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New Pictures and Video Indicate Police Were Well-Armed During Uvalde, Texas, School Shooting for A Long Time Before Breaching Classroom to Stop Gunman; House January 6th Committee to Focus on Former President Trump's Efforts to Pressure State Officials to Overturn 2020 Election Results. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 08:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We're also learning that some officers who were on the scene questioned the plan as confusion delayed the breaching of the classroom with kids still inside.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now is Tony Plohetski. He's an investigative reporter at the "Austin American-Statesman" who first reported on the police footage as well as the phone transcript. Tony, it's great to see you again. I just want to put the photo up on the screen here that is getting so much attention this morning. You see there, 11:52 a.m., you see a ballistic shield, two rifles there. Explain exactly what we are looking at, the significance of it, and place it in the overall timeline.

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Well, it's hugely significant for a number of reasons. For the first time we are now seeing inside that hallway and inside that school where this all happened, of course. If you're like me, we've all kind of been picturing what it might have looked like inside that school, but I think these new images are giving us now our first glimpse.

With regard to the responding officers, as you mentioned, this deepens the question about the total police response and why they did not act sooner to try to take down the gunman. According to investigators and other people who have looked at this photograph, they are baffled as to why police did not act sooner knowing that they had, in their minds, in the minds of people who have reviewed this evidence, that they had not only the sufficient equipment but sufficient firepower to try to breach that classroom door.

KEILAR: Because it wasn't a pistol of theirs versus an AR-15-style rifle of his, right? They were matching him on firepower.

PLOHETSKI: Well, Brianna, that's actually a very good point. Initially, I think the public, to some extent, was led to believe that those early responding officers, and while it may be true for the earliest responding officers, but I think the public was led to believe that officers in those early minutes only had pistols.

As a matter of fact, I reviewed a transcript of a call that the school district police chief made to the Uvalde Police Department, and he said, that was at around 11:40 a.m., and he said in that phone call that they were outgunned essentially, that all they had were pistols. He urgently requested more equipment be deployed and arrive at the school. But, again, we see that just about 12 minutes later, there is at least one ballistic shield and at least one rifle at that point.

BERMAN: Again, if we can look at that picture again, you see the shield there, you see the rifle, perhaps rifles there, 12 minutes after the chief said they didn't have enough firepower. So it's coming. It's here. From this moment on, Tony, there is 58 minutes until they breach the door. What else have you learned about that period?

PLOHETSKI: Well, not only were there 58 minutes, John, but at the same time there was even more equipment arriving. It wasn't as though this was all they had, and they waited 58 minutes. During that nearly one-hour period, additional ballistic shields were arriving, additional officers with rifles and high-powered weapons were arriving.

I do want to say that initially a group of responding officers in the earliest minutes of what transpired did try to breach the door according to video. They were blown back. But then after that, you truly don't see much of an organized, concerted effort among law enforcement you see in the security video then try to take other action.

We know that they were talking about it, based on transcriptions of body camera footage. Officers were saying, if there are children in there, we have to go. And for that matter, the school's police chief, Pete Arredondo, according to a transcription of body camera video that detected his voice around him, he too even floated the idea of trying to take down the gunman through a window, getting off a couple of rounds from an outside window. But, again, an extended period passed before officers ultimately breached that door through the hallway, and took down the gunman.

KEILAR: And, Tony, also joining us on her new reporting is Terri Langford from "The Texas Tribune." Terri, your paper also obtained some new pictures from inside the standoff. In particular, we see this one. I don't know if you can tell us a little bit about the timing here. What we're seeing are multiple officers with long guns.


So they've got these semi-automatic rifles, they're matching firepower with the gunman, multiple ballistic shields, and at least one officer there wearing a helmet. Can you tell us, do you know when this was taken?

TERRI LANGFORD, REPORTER, "TEXAS TRIBUNE": That was taken approximately at 12:04. So this -- this is in the first half hour of the shooter making it into the classroom. He gets in there at 11:33. So we are really at the 30-minute point at this point. And this is one end of the hallway, and this is captured in -- there is only one camera in that hallway. And so we see one end, but you can tell at the other end there are officers too. So everything we saw from this video is captured from that one tiny camera.

BERMAN: Terri, what questions do you still have? This reporting has been so long in coming and so hard to get. What's still out there?

