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The Situation Room
Uvalde 11-Year-Old Begs Congress Saying I Don't Want It To Happen Again; 1/6 Committee Chair Says, Ivanka Trump Testimony May Be Played At Hearings; Armed Man Threatens To Kill Justice Brett Kavanaugg; Armed Man Threatens To Kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh; Biden Arrives For Summit As Mexican President Boycotts; Olympic Gymnasts Sexually Assaulted By Larry Nassar Seek Over $1 Billion From FBI For Not Intervening In Abuse. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 08, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Drive-through customers who received their food from the sky or rather via mini-elevators from a kitchen above the drive-through lanes. Taco Bell says, the design is a response to the way fast food have changed during the pandemic, but I would like to think that somewhere, The Jetsons are celebrating. They manifested this dream come true.
Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, an 11-year-old survivor of the Uvalde massacre begs the U.S. Congress to make sure it doesn't happen again. She joined with parents of mass shooting victims at a raw and very heartbreaking hearing right in the midst of urgent negotiations on gun reform.
Also tonight, the chairman of the January 6th select committee reveals that Ivanka Trump's video testimony may be played during the new hearings. Will there be bombshells as the panel begins going public tomorrow night with the results of its insurrection investigation?
And a death threat against a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, an armed man is arrested near Kavanaugh's home and charged with attempted murder amid growing fears for the safety of the nation's highest court.
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.
And we begin with desperate new calls for action on guns by victims' families and survivors of the most recent shooting massacres here in the United States. They gave voice to the unfathomable loss, the suffering and the frustration felt by too many Americans right now.
Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel safe at school? Why not?
MIAH CERRILLO, SURVIVOR OF SCHOOL SHOOTING IN UVALDE, TEXAS: Because I don't want it to happen again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's going to happen again?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 11- year-old Miah Cerrillo recounting in harrowing testimony, how she pretended she was dead in order to avoid the massacre at her school in Uvalde, Texas.
CERRILLO: There was a door between our classrooms and he went through there and shot my teacher and told my teacher good night and shot her in the head. And then he shot some of my classmates and the white board. When he went to the back, he shot my friend that was next to me, and I thought he was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and put it all over me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do then when you put the blood on yourself?
CERRILLO: Just stayed quiet and I got my teacher's phone and called 911.
RAJU: The parents of a murdered fourth grader, Lexi Rubio, describing the agonizing wait as they frantically tried to locate their daughter.
KIMBERLY RUBIO, MOTHER OF UVALDE SHOOTING VICTIM LEXI RUBIO: I left my daughter at that school, and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life. At this point, some part of me must have realized that she was gone. In the midst the chaos, I had the urge to return to Robb.
We didn't have our car at this point and traffic was everywhere. So, I ran. I ran barefoot with my flimsy sandals in my hand. I ran a mile to the school, my husband with me. We sat outside for a while before it became clear we wouldn't receive an answer from law enforcement on scene.
RAJU: Before receiving the devastating news that shattered their lives.
RUBIO: Soon after, we received the news that our daughter was among the 19 students and 2 teachers that died as a result of gun violence.
RAJU: The gut-wrenching testimony from a pediatrician who treated the victims.
DR. ROY GUERRERO, PEDIATRICIAN, UVALDE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: The mothers' cries I will never get out of my head.
RAJU: Witnessing this.
GUERRERO: Two children, whose bodies pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue of their identities was the blood spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none.
RAJU: And the mother of a victim from the Buffalo grocery store massacre detailing the injuries her son has endured.
ZENETA EVERHART, MOTHER OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM ZAIRE GUOODMAN: As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back. Shrapnel will be left inside his body for the rest of his life. Now, I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children. This should not be your story or mine.
RAJU: All demanding action from Congress.
RUBIO: We demand action. We seek a ban on assault rifles and high- capacity magazines. We seek to raise the age to purchase these weapons from 18 to 21 years of age. We seek red flag laws, stronger background checks. We also want to repeal gun manufacturers liability immunity.
EVERHART: No citizen needs an AR-15.
These weapons are designed to do the most harm in the least amount of time.
RAJU: But many of those changes will not be included in any final deal in Congress, given GOP opposition to restricting access to high- powered semiautomatic rifles.
