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Special Counsel Defends Biden Classified Documents Report In Tense Hearing; Biden And Trump Expected To Clinch Their Parties' Nominations Tonight; Biden Wraps Talks With Polish Leaders, Unveils New Ukraine Aid; New Images Of Aftermath Of Mysterious In-Flight Jolt; Uvalde Police Chief Resigns Amid Outrage Over Report Clearing Officers Of Wrongdoing During 2022 Massacre. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 12, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Who's going to get the nominations?

Special coverage starts at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN and streaming on MAX.

And join me on Sunday night for a brand new episode of United States of Scandal. On Sunday, I'm going dig into the downfall of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, a Democrat who resigned two decades ago. It's a really fascinating story and he sits down and he is very candid and even a bit repentant. That's this Sunday at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific only here in CNN.

The news continues now on CNN and I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the special counsel in the Biden classified documents probe defends his decision not to pursue charges and stands by his characterizations of the president's age and memory. I'll ask a key Democrat who questioned Robert Hur about his testimony and the attacks he faced from lawmakers in both parties.

Also ahead, the Biden-Trump rematch is about to get even more intense as they're both expected to officially clinch their party's nominations within hours. We'll break down tonight's contest and the state of the very divisive presidential race.

Plus, President Biden just wrapped up important talks with Poland's top leaders as the U.S. is unveiling a new $300 million weapons package for Ukraine, working around roadblocks in Congress. The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, will join us live to discuss this breaking story.

Welcome to 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 breaking news on former Special Counsel Robert Hur in the hot seat up on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats ripping apart his findings in the Biden classified documents investigation for very different reasons. CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has more on this politically charged hearing.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Special Counsel Robert Hur grilled by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle today about his investigation into President Biden's mishandling of classified documents.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Mr. Hur, why did he do it? Why did Joe Biden, your words, willfully retained and disclosed classified materials? I mean, he knew the law, been in office like 50 years.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): You exonerated him. I know that the term, willful retention, has -- Mr. Hurr, it's my time.

REID: Biden's memory took center stage as Hur said in his report that he did not charge Biden because he believed a jury would see him as a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): You find in your report that the elements of a federal criminal violation are met, but then you apply this senile cooperator theory that because Joe Biden cooperated and the elevator doesn't go to the top floor, you don't think you'd get a conviction.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You understood when you made that decision, didn't you, Mr. Hur, that you would ignite a political firestorm with that language, didn't you?

ROBERT HUR, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Congressman, politics played no part whatsoever in my investigative steps.

SCHIFF: You cannot tell me you're so naive as to think your words would not have created a political firestorm. You understand that.

REID: Hur told the committee he stood by the words in his report.

HUR: My assessment in the report about the relevance of the president's memory was necessary and accurate and fair.

REID: Both sides using the issue to try to score political points.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a good memory and all that stuff like a great memory.

REID: Showing dueling videos featuring gaffes by Trump and Biden.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: My memory is so bad I let you speak.

REID: Hur was also pressed on the differences between Biden's case and that of former President Trump, those being that Biden returned the documents. He allowed for searches at various properties and even sat for a voluntary interview with the special counsel.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Did you find that President Biden engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct justice?

HUR: No.

LIEU: Did you find President Biden engaged a scheme to conceal?

HUR: No.

REID: And while Hur explained that he did not have enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, he made it clear that his report does not absolve the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hur, did you completely exonerate President Biden?

HUR: That is not what my report does.

REID: Hur also emphasized that he was making a legal conclusion about Biden's mental state not a medical one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hur, based on your report, did you find that the president was senile?

HUR: I did not. That conclusion does not appear in my reports.

REID: A transcript of Biden's interview with Hur was released just a few hours before the hearing, causing Republicans to cry foul.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): The timing is not coincidental.

REID: And after the hearing wrapped, the White House responded, saying the hearings should put the classified document investigation against Biden to rest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conclusion was simple, that there is no case here. The case is closed. It's time to move on.


