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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Set To Meet With Putin; Cyberattack Forces Some U.S. Meat Plants To Shut Down; Biden Declares June "Month Of Action" To Meet Vaccine Goal; Interview With U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy; Trump Allies Falsely Claim He Could Be Reinstated As President; Trucking Industry Struggling To Hire Drivers As Demand Increases. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 02, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So please don't be that guy pulling up to the butcher shop in a u-haul.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden tries to rally the nation as vaccination rates slow and a Fourth of July deadline gets closer to get a shot in 70 percent of American adults.

Big lie tourism. The bogus election audit going on in Arizona is now attracting Trump loyalists from another state or commonwealth that Biden won unequivocally, and I'm sure they are all fully vaccinated on their voyage, too.

Plus, first gas, then meat. First, gas, now, meat. Alleged Russian hackers could cause another sticker shock. Why these cyber threats are more than just a series of summer bummers.


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

And we begin tonight with our health load and President Biden coming before the cameras this afternoon to real the nation to engage in a, quote, all of America sprint. The president wants to get 70 percent of U.S. adults at least one COVID vaccine shot by the fourth of July. That number, according to the CDC, currently stands at nearly 63 percent.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promised you we'd marshal a wartime effort to defeat this virus and that's just what we're doing. The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're going to have in our fight against this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, part of Biden's new plan includes free child care for those getting vaccinated, extended hours at pharmacies, free rides to vaccination sites, and a national educational push touring throughout the South and Midwest. So far, just 12 of 50 states have met Biden's goal, mostly on the East Coast. But what is most important from a scientific perspective is the share of people, not just adults, who are fully vaccinated, and that number is around only 41 percent.

So with vaccination rates slowing, the Biden administration is now pushing to make it even more enticing to get a shot -- as CNN's Alexandra Field now reports.


BIDEN: Good afternoon.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another move by President Joe Biden to vaccinate more Americans dubbing June a national month of action.

BIDEN: An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long dark winter that we've all endured.

FIELD: Nearly 51 percent of all Americans are partially vaccinated. The same goes for almost 63 percent of adults, but the pace of shots in arms is dropping significantly, down almost two-thirds since the peak in mid-April, and there's just a month left to meet the president's next deadline, getting 70 percent of American adults at least one dose of a vaccine by the Fourth of July.

BIDEN: So we can declare our independence from COVID-19 and free ourselves from the grip that it's held over our lives for the better part of a year. Each of you has the power to help us gain this freedom as a nation.

FIELD: The president announcing a slew of initiatives to make it even more enticing from free Uber and Lyft rides to free child care options to 24-hour vaccine appointments at pharmacies on Friday night.

And there are more incentives than ever. Anheuser-Busch is now promising to toast America's success.

ANHEUSER-BUSCH AD: When he hit the White House's goal of 80 percent partially vaccinated, the beer is on us. Let's grab a beer, America.

FIELD: Twelve states have already met the 70 percent threshold. California and Maryland are the late toast join those ranks. The effort to boost the vaccination rate focusing more now on children.

MARK LEVINE, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMEMBER: I just want to encourage everybody, every family, every young person to get that vaccine. These are safe. They are effective. They have been tested on young people.

FIELD: New York City schools announcing plans to offer shots in some schools to students between the ages of 12 and 17. That even as weekly COVID cases among children fall to their lowest level since early October, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The numbers in line with continuing declines and COVID cases nationwide.

CNN's own data analysis shows fewer than 5 percent of people live today in a county considered to have high COVID transmission compared to about 20 percent two weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's freedom, right? We're finally seeing the end of the pandemic.


FIELD (on camera): The president also made it very clear today that reaching those vaccination goals isn't just about logistics. It's still very much about change minds. He appealed to young people, reminding them that they are not impervious to the effects of the virus and made appeals across the political spectrum, telling people that the science behind these vaccines was developed under both Republican and Democratic administrations and that getting a shot isn't a partisan act -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Alexandra Field, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now to discuss more is the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy, thanks so much for joining us.

So, it appears Biden's efforts, the president's effort to vaccinate more Americans is focused in a lot of ways on targeting people whole have not been able to make the time, not those -- as opposed to those who are specifically skeptical or opposed to getting the vaccine.

