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Erin Burnett Outfront
Mayor: Uvalde Police Chief Was On Vacation The Day Of Shooting; Uvalde Native Matthew McConaughey Makes Powerful Plea On Guns; Source: McConnell Says He's Open To Raising Age To Buy AR-15; CNN In Frontline Trenches With Ukrainian Military; Secret Service Scrambled After Trump Call To Go To Capitol On January 6; Supreme Court To Rule On Law That Could Loosen Gun Laws; Yellen: Inflation "Top Economic Problem," Calls On Congress To Act. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 07, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new questions about who was in charge of Uvalde's police force at the time of the school massacre as actor and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey makes an emotional plea for gun reform.
Plus, AR-15 purchases tripling at one major gun store since the Texas school shooting. The manager telling OUTFRONT his customers are scared.
And CNN on the frontlines with Ukrainian military. Does Ukraine have the upper hand tonight?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, outrage in Uvalde. Two weeks to the day after the massacre at Robb Elementary School and the murder of 19 children and two teachers, we're learning tonight Uvalde's police chief, Daniel Rodriguez, was on vacation during the mass shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE, TEXAS: So, when this initially took down, Chief Rodriguez wasn't in town. He canceled his vacation and flew back the next day.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So, who was in charge of the police department at the time?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he had an assistant chief. I'll have to find out exactly who it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That's Uvalde's mayor there. He's also calling for transparency, saying that investigators owe it to the victim's families. And in a message to the families and to all Americans, actor Matthew
McConaughey spoke emotionally at the White House today. McConaughey grew up in Uvalde, and just spent a week there and he honored the victims and spoke forcefully for reforms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR, UVALDE NATIVE: We also met Anna and Danilo, the mom and step dad of nine-year-old Maite Rodriguez. Now, Maite wanted to be a marine biologist. She's already in contact with Corpus Christi University of A&M for her future college enrollment, nine years old. Maite cared for the environment so strongly that when the city asked her mother if they could release some balloons into the sky in her memory, her mom said, oh, no, Maite wouldn't want to litter.
Maite wore green high-top Converse with a heart she had hand-drawn on the right toe because they represented her love of nature. Camilla's got the shoes -- can you show these shoes please? Wore these everyday, green Converse with a heart on the right toe. These are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her at the shooting. How about that?
We also met a cosmetologist. She was well-versed in mortuary make-up. That's the task of making the victims appear as peaceful and natural as possible for their open casket viewings.
These bodies were very different. They needed much more than make-up to be presentable. They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle. Most of the body so mutilated, that only DNA test, a green Converse, could identify them.
We need responsible gun ownership, responsible gun ownership. We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR- 15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That emotional plea comes as Republicans and Democrats in Washington are trying to reach an agreement on some kind of gun reform. A key Democrat negotiator says that they have entered a, quote, pretty critical stage.
Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT tonight for us in Uvalde, Texas.
Rosa, what's the latest there tonight?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, Uvalde district attorney breaking her silence, not saying much but indicating that the Texas Ranger's investigation into the shooting is not complete, it's ongoing, and that it's going to take a while which means that for this community, closure is not near.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FLORES (voice-over): The memorials for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde continue, and so do the memories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear the children laughing, playing on the playground.
FLORES: And now, two weeks after the shooting, so do the questions into the killing of 19 students and two teachers.
In an interview with ABC News, teacher Arnulfo Reyes recounted that day. In his fourth grade classroom when the gunman stormed through the door. He said his students were watching a movie when they heard shots.
ARNULFO REYES, TEACHER WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE INSIDE CLASSROOM 111: I said I don't know what's going on but let's go ahead and get under the table.
FLORES: According to a timeline provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the gunman started shooting around 11:30 a.m. Reyes was shot twice according to NBC. He said he fell to the ground and played dead for 77 minutes.
REYES: I prayed and prayed that I would not hear none my students talked.
FLORES: He said he could hear police in the building, but officers stayed in the hallway and the timeline shows they called for reinforcements.
REYES: One of the students from the next door classrooms was saying, officer, we're in here. We're in here. And then -- but they had already left, and then he got up from behind my desk and he walked over there and he shot again.
