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Erin Burnett Outfront
New Photos Of Pence And Family Hiding On January 6 Obtained By ABC; Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The January 6 Investigation; Fed Raises Rates By Largest Increase In Nearly 30 Years; GOP Flips Seat In Latino-Heavy District, A Sign Of Trouble For Dems; U.S. To Deliver Another $1 Billion In Military Aid To Ukraine; "No Protection": Growing Number Of Journalists Killed In Mexico. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 15, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next:
Just in, new photos of Vice President Mike Pence and his family hiding from rioters on January 6th, obtained by ABC News tonight. As CNN learns the January 6th committee will argue that Trump's efforts to get Pence to overturn the election, quote, directly contributed to the insurrection.
Plus, she just flipped a House seat in a Texas special election, and she's promoted QAnon on social media. Who is Mayra Flores, the newly elected Latina Republican?
And the White House sending another billion dollars to Ukraine. How much more will the U.S. send? I'll ask John Kirby with the National Security Council.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, pressure campaign. The January 6th Select Committee revealing tonight it will make the case tomorrow that Donald Trump's pressure on Mike Pence to overturn the election, quote, "directly contributed to the deadly insurrection." According to committee aides, the hearing will focus on Trump's relentless efforts to convince his vice president to unilaterally subvert the election. Those efforts happening behind closed doors, on Twitter, and on the airwaves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Mike Pence, I will tell you right now, I'm not hearing good stories.
I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy. Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him as much.
(END VIDEO CLIPS) BURNETT: All that, despite the lawyers in the White House counsel's office telling Trump clearly that Pence could do no such thing. He didn't have the authority. And aides also say that the hearing will include new material about Pence's whereabouts on January 6th. So, on that front, I want to show you this, new images obtained by Jonathan Karl of ABC News of Pence on that day.
This photo, according to him, was taken moments after Trump supporters entered the Capitol. You see Pence and his daughter, his wife closing the curtains, reportedly afraid the attackers would see them.
And then in the next image, Pence can be seen with his daughter after returning to the capitol after working on a speech. It comes as the January 6th committee releases new video of a tour led by Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk of Georgia.
This tour has become a focal point. It took place on January 5th. I want you to pay close attention to the man you see taking pictures of the staircase. See him in the front? Okay. And then in these clips, same man taking pictures of security checkpoints.
So, according to the January 6th committee, that man marched to the Capitol 24 hours later. And in one piece of the video, the committee says the man can be heard making threatening comments about a number of Democratic leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no escape, Pelosi. Schumer. Nadler. We're coming for you. We're coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer.
Even you, AOC, we're coming to take you out. We'll pull you out by your hairs.
How about that, Pelosi?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. This obviously, the guy taking the photos saying that, being on the tour with Loudermilk does appear to be at odds with the findings of capitol police who said yesterday, there is no evidence that represent fit Loudermilk entered the Capitol with this group on January 5th, 2021. We train our officers on being alert for people conducting surveillance and reconnaissance and we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious.
Also tonight, other Trump ally, Steve Bannon, suffering a major loss in court. A federal judge rejected Bannon's efforts to dismiss the criminal case against him for defying the January 6th Select Committee's subpoena.
In a moment, I'm going to speak to January 6 committee member, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
But first, I want to begin with Manu Raju who is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
And, Manu, let's start here. What more are you learning about what we can expect from the public hearing that the committee will present for all of us to see tomorrow?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, committee aides talked to reporters this afternoon about exactly what to expect. We can expect to hear about how this theory that Donald Trump and his closest allies pushed that somehow that Vice President Mike Pence overseeing the certification of the electoral results on January 6th, 2021, could have taken this unprecedented move, this extra constitutional move to overturn the will of the electorate.
How that theory came to shape, and how Donald Trump pushed that theory. Then the committee is going to look at what happened on January 6th, the danger that Mike Pence faced, and time that all to Donald Trump's rhetoric, and his actions.
