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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

New Images, Timeline Raises Questions About Uvalde Police Response; Senate Negotiators Stuck on Two Key Issues in Gun Safety Deal; CDC Recommends COVID Vaccines for Children As Young as 6 Months; Biden Nearing Decisions on Gas Tax Holiday and Student Loans. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, June 21st. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. Exactly 5:00 a.m. here in the East.

We begin with serious new questions about the police response to the mass shooting at elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Questions raised by new images and transcripts obtained by local media. We now have pictures of officers with rifles and ballistic shields. They are on the scene.

School district police chief, Pete Arredondo, told dispatchers that he didn't have the firepower to confront the lone gunman. But, by that time, "The Texas Tribune" reports there were 11 officers, two with rifles at the school.


ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: All of those officers are trained in an active shooter situation. And, from the very beginning, even the ones that didn't have the ballistics shields, they should have just gone in. That is what their protocol suggests.

Children were left in a room, scared to death, calling 911 and yet no one went in.


ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN law enforcement Jonathan Wackrow, a security consultant and former Secret Service agent to President Obama.

I really want to get your reaction to what we are learning these new images of officers standing in the school hallway with rifles and ballistic shield, just 19 minutes after the gunman entered.

Their protocol was to rush and take out that threat. And, that didn't happen. What is your sense of what happened there? JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, it's

actually inexcusable that ever since this incident, almost every single thing that we have heard from officials has been wrong or misleading. And now, this new imagery that is coming out is just stunning, right? Because it's contrary to everything that we've heard.

We heard initially, that they are waiting in the hallway, or waiting in the school to get rifles, to get shields, to get additional equipment. Now, we know we had them.

And, to me, what it speaks to is just further confirmation that there was a complete breakdown of the command structure and the tactical control over this site. And it really is inexcusable. And again, this is just we're hearing trickles of information come out that is devastating. We hear anxiety by the officers who know that there are children inside those rooms that need their help. And they are not going. Why are they not going?

So, again, we have to understand who was in control of this incident, at the time, who was making the determination to really change tactics? When we look at these imagery that's coming out yesterday, what we're actually seeing is a different type of tactics being used. We're seeing officers using a tactic to hold an area and to really keep the suspect in a certain area.

That is really contrary to hostile an intruder protocols which dictate that an officer, you know, the first responding officer, goes to the threat to neutralize that as fast as possible. We did not see that happen. Why? We need answers to all of those questions.

ROMANS: Yeah, it is just terrifying. And, knowing the loss of life that happened in that school building with so many armed police officers there. "The Texas Trib" reports no security footage from inside shows officers trying to open the door of the classroom with the shooting occurred. The police chief, Arradondo, told police chief that he tried to open one door while other officers tried to open the other.

No -- so, body cam footage hasn't been released yet. Should we get more footage here to help find? Again defined the truth that really happened?

WACKROW: The fact that we are so many weeks after this incident and we don't have these basic answers is really shocking to me. And, really, this means that information by law enforcement or the officials that are in charge right now is just constricting. They don't want this information to come out because they know what the answer is.

And this is a very aggressive reporting and, you know, really bold journalists are seeking the truth, not for themselves, but seeking a truth for the families that have been re-victimized time and time again every time that there is a contradiction of the information.


I mean, I'm at a loss for words as to why information is not out all weeks later.

ROMANS: Yeah. And, you're right, this may be journalism at its finest, trying to get these answers for the people in the city. Take a listen to this from a school board meeting in Uvalde.


JESUS RIZO JR., UVALDE RESIDENT: How is Mr. Arredondo still with the program? Suspend him pending termination. It's an insult to injury. These people are in pain. And, you allow this to happen.


ROMANS: So, weeks later, should there be disciplined here?

WACKROW: Well, listen, that is going to come out but at a minimum it should be placed on, you know, an administrative hold. Not being able to command any officers or any incidents right now. I mean, if something were to happen tomorrow, there's a high likelihood that he could be the incident commander again. Why is that -- why is that in place?

