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Extremist Group Patriot Front Had Gear, Detailed Plans at Pride Parade; White House Pressed on Democratic Concerns About Biden's Age for 2024; President Biden Writes Letter to Oil Companies Criticizing Large Profits; High Gasoline Prices in Nevada Causing Increasing Hardship for Residents. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 15, 2022 - 08:00   ET



TERRY STRADA, HUSBAND DIED IN NORTH TOWER ON 9/11: It's a very serious issue to get in bed with the Saudis and then to expect the 9/11 families to certainly not be outraged, and fellow Americans.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I know your husband was a scratch golfer and a Phil Mickelson fan as I understand it. And now your family is, how would you describe it?

STRADA: Well, we are all big golf fans and, yes, we have been a fan of Phil's for years. And that's why it's really disappointing to hear him dismiss us as callously as he does. My youngest was a captain of his golf team, and my children are both talented golfers. It's a wonderful sport. I wish every child would have the opportunity to play the game because of the values it has and the integrity that it teaches you and the amount of dedication that it takes into being a good golfer. It's a wonderful sport.

And being the Saudis now starting up this tournament of their own, and this sports-washing that they're doing, trying to buy respect on the world stage, trying to improve their image. Just be truthful, just work with the truth instead of hiding behind lies. That's how you gain respect. You can't buy it. You have to earn it.

KEILAR: Terry, wonderful to have you this morning. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

STRADA: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, June 15th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And new this morning, President Biden taking on big oil, demanding immediate action from seven major oil companies to boost supplies. In a letter to the companies, he slams their high profit margins, and insists they are not acceptable when Americans are paying record prices at the pump. KEILAR: The president blames the oil companies for blunting the

impact of his historic actions to counter Vladimir Putin's price hikes, as he puts it. He's also warning that the federal government is ready to use additional emergency powers to boost refinery capacity and output.

Gabe Cohen joining us now from Las Vegas, where gas prices are 60 cents higher than the national average, Gabe.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Brianna, it's a testament to how gas prices and inflation hit Americans with lower wages even harder. The price of gas here in Nevada is second highest in the country. But when you factor in the average salary that workers are making, drivers here have to work longer than anywhere else in the country in order to afford a tank of gas.


COHEN: Elsa Roldan's gas budget is up 35 bucks a week.


COHEN: Commuting to her housekeeping job at a Las Vegas hotel.

ROLDAN: And I don't know when it's going to stop.

COHEN: Surging gas prices and inflation are eating up more of her salary.

ROLDAN: I need to cut so many expenses. It was my birthday, and I couldn't buy a purse. There are so many things. And it affects me emotionally, of course.

COHEN: At close to $5.70 a gallon, Nevadans now face the second steepest gas price in the country, well behind California. But when you factor in average salary, data show drivers here have to work longer than in any other state, on average more than three hours, to afford a single tank of gas. Compare that to Massachusetts, the other end of the spectrum, where even though gas is more than $5 a gallon, the average driver has to work less than two hours to fill up because salaries are higher.

SHAWN SPIVAK, RIDE SHARE DRIVER: Bottom line, I'm spending over $300 a week in gas.

COHEN: Shawn Spivak John drives for Uber here in Vegas.

SPIVAK: I'm literally driving two-and-a-half to three hours a day just to pick up the gas. So instead of driving eight, nine hours a day, I'm driving 12, 13 hours a day.

COHEN: Why is gas so expensive in Nevada?

JOHN TREANOR, AAA SPOKESMAN: This is really an access story. Simply put, prices here are so high because it costs a lot of money to get gas to Nevada. COHEN: Almost all of Nevada's fuel comes from California, where

refining oil is more expensive because of stricter environmental regulations. And the cost to transport it is surging. Plus, Nevada's gas tax is sixth highest in the nation.


COHEN: Chelsea lives in Reno, home to some of Nevada's most expensive gas, more than $6 a gallon. Post-pandemic, she hoped her three-year- old daughter could finally spend time with family this summer. But now she's rethinking those road trips because of the cost.

HANSEN: There is so much that my daughter has lost out on, and there's a feeling again as a parent that I am going to have to be limited in what I can offer.


