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CNN TONIGHT: New Questions Emerge About Failure Of Law Enforcement Response; Treasury Secretary Yellen Admits "I Was Wrong" On Inflation; "Top Gun" Sequel Breaks Records At The Box Office. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Anderson, thank you. A chilling photograph, for so many reasons!

I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

Look, I'm going to be honest with you. I had a panic attack, dropping my son off at school, this morning. A full-blown panic attack.

I was terrified at the prospect that it could be my last goodbye, with my baby. Wondering, which would be the picture, the moment, the stories, I might have to tell to try, to explain what this boy means to me.

I look at the teachers that were opening the car doors, to greet them. And I prayed in those moments that they would care enough, to protect my child, all of our children. And frankly, I resented that they might have to.

My 9-year-old son, who is realizing now that children, his own age, were murdered, inside their classroom, inside their school, he is trying to process it all. And he saw my own anxiety this morning, and I felt guilty, for even causing a little bit of his own.

And he actually said to me, "Don't worry, Mommy, I will be home, tonight." He said, "I make a promise to myself every day that I will make it home at night." Now, these should not be the promises any child has to make. Not in the nation, where our promises, to keep them safe, have not been kept.

You see? I remember, when Mr. Rogers, was trying to comfort kids, like me, by telling them, "When you see scary things, look for the helpers. Look for the helpers."

OK, well, as far as we know, the helpers stood in the hallway. The helpers heard shots, even after they believed, it was a barricade, and not an active shooter. And when the helpers aren't being tight-lipped, they're offering changing narratives.

But I'm still going to look to these helpers. But this time, it will be for answers. Because we have questions that do need to be answered.

There are parents, who buried their children, today. In fact, the first full funerals are now being held, one by one, one week after that attack that has shaken this Texas city, to its entire core, and much of the nation along with it. And the deep anguish, we're all feeling? It's not abating. And neither is the pressure, for the answers.

And you know what? I'm going to spend much of this hour, helping to apply that pressure, asking those questions that we just don't have answers to, yet. Because that's what the families of these 19 children, and two teachers, deserve. That's what the survivors deserve.

So, why can't they get these answers, from the Uvalde Police, even one week later? Questions like, why did it take so long, to take down a mass murderer, as children were begging for help? And why did the Police Chief, in charge of this School District, order his officers, to hold off on storming these classrooms?

And why won't that Chief, Pete Arredondo, answer the key questions himself? I mean, he was the Incident Commander. And he won't answer these questions from reporters. In fact, he won't even answer them, from the Texas Rangers. Hasn't talked to them, apparently, in two days. Won't respond to the Rangers' request, for even a follow-up interview. Why not?

We're going to examine the helpers, and the 78 minutes, to the time, this murderer, entered the school, and when he was killed. Were the 19 officers, inside Robb Elementary aware that there were 911 calls, coming from children, inside?

Did they know about, for example, this call, apparent to capture, one of those kids, telling a dispatcher, they got shot?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you injured?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid got shot?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot a kid.


COATES: And what about this tape, of an apparent dispatcher? Did the officers, inside the school, did they know about this one?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Advise we do have a child on the line. Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims. Full of victims at this moment.


COATES: "Full of victims. Full of victims at this moment." So, why were Border Patrol agents the one, to finally go in to act? Also, why was it called a barricaded subject situation, instead of an active- shooter one?

I mean, in times like this, I think about the dangers that we all do, that so many first responders face, and how so many, valiantly, face those risks, like the heroes, we saw on 9/11. Some of whom, saw one of those Trade Center towers fall, and still charged into the other burning building, knowing it was likely to go down, as well.


And the countless law enforcement officers, who do answer their call to duty, every single day. The ones, who run toward danger, when the rest of us run away. The ones, who know the risks to their own personal safety, and they take the risks anyway. The ones, we look for, the helpers.

Yet, 78 minutes of terror, in Uvalde. And that number, 78 minutes, it's more than many parents even get to spend, with their children, in the mornings, before they're off to a school, where they ought to be safe.

