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The Lead with Jake Tapper

GOP Leaders Confident They Will Defeat January 6 Commission Bill Today; Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) is Interviewed About the January 6 Commission Bill; WSJ: San Jose Shooter Was Questioned About Hatred of Workplace By Federal Law Enforcement in 2016; CNN: Paul Ryan to Slam Trump in Speech Tonight As Reps Gaetz & Greene Hold Trump-Style "America First" Rally; Ohio Awards First $1 Million Vaccination Lottery Prize; Biden Condemns "Escalating Violence" in Ethiopia's Tigray Region. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 27, 2021 - 16:00   ET



MAGGIE WHEELER, ACTRESS, PLAYED "JANICE" ON "FRIENDS": I can. Oh, my god! Wait until you see the reunion.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Maggie Wheeler, great. Thank you. Great to see you always.

WHEELER: Thank you. So good to see you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Thank you, Maggie. Looking forward to watching that.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I never thought I'd live to see a day where senators would vote against forming a commission.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Even the mother of a Capitol Hill police officer who died after the January 6th insurrection has been unable to change the hearts and minds of Republican senators after they got calls for Mitch McConnell telling them to bend to Trump's will.

Plus, the Republican divide on further display. Two of Trump's most loyal acolytes are joining forces on stage tonight as former House Speaker Paul Ryan heads to the Reagan Library and prepares to tell his party, it's time to cut and run from Trump.

And missed signals? We're just learning the killer has previously been questioned by federal law enforcement about his hatred of the workplace in San Jose. So, what if anything was done about it?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We start today with our politics lead and at any moment, a key Senate vote is all but guaranteed to fail, ending any hopes of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection to make sure such a dark day does repeat itself.

CNN has learned that Senate Republicans are very confident they will defeat the vote today despite many of those very same senators calling for this exact type of investigation in the days and weeks after the deadly riot.

Since then, of course, Republicans have largely changed their tune in fear of angering Trump who supports, they feel, they need to recapture control of the House and Senate. They are in voting against the creation of the commission breaking with decades of precedent and refusing to support a bipartisan investigation into a very serious national security threat, national security experts, after all, warn that January 6th may not be a one off, that the Trumpian undertow holding Republican officials towards refusing to respect the democratic process is tragically strong.

Nonetheless, sources say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been calling and lobbying his Republican colleagues, asking them to do him a, quote, personal favor and vote no on this bill, against a bipartisan commission, against a bill negotiated by Democrats and Republicans, against a commission to be run by Democrats and Republicans to figure out what went wrong, cautioned Republican Senator Mitt Romney will vote for the formation of the commission, I think the perception is on the part of the public that the January 6th commission just trying to get to the truth of what happened and that Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out, unquote.

CNN's Ryan Nobles starts our coverage today from Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After weeks of confrontation and finger-pointing, it is time for senators to make a final decision on the fate of the January 6th Commission. And despite the concessions, pleas and bipartisan support, the measure never had a chance.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who announced opposition to the bill shortly after it passed the House lobbying his colleagues right up to the vote that process was too political.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I think that basic goal of our Democratic friends is to keep re-litigating in public what happened back on January 6th rather than get into a quick solution through the rest of those who did it and security adjustments to make sure it never happens again.

NOBLES: Even though Democrats gave Republicans everything they wanted, including an even split of Republicans and Democratic appointees, giving both parties equal subpoena power and requiring the work to be complete before the end of the year. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: The truth of the matter

seems to be that Senate Republicans oppose the commission because they fear it may upset Donald Trump and their party's midterm messaging.

NOBLES: The GOP position so entrenched that even a plea from the mother of a fallen officer who is on the front lines of the insurrection was not enough to change their minds.

REPORTER: What are you hoping will be on their minds when they vote on this commission?

GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF FALLEN CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: The country. This was to uphold the Constitution. And right now, I don't think they're doing it.

NOBLES: One Republican, Maine's Susan Collins, who met with the officer's family, made a last-ditch effort to make tweaks to the bill hoping to convince her colleagues to vote yes.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): We owe it to the brave men and women who defended our lives that day and in some cases did so at the cost of their lives.


And that's why I feel so strongly about that.

