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Gas Nears All-Time High of $5 a Gallon; Inflation Draining Retirement Accounts; Peter Strzok is Interviewed about the Uvalde Police Response; FDA Meets on Covid Vaccine; PGA Suspends Players. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 10, 2022 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, just one penny away. The national price -- the national average for a gallon of gas, $4.99 a gallon.

CNN's Alexandra Field live in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Ever so close to $5, which is a serious, I think, mental barrier.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're going to be talking about this all summer long, John, because all the predictions are it is just going to get worse.

Look, the average price crept up a penny overnight, nearly two pennies, but those pennies are adding up so quickly. Consider the fact that just a week ago we were at an average of $4.76, a month ago it was $4.37 and a year ago, $3.07.

Here in New Jersey, they're selling gas at this station for $5.09 a gallon. That is, of course, ten cents over the national average. And that's what people in a lot of the country are dealing with already. Some 20 states already sell fuel on average for more than $5 a gallon. But Washington, D.C., on that list as well.

But the worst-case scenario is out in California, where they're paying an average of $6.42 a gallon. And that is a sign of the direction that much of the country could be heading in. Many analysts saying we'll all be paying nearly $6 a gallon by the end of the summer.

This couldn't come at a worst time. This comes as people have travel plans. It also comes as so many people are feeling pinched by the higher prices of just about everything. The question is, will they cut back on that spending or on gas spending? The answer is, probably both, John.

BERMAN: Yes, gas has gone up 31 out of the last 32 days. That gives you a sense of how steady these increases have been.

Alexandra Field, thank you very much. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, a critical monthly inflation

report is set to be released and CNN has just learned that President Biden will address inflation and supply chain issues during his visit to the Port of Los Angeles today.

CNN's Gabe Cohen has details on how the inflation crisis is specifically impacting seniors.


JOYCE SILLA, SENIOR IN WASHINGTON, D.C.: The prices. The prices.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seventy-two-year-old Joyce Silla has seen inflation eat through her fixed number, $1,700 a month of Social Security.


COHEN (on camera): What has that done to your savings?

SILLA: It's gone. It's depleted. No savings. That's it. And their -- if I can make it from one month to the other month, that's good.

COHEN (voice over): She was the assistant director of housekeeping at a large D.C. hotel before retiring ten years ago. Now a widow, she's relying on food banks for the first time and watching her power bills pile up.

SILLA: It's not a good feeling. I know I worked. I didn't take shortcuts.

COHEN: While inflation is hitting most Americans, many retired seniors face an added squeeze. For 10 million of them, Social Security, on average just over $1,600 a month, is at least 90 percent of their income. And inflation is far outpacing this year's cost of living increase on those benefits, though it was the biggest raise in 39 years.

It's not just food and gas prices. Health care costs are rising and many retirement accounts have taken a hit.

DAVID CERTNER, AARP: That is just a burden that's very difficult to bear for some of these people. And that's when they have to make tough choices.

CYNTHIA TILFORD, SENIOR IN HOUSTON: We've gone through our retirement savings more quickly than we had anticipated.

COHEN: Seventy-year-old Cynthia Tilford returned part-time to a clerical job at a university in Houston to stop draining her accounts.

TILFORD: The thought of retirement right now is really scary.

COHEN: Lower income seniors are facing more food insecurity. Meals on Wheels has struggled to keep up with high demand.

BILL TECHERA (ph): It's not good.

COHEN: Seventy-three-year-old Bill Techera (ph), a retired phone technician, is skipping three meals a week to save on food.

TECHERA (ph): It wouldn't last the whole month if I didn't.

COHEN: He says Social Security pays him $1,400 a month and his rent in Sacramento just rose to $1,240.

TECHERA (ph): I could be on the street if it goes up too much higher.

COHEN (on camera): You're worried you could end up homeless.

TECHERA (ph): It keeps me awake sometimes.

COHEN (voice over): Seniors are becoming homeless at a faster rate than any other age group, and skyrocketing rent costs could make it worse.

MARTA HILL GRAY, CULPEPPER GARDEN: It's a bit of a crisis.