FLORES: At 11:49 a.m. that day, parents received an email from the school saying the school is in lockdown and that students and staff are safe in the building. But the gunman was still inside too, and children were calling 911 for help.
Reyes says the gunman killed 11 of his students and the police actions that day are difficult to understand.
REYES: I am more angry because you have a bullet proof vest. I had nothing. I had nothing.
You're supposed to protect and serve. There is no excuse for their actions and I will never forgive them. I lost 11 that day. And I tell to their parents, I'm sorry, I tried my best.
FLORES: At today's city council meeting, Uvalde's mayor fielded questions about the Uvalde police chief who was away on vacation at the time of the shooting. MCLAUGHLIN: He wasn't here, but he canceled his vacation and
immediately took him a day and a half to get on a plane, two planes, but he came back immediately.
FLORES: And about Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief and newly elected city council member who was absente from the meeting. The mayor also expressed frustration about the investigation.
MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we have some missteps with the DPS releasing some facts. Everybody's going to be accountable and they're going to have to own whatever mistakes were made.
FLORES: Among the various reviews and investigations that are either ongoing or have been called for is a U.S. DOJ investigation. According to the Uvalde mayor, the U.S. DOJ is expected to name the leader of that investigation tomorrow -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much for that.
OUTFRONT now, Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia police commissioner, former D.C. police chief, of course, and Michael Bromwich, he's a former inspector general at Department of Justice. He spent years investigating law enforcement agencies.
Thank you for being here.
You know, Chief, the Uvalde mayor as we were just showing you and playing you there, he said today that he continues to have confidence in the city's police department and he says that they want transparency, they want to be transparent and that they have nothing to hide.
Is that how anyone is acting here? They have nothing to hide?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, they're not acting that way. They've made a lot of missteps. There's no question about that. Information was put out there that later turned out not to be accurate.
I mean that sort of thing can happen but it has happened time and time again on some critical facts that, really, you shouldn't get wrong. If you don't know, then just don't say anything. So they made a lot of missteps.
As far as the chief being on vacation, those kinds of things, no way he could have known what was going to take place.
RAMSEY: And I'm sure of number two or three in the department was in charge at the time.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. You know, Michael, you've spent years investigating law enforcement. Most recently, you conducted a two-year investigation of possible corruption within the Baltimore Police Department. How difficult is this investigation going to be when we look at the Justice Department taking review?
MICHAEL BROMWICH, FORMER DOJ INSPECTOR GENERAL; INVESTIGATED POLICE DEPARTMENTS: Well, it's a very complicated investigation. The investigators are going to have to unravel the details of the sequence of events, really, from going back into the lives of the shooter and then with respect to the incident itself, from the time he drove up in the truck, through calls to 911 and various calls and messages that were provided.
Many police department, law enforcement agencies came to the scene. And so, really, a significant amount of confusion that needs to be unraveled. And I think the only thing that will be credible to the residents of Uvalde and the relatives and families of those that died are to have a complete and detailed report, a public report that will lay everything out and call it as the investigators see it and that will take time. There's no question about that.
People have to be patient and realize that at the end of the investigation, they will get the full story.
And, Chief, it's impossible to get that story that that teacher told of what he lived through out of your head. I mean, it is hard to even comprehend really what he lived through. All of his students in his classroom, 11 children died. He is, as you heard, he is furious at the police response and the way he put it is he said there is no excuse for their actions. Also, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REYES: It all happened too fast. Training, no training, all kinds of training. Nothing gets you ready for this.
We trained our kids to sit under the table and that's what I thought of, you know, at the time. But we set them up just to be like ducks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He's essentially saying in that interview, no kind of training was going to stop, prevent, protect these kids. What do you think of that?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I don't know if he he's saying no training needed at all like fire drills and unfortunately, now, active shooter training. You ought to have something in place that something occur that you at least have some idea of what you ought to do.
Now, having said that, doesn't mean the current training is perfect that happen that's something that should be part of that review as well that DOJ is conducting, is there a way to improve it, rather than hide under the table and you're on the first floor, put kids in the windows so they can at least try to run, try to hide that way. I don't know the answer to that.