NOBLES: But it is not just Republicans unwilling to budge to make this commission happen. Democrats have the option to blowing up the filibuster to pass the bill with a simple majority. But West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who is pleading with Republicans to vote yes still believes ending the filibuster could lead to long term problems.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm not ready to destroy our government, I'm not willing to destroy our government, no.

NOBLES: All this against the backdrop of a federal judge warning in a decision this week that former President Trump continuing to pedal the big lie about the 2020 election results could inspire more violence from his supporters.



NOBLES: And President Biden was asked about the status of the 1/6 commission after his event in Cleveland today and he said, quote, I can't imagine anyone voting against establishing a commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol. But later today, it looks as though there will not be enough Republican votes to move this bill forward, Jake, effectively killing it.

TAPPER: Remarkable. Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel whose new reporting on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's backroom lobbying. Jamie, you cover Republicans all the time. How unusual is this

impassioned effort by Mitch McConnell?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it's unusual for a leader to whip, to try to get votes. I think what was unusual is last 24 hours. It was not a surprise that Mitch McConnell wanted this to go away.

But 24 hours ago, I'm told by two Republicans sources he got nervous. And so he went to senators, Republicans that I think he thought might be wavering. And he asked them for something you don't normally hear. He asked them for, quote, a personal favor to vote against the commission.

This despite the fact that Senator Susan Collins had come up with a compromise to tweak the legislation which supposedly would satisfy all his concerns. He does not want this commission no matter what you give him.

TAPPER: Because?

GANGEL: Because I think at the end of the day, whether he's right or whether he's wrong, he cares much like Kvin McCarthy about one thing, and that is taking back control of the Senate, and he believes that this commission apparently would make Republicans look bad instead of maybe just making Donald Trump and his followers look bad. And so, he thinks it will hurt them in taking back the Senate and making him majority leader again.

TAPPER: And John King reported earlier they think it's because McConnell thinks that it would help -- it would hurt him, his ability to take back the Senate because it would so anger Donald Trump that Donald Trump would then do everything he could to hurt Republicans. I mean, is that the actual computation here?

GANGEL: Look, we've seen this with Kevin McCarthy. After January 6th, both Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell came out and made public statements, blamed Donald Trump, said he was responsible and they go running back again.

TAPPER: I mean, they think that they're going to satisfy him. He's insatiable. You can't satisfy him.

GANGEL: It hasn't worked thus far.

TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much.


TAPPER: Let's talk about this with the senator, a Democratic senator, Alex Padilla of California specifically.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

The vote seems guaranteed to fail at this point. Democrats do not have ten Republican allies who are going to vote to create this commission. So I guess the question is what comes next? Should Speaker Pelosi launch a select committee that is run by Democrats instead of a more bipartisan effort?

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): So, well, first, Jake, let me say this is absolutely outrageous that they're going to choose loyalty to Trump over loyalty to the oath of office and to defend the Constitution against, you know, all enemies foreign and domestic. It's outrageous, and particularly the timing -- we're getting ready to celebrate Memorial Day, when we honor those that paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation and our democracy. That's really the travesty here, too.

You know, if the commission is not created -- by the way, a bipartisan commission based on the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, if Republicans can't make themselves to support that, we still have to find the answers. And so, there's peaceful investigations going on in the existing committees. I think a select committee would certainly be in order.

To not conduct an investigation like it's been proposed is like suggesting that all we need to do after 9/11 was improve airport security. We know that the causes are much deeper than that.

TAPPER: You're in favor of eliminating the Senate filibuster in order to pass this commission and achieve other legislation.


Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, obviously the key swing vote on this, he's been very clear he opposes getting rid of the filibuster -- even today. Take a listen.


MANCHIN: I'm not ready to destroy our government. I'm not willing to destroy our government, no. I think we'll come together. You have to have faith there's 10 good people.


TAPPER: What do you think?

PADILLA: Yeah. Look, I would like to believe there's ten good people at the other side of the aisle, too. But are there ten people willing to do the right thing on the floor of the Senate? That's the question.

And if there's not, then the question is going to come back to Democrats, are we going to let the filibuster get in the way? Not just of creating this commission to investigate the insurrection, but all the other things that we know are urgently needed to improve the country -- investing in our infrastructure, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, battling climate change and so much more. The filibuster has been used to obstruct for far too long.

