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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  July 7, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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-- captions by vitac -- hello, everyone, i'm alisyn camerota, welcome to "cnn newsroom." victor is off today. two big stories we're following in hour. british prime minister boris johnson has resigned. this follows a mutiny inside his own government. more than 55 of his colleagues quit in protest of his behavior and leadership. and here in the u.s., the father of the shooter who killed seven people and wounded more than 30 at that fourth of july parade is breaking his silence. robert crimo jr. told the "new york post" he is furious and
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wants a long sentence for his son. he claims he did not see a lot of signs of his son's troubles, but police reports prove otherwise. but first, moments from now, president biden will present the medal of freedom, the highest civilian honor, to 17 recipients. the prestigious list includes olympians, actors, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and the first american to receive the covid vaccine. cnn's phil mattingly joins us now from the white house. what do we expect from today's ceremony? >> reporter: it's a buoyant moment to some degree. this is a particularly difficult moment for this white house, but the opportunity to present the highest civilian honor to an array of individuals from former lawmakers, olympic athletes, civil rights kind of people at the highest level of the civil rights movement, is something i think the president enjoys and i think the white house looks forward to, to some degree. yes, there are definitely
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celebrities here. denzel washington will be sitting in one of those chairs, simone biles, megan rapinoe, the famous soccer player, gold medal, world cups, lgbtq advocate as well, will be there but i think when you go up and down the list, you also see some of president biden's former colleagues, john mccain will be awarded the medal of freedom posthumously. his wife, cindy mccain, i ran into her earlier today, alan simpson, gabby giffords, the former member of the house who was attacked and shot and has been a huge advocate when it comes to gun safety so i think this is a moment as the white house framed it, it's a group of individuals that show the possibilities of the country, those who have shown perseverance, hard work, and have succeeded despite in some cases being against all odds. that is kind of the point the president wants to make today and this is a group of individuals that is absolutely distinguished, and i think absolutely deserving of an honor that many presidents have given over the course of their times in office, alisyn. >> well, it will be really nice to have this inspirational
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moment, so we'll be taking that live when it happens. phil mattingly, thank you very much. now to the uk. after losing his party's confidence to lead that country, boris johnson gave a resignation speech that was largely unapoll j jettic from one of the most controversial prime ministers in the nation's history. johnson was embroiled in a slew of scandals and in just the last 48 hours, more than 55 officials quit his conservative party. cnn's bianca nobilo joins us live from london. so, bianca, johnson was defiant about stepping down this time yesterday. then what happened? >> reporter: defiant almost inexplicably. that level of opposition, that cascade of resignations, all of the public polls showing that all voters and conservative voters wanted him to step down, then his communications chief said that he was buoyant last night and ready to fight on. so, as you say, there was a clear shift. what happened? well, mps i've been speaking to today have said that he had not one but maybe two conversations with the queen, which may have
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helped stabilize his thinking, changed his mind, and when he woke up this morning, he was in a very different place. apparently, those who know him well say that it was his instinct to try to fight on, fight another day, to dig in when he felt under threat. he kept saying again and again that he felt he had a mandate to deliver on, harking back to the 2019 election but things have really changed since then. all those scandals and his public roapproval evaporating. we saw a speech that was characteristic of the man, speaking about how it affected him personally but expressing no remorse. let's take a listen. >> i'm immensely proud of the achievements of this government from getting brexit done to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century. being prime minister is an education in itself. i've traveled to every part of the united kingdom and in addition to the beauty of our
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natural world, i've found so many people possessed of such boundless british originality and so willing to tackle old problems in new ways. that i know that even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden. >> reporter: some of that optimism that he is famous for, but in large part, a departure from the boris johnson we know. no bombast, no jokes, no rhetoric. it was a man seemingly bowed, finally, the political gravity winning over all. >> so, bianca, what happens now? who's going to replace him? >> reporter: that's a big question that everyone here in westminster is talking about. and it's quite a potentially protracted and complicated process. essentially, mps from his party will put forward their names if they want a shot at prime minister. then the members of the parliamentary party will whittle them down to two. then, that goes to the general public who are members of the