COHEN: In a survey, two-thirds of travelers said rising gas prices would factor into their decision to travel in the next six months. But at this point, U.S. demand for gas keeps rising, up again last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to get around, so this is what I got to do.

COHEN: With prices expected to keep climbing, many Americans, especially those with lower incomes, will have to work more hours to afford gas. And more drivers nationwide could soon face the same prices, leaving Elsa Roldan desperate for relief.

ROLDAN: We could do something. We can come with a plan to help people like me.


COHEN (on camera): Now, some economists have also raised concerns about the impact these gas prices could have on tourism in a city like Las Vegas. Although, the main tourism agency here tells me at this point, there is no evidence it has taken a hit as the number of visitors nearly returns to pre-pandemic levels. Brianna?

KEILAR: It's $5.75 behind you there, Gabe. Wow. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Ahead, we will speak with White House Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm with much more on the president's letter, the demand to oil companies that he is making this morning.

KEILAR: Every single region in the U.S. is being hit by extreme weather right now. There's violent storms that is hitting the Midwest. There are even tornado warnings in Chicago. And several states are seeing extreme heat. Hundreds of thousands in Ohio are actually without power right now. And just in this morning, the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana, has just broken a record level, reaching a major flood stage. This is all happening as officials are warning that Yellowstone National Park may remain closed for a substantial amount of time, obviously at its peak season, as record rainfall and flooding is hitting the area.

And that is where CNN's Nick Watt is live for us. Nick, tell us what you're seeing.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as you say, the entire park is closed right now. And officials say that this northern entrance to the park could be closed for a lot longer. Why? Well, there is one road in, and one road out. And that road runs parallel to this river, and this river is causing a lot of damage. Nearly three months worth of water flowed down here in the space of just three days.

Now, one RV park manager here told me that he thinks that, in fact, this could be it for the rest of the season for this, the northern part of the park.

Now, why is this happening? Well, there was a heavy late dump of snow. Then there were early high temperatures, which melted that snow. Throw in a lot of rain, and this is what has happened. Now, this is basically climate change at work, and the problem is a lot of this infrastructure, the road next to the river, was built for the climate of the last century, not built for the strange climate that we are seeing now.

Now, I'm standing purposefully back from the edge of the river, because here this was where a large house for park staff was located. And we can show you the video now of that house falling into the river. Now, we are in Gardiner, which is at the northern end of the park. The road down here is still closed. We managed to get down because we're pressed. There is a bridge washed out. But it is now possible, but getting into the park there is no chance. That road is just gone. So, 2.2 million acres, 500 geysers, what the oldest national park in the world, a lot of it is not going to be accessible for quite some time.

Now, the other issue is that there were about 10,000 people in the park at the time. Now a lot of them were airlifted by helicopter from here in Gardiner, up out of the danger zone. But the problem is going to be that this might not yet be over because there is still about 12 inches of snow pack up there in the park, and they're expecting higher temperatures this weekend, maybe up in the 60s and 70s, at high elevation, which could melt a lot of that snow, and make the Yellowstone River rise once again. Guys?

KEILAR: We can see the snowpack on those mountains behind you there. So when you're talking about this lasting for a while, obviously this is peak season, how long are we talking?

WATT: Well, Brianna, they have to rebuild that entire road that runs parallel to this river. And that could take months. So that's the northern part of the park. This part was the hardest hit by the Yellowstone River.

Now, the western access to the park, the southern access to the park, they're saying that those could open a little sooner, they might have to implement some kind of reservation system down in the south when they do begin to let people in so that that part of the park doesn't get overwhelmed.


A lot of people are on summer vacation. A lot of people are really looking forward to getting out and seeing America after being stuck at home for so long. And this has caused a major problem. I could not believe last night when this guy down here was telling me he thinks that could be it for the whole season in Gardiner because the infrastructure is just gone. There is no way to actually get into the park from up here. No way. Guys?

BERMAN: They're talking they may not be able to open it until next fall at the earliest at this point because of the incredible damage that you're seeing. Nick, there was a house there, and now it's gone. It's just gone.

