On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Uvalde police response an ‘abject failure,’ Texas top cop says
We have the latest developments. Plus, another round of Jan. 6 hearings is in the books after state election officials testified, USA TODAY Editor in Chief Nicole Carroll reflects on an abortion decision in her family, Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze looks at the implications of a decision on religious school funding and the Westminster Kennel Club crowns Best in Show.
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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Wednesday, the 22nd of June, 2022. Today, new developments in the Uvalde elementary school shooting police response. Plus, the latest from January 6th hearings and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- An earthquake slammed eastern Afghanistan earlier today. At least 280 people are dead, with those numbers expected to rise.
- President Joe Biden will ask Congress today to suspend the federal gas tax for the next three months. Gas prices have soared past $5 a gallon in most states.
- And Yellowstone National Park will partially reopen today. Last week’s devastating flooding forced more than 10,000 people to evacuate.
New developments continue coming in about the police response to the Uvalde elementary school shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead last month. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety testified yesterday that police had enough officers on the scene of the massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building. Police armed with rifles instead waited for more than an hour before they stormed the classroom and killed the gunman. Director Steve McCraw testified in front of a state Senate committee.
Steve McCraw :
There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre. Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject. The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.
One hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds. That’s how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in rooms 111 to be rescued. While they waited, the on-scene commander waited for radio and rifles. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.
During the hearing, McCraw laid out one of the most detailed timelines yet of the shooting and the police response to it. He said officers waited for a key to a classroom where the gunman hid that could not be locked from the inside. McCraw said there was no indication officers even tried opening the door.
He outlined a series of missed opportunities, communication breakdowns, and other mistakes. He confirmed that the incident commander Pete Arredondo, the school district’s police chief, did not have a radio with him when he arrived on the scene. But McCraw did support Arredondo’s previous statements that radios did not work inside the school. Arredondo has said he did not consider himself the person in charge on the scene and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. Yesterday’s session was the first of two days of hearings at the Texas State Capitol.
A fourth round of January 6th hearings is in the books, and the focus moved yesterday to how former President Donald Trump leaned on state officials to try and illegally overturn the 2020 election. At the center of the plot were efforts by Trump allies to press for alternative slates of electors. They would then have flipped electoral college results against President Joe Biden. Republican Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers said he was pushed to make a committee to hear baseless claims of voter fraud.
The ones I remember were first that we would hold that I would allow an official committee at the Capitol so that they could hear this evidence and that we could take action thereafter, and I refused. I said up to that time, the circus, I called it the circus, had been brewing with lots of demonstrations, both at the counting center at the Capitol and other places. I didn’t want to have that in the House. I did not feel that the evidence, granted in its absence, merited a hearing and I didn’t want to be used as a pawn.
Trump also infamously called Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, demanding he find more votes after Trump lost Georgia.
President Donald Trump:
All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.
Rep. Adam Schiff:
Was the president here asking you for exactly what he wanted, one more vote than his opponent?
What I knew is that we didn’t have any votes to find. We had continued to look. We investigated, like I just shared the numbers with you. There were no votes to find. That was an accurate count that had been certified. As our general counsel said, there was no shredding of ballots.
Raffensperger, along with others, also expressed concerns about their safety. He said his daughter-in-law’s home was broken into by Trump’s followers. A Georgia election worker, Shaye Moss, also expressed safety concerns. Trump falsely accused her and her mother of bringing in suitcases of ballots into an Atlanta arena on election night. She said the situation turned her life upside down.
Multiple witnesses in taped testimony also talked about a nationwide scheme to decertify Biden’s electors and install alternate ones who would back Trump. Text messages obtained by the committee showed a staffer for US Senator Ron Johnson wanted to hand-deliver fake elector votes from Michigan and Wisconsin to former Vice President Mike Pence.
For a full rundown of yesterday’s hearing, head to usatoday.com. The next hearing on January 6th is set for tomorrow.
USA TODAY’S editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll has written a column out today about the legal abortion her mother had almost 50 years ago. Her reflection comes as the country is grappling with changes to abortion rights. Nicole spoke with audio editor Shannon Rae Green about what her mom was facing then and how her family feels about her decision.
My mom died in October of last year, and she had a box of papers, cards, and letters, the things we keep. I found in those papers this story that she had written about an abortion she had in 1975.
As a journalist, I was intrigued, like, wow, here’s a story from almost 50 years ago. It’s really clear in the manuscript she wanted it published. She wanted to share her experience. So as a journalist, I thought it was fascinating. As a daughter, here was my mom asking to publish a story, and I was in a position to do that.
