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Uvalde Mayor Upset Over Lies; Biden Calls for Gas Tax Holiday; Plane Catches Fire in Miami; U.S. Airman Arrested in Insider Attack; Insiders Plead Fifth to January 6th Committee. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 06:30   ET



MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN (R), UVALDE, TEXAS: Be throwing people under the bus. And I -

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Uvalde's mayor, Don McLaughlin, venting his frustration during a city council meeting on Tuesday, blasting the Texas senate committee's public hearing on the investigation into the police response to last month's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

MCLAUGHLIN: And we had the bozo the clown show at the senate today with the, you know, McCraw and everybody parading out there and giving answers that they still don't have the facts to and they still don't have the truth to.

FLORES: Accusing state and federal officials of keeping his office and community in the dark about the investigation.

MCLAUGHLIN: I'm very frustrated with the way they're handling it. Very frustrated. Because, like I said, we're not getting any information from them.

FLORES: The mayor saying he has not had a briefing on the probe since the day after the shooting while meeting with a group of state officials.

MCLAUGHLIN: We were briefed by DPS, not local officials, as stated previously by the governor in press releases. The DPS briefed the governor that day, not us.

FLORES: Pointing fingers at Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw for giving contradictory information in the days after the shooting and accusing him of covering for his office.

MCLAUGHLIN: Colonel McCraw has continued -- whether you want to call it a lie, leak, to misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response. Colonel McCraw has an agenda, and it's not to present a full report on what happened and to give factual answers to the families of this community.

FLORES: Earlier Tuesday, it was McCraw who unleashed stunning new criticism of the police response. COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY:

There's compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure.

FLORES: One of the biggest failures, he said, officers waiting.

MCCRAW: And while they waited, the on scene commander waited for a radio and rifles. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.

FLORES: Despite earlier reports from "The Texas Tribune" that School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo tried dozens of keys that failed to work, McCraw confirmed the door to the classroom was unlocked. The preliminary investigation suggests not one officer even attempted to open the door until it was breached at 12:50.

MCCRAW: The officers had weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none.

FLORES: The investigation, based on some 700 interviews, blames the police failure to intervene immediately squarely on Chief Pete Arredondo, who also testified Tuesday, but behind closed doors.

MCCRAW: The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.


FLORES: We've reached out to Arredondo's attorney and also to Texas DPS about this story, and we have not heard back.

And, John, the difficult part about all of this, of course, is that the families of the victims are caught in the middle of this mess, in the middle of the finger pointing, in the middle of the punches between officials, whether it's state or local.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rosa Flores. And, again, the families watching this and you just have to wonder what they are thinking this morning. Thank you so much.

Some terrifying moments for passengers on board a plane that caught fire after touching down at Miami International Airport.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, we're getting word of monumental tragedy in Afghanistan unfolding this morning. Nearly 1,000 people reported killed after an earthquake there.

And this just in, President Biden has decided to call on Congress to suspend federal gas taxes until the end of September. How will this affect you? Christine Romans will be here to break it down.



BERMAN: All right, moments ago, a major announcement from the White House. President Biden calling for a temporary suspension of the 18 cents per gallon federal gas tax.

Here now CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

We thought this was coming but this is a big move - attempt, I should say, by the White House.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is. I mean he needs Congress to get on board, but this is the White House saying they want to give Americans some breathing room. That's how they call it. A three-month suspension of that gas tax. It's 18.4 cents a gallon.

And the White House also calling on the states to do what they can to try to lower their gas taxes. On average, 30 cents per gallon. It ranges everywhere from 10 to above 50 cents, 60 cents. But that's where the White House is right now, again talking about the breathing room. A little extra breathing room. Acknowledging it's not going to fix the fundamental problem of overall high gas prices, but it gives people some space.

Here are the numbers from overnight, $4.96 a gallon. Still just too hot for the average family budget to be able to absorb without some pain here. And that's what's driving, I think, the politics of this, no question.

BERMAN: Yes, there are some questions, which we'll get into later in the show because we're going to have the White House on with us, about the efficacy of whether in fact it will work.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Whether that savings will go to consumers. But we'll get to that in a bit.

Romans, I've run out of metaphors for the tumult in the stock market.

ROMANS: Please don't use "roller coaster." It's overused. But in this case it actually - it actually is a metaphor that works. If you look at stock index futures right now, you can see we're expecting maybe a big slide this morning. You've got Dow futures down 379 points. John, that's after a big rally yesterday. The best day really of the year for stocks yesterday. A big bounce back. The market was closed on Monday.

