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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jewish House Dems Condemn Rep. Omar for Comparing U.S. & Israel "Atrocities" to Hamas & Taliban; U.K. Prime Minister: Biden Admin. is a "Breath of Fresh Air"; Bipartisan Group Of Senators Say They're Reached A Deal On An Infrastructure Package; FBI Dir.: More Serious Charges Expected Related To Capitol Riot; Completely Dry Klamath Basin Pitting Farmers, Native American Tribes Against Each Other. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 10, 2021 - 17:00   ET




SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- hearing delight in American and Israeli atrocities with those of Hamas and the Taliban, "We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity." Omar tweeted, "We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban." Including a video of this question she posed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): In both Palestine and in Afghanistan, I haven't seen any evidence in either cases that domestic courts can, both can and will prosecute a legit war crimes and crimes against humanity. This includes crimes committed by both Israeli security forces than Hamas. In Afghanistan, it includes crimes committed by the Afghan national government and the Taliban.

SERFATY (voice-over): A number of Jewish House Democrats immediately slammed the congresswoman calling it offensive and misguided and saying she needs to clarify her words.

Omar quickly fired back saying it is shameful for her colleagues to put out a statement and not just call her directly, "The Islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment and silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable."

That doing little to quell Democratic criticism.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): It's completely and totally unacceptable.

SERFATY (voice-over): Omar says she's now facing multiple death threats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims are terrorist.

SERFATY (voice-over): And tweeted out one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And every anti-American communist piece of -- that works for her, I hope you -- get what's coming for you.

SERFATY (voice-over): The congresswoman's comments are just one in a series of several controversial comments Omar has made about Israel supporters and American politics in her two years on Capitol Hill.

OMAR: I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.

SERFATY (voice-over): In 2019 Omar was forced to apologize after Democrats accused her of anti-Semitism for using this anti-Semitic trope suggesting that congressional support for Israel was "All about the Benjamins baby."

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Her remarks were reprehensible.

SERFATY (voice-over): The House voted on two different resolutions in response to the congresswoman's comments broadly condemning hate and anti-Semitism.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): These words have a history and a cultural impact that might have been unknown to her.


SERFATY: And Speaker Pelosi and other health Democratic leaders have responded to Congresswoman Omar's clarification this afternoon saying in part, "Drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice. We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar." Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this with our panel. Bill Kristol joins us here.

What was your reaction to Congresswoman Omar's clarification? She said she was not making a moral comparison. She was not equating terrorist organizations with Democratic countries. She was, I think she was just listing different countries that had cases before the International Criminal Court. But of course, the United States, Afghanistan, Israel, listed alongside the Taliban and Hamas.

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I mean, not the kind of question I would have asked, but she's entitled to ask questions. She was asking Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State, who does not agree with her and now House Democratic leadership doesn't agree with her. Joe Biden doesn't agree with her. So, I think honestly, she's in a very small sliver of the Democratic Party.

And I think the Democrats did a pretty good job politically. And I would say substantively, I agree with them in making clear that, you know, whatever her motives, whatever intentions, as she doesn't read those -- the point of view that she seems to have expressed is not a mainstream point of view of the Democratic Party. TAPPER: Let me bring in Abdul El-Sayed. So, what do you think about Speaker Pelosi in House leadership? They stayed silent on the issue. Then Omar -- Congresswoman Omar issued her clarification and they said what they said. Do you think that they should have defended Omar more? Or what's your take?

ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, unfortunately, we've seen the kind of divisiveness coming out of the GOP for a long time trying to divide us along our values to try and justify the kinds of excursions abroad, the kinds of things that my fellow member on this panel, Bill Kristol, advocated for 18 years ago in the war in Iraq.

And so, the question here is, what are our main values? If we believe in dignity and we believe in human rights and we believe in justice, the question is, do we apply those evenly here and abroad?