TAPPER: There was just a mass shooting in San Jose in your home state, the state you represent. I know you're in favor of further gun restrictions, restrictions on gun ownership. I don't know if you're familiar with "The Wall Street Journal" story that says that this individual, the suspect, had actually been questioned by the Department of Homeland Security.

Have you seen the story?

PADILLA: I've seen the headline. I have not read the entire story.

But yet again, you know, it's one thing for one state to have strong gun safety laws. But unless we have a national policy, we're going to continue to find these loopholes and these red flags haven't been detained previously, whether it is anger management issues, substance issues, whatever the case may be. It should remind us of the urgency with or without a filibuster to advance background checks and other common sense reforms.

TAPPER: I guess the question is so often these things happen, these horrific things happen. We saw it happen in Indiana. We saw it happen in Connecticut. It happens all he time.

Law enforcement is aware of these individuals and then they don't do anything. They don't take the step to make sure that they can't get guns. They don't keep tabs. And there are ways to prevent the shootings besides just more laws.

PADILLA: No, I hear you. But I disagree. So they're aware of this. To be able to take the next steps, we do need the laws, whether it's, you know, the required background checks or cooling off period or limitation on the type of weapons somebody can purchase.

You have progressive states like California doing the right thing. But we need the consistency of strong common sense gun safety laws nationwide, and that's where, again, Congress has failed to act because of the filibuster.

TAPPER: Let me ask you another question about something that happened in California. Last week in California, in Los Angeles, there were anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish-Americans from pro-Palestinian demonstrators. We've heard some Jewish groups say that they think progressives and Democratic leaders have been way too quiet in specifically condemning anti-Semitic words and attacks in the United States in the last week.

Why do you think that is?

PADILLA: Yeah. Look, I know it's very tense times for our friends in the Jewish community, for everything that's been going for several weeks now. Hate has no place, not in Los Angeles, not in California, not across the country whether it's hate driven by anti-Semitic sentiment. We've seen the rise in hate crimes, attacking the AAPI community during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Look, any member of a community of color knows all too well the hate and the crime that's driven by hate that needs to be addressed. It's one of the reasons why I was pleased to see it become a priority for Merrick Garland, our new attorney general -- significant change from the prior administration and couldn't come soon enough.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California, thanks so much for your time today. I appreciate it.

The vote on the January 6 Commission could happen soon. We're going to bring it to you live when it does happen.

Plus, breaking this hour, new reporting about the San Jose gunman and potentially missed red flags. He was detained in 2016. He had books about terrorism. He had notes about how much he hated his workplace, the same place where he just killed nine of his co-workers.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, nine families in California are mourning the losses of their loved ones after a transit worker opened fire at their workplace yesterday. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, just the latest victims of gun violence in America. We want to take a moment to remember them now.

Abdolvahab Alaghmandan was 63 years old. Adrian Ballezza was 29. Alex Fritch was 49. Jose Hernandez III was 35. Lars Lane, 63.

Michael Rudometkin was 40. Paul Megia was 42. Timothy Romo was 39. Taptejdeep Singh was 36.

Also breaking this afternoon, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that federal law enforcement officials knew that the shooter hated his workplace because in 2016, five years ago, the shooter was detained by Customs and Border Patrol after a trip to the Philippines. And the shooter at that time had books with him about terrorism and a memo book filled with notes about how, quote, "how he hates the VTA", unquote.

VTA is the Valley Transportation Authority, that's where the shooting happened.

CNN's Dan Simon joins us live.

Now, Dan, what else do we know about this new reporting?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Jake. What we know is that apparently he had a documented history about his hate towards the VTA, which, of course, is where he worked.

According to "The Wall Street Journal," the Department of Homeland Security circulated a memo after Wednesday's shooting that talked about this trip in 2016 when he went to the Philippines and when he returned to the U.S., he was detained by U.S. Customs Office.

[16:20:03] And those officers discovered books in his possession about terrorism, about fear, about manifestos. And he also had a black memo book. The officers asked him if he had had a problem with anybody at work and his answer was no.

