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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

GOP Concerns Remain Key Obstacle in Gun Safety Talks; Matthew McConaughey Shares Uvalde Victims' Moving Stories at White House; Former Acting AG Invited to Testify Publicly By January 6 Committee; National Average Now $4.96 Per Gallon. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 08, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, June 8th. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans, 5:00 exactly.

We begin this morning with hope for a bipartisan gun safety deal, still alive in the U.S. Senate this morning. The question remains, what are Republicans willing to accept?

Still on the table, boosting school security, more funding for mental health, including a juvenile records in background checks for 18 to 21-year-olds, who want to buy those assaults all rifles. And incentives for states to pass more red flag laws.

One thing we know the GOP won't go for, flat out raising the minimum age for buying the semi rifles to 21.

Sources telling CNN that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has privately expressed openness to that. Not that he'll say so publicly.


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 if we can get an outcome that directly relates to the problem that brought this issue to the floor and I hope that will have one sooner rather than later.


ROMANS: All right. Congressional reporter Daniella Diaz live on Capitol Hill for us this morning.

Daniella, what are Republicans concerned about? Are there divisions among them on this issue?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: There are divisions, Christine, about what they actually want to see on any sort of gun safety legislation that could pass through the Senate. Now, remember, there still more conservative senators like Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Ron Johnson, they don't want to pass any legislation and wouldn't support any sort of bill in the Senate.

Of course, there are negotiators in these discussions, John Cornyn of Texas being one of them that is trying to reach a deal to get ten Republicans on board to support any gun safety reform. Remember, in the Senate, there needs to be 60 votes to advance any legislation to break that filibuster.

Right now, Republicans don't have enough support from their own party to be able to pass any bills. Now, one sticking point continues to be Christine, red flag laws. Negotiators have been working to settle on the best way to ensure that juvenile records are reviewed, when a person between ages of 18 and 21 purchase a firearm our public. That way, you know whether someone is -- and shouldn't qualify to purchase firearms and AR-15s. But the problem here is that some states expunge juvenile records. That something negotiators are trying to figure out how to deal with.

But look, Senate majority Chuck Schumer is still planning, regardless of where this legislation lands. Whatever these negotiators land on for this deal for gun safety reform, he said, he plans to put a bill on the floor. He wants to do something on gun safety in the near future.

He spoke at a press conference yesterday. Take a listen to what he said.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): As majority leader, I made clear that the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation in the near future.


Senate Democrats, led by the groups, including this group, your message to us is get something done. Get something done. We know we won't get all of it done at once, but get something done.


DIAZ: Christine, you know, you mentioned the same minority leader saying that he's open to gun safety legislation, there's another senator who told my colleague, Ted Barrett, yesterday, that she is open to gun safety legislation. That senator being Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, a conservative. She said that she's hearing more calls from the constituents on gun safety reform.

So, it looks like there could be enough Republicans to pass some sort of legislation. Of course, these negotiations continue and they're not yet there just yet.

ROMANS: And we'll have to see what happens to raising the age from 18 to 21 on buying those assault style rifles that appears to be off the table. But one of these arguments that you're hearing is that an 18- year-old can go towards, in the army, I should be able to bioweapon.

That argument there -- are holes in that argument, right? An 18-year- old doesn't have the right, automatically, to go to war. They have to be vetted by the U.S. military. They have to pass -- and they have to go through training. And many of them are actually not qualified to go to war.

So, if you want to use that argument, maybe put the same standard on an 18 year old buying weapons, as the kinds of scrutiny of going into the military. Interesting to see if -- how that works.

Daniela Diaz in Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Meantime, the White House enlisting actor Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, to build support for passing gun reform.


You know, he delivered some passion from the White House press room podium yesterday.


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals.


ROMANS: More from him in his own words in a little bit.

JARRETT: Yeah, he had so many -- just so compelling.

ROMANS: These green shoes, these green Converse tennis shoes just --

JARRETT: Yeah, so many anecdotes --

ROMANS: Not a dry eye in the House there for that. Those shoes had to be used to identify a little girl.

