Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Senate Advances Gun Safety Bill; CNN Projects Katie Britt the Winner; Earthquake Hits Afghanistan; U.S. Air Force Member Arrested. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 09:30   ET



ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: Task Force, including their command and control group. And so what were those guys doing? Those are the guys that are accountable to the legislature. And that's where my concern lies.

I know that Colonel McCraw wants to point the finger at Pete Arredondo. Pete Arredondo, and I don't know him, has all the responsibility in the world. So does DPS and every other agency on the ground.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The Uvalde mayor, Don McLaughlin, as he laid out the timeline of events, he accused Texas Department of Public Safety, Colonel Steven McCraw, of lying about what happened that day. But beyond that accusation, we've had so many false stories presented and then knocked down by the facts. Do you believe the public can be confident that at the end of this investigation they will have the truth, they will have the facts?

GUTIERREZ: You know, that's the real problem here. I mean from day - from Steve McCraw's first press conference, he points the finger at one guy, immediately, three days after. Then he points the finger at a teacher. And for a week this poor teacher thinks that she left this door open, knows that she didn't, has to hire a lawyer to say that she actually removed this rock that was impeding the door.

We've heard various incendiary, other excuses and finger pointing from the Department of Public Safety. And certainly the mayor is in part right. I mean this is - they are -- we don't need to be pointing fingers at each other. We need to be accepting blame, figuring out what happened in totality, and figure out how to solve this so that no other community has to go through this, so that no other parent has to do -- go through this.

SCIUTTO: Accountability. Accountability. Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, thanks.


One of the big questions after the mass shooting in Uvalde was, will Congress act or will they fail to act again? Well, this time seems different. Finally. The first bipartisan agreement on gun legislation in 30 years. What is in this bill? What comes next? We're live on Capitol Hill with those answers, next.

SCIUTTO: We are just moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, where U.S. stock futures, they're down right now. This after markets came roaring back yesterday. The Dow was up 641 points. Investors heartened by a dip in oil prices, as well as other commodities. Eyes now on the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. He's about to testify in front of senators.



SCIUTTO: In the midst of everything, there was a major step forward overnight. The Senate voted, Republicans and Democrats, to advance the first bipartisan gun safety bill in decades in this country. It's not as big as many Democrats wanted, but it does include new gun safety measures. It includes money to incentivize so-called red flag laws, as well as closing what's known as the boyfriend loophole for gun purchasers. The legislation does still face a number of hurdles. First, they've got to break the filibuster, then on to final passage. It does appear they do have the Republican votes for it, though.

HARLOW: That's right.

Let's go to our colleague, congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, on The Hill with more.

I mean the question was can you get ten. Can you get ten Republicans, right? They got 14. And they got some really significant names. And you're smiling because they usually don't get anything done when it comes to gun legislation, and it looks like they have this time.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a rapid succession of events yesterday after waiting for more than a week for this legislative text to be rolled out, they not only announced that they had a deal, got the legislative text out, but then they started the process, kickstarting that initial procedural vote last night. And then, like you said, getting more than a dozen Republicans to advance this legislation. The big test coming later this week when we expect they're going to have to overcome a filibuster. That's when they're going to need again at least ten Republicans. Final passage will move potentially into the weekend if they can't get agreement to speed up that process, but timing is still really fluid. That final vote will just be a simple majority vote, meaning Democrats could pass it on their own.

But this bill includes substantial changes to the country's gun policy. One of those items that Jim mentioned, closing the so-called boyfriend loophole. That's significant because for the last several years, if you were married to someone, had a child with someone, or you were in -- living with that person, and you committed a domestic violence crime, you had to give up your guns and you couldn't go purchase new guns. But if you were just dating someone, in a serious, ongoing relationship, and you did not apply to one of those categories, you could keep your guns. Now that loophole is going to be closed. There's also an adjudication process for down the line if you have a

misdemeanor domestic violence crime and you do not have any other crimes, you can get those guns back. That was a key concession that Democrats had to make to Republicans. But that is just one of the many provisions in this bill.

More money for school security. More money for mental health. A very big accomplishment, the first time in more than three decades, that we have seen significant gun legislation in the Senate moving through this process.


Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there's a lot -- a lot of folks early on thought not possible. Again, modest in some respects, but some steps forward.

Lauren Fox, on The Hill, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Well, several primaries overnight setting up key midterm races in Virginia and Georgia. The GOP picking Jen Kiggans to face off against Democrat and January 6th committee member Elaine Luria, and Yesli Vega will go head-to-head with Abigail Spanberger in November. In Georgia, Rich McCormick and Mike Collins won their respective primaries against Trump-backed candidates.

SCIUTTO: Another race that took a lot of attention, Alabama's GOP Senate runoff. There we saw the Trump -- well, the original Trump- backed candidate not win.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: CNN national correspondent Kristen Holmes is in Montgomery.

I mean there are a lot of stories here, Kristen, for the Democratic Party, for the Republican Party, in Alabama specifically. Katie Britt expected to beat Congressman Mo Brooks, who had been one of Trump's biggest defenders and his original endorsee until Trump switched his endorsement.

