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Police Chief in Uvalde, Texas, Reportedly Not Cooperating with Investigation into Elementary School Shooting that Killed 19 Children and Two Teachers; Former Supreme Court Law Clerks Write Piece Arguing Supreme Court Decision on Gun Rights being Misinterpreted by Legislatures; Supreme Court Asking for Phone Records of Clerks for Investigation into Leak of Draft Decision Overturning Roe Versus Wade. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 01, 2022 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shimon, you've been such a great barometer here for this investigation and the path it's taking. The fact that this chief is now not cooperating, what does that tell you?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, two things. Certainly, the fact he was called out and sort of singled out as the person responsible for why the police did not go in and burst through that door and stop the gunman certainly perhaps has irritated him, and so he's chosen not to cooperate now in the investigation.

Look, it's significant. The fact that the Texas Rangers and the DPS here, the Department of Public Safety who are leading this investigation, have wanted to go back and ask him questions, follow- up, and he has refused to answer those questions, that's pretty significant.

But others are pointing to the fact that he wasn't only the senior level person on scene. You had the sheriff, the local sheriff here on scene. You also had the chief of the local police department on scene here, and what role did they play, and why didn't they step up and say, listen, we need to go in, we need to stop this gunman?

So the fact that he's been singled out by the director of the DPS has certainly made him unhappy, has ruffled some feathers here. But there are so many more questions. And then yesterday, John, we were told here that the swearing in for Chief Arredondo who was elected on the city council seat was not going to happen, and then we get word here late last night that, you know what, it did happen. They did not invite the media to witness any of this. It was supposed to be a public event. That did not happen. What they did was they had every new city council member come in on their own just so that they wouldn't have to call a public meeting for this swearing in, John.

BERMAN: Shows you their state of mind about maybe what they think of the visuals there. Shimon, this door, the door that the killer used to get into the building, the story here comes evolving, and that's being generous. First they didn't know whether it was open or not, then they said it was put ajar by a teacher, now they say it was closed, but it didn't relock. What questions does this raise?

PROKUPECZ: Right, so this now raises questions with the school in terms of why didn't that door lock? Was there a maintenance issue? Was there something else? But, again, John, as you pointed out, and when you were out here, the different stories. We've had police officials standing next to us telling us one story, and then several days later we've learned of a completely different scenario, they're putting forward a different story.

This latest version after the teacher was also singled out by investigators on Friday who said that this teacher left the door open, well, she hired a lawyer. And the lawyer released this new information yesterday to a local newspaper, and it wasn't until that story was published that investigators came forward and said, yes, we now have new information that indicates that the teacher did close the door, but that it didn't lock.

But, again, it has taken several days to get that information. Why is it so complicated? Why is it so difficult to get the truth here? That is something that is certainly concerning for the people who live here, very concerning how the police reacted to this shooting. And obviously we all still have many, many questions that need to be answered.

We also need to see the evidence at this point, the information that authorities have, the video, the surveillance video they have been relying on, to show where people were in that building, where the gunman was, where the officers were. But we also need to hear the radio transmissions, the communications between the officers on that day, who was giving orders, what did the officers know. Were the 911 dispatchers relaying the 911 calls that they were receiving from students that were trapped in this classroom to the officers on the ground? Who was making all of these decisions? We still don't have word on that, John.

And we're told by the state senator here, the local state senator, that he thinks there is going to be a report here coming out on Friday from investigators that will hopefully, hopefully shed some light.

BERMAN: It matters. The facts matter to make sure it doesn't happen again, to fix the problems. That's why people need to know the answers to these questions that you're asking in such a really, I think, insistent and appropriate way. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Any day now the Supreme Court will issue its first major ruling on gun rights in over a decade, deciding whether to strike down a New York gun law that is one of America's oldest and most restrictive, a law that puts significant limits on getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The last major gun rights case in 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense. But our next guests say the decision is being misinterpreted on both sides of the gun debate.


John Bash was law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia who worked on the majority opinion in Heller, and Kate Shaw was law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens who worked on the lead dissent. And you too, this was a very fascinating column that you wrote here together, because you were both with so much that you disagree on, concerned that Heller is being misused in important policy debates on both sides of the aisle. So John, to you first, can you just tell us why?

JOHN BASH, FORMER LAW CLERK TO JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: Well, Heller -- and thanks for having us on -- Heller was a narrow decision, and it decided that people have an individual right to have a firearm or handgun in their home for protection of their family. And as you noted, in the next 30 days or so the Supreme Court will decide whether that right extends outside of the home.

