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Prosecutor: Gunman Confessed to Firing on Paradegoers; New Surveillance Video of Terrified People Fleeing the Gunfire; Police: Gunman "Seriously Contemplated" a Second Attack in Wisconsin; Parent's Won't Say if Gunman's Parents Will Face Charges; Ex-Trump W.H. Counsel Pat Cipollone to Testify Before 1/6 CMTE Friday; Sen. Lindsey Graham to Challenge Subpoena in G.A. Election Probe; Uvalde Report: Several Missed Opportunities to Take Out Gunman; British PM Johnson Refuses to Quit As Cabinet Resignations Mount; Dems Frustrated by "Rudderless" Biden W.H. After Setbacks; Ukrainian Fighters Using Rocket Launch Systems from U.S. to Strike Russian Command Posts, Weapons Storage; Young Trump-Backed Venture Capitalist Leading in AZ GOP Primary. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 06, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bradford Clark Freeman parachuted in the D Day Normandy Invasion fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The story of heroism and hardship of that critical U.S. Army company retold in the Emmy award winning HBO series.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is easy company. And under my command, this will be the first and finest company in this regiment.


HILL: After a service, Freeman returned to his hometown in Mississippi, working as a mail carrier for 32 years. Freeman was 97 years old.

I'm Erica Hill in for Jake Tapper today. Stay tuned. Our coverage continues next with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, a prosecutor now says the Highland Park gunman has confessed to firing on parade goers and to considering a second shooting rampage. I get reaction from the city's mayor this hour as we're getting new video right now of terrified residents running for cover.

Also tonight, a critical witness agrees to testify in the January 6 investigation, the former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. What will he reveal under oath when he's questioned on Friday?

And as fighting rages in eastern Ukraine, 100s of 1000s of Ukrainian civilians are being urged to evacuate from the region to escape from Russia's brutal advance.

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.

Disturbing new details emerging tonight of the deadly July 4th parade shooting in Illinois, some coming from the gunman himself who has confessed to the mass killing and now we're learning it could have been only the beginning of his rampage. CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell is on the scene for us.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Highland Park gunman's first appearance in court Wednesday, the shooter held without bond and charged with seven counts of first degree murder for shooting into a crowd of paradegoers on July 4th. The prosecutor naming each one of the seven victims as he read the counts and police saying the suspect admitted to the shootings.

ERIC RINEHART, LAKE COUNTY'S STATE ATTORNEY: He went into details about what he had done. He admitted to what he had done.

DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: His motivation isn't necessarily clear. He had some type of affinity towards the number four and seven and inverse was seven for.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Saying his affinity for the numbers,

COVELLI: Comes from music that he's interested in.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): During the rooftop attack, police say the gunman shot from three magazines, each containing 30 rounds.

RINEHART: The defendant fired emptied one clip of, I believe, three rounds and reloaded a second clip.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The prosecutor saying he looked down his sights aimed and opened fire. Police say after he exited the rooftop he dropped his rifle and fled. And he said he dressed in women's clothing and covered up his tattoos with makeup so he wouldn't be recognized.

On the run for almost eight hours that day, he still had approximately 60 rounds of ammunition in his car when he considered attacking a second gathering.

COVELLI: It appears when he drove to Madison he was driving around, however, he did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison and he seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): When asked if he was deterred,

COVELLI: Indications are that he hadn't put enough thought and research into it.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): During the attack in Highland Park, a two year old survived as his parents were shot and killed. The boy protected by his own father.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): He was pulled out from underneath his father, who was still bleeding, and then his dad died on the scene.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Good Samaritans took him to safety.

GREG RING, PARADEGOER: I'll never forget I pulled up and I said, this is not OK. It's not his blood, he's OK. What should we do? And a cop said, we can't be babysitters. Now, can you take care of him? I said, of course.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Now, there are new questions about whether the attack could have been stopped. Authorities say the suspect passed for background checks despite a previous threat in 2019 that was reported to the Illinois State Police.