KEILAR: Unbelievable. Nick Watt, thank you so much, live for us from Yellowstone.

BERMAN: Other news this morning, the January 6th committee is setting up tomorrow's hearing. Vice Chair Liz Cheney released this video.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): The select committee will examine President Trump's relentless effort on January 6th and in the days beforehand to pressure Vice President Pence to refuse to count lawful electoral votes. As a federal judge has indicated, this likely violated two federal criminal statutes.


BERMAN: The committee released an extended portion of video from Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann's deposition, in which he discussed warning controversial attorney John Eastman who was attempting to overturn the 2020 election.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: Eventually he said orderly transition. I said, good, John. Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life -- get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it.


BERMAN: Joining us now, retired U.S. district judge, the honorable Shira Scheindlin. She is a fellow at the College of Commercial Arbitrators. Judge, great to see you again. Why does John Eastman need a good effing lawyer? What are the crimes that they are suggesting he may have committed?

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK (RETIRED): I must start with saying not just he. It's the crimes that he and President Trump may have committed together. The first one is obstruction of an official proceeding with a corrupt mindset. And I can explain more about what that is, if you would like. But the second one is a conspiracy to defraud the United States by deceitful or dishonest means.

KEILAR: By deceitful or dishonest means. And specifically what actions are you talking about, and how does the pressuring of Pence factor into this?

SCHEINDLIN: That's exactly what the deceitful and dishonest means are. These two met with Pence, they met with his staff, they kept urging him to reject the electoral votes or to delay the vote, and he had no power to do that. They knew that. They knew that it would violate the Electoral Count Act, and they went right ahead and did it. So that's why both statutes are in play here, both the obstruction of the official proceeding, which was the counting of those votes, they would obstruct it by trying to get Pence to override the will of the people and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

BERMAN: By corrupt means, talk to us about the significance of that word.

SCHEINDLIN: Well, it has to mean that you know, you know what you're doing is wrong. That's all it means. You can't even have a good faith view that maybe this is something you can get away with. That won't work. This would violate the law. And they both knew it. They had had much advice. The president had heard from his advisers that this couldn't be done, Eastman had even consulted a former judge he clerked for, a very conservative judge, Judge Luttig, said no way can this be done. So that's the corrupt means. It is the same as the deceitful and dishonest conduct.

KEILAR: Cheney, when talking about, in that little clip we saw that she released, she put it on Twitter, she's referring to a federal judge's ruling in a civil case from March that Trump and Eastman had likely committed felonies. Does that carry weight? How much of a judgment -- does that matter, or is she trying to say, look, someone else found this to be the case?

SCHEINDLIN: That's right. I don't think it carries legal weight, but it carries persuasive weight. This is a very fine judge. His issue was whether certain documents could be released in the committee pursuant to subpoena. He had to review those documents, and he wrote a very careful opinion reviewing all these documents under what is called the attorney-client privilege, work product privilege. But then he said there's something called the crime fraud exception. And if this is in furtherance of a crime, then it is going to get turned over. And he went through document by document, and in the end, he focused on one in particular, which laid out this plan that they had to get Pence to override the will of the people. And that, he said, was in furtherance of a crime. He said it is likely, it is likely that this would be a crime. So it is not that it is controlling, but we call it persuasive.

BERMAN: Judge Scheindlin, thanks so much for being with us and helping us understand what is going on here.


SCHEINDLIN: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: Capitol Police say there is no evidence that a Republican congressman led any kind of reconnaissance tour with Trump supporters on the eve of January 6th.

Barry Loudermilk's tour of parts of the Capitol complex had come under scrutiny by the January 6th Committee. After reviewing security footage, police have concluded that it was simply a visit by constituents. The Capitol Police chief in a letter saying, quote, "We train our officers on being alert for people conducting surveillance or reconnaissance, and we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious."

January 6th Committee leaders asked Loudermilk to submit to questioning about the tour, saying they were looking into whether rioters were casing the Capitol complex before the insurrection.

And we do have some new details this morning on what a white nationalist group was planning to do at an Idaho Pride Parade.