Why do you oppose reinstating the assault weapons ban?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We're trying to get an outcome.
RAJU: Senate negotiators are instead focusing on a narrow set of changes including bolstering state red flag laws, providing billions for mental health programs, money for school security and allowing juvenile records to be searched in background checks.
Even though it doesn't go far enough for many Democrats, senators are willing to give the talks a chance.
How concerned are you this guns deal is not going to go as far as you want restricting access to guns?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I think it will be incremental. I think it will be necessary things, not sufficient to stop that level of carnage we're having, but God, we haven't done anything since Parkland, since Columbine, on a national level. So, I'm hopeful, tempered hope that we can get something done that will be meaningful.
RAJU (on camera): And we just caught up with Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is the chief Republican negotiator, and asked him about the calls from those witnesses that they should do more than what is currently being proposed. He told us I understand that, we want to do something that will save live. And, Wolf, he briefed Senate Republicans behind closed doors today, gave them the general outlines of the emerging deal. We're hearing Republicans are divided over this package, and it's still uncertain whether a deal can be reached and it can pass the Senate. Wolf?
BLITZER: Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very, very much.
Let's get more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN's Omar Jimenez, he's joining us from Uvalde, Texas, along with our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and our Law Enforcement Analyst Anthony Barksdale.
Laura, what does it say that families, who have experienced so much horrible loss, painful loss, and an 11-year-old survivor, were actually forced to plead with Congress to act today?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, really, it's unconscionable that it's even happened, but the idea we're about two weeks removed from some of these horrors and there's a lot of information they do not know, and yet they felt compelled to elevate their voice.
A young girl wanting to tell people her story, in part, because she knew, that she did not feel safe any longer. You can imagine the school-aged children who are listening to her story, even though parents don't want to have their kids exposed to this, to hear what she has endured and the parents who have lost them.
I know the power of testimony as somebody who has tried many cases and watched juries in a court of law be persuaded by seeing the people and the human faces to what we have described. And I'm hoping that at some level that, that notion of what happened in a court of law will translate in front of the committees that are hearing this testimony, to persuade them about the imperative nature and the urgency of having negotiations that are not futile but fruitful, particularly when you see the harm, and the devastation, and knowing frankly, Wolf, the uncertainty of when it will happen again.
BLITZER: Yes, it so, so painful. Anthony, how hard is it to actually hear that Uvalde pediatrician describe how these kids' bodies were mutilated by these deadly weapons?
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It was very hard to hear. During my career, I saw the damage that assault rifles and various calibers can do to the human body. But for that type of weapon to be used on children, it's -- it was just -- it's tough to listen to. But we need to hear it, because we need drastic changes here.
What we currently have in place isn't working. And children, innocent children or shoppers at a supermarket should not be victimized by active shooters, by killers armed with high power, high capacity assault rifles.
BLITZER: Yes. You're absolutely right. Omar, you're there in Uvalde, Texas. This community's grief was clearly on display during this hearing today, wasn't it?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. What we heard in this testimony really matched a lot of what we heard in this community. That when it comes to processing what happened a little more than two weeks ago now, it's not just about what happened that day. It's about the feelings that persist and endure day in and day out for these parents who in many cases are second guessing what should have been everyday decisions.
I spoke to the grandfather of a young survivor who told me that she still hears the sounds of bullets and gets scared at even the slightest sounds. As another teacher says he's going to go to the ends of the world to try and get some form of change here.
So, as awful as it was, what happened, again, a little more than two weeks ago now, many people still are grieving and we are still continuing to see burials of loved ones and it's not over for people.
BLITZER: Now, Laura, do lawmakers here in Washington need to understand that even when a victim survives a shooting like this, these physical and emotional wounds, they last a lifetime?
COATES: They absolutely do. And I hope that they really understand that. I mean, it's not unheard of for even the Supreme Court, let alone legislative bodies, to understand the emotional and the psychosocial reaction when you're contemplating how to craft legislation in a nation of laws.
I mean, you think about even the idea on a very different scale of desegregating our nation's schools. The idea of the social and psychological toll, that it had on not only black and brown children, but white children as well.