78 minutes, 21 lives gone! So, when will the answers come? And what should happen now? We'll get some perspective, from someone, who's experienced a similar horror, firsthand.

Chris Vanghele was one of the first officers, on the scene, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, almost one decade ago, where 26 children, and adults, lost their lives. He's now Chief of Police in Plainville, Connecticut.

I'm very glad you're here, Christopher. Thank you for being here, Chief.

I have to tell you, I am having a very difficult time, wrapping my mind around the fact that officers were on the premises, in the building, it seems, and did not go into the classroom.

What is your reaction to that?


Soon as I heard, there was another shooting, and, of course, this one being a elementary school, my heart sank. It was a gut punch. And some of those old feelings came back. And I'm sure, same feelings came back, for the other officers that were with me that day, at Sandy Hook.

When the initial reports, started to come out, of the officers, and how they handled the call, I expected that. Anytime something like this happens, you're going to have reporting coming out, about the response. And we need to hear that.

We need to know what the police department's response was. So that we, as fellow law enforcement responders, can learn from those situations. We can learn what they did well. We could also learn from the areas in which they didn't do well.

Unfortunately, I can't wrap my head around, how long they waited. I know it's a little early on (ph). I don't want to judge before we have the full facts. But they shouldn't have waited, to be quite honest.


VANGHELE: This is the active-shooter response.

COATES: Go ahead, Chief. It was an active-shooter response?

VANGHELE: Correct. So, I can understand, where he may have stopped shooting, for a while, so, they may have decided that he's not active shooter? But once there is an active shooter, and he shoots people, and he harms people? He's considered an active shooter, until they are neutralized.

The rule of thumb is you always go in, you do not wait. We learned that from Columbine. We learned that from Virginia Tech, and all the other shootings since, that the one thing you do not want to do is sit there, and wait and do nothing.

Your job is to go towards the gunfire, to find that shooter, to neutralize them. And one of two things is going to happen. Either, you're going to go down, and you may lose your life, as a law enforcement officer. Or, the other person, that's shooting, is going to go down, and they're going to be neutralized. That's the only two outcomes.

COATES: Chief, and I know that you were, I believe, a School Resource Officer, when Columbine happened, as well. So you know, the both sides of the issue, in the way of being present, in the school, and being called to the scene, as well.

On that idea of why there wasn't the reaction that you just spoke about? We're learning a little bit. And, admittedly, the problem, here, in part is that we're getting piecemeal information that's often then retracted, at some particular point in time. We don't necessarily have the full story, here we are, seven days later.

But the answer people are looking for is, as to why people, did not break rank, like why were there so many people that you think, were in the hallways, listening to the person, who was the Incident Commander, in charge?

Were you surprised that no one broke rank? Or is that the way that it would go, to say, "You got to wait, until you're instructed, before you can go in?"

VANGHELE: No. I mean, I can maybe understand, if one or two officers, maybe stayed outside the building. We saw that, in the shooting, down in Florida. But to have 19 people, stand around, and listen to one person? That's extremely strange. It's odd.

The only words that come to mind are groupthink. And, I cannot believe, for the life of me that nobody broke rank, or at least said, "Hey, let's figure out a different plan. Maybe we can go through a window. Maybe we can, have other type of equipment to get in there."

Because, even if he stopped shooting, there are children in there, that could be bleeding. And time is of the essence. Especially, when you have a young child, and a high-powered weapon, it doesn't take long for that person, to lose their life.


And so, even if he wasn't actively shooting people, at the time, he could have started at any time. Plus, there are people there that could have used medical attention.

Why they didn't go in? I have no idea. I'm very interested to find out why out of those 19 people, not one of them stood up, and said, "The heck with this. I'm going in."

COATES: And Chief?

VANGHELE: It just doesn't make any sense to me.

COATES: I'm really glad that you mentioned, the idea of those who would have needed care, those who would have needed assistance, and medical treatment.

I'm wondering, in that particular aspect, is that why we have not gotten the accurate timeline? The idea of, was it known that people were in need of medical care, and the idea that an earlier intervention could have saved, even one life, even two, any lives whatsoever?

It is just something, to hear you, as somebody, who is a seasoned as you are, to have such experience, in this area, to ask the same questions that laymen are asking, all across the country, as to why.


COATES: It really is something, we have to know more about.

Chief, thank you so much, for helping us, to unpack it, and to ask those questions, we need to hear.

And I want to dig a little deeper now, into the police response, and the shifting narratives that are coming out of this tragedy. In fact, I'm wondering, how are investigators, going to sort out this truth, now?

Andrew McCabe is former Deputy Director of the FBI, and he is here now.

Andrew, I'm glad that you're here. You heard me just speak to the Chief, about some of the questions that we've all had, the idea of how could it have taken so long? Why did it take so long? What is the law enforcement timeline, we're dealing with here? And why haven't we gotten those answers?

And I ask, from your perspective, of course, about this idea of the barricade versus the active shooter. I'm not sure people understand, why this distinction continues to be highlighted here. If it was a barricaded situation, what is the protocol versus an active shooter? Why the distinction?


So, an active shooter, as most people are familiar now, is a situation, where you have someone shooting, in a public space that's occupied by many people. That's clearly the situation we had here.

A barricaded subject, is when you have usually one person, who is armed, and has blocked themselves off, in a closed space, and is essentially resisting law enforcement. Sometimes, you have a barricaded subject, who is also holding hostages.

But even in a barricaded subject situation, which is not what we had in, Uvalde, if that person is holding hostages? You always have a tactical team present, and ready to go in, as soon as you sense that that barricaded subject presents a threat, to those hostages.

So, even under that sort of thinking, it's incomprehensible that the leadership, over that critical incident, in Texas, made the decision to hold that team of 19 men, who were ready to go in.

So, they are very different concepts in law enforcement. But, in this case, to be perfectly clear, what we had was an active shooter. And those folks should have been sent in, immediately, on their arrival.

COATES: And if they didn't know that, initially? The second they heard shots, later, or were aware that shots had been fired, later, then, it would immediately go back to an active shooter, again.

It wouldn't simply stay in this stagnant position, of a barricade, if they now have active shooting, happening. I mean, it just seems counterintuitive to me that would be the case.

But I'm wondering, now, from your perspective, as an investigator, in particular, when we have all these changing narratives, when we don't know all the answers?

And I am inherently a naturally skeptical. Put in the prosecutor in me? I have questions. I have doubts. I want to understand what's going on. Add the mother? You have an exponential level of skepticism, happening, right now, and fear adds to that as well.

Let me ask you. If you're looking at this, how do you try to unpack, and investigate, and get to the truth, knowing there's different narratives--


COATES: --there is a distrust happening. Walk us through how an investigation looks from here?

MCCABE: Sure. So, I, of course, share all your skepticism, naturally, and especially in this situation.

So, what investigators, will do, is focus on those undisputable facts. Things like the timeline, in a way that it's established, by things, like the video capture, inside the school, the phone calls to 911 that happened, that definitive time, places and times. Maybe phone records between people, who were involved in the incident, the dispatcher calls, to the law enforcement folks, on the scene.

And then, they'll add into that the information, they get, from witnesses, whether those are police officers, or leadership folks. Or, in this case, one of the most critical sources of information, is from the actual child survivors.


And that is, as you would understand, as a mom, an incredibly sensitive thing, to do, to be able to sit down, with some of those children, if they're able to talk about their experiences, what they saw, what they said, to each other, maybe if they made those 911 phone calls.

So, you'd lay in all of those, all that informational, the narrative that you get, from those interviews, on top of those undisputable facts that help you frame up the timeline. In this situation, much of that information exists. It's incredibly frustrating that we haven't heard more of it, in a clear and concise manner, so far.

COATES: And, just to be clear, these are interviews that you would perform, as original ones? Not relying, on what was received, from the investigators, thus far, right? It would be something that would be original content that would be looked at?

MCCABE: That's right. The Department of Justice, in their review, of what happened, here, they will go back in, with FBI agents, helping them. And they'll re-interview every one of those folks.

