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U.S. Seeing Significant Increase in Crime in Major Cities; Officials Say, Biden Preparing Intensely for Putin's Tactics; Attorney General Garland Comments on Secret Investigations of Lawmakers, Media. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 14, 2021 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: CNN's Omar Jimenez is following this.

Tell us what law enforcement is telling you about the multiple factors behind this spike in crime.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, a lot of factors at play here. Some point to economic hardships and the community coming from the pandemic, some point to strained police resources and departments across the country. Others point to the amount of guns that are on the street, even breakdowns in judicial proceedings.

And so, bottom line, these are compounded grim realities that have formed, and especially as we head into what is typically the deadliest time of year, the summertime. But also you have to look at the fact we are coming out of being locked down and out of the COVID era here.

So when you look at all this year and the gun violence and shootings we've seen, as you mentioned, over 270 mass shootings as defined when four or more people are shot, close to 9,000 people killed, of course, not including suicides.

But then when you look at where these shootings are happening, there isn't a part of this country that's immune to this. You see these pop up from the southeast, literally down in Savannah, Georgia, from this past weekend, all the way up to Washington State. And as you can imagine, they stem and come from population centers is where we see these numbers go higher than you would in other places.

But then when you look at Chicago specifically, of course, one of those major population centers, shootings are up 17 percent this year. Murders are up 5 percent. And that comes after a year like 2020 when those rates were already raised and when many people point to breakdowns that came from being locked down due to pandemic conditions.

Now, part of the strategy for the summer, at least here in Chicago, has come from trying to target some of those high violence communities and basically flooding them with resources. But places across the country are trying to find solutions, with some trying to hone in on the flow of guns on their streets, others just trying to get in between some of the shootings in the community that, in many cases, are retaliatory in nature, because, as we've seen, the stakes of this type of work are as high as human life.

SCIUTTO: We just saw that with the NYPD last week. They're facing a lot. Omar Jimenez in Chicago, thanks very much.

This morning, at least one person is dead, another injured after police say a man drove his car through a group of protesters in Minneapolis. Protesters then pulled the suspect from his vehicle. He was taken into custody and is currently being treated at a local hospital. Officials say the motive is unknown, but a preliminary investigation indicates drugs or alcohol may have been a factor.

Well, this is a video of a scuffle on board a Delta flight on Friday when officials say an off-duty flight attendant commandeered the intercom system, crew members and other passengers subdued the man. That flight, which was headed to Atlanta, was diverted, that man taken into custody.

CNN's Paolo Sandoval following this. Polo, you have some new details. This was an off-duty flight attendant? What led to this?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I just had an opportunity to actually read over the police report that was filed by Oklahoma City Police. We know that's where this flight landed safely as authorities then boarded the flight to remove him.

This report, Jim, it really does paint a very scary picture of what unfolded aboard that flight that left Los Angeles, headed to Atlanta on friday evening. Then at one point, there was this off-duty Delta flight attendant that was traveling aboard, as a 34-year-old man who, at some point, begins to act strange.

This report details bizarre behavior that he began to exhibit, and at one point, he even made his way toward the front of the plane and then used the plane's intercom, the P.A. system, to make a series of bizarre announcements to the passengers that they return to their seats.

And according to the police report, this 34-year-old man claimed that the plane was being taken over. And that's when the crew that was actually working the flight tried to intervene, asked him to return to his seat, which was actually up in the first-class cabin. Then things got extremely physical.

This Oklahoma City report even details that, at one point, this individual that was causing this disturbance even actually put his -- his hands around the neck and tried to choke another off-duty flight attendant that was flying aboard that plane.

And it wasn't until a call was made by the captain that all, in his words, all able-bodied males aboard that flight make their way to front of the aircraft to try to help control the situation that we saw some of these extremely brave passengers spring into action to do just that while the plane actually made that safe landing in Oklahoma City where authorities were able to board the aircraft and remove this individual before the plane was able to make its way to its final destination.

So, really, some scary moments here, but, ultimately, the FBI, they are investigating given that, according to multiple witness statements, this individual claimed that they would bring the plane down. So at this point that's going to be a big question exactly what was this person's state of mind, this off-duty flight attendant's state of mind when he did this.


SCIUTTO: Imagine to be on that flight and hear the pilot say, all able-bodied passengers to the front of the plane, goodness. Polo Sandoval, thanks very much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, CNN has learned that President Biden is preparing intensely for his face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. That's on Wednesday in Geneva. We're going to be there. A lot is at stake, a very different tack when it comes to Russia from Biden as it was under Trump. We're going to speak about it, next.


