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The Situation Room

New York Times Reports, Child's 911 Call Amid Shooting, A Lot Of Bodies, Please Send Help; Ex-Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Charged With Criminal Contempt; Ukraine Defiant After 100 Days Of Russia's Brutal War; McCormick Concedes To Oz In GOP Senate Primary In PA. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 03, 2022 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you know what you can do. You listen to "THE LEAD" wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I'd like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. I will see you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, a child's chilling 911 call during the Texas school massacre revealing, quote, a lot of bodies in the classroom and pleading for help as gunfire was heard and officers failed to storm in. A new report is exposing more damning evidence about the police response.

Also, tonight, another former Trump adviser is charged with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th select committee. We'll have the latest on Peter Navarro's arrest and indictment and what it means for the insurrection investigation, just ahead of a pivotal public hearing next week.

And destruction and defiance in Ukraine, as the nation marks 100 days of Russia's brutal war, President Zelenskyy vowing victory even as Russian forces control a fifth of the country right now and the Kremlin pledges to keep fighting until its goals are achieved.

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.

Let's get right to the new reporting on the Texas school massacre as the investigation into police failures is clearly intensifying.

Here's CNN's Senior National Correspondent Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, new questions raised in the investigation of the deadly school shooting in Uvalde. Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez says School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo didn't have a radio with him at the scene, something that may have hindered his ability to communicate directly with police dispatchers. STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): I have been told that this person did not have, this person being the incident commander, did not have radio communication and I don't know as to why.

LAVANDERA: Gutierrez says he learned the school district chief didn't have a radio from a law enforcement official at DPS. CNN has reached out to Uvalde police and the school district for comment on Gutierrez's statements and to Chief Arredondo to confirm if he had a radio, but we have not heard back.

Arredondo is facing serious criticism for making the call to not send officers sooner into the adjoining classrooms where the gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.

GUTIERREZ: I don't think any of us need to be rational people or policemen to understand active shooter protocol says you go in. You go in immediately.

LAVANDERA: Gutierrez says he wants to know more about what was happening at Robb Elementary School on that day, including what information was relayed to first responders on the campus from the 911 calls made inside the school. Like this one from a transcript reviewed by The New York Times from ten-year-old student Chloe Torres who survived the massacred. She says there is a lot of bodies, I don't want to die. My teacher is dead. My teacher is dead. Please send help. Send help for my teacher. She is shot but still alive. Torres' call lasted for 17 minutes. According to the transcript, 11 minutes into it, the sound of gunfire could be heard.

The senator says he was told by the Commission on State Emergency Communications that the 911 calls were replayed to the city's police force. What remains unclear is whether or not that information was given to the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo.

Questions have also been raised over how the gunman got into the school. Initially, investigators said it was through a propped open door. An attorney for educator Emelia Marin says she was the one who propped open the door while helping a co-worker carry in items but that she did shut the door when she heard her co-workers running and heard people yelling, he's got a gun. Marine, who ran to a nearby classroom to hide survived, but her attorney says, in the days that followed, she was overcome with emotions thinking she may not have closed the door after all.

DON FLANARY, ATTORNEY FOR EMILIA AMY MARIN: It really shocked her. It hurt her. It scared her. It even made her second guess her own memories. And so, the rangers had to tell her, no, we've looked at the video. You didn't do anything wrong and still she was worried.

LAVANDERA: Authorities classified last week that the door didn't lock after Marin kicked it shut.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Wolf, preliminary death certificates were issued today for 20 of the 21 victims. And we knew that all of them had been killed by gunfire, but this is really the first documentation that we have seen of this and what was striking in these simple documents is that the vast majority of these victims were struck with multiple gunshot wounds, according to the documents that we saw today, just kind of bringing to life just the horrific nature of what we have been witnessing and witnessing here in Uvalde for almost two weeks now.



BLITZER: Yes, horrific and heartbreaking. Ed Lavandera in Uvalde for us, Ed, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our CNN Law Enforcement Analysts Anthony Barksdale and Jonathan Wackrow. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on. Anthony, let me start with you.

