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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Federal Agents Execute Search Warrant at Rudy Giuliani's Manhattan Apartment & Office; Tonight: Biden's First Address to a Joint Session of Congress; Judge Denies Public Release of Andrew Brown Jr. Body Cam Video. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 28, 2021 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: He said that that is up to the judge.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I think it's really interesting to hear from the jurors and why the deliberations took longer than some people expected.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Some people thought they would be over sooner.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So what's the vibe at Mar-a-Lago like today?

THE LEAD starts now.

Breaking news. Rudy Giuliani responding after federal agents raided his New York City apartment. What might that mean for his former client?

And in just a few hours, President Biden will make his very first joint address to Congress in a pandemic and with the wounds of the MAGA insurrection still fresh on the scene.

Plus, an autopsy showing he was shot in the back of the head by police. His family called it an execution. One week later, a judge makes a key ruling on the bodycam video in the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with the politics lead, an extraordinary move that had to have been approved by the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Justice. Sources telling CNN that law enforcement officials today raided the New York City apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani who was President Trump's personal attorney, of course. This raid first reported by "The New York Times" included agents seizing Giuliani's electronics devices to advance the criminal investigation into the former New York City mayor. It's unusual to say the least for prosecutors to execute a search warrant on an attorney because theoretically that could uncover privileged attorney-client information.

Keep in mind, since 2019, CNN has been reporting that the feds were investigating Giuliani's lobbying activities in Ukraine while he was also simultaneously Trump's personal attorney.

Let's start today's reporting with CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, do we know what the feds were looking for?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I spoke with Mr. Giuliani's attorney and he described the search warrant that was executed on his client this morning. He said it specifically indicates that this is related to investigation into possible violations of foreign lobbying rules. Now if you're lobbying or working on behalf of a foreign government, you are required to disclose that to the Justice Department.

Now I'm told that the warrant also seeks communications between Mr. Giuliani and other individuals, including a columnist John Solomon who wrote a lot about Ukraine in the lead up to the election. Now at this point, Mr. Giuliani has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but as you noted it's incredibly unusual to execute a warrant like this on a lawyer, especially a lawyer for a former president, and, again, this is not the only lawyer who received this kind of treatment today where a search warrant was executed.

So showing up on the doorsteps of attorneys and seizing electronic devices, incredibly unusual, and these foreign lobbying violations prior to the Trump administration were mostly treated as paperwork crimes, so a lot of crimes right now about whether this investigation has expanded beyond just foreign lobbying.

TAPPER: And, Paula, as we noted, this kind of raid had to have been approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department. Have we heard any comment from the feds about the decision to go through with the search?

I can't recall a search of a lawyer's residence/office in such a high- profile way since Trump's previous attorney Michael Cohen.

REID: Exactly. That's the precedent that jumps to mind for me as well. This would have had to have been approved at the highest level, likely the former acting deputy attorney general or the recently installed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would have had to have been aware of this and sign off on this.

This is a big test for the Biden administration. There's been a lingering question. What were they going to do with these legal issues that they inherited from the previous administration related to the former president and his inner circle?

And the message is clear today. They are not going to turn a blind eye to any questions of possible criminal wrongdoing just to bring the country together.

TAPPER: Now, we should note that Biden kept in office the U.S. attorney in Delaware who is investigating his son Hunter and -- and apparently keeping hands off on that.

It wasn't just Giuliani's property searched today though as you alluded to. One of Giuliani's allies was also the target of a warrant.

REID: That's right. Another one of former President Trump's lawyers, Victoria Toensing, she also had a visit from federal investigators this morning who executed a warrant at her home and reportedly seized her cell phone. Now, a spokesperson for Ms. Toensing said that she would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was asked.

Now, the spokesperson says that she was inform she is not a target of the investigation but again, she is an attorney, someone who formally worked to represent a former president and they seized her cellphone.

TAPPER: All right. Paula, thank you so much.


Appreciate it.

Let's bring in Washington correspondent for the "New York Times", Maggie Haberman. She helped break this story for "The Times".

Maggie, good to see you.