REID: Well, Republicans say they are moving on to try to obtain the audio of Biden's interview with former Special Counsel Hur. Now, Hur is now a private citizen. He left the Justice Department last week. And when asked if that recording should be released, he deferred to the Justice Department and the White House.

Now, Wolf, they are unlikely to release that, but I think we're going to hear a lot about that recording over the next few months.

BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting for us, Paula, thank you very much.

Let's break all of this down with our legal and political experts. And, Laura Coates, you're our chief legal analyst, let me start with you. Hur disputed claims from Democrats that effectively he exonerated President Biden by not formally charging him with any potential crime out there. Explain what's going on here, the difference between avoiding a specific charge and exoneration.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, exoneration means that I'm saying you've done nothing wrong. The prosecutorial discretion, what he's talking about, is that even with the evidence that might support some wrongdoing, I cannot meet my burden of proof. Therefore, I'm going to exercise my discretion to suggest that I shouldn't be prosecuting you.

Every prosecutor knows it's not just the idea of thinking in your gut you can prove something. You actually have to prove it to a jury of people who are wanting you to meet your burden of proof. It means you've got to get the right evidence in, the right witnesses to testify to that effect. There can't be so-called innocent explanations. You can refute in some way down the line. And so he recognized the distinction between what you can prove and what you think you know.

And a prosecutor worth his or her salt has to be able to go with what they can prove. And he's saying, I couldn't.

BLITZER: Beyond a reasonable doubt.

COATES: Beyond a reasonable doubt.

BLITZER: It's not easy necessarily. Alice, did Hur, by saying he did not necessarily exonerate the president, did he give Republicans a potential political opening?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he certainly did. And, look, they're looking at this from the standpoint, well, if you're not completely exonerating him, then there's something there, right?

And here's what Republicans are taking away from this, three things. One being, they look at this as a two-tiered system of justice, right? They're looking at the underlying crime of willful retention of classified documents, the same crime Donald Trump is being prosecuted for because he has cognitive ability and Joe Biden is not because he is an old man with a bad memory.

Number two, they're looking at this from the standpoint of Joe Biden lied to the American people. When he had that press conference after this first came out, he told the American people, I did not disclose classified information to my ghostwriter. He lied about that. And as Jim Jordan said today, he had 8 million reasons to do so because he has $8 million from this book that he's writing. But he did, as we heard from Hur today, he shared this information with his ghostwriter.

And, thirdly, they're taking away from this. This is just yet another case. The fact that they're going after Trump for willful retention of classified documents with the Mar-a-Lago case, he is yet another victim of the weaponization of the justice system. And this is -- the fact that Trump is facing charges, this is a weaponization of the DOJ. That is what Republicans will be taking away from this.

BLITZER: Ashley Etienne, I want you to listen to Adam Schiff. He did some really tough questioning, tough questioning of Robert Hur today, calling his characterizations of the president political. Listen to this exchange.


SCHIFF: You don't gratuitously add language that you know will be useful in a political campaign. You were not born yesterday. You understood exactly what you were doing. It was a choice.

HUR: What you are suggesting is that I shape, sanitize, omit portions of my reasoning and explanation the attorney general for political reasons.

SCHIFF: No, I suggest that you not shape your report for political reasons, which is what you did.

HUR: That did not happen. That did not happen.


BLITZER: What do you think?

ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: No, I thought those were the most effective question lines from Adam Schiff and even Hank Johnson. Adam Schiff has a credibility as being a former prosecutor, and he made the point. You had a choice, but you chose to use language that you knew would cause a political firestorm.