According to The New York Times report, this ten-year-old survivor called 911 more than 30 minutes into this attack, pleading with the police to, quote, and I'm quoting her now, send help, that her teacher was shot but still alive. How disturbing is that?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's very disturbing, Wolf. It's sickening that this chief, the incident commander, was so ill-prepared to deal with this. And I have so many questions. You're still hearing shots. You're still a green light for an active shooter situation. There was no justification that this should have moved to a hostage barricade situation. They should have kept going after the shooter, deep concerns, sickening that this chief didn't have a radio as an incident commander.

When you run the incident command system and you choose to be incident commander, it is for command, control and coordination. How the hell are you the incident commander without your radio? This is -- it's just unacceptable.

BLITZER: Yes, totally.

Jonathan, what do you think of that?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: One word, Wolf, appalling. It's appalling what I am seeing. Every single day, the trickle of information that comes out or the incident commander to not have a radio, I mean, is just -- it stuns me.

The incident command structure was established to coordinate a multiagency response to a critical incident. All of that is predicated upon communication. You can't communicate without a radio. What was he going to do? Yell orders and commands to those around him? I mean, this is basic. This is policing 101, public safety 101, that incident command is predicated on communication.

Again, another failure but it also explains a lot. We're seeing a lot of scene confusion. People didn't know what they were doing both as agencies were responding inside and then after the shooter was shot, the aftermath, the recovery, the EMS, all of that coordination, again, was disjointed. It just shows an absolute failure of the incident command structure on that day.

BLITZER: You know, Anthony, have you ever seen, as many failures in one incident, as we're seeing in this particular incident? What do you think?

BARKSDALE: Wolf, I've never seen anything like this. I've been an incident commander on numerous incidents, active shooters, hostage barricade, mass shootings. I just -- I've never seen failure to this level. And it is -- it's a wake-up call for everyone to question when you hear a chief or anyone say, yes, I went through training. Oh, yes, really? How much training did you really do? What's the quality of the training? Are you going to crack under pressure? Are you going to know what to do when it really happens and you're sitting in your town and your state?

This is -- it's just -- I don't even have the words, Wolf. I'm sorry.

BLITZER: It's so, so heartbreaking to see all the blunders that occurred. And, Jonathan, does it make sense to you that the chief hasn't resigned yet?

WACKROW: No, it really doesn't. And, I mean, we need to be very vocal about that because he's still a public safety official. If something happens tomorrow, he could still be, you know, in command of, you know, law enforcement forces in the area.

Wolf, I said this from the very beginning, that this could turn out to be one of the worst police failures in modern U.S. history. I am going to rephrase that. This is the worst police failure in modern U.S. history, full stop. I mean, everything that we are seeing is a failure of command, failure of leadership. And I think that when we see the DOJ critical incident review, we are going to really find out that training, tactics and experience, which are critical for law enforcement officers to do their job was not present in here by this incident commander.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's not forget, 19 students shot and killed, two teachers shot and killed in this incident as well.


All right, guys, thank you very, very much, Anthony Barksdale and Jonathan Wackrow, with their analysis.

Just ahead, another top Trump ally facing criminal contempt charges for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th select committee. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Former Trump Economic Adviser Peter Navarro has now been charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th select committee. CNN's Ryan Nobles is on the story for us. Ryan, Peter Navarro just appeared in court after being arrested at the airport here in Washington.


Give us the latest.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there was a lot of theatrics around his court appearance and his arrest, Wolf. He is blaming the January 6th select committee of a witch hunt or going after him after he outright defied their subpoena and request for documents. The committee referring him to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress because of his defiance and the DOJ agreed, indicting him on two different counts, one, for not supplying those documents that the committee asked for, and then another for refusing to sit down for an interview with the committee.

Now, these are serious charges, felony charges that could bring with it extensive jail time up to two years and perhaps $200,000 in fines. Now, Navarro believes that he had no reason to comply with the subpoena because he was doing what the former president, Donald Trump, told him to do and assert executive privilege, this despite the fact that the current occupant of the White House, Joe Biden, did not extend that privilege request to people that were associated with the former president.

