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tv   Inside Politics With John King  CNN  May 30, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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hello. welcome to a special edition of "inside politics." i'm phil mattingly in washington. john king is off today. it is memorial day. any moment over the course of the next hour, we are expecting president biden to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the arlington national cemetery joined by the
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chairman of the joint chiefs. together they will honor the fallen service members who have died serving the united states of america. the backdrop of a country paying tribute is a country in mourning. 19 children, two teachers killed in texas. the deadliest school shooting since newtown. families, students and an entire community seized by the visceral pain of an unthinkable tragedy. funeral services begin today for victims of the school shooting in uvalde. the funeral homes are so overwhelmed, it will take weeks to bury all 21 victims and now the justice department announced it will review law enforcement's response to that mass shooting. and we want to start in uvalde with adrian on the ground there. adrian, the funeral services are starting today for two ten-year-old victims. tell us about them and what you're seeing on the ground right now. >> well, i'll start with the victims. we are learning so much about them.
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we've learn amerie had a heart of gold. his father knows she died trying to save her classmate. she used a cell phone she received for her 10th birthday earlier this month to call 9-1-1. there's a photo of her paired with her obituary which is online. she's wearing a beautiful violet dress, but her family says they're sweet, fun, loving, sassy diva hated dresses but loved meals from chick-fil-a. her favorite drink was from starbucks, the vanilla bean frappuccino which doesn't have coffee. her classmate may day rodriguez. the mango dragon. maite's mother said her daughter was competitive, especially when it came to physical education,
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and she was ambitious. already she knew she wanted to become as a fourth grader, a marine biologist, and she had her eyes set on going to college to study that. she was an honor roll student, and not only was she competitive and ambitious, but she was a self-starter. she learned how to sew all by herself, her mom says, with the help of youtube university. both of these families had been wrapped in love. we've seen a legion of support here at the town square. behind me, you see folks have gathered. they're placing balloons, stuffed animals and flowers on the memorial. we've seen people over the last two days show up at this site before sun rise, and amid the grief, there's so much beauty when you walk up, you can see the candles glowing. when we've arrived, we've seen people kneeling and praying and the candles, most of them
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scented, have this beautiful smell, and it's almost soothing for this community in deep sorrow. >> deep sorrow indeed. i can't fathom as a parent writing an obituary for your child. i want to turn to paula reed with more on the justice department's investigation. paula, everyone is trying to figure out where this goes next. what do we know about how this investigation will unfold? >> well, the outset, the most important thing is this is not a criminal investigation. this is an after action review requested by the city's mayor. the justice department come in, look at what happened here, and produce a report, analyzing what went wrong and also establishing a best practices going forward. the sad fact is we expect other active shooter incidences like this at schools. at this point the city really needs the credibility of the justice department here for them to come in and objectively gather evidence and analyze exactly what happened here.
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in a statement the justice department said the goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day and to identify the lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events. the justice department has done similar reviews of how police responded to the terrorist attack in san bernardino as well as the pulse nightclub shooting. after they analyze all of this evidence, they will produce a report, again, with the recommendations for other law enforcement agencies? >> i think it's a great point to point out in the details what this is and what this isn't. for broadly, i think as everybody tried to grapple with the timeline we saw last week, is there a possibility at some point that the officers who chose not to go into the school could be faced with some type of negligence charges, child neglect charges, something along those lines? >> at this point, based on the evidence that we have, it's not clear. certainly there's always a possibility if during the reveal, even though it's not a
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criminal investigation, if they uncover criminal conduct, they will pass that along to prosecutors. but we know charging officers, law enforcement officials for things they do in the course of their official duty, it's a very high bar which is why those kind of charges are rare. now, we did see in parkland, we saw that a broward county sheriff's deputy working as a school resource officer, he was ultimately charged with child neglect and negligence, but that's a novel case. and there are a lot of legal scholars out there who question whether he actually had a duty to respond, whether he should have been criminally charged. again, it's a great question. it's an open question at this point in this investigation. we're just not there. we don't have all the facts yet. >> yeah. so much more to come. paula reed, thank you so much. joining me now is charles ramsay, the former washington d.c. police chief and former philadelphia police commissioner. commissioner ramsay, i want to start kind of where paula was in terms of the timeline here. i want to pull up the timeline.
