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The Situation Room

Growing Questions About Police Failures One Week After Massacre; Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Says, I was Wrong On Inflation; Ukraine Says, Russian Forces Now Control Most Of Key Eastern City; Supreme Court Escalates Roe Leak Probe, Demands Phone Records; Hillary Clinton Campaign Lawyer Found Not Guilty Of Lying To FBI. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The sequel to the kind of cheesy 1986 blockbuster has made an estimated $156 million for its four-day opening weekend, boosting hopes for summer cinema revival.


That is the highest opening ever before or after COVID for a Memorial Day weekend. Congratulations.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, new video from Uvalde, Texas, appears to capture a child telling law enforcement, I got shot. A full week after the school massacre, there are now growing questions about police failures and delays, and victims' families are demanding answers.

Also tonight, as gas prices here in the U.S. hit a record high, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tells me she was wrong about the path inflation would take when she downplayed the risk a year ago. Stand by for the full exclusive interview.

And Ukraine says Russia now controls most of the key eastern city, Kremlin forces gaining more ground, and blasting homes and communities into rubble.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the Texas school massacre one week after the attack. Tonight, we're getting new clues about what police knew about the threat posed by the gunman and when they knew it.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us in Uvalde.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, as questions mount around the law enforcement response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, we're hearing chilling new accounts from what was happening on the inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you injured?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid got shot kid?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot a kid.

LAVANDERA: That audio was taken by a man who spoke to CNN but didn't want to be publicly identified. A Facebook live video includes what he says is audio from the radio in a Customs and Border Protection vehicle outside Robb Elementary School. It's not clear at what point during the shooting this video was taken.

We're also hearing from a Customs and Border Protection officer whose wife is a teacher at the school, where his daughter is also a second grader. He was off-duty at a barber shop and he got this text message from his wife.

JACOB ALBARADO, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION OFFICER: There's an active shooter. Help. I love you, from my wife.

LAVANDERA: That's when he raced over to what he describes as a chaotic scene at the school.

ALBARADO: Everyone was trying to get to the school. People were trying to get everything situated. I was just trying to get towards my wife's room and my daughter's room.

As I was going in, I could just see kids coming out of the windows and kids coming my way. So, I was just helping all the kids out.

LAVANDERA: Both his wife and daughter got out safely. One teacher describes the tense moments in her schoolroom after spotting the gunman outside her class window.

NICOLE OGBURN, 4TH GRADE TEACHER: I just kept hearing shots fired and I just kept praying, God, please don't let him come in my room. Please don't let him come in this room. And for some reason, he didn't.

LAVANDERA: ABC News obtained a portion of video that appears to be audio from a 911 operator relaying information from a child inside the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a child on the line. The child is advising he is in the room full of victims.

LAVANDERA: Questions remain focused tonight on the police response. The Texas Department of Public Safety director says it was the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, who made the decision not to breach the classrooms earlier. Arredondo, who hasn't been seen publicly since the shooting, is facing harsh criticism and a Department of Justice review for what officers didn't do, as kids inside the school repeatedly called 911 pleading for help.

JULIE GARCIA, ATTENDED MEMORIAL: You cry and you mourn harder here because they didn't have a chance.

LAVANDERA: The first funerals for the victims in the mass school shooting in Uvalde were held today one week after a gunman stormed Robb Elementary.

GARCIA: When that casket closes and they lower it down, for me, it's the realization that you won't be able to touch them again. One more hug, one more kiss, one more goodbye.

LAVANDERA: The funeral expenses for every family are being covered at no cost thanks to an anonymous donor, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you how many, but I think one every day.

LAVANDERA: Father Eduardo Morales says he will preside at 12 funeral services for victims over the next two weeks.

Today, visitations or funerals were held for at least four students and one teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody should ever have to go through this hardship, you know, and something that could have very well been avoided.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Wolf, we have important information just in to CNN about how the gunman was able to get inside Robb Elementary.


Remember, there was -- state officials had said last week that an unidentified teacher had left a door propped open, and that's how the gunman had walked in.

Well, Texas DPS officials now say that that teacher, the unidentified teacher, did not leave the door propped open, had gone back to that door when she realized that there was a shooter on the campus, closed the door, but it did not lock. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera on the scene for us in Uvalde, Ed, thank you very much.

Let's bring in CNN Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz, who is also on the scene in Texas along with us, along with Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner and former D.C. police chief.