Now, we reached out to DHS about this. At this point, they're not commenting. In the meantime, Jake, investigators are still processing both scenes here as well as at his house.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever your emotions, pain, row, love, questions, these are normal.

SIMON (voice-over): A tearful update from the head of the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose. Nine VTA employees age 29 to 63 are now confirmed dead, killed by their co-worker in a mass shooting of this rail yard Wednesday.

LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SHERIFF: Of the people would were injured, none survived.

SIMON: In an early morning interview, the sheriff revealed a gunman, Sam Cassidy, had two weapons with him and fired at least 39 times.

SMITH: He had two semiautomatic handguns and 11 magazines that had ammunition in them.

SIMON: Cassidy also had potential bomb-making materials such as detonation cords in his work locker.

SMITH: We had our canines there. They did a search. Some dogs alerted on what was his locker. Inside were precursor things for explosives.

SIMON: Just eight miles away, the suspect's home is now also being scoured for evidence. New video from a neighbor's home camera shows a man in uniform leaving the house with a bag around 5:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Less than an hour later, around 6:30 a.m., the shooting began at the rail yard. And firefighters arrived to the home in flames.

SMITH: It's my opinion he had a device in his house to go off simultaneously perhaps. But we don't know that for sure.

SIMON: Officials say several rounds of ammo and notes were found inside the home but nothing yet to determine a motive, though a history of anger issues is now becoming more clear. In documents from a 2009 legal filing, Cassidy's ex-girlfriend said he exhibited major mood swings, a result of bipolar disorder.

This as an eyewitness says Cassidy had a specific agenda for his killing spree Wednesday.

KIRK BERTOLET, EYEWITNESS TO SHOOTING: He walked by the people. He let other people live as he gunned down other people. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as the gun, nobody should have a gun.

SIMON: Family of the dead now also speaking out. The cousin of the 36- year-old light rail operator Taptejdeep Singh says the father of two died trying to save others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One lady he put in the control room. He can go there actually, but he just saved her.


SIMON: A vigil is scheduled tonight at San Jose City Hall. And, of course, officials are expecting quite a bit of support -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Dan Simon, thank you so much. Dan Simon in San Jose.

Let's bring in Charles Ramsey, the CNN law enforcement analyst and the former top cop in both Philly and D.C. Chief Ramsey, good to see you again.

Let's start with this new reporting from "The Wall Street Journal" that according to a memo from the Department of Homeland Security which overseas Customs and Border Protection, this shooter had a hatred for his workplace known to officials, known to authorities as far back in 2016. He had books about terrorism. He had a book, a memo in which he talked about how much he hated his workplace.

What are law enforcement officials obligated to do if they get information like this?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, it's interesting and also troubling at the same time, obviously. I'm not sure whether or not they notified the VTA or the sheriff's office. The article I read didn't say that specifically.

But there are limits to what you can do. Again, this is five years ago, even if they're able to temporarily seize weapons, would they still be able to hold him from having any weapons?

Is there a national data base he could be put in so he could be banned from if ever buying a weapon anywhere? I mean, those are the kinds of things you need to have, the kind of cools if you really want to deal effectively with people that should not have firearms. I mean, this is a guy that clearly now we know should never have had a firearm. And family and others now are saying that he constantly went into mood swings and suppressed hatred.

Did they ever notify anybody about any of that? Did police ever take any action? I mean, those are legitimate questions that need to be answered.

TAPPER: Yeah. I guess we're starting to understand the idea of approaching this plague in our society and the nexus of where mental health issues, violent mental health issues and gun ownership, where they collide, where they overlap. But I don't know that the laws are quite there yet, even red flag laws like they have in California. The gunman's ex-wife told "The A.P." that the gunman talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.


And as you noted, his ex-girlfriend described him as someone this had major mood swings, especially exacerbated when he consumed large quantities of alcohol. This is what was known. I guess the question is, what needs to happen for this kind of information to go to a place where it can do some good and prevent somebody from -- like this from being able to get a weapon of mass murder?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, once it's investigated, if you have an individual like we're talking about now that just should not have a firearm, granted, you know, you go back ten years, you know? But he hasn't improved over that period of time, you know? A person is suffering from mental health. A mental illness can obviously be treated and can improve.