And whatever she tweeted, you know, she clarified what she meant, and she wasn't trying to draw false equivalencies. But the bigger picture here is, what is our responsibility abroad? What is our responsibility to critique ourselves when we are part and parcel of the kinds of violence that we saw whether it was the Israeli army against Gazans killing 67 children in Gaza or it was the Iraq War?


TAPPER: Go ahead, Bill.

KRISTOL: Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War. I mean, I'm a Joe Biden Democrat and I think we're Democrat. I'm not saying they will agree with me on the Iraq War.

TAPPER: Joe Biden Democrat or Joe Biden Republican?

KRISTOL: I'm sort of a Joe Biden Democrat and Republican.


KRISTOL: I'm a Republican trying to help Joe Biden in the Democratic Party. And honestly, look, it's a fair debate, there are Ilhan Omar Democrats and there are Joe Biden Democrats. But I think the fact is, the Joe Biden Democrats are pretty substantial majority.

EL-SAYED: I don't think it's a debate, Bill. I don't think Joe Biden is a Bill Kristol Republican. And I'll tell you that --

KRISTOL: I agree with that. I agree with that.

EL-SAYED: -- our part of the conversation about the war, and we've decided that was one of the darkest moments in our history. And it was based in the same kind of failure to take on whether or not our adventurism abroad and the innocent lives it took was consistent with our values. It clearly was not. And we have a responsibility to keep having this conversation.

TAPPER: Yes, no, I take that. And I would love to focus on today's news. And even, you know, the 11-day military conflict between Israel and Hamas, and less the one on the Iraq War, although we could do seven hours on that. I certainly appreciate that, no.

But I want to get both your takes on something that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who is a member of the Squad, congresswoman from Michigan, she said "Freedom of speech doesn't exist for Muslim women in Congress. The benefit of the doubt doesn't exist for Muslim women in Congress. House Democratic leadership should be ashamed of its relentless exclusive tone policing of congresswomen of color." Both Tlaib and Omar, of course, have been criticized and asked to apologize for anti-Semitic tropes before. What do you take -- what's your take on that, Bill? And then I'll come to you Abdul.

KRISTOL: I don't think it's true that the Democrats are a big party. It's our party. And we had a Democratic Muslim candidate for lieutenant governor who ran a good race in Virginia just the other day, and there was no policing of him. So, I don't really buy the argument that this is bigotry or excluding certain points of view. It's simply, she said her piece and Nancy Pelosi and a lot of the other Democrats said theirs.

TAPPER: Abdul?

EL-SAYED: Yes, Jake, the reason I brought up the Iraq War is because we can't divorce this moment, from the context, the history that I believe Representative Omar was speaking to.

And I think, when someone like Rashida Tlaib tweets something like that, what she's responding to is the fact that many of the folks who come from that part of the world, whose parents came from that part of the world, we are a lot closer to the consequences of the very same American adventurism that we're talking about here today, whether it's the war in Iraq, or our subsidization of foreign militaries, be it in Israel, or Saudi Arabia. And our families have to live with the consequences of that. And there is a response that is a lot more visceral, when the people you know and love who have names are made to suffer because of American policy.

And I think the failure to see the broader point that Representative Omar was intending to communicate, I think is -- it takes, unfortunately borrows from the playbook of Trumpism, which tries to divide us by identity rather than uniting us around ideals.

TAPPER: Bill, you're shaking your head. What do you --

KRISTOL: I think it's the opposite of Trumpism. And incidentally, Afghanistan, where I believe we've been fighting side by side with our Muslim allies for 20 years, I mean, and I myself, wish we would leave a few 1,000 troops there to help them resist the terrorists. That's not our adventurism. That's not bigotry. That's not shortsightedness in my view. That's perfectly honorable conduct of American foreign policy.

TAPPER: Abdul, final word.

EL-SAYED: I mean, I just say if you're defending a war we've been fighting for 20 years.


EL-SAYED: And another war that we fought for 18 years, then, you know, we have to keep having this conversation about whether or not our foreign policy is consistent with our ideals. And I'm glad that that's a conversation we're having in the Democratic Party, because our ideals of justice, our ideals of human dignity, our ideals of human rights, suggests that we should not be engaging and involving ourselves in ways that take innocent lives. And I'll stand by that any day. And I think President Biden would stand by that as would I think Speaker Pelosi.