LANGFORD: I think there is a lot of things still out there, how we still don't know a lot about what planning the school had. The school safety plans, those are secret in Texas. We don't know how teachers and students were alerted, whether there was a system in place. You can tell from the video that I saw that they got very little warning, and it may have come from the shooter shooting outside is how the word got out into that building to start locking down.

But we still have a lot of questions about process. At what point do you -- you have outgunned him rather quickly. There were -- we had manpower, we had guns, we had ballistic shields. I'm not quite sure what else was needed. And that all came together pretty quickly, I would say. He was outgunned and outmanned within the first five minutes after the shooting. Officers got there pretty quickly.

BERMAN: And it just begs the question why then, why, why did it take so long after that? Terri Langford, Tony Plohetski, again, it's the first time we've even seen inside the school, so very significant warning. Our thanks to both of you for your reporting.

LANGFORD: Thank you.

PLOHETSKI: Thank you.

KEILAR: Today the January 6th committee will focus on former president Trump and his allies' efforts to pressure state level officials to overturn the 2020 election results. Among the state election officials set to testify today is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The former president called Raffensperger asking him to find more votes.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, look, 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.


KEILAR: He did not. And the committee says it will also show evidence that Trump was involved in a scheme to submit fake slates of electors.

Joining us now is former Nixon White House counsel and CNN contributor John Dean. Thank you so much for coming in to join us this morning and talk about what is ahead. What are you expecting from the hearings?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A lot more witnesses, some we have not seen, some we don't know about. I think we're going to see more of the fine hand of Mr. Trump reaching out at a pretty low level. So this will be revelatory.

KEILAR: I wonder what you were thinking. There is a new op-ed out by the former assistant A.G. to George W. Bush, Jack Goldsmith. And he says that right now, when you're looking at Merrick Garland and what he has to consider about whether to move forward with charges of President Trump, he has to decide whether it's his decision to make whether to indict Trump, whether he has adequate evidence to indict Trump, basically to sustain a conviction against him, and whether the national interest would be served by prosecuting Mr. Trump. What do you think about that those questions, those decisions? Is that an accurate appraisal of his situation?

DEAN: Yes, that's a good summary of his piece. What is interesting to me is that he, first of all, was the office of legal counsel. He's sort of the brains, the legal brains in the department. That's where you go when you want to opine or understand the law. He did a book after he left with Bob Bauer, who was the White House counsel in Obama's. He had served in George Bush's presidency. They had a meeting of the minds and did a book addressing many of these questions. I was surprised why Bob Bauer didn't join him in this op-ed, which raises provocative questions. Also goes back and says should there be a special counsel?


Well, a lot of these decisions have been made. I don't know what Jack is doing here other than reminding how difficult this decision is for Merrick Garland, which is important.

KEILAR: If you're Merrick Garland, is it your decision to make in your view?

DEAN: Yes, absolutely.

KEILAR: Do you have adequate evidence to indict Trump and decide if Trump, how he's acted constitutes a federal offense?

DEAN: We don't know what the grand jury has. We know what is out there in the public, and it is stacking up very, very quickly.

KEILAR: Would it be in the national interest, in your opinion, to prosecute Donald Trump?

DEAN: It is not only in the national interest, it's in the interest of saving, preserving democracy.

KEILAR: A new poll says 58 percent of Americans think that Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in January 6th. What does that tell you? What should that inform?

DEAN: That's pretty high. The numbers are increasing. People are beginning to think about this twice. There is going to be about 30 percent that will never change their mind, and Trump should get away with whatever he wants to get away with. With Nixon, for example, my president, you got down to about 24 percent that said he should never be prosecuted. But he never was prosecuted, of course, because he was pardoned.

KEILAR: John, it is great to have your insight here, especially, I should note, as we are just 50 years past the Watergate break-in, so that timeline --

DEAN: Just a quick 50 years.

KEILAR: Right, a quick 50 years. But your insight is important as ever. We appreciate it.

DEAN: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: A GOP Senate candidate releasing a campaign ad that calls for some Republicans to be hunted. The reaction this morning.

BERMAN: Plus, Stephen Colbert defending his production team after they were arrested at the U.S. Capitol office buildings.



BERMAN: Outrage this morning after former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens turned Republican Senate candidate released a campaign video which features him hunting for RINOs, which is an acronym for Republicans in name only.

