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Fed Hikes Interest Rates In Bid To Tame Surging Inflation; 1/6 Committee Says, Key Pence Advisers To Testify During Hearing Tomorrow; Yellowstone Closed As River Reaches Record Flood Level; FDA Advisers Recommend Pfizer And Moderna Vaccines For Youngest Kids; White House Announces $1 Billion In Military Aid For Ukraine. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 15, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Americans are bracing for impact hours after a truly historic hike in interest rates. The Federal Reserve acting aggressively to tame surging inflation while creating new challenges for credit card users, home buyers and so many other consumers.

Also tonight on this, the eve of the next hearing, the January 6th select committee reveals new information about its plans to zero in on the Trump pressure campaign against then-Vice President Mike Pence. This hour, I'll have an exclusive interview with Pence's former White House chief of staff, Marc Short. We just learned his recorded testimony is expected to be shown tomorrow.

And children under age five are on another critical step closer to getting COVID vaccines for the first time. We'll break down the new green light by FDA advisers as cases are rising, and even Dr. Anthony Fauci has now tested positive for COVID.

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 biggest jump in interest rates in nearly 30 years here in the United States, the Federal Reserve prescribing new medicine for the ailing U.S. economy that may be tough to swallow for so many Americans.

Brian Todd is joining us live from outside the Federal Reserve. Brian, this is truly a consequential move aim at trying to tackle soaring inflation.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Prices across the board were soaring out of control. The Fed needed to do something. Now, it's a matter how the average American can absorb this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice over): With prices surging and Americans struggling to keep up, the Federal Reserve takes a bold step to tame what seems like relentless inflation and races interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point, its biggest hike in nearly three decades.

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We at the Fed understand the hardship that high inflation is causing. We're strongly committed to bringing inflation back down, and we're moving expeditiously to do so.

TODD: Is this too much of a hammer from the Feds?

DAVID WILCOX, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: I don't think so. I think it's a strong move by the Federal Reserve to attempt to regain control of the narrative.

What it could turn out to be is that a little more action today portends a little less in the future.

TODD: A little less what, pain?

WILCOX: A little less pain, a little less increase in interest rates in order to get the inflation job done.

TODD: In fact Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the government likely won't make a habit of being this aggressive with interest rate hikes in the future but he didn't rule out another significant increase in the coming months.

When it raised interest rates a half a point last month, the Fed expected that would bring inflation down, but it kept climbing to a 40-year high.

POWELL: It was quite eye-catching and we noticed that.

TODD: This rate hike will affect millions of American households and businesses, pushing up the cost of borrowing for major purchases.

WILCOX: For people who are first time home buyers looking to get that mortgage right now, that's going to become much more difficult than it would have a few months ago. People who were in the market to purchase a car are going to have higher borrowing rates today than they did three months ago.

TODD: Also feeling the pinch, people who are looking to tap into their retirement accounts soon.

WILCOX: Their 401k balance is down by a lot, so they're going to have to maybe recalibrate when they can retire.

TODD: The rate hikes comes on top of crushing gas and food prices, which have frustrated consumers in recent months, even forcing some to change their behavior.

LORENA JORDAN, GAS CUSTOMER, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: We're confined. We're just kind of being kept prisoners in our own little spaces because we can't afford to do anything. SIMONE LMINGGIO, GAS CUSTOMER, VIRGINIA RESIDENT: I am so not used to this, eight gallons for $40. That's kind of crazy.

TODD: Even with this hardship the Fed chairman says he hopes the government can raise interest rates without plunging the U.S. economy into recession.

POWELL: We don't seek to put people out of work. Of course, we never think too many people are working and fewer people need to have jobs. But we also think that you really cannot have the kind of labor market we want without price stability.


TODD (on camera): So, what can the average consumer do to deal with this rate hike? Analyst David Wilcox says, right now, it's really important not to overextend yourself credit-wise, try to pay off your credit cards if you can, and don't borrow money for one time big splurges, like vacations or furniture purchases. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you.


Let's break all of this down with CNN Business Correspondent Rahel Solomon, Matt Egan is reporting live from the Federal Reserve, and our White House Correspondent M.J. Lee.

Matt, what more can you tell us, first of all, about how this rate hike will impact American consumers?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, this was a break the glass emergency move by the Federal Reserve. Inflation is on fire and it's spreading. And the firefighters, the Federal Reserve, they got to the scene pretty late here. Now, the Fed is moving aggressively, the biggest interest rate hikes since 1994 all in an effort to get inflation under control.

Now, for families, this means higher borrowing costs, credit cards, mortgages, car loans, student debt, appliances. The COVID era of free money is over, big time. Now, hopefully, this means that prices will come back under control. That would be great news for families who are dealing with surging costs of everything from cars and clothes to food and, of course, gasoline.

But this won't be easy. The Fed has to get this just right. Because if they don't act aggressively enough, inflation could stay hot or even get hotter. But if they do too much, they could accidently cause a recession that costs millions of Americans their job. Wolf, the stakes here couldn't be much higher.

BLITZER: I know. It's such a delicate moment indeed.

Rahel, I want to dig deeper with you. If you're walking, let's say, into a car dealership or applying for a mortgage, what can you expect? RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Wolf, when the Fed raises rates, it impacts the cost of borrowing directly and indirectly. So, we have heard, the rates are going up And so your cost of borrowing is going up.

Let's talk about mortgages, for example. We've already seen a pretty dramatic spike in mortgage rates this year alone, one economist from Zillow putting it to me this way. About a year ago, the average home wealth was about $290,000. So, you put 5 percent down with a 3 percent rate, while your mortgage was about $1,600. Right now, a typical home goes for about $350,000, put 5 percent down, but your rate is 6.1 percent and now your mortgage is now about $2,650, just a dramatic drop -- or dramatic increase, rather, in mortgage rates and mortgage costs.

So, the idea here being is that if you're in the market for a home, you may just rethink buying a home. You may think you want to wait it out for a few years, which is exactly the point. The Fed is trying to pull demand, is trying to get us to spend less on these big purchases to hopefully reduce inflation in the longer term. But it doesn't make you feel that if you're a consumer and right now you need to buy or you'd like to buy.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. M.J., President Biden made an appeal today to the big oil companies over the sky-high gas prices. What is he asking for and is it likely to make a real difference?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is just one more sign, Wolf, that the president is trying to pull out all the stops to try to lower gas prices for American consumers. He wrote this letter to major oil refineries, and basically raised two points. He said, one, he would like to see these companies really ramp up production. And, two, he said he wants to send the message that the fact that they are really profiting so much from this moment is really not acceptable.

On the ramping up front, he said, look, he knows that particularly during the pandemic, a lot of these companies have to shut down their refineries and really reduce their capacity, so he would like these companies to do everything that they can to bring some of these refineries back online.

And then on the second point on these companies' high profits, he said, look, at a moment when the American consumer is paying so much and going through so much to even just fill up their gas tank, that it's really just not acceptable for these companies to enjoy these profits.

Now, what the president said in his letter is that he is going to call on his energy secretary to convene an emergency meeting. The White House has also said that he might use some other emergency actions to try to get prices down. Maybe the Defense Production Act, but we don't have the details.

The White House has interestingly said that it is a patriotic duty for these oil companies to try to take these actions, though, if you're being cynical, they are oil companies, so not sure a letter from the president is going to change the conduct of these companies in any real way.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. M.J. Lee at the White House, thank you. Matt Egan, Rahel Solomon, thanks to you guys as well.

Just ahead, new information coming in about the testimony we'll see tomorrow during January 6th select committee hearings. I'll ask Select Committee member Jamie Raskin about the witness list and the panel's focus on Trump's pressure campaign against his own vice president. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: On this, the eve of the next hearing of the January 6th select committee, the panel is now revealing its witness list packed with key advisers to former Vice President Mike Pence. Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us with details. He's up on Capitol Hill.

Ryan, first of all, tell us more about the testimony and the focus of the hearing tomorrow.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. And we've known for some time that associates close to the former vice president, Mike Pence, have been relatively cooperative with the committee in their investigation and especially the committee's focus on this pressure campaign that was put on the former vice president in the days leading up to January 6th.

Now, we've now learned tomorrow we will hear live testimony from two of those individuals, Greg Jacob, who's the former chief counsel for the vice president, and Judge Michael Luttig.

Now, both of these individuals played a key role in working out the legal arguments against this idea that the former vice president had the opportunity to stand in the way of the election results on January 6th.


It was Luttig's tweet thread just a couple days before all of this that was part of what compelled Mike Pence to stand up to former President Donald Trump and say, no, he did not think he had the legal authority to take that step.

Now, of course, Marc Short, who's the former chief of staff, is also expected to be a part of this hearing. He won't appear live, but they are expected to play clips from his video deposition that took place from behind closed doors. And, of course, Wolf, that Marc Short is going to join you in just a few minutes in a live interview here on THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, we're looking forward to that. As you know, Ryan, the panel has released new surveillance video of a U.S. congressman giving a tour of the Capitol the day before the insurrection. Explain why the committee says it still has very serious questions about this.

NOBLES: Yes. The committee just believes that this surveillance video, which shows an individual who's in a tour with Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk, taking pictures of things like stairwells, security stanchions and tunnels that lead in and out of the Capitol into the House office buildings, they believe, is suspicious, especially because that same individual had a videotape of him out in front of the Capitol on January 6th making direct threats against Democratic members of Congress.

Now, what's interesting about this back and forth is that the Capitol police looked at this surveillance video and also determined that they believe that the video was not suspicious, so that it directly contradicts the view of the members of the January 6th select committee.

What the committee wants more than anything, Wolf, is for Loudermilk to come in and answer questions about what he knows about this situation. He claims the committee has not made that formal request despite numerous letters to Loudermilk to that point. So, the committee still believes that this is something that should be a part of their investigation. Wolf?

BLITZER: Lots of questions. All right, thanks very much, Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill. We're joined now by a key member of the January 6 select committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

I want to get to tomorrow's hearing in just a moment, but, first, do you believe this video put out by your committee proves this was indeed a reconnaissance tour?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, one video alone doesn't prove anything but it has certainly piqued the interest of a number of us. There's also a video of the same individual on that tour on January 6 marching with the MAGA crowd bantering back and forth with a gentleman who had turned his American flag into a weapon, about how this was going to be used on someone special.

And so there are a lot of questions about it, and all we asked Congressman Loudermilk was to do what hundreds and hundreds of other people have done, which is come and talk to the committee about what he knows.

BLITZER: And so far, he refuses to do so.

Americans, as you know, will hear tomorrow from key members of former Vice President Mike Pence's inner circle, including, as we just reported, the former legal counsel, Greg Jacob, and his informal adviser, Michael Luttig. What sort of insight can they provide on this Trump pressure campaign and the actual danger all this created for the then-vice president? RASKIN: Well, Wolf, you've seen about the big lie, Donald Trump's ludicrous claim that he was elected president when everyone around him, from the attorney general to his own campaign manager told him that this was ludicrous. You've seen the big rip-off in the way that Trump's own followers were exploited for a fund that didn't exist.

And I think what you're going to see tomorrow is the big joke, the idea that somehow the law gave Mike Pence the authority to step outside of his constitutional role, violate his constitutional duties and then unilaterally and unlawfully reject Electoral College votes all to put Donald Trump back into office.

And so the distinguished lawyers you're going to hear from, again, these are all conservative Republicans, like pretty much every other witness we've had. These are people who are luminaries in the field. Judge Luttig is basically like -- somebody like Robert Bork or Justice Scalia to the right-wing and The Federalist Society, and he's going to explain why it was utterly ridiculous. And he felt that he needed to speak out to prevent this train wreck from happening. And you'll see the same kind of testimony from Mr. Short.

We believe that, just as nobody in America can sustain Donald Trump's ludicrous claim that he had actually won the election, nobody can sustain any belief in his arguments that there was any ambiguity in the law. We've gone for more than two centuries of presidential elections and no vice president had ever before asserted such gigantic fairy tale-like powers and nobody had ever argued the vice president had those powers.


BLITZER: As you heard, Congressman, I'll be speaking in a few moments with Marc Short, who served as former Vice President Pence's chief of staff. How much will you rely on his, Short's videotaped interview with your committee in the hearing tomorrow?

RASKIN: Well, as you can see, Wolf, we've had hundreds of witnesses, and we are doubling, tripling, quadrupling, quintupling up on everything. We know that Trump and his team would love to be able to just attack a single witness, which is why we are nailing everything down really hard, and it's very clear that the law is totally on one side here.

The House and the Senate meet in joint session on Wednesday of the first week following a presidential election. They've always counted the votes together under the Electoral Count Act. Nobody has ever claimed before that the vice president can pull a rabbit out of the hat and change the results around either by flipping electors over from one side to the other, rejecting electors or kicking the whole thing into the House of Representatives for so-called contingent election. That's just not within the powers of the vice president. And to his credit, Vice President Pence has said one person does not have that power. The presidency belongs to the people of the United States.

And so whatever else I might think about Mike Pence's politics or he thinks about my politics, we can agree, we can all agree the vice president does not have the power to choose the president of the United States. It's almost absurd to utter what they were claiming.

BLITZER: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

RASKIN: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, my exclusive interview with a key witness in the January 6th investigation, Marc Short, once again, the former chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence. That's coming up.

Also ahead, Yellowstone closed tonight after record flooding devastates portions of America's oldest national park.



BLITZER: Yellowstone, one of America's most treasured national parks, is closed tonight after torrential rainfall and rapid snow melt triggered record flooding. Let's get an update from our National Correspondent Nick Watt. He's just outside Yellowstone for us. Nick, give us the latest.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what this looks like is climate change taking away peoples leisure and their livelihoods. They're still assessing the physical damage inside the park, and, unfortunately, bracing for more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is insane.

WATT (voice over): This was a home for park employees obliterated by the Yellowstone River, as was the one and only road in from the north entrance. The oldest national park on earth is now closed.

CAMERON SHOLLY, SUPERINTENDENT, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: I heard this is a thousand-year event where these days it seems to be happening more and more frequently.

WATT: Bridges washed out, houses washed away, others balance on the brink. We shot these exclusive pictures from a helicopter carrying out a law enforcement shift change in the park, has to be by air when there isn't a road left.

This is climate change, an unusually late heavy snowfall then unusually high temperatures melting that snow, plus a lot of rain, combining to cut off this gem of the American west, more than 2 million acres, 1,000 miles of trails, 500 geysers, bears, birds.

As much as three months worth of water barreled down this valley in three days, breaking record-high river levels set over 100 years ago. Overwhelming infrastructure built for what was normal last century, not for the extreme and unpredictable that is becoming normal in this.

For the benefit and enjoyment of the people, says the Grand Old Gate, not right now. This northern entrance likely will not open again this summer because that one road in will take months to fix.

KARI HUESING, YELLOWSTONE GATEWAY INN: There's nobody here. There's one hotel that's actually shutting down, told all its employees to go home.

WATT: You were booked.

HUESING: We were booked solid for a year.

WATT: And now you have one person who is leaving.

HUESING: We were booked for a year.

WATT: Gardener, gateway to the park, now a ghost town, probably will be for months.

