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Officers Waited in Hallway 58 Minutes Before Engaging Gunman; Senate Negotiators Close in on Gun Control Deal; GOP Candidate Brandishes Gun, Urges the Hunting of 'RINOs' in Ad; Today's January 6th Committee Hearing to Focus on Trump Pressuring State Officials. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, June 21. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.


And developing this morning, new revelations in the investigation into the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Pictures that we have not seen before that raise questions about whether police had the fire power to confront the shooter there long, long before they did.

This image, obtained by "The Austin American-Statemen" that we have not seen before, shows an officer there with a ballistic shield. There also appear to be at least two rifles there.

That picture was taken at 11:52 a.m. That's just 19 minutes after the gunman first entered the school and 58 minutes before officers took him down.

Now, there's another picture obtained by "The Texas Tribune" this time that shows multiple officers armed with rifles there. Ballistic shields, multiple shields. An axe-like tool. Most of which, "The Tribune" reports, were never deployed.

Now, we must note, we do not know at what point in the standoff this image was taken. But it does seem by these images that police were well-equipped to storm the gunman.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And this is raising new questions and, understandably, new anger about the police response by Uvalde officers.

We're also learning that some officers on the scene questioned the plan, as confusion delayed the breaching of the classroom, with kids still inside.

BERMAN: Rosa Flores is live in San Antonio this morning. Rosa, with these new images, which really just delve further in to what did happen at the school that day.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, I spoke to a law enforcement source that's close to his investigation. And this individual read to me a portion of this new time line and what it shows.

It shows that in the first three minutes of this shooter going into the school, 11 officers entered the school, as well, some of them with long guns. One of those officers included the school police chief.

Now, one minute later, the shooter shot through the door. Some of those officers were hurt. They got grazing wounds. And for the next 73 agonizing minutes, according to the preliminary investigation, no one, no one tried to breach these doors to stop the shooter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I find it shameful that we had almost 100 officers on the scene, and I had to leave work and save my own.

FLORES (voice-over): Outrage palpable in Uvalde, Texas as the first image from inside Robb Elementary during the shooting is released by "The Austin American-Statesman."

This surveillance picture shows officers standing in the school's hallway with rifles and a ballistic shield with a time stamp of 19 minutes after officials say the gunman entered the school.

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN": It shows, in the minds of at least some investigators reviewing what happened that day, is that authorities had adequate fire power and adequate protective equipment. Fifty-eight minutes passed from the time we see these officers in that video, in that screen grab, to when they ultimately breach that classroom.

FLORES (voice-over): Just 12 minutes before, at 11:40, Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department from inside the school, asking for help.

According to a transcript, Arredondo says, "It's an emergency right now. We have him in the room. He's got an AR-15. He's shot a lot. They need to be outside the building. Prepare. Because we don't have firepower right now. It's all pistols."

After reviewing body camera footage, "The Statesman" writes, "Arredondo was trying to find keys to open the classroom's doors, even though officials say they do not believe officers had tried to open either door."

"The Texas Tribune" reports officers held their positions outside the adjoining classrooms as the gunman fired at least three more times. "The Tribune" released a surveillance picture it says is from 12:04 p.m. that shows multiple officers with at least two ballistic shields.

Police would not enter the classroom for another 46 minutes.

In transcripts reviewed by "The Tribune," officers were growing impatient. One agent asks, "Are there still kids in the classroom?"

To which another agent answers, "It is unknown at this time."

The agent replies, "You all don't know if there's kids in there? If there's kids in there, we need to go in there."

The other agent responds, "Whoever is in charge will determine that."

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: All of those officers are trained in an active shooter situation. And from the very beginning, even the ones that didn't have the ballistic shields, they should have just gone in. That's what their protocol suggests.

Children were left in a room, scared to death, calling 911, and yet, no one went in.

FLORES (voice-over): The community directing its anger at Chief Pete Arredondo at a Uvalde School Board meeting Monday night.

BRENT CROSS, UVALDE PARENT: Will you tell our kids, teachers, parents in the city about keeping them on the staff? Y'all are continuing to tell us.

JESUS RIZO JR., UVALDE PARENT: How is Mr. Arredondo still with the program? Suspended, pending termination. It's an insult to injury.



FLORES (on camera): Now, CNN has reached out to Arredondo's attorney, and we have not heard back.