But even if it does, that leaves ample room for discretion, as Justice Scalia said in his majority opinion, for legislatures to take reasonable measures to, for example, keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill, which is, of course, extraordinarily relevant to what's going on in the country right now.

So Heller was narrow, and it left legislatures a lot of room for democracy to do its work and keep citizens safe while protecting gun owners' rights.

KEILAR: Kate, how do you see it being misconstrued or misused, especially in the wake of the shooting we have seen in Texas?

KATE SHAW, FORMER LAW CLERK TO JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: As John just said, Heller was an important decision. It for first time announced that the Second Amendment, even though its language refers specifically to a well-regulated militia, nevertheless its right, the right it protects, is one of individual gun ownership for purposes of self-defense. So it definitely changed the way the Constitution was interpreted by the Supreme Court, but it in no way said that the right to own a gun is a right that is not subject to regulation. In fact, there were a number of passages in the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia that made clear that the government has ample leeway to regulate the individual right protected by the Second Amendment.

And our concern is that in the policy debates around gun regulation that have followed both in the states and in the federal government in the 14 years since Heller was handed down, there has been a misimpression, maybe the idea that Heller announces some kind of an absolute right and the government really doesn't have much leeway when it comes to regulating guns, and we just don't think that's consistent with the opinion that the majority -- that Justice Scalia authored and that a majority of the Supreme Court signed on to.

And so Heller shouldn't be invoked as an excuse to avoid difficult policy debates about how much and what kinds of gun regulation our elected officials should promulgate.

KEILAR: What struck me and I think what will strike anyone who reads your column is how much you agree on when it comes to the ability of Congress to act, how much discretion Congress actually has. So if we can, just for the sake of understanding what would constitutionally, what would legally be on the table, just see what you both say, having been steeped in the Constitution on this issue, on what -- Heller, on what the Constitution permits on guns. First, does the Constitution allow restrictions on owning or not being able to own an AR-15 style weapon? What do you say?

SHAW: I mean, I --

BASH: I --

SHAW: Go ahead, John. We may have different answers. But John, please, go ahead.

BASH: Thanks, Kate. There will be a question going forward about what sorts of firearms Congress or state legislature could ban. I think probably everybody agrees they couldn't limit it to muskets. And in fact, there was a D.C. circuit decision, a lower court decision in 2011, where the court divided on AR-15s specifically, and then Judge Kavanaugh in dissent said they're protected by the Second Amendment. So that's a real question. There is going to be a dividing line of which guns are protected.

But as we say in the piece, there is no question in most people's minds, for example, that legislatures can ban grenade launchers. And so the court is going to have to decide that at some point. But there certainly is leeway to ban what the court called dangerous and unusual weapons.

KEILAR: And could the AR-15, John, fit under that description?

BASH: Well, not to get too technical, but the way Heller described the standard was firearms in common use at the time. And what Kavanaugh said in his dissent was AR-15s are widely owned, they are in common use. I think the other side would say that's a relatively recent phenomenon, and Congress has ample leeway to decide, no, we have experimented with this since the assault ban and they're just too dangerous. So that could get up to the court.

But one thing we talk about in the piece is there's a lot of other measures that I think are much less controversially legally, although they may be controversial politically, such as background checks and red flag laws.

KEILAR: OK, sure, and I want to talk about that. But Kate, would you agree with John's representation of that opinion for the dissenting folks?

SHAW: Look, I would say we did once pre-Heller have an assaults weapon ban.


And empirical evidence is hard -- causation is hard to track here, but we definitely did have fewer mass shootings in an age in which we banned assault weapons. It seems to me that the kind of dangerous and unusual weapons language of Heller would absolutely support a ban on AR-15 style rifles. And yet I'm not sure if the currently composed Supreme Court would agree with that interpretation.

But dangerous, certainly. Unusual is harder because, as John said, Ar- 15 style rifles are now widely possessed. And if that's the most important kind of criterion, then it is more difficult, I think, under Heller. But, again there are lots of other things that Congress very much could do, I think under both the language of Heller, and I think a likely interpretation of this Supreme Court, which is not the same Supreme Court that decided Heller.