BILL BERG, COMMISSIONER, PARK COUNTY, MONTANA: It's a Yellowstone town, and it lives and dies by tourism.

WATT: There should be more than 10,000 people in the park on a summers day. Today, just a few hikers left in the back country. And all this might not be over. There's still 12 inches of snow pack up there and high temperatures are forecast for the weekend. More snow might melt and the Yellowstone River might rise again.


WATT (on camera): Now, last year in a report, the U.S. Geological Survey basically said that this might happen, quicker snow melt, more precipitation. And, you know, they also say this is going to keep on happening over the next two years. For now, the southern loop here could open within Yellowstone next week, perhaps, but the northern gate, Wolf, it's going to be months.


Back to you.

BLITZER: Nick Watt reporting for us, thank you.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 million Americans are under heat warnings and advisories right now stretching from Michigan to Florida.

CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is joining us now from Columbus, Ohio, where storms knocked out power and air conditioning for thousands. Derek, what's the latest?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Wolf, residents here in Central Ohio are being forced to make the decision whether or not to ride out this heat wave in their sweltering homes and apartments. This splash pad you see behind me was filled with adults and kids not 30 minutes ago, but it's been turned off and it's only 6:30 on the East Coast. This is (INAUDIBLE) heating still of the day.

Now, the perfect storm has literally struck this area, a combination of dangerous heat and no electricity, about 200,000 customers without power at the moment across the state of Ohio has made it extremely hot, very uncomfortable, especially at nighttime when you can't adequately cool yourself.

AEP, the power provider for Central Ohio said that the impacts from the recent storms that occurred on Monday night, over 36 hours ago, while the recent cooling demands from this heat wave have actually put transmission lines to become overloaded, requiring them to make emergency stoppages and outages across the neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio, where I'm standing.

Speculation, however, from residents here are saying some locations, some neighborhoods are getting favored on who gets electricity and when. Regardless it's not even the hottest time of the year and already we're reaching triple-digit heat. We are stressing our electrical grid, and this is only the beginning. Wolf?

BLITZER: Derek Van Dam in Columbus, Ohio, for us, Derek, thank you very much.

Just ahead my exclusive interview with the former chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence. Marc Short is standing by live. I'll get his firsthand insights into Trump's pressure campaign to get Pence to try to overturn the presidential election. That's the focus of the January 6th hearing tomorrow.


BLITZER: Just in, we're just getting in these dramatic new photo obtained by ABC News of then-Vice President Mike Pence and his family in hiding, hiding during the January 6th insurrection up on Capitol Hill.

Let's get reaction to that and much more from Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to the then-vice president, Mike Pence. He's joining us exclusively here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Marc, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: You see those pictures of the vice president of the United States and his family in hiding. What goes through your mind?

SHORT: Well, Wolf, it was a tragic day on January 6th.

BLITZER: You were with him.

SHORT: I was there the whole day and whole night, and I think it was tragic to see the Capitol assaulted the way that it was. But we were very fortunate that Secret Service did a phenomenal job protecting the vice president and his family, and I think that the vice president was able to assure members of Congress as well as the American people that we'll continue our business that day and send a signal to the world that American democracy would continue.

BLITZER: I want to get to the actual physical threats to the then- vice president in a moment, but let's talk a little bit about what we anticipate tomorrow during the January 6th select committee hearing. I know they're going to show video clips from your sworn testimony before the panel, right?

SHORT: I don't know that, Wolf. I did testify under subpoena for about eight hours. I assume they have plenty of video clips and I assume they'll be shown, but I've not heard that from the committee.

BLITZER: Did you tell them during the course of your testimony what you saw firsthand the pressure campaign on the vice president of the United States to go ahead and contribute to this overturn of the election?

SHORT: Well, I think that what was very clear was that the vice president has always been a constitutional conservative. And I think that he knew what his constitutional duty was that day. He knew it from the beginning. And I think he was clear with the president and so was our office clear about what we viewed his role as.