The interesting thing here, though, Laura, is you will remember, from your own time, at DOJ, this is not a criminal investigation that they are conducting. So, they won't have the normal criminal process, and grand jury proceedings, behind them, to really leverage people, to force cooperation, and the production of information. So, you might have a situation, with an individual, like, for example, let's take the Chief, Chief Arredondo, who apparently is refusing to talk, to the Texas Department of Public Safety. If he continues to refuse to cooperate, there may be very little that DOJ or anyone else can do, to force that cooperation.

COATES: Without a legal hook, or a predicate here. We'll have to see what happens, next. And that review will be so crucial.

Thank you, Andrew McCabe. I appreciate you talking to us, this evening.

This massacre has thrust the community of Uvalde, into the national spotlight. And tonight, a unique glimpse, at how guns are woven, into the fabric, of this small town. What sets it apart? And the unspoken truths, it exposes, for countless towns, across this country. That's next.



COATES: The name, Uvalde, Texas, is now forever tied to tragedy. A community of 16,000 people, which joins Newtown, and Parkland, and Columbine, and so many others.

While the world may be learning about Uvalde, for the first time, in the past week, those with roots, in the community, know this story extends, well beyond the walls of Robb Elementary. And that includes my next guest, Neil Meyer, whose family connections, to Uvalde, date back generations.

Neil Meyer, thank you, for being here, today.

You wrote a really thought-provoking piece, in "The Washington Post," I believe, about these very concerns. And what struck me, is that you said, as much as you obviously are pained, by what has happened, you weren't surprised, given the gun culture, in Uvalde.

Tell me a little bit more about this area, as to why that was your sentiment? And, of course, I understand, you are not undermining or minimizing what's happened, by not being surprised. But the culture itself is what shook you.


What I meant to convey, in saying, "I wasn't surprised," was that, as I watched the events unfold, I understood them, and I knew it was a very complex set of events. And it was that tragedy, and that very, very deep sadness, what drove me to write the article.

I was born in Uvalde. I've lived there. My great grandfather settled in Uvalde, in 1870s. And I grew up, at my grandparents' ranch, which I still own, in northern Uvalde. And I grew up hunting and fishing, there. So, I understood, the deep love, in the community, for those activities, that they're still very important to the community.

And there's a very strong gun culture, there. When I was growing up, it was quite different. Now, it's just extraordinarily different, in the types of weapons that could be purchased, and the freedom with which people purchase those weapons. So, to that extent, I was not surprised that it - that this tragedy occurred.

You had the social circumstances, which would lead to these kinds of events. There's an extremely high poverty rate, in Uvalde. One in three children, live in poverty.

There's just a total freedom, of people, and their ability, to have guns. You have the most popular restaurant, in town, where this gunman, apparently, purchased his weapons. It's a restaurant, with a gun store, inside of the restaurant.

So, you have to understand, people think that that is normal and acceptable that you could have somebody walking in, an 18-year-old, and buy a military-style tactical weapon. But that's exactly what occurred.

COATES: Now, Neil, one could think about that--

MEYER: So it's that - that--

COATES: Excuse me. One could think about that notion, though, on the one hand and say, "Look, it's so normalized. It's something that's so much a part of the fabric of the community, that people don't expect there, to be a violent outcome, from the proliferation, or the pervasiveness, of these weapons."

Did the idea that this might have happened, did that shock you even in spite of that, the prevalence of the guns, and the relative ease, of just how much it was a part of the community?

MEYER: Unfortunately, no, it didn't, really.


Because violence has already been - has always been extremely high, in Uvalde's history, from its beginning, when it was founded, through the post-Civil War period, through the period during the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was the dominating politics, there, until the current day, when you have, a young boy, young 12-year-old boy, just, recent times, accused of going to his neighbor's house, and shooting him in the face, and which was in one of - which was in my neighborhood.

So, this is the kind of thing that people become immune to, learn to accept, and like you say, they become a little bit callous about it. So, it does occur.

The community, though, is plagued with drug violence, with drugs, as many cities are in the United States, rural areas. And it places a huge burden on the city.