Apparently, he did not improve. So who do you do? What can you do to keep guns out of his hands? And even if there are laws passed, unfortunately, because we have so many guns in our society, it is not difficult to illegally obtain a fire arm. It just isn't.

And so, you know, it's a complicated issue, but inaction is inexcusable. They're going to do like they've done in every case before, and that is nothing. Absolutely nothing.

If anything, some of the state legislatures are going in the opposite direction like Texas for example, you can carry a gun and don't need a background check. I mean, we've got to sit down and have a serious conversation. I mean, we're dealing with a mass shooting to day, where people are dying on streets and cities across America every single day as a result of gun violence.

TAPPER: An eyewitness told reporters that the shooter was targeting specific individuals in the workplace.


TAPPER: Walking past and sparing the lives of others. Tell me what that suggests to you as a former law enforcement officer?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, he had very specific beefs and grievances. Whether or not names were in that book that was found five years ago by Customs, I have no idea. But here could have been specific -- obviously specific people that he just disliked to a point where he was willing to kill them.

Have the sheriff's deputies not arrive as quickly as they did, we probably would be talking about a higher number of people that had been murdered by him. He just didn't get a chance to probably complete what he was planning on doing.

I don't know why he set fire to his house. Maybe that's to destroy evidence. But, Jake, if I can, because I know time is always limited, we've got to stay focused on the problem of gun violence. We get into it whenever there is a mass shooting. But, you know, CNN, for example, just like you keep a running total of the number of people dying from COVID-19 every day, why not keep a running total of the number of people dying from gun violence?

I mean, this pressure has to be placed on our elected officials, because these guys are not going to do anything. If they didn't do anything after Sandy Hook, they're not going to do anything after this one.

But one right after the other after the other, what is this, 17 in a week's time or something? I mean, this is crazy, absolutely crazy. And unless we put pressure on them, nothing is going to happen.

TAPPER: All right. Former Police Chief Charles Ramsey, thank you so much for your time as always. Interesting idea about the ticker.

Coming up, it seems that they're never going to give him up, they're never going to let him down. Can the former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan convince Republicans to part ways with Donald Trump?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In the politics lead tonight, we're going to see two very different sides of the modern Republican Party with former President Donald Trump a focus of both sides.

On one, Congressman Matt Gaetz and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, they're going to hold another Trump style, quote, America first rally, unquote, in Georgia.

Then, in California, former House Speaker Paul Ryan will obliquely criticize his party's Trump obsession in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, according to speech excerpts CNN obtained. Ryan will say, quote, if the conservative cause depends on populist appeal of one personality, or on second rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere, unquote.

Let's bring in the panel.

Mary Katharine, will Paul Ryan's words have any impact on his former House Republican colleagues you think?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, you know I wish they would. I wish so much. I'm certainly in that wing of the party, such that it is. But, look, do I think he is perhaps so much of an avatar of establishment Republicanism to reach people whose minds need to be changed about this? He's exactly right about the criticism.

I do -- I respect what he's doing because this is a tribute to a kind of conservatism that I think unfortunately has been rejected by many Republican voters. Do I think it has a chance to re-emerge in some way? Maybe, with a different leader at some point. But you do have to sort of move past this.

But what he is also doing which will earn him no plaudits from the left, even though he is speaking out about this problem is he is not doing it -- what you have to do is respect the voters that are in the party, right? You're not going to make the pitch to them to change their minds about Trump by treating them as if they're trash, right? And I think far too many people make that mistake and I will quote Bill Maher here by saying, not all Trump voters are Trump and not all people that go to protests and rallies are people that breached security at the Capitol, right? These are different folks.

And I think that is important for people that want to reach people in the party to make that distinction.


So, he's attempting to do that while harkening to a sort of Reaganism that I love but I'm not sure has a prominent place at this point. What we need in the future is probably a different figure and personality, a better personality who would embody some of this while having respect for Trump voters and it will be a more populist party. It just will.