Any sense of why now? Were the feds waiting until Trump was well out of office, almost at 100 days for Biden to pursue the search warrant? Does it feel like a coincidence?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Jake, that's an excellent question. I don't think it's timed with the 100 days. I do think the timing of the matters, at least on the face of it, it looks as if having Lisa Monaco sworn in at the Department of Justice played -- could have played a role in the timing of this. We know that law enforcement had hoped to or at least been moving towards some effort to procure these devices and -- and to execute a similar search on Giuliani's property and on his communications last summer, and that did not move forward while President Trump was still in office.

So I think that the timing is less about a capstone for Biden than it is simply about new officials coming in at DOJ. That is going to invite or at least prompt some criticism from the right and from President Trump's -- from President Biden's critics that this was, know, some sort of political engagement because they waited until there was a changeover at DOJ.

The argument that you're going to hear from people around President Biden is these were things that should have gone forward under former President Trump and did not for potentially political reasons.

TAPPER: Well, explain. Lisa Monaco was just confirmed as the deputy attorney general. She's widely expected. She enjoyed a pretty strong confirmation.

Explain why -- I mean, assuming that this supposition is correct, why her going into that position would be necessary, why Attorney General Merrick Garland wouldn't be good enough, for example?

HABERMAN: Because she is somebody whose office this would go by, and it would generally go under the DAG, deputy attorney general. It certainly would be something that the attorney general was aware of, but I think having the top leadership in place in both positions is something that the Biden administration was looking for to take.

This is -- as you've noted, an extraordinary step. It not only involves a lawyer, it involves a former U.S. attorney himself and somebody who had been a been a lawyer to a former president. So, I think, given all of that, there's a desire to check as many boxes as possible.

TAPPER: As you not in your reporting, this search warrant does not explicitly accuse Giuliani of any specific wrongdoing, but prosecutors would need to convince a judge. I mean, it would be theoretically a high hurdle that they believed they needed to do a search because they believe that a crime was committed.

Again, this is obviously all speculative until we actually see the documentation, but what might the actual crime be here?

HABERMAN: Look, I don't want to say more than we actually know in terms of the reporting but what this investigation has related to is Giuliani's, you know, lobbying on behalf of Ukraine officials while former President Trump was in office, while Rudy Giuliani was attempting to dig up dirt on the Bidens, on President Biden and his son Hunter that he was hoping to use to damage then candidate Joe Biden politically.

As far as we know it relates to that, but as you know, these investigations start one place and then they go off into other directions. Look back at Michael Cohen, former President Trump's former personal lawyer who initially was touched on as part of the special counsel probe by Robert S. Mueller. That went off in a bunch of different directions, and Cohen still remains the only person who got significant jail time in any of this.

I think that that is the risk for Giuliani is that these probes begin in a certain place, and as he knows better than anybody, they can go off in a bunch of different ways.

TAPPER: Yeah, I'm thinking now and having a image of four seasons total landscaping in Philadelphia right near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and Giuliani -- one of the main boosters of Trump's big lie about the election, the false claim after false claim, bogus testimony around the country, that there was mass voter fraud in the election, take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: So over the next ten days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we're wrong we will be made fools of.

Let's have trial by combat. I'm willing to state -- I'm willing to stake my reputation. The president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we're going to find criminality there.


TAPPER: Well, that aged well.

We should note that Trump did not preemptively pardon Giuliani before he left office. Do you anticipate that the former president in Mar-a- Lago will come out and try to defend him since Giuliani did so much of Trump's bidding?

HABERMAN: I think that his temptation to say something going to be strong. I think that there is a question in his circle right now as to whether any of this could end up touching on Trump in some way.


And at the moment we don't know beyond just the obvious that this all grew out of the first -- the circumstances of the first impeachment of former President Trump. But, look, generally speaking, former President Trump tends to say something when -- even when a lot of his advisers would rather that he didn't. I don't think he's uncomfortable.

TAPPER: All right. Maggie Haberman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming cup. Want to see history tonight? Just look behind the president during his big speech, all of the firsts, all the security and how he plans to sell his bold vision for reshaping America. That's next.

