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The Situation Room

Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Escalating; Rep. Kevin McCarthy Rejects Bipartisan January 6 Commission; District Attorney Says, Fatal Police Shooting Of Andrew Brown Jr. Was Justified; Rules On Masks Shifting In Some Places After New CDC Guideline; Georgia's GOP Lt. Gov, A Trump Critic, Says He Won't Seek Reelection; Migrants, Smugglers Using Military-Style Tactics To Avoid Capture At Stretch Of Arizona-Mexico Border. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 18, 2021 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: a major roadblock to an independent commission probing the deadly January 6 Capitol siege here in Washington. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, now says he opposes the bipartisan deal, siding with those Republicans downplaying the attack.

Also, Hamas launches deadly new attacks on Israel, as Israel continues to pound Gaza with more airstrikes, no cease-fire in sight.

And lawyers for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. now say the district attorney's determination that Brown's fatal shooting by police was justified is -- quote -- "a slap in the face."

All that coming up.

But, first, let's go straight to Capitol Hill.

Our congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is joining us right now.

Ryan, the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, making it abundantly clear today he has absolutely no interest in creating this January 6 commission of inquiry.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, at least under these conditions that were negotiated by both Republicans and Democrats in the Homeland Security Committee.

And a new development tonight. The GOP whip, Steve Scalise, the second most powerful House Republican, initially told members that he was not going to whip this bill, that they could vote according to their own conscience.

But late tonight, he sent out an e-mail to every Republican leader with a long list of problems that Republican leadership has with this 1/6 commission bill, recommending they vote no.


NOBLES (voice-over): The plans for a commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection have hit a serious roadblock.

In a statement rejecting the bipartisan deal, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said -- quote -- "Given the speaker's shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation."

McCarthy is insistent that groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, as well as the Good Friday death of a Capitol Police officer, be included in the commission's work.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If you're going to have a commission, you should look at the whole broad spectrums. We just went through a whole summer of riots throughout the city. We should grasp that as well.

NOBLES: The bill can pass the House with only Democratic support, but would need 10 Republican votes on the Senate side.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune said the passage of the commission now is -- quote -- "uncertain," as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighs his options.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think I'm safe in characterizing our conference as willing to listen to the arguments about whether such a commission is needed.

NOBLES: McCarthy himself could be a key part of the panel's work, especially given the phone call he made to former President Trump as the riot was heating up.

MCCARTHY: I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time. The president said he would help.

NOBLES: McCarthy told other Republican members Trump told him during the call that the rioters cared more about the election results than he did. Some have even suggested he could be forced to testify in front of the commission.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I wouldn't be surprised if he were subpoenaed. I think that he very clearly and said publicly that he's got information about the president's state of mind that day.

NOBLES: And then there is the politics of all of it. Trump could become a focus of the investigation. And in recent weeks, McCarthy has gone to great lengths to tie himself to the Trump wing of the party, helping purge Liz Cheney from Republican leadership.

Trump defender Congressman Matt Gaetz celebrating McCarthy's decision, tweeting -- quote -- "Now, finally, McCarthy sees it my way."

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries says:

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): It's hard to take Kevin McCarthy seriously at this point.

NOBLES: It's not the first time McCarthy has inserted politics into a congressional investigation. During the lengthy GOP-led probe into the Benghazi attacks, McCarthy bragged about how the process damaged Hillary Clinton politically.

MCCARTHY: When you look at the poll numbers of Hillary Clinton, they have dropped, unfavorables pretty high.


NOBLES: And despite the fact that Republican House leadership is now publicly against the formation of this 1/6 commission, it is expected that the bill will pass easily in the House of Representatives tomorrow and will likely have Republican support.

The bigger question is, what happens when the bill makes its way to the United States Senate? Wolf, it would need at least 10 Republicans to vote for it. Now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying today that he promises the bill will make it to the Senate floor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we will see what happens on that front.

Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Let's get some more in all of this.

Joining us now, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and our CNN political director, David Chalian.

Dana, so what's House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's real motivation here? How much of this is about protecting himself and trying to become the House speaker?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, protecting himself and trying to become the House speaker and protecting the former president.