But I think back to your segue, into the program, and I think it was very important that you're questioning, what actually happened, on the ground, and what happened, in terms of the command, at that crucial minute.

But I think there are questions to be asked that go much higher that go to the Chief of Police. There's - the police system is highly, or enforcement system's highly fragmented, in Uvalde. You have six, only six policemen that cover all of the schools that work for the schools.

You have a very large, large police department, with an elected official Chief of Police. You have a Sheriff's Department with elected sheriffs. Then you have the Department of Public Safety, which has been brought in en masse recently, by Governor Abbott, as part of his Lone Star efforts.

And then, you have the Customs and Border Patrol. A huge presence--


MEYER: --of the Customs and Border Patrol. So, that's why you saw that there was a huge reaction, of legal enforcement, coming to the school--


MEYER: --and perhaps accounted for a lot of the fragmentation, in the decision-making process, about when to go into the school, and rescue the children.

COATES: Well, we'll see if that fragmentation is the source. But it's just - it breaks your heart, to even think, of all the different law enforcement entities, you just named that you still have 19 children, and two teachers, dead, at that school. Uvalde, Texas.

Thank you, Neil Meyer.

MEYER: It's horrible.

COATES: It's - it's unconscionable.

MEYER: Yes, I think.

COATES: Thanks a lot.

MEYER: Thank you.

COATES: Thank you so much for your time. I do appreciate it.

We're going to obviously continue--

MEYER: Thank you.

COATES: --and cover this really important aspect, and the broader picture, as well.

But now, to the breaking Supreme Court developments. We've got an exclusive update, on the investigation, into the leak that rocked the nation, and may foreshadow a decision, on Roe v. Wade. That's next.



COATES: Now, a CNN exclusive report. The Supreme Court, taking unprecedented measures, to investigate the leaked draft opinion, on abortion rights.

The Marshal of the Court is taking steps, to require law clerks, to provide private cell phone data, and also sign affidavits. Now, some clerks are apparently so alarmed, they're considering lawyering up.

So, what does all this mean, for the Supreme Court? And could this mire the third branch, in legal drama of the sort, well, frankly, it's not that used to?

With us now, is the person behind this exclusive reporting, the fabulous CNN Legal Analyst, Joan Biskupic.

Joan, I'm glad you're here.

Tell me what's going on. I mean, affidavits, private cell phones? This is not the court we remember!


Well, it was four weeks ago today that the Chief Justice John Roberts launched this investigation, into who might have leaked early copy, of a decision that would overturn Roe versus Wade to "Politico."

It was February 10 draft, and the justices are still working on which way they're going to go, in this case. And it's so disrupt - look, look at how much it disrupted the public, first of all, for people, on both sides, wondering, does this mean Roe is going to be reversed, and half century of privacy rights rolled back?

But inside, it's obviously caused all sorts of disruption. And the Chief doesn't want - wants who did this breach, but also prevent further leaks, from the court.

They've been working for four weeks, to try to figure out how this happened. Obviously, they haven't gotten an answer yet, which is why they've escalated, to start taking steps, to have clerks sign affidavits that generally would deny any kind of responsibility here.

And then also to - they've been asking - starting to ask about cell phone data. And we're not sure yet, Laura, whether that means just phone calls, or it means texts, if it means images, it means everything, on your cell phone? But it has concerned the law clerks enough that they have been starting to feel out potential for maybe getting lawyers.

COATES: Yes. BISKUPIC: Now, this is an early stage. And we're not sure what the court's going to do. But it certainly makes it - suggests that the tensions that are already surrounding these cases, are now going to be exacerbated, because of this investigation.

COATES: Well, I mean, on the one hand, they're in Washington, D.C. And you know how the story goes. You throw a rock, you hit 42 lawyers. There's no shortage of lawyers to actually be in Washington, D.C.

But I'm wondering, sort of that answer to the question of, you and what army, like who is able to compel this? Because, you asking me for my cell phone, as a Supreme Court justice, or the Court Marshal, in some respect? They don't actually have the weight of the Department of Justice, to force me, to hand anything over, right?