COVELLI: It occurred in September of 2019, a family member reported that Crimo said he was going to kill everyone and Crimo had a collection of knives.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): In Wednesday, prosecutors dodging questions about the gunman's father who apparently sponsored a gun license for his son.

(on camera): Are you looking at any potential criminal charges with other family members, the parents perhaps?

RINEHART: I don't want to comment on that. I don't want to answer that question right now in terms of what our work continues to be to look at all of the information and evidence in this case.


CAMPBELL: Now, Wolf, I want to show you this disturbing new video obtained by our colleague David Williams, this was from a store camera and near the crime scene. You see a woman falling to the ground and she is helped by a man moving towards the entrance. Another woman enters the store on her hands and knees using her body, Wolf, to shield a child crawling underneath her.

Wolf, this is precisely what prosecutors here are referring to when they say that they are not only bringing these seven first degree murder charges that we've seen, but they also expect additional charges for the psychological terror that this gunman reached (ph) here at this crime scene, Wolf. So many wonderful people in this community will be dealing with the memory of this mass shooting for years and years to come. Wolf.


BLITZER: Yes, certainly will be. All right. Josh Campbell on the scene for us in Highland Park, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with the Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering was joining us live right now.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I know it's incredibly awful, incredibly busy for you. First of all, how were you and your community doing tonight? MAYOR NANCY ROTERING, HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS: You know, it's interesting, Wolf, from the first day, we were in shock. Yesterday, we were just profoundly sad. And I think now we're back and forth between heartbreak and fury. This never should have happened. And people are trying to make some sort of sense out of what clearly was a senseless act of carnage on a day of celebration.

BLITZER: We now know the identities of all seven people who were murdered. Mayor, did you know any of them personally?

ROTERING: I did not. But I'll tell you that in the middle of the manhunt, when everybody was hiding for their lives, I was getting texts about poor baby Aiden (ph). And people were saying, do you know whose child this is, do you know where his parents are? And as we realize nobody was asking about him, that they were likely both deceased. That was one of the most terrifying and heartbreaking parts of the day.

And Katie Goldstein, you know, we're fellow high school band parents. She was a wonderful person. And I kept getting texts, we can't find Katie, we're in the basement of the store. And of course, we know that she also was one of those who pass. It's just horrifying.

Everybody knows somebody, everybody is related to somebody. We're not just Highland Park, Illinois, we're the United States. I've heard from people across this country who have some connection to this city who are feeling our pain and our heartbreak.

BLITZER: We are showing viewers pictures of the Goldstein family. Right now it's very personal as you know, Mayor, for me as well. I have family members who have lived in Highland Park for decades.

It's a beautiful, wonderful community. It's hard to believe something like this could happen in Highland Park. And as I've said, if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere across the country.

We're getting new surveillance video, Mayor, of terrified parade goers fleeing the gunfire. How important is it to your community right now that the shooter face justice for every person he terrorized, not just those he killed?

ROTERING: It's vitally important. And as I said at the beginning of this tragedy, I was seriously hoping he was alive because he needs to pay a full price for what he's done to our hometown. It's unconscionable to me that he brought this kind of evil to our city.

But as you said, it could be any city. We -- I've heard from mayors across the country, none of us ever thought we would be that mayor. And there is a handbook that I've been referring to that sent to all mayors who are dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting. And I think that says a lot about our country and a lot about what needs to be done to fix this situation.

This is no way for people to live. This is not what freedom is about.

BLITZER: Yes, it's happening way, way, way too often in our country, these mass shootings like this.

Official say, Mayor, that the gunman confessed to the shooting, but he still hasn't pleaded guilty. What would you -- what would a guilty plea mean for the people of Highland Park?

ROTERING: I think for people to hear that would give them a sense of closure. But frankly, it's going to take us a very long time to heal from this. We are just beginning the process of vigils. Our first funeral will be on Friday.

