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Hearing Focuses on Trump's Pressure of State Officials; Political Turmoil in Israel; Ukraine Warns of Food Shortages; Trump Endorsement in Alabama Race; Al Cardenas is Interviewed about Florida; Images of Uvalde Shooting. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 06:30   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He would 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 them.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, the Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who has already testified before the committee said, if you look at this, it's actually not that close as far as recounts and contested elections go.


BERMAN: I want to go back to the fake elector issue here.


BERMAN: What law, in theory, could the January 6th committee says was broken here?

HONIG: So, the committee could argue that this was part of the larger scheme to defraud the United States. That in itself is a federal law.

But also, there's a perhaps more direct federal law. We call it thousand one, which is, you cannot submit a fraudulent document or make a false statement to the U.S. government. Whether you're lying to the FBI, putting in a false document with the IRS. And the argument may be that these forms saying, we're the electors for Donald Trump were false because he didn't win.

But it's important to know, there's distinctions within the seven documents that were put in. Two of them say these are the electors just in case it is formally decided Donald Trump won. That's going to be a harder case to make. The others don't say that. So the argument is going to be, those were false statements. They were actually sent in to the National Archives.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm going to be listening very closely to the exact case this January 6th committee makes today.

Elie, thank you so much for that.

HONIG: Thanks, John. BERMAN: President Biden says he is nearing a decision on whether to back a federal gas tax holiday, as Americans continue to deal with these high gas prices.

And at last Covid vaccine shots will be available for children five and under beginning today. The U.S. surgeon general will join us ahead.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Beyonce dropping the first single from her new album with a taste of the '90s.


BEYONCE, MUSICIAN (singing): Baby, you won't break my soul. You won't break my soul. You won't break my soul. You won't break my soul.




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the national average for a gallon of gas stands just pennies glow $5, despite high prices at the pump. AAA predicting a record number of Americans will be hitting the roads for the July 4th holiday weekend. The White House is struggling to get gas prices down and now President Biden is considering a federal gas tax holiday.

So, joining us now to talk about this is CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Christine, tell us what this would look like and how it would feel for us.


First of all, this is urgency behind the White House here. When you look at numbers like this, $4.97, holding steady here below $5 a gallon. But just look, a years ago it was $3.07 for a gallon of regular. So, this is something that is hurting American families every single day and it shows in the distress in so many of these public opinion polls.

So, what is the White House considering? A gas tax holiday. That would suspend the federal tax of 18.4 cents a gallon if the White House decides to go this way.

This is used to fund the federal highway system and infrastructure projects and there are state taxes on top of that as well. So, this is one of the reasons why you see gas prices so different all across the country. It depends on what your state is taxing. California, for example, has 58 cents. Alaska is the lowest at just 8 cents. So that's why you see such big differentiation in gas prices. So that 18.4 cents a gallon, a holiday would give - would give drivers a little bit of a break.

Here's what Greg Valliere, someone who advises Wall Street on what's happening in Washington, here's what he says about it. He says, most experts consider this a gimmick, a gas tax holiday, but Democrats would gladly accept an end to the 18 cents per gallon gasoline tax, which would win strong public support. Indeed the public is supportive of this. And he says the chances are probably about 60 cents - or 60 percent.

So, why is it a gimmick? Brianna, it's interesting, this is a number -- a tax that hasn't really risen since the 1990s, right? And 18.4 cents for fix highways, roads and bridges, paying for mass transit, funding other state projects and agencies. It hasn't kept up with inflation or the demand. And, quite frankly, our cars are so much more fuel-efficient right now that your gas taxes aren't going as far as they used to be.

So, this would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. Now, keep in mind, Paul is about ready to go in and vote in a midterm election. So that might be one of the cynical reasons that we're talking about this here.

And, again, I will just close for you, Brianna, exactly what the urgency is here. To fill up a tank of gas, 15 gallons, $75 today compared with $46 last year. That's real money. Eighteen cents, I mean, people would feel it.


KEILAR: Yes, Paul is going to vote in a midterm election. You made me chuckle to myself with that one, indeed.

Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Is Benjamin Netanyahu poised for a comeback in Israel? The political upheaval that could make it happen. We are live from Jerusalem, next.

BERMAN: Ukraine's president, Zelenskyy, accusing Russia of holding Africa hostage by its blockade of Ukrainian grain exports. This has driving up prices and fears of famine across the continent.



BERMAN: Weeks of political turmoil coming to a head in Israel. The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is stepping down and his coalition government will be dissolved. It paves the way for the fifth election in Israel in four years and a possible comeback by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

CNN's Hadas Gold has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, where in a shocking political shake-up, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his governing partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, have announced that they will be dissolving their own government after losing their parliament majority.