Here's my -- I've managed a lot of these hearings in the House. And here's sort of my major takeaway is this was another attempt by Republicans to weaponize the House to hurt Joe Biden, and it did not stick. It really amounted to four hours of an opportunity for Democrats to do what Adam Schiff did to remind the public, hey, this guy is a Republican. He was a top lieutenant in Trump's DOJ, and therefore he's politically motivated, but also gave them an opportunity to say that Donald Trump, A, was charged with a crime. He obstructed and then tried to cover it all up. Joe Biden, on the other hand, no crime, no file, nothing here.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it's really easy, and I say this as someone who's been -- I've been a Hill staffer, a senior Justice Department official, and actually a witness before Congress, myself, and it's easy to get lost in all the political noise that happened here.

What this was, number one, Bob Hur, as the special counsel, was obligated under law to submit a report to the attorney general, right?


After submitting that report, in which he did not call for charges against the president of the United States, resigned from the Justice Department, which is incredibly common for special counsels, John Durham did the same thing, and testified here today.

What is important to know is that charges are not being brought because he did not establish, or would not have been able to establish, that these could have been charges that could have succeeded in front of a jury. That happens all the time in the art and science prosecution. It doesn't matter if you think there was misconduct. It doesn't matter if anybody in their heart thinks someone is innocent, not guilty, exonerated, whatever else.

It's what, and this was Laura's point earlier, what can you establish beyond a reasonable doubt in front of a jury? That is the important thing. That is the legal determination that was made. And all this mishegosas, I don't know if you like that one, Wolf, but all this nonsense about whether someone is senile or whatever else simply does not matter in the eyes of the law, doesn't matter in the eyes of what's relevant to Congress.

COATES: I can't spell mishegoss, but I can spell proof. And when you do so, you have to have an eye towards what the evidence actually shows. What was very clear to me from this entire testimony is that had Donald Trump behaved similarly to Joe Biden in terms of cooperating, providing the documents, sitting for the different depositions and interviews, not fighting when he had every opportunity to return the documents, he too would not have been charged.

Now, of course, Hur did not want to speculate about the nature of Jack Smith's case, but every time he was asked down the line what Trump did compared to what Biden did, it was very clear the big distinction was the behavior of the person who is actually retaining the documents.

And I thought really effectively there was the attempt to suggest, well, hold on, have you created a new doctrine here by saying that, hold on, I can do whatever I want as long as I return the documents? He was not there to create a doctrine. He was there given the charge of here is the evidence before me, what can I prove? And that's P-R-O- V-E.

STEWART: But here's the problem with that. A lot of what we've heard before from the president in this case, he has contradicted himself with regard to what he knew about the classified documents. We had documents in several different locations, and the president claims as though he was not aware that they were there.

And that brings to mind the question for many people and Republicans and others, if he doesn't know where these documents are, and he cannot remember a lot of these facts that were the basis of this report, how does that make him good to be the president of the United States?

WILLIAMS: That's a political question, not a legal one, though. And the thing is -- no, it's a political question, not a legal one. And I think this rush to compare Trump's conduct to Biden's is simply the wrong analysis. The fact is, if they thought they could convict Joe Biden beyond a reasonable doubt, they would have charged him with a crime. They can't, and they won't.

ETIENNE: The ghostwriter was an issue, though?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Ashley. ETIENNE: Yes. No, I just want to say you're -- Elliot is absolutely right. But this is the court of public opinion that we're talking about here. And I think there's one thing that's sort of not -- that shouldn't be lost because we're talking directly to the American people here, and that is these the GOP, the Republicans' antics come at a cost. They had a member of the Judiciary Committee that decided I'm going to retire early today. It could potentially come at a cost to their to their majority in the House.

But in addition to that, it comes at a cost to the American people. There's no movement by this particular -- that particular committee on bipartisan about border legislation, no movement to keep the government open and fund the government.

So, that's what we have to remind people of, whereas sometimes this is politics, it really comes at a cost of the American people.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, everybody stand by, we're going to continue this conversation. Excellent Yiddish, by the way. Mishegoss, it means nonsense.


BLITZER: Yes. I got the (INAUDIBLE). The Yiddish word of the day, mishegoss.