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we've all been poring over it in disbelief over the course of the last several days. i think when you look at when the suspect enters the school versus when 9-1-1 calls start to come in, you know there are officers standing outside that are not going into the school. the first thing i've been trying to figure out, explain how this should work. does the 9-1-1 dispatcher relay these directly to the police? what are the lines of communication here? >> thanks. first, active shooter training officers are taught that in a situation where you have an active shooter, you don't wait. you go in. even if it's just one officer preferably, it's two, three, even four to go in and to move toward where the gunman is. that means even passing up people who may be injured as a result of the shooting. you have to stop the shooter. period. you can't wait, because while you're waiting, other lives are being lost.
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people are plbleeding to death, and that's what you're trained in an active shooter type scenario. there's still a lot of unanswered questions in this particular case. you mentioned one. the dispatch. a lot of information was coming into dispatch from some of the kids in the classroom. was that information being relayed to the on scene commander? i don't know the answer to that. but that is a big question mark as to why he chose to wait an hour, over an hour before making entry into that classroom. it doesn't make any sense. tactically or just any other way, doesn't make any sense. to wait that long to make entry. that's why this investigation is going to be so critical. >> yeah, and i think one of the reasons i think the horrific reality that everybody has been trying to get their heads around is the possibility that there were still children alive who may not have been when police finally entered, and this is what texas state senator gutierrez told cnn sunday about how he believes the delay of law
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enforcement cost lives. take a listen. >> did that delay cost lives, cost children lives? >> i sat down with a set of -- a family yesterday. mom told me that her child had been shot by one bullet through the back, through the kidney area. the first responder that they eventually talked to said their child likely bled out. in that span of 30 or 40 minutes extra, that little girl might have lived. that little girl might have lived. so absolutely. these mistakes may have led to the passing away of these children as well. >> and again, i think that's kind of the nightmare scenario. people are trying to work through. do you believe at this point that the transcripts or recordings of radio communication and communication with the dispatcher need to be released as people look for transparency? >> well, i think as much should be released that can be released
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without compromising the investigation. i don't know if there was video inside the school or not. i'm personally, i think that as much as possible should be released. again, without compromising the investigation. again, this is a very serious matter. we have to get to the bottom of it. we have to get to the bottom of it very quickly to find out what actually took place. but as far as the injuries sustained by many of these children, i mean, i don't think people realize just how devastating the injuries from an assault weapon are. that's an adult. imagine what it must look like in a child. so the quicker you get them to a trauma center, the better off you're going to be. in fact, in philadelphia just with shootings we have on the street, police don't wait for an ambulance. they put the victim in the backseat of the patrol car and get straight to the hospital. why? because people are literally bleeding to death waiting for an ambulance to arrive. that's how critical seconds
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count. and so you can't wait. you cannot wait. >> and i think that's my last question which is we know when there was finally a breach of the door, we heard from the same texas state senator that the officers that did enter did it in frustration, not because they received an order. this is what he said. >> do you know if when they finally decided to go in, was that a decision made by the school police force chief? >> what's been made clear to me is at that point the team that went in in frustration said we're going in. >> so that's a no? >> that's a no. >> i cannot get my head around this. what does it tell you that at least according to this state senator the cbp team that went in, went in without being told to do so because they were frustrated by how the police were operating on the ground? >> well, i wish they had done it an hour earlier, to be honest.
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it comes to a point where you have to do what you have to do. apparently whoever it was that was in charge on the scene, and it's not uncommon, there are a lot of people that cannot make decisions under stress and pressure. they should never be in a position where they have to actually on the ground tactically oversee an operation. and sometimes you don't know that until it's too late. that's why it's important to find out who can make a decision. maybe this person is somebody who just should never have been there and never been in charge. thank god they did make entry eventually, but that should have happened, you know, 50 minutes earlier. >> the training play book is very clear here. commissioner ram csay, thank yo. coming up, president biden lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. plus the president talked gun reform this morning after multiple mass shootings including at robb elementary school in texas.