By doing so, they take that opportunity away from former Prime Minister, now opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was trying to dissolve parliament himself. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, after the parliament is disbanded, likely next week, Yair Lapid will become caretaker prime minister and new elections will be held in the fall. This will be the fifth Israelis are heading to the polls in less than four years.

What this also means is that it will be Yair Lapid who will welcome President Joe Biden when he arrives in Israel next month for a planned visit to the region and not Naftali Bennett. But the White House says that despite the political shake-up, the president will make his trip as planned.


BERMAN: Hadas Gold, thank you very much.

KEILAR: As Russian forces continue their deadly march across Ukraine for the fourth straight month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the ongoing hostilities is preventing grain from leaving the region and will soon lead to food shortages in Asia and Africa.

CNN's David McKenzie has more.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm David McKenzie in Johannesburg.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned African leaders that their nations are being held hostage because of a continued blockade by Russia of millions of tons of grains in ports like Odessa that should be going to countries in Africa, particularly, and their populations.


The U.S. has warned this continued blockade could lead even to starvation in the coming months.

The Putin regime says that this is because of EU sanctions. But the EU policy chief says the blockade is a war crime by Russia's president.


KEILAR: David McKenzie, thank you for that report.

The power of a Trump endorsement being tested again today in an Alabama race where Trump endorsed one candidate, then jumped to the other. BERMAN: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drawing a huge fundraising haul

with support from some of Donald Trump's wealthiest backers. Could this signal a willingness to move on from Trump inside the Republican Party.



KEILAR: Primary season rolls on today. Voters in Georgia and Alabama heading back to the polls for runoffs in several races that weren't decided last month. The most closely watched contest is in Alabama where Donald Trump ditched one candidate in a GOP Senate race for his opponent.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live for us in Montgomery, Alabama, with more on this race.



All eyes on the runoff here in Alabama to be the next Republican candidate for Senate. And as voters head to the polls today, one of those candidates, Congressman Mo Brooks, is lashing out at former President Donald Trump, saying Trump has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself.


HOLMES (voice over): He was one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest allies.


HOLMES: A leading promoter of Trump's 2020 election lies.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Joe Biden lost and President Trump won the Electoral College.

HOLMES: Even delivering a speech at the now infamous Stop the Steal Rally that preceded the deadly January 6th riot at the Capitol.

BROOKS: Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.

HOLMES: But as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks heads into today's runoff to be the state's Republican candidate for Senate, he is doing so without the support of the former president. Learning the hard way that when it comes to Trump, loyalty --

TRUMP: If given the opportunity, I will get even with some people that were disloyal to me.

HOLMES: Is not always a two-way street.

After initially endorsing the conservative fire brand --

TRUMP: We're going to elect our friend Mo Brooks to the U.S. Senate.

HOLMES: Now Trump is backing Brooks' rival, Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to retiring Republican Senator Richard Shelby.

The former president once claimed Britt was, quote, not in any way qualified for the job, but that was when he was behind Brooks. As brooks' campaign struggled, Trump jumped ship and accused Brooks of going, quote, woke for these comments.

BROOKS: There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud election theft in 2020. Folks, put that behind you. Put that behind you. Yes!

HOLMES: Brooks says he learned of Trump's decision from a reporter seeking comment.

BROOKS: He didn't have the courtesy or the chutzpah, or whatever, to let me know first. So, it somewhat blindsided me this morning.

HOLMES: Despite the embarrassing episode, Brooks has continued to run as MAGA Mo, and insisting his refusal to say the 2020 results could be overturned was partly to blame.

BROOKS: I knew that when I gave him straight-shooting legal advice, that it would perturb him because it's not what he wanted to hear and I knew it would put my endorsement at risk, but I thought it was the honorable thing to do, so I did it.

HOLMES: Even so, Brooks still tried to win back Trump's support ahead of the runoff.


HOLMES: But Trump ultimately sided with Britt, who is widely seen as the favorite on Tuesday after receiving the most votes in the May primary.


HOLMES: And his endorsement of Katie Britt comes at a time when the former president is trying to shore up his status as kingmaker in the Republican Party, particularly after a series of high-profile defeats last month.


KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching.

Kristen, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Ahead of his bid for a second term this year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has raised more than $100 million. According to "Politico," this is thanks in part to some of former President Trump's biggest benefactors. "Politico" reports that, quote, most of the high dollar donors had never given contributions in state level Florida elections, while those who have previously provided funds have significantly increased their spending for DeSantis during the 2022 midterms.

