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Biden To Meet With Saudi King And Crown Prince Friday; Cheney: Trump Tried To Call Jan. 6 Cmte Witness; Uvalde Families Furious Over Leaked Surveillance Video. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 13, 2022 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: This morning, President Biden arrived in Israel, his first trip to the Middle East as president. The trip is designed to telegraph close ties to the Israelis as the President balances visits to the West Bank and Saudi Arabia later this week. CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with the President traveling in Jerusalem. Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, then you saw President Biden arriving here. Of course, this was a very warm welcome that the President received. It's his 10th visit actually here but his first as President. And that's why it's so important, of course. And he made sure to make Israel his first stop on his first trip to the Middle East since taking office before he goes to Saudi Arabia later this week. And so this was this very warm welcome, where he was greeted by its top Israeli officials there at the airport, made some brief remarks and talked about how he believes the Israeli-U.S. relationship is boned deep.

You know, his predecessor was someone who had a very cozy relationship with then Prime Minister Netanyahu. And so he was there, making sure to say that he has just as much love for Israel, as his predecessors have had. And that is a relationship that he's intent on furthering. And that's why he wanted to come here first. But there are some very tough issues ahead. Of course, restoring the Iran nuclear deal is still something that the Biden administration has sought to do. They've struggled with that. There are other top issues here that are at issue, oil insecurity, the two main reasons for this four day trip through the Middle East.

So a lot of issues for the President to discuss as he moves on from this symbolic part of this visit, including that trip to Yad Vashem and of course, starting to meet with these officials tomorrow, including the opposition leader, Netanyahu as well, Dana.

BASH: And Kaitlan, President Biden fist bumped some world leaders. He shook hands with others. I know this might sound superficial. But when it comes to diplomacy, the way that leaders engage with one another, particularly in front of the cameras are very telling what is what you saw today tell you about what will happen with MBS and the Saudis. COLLINS: It certainly is it does sound superficial to people. But if you actually pay attention to this, and you watch how closely these trips are choreographed by the President's top officials, these handshakes are actually pretty symbolic. And the reason this is such a point of contention and question is that on the way here, the President's aides had indicated that he basically had adopted this no handshake policy because of COVID-19 and concerns about variants. You weren't going to see him shaking hands in the way that you typically would when world leaders greet one another.

But of course, just a few moments after he got off Air Force One, you saw the President greeting the defense minister shaking his hand shaking the hands of other officials as he's been visiting here. The big question, though, is going to be whether or not he shakes the Saudi Crown Prince his hand when he arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday, we know that they will be meeting. But people will be watching closely to see do they shake hands? Do they have those images as the Crown Prince tries to rehabilitate his image following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

BASH: Kaitlan, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it. CNN's national security correspondent Kylie Atwood is here with me. So Kylie, all I keep thinking about is back when I was covering the presidency of George W. Bush. He hosted the then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in Crawford, Texas at his home was 2005. And there was an image of him kind of helping the Crown Prince out there. You see that image.

And that was like a really big deal. I think it was holding -- looks that he was holding his hand. I mean, that's like next level, next to the notion of a handshake. But when it comes to world leaders, generally, this matters. But particularly the Saudis, given what happened with Mohammed bin Salman, MBS as he's known, and the killing of a journalist.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think it is important to remind folks that this is the first time that President Biden is meeting or speaking with MBS since there was that intelligence report that said that he himself had approved the operation that killed Jamal Khashoggi. So that is the backdrop that we're dealing with here. And when you talk to folks who know President Biden, well, they say he was very resistant to have this meeting in the first place. And it was really his advisors who said, you have to do this.

And we got some insight into President Biden and his national security teams thinking on this over the weekend, he wrote that this was about securing certain outcomes for the Biden administration when it comes to countering China, when it comes to countering Russian aggression, when it comes to claiming some more stability in the Middle East, he essentially was saying that meeting with Saudi Arabia is integral to that.


So we will watch to see how this meeting goes. And I'm told that some U.S. officials do want there to be a portion of this meeting. That's just President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman. But we'll see if the Saudis encourage that because they are the ones who are planning the theatrics and how this is all going to work.