The idea of it's not just those who are the targets of the reprehensible behavior, but those who are also witnessing, experiencing it, and growing up in a state where it exploits their biggest fears. It's very imperative to understand the holistic reaction.
BLITZER: Omar, after more than, what, than two weeks of questions, are we finally going to start getting some real answers from Texas officials and from the U.S. Justice Department for that matter?
JIMENEZ: Well, Wolf, there's a few different processes happening at a few levels of government. At the state level, we are expecting the house investigative committee to produce a preliminary investigative report by the end of the month, is what we're hearing.
Tomorrow, they're expecting to hear testimony from multiple people at the Texas department of public safety and examine evidence that we're told that's likely going to happen behind closed doors in executive session.
At the federal level, we got an announcement today, from the Department Of Justice. They will be launching their review into what happened here. It's not a criminal investigation, but again, an after- action review to look at the process and see if there are any future recommendations they could offer.
It's something the mayor here asked for, and now that it's here, he thanked the DOJ for making the step and has full confidence it is going to be a fair and transparent process. But, again, many people here waiting for answers, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens. Omar Jimenez, Anthony Barksdale, Laura Coates, guys, thank you very, very much.
Important note, Laura, will have more on the mass shooting crisis here in the United States when she anchors CNN Tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern, later tonight.
And just ahead, we'll talk more about gun violence and the push for commonsense reform with the second highest ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin. He's standing by live.
Also ahead, will Ivanka Trump's video testimony be played during the January 6th select committee hearings that are about to kick off up on Capitol Hill? The panel's chairman now says it's a real possibility.
BLITZER: The January 6th select committee kicks off the first of six public hearings, a little over 24 hours from now, revealing the results of its nearly year-long investigation.
Let's bring in CNN's Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and CNN's Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Jamie, what are you learning about tomorrow's primetime hearing tomorrow night, and specifically is the American public going to be hearing from some of the people closest to the then-president Trump?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think tomorrow we're going to see a prosecutor in effect laying out a case. A preview of what's to come. And we have been told, we have been reporting for quite some time, that we're going to see new video, new testimony. They interviewed 1,000 different witnesses. And among those witnesses, Ivanka Trump. Who was, let's remember, a first-hand witness. She was at the White House on January 6th.
I think there will be other family members who have also gone in to testify. Maybe we will see attorney general, then-attorney general Bill Barr, who played a key role because the committee wants to make the point that on December 1st, Bill Barr told Donald Trump there was no significant election fraud, and yet he kept going down this path.
BLITZER: Kept going and going. So much of the plotting for this coup attempt, Jeffrey, as you know, and as our viewers know, it happened behind the scenes. So how do they bring that forward during the course of this public hearing?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the famous Watergate question was, what did the president know and when did he know it? I think it's a little different. I think the question here is what did Donald Trump do? Because what we don't know is how much, if at all, was President Trump involved in the planning or knowing about the storming of the Capitol? What role did he play in the attempt to intimidate the Vice President Pence? What role did he play in the attempt to put forth fake electors?
All of that, as you say, took place behind the scenes. The people we need to hear from are, Ivanka Trump, who was there, Mark Meadows, who was there, and also I think very importantly, yesterday there was a ruling from a federal judge that said some of John Eastman's emails were going to come out. Eastman was the brains of the operation. He was the guy, the law professor who was giving the legal advice that led to the effort to overturn the election. What do those emails show? That will start to show what the president did.
BLITZER: Jamie, you have been doing a lot of reporting on what the committee is up to. Who is their target audience for these hearings?
GANGEL: So I think obviously, the American public. It's been a year and a half.
They have to remind people. Some people wanted to move on. Some Trump supporters still believe that it was tourists there. So I think the committee really wants to reach that audience, but I would say they have one other audience, and that is an audience of one, and that's Attorney General Merrick Garland.
At the end of the day, the committee is presenting what they have learned for history, for the record. They're not going to indict anyone, a criminal referral, as Jeffrey would say, really doesn't mean anything.
So, the question is, is there evidence, their testimony going to push Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to take further action? According to my sources on the committee, they're hoping it will.
BLITZER: Yes, I think that's their goal right now. How tall an order is it, Jeffrey, for the committee to actually change minds during the course of these hearings?
