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Inside Politics

Kids Who Survived Uvalde Shooting Face Years Of Trauma; Trump Turns Attention To Cheney In Wyoming After Multiple Losses In Georgia's Primaries; President Biden Speaks At Arlington National Cemetery. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 30, 2022 - 12:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: And John Woodrow Cox is an enterprise reporter for The Washington Post.

He's also the book or the author of the book, "Children Under Fire: An American Crisis." Now, he's reported on the harrowing stories of kids, some of them now grown up, who were still living with the fear and effects of having survived the school shooting. John, welcome.

You know, it was your series back in, I think it was 2018 that really kind of keyed me in on this where, you know, you're constantly focusing on the victims as you should, and those who are wounded, as you certainly should, but not what happens after that to everyone else.

And I think for all the kids and even adults who survived the shooting in Uvalde, especially in this near term, what are they going through right now based on your reporting your research on this issue?

JOHN WOODROW COX, ENTERPRISE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, it's, you know, it's going to be a huge range of trauma that these kids are going through, some of them are going to be incapable of being alone.

Of being, you know, even being able to use a shower or go to the bathroom by themselves, asleep alone. And that can often last for months or even years.

Others are going to be feeling guilty, because they survived and their friend didn't, certainly in this case, where kids were in that classroom for an hour plus, in some cases, you know, playing dead.

And then, you know, years from now, decades from now, a lot of them will still be dealing with either the trauma they are now or other trauma because it can evolve over time.

And it's very difficult for, you know, mental health experts to predict who's going to have a hard time and who's going to have a hard time in the beginning and who's going to have a hard time down the road.

But there will be hundreds and hundreds of children who are victims, and who will suffer for a long time because of what happened in Texas.

MATTINGLY: And that's actually what I wanted to ask you about next.

You know, you had a piece over the weekend, one of the people you talk to and about in the article is Samantha Haviland, Columbine survivor who became a counselor herself, even though she was not shot, or -- and did not witness the killing, you talked about her nightmares at one point, quote, always being chased, lingered for years, but she didn't think she deserved help, not when classmates had died, been maimed or had witnessed the carnage firsthand.

In your reporting and research on this, is it a common theme for survivors that they don't think they need help or other forms of -- they have other forms of survivor's guilt?

COX: Absolutely, that's true. I know, children, who I've interviewed who are as young as six, who are dealing with survivor's guilt, who think that they shouldn't feel bad for what they went through because they couldn't save somebody else.

And, you know, Samantha is 40. She turned 40, the day after the shooting in Texas.

And, you know, she couldn't even look it up. She just she didn't want to know, if she couldn't look past headlines because she knew it would take her right back to that day.

She still wrestles with those feelings of guilt too, because she lost one of her dear friends there. She survived. So the thinking is, somebody always had it worse than me, someone's gone. So, you know, why should I need help?

And collectively, societally, we need to help people understand that it's OK to get help. There is sometimes this Uvalde strong, Townville strong, Parkland strong, Sandy Hook strong, and that's an important message to send.

But it also can't force people to say you need to get over it on our timetable, because they can take some of these people literally years to process their grief.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask, you know, what isn't -- this, you make a really great point here. And I think part of the issue with kind of current society, current news cycles is that everybody moves on and you forget to some degree, or it just becomes, you know, a hashtag or something that comes up the next time there's a shooting.

For the survivors there are obviously physical manifestations of the trauma and grief that have continued later in their lives. We're talking about panic attacks triggered by loud noises. We talked about, what Samantha was dealing with.

Can you tell us about, you know, when you've talked to folks, what kinds of reactions they're feeling years later, just generally not even when they're seeing it, another shooting on television? COX: Sure, yes. So I interviewed this past week, three girls who survived Sandy Hook. You know, we're a decade out from that now. And, you know, one young woman in particular, she's 18 now, and Tuesday had already been a really difficult day for her even before she found out.

This is a perfect example of what these people live with. She works at an ice cream shop with another girl who is a survivor, this young woman, she was in third grade when Sandy Hook happened.

She was -- they were passing pints of ice cream to each other and someone else dropped a box. And for this young woman, it took her right back because it sounded like a gunshot. In her mind, it sounded like a gunshot. She started hyperventilating and trembling.

And it took her a couple of minutes where, you know, no one else knew what she was going through but she had to deal with that, right, just in her day to day life.

And then an hour later she goes to her car, she sees her phone and has all these texts and voicemails from people saying, you know, this is what's happened in Texas and she just spirals, right?


So, you know, every day sort of haunting and trauma, that lasts for a very, very long time. And the younger that these kids experience it, often the harder it is to recover from because it is such a life shattering thing.

You know, teenagers know, that maybe adults can't keep them safe. If you're in fourth grade as those kids in Uvalde were, that's not what they think they think teachers, parents, police, those kids think generally that somebody can keep them safe, and then suddenly they realize that's not true at all.

MATTINGLY: Yes, shattering of innocence, real life. We could talk about this for a full hour. John, I appreciate you taking the time. The book is "Children Under Fire: An American Crisis." You should read it. It is worth your time.