The question now is, will these other individuals who have been referred under these same circumstances, including Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, and Dan Scavino, the deputy of chief of staff, also face the same fate and indictment? So far, the Department of Justice has not taken that step. Their situation is a little bit different, Wolf, but this shows that these subpoenas that the committee puts out are serious and this is an example how they will be enforced if they're not complied with.

BLITZER: Yes, if convicted, what, two years in jail potentially, $200,000 if fines, as you point out. Ryan, thank you very much.

For more on that let's bring if former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, he's now a CNN Contributor. John, thanks so much for joining us.

So, Peter Navarro was arrested by the FBI. He could go to jail rather than cooperate with this federal investigation. You, of course, made a very different calculation during the Watergate hearings. What does this say about Trump's allies now?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I've been surprised at Navarro, who, all along, since he has been hired at the White House, has sort of defied the norms and the processes. He's sort of been in your face to the Congress. He did file a lawsuit contesting their authority. That lawsuit has been lost by everybody who's attempted it. So, his continued behavior, only recently apparently hired a lawyer, but his behavior has just been rather obnoxious, is the best way I can describe it. BLITZER: Yes. He's been representing himself. It's very, very weird, I must say, as someone who has followed these guys and cases over many year.

As someone whose testimony actually changed the course of American history in the Watergate hearings, John, do you have any advice for the select committee right now? How do they bring this investigation to life for the American people during these upcoming public hearings which begin next week?

DEAN: Well, I hope they do it right and I think they are. The Watergate hearings, Wolf, if you recall, they started very slow with very junior staff, in fact, the networks threatened to pull their coverage if they didn't get going because they were losing their audience.

I think the committee has been very wise this time by starting with some very senior people, people who can give big picture information, people who have a lot of prestige and help educate the American people. That's what this is all about. And I think the committee understands that and certainly that is going to be what they attempt.

BLITZER: You're a key voice in CNN's new original series entitled, Watergate, Blueprint for a Scandal. Looking back 50 years later right now, let me play a clip from the new series. Listen to this.


LESLEY STAHL, JOURNALIST: Haldeman had that funny crew cut, so he always looked like he was from another era. He had no humor, just the facts, man. That's the way he presented himself, dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the questions that Haldeman asked me was, can I be loyal to Richard Nixon? It struck me as a strange question because I thought we were all on the same team.

ASHA RANGAPPA, FMR. FBI AGENT AND SENIOR LECTURER, YALE UNIVERSITY: The loyalty is about being a member of the group. That becomes the paramount value. If you're not loyal, then you get kicked out of the group. So, to maintain your tribal membership, you have to go along with whatever the leader says and that's incredibly dangerous.

RICHARD NIXON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: A vice president, a member of the cabinet, a member of Congress who is a member of the president's party, he should always consider that he is dispensable and should do what a man wants.


BLITZER: So, here's a question for you, John. Has that tribalism actually gotten worse in today's Republican Party?

DEAN: It certainly has for this reason, authoritarianism has surfaced. Before, it was kind of buried under the rocks. People were authoritarian personalities.


They did like strong leaders and followed them, but that wasn't okay behavior. Today, post-Trump and actually during the Trump presidency, it became very acceptable behavior and now you have Republican leaders vying to see who can be the biggest tough guy.

BLITZER: John Dean, thank you very much and thanks for all that you have done, thanks for doing this special.

To our viewers, be sure to watch the new CNN original series, Watergate, Blueprint for a Scandal, this Sunday, 9:00 P.M. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, today marks 100 days since Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine. Is there any end in sight? We're going live to Kyiv for the latest on the ground. That's next.



BLITZER: Tonight, Ukraine, Russia and the world are marking 100 days of war, 100 days of horrors inflicted by Vladimir Putin's invasion with no clear victory in sight for either side.