TOOBIN: One of the things we've learned about American politics in the Trump and post-Trump era is that there are not a lot of minds out there to be changed. I mean, this is a very locked in audience, and there is, you know, there are a handful of probably suburban viewers who don't follow politics very carefully, but -- you know and haven't followed this investigation certainly the way we have, that's probably the audience.
The Fox News audience and Fox will not be broadcasting the hearings, they're not the target audience because their changed. Their minds are not changed. But the handful of people who are open to new evidence, that's the audience, but I don't know, maybe Jamie knows, I don't know how big that audience is of open minded people.
BLITZER: We will find out soon enough. Guys, thank you very much, Jeffrey Toobin, Jamie Gangel. Always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Important note to our viewers, be sure to watch CNN's live coverage of the January 6th select committee hearings. It all begins tomorrow night, 7:00 P.M. eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, will the gun reform legislation being hammered out by senate negotiators actually address the real problem? I'll speak with the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, he's standing by live. That's next.
BLITZER: On Capitol Hill today, lawmakers heard a terrifying first- hand account of the Uvalde elementary school massacre from one of the young survivors. Parents of victims of gun violence spoke out as well, begging the U.S. Congress to pass commonsense gun reform legislation. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CERRILLO: He went there and shot my teacher and told my teacher good night and shot her in the head. And then he shot some of my classmates. He shot my friend that was next to me. And I thought he was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and put it all over me.
RUBIO: Somewhere out there, there's a mom listening to our testimony, thinking I can't even imagine their pain. Not knowing that our reality will one day be hers, unless we act now.
MIGUEL CERRILLO, MIAH CERRILO'S FATHER: Today, I come because I could have lost my baby girl. She's not the same little girl that I used to play with, and hang around with, and do everything because she was daddy's little girl.
EVERHART: After hearing from me, and the other people testifying here today, does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home, to help me clean Ziare's wounds, so that you may see up close the damage that has been caused to my son.
GUERRERO: About making sure our children are safe from guns, that's the job of our politicians and leaders. In this case, you are the doctors, and our country is the patient. We're lying on the operating table, riddled with bullets like the children of Robb Elementary and so many other schools. We're bleeding out and you are not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right, let's discuss with the number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate, the chairman of the judiciary committee, Senator Dick Durbin. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
As you know, Republican senators say they're making progress on gun control talks, but that the bulk of this deal will focus, they say, on mental health. Can Democrats get behind a gun control deal that barely addresses guns themselves?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Listen, Wolf, I have my own ideas about how to stop gun violence in America. I believe we have to be resolute, determined, and we have to get it done quickly. Too many innocent people are dying all across this country. And more will continue as long as we waste our time.
I will tell you this, though, I know as sure as I'm standing here today that the ultimate agreement is not going to be including everything I want. In fact, maybe few elements of the things I want will be included.
But if it is a step forward in saving lives in America, and makes us safer, I'm going to support it and work for more. I'm not going to come out empty-handed demanding the perfect before I give a vote in favor of this effort.
BLITZER: Privately, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed openness to raising the age limit to buy semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21. But Senator Thom Tillis says that idea hasn't even come up in these talks. Is that officially off the table?
DURBIN: I'm not in the talks. But I will tell you I think Mitch McConnell is right. The idea that an 18-year-old would turn around and buy one of these assault weapons, these military weapons that don't just shoot a person, they pulverize the internal organs of a person, is unthinkable.
Many states, they're not old enough to drink. They're not old enough to operate some equipment, and yet they can go and buy a killing machine like this and turn it loose on children, innocent children. It's an indication to me of a situation that's out of hand.
I don't believe there's any need for military assault weapons for anyone who is legitimately a sportsman or a hunter. If you need a military assault weapon to kill a deer, you ought to stick to fishing. And the bottom line is, if you're just buying it for the pleasure of having this in your household, it's not worth it. It's more important that America be safe.
BLITZER: The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, says he hopes, key word hopes, he hopes there's a deal by the end of this week. You think that's a realistic timeline? DURBIN: Listen, he's talking directly to the people who are negotiating this. I don't want to push him or shove him, but I do want to tell him there's a sense of urgency here. There's a national momentum because of the mass shootings that we have had in the last several weeks. A political momentum which is rare. You can feel it on Capitol Hill. Take advantage of the wind behind our sails here. Move forward now. This may be one of the few opportunities in history to do it.