Now about the hearings that are happening in the Texas Senate today, John, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation, the head of Texas DPS is expected to bring in a physical door today, into Senate chambers, from Robb Elementary School. Now, I'm told that this is not one of the doors from the classrooms where the shooting happened.

But, John, they're expected to use this door to show the locking mechanism of the doors in this school -- John.

BERMAN: There are still so many questions, Rosa. And the reason is because been there's such little transparency up until this point. Rosa Flores, you're asking all the questions. Thanks so much for being there.

KEILAR: And joining us now is former FBI deputy assistant director, Peter Strzok; and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. She is also the author of "The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters."

I think one of the most disturbing things we're learning, Peter, here is they had long guns, and they had shielding. Did they have the fire power early on to match this gunman, as you look at these photos?

PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: It certainly appears they did. As it evolves, certainly, right around noon time they had additional officers with additional second, third, and fourth shield that showed up.

The difficult thing is of course, they were facing a gunman who they did match, but the issue at the end of the day is he had a weapon, an assault weapon, that was designed for war fighting. So these were very lethal weapons.

But certainly, the police had more than a match for what he had on scene long before -- you know, more than 30, 40 minutes before they actually made a dynamic entry to -- to kill him.

BERMAN: You know, Juliette, it was 11:52 a.m. And we see the shield and two long guns there. You see it there. These are things we did not know until that picture was released. And it gives us just a much greater insight into what police didn't do in real time with what they had.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. It's -- it's damning, in almost every way.

I keep thinking the kids had crowns, right? That's what they had. And the police officers not only had shields; it looks like they had tools and they had weaponry. And so the delay is horrible enough in itself, but -- but now almost a month later, why were we told differently?

I mean, this is the -- this is the frustrating part of this. It's sort of, you know, that the state and the localities keep telling us information that defends the police officers, until some reporter, some newspaper, CNN, whoever, comes out and says, That's absolutely not true.

And so I have very little confidence in what's going to come out in terms of these public investigations, or at least the local and state ones. And we're just getting this information from reporters, which undermines every single story that we have been told by the police chief at the school district, as well as by the state at times.

KEILAR: Juliette, how does this clarify the leadership failures in this instance?

KAYYEM: Yes. I thought -- I thought what "The Texas Tribune" released today was interesting, because you see the police officers now, in some ways, second-guessing the chain of command.

You have one saying, We know he's in there with a gun. There's kids in there. You don't --

The second says, You don't know what's going on? There's kids in there.

The first says we have no command order to go in.

Now, this is where the breakdown clearly seems to happen, because the police officers, as Peter was saying, should just go in. I mean, one of the -- one of the reasons why we have active shooter protocols like this is because we know the situational awareness, the information will be confused. We won't -- It's going to be so fast.

And so, what we - what we rely on is an immediate entry. Get rid of -- in other words, eliminate the threat. and then you can figure out what's going on after. And that never happened.

I think my next question is, why didn't it happen? Were they actually told not to go in? Or were they simply just waiting for someone to take charge? And this is what, I think, some of the -- the audio is going to show us.

BERMAN: And that gets to what can be learned from this, Peter.


BERMAN: Obviously, in past mass shootings, what was learned is just what Juliette was talking about, the protocol to go in and go in quickly. What do you think the lessons are from this?

STRZOK: I think the biggest lesson is there remains, it appears, some ambiguity withing police forces about what the appropriate tactics are.

Now, it's absolutely true that, after the Columbine shooting, that the tactics were changed to be much more aggressive, to move to the fire, to engage with the shooter and eliminate the threat.

But it's clear from this incident that, certainly locally, there was some, you know, question about whether or not that was the right call.

And to the extent there are any other police forces around the United States, they need to be engaged in a very frank and honest discussion about what their tactics and procedures are, to make sure that those are well-known by everybody from commanders all the way down to the officers on the scene, so that we avoid this at any other potential shooting somewhere else in the United States.


KEILAR: Yes. There has to be lessons taken away from this, right? This has to be a learning moment so that other students do not die.

Juliette Kayyem and Peter Strzok, we appreciate your expertise on this. Thank you.

And coming up, we're going to speak with Jose Flores Sr. He is the father of Uvalde school shooting victim Jose Manuel Flores Jr. His reaction to the new revelations, ahead.

BERMAN: This morning, it does seem that a gun safety deal could be within reach in the Senate. This is coming just as recess looms.