BISKUPIC: No, absolutely not. And this is not yet a criminal investigation. Actually, to make that very clear, the justices haven't called in the FBI. They haven't called in the Department of Justice.

This is something they're trying to solve, internally, with the Court's Marshal. It's a woman by the name of Gail Curley, who oversees the police force, there. And she might be familiar to you, Laura, because you hear her every time, you listen to oral arguments. She's the one who chants "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! The Court is now sitting."

She runs a fairly large police force. But they are not accustomed to doing these kinds of heavy-duty investigations, of broad-scale personnel, or of cell phone data. So, I'm not sure how this is exactly going to be conducted.

And I want to make clear, to our viewers that even though this part of the investigation, is focusing on law clerks, there are many other people, in that building, who could be responsible, for the disclosure that ended up with "Politico."


That first draft, by Samuel Alito, went to the nine justices, some 36 law clerks, other administrative people, probably a total of like 75 folks. And then, there were hard copies, circulated to the chambers.

And just think somebody might have brought one home? I mean, just the possibilities, of how this could have gotten, out of the building, and then into the wrong hands, so to speak, are endless.

And, I think, this is a sign that they are - just have not made enough headway to feel like they know that they're closing in on anyone.


BISKUPIC: Now, that's as an outsider saying that. There could be a potential that maybe they've already targeted some clerk, and they want all the clerks, to follow through, here, Laura.

COATES: Well, we just don't--

BISKUPIC: We just don't know, frankly, yet.

COATES: Yes. There's a lot we don't know. But you know, what else?


COATES: I mean, I know there's a big focus on obviously the potential for Roe v. Wade being overturned.

But there are still a great deal of opinions, yet to be issued, in the Supreme Court. And this must be impacting the court's trust, and internal negotiations, on even those cases as well. I mean, the ramifications could be quite extensive, for years to come, as you've already shown us, today.

Thank you so much, Joan Biskupic. I appreciate your insight, as always.

BISKUPIC: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Now, the question, of course, is "Well, how's your bank account looking these days?" We'll look at President Biden's new message, on inflation.

Plus, the new admission, tonight, by the Treasury Secretary, in a CNN interview. What Janet Yellen says she was wrong about, when it comes to inflation? That's next.



COATES: So, the White House is announcing a month-long effort, to fight inflation. Now, that includes a face-to-face, between the President, and the Fed Chair, today.

It also includes this admission, from the former Chair, and current Treasury Secretary, in a CNN interview.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, look, I think I was wrong then, about the path that inflation would take.

As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I didn't, at the time, didn't fully understand.


COATES: You don't need to be Janet Yellen, to know that prices, on just about everything, have gone up, for more than a year!

Let's bring in CNN Economics Commentator, Catherine Rampell.

Catherine, it's a little bit disturbing, for a layman, like myself, to hear someone, like Janet Yellen, say that she got it wrong, and didn't fully understand something, in the economy. How did she not know?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, WASHINGTON POST OPINION COLUMNIST: Well, look, if Janet Yellen can't predict these things, what hope is there, for the rest of us? She's one of the best forecasters that the Fed has ever had. She was formerly the Chair of the Fed.

But she's not alone. If you look back to a year ago, what the Fed was forecasting, what Wall Street economists, were predicting, for the path of inflation? Most of them, with some very loud exceptions, were expecting that we might have a short pop of inflation, and then, we heard this word all the time, it would be transitory, and it would come back down, as supply chains normalized. That obviously did not happen.

And as the year wore on, last year, it became more and more evident that many of the assumptions, behind that forecasts, were much too optimistic.

And then, as the Treasury Secretary mentioned, in her comments that you just played, there were also an additional series, of unexpected, and unpredicted and possibly unpredictable shocks.

Things, like the war in Ukraine, disrupting energy and food markets, for example. An avian flu that's affecting egg prices, right now, a drought, various other kinds of things. New COVID variants, China continuing to have these lockdowns, more than two years, after this pandemic first hit the world.

So, some of it was about overly optimistic assumptions that were made a year ago, again, not only by the Treasury Secretary, not only by the Administration, but by most economists. And some of it was about just getting really unlucky, in the couple of years that have followed the pandemic-start.