SCIUTTO: This morning, officials tell CNN that President Biden is preparing intensely with aides and allies for his face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Joining me now to discuss the importance of this summit as well as the pitfalls that some of his predecessors faced when meeting with the Russian leader, CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali.


Tim, good to have you on this morning.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks, Jim, good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So, no big breakthroughs are expected here. They're not going to sign a big agreement. But the message will definitely be different from Biden compared with Trump. There will be no Helsinki moment here. He will not take Putin's word over the word of U.S. intelligence agencies. Is that important enough, right? I mean, is that an accomplishment enough for a summit to justify a summit like this?

NAFTALI: Well, the best summits with Russians are those that are preplanned. When you know in advance what your objectives are, when you have some understanding, and this is work done at the lower level, either by the secretary of state or his team, with the Russians so that you know there will be some concrete consequences.

Summits that are just feel-good efforts with the Russians generally are disappointing. So I'm hopeful that the State Department and the White House have a real plan for what they want to achieve in Geneva.

SCIUTTO: Because, I mean, we saw this under Trump with Kim, right? We had three not particularly well prepared for summits that did nothing, went nowhere, right, in terms of reaching agreement on denuclearization. Trump thought the face-to-face itself was accomplishment. It certainly didn't make a difference in the key issues there. I mean, is there danger here of Biden making a similar mistake with Putin?

NAFTALI: I don't think there's a similar danger because the -- because President Biden hasn't made any grandiose promises about what this meeting will achieve. I mean, Donald Trump went -- as you well know, went into a meeting with the North Koreans promising something the North Koreans would never deliver on.

So I think that the expectations have been played down by the State Department and the White House, so I don't see the kind of theater that we associated with Trump happening here.

SCIUTTO: So, we are hearing from the Russian president this morning in an interview with NBC, and he gets to what is going to be a key issue between Biden and Putin on Wednesday which is Russia's continuing cyberattacks on the U.S. And we know that Biden is going to call him out for that, challenge him. So Putin was asked about it this morning. I want to hear his answer get your reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you waging a cyberwar against America?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Where is the evidence? Where is proof? It's becoming farcical. We know we have been accused of all kinds of things, election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth, and not once, not once, not one time did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof, just unfounded accusations.


SCIUTTO: I mean, it's not true. U.S. intelligence, you know, described the very groups and the digital fingerprints they left behind. I spoke to folks who said they didn't even try to hide their tracks as they were carrying out some of these attacks. But if that is the, you know -- if that's what Putin -- what Biden's going to face when he comes to Putin and saying, hey, what are you talking about, I didn't do this, how much can he accomplish, Biden, in terms of calling him out on these cyberattacks?

NAFTALI: Well, Jim, remember, we were talking about Trump's theater, that's Putin's theater.


NAFTALI: It's not up to Joe Biden to prove what the Russians know that they're already doing. I think the issue is that President Biden will raise the -- raise cyber crime. The Russians said during the Trump period they were willing to cooperate on cyber crime. But if cooperation means that we hand over to them our forensic tools, the tools we used to discover what they're doing in the darkness of the web, of course, that can't be cooperation.

So, look, I think it's very clear for our president to lay -- make clear to Putin this is unacceptable, but let's not expect cooperation from a country that is providing safe haven to the dark web.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, let me ask you this, just on the downside. I mean, if you have the Biden administration position being, we're going to challenge you on this bad stuff, but we're going to try to find a way -- you know, ways that we can possibly cooperate, if Russia resisting any movement on the bad stuff, right, is there danger for escalation, right? I mean, because Putin and Biden, they don't have a friendly relationship. Ten years ago when he was vice president, Biden said to Putin, I don't think you have a soul. I mean, that's -- that is quite a relationship to have with another world leader.

NAFTALI: Jim, no American president whose job it is to protect our national security could have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin at this point. Putin led an effort to destabilize two of our elections. Putin just recently injected poison into our political space in the way he talked about January 6th as a legitimate act of political dissent.


The key here is to make clear that we are going to defend our interests.

One of the areas where we could cooperate is very transactional. There are two Americans being held by the Russians. We could trade for them. One of those Americans, Trevor Reed, has COVID. There are ways that you can trade with adversaries without undermining your national security. That might be an opportunity. But beyond that, let's not expect too much. The Russians have decided to seek chaos in our country, and until they change their objectives, I don't see a basis for a good, trustworthy relationship.

SCIUTTO: Sometimes recognizing reality is first step. Tim Naftali, thanks very much.