The video, which was removed by Facebook for violating its violence policies and flagged by Twitter for abusive behavior shows Greitens and a group of armed men in tactical gear bursting in a house with Greitens saying, quote, you know, get a RINO hunting permit, there is no bagging limit, there's no tagging limit, and it doesn't expire until we save our country.

Joining me now, CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan and CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The New York Times", Maggie Haberman.

I want to first talk about the social media aspect of this first. What exactly did Facebook and Twitter do and what's the difference?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, so, well, there is a very perverse incentive structure here for Republican candidates, bad behavior is essentially rewarded. So Facebook took down the video very quickly, I might add, Twitter decided to keep the video up and put an interesting label on it. I think we have a picture of it, that says this video does break our rules, but we are leaving it up here because it may be in the public interest.

Now, a lot of people said public interest, why would a video like this be in the public interest? But Twitter's perspective here is that the good, bad and ugly, if a candidate posts that running for a public office, that people should be able to see that and judge it for themselves.

Of course, there is a very fine line here that these platforms are going to have to tread again and again and again this campaign cycle, which is where is the line between incitement of violence and political speech that could be in the public interest to see?

BERMAN: What is Greitens going for here?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Attention. I think just put very well that there is an incentive. I don't think it is just Republican candidates, though certainly Republican candidates to the ones we have seen do this more often than not. But this is an attention ploy, this is a way to -- and Greitens is actually likely to do okay in his primary. But this was a way to get more focus, more attention on what he is doing and there are these sort of perverse incentives around doing this kind of thing now, right?

You put out something that appears to be, if not advocating violence, certainly, you know, being violent adjacent, and there is no real penalty for it other than a ban on one social media platform.

O'SULLIVAN: And getting kicked off the social media platform --

BERMAN: Which isn't a penalty --

HABERMAN: No, you use that to fuel outrage that you're being canceled or banned or and so on and so forth.

BERMAN: I mean, the goal in some cases is to get thrown off. The social media companies know this. What do you do about it if you know you're being played?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, I mean, I think we should stress that the main story here, of course, should be what the candidates are doing and people in his party. This was going after Republicans, after all, what their reaction is. The social media platforms essentially know they are being played. But they have to do something. They have to keep up their own rules.

This, of course, is very interesting in the context of the Elon Musk potential takeover of Twitter, Musk said there is too much censorship on the platform, it will be interesting to see if he does take over the company in this midterm election cycle and how things might change.

BERMAN: You break with the point, which is the content of the video itself, which is something that has been condemned widely by many Republicans also, is there a sense among Republican leaders insofar as they exist, in this sense, that they need to get involved here?

HABERMAN: Considering Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party until there is another Republican nominee for president, I don't think he's particularly offended by this kind of thing. He has tended to, you know, talk about wanting to see supporters engage with protesters and violent ways and so forth and so on. I don't think he's bothered by it. I think you see congressional leaders who are troubled by it, but they're not saying anything about it.

I think generally speaking the attitude and the debate among political leaders is the same as it is within the media, John, do you pay attention to it or do you ignore it. They have chosen to ignore it.

BERMAN: Law enforcement is up in arms about it. People think this will cause violence or risks causing violence. That's very important to point out.

HABERMAN: Yeah, that's right.

BERMAN: I want to play something that the former vice president Mike Pence said in an interview. He, of course, has been so much in the news because of the January 6th hearings and some people held him up as a hero for not going forward with the plans to overturn the election results.


But listen to how he responds to issues about honesty.


LARRY KUDLOW, FBN HOST: Have you ever seen a president who refuses to accept blame, and I want to add to that, commits so many falsehoods. Have you ever seen anything like that?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Never in my lifetime. I said today that there has never been a time in my life where a president was more disconnected from the American people.


BERMAN: All right, now, the kicker is he was talking about Joe Biden to which many people have gone, oh, really? Oh really? You've never seen anything like that?

That aside, Maggie, you've got an article out this morning about being Mike Pence right now. The tight rope he has -- he's chosen to walk. Explain.

HABERMAN: Actually what you just saw is that tight rope. He gets asked a question about lying and he says never in my lifetime and then switches it to not being connected to voters, which was not what the question was. I think what you're seeing is Pence getting lauded as a hero by some House Democrats involved in the select committee, he's getting lauded as a hero by some Republicans as well.