KEILAR: Separately, I do want to ask you both, because you were in this rare position of having been Supreme Court clerks. There really just aren't that many. And we have seen this unprecedented leak of this Roe draft. We've learned that clerks are now being asked to turn over their phone records. Certainly, look, we don't know that it was a clerk who leaked this draft. It is entirely possible that it was not. But there are many clerks who are incredibly alarmed by this move, including clerks who had nothing to do with it. I wonder if you -- Kate, to you first. Would you be alarmed if you were being asked to do this as part of this investigation?

SHAW: Look, let me say, first, we were able to write this piece without really engaging in the ethics of leaking and confidentiality norms around the Supreme Court because we have both received permission from our justices to acknowledge having worked on this case, and I don't think the piece reveals any confidential deliberations.

That said, to your direct question, I think it is quite concerning, the idea that personal phone records and email records would be requested from clerks currently in the court. I think that there is good reason for concern and alarm. And no reason to assume that it was a clerk who is the source of this leak anyway. So this is certainly an unprecedented request as it is being reported, and I think it is definitely cause for concern among the clerk ranks.

KEILAR: What do you think, John?

BASH: Well, my only thought on this is, gosh, Kate and I worked on a major opinion, one we have been talking about, Heller, which was controversial at the time, which in theory could have been leaked by somebody to pressure the court. And it never even crossed my mind that Kate or anyone on the other side of that would do something like that. And so it's just kind of shocking. And we don't know that it was a clerk, we don't know that it wasn't a staff member or somebody else. But it's shocking to me that norms at the court have broken down so much that somebody, and we don't know who, would actually leak a major opinion presumably to put pressure on the majority one way or the other to reach a certain outcome. It's extraordinary to me that that's happened, and, of course, in terms of the investigation the court, like all government institutions, is bound by certain legal rules and they have to follow those.

KEILAR: It is incredibly shocking. I really appreciate you both being here, really appreciated your piece where you talk about what you agree on and what you don't. It is so important to hear that. John Bash and Kate Shaw, thank you.

SHAW: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

KEILAR: A notable admission from the U.S. treasury secretary on inflation, why she says she got it wrong.

In the meantime, this just in, gas prices jumped to a new record high. So when is this fever going to break?

BERMAN: And a father makes an unbelievable catch at the Mets- Nationals game. Look what he's holding in his other arm, though.



KEILAR: Gas prices taking another big step in the wrong direction. AAA says the national average for regular gas jumped 5 cents today to $4.667 a gallon, which is a new record. Prices are up 48 cents here in the past month alone. Seven states now average $5 or higher, and that some stations in California, the price at the pump is more than the federal minimum wage.

CNN is covering business developments from all angles.



Get ready for a summer of travel hell. Hassles and high prices. Airlines and airports grappling with crowds almost as big as before the pandemic, with new challenges. Expect high prices in May. Airfares rose 33 percent from a year before, that's even before the summer travel season even began. You can expect snags and delays.

Memorial Day weekend saw traffic at 93 percent of 2019 levels, but this is not 2019. Airlines are grappling with labor shortages, high jet fuel costs and COVID disrupting staffing. So, book your tickets early and plan for the worst.


An Australian company is expected to send approximately 250,000 cans of infant formula to the U.S. next week. That is from the CEO of Bubs Australia, Kristy Carr. She told me the same amount will be sent in the same weeks after that and then later, more formula will be sent for a total of 1.25 million cans. That's considerably more than was sent by Nestle to the U.S. last week. It is unclear if any of that formula has yet to hit U.S. shelves.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rahel Solomon in New York. As home prices continue to surge, prices rose 20.6 percent in March,

compared to a year ago. That's according to Case Schiller. It's the highest yearly jump in the 35 years of collecting data. The biggest increases seen in cities like Tampa, Phoenix and Miami.


BERMAN: So, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with an admission on inflation right here on CNN. Listen to this.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take. As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I at the time didn't fully understand.


BERMAN: Joining us now, anchor of CNN NEWSROOM and master of law, Poppy Harlow. Great to have you here.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Thanks, Berman. Master of everything.

BERMAN: Listen, it is unusual to hear such a senior official say something so blunt.


I was wrong.

HARLOW: But it is so important. I've always thought the best leaders in business in Washington say they're wrong and learned from it. It's like she's the smartest woman/person on economic, period, she said we got it wrong.

To be fair, I mean, it wasn't just the Treasury and the White House that got it wrong, almost every economist got it wrong. However, right after that, the Treasury put out a statement to our MJ Lee tamping it down and saying, well, well, there were all these unforeseen circumstances so, obviously, we didn't get everything right.