And all of those things are one motivation at this point for Kevin McCarthy. I mean, they all fit in to one singular notion, which is that he clearly believes based on all of his actions, including and especially helping to push Liz Cheney out of the leadership, that the former president is still very much the head of the party that he leads in the House, and that, for him to get to be speaker, he needs to not do anything to anger the former president.

So, that is very, very clear. And can you imagine anything that would be more infuriating for the former president than a special commission that has no members of Congress, bipartisan, but no elected members of Congress, I should say, that has subpoena power?

Never mind the obvious, which Ryan pointed out, which is that that subpoena power could be directed squarely at Kevin McCarthy himself. Liz Cheney said so. Fred Upton, a congressman, Republican congressman, from Michigan, told me on Sunday he believes that Kevin McCarthy would likely be subpoenaed.

So, self-preservation is sort of the name of the game, and it is all tied in to the former president.

BLITZER: You know, David, I'm anxious for your thoughts, because I know you're -- you have been thinking a lot about this.

Is this but the latest example of Kevin McCarthy trying to whitewash, what other Republicans have been trying to do, the insurrection?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I don't know how you can see it any other way.

I mean, we heard from his fellow House Republicans last week, some of them, describing the events of January 6, well, it just -- on any other day, you would have thought those were just tourists walking through the Capitol.

I mean, there is a clear attempt to move away from January 6, to whitewash it, as you say, Wolf. We see this battle for American democracy now happening on two fronts. The Eastern front is the January 6 commission and trying to get to the facts with an independent, bipartisan, totally legitimate historical record, so that it doesn't repeat itself.

But Republicans are now trying to block that and you just heard from Ryan Nobles doing so actively, with Steve Scalise urging the no vote.

On the Western front, you see this so-called sham audit in Arizona of going through the Maricopa County ballots, which were already counted several times, and Joe Biden legitimately won Arizona, but you see that Republicans there, including the former president, trying to find some way to perpetuate this notion of the big lie.

This is the battle for democracy that's playing out in the country.

BLITZER: Jamie, what are you hearing from your Republican sources about this latest move by McCarthy?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, one said to me -- quote -- "Kevin got too scared, and he can't let it go any place."

Translation: He was going to do and will do anything he can to prevent this commission from happening.

A little behind-the-scenes information from Republicans sources with knowledge of the negotiations. Kevin McCarthy did not think that the Democrats would concede enough on issues, so he was, in effect, blindsided, not by the substance of the negotiations.

Remember, Congressman Katko, he was authorized to go in and negotiate. What Kevin McCarthy was surprised about was that the Democrats gave in on key issues, so that Katko could come to an agreement. One other thing. This is hurting Kevin McCarthy, I would say, big

picture, down the road, not now, but two years from now, when he wants his dream to come true and be speaker of the House, because he is alienating critical members of the Republican Conference, who are not happy he's doing this.

One said to me -- quote -- "Members are realizing that, once again, at a moment of real national importance, Kevin McCarthy is putting his own personal and political interests above doing what's right for the House GOP Conference and the country."

BLITZER: It's a big, big vote coming up.

Dana, how many Republican votes do you expect this commission to eventually receive in the House?

BASH: That's a good question.

I mean, if you look at the 10 Republicans in the House who vote yes on impeachment, hard to imagine that those won't be there. We know at least of two. And I have talked to one of those at 10 earlier today, who said that they expectation is it will be a little higher, not much, though.

And this is going to be another data point in the reality of the Republican Party, that it is all about Donald Trump, and it is not about finding the truth, because you're going to see a pretty lopsided vote because of what Kevin McCarthy and now Steve Scalise, the number one and number two House Republicans, have done today, in siding with the former president and siding against this bipartisan commission.


Nancy Pelosi said, to Jamie's point, that they just won't take yes for an answer. And he made it pretty clear today.

BLITZER: Yes, we will see what happens tomorrow.

All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're going live to Israel, right near the Gaza border, for the latest on the fiercest fighting in years over there, and the death is climbing.


BLITZER: We're following right now the escalating fighting between Israeli forces, Hamas militants in Gaza, which is raging once again tonight, after a very, very brief letup.

Let's go to our CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. He's live right near the Gaza-Israel border for us.

Nic, so, what are you seeing right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Wolf, just in the past sort of half-an-hour or so, we have been able to hear Israeli jets overhead.