I think that, you know, for any limited government conservative, I don't think he would want the notion that our founders would have thought any one person would have been bestowed with that much authority to overturn an election result. And so I think that the way that he approached this was what does the Constitution say, what does the 12th Amendment say, what does the Electoral Count Act say and to be in accord with what the law says.

And I think he wanted to make sure he did his duty. He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. He swore an oath to God to uphold the Constitution, just as our men and women in uniform do, and that's what he did.

BLITZER: And he did the right thing, I must say.

At what point did it become very clear to you on that day or the days earlier, days afterwards that the then-president, Donald Trump, wanted to do anything he could to try to stay in power no matter what?

SHORT: Well, you know, Wolf, I think I shared that I think the president was poorly advised by a lot of the people that were around him at that time. And I think that it probably was more clear after December 14th, that, of course, was the day the Electoral College meets. And at that point, as they made their decision, I think many conservatives always argued as pretty pro forma role for Congress to go ahead and certify. And so at that point, when it was not, I think it became clear there would be a lot more pressure applied to the vice president leading to January 6th.

BLITZER: Well, I just want to be clear, do you blame those surrounding the president for giving him bad advice, or do you blame the then-president himself?

SHORT: I think, ultimately, the buck stops with the president. He has responsibility to listen to advice or discard advice. But I also think that there were people around the president who I think served him very poorly and I think gave poor advice. BLITZER: You want to name names?

SHORT: I think it's sufficient to know who was there in leadership roles allowing a lot of those people to come into the White House and to give him advice at that time.

BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani was one of them?

SHORT: I think he was surrounded by a lot of people who gave him bad legal advice, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Giuliani was one of them?

SHORT: I think, certainly, as you have heard what Giuliani's advice was, I'd probably put him in that category.

BLITZER: Do you have any indication that Giuliani was intoxicated?


SHORT: No, I never -- no. No.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little about the attack that day on January 6th. The vice president was being protected by the secret service. We heard the rioters chanting, hang Mike Pence. Listen to this, hang Mike Pence. Listen to this.

We did find out in the course of the testimony that was released by the select committee in recent days that the then-president, Trump, watched that and said Pence basically deserved to be hanged. When did you discover that?

SHORT: Well, Wolf, I'm not even yet convinced of that. I know what the committee said. I also know the president denied that.

BLITZER: That was Liz Cheney, the vice chair.

SHORT: I understand. I saw the president denied ever saying that, and I think the president and vice president worked incredibly well together for four years. I think it's why so much was accomplished from lowering taxes, appointing Supreme Court justices, taking on China, securing our border. They worked as a terrific partnership. And so I'm not going to give much credence to some of those reports.

BLITZER: The New York Times, as you know, reported that you actually warned the Secret Service the day before the January 6th attack that the president was going to turn on the vice president, Mike Pence, and it could create what was described in The New York Times as a security concern. First of all, is that report true?

SHORT: I want to be clear that Tim, lead agent for Secret Service, max, the deputy, and that whole team, Wolf, deserve medals for their service in what they did to protect the vice president and his family that day. And I say that because they had a lot of additional complications. One, it was at the peak of COVID. A lot of agents were out. Two, something people haven't really focused on is, at that point, Tim, is both securing the vice president and the vice president-elect, Kamala Harris. They had divided roles. And, three, there were plenty of people in Capitol police who deserve recommendations for their heroism that day. But it's also clear the Capitol police was woefully unprepared, and it put even more a burden on the Secret Service. And so I believe that they all do deserve medals for what they did.

But on the 5th, I did talk to Tim because at that point --

BLITZER: You spoke to the Secret Service. What was your point?

SHORT: At that point, it became clear the disagreements that had been discussed I think --

BLITZER: Between the president and the vice president?

