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Liz Cheney Strikes Defiant Tone Ahead of Expected Ousting; Israel Ramps Up Airstrikes After Rocket Fire from Gaza; White House Facing Calls to Lift More Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Americans; Panic Buying Drives Fuel Shortages in Parts of U.S. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead --


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that.


CHURCH: Liz Cheney gives a defiant speech just hours before Republican colleagues are expected to remove her from party leadership.

Plus, attacks between Israel and Gaza militants intensify leaving dozens dead. We are live in Israel for the very latest.

And pain at the pump, how a crippled pipeline is causing major headaches for motorists.

Good to have you with us. Well in the next few hours House Republicans are set to make a decision that will have ramifications for the future of the entire party and show the sway former president Donald Trump still has over the GOP. They will vote on whether to oust Liz Cheney from House leadership. Her crime, telling the truth about the 2020 election. As Ryan Nobles reports, Cheney is not going quietly.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are hours away from house Republicans taking the dramatic move of removing Liz Cheney from her position as the House Conference chair which is of course the third most powerful position for any Republican in the house of representatives. It's pretty clear that Republicans are ready to move on from Cheney because of her criticism of former president Donald Trump and in particular his willingness to hold to these false claims that somehow the 2020 election was stolen from him. Now while Cheney has resigned herself to the fact that she's likely

not going to win this vote of confidence on Wednesday she's not going down without a fight. She took to the House floor on Tuesday night and attacked those who are out to get her. Saying that it is the job of Republicans to defend the Constitution and push back against threats to the country's democracy. And she specifically called out the former president as one of the people being responsible for that threat. Take a listen.


CHENEY: Today we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence. Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words but not the truth as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

NOBLES: Now while Cheney's speech was emotional. It was very powerful. It will likely have no impact on this vote on Wednesday morning. It is expected to take place first thing in the morning, 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. It is a secret ballot so it's unlikely that we will know exactly who did vote for Cheney and who did not vote for Cheney, but it is not expected to be close. After that, the House Republicans will then decide on picking her replacement, a timeline for that.

Right now it looks as though representative Elise Stefanik of New York is the choice to take over for Cheney. At this point even though there have been some conservatives that have raised questions about Stefanik there is not anyone at this point who is ready to go up against her.

Ryan Nobles, CNN on Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: Well the vote on Liz Cheney's future has brought reaction from both sides of the aisle.


SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): When you are out of the mainstream like I think Representative Cheney would be in terms of what was working before and so obsessed with an individual and not the policies, I don't see how you could have her position and be a spokesperson for a party.

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): I will be glad when this -- this is done with and over with. I will leave this in the hands of the House. But they've got to make their own decisions. We're a family and the Republican caucus over there, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise's leadership, they'll make the right decisions.



CHURCH: The Senate minority leader Democrat Chuck Schumer had this to say.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): House Republicans are plotting the demotion of a Republican member for the crime of repeating the truth, that Joe Biden is the President of the United States and that Donald Trump is lying. Liz Cheney spoke truth to power and for that she is being fired.


CHURCH: And CNN will stay across this story throughout the day. That key vote on Liz Cheney's future is expected at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. And we will bring you all the latest developments as they happen.

Well, there are growing concerns of a widening conflict in Israel and Gaza after intense rocket fire and air strikes overnight. Israel declared a state of emergency in Lod after protests escalated into riots. The city has a mixed Arab and Jewish population.

Hamas and Islamic jihad fired at least 500 rockets in the past two days. Israel responded by ramping up air strikes. Explosions like these have been tearing through Gaza. The Israel defense forces say key Hamas intelligence figures were killed in the largest strike since 2014. Hamas in turn targeted Tel Aviv with rocket fire. Neither side showed any sign of backing down.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Hamas and the Islamic jihad will pay for this and they will pay a heavy price.

ISMAIL HANIYEH, SENIOR HAMAS POLITICAL LEADER (through translator): If Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it and if it wants to stop we're also ready. If they want to remove their hand over Jerusalem, we're ready.