But, also -- and I have lost count now this evening -- several times, at least, we have heard the sirens go off. We have gone into the secure room here in the hotel. You can hear the sounds of the Hamas rockets being intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defensive system.

Tonight is so much more different and intense in terms of rocket fire than last night, where it was relatively quiet for at least a couple of hours.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Close to the Gaza border, Hamas' deadliest attack on Israel so far, two people killed instantly, seven wounded, all overseas farmworkers.

Hours later, firemen still dousing the flames from the mortar and rocket attack, the conflict itself heating up.

(on camera): After the first night without rocket fire into Gaza for a week, Tuesday turning violent, further up the border, an Israeli soldier hit by a mortar round, as humanitarian aid began entering Gaza for the first time in days.

(voice-over): The border quickly shut, the aid stopped, an agreed pause in hostilities suddenly over. Barrages of rockets soon pounding Israel's Southern cities, many intercepted, some getting through, an apartment hit in Ashdod.

Israeli airstrikes also resuming, saying they're targeting Hamas commanders. The death toll, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, now over 210 people, including 63 children. According to Israeli defense officials, 80 to 90 percent of Hamas' rocket-making capacity destroyed, 60 miles of tunnels damaged, saying their intent is to avoid civilian casualties and reduce Hamas' ability to launch future attacks.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (voice-over): I'm sure all our enemies around see what price we're charging for the aggression against us. And I'm sure they will learn the lesson too.

ROBERTSON: In the West Bank, a Palestinian national strike called, residents angry at Israel's actions and Gaza's suffering, shuttering stores, emptying streets, turning violent in Ramallah, where one Palestinian was killed, and two Israeli soldiers were wounded.

And Israeli police say they were shot at by protesters. And, in Jerusalem, two Palestinians also clashed with Israeli police, who fired rubber-coated bullets and live rounds, dozens of protesters injured, according to Palestinian health officials, as their frustrations, particularly with the United States, to end the conflict grows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on the Security Council that met several times and was unable even to say a single word in an official document against this aggression.

ROBERTSON: Behind the scenes, U.S., French, Egyptian, Qatari, and Jordanian diplomats working hard for that cease-fire.

Close to the front-line, everyone waiting for what comes next.


ROBERTSON: And this just in from the Jordanian Royal Court.

They say there is now an agreement between the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and France to coordinate a diplomatic effort to de-escalate these current tensions. The Jordanians have said that they plan to set up a second field hospital in Gaza.

It's not quite clear from the details we have so far of just how they plan this de-escalation. But this does seem to be a renewed push and an agreement here that they're going to try to achieve this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens.

Nic Robertson, on the border over there between Israel and Gaza, stay safe over there. We will be in touch.

Here in Washington, the White House says it's working behind the scenes to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Our senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is joining us right now.

Phil, I understand you're learning new details about what's being called the quiet, but intensive diplomacy unfolding behind the scenes. Give us the latest.


The administration officials have been very clear, while they are working behind the scenes, more than 60 calls not just to the Israelis and to the Palestinian Authority, but also to key regional players, they want to keep things behind the scenes, believing that will give them the best opportunity to create space for their ultimate goal here, and that is de-escalation in the area, in the region.

But, behind the scenes, I'm told and my colleague Kevin Liptak is also told that the president had a firmer tone in his call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, keep in mind, the president has not gone along with key Democrats, including today Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in outwardly calling for a cease-fire.


He said he's supportive of a cease-fire, but he's not affirmatively called for one. However, in that call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden, the president, we're told, according to people familiar with that call, made clear that he was taking a firmer line, that the international outcry was growing, and that there was only so long that the U.S. could resist or hold on to its current posture that it's held over the course of the last nine days.

I'm told that message was also delivered from several top administration officials to their Israeli counterparts over the course of the last 24 hours.

Now, in those calls, one person familiar with them told me there is some indication from Israeli officials that perhaps their military operations will be winding down in the coming days. And that has served to bolster the administration's view that what they're doing and how they're doing it, despite calls from within their own party to take a more up-front position right now, is effective, it's giving that space.

Obviously, no outcome yet, but hopeful that this is a process that will eventually lead to one -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope.