So, what do we know?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Jim and Poppy.

The thing to note here is that this really was a win for establishment Republicans. Katie Britt is the former chief of staff to retiring Senator Richard Shelby. And she is expected to win against Mo Brooks. She was backed by a slew of establishment Republicans. She was somebody who never really embraced Trump's 2020 conspiracies, despite the fact that then Trump endorsed her.

She was not the Trump loyalist candidate. That was her opponent Mo Brooks, who Trump had originally endorsed and then rescinded, angering a lot of his close allies who believe that Mo Brooks was really there for Trump when he needed him.

But this was all clear in Britt's speech last night. She thanked everyone and everything. She focused on the state of Alabama. And she had only one brief line mentioning Trump, thanking him for his endorsement. And it should be noted that Trump's endorsement came just ten days ago, after Britt was already favored to win, after she had already secured the most votes in that May primary. And while he can technically add another feather in his cap, the one thing to note, that that was not the case everywhere. In Georgia, he lost two primary runoffs there, with candidates that were backed by other Republicans, other establishment Republicans. So, kind of a mixed bag last night on that.

Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Kristen Holmes, in Montgomery for us this morning, thanks very, very much.

Still ahead, a devastating earthquake in southwest Afghanistan. Now more than a thousand people have been confirmed dead. The numbers continue to rise. We have these first images out of the region ahead.



SCIUTTO: Just a devastating story out of Afghanistan this morning. At least a thousand people dead, 1,500 injured, after a large magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck in Afghanistan overnight. This -- these numbers, according to the country's disaster management authority. They say the quake hit near the city of Khost, close to the country's border with Pakistan.

HARLOW: Let's go to Scott McLean, who has more details.

I mean that is a stunning death toll and it sounds like it may go much higher.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely true, Poppy.

And, look, precise information at this stage of the game is difficult to come by. But what we are learning from local aid organizations and also from the Taliban government is that the worst affected areas were about 100 miles due south from Kabul. This is one of the most remote parts of the country, which is why information -- precise information has been difficult to come by.

The videos that we are seeing, though, coming out of those areas show many buildings very badly damaged. Some completely destroyed as well. According to the U.N., search and rescue operations are ongoing, as you'd imagine. But given the remoteness of this area, the reality is that a lot of those rescue efforts are going to be done by local people using whatever tools that they have at their disposal simply because there's probably very few other resources there.

The foreign ministry says that some villages have been entirely destroyed and one U.N. estimate suggests that in one of the local areas that's been badly affected, 70 percent of the housing stock (ph) has been wiped out.

The video that you're seeing there is aid coming -- government aid coming in on a helicopter. And you can actually see local people carrying some of the injured to that helicopter in hopes of getting them to a hospital in a bigger city because we've seen video from a clinic in one of the local areas showing people waiting outside for whatever help they can get in some pretty shabby conditions.

This has really added insult to injury for Afghanistan. This is a country that has seen recent bouts of deadly flooding. This particular area has also dealt with severe drought as of late. The government says that they are also lacking really basic infrastructure as well.

At a press conference earlier today, the Taliban is pledging money for those injured, $500, more than $500, and a thousand for the families of those killed. But that is a pretty bold pledge, though, Jim and Poppy, for a government in the midst of a very severe economic crisis, as we know.

SCIUTTO: Yes, just desperate conditions there.

Scott McLean, thanks so much for covering.

Still ahead, a U.S. Airman now arrested on suspicions of being involved in an insider attack on a U.S. military base in Syria.


We're going to be live at the Pentagon with the latest, next.


HARLOW: So, right now, a U.S. Air Force member is in custody and could soon be charged in connection with an attack at the U.S. military base in Syria. Four American service members suffered injuries after this currently unidentified airman allegedly set off explosives in April.

SCIUTTO: Our Barbara Starr, she broke this story. She joins us now from the Pentagon.

Barbara, I wonder what we know about this airman and what happened here.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, details are sketchy right now other than the Air Force is saying that they have put someone into custody, no charges have yet been filed.


The person has not been identified, but is a member of the U.S. Air Force.

Now, this all dates back to an April attack in northeast Syria at a small base called Green Village where U.S. service members were located. In the middle of the night, two sets of explosives went off, on in a shower area, one near the ammunition storage area.

At first the military thought they'd come under attack by rockets or mortars from the outside. But when they looked at it closer, they realized it had been explosives set off inside the base. And that has set off a huge investigation to find those who are responsible.

So, right now what we know, one Air Force member in custody awaiting potential charges on this case. It could turn out to be the first insider attack against U.S. troops in Syria.

Jim Poppy.

Barbara Starr, again, who broke this story, I'm sure you'll bring us more details as you get them. Thanks very much.

STARR: Sure.

HARLOW: Still ahead, at the top of the next hour, stunning new evidence. At least one Republican lawmaker portrayed as complicit in the push to overturn the 2020 election.

Stay with us.