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New Day

New Turns in the Investigation Into the Uvalde, Texas School Shooting; New York Governor Hochul Announcing 10 New Bills to Tighten Gun Laws; White House Announces $700 Million Security Assistance Package to Ukraine. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 01, 2022 - 07:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Brady told me that he's going to be most nervous on that first tee. If he can get through that without hitting anyone he's going to be good to go. So, be sure to tune in early, the match gets started at 6:30 Eastern on TNT.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

It is Wednesday, June 1. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

The investigation into the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is taking new turns this morning. Police say a teacher there did close a propped opened door shortly before a gunman used to get inside. But, it did not lock. Now investigators are trying to determine why. This is yet another new version of events. Just a few days ago officials said the door had been left ajar.

There are also new questions about the police response. CNN affiliate KSAT (ph) has obtained audio of the school district's message alerting parents of an active shooter incident.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uvalde CISD parents, there is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Both the school's Facebook post and the audio message, according to KSAT (ph), came during the time that officers were inside the school and apparently believed the situation had become a barricade situation.

CNN has learned that Chief Pete Arredondo has stopped cooperating with investigators, failing to respond to a request for a follow-up interview, but he was sworn in as a city council member on Tuesday.

Also, funerals will be held today for Irma Garcia, the heroic teacher who died protecting her students. And 10-year-old Jose Manuel Flores Jr. Family and friends will also gather today at visitation and rosary services for 10-year-old Nevaeh Bravo, Jayce Luevanos and Jailah Silguero.

Joining us now -- or pardon me.

BERMAN: Oh, joining us now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. Mike, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

What does it tell you, that Chief Arredondo has stopped responding to questions?

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I mean, that's bizarre. I would assume that, you know, in the not so distant future the chief is going to be compelled to provide details about his experiences that day. And to have to make account for his decision making and why he made the decisions that he did on scene that day.

KEILAR: He is, you would expect, even if he's not cooperating. This decision to, before we talk about obviously, the phone call and the message that parents were getting, this decision by the police commander on scene to treat this as a barricade situation, can you just talk to us about that at first. Should this ever have been in any world a situation where he says, this has now transitioned short of neutralizing the suspect, this now has transitioned from an active shooter situation to a barricaded shooter situation?

FANONE: I mean, that's not the training that I'm familiar with. Active shooter protocol is very clear in that the active shooter

threat classification remains as such until that threat is neutralized. There's no transitioning to a barricaded situation or a, you know, anything other than remaining an active shooter.

KEILAR: So to you, even though there was a lull in the shooting or there were lulls at certain points, because we know there were gunshots and then maybe there would be a period of time where there weren't, that's not sufficient to then consider it a barricade situation rather than an active shooter?

FANONE: Not in the training that I received for active shooter. You know, I can't speak to the tactics that were used. I think it's

important that wait for the incident report. But, the momentum should be to engage that shooter and neutralize the threat regardless of, you know, the moment-to-moment circumstances.

BERMAN: You heard that recording, Mike, of what the parents were told while this was going on. Did it raise any flags to you in terms of the discrepancy there between what the parents were being told in real-time and then the explanation we've received since?

FANONE: I mean, it does. I mean, it's clear to me that it was an active shooter. I think it's clear to the public. I mean, you heard the Director of the Department of Public Safety in Texas come out and say pretty early on that he felt that mistakes were made and that it was the wrong decision to declare that a barricade situation. So, I'll defer to him. He clearly has more facts than the rest of us,

I would hope.


KEILAR: What do you think about what we learned initially or we were told initially by law enforcement that a door had been propped open by a teacher. Now we've learned the teacher had opened the door to bring food in,

but once that teacher heard the commotion of what was going on had closed the door and it didn't lock. What do you think of that?

FANONE: Well first, I think there's -- that speaks to the importance of waiting until the conclusion of the investigation. You know, these little details start to trickle out and, you know, we're starting now to get a better sense of exactly what happened. But again, I -- you know -- it's important, these protocols are put

into place for a reason.

It's important that everyone obeys the protocols even if it may be inconveniencing. And this is just a stellar example of, you know, why we need to make sure that that is adhered to. And it's also important for law enforcement to get the facts straight before they release information to the public.