BASH: And the other backdrop, in addition to all the ones that you just mentioned, of course, is the economy.


BASH: And the -- another today, another record, high inflation report and the hope that maybe the Saudis can somehow help with record high gas prices. Kiley, thank you, always good to see you.

ATWOOD: Thank you.

BASH: And ahead, Liz Cheney drops the mic and her closing remarks at yesterday's January 6th hearing with a bomb shelter claim of witness tampering.



BASH: Liz Cheney knows how to make a moment. The January 6th Committee Vice Chair ended yesterday's hearing with this warning for the former president.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation. A witness you have not yet seen in these hearings. And this Committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice. Let me say one more time, we will take any efforts to influence witness testimony very seriously.


BASH: My panel is back with me. Carrie, I'm going to start with you again on the legal implications. Witness tampering is a very specific charge and criminal liability. Is what you just heard descriptive of that or something different?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the Committee has in its power, the ability to make a criminal referral if it thinks it's appropriate. And then it's up to the Justice Department to decide whether the actions that took place meet the elements of actual witness tampering. In this case, because the phone call was made, and there was no content. It sounds like the person didn't actually answer the call. There was no, we don't know if there was any voicemail left.

But if there's no content to it, I tend to think that that is not going to rise to the level of the Justice Department being able to do anything with it. But Congresswoman Cheney has been very effective in using her public messaging during the hearing to communicate to people who might be laying on witnesses and pressuring witnesses, which they've had other instances besides this one, and also to speak through her, through the television to and the audience to potential witnesses so that if other people are being pressured, they come to the Committee too.

So I don't think that this particular instance will result in criminal charges. But I do think that her manner of communicating the Committee's unwillingness to tolerate this type of activity is clear.

BASH: And, you know, who heard her loud and clear, I'm told and my colleagues are also told by people who are in and around the Trump orbit, the former president, that he went kind of, you know, off the wall about that final comment from Liz Cheney. And you always kind of have a sense of just where the DEFCON level is inside Mar-a-Lago by the kind of statement that the Trump spokesman puts out. I won't read it right now. But generally, he went after the Liz Cheney and the others. What does that tell you about Donald Trump and the potential for his concern here?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, after four years of Trump, right, I mean, members of Congress, like Cheney are very aware of the potential to goad the president into, you know, reacting into more witnesses potentially coming forward. Cheney, as well as Congressman Raskin yesterday, use very harsh and direct language when they were talking about what was happening in and around January 6th, in the bigger picture.

Cheney has been very deliberate in calling many of these actions illegal even though as Carrie noted, we don't know whether or not the Justice Department is going to pursue direct criminal charges. But she's been very specific about that, the fact that Cheney said that Trump is not a child, he's a 76-year-old man, I have to think that that also contributed to Trump's reaction.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That really stuck out to me because I think that she even got at sort of a mantra of the Conservative Party, in that little dig, saying that this is about personal responsibility. He is a grown man. And I think that that kind of could appeal to a lot of Republicans. What I've heard just anecdotally is that even people who historically have voted for Democrats, a friend of mine's mother said that if Liz Cheney ran for president, she might consider supporting her. And so this is, and I think doubly acting as sort of a political exercise for her in reshaping and rebranding herself, I would say.

BASH: Heather, I want to -- it's important to look back, but it's also important to look ahead, because Donald Trump isn't going anywhere. All signs are pointing to the fact that he's going to run again, he's already influencing the midterms when it comes to these election lies. That's one of the main reasons this is so important.

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Yes, I mean, I think the Committee has two missions here. One is to lay out a potential criminal case that DOJ could pursue, as Carrie has mentioned, if they choose to. And the other is to lay the historical marker down and the record and let people know everything that happened and what happened and how it happened and who was involved so that this doesn't hopefully happen again, but as we heard, yesterday from Cheney and others if nothing changes and former President Trump runs again, there's so many pieces of this infrastructure already in place that they think it's very likely that we could see something like this again, and it would be way worse.


And I think I'm getting back to Cheney specifically, the most interesting thing about her is she's the one Republican in the house other than Adam Kinzinger, has nothing to lose at this point.

BASH: Except her seat.