Was that deliberate? And do we have any data what the breakdown is in terms of those who have not been vaccinated because they are skeptical about the vaccine or opposed to it versus those who need the help to get the shot in their arm?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Jake, it's good to be with you today, and you're hitting on some critical points here. The vaccination effort that we're now engaged in, this next phase, if you will, is really looking at people who are unvaccinated for three principal reasons.

One is they may still have questions about the vaccine. The second is they may wonder if it's so important for them to get the vaccine, and the third is they may have trouble accessing the vaccine, and we know that there's a lot of misinformation still out there.

And that's why the effort that was announced today, the month of action, Jake, is really intended to work on all three fronts. So, we -- it involves mobilizing everyone from doctors and nurses to barber shops and beauty salons to talk to people and get them accurate information, including doing canvassing operations, door-knocking, phone banking, text banking from local trusted sources. But other pieces of it are really focused on access and mobilization.

The reason that you're now hearing about new initiatives we announced today around free child care for those who are looking to getting vaccinated or recover from vaccine side effects, free rides which were announced earlier through Uber and Lyft and other measures that are seeking to extend hours for pharmacy so people can get the vaccines more easily, these are aimed, again, in enforcing or enhancing the access.

So all in all, you put this together, Jake, and this is a multi- pronged campaign, recognizing the people of different reasons, that they are not vaccinated right now, but we have to work on all three fronts -- mobilization, education and improving access. That's how we're going to get the nation vaccinated.

TAPPER: Dr. Murthy, in terms of the access, how much is being done in other languages other than English? Because I -- I've heard anecdotally of people who know Spanish-speaking individuals, for example, who just don't even know how to access the health care system or where to get a shot, and the information just hasn't been there for them the way that it has been for English speakers who are always on our smartphones or always in front of our computers.

MURTHY: Yeah. It's a really important question, Jake, and it's particularly, you know, resonates with me because I have family members who don't speak English so well, and certainly taken care of individuals over the years for whom language barriers have prevented them from accessing health care.

The good news is that for Spanish speakers, we both have -- our website is in Spanish, as well as our text line. So for people who are looking for places to get a vaccine, they can text their zip code to "vacuna" which will give you in Spanish three locations close by to you. You can also text "get vax" in English, of course, and get information.

But we also have a help line that is set up in many languages so that people can call directly and get assistance, directly speak to somebody on the phone and get help in their language. So that's -- that's a critical part of it.

And, finally, I'll just mention that this is where local trusted sources really matter. One of the reasons we've been working so hard with local faith organizations and the community organizations is because they can often reach people in local languages and languages that are most, again, make health care and the vaccines most accessible.

So, we've got to continue working all those fronts to get the people the help they need and the language they need and the format that's easily receivable and that's how I think we're going to keep making progress.

TAPPER: Well, the daily average of vaccines administered is down 63 percent from its peak in mid-April. As it stands right now, is the U.S. going to hit the 70 percent goal by the Fourth of July? MURTHY: Well, Jake, we're certainly going to leave no stone unturned

in our effort to hit 70 percent. And, look, we knew it was going to get harder. In beginning, you know, it was challenging because we had to set up more access points and make sure that supply was there. As supply and access increased, we were meeting people who were looking for the vaccine and we saw very high rates of vaccination on a daily basis.

And now, because we had so much success early on we're getting to the part of the campaign which is tougher. We've got to look further, if you will, convince more people, know, to get the right information and increase access even further. And so, it's going to be harder, know, as we go through this campaign.

But we're not giving up, and that's why you saw so many new initiatives announced today.


And we'll keep going until the goal is met.

TAPPER: Right. Are you going to make the goal? Are you going to hit it by the Fourth of July?

MURTHY: Well, I believe if we do everything that, you know, we have laid out today, if we have a great response from the community, I think we absolutely can still hit that goal. You know, nothing is guaranteed, Jake, and that's why we've got -- every day, we get up work thinking about what can we do to talk to more people, to get people vaccinated.

And it's -- and I just want to say to everyone out there who's listening to this, it's not just what government can do. It's about what each of us can do. It's about you making the decision to get vaccinated. It's about you talking to your family and friends.

Just the other day I was with my wife Alice at a restaurant. We were eating outdoors and we spoke to our waitress and she happened to tell us that she was waiting to get vaccinated and was wondering if she was actually eligible.