Phil Mattingly, reporting from the White House, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Mark Regev, senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mark Regev, thank you so much for joining us.

Let me get your reaction to this new reporting -- you just heard it -- that the President Biden is taking a tougher approach with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, behind the scenes.

The longer this fighting goes on, do you risk losing more support, not just from the Biden administration, but from the U.S. Congress and the American public?

MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, Israel wants quiet to be restored. Let me be clear about that.

We have -- we're on the receiving end of these rockets. Of course we want quiet restored. But, of course, it has to be done right, and not wrong. If it's done in a way that Hamas can claim victory, that Hamas just has the time to rest and regroup and then to attack us in a week or in a month, then nothing is achieved.

We have got to come out of this with a protracted period of peace and quiet. That's good for Israel. That's good for Palestinians too.

BLITZER: A senior Hamas official told "The New York Times" that they were ready for a cease-fire, but that Israel demanded that Hamas stop its attacks unilaterally before Israel did the same.

Is that true?

REGEV: I think that's more to do with Hamas disinformation.

But I will say this. Our intelligence is reporting to us that Hamas is eager for a cessation of hostilities because Hamas has been hit hard by our military forces. We have taken out -- as you reported earlier, we have taken out their underground structure that they spent so much time building.

They had this whole series of tunnels connecting with each other that was part of their strategic objective to use to attack us and to defend themselves if we attack them. We have taken out their command- and-control. We have taken out their communications. We have taken out their arsenals. We have taken out their rockets. We have taken out their ability to make more rockets.

We have hit some of their most technologically significant sites. We're hitting them hard. We have taken out a few of their commanders as well, which is a good thing. We're hitting them hard.

So, of course they want us to stop. The question is, if they just get used to the idea that they can shoot thousands of rockets at Israel, and then the international community demands Israel stops, then why would they ever stop shooting rockets at Israel, if they can get the international community to protect them?

BLITZER: Because you know the criticism that the Israeli government is getting, that, in the process of doing all of this, a lot of Palestinian civilians, women and children, are being killed.

REGEV: I know that.

And we don't -- we don't want to see any of that. On the contrary, we're making a maximum effort in a very difficult combat situation to minimize human casualties. We don't want to see innocent people getting caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas.

Having said that, if the Israeli goal is to minimize those sort of casualties, the Hamas goal is exactly the opposite. Hamas not only targets Israeli civilians deliberately, as we said, over 3,500 rockets on Israeli cities. They're deliberately trying to kill our people.

But, at the same time, they callously abuse Palestinian civilians in Gaza as a human shield for their war machine. They shoot out of built- up neighborhoods, out of mosques, out of schools, out of kindergartens, out of playgrounds.

They deliberately use Hamas' civilians as a human shield for their military machine.

BLITZER: As you heard in our report, CNN has learned that the Biden administration is actually right now getting signals from the Israeli side that this may wind down in the coming days.

Is that the sort of timeline the U.S. and international community can expect from your government? Or do you expect this war, for all practical purposes, to go on longer?

REGEV: I hope we can end this soon, but it has to end, as I said before, right. And I think it's not just in everyone -- it's not just in Israel's

interest that it ends right. It's in everyone's interest that it ends right, because, if Hamas is soundly defeated, if Hamas comes out of this with their military machine dismantled, if they come out of this discredited, if they come out of this in a situation where it's clear to everyone that they have lost the support of the people of Gaza because they have brought upon Gaza this tragedy, this terrible situation, hopefully, they're being discredited.


They will be weaker. That means that maybe more moderate Palestinian voices can come into the fray, and, possibly, we can do something constructive, because Hamas is the -- not only an enemy of Israel. Hamas is a bitter enemy of anyone who wants to see peace and reconciliation in this part of the world.

BLITZER: Mark Regev, thank you so much for joining us.

REGEV: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up: A North Carolina district attorney announces he won't be filing charges against the police officers who fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr.

We're going to bring you reaction from the Brown family.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: The North Carolina district attorney overseeing an investigation into the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. now says deputies were, quote, justified in fatally shooting him.

CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene for us in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. So, Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in making this announcement today, the district attorney, Andrew Womble, again claimed that Andrew Brown was using his vehicle as a weapon that day. That and the decision to not charge those deputies has really riled up these protesters and infuriated Andrew Brown's family.