Shimon, this is yet another revision of the timeline and the details we have been given from the authorities. This is an incredibly important new detail of how the gunman actually got into the school, right?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, it is. And, Wolf, I'm not sure we really have a full accounting or a full understanding still, even with this new information of how the gunman got inside the school. What they're saying now is that they have reviewed additional video, new information which now says -- which now shows that the teacher actually closed the door, but that the door didn't lock. Why it didn't lock, we don't know. And, certainly, we don't know how it is that this new information came to authorities.

We do know that a lawyer, the lawyer for this teacher came forward with this new information, and then that's what ultimately led the DPS to confirm this.

Now, yes, Wolf, this has been the problem with the story. We are now a week into this, and we are still getting information that it's different from what we were initially told. So, hopefully, authorities can at some point clear all this up, release video, release the audiotapes so we can see all of this for ourselves and so we can hear everything that we need to hear and, really, for these families and for this community, so that they can get to the bottom of really what happened here.

BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, what do you make of this new information, this latest revision?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, again, it just points to the importance of DOJ conducting an investigation, which hopefully starts sooner rather than later. You know, the story keeps changing. The Department of Public Safety there in Texas as well as all of those agencies down there, they have zero credibility right now because the information keeps changing. And that's why that independent investigation is going to be so critically important. The only way we're going to know what happened and when and how is when we have that investigation where we can verify facts and make that public so that we know and understand what actually took place.

BLITZER: Yes, you're right. The Department of Justice here in Washington has launched a full-scale independent investigation of what happened.

Shimon, the incident commander in this particular case, Pete Arredondo, he was supposed to be sworn in today to the Uvalde City Council where he had won a seat. Why haven't we heard from him directly to answer some of these really important questions?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Well, certainly, he has become the subject of a lot of inquiry now from the DPS, and they have made him the scapegoat right now. And so, as you can imagine, his folks are not happy about that.

We have not been able to make contact with Chief Arredondo. We have been trying. We have been trying to find representatives for him. We have not been able to make contact for anyone associated with him. Interestingly enough, he reports to the school district. So, ultimately, it's up to them whether or not he's going to have to resign, whether or not he's going to have to be fired, and they have not responded to that.

But still, Wolf, we don't have a full accounting from him and from DPS as to exactly how he made the decision that he made. And as you said, he was elected to a city council seat here and was supposed to be sworn in in just about an hour here. That is now not happening. The mayor is saying he wants to focus on the funerals instead. So, they're not going to do that tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, as you know, we have all heard that this incident commander is the one who treated this initially as a barricaded subject instead of an active shooter. But should he have handed off command when officers from other agencies actually arrived on the scene?

RAMSEY: Well, there's a couple things. An active shooter training, you're taught that you don't wait to be told what to do. If you arrive on the scene, then you take action immediately. You have an active shooter situation, people being shot, you have people that have been seriously injured, you need to be able to neutralize the threat, incapacitate the shooter, kill him, whatever you have to do to stop the shooter. So, you don't wait for some command person to tell you what to do.


That's a small jurisdiction, so whether or not if it had been in a bigger city, obviously, the school chief would not have been in charge, but in a situation like that, I don't know how they train, what their incident command system setup is all about and whether or not that is appropriate.

I would imagine you haven't heard from him because he probably has an attorney now telling him not to make any public comments, I would imagine.

BLITZER: I would imagine the same thing. Chief Ramsey, thank you very much. Shimon, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, tells me she was wrong last year when she predicted the risk of inflation here in the United States was low. Stand by for my full exclusive interview with Secretary Yellen right after the break.



BLITZER: Within inflation soaring and gas prices hitting another all- time record high here in the U.S., President Biden is now meeting with key members of his economic team and urging Congress at the same time to do more.

Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us right now with details. Kaitlan, the Biden administration is clearly deeply concerned about sky high prices right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf, and they're not calling it a crisis but they are acknowledging that it's a difficult time for Americans who are paying more for gas and paying more for groceries and that's leading President Biden to say fighting inflation is his top domestic priority at this time, though aides are only offering limited options on what the president can do to really bring down the numbers in the immediate future. Instead, they say taming inflation is going to be the primary responsibility of the Federal Reserve.

You saw President Biden meet with the Federal Reserve chair, Jay Powell, in the Oval Office today for the first time since he re- nominated him. They talked about inflation, the fact that it's the number one concern, and this massive challenge facing Powell, which is, of course, taming inflation while not sending the economy into a recession, which is a major concern for the White House. They know it's a concern for voters. It's their top economic priority right now.