And the bodycam video of the police shooting of a black man in North Carolina. Will the public get to see it? That ruling ahead.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: We're back with the politics lead.

In just a few hours, President Biden gives his first joint address to Congress. It will be unlike any presidential speech we've seen before because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Most of the fanfare you would normally expect to see will be missing. The majority of the 1,600-seat House chamber will be empty. Only a limited number of lawmakers can attend. Guests are not allowed in the chamber.

Earlier today, the president spoke at length with a number of TV news anchors, including me. And one of the points he made on the record was beyond the initial challenges of stemming the tide of the pandemic and helping those suffering economically because of it. He felt he needed to succeed because the American people needed to have faith that their government could actually function. Quote, we can't afford to lose out of the box, he says, he told his

staff. We cannot afford to lose this first effort, he said, because he sees what's next as a major test of whether democracy can thrive in the 21st century.

Chinese President Xi is betting against it, he said. Quote: This government is found on this notion, that you know, sounds corny, we the people, Biden told us, quote, and there's nothing we're going to be able to get done unless we can convince the American people it's possible to do it, unquote.

President Biden also told us, quote, everybody talks about can I do anything bipartisan? Well, I got to figure out if there's a party to deal with. We need a Republican Party. We need another party, whatever you call it, that's unified, not completely splintered and fearful of one another, unquote.

Among the major points we expect to hear tonight, President Biden will unveil a new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan focused on elder care, child care and paid family leave.

We're going to cover all the angles of the speech this evening from the White House to Capitol Hill.

Let's start with CNN's Phil Mattingly.

And, Phil, this new plan will likely face some pushback not just from Republicans but also progressive Democrats. Walk us through what exactly is in it.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Jake, the president is obviously going to be on center stage but so will the sheer ambition of his policy proposals. That $1.2 trillion plan that would largely reshape the social safety net and really transform government spending in the U.S. to a degree we haven't seen in decades.

You're talking about hundreds of billions for child care, for paid family leave, universal pre-K, free community college, also subsidies -- and extension of expanded subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.

The president is going to push for the laying this on the table for forthcoming congressional negotiations but, Jake, as you noted, Democrat, some progressives, already upset it didn't include two key elements, expanding Medicare and prescription drug costs proposals. Some moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, already concerned that it's going to cost too much money.

So, they're going to have to thread a needle here intra-party, not just with Republicans and it's something the president is going to lay out tonight.

TAPPER: Yeah, all told, it's something like $6 trillion in new spending proposals.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill for us. So, Manu, we know the speech is going to look radically different from what we usually expect from a joint address. Walk us through exactly what those of us watching will see.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, many fewer members. Probably roughly 200 total attendees in the House chamber. Typically for an event like this, 1,600 people would be in the chamber, but because -- mainly because of COVID restrictions they are limiting attendance, coming from the speaker's office.

Members will be scattered about. They will be sitting apart, not next to each other. They are supposed to be sitting on the House floor and also in the upstairs gallery. That gallery typically would be reserved for guests. Members will not be allowed to bring guests.

Also there will be things such as you can't make physical contact. They are not supposed to be shaking hands or fist bumping or elbow bumping. We'll see if they actually listen to those rigorous requirements that also forced the members to prove that they have been vaccinated or they have had a negative COVID test within the last two days.

So very strict rules here for members. They have limited -- for each of the four caucuses on Capitol Hill have been given a limited number of tickets. They have doled out those tickets accordingly. Democrats have a lottery for tickets on the Senate side and then on the Republican side, it's been first come, first serve, and they have been having a harder time to get Republicans to come back from the retreat in Orlando to come tonight.

So, we'll see how many Republicans show up but much different than any other speech that we've seen, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu, thanks so much. A week after police killed Andrew Brown Jr. in North Carolina the judge rules the public will have to wait longer to see the body cam videos.

North Carolina's attorney general will be here to react live, next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, a North Carolina judge denied requests to release the body cam video of the deadly police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. last week. And while the judge did grant permission for the family to see the five additional videos, the public will have to wait until an investigation is complete.