COHEN: At Culpepper Garden, a non-profit affordable senior living community in Virginia, the wait list is growing.

GRAY: It's doubled, almost tripled, within the past eight months I'd say.

COHEN (on camera): Have you ever seen this many seniors applying for affordable housing?

GRAY: We have not. We have not.

COHEN (voice over): Hundreds of these communities nationwide are seeing the same surge in demand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we think it's because of the inflation surges and rent surges.

COHEN: Seniors can expect a near record Social Security increase next year to combat this inflation, and for now they can go to to see what help is out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We find that your average older adults often leaving $7,000 worth of assistance on the table.

COHEN: Assistance programs have kept Joyce Silla afloat this year. She fears one more price hike could break the bank.

SILLA: So, it's kind of hard, but you do what you have to do.


COHEN: Now, data shows that more retirees are heading back to work right now, though experts say that's likely at least largely driven by this hot jobs market. But the National Council on Aging tells me they are seeing more seniors looking for work, Brianna, to get through what we all hope is just a temporary strain with this inflation.

KEILAR: Yes, something they probably didn't anticipate having to shoulder at this point in time.

Gabe, thank you so much. Such a great report.

COHEN: Thank you.

KEILAR: The White House preparing to roll out Covid vaccines for children under age five. When the doses are finally expected to be available, ahead.

BERMAN: Plus, the embattled Uvalde school police chief speaking out about law enforcement's response to the school shooting. What he's saying now about the delay in confronting the gunman.



KEILAR: New details this morning about the police response in Uvalde, Texas. The school police chief, Pete Arredondo, telling the "Texas Tribune" that he never considered himself the scene's incident commander and didn't give any instructions that the police should not breach the building. But "The Tribune" reports Arredondo did give at least one instruction when he told officers to break windows to evacuate other classrooms.

We should note that the "Texas Tribune" spoke with Arredondo by phone, in written answers and in statements provided by his attorney, George Hyde.

Also this morning, a new report by "The New York Times" revealing some information about the investigation that law enforcement is doing. That law enforcement on the scene was actually aware that some of the victims trapped inside did need medical attention and yet they still waited over an hour to send in police.

I want to bring in Peter Strzok, former FBI deputy assistant director and the author of "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump."

This -- we were talking about it. We settled on the same word for what this "New York Times" report reveals. It is devastating.

PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: It absolutely is. And "The New York Times" article in particular has detail that when you read it, it's absolutely horrific. And what's important, I think, is that people shouldn't look away from this. It is absolutely just a devastating scene of what took place for more than an hour as the school that was under attack waited for police to respond.

Now, we still lack a lot of facts. And as these - as time goes on there are two investigations going on right now, one by the state of Texas, one by the Department of Justice. And I expect as that continues, what we know will continue to involve and hopefully allow not only Uvalde, Texas, but police departments around the nation to update their tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure nothing like this happens again.

BERMAN: What about this question of who was in charge and of Chief Arredondo seeming to say now that he was not in charge? But what do some of the apparent communications at the time reveal about whether he thought he was?


STRZOK: Well, it certainly appears from the reporting in "The New York Times" that he was. People were looking to him to make decisions. There are a large number of things that were, particularly when the breach team of Border Patrol agents were ready to go, waiting for him to give the order, there's some indication that he did give an order to conduct the breach. Whether or not the team heard that is still unknown.

But, regardless, the facts on the ground do appear to indicate that he was in a leadership role and that people looked to him in that regard. But, again, it's early still, unfortunately, for these facts, and that's why we had these two independent investigations going on to establish exactly what happened so we know across the board what roles were played by what people.

BERMAN: There's this chilling quote in "The New York Times" where they write, an officer could be heard saying, if there's kids in there, we need to go in there. Then another officer responded, whoever is in charge will determine that.

Two things about this quote, Peter. Number one, the consciousness among some officers that they know -- someone at least knew that people would say they should be going in, and then the idea where the officer was also saying that we need to wait for the command.