John has a great piece in "The Washington Post" over this past weekend. If you would like to offer support for those involved in the Texas School shooting, please go to to find several ways you can help the Uvalde community. John, thanks so much.

Ahead, we're waiting on the President to make remarks honoring the nation's fallen heroes. We'll bring that to you live from Arlington National Cemetery.



MATTINGLY: Donald Trump doesn't seem like he's moved on after suffering whippings in Georgia with his primary candidates that he endorsed. Now, the former president is turning now his attention to Wyoming where he's calling that House race the most important election of this cycle.

Three-term Congresswoman Liz Cheney is fighting off a Trump back primary challenger, Harriet Hageman. Cheney, obviously an outspoken and unwavering Trump critic, currently investigating the deadly January 6th insurrection is framing the race as a referendum on truth and the rule of law.

You'll be very surprised to learn Trump has a different take.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no rhino in America was thrown in her lot with the radical left more than Liz Cheney.

And is why in two months from now the people of Wyoming are going to tell her, Liz, you're fired, get out of here. Get out of here. It's much more important than one vote. This is a symbol.


MATTINGLY: I mean he's not wrong on that. This is symbolic. There's perhaps been no more outspoken Republican than Liz Cheney. She's not backed down in any way, shape, or form. In fact, this is what she just recently said. Take a listen.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): When I know something is wrong, I will say so. I won't waver or back down. I won't surrender to pressure or intimidation. I know where to draw the line. And I know that some things aren't for sale.

I'm asking you to join me to reject the lies to rise above the toxic politics to defend our freedom to do what we all know is right.


MATTINGLY: So is that a winning message or winning campaign ad in this case in a state that the President had, what, 70 percent support and both 16 and 20, Cleve?

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, crystal ball me. I hate crystal balling.

But I mean, look at the last 44 years, that was when Dick Cheney had his first run, you know, somebody named Cheney has not lost in Wyoming ever.

So it's going to be extremely difficult for a Trump-backed candidate I feel to, you know, overcome that sort of gigantic hill of just the Cheney name.

We've already seen it. You said earlier that Trump's, you know, candidates are, you know, some had been walloped, some are in recounts, every -- it just is not the golden ticket that it was anymore.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I feel like though, that this race might be the definitive referendum on whether or not the future of the Republican Party is holding on to the 2020 loss, right?

I mean, what Trump has tried to do is force every one of these primary candidates that he's back, to get on board with this idea that the 2020 election was stolen, say it's the most important issue on the ballot, he did that with Mo Brooks. He -- that's the reason that he didn't back those candidates in Georgia.

And where you've seen is that these Republican candidates who have lost Trump support, have found a way to say I just don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about Republican policies.

Brian Kemp never once criticized Trump for saying that the election was stolen. In fact, he embraced his policies and just said that they have a different philosophy.

In this race in Wyoming, which is a Republican state, you have Liz Cheney going all in on the idea that saying the election was stolen is a bad idea and a threat to our democracy and a Trump-backed opponent who says the exact opposite. So I do feel it's like our first true referendum on that very specific topic.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And also, I mean, in spite of the Cheney name there, which is obviously very powerful. You go to Wyoming, you see a lot of buildings named after Dick Cheney, and so and so park named after somebody in the Cheney family.

Despite that name, if he can't win here, then people are really going to be questioning, you know, his power even more. I mean, this is a time obviously, you know, he had losses in Georgia, couldn't get, he's had three gubernatorial candidates that he has backed and put some money behind and has seen losses.

If he can't get out Cheney, which a lot of the Republicans right now have rejected because she continues to criticize the former president.

That's going to be a big problem for him. And so it kind of feels like he's regrouping in Wyoming to say this is the most important race, because perhaps that should be the place where he should be most successful and yet, if we come to August, and Cheney is still standing, man, that's going to be such a huge hit.


MATTINGLY: I mean, it's -- it would napalm his power in terms of the party because you look, I think you made a great point. Wyoming is very different than Georgia. Cheney is very different than Kemp.

But look at what happened in Georgia. I want to pull up the primary results of the two top three kind of candidates were Trump back to the other side of who won. Kemp had 74 percent, Raffensperger won by 19 points.

Chris Carr and Attorney General won by 50, almost 50 points. And this was how Trump framed things in Wyoming. Take a listen.


TRUMP: We're sweeping everything. And we actually did great in Georgia. You look at those races, all the congressmen and Congress people, we swept everything.


MATTINGLY: No, you didn't. You literally did not. But my point being Cleve to this and I think we got like 30 seconds later, but kind of the bigger picture of things like Georgia happened. Georgia is not Wyoming.

Where does the President stand, former President stand, at this moment inside the party?

WOOTSON: Yes, I think we're seeing one of the big questions that happened after 2020 was what happens to Trump?

What happens to Trumpism and what we're seeing is, if not the erosion of Trumpism, we're seeing sort of it becoming more like Swiss cheese or it's not a golden ticket, it's not an automatic.

And people have legitimate questions about whether they can win just by having Donald Trump's backing.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and it's going to be an interesting several months ahead, as it has been an interesting last five years, or something like that. All right, guys, thanks.