BERMAN: Plus, Don Lemon joins us live with his interview with the White House press secretary and her answer on Democrats questioning the president's age.


KEILAR: This morning we're learning some new details about the arrest of these 31 members of the white nationalist group called Patriot Front and their derailed plot to start a riot at a Pride Parade in Idaho.


And there's this new court filing that shows the men had protected gear. They were well-organized with preparations. They had call locations. They had drill times. They actually had two backup plans.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Salt Lake City with more on that. Quite well-prepared -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and what is interesting is that we are now seeing in their own words what their plans were because they wrote them down, according to the affidavit that police filed. The document was typed up, according to police, and discussed.

The group being there to raise a voice against what they called moral depravity, which permits events like this to take place. What they are referring to, police say, is the Pride Parade that was about to take place in Coeur d'Alene. And so you are -- it is clear what their intent was, if you look at their own documents. They also talk about antagonizing and causing disruption.

And how would they do that? Well, police said they had plenty of things to do that. They had a smoke bomb, a lot of the guys had things like long poles. Yes, they had flags on top of them, but they could certainly use those poles to create violence. They also had metal shields with them, and they had protective gear, much like the gear, police said, that they use in riot situations, which is partly why these 31 men, all dressed in similar clothing, with these piled into a U-Haul.

Somebody spotted them. And when you read some of the things they said, it appears to be sort of like a military operation, where they had times and places and dates and GPS, and everything sort of plotted out as to what they were going to do, where they were going to meet, where they were going to go. And so it was really disturbing when you think about this small town that is trying to show love to everyone in the town, and then to have this group show up from out of town, by the way, all 31 members are not from Coeur d'Alene, they're from other places, most of them from out of state, not even from Idaho.

And so this really rattled the community. But it was discovered by a witness who saw these men, who looked like what he referred to as a little army, getting out of this U-Haul and standing around in all of these similar outfits. Now we know from their own writing, from their own plans, that they were intending to disrupt and cause a major problem for those who were gathering just to show love to the LGBTQ community -- guys.

KEILAR: Sara Sidner, thank you so much. Incredibly alarming details there. Live for us from Salt Lake City.

BERMAN: Joining us now is Don Lemon, who conveniently anchors a show called "DON LEMON TONIGHT" on CNN. He's also the author of "This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism."

Don, nice to see you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to both of you.

BERMAN: Listen, you just heard Sara's report there. What's the big takeaway for you?

LEMON: Is that this is what you say to your friends about racism and about bigotry is the big takeaway. And this is -- the equipment that they had, that's what separates quite honestly this crazy, which is of another magnitude just from your every average everyday hate-filled bigot. This is beyond. These are people who all came together, 30 some people, and I would imagine that there are more somewhere else, and that they're recruiting more people.

Thirty some young men, who are, you know, people who are trying to celebrate Pride, who are trying to celebrate quite frankly the joys and the freedoms and the luxuries of being an American, which is afforded -- should be afforded to all of us. And they want to go against that and create harm and havoc.

The thing that got me, and sara said it, that they want to raise a voice against the moral depravity which permits events such as -- like this to take place. Not even the -- considering, right, the hypocrisy here, their own moral depravity of trying to disrupt this event and possibly harm people. This goes against the laws of America, the laws of our society and definitely against the laws of any religion that I have ever read about, that I know about. So that's their own hypocrisy here.

KEILAR: The mother of one of the guys, of one of the 31, who is from Utah, he's from Utah, spoke to the "Daily Beast," and I think we all have a question about what prompts someone to do this, or to join a group like this, and she says this isn't the son I raised, but she felt that he was looking for some kind of brotherhood that he was actually brought in, in part, by the community that this group gave to him after some personal issues that he was having in his life.

I wonder what you think about that.

LEMON: Look, it's -- I have empathy for people who are dealing with this, especially a mother, you know, I can only imagine my mother and you as a mother going through this. But I'm always surprised when people say I had no idea or I didn't know.

KEILAR: She knew. She had some tip-offs.


KEILAR: But she doesn't understand where it came from.