So, what's happening here? Look, year to date you have a bear market now. The S&P 500 down 21 percent. That is a bear market. We're six days into this bear. And so yesterday this relief rally you saw, I think people got really excited about it. But just remember, the average duration of a bear is longer than just six days.


The one in - the Covid bear market was only 33 days. That's rare to be so shallow.

But look back on the most recent five bear markets and you can see how long those lasted.

So I -- my advice is, this could be a pretty rocky road here. You have the Fed raising interest rates. You've got inflation still too high. You also have people talking about the fact that getting inflation under control may mean some people have to lose their jobs. That's what we're talking about here. The jobless rate just 3.6 percent, 3.7 percent. Will you have to see some job loss to really break the back of inflation here.

BERMAN: Explain that to us because Larry Summers said that just the other day and people raised an eyebrow.

ROMANS: He did. And people have been listening to Larry Summers with renewed interest because he's been right about inflation. He says you're going to have to see the jobless rate at 5 percent for a period of years to really break the back of inflation here, to break that cycle. He's worried about stagflation. He's working about -- worried about a fundamental shift toward higher inflation in our economy.

Even the Federal Reserve pointing out in its most recent meeting that it expects the unemployment rate to have to rise a little bit, still historically low, and not as high as 5 percent, but will have to rise a little bit to break the back of inflation here. So the housing market -- or the job market is just so hot in the U.S. right now it is becoming an engine of inflation here.

BERMAN: You slipped and said housing market there.

ROMANS: I know. The housing market also is very hot, but it is also starting to cool a little bit too. Those interest rate rises the fed has been manufacturing, that is starting to slow down the sales of homes in the United States, which may help -- you know, honestly, may help cool that market down, too.

BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, you know me so well, I was this close to saying "roller "coaster" in the stock market. This close and you almost got me.

Thank you so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Well, it was a frightening scene at Miami International Airport. A commercial airplane caught on fire after the landing gear collapsed as the plane landed. Officials say three people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is joining us now with more.

Carlos, tell us what happened here. There were a lot of people on this flight.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's exactly right. Brianna, good morning.

A team with the National Transportation Safety Board is expected at Miami International Airport later this morning to get a closer look at the damaged plane. Now, cellphone video captured the minutes right after that Red Air flight from the Dominican Republic landed in Miami Tuesday afternoon. The airline says that 130 passengers, as well as ten crew members, were on board that flight when that aircraft landed.

Now, passengers could be seen running away from that MD-80 right as firefighters pulled up to the plane to try to put out a fire on one of the wings of that aircraft.

Now, according to the airline, and at least the air traffic control tower out here, it does not appear that the pilot reported any problems on its approach to the airport. However, passengers said it was quite clear that something was wrong the second that aircraft landed.


PAOLA GARCIA, PASSENGER: We were bumping like side to side and all the window like break, one - one part of the window. Like the window couldn't enter to the airplane but everything fine and the people started running and running and running. And I like jump and start running because there was fire and (INAUDIBLE). So I thought it was going to explode.


SUAREZ: All right, so in all three passengers were taken to the hospital and all of them are expected to be OK. A single runway out here at Miami International Airport is still closed at this hour. However, airport officials do not believe it's going to have much of an impact on air travel. And, of course, the FAA is investigating.


KEILAR: Thank goodness they are all alive.

Carlos, thank you so much for that report.

What Ivanka Trump told a documentary filmmaker that may contradict what she told the January 6th committee.

BERMAN: And an American airman arrested in connection with an insider attack at a U.S. Air Base in Syria. We are live at the Pentagon.



KEILAR: The U.S. Air Force says an airman has been arrested by military law enforcement in connection to an April attack at a military base in northern Syria that injured four American service members. I want to bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what are we learning here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the details are still very sketchy, Brianna, but the Air Force saying that, yes, an airman has been arrested in connection with a set of explosions that occurred at a base in April in northeastern Syria where U.S. troops were located.

I want to just read part of the statement that we were provided by the Air Force. And it says, quote, after reviewing the information in the investigation, the airman's commander made the decision to place him in pretrial confinement.

This airman has not been identified. There's been no information that has been put out about the motivation. But the attack has been very strange to follow. It's a very strange story.

This is at a place called Green Village, where U.S. troops are located in northeast Syria. In April they put out a press release saying they'd come under fire, rocket or mortar fire, from the outside. A week later, that changed. They said that the explosions had occurred inside the base. That they were deliberate. That someone had set off explosions in a shower facility and in an ammunition storage area on the base. And that, of course, set off a massive investigation jointly by the Army and the Air Force to try and determine who had done it.