Joining us now, Al Cardenas, is from chair of the Republican Party of Florida.

You know this state so well.

Al, it's great to see you this morning.


BERMAN: Money that doesn't normally go to Florida for this type of an election. What does it tell you about these donors, where their heads are?

CARDENAS: Well, these donors are MAGA donors, right? With or without Donald Trump, MAGA is ruling the day in terms of MAGA donors. And it's obvious - it's obvious to all of us that they - they like Governor DeSantis, they're supporting Governor DeSantis.

We only have a few months left until the November election. So, after November, we'll see where that money goes. But, in my opinion, it's going to go mostly to one of two candidates, and that's Donald Trump, if he runs, or Ron DeSantis. Right now, the way I look at it, MAGA world is in love with Ron DeSantis. I don't see anybody being a close second. And so it will be - it will be an interesting decision as to what Donald Trump decides to do.

KEILAR: Yes, well, with - you said with or without Donald Trump. What about with Donald Trump? Right now all indications are a matter of when, not if, he's going to run. So, if you have Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump both running in 2024, what do you think these donors are going to do, Al?


CARDENAS: Well, we had that in 2016 in Florida where Marco Rubio decided to run against his mentor, Jeb Bush, right? And so, for Floridians, having two people from the state of Florida running in a primary is nothing new.

I don't know what's going to happen. A lot will depend on numbers and so forth. But I know Donald Trump's worried about it. He's got Roger Stone and -- here in Florida taking a look at what's going on in the DeSantis camp. And we'll see.

But, you know, Ron DeSantis has to run for governor. He's doing very well in the fundraising end, in the polling end. And so a big win until November will give him quite a bit of momentum headed into the 2024 cycle.

BERMAN: "The New Yorker" did a profile that it released just yesterday of Ron DeSantis, you know, 10,000 words at least, maybe double that, but it describes DeSantis behind the scenes in ways that I haven't seen before. We don't have this window into how he works behind closed doors. And there was -- there were several quotes just like this one. I want to read it to you. It said, people who work closely with him describe a man so aloof that he sometimes finds it difficult to carry on a conversation. He's not comfortable engaging other people, a political leader who sees him often told me. He walks into the meeting and doesn't acknowledge the rest of us. There's no eye contact and literal or no interaction. The moment I start to ask him a question, his head twitches. You can tell he doesn't want to be there.

I'm sure you've had a chance to interact with him over the years. Is that a good description of how he operates? And how will that work for a politician?

CARDENAS: Well, you know, I read the article. And it was a very intensive article into who he is. I remember, I was chairman of the American Conservative Unit (ph) when he first ran for Congress in 2012. Met with him as a candidate. And I said to myself, boy, this fellow is really low key when it comes to being a candidate. Most of this colleagues in the Congress, his six years he was there, believed that he was more of an introvert, more to himself.

But the truth of the matter is, he loved to read. He loved to be prepared. It's serving him well. You go right now and to an event, and he is the Elvis Presley in the room. And people can't wait to touch him, to see him. He has gained a - he has gained a level of support that is rarely seen in politics. And so if you add all those particular, you know, handicaps, if you want to call them, you know, it doesn't seem to affect how he -- how the crowds are reacting to him in the state of Florida nowadays.

Now, a lot of it has to do with, you know, the fact that he's been so successful in selling that MAGA brand. But when you look at it, the support that he gets on the street, the support he gets when he walks into a room is diametrically opposite to what I thought was a pretty descriptive article in "The Atlantic" as well.

BERMAN: Al Cardenas, great to see you this morning. Thank you so much for being with us.

CARDENAS: My pleasure.

BERMAN: And NEW DAY continues right now.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Tuesday, June 21st. And I'm Brianna Keilar, with John Berman.

Developing this morning, new details about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers died. Images we have not seen before raising questions about whether police had the fire power to confront the shooter there long before they did.

This image obtained by "The Austin American-Statesman" shows an officer with a ballistic shield. There appear to be at least two long guns there. It was from 11:52 a.m., just 19 minutes after the gunman first entered the school, and 58 minutes before they took him down. Another picture obtained by "The Texas Tribune" showing officers armed

with rifles, ballistic shields and an axe-like tool, most of which were reportedly never deployed.

We must note, we do not know at this point what point in the standoff this particular image was taken. But you see there, police were well equipped to storm the room.

BERMAN: We've also learned that some officers on the scene questioned the plan as confusion delay the breaching of the classroom with children still inside.

Here's CNN's Rosa Flores.


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.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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.