Let's go to our Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman, he's joining us live from Kyiv right now. Ben, give us the latest on what's happening on the ground and where this war seems to be heading next.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the critical battle right now, Wolf, is in the Eastern Donbas region, and particularly in the city of Severedonetsk, a place I spent a lot of time in, back in April. That city has been pummeled for weeks and weeks and weeks by Russian artillery. And Ukraine officials now can see that up to 80 percent of that city is now under Russian control.

Now, there are still Ukrainian forces operating in small pockets in the city, perhaps just trying to cover a retreat by the Ukrainian forces, but, certainly, what we are seeing is that even in places like that after this intense artillery bombardment, there is still intense Ukrainian resistance.

Now, we understand that as many as 800 people, civilians, are still hiding out in a chemical plant in the basement, rather, the bomb shelters there. In fact, we were in those bomb shelters back in April. The situation was dire back then. I can only imagine what it is now.

Now, the Ukrainians, however, are saying that they -- within the last 24 hours, however, the Russians have not made any major advances within that city itself. They do, however, warn that Russian forces are massing outside the city of Slovyansk, elsewhere in Donbas preparing to try to retake that city.

Despite these problems, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did come out and say that he is confident that in the end, Ukraine will be victorious.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The leaders of parliamentary factions are here. The president's chief of staff is here. Prime minister of Ukraine Shmhyl is here. Podolyak is here. The president is here. Our team is much bigger. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are here. Most importantly, our people, the people of our country are here. We have been defending Ukraine for 100 days. Victory shall be ours. Glory to Ukraine.


WEDEMAN: And when you think back, Wolf, to how dire this situation was in Ukraine 90 days ago, when we understood that there were multiple plans by the Russians to actually assassinate President Zelenskyy, that he's now every day, every evening coming out with these statements, it shows that, certainly, the situation has changed dramatically from what it was just a few weeks ago. Wolf?

BLITZER: Good point. Ben Wedeman on the scene for us in Kyiv, thank you very much.

Let's get the big picture right now, where the war stands 100 days in, Brian Todd is joining us along with CNN's Military Analyst, retired Major General James Spider Marks.

Brian, show us how Russian forces have gained more ground, more and more ground, apparently, during the course of this conflict.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, no better way to do that than with a map. General Marks, we are going to start by showing viewers as we get 100 days into the war what the map looked like on March 5th, General. This is the way it looked. The Russians pinching in on Kyiv from at least three sides, they held some territory in the northeast. This is the way the map looks today.

Now, General, how have the Russians changed their strategy? Where are they making their biggest gains right now?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Well, Brian, what's really happening is the Russians back in the early part of the war tried to invade with too few forces along too many avenues of approach. In other words, they tried to bite off more than they could chew. They determined that in very short order because they underestimated the Ukrainians and they overestimated their own abilities.

As a result of that, they've put all of their forces down in the Donbas area and they have now created as the new map shows, this crescent that essentially runs from the eastern portion of Kharkiv all the way down to Kherson, which successfully creates -- it has to be held but it successfully creates this land bridge for Russia to Crimea.

TODD: Right, General. We're going to talk about the weaponry now. Over the course of 100 days in this war, it has evolved. First, the U.S. and NATO gave the Ukrainians Javelin missiles and Stinger missiles, then MI-17 helicopters and Switchblade drones. Now, recently, they've just sent howitzers with the Ukrainians training on those and what they call high mobility rocket systems, the HIMARS, which the Ukrainians want those HIMARS rockets to have a range of 200 miles, the U.S. giving them rockets with only a range of about 50 miles.


Can these make a difference, General, and how can the Ukrainians use these?

MARKS: Well, they can make a difference, and we've seen over the course of these 100 days the significant difference that this type of kit is providing the Ukrainians. What it really gives them is a step- up capability to fight the Ukrainians to fight against the Russians in depth. That's the way you set the operational tempo. That's the way you set the conditions for the tactical fight and that's what these capabilities provide them.

Now, bear in mind, President Zelenskyy along with our own president has indicated we don't want to fight in to Russia, from a military guy's perspective. If you can get into that sanctuary, if you can go after the Russians where the logistics are, where they refuel, where they refit, where they take a break, you can get into the tempo that they now have to bring forward to the battle. The Ukrainians can set that tempo.