KEILAR: Yes, we're seeing the chaos that not doing that has caused in this particular case. Mike, thank you so much for giving us your expertise here. We appreciate it.

FANONE: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

BERMAN: New York Governor Kathy Hochul announcing a slew of new bills designed to tighten gun laws across New York State. Lawmakers say it could close loopholes that might have contributed to the mass shooting in a grocery store in Buffalo last month.

CNN's Athena Jones joins me now with much more. Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This package of 10 bills is expected to pass New York's Democratic-controlled State Legislature. And it would, among other things, raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle. You'd have to have a license to buy this kind of weapon. You couldn't get one if you were -- if you were not 21 or over.

It required new pistols to have microstamping technology, what the governor describes as a gun's fingerprint on each bullet it fires. It would ban civilians from buying bulletproof vests, bullet-resistant vests and body armor like that and it would broaden a Red Flag laws expanding the list of people who could file for a special protective order that allows courts to temporarily seize weapons from someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or to others.

Now, Governor Hochul says, look this is a step that New York is taking. She is one of the few governors making this push at the state level, but she wants to see federal action. She said in a statement, "New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but clearly, we need to make them even stronger." As New York once again leads, we continue to urge the federal government to seize this opportunity and pass meaningful national gun violence prevention laws." Kathy Hochul says, look as long as illegal guns are out there they

make their way to the streets of New York City, often through what officials call the iron pipeline, so guns and gun parts that are illegal in New York, like magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. They make their way from states like Pennsylvania into New York. So, she said taking this one step on the state level wants to see that federal national action.

BERMAN: Other states also tightening restrictions. California doing a gun buyback program. A lot of stuff happening around the country. Athena Jones, thank you very much.


KEILAR: So what's happened at the state level after these mass shootings in recent years? I want to bring in CNN Anchor and Correspondent Audie Cornish, whose been doing a deep dive into some of this and can tell us. I know that you looked into what states did in the year following a mass shooting. What did you learn?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the research shows from, there's a study out from UCLA and Harvard is that depending on the party leadership in your state that's effects what kind of legislation is passed.

So, in fact, there is gun legislation, gun policy legislation that is passed in states after mass shooting events. But, since the majority of statehouses are Republican-run what you actually see is an increase in the number of laws that actually loosen gun restrictions or boost protections for gun owners.

You had states like, obviously, Colorado, New Jersey, Virginia, who at times have passed gun restrictions. But actually, the research is showing that after a mass shooting event you do see a flurry of action. That flurry of action is actually most effective, meaning moving from proposal to enactment in states with Republican leadership. And that that direction is not in the direction of restriction.

KEILAR: What does that look like, deregulation? What kinds of measures are you seeing?

CORNISH: Well, there's been a movement in recent years for what's called permitless carry or the supporters would call constitutional carry, again, kind of affecting some of the rules in terms of who can carry when and where.

But, I think what's significant is that with each shooting event often the debate hinges on the particulars of the event. Meaning, after the Charleston massacre, which I went down to cover, the conversation became about the Confederate flag, right?


After the Las Vegas shooting the conversation became about bump stocks, which is the devices that were allowing semi-automatic weapons to rapid-fire. And the Trump administration did actually put in an order that put restrictions on those devices.

But, in this case, you're already seeing and you heard this morning, there is a lot of focus now on the human error. What was the police response? Who propped open what door and what happened after? What is the protocol? None of these things are systemic or preventive.

And I think for the gun restrictions lobbyists, which is a growing number of active groups, they're looking for something systemic and that's when you hear the conversation go to what's going to happen at the federal level, because it's pretty clear at the state level they are not going to get the change they're seeking.

KEILAR: What about in Florida where you saw a Red Flag law passed, because it seemed pretty obvious that that shooter should have been flagged and should not have been able to obtain a weapon? Is that potentially a model in other places?

CORNISH: Yes. And those have become more popular and more politically palatable and you can see why. If you have sort of Republican support, and usually after a mass

shooting event inevitably someone says, there should be mental health something, something, they sort of trail off and nothing ever comes of it.