We were able to tell her, yes, you are. Point her to the site. She was so excited to get vaccinated, but it's through those conversations person to person that we're going to make progress and ultimately get more people vaccinated

TAPPER: As you know yesterday, JAMA published a report that said that vaccines alone is not going to stop the pandemic, that we still need to wear masks and social distance until vaccine rates are much higher. Do you agree?

MURTHY: Well, I think it depends who you are and where you are, Jake. I think if you're unvaccinated that at this point it's still important for you to wear a mask because we still have thousands of people who are getting sick each and every day with COVID-19. There's still a substantial amount of virus circulating in the country. But as more people get vaccinated, as rates not only come down, Jake,

but very importantly stay down, then we can re-examine, again, what unvaccinated people need to do with masks.

But I think we should assume that, you know, if you're unvaccinated, you're going to need to keep wearing a mask for the time being. But look what's happening for folks who are vaccinated. The CDC has issued guidance saying that you can now take off your mask both indoors and outdoors. That's -- that's wonderful news, something many of us have been waiting to do for over a year now.

So, again, the key to that is, again, get vaccinated. That's the quickest way for us to get back to a more normal life.

TAPPER: The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much, sir. Good to see you again. Doctor, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Donald Trump reportedly is telling supporters he expects to be reinstated as president this summer as his supporters continue to try and crush faith in our democracy. There's no such thing as being reinstated as president, but he's saying it anyway. The latest mutation of that big lie, next.

And President Biden now set to address another cyberattack as hackers hit the world's largest meat supply. Why all businesses vital to keep this country running should take notice.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead and another tentacle of that beast of the big lie.

Today, Republican members from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania are visiting Arizona. Why? Well, they're going to check out the absolutely bogus audit going on there being held by supporters of President Trump.

Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro remarking, quote, the fact is these Republican conspiracy theorists would rather travel across the country in service of the big lie than tell the truth to Pennsylvanians, unquote.

And as CNN's Sara Murray now reports for us, this is just the latest way Trump supporters are trying to undermine faith in the U.S. voting system because one former president with an apparently brittle spirit cannot admit that he lost.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The alternate universe where voter fraud was rampant and Donald Trump won the election still luring in Republicans as Trump supporters hunt for ways to upend democracy seven months after he lost America's free and fair election.

Trump's former attorney, Sidney Powell, suggesting Trump could wind up back in the Oval Office.

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It should be that he could simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration date is set and Biden is told to move out of the White House and -- and -- and president Trump should be moved back in.

MURRAY: It's something Trump believes could happen by August, according to Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times."

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There are people who are telling him things that are possible that are not possible, which is exactly what we saw happen after the November 3rd election last year which was all the lead-up to January 6th as we know and what we saw in the attack on the capitol, and so there is -- there is a dangerous component about this conversation that's going on.

MURRAY: There's no evidence President Joe Biden was fraudulently elected and there's no legal mechanism to insert Trump back in the White House. Leading his allies, like former national security adviser Michael Flynn to float more dangerous ideas like a Myanmar-style military coup.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?

MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason but --

MURRAY: Though Flynn later claimed his words have been twisted and said, there's no reason what so for any coup in America.

All of this more evidence that the baseless belief the election was stolen is becoming a rallying cry for the GOP, a lie Trump is sure to repeat as it prepares to restart its rallies this summer.

Unable to overturn the election outcome, Republicans in several states are pursuing ballot reviews to try to turn up some sign of fraud. Today, Pennsylvania state lawmakers touring a so-called audit in Arizona, spearheaded by Republicans but under fierce criticism from election officials from both parties.

That's not stopping Trump from embracing the audit, even falsely twisting a legitimate ballot audit in New Hampshire that has no bearing on Trump's race into some kind of sign he was robbed of an election victory.

The GOP is already turning election fraud into a policy platform with 14 states enacting new laws making it harder to vote, according to the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice.

BIDEN: This sacred right is under assault with incredible intensity like I've never seen. MURRAY: After Texas Democrats walked off the state House floor

blocking passage of a restrictive voting bill, state Republicans says they're still hoping to revive their legislation, as they cling to false claims of fraud.