BLITZER: General, key question here. 100 days in, let's project where it's going to look territorially 100 days from now. Can the Ukrainians recapture the 20 percent of their territory from Russians at this point?

MARKS: Well, it's unlikely that they're going to do that, let's be frank. Crimea existed and the Donbas existed where Russian forces have been since 2014. Those, I think, are going to remain in place. The success that the Ukrainians can achieve right now will determine how much more of Ukraine they can reclaim. That's why we're at an inflection point. What happens over the next two to three months will determine what Ukraine looks like going forward for the next couple of years.

TODD: All right. General Marks, thank you very much.

One point that we want to make, Wolf, as we toss back to you, Russia, according to President Zelenskyy, has lost about 30,000 soldiers. That may or may not be an accurate mark from President Zelenskyy, but the president also says that he is losing 60 to 100 soldiers a day. Both General Marks and I believe he can't sustain those numbers for very much longer.

BLITZER: Yes, those numbers are very, very significant. Thank you very much for that, Brian Todd and retired Major General James Spider Marks. I appreciate it very much.

Just ahead, President Biden touts a strong new jobs report here in the United States but says he understands why Americans are anxious about surging food and gas prices. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is touting a new economic report showing U.S. employers added nearly 400,000 new jobs last month despite fears of a slowdown.

Let's bring in our White House Correspondent M.J. Lee. M.J., this was a very strong monthly jobs report but at the same time record gas prices and high inflation are still very, very real, awful problems here in the U.S. How is the White House dealing with this?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one, Wolf, the White House and the president himself, they are certainly trying to celebrate and tout this very strong jobs report. We saw the president speaking earlier today in Rehoboth Beach where he is spending the weekend and these two key numbers that he highlighted, 390,000 jobs added in the month of May, and the unemployment rate remaining at historic lows of 3.6 percent.

But very telling, Wolf, that in his speech today, the president quickly turning to the economic concerns that are so deep and widespread across the country right now. He essentially said, look, despite this good news in the jobs report, I know people are feeling incredibly anxious and, of course, so much has to do with inflation.

Just the simple fact when people are going to the grocery store, when they are going to the gas station to fill up their gas tanks, they are seeing everything costing so much more. You take a look at the national average of gas prices today, it costs $4.76 a gallon, compare that to just last month when it was $4.20 and a year ago when it cost $3.04, and the president in his speech trying to reassure people that things are going to get better. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: With today's good news, a lot of Americans remain anxious and I understand the feeling.

There is no denying that high prices, particularly around gasoline and food, are real problems for people. But there's every reason for the American people to feel confident that we'll meet these challenges.


LEE: And, of course, regaining that confidence is going to take a lot of work. You look at this recent Gallup poll and 46 percent of people believe that the economy is in poor shape. Only 14 percent think that it is in good or excellent shape. And, Wolf, of course, it was just this week that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told you on your show that she believed that she was wrong when last year she underplayed and didn't understand fully just how bad inflation would be.

BLITZER: Yes, very important information, indeed. M.J. Lee reporting for us at the White House, thank you. Let's turn to another major focus for President Biden right now, his direct appeal for action on gun control here in the United States.

Joining us now, Congressman Ted Deutch, he's a Florida Democrat who serves on the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

As you know, the president laid out his vision for gun control in an address to the nation last night saying, enough, enough, enough, enough. He repeatedly used that word in dealing with these shootings that are going on. As you well know, Florida made some significant changes after that attack in Parkland, Florida, which happens to be in your district. Could that be a model for the rest of the country?

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Well, Wolf, first of all, the president is exactly right. And what he expressed so powerfully last night was what the vast majority of us feel. It's enough. It's enough of seeing mass shooting after mass shooting, gun violence happening literally every single day.