Now, there will be live witness testimony. Greg Jacob, a former counsel to Mike Pence, will be there testifying, as well as Michael Luttig, who is a former federal judge, informal advisor to Mike Pence, also will be discussing.
These hearings will be a part of a number of other hearings that will take place through the course of June 7 -- a seven-part series to look at a conspiracy alleging Donald Trump was behind and pushing to overturn the election. The question, though, that the committee is still grappling with is if Donald Trump committed a crime and whether the Justice Department itself should investigate and prosecute Donald Trump.
We have learned tonight that Liz Cheney, the vice chairman of the committee, is a leading voice pushing for a potential referral to the Justice Department of Donald Trump. Other committee members say it's not necessary. It's an issue they will debate later, all of which pointing to the new evidence that they are planning to present tomorrow and also in the hearings to come -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you so much.
I want to go to now, as promised, to a member of the January 6th committee, the Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
And, Congresswoman, I appreciate your time.
I want to start with these new photos obtained by Jon Karl over at ABC News of Vice President Pence taken after rioters entered the Capitol. What do these photos tell you about that day that the public perhaps at this point doesn't know?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I think the public is probably not aware how close a call this was. The rioters came very close to capturing the vice president, and I think there's very good evidence that they would have done harm to him, perhaps even killed him. So this was a close call.
BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty incredible. Are you going to be presenting some of that so people understand that literally they -- I know, we heard them say "hang Mike Pence", but that that was indeed truly literal from the evidence you have?
LOFGREN: Well, there's evidence there, and frankly, there's -- the Justice Department is also pursuing cases about, you know, some of the more violent extremists there. So we've got a lot of information. This was not a friendly crowd, that this was a mob -- well, look what they did to the Capitol police officers. The violence they inflicted on them.
BURNETT: So I want to turn to the video that your committee released. This is a new video of Congressman Loudermilk giving that tour. And I showed there that man in the front here, he's taking pictures of the stairs and then he took pictures of several other locations.
Do you have evidence that the man in the video you released, I know you said he went to the rally the next day. Is he one of those who actually breached the Capitol himself or helped someone else do so?
LOFGREN: He's a guy who threatened violence against Speaker Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And, you know, I'm not going to get into what DOJ's business is. But, you know, we had asked Representative Loudermilk -- we didn't accuse him of anything -- we asked him to come in and talk to us about this tour, which he has not done even yet.
And as you can see from the video, we were going to go over the video with him, since he has refused to come in. We released it and he can look at it now.
But you can see that this rioter was there the day before with the representative. And he was taking pictures of things that tourists aren't usually interested in. Taking pictures of the stairwell up to the Ways and Means Committee, where later the next day, members were sheltered in place. Taking pictures of the tunnel between the Rayburn Building and the Capitol, where the next day I was evacuated through that tunnel.
We also know that the extremists were compiling maps of the tunnels and the buildings before January 6th. And just today, there was a filing in one of the Proud Boy cases about their plans to occupy not only the Capitol, but the house office buildings to get their way, and how they were going to do that. So this is a concern.
BURNETT: And as you point out, the photos that he was taking are not photos tourists would take. You know, of a random stairwell, it's not one of the big grand ones, right? You could see it's one of the internal ones.
LOFGREN: Right. BURNETT: And I ask that in the context of the Capitol police, Congresswoman. As you know, they have cleared Congressman Loudermilk, and specifically when it comes to this incident, this tour, the police chief said they reviewed the security footage and they determined they didn't show anything suspicious activities or anything consistent with a reconnaissance tour.
LOFGREN: Well, they also said that there was -- they didn't see any video of the rioter -- I guess they didn't know he was a rioter the next day, taking pictures of the tunnels. And you can see in the video that, in fact, he was. You know, I've gone through that --
BURNETT: So they just -- you think they just didn't see the security footage?
LOFGREN: I have no idea. I was surprised by the letter, because if you look at the video, you can see with your own eyes what was happening. It was not reflected in the letter from the Capitol police.
BURNETT: No, it certainly wasn't. I keep showing this because I want people to understand, the stairwell he's taking a picture of, you know, whatever he's doing, that's just not a stairwell you would take a picture of, the sort of entryways.
LOFGREN: No, it's the back --
LOFGREN: Yeah, it's the back entrance to the Ways and Means room, the big room. And the Ways and Means Committee room is where, you know, 100 members of Congress sheltered in place on January 6th.
BURNETT: So the Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, Congresswoman, dismissed the taped testimony that your committee showed from former Attorney General Bill Barr, right, where he said that President Trump was detached from reality, you know, that it was -- it was crazy, all the things that he said about the election being rigged.
I want to play some of what Senator Grassley said about that to Manu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I think that this January 6th thing that you're talking about now, bringing all this stuff up is pretty much an effort on the part (VIDEO GAP), inflation, high gas prices, and everything like that, and I don't know what they're going to accomplish, because we've got 800 people arrested.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Your response to Senator Grassley?
LOFGREN: Well, that's pretty sad. You know, we have -- it's a bipartisan committee. And we are doing the job that was assigned to us which is to uncover all the facts and present it to the American people. And also, we will come up with legislative recommendations.
We -- obviously, there are things of concern going on in the country. Inflation and we are passing bills to deal with that.
LOFGREN: Other issues.
But if we don't have a functioning democracy, then what's our future? That's pretty important.
BURNETT: And it certainly is.
Congresswoman, I want to ask you one other thing before we go, just about the Capitol Police and what they're sort of -- their motive could be in putting out that statement. Obviously, as you point out, Capitol police members died or injured in this attack.
BURNETT: Yet they put out this statement saying that they don't see anything problematic about that video the day before.
What do you think the motive is? Is that they -- they are not open to whether they may have also made mistakes the day before or maybe should have seen something they didn't see or could it be something else? Do you know?
LOFGREN: I have no idea whether it's a competence issue or what. But it's not accurate, and as you can see with your own eyes from the video, it's what they said was not accurate.
BURNETT: Yeah. It certainly appears that way.
Congresswoman, Lofgren, I appreciate your time. I always do. Thank you.
LOFGREN: Thank you. Take care.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, the Fed raising interest rates, saying the U.S. will have a, quote, soft landing, not a recession. Well, that is not what economists say, and -- well, our next guest, a top economic analyst, is going to explain why she disagrees.
Plus, the first Mexican born woman on her way to Congress -- a Republican who is pro-Trump, anti-abortion, flipping a crucial seat in Texas. Is this a major warning sign for Democrats?
Plus, Yellowstone Park cut off by record flooding, roads destroyed, buildings swept away. Could the national park be closed for the summer season?
BURNETT: Tonight, the Fed making a major move, announcing the biggest interest rate hike in nearly 30 years. Three quarters of a percentage point, just in one fell swoop, and signaling that another increase could come in just a few weeks, next month. It comes as the average American household is paying $460 more per month for just the same things, you know, that they buy every month than they were a year ago, that's according to Moody's Analytics.
And costs for everything are going up. Mortgage rates are nearing 6 percent. You're seeing a doubling in some of these things already.
OUTFRONT now, Liz Ann Sonders. She's the chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.
And, Liz Ann, I appreciate your time.
So, this is -- look, a dramatic rate hike from the Fed. There's no other way to put it. Three quarters of a point is the largest in three decades. So, that gets us all the way back to 1994. In a sense, this is a move of desperation, right? I mean, the situation got out of control, and they're using the blunt tool they have, it's all they have, and they have no other choice.
What is the impact going to be on people?
LIZ ANN SONDERS, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB & CO.: Well, you're right. It is a blunt tool monetary policy, really, and the Fed concedes, all they can do is try to tackle the demand side of this inflation problem. They can't wave a wand and bring down energy prices. So they have to focus on the demand side.
And what's interesting is the move to 75 in what was in the Fed's statement today reinforces that although the Fed operates with the so- called dual mandate of focusing on price stability, their word for inflation, and the labor market, they clearly have their sights primarily on bringing inflation down. And they wanted to, I think, just front end load the necessary medicine in order to bring down the demand side of the economy, which, again, is the only thing that they can directly control with monetary policy.
BURNETT: So as part of this, the chairman of the Fed, Powell, says that he expects a soft landing for the economy, which is, you know, he said hopefully a recession will be avoided.
Okay, that is not what most economists say. I know that you disagree with that. I guess I understand why they're saying it, but you know, how does he even make that argument?
SONDERS: So the summary of economic projections, which came out in conjunction with the announcement today, if you do some of the simple math of where even the Fed projects things like the unemployment rate to go, the math is such that that's very recessionary. It would not be, of course, customary for the Fed to talk about that bluntly. But Powell sort of hinted that it's going to be a, you know, tough needle to thread.
Even before today's announcement, I've had the sort of recession case is the more likely outcome.
And unfortunately, the nature of how recessions are decided on, and how ultimately they're dated, and that's done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is such that not only is recession more likely, it's possible that we're already in one, based on the fact that step one of the process around recessions is for the NBER to say, okay, we're in one. That's clearly when the environment has deteriorated.
Step two is to date by month when it started. And what they do is they go back to the peak in the aggregate data that they're looking at.
So that's why if you look at a snapshot in time, the data looks pretty good. You just don't know at that point that we're about to go from the peak to a level. So if we don't get a lift in growth from here, it's possible. It's not my base case, but just understanding the mechanics of how recessions are decided could put us in that situation.
BURNETT: We could already be there.
All right. Liz Ann, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
SONDERS: My pleasure. Good to see you.
BURNETT: All right. You, too.
And next, Ron DeSantis, he now has a staggering $112 million in the bank for his re-election as governor of Florida. Who should Democrats fear more, the Florida governor or the former president?
And Biden providing $1 billion to Ukraine, bringing the total amount since the war started $5.6 billion. How much more will the U.S. give?
BURNETT: Tonight, Republicans say they have found their blueprint for success after flipping a House seat in south Texas. Mayra Flores defeating Democrat Dan Sanchez, eating into the Democrat's slim majority in the House, which is now just 10 seats.
And in a memo obtained by CNN, the Republican Party says, quote, Flores' victory is proof that Republicans have a winning message with Hispanic voters and that no Democrat is safe in the current political environment.
Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A historic victory in South Texas, signaling a potential political realignment. Republican Mayra Flores flipping a Democratic-held Democratic seat in a special election, winning more than 50 percent of the vote, beating her Democratic rival by more than seven points, and becoming the country's first Mexican-born member of Congress.
The GOP's first House pickup since Democrats took control of Congress in 2020, coming in one of the most Hispanic areas of the country, 85 percent of the district's residents are Latino, and Flores' victory is being touted by Republican leadership as a blueprint for success.
REP.-ELECT MAYRA FLORES (R-TX): I was born in Burgos Tamaulipas, Mexico, but at 6, we immigrated to the RGV. We grew up modest, working in the cotton fields, honest pay for honest work.
SANCHEZ: Running a pro-Trump, anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment campaign, Flores touted her husband's experience as a Border Patrol agent to call for a crackdown on immigration in a district that runs more than 80 miles along the Mexican border. Flores also used several QAnon related hash tags in some of her social media posts, though she later disavowed the conspiracy theory, telling "The San Antonio Express-News", quote, I've never been supportive of it.
CNN reached out to Flores' campaign for comment. She has not yet replied.
FLORES: We have to say that facts that under President Trump, we did not have this mess in this country.
SANCHEZ: Though President Biden won nearly 2/3 of Latino voters nationwide in 2020, former President Trump outperformed expectations.
NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR, INSIDE ELECTIONS: The question is whether those gains with Hispanic voters were specific to Trump. A special election in Texas gave us a specific piece of evidence that the gains Republicans are making aren't necessarily tied to Trump, and could be part of a broader trend away from Democrats and toward the Republican Party.
SANCHEZ: When Democrat Filemon Vela announced his resignation in March, Republicans thrust more than a million dollars in ads for Flores both in English and Spanish.
FLORES: I've always said, South Texas is Republican, they just don't know it.
SANCHEZ: National Democrats declined to spend heavily in the race, partly because Flores will have to run again in November, when the newly drawn 34th district will be more friendly to Democrats.
GONZALES: While I think it's going to be more difficult for her to win re-election in a district that's more Democratic, this sends a larger message that Republicans do have an opportunity to gain ground with Hispanic voters. And that has the potential to give them opportunities in other districts that aren't as Democratic. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SANCHEZ (on camera): And, Erin, I've been speaking to Republican strategists about this dynamic going back to 2020. And they are bullish on this. They're practically salivating at their opportunity with Latino voters, because if you go back a decade, to 2012, after Mitt Romney lost, they did this autopsy that made clear that Republicans struggled demographically.
They have an aging voting base and this is their best opportunity to win, especially going into 2024. So, you're looking at states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, even New Mexico could be in play for them.
BURNETT: Wow. All right. They did the autopsy and spent the time.
All right. Thanks so much, Boris, for that report.
And I want to go now to Xochitl Hinojosa, former DNC communications director, who is from the district that Flores just won. And Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to Mitch McConnell.
So, Xochitl, let me start with you. You know, you hear Boris giving the context here. OK. She's got to run again in November and the district is shifting, you know, which Democrats used to dismiss this victory. But, obviously, Republicans see it very differently.
How big of a red flag is this loss for Democrats?
XOCHITL HINOJOSA, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, this district is not necessarily a red flag, because it will turn blue in November. These were old, redirecting lines. The new lines is a plus- 15 towards Dems.
What I will say, though, is that Republicans are taking a victory lap, and they're taking a victory lap on 7 percent turnout. This wasn't a persuasion issue, this was a turnout issue. It's not that Hispanic voters turned out for Republicans the way they claimed that they are and they believe this will translate to places like Nevada and Arizona.
This is -- the fact that Democrats didn't actually spend enough money to turn their people out. And that's what the red flag is. The red flag is, when you're a party in power, you have to motivate your voters, motivate your base, and give them a reason to turn out and you have to spend that money to turn out Hispanic, black voters, women, young voters, and they didn't do that in this election.
BURNETT: OK. Scott, to the point that Xochitl just made, 7 percent is bad. I mean, even here in New York where turnout is usually abysmal, that is bad. That is one of the lowest turnouts I've ever heard. So what do you say to this her point, this is a turnout story, not a persuasion story about Hispanic voters? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree, it is a
turnout story. The story is, Democrats who usually vote Democrat have no interest in turning out right now. I mean, that's how bad it is, in an 85 percent Hispanic registered district that's gone for Obama, that's gone for Clinton, that's gone for Biden, Democrats stayed home and the Hispanics who voted there, I agree, it was low turnout election, but the Hispanic vote who came out wanted to vote Republican.
And so, the big story isn't about the House Republican majority, which I think we're going to pick up with or without this district. The story is, is it true that we're seeing in polling can come to life in a real-life situation? Are Hispanics who are polling more Republican going to vote for Republican? I think we saw some proof of concept here.
So, to me, the story isn't about this Texas district. It's about the Nevada Senate race, the Arizona Senate race, the Colorado Senate race, and all these other places that have Hispanic voters who aren't woke, but they are broke and they're mad as hell and they're fixing to do something about it.
BURNETT: So I want to broaden this out a little bit. Tesla's CEO Elon Musk say he voted for Mayra Flores in Texas. Everyone may remember, he now has that as his residency. He said it's the first time that he has voted for a Republican.
And then today he responded to someone on Twitter saying he's now leaning towards the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president in 2024. Ron DeSantis came out and responded to that today. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Elon Musk -- so what I would say, you know, I'm focused on 2022. But with Elon Musk, what I would say is, I welcome support from African-Americans. What can I say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Scott, that's the joke line that he makes, Elon Musk, of course, is from South Africa. But look, he raises a point. There's a lot of buzz about DeSantis. I mentioned the $112 million re-election pool he has for governor. Does he translate into a serious threat to Trump right now nationally, Scott?
JENNINGS: Oh, absolutely. If you're somebody who thinks we have to move on from Trump but you want some of what Trump represented, the fighting spirit, taking on the media, you know, having all the right enemies in the progressive left and DeSantis checks a lot of those boxes but he doesn't carry a lot of the same baggage. He does have the baggage of Washington. He doesn't have the baggage of January 6th. He doesn't have a lot of what comes with Trump.
So he is somebody that people love, because he has candidly all the right enemies. And he's -- Republicans love Florida, they think he's led it in a fashion that they would love to see someone lead this country. So, now, what's holding DeSantis back? He plus eight or nine other people run against Trump, fragmentation of the field becomes Trump's best friend.
BURNETT: Right. Now, of course, there are Democrats in Florida who love that Ron DeSantis kept Florida open. Not the same thing as voting for him, but it's just a point, Xochitl, that he's a complicated guy in some ways. And when you look at it, who as a Democrat would you rather run against, Trump or DeSantis?
HINOJOSA: Well, I mean, I think that they both are very problematic.
And you heard President Biden say before that he wouldn't mind running against Trump again. And I think that that is, you know, some of what a lot of people in our party believe. At the same time, you -- DeSantis also has a record, and one thing that came out today that you reported on is the fact that children under 5 are going to get vaccinated soon, but yet, you know, Florida hasn't necessarily preordered those vaccines for those children. So he has a record, and Democrats will use that against him.
BURNETT: Xochitl, Scott, thanks both. Appreciate it.
And next, the U.S. provided Ukraine with another billion dollars in aid, as Zelenskyy pleads for more weapons and says it's literally life or death, as 200 Ukrainians are dying a day on the battlefield. How many weapons can the U.S. provide?
Plus, it's one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. A place where just reporting on a crime can get you killed. And tonight, we'll take you there.
BURNETT: Tonight, the U.S. announcing another $1 billion in military aid will be sent to Ukraine. And that includes howitzers, tactical vehicles, and coastal defense systems.
And that would bring the total U.S. aid to $5.6 billion to Ukraine since the start of the war about 100 days ago. And it comes as top U.S. General Mark Milley warns that Ukrainians are, indeed, losing ground in the east.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS: I wouldn't say it's an inevitability. But I would say the numbers clearly favor the Russians in terms of artillery, they do outnumber, they outgun and outrange.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Outnumber, outgun, and outrange.
OUTFRONT now, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.
Admiral, I appreciate your time.
So, let's just start here with the aid today. The Pentagon announcing another billion dollars in military aid. So, as I said, that brings the total to $5.6 billion since the beginning of the war. Ukraine says it could go on for another year.
How much is the U.S. prepared to spend and send in the context of the American inflation crisis and economic pressures at home?
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, sure. Look, it's a -- it's a key priority for the president. He had a chance to talk to President Zelenskyy just this morning to get an update from the president about the battlefield himself, and also to talk to President Zelenskyy not only about what we were providing in this next tranche, but also additional capabilities that President Zelenskyy feels he might need going forward.
We're going to meter these out over time and do the -- and do as much as we can for as long as we can. And right now, we still -- we still just got now $40 billion from Congress. This is the first tranche announced inside that $40 billion total package. Not all 40 is for security assistance.
So, we still have -- we still have quite a ways to go here. And we'll just -- we'll just take it as it comes. And that's why, quite frankly, Erin, that we're metering these out over time, so we can be in lockstep with the Ukrainians, in the moment, trying to meet the needs that they have on the battlefield.
BURNETT: So I understand what you're saying. I think it's important that they're -- that they're sort of more to come. You have a runway.
The context here, of course, is President Zelenskyy, despite his gratitude for this, and he's made that very clear, has been begging for weapons in recent days.
And he's been really specific. He wants howitzers, 1,000 howitzers. He warned last night that Western military aid has to come quicker.
On Monday, he said, and I quote, only a sufficient number of modern artillery for Ukraine will ensure our advantage. He just continually calls for this. And as I said, he's called for 1,000 howitzers.
These numbers are stunning. They do dig into the U.S. supply.
BURNETT: How much can the United States realistically provide of the wish list that Zelenskyy has?
KIRBY: What we are trying to do is work with the Ukrainians in real- time, Erin, to determine what their capabilities are. What they're using, what they need, and what we can provide in the United States. But, you know, it's not just the United States. And so, yes, we have
provided an extraordinary amount of security assistance in an unbelievably fast -- at an unbelievably fast pace. But just today in Brussels, the secretary of defense was meeting with 50 other nations about security assistance that they are willing and able to provide in various forms and formats, of course.
But it's not just the United States. The entire international community is really trying to come to Ukraine's aid. Now, how long can all that last? How long will the war last? Nobody can be sure right now.
We know and we predicted that the fight in the Donbas was going to be a slog. That it was going to probably stretch this war out many months. And it seems as if that's bearing fruit now. This is part of the country where both parties know well, both armies have been fighting over it since 2014.
And it really is largely an artillery fight. So, we're focused really in the moment trying to help them as best we can in the conditions that they're seeing on the ground. And it's, again, not just us. Other nations are also digging deep and trying to provide security assistance.
BURNETT: One final question on a separate point I want to ask you, Admiral, is about the president's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, that travel is being planned. He's going to meet in some capacity, you said, with the crown prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, known as MBS.
Of course, as you know, it comes after Biden vowed to make the kingdom a pariah, his words during the 2020 campaign, and he spoke very passionately about it and very genuinely, it was clear what he felt as a person when he was running. You know, he specifically said that MBS, that he believed he directly ordered the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
I spoke to someone in the president's own party who is criticizing this decision to go to Saudi now. He represents the district where Jamal Khashoggi lived. It's Congressman Gerry Connolly and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): I believe President Biden was right when he was candidate Biden. I mean, a man was murdered by the number two official in a foreign government. That can't be acceptable in terms of U.S. interests or U.S. foreign policy.
And it ought not to be acceptable to the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Admiral, can you shed any light on -- on the conversations or, you know, who convinced President Biden to change his -- his view on this so dramatically?
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: The president, when he became president -- first of all, even as a candidate, obviously, he took the murder of Jamal Khashoggi very seriously. And when he became president, he carried that thought process into the Oval Office with him.
He published and made -- and declassified the intelligence community's report on the murder and he put in place the Khashoggi ban which has been used some 70 times against countries who would pressure critics who are living in other countries, and he's put in other accountability measures such as sanctions. So, he took this very seriously at the outset.
We said at the time, Erin, that we want to recalibrate the relationship with Saudi but we don't want to rupture it. And we have to remember that Saudi Arabia is a key strategic partner in a vital, vital region of the world, in which we have significant national security interests of our own -- counterterrorism, the war in Yemen, climate change, and, of course, you know, oil production in today's environment.
So there's a lot of business that the president believes needs to still be done in the region. Now he's going primarily for the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, which will be in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is hosting it. So, that's the impetus for the trip. He will have a bilateral meeting, of course, with the King Salman and his team which will include the crown prince.
But there's an awful lot of significant national security interests at stake here for the United States and that's why the president is making this trip.
BURNETT: All right. Admiral, thanks so much. I appreciate your time.
KIRBY: You bet.