And so when you look at poll numbers, Wolf, you can see President Biden's numbers are in trouble because of how people view the economy. This Gallup poll that came out today that was just conducted over the last several weeks, only 1 percent believe the economy is in excellent condition. More view it in poor condition despite the White House touting things like wage gains and job growth that is happening inside the United States.

And it's also led these questions to the White House, Wolf, about whether or not they misled voters about inflation, because, of course, it wasn't that long ago, just last summer, President Biden was saying things like this.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Some folks have raised worries that this could be a sign of persistent inflation. But that's not our view. Our experts believe and the data shows that most of the price increases we have seen were expected and expected to be temporary.


COLLINS: Today, when they were asked -- officials here at the White House were asked if it was a mistake to refer to inflation as temporary so many times as they did, Wolf, they did not say it was a mistake, they did say that it was uncertain and unexpected what eventually happened with inflation. They're certainly not using that term now, Wolf, as, of course, it is clear that they misjudged how long inflation would last and that's why they say it's their number one priority, of course, before the midterms in November.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you very much.

Now to exclusive reaction to the president's new push to try to tackle inflation from the U.S. treasury secretary, Janet Yellen. I spoke with her just a little while ago. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, the treasury secretary of the United States, Janet Yellen. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, President Biden says tackling inflation is now his talk economic priority. But why should Americans trust him to address this problem now when he's been getting it so wrong for a year? A year ago, he said inflation would be temporary.

JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: You know, there have been huge series of shocks to the economy that we didn't anticipate, further variants of COVID that have impacted our economy, Russia's war on Ukraine, which have boosted energy and food prices globally, the lockdowns that have occurred in China. So, really, the shocks to the economy have continued but inflation is the number one concern for President Biden.

He met today with Chair Powell, indicated that he shares the Fed's priority in lowering inflation and that he believes strongly and is supportive of the independence of the Fed to take the steps that are necessary.

To put this in context, we have enjoyed a historic economic recovery. It's been tremendously strong and it's brought our economy back to full employment, creating 8.3 million jobs since President Biden took office. Layoffs have declined to very low levels. The unemployment rate is almost as low as it's ever been during the post-war period at 3.6 percent. The labor market is arguably the strongest we have seen it. And now we're in a period of transition.

We need to fight inflation. What we want to see is the preservation of the gains we have made in the labor market, but steady and stable growth.


We're not expecting to see the same kinds of job gains, monthly job gains or growth figures going forward. We're looking at steady and stable growth and bringing inflation down.

BLITZER: Certainly, as the president says, inflation is the number one domestic economic problem facing the United States right now. But it wasn't just the president who got it wrong a year or so ago. I want to play for you what you said about inflation last year. Listen to this.


YELLEN: Is there a risk of inflation? I think there's a small risk, and I think it's manageable.

I don't anticipate that inflation is going to be a problem, but it is something that we're watching very carefully.


BLITZER: Was it a mistake, Madam Secretary, to downplay this inflation risk? Did that contribute to the problems we're all seeing right now?

YELLEN: 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 at the time didn't fully understand. But we recognize that now. The Federal Reserve is taking the steps that it needs to take. It's up to them to decide what to do.

And for our part, President Biden is focused on supplementing what the Fed does with actions we can take to lower the cost that Americans face for important expenditures they have in their budgets. Prescription drugs is one example, health care costs, another example, utility bills, if Congress is willing to pass some of the proposals to boost the use of non-renewables. I think that can serve to bring down an important cost that households face. He realizes, we all realize what an important and huge burden inflation is placing on American households.

BLITZER: And we have all seen the gas prices explode over the past year here in the United States, and which is a real, real problem obviously for so many.

But let me just follow-up. You say you were wrong in your assessment of inflation a year or so ago. Just today, the former U.S. treasury secretary, Larry Summers, a man you know well, said the Federal Reserve needs to do some, quote, considerable soul searching right now about how badly they missed the gravity of the inflation problem. Is Larry Summers right?

YELLEN: Look, I'm not going to comment on the Fed's policies. Chair Powell has made clear that he has every intention and believes, as I would, that the Fed has the tools to bring inflation down and that's his focus. You know, the Fed has a dual mandate. The economy is, I think it's fair to say, operating at full employment, with the strongest job market in generations. Inflation is too high, and it's got to be brought down.

BLITZER: Is it going to get worse in the short-term?

YELLEN: Well, you know, core inflation has come down. It's still too high. But in recent reports, we have seen it move down, and that's an encouraging sign. But oil prices are high. Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine. We're trying and the Europeans are trying to address that and limit his ability to wage this war. There can be impacts on energy and food prices that, you know, that we can do everything we can domestically to control. The president has authorized historic releases of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But we can't rule out further shocks.