CAYGLE: Yes, but she decided a long time ago, she was like willing to --

BASH: That's true. That ship sailed, if it's going to happen because of this, it's going to happen. Yes, I shouldn't say that ship sailed, suggesting that she's going to lose, but you're right, she decided where she was going to stake out her position, and that's where her she believes her moral compasses so. Thank you so much. Appreciate to all of you.

And up next, we're going to change topics dramatically. And we're going to go to Uvalde, Texas, where families are reacting to the chilling and damning surveillance video from inside Robb Elementary School showing officers retreating from gunfire aimed at children.



BASH: Shock, anguish and disbelief in Uvalde after families see surveillance video from inside Robb Elementary School. And a warning, this video is disturbing. It was first published by the Austin American Statesman, law enforcement is seen armed with rifles and even bulletproof shields waiting in the hallway outside the classroom where the shooter was holed up for more than an hour. That video also shows the gunman opening fire outside the school. Later a teacher cries out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get down. Get in your rooms. Get in your rooms.


BASH: Now, it's been seven weeks since 19 children and two teachers were murdered. And I want to bring in Adrian Alonzo, who is in Uvalde. His niece Ellie Garcia died in the Robb Elementary School shooting. Adrian, thank you so much for joining me now. I know this is very difficult. We first met when I was in Uvalde. Now this is a very different feeling after watching this video, I know you have. What was your reaction?

ADRIAN ALONZO, UNCLE OF ELLIE GARCIA, UVALDE VICTIM: My first initial reaction was well, it took me back to that day. And I can honestly say that I feel the same emotions that I did that day. And it's almost like it made us not just me, my family but the whole community relive that day once again, watching that video.

BASH: My friend and colleague Shimon Prokupecz, who has been relentlessly pressing for answers for two months, says that at every turn families like yours who lost a child they feel betrayed by every institution. Is that how you feel?

ALONZO: I don't want to feel like that. And of course, I want to remain optimistic and want to believe that there will be some truth coming out. But it seems like every turn we take, something new comes out. And it's been up to this point where it's been almost radio silence from the investigation. There's been nothing coming out, nothing new, nothing that we don't know. They told us that the video will be shown to family on Sunday and released to the public. Yet, we log on Facebook and it's there for the whole world to see before we even saw it.

BASH: Yes. And that is a question about the fact that it's out there in the first place. I want to ask you about that. My colleague Kate Bolduan had the reporter who was investigating those who got the video on in the last hour. And she asked about the idea of putting out these, what four minutes or so of the video, I want you to listen to some of that exchange.


BOLDUAN: Did you consider waiting until then?

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Of course we did. The problem with that is that authorities consistently from day one, have failed the people of Uvalde.


BASH: What do you make of that? Does he have a point?

ALONZO: You know, I would agree that, yes, they did fail Uvalde because I had read that some news stations had had access to the video already, but they were going to wait to release it publicly until the family saw it. And then to go behind our backs and to release it for whatever reason for views, for the likes, for shares, I don't know. But for whatever reason that decision was made to put it out to the world before we even had a chance to see it.

BASH: Adrian did anybody from the Austin statesman reach out to your family before this was released?

ALONZO: Not to me. I don't -- I can't speak on my brother and sister- in-law's behalf. I don't know if they did but to me, no.

BASH: When we spoke I was at your house in May, you told me that you forgive the shooter. I was thinking about you watching that video and seeing that shooter running into your niece's school with an automatic rifle. After watching it, do you still feel that way? Do you still forgive him?


ALONZO: So watching the video and watching him enter the school with the rifle it brought up a lot of anger. It's not my place to judge anyone. He has already been judged by our Creator. And so I would say that I don't feel any more hate or more anger towards him that I did before. It's equally the same. But just watching it and basically I was in the moment. I was in that hallway with that audience, and it was heartbreaking.

BASH: Adrian, I really, really appreciate you coming on with me. I know this is difficult. and I also like I said to you in May and we've said by text since then that I just feel lucky that you were able to share your niece Ellie's her likes and her passions and her smile and all of those things with the world and there she is. Adrian, thank you so much for joining me.

ALONZO: Thank you very much.

BASH: And thank you so much for joining INSIDE POLITICS. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break.