LEMON: Well, of course we understand where it comes from. Of course we do. Look at what happened on January 6th. We understand that people can be co-opted by certain people, certain individuals, certain groups, by the internet. And we should not pretend that does not happen, that people can be co-opted by bigotry and hatred. Some of which our country was founded on. And some of which we -- most of which we haven't dealt with in our society.

And we -- listen, we're talking about now we are dealing with in a very big way the dangers of not standing up for our democracy. Not standing up for what's right in our society. And if you don't do that, then you get an insurrection, then you get a patriot with -- Patriot Front and the idea that they use the term patriot, that they have co- opted this term patriot to mean something that is -- really just bastardized the term, patriot. That's not what a patriot is. Patriots don't do this.

KEILAR: And she said that pulled him in.


KEILAR: That bastardization of the word patriot.

LEMON: Of the word patriot. That's not what -- we have this idea that patriotism is something that we, you know, we stand up and, you know, for the flag and put our hand over our heart. Patriotism is something that is active, that we have to, you know, make sure every day that we live up to the ideals of patriotism. It's not just pretending that we're patriots because we can carry gun, because we can walk around, a group of us looking like we work at a Best Buy. If you want to hear khakis and blue shirts like that, go get a job at a Best Buy. Don't try to harm your fellow Americans.

BERMAN: Don, you had an interview with a White House press secretary two nights ago that is still making news this morning. People are still talking about it because first of all, it was a terrific interview on a wide range of subjects, but you asked about reports that are now coming out. There was the "New York Times" story, you're hearing it from other Democrats as well, who are asking questions about whether President Biden, Democrats asking questions about whether President Biden should be the nominee in 2024. I want to play an exchange.


LEMON: Does the president have the stamina, physically and mentally, do you think, to continue on even after 2024?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Don, you're asking me this question. Oh, my gosh. He's the president of the United States. You know, he -- I can't even keep up with him. We just got back from New Mexico. We just got back from California. That is -- that is not a question that we should be even asking.


BERMAN: What do you think of her response, Don?

LEMON: Of course we should be asking that question. First of all, I'm a journalist. That's my job, is to ask questions, and as the person who represents the administration and the president, it's her job to answer those questions. I would not be doing my job if I didn't ask that.

Let's just be honest about this. I didn't question whether -- I'm not being ageist and saying that the president of the United States is too old to be president. We can judge that. I think that's an individual thing, right? But I do think that as a president of the United States, we should know the health history, both physically and mentally, of the United States, the president of the United States. We certainly questioned the former president's capabilities and whether or not he should have the mental capacity, quite frankly, and the physical capacity to be the president of the United States, and we did it a lot.

We had COVID, can he physically be the president of the United States? It has been said even in these hearings that he is unhinged, that, you know, he is out of his mind because of what he -- you know, things that he was doing.

Now I'm not comparing the two men. But it is our job as journalists and as Americans to know the physical and mental capacity of the president of the United States. And I want to be very clear about this. I think Joe Biden is a nice man. He's going to be, you know, he's almost 80 years old. I am in my 50s. I have trouble recalling things. I'm not as sharp as I used to be.

BERMAN: Late 50s. LEMON: Stop it.


LEMON: We're going to fight about this. Look, but think about this, I'm not as sharp as I used to be. And the job of president of the United States is a really, really tough job. Maybe he is -- I'm sure he's up to the job, but it is my job as a journalist to ask. And I -- the reason I asked that question is because there are reports that are coming out. There's a report in the "New York Times" about what Democrats are saying that there are whispers, and we know that as journalists.

We know that there are whispers and we interview the president, we watch him in press conferences, we watch him do interviews on -- he was on "Jimmy Kimmel" the other night, and quite frankly I had trouble following him. He was -- his answers are not succinct. And I understand that he is -- an issue as a stutterer as a child. I interviewed him several times, leading up to his -- you know, when he was running for president and as president of the United States I interviewed him.

And he has trouble sometimes connecting and his answers sometimes don't make sense. And so I want to know as a journalist, as an American, does this president have the mental and physical stamina to run again as president of the United States considering the reports that are coming out and considering my eyes and my ears, I can hear him.