BURNETT: And next, we're going to take you to a place where just reporting the news can cost you your life. And it's cost many theirs.
And historic flooding shutting down all entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Could the park be shut down for the rest of the summer?
BURNETT: It's one of the most dangerous places in the world, to be a journalist. And already this year in Mexico, 11 journalists have been murdered just for doing their jobs, 11 people murdered for doing their jobs. It is on track to be one of if not the deadliest years on record.
Matt Rivers is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tijuana, Mexico, in a country plague by homicide, this city stands out. Nearly 800 murders already this year say state officials which means the people reporting on those crimes are busy.
This we get to see firsthand, meeting up well after dark with freelance journalist, Arturo Rosales. It's not long before we're off to what police say is a murder scene.
(translated): Are you scared sometimes of your work? Because you're working in every complex situations.
ARTURO ROSALES, FREELANCE JOURNALIST (translated): Yes, mainly in areas with a lot of conflict.
RIVERS: Dangerous neighborhoods like here in Los Alamos. Arturo gets to work snapping photos and going live on Facebook. He just describes the basics, time, location, manner of death in a city like Tijuana where murders are often linked to organized crime, even just reporting the facts can be deadly.
Margarito Martinez was a well-known crime reporter in the city, a happy guy with a quick wit, and a big smile. He was killed outside his home earlier this year.
A best friend. He taught me everything I know.
Jesus Aguilar is a journalist, too, one of Martinez's best friends. They worked together at countless murder scenes and Aguilar worked at Martinez's too.
I had to see it, he says. I had to see it. It's what we do. We cover homicides. Now I witnessed his.
Prosecutors detained ten people for the crime though none have been formally charged. Authorities say those detained have ties to organized crime but haven't given an exact motive for the killing. Martinez's death, tragically not that unusual in Mexico, 11 journalists have been killed so far this year, according to human rights group Article 19, a number the Mexican government disputes as too high.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says his government is committed to protecting journalists. The difference from before, he says, is that in all these homicides, there have already been people detained and there is no impunity.
But that is simply not true. The government's own statistics show that more than 90 percent of crimes in Mexico go unsolved.
For Sonya De Anda, herself a Tijuana journalist, it creates a morbid reality. She says whatever threats, obstacles to their work, whoever kills a journalist, there are no consequences because we live in a country of impunity.
The Mexican president also routinely attacks journalists he doesn't like as enemies, often claiming coverage that is critical of him is really just an attack on the Mexican people. Critics say comments like those contribute to the violence journalists face.
How many journalists have been killed, he says. A whole lot, that's the truth.
That uncertainty, the danger surrounding this job is with Arturo Rosales as he drives around Tijuana each night.
He says there's not much confidence in the government because there is no protection.
Arriving at our last scene of the night, Arturo goes through the motions and we find out what happened.
The driver of that car right there that's now on its side, he was shot while actually driving the car. That would make this at least the tenth homicide recorded in Tijuana in just the last 24 hours.
And Arturo says he'll keep being there to document as many as he can even though he and all his fellow journalists know they could go from covering victims to becoming a victim at any moment.
RIVERS (on camera): And, Erin, it's mainly local journalists who are being targeted here. It's people who live in the same communities that they cover. And it's basically meant that local news in many places across the country has been decimated a free press in many places, another victim of violence throughout Mexican civil society.
BURNETT: Stunning and incredible reporting. Matt Rivers, thank you, from Mexico City tonight.
And next, historic flooding destroying homes in its path at Yellowstone. So what's next? How bad is it?
BURNETT: Tonight, the Montana National Guard has carried out 87 helicopter rescues in the last two days as flooding in parts of the Yellowstone Rivers breaks records, more than 16 feet. So those levels make this a 500-year flood in the formal categorization. The National Park Service says some sections of the park could remain closed for months.
There's been significant damage in the town of Gardner. According to the sheriff there, where buildings have been swept up by the swells and the images look apocalyptic. Local residents are sheltering in place.
Thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.