ANDREW WOMBLE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, PASQUOTANK COUNTY: Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified.

TODD (voice over): Tonight, District Attorney Andrew Womble says he won't charge the three deputies who shot Andrew Brown Jr. as he fled an attempted arrest, pointing to this never before seen footage of the incident as evidence their actions were justified. WOMBLE: And Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.

TODD: The new video shows sheriff's deputies surrounding Andrew Brown Jr. in his car. He backs the car up. Deputies scramble. Then he moves forward, turning to the left. Deputies open fire and the car speeds away. Womble said first the car backing up knocked the deputy who was holding the car.

WOMBLE: Deputy Lunsford was pulled over the hood of Brown's vehicle where his body and safety equipment were struck by the vehicle.

TODD: Then he said Brown moved the car forward, directly at Deputy Joel Lunsford, almost hitting him.

WOMBLE: Deputy Lunsford used his left hand to push off of the hood. It was at this moment that the first shot was fired. Deputy Lunsford then spun out of the way to avoid being run over by Brown's vehicle.

TODD: The Brown family's lawyer today saying, to call it justified is an insult and a slap in the face, whitewashing an unjustified killing, and that Brown did not use the car as a weapon.

CHANTEL CHERRY-LASSITER, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW BROWN JR'S FAMILY: Even Mr. Womble said he was fleeing, that was one of his moment in his report, he was fleeing, which means he was trying to get away, not going towards officers.

TODD: His sons have said their father was no threat.

JHA'ROD FEREBEE, SON OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: In anyway should form, he did not pose any threat at all. Come court (ph), there's no way that this could be justified. There's no way possible.

TODD: And while the D.A. says the first shot was fired into the front windshield and then the sides, Brown's family says the fatal shot was in the back of the head as he was driving away.

WOMBLE: Once a threat is perceived and the officers fire the first shot, if the first shot is justified, the last shot is justified until the threat is extinguished.

TODD: Family lawyers have also argued Brown could have been pursued or found later rather than shot.

WOMBLE: And give way to citizens when they decide they don't want to be custody.

REPORTER: Why not catch up to him later?

WOMBLE: Why not take him in right then?

TODD: Outside, frustration from community activists.

KIRK RIVERS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST, ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA: Once again, the D.A. only represents the police department and it's not supposed to be that (BLEEP).


TODD (on camera): Now, a big question after the district attorney's decision today was, will those three deputies be fired? A short time ago, the sheriff, Tommy Wooten, announced the deputies will keep their jobs, they'll be reinstated, but he said they would be disciplined and retrained. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us. Brian, thank you.

Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey.

Joey, the district attorney, as you heard, says Andrew Brown's death was justified. Based on what you've seen, do you agree?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, listen, Wolf, I'm troubled, and so let me tell you why. Based upon what I saw and, again, with permission not to mince words, I think it was an arrogant press conference, it was a press conference that was tone deaf, it was certainly not empathetic to the family.

But all that aside, let me tell you what my concerns are. Number one, I'm concern that you have a sitting district attorney who depends upon the police department to investigate and prosecute cases who now is attempting to try to say that you're objectively evaluating the police's conduct at issue here. To me, that's problematic. And so therefore, I think you need independence if you're going to have any semblance of an investigation.

With respect to number two, I think you can't cherry-pick facts that support you and choose to ignore or spin facts that don't. For example, you indicate the car is a dangerous weapon, but yet you dismiss a question with respect to the speed, saying nothing to see. It doesn't matter the speed, doesn't matter if it's standing still or it's not. It doesn't matter anything, we can shoot at it. That's problematic.

The other thing that issue to me is that there is a process, Wolf.


We can all have principled agreements as to your question, was it justified, was it not justified. That's what grand juries are for. You present the case. You give the information, there's going to be an indictment, there's not going to be an indictment.

If there's a trial, there's a trial. Reasonable juries could agree they can disagree, but to unilaterally make a determination when you're having coffee on Monday with the police department and you have to evaluate their conduct on Tuesday, to me it's a miss.

Final point, in that is to disparage the family, as he did. I learned about prior convictions of Mr. Brown, I learned about all the things he did in his life and a terrible person, he was a drug dealer, that's not at issue to me. And he really misrepresented the law, which is a whole separate question and that was troubling. Was there an immediate threat? Did you fear for your life? Did you act reasonably? And was it proportionate? That was absent to me. And I'm concerned about what I heard and saw.

BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, the D.A. says Brown represented a threat to police that the car Brown was driving was, in the D.A.'s words, a deadly weapon. Does that description match what you saw in the video that was released?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, it really doesn't. And I watched the video several times. It is not the best quality video, but I was able to see enough to really form an opinion. The officer that was trying to open the door when the vehicle began to move, he was, in fact, pulled.

I didn't see him actually hit the ground because it was another person standing in my line of sight from the video. He did pull forward. The officers were spread fairly far apart and easily getting out of the way of the vehicle.

And, again, many police departments, and I believe Elizabeth City is no exception, have a policy in place prohibiting firing at a moving car. The reason for that is rather obvious. First of all, it's hard to hit a moving target. And, secondly, if you think a car with a driver is dangerous, try having a car with a dead driver coming at you. It just doesn't make sense. It's just not good practice. The officer was able to get away.

Now the car is driving away. They already know who he is. They had a warrant. So he's been identified. If you don't get him today, you get him tomorrow and you add a charge of fleeing the police in addition to that. So whether or not using deadly force, which, again, I'm not talking about whether it was criminal or not, but from my perspective, I would have deep concerns and problems with the fact that the officers chose to fire at that particular point in time.

BLITZER: I assume you agree, Joey?

JACKSON: I do. I mean, look, the reality is that people can watch it, you could agree, you could disagree. I have a number of questions not only as it relates the video. I mean, usually in a courtroom, Wolf, you make your argument. If you want to make the argument that he was using the car as a deadly weapon, then you make the argument. That's what you have a defense for to rebut that.

You want to make the argument as to the admissibility of the prior conduct of the person who was there like we heard today disparaging the victim. You make the argument. Any argument you want to make, you can make.

But boils down to three things in my mind, Wolf, and three things only. I don't care about his background. Were you in immediate fear of death or serious bodily injury, number one, if you're an officer? Number two, did the actions you engaged in, were they proportionate to the threat posed, all those shots? To me, it's no, it's not reasonable.

BLITZER: Guys thank you very much. Chief, you want to make a -- very quickly, do you want make a final point?

RAMSEY: Well, I'm just going to -- just very, very quickly. You know, he didn't it -- for what he was wanted for, he didn't pose an imminent or immediate threat to the public at large. If that were the case, let's say you're getting for a double homicide or something, you know he's armed, he's dangerous, what have you, that changes the circumstances. But, again, when you look at the circumstances around this, was it necessary to immediately stop him at that moment using deadly force? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, thank you. Joey Jackson, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead how migrants and smugglers are using military-style tactics to get into the United States along one part of the border with Mexico, it's a CNN exclusive.



BLITZER: Tonight, more cities, states and businesses throughout the United States are adjusting their rules on masks following the CDC's abrupt change in guidelines for who should wear them and where.

Let's get some Analysis from CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

You say the CDC's new mask guidance, in your words, is a mess and you're calling on President Biden to clean it up. But what does he need to do to clean it up, in your opinion?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALSYT: I think what the CDC got right was the science but they got the policy and the communication all wrong. And I actually think that President Biden needs to do something really fundamental, which is to clarify the role of the CDC. I think he and his team have ceded far too much responsibility to the agency.

Look, I think I understand where they're coming from. They want to follow the science, but listening to scientists is very different from allowing one scientific agency to make such a consequential decision as ending mask mandates. If they had involved to the CDC or the White House had involved mayors and governors and businesses and union leaders, they would have come to a very different place and we wouldn't have this abrupt change that's leading to so much confusing and I think quite a mess.

BLITZER: You've warned that, with only 37 percent of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, it's too soon to remove masks.


But we also now know that 60 percent of adults here in the United States have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Does that give you comfort that we could soon be in a much better position?

WEN: Yes. I do want to give the Biden administration so much credit for what they have done. If you had told us back in January that we would be in mid May and we could have 60 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, that we would have at the lowest death rate since April 2020, I think we would say that's incredible. That's because of the vaccines and because of the rollout.