Coming up, ahead, families desperate to find essential nutrition as the nation's baby formula shortage continues.



MATTINGLY: We are waiting President Biden's remarks honoring the Fallen Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery. But first some relief soon for families impacted by the nationwide baby formula shortage.

Nestle says tens of thousands of pounds of baby formula from overseas was sent to stores this weekend and should be hitting store shelves soon. That's promising news as retailers across the country are either low on supply or fresh out of formula.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. And Elizabeth, everyone is watching this. Where do things stand right now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Everyone is watching this, parents so desperate. I want to be clear that this shipment from Ramstein that's going to hit store shelves soon, hopefully, it's a relatively small amount compared to the number of American parents who need formula. But let's look at that shipment. And let's also look at some future shipments.

So tens of thousands of pounds of Nestle formula sent to stores this weekend, it's a little unclear when that will actually appear on shelves, what stores it went to. We haven't been told that yet.

Also the FDA has announced that they're allowing an Australian company called Bubs to export enough milk for 27.5 million eight ounce bottles. Phil, that is a huge amount. It's way more than the two shipments together from Ramstein last week.

When that happens, that will be a lot. But right now they just have permission to do it. No one is talking about a date when they will do it. And half a million cans of Danone formula expected to reach U.S. parents in the first half of July.

So if you take a look at these images, Phil, these are from New York City store shelves that we at CNN snap these pictures yesterday. You will see that they are still largely empty.

So all of these efforts hopefully will come to fruition and will start filling up shelves. But right now, parents really aren't seeing the effects. Phil?

MATTINGLY: Yes. And the stress is real. I have an eight-week-old I can vouch for that stress. Elizabeth, you spoke to a few moms who are pumping their own breast milk to help desperate moms find things. How are they feeling right now?

COHEN: Oh, these moms are amazing, Phil, they are pumping --

MATTINGLY: Elizabeth, I got to interrupt you. President Biden is now speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, commemorating Memorial Day.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Glory and honor, in quiet rows in Arlington, in cemeteries in Europe that I visited and many of you have, in graves across our country, in towns large and small, America's beloved daughters and sons who dared all, risked all, and gave all to preserve and defend an idea unlike any other in human history, the idea of the United States of America.

And today, as a nation, we undertake a sacred ritual, to reflect and to remember. Because if we forget the lives that each of those silent markers represent, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, if we forget what they sacrificed, what they made so that our nation might endure strong, free, and united, then we forget who we are, who we are.

Ladies and gentlemen, our First Lady and the love of my life, Jill, Vice President Harris and the Second Gentleman, Secretary Austin, General Milley, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cabinet members, Gold Star families, most importantly, and survivors. Today we renew our sacred vow, it's a simple vow, to remember, to remember.


Memorial Day is always a day where pain and pride are mixed together. We all know it, sitting here. Jill and I know it. Today is the day our son died.

And, folks, for those who have lost a loved one in the service of our country, if your loved one is missing or unaccounted for, I know the ceremonies reopen that black hole in the center of your chest that just pulls you in, suffocates you.

As I said, seven years ago today, our son, Major Beau Biden, took his last breath at Walter Reed. A major in the Delaware Army National Guard, he insisted on deploying to Iraq with his unit for a year when he was attorney general.

He came home a decorated soldier, a Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and Delaware's Conspicuous Service Cross.

He didn't die in the line of duty. He came home from Iraq with cancer. It was a horrific cancer that stole us from him, stole -- and him from us.

But still, it always feels to me on Memorial Day. I see him, not as he was the last time I held his hand, but the day I pinned his bars on him as a second lieutenant.

I see him with me down at the Delaware Memorial Bridge hugging all the Gold Star families. Days like this bring back, before your eyes, their smile and their laugh. And the last conversation you had, each of you know it.

The hurt can be overwhelming. But for so many of you, as is with Jill and me, the hurt is wrapped around the knowledge that your loved one was part of something bigger, bigger than any of us.

They chose a life of purpose. It sounds corny, like a Memorial Day speech, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart. They chose a life of purpose.

They had a mission. And above all, they believed in duty, they believed in honor, they believed in their country. And still today, we are free because they were brave.

We live by the light of the flame of liberty that they kept burning. And so a part of them is still with us no matter how long ago we lost them.

And as hard as it is for many to believe, especially those whose loss is still raw, I promise you the day will come when the memory of your loved one, your patriot, will bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. That's when you know you're going to make it.

Today, America's -- American service members stand watch around the world, and, as many of you know, often at great personal risk. And this Memorial Day, we know the memory is still painful of all the fallen who lost their lives during the last two decades in combat.

Each of them leaving behind a family, a community. Hearts broken by their absence, and lives that will never be the same. We see in the hundreds of graves here in Section 60, at Arlington, a reminder that there's nothing low-risk or low-cost about war for the women and men who fight it, 7,054 American military members gave their lives over 20 years of our Iraq and Afghan conflicts. Untold others died of injuries and illness connected to their service and these wars.


And the enduring grief borne by the survivors is a cost of war that we'll carry as a nation forever. And so, to every Gold Star family, to every survivor and family member and caregiver, this grateful nation owes you as well as that person you lost.