TAPPER: And I'm glad we're having that debate on this show. And thanks so much for being here, Bill and Abdul.

And, incidentally, I'm listening to a great podcast right now, the new season of "Slow Burn" from Slate, is all about the attack on Iraq, the invasion, the buildup, it's really fascinating. So I'm not against revisiting those decisions at all.

Abdul and Bill, thanks so much for joining us.

Coming up next, President Biden once called the U.K.'s Boris Johnson, a Trump clone. Now, hear how Johnson is describing his meeting with Biden. That's next.

Plus, back here in Washington, President Biden's agenda remain stalled though there's a little bit of movement, a little. We'll explain ahead.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead, President Biden laying out a plan to help inoculate the world against coronavirus. Today, the President announcing the United States will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and donate them to some of the world's poorest countries, part of a humanitarian effort. But President Biden noted it is also in the United States self-interest to stop the spread of COVID before more dangerous variants emerge.

CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is in Falmouth, England.

Kaitlan, there's also of course, a political angle here. Biden is looking to stop Russia and China from using their donations of vaccine to gain influence.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, which has been the concern that some U.S. officials and some U.S. allies have had in recent weeks and months when they've seen Russia and China sending out vaccines to these lower income countries. And maybe they're not as great as the vaccines in the United States, but still they are sending them to countries that are pretty desperate for vaccines. And so, you had seen officials raising questions about that. Public health experts saying, look, if we have these vaccines and people in the United States do not want them or are not getting them, there is a time when it's time to start sharing them with the world.

And so, this is an agreement, this announcement about sharing these vaccines with the world that had been in the making for about a month with Jeff Zients, the President's top COVID advisor who did join him here, Jake, on this trip, and of course joined you earlier, had been working on. And so, they knew they were going to get press tied by world leaders because it's something frankly, that President Biden has been being asked about by world leaders in several calls that he's had with them, in meetings that he's had at the White House with U.S. allies about what the U.S.'s role is going to look like.

And I think this announcement is a sign that the White House does realize they want to take a big role in this. And so, going forward, they say that's going to be their position.


TAPPER: Kaitlan, stick around. I want to bring in CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward, as well as Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk about all this.

Clarissa, after their meeting today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's and the Biden administration is a, quote, big breath of fresh air. I have to say I was kind of stunned when I heard Johnson say that because he really cozied up to Trump. So that seemed very, I don't know, chameleonesque.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I don't think you will be the first person to accuse Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being a chameleon or a political opportunist. And listen, these are different times. The relationship with Trump was important when Boris Johnson was trying to push through Brexit. And now I think the Prime Minister sees that there is a new era. And he would much rather be compared to Winston Churchill, as we saw today, then President Trump who of course, President Biden famously compared him as being a physical and emotional clone.

With this new Atlantic Charter, though, Boris Johnson wants to kind of seize the momentum of this sort of historic era, the U.S. and the U.K. working together in the post-World War, reshaping the world, what it was going to look like. Of course, today, it's different challenges that the two countries are facing. But certainly the Prime Minister wants to have a big role in that and make sure that the U.K. is a central part of that.

And I think he also wants to show that the era of America First is over, but also the area of Brexit being the sort of primary British political consideration is also over. This is about building consensus. This is about showing that liberal democracies have a significant role to play together on the world stage.

TAPPER: And Kaitlan, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, said today that her husband, the President's been preparing for his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, preparing for weeks, she said. Has the White House laid any -- laid out any concrete goals for the sit down?

COLLINS: Not exactly. They're more broad when you talk to officials about why this meeting is happening if you aren't going to have deliverables. And Jake Sullivan, who is the President's national security advisor said pretty bluntly, he thinks actually it's best when you're working with Russia, and you're sitting down with Russia to not expect anything concrete to come out of that. I think that shows the unpredictable nature of a sit down like this. But they believe it's better to be face to face with Putin to engage with him and communicate with him in that manner to find out what it is that Putin wants and where he wants this relationship to go.