Red Flag laws, I think, are appealing to people in the middle because it allows the folks who say, hey maybe there's a few bad apples and bad actors and if we flag them early we can prevent something from happening. And the people who want bigger systemic change to say, look, now we're making some progress, taking some bites of the apple in drawing back the ability people to have access. And access is where all of this hinges.

If you're a Second Amendment supporter and booster and a -- and a litmus test voter, access is everything. And if you are a gun policy, if you want restrictions, if you want

drawback on access because of all the data you've shown on air about how many guns are in this country, then you also are trying to find ways to nibble away at access. And I think the country has not come to a conclusion about what is the right amount of access to weapons.

KEILAR: It's so important to answer these questions that you're looking at here and counterintuitive, I think, we're seeing some of the answers are that you're finding. So thank you, Audie, for sharing that with us.

CORNISH: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: Of course.

President Biden announcing a new security package for Ukraine. In it, weaponry that his administration once pushed back on.

BERMAN: And why were inflation warnings from a former treasury secretary missed?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF TREASURY: We've got more of an inflation problem than many people realize. I think what you need to recognize is people are starting to (ph) that inflation is a serious problem.


BERMAN: Larry Summers will join us ahead.



BERMAN: New this morning, the White House announced a new $700 million security assistance package to Ukraine. In a "New York Times" op-ed, the president writes, "We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table. That's why I've decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems ammunitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine."

One part of the package is longer-range missiles, which would give Ukraine the ability to launch rockets almost 50 miles.

Joining me now is the White House Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer.

Jonathan, thank you so much for being with us. We're talking about the high mobility artillery rocket system and you are along with that sending the capability to shoot rockets basically 49 miles, not 200, which the Ukrainians requested. So, why did you make that decision?

JONATHAN FINER, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: So at every point of this conflict, starting at the very beginning when we were focused very much on anti-tank and anti- aircraft systems, we have tried to get the Ukrainians exactly what we think they needed to be able to fend off this Russian assault on their country. That worked in the early days. The Ukrainians were able to win the battle for Kyiv and drive the Russians away from their capital.

Now the conflict has shifted to a different phase in the south and east of the country. We have been supplying the Ukrainians with significant amounts of artillery for this phase of the fight and now we are adding to that the capability for the Ukrainians to reach further and to reach Russian targets, as you said, up to nearly 50 miles, which we think will allow them to range some of the more distant targets that we think will give them the ability to strike with precision Russian targets on the battlefield and we think this is going to make a big difference in this phase of the conflict.

BERMAN: Forty-nine, but not 200, which is what they requested. And I also read in the "New York Times," that you had a promise from Ukraine not to use even the rockets that go 49 miles to shoot into Russia. Is that accurate?

FINER: So, first of all, I'd look carefully at the Ukrainian reaction to this system. This is a system the Ukrainians have been requesting. We believe that this does meet their needs. We believe that they are very satisfied with what they are providing.

And yes, as you indicated, we have asked the Ukrainians for assurances that they will not use these systems to strike inside Russia. This is a defensive conflict that the Ukrainians are waging, Russian forces are on their territory.

There are significant targets that are not reachable to them with the munitions that they have to date.

And so, this will enable them to strike those targets and we think will make a big difference in this phase of the conflict in the south and the east of the country.

BERMAN: One thing I will note is that Russia is shooting into Ukraine from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. In some cases from as far away as the Caspian Sea. They made no such

promise to shoot from such far distances.


I also do want to note, the Kremlin just responded moments ago, saying that this weapons deal adds fuel to the fire. What do you say to that?

FINER: Look, we don't negotiate our security assistance packages to Ukraine. Well, with the Kremlin they have not been pleased by the amount of security assistance we've providing to the Ukrainians, frankly since far before this most recent phase of the conflict, again.

But I will also say that President Biden warned President Putin directly and we said so publicly as well, that if Russia launched a new, renewed invasion of Ukraine the United States would increase the amount of security assistance we were providing, including new and advanced systems. We are doing exactly what we said we would do. And Russia has brought this on itself by launching an invasion into a sovereign country from its territory.

And so, we have been very clear and transparent about what we're going to be doing. It has been effective for the Ukrainians thus far and we think it will continue to be.

BERMAN: In terms of warnings to Putin, in this op-ed written by the president, he says, "We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia, as much as I disagree with Mr. Putin and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow."

I want to play for you what the president said when he was speaking in Poland on March 26.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power.


BERMAN: How do you explain the discrepancy between those two statements?

FINER: I don't think we see a discrepancy there at all. What I think the president was saying at the time and what he has said since, is that he was expressing a preference but not a policy. We do not have a policy of pursuing regime change in Russia, never have. But, we have been very clear to Russia, that as it continues to launch this invasion we expect that this going to leave Russia worse off, not better off.

The president laid out our war aims, our objectives for this conflict in a long piece that he wrote in the "New York Times" yesterday. And one of those is to make sure at the end of this the international system is stronger, not weaker, because of what Russia has done. And that a big part of that is showing that when you perpetrate a crime of aggression like this war is, that Russia is launching, you don't end up better off.

And we think that so far Russia has been -- they've been weakened tremendously by the fact that it has gone into Ukraine in this way. It's been weakened on the battlefield. It is losing standing in the international community. And that is one of our objectives, to make sure that Russia does not end up seeing this as some sort of strategic success, but rather a strategic failure.

BERMAN: In terms of Putin itself, is it fair to describe the policy that the president would like to see him gone, but the United States will not try to do anything about it?

FINER: The president's been very clear about what our objectives are for this conflict. And he laid out three of them. First, is to make sure that Ukraine remains sovereign and secure --

BERMAN: I understand, Jon, I was just talking specifically --


FINER: -- that is why we are providing them support. I'm going to answer the question --


FINER: -- about our war aim since you asked that. The second, is to avoid a conflict between NATO or the United States and Russia. And frankly the third is that this ends up a strategic failure for Russia. This is not a personalized policy. This is not about President Putin. This is about ensuring that Russia fails in its objective of trying to dominate and subjugate Ukraine.

BERMAN: On the battlefield, Severodonetsk, which is a key city in the east, our reporting is that it's about 70 percent under Russian control right now. The expectation is, is that it could fall soon to the Russians. What's the impact of that?

FINER: So, I'm not going to get into the sort of incremental gains and losses that are going to take place in this phase of the conflict. We expect that that is how this is going to play out over a period of

weeks and months and perhaps even longer. This is going to be a very difficult phase of fighting. These are,

you know, pitch battles, very heavy on artillery and other -- what the military calls indirect fire, high rates of causalities on both sides.

And our objective is to get the Ukrainians exactly the material that they need to be able to stay in this fight and to be able to take the fight to the Russians for this phase of the conflict and for the long haul. And the president was clear that we are going to stay with them as long as they need us with this support.

BERMAN: In this phase of the conflict, do you feel that Russia is making gains?

FINER: There have been some incremental gains made by the Russians. There have been some incremental gains made by the Ukrainians. I'm not going to kind of handicap the play-by-play here. We are -- we are focused on the strategic situation.

We are focused on getting the Ukrainians what they need to be able to defend their country. And I don't think it's really valuable to look at a snapshot one day or the next. This is going to play out over quite some time and we are going to be in it for the long haul.

BERMAN: What are you getting the Ukrainians, do you believe it's enough to eject Russia from the country?

FINER: We think that the security assistance that we've provided them up till now has been successful. They were very successful in the early phase of the conflict. This phase of the conflict is going to play out over a longer period of time, again, weeks, months, perhaps even longer.

I think, for now, we believe that we are getting them what they need to be able to defend their country. We're going to assess this every single day, more often than every single day. And as the needs on the battlefield change and the situations change we'll adjust our assistance accordingly. But right now we believe very much that we are getting them what they need for this fight.


BERMAN: Jonathan Finer, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

FINER: Thank you.

BERMAN: So calling a truce. The new reporting this morning on Brian Kemp's efforts to tame tensions with former President Trump ahead of the November election. KEILAR: And a new admission from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well look, I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take.


KEILAR: Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has been sounding the alarm for a year, will join us next.


BERMAN: It happened right here on CNN, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen now saying she was wrong about how serious inflation would be.