BLITZER: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, I know you have a lot going on. Thank you so much for joining us today. YELLEN: Thank you.


BLITZER: Coming up, the Uvalde school district police chief is now under intense scrutiny for the calls he made during the shooting. Why was he in charge and not local police?



BLITZER: We're getting new information on the Texas school shooting probe. Investigators now are backing off an earlier claim by police that the gunman entered through a propped open backdoor. We're now told that a teacher closed the door when she realized there was a shooter on campus, but it did not lock. We're also following questions surrounding the Uvalde School District Police chief.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's working the story for us. Brian, first of all, what are you learning about his role as the school police chief and why the school district even had its own police chief to begin with?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the decision-making of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo is still under severe criticism tonight and he hasn't spoken really since right after the shooting. We have also been digging deeper into why some school districts have their own police and found there is serious debate over whether they're effective and no real answers.



TODD (voice over): Today was supposed to be the day when Uvalde School District Police Chief Pedro Pete Arredondo would be sworn in as a new member of the Uvalde City Council, which he was elected to a few weeks ago. That city council meeting and swearing postponed amid continuing questions about Arredondo's decision-making during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The head of Texas' Department of Public Safety says it was Arredondo who made the decision not to breach the classroom where the gunman was shooting children, believing it was a barricade situation.

COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: It was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, period.

TODD: But a key question tonight. Why was Arredondo even in a position to make that decision?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, FORMER ACTING BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: That chief should have relieved himself and turned it over to someone who is more experienced, more knowledgeable, and let them run it. TODD: Arredondo does have almost 30 years of experience in law enforcement with another school district in Laredo, Texas, with the Uvalde City Police Department and with the Uvalde School District.

According to Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, when officers from the Federal Customs and Border Protection agency got to the scene just outside the classroom door, they were never told to go in by Chief Arredondo and finally made the decision themselves.

STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): What's been made clear to me is that, at that point, the CBP team that went in, in frustration said, we're going in.

TODD: Pete Arredondo commands a staff of only five other officers in the Uvalde School District Police. We asked the National Association of School Resource Officers how common is it for school districts to have their own police departments.

MAC HARDY, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: We don't have any hard numbers on that. I know that it's pretty common in Texas for their independent school districts to have their own police department.

TODD: But why would a school district create its own police department? Why not rely on local city, county police or sheriff's departments to protect schools? Mac Hardy of the Association of School Resource Officer says it's so the school police department can train officers to its own standards and have more control over them.

HARDY: If you have a police officer working for a sheriff or for a police chief in a municipality, and if there's a manpower shortage, they may need -- They may have a need for that city to pull that officer out of the school for a day, and we know that not having an officer inside a school, they can't do what they're supposed to do.


TODD (ON CAMERA): CNN has reached out to Chief Pete Arredondo for response to the criticism of him. We have not heard back. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, Representative Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat and member of the House Judiciary Committee. Representative, thank you so much for joining us.

The Texas authorities investigating this horrible, horrible shooting, this massacre, now say a teacher did not prop open the door used by the gunman to get into the school. How concerned are you about so many conflicting reports from local police and from state police for that matter that we have received so far?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Wolf, thank you so much for continuing the coverage of this horrible tragedy. As things come to light, it's important that we continue to look to see what's happening so that we can draw conclusions and also bring forward solutions. It is really concerning that there was this rush to deliver information, and it's understandable. A community is demanding answers to their questions. The country needs answers. But what we have to count on from law enforcement especially is that they will wait to gather all of the information and all of the evidence before presenting specific information to the public. Because once that information is out there, it's really hard to pull it back in. But more importantly, it begins to color the way that the public views the information and it could taint an investigation as well, taint a jury in the future.

So, it is all very deeply concerning, and my heart goes out to those parents, especially, and those families who deserve the right information.

BLITZER: We are learning, Representative, that Uvalde police and the Uvalde school district are, in fact, still cooperating. However, the chief of police for the school district has yet to respond for rangers' requests for a follow-up interview they made a couple days ago. What's your reaction to that?

That is unacceptable. We are put in positions of public trust, whether we are elected officials at the federal, state, or local level, or whether that public trust is in law enforcement. And the community of Uvalde deserves answers. It deserves a thorough, complete investigation. And every key piece of testimony and evidence will help those families get answers. The last thing we need is silence in the face of a need for those answers.