JARRETT: Yeah, you're going to want to hear more from that.

After 11 months and more than 1,000 interviews, the House Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection holds its first public hearing tomorrow, in primetime.

The witness list is shaping up, and we're now learning that former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, has been invited to testify, publicly, at a future hearing.

CNN's Marshall Cohen is live in Washington, D.C. for us.

Marshall, we know that Rosen has quite the story to tell. What are you most interested from hearing from him?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, good morning, Laura.

Jeffrey Rosen not necessarily a household name, but he might be by the time these hearings are over. As you mentioned, the January 6 Committee is interested in bringing him and his deputy in for public testimony. Not necessarily in tomorrow's hearing, but at some point, they've got a whole slate of hearings expected this month.

Why is he important? He was there during the transition, those critical few months between Election Day 2020, and the Joe Biden inauguration in 2021, when Donald Trump tried to pressure him to get him to use the Justice Department to help stop the transition of power to claim falsely that there was voter fraud everywhere, and to help his campaign, help him stop certification, overturn the results.

Jeffrey Rosen was there. He's already spoken to two congressional committees about that. Clearly, that's what the Democrats, and a handful of Republicans on this committee, want him to say, publicly, at a high stakes hearing, probably at some point later this month.

JARRETT: Yeah, Rosen, of course, refusing to go along with that plan, and essentially warning the president that if he went through with it he would have a modern day Saturday Night massacre on his hands at the Justice Department. That did not happen.

COHEN: Right.

JARRETT: We also know the committee has its witness list basically set for tomorrow night. What are you expecting there?

COHEN: Yeah, been sometimes floating around and the committee finally confirmed two people that will be providing in-person testimony. It's a lot better than stuff on videotape or a transcript. In-person testimony tomorrow night expected from a documentary filmmaker named Nick Quested. He was basically embedded with the Proud Boys on January 6th, and the proceeding month. That's, of course, the far-right extremist group that was really at the vanguard, and a lot of the violence that day. Several other leaders were just charged with sedition.

Another in-person witness for tomorrow night in prime time, that's going to be U.S. Capitol police officer, Caroline Edwards. She was on the front lines. The committee says, she was the very first police officer, excuse me, to be attacked that day. She suffered a concussion.

She was at the very front lines, where there were a bunch of people, Proud Boys and others, that got over run on the very first barrier, which really was the precipitation for so much of the violence. Once that line fell, all hell broke loose. She'll be able to tell her gripping story of what it was like to stare down that pro-Trump mob and be attacked on January 6th -- Laura.

JARRETT: You can only imagine with that was like for her.

Marshall, thank you so much, getting up bright and early. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Yeah, some of the images is just spraying that pepper spray right in her face. It's really vivid.

JARRETT: All right. Let's bring in Alayna Treene, a congressional reporter at "Axios".

It's nice to see you again. Appreciate it. You're coming back on EARLY START.

So, Representative Jamie Raskin says these revelations are going to blow the roof off the House. But, so much is already leaked out of what the House is investigating. We've seen sort of the drips and drabs over the last couple months.

They now have to really up the ante. They hired this high powered television producer.

What are you -- what are you watching for the most?

ALAYNA TREENE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, you're exactly right, Laura. And it's going to be really tough. The committee and its members really want these hearings to be blockbuster, Watergate style hearings. And they are meticulously crafted. They did hire that former president of ABC, Dan Goldstein, and they're trying to make this a spectacle, so that they can capture the attention span of viewers across America, and tried to sway public opinion.

It's a very daunting task. Particularly when so much attention and so many people are preoccupied with inflation, spike in gas prices, the pandemic.


And so, we're going to have to see what they have for us, but it will be, I'm told, a mix of blended elements really of the two, the first and second impeachment hearings for former President Trump, where we saw harrowing video footage played live during his hearings and broadcast across television sets, across America, as well as witness testimony and they really were trying to choose the people who will be able to give the most compelling picture of what happened that day, as well as involvement of the former president official -- tying him to the January 6 attack.

And then, of course, we're going to see some of these public televised speeches from the president of the committee, really pleading with the American public to pay attention and to make sure that this doesn't happen again and, that there isn't a January 6th in our history books.