CHURCH: The White House is expressing serious concerns about the growing violence in the region and says President Joe Biden is monitoring the situation. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as tensions continue to boil over violence escalating in Jerusalem, the White House urging de-escalation. White House officials making very clear Israel has every right to protect itself against rockets fired by Hamas. But also urging the Israelis to take care to pay attention to the treatment of the Palestinian people. And it's a delicate balance, a delicate thin line to walk for the White House and White House officials acknowledge that. But they are making clear they are reaching out, trying to do their best to ratchet back the situation. Take a listen.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Since last week he has directed his team to engage intensively with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as leaders throughout the Middle East. His team is communicating a clear and consistent message in support of de-escalation and that is our primary focus.

MATTINGLY: Now, one of those officials, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki referencing National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaking to his counterpart in Israel. Also speaking to several other officials in the region trying to figure out if there are pathways to if not put an end to the violence as it continues to escalate, at least try to deescalate things over the course of the next several days. So far, though, no clear pathway forward to that end. Still waiting for one clear statement or at least public statement from President Joe Biden, at least on camera public statement at this point this time.

One thing we did learn on Tuesday was that President Biden has sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This is in response to a letter Abbas sent to President Biden earlier this year. Little detailed about what's in that letter, but it's very clear now the two sides are communicating at least in some way, shape or form. Whether that has any influence or impact on what's going on right now is unclear.

But it is very clear the White House is concerned about what they've seen. They are calling for de-escalation and they want something to change and change fast in a region that is forever problematic when it comes to how U.S. officials deal with the Middle East.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: So let's bring in CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson in London. But first journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us live this hour just outside Tel Aviv. So Elliott, we are seeing violence between Israel and Gaza intensify. What is the latest on the situation?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Well, after a relative lull this morning, Rosemary, we know that in the past hour an anti-tank missile has been fired from the Gaza Strip and there are reports of three soldiers being injured, two of them critically. Air strikes have resumed against targets in the Gaza Strip.

Elsewhere on Temple Mount or Haram esh-Sharif, there have been some clashes between police and Palestinian demonstrators. There were seven arrests there before things returned to relative calm.


And then in the West Bank near the town of Jericho there was an incident where a young Palestinian -- where a Palestinian man tried to wrestle the rifle of a soldier away from him before that soldier's colleague came along and they managed to regain control and arrest the culprit there as well.

So, you know, and the day is just young, you know, it's not even noon here in Israel and I think there's every expectation that the violence will continue to escalate throughout the day and into the night as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Thanks to Elliott Gotkine joining us there live. Let's turn to Nic Robertson now. And the U.S. is calling for restraint on both sides, but no one is apparently listening, Nic. What can be done politically to calm things down and bring an end to this escalating violence?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, if you make a comparison to the escalating violence that occurred in the summer of 2014 the trajectory was that there were many, many rounds of air strikes, many, many rounds of rockets fired by Hamas and others from Gaza before there was really any meaningful intervention. And historically in the past Egypt, Qatar have both been involved to try to help mediate down from the level and the scale of the direction of where we're going right now.

But it's not apparent that that is actually happening at the moment. The trajectory, the rhetoric and the level of attacks already this -- today seemed to indicate that there will be continuing escalations. One of the things that brought a measure of reduced violence back in 2014 was an international outcry about the -- what was seen as a disproportionate nature of the strikes on Gaza. The Gazan health authorities back then reported more than two thousand civilians people were killed. The Israelis lost more 60 soldiers during those operations.

We are nowhere near those levels. The international outcry and calls for de-escalation on both sides is there. But really the offramp is not presenting itself at the moment, Rosemary, neither for diplomats to go up or either side to come back down. The foreign minister from Israel Gabi Ashkenazi who was in South Korea has returned back to Israel. That's an indication that Israel recognizes that there is an international component of course to this current situation. And that indicates potentially a measure of international engagement and, therefore, potential for a diplomatic offramp to be found. But we just don't see where it is at the moment -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, that is a big concern of course. Nic Robertson joining us live from London, many thanks.