And so, those are really the terms that they've been using for it. But I do think that it also comes with a risk of, well, then what do you get from sitting down with Putin? And he obviously is someone who has tried to put U.S. presidents on their heels in the past and that is certainly something that White House aides out of (ph) their mind going into this meeting.

TAPPER: Yes, he's been criticized Biden for even having the summit given all the provocations of Putin.

And Clarissa on that subject, we should remind our viewers, you investigated the poisoning of Putin critic, Alexei Navalny. You even visited the home of one FSB toxin team member who allegedly carried out the attack. Now, Biden has criticized Putin for how Navalny has been treated. Now, Russia is declaring Navalny's foundation an extremists group. And Putin has banned any of its members for running for office. This is just days ahead of his meeting with Biden. I mean, that's a real finger in Biden's eye.

WARD: It's a very clear message, when you come to Geneva, do not bother to talk to me about domestic political Russian issues. Those are not on the table. They're not up for debate. And they're not really any of your business.

President Vladimir Putin just last week at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, basically accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy. Saying, how is it that when you go and arrest people for rioting in the state Capitol, that's OK. But when we arrest our opposition, that's not OK. Of course, the comparison is completely ludicrous on many levels.

But it gives you a sense, Jake, of the real challenges that President Biden's going to face. He has said that part of the deal with this meeting and with all of these meetings that he's doing over this week, is reestablishing international norms, reaffirming the importance of human rights, of liberal Democratic values. But how is he able to do that in a productive manner during this summit with President Putin. And what would the results be, if any?

TAPPER: And Sanjay, let me bring you in. President Biden announced earlier today that the U.S. plans to donate, purchase and donate, 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to countries around the world. That's a lot of doses, a half billion doses. Do you think it's enough? Should the U.S. be doing more?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a considerable amount considering where the world is right now. I mean, we can show you sort of the status of vaccinations around the world. About 6 percent of the world now we're talking about has been fully vaccinated. Six percent partially vaccinated. What is this donation represents about 3 percent?


So, it's nowhere near where we ultimately need to be, but considering where we are right now, it does make a difference. There's other things they can do. You know, I mean, we're talking about fully formed doses here. You could buy or donate raw ingredients, these reagents that we talked about quite a bit, get influenced other countries to also make donations.

As you know, Jake, there's COVAX, this world organization in terms of vaccine donations in the United States has committed $4 billion there as well. So, all that does make a difference. But you know, ultimately, that's the thing about a pandemic. You got it -- you're talking about, you know, 5 billion people to get to that sort of herd immunity, potentially, people that need -- would need to ultimately be vaccinated.

TAPPER: And this isn't just about humanitarian reasons or diplomacy. It's also about making sure that variants don't emerge that make our vaccinated population, completely vulnerable again. But let's talk about the diplomatic aspect of this because, Clarissa, Russia and China have been donating millions of doses of their COVID vaccines, which are, we should note, inferior products. But they've been donating them to other countries to try to build up their global influence. And at some point, the U.S. was going to have to counterbalance that.

WARD: Right. And critics have said that the U.S. has been slow to do this. You know, people have been talking a lot about the idea of vaccine apartheid and the haves and the have nots. We heard from the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown talking about, you know, the absolute vitality that the G7 sees this moment with imperative in terms of taking the momentum and saying, you know, we are going to lead the world in terms of making sure that the world is fully vaccinated.

At the same time, though, Jake, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. We spoke with the head of the CDC in Africa, and he said, listen, we welcome this, this is hugely positive. We're absolutely excited. But now is not the time for COVID diplomacy. Now is not the time for making vaccines about whether it's a democratic group who are providing the vaccines, whether it's an authoritarian regime. Now is the time when Russia and China and the G7 and all these major manufacturers of vaccines come together and act in concert with only the objective in mind of helping people.