But certainly you have to continue to have some form of training and some kind of drills in order to make sure that you do everything you can should an event like this occur, to keep people as safe as you can. This just didn't turn out and a lot of it was due to the lack of response on the part of the police.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. Michael, let me play a little more from Matthew McConaughey, actually who is, as I mentioned earlier, he's a Uvalde native and he was speaking at the White House after spending a week down there in town.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONAUGHEY: A common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness, it was the same. How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? Again, how can a loss of these lives matter? So while we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time, it seems something is different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He spoke very emotionally. But, Michael, do you think something is different this time? You spent a lot of time in Washington.
BROMWICH: Well, I certainly hope so. It's been very frustrating to see what happened in Newtown and then what happened in Florida and to see nothing happen.
So I certainly hope this is the event that finally mobilizes senators in particular and members of Congress to do something and to do some things that are meaningful that will reduce the chances that events like this happen again.
But we've raised our hopes before and those hopes have been dashed. So I hope that this is different. I think a huge percentage of the country hopes that this is different, but we'll just have to wait and see if it is.
BOLDUAN: And, Chief, what was your reaction to hearing Matthew McConaughey today?
RAMSEY: I thought it was powerful. I really that he had -- he struck the right balance. There is a way to protect the Second Amendment and at the same time put in place some sensible controls to make it less likely for a person who should not have a firearm to get their hands on a gun. And think that's very important.
I mean, we've got extremes of people who either want to get rid of all guns or they don't want any laws at all. And you've got to find some common ground. I wish more of our senators and congressmen, quite frankly, fought like Matthew McConaughey because he made sense and a lot of what I'm hearing out of Washington makes no sense at all. And my biggest fear of what they'll do and I think this working group will come up with something, but it's possible it could be so weak that it's not going to make any difference just to try to get the votes that they need and that's my biggest concern right now.
BOLDUAN: And you're hitting on something important, is the talking in absolutes which is what we see so often on left and right and anywhere when it comes to this complex, sensitive, multi-facetted issue. It's less -- making it less likely. That's progress, when it comes to what we're looking at in this country right now. That's for sure.
It's good to see you, Chief. Thank you.
Michael, thanks for coming.
OUTFRONT for us next, sales of AR-15s spiking in parts of the country. One store in Georgia reporting sales of the rifle have tripled.
Why? The owner of that store is next.
Plus, exclusive access from the frontlines of Ukraine's grinding war with Russia, and see how Ukrainians are taking back their territory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what we've been brought to see. Goodness, me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And Trump's closest allies tonight, laying the groundwork to try and undermine the January 6th committee's work before the first hearing even starts.
BOLDUAN: New tonight, CNN has learned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately said he is open to raising the minimum wage to buying semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. McConnell, though, dodged when asked about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It won't surprise you to know that I'm not going to sit here and try to negotiate the deal with all of you guys. We're waiting to see and we can get an outcome, that directly relates to the problem that brought this issue to the fore, and I hope that we'll have one sooner rather than later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And for now, AR-15 sales are spiking in some parts of all the country. One store in Georgia, essentially lines out the door with all gun sales up 30 percent since the Uvalde shooting. [19:20:05]
OUTFRONT now, Eric Wallace, the manager of that store, Adventure Outdoors, in Smyrna, Georgia.
Eric, thanks for being here.
You said that sales have been spiking the past week. Are sales still up today?
ERIC WALLACE, STORE MANAGER, ADVENTURE OUTDOORS, A GEORGIA GUN STORE: Yeah, we've seen a significant increase in the last week to 10 days for gun sales as a whole. We're up about 30 percent. There's been a significant increase in AR-15 sales. We're seeing those numbers at about triple right now.
BOLDUAN: Triple. This has happened after previous mass shootings. I've heard from other place and see when the conversation returns once again to regulations on guns. Is this something that you -- that you have seen previously at your store or does this time feel different somehow?