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox has been worked around the clock now for more than a week tracking this. What's the very latest on these discussions, Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when lawmakers left Washington on Thursday, there were grim prospects for getting a deal. You had a lot of frustration from members coming out of several hours' worth of meetings.

Today, however, staff, negotiators, members, they worked throughout the weekend. I'm told that they are largely in a place they feel very good about.

But at this point, what's taking time is drafting the actual legislative text. And it's technical reasons that this is being held up at this point.

But many aides say that this is going to reflect that framework that came out just a few days ago. They also say that the expectation is that they could still see a way to move forward this week.

But time is of the essence, because lawmakers return to Washington today. And like you said, John, they are on the heels of another two- week recess.

So the questions, of course, whether or not they can line up the support that they had for that framework; if lawmakers are going to have enough time to read through this legislation, feel comfortable voting on it.

And of course, in the Senate, floor time is precious. And you definitely are going to need some kind of agreement from members that they are going to speed up this process, to get it all finished and out the door before lawmakers leave for this two-week recess.

But I'm told things are moving slowly but in the right direction. We could see legislative text this morning -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Keep us posted. For them to vote on it by this weekend would be light speed in congressional terms there. We'll see. Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

Today, four witnesses will testify before the January 6th Committee about the pressure they felt from former President Trump to overturn the election and the suffering it caused them.

Plus, the backlash grows this morning over a Republican Senate candidate who released an ad aimed at fellow Republicans.

KEILAR: And President Biden says he's considering giving Americans a gas tax holiday. How that would impact the economy.



KEILAR: A new campaign ad released by former Missouri governor and current GOP U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens is drawing heavy criticism from across the political spectrum.

It's a video that shows Greitens in a group of armed men in tactical gear, bursting into a house, with Greitens saying, quote, "The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice. Get a RINO hunting permit. There's no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn't expire until we save our country."

Of course, RINO is an acronym meaning "Republican in name only." The video has been removed by Facebook for violating its violence policies. It's been flagged by Twitter for abusive behavior.

And joining us now to discuss this is former Republican congressman from Illinois, Joe Walsh. The big question is, will this even hurt him? Or will this help him?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN/FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This will help him. Brianna, like it helped that Republican candidate up in Michigan, who was arrested by the FBI for participating in January 6th.

Look, America needs to wrap her arms around the fact that the base, the voting base, of one of our two major political parties, Brianna, is fully radicalized. We talk about that, and -- and we get outraged about it. I don't think people know what that means.

That means most Republican voters no longer believe in truth. They've given up on democracy. They want a strong man to rule. And they want their political opponents destroyed or killed. This ain't fringe anymore in the Republican Party.

KEILAR: Remember, ten years ago. It was ten years ago --

GREITENS: Ten years ago.

KEILAR: -- Todd Akin is disqualified, essentially, politically disqualified, for his comments about rape and abortion. And that just seems like an entirely -- it is an entirely different era now.

WALSH: A lifetime ago. Brianna, I was in Congress 10 years ago. I said some pretty crazy things every now and then. I'd be boring right now.

Todd Akin was ostracized from the party. When Republicans back then said or did things beyond the pale, they were shunned. Now they're embraced.

And the reason, Brianna, is because this is where their voting base is. Again, it's radicalized one of our two major political parties. I guarantee you in Missouri's primary, Greitens will be rewarded for this.

KEILAR: Does this put political folks -- does this put public officials at risk?

WALSH: Heck, yes. I mean, think about it. He's telling us that he wants to kill human beings. He wants to kill his political opponents. Again, this should outrage all of us.

But, Brianna, it's at the point now, we've got to stop being outraged by what my former political party does. This is who they are. We need to accept it and defeat it. KEILAR: This is one data point when you're talking about Eric

Greitens, right? He -- he ran for governor. He won in Missouri after basically switching from being a Democrat to a Republican.


He was ousted amid allegations of sexual and physical assault, both by his hairdresser.


KEILAR: His ex-wife alleges he physically abused their children. This is just one part of what we have learned about Eric Greitens.

So what does that say that, not only this ad, but this person who has all of these things going on, swarming around them, is being held up?

WALSH: It tells us that the base, again, Republican voters don't care; because none of this will hurt him.

Look at Herschel Walker in Georgia. Nothing he's said or done will hurt him.