BLITZER: Republican Senator Pat Toomey says he's, quote, cautiously optimistic for the first time in ten years, he says, that the Senate will actually get something done. Do you share that level of optimism?
DURBIN: Only because when I go home everyone is hearing exactly the same thing. People are exhorting us to do something, people are telling us it's unacceptable to do nothing. If you can't do your job, step out of the way and let somebody else take it. There's a feeling across America that it's time for us to put up or shut up.
BLITZER: Senator Dick Durbin, good luck to you and your colleagues. Let's hope you guys get it done. I say commonsense gun reform is so, so essential right now here in the United States. Thanks so much for joining us.
DURBIN: Absolutely. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, will Ukraine be forced to withdraw from its eastern territories amid an intensifying Russian onslaught? I'll discuss with the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States right after the break.
BLITZER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, the fate of the Donbas region is being decided right now in the battle for one key city. Our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is on the ground for us, in the war zone. Matthew, what can you tell us about Russia's latest push to capture eastern Ukraine?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CENN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That push is continuing apace, and it seems that the Russians are making significant progress, particularly in the city of Severodonetsk, where there's been fierce fighting under way for some weeks now, with Ukrainian forces holding out as tenaciously as they can. To make sure they extract the maximum amount of pain for the Russians as they move bit by bit towards taking full control over that city.
It would be an important political victory for the Russians because it's the last city still nominally under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region. Luhansk is one half of Donbas, and that's why it's so important for Russians that say, taking Donbas is a military priority for them.
Elsewhere, counteroffensive operations are under way, according to the Ukrainian officials that we have spoken to, to try to take back territory, particularly down here in the south, from where I'm speaking to you as well, from Russian hands.
Earlier, we got a chance to look at some of the U.S. weaponry, that's been given to Ukraine, to help it defend itself and help it push Russians out of territory they have conquered in the past four months, an American M-777 howitzer gun. A couple of them, in fact, we were taken to see earlier, a training mission there.
These are very powerful long-range artillery weapons that are currently being used, now a dozen off, up to 90, according to Ukrainian officials that have already been delivered. Dozens of them having a real impact, we're told, on the front lines. Not just here, but elsewhere in the country as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Matthew, stay safe over there. We'll be in touch. Matthew Chance, on the ground for us in Ukraine. Thank you very, very much.
BLITZER: For more on what's going on, I want to bring in Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. I know you have a lot going on right now, and we always appreciate you joining us.
How close is Ukraine right now to losing this whole eastern region of the country? It looks like the Russians have the upper hand, at least right now.
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you, Wolf, for having me. And big thanks to meet you, to be on the ground and showing everything to the world it's very important. Yes, we -- the Russians temporarily control now almost 20 percent of the territory.
BLITZER: 20 percent of all of Ukraine?
BLITZER: But what about in the eastern part?
MARKAROVA: So, the eastern part, that's where the most difficult fight is, right now. This is the artillery duel, where Russians essentially put in all the firepower they have, and they are trying not to even fight but to essentially destroy everything and reduce everything to rubble.
Now, despite the fact that they outnumber us, despite of the fact they have many more artillery and shells and they also shoot from the Caspian and other places, our brave defenders are holding the ground even under this very difficult circumstance.
And as we saw already in the battle for Kyiv, we can lose something temporarily. Of course, we're trying to minimize that because we know what atrocities happen where Russians control the territories. But we will get it back.
BLITZER: I want our viewers to hear what President Zelenskyy told the Financial Times, today. Watch this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We definitely have a strongest desire than Russians but we're inferior in terms of equipment. Therefore, we're not capable of advancing. It will be very difficult for us. We're going to suffer more losses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So I understand Ukraine definitely needs a lot more military support from the United States and the other NATO allies. But what are the most important things you need right now to turn the battlefield around?
MARKAROVA: Yes. I mean, we appreciate everything we have received, but as we started the war, having much less equipment than Russia, and of course, now, already 105 days through the war, we need even more.