BLITZER: Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, your state, just put out a statement on today's bipartisan talks on gun control, saying it was, quote, a very constructive conversation. How much faith do you put in him to actually compromise and actually deliver on new legislation which clearly is necessary?

ESCOBAR: Wolf, I am going to be optimistic, and I'm going to say to my senator, John Cornyn, along with all the other Republican senators who, to this point, have, and especially on the Senate side, really not moved or taken action on this crisis.

I'm going to say to Senator Cornyn, Senator Cornyn, there's been enough time. We need you to act quickly. We need you to act with the urgency that these families feel. We need the Senate to act with the same kind of urgency that the house is acting on.

On Thursday, my committee, the House Judiciary Committee, we are going to begin our mark-up of an omnibus package made up of eight gun violence prevention bills that we are calling the Protecting Our Kids Act, a number of commonsense measures intended to keep Americans, especially our children, safe. And I really do hope that the Senate acts with the same kind of urgency.

BLITZER: Keywords, commonsense, that's what's needed right now. Representative Veronica Escobar, thanks so much for joining us. Just ahead, Ukraine is now warning that a key city in the east could soon fall to Russia. We're going to have a live report from the war zone when we come back.



BLITZER: Ukraine is now warning that the Russians are on the verge of scoring a major victory in the Donbas region, as Kremlin forces gain control over most of the key eastern city.

For more on that, let's go to our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance. He's joining us live from Kyiv right now. Matthew, give us the latest on the battlefield.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the battlefield when it comes to that key eastern city, the city of Severodonetsk. It looks very much like it's falling Russia's way. They have been making slow but significant progress over the course of the past several weeks. That now seems to have come to a head, but the Russians saying they have full control over that key eastern city.

The Ukrainians are pushing back on that, saying they have still got men on the ground inside the city, making the Russians pay a higher price as possible to take full control of that region, a key city en route to taking control over Donbas, that eastern region of Ukraine that the Russians say is a priority, an indication of just how sort of dirty the fighting has been.

There's been this incredible video that's come out over the course of the past couple hours showing an attack on a chemical facility inside the city. And there are these horrific images, which I think we might be able to show you now of a massive orange plume of smoke billowing up over the conflict zone there, with troops in the foreground, that noxious gas in the background.

And it just gives you an idea of the hellscape that exists in that part of Ukraine as this fighting takes place. Of course, so much military resources on the Russian side has been plowed into capturing that city. It's left them potentially vulnerable elsewhere and there are counteroffensives taking place on the Ukrainian side and elsewhere in the country.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for us, thank you, Matthew, very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with the former CIA director, retired General David Petraeus. General Petraeus, thanks so much for joining us.

As you just heard, Russia controls most of this key eastern Ukrainian city, and it controls nearly all of the Luhansk region as well. Has the momentum shifted back to the Russians?

GEN. DAVID PETREAUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it seems to have, Wolf. But I think the question is, will the Russians have expended so much to get this city, which is essentially rubble at this point in time. They have largely destroyed the entire city. The Ukrainians have made them pay a very, very heavy price. And the question is, can the Ukrainians, taking all of the enormous numbers of weapons systems, ammunition and other military supplies and material, can they use that to counterattack as they are doing down in the south to Kherson and as they are in the east from Kharkiv.

So, the question is, again, will the momentum shift back the other way? Will the Russians have deployed so much of their force and lost so many more soldiers and armored vehicles that they're now vulnerable to these counterattacks? And we'll find that out, I think, literally in the week or two that lie ahead.

BLITZER: Ukraine says it has made progress with its counteroffensives in the south, in the southern part of Ukraine. How hard is it going to be for Russia to permanently hold these areas when it's facing such fierce Ukrainian resistance?

PETREAUS: I think it will be very hard, Wolf, because the one development we have not really seen much of, there have been some, in a sense, guerilla or insurgent attacks behind the Russian lines but you haven't seen much of that because the lines have not completely solidified and it really hasn't been the time to organize that kind of activity.

I suspect that that will be a feature as the weeks go on, and we'll also see how far the Ukrainians can get with that offensive that is pushing, again, just north of Crimea and pushing from west to east, trying to regain a very important city that they lost early on, Kherson.


BLITZER: Retired General David Petraeus, as usual, thank you very, very much for your analysis. We always appreciate it.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive. We're going to tell you about an unprecedented move by the U.S. Supreme Court, as it ramps up its investigation of the leaked draft decision on Roe versus Wade.


BLITZER: CNN has exclusive new reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court leak investigation.