But I also don't want to set back the progress that we've made. Public health is about the science, but it's also about values. And in this case, we are leaving out to dry really the most vulnerable, those who are immuno-compromised, parents with young children, those who are not yet vaccinated. And I think that what the Biden team can do right now actually is clarify this policy even more and saying, essential businesses are different from bars, theaters, things that are optional.

So, maybe bars and theaters can say people can take off their mask if they want, but in grocery stores, in pharmacies, they are essential businesses, that we've really have to protect people's well-being, including the most vulnerable.

BLITZER: You are absolutely right. Dr. Leana Wen, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive: migrants and smugglers going to truly extraordinary lengths to slip into the United States along one stretch of the border with Mexico.



BLITZER: Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor, a critic of former President Trump, has announced he won't -- won't seek reelection next year.

Geoff Duncan is joining us right now to talk about his decision.

Lieutenant Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

Just a short while ago, I don't know if you saw it, the former president released a statement calling your decision not to seek reelection, I'm quoting him now, good news for Georgia and the Republican Party, saying, and I once again quoting him, Duncan's fight against election fraud made him unelectable.

Are attacks like this, part of the reason you decided, Lieutenant Governor, not to run again?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R), GEORGIA: Actually, it's a different narrative. It's encouraged me to take a step forward and to launch an organization called GOP 2.0. Not a new party, but just a better pathway forward.

The former president is continuing to put on display what his next campaign is going to be all about, and it's going to be doubling, and tripling, and quadrupling down on election fraud and misinformation. Not only have to point you that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and asked them how that work out for them.

BLITZER: You talk about building this GOP 2.0. But how do you that when the vast majority of the Republican Party right now doesn't see any need or want for that matter a GOP 2.0?

DUNCAN: Yeah. Look, I disagree with that narrative. You know, look, there's millions of people that are trying to look for leadership. There's a vacuum of leadership inside the GOP.

We are either going to ignore it or we're going to try to fix it. I'm choosing to fix it. I think that by the time we get the 2024, we're going to see a number of folks, an overwhelming majority gravitate towards GOP 2.0.

Some because they believe it in whole, some because they partially believe it, and some are just going to get tired of losing, because races from -- you know, mayors races, city council, county offices, everything is going to be affected by this hole that Donald Trump dug for us.

BLITZER: So, do you believe the Republican Party right now is the party of Trump?

DUNCAN: I think -- I think it's a battle. There's chaos on the battlefield right now, and here's what I'll tell you -- Donald Trump's policies, and overwhelming majority of Americans probably agree with, I certainly do, but the approach is failed. It's unwinnable, it's unelectable, and we've got to change course, and we've got to change gears.

GOP 2.0 is a breath of fresh air that gives common sense conservatives a place to call home in the upcoming election. It's a place that's going to continue to remind Americans what policies work, and why we want Republicans in charge of the economy and public safety, and national security.

We're going to do with a better tone. We're going to use a whole lot more than 280 characters, or a jaded press release that comes out late in the afternoon one day calling names, right? That's just not the way to be presidential. It's not the way to lead this country or lead, quite honestly, a global effort.

BLITZER: But do at least acknowledge, Lieutenant Governor, that you seem to be out of step with at least a majority of Republicans?

DUNCAN: Certainly, we've got a work in front of us. But, you know, Wolf, this is -- we are casting a net in the water 100 yards away from where the voters are out today, because we believe beyond a shadow of the doubt that's really going to end up. They're going to end up wanting to gravitate towards an adult in the

room, somebody who's really trying to solve real problems for real people. That single mom with two kids and two jobs doesn't care if a Republican or a Democrat is in charge. They want somebody who can solve their problems, that can get rid of the crime in the streets their kids play in. That can better educate their kids in a failing school.

That's what I want to be a part of GOP 2.0 -- real solutions for real problems.

BLITZER: Lieutenant -- the lieutenant governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Now to a CNN exclusive, an up close look at how migrants and smugglers are using military style tactics to avoid capture along a stretch of the Arizona Mexico border.

Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, was there for us. Jim is with me right now.