All right, thanks to all of you. And be sure to join Laura later tonight for Laura Coates Live, 11:00 P.M. Eastern. We'll be watching.

Just ahead, President Biden unveils new military aid to Ukraine. Will it reassure U.S. allies staring down Russian aggression right now, even as the package falls far short of what's desperately needed for Ukraine on the battlefield?

Plus, more bad news for Boeing, what it could mean for your travel plans.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: The breaking news we're following, President Biden just wrapped up a crucial meeting over at the White House with the leaders of Poland as he unveils new U.S. military aid to Ukraine. The president warning the funding is not an excuse for congressional inaction. Listen.


BIDEN: The package includes munitions and rounds to help Ukraine hold the line against Russia's brutal attacks for the next couple weeks. But it's not nearly enough for where I'm announcing today. Congress must pass the bipartisan national security bill now, which includes urgent funding to Ukraine. We must act before it literally is too late.


BLITZER: CNN's Oren Liebermann is joining us from the Pentagon right now. He's got details. Oren, is this latest package that the president just announced essentially a stopgap measure?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it can hardly even be called that. The White House made clear that this $300 million package could last a matter of weeks, perhaps as little as a couple of week. And you heard President Joe Biden say it there.

Two years into this war, this package can help out Ukraine for just a few weeks here. Here is what's in it, some of the critical ammunition and weapons that Ukraine needs in its fight against Russia, including 155 millimeter artillery ammunition, Ukraine able to fire much less than Russia in this case and having to ration some of that anti- aircraft missiles which are needed to repel the Russian air assaults that have become pretty routine at this point and that Russia has used those to devastating effect as well as more there.

Even if it's only a little bit in the tiny fraction of what the U.S. has been able provide in the past, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showing his gratitude on Twitter or X, saying in a tweet, every round of ammunition saves the lives of Ukrainians who face daily attacks by Russian occupiers.


Now, both the White House and the Pentagon made it clear that this is only a tiny fraction of what Ukraine needs, and what's needed here is that $90 billion supplemental that already got through the Senate and is now waiting in the House where it does have bipartisan support. In terms of what's in it, that first number there is the big one, at least for this conversation, $60 billion in aid for Ukraine that is desperately needed to make sure Ukraine doesn't cede any more territory to Russia. Wolf?

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann of the Pentagon, thank you.

Joining us now, the United States ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, who just got out of that meeting at the White House with President Biden, as well as the Polish prime minister and the Polish president. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.

This bigger Ukraine funding bill is still very much on the line right now. Take us inside today's talks at the White House, and you were there. Does Poland still feel the United States is a reliable, reliable partner?

MARK BRZEZINSKI, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO POLAND: Excellent question, Wolf. And what happened today was remarkable. A Polish president and a Polish prime minister, who are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, traveled to Washington to stand in solidarity with the American president, Joe Biden, to ask Congress to get this supplemental passed.

Why? Because for the people of Poland, this is 1939, this is Central Europe being attacked by a vicious foreign attacker, and in this case, it's Russia against Ukraine. And Poland has been sticking its neck out in terms of sending weapons to Ukraine, to the Ukrainians so they can defend themselves, and also, Poland has been welcoming literally millions of refugees who have poured in from Ukraine into Poland.

Wolf, you were in Poland last spring. You see the number of refugees on the street, every one of which is welcomed into a Polish home or apartment as a product of national policy. But the Poles expect the Americans to continue to support the Ukrainians, and this is what the Polish president and the Polish prime minister wanted to hear from the American president, and they did.

And they also wanted to hear America's firm and total commitment that Article 5, all for one, one for all, Article 5 of the NATO pact is sacrosanct to the Americans, because the Poles are close, they have a history of being left by allies who promised to support them and then didn't, so they are anxious and uncertain.

BLITZER: They are very nervous indeed. I saw that when I was there.

As you know, President Duda is calling on the NATO countries to boost their defense spending to at least three percent of their GDP. Is that a position President Biden would endorse.

BRZEZINSKI: President Biden at the Vilnius NATO Summit last summer asked all NATO allies to exceed the 2 percent GDP spending on defense threshold. And we now have over 19 countries doing that. And it will be even more at the Washington Summit this coming July.

I don't think there is a sense that 3 percent now needs to be the new threshold. It is, I think, very important that the Poles have exceeded 4 percent of GDP in defense spending this year.

BLITZER: You've got to give the Poles a lot of credit for what they're doing to help the Ukrainians right now and for its involvement in NATO, which is so critical.

As you know, Donald Trump reportedly told the Hungarian strongman, Viktor Orban, he wouldn't give Ukraine another penny. How much alarm is there among European allies right now over a possible second Trump term?

BRZEZINSKI: The support of Ukraine is existential for the Poles and other Central Europeans, because they know that Putin of Russia, who was a KGB agent, who is the son of a KGB agent, has resolved and will not stop at Ukraine, and that if he defeats Ukraine, he will continue to go west.

So, for the Poles and other Central Europeans, this is existential, and, again, it's 1939, except this time they feel they can do something about it, which is why the Polish president and prime minister are in Washington today. Of course, they came to the White House, but they also went up to Capitol Hill to meet with the House speaker and the Senate majority leader and minority leader to make the case that this is about democracy versus dictatorship and democracy must win.

It's a critical moment right now, Poland, of course, being right on the border with Ukraine. They're very nervous right now.

Ambassador Brzezinski, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all your important work. We appreciate it.

BRZEZINSKI: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, new insight into our top story. We're going to talk to a key member of the committee who questioned former Special Counsel Robert Hur.


Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is standing by live. We'll discuss when we come back.


BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the congressional testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Hur. The White House arguing the case is now closed on Hur's investigation of President Biden's handling of classified documents.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, whatever impact Hur's investigation may have, special counsel probes, as we all know, have left lasting marks on presidential history.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many of them certainly have, Wolf. And while some investigations revealed tangled plots and sinister intent, other probes took on a life of their own based on how the president responded to them.



TODD (voice over): Former Special Counsel Robert Hur's report is the latest in a long, contentious history of special counsel investigations into presidents and their top aides.

SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: It represents an existential threat to both the reputation and the very existence of a political administration.

TODD: Since the Watergate era, every American president, except one, has faced a special counsel or independent counsel investigation into himself or his associates, the only exception, Barack Obama. Some of those probes fizzled out unceremoniously. Others shaped history.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I shall resign. The presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

PROF. LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: The most significant, by far, historically, is Watergate, because, after all, it resulted in the resignation of the only president who has ever been forced out of office, Richard Nixon.

TODD: Often, these investigations are shaped by how the president has responded to them.

TRUMP: This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt.

TODD: President Donald Trump remained defiant through Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election interference and obstruction of justice. He was not prosecuted in the case.

Richard Nixon's response to the Watergate investigation got him into more trouble when he covered up the break-in and was accused of obstructing justice.

Bill Clinton ultimately faced impeachment over his lying about an affair with Monica Lewinsky during Independent Counsel Ken Starr's investigation of him.

SABATO: I think the one lesson that's been learned over the years is that a president hides things at his own peril.

TODD: These investigations changed the course of presidencies, often for what they revealed. The Iran-Contra probe exposed a scheme by the Reagan administration to sell arms to Iran in exchange for hostages, with the money from the sales going to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, in spite of a congressional law against it, which the president ultimately admitted to.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: What began as a strategic opening to Iran, deteriorated in its implementation into trading arms for hostages.

TODD: Several officials in the Reagan administration were prosecuted by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, but not Reagan himself. Some of these probes have been outright unwieldy. Iran-Contra went on for years and was enormously expensive.

Starr's investigation of Clinton expanded far beyond its original scope.

FREDERICKSEN: Whitewater was about a failed real estate deal in Arkansas that Bill and Hillary Clinton invested in and ended up being about something completely unrelated, namely this romantic relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.