So, there are common sense things we can do and, yes, Florida, the state of Florida, after the horrific shooting when 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, took some commonsense steps. They raised the age to buy a gun to 21. You have to be 21 to buy a handgun anywhere in the country. Why don't we raise that to 21? Why was that shooter in Uvalde able to go in on his 18th birthday to buy two AR-15s? That's a commonsense step.

Red flag laws in Florida, which, again, it makes so much sense, if someone poses a threat to himself or to others, then let's not give him access to his firearm. That's been used in Florida close to 6,000 times saving lives.

These sorts of commonsense measures the president talked about limiting magazine size, you know why we do that, Wolf? Because every time a shooter needs to change magazines, it's an opportunity for someone to stop him from shooting.

These are the kinds of things that we ought to be able to do. We ought to be able to do it now and what we should -- what I worry about is that we're becoming so numb to this. I've had people say to me, well, we are really fortunate because in Tulsa, only four people were gunned down. We can't ever accept this as normal. The president was right last night. We need to move forward and the House is going to do that next week.

BLITZER: You want to go to Hertz and rent a car, you have got to be 25. But if you're 18, you can buy an assault-type weapon. There's something wrong with that.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation for sure down the road, Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. Coming up, as the January 6th select committee now prepares for next week's public primetime hearings, we're going to take a closer look at the man leading the investigation, Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson.



BLITZER: We're now just six days out from the primetime January 6th Select Committee hearings where investigators are promising previously unseen material. That tape they promise it will be revealed during the course of those hearings.

Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger has a closer look at the man leading the panel, Congressman Bennie Thompson.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The way Bennie Thompson saw it from the House gallery on January 6th, his congressional lapel pin was a badge of honor.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Security had told us you need to take care your pin off because they break in and see you with that pin on, they could kill you. I said, now, as many people I know that fought and died in this country for me to have the right to represent and for them to have the right to vote, I'm not going to let any insurrectionist, rioter, crazy person come here and take this pin.

BORGER: He's been wearing a ping for 13 terms, the only Democrat and only Black member of Mississippi's congressional delegation, representing one of the poorest districts in the country. Now cast into the national spotlight as chairman of the January 6th Committee, taking on a challenge unlike any other in American history.

What's at stake with these hearings?

THOMPSON: Our democracy is at stake. We have to defend our democracy. We have to defend our government.

BORGER: For Thompson, now 74, this job is about a personal history come full circle. As a product of the Jim Crow South, the right to vote and be counted in a free and fair election has been his life's work.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): It's an extraordinary arc in a political career. He had to struggle for representation at the local level, at the county level, at the federal level.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It wasn't possible in his state for a person of color to be elected.

REUBEN ANDERSON, FORMER MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: When he was growing up voting was such an important and treasured thing. So many Mississippians lost their lives over the right to vote. That sticks with you for awhile.

BORGER: Or a lifetime. In Washington, D.C., Thompson hasn't been one of those well-known faces parked in front of a camera. But in his hometown of Bolton, population 521, everyone knows Bennie and the way to his office.

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: People walk in, they sit down, they go get something to drink out of the refrigerator, water or a soft drink and they leave. It is like the community office. And that's the person he is.

THOMPSON: This was the police station, city hall, everything.

BORGER: He lives in the same brick ranch house in the same affordable housing community that he fought to build as mayor in the '70s.

THOMPSON: The person who sold us this land got his life threatened because he sold it to the black community.

BORGER: And he's back every weekend driving around his 300-mile-long district which includes the capital city Jackson and the rural Mississippi Delta. He likes to travel with his fishing pole and guns in the truck.

THOMPSON: I will call friends and say, look, I'll be in the area. Let's go hunting.

JOHNSON: Duck, deer, we're going quail --

ANDERSON: People like that about him. He's just a regular person.

BORGER: Who grew up in the segregated South.


THOMPSON: I went to Bolton colored school.

We had no indoor plumbing. Honestly no cafeteria, no library.

BORGER: Until he got to the private, desegregated to go to college in 1964, the place where Black power found its voice and Thompson found his.

