instant rebate for so many drivers.

But, you know, the drawback is, it doesn't really fix the problem to begin with. And a lot of people see it sort of as a gimmick because taxpayers then have to fill that hole anyway because that money is used to, you know, fix roads and do infrastructure projects and run state agencies. So it's 18.4 cents. So, 18.3 cents a gallon is the federal tax. Then there's another penny on there, another little bit on there that's -- that is a fee. And it's different in states. Some states, on average, have like 30 cents more. So you are paying a lot in taxes.

But it's interesting, Poppy. You know, this hasn't changed -- really the federal tax hasn't changed since the '90s. Cars are more efficient. And it's more expensive to maintain our infrastructure. So actually we're behind already. And giving a holiday, that's why some people call it kind of a gimmick.

But we know that people need the help. When you look at what it costs today to fill up a 15-gallon tank of gas, compared with last year, that's real money. That's purchasing power. And that's all these people who are heading out to drive this summer, pent-up demand after two years. So this is something you can see politically why it makes sense to talk about, will they be able to get it done?

HARLOW: Totally.

ROMANS: I mean that remains to be seen.

HARLOW: A whole nother question.


HARLOW: Thanks, Christine Romans, very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, Russia's warning for Americans held now in captivity by Russian forces in Ukraine. We're going to speak with the family of one of those men, right there, Alex Drueke, on the latest effort to get him home and what they're hearing.

HARLOW: We are also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. U.S. futures higher right now. Today it opens for the week. The markets were closed yesterday for the Juneteenth holiday. Investors watching to see how markets cope with these growing fears of a recession. Stocks tumbled on those worries last week. The S&P 500 losing 5.8 percent.



SCIUTTO: This just in to CNN, the State Department has confirmed the death of a second American citizen fighting in Ukraine.


There he is, Stephen Zabielski. His obituary says he died in mid-May in fighting there at the age of 52.