WALLACE: We've experienced this multiple times in the past. Anytime there's a tragedy like this and then antigun politicians get on, you know, TV and talk about potential gun legislation and say we're going to take these away, possibly take these away, that drives customers to us to, you know, make that purchase if they'd considered in the past.
BOLDUAN: Does this time feel different than other times, in terms of what you're hearing from customers?
WALLACE: I think it is a little different this time. People, there's a lot more going on this day and time with, you know, talks about food shortages, the monumental Supreme Court cases going on. This is an election year, so people are kind of nervous, and they're buying these firearms, handguns and rifles to protect their families so they're nervous and they're purchasing these firearms for their own personal protection.
BOLDUAN: You're hearing from people that they're scared, Eric, is that what it is?
WALLACE: I would say that they're concerned. They just, they're hearing that these politicians want to come and take their guns. It's not just small steps. They're talking about, you know, levels of possible confiscation. They want to come take our AR-15s and our guns. So they are concerned.
BOLDUAN: You know, when it comes to an AR-15, Michael Fanone, he's a well-known retired officer now, who spent two decades with the D.C. police. He wrote about this, about this style of weapon. He wrote about it this week, saying that in his experience, his experience tells him that AR-15s, they should not be in the hands of average citizens.
Let me read for you what he said. He says that some gun buyer have been misled thinking the AR-15 is somehow practical for self-defense, but Fanone said, but frankly, it's the last gun that I would recommend for that purpose. The power and accuracy are useful for military purposes, which is obviously what they were designed for, but it's far more power than should ever be in the hands of the average civilian.
Do you think he has a point, Eric?
WALLACE: I would strongly disagree. I would think that it's a fine rifle for defense. As far as the power of a 556 or 223 round in comparison to one of your more popular deer-hunting rounds, it's actually, you know, less lethal. So when it makes the claim of this firepower, I'm not sure where he's coming from from that.
BOLDUAN: Earlier today, I spoke with a former Republican Congressman Will Hurd. He actually represented Uvalde, Texas, and had an A-rating with the NRA while he was in Congress. He said his views on gun regulations have evolved.
Let me play for you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL HURD (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: You have to be 21 years old to have a handgun. Why is that different from a semiautomatic rifle? And this doesn't prevent you taking your kids or cousins out to go shoot birds or to go hunting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And what Hurd is getting at, Eric, is he says it's not about taking away guns. It was about raising that age. What do you think -- what do you think about what he said?
WALLACE: Well, I think a lot of the things that are being discussed, you know, changing the age requirement, I don't agree with that. I don't really agree with any additional laws or legislation when it comes to firearms. I don't think this is a gun issue.
We need to enforce the laws that we have on the books. I know countless times when, you know, laws could be enforced more when it comes to firearms that are already on the books. There's no needs to add more laws, more regulations.
I think we're seeing where a lot of these politicians where they're coming from now, which is we're coming after your AR-15s and ten years ago, they wouldn't say that. They would say we need another law or a little more regulation.
Now, we really see where they're coming from and I think a lot -- most of our customers see where they're coming from now and that's what's driving them to the store to make these purchases.
BOLDUAN: Specifically, that former member of Congress was saying that's not where he's coming from, he just thinks raising the age makes it more safe and more in line with the laws around and the restrictions around when you can purchase a handgun, that it would help make it more safe.
If the age was raised from 18 to 21 to purchase an AR-15, let's say, would a change like that matter to your business?
WALLACE: We like to say around here, country first. It's not so much what is best for our business.
But I think any additional regulations right now, raising the age -- I mean that 18 years of age, you're a legal adult. You can sign a contract. You can go to fight for our country. You can risk your life for our country. They should be able to purchase a rifle, at 18. I firmly believe in that.
BOLDUAN: Eric Wallace, thanks for coming in. Thanks for your time.
WALLACE: All right. Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, a CNN exclusive. We're going to take you to the frontlines of Russia's grinding invasion to see who has the upper hand now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: OK. We're going to go now. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Plus, Michigan's Democratic secretary of state facing a tax like this from her Republican opponent because she refused to overturn the 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPI)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's an evil woman. She's a very evil, evil woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Tonight, new satellite images show towns in eastern Ukraine utterly destroyed as fierce fighting continues there and at least two hospitals have been raised by military strikes targeting Luhansk, a key region in eastern Ukraine. Russian-backed separatists claim to now control 97 percent of Luhansk, saying they, quote, liberated it from Ukraine.
Matthew Chance is on the frontlines with the Ukrainian army.
CHANCE: This is where the Ukrainian military tells us they're seizing back their lands. But on the battered southern front with Russia, the stalemate of trench warfare seems to be setting in.
The commanders privately admit that advances by either side here are small.
The Russians seem to be running out of ammunition and not as strong as they were, the platoon commander of this forward trench told me, but we need more weapons, too, he adds, if we're to push ahead.
I speak to Anton here and he is saying it's very loud at night.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CHANCE: Right, so in the morning, he's saying it's not so noisy, a bit quieter, so it's interesting, because this is the place where the Ukrainian governments say there's a big counter offensive that's been under way for some time and they're taking back territory. But we've not seen a great deal of evidence of that on the ground.
It seems, you know, both sides dug in here heavily, have fought themselves to a standstill, neither side strong enough to win this war, but not weak enough to lose it either.
How's that going? Is it -- are you sure? You can hear artillery shells streaming across our position here.
Ukrainian military escorts take us to what they say is a recently liberated zone where at least 30 Russians holed up inside this kindergarten were killed.
As Moscow focuses its forces on Donbas in the east, Ukrainian officials say conquered areas in the south like this are being left exposed.
All right. Well, they brought to this very forward location where as you can here, there are still artillery exchanges taking place so this is the placing of a remnants of a battle from a couple of weeks ago where they say this Russian position was taken by Ukrainian forces at great cost, both to the Ukrainians and obviously, to the Russians as well.
All of this debris on the ground is, we're told, Russian equipment and obviously this is the remnants of a Russian-armored vehicle of some kind which has been, like so many we've seen, totally destroyed in this bitter conflict. The Russians thought that they were going to win easily. Didn't they?
DANTE, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES LT. COL.: Yes.
CHANCE: But that's not what's happening?
DANTE: In Russian, thought that a few days finished for Ukraine. In a few days.
CHANCE: We can hear it still going on there.
DANTE: Yeah, it's shell, and we can hear the flight of shell. CHANCE: Yeah, months later.
DANE: Russian government went, we'll have victory in a few days. I think we must be ready for a lot more.
CHANCE: A long artillery war with heavy weapons like this Ukrainian battle tank positioned in tree lines toward an unseen enemy.
These firing points quickly become vulnerable and the troops here need to be mobile.
OK. We're being brought to this frontline position where they'll fire on Russian forces a short distance away. It's a secret location, we can only stay for one round, we're told, after that, going to be return fire and we got to get out of here, but this is what we've been brought -- to see. Goodness, me.
Okay. Guys, what now? Another one. I thought we had to go after one. One more again. Seconds later, another bone-shaking round hurdles toward Russian positions.
Okay. We're going to go now, come on.
And we quickly leave Ukraine's grinding frontlines behind.
BOLDUAN: Wow, Matthew, amazing. As always. But from what you saw on the ground, did you get a sense of who has the upper hand in this battle at this point?
CHANCE: That's a good question. Look, I mean I think what has happened here is that both sides seem to have ground themselves to something of a halt, though you heard it's still, you know, there are still artillery exchanges between the two sides but, you know, there is ammunition shortages, it seems on both sides. The military focus, the sort of fierce, face-to-face fighting taking place elsewhere in the country.
But here., it's reached a kind of stalemate and it seems that that's what the majority of this conflict is now looking like. Rather than very dynamic movement of forces one way or the other, it seems to be settling very quickly into this kind of almost World War I-like trench warfare kind of situation with very little movement on both sides.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, as that one man told you, long war. They're preparing for a long war.
Thank you, Matthew, as always.
OUTFRONT for us next, CNN learning just how much the Secret Service had to scramble on January 6th after Donald Trump said he wanted to march to the U.S. Capitol.