TAPPER: And Sanjay, talk about the fact that these don't donations are in the U.S.'s best interest because of the potential variants, because the virus is still raging all over the world.

GUPTA: Yes, and this is a nuanced but very important point. I mean, even if you've been fully vaccinated which you should feel very good about in terms of your protection, the issue is, simply as the virus continues to circulate more among human beings wherever they live in the world, the chance of having these mutations, you know, that which are typically random, but more random mutations, ultimately, potentially leading to a very concerning mutation, which would be a strain of the virus that's starting to escape the immunity of these vaccines. That's what you're trying to avoid.

So, we've been talking about the race between the vaccines and the variants for some time. It's still going on. And that's exactly what it is. You want to vaccinate and protect as many people as quickly as possible to reduce those mutations from occurring.

TAPPER: Sanjay, Clarissa, and Kaitlan, thanks to all of you. Great to have you on.

Breaking news, a bipartisan group of 10 senators have just reached something of an agreement on infrastructure. The details, next.



TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you now. In our politics lead, there may in fact be something of a deal on infrastructure. That group of 10 bipartisan senators, who just started negotiating with the White House, say they have come to an agreement on a package and it will not include raising taxes, they say.

Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Manu, five Democrats, five Republicans in this group, what do we know about the deal?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well details are still yet to be revealed, but they are saying that they have an agreement on what they're calling it, quote, comprehensive framework, to deal with modernizing the nation's infrastructure and energy technologies. Now, what they're saying here is that they will not raise taxes, they say there'll be no tax increases. And they're also saying that it will be fully paid for.

They're not yet revealing the overall price tag. And in talking to the senators who are involved in these negotiations, they're telling me there are tons of details that are still need to be worked out. And they're also making it very clear, they have to sell the respective colleagues on this.

I had this proposal that they have agreed on. And that is going to be a tall order, particularly among Democrats who say that what they are hearing from this, the reports don't look good in their eyes, part largely because of the contention that there will not be an increase in corporate taxes or taxes on high earners. Instead, what they have been talking about is replenishing already enacted COVID relief funds that have not been spent using that to pay for this program, as well as raising the gas tax subject to inflation, something that some Democrats contend as a tax on low income individuals.

So, Democrats and the left are saying it's time to pull the plug. That's what Senator Richard Blumenthal told me just earlier today.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D-CT): I really think it's time to pull the plug now and take action promptly, robustly, because every indication is that Republicans simply aren't serious.

RAJU: (INAUDIBLE) recall to say, let's pull the plug here.

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I-ME): I say, let's give it a little more time. The legislative process was designed to be slow and cumbersome.



RAJU: So that last, Senator Angus King, was one of the 10 senators who did cut this deal. Now, the question will be how do they proceed from here. They'll have to draft the legislation. They'll have to see if they have enough support to move forward. And at the same time, Jake, Democrats are preparing to move along straight party lines through the budget process that's already set in motion. They plan to do that next month. So even if there's bill, that the (INAUDIBLE) bipartisan group fails, the Democrats have an alternative, but they need to get their caucus in line to do that.

TAPPER: So, Manu, Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Republican, she was the Republican initially negotiating with the White House and Biden eventually sent her on her way. She said that the agreement that this bipartisan gang came up with looks very similar to what she proposed weeks ago.

RAJU: Yes. And the question is exactly what exactly is in here, because we are just getting general reports of the details here. And from what I understand is that what they are briefing their members on are just general parameters and outlines of what's in this agreement. And what's also unclear too, Jake, is how many Republicans ultimately will support this while there are five out of the 10 here who are drafted this piece of legislation, are there actually 10 Republicans who could support this. That's another question altogether.

Republican leaders have been skeptical about a price tag any higher than what Shelley Moore Capito proposed before, which is several $100 billion of new spending. So the question is going to get behind this, a big question going forward, but something that these negotiators will have to do, sell it to their caucus.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, revealing testimony today from FBI Director Chris Wray, on a number of subjects on recent cyberattacks. Director Wray told the House Judiciary Committee the companies should not pay ransom to hackers. This comes after executives from meat supply company JBS, announced that they paid $11 million in ransom to hackers. Director Wray also had a lot to say about the January 6 insurrection saying he expects more arrests, and that he is not aware of any investigation into the actions of former President Donald Trump on that day.