ROMANS: Of course, there's a worry that is not all of America would watching this, which is why they're really trying to make sure that they're telling the story in a vivid way. You write that the White House is trying to avoid perception that's president is politicizing the DOJ. Why is that so important for Democrats?

TREENE: It's incredibly important, for a number of reasons. One, of course, is that the Justice Department is supposed to be an independent department, an independent body of the White House. They're very -- the White House is being very careful to not disrupt that perception because if Merrick Garland, the attorney general does ultimately decide to take action and prosecute some individuals, tied to the former administration or, within the White House, they really want to be distance from that and make sure that any signs of potential politicization doesn't make them lack credibility, if that were to happen.

They also, very much, want to stay out of it because they see this is Congress's fight. I'm told, from two different people, that are familiar with what they're thinking on this, is that they really want to look separate. They want members on the committee, as well as House leadership to take this on until the story. They don't want Biden to get involved.

There may be many key moments -- it was emphasized to me that there may be very pivotal moments where the president weighs in. We saw him do this and make a big speech on the one year anniversary of the January 6th attack, but that's really going to be a benchmark for any involvement from the current president himself.

ROMANS: All right. Alayna Treene, thank you so much for getting early for us. "Axios" congressional reporter, a lot are going to be happening in the days ahead, thank you.

JARRETT: Big day tomorrow.

All right. Still ahead, gas prices increasing overnight. Why could get worse before it gets better.

ROMANS: Adds another nickel overnight.

Plus, voters just recalled a progressive big city D.A.

JARRETT: And the stuff that pushed to free a WNBA power from captivity in Russia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the last place on Earth you want to be.




ROMANS: Rising like a rocket ship but falling like a feather. That old adage on display in gas prices. A rocket ship indeed. The national average jumping to $4.96 cents a gallon, up another four cents overnight, up 64 cents from a month ago.

Here is President Biden's commerce secretary.


GINA RAIMONDO, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Unfortunately, that is the brutal reality. The reality is that there isn't very much more to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Another reality, it will likely get worse before it gets better. Goldman Sachs analysts predicting a possible large in prices this summer. The Brent crude oil climbing as much as $140 a barrel, from its current price of $121.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen underscoring there's little to be done. These are market forces at work.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We are part of global oil markets, which are subject to geopolitical influences and given the global nature of these markets, it's virtually impossible for us to insulate ourselves from shocks like the ones that are occurring in Russia.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in Rob Thummel, energy portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital.

Nice to see you bright and early this morning from Kansas City.

Look, it just feels relentless, this increase in gas prices. We know that the American consumer is really despairing over how quickly these prices are rising, and we hear from Goldman Sachs, that you need to see oil prices spike 140 -- 140 or higher to incentivize new production and discourage, actually consumption of gas.

In a way, high oil prices are what we need to cure high oil prices?

ROB THUMMEL, ENERGY PORTFOLIO MANAGER, TORTOISE CAPITAL: Yes, Christine, that's a good. Point and, you know that's often the old adage. And that could happen.

What we also need though, is more production from the. U.S., so, the bigger picture, the global demand for oil related products is back to pre-COVID levels, the global supply is not. And that's why we're in this position because inventories a decline. Prices are higher.

And so, how do you fix that, right? Well, we need more U.S. oil production. We need more Canadian oil production to replace effectively Russian oil. And, if you do that, think about the impact that could have because Ms. Yellen just talked about the premium that's in the oil price and the geopolitical issue that we're facing right.

Now if you have more U.S., more Canadian oil, it's more reliable. It's more secure, that could help reduce that global risk premium that's in the oil price, right now. And to help a consumer reduce their gasoline prices, ultimately.

ROMANS: So, Rob, why aren't Canadian and U.S. producers rushing out there to pump as much as they can to capture these high prices?


THUMMEL: Well, the U.S. is increasing production. The Canadians are increasing production as well. This is a long lead cycle.


THUMMEL: Some of the same supply chain issues that everybody in every business, really across the world is facing. Those same challenges are being faced by U.S. and Canadian producers as well.