Plus, several states are now bracing for Supreme Court opinion that officials fear could lead to more gun violence.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, Secret Service scrambled. CNN learning former President Trump's calls for supporters to march to the Capitol on January 6th caught the Secret Service off-guard. After discussions at the senior levels of the agency, the Secret Service determined it wasn't feasible for Trump's motorcade to join the crowd.
CNN is also learning the January 6th Select Committee has asked Trump's former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, as well as his deputy, to testify publicly. The committee's first public hearing now just two days away.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic secretary state of Michigan, Jocelyn Benson, who's running for reelection.
And, Michigan, of course, was obviously one of the states where Trump's team fought the hardest against certifying the election.
Thank you for being here.
Your office confirmed today that you gave an on the record interview on the January 6th Committee. What can you tell us about what you shared with them?
JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thank you first for having me.
The conversation was on the record, very granular discussion of everything we went through in 2020 to secure the election and really ensure that it withstood the enormous scrutiny from the lies and misinformation from the former president himself and many others and step by step how despite our best efforts to deliver a secure election, we were constantly these lies and misinformation that escalated into threats and that escalated into potential violence outside my own home, outside our state capitol, and ultimately escalated to the tragedy at our U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
BOLDUAN: Did anything surprise you about, I don't know, the granularity, the questions that were asked?
BENSON: I was really just grateful, frankly, to have the opportunity to walk through everything we've experienced from the minute we started working in May of 2020 to administer secure elections in the midst of the pandemic that we knew were going to be highly scrutinized and how for every step of the way for months, everything we did was under constant scrutiny and misinformation coming through tweets and the White House and everything else.
It was -- I'm very grateful that there's a repository for hearing these challenges we went through, and I'm very hopeful that in hearing these challenges and in other states as well, we can develop some sort of plan of actions to ensure that they either don't happen again or if they do, we'll be ready.
BOLDUAN: You revealed that you were told that Donald Trump had suggested in a White House meeting that you should be arrested, tried for treason and even possibly executed over what we're talking about here over the election.
Trump's team denies that this happened, but was this part of the interview with the committee?
BENSON: We talked a lot about the threats that I and other election officials faced. What you mentioned is one example of just the noise and the chatter and the constant anxiety that all of us were under, and ultimately, how many suggestions there were that people were willing to go to any length possible to overturn these election results.
BOLDUAN: You know, some lawmakers closest to Donald Trump, they're laying the groundwork to attack the committee's work even before these hearings began. Jim Jordan is one of them. He wrote in an op-ed that the committee's real goal and what it hopes to achieve with its unprecedented subpoenas and its bright-light hearings, is a repudiation of conservatism and all of -- and all those who have conservative values. Democrats want to use the violence of January 6th to stigmatize conservative voices and delegitimize conservative ideals.
What's your reaction to that?
BENSON: No. The committee's seeking the truth and just to uncover the truth.
And as someone who has spent hours with them talking through my experience and I know many other election officials have likely done the same, it's really important that American people hear how what we went through.
And how all of us, Republicans, Democrats, independents, Republicans, working to guard the results of the election regardless of what they were, they were the accurate result, and what we endured and continue to endure to protect our democracy. It's important the American people know the truth and that is what, in my experience, talking with the investigators, talking with the committee is really their intention and really their goal.
BOLDUAN: And this is not just about the past election. You're kind of getting at that. It's about the election going forward, as well, your election even. The person that you're running against, she claimed that she personally witnessed election fraud. She falsely claimed that Trump won your state.
And I want to play for our viewers some of what she said about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRISTINA KARAMO (R), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: Michigan is a battleground state and that's why the left was so fixated on corrupting the election systems in the state of Michigan. That's why my opponent was strategically placed in Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Do you think, if you win re-election, it will put an end to the false claims of election fraud in your state?
BENSON: No. I think it will continue our effort (AUDIO GAP) elections in our state, having the standing and prevailing of (AUDIO GAP) in 2020. Make no mistake, we're in the midst of a (AUDIO GAP) multi- facetted --
BOLDUAN: And, unfortunately, I think we just lost the connection with the secretary state of Michigan.