So all the artillery, all of the firepower, all of the multi-rocket launch systems, the range, this is what we need. Not to shoot into Russia, as many people were afraid, but actually to defend our territory and to be able to defend it whilst also saving the lives of our defenders.
BLITZER: As Ukraine, given a commitment, a formal commitment to the United States and the other NATO allies if they get long-range artillery and missiles they won't fire into Russian territory?
MARKAROVA: Well, we always said we are not going to fire into Russian territory. I mean, we never planned to. We never planned to attack Russia. We don't plan to do it in the future. All we need is for them to get out of our territory. So, we need to have all of the artillery, because, you know, as I told you, the area that they temporarily control now is quite large.
BLITZER: Do you fear at all that American support for Ukraine might go down as this war drags on?
MARKAROVA: Well, there is always a risk of that, but I know that American people support us. And we hear from everyone here, from president to the very strong bipartisan support in Congress that support is very strong. And it's not only words, it's actions.
So right now, the Congress provided very generously, this large supplementary budget, and we just need to turn it into the weapons and get them as fast as possible into the battlefield, so we can actually shorten this war.
BLITZER: Ambassador Markarova, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you. Good luck to all the people of Ukraine. We'll stay on top of it.
MARKAROVA: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very, very much. Coming up, new charges just filed against an armed man who threatened to kill the United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. We have details when we come back.
BLITZER: We're getting new information right now about a threat to kill U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Let's go to our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider. She's joining us from just outside the high court here in Washington.
Jessica, what are you learning about the suspect and what he allegedly was planning to do?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a 26-year-old man from Simi Valley, California. He allegedly traveled to Maryland, he told the authorities, with the intent to break into a Supreme Court justice's home and kill him. We now know that target is Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
It all unfolded outside Brett Kavanaugh's home around 1:00 this morning. Authorities say the suspect got out of a taxi cab. He was dressed in all black and he carries a suitcase and a backpack that were packed with weapons and ammunition, according to authorities.
Inside the backpack and suitcase, a number of items, including a black tactical chest rig, a glock-17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a screwdriver, a crowbar, duct tape. The suspect, though, almost immediately after getting out of the cab, called 911 on himself, telling the dispatcher that he was suicidal and he had a gun.
That's when police moved in. They arrested him, and when FBI agents interviewed him, he allegedly told them he was upset about the leaked Supreme Court draft that was set to overturn Roe v. Wade that still has not been officially issued. Also saying he was angered at the shooting, the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and saying he was worried that Brett Kavanaugh would cast his vote against a New York gun law. That's still a decision that remains to be released from the Supreme Court.
So the suspect was taken into federal custody. Authorities, though, say that that suspect had purchased the weapon and ammunition leading up to and with the specific intent to target Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The suspect, Wolf, was in federal court this afternoon in Maryland. He's currently being held. He's being charged with attempted murder of a U.S. judge. That could get him up to 20 years in prison, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, so disturbing. Jessica Schneider, outside the Supreme Court for us -- thank you very much.
Let's get an update right now on President Biden. He's in Los Angeles hosting a summit with Latin American leaders.
Our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is traveling with the president.
Kaitlan, Mexico is actually boycotting this meeting. How is the White House explaining the absence?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're downplaying the absences of not just the president of Mexico but several other leaders as well, Wolf, but they're really impossible to ignore because this is the Summit of the Americas. It's being hosted by President Biden and several of these key leaders, including Mexico's president, have decided to boycott. And that is obviously notable that they declined the invitations to the summit from the U.S. president.
And it's raising key questions about whether or not this agenda that is not only being overshadowed by their absences but whether or not President Biden can actually get any momentum behind it while he's on the ground. It's raising a lot of skepticism about what that's going to look like because the United States and President Biden's top aides had said they wanted to show they had reestablished U.S. leadership in the region, that they were going to work on critical issues like migration, climate change, dealing with obviously the COVID-19 response and coordinating that.
And now, with several of these key leaders missing, it's raising big questions about that, Wolf. And as a reminder, the president of Mexico is boycotting because the United States did not extend invitations to the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba, saying they did not want to invite dictators to this summit. That obviously has raised some concerns for Mexico and is why the leader, who is going to the White House next month, that he was not going to be joining.
But it is raising questions what this summit will accomplish and what that looks like in the end. We should note, Wolf, one president that -- one leader that the president is going to be meeting with is the president of Brazil, Bolsonaro, who obviously was very close to former President Trump. He has raised questions about whether or not President Biden is actually legitimately elected president. And not only before but in recent days even.
And the White House says they do plan to have a candid conversation between President Biden and the Brazilian president while they are here on the ground. It could create awkward moments, given the fact that he has raised these questions about whether or not Biden is actually the duly elected president of the United States.
BLITZER: Also tonight, Kaitlan, there's a new CNN poll of polls on the president, President Joe Biden's approval numbers. What does it show?
COLLINS: Yeah. Obviously, the president is here. He is focused on the foreign policy aspect of his job during this summit over the next few days. But still looking at these numbers back in Washington, as this new poll of poll comes out, it shows that President Biden has a 39 percent approval rating among the American people. Obviously, much lower than when he first took office, Wolf.
And his main two issues he has the lowest approval rating on, the lowest confidence from voters and his handling of it is when it comes to the economy and when it comes to dealing with guns. Obviously, two things that the White House has been focused on lately. We should note they've been put thing focus on the economy saying they are going to do a lot of events on that and inflation, and focusing on American's pain in this month of June.
And this also comes when it comes to guns as the White House chief of staff Ron Klain says they are cautiously optimistic about the progress they are seeing on Capitol Hill.
BLITZER: We shall see. Kaitlan Collins in Los Angeles for us, thank you very much.
Coming up, some of America's best known Olympic athletes now seeking $1 billion from the FBI for allegedly mishandling their sexual abuse claims against Larry Nassar. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Tonight, the victims of Team USA gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar are seeking $1 billion in compensation from the FBI.
CNN's Brian Todd is tracking the story for us.
Brian, these young Olympic athletes, they say the agency failed to protect them from sexual abuse. What else can you tell us?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these young women not only say the FBI failed to protect them, they say the bureau's mismanagement of their cases led to dozens of other young women being abused until Nassar was caught.
TODD (voice-over): Stunning legal allegations from some of America's best-known Olympic athletes, accusing the FBI of mishandling their claims of sexual abuse and by botching their cases allowing the abuse to continue.
MCKAYLA MARONEY, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST ABUSE VICTIM: Why are public servants whose job is to protect getting away with this? This is not justice. Enough is enough!
TODD: Top U.S. Olympic and Team USA gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols are among more than 90 women and girls who were sexually abused by former U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who are now submitting claims for over $1 billion to the FBI. They say they gave the FBI detailed accounts of Nassar's abuse in
2015, that the FBI could have ended the abuse right then. But certain agents neglected the case, gave false statements and committed other acts of malfeasance, allowing Nassar to continue his predatory behavior. As a result, they claim Nassar assaulted approximately 100 women and children between July 2015 and September 2016.
ALY RAISMAN, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST, ABUSE VICTIM: It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: There's no question that policies were broken and that these young women were wronged by these FBI agents.
TODD: The Justice Department's own inspector general last year said FBI officials failed to take steps to protect the gymnasts, warned local officials, interviewed all available accusers or sufficiently follow up, which delayed the probe.
SIMONE BILES, OLYMPIC GYMNATIC GOLD MEDALIST, ABUSE VICTIM: To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar. And I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.
TODD: At an emotional hearing last fall, McKayla Maroney said she told an FBI agent how Nassar molested her for hours in a Tokyo hotel when she was 15. She said she was crying over the phone as she described the incident to the agent. Then when she finished the account, there was dead silence on the other end of the phone.
MARONEY: I was so shocked at the silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked, is that all? Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this process for me, to have my abuse minimized and disregarded by the people who are supposed to protect me.
TODD: The inspector general's report says one of the investigating agents was engaging in other pursuits while he was on the case.
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It appears to be a terrible conflict of interests where one of the supervisory agents had been talking about a job opportunity with USA gymnastics. So it looks terrible.
TODD (on camera): Now, as for what happens next, the FBI has six months to respond to the claims just filed. The bureau could either reach a settlement or deny the claims before lawsuits can be filed. CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for response to these latest claims. We have gotten no response -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thank you very much.
To our viewers, thank you very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.