The school board needs to take very swift action to suspend pending investigation so that we fully understand what decisions did he make or not make in the moment of this crisis.

And, again, I have said this from the very beginning, this is a failure of leadership. You, know from the moment that he arrived on scene. We are now seeing them showing up without radio. No command and control. Now, stating that he wasn't the commander.

Again, we -- the absence of having answers to all of these questions, we need to put a pause on his ability to command officers in that community.

ROMANS: Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst, thank you so much. Nice to see you.

WACKROW: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right. To Capitol Hill now, the clock is ticking on a gun safety deal, and Senate negotiators remain split on two key issues here. One, red flag laws. And two, closing the so-called boyfriend loophole. They are now scrambling to finalize an agreement before the 4th of July recess.

Our Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill this morning.

So, Daniella, where do these talks? Dan and what is the real holdup on these two issues?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: Laura, Democrats and Republicans could not agree on two key issues that boyfriend loophole that you just mentioned. The problem being that there is a divide between Republicans and Democrats over people that are prohibited from owning or purchasing guns because of a domestic violence conviction. Currently, that does not apply to dating partners. They are trying to define what that could mean in this text that they are running through.

And, then on the other, hand that funding to incentivize states to implement red flag laws, some senators would rather some of that funding be applied for crisis intervention programs that could help people with mental health. Those are the two main sticking points that these negotiators have been working on in the past week. As they are trying to finish and write that checks for the legislation, because they have, in itself, imposed deadlines of trying to pass the bill in the Senate before the July 4th congressional recess. That's when the senators are leaving town for two weeks.

They were hoping that they could get a bill on the floor by then, so that they can pass this legislation. But, the problem is, you cannot pass a bill unless it is written. So until we know that they finish that text, they're working, we know that they worked over the weekend. They met remotely, over the weekend, a lot of the senators for the home state, they are back today.

They plan to raise and try to finish this text be on these disagreements that they have on this legislation so that they could try to get a bill on the floor, Laura, because they want to do this as soon as possible, especially before something happens that could shift their attention, for example, a Supreme Court decision. For example, we're expecting Roe v. Wade that could shift senators expected soon from gun safety. So, that is all here. We'll see if they're actually able to meet that goal. But, of course, they did say that the negotiations were heading in a positive direction over the weekend -- Laura.

JARRETT: We know you're sitting on top of it. Thank you, Daniella.

Also, in Washington, in just hours from now, the January 6 committee will hear from four new live witnesses. They'll be testifying about efforts by former President Trump and his allies to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election results.

Among them, Georgia Republican secretary of state, you all remember him, Brad Raffensperger you remember he was the one on the other end of the phone call from President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this, I just want to fine 11,780 votes which is one more than we have because we won the state.


JARRETT: They did not win the state. Let's bring in former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin, host of the podcast, "That Said with Michael Zeldin".

[05:10:01] Michael, good morning. Nice to have you.

A lot going on today. We know that it's going to zero in on the former president's involvement pressuring the state officials and submitting fake slate of electors.

You know, one of the things that strikes me so far, there's a lot of Republicans.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There are a lot of Republicans and witnesses that are stepping up and telling the truth which is really good from a tactical standpoint because the Democrats are no longer susceptible to you're just bringing ideologues who are against the president to testify against him in a political witch hunt. These are his own people elected in some cases and appointed in other cases.

JARRETT: So, the testimony from the secretary of state is going to be key here, especially, since there's an active investigation. We all know about that infamous phone call. What do you think that Brad Raffensperger can actually say, though, that's going to enhance the committee's claims about Trump when we've all heard the tape.

I'm sure they're going to play the tape again.

ZELDIN: What was his understanding of what President Trump was trying to do? How did he understand what the pressure was directed to? And, we have not heard his state of mind or his sense of how this pressure campaign affected what he was trying to do as secretary of state, versus what Trump wanted him to do which was to defraud the voters of Georgia.

So, his state of mind will be important to hear.