Secretary, thank you for your time.
OUTFRONT for us next, states from New York to California are bracing for more gun violence as they await a key Supreme Court ruling that could come as early as tomorrow.
Plus, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying inflation has hit unacceptable heights and there's no end in sight.
BOLDUAN: States across the country bracing for a Supreme Court decision that could make it easier to carry a gun in public, even as 2022 is on pace to be the worst year for mass shootings in U.S. history.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York city, iconic for its crowded streets and packed subways. But with violent gun-related crimes on the rise this year, the city's mayor warned that violence could get worse if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a state law and makes it easier for someone to carry a gun.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: This keeps me up at night. If this right to carry goes through the Supreme Court, and becomes the law of the land, can you imagine being on the floor train, everyone on the train is carrying? This is not -- this is not the Wild, Wild West.
CARROLL: At issue is a century old state law that gives local officials the power to require anyone who applies for a permit to carry a concealed handgun to show proper cause, such as a need for self defense. The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, along with two other plaintiffs, says having to show proper cause to carry a concealed handgun is unconstitutional.
During oral arguments in November, the attorney representing the plaintiffs explained it this way.
PAUL D. CLEMENT, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: Carrying a firearm outside the home is a fundamental constitutional right. It is not some extraordinary action that requires an extraordinary demonstration of need.
CARROLL: Legal experts they there is a strong possible the conservative-leaning court will side with gun rights advocates.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said this during arguments.
JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Just to follow up on the other questions, why isn't it good enough to say I live in a violent area and I want to be able to defend myself?
CARROLL: If the law is overturned, it could make it much easier to legally carry a handgun in New York and it could have implications elsewhere.
Several other states have similar proper cause requirements, including California, Maryland and New Jersey.
Back in New York City, law enforcement officials say overturning state law could deal a serious blow to efforts to fight crime at a time when the New York City police reported gun arrests are at a 28-year high.
New York's governor says she would take legislative action if the law were overturned.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: I'll do whatever I have to do to protect people of the state.
CARROLL: This, as the state is still healing from last month's mass shooting in Buffalo where 10 people were killed. The victim's families saying now is the time for tougher gun laws.
KIMBERLY SALTER, WIDOW OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM AARON SALTER: It's not about Republicans, it's not about Democrats. It's about people. It's about human life.
CARROLL: Sanford Rubenstein agrees, he represents one of the victims severely injured during a mass subway shooting in New York City in April.
SANFORD RUBENSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR WOMAN INJURED IN NYC SUBWAY SHOOTING: If this statute s declared unconstitutional, it will put more guns on the street.
CARROLL: Those who are gun advocates say this is about their right to carry a gun, whether it'd be in New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles, wherever it is.
RUBENSTEIN: Public safety requires the control of guns for the public good.
BOLDUAN: So, Jason, how suspect the state preparing? How are people preparing for what could be very well a lot more people carrying guns in public if this law is overturned?
CARROLL: Well, look, I can tell you that Manhattan's district attorney is so concerned about this, he sent a memo to his staff earlier today basically warning them to get prepared for what's to come, saying that they should expect a number of applications from lawyers representing those with pending indictments or who have already convicted of certain violent felonies, specifically those charged with street possession of a firearm. So, they're already planning for this and there is a great deal of concern from legal experts that some violent offenders could end up back on the streets.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. Well, good to see you. Thank you, Jason.
OUTFRONT for us next, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calls inflation the country's top economic problem right now and she has a list of what can be done.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, unacceptable. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying what Americans, many Americans are thinking about inflation, telling lawmakers today it's the top economic problem in this country right now, and that it's going to stay that way for a while. She also called on lawmakers to step in.
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JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I believe there's a lot that Congress can do to ease the cost burdens that households are experiencing. What the Biden administration would like to see is investments in programs like lowering prescription drug costs, investing in clean energy and renewables, asking high income tax payers and corporations to pay their fair share is the right way to finance those investments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So the treasury secretary loud and clear to lawmaker on what she thinks can and should be done. Whether or not they'll do it, of course, remains to be seen.
Thank you so much for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"AC360" starts now.