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Uvalde School Chief Put on Leave; Petro Poroshenko is Interviewed about the War in Ukraine; Airlines Face Shortages and Cancellations. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired June 23, 2022 - 09:30   ET



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): To treat the individual who is dealing with a mental crisis.

SHERIFF GLENN HAMILTON, SIERRA COUNTY, NEW MEXICO: I would much rather that individual be receiving mental treatment at a -- one of the local mental facilities than to rely on that individual to have some kind of a revelation that he now wants to start abiding by the law.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A good look at that issue.

Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A fascinating piece.

All right, the Texas State Senate will continue its school safety hearings today. And the sister of Jacqueline Casarez, one of the 19 children killed in Uvalde in that mass shooting, her sister will testify today.

SCIUTTO: Look at that poor little girl. So many young faces.

The Uvalde School District has also placed the police chief, Pete Arredondo, on administrative leave. That's effective immediately.

CNN's Rosa Flores joins us now from Antonio.

I wonder, Rosa, what the school district is saying about why now, right? There have been calls for his removal, suspension for some time. So, what changed?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, here we are nearly a month after 19 children and two teachers were massacred, and the school district issuing a statement late yesterday saying that Pete Arredondo, the police chief, is now on administrative leave.

What stands out here, though, is not just what that statement says, it is what that statement doesn't say. That statement does not reference the latest timeline presented by Texas DPS before the Texas Senate where Texas DPS calls the law enforcement response here an abject failure, where it outlines that within three minutes of this shooting there were 11 police officers, including the police chief, in those hallways. And that two of those officers had long guns. And Texas DPS making it very clear that that that was enough firepower to go in there and shoot and kill the shooter.

Now, it doesn't say any of that. It doesn't reference the fact that children then for 74 minutes would be waiting there, some of them calling 911 for help.

What the school district cites for presenting this administrative leave to Pete Arredondo is the following. They say, quote, because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigation.

Now, Jim and Poppy, will this be enough for the families that are still grieving their loved ones, for this community that has been calling for the firing of the police chief since this shooting happened? No. And I should mention that I've been reaching out to Arredondo's attorney for comment about this and so many other things, but I have not heard back.

HARLOW: Yes. Even from his attorney, let alone, you know, he's not answering all these questions.

Rosa Flores, thank you for pushing for answers on the ground.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, a lot of other officers involved have answers -- questions to answer.


SCIUTTO: Still ahead, Russian forces are gaining advantage in eastern Ukraine. New intelligence as U.S. officials assess what's happening now, what they expect to happen next. I'll speak with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko coming up.



SCIUTTO: There's new CNN reporting this morning, U.S. officials with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence assessments tell me Russian forces are gaining advantage in eastern Ukraine as they learn from their mistakes earlier in the invasion. This includes better coordination of air and ground attacks, as well as improved logistics and supply lines. The U.S. does not believe that new weapons, including multiple launch rocket systems sent to Ukraine recently will immediately change the situation on the battlefield. In part because the west has so far supplied limited ammunition and limited ranges to ensure that the systems are not fired into Russian territory. Russian forces have also managed to destroy some new weapons, including howitzers, that you see here.

All of this comes as members of the Ukrainian parliament say the Russian military has already calculated how much ammunition western allies have stockpiled for Ukraine, it's mostly Russian made weapons systems. They believe Russia plans to wait for Ukrainian forces to run out of that ammunition over time.

Joining me now, former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

Mr. President, thanks for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: First, if I could ask you about that latest reporting. U.S. officials seeing Russia gaining ground in the east. Do you see Russian forces making progress there and are you concerned about it?

POROSHENKO: We have a very severe fighting on the east. But I just want to remind you that Putin promised to take Ukraine within three days. Then to take Donbas within March, April, May. Now, 120 days and still Ukrainian troops are in the industrial zone of Severodonetsk and we still have a fighting (INAUDIBLE).

And definitely, as you rightly said, the long range artillery is significantly but tactically seriously improved the situation because the Russia has a limited range of the artillery, and the American one is extremely helpful.


But I want to give you some positive news because the Kherson region and I just yesterday was there, this morning returned back to Kyiv, and our artillery brigade, where I visited delivering some technical assistance and support for my charity fund give very, very promising news about Kherson and I keep my fingers crossed that we will see they are positive.