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conservative party. that's around 200,000 brits. according to their latest poll, the favorite among the membership to take over is the current secretary of state for defense, that's ben wallace. he's someone who's been lauded for his handling of the crisis in ukraine, considered to be a very serious candidate who appeals to both wings of the party. he's also obviously been in touch a lot with the u.s. administration, particularly over that chaotic fall of kabul last year. in terms of other runners and riders, we have the former chancellor who was tipped to be the favorite to take over a few months ago before he got embroiled in his own scandals that affected his wife too. but it's possible that he can charge forward again and be one of the front runners. there's also penny mordaunt, who's been on a few reality shows, is satid to have a lot o charisma and really appeals to the right wing of the conservative party too, as well as sajid javid whose resignation
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about 48 hours ago precipitated this crisis and the prime minister's resignation. he's the son after a muslim immigrant, pakistani bus driver, and a very different type of tory prime minister than the ones we're used to. but the field is wide open at this stage, and these contests are usually deeply unpredictable. >> bianca nobilo, thank you very much for explaining all of that. in a statement to cnn, president biden says he looks forward to continuing america's cooperation with the uk on a range of priorities, including ukraine. saying, "the united kingdom and the united states are the closest of friends and allies and the special relationship between our people remains strong and enduring." with us now is nic robertson and yasmin sirhan from the "atlantic." why this week things sped up so quickly? >> yeah, deputy chief whip, chris pincher, was found to have
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sexually assaulted two people over the weekend. the prime minister had initially said that he didn't have a recollection of being told when he appointed chris pincher that chris pincher actually had a track record of such assaults. the prime minister had to change his position on that as more information came to light, because a former government officials made the public aware of that information by releasing letters. the prime minister then was put on the spot, had already allowed a cabinet member to go out and sort of back up his earlier claims, and that led to that feeling within the cabinet that the prime minister couldn't be trusted, that his integrity -- that his lack of integrity would put cabinet members at risk of lying to the public, so that really was the end of a litany of scandals. i mean, not least and last was the partygate scandal when the prime minister was actually fined by the police for having attended a party here at downing
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street during covid lockdown when restrictions his government had put on the public were in place limiting these sorts of events, and he broke the rules and broke the law at the same time. so, really, the latitude that the party had given him when they took him on as leader because he was such a great vote winner, if you will, and he proved that in an election in december 2019, that all of that charisma and willingness and desire to please people ultimately turned against him, and he failed to deliver, and he let people down, and that was boris johnson's track record coming into office, and that's why, ultimately, this all turned against him. >> really interesting to hear all of that, and so, i mean, just help us in the u.s. understand this. so, there's this popular leader who engages in bad behavior, and breaks the rules, and then members of his own party get disgusted and oust him. you know, that rings a bell, but
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it's not how it works here in the u.s. and so, what does this tell us about how the uk operates and the politicians there? >> yeah, absolutely. i mean, you pretty much captured it, but there is definitely an innate desire, i think, on both sides of the atlantic to compare britain to the u.s., the u.s. to britain, but as you said, this is a very different system and although boris johnson did win a majority in 2019 and although he was seen as very popular in a lot of respects vis-a-vis his work with ukraine, the vaccine relyout, all these things, at the end of the day, the prime minister doesn't just need the support of the people to lead. he also needs the confidence of his colleagues, his fellow conservative members, and his cabinet, ultimately. when those people start to turn on him, and the polls indicate their jobs might be at risk if he carries on being leader, then people start to think, well, maybe we need someone new. and that's ultimately what happened here. it is a very different system to
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the u.s.. as we can see, there is no election. there isn't necessarily going to be a general election after this. all that depends on who the next leader is. but yeah, what's kicked off here is very much a parliamentary system, and just to pick up on one point that bianca made that i think is very important, the next conservative leader is going to ultimately be decided by a selectorate of conservative party members around the country, about 200,000 people, less than 1% of the population. so if you think about it that way, this isn't necessarily representative 1% so it is a very different system to what we might be familiar with back home. >> fascinating to hear that. nic, what does this mean for u.s.-uk relations now as well as ukraine policy? >> boris johnson had sort of driven the party to the right. he came in wanting to deliver brexit. his appeal to that sort of right wing of the party that wanted brexit, and by definition, the party has moved to the right. i think in terms of relationships with the united