TODD: While independent counsel or special counsel investigations have been damaging to past presidencies, they've also proven to be very unpredictable. The analyst we spoke to pointed out that even with the damage done to Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton by the investigations into them, they both came out the other side being more popular in the polls. Wolf?

BLITZER: Interesting. Thanks for the history. Brian Todd reporting for us.

Tonight, the White House and top Democrats are doubling down on calling President Biden innocent in the classified documents investigation. But former Special Counsel Robert Hur repeatedly pushed back on suggestions he exonerated the president, as in this tense exchange with Representative Pramila Jayapal.


JAYAPAL: This lengthy, expensive and independent investigation resulted in a complete exoneration of President Joe Biden for every document you discussed in your report.

HUR: We need to go back and make sure that I take note of the word that you used, exoneration. That is not a word that --

JAYAPAL: Mr. Hur, I'm going to continue with my questions. I'm going to continue with you exonerated him.

HUR: I did not exonerate him.

JAYAPAL: But the term willful retention has a --


BLITZER: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is joining us now live. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.

By using that word, an explosive word, exonerate, did you actually wind up helping make Republicans point that President Biden did willfully retain classified documents?

JAYAPAL: Wolf, it's always good to be with you. And, no, look, the common definition of exonerate is to absolve of any blame. And that is exactly what the 345-page report that Robert Hur did show, that he had insufficient evidence to prosecute Joe Biden on any of the charges that he was investigating.

And so he was not able to show that Joe Biden willfully retained classified documents and that he was guilty. So, he was arguing it was a distinction without a difference, in my opinion. Maybe he was auditioning for to be Trump's attorney general.

But you can't have a 345-page report that literally lays out charge after charge that you found insufficient evidence to be able to move forward with and then say that somehow that person is not absolved of blame. And that is what the word exonerate means in common language.

Now, you know, obviously he was trying to use a legal term of exoneration, but you can look it up in Merriam-Webster dictionary, exonerate is actually what happened in this report.

[18:35:06] BLITZER: Hur said today that he, quote, did not sanitize -- I'm quoting him now, he did sanitized my explanation, nor did I disparage the president unfairly. How do you respond to that?

JAYAPAL: You know, I think he was trying to have it all ways. He was try to say that he is fair. But I understand that he, you know, felt that he had to show his work, he kept saying that, but there are lots of ways to show your work without prejudicing the report and the person that is in the report.

And that's why, typically, these documents are not made public, they are usually classified, but he knew -- he's a very smart guy he, knew this one was going to be made public. And I think there were plenty of ways he could have characterized his belief that a jury would take a number of factors into consideration without prejudicing and, you know, drawing conclusions that I feel were very inappropriate about President Joe Biden.

BLITZER: On another important topic I want to question you on, very important, you've announced you won't support this latest effort to try to force a vote on an aid package for Ukraine and Taiwan because it also includes aid for Israel. Would you support the said if it includes conditions on that military aid to Israel?

JAYAPAL: I think that is a discussion that is very worth having. And I would just say that this whole situation that we're in is because Republicans have refused to support aid to Ukraine. Speaker Johnson has the responsibility to put the Senate passed bill on the floor. He has not done that because of the Ukraine aid.

I will tell you, Wolf, that I would support a discharge petition today if it included only the Ukrainian aid, you know. If included Taiwan aid, I would be fine. Obviously, if it included the humanitarian aid for Gaza and for other places, that would also be very good. But I think you would see a completely united Democratic caucus on the issue of aid to Ukraine. And that is something that we should consider.

But, certainly, we start looking at conditions, real conditions on aid Israel, I would support defensive aid, Iron Dome aid for Israel today, because I think that's important to protect Israelis. But what I won't to do is continue to support United States offensive military aid going in to kill people in Gaza when Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to say that he is completely opposed to a two-state solution.