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mine is popcorn. mine is broccoli. ok, we can't be friends anymore. download the weightwatcher's app today for a 14 day free trial. brand new this morning, president biden says he has yet to begin negotiations with republicans on gun reform. you just saw pictures of what we're waiting for from the president. he's just arrived at arlington national cemetery and will soon be laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. today is memorial day, so we're juggling a couple of things here. the keynote from the president is that he hopes that last week's massacre at the texas elementary school that left 19 children, two teachers dead will motivate some in the gop to take action. the president recognized there are limits to his presidential power. take a listen. >> the constitution.
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i can do things i've done, and i can -- i can't outlaw a weapon. i can't change the background check. i can't do that. i think that the realization on the part of rational republicans, and i consider mcconnell a rational republican, i think concern cornyn as well. i think there's a recognition on their part that we can't continue like this. and now we have our panel here. it was the president's comments about rational republicans putting mcconnell in that category, john cornyn who is running point for republicans in that category as well. what's your sense of things? the president has long side he's going to be the one to make the fever break. the republican party was going
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to change with him as president. the idea that rational republicans will be coming to the table right now. what's your read on that? >> i remember seeing him saying we will to those family members yesterday. right? we will get something done. and you probably know, the reporter on me wants to follow up how and when, and who are you going to talk to? he's been talking about since the presidential campaign about how he can unite the country. how he can reach out to rational republicans. maybe he used different words, but there's really no real sense coming from the white house of exactly how he's going to do it or whether he's going to have an active role in it. >> and active role. first i want to play what you point to. yesterday the president was in uvalde. he was meeting with families, an incredibly difficult moment for any leader, my president. president obama did something similar in sandy hook. it was this moment that stood out to everybody. watch this.
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that powerful moment, a poignant moment, and yet, i'm not sure it's a moment that will be born out by reality, particularly when the president also said this morning he hasn't had any conversations with republicans up to this point. rachel, my sense is that intentionally. they want to let this breathe and give it some space. what's your read on things in talking to your sources? >> biden is in a tricky spot. he wants something to happen and he could potentially use the bully pulpit to try to shame congress, shame republicans into doing something, but doing that won't necessarily help given his poll numbers. he's not exactly a popular president right now. we're just a few months out from the midterms. so how much sway does he really have to try to fulfill that promise of we will get something done? i mean, i know there's a lot of positive talk right now on capitol hill. you have people like senator murphy from connecticut who has been the number one gun restriction advocate on capitol hill leading the talks and been reaching out to some republicans, but they need ten
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republicans on any proposal to pass the senate, and the reality is a lot of times when these tragedies happen, people spend the next few weeks talking about proposals, reforms, and then nothing happens. and people sort of the story moves on. nothing gets done. we've seen it happen over and over again. phil, you've seen it on the hill. it's really an uphill battle for them. >> you don't want to be cynical. and i think the talks are real. we have something from senator murphy, but i want to focus on sound from crenshaw. this is what senator murphy and his democrats on his side and even the republicans in the room that group of nine that are negotiating in the senate are facing on the republican side of things. watch this. >> do you expand it? do you make a universal background check? >> no. people have to understand what universal background checks mean. that means that i can no longer sell a gun to my friend. >> should you be 21 to buy a
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gun? >> i think the question we have to ask is should 21 be the age you're an adult? what happens when we see a 22-year-old commit an atrocity, are we going to raise it again? >> same interview he laid out a litany of issues as red flag laws as one of the primary things people think is on the table. thread this needle for me. how do you get this done if you're a republican who wants to do something and a democrat who has been wanting to do something? >> it's interesting. you said you don't want to be cynical about this process. but having covered this debate for so long, how could you be anything but cynical? after sandy hook, so many of us thought well, this will be the time that there's some sort of common ground that we discover that allows some sort of regulation to prevent this tragedy from happening over and over again. and it has happened over and over again. and so then you have someone like dan crenshaw who i think