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states, it's sort of drilled into politicians here, into the psyche of the country, that we have a special relationship with the united states, that the key big things where we're allies on nato, the g-7 or the g20, we're allies, we're partners, we support each other, we see benefits in supporting the united states around the world. i don't think that's going to change. i think the candidates that are likely to win through in the process of electing a new prime minister would be very much of that ilk. ben wallace, the secretary of defense, i met him recently in finland where he was watching british and american troops, along with finnish troops, doing some training exercises. this is a minister who is well and truly imbued and believes in that special relationship and working together, nato being the umbrella for that, and supporting each other over ukraine. so i think in that way, you won't see a change. but i think tensions will exist over the issues in northern ireland. britain is passing laws to have essentially to renege on some of
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its brexit deals with the european union. that is causing tensions with the european union. president biden sides with the european union and ireland over this. and that is going to cause tensions with downing street. whoever takes office. because whoever takes office, again, is going to be on that harder line side of the party. that's where things stand at the moment, at least. so, the relationship, i don't think, will change hugely or significantly. the uk will be a dependable partner for the united states, but there are going to be troubling issues, and relations over what britain does in terms of that deal with the european union over northern ireland and the whole of brexit, that is probably going to continue to be problematic. >> yasmeen, i was interested in this tweet. this comes from tristan snell, a former assistant new york state attorney general and he said, "david cameron had to resign because of boris johnson. theresa may had to resign because of boris johnson, and
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now boris johnson had to resign because of boris johnson." and so what is his legacy? i mean, will he be seen as a disrupter or a wrecking ball, ultimately? >> my colleague, tom, had a great cover story in "the atlantic" last year that dubbed boris the minister of chaos, and i think that is how he's going to be remembered, chaos not just for all those prime ministers you named, but ultimately for his own government as well. i think boris johnson is going to be remembered as someone who was perhaps maybe not the best -- certainly not the best prime minister, some might arguably say the worst prime minister the country's had in some time, but undoubtedly the most consequential, especially when you look to what he did with brexit, getting that finished and done with, and then his leadership throughout the pandemic. whether there's going to be a johnsonism that we're going to see emerge in this leadership contest, i doubt. i think his style of politics is
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very particular to boris, and i don't know that the country's necessarily going to be looking for someone to emulate that in the way that people might think of trumpism and who the next sort of trumpian-like leader will be. so, without question, he's going to be leaving scars on the country. i think what's up for debate is whether they're particularly good ones. >> nic robertson, yasmeen serhan, great conversation, thank you very much. okay, back here, now to the father of the gunman who admitted to the mass murder in highland park on monday, according to police. robert crimo jr. reportedly defended sponsoring his son's 2019 application for a firearm's owner card, basically a gun license, saying he thought his son was using the weapon to go to a shooting range. police records show the gunman had attempted suicide months earlier and threatened the family. the father told the "new york post" his son bought everything on his own and they're
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registered to him. they make me like i groomed him to do all of this. i've been here my whole life, and i'm going to stay here, hold my head up high, because i didn't do anything wrong. cnn's josh campbell is in highland park for us. what did the father say about his son's past troubles? >> reporter: yeah, alisyn, you know, every new detail we're learning about this shooter paints a portrait of a very troubling person, and there were warning signs after warning signs as we look into the shooter's past. on the parents, there are issues that are being raised, the shooter himself. cnn has obtained several police records that show police contact after police contact at the residence of the shooter. most of those actually involving a domestic dispute between the shooter's parents, really showing a household in disarray, but we also see these police reports indicating that the suspect had attempted suicide. we're told by police that he was allegedly using a machete to try to do that. there are also police reports
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showing that he tried, allegedly, according to his family, to talk about killing members of his own family. so questions there. people might be wondering, why do we keep demanding answers to this? this community is demanding answers but also if there are parents out there wondering, how do i ensure this doesn't happen to my own kid? what are the signs to look out for? it's clear they were there. as you mentioned, one other major issue here is the role of the father. we know despite those reports of police going to the house, the shooter allegedly threatening to harm himself and his family, he was still able to lawfully obtain weapons, including the weapon that was used here in this parade massacre. we know that the father actually sponsored his license to obtain a firearm. now, his father spoke with abc news. he is denying any culpability, saying that he doesn't play a role here, but says that, you know, obviously, he's troubled by it. he wants to see his son go to jail for a long time. take a listen to that interview. >> i filled out the consent form to allow my son to go through the process. they do background checks,
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whatever that entails, this has taken us by complete surprise. three days before the fourth, my wife asked him, do you have any plans for the fourth? and he simply said, no. >> reporter: we reached out to the father and his family repeatedly. we haven't received comment but again, despite those claims there that he says he bears no responsibility, we still know based on our reporting, despite those questionable police encounters where the suspect was allegedly exhibiting signs of trying to harm himself and other people, somehow, inexplicably, three months later, the father sponsors an application. the suspect is able to get those weapons, and we now know what happened here. seven dead, dozens and dozens injured, alisyn. >> and we're going to talk to a state lawmaker later about how the red flag laws need to be changed or how they missed it. josh campbell, thank you very much. well, winba star brittney griner pleads guilty to drug charges in a russian courtroom. um, oh wow. um, the future is, uh, what's ahead of us.
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okay, let's go live now to the white house. this is the ceremony for the presidential medal of freedom, the highest civilian honor, and we will watch now. ♪ >> kazeer khan. sandra lindsey. ambassador cindy mccain, accepting on behalf of senator john mccain. richard trumka jr. accepting on behalf of richard trumka. megan rapinoe. diane nash.
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dr. juileta garcia. brigadier general wilma. fred gray. ambassador raul yzaguirre. and senator alan simpson . ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. ♪ ♪ >> please. please have a seat. good afternoon, and welcome to the white house. i know this is not a -- this is kind of an old place for some of the guys that are coming here,
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but thank you all very much, and to all the cabinet members, elected officials that are here, and former elected officials like joe lieberman and my good friend is here. so many critical people and important people. i want to thank the vice president, vice president harris, and second gentleman, for allowing us to join them. they're joining us. but it is always a pleasure when we get to hang out together. on monday, we celebrated the independence of our nation, a nation always a work in progress in creation of possibilities, the fulfillment of promises. that's the american story. it's not a simple one. it's never been a simple one, but the fourth of july week reminds us what brought us together long ago and still binds us, binds us at our best. we strive for -- what we strive for, we, the people, doing what we can to ensure the idea of america, a cause of freedom shines like the sun to light up
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the future of the world. that's the soul of our nation. that's who we are as americans. and that's what we see, an extraordinary, extraordinary group of americans up here on this stage that i have the honor to recognize today with the presidential medal of freedom, our nation's highest civilian award. simone biles is the most decorated american gymnast in history who everyone stops everything every time she was on camera. just to watch. just to see her. when we see her compete, we see unmatched power and determination, grace, and daring. a trailblazer and a role model. when she stands on the podium, we see what she is, absolute
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courage, turned personal pain into greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. today, she adds to her medal count of 32. i don't know where you're going to find room. 32 olympic and world championship medals. at age 25, the youngest person ever to receive the medal of freedom. yo youngest ever. so much more to give. a fellow elite athlete, megan rapinoe, where -- megan? megan is one of the most accomplished soccer players and the first soccer player to receive the medal of freedom. beyond the world cup titles and
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olympic medals, megan is a champion for essential american truth, that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. everyone. along with her incredible teammates of the united states women's national team and, by the way, my son, hunter, and daughter-in-law are here. his daughter was a great high school athlete, and she was so excited to be with you when you won the national -- when you won the championship and walking off the field, and i said -- we said hi to you. she said, i was busy. so, when she wins again, i hope when i see her, she'll say, i think i know that guy. maybe? it depends. >> i think, yes. >> megan did something really consequential. she helped lead the change for perhaps the most important