BRYAN HUGHES (R), TEXAS STATE SENATE: When Texas comes forth and tells us, here's how people are cheating, we want to fix it.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, I think there are a lot of Washington Republicans, people who would like to just move on from this who believe that this is just a fringe element of the Republican Party. But what we're really seeing here is the way the people are campaigning on this, the way people are politicking with it, the way people are making policy with it is an indication that this is really defining this chapter right now in the Republican Party, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, and one of the things that's interesting, I mean, it's becoming the big lie is becoming, as you note, the foundation for laws being passed. It's no longer just rhetoric. It's people taking the big lie and saying, oh, because people believe this lie that we've been telling them for eight months, we now have to change and make it more difficult for people to vote.

MURRAY: Right. And it offers a way for even some Republicans to say I believe that Donald Trump should be president, it gives them a way to cater to the former president without coming right out to say that, by saying, you know, there might have been fraud and we should investigate and we should hold an audit, and we should pass this election integrity bill, even though that there is no indication to support many of these laws or certainly these audits.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now to discuss, Cliff Albright. He's the co-founder of the Black Matters Voters Fund. That's a progressive fund that is seeking to expand black voting.

Cliff, thanks for joining us.

We know Democrats blocked this investigate bill in Texas at least for now, but by leaving and denying the legislative body a quorum. What role did organization such as yours have in convincing these Democratic legislators that this was necessary to do?


I mean, first and foremost, it was a sustained campaign that involved a number of strategies and a wide coalition of organizations, many of whom have been building power in the state of Texas for years now. After all, that's the reason why we're even seeing this voter suppression in Texas is because they know that the numbers of black and brown voters and the work of these organizations has been increasing.

So they involved them, and we expanded some of the work that we did in Georgia with the Corporate Accountability Campaign, asking corporations to get involved. We brought some of our lessons learned from Georgia to Texas, combined that with similar things that they were already, already doing pass-through calls to legislators, already mobilizing people in communities, starting to deal with more direct actions, not just at the Capitol but even at some of the businesses like AT&T.

So it was a wide number of strategies that were involved and a great coalition of organizations which set the stage for the Democratic members of the House to do what they did, which was an incredible act of courage.

TAPPER: And, Cliff, you say that there are direct connections to some of these new voting bills in some states and Jim Crow laws. What's your response when some people hear that language and they say, you know, using such stark language risks trivializing the horror of Jim Crow laws? What do you say to them?

ALBRIGHT: Yeah, it's a great question. At the end of the day when we think about Jim Crow, we often think about the whites only, the blacks only, the fountains, the public accommodation signs, right? What people forget, though, is that when it came to voting, you didn't see the whites-only signs. When it came to voting, what Jim Crow looked like was things that are technically race neutral, right?

It wasn't just black people, the laws didn't say only black people have to take a literacy test. The laws didn't say only black people have to pay a poll tax, right? These were things that technically all voters had to do. But we knew they were targeted to black voters.

That's what voting Jim Crow looked like. And that's exactly what's taking place right now where we've got a whole series of provisions which are aimed directly at black and brown voters. In the case of Texas, you've got a whole string of provisions that are aimed technically really at one county, Houston, Harris County.

What does Houston have in common with places like Atlanta and Fulton County and places like Detroit, Michigan, where we know Trump and the Republicans directed a lot of their -- a lot of their anger, right? It's black and brown voters.

In fact, the very purpose of this Texas legislation, the House version at least, included language that came out of the Jim Crow constitution, language that said that the purpose was to protect the integrity -- the purity, I'm sorry, the purity of the ballot. That was Jim Crow language, and that was in this legislation.

They eventually took it out, but it reveals what their true intentions were.

TAPPER: One of the provisions that a lot of critics of the legislation point to as targeting black voters is the provision that would have required that Sunday early voting could not start until 1:00 p.m., and Democrats say that would hurt the events that are called Souls to the Polls, popular in particular with black churches where people go to vote right after church.

Now Republicans when asked about this in the last day or so, they say it was just a typo.


They didn't mean to say 1:00 p.m., they meant to say 11:00 a.m. Take a listen.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: So 11:00 a.m., can you -- can you back up what State Rep Clarty (ph) said? I just want to confirm this.

HUGHES: Eleven -- 11:00 a.m., if there's any limit at all, we want to make sure people are not limited on what they can do for Souls to the Polls.

KEILAR: Was that an error?

HUGHES: That was added over in the house, and I'll defer to my House colleagues on the details. They say it was a typo. I'll take their word for it.


TAPPER: Do you take their word for it? Do you think it was a typo?

ALBRIGHT: No, I don't think it was a typo at all. Nor do I think that any of the dozens of other provisions in this bill that directly attack black voters are typos as well.

