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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden: "Encouraged" After Bipartisan Meeting On Infrastructure; Republicans Vote To Remove Rep. Cheney From GOP Leadership; Colonial Pipeline Restarting Operations, Says It Will Take "Several Days" For Supply Chain To Return To Normal; Black Drivers Say They're Targeted Because Of Air Fresheners; Biden Speaks To Netanyahu, Says Israel Has A Right To Defend Itself; Dozens Killed In Worst Israel-Palestinian Violence Since 2014. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 12, 2021 - 17:00   ET



EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Now, what's clear now, though, Jake, is that there's more to this hack than we first thought that, you know, initially the company said that they shut down that the pipeline because of the cyber-attack. However, we've learned that the hackers did not actually get into the operational systems.

One of the reasons why the company shut down the pipeline, we're told, is because they were concerned that they -- their billing systems were compromised, that they would not be able to -- be able to figure out how much fuel customers were getting and how much to charge them for that fuel. We asked the company about this and they said in response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted all pipeline operations.

Jake, at this point, it looks like the company will be able to reconstitute some of its computer systems, its IT systems without paying the millions of dollars in cryptocurrency that is being demanded by these hackers.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Evan Perez, with that breaking news for us. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Americans are paying for that attack on Colonial Pipeline. We're now learning that price gouging in North and South Carolina has gotten out of control, with almost 1,000 complaints in those states. CNN's Pete Muntean is in Alexandria, Virginia, where almost half of gas stations are out of fuel.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colonial Pipeline panic has reached a new pitch at gas stations from Alabama, where this photo was taken, all the way to Virginia with sales as high as four times the norm. Gas Buddy now reports a growing number of stations without gas. Almost half of all stations in Virginia and Georgia are now dry. Even more in North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My gas tank is basically empty and all the gas pump has out of service.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to, like, six different station and nobody's got any gas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a little scary that somebody can tap into our system and kind of cause this ripple effect.

MUNTEAN: Even though experts say it's the rush to buy gas that is causing shortages, not necessarily the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. It supplies about 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast.

TOM KLOZA, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICE: It is full fledge hysteria right now in a lot of parts of the country.

MUNTEAN: Gas industry expert, Tom Kloza, says the panic buying epicenter is now moving. Station outages that started in Georgia and Tennessee are now growing in Virginia.

KLOZA: It's like a flood of panic behavior and it is yet to crest. It's moving. It's moving like a harsh rash.

MUNTEAN: Demand for gas is surging beyond just the East Coast.

Gas Buddy says on Tuesday it shut up 14 percent nationwide compared to the week before. The latest figures say the price of a gallon of gas is also going up. Triple A says the national average is now $3 for the first time in more than six years.

The Biden administration says it's taking a whole government approach to fixing gas hysteria, so bad that the Consumer Product Safety Commission had to tweet to not put gasoline into plastic bags. A desperate move that the White House is warning against.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Cording does not make things better. And under no circumstances should gasoline ever be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container.


MUNTEAN: This station in Northern Virginia is not out of gas yet, but you can see the line behind me. Good luck finding mid-grade and premium. It is sold out here, the sign of a growing trend. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean in Alexandria, Virginia, thanks so much.

North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who declared a state of emergency over the gas shortage joins us now.

Governor, thanks for joining us.

Around 70 percent of gas stations in Charlotte are out of gas. We're now learning almost 1,000 price gouging complaints have been filed across both North and South Carolina. How bad is it for your consumers, for your drivers? GOV. ROY COOPER, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: As governor of North Carolina, I want this gas supply problem fixed as quickly as possible. OK. We are working with local and federal officials and the company to get that done.

I've declared a state of emergency which would allow transportation waivers for more trucks and heavier trucks to come into the state bringing gas. We've gotten a waiver from the EPA to increase the amount of fuel coming in.

Colonial is telling us that they have a system restart plan that they are developing. And we want to make sure that we can fix this problem.

I'll tell you, this should not be a gas supply problem. But panic buying has made that a fact. So we're also telling people, you know, please don't buy gas if you don't really need it right now. Save it for the people who do.

TAPPER: How much of the problem is because of the panic buying versus how much is caused by the shutdown of the pipeline?


COOPER: Well, because of the short period of time the supply has been there, I think, for normal buy, but the cause of the cyber-attack and the attention that it got a lot of people were concerned that they weren't going to be able to have gas, so they went and bought up to 20 percent increase in the amount of gas that has been sold, which caused this particular problem.