It's one of those things where we know this is going to take us a long, long period of time. Of course, we know what we think of this individual.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do. The Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, good luck to you, good luck to all the wonderful, wonderful people in Highland Park. And my deepest, deepest condolences to the families who are suffering right now. Thank you so much for joining us.

ROTERING: Appreciate it. Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's get some more in all of these developments. Joining us now CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, the former chief of the Washington, D.C. Police Force as well. Also with us, CNN Legal Analyst and civil rights attorney Areva Martin and CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, the former CIA Counterterrorism Official Phil Mudd.

Areva, take a look at this new surveillance video of terrified residents of Highland Park fleeing the attack. It really drives home the state's attorney's vow to file charges on behalf of the entire community, including the wounded, not just those who were killed, right?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. This attorney -- district attorney made it very clear that that charges, the seven murder charges, that have already been filed against the shooter is just the beginning and not the end. And he fully expects to bring a plethora of other charges against the shooter, including charges such as attempted murder, aggravated assault, aggravated discharge of a weapon and not just related, as you said, to those individuals who were harmed, physically harmed, but those individuals that suffered such psychological damage as a result of being fired on a while they were peacefully attending this Fourth of July parade. So, we should expect every charge that can be lodged against the shooter to be made by this district attorney. And we know that the charges are very serious and that he's facing already potential for life in prison --



MARTIN: -- without you know ever roll or ever seen the outside of a prison cell.

BLITZER: Seven counts of murder, that's in Illinois, life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Chief Ramsey, police say the gunman seriously contemplated yet a second attack in Wisconsin, not too far away in Madison, Wisconsin. Given the amount of ammunition he had, another 60 rounds or so, was he capable of carrying out yet another mass murder?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, there's no question about that. In fact, when they caught him, and I learned that he had another rifle and ammunition, that's the first thing I thought was, he was on the prowl for another shooting. But he hadn't done his surveillance. He hadn't done his homework on it. And I think that kind of deterred him.

But we're just fortunate that we are not talking about two mass shootings, instead it's just the one very tragic mass shooting that took place in Highland Park. So he was very capable of doing that, no question about it. And this guy needs to face the max, there's no question about it, and I believe it will.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're absolutely right.

Phil, how disturbing was it to you to learn that the gunman was potentially on the verge of striking again?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I had a simple reaction on that too, Wolf, and as based on my experience of looking at a lot of cases like this, both overseas, the United States, and that is emotional switch. Once somebody like this goes through the preparatory process of thinking about a target, there's an emotional switch that has to go on for them to actually move forward with the plan and start to murder people.

In my experience, once they get over that bar, they typically have not planned a follow on as we saw in this case, they're so focused on the event that they don't think about what happens afterwards. But the flip side of that is once they've crossed the bar to say, I'm willing to kill people, the likelihood that they will move on, if they're not stopped is quite high, they get over that bar, and then they're gone.

I think if this person hadn't been stopped, given the weapons in the car and obviously the ammunition in the vehicle, his emotional state was such that he would have done something else. Thank God he was stopped, Wolf, we would have had a bigger problem on our hands.

BLITZER: Thank God, indeed.

You know, Areva, the state's attorney isn't necessarily ruling out charges against the gunman's parents. Does the gunman's father, specifically, bear some legal responsibility, given that he sponsored his son's gun license application in December of 2019 after the son made all sorts of violent threats?

And I'm just looking at my notes, in April of 2019, he -- police were called in because supposedly he was trying to commit suicide or whatever. In September of 2019, police responded to his own after Crimo threatened family, they confiscated a lot of knives. Then his father went ahead and he sponsored his application in December 2019 for a Firearm Owner's Identification. What's your reaction?

MARTIN: Yes, Wolf, historically, we have not seen prosecutors going after parents when their children have been involved in these kinds of mass shootings. But that changed. We saw of the prosecutors in the Detroit area related case, the Crumbley's, were involuntary manslaughter charges were filed against both parents, the mother and the father because the prosecutor said the parents failed to take heed, to red flags with regards to their son's mental health as well as failed to secure the gun that was used in that school shooting of that 15-year-old actually shot and killed four students.

So in this case, in the case of this shooter, the question comes down to whether there was reasonable foreseeability. You mentioned those two incidents in April and September of 2019, one involving a suicide attempt and one involving threatening to kill his relatives. The question this prosecutor is going to have to ask, was it reasonable foreseeable that someone who had made a suicide attempt and who would threaten to kill others would lead that person, in this case, the shooter, to commit the crime against the paradegoers? And if the answer to that question is, yes, it was reasonably foreseeable, there definitely could be manslaughter charges filed against his dad who did sign that consent form and gave consent for him to gain access to the high powered weapon and weapons that were used.


BLITZER: Yes, he purchase those weapons legally according to police in Highland Park, legally. It certainly sounds like there were plenty of red flags out there that clearly weren't paid attention to by those closest to him.

Thanks very much, guys. We'll have you back. We're watching all of these developments not going too far away from the story.

But also coming up, there's been a key development in the House January 6 investigation. The former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone now agreeing to testify before this special committee this Friday.

Plus, a missed chance for Uvalde police officer to take out the school gunman before he entered the building. We have details of a troubling new report that has just been released. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has reached a deal with the January 6 Select Committee. Sources tell CNN that Cipollone will participate in a transcribed interview on video behind closed doors this Friday. CNN's Sara Murray is joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Sara, this is potentially a very, very substantial breakthrough for the select committee.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a substantial breakthrough. And we have seen members of the Select Committee out there publicly essentially pleading for Pat Cipollone to come forward. Obviously, if they had an entirely their way, he would be testifying publicly in one of these hearings. That's not going to be the case. But they are still going to get his testimony transcribed and on video.

And it's important because he was around for so much, you know, when the former president wanted to cease voting machines, when he wanted to send letters to states, you know, sort of trying to overturn the election, when he wanted to, you know, organize, essentially a coup at the Justice Department, Pat Cipollone was there for all of this. There will, of course, he limits on what he can talk about, because there were still privilege issues at play, but there's no doubt this is a big get for the committee.

BLITZER: And in terms of this other investigation that's going on in Georgia right now, the special grand jury investigating Trump's attempts to try to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia in 2020, I understand that Senator Lindsey Graham who has been issued a subpoena is now challenging that subpoena.

MURRAY: That's right. The senator was one of a handful of Trump allies who were issued subpoenas over the last week for their testimony before a special grand jury. There was a criminal investigation going on. It's a pretty barbed statement that we got from attorneys for Lindsey Graham saying that he has no plans to cooperate with this subpoena. He plans challenge it in court.

He's -- this attorney said in their statement that this is all politics. They're saying that Fulton County is engaged in a fishing expedition. So they're going to try and fight this.

The word from the district attorney's office is, you know, bring it on, we will see you in court, we plan to compel you to testify. So we will see how this plays out, Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly will. Sara Murray, thank you very much. We'll see how it plays out.

Let's discuss what's going on with the former counsel to the assistant attorney general, Carrie Cordero, as well as former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, who's also joining us up.

Carrie, let me start with you. What key pieces of information potentially could Pat Cipollone reveal to the investigators?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, Pat Cipollone as the White House counsel from the other witnesses who have testified so far, we know that he was integrally involved in providing advice to the former president and to many else, other individuals in the White House, about the potential for legal exposure, the potential for crimes to be committing -- to be committed according to the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson. And so, he was aware of -- we believe that based on the testimony so far, it seems to me that he was aware of the potential for violence, he was aware of plans to take the former president to the Capitol after his speech on January 6, and he gave many, many warnings, according to other witnesses so far that if those things were to happen, there would potentially be criminal liability for many who were involved. So, he was a very key witness as the days and hours led up to January 6 2021.