SHORT: And the staff were about to become far more public. And I think with thousands of people descending upon Washington with hopes of a different outcome, I just thought it was important that they be alerted to that. But I did not have any specific, you know, intelligence. I did not have any knowledge the Capitol would be attacked the way it was.

BLITZER: But did you think the vice president of the United States was in danger?

SHORT: I thought it was important at least to let the Secret Service know that it was about to become a much more public disagreement.

BLITZER: You were concerned about his security?

SHORT: Well, I mean, I wouldn't have said something otherwise, right?

BLITZER: And I just want to be specific. You were concerned about the vice president's security because of what the president was saying?

SHORT: Because it was about to become a much more public occasion, and I knew that the president was about to express that in a more public manner, that, again, I'm not sure the consequences of that were thought through by people around the president with thousands of people coming to Washington.

BLITZER: Did the vice president believe that the president, his boss, was endangering him by his remarks?

SHORT: I think that the vice president felt secure with the Secret Service around him. I don't think any of us ever envisioned what would happen on January 6th, Wolf. So --

BLITZER: You didn't envision there would be hang Mike Pence and gallows up on Capitol Hill?

SHORT: Of course not. Of course not.

BLITZER: That was not --

SHORT: So, no, there was not something that we could have anticipated like that.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a tough situation.

At one point, we're told the vice president was told to get in the car and actually leave the Capitol on January 6th. In that moment, what did he fear?

SHORT: I don't think he feared, Wolf. I think he knew his job was to stay at his post. And I think that, at that point, again, the Secret Service actually made their job more difficult because the easiest thing would have been to evacuate the vice president.

But he looked at that and said, I don't want the world seeing the vice president leaving the Capitol of a 15-car motorcade. This is the hallmark of democracy and we're going to complete our work. And I think he thought it was important he stay there and make sure the work of the American people was completed that night.

BLITZER: Has the former vice president been watching all these hearings?

SHORT: I think it's hard not to avoid some of the coverage, Wolf. But I don't think he's glued to the T.V. watching the hearings every day. No, I think we all lived it. I don't know that there's much more that we're going to learn from these hearings.

And, look, Wolf, I think that even though I think we're incredibly proud of the way the vice president handled his responsibilities that day, in a way our entire office did, it doesn't mean that we don't have concerns about the construct of the committee. And the fact that I think Speaker Pelosi did taint it when she didn't appoint Jordan and Banks to be part of this committee.

And I think there are other concerns that some members of the committee have said, look, our whole purpose is to make sure Donald Trump doesn't run for president again.


Well, you know, Wolf, I think that's the job of the American voter.

BLITZER: But you're grateful to the committee for doing what they're doing and taking us all know so we can learn lessons so an assault on the Capitol like this never happens again.

SHORT: OK. So, but if the purpose is to make sure an assault doesn't happen again there are serious questions why there was such an intelligence failure and why Capitol police weren't prepared that day. If the purpose is legislative, you know, the Constitution is crystal clear about what the vice president's role is. That's what he executed that day.

If there are concerns about what Congress' role is, I think there are real questions about, you know, the very chairman of the committee voted not to certify the election in 2004 in Ohio when there was no evidence of fraud in Bush-Cheney's victory.

There are other members of the committee voted against certifying the election in 2016 when there was no evidence of fraud in Trump-Pence victory. And so, you know, perhaps they should be policed their own house on reforms that need to be done inside the House.

BLITZER: But the bottom line is that there was an attack at the U.S. Capitol. The vice president did the right thing in certifying the election, responding to his constitutional responsibilities. And you agree that's the big issue right there.

SHORT: Absolutely. The vice president I think we're all proud of the way he handled himself that day and leading up to it frankly because, you know, there are a lot of discussions in which he held firm and what his role is.

BLITZER: He did the right thing despite the pressure on him from the then-president of the United States.

Marc Short, thanks so much for joining us.

SHORT: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Look forward to the hearing tomorrow and your testimony, the clips that will be played.