TAPPER: Bakari, Paul Ryan has been on the board of Fox, the parent company of Fox News Channel for two years. It's definitely long enough for him to try to have a say in how the network embraced Trump and embraced the big election lie. We don't know. Maybe he has been fighting that fight. What do you think?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The soft bigotry of low expectations. I mean, he is putting together a few words that at the end to day don't mean a whole lot. He's not challenging those who have emboldened Donald Trump and the big lie or whatever else it may be.

But Mary Katharine is right to a certain extent because I do believe that there has to be new figures in the party that come out and speak out against Trump. One of the more disappointing figures, somebody who has, you know, acquiesced to the every wish of Donald Trump is someone like George P. Bush, who's running for attorney general in the state of Texas, someone who's deemed to be the future of the party but acquiesces and doesn't stand up to Donald Trump. Instead he does everything that Donald Trump wants him do to get that coveted endorsement.

Until the future of the party has as much courage as some of those older, more establishment folks speaking out, then it doesn't matter. Paul Ryan's speech is lukewarm at best, and we won't remember it by, you know, 9:00.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, I want to ask you about the Republican resistance in the Senate to vote in favor of creating this commission to investigate what happened on January 6th, the insurrection. As of right now, we only know three Senate Republicans that are going to vote for it, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

You say you support the idea of a commission, but you don't think Congress would do a good job with it. Why not? I mean, the 9/11 Commission was -- I thought did a good job, no?

HAM: Well, it's a safe bet that Congress will not do a good job with much of anything. Just that's a -- to me. But I'm glad to be proven wrong.

Here's the other question, though -- do you think our politics, our politicians, our tribalism, our ability to resist our own partisan urges has matured since 2001? Because I think it's degraded greatly. So, this is -- this is what a lot of people -- I think the arguments against the commission are week because this is such a big deal, and you cannot tell me it's not a big deal and it needs to be investigated, right?

I do understand people's concerns about the fairness because we live in a world where whoever assist investigating and whoever's covering what comes out of the investigation will weave their only reality of the facts. We've seen it time and time again. It's why we're in an institutional plunge for media, congress, for basically everyone across the board, and I'm afraid this will end there, too.

TAPPER: Bakari, don't you --

HAM: But you've got to do the investigating.

TAPPER: Bakari, don't you think it's important if Democrats decide that they're going keep going with this to still try to maintain this 50/50 bipartisanship of this commission that Republicans are going kill in order to have it credible at the end of the day?

SELLERS: No, no, because I'm tired of walking down this path being led by Joe Manchin to this really false sense of bipartisanship. The American public wants us to do this. The American public, those individuals who are not sitting in the United States Senate, who are not sitting in the United States Congress, who go out and drink at the Democratic Club and the Republican National Committee Club, and all these other things, who walk around in this bubble, you know, everyone else wants us to do this.

This is a popular commission. This is something that people want to be done outside of Washington, D.C. And so, I don't care if it's three or 33 who are supporting this in the United States Senate. This is something that has to be done. It's amazing now that the ethics the Republican Party has, when Hillary Clinton had to testify for 11 hours in what we now know was nothing more than a political commission itself.

And so, let's actually do some real work here.

TAPPER: Bakari Sellers, Mary Katharine Ham, thanks to both of you. Good to see you. Hopefully next time in person.

How does $1 million sound or what about a vacation or what about Super Bowl tickets? What it takes to convince people to get vaccinated.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead today, data obtained exclusively by CNN shows that interest in getting vaccinated increased after the CDC announced two weeks ago that fully vaccinated people could take off their masks. And other vaccine incentives are also proving effective, such as Ohio's million dollar lottery, which just announced its first winner.

As CNN's Nick Watt reports, others are now following the lead of the Buckeye State.


ABBIGAIL BUGENSKE, WON $1 MILLION: I still can't believe it. It was a crazy night. I was screaming enough that my parents thought I was crying and that something was wrong.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Actually, she was Ohio's first million dollar vaccine winner, which has boosted vaccination rates in the state.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: Other governors saw that this was working. You know, they reached out to us for information.


WATT: California's governor will announce some similar incentives within the hour.

Next week, CVS launches a sweepstakes for those getting a shot. Prizes include cash, Super Bowl tickets, a European or Caribbean cruise or a long weekend in Bermuda.