THOMPSON: Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael sitting in this very building, in Mississippi, at that point did not allow Black and White people to assemble in public buildings. And for me, having never gone to school until I got to Tougaloo with a white student --

BORGER: Never?

THOMPSON: Never. It was like, whew.

BORGER: It was a revelation of sorts. He was determined not to be one of those people who got an education and left. He was going to get it, and use it at home. He started by registering voters. THOMPSON: I told my mother how excited I was to go to Sunflower

County of Mississippi and help African Americans register to vote and my mother said we don't vote here in Bolton.

BORGER: Did you register your mother?

THOMPSON: Oh, absolutely.

BORGER: For years, the courts became his battleground as his local election wins were consistently challenged and when he became Bolton's first Black mayor in 1973, winning by just 18 votes, he was sued once again by a White challenger.

THOMPSON: We proved there were people eligible to vote which the election officials denied and under the Voting Rights Act, they couldn't do that.

People somehow say I cheated, that it just couldn't be a lawful election.

BORGER: Rigged election, I've heard that before.

THOMPSON: Some insane comments that I heard back then resonated on January 6th.

BORGER: Now, he's leading the investigation into what happened that day.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We got to walk down to the Capitol.

BORGER: So do you believe that Donald Trump provoked and led the insurrection and then was applauding it as it occurred?

THOMPSON: I believe Donald Trump was a puppet master. He allowed, with his rhetoric, people to be bamboozled into believing the election was stolen.

BORGER: And for Thompson, that's personal.

THOMPSON: My daddy died when I was in 10th grade, but he never had a chance to vote. And for his son to be elected, I think, is a sense of how far we've come. The bragging rights, as Americans, is you can support a candidate of your choice and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you don't tear the place up if you lose.


BLITZER: Thank you very much, Gloria, for that excellent, excellent report. Those hearings will be historic, televised hearings next week.

Just ahead, we're going live to London for more on Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee celebration even as the monarch skips some festivities. We'll have details on the royal reunion with Prince Harry and Meghan.


BLITZER: Right now, we have some breaking news at a key Republican Senate primary, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with me right now.

Gloria, give us the news. This is major news out of Pennsylvania.

BORGER: Well, candidate McCormick has said that Mehmet Oz is the winner and called in to say it was clear as the state was going through its recount that he wasn't going to win and so he released a statement saying, you know, it's clear to me that got to all unite and get together behind Mehmet Oz which is of course, exactly, when you think back to the past, what candidates used to do, Wolf, when they thought things weren't going to go their way, even if they ordered a recount because it was very close which they did, he finally realized it wasn't going to go anywhere and better to unite earlier than to wait and drag this out.

BLITZER: So basically, David McCormick, the -- you know, he was a business guy, he has now conceded to Dr. Mehmet Oz and Trump, all of us remember that Trump, of course, backed Mehmet Oz.

BORGER: Right. Trump backed Mehmet Oz, and remember, he came out and said to Oz, why don't you just come out and declare victory and to Oz's credit, he did not do that. He decided to wait.

The other day, he almost did that. He called himself the presumptive nominee, if you'll recall, but he didn't call himself a nominee, but at this point, David McCormick said you are the nominee and now, of course, will face John Fetterman in the race.

BLITZER: The lieutenant governor.

BORGER: Lieutenant governor, Democrat, who has had health issues. So it will Trump's candidate against a very popular Democrat, liberal Democrat.

BLITZER: This is going to be one of the most significant Senate races in the midterm elections right now, at stake, potentially could be whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate.

BORGER: Right, absolutely, and, you know, it's a state that is very varied and you have liberal blocks of the state, you have very conservative blocks of the state and it's a state that any presidential candidate, of course, in 2024, really wants to win. So, it's important to control of the Senate and I would argue it's important to who wins the presidency.

BLITZER: Yes, so once again, the headline that David McCormick has conceded to Dr. Mehmet Oz. There was a recount going on but McCormick concluded he simply did not have the necessary votes.

BORGER: No longer candidate, back to being a business man.

BLITZER: All right. Let me thank you, Gloria. Thanks very much. Thanks to our viewers for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.