CNN's Evan Perez was watching it on. Evan, let's start on the subject of the insurrection, nearly 500 arrests to date. And from what Wray says FBI investigations are far from over.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, it's five months into these investigations. And it's clear that there are dozens, perhaps even more than 100 more people that might be charged, and this is far from over. One of the things he said is that there are perhaps, again, there's -- we already know that there's some charges on conspiracy, but that there's perhaps a more serious charges coming against some of the people already facing those charges. Listen to him.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are treating it as an act of domestic terrorism and investigating it through our Joint Terrorism Task Force. And we are as you know, now in the midst of bringing any number of conspiracy charges, which are particularly serious.


PEREZ: And Jake, look, one of the things that became an issue with this hearing is the idea that the FBI missed some of the intelligence. He acknowledged that almost none of the 500 people or so that have been arrested were (ph) under investigation by the FBI before January 6, and he said that one of the things they're working is to improve how they collect human intelligence so they can be ahead of it next time.

TAPPER: Conspiracy suggesting that this wasn't just some impromptu (ph) --

PEREZ: For the moment.


PEREZ: Correct.

TAPPER: And Evan, Wray also said that he's worried about the recent surge in hate crimes, anti-Semitic violence. What did he have to say about the FBI's rolling in those investigations?

PEREZ: Well, he said that, like they're basically drowning in these new cases. There about 370 new cases in 2021 alone. He says that's the most in five years, 63 percent increase just from 2019 to 2020. And, of course, we know, since 2020, it's been an even bigger problem. Clearly, this is something that the FBI is going to have to get its arms around because it's around the country, obviously. TAPPER: Is this hate crimes in general or anti-Semitic hate crimes?

PEREZ: Well, there's against Asians, against Hispanics --

TAPPER: In general, OK.

PEREZ: Yes, in general. Exactly.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

An extreme drought could prompt some extreme measure from farmers who have no water. We're on the barren dry ground, next.



TAPPER: In our Earth matter series, drought conditions that we have not seen in decades sparking desperate water conditions across the American West. Look at this comparison from June last year to now. Almost 90 percent of the Western U.S. is now officially in a drought. And more than half of those territories are at the worst levels either extreme drought or exceptional drought. Making matters even worse in one area, a federal agency's decision to stop feeding a lake with water as a way to save two unique species of fish. As CNN's Lucy Kafanov reports, this move has pinned farmers against native communities.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a lake in name only.

SCOTT SEUS, KLAMATH BASIN FARMER: You're looking at something that hasn't been dry in -- ever.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Not one ounce of water at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

SEUS: This represents devastation. It's devastation of our communities.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Part of the problem is the severe drought crippling western states. But here in the Klamath Basin on the Oregon California border, local say the crisis is also manmade.

SEUS: It's compounded by drought, but ultimately it's a policy thing.

KAFANOV (voice-over): A century ago, a federal irrigation project redrew this landscape, draining lakes and redirecting rivers to help build the farming economy. Farmers rely on the Klamath project for water which is controlled by the federal government. But the basin is also a crucial water source for Native American tribes and endangered fish.

[17:40:01] Citing extreme drought conditions, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water management, last month announced it won't be releasing any water to farmers in order to protect threatened and endangered species, leaving growers wondering how they'll pay the bills.

TRICIA HILL, KLAMATH BASIN FARMER: We've got an entire community that's feeling the pressure and the stress. You're looking at a fallow field because there has been no available irrigation water.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Farmer Tricia Hill says the water shut off is taking a toll on her family.

HILL: They get to see me tear up and get upset and the weight that it puts on them. It's not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You either got to stand up and take it or you're not going to ever have water here again.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Some residents are threatening to take matters into their own hands, setting up camp next to a Klamath irrigation canal headgate threatening to turn on the spigot by force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been trying to be nice, but we're getting to the hand of the rope now. You just go on there and pull the bulkheads and open the headgates and get it going.