BLITZER: And Charlie, this is clearly someone, Pat Cipollone, who has who was privy to a lot of sensitive conversations in the run up to January 6, also on what was going on January 6, but he clearly wants to avoid the limelight. Is that right?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, look, Cipollone in my view, has a lot of information to share. I mean, I think what the committee really wants to find out is just what he was referring to, what crimes might have been committed, how they activated that particular movement that Ms. Hutchison had referred to. So I think that Cipollone, you know, is -- you know, really does provide a lot of keys to the kingdom, so to speak. He's the one, you know, who was, as was mentioned, privy to every conversation. Now, some may be legitimately covered by privilege, others may not be, but it's a major coup that he's going to be speaking because, you know, he has heard everything and he certainly could speak the legal implications of what occurred not only on January 6, but what led up to that day.

BLITZER: Yes, he was the White House Counsel under Trump as we all know.

Carrie, in Fulton County, Georgia, where a grand jury -- a special grand jury is conducting a separate criminal probe of Trump's election interference in that state, Senator Lindsey Graham as we heard, he now says he will fight the subpoena that he has received. Does he have any chance of avoiding testimony in this case?

CORDERO: Well, so it appears that he was issued this subpoena as a witness, not as a subject or target of Georgia's criminal investigation into whether or not there were violations of Georgia election law. And Wolf, I'll be interested to see what are the grounds that he provides for not complying with a subpoena in this case, because this is a criminal investigation by the Fulton County D.A., the district attorney there, a grand jury has issued this subpoena.

And so, the question is, is what will he argue as far as not complying? It's not like this is a congressional request or a congressional subpoena, this is a state criminal matter. And so, whether he will argue that it's vague or that it's irrelevant or he doesn't have relevant information to provide, it will be interesting to see how he challenges that because he had one -- at least a phone call with the former Secretary of State Raffensperger about the election.


BLITZER: Yes, right, criminal subpoenas are very different than civil subpoenas as we all know.

Charlie Dent, how much does this, once again though, simply come down to loyalty to the former president? DENT: Well, look, as Carrie pointed out, this is a real subpoena from a grand jury and this cannot be ignored. And again, he's only been called in as a witness not as a subject or a target.

Clearly, Senator Graham, as many others are, you know, had been very loyal to the former president. I'm not sure that they should be in any way trying to protect what the president did down in Fulton County. That phone call that the former president made to Brad Raffensperger, you know, is just chock full of problems. I just can't imagine that any elected official who would have made a similar call seeking to seek votes from election administrators that call revealed.

Have had they done that, I suspect they would be under very serious federal and state investigation. So, for Lindsey Graham, I don't see any point or any member right now of what's the point of being loyal to Donald Trump? Look what it's gotten all these other folks who have been loyal, they've been thrown under the bus. The loyalty has not been reciprocated by the former president.

So, my advice to my friend Lindsey Graham would be, comply with a subpoena. You're simply a witness. You're not a target or subject. And just speak truth.

BLITZER: Honesty is the best policy as they say. Charlie Dent, thank you very much. Carrie Cordero, thanks to you as well.

Still ahead, we'll have much more on the new details emerging right now about the Highland Park July 4th parade mass shooting and what the gunman is now telling investigators about his deadly rampage.

Plus, a disturbing new report in the Uvalde school shooting at a miss chance to take out the gunman before he even entered the building.



BLITZER: A new enforcement assessment of the police response to the Uvalde School shooting finds a rifle arm officer could have shot the gunman before he entered the school. CNN Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz has the latest information for us. What are you learning over there, Shimon, about this new report?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, certainly, Wolf, this is a missed opportunity here in this new report indicating that, you know, police had an opportunity, it's the Uvalde police. Important to note, this report refers to a Uvalde police officer who was responding to the scene, they believe had an opportunity to take the gunman out.