He has continued encourage the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and he's continued to block humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, even though we are providing him with that offensive military aid. I just -- I think that is absolutely untenable.

BLITZER: Representative Pramila Jayapal, thanks so much for joining us.

JAYAPAL: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, President Biden and former President Trump now just hours away from likely clinching their party nominations. How the two candidates are ramping up their campaigns just ahead of their rematch.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden and former President Trump are both likely to just clinch their party nominations a few hours from now, making a 2020 rematch, all but official.

Our Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein is joining us right now. Ron, what do the campaigns need to do as they pivot to this general election?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf? Can we take one second and just reflect on the magnitude of this moment? Both of them likely to become the nominees officially tonight across the threshold of delegates, first time since 1956, we've had our rematch four years later. That was Stevenson and Eisenhower, first time since 1912 with Teddy Roosevelt, we've had a former president on the ballot again, and the first time since 1892, we've had a rematch between a sitting president and the man he ousted out of the White House four years later.

So, certainly, a historic standoff, and then when you add to that the magnitude of the gulf between them on all the big issues that we're facing, tax and spending, immigration, rights, abortion, democracy, with Trump promising just the other day that one of those first actions would be to pardon the January 6th -- many of the January 6th rioters.

Look, you've got Trump basically making a simple case. Things were better when I was president. I handed Biden a good economy, a secure border, crime under control, and he messed it up. That retrospective comparison, I think, is the heart of Trump's argument.

We saw it on Super Tuesday night when he said if Joe Biden had just stayed on the beach the last three years, the country would be in better shape. Biden, as much as possible, wants to make this a prospective campaign about what each man would do over the next four years of return to power.

BLITZER: As you know, Ron, Georgia is one of the key battleground states voting today. Trump won there back in 2016 but lost in 2020. What are you looking for there?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I think it's going to be interesting to see, because I think Democrats are the most pessimistic about Georgia of any of the five states that decided 2020 by flipping from Trump '16 to Biden 2020, that was Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Sunbelt breakthrough has been absolutely critical for Democrats, not only the presidential level but in the Senate, where they now have all the Senate seats in Arizona and Georgia. But holding those breakthroughs that kind of beachhead that that Biden established in '20 may be more difficult for them than maintaining their strength in the former blue wall states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. So, I think people will be looking at turnout tonight in Georgia, but whatever happens tonight, Georgia probably looks like the shakiest of the states that Biden flipped from '16 to '20.


BLITZER: A key battleground state indeed. Ron Brownstein, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, bad headlines mounting for Boeing right now with the heads of major U.S. airline saying today the company's problems could impact your upcoming travel.


BLITZER: All right. Justin to CNN, the National Transportation Safety Board has announced a rare public hearing on one of the many recent safety issues involving Boeing jets, the door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX. Boeing officials could potentially be subpoena to testify. This comes as we're learning more about another Boeing jet that suddenly dropped in mid-flight.

Your CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New images show the aftermath of Monday's mysterious in-flight jolt on a Chilean Boeing 787.


Latam Airlines says a technical event caused a strong movement onboard, injuring 50 passengers who peppered the pilots with questions.

BRIAN JOKAT, LATAM FLIGHT 800 PASSENGER: I immediately engaged with him and said, you know, what was that? And he openly admitted, he said, I lost control of the plane. My gauges just kind of went blank on me, and that's when the plane just took a dive.

MUNTEAN: Boeing says it is standing by to help investigate the incident. The latest involving a Boeing plane following the Alaska airlines door plug blowout in January, a wheel falling off a United flight last week, and hydraulic fluid traveling from another United flight during takeoff from Sydney this week.

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: People are pretty wary of Boeing right now. And when anything happens on a Boeing, people want to know.