ROMANS: We keep hearing that this is, and it could get worse before it gets better, and I think it's important to note that the winter, we could see -- heeding our homes, right? Driving our cars, talk to me about the ways every day Americans should prepare for the long term here for higher energy prices?

THUMMEL: Yeah. So right now I was just looking at my bill and forecasting it. So, for gasoline prices are today versus a year ago, it's probably going to cost me about $200 a car per month extra in terms of gasoline. I've got a wife and two kids, and if you drive all over the place. So, you know, that's $800 for me.

And I'm not the only one. A lot of Americans are in the same shoe. If you look at the winter, your natural gas is another commodity that's really needed. It's essential. You really can't go without. Right now, natural gas prices are forecasted to be about over 100 percent higher than they were last winter.

So, we are going to see higher heating bills throughout the U.S. and, really throughout the world, throughout the winter as well. So, yeah, that's -- obviously, it continues to be a sign of inflation and these higher production volumes ultimately will help us alleviate some of these higher prices.

ROMANS: Yeah, these higher cost mean, you know, your purchasing power, your family's purchasing power is diminished. I really worry about low income families.

AAA has been pointing out that they haven't seen a change in behavior. And when I talk to airline and travel executives, they, say you, know consumers are screaming about high gas prices and high travel cost. But they are rushing out there to do it anyway.

You know, for two years you weren't putting as much oil -- you know, gas in your tank and you weren't buying plane tickets. And, now, there's this pent-up demand. It hasn't really, been you know.

Prices haven't really hurt demand yet, have they?

THUMMEL: That's right, Christine. That's a very good observation.

So, when you look at partial consumption income and how much gasoline reflect the personal consumption, it's probably around 5 percent or so. That -- so I think we've, seen at least from the urgent calls that I've listened to, you see it stop by goods and services from Amazon, or Target or from, really, the retail sector.

And because they had to spend more money on services, right? They're not buying into consumer products. They're spending the money and relocating it to services like gasoline, jet fuel, and other things like that.

ROMANS: They bought the trampoline and the big screen TV during COVID? And now they want to get on an airplane, and fill up their car and go someplace. Just to change behavior.

Rob Thummel of Tortoise Capital, nice to see you bright and early this morning. Thanks for coming on with us.

THUMMEL: Thanks, Christine.

JARRETT: Coming up for you, voters in America's second largest city getting a chance to make history, just ahead.

ROMANS: And Matthew McConaughey's emotional call to action from the White House podium, next.



JARRETT: Voters in San Francisco have recalled the city's progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, potentially sending a message to Democrats ahead of the midterms this fall. Boudin, a former public defender and criminal justice reform advocate was elected back in 2019 when public attention was still focused on police accountability following the murder of George Floyd.

Since then, residents in the city have been rattled by a rise in violent crime, hate crimes and, of course, angered by burglaries and car thieves across the city.

ROMANS: All right, Congresswoman Karen Bass and the billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso now set for a November runoff in their race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. Neither candidate sealed a majority in Tuesday's primary.

If elected, Bass would become the first black woman to lead America's second largest city. Caruso, a Republican-turned-Democrat, has spent more than $40 million of his own money on this race so far.

JARRETT: Actor Matthew McConaughey appearing at the White House press briefing Tuesday to deliver a powerful call for tougher gun safety measures, McConaughey a, native of Uvalde, Texas, said he and his wife spent most of the past week with the families of the 19 children who were killed there, just two weeks ago. And he shared some of their stories.


MCCONAUGHEY: We also met, Ana and Danilo, the mom and the stepdad of nine year old Maite Rodriguez. And Maite wanted to be a marine biologist. Maite wore green hi-top Converse with a heart she had hand drawn on the right toe because they represented her love of nature. Camila's got these shoes. Can you show these shoes please?

Wore these every day. green Converse with a heart on the right toe! But these are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting. How about that?

You know what every one of these plans wanted what they asked for? What every parent separately expressed in their own way to Camila and me? Not they want their children's dream to live on.

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 abused them.