Yes, there were unforeseen circumstances, but we were in a once in a lifetime pandemic that we didn't know which way it was going to go and people, Democrats, Larry Summers, and some others, got it right and kept warning the White House, and they didn't change their position and they kept saying inflation is transitory.

BERMAN: There are two issues: what they did and what they will do now.

HARLOW: That's more important, right?

BERMAN: And that's at this point much more important. We had Larry Summers on.

HARLOW: Great interview.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

And I was asking him basically, the Fed, inflation is a Fed issue more than anything else --


BERMAN: -- how much he thinks they'll need to raise interest rates to stop it. Listen.


LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: We never stopped an inflation without raising interest rates by considerably more than inflation went up.

BERMAN: Sounds like what you're saying is to contain inflation we need either a recession, which is not something that most people, most consumers certainly want to see, or raising interest rates as much as 4 percent from where it is, which is an enormous -- an enormous increase.

SUMMERS: I think that is the lesson of history.

Here's the unfortunate painful fact, and it is true of the U.S. experience, and it is true of the experience of other rich countries like us. When inflation is above 4 percent and unemployment is below 4, you are almost certain to have a recession within the next two years.


BERMAN: So a recession in two years or raising rates by 4 percent?

HARLOW: I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor. I was so glad you asked that follow-up. Did he just say that?

I think anyone, especially those in power now in Washington would be loathe to not listen a little more to Larry Summers. Yeah. One of those two scenarios is very likely.

There are few other things, though, solutions that the White House could do, right? They laid out some things, like years in the making. They take years to actually come to fruition.

So, what can the White House do now? They can change some of the immigration policies that deal with the labor shortage. That would help a little bit. They would face GOP pushback and criticism, but they could do that.

They could do what Biden said they're considering three weeks ago, lift some or all of these tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods. I mean, that would make a real difference now, and in just a year the Peterson institute, economists there say if you lift those tariffs, the Trump era tariffs that Janet Yellen criticized as being counterproductive, you would alleviate .3 percent on inflation, about a point in the year.

"The Washington Post" editorial board said, look, you've got to stop focusing on being tough on China on this front, because they're not adhering to the deal anyways, be smart on China, Mark Zandi said this is a good idea, he said, if you do this, you can shave off about a point on inflation too.

So, they can do things now, but they have political costs. You have to stomach those costs and criticism now to alleviate some of this pain for every American closer to the midterms.

BERMAN: No easy decisions here clearly, politically or otherwise.

HARLOW: They didn't sign up for that.

BERMAN: It's a great point. Poppy Harlow. Great to have you back. Thanks, John.

HARLOW: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: President Biden taking the messaging battle into his own hands writing two op-eds in two days, so why?

KEILAR: And President Zelenskyy says Ukraine is losing 60 to 100 soldiers every single day. Is Russia suddenly winning this war? We'll have the latest from the battle front ahead.



BERMAN: New this morning, President Biden announced the U.S. will send Ukraine the most powerful and advanced rocket systems to date. This comes as Ukraine has suffered important losses in the east.

We want to go to CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. Matthew is live in the Berdyansk region, not far from Kyiv, about 40 miles.

Matthew, and I understand what you're seeing is disturbing.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, it's really horrific. And we can't show you the pictures in full at this time in the morning, but it is an exhumation of bodies in a village outside of Kyiv, in a place which was occupied by the Russians.

The Russians left a couple of months ago and even now villagers are coming back to their homes, finding bodies in the backyard, the police have arrived to dig up corpses buried by villagers, villagers, corpses of people shot by the Russians during the occupation there.

I've been -- this say grave here, it already has been exhumed, you see the bodies next to it, we can't show it to you. And it was Blanco Vitali (ph), who was 43 years old, he wasn't a threat to the Russians. In fact, he was vulnerable. He didn't have a job. He drank too much.

The neighbors tell me, he was always hungry and he was begging for food and trying to take some food from a Russian vehicle when they shot him dead. The death sentence for him. And it is awful.

And stories like this are repeated across this region, across this country. I was speaking to a minister in the Ukrainian government who has come here to speak to us as well, he said there are thousands of incidents like this, so many, they can barely cope with the number of bodies of people they have to exhume and identify.

So it is truly horrific. And that's just in the areas, of course, liberated from Russian control and vast swathes in this country now as we've been reporting are falling increasingly under Russian (AUDIO GAP) there as well -- John.

BERMAN: I think that's a concern what you're seeing, the aftermath.