Let's go right to our CNN legal analyst, Supreme Court biographer, Joan Biskupic, along with chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Joan, what can you tell us about your exclusive reporting?


This is very significant.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it means over the last four weeks since Chief Justice John Roberts launched an investigation of who would have turned over a copy of this major opinion, reporting to reverse Roe v. Wade to "Politico", that they have not made sufficient headway that they're taking dramatic steps now to seek affidavits from the law clerks and certain cell phone records.

We still don't know the scope of what they're trying to get but we know this alarmed the law clerks enough that they're looking outside to see if they should get outside counsel, independent counsel to decide how to handle this. What this tells us is that, you know, this is -- this is a very difficult investigation. Usually in these leaked things, you're never quite sure who turns it over.

But right now, it looks like the Supreme Court is targeting the nearly 40 law clerks who work as the elite of the elite to the justices. Now, I should tell you, Wolf, the original first draft that was written by Samuel Alito went to many more people beyond these law clerks, but clearly, this is where Chief Justice Roberts and the marshal of the court who's conducting this investigation is looking.

And I want to say the clerks are alarmed enough that one appellate lawyer who has -- aware of the new demands on clerks said they'd be crazy not to go looking for some sort of outside counsel, and it would be hypocritical of the Supreme Court to prevent them getting advice because think of what's on your cell phone, Wolf. It potentially could have been some interactions with people on the outside that could have led to the leak, but it's also many personal details, too.

BLITZER: Yeah, you're absolutely right.

Jeffrey, you covered the Supreme Court for a long time, just how unprecedented and potentially alarming is this request for the clerk's personal cell phone records?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there's never been anything like this at the Supreme Court, you know, this is an institution that operates on the basis of trust and even this investigation, it's not a law enforcement investigation, these are not subpoenas, these are requests to the law clerks and they're going to have to decide what to do.

And it's not just cell phones. It's got to be passwords, you know, without passwords this thing is just a paper weight so they're going to have to make it useful. They're going to have to turn over password and see decide if they want to do that.

Now if they refuse, they are opened to being fired. I mean, there's no question that's a possibility. It is not a subpoena that can be jailed for refusal to cooperate but, you know, I think certainly when these people get into practice, in a situation like this, they would tell anyone, consult a lawyer.

And I'm sure these clerks are consulting lawyers because I know it's going to be a difficult issue to resolve and I'm sure not 100 percent of law clerks are going to turn over passwords and their cell phones.

BLITZER: Yeah, this is a huge, huge development. Jeffrey Toobin, Joan, Biskupic -- John, excellent reporting. Thanks to

both of you for joining us.

Just ahead, an attorney for the Hillary Clinton campaign is found not guilty of lying to the FBI, why it could spell trouble for a major federal investigation. We'll have details when we come back.



BLITZER: Tonight, an attorney for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has been found not guilty of lying to the FBI. It's a major defeat for special counsel John Durham and his investigation into the Trump/Russia probe.

Our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is with here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Evan, a not guilty verdict in his first trial, that's a big set-up -- a big set back right now for him.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is a big set back and those of us, Wolf, who are watching this trial over 11 days, it was not a surprising result. Durham's case against Michael Sussmann was built largely around a number of witnesses, including the former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker who he met with back in September, 2016.

A lot of these people had very, very foggy memories about what exactly happened and in the case of some of them, they didn't actually remember what the prosecution's case was built around until they were threatened with possible prosecution. So that's one of the things that I think made a huge difference for this jury. They didn't believe the case that the prosecution made which was that Sussmann met with the FBI in September 2016, essentially peddling this theory that there were computers in Trump Organization communicating with Russian bank that was linked with the Kremlin. That, apparently according to the jury today did not work with them.

BLITZER: How does this special council investigation compare to the earlier, much earlier Robert Muller special counsel investigation?

PEREZ: Well, you know, the former president, President Trump wanted a lot from John Durham. He wanted his political enemies sent to prison, said the deep state was against him and the wanted those consequences brought against those people. None of that has happened.

Durham has spent three years on this investigation, $3.8 million, one guilty plea, this, today, obviously, an acquittal and has one more case set for October.

By comparison, Mueller spent just under two years, a year and 10 months, $32 million, and he had a number of guilty pleas and convictions, including the former campaign chairman for Trump's campaign, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, a number of people were a part of that case if you remember so for the former president I'm sure a lot of disappointment in what happened today.

BLITZER: I'm sure there is.

All right. Thanks very much. Evan Perez reporting for us.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.