COATES: Well, I'll tell you, I happen - I happen to appreciate candor, when it comes to any official. I do appreciate it. I often really appreciate it, when it's combined with what are you going to do about it, now that it's been established?

And so, let's go there, Catherine. Because the question now, of course, is, well what can the Administration do about it? OK. You got it wrong. The trajectory was not what you thought it would be. All the different things, you spoke about. Can the Biden administration really do anything about this?

RAMPELL: The actual task of price stability belongs to the Fed, the Federal Reserve. That is part of their dual mandate, stable prices and maximum employment.

They have the most potent tool, available, to get prices, back under control. Control is maybe the wrong word, given the connotations of price controls. To get inflation more moderate. That's through raising interest rates.

There are, however, some modest tools that the President does have, at his disposal, to get prices down, a little bit, on the margin. These are things, like repealing some of the Trump tariffs. He can do that, unilaterally.

These were very unpopular, among Democrats, by the way, when Trump put them into place. And, for some reason, this Administration has been dragging its feet, about repealing them, and in fact, has extended many of them, in some form or another.

There are other things like, we have these widespread labor shortages, which are also contributing to inflation. Part of the reason why we have these widespread labor shortages, is that our immigration system, our legal immigration system is backed up.


And again, that predates, to some extent, the current President. That's partly because of choices made, to sabotage the immigration system, by Donald Trump. That's partly because of the pandemic.

But, again, the Administration has been dragging its feet, in fixing many of those problems. And it has only belatedly been dealing with some of the lower-hanging fruit, there.


RAMPELL: So, there are some tools available that the Administration, for some reason, I think, because they're afraid of political blowback, near-term political blowback, they have been avoiding adopting.

COATES: Well, if there's near-term political blowback, it doesn't sound like any of those solutions are necessarily going to be short- term solutions, and would help in the long run. We'll see what happens, though.

Thank you, Catherine Rampell, as always, for breaking it down.

And look, there is one place that the economy is soaring!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your Captain speaking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. In three--


COATES: "Top Gun: Maverick" turned those fighter jets, into rocket ships, at the box office, making history. What led to this sky-high plot twist, for the movie industry? That's next.


[21:50:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE ADMIRAL BEAU "CYCLONE" SIMPSON, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY JON HAMM, "TOP GUN: MAVERICK": Let me be perfectly blunt. You are not my first choice. You are here at the request of Admiral Kazansky, a.k.a. Iceman. He seems to think that you have something left to offer the Navy. What that is, I can't imagine.




MITCHELL: Just want to manage expectations.


COATES: Well, Tom Cruise's "Top Gun" sequel soared past expectations, forget managing them, setting a record, for the biggest Memorial Day weekend opening, and box office history.

"Top Gun: Maverick," see, I'm already giddy, I want to see this so badly, it earned well over $160 million, along with rave reviews. But a great weekend, for the movie's, may also be assigned, frankly, of higher spirits, in the country, or just plain-old escapism. Just two years ago, who would have thought that we'd ever see packed movie theaters, again?

Let's talk about this now, with Paul Dergarabedian. He's a Senior Media Analyst, for Comscore.

I was not going to mess up your name! I'm so glad you're here.


COATES: And excited to talk about this movie. Because, I'm telling you, I'm chomping at the bit to be able to see it.

I have to ask you. There was a time people thought that movies were done, like no one was going to anymore, streaming was going to take over.


COATES: What does this tell you?

DERGARABEDIAN: Well, it tells us that no matter what comes its way, the movie theater is very resilient. And we saw this, when television first came in, people thought that was the end of the movie theater. The home video revolution, the home theater revolution, to streaming, I don't know, evolution or revolution, now.

And yet, the movie theater, came back, this weekend, in a big way. But this was a long time coming, Laura. I mean, a couple of years ago, the entire summer movie season, didn't even earn $200 million. Normally, it earns $4 billion.

So, this is a big, big moment, for movie theaters. Again, where we were two years ago? Unbelievable that we're here, right now.