Look what the Texas Republicans just did this past weekend, Brianna. The Texas Republicans said Joe Biden did not win in 2020.

This is where that party is right now. Greitens is not unusual at all. It's not fringe in this party.

KEILAR: Joe, thank you so much --


KEILAR: -- for talking with us about this. We appreciate it, Joe Walsh.

Four witnesses testifying in a matter of hours here about former President Trump's pressure campaign on state officials to overturn the election.

BERMAN: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raising more than $100 million ahead of his gubernatorial race. Also, you look at the calendar, ahead of the 2024 race for president. A lot of it, a lot of the money, comes from some of Donald Trump's wealthiest backers.



BERMAN: The January 6th Select Committee set to hear live testimony from four witnesses during today's hearing. It will focus on former President Trump's pressure campaign on state officials.

Joining me now, CNN senior legal analyst and former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig. Elie, there will be a focus on Georgia.


All eyes on Georgia. And the star witness for the committee today will be the Republican Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.

We all know about this call that Donald Trump placed to Brad Raffensperger, in which he said the most famous quote: "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state."

Interesting thing about the call. Everyone knows this line now. It's an hour and two minutes long. If you listen to it, Trump is browbeating Raffensperger. He's throwing election fraud conspiracy theory after theory.

And Raffensperger calmly but politely refutes him. He says at one point, Sir, the problem you have is your data is wrong.

We also will hear from Raffensperger's deputy, again a Republican, Gabriel Sterling. Now, give his guy a lot of credit, because he stood up in early December as the election fraud lie was taking hold. And he got behind the microphone, and he said this: "Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions." And Sterling said, "This has to stop. Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed."

Unfortunately, he turned out to be exactly right. Worth mentioning, he said he voted for Trump; he wanted Trump to win in 2020. But he was not willing to go along with this.

And we will hear from Wandrea Moss. Now, she's different. She didn't run for office. She's just a civilian public servant. She was an election worker in Georgia.

And she somehow became the target for these attacks by Rudy Giuliani and others, accusing her of counting fraudulent votes that were wheeled in in a suitcase.

Now, Georgia authorities investigated this. They found there is nothing to it. They cleared her. They said she was doing her job.

She has since sued One America Network, which settled; and she has sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation. That is still ongoing.

Let's remember, looming over all of this is a prosecutor, the D.A. in Fulton County, Fani Willis. She has a grand jury going right now. You can bet she and her team are going to be watching carefully today.

BERMAN: So all that's Georgia --


BERMAN: -- but not just Georgia today?

HONIG: Right. It goes way beyond Georgia. We will hear today live from the, again, Republican Arizona state House speaker, Rusty Bowers. When Trump's people started to pressure Georgia to throw the election his way, Bowers issued a very powerful statement where he said this: "Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and others representing President Trump came to Arizona with a breathtaking request that the Arizona legislature overturn the certified results of last month's election and deliver the state's Electoral College votes to President Trump. The rule of law forbids us to do that."

Now, John, of course, this was a seven-state effort. Targeted by Trump's people: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

And one thing that's interesting, we will hear Donald Trump doing this by himself. We will hear his own voice on tapes. We will hear testimony that Donald Trump, the president, reached out to these state and local officials.

And John, we will hear today about what's called the fake elector scheme or the alternate elector scheme. John Eastman, same lawyer we heard about last week, came up with this plan. Rudy Giuliani coordinated it. Well, all seven of those states sent into the National Archives signed documents saying, "We are the electors for Donald Trump from this state."

BERMAN: So what was the "legal," and I put that in quotation marks, justification for these Trump supporters to do this?

HONIG: Yes, so Article II of the Constitution tells us that it is up to state legislatures to decide how they'll allocate their state's electoral votes.

The problem for Donald Trump is all seven states had already done that. Many years ago, they said whoever wins the popular vote for thus state gets all our electoral votes.

They tried to sort of twist this to say, Well, states, you can do whatever you want.

You really can't, after the fact.

Now, this effort ultimately was doomed legally. It was doomed politically, largely because many Republican state and local officials said, No way.

It also was doomed as a mathematical and practical matter. Because Donald Trump would have needed to flip not one but at least three of these states. And the margins were all at least 10,000 votes.

So we're not talking about a Florida 2000 scenario, where 537 votes. He could have had to flip all three of these, and there's just no way he could have practically done that. It was a big swing, and it really blew up on him.