Joining us now, North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein.

General Stein, thanks for joining us.

So, you called for the release of the bodycam video four days ago. You have not seen the footage. What's your reaction to this ruling by the judge? JOSH STEIN (D), NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thanks, Jake.

Before I answer that question, I just want to say a word about the family of Andrew Brown Jr. You know, they are suffering right now, and it's a tragedy whenever anyone's life is cut short, and they are suffering and people in Elizabeth City are, and I just want them to know that there are many people who feel for them.


I think that transparency is absolutely critical in matters like this. Look, the police exist to protect the public, and we have them wear body and dash cams in order to provide transparency, to have an account of what happened, and that should belong to the people. That's why I called for the release to be done with -- without any undue delay.

The judge has argued that there needs to be some more time for the investigation. North Carolina's law I think actually has it backwards. It creates the default that it's not a public record and the public somehow has to convince a judge to grant it. And I think it needs to be the other way, where by date certain, it is released to the public unless law enforcement can prevail that there's some investigative reason why it should not yet be released.

TAPPER: So, the judge ruled that family members will be allowed to see the remaining videos but that the officers' faces and names will be protected. Do you agree with that decision?

STEIN: Well, I haven't seen the video so I can't speak to exactly what happened or what they represent, so I can't speak to the wisdom. I do think it's imperative that the family be able to see it as quickly as possible so that they can process this tragedy, so I do -- I do support that.

TAPPER: So I don't what happened, right? I haven't seen it. I didn't see the video.

But the family described Brown's final moments as an execution. One of the family lawyers said Brown was not moving in a menacing way. There's an independent autopsy that says he was shot in the back of the head.

But the North Carolina D.A. today said that the family and the family lawyer's versions are false and that Brown was backing up his car into police officers. I mean, the video would clear up what actually happened one would think.

STEIN: That's why transparency is so important, Jake. I mean, the reason we have video is so that we can know what happened, whether the person was in the wrong or the police was in the wrong or nobody was in the wrong. That's what we have to find out, and the video will tell us that, and transparency is critical.

I don't want to speak to the specifics of what happened in this case because the investigation is still ongoing, but it is a tragedy whenever there is a police-involved shooting, and we want as few of them as possible and so we have to do a better job making sure that our criminal justice system lives up to the ideal that's on the face of the Supreme Court building.

Those words are equal justice under law and, Jake, we don't have that right now. Black people and white people are not treated the same. If you look at the criminal justice process from start to finish, black people have disparate treatment every step along the way, including the percentage of people who experience police-involved shootings.

So we have a lot of work to do to improve our criminal justice system.

TAPPER: The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is leading the probe with local authorities. Now, I understand this department falls under the governor's purview, not yours. But you're the chief law enforcement officer of the state of North Carolina, right? Are you going to have any role in what they are looking into?

STEIN: Well, I commend the sheriff. He immediately called in the state Bureau of Investigation to conduct the investigation, and he's also asked for an external sheriff's agency to come in and do an internal review to see if internal policies were followed.

And when you have a police-involved shooting, it raises the question of trust. For police to succeed in our communities, there has to be trust. That's why I think an independent investigation is advisable and why I'm chairing a task force to promote a lot of reforms to our criminal justice system in North Carolina.

One of our recommendations was not only an independent investigation but an independent prosecution, whether that's my office, whether it's another district attorney or the conference of district attorneys. We want the public to have confidence in whatever decisions are rendered at the end of this investigation, that that decision was made with no bias involved.

And say that with no criticism of District Attorney Womble. It may end up being the exact same decision that he would make.

TAPPER: Right.

STEIN: But the people would have more confidence.

TAPPER: Well, that's the thing. I mean, those who want there to be successful police forces in this country also feel that there needs to be a degree of trust, a level of trust. We still don't know how many deputies were on the scene, how many of them fired their -- their guns, how many rounds were fired.

I mean, beyond not releasing the video, this opaqueness, this lack of transparency, even if nobody, no police officer, no deputy did anything wrong, they are hurting themselves by being so -- refusing to share this information, by being so nontransparent.