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victory for anyone on her soccer team or any soccer team, equal pay for women. and megan, like simone, i hope there's room for this medal among all the awards you've received during your remarkable career and reckless play. you are good, kid. simone and megan would be the first to acknowledge they stand on the shoulders of those who came before them like air force colonel brigadier general, retired, wilma vaught. wilma is one of the most decorated women ever to serve in the united states military. she enlisted in 1950s because she wanted to be a leader. she did that and more, becoming the first woman in almost every leadership role she held in her
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30 years in uniform. shattering conventions, shaping a new tradition of our military, and she couldn't stop after retirement. she led to the creation of the women's military service for american memorial at the gateway of arlington national cemetery, the first museum of its kind so that we may know and be inspired by not just her story but by the stories of millions of women who served this nation in uniform. as a 23-year-old student at fisk university, diane nash received a phone call from attorney general robert kennedy's top deputies, warning her about the violence at the next stop of the freedom ride she organized across the south. she replied, and i quote, we all signed our last will and testament before they left. we know someone will be killed, but we cannot let violence overcome nonviolence.
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think of that. unmistakable courage and unshakable courage and leadership, diane nash shaped some of the most important civil right efforts in american history. key architect of the sit-in movement in nashville. after four little girls were murdered at the 16th street baptist church in birmingham, she called for a nonviolent movement across alabama that planted the seeds and became the selma campaign two years later. her activism echos the call of freedom around the world today, and yet, she is the first to say the medal is shared with hundreds of thousands of patriotic americans who sacrificed so much for the cause of liberty and justice for all. and by the way, she asked me to make sure to add that because she didn't want to take all the credit herself. dr. king, rosa parks, and
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claudette and john lewis and other giants of the civil right movement needed a lawyer, you know who they called? they called a guy named fred gray, that's who they called. one of the most important civil rights lawyers in our history. fred's legal brilliance of strategy desegregated schools and secured the right to vote. he went to be elected as one of the first african americans in the alabama state legislature since reconstruction. an ordained minister, he imbued a righteous calling that touched the soul of our nation, and at 91 years young, he's still practicing law. and he's still keeping the faith in the best of america. and the best of america includes raul -- raul, you're something
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else, man. you really are. you really are. raul was the son of a father who fled violence in mexico and a mother who was a multigeneration texan. raul dreamed the american dream from san juan, texas, in the lower rio grande valley. he served with honor in the united states air force, then tu turned a small civil rights group into one of the nation's most important ones. for over 30 years as president of the national council for la raza, raul was an undaunted lead in the struggle for civil rights for latino americans. never forgetting where he came from and the promise of this nation. born in brownsville, texas, julieta garcia became a professor at a local community college. i know i'm biased since jill's a community college professor, but community college professors are the best.
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i've learned teaching what she or jill does, it's who they are. it's who juliet is. she helped transform her community college into the university of texas at brownsville, where she became its president and the first hispanic woman to serve as a college president in american history. believing education is the cornerstone of our democracy, she created a culture of excellence, affirmation, intellectual curiosity for generations of students, many the first in their families to go to college and who see their american dream through her and because of her. other than my family, the biggest impact in my life were the nuns at holy rose at the sisters of st. joseph in claymon, delaware. you think i'm joking. i'm not. nuns never forget a thing.
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never. and by the way, i was doing villanova's commencement and one of my nuns from school was getting her doctorate degree. i presented it to her, and she said, that was pretty good, joe, if you had said you instead of me at the time. they taught me in school and they helped me. i used to stutter very badly. they gave me confidence. they gave me confidence that i could do anything. they really did. for so many people and for the nation, sister simone campbell is a gift from god. in the past 50 years, she embodied the belief in our church that faith without works is dead, and you will know me for what i do. and what you do, the least of these, you do unto me. that's sister simone. that's what she does. the nuns on the bus were simply, simply remarkable. i wasn't going to do this, they told me not to, but i'm going to do it anyway.
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i'm going to tell a story. i went over to see pope john -- excuse me -- pope benedict in his last couple months. we didn't know it at the time. and we had a long conversation, and he's a great theologian, a very conservative theologian, and my avocation is theology. you come to my house, there's a whole wall on comparative theology. i know. and so we finished the conversation. he was very generous and he put his hand across the desk and said, can i ask you a favor? at the time i was vice president. i said, of course, your holiness. he said, i'd like some advice. do you have any advice for me? i said, it would be presumptuous of me to give you advice, your holiness. he said, no, really. and i smiled, and i said, well, one piece of advice. i said, i'd go easy on the nuns, they're more popular than you are. the fact that six weeks later, he retired, i don't know. but sister, you're your standing
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up was a big deal. a big, big deal. becoming a lawyer to represent the poor and the left behind a decade ago as a nation was debating the affordable care act and the values of our budgets, there she was, leading a group of nuns on a nationwide bus campaign. to make the case, the moral case, that healthcare is a right in this country, not a privilege, and the obligation to help other people most in need. compassionate and brave, humble and strong, today sister simone remains a beacon of light. she's the embodiment of a covenant of trust, hope, and progress of our nation. and i call her -- i'm happy to call her my friend. thank you, sister. [ applause ] another dear friend of mine and the reason why back in delaware in the greek community i'm known as joe bidenopolis. you think i'm joking.
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father knows i'm not. father asked me whether i'm still blessing my -- roman catholics bless ourselves down here to the left shoulder. greek catholics go down and to the right shoulder. i find myself being more greek sometimes than others. you want to know how i left? father karloutsos, you, more than 50 years, your leadership in the greek orthodox archdiocese of america has mattered to every prelate in the greek church. you've been an incredible leader, father. a man of deep moral clarity and calling, he's advised generations of presidents and parishioners with unmatched humility and grace. i've traveled the country and the world with him, including father alex's homeland in greece, to strengthen the bonds between two nations founded on the belief that democracy is the way. and on more than one occasion, father alex and i have had the honor to visit his all holiness
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patriarch bartholomew. this is the 100th anniversary of the greek orthodox church in america. we honor one of the most dedicated leaders, my dear friend, father alex. speaking of faith, when you meet gabby giffords, congresswoman giffords, you're reminded of the strength of faith. and the power of public service. elected by the people of her hometown in tucson, arizona, because they trusted her. they trusted her. they still trust her. they believed in her. they learned, and they learned as a nation what the whole nation has learned, that she's the embodiment of the most -- of a single significant american trait, never, ever give up. my dad, hunter's grandfather,
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used to have an expression. he said, never bend, never bow, never yield, never give up. just get up, joey. just get up. proof that we'll not grow numb to the epidemic of gun violence in this nation, proof that we can channel the pain and sorrow we see too often in america into a movement that will prevail. with her husband, united states senator mark kelly, who, by the way, was that astronaut, y'all remember. she's more consequential, i acknowledge, but they're helping power that movement. on monday, we'll celebrate the most significant gun safety law in 30 years because of them and because of the families like theirs all across america. gabby is one most courageous people i have ever known.
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one of the most decent, stand genuine guys i've ever served with is this guy, alan simpson. alan is the real deal. former united states senator from his beloved wyoming, republican, we served together in the united states senate for nearly two decades. one of the great things about alan is he never takes himself too seriously, nor takes me seriously. all kidding aside, this is the real deal. this is one of the finest men i've ever worked with. at his core, he's always believed in the common good and what's best for the nation. we didn't agree on everything. we agreed on a whole heck of a lot. he allowed his -- he never allowed his, i don't know, his party or his state or anything to get in the way of what he thought was right. he allowed his conscience to be his guide, and he believed in forging real relationships, even
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with people on the other side of the aisle, proving we can do anything when we work together as the united states of america. it matters, it matters, it matters. we need more of your spirit back in the united states senate on both sides of the aisle. just ask khizr khan, who studied the u.s. constitution as a law student in pakistan. inspired by its meaning, he immigrated to america with his wife and their young family when they were very little but fully believing in the promise of this nation. they watched their middle son enlist in the united states army with his own dreams to be a military lawyer, but ultimately sacrificed himself to serve his fellow soldiers. we all watched as the oldest and darkest forces of hate emerged in new ways, only to meet the strength, goodness, and decency of this gold star american
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family. late november 2016, i invited the khans to the vice president's residence for a diwali reception. an irish catholic vice president, a muslim gold star family at a reception observing a hindu holiday. that, and i'm being very serious, that's the america that we know. that's the america he and i and most of you, i pray god, believe in. we were parents, united by the pain of losing a piece of our souls, and finding the purpose to live a life worthy of them. after today's father's medal of freedom will rest next to his son's bronze star and purple heart, and khizr khan, you will continue to carry a copy of the constitution -- i didn't ask you, but i imagine it's still in your pocket -- as a reminder of the charge that has to be kept.
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when she was 18 years old, sandra lindsay immigrated to queens, new york, from jamaica, to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. as director of nursing and critical care at a hospital in queens, during the height of the pandemic, she poured her heart into helping patients fight for their lives and to keep their fellow nurses safe. and when the time came, she was the first person in america that fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials. sandra, as i told you before, if there's any angels in heaven, they're all nurses, male and female. no, for real. they really are. many of you who have spent a lot of time in the hospital, as some of us have, you know. doctors let you live. nurses, male and female, make you want to live. make you want to live. sandra's vaccination card and hospital scrubs and badge are part of the smithsonian national
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museum of american history exhibit on covid-19. today, she receives our nation's highest civilian honor. and the man who couldn't be here today but wanted to be, denzel washington. one of our greatest actors in american history, academy awards, golden globes, tony awards, wide acclaim and admiration from audiences and peers around the world. he couldn't be us today, but i'm -- i'll be giving him this award at a later date when he's able to get here. i'll now turn to the three medalists who are being awarded the medals posthumously. to the families i know receiving this award on behalf of their loved one is bittersweet. it's an honor but it brings back everything and it's hard. it reminds you of the day that you lost them.
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but i know -- and i appreciate your willingness to be here on this day. we've already seen more technological changes in the last ten years than almost ever before in history. we're going to see a lot more chain in the next ten years. and much, much more of that is because of steve jobs. not just because -- [ applause ] not just because of his innovations and inventions revolutionized personal computing and our way of life. it's for his embodiment of a core american character that he believed was within each of us, character that tested -- got tested in setback and failure, character that's true and perseverance and daring, character defined by what we leave on this earth when our time comes. and what steve left us is something special. technology with the capacity to improve our lives in ways that
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haven't even yet been thought of, and the love of his family, lorraine powell jobs, and their children who i had the great honor of working with when i was doing the cancer moon shot in the previous administration. they carry on this incredible legacy of doing big things, perhaps biggest of all, helping us end cancer as we know it. because it matters. it matters to people who need help, and it mattered to steve jobs. richard trumka. he said about unions, "we do america's work." no one did more work for american workers than he did. his work was synonymous with the word that defined his life. dignity. dignity. dignity to come to the