And what they write in this report here, Wolf, is that they say that the officer armed with a rifle that this officer asked his supervisor for permission to shoot the suspect. However, the supervisor either did not hear or responded too late, and that the officer turned to get confirmation from the supervisor. And when he turned back to address the suspect, he had entered the West hallway unabated. And then, obviously, we know what happened after that. And what this report says is that this officer clearly did not need permission. He saw someone entering the streets, he saw a person on the streets entering the school with a rifle. He had legal authority to shoot this person, and he didn't. And, obviously, this all goes to this whole bigger story about how they were missed opportunities.

Of course, we've heard from Colonel McGraw, the head of the Texas DPS say that this should have been over in three minutes. And usually in most types of shootings like this, mass shootings, when police enter a location, it's over in minutes. Obviously, we know that did not happen here.

And then this report just goes on to talk about other missed opportunities by officers talking about what we all know, as officers state waited in the hallway before entering that classroom, Wolf. But we should know that this is a report that's done here by the Texas alert. It's a system and a team of people who research and study these situations. And they had the cooperation of an investigator who came and briefed them about what happened. And so now we get this report, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really disturbing indeed. Shimon, I know you had a chance to speak today to the teacher, that one teacher who survived this shooting, what did he tell you?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Wolf, an incredible, incredible, incredible man talked about surviving that day. And it's Arnie Reyes is his name. He was the teacher in that classroom, talked about how he tried to save what he calls his kids, his children, telling them to hide under a desk, but of course, nothing could stop this powerful AR-15 style rifle that the gunman used.

And then he talked about what it was like laying on the floor of this classroom as he waited and waited and waiting -- waited for officers to come into the classroom. He could hear the officers outside the door, and yet, none of them came in for more than an hour.

BLITZER: Yes, it's so heartbreaking to think of those missed opportunities. Shimon, excellent reporting, as usual. Thank you very, very much.

Other important news we're following right now, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing his biggest crisis yet, just weeks after surviving a vote that would have ousted him from power. This turmoil right now, over Downing Street's handling of sexual misconduct allegations by a top leader in Johnson's own party.


CNN's Nic Robertson is outside Number 10 Downing Street in London for us. So Nic, how much trouble is he in right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He's in very deep trouble, Wolf. 42 senior government officials, including ministers have resigned. One of Boris Johnson's close cabinet ministers, a senior minister, someone who's been a friend and frenemy and political adversary and political colleague of Boris Johnson for many, many years, Michael Gove, an influential figure within government told the Prime Minister that it was time that he should step down and resign, that he no longer had the support of the party and was not doing right by the country.

Boris Johnson, a few hours later fired Michael Gove creating another vacancy around his Cabinet table. What we have heard from one of Boris Johnson's top officials this evening in the last half an hour or so, is that the Prime Minister is in a fighting mood. He intends not to listen to all those in the party who have told him that it's time to step down. There is a group of lower level backbench Members of Parliament who have an influential committee who are considering redrawing their rules as early as next week to have a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister's official said that if the vote came tonight, it would be tight against the Prime Minister. But they believe, the Prime Minister believes that by next week, he can have shown the country that he has a whole new Cabinet that there will be tax cuts for the country. And by this way, the Prime Minister thinks that he can gamble right now, stay in office, hold on and fight on and that he can win any vote that comes next week, Wolf.

BLITZER: We shall see. Nic Robertson in London for us. Nic, thank you very much.

Just ahead, Ukraine now says it's putting up a fierce fight against further Russian advances that it needs allies to send more weapons and soon. CNN is live on the front lines when we come back.



BLITZER: President Biden focusing on the economy and highlighting steps his administration has taken as he visited Cleveland, Ohio today. But with rising inflation and a string of U.S. Supreme Court setbacks, some Democrats are voicing frustration on what they say, and I'm quoting now, as a rudderless White House.

Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent, Phil Mattingly. Phil, the President is once again trying to make the case he's doing everything he possibly can to bring prices down.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it is the anvil that's hanging off the President's next -- really the neck of the Democratic Party right now. And that has been soaring inflation, reaching 40 plus year highs over the course of the last several months. The President in Cleveland today doing a couple of things.

First, highlighting actions his administration has taken, touting more than $90 billion in funds that will help more than 2 or 3 million individuals avoid pension cuts over the course of the next several months, and important -- several years, an important element in the state that he was in, the state of Ohio and for the labor union participants, generally. But the President also making clear that there's more work to be done particularly when it comes to inflation. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got a long way to go because of inflation, because of the -- I call it the Putin tax increase. Putin because of gasoline. And all that grain is keeping from being able to get to the market. Now I'm fighting like hell to lower costs on things that you talked about around your kitchen table.


MATTINGLY: Well, it's a message the President has delivered several times, but it's one that simply hasn't been enough for a lot of congressional Democrats who have made clear privately they want to see action and the administration has done that, has taken action. The reality right now when it comes to these price increases, is there is no silver bullet. There is no one policy or several policies the federal government can deploy to try and bring those prices down.

The President trying to show and trying to explain to people that he's taking some action trying to assuage some of those concerns, which are very real right now, on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you very, very much.

Meanwhile, Russia is now stepping up its attacks on Eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region as it works to expand its grasp in the area. Ukraine says its military is putting up fierce resistance to Russian forces. But soldiers who spoke to CNN's Phil Black say they need more weapons from allies and they need those weapons quickly.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A secret location, a precious weapon, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, a powerful gift from the United States to Ukraine. So far, they've only received four of these launches. But the scorch marks on the earth show they've been busy. Their commander, Alexander, says the HIMARS is now Ukraine's most important weapon.

He says it's more precise, deadly, and the Russians should fear it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

BLACK (voice-over): The operators say its accuracy and range about 44 miles allows them to hit important sites deep inside Russian controlled territory. Mostly command posts, weapons and ammunition storage. Officially, Ukraine confirms few of the HIMARS strikes, but the evidence is out there. The crew says after each launch, they mined Russian news sites and social media to see the impact of their work.

[17:45:05] Alexander says, 20 minutes after our job is done, all the information is public. There was no comment from Ukraine over the course of this huge explosion at a weapons depot close to the Russian border. The local pro-Russian forces were in no doubt. Only Ukraine's new HIMARS could have done this.

(on-camera): The system's job is to take out high value Russian targets but the Ukrainians know this is now a high priority target for the Russians. A lot of care is being taken to ensure it stays safe, protected from Russian eyes and weapons.

(voice-over): Somewhere in the woods and fields nearby, air defense systems and a special ground operation are guarding this site. And they're all moving constantly. Never staying longer than a day in one location. In another site, HIMARS' ability to influence this war, Ukrainian leaders can't stop saying, thank you.

No other donated weapon that has inspired so much public gratitude from the president, the defense minister and the military.

This commander wants to thank the American people and President Biden for providing a weapon that is helping Ukraine stay in the fight. But he and every other soldier here knows Russia still has the momentum in this war. And that's why their message to their allies is unchanged -- please send more weapons now.


BLACK: Wolf, Ukraine has been using this system for just 10 days and it is firing at around the clock. Its operators are going without much sleep because they believe the harder they work, the more relief that brings to Ukraine's frontline defenders. Today, Russia claimed to have destroyed two of these HIMARS launchers.

We were with that unit when they first heard that Russian claim. Their response, they laughed. Ukraine's military has also dismissed the claim as false propaganda. Wolf?

BLITZER: Phil Black on the scene for us. Phil, be careful over there. Thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we go one-on-one with a prosecutor in the Highland Park, Illinois parade shooting. What additional charges does he want to bring against the now confessed gunman?