Keep in mind that in the Georgia bill we saw a similar attack on Sunday voting on the Souls to the Polls in Georgia. This is a strategy that we're seeing in state after state, the same way that provisions such as those that allowed to make it easier to overturn an election is a provision that we're seeing in state by state.

It would be too coincidental that there just happen to be a whole bunch of typos that all have the same impact of limiting black and brown voters and we're seeing this across multiple states. And, by the way, that you also have the Heritage Action who admitted that they've been behind inserting some of this language, in fact, sometimes writing entire laws for these states that are trying to replicate and duplicate voter suppression all across the country.

TAPPER: Cliff Albright, thanks so much for joining us. Stay in touch, please.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Hack attack such as the one as the world's largest meat supplier likely will not be the last. So what is going to come next?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead now: Russian criminals may be trying to ruin our summer.

Ransomware attacks in the last few weeks have hiked gas prices and delayed travel, and now hackers may cause a surge in prices for meat, after JBS, the world's largest meat producer, was attacked. Homeland Security officials warn that these hacks could affect any sector of the American economy.

So what exactly is the U.S. going to do about it? What is Biden going to do about it?

CNN Alex Marquardt finds out.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Russian hackers at it again, this time striking another part of America's critical infrastructure, food production.

JBS Foods is one of the biggest meat producers in the world. All of its meatpacking facilities were impacted by the attack. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers labor union, all nine of the JBS beef processing plants across the U.S. were shut down.

The Biden administration says cyber-criminals, likely based in Russia, are behind the ransomware attack on JBS and has told Moscow it's on them to help stop this.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government has a role to play.

MARQUARDT: JBS says the majority of its plants are operational again. The Biden administration has called on meat producers to work to make sure there's no impact on prices or supply, unlike when a different Russian hacking group attacked the Colonial Pipeline last month, which led to gas shortages, a spike in prices and long lines at gas stations.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Make no mistake. Ransomware is a business right now. It is a business that is very profitable, and we will continue to see hackers overseas, criminals overseas continue to flood into the market.

MARQUARDT: Ransomware attackers take control of a network and hold it hostage until they're paid. Colonial Pipeline paid its attackers $4.4 million. JBS has not said whether they have paid anything.

Those two attacks follow two other recent major operations by Russian government hackers, the unprecedented SolarWinds breach and last week's attacks targeting hundreds of government agencies and organizations.

But it's the hacking of critical infrastructure, like pipelines and food plants, as well as hospitals and schools, that affect ordinary people the most, attacks that are easy, pay well, and are only getting worse.

ALLAN LISKA, SENIOR THREAT INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: We're seeing a massive growth in ransomware. We saw it in 2020. And it continues in 2021. They're not necessarily going after specific organizations. Instead, they're going after anybody they can get in any way they can get in.


MARQUARDT: Now, the Biden administration says that fighting these types of ransomware attacks is a priority for them.

They recently issued an executive order designed to get companies to tighten and modernize their cybersecurity measures. And, among other things, they say that they want to hold countries like Russia to account for harboring attackers, Jake.

But there is a lot more that needs to get done to stop these kinds of attacks, which are happening every single day all across the country, all around the world.

TAPPER: Not getting any better.

Alex Marquardt, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

So, will President Biden directly bring up these ransomware attacks when he needs face to face with Vladimir Putin?

That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead now: new assurances from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that President Biden will definitely bring up the latest ransomware attack on the meat industry in the United States and much more when Biden meets with Russia's Vladimir Putin this month in Geneva, Switzerland.

This attack has been blamed on a Russian criminal organization, as we just covered.

Let's get the latest from CNN's chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, now.

Kaitlan, how is this raising the stakes for the upcoming summit with President Putin? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think

Jake, you're just adding it really to the list of things that the White House says President Biden is going to press President Putin on.

I mean, on top of the election interference, the political prisoners, all of these other things that the White House has said we should expect Biden to bring up when he does sit down with Putin for the first time in person as president in two weeks from today, they say that he is going to bring up these latest hackings, because they were saying earlier today at the briefing that they don't believe responsible nations harbor groups that conduct hacks like this one.


And the White House has said they do believe this latest group, this criminal group, is based in Russia. And so they say it is going to be something that Biden does bring up.