What we got to do, though, is to get people calm down, and to make sure that we get this pipeline up and running as quickly as possible, and to make sure we have other avenues to get gas to stations as quickly as possible. And the company is telling us that they should have this restart plan, beginning by the end of the week, and that through the weekend, things should be back to normal. And we hope and believe that's the case.

We are working with local governments to make sure that public safety is secure and that they have the gas that they need. Emergency Management is working with local governments to make sure that they have what they need. Our Department of Transportation is helping with gas for local governments or police departments and others that might need it.

I had a good conversation with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who told me they were working from the federal level to make sure this pipeline gets turned back on as quickly as possible.

TAPPER: Right.

COOPER: And it's what we all want. Hopefully we can get through this.

TAPPER: So this afternoon, within the hour, President Biden said he's working closely with Colonial Pipeline and good news is coming soon. That's what he said. Earlier today, Governor DeSantis of Florida, said the Biden administration is not taking this seriously enough. They need to, "step up," and that their initial response was oh, this is just a private pipeline and just shrugged their shoulders. How do you see it? How do you see the Biden administration's response?

COOPER: That was not my experience. I got a call from Secretary Granholm very early in the process. And the Biden administration jumped on this immediately with me. And I understand what other state governors across the southeast. And I think this company is going to be able to get things back on track here in the next couple of days.

But it does say that we've got work to do with cyber security, particularly protecting critical infrastructure. I think the Biden administration understands that, and is working on that issue, both in the short term and the long term.

TAPPER: And do you know what the good news is that Biden hinted will be coming out in the next 24 hours? Do you have any idea?

COOPER: Well, what we're hearing from the company is that they are developing their restart plan, and that they hope to have it done quickly. I'm not sure exactly what the President is going to say. But we feel good about where they are in the process. And we're going to continue, however, to work to get gas to stations as quickly as possible through other means, until the pipeline can get back up and running at full capacity again,

TAPPER: As is now commonplace, there's a lot of misinformation out there, especially on social media. And the misinformation is encouraging people to hoard gas. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission even felt the need to tweet this morning, "Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline." Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said this today.


BUTTIGIEG: Under no circumstances should gasoline ever be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container.


TAPPER: I guess it's just kind of the state of play in America, but common sense is not being followed by many have you seen this happening in the Tar Heel state? And how are you combating the dangerous misinformation?

COOPER: Unfortunately, that has happened in some situations. I've seen pictures of people putting gas in the canisters. Not only is does that keep gas from other people who really need it, it also is very dangerous and can create a dangerous condition. So we're encouraging people not to do that, do not hoard gasoline.

We believe this problem is going to be fixed soon and getting things back to normal. TAPPER: In a couple of weeks your state would normally see a huge influx of tourists and beach goers going to the Outer Banks, the gorgeous Outer Banks, if this gas shortage continues, and we hope it doesn't, but if it does, are you worried that this could impact how many visitors come to North Carolina which is already struggling tourist style in the tourism industry because of the pandemic.

COOPER: I think people are going to find ways to get here, Jake. North Carolina is one of the best places to visit in the world. I do believe we're going to get over this bump with gas supply.


And we look for -- we're working, we're combating the pandemic. Our cases are going down. Our hospitalizations are going down. We're getting more and more people vaccinated.

We believe we're going to come out of this pandemic even stronger than before. And we're going to be welcoming tourists to North Carolina.

TAPPER: All right, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, thanks so much. And good luck with everything.

Coming up, an air freshener on your rearview mirror could be enough to get you pulled over in some states. Critics say that's especially true if you're black. We're digging into that story ahead.

Plus, the Israeli ambassador to the United States joins me live with the violence between Israelis and Palestinians at a level not seen since 2014. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our world lead, moments ago, we learned the President Biden talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a second day of deadly violence in the region. Biden also said that Israel has a right to defend itself from the rocket attacks by Hamas, an organization the State Department classifies as terrorists. Hamas has been lining up the skies of Israel, with over 1000 rockets yesterday, launched 150 more rockets just hours ago.

Israeli Defense Forces are responding with airstrikes causing entire buildings to collapse in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 65 people, 16 of them children have been killed in Gaza. Israeli officials reporting at least seven people dead in Israel hundreds more in the region injured. CNN's Ben Wedeman, joins me now.


Live from Jerusalem, Ben, are there any signs at all of de-escalation or are things getting worse?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Things are getting worse, not only the things you mentioned regarding missile barrages from Gaza and Israeli strikes in Gaza, it also involves what is appears to be an unprecedented level of communal violence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel itself, in the town of Lod or Lyd in Arabic, yesterday.

And this evening, you've had disturbances which have prompted the Israeli authorities to withdraw some of the border police from the West Bank and redeploy them in that town where there is now an 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., overnight curfew to try to bring calm to that city.

And there are other towns around Israel where we've seen similar disturbances. So there's a variety of flashpoints. And it appears that there's no sign at this point that things are calming down. Jake.

TAPPER: Ben, what would it take for a ceasefire?

WEDEMAN: Well, what it would take was a real concerted diplomatic effort to convince all the parties to stop the violence. And then, of course, when it comes to the communal violence within Israel itself, that's a whole different matter.

But what we've seen in the past is that the Egyptians really have the best tools to sort of convince all the different parties to return to a state of calm. They've done that in the past, in 2014, 2012, 2009. They are very influential with the factions in Gaza, because Gaza also shares a border with Egypt.

And of course, Egypt has diplomatic relations with Israel. And the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has relatively good relations with the Israelis. So they're really the key in bringing some sort of resolution at this point. But it's still unfortunately, Jake, in early days.

TAPPER: Yes. Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, thank you so much. Stay safe.

Current Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan joins me now.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks for joining us.

So, Israel's --


TAPPER: So first of all, we just learned from President Biden that he was on the phone with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, today. You were on that call.


TAPPER: What was said?

ERDAN: Before I'll get to that, let me tell you that on my way here, I had to talk to my parents because I grew up in Ashkelon, the city of Ashkelon. It's a city that is extremely, severely bombarded in the last few days. My parents are still living there.

And I have to stay in touch with them every few hours in order to make sure that they got to a safe shelter whenever they heard the siren. That is the reality that millions of people in Israel are facing now.

And coming back to your question, yes, I was on the call. And I was very, very pleased to hear the strong commitment of President Biden to Israel's right to defend itself and to safety of security of the people of Israel. That's what I heard in that conversation.

TAPPER: So, Israel's ambassador to the U.K. says that Israel will stop firing when Hamas stops firing. But Prime Minister Netanyahu says Gaza militants, Hamas terrorists will pay a heavy price, and the operation will take time. That kind of evokes the language and the images of the ground operations that we saw in 2014 when Israeli forces went into Gaza, is that what we're talking about?

ERDAN: Those days, I was a member of the Israeli security cabinet, who I remember how hard that decision was to start to initiate the ground operation. But that ground operation was aimed in order to neutralize the terror tunnels that Hamas dug into our territories. This is not the situation right now. I'm not saying that there will be no ground operation.

But right now, our goal is that to make Hamas stop trying to terrorize and to murder our citizens. They deliberately launch 1000s of rockets and missiles at our cities. And we have to restore our deterrence in a way that they will understand that this vicious method cannot be used anymore in the future.

TAPPER: So, the Palestinian health ministry claims at least 65 deaths including 16 children, because of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, airstrikes and other attacks on Gaza. Is that accurate, 65 deaths including16 children?


ERDAN: We don't know. We put a big question mark on every report and data that we get from the Palestinians in Gaza, because they are being controlled by Hamas. But in any case, we mourn the loss of life of civilians and children on both sides.

This is -- what happened was -- what's happening in Gaza is a tragedy. But who's in charge or who's responsible for that tragedy? It's only Hamas, because Hamas is committing a dual war crime. They are using their civilians as human shields, and they are deliberately launching the missile and rockets at our cities, on our civilians. So, this is a double war crime that they are committing.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you about the origins of this particular conflict. And I don't want to go back to 1876 and the land dispute, OK, because obviously, Palestinians, Jews different groups.

ERDAN: You mean the (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Yes, exactly.


TAPPER: But there's different claims to it. But this conflict started with the Israeli government trying to evict six Palestinian families from this neighborhood in East Jerusalem. And critics said, well, you can correct me in one second, but I just want to tell our viewers, critics say this is part of a plan by the Netanyahu government to remove Arabs from East Jerusalem, so none of it, none of East Jerusalem will be on the table for any future peace settlement. Human rights group call it ethnic cleansing.

What's your response? And obviously, you're shaking your head. So tell me what I'm wrong about here.

ERDAN: So, first of all, it wasn't the government that tried to evacuate anyone in Jerusalem, it was a legal property dispute between five Palestinian families and Jewish people that claim that they are the real owner of that property. As any democracy, we do not control the court's decision.

We did something that is unprecedented, we turned to the Supreme Court of Israel. And again, in order to de-escalate tensions, and we asked the Supreme Court to postpone its court hearings, because of the sensitivity of this period of time.

Not only that, we also change the route of the, you know, we have a parade, flag parade to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem. Every year, we cancelled it. And above all, and I know it firsthand, as Minister of Public Security, in my past we prevented, prohibited Jews from visiting the holiest place of Judaism, the Temple Mount on our day of celebration.

All those actions were enacted by the Israeli government in order to, you know, to lower tensions.

TAPPER: De-escalate. To De-escalate.

ERDAN: And because -- really, because we consulted with the American administration, those were -- those were basically all the, like, the recommendations. We got from the international community how to lower tensions. But one should understand those are all excuse because you cannot justify launching missiles and rockets deliberately on civilians with any legal dispute or anything that nothing can justify.

TAPPER: And obviously, nobody here is justifying Hamas rockets on the Israeli civilians. But let me ask you, I heard you and I heard President Biden and we hear it a lot from people saying Israel has a right to defend its people. And I'm not arguing with that.

But let me just ask you, as a matter of principle. I'm not asking about Hamas, OK, which the State Department calls a terrorist organization. But as a matter of principle, to the Palestinians, even though they don't have a state, do they have the right to defend themselves?

ERDAN: What do you mean? They have the right to defend themselves from who? We are not attacking Palestinians. You know, we proved in the last few months, again, time and again, that we are striving -- we are striving for peace. We just signed for peace agreement with four Arab countries, in addition to the existing peace agreements that we -- that we have with Jordan, and Egypt. So we want to live with peace -- in peace with our Palestinian neighbors.

You know, before Prime Minister Netanyahu, there were six other Prime Minister who offered the Palestinian an independent Palestinian state. Why it never happened? Because they always rejected our proposals. Whenever the administration tried to mediate between us they rejected their plan, their peace plans. So that's the reality right now.

I hope that the next generation of the Palestinian leaders will understand the lesson and will support some kind of concessions in order to achieve peace with Israel. Because peace can be achieved only by reconciliation. Education for peace, that is not what we're seeing in the Palestinian side. We see them educated the people to hate us, to delegitimize the State of Israel. That is not the way we will reach peace.


TAPPER: Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for taking our questions, really appreciate it. Ambassador to the United States from Israel Gilad Erdan, thanks so much.

ERDAN: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: It's a first for the Biden presidency, did a key meeting today bring the President's any closer to an infrastructure compromise with Republicans? That story, next.


TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead, moments ago we heard from President Biden for the first time after his meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House today. Biden said he's optimistic that the two sides can compromise and reach a deal on infrastructure but it appears they still cannot even really agree on what infrastructure includes or how to pay for it as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an Oval Office sit down that lasted 90 minutes.


COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden meeting with both leaders from both parties for the first time.

BIDEN: I'm encouraged that there's room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that's solid and significant.

COLLINS (voice-over): The President emphasizing the need to compromise on an infrastructure bill, but whether they will is still a big if.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you expect to do that, sir? How do you expect to come --

BIDEN: Just let (ph) my fingers will have.

COLLINS (voice-over): Right now, Republicans and Democrats don't even agree on what counts as infrastructure.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I think the first step is obviously to define what infrastructure is.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Let's agree on what we're trying to achieve, and then we can talk about how we pay for it.

COLLINS (voice-over): And they definitely haven't agreed on how to do that.

MCCONNELL: We're not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill. We both made that clear to the President. That's our red line.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: So raising taxes would be the biggest mistake you could make.

COLLINS (voice-over): Pelosi countering the GOP red line with this.

PELOSI: I myself think that what the Republicans did on the tax scam, to give 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent was a big rip.

COLLINS (voice-over): The big issue looming over the meeting wasn't bridges or roads or broadband, but a big election lie. And those who stood by the former president as he promoted it.

MCCARTHY: I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We're sitting here with the President today.

COLLINS (voice-over): Asked if he can work with McCarthy despite their differences, Biden signaled, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you trust him and work with him?


COLLINS (voice-over): This was the first time the four congressional leaders were all at the White House since this showdown in 2019, when Pelosi was seen pointing her finger at Trump during a heated talk about U.S. troops in Syria. Tomorrow, Biden meets with the Republican senators who have countered his $2.3 trillion infrastructure offer with a $568 billion alternative.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's going to be in a meeting tomorrow with Senator Capito and a number of Republican senators to discuss exactly that where we can find some common ground.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: And, Jake, the President told MSNBC that he wants to get a deal with Republicans on what he can get a deal with Republicans on but that doesn't mean he's bypassing his other priorities in this proposal. He'll essentially just get to them later. So it seems like modest progress in that meeting today at best, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins with the White House for us. Thank you so much.

Let's go to Capitol Hill now down the street and the vote today that's now a pivotal move for the Republican Party, a vote that further embraces Trump and his big lie and separates the party from a Congresswoman who simply told the truth. CNN's Manu Raju joins us now in the Capitol Hill. Manu, what the Republicans saying about their vote today to purge Congresswoman Liz Cheney from Republican leadership because she won't share and spread the big lie?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're defending it, I mean, defending it for this reason. They believe her fight with Donald Trump and her calling them out to push back against the big lie is a distraction for their party.

They believe that they can't focus on what happened in 2020. Does even though Donald Trump continually does just that, and they're saying that going forward, they want to focus on unifying against Joe Biden's agenda. But a number of these Republicans simply won't do what Liz Cheney is saying, which is to call out the former president.

Some of them back his lied that he won the election. Others simply say that there are irregularities that need to be investigated. Others simply dodged the question altogether.

But all of them are essentially united in this. They think that is not the way forward to win back the House in 2022, which is why they are supportive, overwhelmingly of getting rid of her from the leadership position and elevating, most likely, Elise Stefanik, the number three, Republican to be, the number three in the conference. And of course, she, a loyal Trump supporter who backed his efforts to overturn the election, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, and of course, this isn't about Liz Cheney per se, it's about the party's embrace of the big lie and continuing to not tell the truth about the insurrection. And Leader McCarthy, he allowed this to be done by voice vote behind closed doors, meaning no actual counting of yeas and nays. So they're not even standing by their -- what they're doing. It's -- lets everyone off the hook. They don't have to say how they voted.

RAJU: Yes, they wanted to rip the band aid off of this as it become an ugly dispute for their party and McCarthy recognizing this as well. I asked him about Liz Cheney. He said he had a conversation with her about this and he also downplayed all of it, said that this is just because she wasn't staying on message not talking about the fact that the message that she is saying is she wants Republicans like McCarthy to push back against Donald Trump. But clearly, viewing this is something not favorable for that party.

But even if there were a vote, it would be a secret ballot, Jake, and she would have lost that vote overwhelmingly.


TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with that news, thank you.

Breaking news just in, about that pipeline shot down after a cyber attack, that's next. Stay with us.


TAPPER: There's a breaking news for you in our money lead, that hacked pipeline company is getting back up and running. One of the United States largest oil transporters colonial pipeline just announced its restarting operations after that cyber attack force that the shutdown causing shortages and the gas buying hysteria across the country. CNN's Pete Muntean joins us now live. And Pete, this is not an instant fix and it could take days, yes?

MUNTEAN: Yes, that's right, Jake. You know, colonial just said it would be able to restart pipeline operations only a little bit ago at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. But the rub here is that after the fuel begins pumping through that very long pipeline hundreds of miles, it will take a little while to get to the terminals where trucks can pick it up and then bring it to stations like this one where we are in Alexandria, Virginia.

Those terminals are all along that route, places like Fairfax, Virginia, not too far away from here, also at airports like BWI.


This is something that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warned about, it going to come at a more critical time because so many people are lining up against stations all across the country, more and more stations like here in Virginia are running out of gas. But gas experts tell me that is really fueled primarily by the panic, not necessarily the pipeline. There is still gas here at this station in Alexandria, Virginia. But good luck, finding premium and midgrade, it is already sold out, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pete Muntean in Alexander, thanks so much.

In our politics lead today, Congresswoman Liz Cheney today, reacting to her fellow House Republicans who not only want her at a party leadership, but many of whom want her out of Congress. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your top political team is actively looking to coalesce around a primary challenger to you. What is your message to them?



TAPPER: Bring it on, says Congresswoman Cheney. Let's discuss with the panel. Ron, Congresswoman Cheney, like every member of the House up for reelection next year 2022.


TAPPER: You, however, believe today's vote sets up a frightening scenario for 2024. What do you mean?

BROWSNTEIN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, the critics of Liz Cheney are framing this. We don't want to look back any longer. The real issue, though, is going forward. You know, this is not a question primarily of loyalty to Donald Trump. I mean, what's at stake here is Republicans excommunicating someone who are -- who is saying that he is an ongoing threat to American democracy.

What happened in the country (ph)? What happened today to Liz Cheney, the context of what's happening in the state, with the state laws making it tougher to vote, transferring authorities from urban areas to Republican controlled state officials.

This audit in Maricopa County, the censure (ph) of Republican officials around the country who stood up to the big lie, the primary challenge, the Georgia secretary of state who stood up for the election results. All of this suggests that the barriers are being knocked down systematically, and Trump or another candidate will have a lot more support in the Republican Party in 2024 if they try to subvert the will of the voters than they did in 2020.

This is an ominous moment. If you look at the kind of the commitment to the underlying principles of democracy, that we are seeing a road in the Republican Party largely, I would argue at a fear of demographic eclipse.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, if you just look at what they're trying to do in terms of replacing individuals and changing laws, they're trying to make it. So if today's players and laws had been in effect, a year ago, Biden would have lost, Nia-Malika, and that has to do -- including in Georgia where they're now changing rules about the provisional balance.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and listen, that is the real question I think for Liz Cheney. On the one hand, she is saying she's not going anywhere, she's going to stand up to Donald Trump, she's going to make sure that he's never going to hold elected office again.

But I guess the real question is, is she actually going to stand up for democracy and stand against these laws that we are seeing being put on the books that would make it easier for him to overturn the results of a democratic election in 2024? Should he get that for?

You know, there is this focus on Trump who, of course, is down in Mar- a-Lago, and you've got Republicans who are paying their respects and sort of loyalty and fealty to him. But in the meantime, there are all these actions going on in the states, and that'll have real repercussions going forward in 2024. And even in 2022, as the Republicans really try to wrestle bout control of both the House and the Senate and then prepare for 2024.

TAPPER: And Ron, right after this vote, this was how some Republican elected members of Congress reacted. Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale tweeted a picture of the Bush Mission Accomplished banner, with no obvious sense of irony about that banner, Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn tweeted the song, although he got it wrong, but it was say, he wrote na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye Liz Cheney. I mean, are these public officials or Twitter trolls?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, sometimes the line is very porous. Look, I mean, what another thing that this vote did was send a clear message to the portion of the Republican Party that he is uneasy with everything that has happened since November 6.

I mean, the polling shows us consistently that some -- yes, most Republicans think the election was stolen, they buy the big lie, they don't blame Donald Trump for the attack of January 6th. But somewhere between 20 to 25, or even 30 percent of Republicans, depending on the question, do say they are uneasy with all of those things.


And what this vote has said to them very clearly is that you are now subordinate in this party, you are the minority -- the majority of the party is going to continue to march in a Trumpist direction, not only on policy, but on basically challenging the underlying core, you know, pillars of American democracy and A.D. (ph) a big question, what those voters do, because this message to them is unequivocal.

TAPPER: Nia, will that have an effect on the election in 2022, the idea that Republicans are now standing for lying House Republicans and against the principle of democracy?

HENDERSON: Listen, I think if you're Kevin McCarthy, you feel pretty good about regaining the gavel in 2022. They only have to flip five seats, they did very well in 2020. They've got control over many more districts in terms of redrawing those counties. They can redraw those congressional districts in the image of Trump and in the image of Trumpism, and the kind of voters who believe in the big lie. So in that way, you know, I think Republicans are in a pretty good place going into 2022.

TAPPER: Nia-Malika Henderson, Ron Brownstein, thanks to both of you.

And air freshener on your rearview mirror might be enough to get you pulled over by the cops in some states, and critics say that's especially the case if you're black. That's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, something we all see you may even do it yourself. If you have an air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror of your car, you may be asking for trouble from the police especially, critics say, if you're black. CNN's Nick Watt started looking into this after last month's fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. That incident involved among other matters, a black man driving with an air freshener though the role that played and ripping pulled over is in dispute. Here's Nick's report.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The law in some states says that's enough to get you pulled over, an air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror. Daunte Wright told his mom that's why he was stopped before an officer fatally shot him. Cops say he was stopped for expired tags, then they noticed the air freshener and found an outstanding warrant.

Either way, Minnesota's ACLU is concerned about police using low-level infractions as an excuse for pretextual stops. When Phil Colbert was stopped by a deputy down in Arizona in 2019 --

PHILLIP COLBERT, STOPPED FOR HAVING AIR FRESHENER: He was following me for 20 minutes.

WATT (voice-over): Colbert hit record on his phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I actually raise up? So you can't even hanging for your rearview mirror, OK?

COLBERT: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it obstructs the driver's view.

WATT (voice-over): Soon a relentless line of questioning begins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any marijuana in the car?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Do you smoke marijuana?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Colbert, when's the last time you did smoke marijuana?

COLBERT: I've never smoked.


COLBERT: I've said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Whether you smoked a few days ago or --

COLBERT: I didn't smoke. I don't smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing at all?

COLBERT: I don't smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. No other illegal drugs?

COLBERT: Of course, you know, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a medical marijuana card?



COLBERT: I don't need it because I don't smoke.

BENJAMIN TAYLOR, PHIL COLBERT'S ATTORNEY: He should have let Phil go after the first question and he didn't find or see anything wrong.

WATT (voice-over): But the deputy kept questioning us to search the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care about your race or your gender, your -- anything, no fuss (ph).

COLBERT: You don't care about my --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hear enforcing laws.

WATT (on-camera): It was legal for this deputy to pull Phil over because he had this thing hanging.

TAYLOR: You can't have minor air fresheners be a legal justification to pull somebody over. Laws need to be changed.

WATT (voice-over): There are state legislators in Minnesota who agree but is that the solution?

SHERIFF JOHN WHETSEL (RET.), NATIONAL SHERIFF'S ASSOCIATION TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE: If an air freshener hanging from a car has an opportunity to distract the driver, that causes a crash, that kills a child, as the parent of that child, if that law should be taken off the books.

WATT (voice-over): But here's the issue, Stanford University researchers found in the 2020 study, that black drivers are stopped more than white drivers, searched more than white drivers.

TAYLOR: We need cultural training. We need diversity training.

WHETSEL: And I think law enforcement officers should look at who are the trainers.

WATT (voice-over): The deputy who pulled Colbert over was a trainer. He was fired over this and similar stop says the La Paz Sheriff's Office. We reached out to the deputy for comment, got none.

COLBERT: It was never about their freshman (ph).

WATT (voice-over): So Colbert did not back down.

COLBERT: So when this all goes through it, and you see I'm good, and you see that I've got nothing when you see down the jeep (ph) what happens? I'll just go by my day. You just wasted 30 minutes of my time. And you just -- so, I'm going to definitely -- who's the sheriff?

WATT (on-camera): My last brush with the deputy. I was definitely going a few miles too fast. And he just pulled up next to me in the next light and just said, dude, slow down. Is something like that ever happened to you?

COLBERY: Yes. I don't hate cops. I hate the bad ones out there that's doing wrong by us. But the good ones that's fighting the good fight with us, you know, thank you.


WATT: So Phil Colbert received a financial settlement from the La Paz County Sheriff's Department and there is now a new sheriff in charge, who told us that Colbert's video and other videos exposed a problem culture within the department, deputies under pressure to perform with not enough supervision. The new sheriff says that is changing. Jake?


TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much for that report.

Coming up, a tiger still on the loose in Texas. We'll have an update next.


TAPPER: Got one last story for you internationally, they still haven't found that missing tiger in Houston. It's been three days since the Bengal tiger was seen. It was at the home of Victor Hugo Cuevas, who's facing a murder charge. He was free on bond. A neighbor called police, but Cuevas then drove off with the tiger and didn't have it by the time officers caught up with him.

Finally from us today in our pop culture lead, I have a new novel in bookstores. The "Devil May Dance", takes place in 1962 Rat Pack Hollywood. It features the heroes from my previous effort "The Hellfire Club". If you're interested, you can get an autographed copy at or a regular copy wherever you buy books.

Our coverage continues right now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is just a few yards away right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."