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good-paying job that builds a good and decent middle class life, and his work was fierce, always trying to do the right thing for working people, fighting for and protecting their wages, their safety, their pensions they earned and deserved. fighting for the worker power and for america itself and our economic might and dynamism and more than 30 years of friendship, he's always honest, fair, tough and trustworthy, a guy you want in your corner. in fact, i was in cleveland yesterday, announcing one of the most significant actions to protect pensions for millions of workers and retirees in 50 years. barbara rich jr. and the family, we felt him there. we felt him there with us, and we talked about him, and we feel him here today. rich trumka was the american worker. when i was a young man, too
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young to be serving in the senate but old enough to get elected -- you can't get -- you can't be sworn in until you turn 30 but i got elected 17 days before that. i had the great honor because of a guy named mansfield, the majority leader from montana, to put me on a very coveted committee at the time, the foreign relations committee. that's when i first met john mccain a couple years later. he was a navy liaison in the united states senate. liaison to our committee. john and i traveled the world together, literally, traveled the world together. we became friends. we agreed on a lot more than we disagreed on and although he was my navy liaison, i turned to him for advice when we were talking about foreign policy issues abroad. but the two things we never talked about, we never talked
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about his imprisonment in the hanoi hilton, nor the death of my wife and my daughter. >> we both wanted to make things better for the country that we both loved and that never wavered. in fact, i admit to my democratic friends, i and the guy that encouraged john to go home and run for office for real. because i knew what incredible courage, intellect and conscience he had. i never stopped admiring john, never set a negative thing about him in my life because i
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knew his honor, his courage and his commitment. that was john mccain. and the code he inherited from his family that served before him that passed down to his brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren today i was staffing, john was tapping me on a trip to asia in the late 70s and we stop in hawaii and cindy, i think you were there on vacation, and you were talking to my wife, jill, and john kept looking at her [ laughter ] and he talked about her, so, jill and i did something which was a little presumptuous, we made sure that we introduced one another.
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he still owes me. [ laughter ] >> i think that was the best thing we ever did for john. of the very best. [ applause ] he didn't take long to call me. my fellow americans please congratulate this year's most presidential medal of freedom award. [ applause ] now i'm going to ask the military aid to read the rest of the citations as we present the metals. please be suited. >> simone biles.
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overcoming great odds, simone biles is the most decorated american gymnast in history. a former foster child that became a once in a generation athlete transforming her sport with artistry and degrees of difficulty that reimagine what is possible. with absolute courage and honesty, she expands the legacy of our greatest champions who challenged the powerful and speak up for justice and the wellness of body and mind. leaning on faith and god and family, simone biles in is an inspiring symbol of strength, grace and pride in those three letters, usa .
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[ applause ] simone campbell. [ applause ] inspired by nuns in catholic school, sister simone campbell has dedicated her life to the suffering and the searching. for nearly 50 years as a nun and an attorney, she has led organizations that provide free legal services to the poor and advocate for workers and immigrants. her moral kimmitt passed the affordable care act and guide the nuns on a bus tour. across america to protect the impoverished. with humility and fearlessness,
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sister simone embodies the blessing of faith in god and our obligations to one another as fellow americans. [ applause ] [ applause ] >> garcia. born in a texas border town, doctor garcia became the first in her family to graduate from
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college and the first mexican- american woman to lead an american college or university. over two decades she transformed her hometown university of texas brownsville into a center of lins for countless rodents who were inspired by her example. a trailblazer and a mentor, doctor garcia is considered one of our nation's top university administrators who understands the power is the equalizer in america. [ applause ] [ applause ] gabrielle giffords.
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[ applause ] [ applause ] daughter of tucson, arizona, former u.s. representative gabrielle giffords epitomizes public service, voters elected her five times to state and federal office, even after that january day in 2011 that shocked our nation's conscience she summoned the courage to keep serving. she learned to walk, speak and ride again. with the support of her husband, u.s. senator mark kelly, she turned pain into purpose as one of the most powerful voices working to and gun violence in america. because of her, lives will be saved and america will be safer.
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[ applause ] fred david gray. [ applause ] when rosa parks refused to move to the back of the bus, fred gray represented her in front of the courtroom, just as he
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did for martin luther king jr. and countless marchers for justice, risking his own safety, he helped secure voting rights, desegregate schools and win other battles for the soil of our nation. a patriarch of a family and a movement, fred gray is a lawyer by trade and a preacher at heart who follows the command to hate evil, love good, and establish justice and negate. [ applause ]


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