MUNTEAN: Though, there was no clear link between each incident, Boeing remains under the microscope of federal investigator. The Federal Aviation Administration now says it has completed its review of the 737 production line with "The New York Times" reporting Boeing failed 33 of 89 quality control audits. MICHAEL WHITAKER, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: It wasn't just paperwork issues

and sometimes it's ordered that work is done. Sometimes it's tool management at it sounds kind of pedestrian, but it's really important in a factory that you have a way of tracking your tools effectively, so that you have the right tool and you know, you didn't leave it behind.

MUNTEAN: FAA scrutiny follows anger from the National Transportation Safety Board, which blasted Boeing on Capitol Hill last week for failing to provide records that detailed the omission of key bolts from the Alaska Airlines plane. Boeing says those records do not exist.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We don't have the records. We don't have the names of the 25 people that is in charge of doing that work in that facility. It's absurd that two months later, we don't have that.


MUNTEAN (on camera): Wolf, you mentioned the National Transportation Safety Board just announced that rare public hearing on the Alaska Airlines door plug incident, these things have typically been reserved for things like the East Palestine rail disaster and the miracle on the Hudson. But this is the first such hearing to focus on an incident involving a 737 MAX. Boeing has not indicated how it will respond, but it is answering to the findings from the FAA's audit.

A new Boeing memo instructs workers to precisely follow every step one building airplanes, the pressure is on from the top all the way down to the factory floor at Boeing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Clearly, that pressure is needed.

Pete Muntean, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we'll have a live report from Uvalde, Texas, the police chief abruptly resigning as the city council preps to reject a report, clearing officers of wrongdoing in the 2022 mass shootings.



BLITZER: We're following surprising developments out of Uvalde, Texas, tonight. The police chief there abruptly resigning after a report commissioned by the city cleared local officers of wrongdoing during the 2022 elementary school massacre.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in Uvalde for us.

Shimon, give us the context behind this resignation.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly came as a surprise, Wolf. No one was expecting this today. This is the police department, the city's police department's chief. He actually was not here on the day of the horrific shooting. He was on vacation at the time, but this was still his police department.

And so when this report came out last week, essentially clearing these officers, he took a lot of heat from the family members. He was actually supposed to be here today to answer some questions, to possibly make a presentation to the city council where I am here tonight.

He's not here. His deputy chief is here. It's unclear if he will speak, but certainly the families have a lot of questions for him. This is all happening as really this community is just reeling from what happened here last week, I got a chance to speak with the former mayor of Uvalde, who wanted this investigation when he was mayor, talking about just how horrific to hear those words from that investigator and what it did to this community.

Take a listen.


DON MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER UVALDE MAYOR: Well, it ripped, they ripped the wound wide open again, instead of -- instead of a terrorists, its torn, it's gushed wide open now. I mean, we've got were right back -- that we've got to -- we've got to reestablish trust again, we've got to reestablish a deal there.

And I mean, I believe this council will but I -- you know, I think there's a question of mistrust with this report. How painful is that to see.

PROKUPECZ: How painful is that to see?

MCLAUGHLIN: Pretty painful.


PROKUPECZ: And so, Wolf, now, that's a big question. What will they do? Will the city council work to reject this report? That is something the families want, so we sang by enemy, see what happens here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.

Finally, tonight, some very sad news. The IDF announcing the death of dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Itay Chen. Itay was previously believed to be alive and being held hostage in Gaza, but Israel now says he was killed during the October 7th attack.

Earlier this year, Itay's parents join me in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about the agonizing wait for news about their son.


RUBY CHEN, FATHER OF ITAY CHEN: We had last contacts with him October 7 in the morning, where he said that place that he was at was on the attack. After a few hours when we were unable to reach him, we understood it was a bit different. We started seeing the news videos coming out and he was initially identified as missing an action, meaning nobody knew where it was.

HAGIT CHEN, MOTHER OF ITAY CHEN: He should be home. My message is, it's enough. We suffered enough. We -- all the families, all the 136 hostages, the families suffer enough and we cannot handle this situation anymore.


BLITZER: We want to send our deepest condolences to Itay's loved ones. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.