Trump and Trump supporters are continuing to attack him. We have seen Pence attacked by Trump supporters verbally over the last 18 months and then you have a broad swath of voters in both parties who argue he should have done more throughout the four years of the presidency and he, quote/unquote, enabled Trump.

So, he's trying to make the most of that at the moment when -- or the least of it at the moment when he's trying to run for president. He doesn't want to talk about January 6th. You've seen him reference a tragic day, he did that twice in Illinois yesterday, but what he did do at the end of the night in Peoria last night where he was a speaker at a Lincoln Day dinner, was he talked about how Republicans have to be the party of the future, and that is very much a split with Donald Trump, who as we know is still very focused on 2020.

BERMAN: Walking a fine line there. He could -- he could talk to the committee voluntarily if he wanted to.

HABERMAN: I don't expect that -- there is -- I think the committee is going to likely try to make another run at pence and I don't anticipate that Pence is going to, you know, easily go talk to them.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, Donie O'Sullivan, great to see you both. Thank you very much.

So new video just in to CNN shows what the Navy says are Iranian vessels harassing U.S. ships in the Straits of Hormuz. What new reporting is revealing about pressure President Biden is facing to be tough on Iran.

KEILAR: Eleven missed calls. What the State Department says went wrong when the family of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to reach her.



BERMAN: New this morning, Iranian vessels harassing a pair of U.S. Navy ships in the Straits of Hormuz in what officials say was an unsafe and unprofessional manner. The Navy released video of the incident it shows an Iranian boat speeding toward a Navy patrol ship, altering course only after the ship sounded an alarm and fired a warning flare.

Officials say the interaction lasted for about an hour. The strait has been the scene of previous confrontation between Iranian ships and revolutionary guard boats.

KEILAR: Also new this morning, CNN has exclusive reporting on the increasing pressure that President Biden is facing to come up with a plan to deal with Iran. Ahead of next month's trip to the Middle East, hopes for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal look dimmer and dimmer at this point and the administrate hasn't articulated a plan B to allies.

Joining us with this story, we have CNN White House reporter Natasha Bertrand and CNN reporter Katie Bo Lillis.

You've been working, reporting together so much now, now you started to dress alike. This is an accident.

Tell us about this pressure, if you will, Natasha, that the White House is starting to feel about trying to come up with some plan to deal with Iran ahead of this trip.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So we have been talking so much about what the administration and the White House is hoping to get out of this trip to the Middle East, right? More oil production, more -- a better relationship with the Saudis, but we have talked less about what the gulf allies and Israel are expecting in return from the administration and what they really want to see here is a plan for dealing with Iran's maligned activities in the region. And what we have been told is that the Saudi defense minister, when he

visited last month, who happens to be the Saudi crown prince's brother, he made this very clear to Biden senior national security officials, he said the administration is very -- the Saudi government is very happy that the U.S./Saudi relationship is getting back on track, but we need answers about how the U.S. is going to deal with Iran's nuclear program, because, of course, the talks are really faltering at this point, we also need answers about how you're going to deal with the ballistic missile program and about Iran's financing of militant groups across the region.

So all of this, particularly the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, they're very concerned that the administration has not really laid out a full comprehensive strategy for dealing with this. The administration continues to be pretty cagey when it comes to discussing this with allies because they don't want to completely derail these talks with Iran that are continuing, even though they are kind of tenuous at best as the U.S. envoy to Iran said last month.

So the allies are getting increasingly kind of anxious about this, that is going to dominate really, we're told, the discussions between the president and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council at this meeting next month.

KEILAR: Because, Katie Bo, what is the worry here? What are the signs of escalation in the region that we're seeing involving Iran?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Brianna. So, look, Israel is taking matters into its own hands. Israel views Iran as an existential threat and the chances of success with the JCPOA sort of increasingly began to falter, U.S. officials have said that Israel is kind of intensifying this sort of shadow war of covert operations that it carries out inside Iran, including targeted killings and cyberattacks.

And so, U.S. officials are really closely watching this for any signs of potential escalation. Israel doesn't tell the United States a lot about what it is getting up to and the Biden administration has so far taken a pretty hands off approach, but officials who spoke to Natasha and I say that, you know, look, the more --