So, the other piece of this is, of course, this fake slate of electors scheme. The idea there being that they would have to submit these fake slates and it would give hands the pretext, essentially, to somehow not certify the vote count. That obviously didn't happen we know that the Justice Department is looking into this, in addition to what's going on in Georgia. We know that the attorney general is paying close attention to it. He says he's watching the hearings. He said his staff is watching the hearings.

But, we don't know where this will go. But what is the potential charge that could come from this scheme on the fake slates?

ZELDIN: Well, there are state law violations that could arise. As we see in, Georgia they are investigating whether this violates Georgia election laws. And then, as part of a federal conspiracy, there is this conspiracy to obstruct the working of government and to fraud the government, the all the transition of power that normally occurs.

And these bits of testimony, we'll hear from Raffensperger, we'll hear from Vice President Pence's before, and big lie perpetration, are all objects of this conspiracy. So, what's the committee is doing is laying out sort of prong by prong but they consider to be the seven parts of this conspiracy to obstruct the orderly transition of power, an official proceeding.

JARRETT: All right. Well, it will be sure to see where this all goes. It should be a very interesting day. Michael Zeldin, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And, later today, at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, you should join CNN for special coverage of the hearing to hear new details about what led up to January 6.

ROMANS: All right, just ahead, summer travel. Ramping up with one analyst telling us gas prices, get this, will go down.

JARRETT: It's about time. Plus, a Hollywood star gets a firsthand look at the war zone in Ukraine.

ROMANS: And next, COVID shots for kids under five available today for the very first time.



ROMANS: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Nearly everyone in America cannot be vaccinated against COVID. Seventeen million children, five and under, are finally eligible after director of the CDC signed off on the plan this weekend. The shots would be available in some places as early as today.

Now, let's bring in Dr. Elizabeth Murray. She is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

So nice to see, Doctor, so bright and early this morning. Finally, the little ones can get their shots. What do eager parents need to know? And what kind of side effects could they anticipate?

DR. ELIZABETH MURRAY, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Well, I need to know that this is a safe and very wonderful vaccine, whether it's Moderna and Pfizer. And it does a good job for preventing severe disease and deaths from COVID-19.

Another great thing to hear is the safety profile remains excellent. The side effects are going to be like what we see with other childhood vaccines, so some sort, arm fever, and fussiness. There is no cases of myocarditis.

So, all -- all good news.

JARRETT: Doctor, I've got to tell you, I called around everywhere yesterday trying to get my nearly three-year-old an appointment. And, everyone told me, we don't have it yet -- which is sort of striking to me given how the rollout went for adults, and even older children. Why wasn't the sort of a game plan to get appointments, but, boom, you're in? MURRAY: Well, there is. But you're pointing out that it's very

regional. The goal here is going to have the medical homes, meaning the pediatricians and family practice offices, the primary care offices will order in and how those vaccines. And some states chose to approach this a little bit differently. But, for the most part, it does still need to be distributed through the state health department. And, then down to the local offices.

You, know with the holiday weekend, some of the shipments may have been a little bit. Deadly, but I think that you, will in the next few, days see it arriving everywhere. It is hard to wait because parents have waited so long, but it will be there. It will be there soon.



JARRETT: Well, we called around to the pediatrician, and now they say that it's going to be administrating Pfizer vaccines on Tuesday, which is good. So, I'm going to jump on the Pfizer website as soon as I get off of the set. I was struck about the roll out is just different.

ROMANS: And there are two choices right now, Moderna or Pfizer. Should parents seek out one vaccine over another? I, mean what is the best approach for parents? It's just what's available first?

MURRAYY: Yes. So, so the quick answer is you should get what your medical home is offering. You know, vaccinating unimpeded are taller is a different experience than an older child who could sit still. So, as long as we can engage with as many who are used to vaccinating young, children that is great. Plus, your medical home knows your child best.

We also have reasons for ordering the specific vaccine that they did. And so, further discussion with the primary care doctor as why their office is offering me give you some new information that you didn't already know.