And, Jake, we also know that the White House has been in touch with the Russian government since this hack on the meat processing plant has taken place. It's not clear what the Russian response to the White House has been yet. They haven't really detailed what their response has been.

TAPPER: Has the White House signaled in any way if the Biden administration will order some sort of retaliation?

COLLINS: I think, so far, we have asked. They have really just kind of left it at that vague boilerplate language, saying that all options are on the table.

They say this is something that they're looking at behind the scenes, doing a review of this hack and what's transpired here. But President Biden was even asked directly earlier if he's going to retaliate. And this is what he told reporters.


QUESTION: Mr. President, will you retaliate against Russia for this latest ransomware attack?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're looking closely at that issue.

QUESTION: Do you think Putin is testing you?



COLLINS: So, he wasn't near a microphone there, Jake, at the end, but he did say, no, he doesn't believe Putin is testing him with all of these hacks that have been happening, these attacks on critical infrastructure here in the United States.

But I do think it will be a major point of discussion during that meeting in two weeks from now, especially given what the Russians have been saying, because the White House's response so far in response to Russia has been to put sanctions on. They don't appear to have deterred Russia a lot.

So I do think that will be something that the White House is dealing with, but the way they're framing it, the question of, would they call this meeting off if hacks like this continue to happen, they say it's not a reward to Putin to sit down with him. They just want to talk about a lot of pressing issues that they do have, including this latest hack -- Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Kaitlan, don't go too far, because I know you have some new reporting on the challenges facing President Biden on the domestic front.

But, before we get to that, a shortage of something else could make, well, just about everything more expensive, everything.

And that's next.



TAPPER: In our money lead today, with life returning to semi-normal, the U.S. supply chain is struggling to keep up with demand. The trucking industry in the United States moves roughly 71 percent of the U.S. economy from retail to agriculture to a home move and because of the pandemic, the trucking industry which before COVID had already been struggling to staff up, is now having to turn down even more business opportunities because of a lack of truckers.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins me now.

Vanessa, why is the trucking industry in particular being hit so hard?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, this is an industry that's already down 61,000 drivers pre-pandemic and then last year, you had driving schools closed, you had more stricter drug enforcement for drivers and then you have consumer demand skyrocketing. During the pandemic, Americans were buying much more online, and this is an industry that has a retention issue, and the average age of a driver is 50 years old. So we're seeing a workforce that's starting to age out.

But, Jake, currently, there's a bill in Congress, the Drive Safe Act, which would change the age of a driver who could drive interstate in those big tractor trailers from 21 to 18 years old and, Jake, the trucking industry thinks that that is a really good bill because it could expand the pool of people, making them younger people that could move into this industry in order to help maintain and meet this demand, Jake.

TAPPER: Vanessa, are there fears that if more truckers are not hired, businesses that rely on trucking for deliveries could suffer? YURKEVICH: Yes, and the moving industry is a perfect example of this.

During the height of the pandemic, 13 million Americans moved. We spoke to Roadway Moving here in the New York City area who says that just in the past two months alone, they received 20,000 inquiries about a move.


YURKEVICH: What percentage do you have to turn down of those 20,000 calls?


YURKEVICH: Most of it.

SAPIR: Most of it. I would say 80 percent of it. Some of it is because of price point, but mostly because we don't have the capacity. So, a tip to your viewer, you want to move this summer, you may want to book in advance.


YURKEVICH: And that demand means much higher prices, a move at Roadway Moving costs 15 percent higher right now and each at the grocery store, Jake, produce at one local New York city grocery store chain is 13 percent higher because that food comes in from truck -- with trucks. So it's important to note that here in America, prices for the average consumer are going to continue to get much higher -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Vanessa, interesting. Thanks so much for that report.

Let's talk about this now with the chief economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi.

Mark, good to see you again.

As you just heard from Vanessa, trucking, as you know, the lifeline for the U.S. supply chain, is real struggling. How can the nation address this trucking shortage?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Well, I think it's going to take some time because as Vanessa pointed out this was a problem even before the pandemic and with the pandemic and the scrambled supply chains this is own worse.

This is a problem that is going to take time to work through, and, you know, hopefully we can as a nation start to invest in training workers for the jobs that we need for the future and clearly trucking is one of those and get a large number of these 8 million unemployed people back to work and trucking would be a pretty good place to start.