NAFTALI: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, has just released a statement on the Trump Justice Department seizing a vast number of communications of the former president's political rivals, including members of the media, Democratic lawmakers. We also learned White House Counsel Don McGhan and his wife.

Let's get right to Evan Perez. Attorney general clearly concerned about these practices. What's he going to do about it?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, this statement tells us that at least, so far, despite the fact that the department has not said very much about what went on here, it's clear that there are things that they believe that were not done properly.

And so that's the reason why you now are hearing from the attorney general. He says, quote, there are important questions that must be resolved in connection with an effort by the department to obtain records related to members of Congress and congressional staff. He mentioned that the inspector general is doing a review of this, but he also says that if during that process, anything comes up that requires immediate attention, he says, I will not hesitate to move swiftly.

He also mentions, Jim, the attorney general mentions that the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, is now essentially doing a review to find any matters that should have high-level review. In other words, what this tells me is that they believe at least some of what we have been covering in the last few days with these records requests from members of Congress and staff and their family members, that there is something that was not done properly, that perhaps the high-level approvals that should have been done may not have been done.

It appears, if you read between the lines of what the attorney general is saying here, he's -- he believes that they're going to have to strengthen their processes to make sure that obtaining records of the legislative branch are done according to not only the rule of law but also the Justice Department's own policies.

SCIUTTO: Does this -- because the key question, you've had Sessions and Barr, say we know nothing about this. Based on what you're seeing, is that possible? In other words, if practices weren't being followed that it didn't go to the highest levels?

PEREZ: It's quite possible. I mean, look, there is one other person that we're also -- we're still trying to figure out if and what he knew, and that's Matt Whitaker. He was an acting attorney general for a very, very brief period. But, yes, I think it is quite possible that this is an investigation that began somewhere else, ends up rolling into getting these members of Congress' records, and the proper people at the highest level of the department weren't fully informed. That is a possibility that is being explored here.

SCIUTTO: We'll see what these probes come up with. Evan Perez, thanks so much.

PEREZ: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Well, with every passing day, it does look less and less likely that the U.S. will reach President Biden's July 4th vaccine goal of having 70 percent of U.S. adults fully vaccinated. In the U.S. today, not far, 64 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose. I should say 70 percent having received at least one dose. Right now, it's 64 percent. 43.5 percent or so fully vaccinated.

But in five states, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming, fewer than half of adults have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Joining me now to break down the numbers, Harry Enten, CNN Senior Political Writer and Analyst.

What's remarkably here, Harry, this split very definitively breaks down along party lines. There's a direct red/blue state gap here with vaccination rates.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: It's exactly right. You know, let's just start off with the national picture right now. You were sort of hinting at it. We're not going to reach that 70 percent threshold. The reason we're not is take a look at the rate in which we've been vaccinating over the last few months and over the last few weeks. What do we see? We see that, in fact, that at least at this particular point, we're right around -- a little bit around 64 percent.

But look where we were three months ago. We were at 27 percent, then we jumped up 19 points two months ago. Then we really started slowing down from two months to one month. And, you know, right now, at this point, it looks like we're only going to get to around 67 percent.

But as you pointed out, Jim, this partisan gap is huge. It's huge. So, look at this. This really gives you an understanding. Where are the states are right now where we have at least 70 percent of the folks vaccinated? They are all in the states that Joe Biden won, 13 states. Zero states that Trump won have at least 70 percent of folks, adults with at least one dose. There's an additional seven states that Biden won that are between 65 percent and 70 percent. Those states will probably make it. At this point, it looks like zero, zero of the Trump states at this point will reach that 70 percent threshold. At this point, they're all at 65 percent or less of adults with at least one dose.


SCIUTTO: And that partisan gap is getting bigger over time?

ENTEN: It's widening, Jim. Look at this. Look at where we are right now in the average Trump state versus the average Biden state and compare it. Well, this is with children, which also gives you an understanding, right? This right here is with children. What we see is in the states that Biden won, 39 percent of children 12 to 17 have been vaccinated -- now we're flipping back. But essentially what we see is, look at this, right now, there's a 15-point gap between the Biden states and the Trump states, 70 percent versus 55 percent. Where were we two months ago? It was 50 percent versus 44 percent in the Biden versus Trump. So we were at a six-point gap. Now, we're at a 15- point gap. And as I point, among children, that gap is even larger, it's 20 points at this point.

SCIUTTO: Folks, the virus does not know your party affiliation. It doesn't.

ENTEN: It doesn't, yet here we are.

SCIUTTO: Harry Enten, thanks very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

SCIUTTO: And thanks very to you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto off to Geneva to watch the Biden/Putin summit. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.