So, tell us what you saw?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So we've heard of a surge of families, unaccompanied children coming to the border. This is a difference surge. It is single adults and the smugglers trying the overwhelm the border patrol by splitting them up into small groups, putting them into camouflage and crossing at one of the most dangerous parts of the border, on Arizona, between Arizona and Mexico.



SCIUTTO (voice-over): Due south of Tucson, Arizona, one of the most treacherous stretches of the U.S. Mexico border, 262 miles of hot, dry, often mountainous terrain. And yet, more and more migrants are still coming north. And counters in this sector are up more than 150 percent from last year.

Detections by the Border Patrols drones monitoring the area from up high have tripled. Migrants and smugglers are using new military style tactics to avoid capture.

We joined agents from the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson sector on operations tracking and apprehending migrants from Mexico, central and South America. It is a challenging, highly technical and sometimes a dangerous effort, encompassing helicopter patrols, unmanned aerial surveillance and Border Patrol agents on foot, ATVs, and horseback.

Migrants coming here, they do want to be caught, they're not giving themselves up to get into legal system in the U.S. They're trying to cross on their own, avoid Border Patrol along the way. So most times in their spotted, they don't give themselves up, they run. That makes the job of Border Patrol agents that much tougher.

These are not families and unaccompanied children. Border Patrol says 85 percent who crossed here are single adults, some with criminal records. The crossings now resemble military operations, migrants wear camouflage, boots made from carpet to obscure their footsteps and crucially, come across in multiple small groups, dropped along the border and told to enter at different times to outwit and overwhelm the Border Patrol.

SABRI DIKMAN, ACTING DEPUTY CHIEF PATROL AGENT, TUCSON SECTOR: What they're doing as we call, it's warming, so instead of in years gone by, where we have a group of 20, a group of 30 crossing the border. Apparently we see two groups, or a 10 groups of two. And so, what happens is they split up, they cross the border, it takes 2 agents or one agent to address each of those individual groups, so we become task saturated.

SCIUTTO: Why the surge now? Many migrants believe falsely, that U.S. law changed with the new administration.

JESUS VASAVILBASO, BORDER PATROL AGENT, TUCSON BORDER: The laws for immigration have not changed, so our job has not changed. So, we're still enforcing the same laws that we've been enforcing for many years.

SCIUTTO: Construction of new border wall, including the 137 mile built in this sector, has been halted, leaving wide gaps like this one.

This is part of the new border wall, it's 30 feet wide made out of steel and this is the kind of barrier a replaced in a lot of sections of the border here. Just about waist high, meant to stop cars not people. Easy to get right under it.

So, what's happened in sections like this that are in completely is they become new transit points. And you can tell that because the barbed wire here, bent up from the bottom so you can crawl under it. Lots of footprints, showing lots of foot traffic.

But we are also told that smugglers have even built a road here for better access to this entry point, making it even easier to cross.

So the bulk of the work remains with agents, making capture operations like this one, the Border Patrol's primary mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three confirmed on the images --

SCIUTTO: Underway 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no break for whether or nightfall.

On aerial patrol once again, we get word that agents may have spotted another group of migrants, closer to the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm at your 10 o'clock. This is what I think it is, they're headed west.

SCIUTTO: On searches like this, they have some particularly helpful partners, a Belgian shepherd, one member of the canine unit. And agents mounted on horseback, fast and durable in the mountains. After nearly an hour in the air, ascending and descending the ridge line that is low as 20 feet altitude, and hours of painstaking searching by agents on the ground, they find their target, 7 men in telltale camouflage. Single adults, directed like soldiers doing all they can to avoid capture and come north.


SCIUTTO: These migrants pay smugglers a minimum of $5,000 for the privilege, in effect to attempt this crossing sometimes they pay much more. It is very dangerous there. A lot of them don't survive this. But it's also, of course, very dangerous for the officers.

They're working crazy hours there, often in the middle of the night. It's a dangerous operation, and they're being overwhelmed.

BLITZER: And they think there is a new administration so there's new regulations about letting them in?

SCIUTTO: Exactly, and the smugglers lie to them, you know, to build business, and say, hey, America is going to welcome you when you come. They come, of course, that's not what they found out.

BLITZER: Excellent, excellent reporting. Thanks so much for doing it. It's really an important story. Jim Sciutto reporting for us.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.