Plus, a look at the heated Republican Senate primary in Arizona. And the young Trump-backed candidate following the former president's playbook to take the lead.



BLITZER: The current front runner in a very bitter Arizona Republican Senate primary races molding his campaign on former President Trump's playbook. CNN Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah has the latest. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Young, energetic and ultra conservative, U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters pledges he's part of a new generation of Republicans.

BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: So it starts with a few of us, it's going to be a different ballgame.

LAH (voice-over): The 35-year-old first time candidate is a front runner in a bitter and expensive primary battle. Cutting tech bro flair, Masters tout some far-right views.

MASTERS: This is designed to kill people.

LAH (voice-over): He downplays January 6th.

MASTERS: It wasn't a coup. It wasn't an insurrection. This was trespassing.

LAH (voice-over): Repeats the racist great replacement theory.

MASTERS: What the left really wants to do is change the demographics of this country. They do. They want to do that so they can consolidate power, and so they can never lose another election.

LAH (voice-over): And is an election denier.

MASTERS: I think Trump won in 2020.

LAH (voice-over): That helped land Donald Trump's endorsement.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Blake Masters has my complete and total endorsement.

JANET MOORE, BLAKE MASTERS SUPPORTER: Why am I for Blake? Very energetic. He's young. He's very bright.

LAH (voice-over): Arizona supporter see Masters carving a new path for Republicans in a state that has elected GOP senators like John McCain and Jeff Flake.

NANCY WINTERS, BLAKE MASTERS SUPPORTER: I think he represents the younger generation and that's what we need.

DANDRE RIPPY, BLAKE MASTERS SUPPORTER: He's younger, he's come from -- he got endorsed by Peter Thiel. People look at that as if it's a negative. That's not -- I think that's a great thing.

LAH (voice-over): Masters is a protege of Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley tech billionaire and Republican Kingmaker to multimillion dollar campaign donations. Thiel dropped 10 million into J.D. Vance's Ohio Senate campaign. He went on to win the Republican nomination.

Thiel also plowed 13 million into Masters, a Stanford grad and venture capitalist trying to win over a MAGA base. MASTERS: Peter Thiel, the one America first billionaire that we have. OK, I'm not a fan. I think he's great. OK? And you know what, I'm proud of Peter.

MARCUS DELL'ARTINO, PARTNER, FIRST STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: You know, he looks like he walked right out of the Palo Alto campus of Google. And I think that, you know, that's not something that Republican conservatives are used to the Republican Party's having a difficult time catching up to what the definition of conservative is. And I think that we in Arizona are feeling the heart of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last thing we need to take on Big Tech is somebody from Big Tech.

LAH (voice-over): Another leading contender in the race is Solar Exec and self-funder Jim Lamon, attacking Masters on claims he's beholden to Peter Thiel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fake. Blake Masters is the puppet of California Big Tech.

LAH (on-camera): Is it possible for you to win the nomination without Trump's backing?


JIM LAMON (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Oh absolutely. You know, the people of the state realize that the President hasn't always made the right decisions. He's made a really bad one in this particular case, just, you know, put on my big boy pants and let's go make sure that we continue to get our message out.

LAH (voice-over): But Masters contends Lamon and the rest of the field are a part of Arizona's past.

(on-camera): You talked a lot about bringing new blood, new vision to --


LAH (voice-over): -- the Senate. Tell me a little bit about that.

MASTERS: You know the average age of the Senate? 64.5, so I think we got to get some new energy, new fight right pretty soon. Like I said, we're going to have a young dynamic America first caucus.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


BLITZER: Straight ahead, we'll be joined live by the lead prosecutor handling the Highland Park parade massacre. I'll ask him about possible additional charges against the confessed shooter and possibly his parents as well. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Happening now, a confession in the Highland Park mass shooting as we're getting new video capturing the terror on July 4th.