All the indications are they believed it was someone on the inside. It was an attack that took place in the middle of the night. There was surveillance video showing a figure moving in the area. So that is all very -- very much known and our sources have confirmed those details.


But why this happened, what the motivation was of this airman remains to be seen.

No charges have yet been filed. So they will -- we will have to see if they are able to make a full legal case against this person.


KEILAR: All right, Barbara, we know that you'll continue to work that story.

Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

KEILAR: Liz Cheney calling out Trump allies who have pleaded the Fifth. John Avlon with our "Reality Check," next.

BERMAN: And new this morning, the former president lashing out at his allies as his frustration with the January 6th committee hearings grows. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Congresswoman Liz Cheney is blasting members of Trump's inner circle for refusing to cooperate with the House investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): To date, more than 30 witnesses called before this committee have not done what you've done but have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Roger Stone took the Fifth. General Michael Flynn took the Fifth. John Eastman took the Fifth. Others, like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, simply refused to comply with lawful subpoenas, and they have been indicted. Mark Meadows has hidden behind President Trump's claims of executive privilege and immunity from subpoenas.


BERMAN: John Avlon has a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's something about refusing to answer questions that rationally raises suspicions. Seems like you've got something to hide, right?

Well, I'm sure most Republicans would agree with me when the subjects like China's refusal to cooperate with investigations into Covid's origins. I mean even the WHO is now open to probing for new evidence about a possible Covid-19 lab leak. A leak that China, of course, denies.

But that same thirst for all the evidence should apply to the attempted coup right here in America. But not all Trumpists agree.

Now, the good news is the January 6th hearings are having an impact, probably because Republicans have been the star witnesses. We've seen Trump officials from the administration to the campaign testifying under oath as the House Select Committee paints a picture of a coordinated plot to overturn the election the ex-president knew was illegal and unconstitutional.

Already, a stunning 58 percent of Americans say President Trump should be charged with inciting the attack on our Capitol. That's according to a new ABC/IPSOS poll.

And here's the thing, the details of this plot against America were kept hidden for more than a year until those folks took an oath and swore to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. And look how much has come out, right? And then ask yourself how much there is that we still don't know. Because those folks who blatantly cooperated are the honorable outliers.

Yes, I know, the Fifth Amendment is right there in the Constitution as a protection against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court's emphasized one of its basic function is to protect innocent people who might otherwise be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.

But, here's the thing, it could also be a sign that there's something to hide.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?


AVLON: Which is why the fact that Trump lawyer and coup enthusiast John Eastman took the fifth over 100 times in front of the committee is kind of stunning. And that's after he fought to withhold hundreds of incriminating emails.

Now, Eastman is not the least of it. Former DOJ environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who tried to hijack the Justice Department to push election fraud lies, also took the Fifth more than 100 times.

Now, lawyers taking the Fifth over and over again is a bad look. It's perhaps less surprising for a conspiracy entrepreneur with a lot to hide, like Alex Jones, who said he pled the Fifth almost 100 times as well because he was afraid of misspeaking, having his words twisted.

Now, for those of you scoring at home, that's three guys and about 300 refusals to self-incriminate. And we don't know how many times, for example, Roger Stone took the Fifth.

But, by comparison, Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours at the Benghazi hearings and never took the Fifth once. Now, at least those other (INAUDIBLE) appears under oath. That's more than Trump senior staffers fighting subpoenas, including Peter Navarro, who couldn't stop talking about his so-called Green Bay sweep strategy on TV.


PETER NAVARRO: It wasn't violence. It was the Green Bay Packers sweep.

The Green Bay Packers sweep strategy.

The Green Bay Packers sweep. We had the political equivalent of that.


AVLON: And then there's Steve Bannon, described as a lit bomb in the mouth of democracy by a recent "Atlantic" profile. Now, he's been fighting his congressional subpoena like a man with something to hide, especially given that he seemed to have gleeful fore knowledge of the attack.


STEVE BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

It's all converging and now we're on, as they say, the point of attack, right? The point of attack tomorrow.

And all I can say is, strap in. The war room, a posse, you have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day.


AVLON: Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, increasingly looks hip deep in all the election denial efforts, but he turned over thousands of texts before he clammed up. Trump social media handler (ph) Dan Scavino likewise engaged with the committee but never sat for an interview. Disgraced general Michael Flynn lost a legal challenge to the January 6th committee a whopping one day after filing it and then pled the Fifth.

Now, rounding out the resistance efforts are members of Congress, ranging from GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who's setting a tough precedent if he's ever speaker, to the congressman linked to White House efforts to overturn the election and the Stop the Steal Rally, including Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks and Scott Perry.