COATES: And, by the way, it's not like "Top Gun" was out two years ago. We're talking about decades, since we've actually seen the now- sequel of this movie. I mean, he waited not only initially those decades, I remember. And we all still quote "The need for speed."


COATES: And we think about Goose and Maverick. And I also have questions about why Meg Ryan wasn't in it, and Kelly McGillis, for another day.

But I will ask this question about the idea of, why did he decide, to make sure that it waited even two more years? Because, that seemed to be a really big decision that had a crucial impact, here.

DERGARABEDIAN: Oh, it certainly did. But come hell or high water, no way, was Tom Cruise going to let "Top Gun: Maverick," go to streaming. It'll go there eventually, after it plays, in the movie theater, first.

But there's just something about Tom Cruise. Look, the movie theater, and we, the audience, made Tom Cruise, a star. And he pays it back vigorously, every day. Hangs out on side of airplanes, off the side of buildings, flies jets, helicopters. Surely nothing this guy can't do!

And you could just tell his enthusiasm, for just bringing great entertainment. He's got another movie, a "Mission Impossible" movie, "Dead Reckoning Part One," coming out, next year, and there'll be another "Mission Impossible."

So, every time, out of the gate, Tom Cruise delivers. It's great, for the audience. It's great, for movie theaters. So, the summer movie season is back. And there was no one better to usher it in than Tom Cruise.

COATES: What's funny about that - just thinking about Tom Cruise's career? I mean, you're talking about, from "The Firm"--


COATES: --to "Risky Business," of course, to films that we know and love.


COATES: Ethan Hunt (ph), of course, "Mission Impossible." All of these different films, thinking about it, this one, has surpassed all those, right?

DERGARABEDIAN: Yes, in terms - that's right, Laura. In terms of the opening weekend great trivia question, Tom Cruise has never had $100 million opening weekend, until now, with "Top Gun: Maverick."

His last film, or the closest one, to this opening, was "War Of The Worlds," 17 years ago, with $64.8 million. That was Tom Cruise's biggest opening weekend. But he's about consistency.

COATES: That was 17 years ago? That was--

DERGARABEDIAN: It's about 40--

COATES: Are you kidding? It was--

DERGARABEDIAN: "War Of The Worlds."

COATES: See, now I felt old, all of a sudden, Paul, thinking that was 17 years ago?


COATES: I guess it was. Wow!

DERGARABEDIAN: Well, I'm telling, it took a while to get there. But he's about consistency.

So, Tom Cruise had about 44 movies released, in 40 years. And almost half of them have earned over $100 million, at the domestic box office. And worldwide, his movies have brought in now, with this film, about $10.5 billion, unadjusted for inflation.

COATES: So, Paul?

DERGARABEDIAN: This guy's the king of the box office.

COATES: Yes, clearly.


COATES: I mean, are these - the people, who went to the movies, are these people who remember "Top Gun." This is a new audience coming in? Is he bringing in a whole new fan base now?


DERGARABEDIAN: He's - well, he's bringing back, I think, a lot of more mature moviegoers, as I like to say, who saw the first movie, back in 1986.

COATES: More mature moviegoer, there you go!


DERGARABEDIAN: Yes, there you go! More mature moviegoers, who may have been waiting, for a non-superhero movie, or a non-franchise or horror film, to go to the movie theater. Although, I would argue, these fighter pilots, this ensemble, they are superheroes.

But this is very old-fashioned storytelling such - Laura, you have - I can't believe you haven't seen this movie. It's so much fun. Don't you have FOMO? I mean, the Fear Of Missing Out is huge here!


DERGARABEDIAN: If people were going, and seeing it two and three times this weekend!

COATES: Well, tell the people, who did that, to come babysit my kids, Paul, because I was with them, while they were watching this movie.


COATES: Thank you very much. But you know what? I'm going to go.


COATES: I cannot wait to see it. And Paul, you've made us all very excited. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back, everyone.

DERGARABEDIAN: Thank you. It's an honor to be here.


COATES: Hey, thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Quite a different time, Laura than when you and I went to elementary, junior high, and high school, and sort of the open environment that we had.