TAPPER: Mark, Maryland just became the 25th state to end that extra $300 in federal weekly stipend for unemployment insurance and the 20th state to completely pull out of congressional expansion of unemployment benefits. [18:50:10]

Is there evidence that any of the -- either the stipend or the extra unemployment is actually a disincentive for some folks to return to work?

ZANDI: Well, you know, Jake, there's a lot of anecdotal evidence. I mean, businesses and -- I hear from business people, smaller businesses in particular, that this is a big deal. As an economist I look at the data, and it's hard for me to connect dots.

Sure, I'm -- I think there must be some impact, but I think there's a long list of reasons why employers are having difficulty filling, you know, their open job positions. The supplemental UI is on the list but my sense is it's probably toward the bottom of the list not towards the top.

Just simply, the biggest issue here is that the economy has reopened very rapidly over the last six to eight weeks. You know, here, I'm in Philadelphia and the city of Philadelphia is actually opening fully for business today, and so, you've got a lot of business people putting up proverbial "help wanted" signs all at once and it's just taking time for, you know, the unemployed workers who are permanently lost their previous job to figure it all out and get back to work.

So I think it's going to take a few weeks and few months before they get back to work. I can go on, but UI is an issue and it's towards the bottom of the list of issues.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you, now that restaurants and stores are starting to get back up to full speed how long do you think until the U.S. workforce evens out and businesses are staffed up back to let's say pre-pandemic levels?

ZANDI: Well, I think we're going to work through these supply issues, you know, the fact that workers can't quite find the jobs, get into those jobs this summer into the fall, and I think by -- by September and October when schools are fully reopened, child care centers are fully reopened, everything is operating normally, I think we'll work through those supply issues.

But to get all of those jobs back, we're still down 8 million jocks, that probably won't be until, you know, late 2022 and, you know, to get back to full employment where unemployment is -- the unemployment rate is below 4 percent and wage growth is strong across the board for all workers and all industries across all income groups an educational groups, that probably won't be until early 2023. So it will take a couple of years.

But I will say, that sounds like a long time and it is a long time for those folks who round a lot of stress but compared to previous recoveries coming out recessions, that's not bad. That would be pretty good if we got that.

TAPPER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently said that businesses -- recently told CNN business that this will urge states to use American rescue plan funding to help parents struggling with the high cost of child care.

Do you think that's a good idea? Could that help get people back to work with a place to put their kids? Is that a good reallocation of funding?

ZANDI: I do. I think -- I think both in the near term and in the long run. In the near term, you know, we still have parents, you know, with young children trying to figure out what to do with their kids because child care centers haven't fully reopened and schools aren't completely in person yet. I don't think that's actually going to happen until the fall so they could use some help with that.

But longer run, you know, if we help with child care costs, particularly for lower and middle income households, I do think that would allow a lot of those parents who would want to go to work, they can't now because it doesn't make economic sense, child care costs are so high and getting good child care is difficult number communities, but if we put more resources into that and help those folks out, I think they will get into the workforce and address these longer term labor supply issues that we're going to face.

TAPPER: What else do you see as a long-term effect economically from the pandemic? It looks like inflation is an issue right now. Do you think it will be a long-term problem?

ZANDI: I don't. You know, we've got a problem with inflation now and I think this summer, fall, we are going to be dealing with higher prices for things that are in short supply and that just goes to the fact, that again, everything has reopened very rapidly and demand is surging, and it's taking a bit of time for factories and restaurants and -- and just everything to open up. The supply side of the economy hasn't kicked into gear.

So it's demand and supply. A lot of demand and supply is lagging so that causes prices to spike and the pandemic obviously complicates things enormously. I mean, you've got the long global supply chains. The pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world where the supply chains go.

So, it's going to be -- I should point out also, Jake, that we had problems before the pandemic because of the trade wars, you know, the higher tariffs on a lot of products that scrambled things even before the pandemic so I think we need to work through all those things and on the other side this time next year I think inflation will settle back in somewhere around the 2 percent level that the Central Bank, the Federal Reserve has been working really hard to achieve.


TAPPER: All right. Mark Zandi, thanks so much. Have fun in Philadelphia. We appreciate your time today.

Kids with an AK-47 -- the epidemic of gun violence takes another shocking turn. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Ahead this hour: want to get away? Well, might need proof that you're COVID-free. The seven countries issuing COVID travel certificates.

And breaking this afternoon: Bye-bye Bibi?