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most people put in the category joe biden was talking about. it's a vague term we can't really nail down on. and here's a guy who repeatedly asked over and over again, what regulations, what changes are you open to, and basically rejected almost every single one of them. so you say you don't want to be cynical. how could you be anything but cynical because you have a republican party that is basically in a situation here where they do not want to even peek open the door to any type of regulation when it comes to gun laws. so it's gun, we're in the space where there's just no room for negotiation if you're unwilling to find that common ground. >> quick? >> to follow up on who dan crenshaw is. this is a guy who has not been afraid to push back on donald trump and stood up to the extremes of his own party, gone after marjorie dtaylor greene. he's from a swing district. if you can't get someone like that on red flag laws, where they're talking on capitol hill. >> they did on florida under
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then governor rick scott in the wake of parkland. >> right. and you would think there would be more republicans comfortable with that, but if he's showing skepticism, i mean, that shows the uphill battle right there. >> it's going to be fascinating to watch. the president talks about changing the dynamic. others ri more people are interested in this than in sandy hook, yet, post sandy hook nothing happened. we're still waiting for president bide ton lay the wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. we'll be right back. its revolutionary rollerball design delivers fast,, powerful, long-lasting pain relief. aleve it, and see what's possible.e.
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moments ago president biden laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at arlington national cemetery. we're awaiting the president's remarks honoring the fallen soldiers. we'll bring that live when it happens. at the same time, the country is in mourning. the 19 children, two adults killed in a school shooting in texas. there are at least 17 others wounded including children. "the washington post" reports that more than 360 kids and adults have been injured by gun
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violence at school since 1999. but for the thousands of kids who weren't physically injured, there are unseen wounds that will stay with them for years, eve an lifetime. an enterprise reporter for the washington post is with us, also the author of the dook "children under fire, an american crisis". he's reported on the harrowing story of kids, some of them grown up, who are dealing with having survived a school shooting. john, welcome. your series back in 2018 keyed me in on this. you're focusing on the victims as you should, and those wounded as you should, but not what happens after that to everyone else. i think for all the kids and adults who survived the shooting in uvalde, what are they going through based on your research on this issue? >> it's a huge range of trauma the kids are going through. some of them are going to be
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incapable of being alone. of even being able to use a shower or go to the bathroom by themselves, sleep alone. that can often last for months or even years. others have been feeling guilty because they survived, and their friend didn't. certainly in this case where kids were in the classroom for an hour plus, in some cases playing dead, and then years from now, decades from now, a lot of them will still be keeling with either the trauma they are now or other trauma because it can evolve over time. it's very difficult for mental health experts to predict who is going to have a hard time and who is going to have a hard time in the beginning and who is going to have a hard time down the road. but there will be hundreds and hundreds of children who are victims and who will suffer for a long time because of what happened in texas. >> and that's actually what i
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wanted to ask you about next. you had a piece over the weekend. one of the people you talked to and about in the article is samantha, columbine survivor who became a counselor herself, even though she was not shot or -- and did not witness a killing. you talk about her nightmare is at one point, quote, always being chased. lingered for years but she didn't think she deserved help. not when classmates witnessed the carnage firsthand. in your research, is it a common theme for survivors that they don't think they need help or they have other forms of survivor's guilt? >> absolutely. that's true. i knew children who have interviewed as young as six who are dealing with survivor's guilt who think they shouldn't feel bad for what they went through because they couldn't save somebody else. and samantha is 40. she turned 40 the day after the shooting in texas. and she couldn't even look it up. she didn't want to know.
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she couldn't look past the headlines. she knew it would take her back to that day. she still wrestles with the feelings of guilt because she lost one of her dear friends. she survived. the thinking is somebody always had it worse than me. someone is gone. so why should i need help? and collectively, in the society, we need to help people understand that it's okay to get help. there is sometimes this uvalde strong parkland strong sandy hook strong, and that's an important message to send, but it also can't force people to say you need to get over it on our timetable. because they can take some of the people literally years to process their grief. >> what is it -- you make a great point here. i think part of the issue with current society, current use cycles is that everybody moves on and you forget to some degree or it just becomes a hash tag or something that comes up the next time there's a shooting. for the survivors, there are
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physical manifestations of the trauma and grief that continued later in their lives. you talk about panic attacks triggered by loud noises. you talked about what samantha was dealing with. when you talk to folks, talk about what kind of reactions their feeling years later. generally not even when they're seeing another shooting on television. >> sure. yes, so i interviewed this past week three girls who survived sandy hook. we're a decade out from that now, and one young woman in particular is 18 now. and tuesday had already been a difficult day for her even before she found out. this is a perfect example of what these people live with. she works at an ice cream shop with another girl who is a survivor. this woman was in third grade when sandy hook happened. they were passing pints of ice cream to each other, and someone else dropped a box, and for this young woman, it took her right back, because it sounded like a gunshot. in her mind, it sounded like a
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gunshot. she started hyper ventilating and trembling. it took her a couple minutes. no one else knew what she was going through, but she had to deal with that in her day-to-day life. an hour later she has texts and voice mails from people saying this is what's happened in texas and she spirals. so every day sort of haunting and trauma, that lasts for a very, very long time. and the younger that these kids experience it, often the harder it is to recover from, because it is such a life shattering thing. teenagers know that many adults can't keep them safe. if you're in the fourth grade as the kids in uvalde were, that's not what they think. they think teachers, parents, police, those kids think generally that somebody can keep them safe and suddenly they realize that's not true at all. >> yeah. shattering innocence, real life. we could talk about this for a full hour, john. i appreciate you taking the
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time. the took is children under fire an american crisis. you should read it. it's worth your time. john has a great piece in the washington post if you would like to offer support for those involved in the texas school shooting, go to cnn.com/impact and find several days to help the uvalde community. john, thank you so much. ahead, we're waiting on the president to make remarks honoring the nation's fallen heros. we'll bring that to you live.
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donald trump doesn't seem like he's moved on after suffering whippings in dpa georgia with his primary candidates he endorsed. the former candidate is turning his attention to wyoming where he's calling that house race the most important election of the cycle. liz cheney is fighting off a trump-backed primary challenger. cheney obviously an outspoken and unwavering trump critic currently investigating the january 6th insurrection, framing the race as a referendum on truth and the rule of law. you'll be surprised to learn trump has a different take. >> there is no rino in america who has thrown in her lot with the radical left more than liz cheney. and it's why in two months from now the people of wyoming are going to tell her liz, you're fired. get out of here. get out of here.
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>> it's much more important than -- this is a symbol. >> he's not wrong on that. this is symbolic. there's perhaps been no more outspoken republican than liz cheney. he's not backed down in any way, shape, or form. in fact, this is what she just recently said. take a listen. >> i know something is wrong, and i will say so. i won't waiver or back down. i won't surrender to pressure or intimidation. i know where to draw the line, and i know that some things aren't for sale. i'm asking you to join me, to reject the lies, to rise above the toxic politics, to defend our freedom, to do what we all know is right. >> so is that a winning message or winning campaign ad in this case, where the president -- >> crystal ball me. i hate that, but look at the
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last 44 years. that was when dick cheney had his first run. somebody named cheney has not lost in wyoming ever. it's going to be extremely difficult for a trump-backed candidate, i feel, to evercome that huge hill of just the cheney name. we've already seen it. you said earlier that trump's candidates are -- some have been walloped. some are in recounts. it's just not the golden ticket that it was anymore. >> i feel like this race might be the definitive referendum on whether or not the future of the republican party is holding onto the 2020 loss. right? i mean, what trump tried to do is force every one of the primary candidates that he's back to get on board with this idea that the 20 20 election was stolen. say it's the most important issue on the ballot. he did that with moe brooks. that's the reason he didn't back the candidates in georgia. you've seen the candidates that lost trump support have found a
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way to say, i just don't want to talk about that. i want to talk about republican policies. brian kemp never once criticized trump for saying the election was stolen. in fact, he embraced his policies and said they have a different philosophy. in this race in wyoming, which is a republican state, you have liz cheney going all in on the idea that saying the election was stolen is a bad idea and a threat the our democracy, and a trump-backed opponent who says the opposite. ri i feel like it's a true referendum on that topic. >> in spite of the cheney name there, which is powerful, you go to wyoming and see a lot of buildings named after dick cheney and so and so park named after somebody in the cheney family. despite that name, if he can't win here, then people are really going to be questioning his power even more. i mean, this is a time obviously he had losses in georgia. he's had three governor's candidates that he's backed and put some money behind, and has seen losses. if he can't get out cheney,
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which a lot of the republicans right now have rejected because she continues to criticize the former president, that's going to be a big problem for him, and so it kind of feels like he's regrouping in wyoming to say this is the most important race, because perhaps that should be the place where he should be most successful. and yet, if we come to august and cheney is still standing, man, that's going to be such a huge hit. >> it would nay palm his power in terms of the party. look. i think you made a great point. wyoming is different than georgia. cheney is different than kemp. look at what happened in georgia. i want to pull up the two top three kind of candidates where trump backed the other side of who won. kemp had 74%. raffensperger ton by 52 points. this is how trump framed things. >> we're sweeping everything,
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and we did great in georgia. you look at the races. all the congress people, we swept everything. >> no, you didn't. you literally did not this. but my point being, i think we have thirty-seconds later, but the bigger picture of things. georgia happened. it's not wyoming. where does the former president stand at this moment inside the party? >> yeah. i think we're seeing one of the big questions that happened after 2020 was what happens to trump, what happens to trumpism, and what we're seeing is if not the erosion of trumpism, we're seeing sort of it becoming more like swiss cheese. it's not a golden ticket or automatic and people have legitimate questions about whether they can win just by having donald trump's backing. >> it's going to be an interesting several months ahead as it has been an interesting five years. coming up ahead, families desperate to find essential nutrition as the nation's baby shortage formula continues.
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for state controller, only yiu will save taxpayers money. wait, who, me? me? no, not you. yvonne yiu. yvonne yiu. not me. good choice. for 25 years, yiu worked as an executive at top financial firms. managed hundreds of audits. as mayor, she saved taxpayers over $55 million. finding waste. saving money. because... yiu is for you. yiu is for you. exactly. yvonne yiu. democrat for controller. self-driving cars. our power grid. water treatment plants. hospital systems. they're all connected to the internet... and vladimir putin or a terrorist could cause them all to self-destruct... a cyber 9-11 that would destroy our country. i'm dan o'dowd and i wrote the software that keeps our air defenses secure.
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i approved this message because i need your vote for u.s. senate to send a message... congress needs to fix this. we're aawaiting president biden's remarks at the arlington cem cemetery. first, necessarily says tens of thousands of pounds of formula should be hitting store shelves soon. that's promising news as retailers across the country are
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either low on supply or fresh out of formula. elizabeth cohen joins us now. everyone is watching this. where do things stand right now? >> everyone is watching this. parents so desperate. i want to be clear that this shipment that's going to hit store shelves soon hopefully, it's a relatively small amount compared to parent who is need formula, but let's look at that. tens of thousands of pounds of necessarily formula sent to stores this weekend. it's a little unclear when that will appear on shelves. what stores it went to, we haven't been told that yet. also the fda has announced they're allowing an australian company called bubs to export enough milk for 27.5 million eight ounce bottles. that's a huge amount. it's way more than the two shipments together. when that happens, that will be a lot, but right now they just have permission to do it. no one is talking about a date
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when they will do it. and half a million cans of dannen formula expected to reach u.s. parents in the first half of july. so if you take a look at these images, phil, these are from new york city store shelves that we at cnn snapped the pictures yesterday. you will see that they are still largely empty. so all of these efforts, hopefully will come to fruition and will start filling up shelves, but right now parents really aren't seeing the effects. >> yeah. and the stress is real. i have an eight week old. i can vouch for that stress. you spoke to a few moms pumping their own breast milk to help desperate moms find things. how are they feeling right now? >> these moms are amazing, phil. they are pumping -- >> elizabeth, i have to interrupt you. president biden is now speaking at arlington national cemetery commemorating memorial day. >> glory and honor, and quiet
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rows in arlington, in cemeteries in europe that i visited, many graves across our country, in towns large and small. america's beloved daughters and sons who dared all, risked all, and gave all to preserve and defend an idea unlike any other in human history. the idea of the united states of america. and today as a nation, we are take to take a sacred ritual to reflect and remember, because if we forget, the lives of each of those solemn markers represent, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, if we forget what they sacrificed, what they made so that our nation might endure strong, free and united, then we forget who we are, who
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we are. ladies and gentlemen, our first lady, the love of my life, jill, vice president harris, the second gentleman, secretary austin, general milley, joint chiefs of staff, cabinet members, gold star families most importantly, and survivors. today we renew our sacred vow, it's a simple vow. to remember. to remember. memorial day is always a day where pain and pride are mixed together. we all know it sitting here. jill and i know it. today's the day our son died. folks, for those who have lost a loved one, and the service of our country, if your loved one is missing, or unaccounted for,
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i know the ceremony's reopen that black hole in the center of your chest. it pulls you in. suffocates you. i said seven years ago today, our son major beau biden took his last breaths at walter reed. the army national guard, he insisted on deploying to iraq with his unit. came home a decorated soldier, bronze star, legion of merit, he didn't die in the line of duty. he came home from iraq with cancer. it was horrific cancer that stole us from him. and him from us. but still, but it always feels to me on memorial day, i see him. not as he was the last time i held his hand, but the day i pinned his bars on him as a second lieutenant.
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i see him with me down at the delaware memorial bridge hugging the gold star families. days like this bring back before your eyes their smile and their laugh. the last conversation you had. each of you know it. the hurt can be overwhelming. but for so many of you, as is with jill and me, the hurt is wrapped around the knowledge that your loved one was part of something bigger than any of us. they chose a life of purpose. it sounds corny like a memorial day speech, but i mean it from the bottom of my speech. they chose a life of purpose. they had a mission. above all, they believed in duty. they believed in honor. they believed in their country. and still today we are free
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because they were brave. we live by the light of a flame of liberty that they kept burning. and so part of them is still with us no matter how long ago we lost them. as hard as it is for many to believe, especially those whose loss is still raw, i promise you the day will come then the memory of your loved one, your patriot, will bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. that's when you know you're going to make it. today american service members stand watch around the world, and as many of you know, often at great personal risk, and this memorial day, we know the memory is still painful of all the
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fallen who lost their lives during the last two decades in combat. each of them leave behind a family, a community, hearts broken by their absence, and lives that will never be the same. we have seen the hundreds of graves here in section 60 at arlington, reminder that there's nothing low risk or low cost about war for the women and men who fight it. 7,054 american military members gave their lives over 20 years of our iraq and afghan conflicts. i'm told others died of injuries and illness connected to their service and these wars. and the enduring grief born by the survivors is the cost of war that will carry a nation
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forever. and so to every gold star family, to every survivor, and family member and care giver, this grateful nation owes you as well as the person you lost. we can never repay the sacrifice, but we will never stop trying. we'll never fail in our duty to remember with their lives, they bought our freedom. and so with our lives, we must always live up to their example, putting service before self, caring for our neighbors as ourself, working fervently to bring our union just that much closer to fulfilling the founting creed as the secretary said that all women and men are created equal. i've often said that as a nation we have many obligations. but the only one that is

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