You know, certainly, there are some families who have very special situations. They're going to want to discuss it further. It's one vaccine perhaps better for them than another, you know, if you have a toddler and are expecting a baby. You're already doing all of those good things to create that cocoon of immunity around the baby. Like, getting grandparents vaccinated against whooping cough. And so, making sure that the toddlers protected as fast as possible tell that baby out it's an important situation.

And, that's different than the family whose younger child, and the rest of the family is already vaccinated. There are subtleties to this, but the quick answers is go with what your medical home is offering. There's a reason they chose that vaccine for your community. They know your child best and they can give you the best advice.

JARRETT: And, start early because both of these require a series of shots over several weeks. So, it's not going to be a quick thing.

Dr. Murray, always great to have you. Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Doctor.

MURRAY: Take care.

JARRETT: All right. Just ahead for you, what President Biden now says about a gas tax holiday. And, why Israel's leader is out after only a year on the job.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

A gas tax holiday could soon be on the way as the summer travel season begins to heat up here. President Biden says he hopes to have a new base data. The president is also nearing a decision on student loan relief to ease the burden of inflation.

Jasmine Wright joins us live from Washington now.

Jasmine, good morning. The president says he will act soon. But how soon is soon?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, Laura, the president said that he wants to have a decision, really, by the end. That is his hope on whether or not his administration would support a lifting the gas tax.

Now, remember, this eventually would have to go through Congress, that's in their, preview and right now it has a lukewarm perception so that is why I say support. But at this point, it would save drivers about 18 cents a gallon. Now, of course, to drivers, that may not seem like a little bit. So, 18.3 cents per gallon, as you can see on, your screen there.

Now, the President also said that he was considering whether to do a gas rebate as the administration tries to scramble and look at their options on how they could bring gas prices down. Those very high gas prices.

Now, in the past, officials have really downplay the potential of that, saying that it's their chance where the -- they're saying that the hard programs will be put. Up and of, course hard to target those most in.

Now, in Rehoboth yesterday, while on the beach and speaking to reporters, the president previewed a meeting that oil executives would have executive administration. The president told reporters that he would not be attending. But, he pushed it administration to have as many as he wants oil executives to answer a few questions, mainly why they aren't refining more oil and why they are making these record profits as Americans are struggling.

Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The problem is what they have done is that they've cut back on refining on, refined and they say that it's all in position. They removed the alternative energy, renewable energy and they don't want to get stuck. Well, guess what, there is a logical transition to be made, and I want an explanation from them as to why they aren't refining more oil, refining more oil.


WRIGHT: So, there we heard from the president talking about what he wants to hear from them, of course, a crucial meeting at this week as the administration faces down these high prices and the prospect of a looming recession.

But, of course, the president said yesterday when talking to reporters that, again, he did not believe that a recession was inevitable -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Jasmine, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: So, the price of gas slipped again overnight. AAA, national average for regular gas below five bucks, now down to $4.97 a gallon. That still hurts, of course. But experts say real relief may be on the way.


PATRICK DE HAAN, HEAD OF PETROLEUM ANALYSIS, GASBUDDY: The prices are moving in the right direction. And I think we could, if we're lucky, see prices drop another 10 maybe 15 cents by July 4th.


ROMANS: GasBuddy chief petroleum, Patrick de Haan, there says that President Biden's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia probably won't do much to help gas prices near term, even if the Saudis opened the taps and put more crude oil on the market.


DE HAAN: They're simply not enough refined capacity across the U.S. And this has been a problem that's really accelerated in the last few weeks with the increase in demand that we've been witnessing. If the Saudis and the Biden administration make a deal, the next problem is getting that oil refined into something more valuable, like oil, excuse, me like gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. And that is where the new kink in the chain is.


ROMANS: So far, high gas prices have not stopped cooped up Americans from hitting the highway, AAA's July 4th broadcast predicts a record 42 million Americans will take a road trip of 50 miles or more.