New York City will send vaccine buses to the beach this holiday weekend.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Go, get vaccinated, hit the beach. Real simple.

WATT: Walmart now planning vaccination sites actually inside schools, and remember when the CDC dropped this great news a couple weeks ago?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

WATT: Within minutes, visits to began to rise. That day, the site's second busiest day ever.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What I fear is that the interest may not be sustained.

WATT: Forty percent of all Americans are now fully vaccinated, which means 60 percent are not. States are re-opening. New Jersey lifts most mask mandates in the

morning, just in time for the start of summer.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: We've always targeted Memorial Day as when we hoped we'd be able to take our strongest steps on the path back to a fully opened New Jersey.

WATT: And when the NFL kicks off in the fall, no more of this. They're planning on packed stands.


WATT (on camera): So, there was a lot of talk there about vaccinations. What about post-infection immunity? Well, one new study found that 9 out of 10 people showed a still very strong immunity ten months after infection -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick. Thanks so much.

Growing fallout from a report you saw first here on THE LEAD about entire communities being violently targeted now getting the attention of the Biden administration. But will it be enough?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, President Biden saying that he is, quote, deeply concerned about the escalating violence, unquote, in Ethiopia, though that doesn't begin the describe the horror that is unfolding in the country's Tigray region, right along the border with Eritrea, where witnesses are describing an extrajudicial campaign targeting young men who appear to be of fighting age. Others in the region have been pushed out of their homes.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has been reporting on this conflict now for months, and she joins us.

Nima, you have new video of people in this region in Tigray desperately trying to get any possible word about their loves ones.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to share this video with you, Jake, because it's absolutely heart wrenching. It shows parents gathered at a U.N. compound in Shire in Tigray desperately trying to figure out what has happened to hundreds of young men taken from the displaced camps.

Take a look at this.


ELBAGIR: The situation is so incredibly tense, that video had to be filmed secretly and sent at huge personal risk. It also speaks to the situation in general in Tigray, where just to be young and male and perceived to be of fighting age at the moment becomes a sentence of arbitrary arrest. We shared this video and our reporting detailing these mass detentions with Senator Chris Coons who is President Biden's envoy to Ethiopia and he raised this in today's Senate Foreign Relations hearing, calling for accountability and immediate release of these young men. So, we'll keep you updated on that, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Nima, as witnesses describe the horror many of these families are going through as they wait to find out if their sons are alive, they also say soldiers are taunting them.

Tell us more about that.

ELBAGIR: This is what is incredibly worrying. It's that witnesses say as they were being rounded up did, and this was just days after the U.S. announced its sanctions against Ethiopian and Eritrean officials implicated in the violence in Tigray. They said they were told by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, let's see if the U.S. can save you now. And that is so awful for people who felt a sense of hope once the U.S. begun to step in, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nima Elbagir, thank you so much for staying on top of this important story.

Breaking news this afternoon -- new reporting that the San Jose shooter was previously questioned by law enforcement about his hatred of his workplace that he later shot up. What, if anything, did law enforcement do about that? That's next.



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

This hour, we are awaiting a consequential vote in the U.S. Senate likely to be blocked by Republicans, ending hopes for this bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection, and once again underscoring former President Trump's hold on his party.

Plus, the counteroffer. What Republicans are willing to give on infrastructure and how the White House is reacting. What is the White House willing to compromise on?

And leading this hour, new we details about the man who opened fire, killing nine of his coworkers in San Jose, California, yesterday. "The Wall Street Journal" breaking this afternoon that back in 2016, the gunman was found to have had a hatred of his workplace that according to a memo from the Department of Homeland Security, his workplace, the VTA, or Valley Transportation Authority, is where the gunman committed that horrific massacre yesterday.

Let's get right to CNN's Josh Campbell, who's live for us in San Jose.

And, Josh, what else do we know about this new reporting?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Just incredible reporting from "The Wall Street Journal." As you mentioned, Jake, we're learning new details about this suspect. "The Journal" reporting that back in 2016, as the suspect was returning to the United States from the Philippines, he was detained by Custom officials at the airport, and during their screening of him, they identified he was carrying books about terrorism, as well as a notebook in which he wrote hateful things about his employer, the Valley Transportation Authority.