And earlier I spoke to former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, he told me why it's possible this crisis might escalate into an even bigger conflict.


DANNY AYALON, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: We have to look at it, I guess, from a bigger picture is that we are at war with Hamas, which is a continuous one, they call it an open war. They are sworn to Israel's destruction. They say it repeatedly. It's on all their pamphlets and this is what they train and teach their people. So actually what we see are lulls of quiet in between attacks by Hamas, which is looking always for the right pretext.


CHURCH: And people in Gaza are also worried about what might happen if the violence intensifies. Here is what Omar Shaban, Director of PalThink for Strategic Studies and a Gaza resident told CNN.


OMAR SHABAN, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, PALTHINK FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: I am in Gaza now, I am in my home, I cannot get out. There is shelling almost everywhere. Gaza is too small. You cannot escape from one place to another place. The escalation continues. And this reminded us with three major wars in Gaza, 2008, 2009 which lasted for a few weeks, 2012 which lasted for ten days and 2014 which lasted for 51 days with 2,000 Palestinians were killed and more than 10,000 houses were destroyed totally. Gaza is at war to deal with and to cope and to go through this war again.


CHURCH: And we'll continue to follow that story.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, demand for gasoline in parts of the U.S. is soaring after a cyber-attack by Russian hackers. Why officials say panic buying at the pump is only making matters worse.



CHURCH: Here in the United States the head of the CDC was forced to respond to criticism and defend her agency's guidance on masks and other COVID-19 mandates during sometimes combative hearing on Capitol Hill. And President Joe Biden is working to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is following both stories from Washington.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House facing new calls to lift restrictions for the fully vaccinated.

GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): We have fully vaccinated people. We should start acting like it.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Announcing additional steps.

COLLINS (voice-over): Governors virtually lobbying President Biden to use the power of the federal government to incentivize people to get vaccinated. COX: That's one area where we can use some help from -- through the White House and others, and that is modeling what a fully vaccinated person can do.

COLLINS (voice-over): Biden promising updated guidance soon.

BIDEN: We have gone a little slower to make sure we're exactly right. You're going to see a more aggressive effort. Once vaccinated, it's not only you can hug your grandchildren. You can do a lot more.

COLLINS (voice-over): The president also highlighting the FDA's decision to expand authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to15- year-olds, which now goes before a CDC advisory panel for a vote.

BIDEN: Parents who want to protect their children, younger teens who want to get vaccinated, we're a step closer to that goal now.

COLLINS (voice-over): The last time the CDC updated its mask guidance, Director Rochelle Walensky touted this statistic:

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Less than 10 percent of documented transmission in many studies have occurred outdoors.

COLLINS (voice-over): But "The New York Times" said today that 10 percent number is misleading.


According to "The Times," outdoor transmission appears to actually be below 1 percent and maybe even below 0.1 percent. Lawmakers pressed Walensky to explain the deceiving number during a tense hearing on Capitol Hill today.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard. I don't anymore. Why it is exaggerating outdoor transmission?

WALENSKY: The top-line result of all collaborate -- all studies that were included in the systematic review said less than 10 percent of cases were transmitted outdoors.

COLLINS (voice-over): The long running-feud between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul also on full display.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely -- entirely and completely incorrect.

COLLINS (voice-over): Fauci advocating for an investigation into the origins of the virus, while pushing back on Paul's claim that U.S. government funded research in China played a role in the outbreak.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): So, do you still support sending money to the Wuhan Virology Institute?

FAUCI: We do not send money now to Wuhan. Let me explain to you why that was done. It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses.

PAUL: Government scientists like yourself, who favor gain of function research --

FAUCI: I don't favor gain of function research in China.

PAUL: -- maintain that the disease arose naturally.

FAUCI: You are saying things are not correct.