Shannon Rae Green:
Why do you think now is the time to tell this story?
The draft opinion of Roe v. Wade came out. I think that was right at the beginning of May. That’s when I knew we needed to do this story, and not because I’m trying to tell anybody how to think about abortion, but I do think we need to talk about it. I thought, well, if my family can make our way through this story and have these difficult conversations, it might help others have these difficult conversations, too.
Shannon Rae Green:
What was on your mind as you were planning the trip out to Texas to be able to talk to your family?
I wanted to understand a little more about what she was up against, and I wanted other people to understand all the reasons behind her decision. She had just divorced my dad when we moved to Amarillo, and she worked at an apartment complex. She made $144 every two weeks.
In addition, she got a free apartment. It was two bedrooms. And so, my brother slept in one, me and my sister in the other, and she slept on the couch downstairs. So she was really proud that after a really troubled marriage, she was able to support her three kids, and she was out on her own for the first time ever.
She also knew that there was a good chance her boss would fire her if he found out she was pregnant, and certainly fire her if she had an abortion.
Shannon Rae Green:
I have a clip of your uncle, Larry Hamilton, talking about how he feels all these years later about taking your mom to get an abortion. Let’s play that clip.
In my mind, especially with her mental health, I think she felt that if she didn’t do this, that she wasn’t sure how she was going to handle it. I think at the time, I felt that that was the best option. I knew she was trapped.
Shannon Rae Green:
Were you surprised that he said that he thought it was the right decision?
I wasn’t surprised because I honestly didn’t know how he was going to react. We haven’t talked about this. We knew it happened. It’s been known in the family. It was known that she almost died, but we never talked about it. So I guess I was surprised only in that I had no idea what he was going to say.
Shannon Rae Green:
In the talking about it, did you feel like there was any sort of resolve that came to you all as a family?
I don’t think there was resolve, but there was just such respect. I love my brother and I love my sister and I love my uncle, and they all had opinions that were different. They were all over the spectrum. But we were able to talk about them respectfully and we all still love each other.
You can get a link to Nicole’s story in today’s show description. You can also find it at abortionstory.usatoday.com.
Religious schools in Maine got a big win at the Supreme Court on Monday, and, as Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze tells producer James Brown, the decision will likely be felt across the nation’s school districts.
For a while, the Supreme Court has been chipping away at this idea that religious entities can’t receive public funding. There’ve been a number of cases leading in that direction. There was this outstanding question, though, of whether public money could go for schools that are offering religious instructions, not just religious schools, because sometimes a school might be affiliated with, say, the Catholic church or with some other religion, and they’re not really doing much in the classroom on religion. This case dealt more with schools that are directly offering religious instruction in the classroom and whether taxpayer money can be used for that.
It’s an unusual program. It’s in Maine because that’s a rural state and a lot of school districts don’t have their own high schools. And so, in Maine, if you’re in one of these rural districts, you can take what’s essentially like a voucher or a tuition package and you can go apply it to a private school. Maine had said, yeah, you can do that as much as you want, but you can’t send it to schools that offer religious instruction.
Supreme Court struck that down today and said, look, that violates the First Amendment’s free exercise clause, which says that you can practice your religion as you see fit. If Maine doesn’t want to fund private religious schools, then they shouldn’t be in the business of providing funding for private schools at all.
What are the implications of this decision? I would assume they would go beyond Maine.
Right. Well, that’s always the big question. So ostensibly, on its surface, this applies just to Maine, but I think a lot of advocates are raising questions about its broader implications. What does it mean for charter schools, say, across the country? What does it mean for voucher programs? What does it mean for public education generally and funding for public education? If I’m a parent in a public school district and want to send my kid to a private religious school or a religious school, should the state help me pay for that a little bit? Those are questions that I think are coming down the pike based on this decision. So, yeah, to answer your question, it’s focused on Maine, but I think it could have much broader implications going forward.
More than 3,000 dogs of all shapes and sizes, along with their handlers, have been competing this week at the 146th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Up tonight is the grand finale, Best in Show. The Best in Show winner will be selected from the winners of seven breed groups. They are sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. Last year’s winner was Wasabi, a small Pekinese, part of the toy dog family. Due to COVID, the show is being held outdoors for the second year in a row in Tarrytown, New York, instead of its usual home at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. You can tune in on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 7:30 PM, Eastern.
You can find 5 Things seven mornings a week on whatever your favorite podcast app is. We ask for a five-star rating and review, if you have a chance. Thanks to Shannon Rae Green, James Brown, PJ Elliott, and all of our great reporters for their fantastic work on the show. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism