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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Tasks U.S. Intel Community To Report On COVID Origins In 90 Days; Sheriff's Dept.: At Least Eight Killed In San Jose Shooting; Death Of A Belarusian Activist Suggests Abuse, Raising Concern For Journalist Taken Off Plane; Actor John Cena Apologizes For Calling The Self-Governing Island Of Taiwan A "Country"; Congressional Report: U.S. Companies May Have Benefited From Forced Labor Of Uyghur Muslims. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The timing of Biden's new order is notable as reports from journalists this week reveal what his administration may already know about this. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden now calling on the U.S. Intelligence Community to intensify its investigation into the origin of COVID-19.


COLLINS: Biden demanding a firmer answer within 90 days after officials narrowed in on two likely scenarios, it passed from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident.

JEAN-PIERRE: That could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.

COLLINS: The President has, "Specific questions for China," and told intelligence agencies "to keep Congress fully apprised." The directive is a sharp turn for more officials stood earlier this week when pressed on whether the U.S. should lead an investigation.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we can't do and what I would caution anyone doing is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don't have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion.

COLLINS: Federal health officials renewed calls for further investigation after the World Health Organization faced criticism for initially dismissing the possibility that it came from a lab.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH DIRECTOR: It is certainly possible that other options might have occurred including a possible lab leak, we just don't have evidence to be able to say what that likelihood is.

COLLINS: One of Biden's top COVID-19 advisors was harshly critical of the WHO's investigation with China.

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS ADVISER: We need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO to assist in that matter. We don't feel like we have that now.

COLLINS: Biden is also taking a shot at his predecessor, saying "The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation."

The new directive comes after sources told CNN that Biden's team shut down a State Department effort led by former Secretary Pompeo to prove coronavirus had originated in a Chinese lab.

MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am confident that we will find that the evidence that we have seen today that's consistent with a lab leak. And I'm convinced that's what we'll see.


COLLINS: And, Jake, we should note that the state term is disputing the semantics of that saying that that investigation was not shut down. It simply had come to an end. But regardless what this new directive from President Biden does show today is that they are taking this idea that this could possibly have stemmed from a lab leak seriously. And now President Biden has taken this tone where he is saying the U.S. should be in charge of this investigation.

After for several days his officials had been arguing it should be up to an international organization to lead those efforts. Now he is saying it should be the United States.

TAPPER: Interesting. And Kaitlan, what else is the administration saying about China's role in this?

COLLINS: Well, I think that has been the big question ever since, of course, when Donald Trump was in office, and he was the president. And at the beginning of the pandemic took China's word on coronavirus seriously when it came to not just the spread, but also when they talked about the origins of it. But that has been what's been so frustrating here.

And that really is what remains to be seen when it comes to this new directive from President Biden is, what are they actually going to get out of China? Because if you don't get the underlying data from them, if you don't get straight answers from them, which a lot of officials like Andy Slavitt, that coronavirus advisor there, said they don't feel like China has been upfront with what's going on and what they know. They feel like it's really hard to determine what actually was the origin of this, how to actually get to that.

But I do think this is a really big shift because for so long when you heard people like Secretary of State Pompeo and others pushing it, there was a lot of other people fact checkers debunking this saying that they didn't believe it was the prevailing theory for what could be behind COVID-19. But now it does appear, they are concerned it could be and they want to figure out.

So, I think it remains to be seen at the end of the 90 days, Jake. Do we actually get to see this report that President Biden has called for? And what does that look like?

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the Whitehouse, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, so all seven of these NIH leaders who testified today including Fauci and Collins, they all agreed that there needs to be an investigation, but they're also not letting go of other leading theories such as that the virus started naturally and quickly spread.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, so this is the -- this is sort of the question. I think what became apparent to me, as I interviewed many of these people over the last year, is that typically, when viruses make the jump from animals to humans, they sort of sputter along for a period of time, they sort of gain efficiency, and learn how to more efficiently infect humans and replicate within humans.

So, the idea that this sort of made the jump and was so efficient right away I think is what has, you know, captured a lot of people's attention. I've spoken to many people, but Dr. Robert Redfield, as you know, Jake was the CDC director at the time this was all unfolding, was having direct and regular communications with the CDC in China and had access to raw intelligence and raw data. So, listen to how he framed it when I asked him about this back in March.



DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human. Normally, when a pathogen goes from zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-human transmission. I just don't think this makes biological sense.


GUPTA: So it's not definitive by any means, Jake. But you add on to that this idea that Robert Kadlec, for example, who was the head of ASPER, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response, talked about the fact that they knew there was purchasing of large amounts of personal protective equipment in China going back to early December, even late November, a full 30 days before this unusual mysterious pneumonia cluster was announced to the world. So who knew what when is still, you know, it's still an open debate. But you see where the evidence, you know, sort of lies.

TAPPER: I also have to say, Sanjay, we heard at the hearing today, Senator John Kennedy, Republican from Louisiana, asking Fauci and Collins and others, before the Biden's State Department squashed that investigation that had started under Secretary of State Pompeo, did they consult with any of you? And they all said no.

And, again, the Biden team has always been saying, you know, let the science lead us. Let the science lead us. That doesn't seem to be an example of deferring to the experts.

GUPTA: Right. No, I think, you know, it became a much more of a geopolitical sort of investigation. And there is scientific knowledge that may not be a smoking gun, per se, or be definitive, but can add a lot more evidence. People who were sick in late November, early December in China, were their antibodies tested? Did they have antibodies for this coronavirus?

That would obviously be important. Did the genetic strain with which they were infected match the genetic strain of the virus that was being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

Now, what I understand is that they're going to go back to these cave areas where the bats were thought to have originated and study antibodies in people who live in that area to see OK, well, this is now evidence that it did start more naturally. So, there's lots of unanswered questions.

But I think the frustrating thing, for a lot of people who've been following this is that, you know, we're 15 months into this, why weren't some of those things already done? Were those blood samples of people who are hospitalized or at least taken to the hospital? Were those bat samples kept? Where are they? And what about this investigation into the -- into the areas where the bats actually originated?

TAPPER: Yes. And obviously, China's run by the Communist Party, we should not expect a lot of -- a lot of transparency.

We should also note Fauci made this very clear today. Experts still don't know how Ebola started. And the first outbreak of that was 45 years ago. So, it's possible, especially with the Chinese government being so opaque and oppressive and repressive, that we'll never know what started this virus.

GUPTA: Yes, I think that's very true. And even if you go back to SARS, you know, 15, 16 years ago, there was a couple of years before the intermediary host, the civet cat was more sort of firmly identified. And really just over this past year in 2020 when it became clear that the horseshoe bat was a primary source for SARS. I'm talking about SARS original back in 2003. So it can take a while.

Having said that, Jake, I do think that this is a -- there is a knowable answer here. I think this is knowable. Whether we will ever know it, I think it's a different question. But there is enough data that could be collected that could, again, maybe not be a smoking gun, but make it very clear how this originated.

TAPPER: Yes. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks as always good to see you again.

Coming up next, more details about that horrific mass shooting in San Jose, California today.

Plus they helped American forces on the ground in Afghanistan for years, and now 1000s of Afghans could be killed by the Taliban if the Pentagon does not come up with a plan to get them out soon. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning now to the breaking news in our national lead in the mass shooting in San Jose California where officials just gave an update. They believe that the gunman took his own life after killing in cold blood eight innocent people in a rail yard early today. CNN's Josh Campbell is live for us in San Jose, California.

Josh, not that anything would make any sense of this madness. But officials give any indication of a possible motive?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't yet have the motive. We're learning new details Jake about the shooter himself. But what we're told by investigators is that they were trying to dig into everything about this person in order to try to get to the bottom of why he caused this incident today.

Now, just after 6:30 this morning here in San Jose, police received reports of an active shooter. We saw this massive police presence here. Authorities arrived and now we're finally getting a sense of what transpired.

We're told that the shooter here opened fire killing eight people. And when law enforcement arrived, he shot himself. That was one question we had whether he was engaged by officers or whether he took his own life. Authorities now tell us that they do believe that he shot himself.

Now there's another aspect of this, Jake. We're told that around the time the shooting started, a fire erupted at a residence believed to be the shooters. Fire crews on the scene there to try to put that out. Again, that will be a key area of evidence they will obviously want to go through and determine what they can about this person.

Where we are here, the crime scene is just behind us. And you know, we've talked so many about - so much about these mass shooting incidents around the country and, you know, how they're over in mere seconds.

Jake, the sheriff's department here is just around the corner from where the shooting took place. I want to show you one, finally, because we don't see this often. If you zoom in here behind me, I want to show you this. This obviously takes its toll on a lot of people, you have the victims and families now that are grieving the loss of their loved ones.

This here is an FBI evidence response team. Their job is that gruesome task of going through, trying to identify the bodies trying to count for every round. This is the area that they're in.


And Jake, obviously, as we've covered so many of these, we've seen far too many of these teams that far too many of these incidents.

TAPPER: All right, Josh Campbell in San Jose, thank you so much.

Let's bring in the mayor of San Jose now, Sam Liccardo, who also serves on the VTA Board.

And let me start by saying, Mr. Mayor, our heart goes out to you -- go out to you and the citizens of your area. I have a lot of family from your neck of the woods, let in your neck of the woods. It's a beautiful place. And I'm really, really sorry. Our deepest condolences from all of us here at CNN.


TAPPER: So you called this -

LICCARDO: Thank you. It's heartbroken -

TAPPER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

LICCARDO: Please. I'm sorry. But a heartbreaking moment for all of us. And we've got a lot of families grieving and a lot of colleagues who are mourning the loss of their friends. So, we appreciate these condolences.

TAPPER: Yes. You call this a mayor's worst nightmare earlier today. Obviously, people killed in your city. We haven't had the names released yet.

But what can you tell us about the victims? Were they all VTA employees? Were they VTA commuters? Were they mechanics? Who were they?

LICCARDO: These were employees of VTA, they're working in a light rail maintenance facility. These are the folks who are showing up every day throughout the pandemic to ensure that transit would operate every day to support members of our community who depended on transit for their livelihoods or for their lives.

And, you know, these are essential workers, and they took risks themselves and showing up every day for work. And now, their friends, their family members are mourning their loss.

TAPPER: Mayor Liccardo, have you spoken with the families?

LICCARDO: I have with three families just a couple hours ago. And they're obviously terrified of what news they might hear, given what we know. Each of those families had not yet been notified.

But what we know, I know that the expectations are pretty grim. And so, it's a horrible moment for a spouse or for a parent to not know but to suspect the worst.

TAPPER: We also learned from law enforcement that the suspect killed himself. Do we have any information about a possible motive?

LICCARDO: I'm sorry, about -- specifically about the suspect?


LICCARDO: Yes. We know he was a VTA employee. And he was seen at that location working before the shooting.

So, certainly a lot of theories will come up about workplace violence. I don't want to put any theories of my own out there ahead of the investigation. But it's clear, the victims, and all the colleagues there knew the shooter well.

TAPPER: And there was a fire reported to the local fire department at the suspect's house right around the same time that the first reports came about the shooting. What can you tell us about the fire? Do we -- do -- is the -- is the theory at least right now that he started the fire in his own house?

LICCARDO: Yes, there are certainly those suspicions. I don't want to get out in front of the investigators, because right now the investigators are dealing with scenes in which they found some explosives. And so, everybody's moving very slowly and very carefully in multiple scenes right now to try to put the pieces together and understand exactly what happened. But certainly, there's suspicion that the fire is related.

TAPPER: It's very early. But you did say today, you want to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. We're happy to have you back to talk about it when you have more of a policy proposal. But I'm just wondering what your thoughts are about how we stop this?

LICCARDO: Certainly, yes, I'd be more than happy to talk about proposals we've been working on for about a year now. Now is the moment though, really, to support the families and to mourn. But I'd be very happy to return to you in the next two to three days to talk about what we've been working on. And what we hope to get in front of the council in just a matter of days or weeks.

TAPPER: And we will see you then for that interview. In the meantime, our thoughts and our love and we're sending strength your way, because it's going to be a rough few days in San Jose. Thank you.

LICCARDO: Truly, thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, CNN exclusive disturbing video of an activist who later died in custody showing the activist too weak to stand. What that could mean for a journalist who was forced off the diverted plane earlier this week in that same country, Belarus. Stay with us.


[17:24:07] TAPPER: In our world lead today, a looming deadline that could mean life or death for 1000s of people in the wake of President Biden's decision to pull all U.S. service members out of Afghanistan by September 11. The Pentagon is scrambling to evacuate Afghans who assisted the U.S. and could face murder by the Taliban. Here's CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the 20 year war in Afghanistan, they worked as translators, contractors, and in a wide variety of jobs helping the U.S. Now, some 18,000 Afghans face the threat of being targeted and killed by the Taliban in retribution as soon as July once U.S. forces are expected to be gone.

While the Biden administration hasn't made the decision to evacuate them, the Pentagon is doing some very preliminary planning to be ready for a potentially huge operation.


GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, JR., COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND: If directed to do something like that, we could certainly do it.

STARR: Nobody knows how soon people need to be airlifted out, exactly how many people need help, and where they would be taken. Those already out and away from danger, stress the need for protection telling Jake Tapper,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I left my family and my colleagues.

STARR: This afghan man fled his country fearing he would be killed after working as an engineer for the U.S. government in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't regret for my service.

STARR: There is growing bipartisan pressure to act. The memories of 1000s of South Vietnamese who helped the U.S. escaping the final days of the Vietnam War still fresh for many.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We cannot allow Afghanistan to be another Saigon. This isn't just about the people waiting for the visas in Afghanistan. If our allies and partners don't trust us to keep our word, or think they will be abandoned, it could cause irreparable damage to our national security.

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): We must do our part to aid those Afghans who have aided us.

STARR: Those please have not fallen on deaf ears at the Pentagon.

DAVID HELVEY, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY AFFAIRS: We have a moral obligation to help those that have helped us over the past 20 years of our presence and work in Afghanistan.


STARR: Still, very much the case that the Biden administration has not made a decision to help these people. The state department visa program that they would apply for is already badly overloaded. Some visa applications taking upwards of 500 days, time that these people may not have. Jake.

TAPPER: I've heard of discussions of an emergency activation -- evacuation to Guam. We'll see if Biden bites on that.

Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

Also on our world lead today, possible abuse at the hands of dictator's regime. Human rights groups are fearing the worst for a dissident journalist from Belarus who was taken into custody after his flight from Greece to Lithuania to democracies was essentially hijacked and then forced to land by a Belarusian fighter jets.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes us on an exclusive look at the death of another activist, a different activist. A death that suggests abuse. And we caution you, Nick's report contains images and details you will definitely find disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Plane hijacking may raise your bar, but daily abuse in Belarus looks like this. It's days doddering figure is opposition activist Witold Ashurok said police. He falls into the toilet it seems without anyone touching him in this edited surveillance footage from last week. Supplied by the Belarusian authorities who are eager to show they helped a 50- year-old prisoner.

But here again, they show him bandaged and he, again, seems too weak to stand. His relative say they met Witold healthy just weeks earlier, but they were initially told he died of a cardiac arrest.

But here is his body at his funeral Wednesday, his head bandaged. It doesn't look just like natural causes.

Outside they gather, the family burying him without being able to get an independent examination. The truth stolen from them even in death.

ANTON ASHUROK, BROTHER OF WITOLD ASHUROK (via translator): As a human being I don't believe that a man's heart just stopped that he fell and killed himself. I really want to get to the bottom of it. In these conditions, it seems impossible to have an independent examination.

WALSH: He was arrested in August protest against the fraudulent electoral victory declared by President Alexander Lukashenko. In January, he was sentenced to five years for allegedly organizing protests and attacking the police officer.

Jubilant here in court, the crowd chanting shame.

SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUS OPOSITION FIGURE: The reaction of the international community -

WALSH: The opposition's leader in exile called for a new stage in the protest movement today meeting European officials. And earlier expressed her admiration for Ashurok.

TIKHANOVSKAYA (via translator): I say admire his strength of spirit and faith in the correctness of his choice. But I am very hurt by the fact that he paid with his life. Now that we have woken up, it has become our duty to bring the matter to an end.

WALSH: When Roman Protasevich feared for his life for leaving the plane falls down in Minsk is perhaps Ashurok's fate and these scenes from a police station last year that he had in mind. Brutality in custody is commonplace in the aftermath of protests. Demonstrators forced to face the wall beaten, they said here, when one left motionless on the floor.

For more actual deaths have been rare so far, the death penalty remains in force. And the fate of Witold Ashurok, something Belarus's police perhaps hoped would pass without notice, now held up as a warning to the opposition not to act, but also to the international community that it must.



Now this kind of abuse, Jake, persistent as it is, it has been extraordinary, frankly, to observe how consistently violent the Belarusian police have been over the past month since those August protests.

It is certainly on the U.S. government's radar here. In fact, the day after Mr. Ashurok lost his life in prison, Ned Price, the State Department's spokesperson, he condemned the increasingly repressive tactics the Lukashenko regime and referred to how Mr. Ashurok died while unjustly detained.

We heard today from President Lukashenko a rambling speech in which he promised frankly tougher measures against protests. But the isolation referred to, frankly, as becoming the North Korea of Europe by the opposition leader today that is just seems gonna make the oppression worse, and probably pushed Belarus closer economically certainly at first, to its overbearing eastward neighbor, Russia, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that.

The mother of an officer killed during the insurrection or at least dying after the insurrection joins the calls to convince Republicans to support an independent commission. I'm going to talk to two former members of Congress about that next.


[17:35:25] TAPPER: Welcome back. We're back with our politics lead right now on Capitol Hill. There's a last-minute push to try to get more Republican senators on board with the commission, the creation of the commission to investigate the deadly Capitol insurrection.

Just moments ago, a spokesman confirmed that Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine will be the third Republican who intends to vote yes tomorrow to begin to debate on the bill. But Democrats still are seven Republican votes short in order to reach the magic number of 60 with just hours to go.

CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins me now live. And Manu, one of the people lobbying senators is the mother of fallen Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the -- hours after the attack.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Gladys Sicknick. She actually has just reached out to all 50 Republican senators demanding a meeting tomorrow when she will be in town, wanting at least a face-to-face to explain to her -- to explain to them exactly the emotions that she is going through, what's her family experience, the tragic loss of her son.

Something that caused this entire Capitol Complex to stop in more and Brian Sicknick who defended this building but died in the aftermath of that attack. And she is going to -- she said through in a statement that it is a slap in the face of all the police officers who defended this institution on that day if Republicans senators block this commission vote tomorrow.

And she's had some success. Some Republican senators are willing to meet with her. But will that change their votes at the moment? That seems highly unlikely. One Republican, Senator Mike Braun, told me earlier today he's willing to meet with her but he said that he plans to oppose this legislation.

Republican opposition is there saying for a variety of reasons whether they believe this is duplicative, even though there's would be a broader investigation to what current Senate investigation that is already ongoing, others raising concerns that this could be a political investigation, even though this will be divided evenly between the two sides.

But nevertheless, Jake, at the end of the day, tomorrow when this come for a vote, it will not get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with our panel, former Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah and former Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts. Congresswoman Love, let me start with you. In February, John Cornyn and the Republican senator tweeted, "I agree with Speaker Pelosi, a 9/11 type investigation is called for to help prevent this from happening again". But now Cornyn says that the process has been hijacked for political purposes and I think that's a shame. I'm not sure how the process has been hijacked for political purposes. The bill was drafted by a Republican and a Democrat, 35 House Republicans joined Democrats to vote for it. Do you think that they -- that John Cornyn -- well, let's forget -- remove him from it. Are Republicans opposing this because they think it's too political or are they opposing it because they think it will make the Republican Party look bad no matter what?

MIA LOVE (R-UT), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think that that there are two things. First of all, I think it's important for them to actually just keep the issue on the table and go back and negotiate the things that they're concerned about.

I mean, you've got a lot of Republicans that are concerned that this is going to be politicized. They're concerned that whether they want to look into what happened on January 6th or not, they feel like it's going to be used by the other side of the aisle to go after them.

But I would actually say that this gives them the opportunity to get past it, to say in their town hall meetings, look, I don't have the answers, which is why I voted for a January 6th commission so that we can find out where there was a breakdown, how to keep this from happening again. But I would want them to go back to the table and at least negotiate some of the concerns that they've had, instead of just completely saying no to the commission.

TAPPER: And Congressman Kennedy, sources say that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is talking to Susan Collins about ways that the bill could be changed in order to get more Republicans support. Do you have a problem with that?

Do you -- I mean, as Congresswoman Love just said, if they have actual genuine, substantive concerns, and I'll confess I have my doubts, but if they do, I mean, would you be willing, do you think it'd be OK to concede some of these points?

JOE KENNEDY (D-MA), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: So, Jake, I think let's back up a bit, right? Obviously, if there are legitimate substantive concerns, I think, of course those can be heard. But what you led with was the fact that this was in fact a bipartisan negotiation. This was led by the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee.


The lead Republican on this, John Katko, is a former mob prosecutor and public corruption prosecutor who spent 20 years at the Department of Justice. And Democrats essentially acceded to all of his requests, which were put forward by none other than Kevin McCarthy.

So you have a bipartisan commission, you have subpoena authority that has to be either come together by a majority vote or with the consent of the Chair and Ranking Member, lead them and lead Republican.

And you have an agreement by stipulation that the investigation would end by the end of this calendar year, all of the things that Republicans have said of their concerns, Democrats and Republicans joined together and said, OK, we'll meet them. And this bill, this commission got 35 Republican votes out of the House of Representatives.

So the idea that this is somehow some political maneuver to try to put the spotlight on Republicans, I think the fact that Republicans think that might lead you to believe that they think there's something there that they really don't want to actually uncover. And that's the problem.

TAPPER: And Congresswoman Love, that's what your fellow Utah Republican Mitt Romney said earlier, he is going to vote for the creation of this commission. He said that he thinks voting against it will be even worse politically, for Republicans, because then it will look like an attempt to cover up as opposed to what you're suggesting.

I mean, I hear what you're saying, if Mitch McConnell and others actually have, you know, want there to be an agreement so that nobody can be hired in the staff, unless both the Chair and the Vice Chair agree. I mean, fine, introduce an amendment, but they're not doing that, right?

LOVE: No, they're not doing that. And I think that it's because, you know, they're standing in a place of fear. And at some point, the GOP is going to have to find out and explain what they stand for and do that, say that, stand for that.

And again, I -- like I said before, this is actually an opportunity for them to be in a place where they can go into an election year saying, I voted for a commission to help find out about some of these questions, because I don't have all of the answers. So they have to be prepared. If they're voting, no, that's going to come back and hurt them in an election also.

TAPPER: Congressman Kennedy, I wanted to ask you about something. We've talked a lot about Marjorie Taylor Greene and her various insane and anti-Semitic comments. Four House Democrats have sent a letter to President Biden asking for more resources to combat anti-Semitism.

But they also are making it clear in this letter that they're unhappy with what they've heard from some of their fellow progressive, Democratic House members. They write, "We also reject comments from Members of Congress accusing Israel of being an apartheid state, and committing acts of terrorism. These statements are anti-Semitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile to many Jews". They're obviously talking about comments that we've heard from Rashida Tlaib, and others, what do you make of that?

KENNEDY: I think that this is a obviously very tough and emotional issue for folks on -- across a political spectrum. I think that the way that we solve this problem eventually is a two-state solution and conditions on the ground that will enable that to happen.

And that's not going to happen quickly, that's not going to happen by press release. What's going to happen is by essentially an administration diving in and actually helping to build up the political credibility of the Palestinian Authority, so not a known and recognized terrorist organization in a mosque. That's hard. It's going to take some time to do but that's where the U.S. needs to be focused.

TAPPER: All right, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, former Congresswoman Mia Love, it's great to have you on. You're good together. I like it. Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

KENNEDY: I like (ph) that.

TAPPER: Yesterday, a graphic aired on The Lead that incorrectly stated that it was prosecutors who had accidentally revealed information about the investigation into Rudy Giuliani, when in fact, the filing had been written by an attorney for former Giuliani ally, Lev Parnas.

So, it was that attorney who did that, so it contained faulty redactions that CNN was able to read. The filing revealed prosecutors investigating Giuliani have seized material from a wider array of individuals than previously disclosed. CNN regrets the error in that banner.

Coming up next, why John Cena recorded an apology video in Mandarin, and what that might say about the power of Corporate America and its deference to Chinese government interests. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead today, a look at how the Chinese government uses its economic muscle to get what it wants, even from a tough guy actor like John Cena. Yesterday, Cena posted a video in which he spoke in Mandarin profusely apologizing to his thousands of Chinese fans but without ever saying directly what he's apologizing for.

His offense was that while promoting the new Universal Pictures film "Fast & Furious 9", Cena accurately referred to the self-governing island of Taiwan as a country. Though China considers Taiwan to be its own sovereign territory. So that comment arouse the wrath of the Chinese Communist Party, which controls whether or not a film can be shown in China.

American film studios and companies regularly bend over backwards to avoid offending the Chinese government in any way, including when it comes to the Xinjiang province, where the Chinese have concentration camps for Uyghur Muslims. A congressional report accuses some U.S. companies of much worse than just looking the other way regarding Chinese government atrocities in that country.



TAPPER (voice-over): Your shirt, your shoes, even the power in your home right now may all have been brought to you by what activists call modern day slavery. JULIE MILLSAP, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ADVOCACY, CAMPAIGN FOR UYGHURS: What we have going on is the resurgence of concentration camps in the modern day age. We have literally slaves picking cotton in fields. We have people that are in factory environments and unable to leave.

TAPPER (voice-over): The U.S. State Department estimates up to 2 million ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, have passed through a sprawling system of detention camps because of their ethnicity and religion. And some victims say they were tortured, raped, even sterilized, and that's on top of the labor they're forced into producing everything from clothes to electronics to solar panels.

The Chinese government insists it is combating religious extremism and its facilities are voluntary training centers teaching residents job skills. The Chinese government vehemently denies widespread allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

According to a congressional report, some American companies are, quote, suspected of directly employing forced labor or sourcing from suppliers that are suspected of using forced labor, unquote. And in the process, allegedly helping China suppress and abuse Uyghurs in what the U.S. government calls genocide.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I think they're complicit with the genocide going on in China.

TAPPER (voice-over): At least eight U.S. companies may have directly or indirectly sourced materials made in the Xinjiang region, including American giants such as Coca-Cola, and Nike, whose CEO was invited to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about this issue. And the Committee says, Nike passed.

MCCAUL: I think Nike realizes buying the cotton that comes out of the Xinjiang province, that they are complicit with this act of genocide. And they didn't want any spotlight.

TAPPER (voice-over): Nike pushes back on that in a statement saying, "Our ongoing diligence has not found evidence of employment of Uyghurs or other ethnic minorities from XUAR, elsewhere in our supply chain".

But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to fight what they call the exploitation of a repressed ethnic minority by the Chinese government. Currently, there are two bills in Congress banning the import of any goods made with forced labor from the Xinjiang region.

MCCAUL: There has to be some corporate responsibility here. Yes, I'm all for, you know, Republican, I'm all for helping out companies get bigger and hire more employees, but we're talking about genocide.

TAPPER (voice-over): A similar bill was introduced in last year's legislative session and passed in the House but never made it to the Senate. MILLSAP: We have companies, even companies that present themselves as these very woke companies in support of the right causes that are behind closed doors, profiting off of literal modern day slavery.

TAPPER (voice-over): Official lobbying records show Nike and Coca-Cola both spending hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the bill, with the New York Times reporting those two companies were among multiple massive corporations trying to weaken the legislation.

MCCAUL: They were the very lobbying group that killed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act last Congress. I assume they're going to try to do the same in this Congress. And also I would assume they may try to bring down my, you know, Uyghur Muslim Genocide Act.

TAPPER (voice-over): Coca-Cola did not respond to our request for comments, but earlier this year, told The New York Times it, "strictly prohibits any type of forced labor in our supply chain". But Coca-Cola did not address its lobbying efforts. The drink giant also says it uses third party auditors to closely monitor its suppliers.

Nike insists it did not lobby against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. But Nike's director of Global Communications told The New York Times the company had "constructive discussions with congressional staff aides aimed at eliminating forced labor in protecting human rights". Not everyone is buying the U.S. companies denials.

MCCAUL: I think the evidence is pretty clear, they're not telling the truth.

TAPPER (voice-over): But even if this new bill passes, experts say, it may not go far enough. And U.S. companies have to do better.

MILLSAP: We would venture to say that if they have supply chains in the region, they absolutely do have links to forced labor. They need to extricate themselves from having any links with any suppliers in the region,

TAPPER (voice-over): Which is why lawmakers and activists are hoping to rally the American people to take a moral stand.

MCCAUL: I think now is the time for the American people to wake up after COVID and stand up to these atrocities and stand up to genocide. We have a moral choice before us. And the question is whether we're going to stand on the right of human rights or we going to stand with Corporate America on this?



TAPPER: Coming up, an official sponsor of the Olympic Games is now calling for the games to be canceled. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: In our sports lead today, U.S. experts are calling for the World Health Organization to step in as organizers for the Tokyo Olympics plow forward despite widespread criticism.


DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: And their version (ph) of a no planning for how are we going to move people and buses or putting three people to a hotel room or how where do they eat and what kind of respiratory protection do they have, in fact, they noted each country should bring their own face mask. But I think that the approach they're taking right now is virtually a dangerous one.


TAPPER: Moreover, an official partner of the Tokyo Olympics has now called for the games to be canceled, Japanese national newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.

Our coverage continues right now. Thanks for watching.