SCIUTTO: We've been following that -

POROSHENKO: But, at the end of the day, we need more weapons and strategically Putin is losing. Strategically Ukraine is winning.

SCIUTTO: In terms of those weapons, for instance I saw that the HIMARS, as it's known, multiple launch rocket system, has now arrived on the eastern front. But U.S. officials tell me they do not expect the arrival of those weapons to immediately change the situation on the battlefield. What does Ukraine, what do Ukrainian forces need now to help push back against this Russian assault?

POROSHENKO: I can confirm that the first multi-rocket launch system already arrived. But this is only four.


POROSHENKO: And definitely we need more weapons. And I want to talk with our American partners about game change. Game change of this is the 500 tanks, 100 jet fighter, but 1,000 artillery system and armed personal carrier. And I can't imagine that the future of the world, security of the world, is depending from such amount of the weapons because we don't need NATO soldiers on our soil. And we demonstrate, Ukrainian armed forces, and I'm proud that I create this armed forces as the supreme commander in chief in the year 2014, this is extremely, extremely important. And our armed forces is the best.

And I saw yesterday also positive news that your navy missiles (INAUDIBLE) is already also come to our artillery brigade. By the way, not American yet but British one, but we are still waiting for the American, because this is American production and they are very effectively using now on the Black Sea, and make the significant role in (INAUDIBLE) Black Sea port, together with our (INAUDIBLE) steps of the international anti-Putin coalition.

SCIUTTO: In terms of EU membership for Ukraine, it was eight years ago back in 2014 that you signed the association agreement with the European Union. Since then, of course, Russia has invaded Ukraine twice in 2014 and again in 2022. A devastating invasion. Is the EU moving too slowly right now to make membership a reality?

POROSHENKO: First of all, when I was elected as the president, Russia has already occupied whole Donbas. And I'm proud that within the year 2014, 2015, me and Ukrainian armed forces (INAUDIBLE) to liberate two- third of the occupied Donbas.

I just want to tell you that we not only signed the association agreement, but also implemented 70 percent of the package of the reform for the receiving the status of the candidate. And I can see that definitely we want it sooner. But, believe me, today when the European Union council, and we wait in just maybe a few minutes when it can happen, that day will be historic. Not only in Ukrainian history, European history. But the global history, because Putin has a war against the whole world. Whole democratic world. And we are fighting here, not only for Ukrainian sovereign (ph) and territorial integrity, we are fighting here for the freedom, democracy and for all our world.

And we fighting them. That is no the - the any zone of influence of Russia. And we need to de-Putinize world, Europe and Russia. And definitely when that sends the status for the candidate is also the same way of weapons, like the weapons from United States, (INAUDIBLE), and international assistance we receive now today.

SCIUTTO: Petro Poroshenko, good to have you on the broadcast this morning and please be safe.


HARLOW: All right, still ahead, as flight cancellations continue to pile on, United Airlines has just announced flight cuts, a lot of them, at a major airport hub.

SCIUTTO: Yes, what does that mean for the rest of summer?

Plus, a heroic rescue right in the middle of a world championship swimming competition. What happened when this American athlete fainted in the middle of her performance, underwater. Who came to the rescue? That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: The PGA Tour is making changes as several of its most famous players are jumping ship to play in the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf series, as it's known. The PGA commissioner says he will offer more prize money at eight tournaments, as well as a new series of international events. He is not, however, hiding his frustration with the new competition.


JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: Let me be clear, I am not naive. If this is arms race, and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can't compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.


We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It's an irrational threat.


HARLOW: The four-time major champ, Brooks Koepka, is the latest to enlist in the LIV Golf series lured by the multimillion-dollar purses. But, today, the British Open says any players who join that tour will be allowed to play in their tournament.

SCIUTTO: Well, check this out. A scary scene for an American swimmer at the world championships in Hungary. This after she fainted right in the middle of her routine under water. Twenty-five-year-old American Anita Alvarez sank to the bottom of the pool. And when the lifeguards did not - the lifeguards did not immediately react. It was her coach, you see her there, Andrea Fuentes, who jumped into rescue her.

HARLOW: Fuentes is a four time Olympic medalist herself. And she told a Spanish newspaper, quote, my reflexes kicked in quickly. I think it was the craziest and fastest free dive I have ever done in my career. Another American swimmer jumped in to assist as well to help Alvarez come up to the surface. The images are just remarkable. And the coach says Alvarez is fine. She's OK. Just overexerted herself during the routine. She may still compete later at the team finals.

SCIUTTO: Quick reactions there.


SCIUTTO: Just so -- such a relief to see.

Well, new this morning, United Airlines now permanently suspending 12 percent of its routes from Newark Airport in New Jersey, just outside New York City. That works out to about 50 flights. This comes as more than 1,000 flights were canceled Wednesday nationwide, more than 3,400 delayed. I've experienced some of this. I'm sure you have as well. It is no fun.

HARLOW: Our Pete Muntean joins us now from Reagan National.

The - you heard the frustration from the United CEO this week in that interview with our Richard Quest. And now they're canceling all these flights for good. At least for now.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION: CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, we should put the caveat here though on the latest United announcement. United says it's scaling back its flights at its biggest - one of its biggest hubs in Newark by about 12 percent starting July 1st. That's 50 departures a day.

United says this is not about staffing. That's what most airlines are doing, scaling back their schedules because of these big staffing issues. United says this is because of existing congestion issues at Newark Airport. People know it kind of as delay city.

We know that airlines over and over again are dealing with this. In fact, airlines are still reeling from bad weather on the East Coast. Yesterday you could see it's still pretty murky here at Reagan National Airport. Just checked Flight Aware. Six hundred cancellations so far today nationwide.

You know, airlines got a lot smaller over the pandemic. That means that when weather strikes, it makes them really hard for them to bounce back. That means that this summer is going to be a big summer for cancellations.


MUNTEAN (voice over): It is an expensive summer of travel stress at airports worldwide with airlines struggling with staffing shortages and schedule meltdowns.


MUNTEAN: Ginna Morales' $1,000 flight to a beauty pageant was canceled, only to rebook on a different flight that was also canceled.

From Thursday to Monday, airlines in the U.S. canceled more than 5,400 flights.

MORALES: It makes me not want to travel at all. Go on no airplanes. Nothing.

MUNTEAN: New analysis from travel site Hopper says flight cancellations have jumped 34 percent in the last month. Domestic ticket prices are up, too, by 18 percent since 2019. Even still passengers are packing planes. Last weekend the TSA screened more people at airports nationwide than any weekend since the start of the pandemic. HAYLEY BERG, LEAD ECONOMIST, HOPPER: Travelers are willing to pay more

and they're willing to face potential disruptions because they really want to go on these trips that they've put off in many cases for two years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much for all being here today.

MUNTEAN: Airline CEOs lobbied Congress for $50 billion in pandemic aid to keep workers on the job. Even still, airlines got smaller, offering employees early out and retirement packages.


MUNTEAN: Airline consumer advocate Bill McGee says airlines are not keeping up their end of the deal. Southwest and Delta pilots have picketed to say they are overworked. Airlines insist they are hiring hundreds of new workers each month while dealing with storms and air traffic control issues.

MCGEE: I've never seen a meltdown of this proportion. The fact is the airlines still refuse to own this.

MUNTEAN: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has told airline CEOs to stress test their schedules and add customer service staff with July 4th travel on the horizon. AAA forecasts 47.9 million Americans will travel for the holiday, but a shrinking share will take to the skies.


ANDY GROSS, AAA SPOKESMAN: You can't ignore we've had six months of constant stories of delays, cancellations, bad weather, long lines, frustration. And somebody may decide, you know what, I think it's easier for me just to hop in the car and go this year.


MUNTEAN: We also heard from United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby this week who put some of the blame for these cancellations back on the federal government. He says that the FAA simply needs to staff up when it comes to air traffic controllers to help alleviate some of these delays.

The FAA, though, insists that is not an issue and it's moving controllers around to hot spots like Florida.

I also spoke to House Transportation Chair Peter DeFazio. He says he want a readout from all the major airlines on how many pilots they have on staff. He also says there could be congressional hearings on this. So we'll see if airlines end up back in the hot seat and what the accountability will be here, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes, a lot of federal money, billions of dollars of it, went to the airlines during the pandemic to help head off some of these issues.


SCIUTTO: Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Still ahead, another big decision day, a big one, for the Supreme Court. We are waiting on 13 cases. We could see at least one of the big decisions folks are waiting for today. We'll let you know.

Stay with us.