COLLINS: And as the CDC director was testifying in Washington, she noted the difficulty that faces them when they do issue that blanket guidance, given there are different vaccination rates, different case rates throughout the U.S. But after President Biden seemed to imply they could be updating that guidance this week. We are told by officials that just means they are looking at it on a rolling bases. They are always looking at potentially updating it when they can, but we should not expect the CDC to update that guidance this week.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: The Biden administration is frustrated with one of the nation's largest fuel suppliers in the wake of a devastating cyber- attack. That is according to officials familiar with the matter. They tell CNN the government's not happy with what it sees as Colonial Pipeline's weak cybersecurity leading up to last week's ransomware attack.

Meanwhile, federal officials are pleading with Americans not to hoard gasoline while the fuel company works to restore services by the end of the week. CNN's Pete Muntean reports on the panic buying causes shortages on the East Coast.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The latest problem caused by the Colonial Pipeline hack is panic at the pump with lines at some stations getting longer. The 5,500 mile pipeline supplies about 45 percent of all fuel used on the East Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it looks like they just ran out. They charged me 11 cents.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Even though experts say the rush is not necessary for now. The White House insists there are no widespread fuel shortages, but that has not stopped people from buying gas fast. Oil analysts tell CNN that will lead to more than 1,000 stations running out of gas soon, with the biggest impacts in Georgia and Tennessee. On Monday, demand jumped 40 percent in five states from Florida to Virginia.

BILL HOLTZMAN, FOUNDER, HOLTZMAN OIL: It's a very serious problem right now. MUNTEAN: 84-year-old, Bill Holtzman has spent his entire career distributing gas to stations in Virginia. But with the Colonial Pipeline mostly offline, Holtzman trucks are now scrambling to fill up elsewhere. Holtzman says this Colonial terminal in Fairfax, Virginia is now dry.

HOLTZMAN: Our goal is to not have any station out of gasoline and unfortunately that's probably going to happen and that really bothers me.

MUNTEAN: AAA says the price of a gallon of gas has shot up more than 7 cents in the last week, the new national averages now more than $2.98, the highest in 6 years. Oil analyst, Tom Kloza, says with some stations now selling four times the norm, the national average will soon top $3.

TOM KLOZA, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICE: When everybody scrambles, it's like everyone is scrambling to go through a revolving door, you have problems. And we're seeing that behavior right now. It has spreads like wildfire.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): It's a new damper on what the travel industry hoped would be the start of a rebound beyond just road trips. In Atlanta, the world's second busiest airport says it is looking for additional fuel suppliers. American Airlines is even adding stops to a few of its longer flights, unable to top up all the way. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm calls this a supply crunch, rather than a gas shortage.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: There was no cause for say hoarding toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic. There should be no cause for hoarding gasoline.


MUNTEAN: Here in Virginia, the Governor just declared a state of emergency, even though only about 7 percent of gas stations statewide are now without gas. Colonial, says it can say on Wednesday when it can turn the pipeline back on, but it could take a few days after that until gas begins reaching terminals like this one.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Fairfax, Virginia.


CHURCH: Andrew Brown Jr.'s family is speaking out after a judge granted them access to see more body cam footage of his fatal police shooting. What they say it proves. That's next.

And Elise Stefanik is expected to take over from Liz Cheney in the House Republican leadership. We head to her district in rural New York to see how their loyalty to Donald Trump is playing with voters.


CHURCH: The family of Andrew Brown Jr. finally got to see more of the body cam footage showing his death at the hands of police last month in North Carolina. They have spent weeks pushing for its release and their lawyers are still fighting to get all of the full unredacted videos of the incident made public. Based on what they've seen, Brown's family contends the shooting was unjustified. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.


HARRY DANIELS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ANDREW BROWN JR. (voice-over): Now we know why they didn't want to release the tape.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost three weeks after he was fatally shot during an attempted arrest, the family and lawyers of Andrew Brown Jr. describe what they say the body camera footage shows during the final moments of Brown's life.

JHA'ROD FEREBEE, SON OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: My father did not deserve to die at all. He did not deserve to get killed. In any way shape or form, he did not pose any threat at all. (INAUDIBLE) there's no way that this could be justified. There's no way possible.

TODD (voice-over): A judge allowed them to view less than 20 minutes out of nearly two total hours of footage from sheriff's deputies' body cameras.