STRZOK: Well, it is just -- just breathtaking in how the tension on the ground and what might have been prevented. But, look, in a situation where you have a dynamic tactical situation, where you have lethal force that's being used, it is important, in a law enforcement context, to have a clear chain of command. You have to have somebody in charge who's controlling what people do or don't do. You don't want people rushing in of their own accord in an uncoordinated way, letting people in to a scene where there is a shooter running in - running around. So, you do need somebody in charge, and you see that discipline on the part of some of the officers.

The problem is, of course, as we were talking about, that the person notionally who should have been in charge it appears was not effectively communicating with those on the ground and may have certainly necessarily delayed the law enforcement response.

KEILAR: And also the voice that they believed to be the chief, Chief Arredondo, to Berman's point there, says people are going to ask why we're taking so long. There seems to be a consciousness on the part of him as well. He's saying we're trying to preserve the rest of the life, right, there were evacuations going on, but what was happening inside of that building goes against training, well-known training for decades now of go in, get the killer, stop the killing, stop the dying.

STRZOK: That's absolutely right. And police departments across the nation at the local level, at the state level, at the federal level train for this sort of activity. And there are well-established procedures. And that is part of the question for these two teams that are looking at the response. Training dictated that a different process should have been followed. That this was not a barricaded subject. That this was still very much a dynamic situation where you had wounded children, as it turns out, who were still alive in the classroom. And the question is, if the training so clearly dictated a different response, why so many people in this case didn't follow the procedures that were in place.

KEILAR: Yes, as "The Times" points out, three children died at the hospital, one teacher died in an ambulance. Could they have been saved? That will always be a question that will haunt, I think, everyone, especially the families.

Peter, thank you so much.

STRZOK: Thank you.

KEILAR: The White House laying out a new timeline for when children under the age of five may be able to get their very first dose of Covid vaccine.

Plus --

BERMAN: Right, talk about a toxic encounter. The surprise guest who showed up to Britney Spears' wedding.



BERMAN: The White House says that children under five could get their first Covid vaccination starting on June 20th. The rollout of 10 million doses is pending decisions by the FDA and CDC.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with the details.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, John, next week, on Wednesday, the FDA's Board of External of Outside Advisers will meet to look at the data for both Moderna and Pfizer for these youngest children who could be getting vaccinated very soon. So, the advisers give their opinion, then the full FDA, then the full CDC. It's impossible to know what will happen, but I think there's an excellent chance that this will get authorized.

So, let's take a look at these vaccinations for young children. For children under five. So, as you said, it could start as soon as the week of June 20th, and there are 10 million doses available for preorder. Now, it's interesting, they're not going to do it with - like as they did with adults. This time they'll mostly be focusing on pediatrician's offices and other doctors' offices, although there will be availability for these children in pharmacies, schools and libraries, but they know the parents prefer to bring their child to the pediatrician for a shot.

Now, let's take a look at Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, the data. Pfizer is three doses, Moderna is two. Clinical trials for both show that they're safe and effective. And interestingly, and this is important, these trials were done during omicron. These trials were done when omicron was predominant, which is what we have now, omicron. So not the earlier ones. That's good to see that it works for what's predominant now.

Now, let's take a look at something that I think this may end up being sort of the biggest problem here. Many parents do not plan on getting this for their children. Only 18 percent of parents in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey said that they would get it for their children as soon as it's available, 40 percent said they would wait and see, that is a big chunk, 11 percent said, no, only if required, and 27 percent said definitely not. That's a lot, 27, more than a quarter, said definitely not.

So, the White House does have plans for how to encourage these parents to take -- to encourage these parents to get it. Dr. Ashish Jha, with the White House, has said, look, it's a long game, we get it, we know we're up for a challenge. He said it's going to be a long game to try to fight the misinformation that's out there.


BERMAN: A lot of parents waiting for this moment, though.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

So, the golf war heating up. The PGA tour suspends players for taking part in a Saudi-backed event.


The "Bleacher Report" is next.


KEILAR: The PGA tour suspending 17 of its players for participating in the controversial Saudi-backed golf league, the LIV league.

Coy Wire more -- with more on this in this morning's "Bleacher Report."


This was a big move. I think it was expected. But this is huge.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Huge, Brianna. Golf is changing certainly as we know it.