BLITZER: Coming up, pivotal vaccine news for the youngest kids. A key FDA panel just, just voted to recommend the Pfizer and Moderna shots for children under 5.



BLITZER: There's very welcome news tonight for American parents with children under the age of 5. A key FDA advisory panel just voted to recommend both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for the youngest age group.

Let's get reaction from one of the FDA vaccine advisers, Dr. Paul Offit.

Dr. Offit, thanks for joining us. These were both, I understand, unanimous votes.

So what message does that send to parents of kids in this youngest age group?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: At last, at last we have a vaccine for that age group. It was a year and a half ago that we approved vaccines for adults. It was a year ago that we approved vaccines for those over 12. But for that whole year and a half period, parents have had to stand back, parents of you can children, and watch as vaccines have been available but not for their children.

This was a very emotional day. I think everyone one that committee was moved by the fact that finally, we can protect the youngest among us.

BLITZER: You raised some worries in this meeting today about the Pfizer vaccine for young kids being three doses. Is that something parents need to keep in mind when decides which vaccine to give their children?

OFFIT: Well, I think we were asked do the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risk? The answer was yes. If there is a distinction made between those two vaccines, it would be made by the CDC, which is the recommending body. The FDA is a licensing body.

So we'll see whether or not the CDC thinks it's enough to recommend one over another. I doubt that will happen.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Doctor, I want to get your reaction to the news that Dr. Fauci has now tested positive for COVID. He's vaccinated and double boosted and he's experiencing, we're told, mild symptoms and he's taking Paxlovid. What's your reaction?

OFFIT: Well, it tells you that the vaccine works. I mean, the goal of the vaccine is to protect people from having a serious illness. He's been vaccinated and so now he is likely to be protected against serious illness. And so that's what you want from the vaccine. He's an example of the fact that the vaccines are working and doing what they should be doing.

BLITZER: Dr. Paul Offit, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.

Just ahead. Two American volunteers fighting for Ukraine go missing.



BLITZER: Tonight, the Biden administration is pouring another billion dollars of military aid into Ukraine.

Our Pentagon correspondent Oren Lieberman is traveling with a top U.S. defense official in Europe right now.

Oren, what can you tell us about this new military aid package?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this comes as an announcement as part of the Ukraine contact group, which is the meeting the U.S. created, the forum the U.S. created to get the U.S. and allies to agree and find the weapons Ukraine needs and get them there as soon as possible.

So, some of the key highlights of this $1 billion package: 18 more howitzers, that's on top of what the U.S. has already sent, more than 36,000 rounds of ammunition for those howitzers, as well as ammunition for that HIMARS system. That's the multiple launch rocket system the U.S. approved earlier this month, perhaps the most powerful and advanced system the U.S. has yet agreed to send in.

There's also two harpoon coastal defense systems and thousands of night vision goggles and thousands of radios. As for that HIMARS rocket system, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, said the first round of training on that has just wrapped up after two weeks or so. That should be entering the fight in the coming weeks. And of course, Ukraine will look to see what kind of change that can make in what is a very brutal fight. It can fire from farther range and fire precisely. So the U.S. is looking for that to be a key system for the Ukrainians to use against Russia.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we're learning that two Americans fighting in Ukraine have been missing for nearly a week. And perhaps have been captured by the Russians.

Here's what we know. First, their names: Alexander Drueke, 39 years old, and Andy Huynh, 37 years old, both of them from Alabama, and went to fight alongside Ukraine. Those who are close to them who spoke with CNN said they last talked to those two on June 8th. And at the time, everything seemed to be okay.

But a man who acted as a sergeant of the team they fought with, said they entered a fight with the Russians north of Kharkiv, in northeast Russia , and that's when the two went missing, so -- about a week ago, and they haven't been seen since. The Russians on a social media channel claim they have been captured at this point. The State Department says they're aware of those unconfirmed reports but they don't have yet anything more to add.

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann reporting for us -- Oren, thank you very much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.