KAFANOV (voice-over): It's happened before. In 2001, enraged farmers, including Nielsen (ph), breached the gates to manually get that water flowing.

(on-camera): And do you think it would work to go in there by force and turn the water on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'll be better than getting nothing.

KAFANOV (voice-over): This is the body of water at the heart of the conflict. Upper Klamath Lake is home to two species of fish that don't exist anywhere else in the world, central to the Klamath tribes' creation story and culture.

(on-camera): If the fish go extinct, what does that mean for the tribe?

DON GENTRY, KLAMATH TRIBES CHAIRMAN: A creation story says if those fish die, the people die.

ALEX GONYAW, SENIOR BIOLOGIST, KLAMATH TRIBES: These two species have existed for at least a million years, if not more, and we've managed to essentially almost exterminate them in the last 100.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Tribal biologist Alex Gonyaw has been fighting to save the fish in their habitat.

GONYAW: The fish often get less than they need, just like the farmers get less than they need, which comes back to this whole system needs a redesign.

KAFANOV (voice-over): It's a call to action in an escalating conflict, where time, patience, and water are running out.


KAFANOV: Jake, we're on the lake, where I'm standing is supposed to be under 4 feet of water, there is not a drop in sight. And, you know, being out here talking to the farmers, the tribes, the government officials, the conservationists, you really start to understand everyone's unique point of view. Unfortunately, there's no way out of this water crisis unless all of these different parties come together. And in these increasingly divisive times, it's simply not looking like a reality. The consequence, well, you can see it all around me. Jake?

TAPPER: That's a grim scene. Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much.

A horrific story, two young kids opening fire at police has many asking, where did we go wrong? And the system that took these kids in is getting a closer look. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our buried lead now, that's what we call stories, we think are not getting enough attention. In Washington state this week, a government watchdog is investigating allegations brought to light by KING 5 TV News that the state's child welfare agency sought to punish hard to place foster kids by forcing them to sleep in offices and social workers cars. In Wichita, the Kansas Reflector reports, aspiring foster parents are saying that the death of a six-year-old boy is because of a system there that struggles to place foster kids who have autism with the services they need.

Meanwhile, an explosive six-part USA Today investigation into the Florida foster care system revealed that, "caseworkers placed kids in dangerously overcrowded homes and with foster parents who later faced civil or criminal charges of sexual assault and torture". Almost 700,000 kids in the United States are in the system in some way every year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. These incidents and others prompted us at the lead to talk to experts who told us that the entire model of foster care in the United States needs a major overhaul.


TAPPER (voice-over): A new spotlight on foster care in the United States for all the wrong reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All system failed hurt (ph).

TAPPER (voice-over): In Ohio, Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old in foster care shot dead by police while holding a knife. In Florida, stunned police exchanging gunfire with two young kids from a group home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essential (ph) shot fires.

TAPPER (voice-over): Both children now facing attempted murder charges.

SHERIFF MIKE CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: Where have we gone wrong that a 12-year-old and 14-year-old think it's OK to take on law enforcement?

TAPPER (voice-over): Headlines like these suggest there should be a new look at the nation's historically neglected foster care system.

PATRICIA BABCOCK, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: I think in every single case that hits the media, there's missed opportunities.

TAPPER (voice-over): Increasingly, the question is not whether foster care kids are getting enough resources, but whether they're getting the right resources. Many experts say no.

DERRICK STEPHENS, FORMER FOSTER CARE CHILD: I don't see how the system has progressed in a way that is taking an account for society today.

TAPPER (voice-over): Derrick Stephens would know.

STEPHENS: I went into the foster care system around age five. I was in gangs at 10. I was kicked out of school in Special Ed, you know, label that kid is going to be dead by 18.

TAPPER (voice-over): The son of parents battling mental illness and addiction, Stephens bounced from foster home to foster home in Georgia and Florida. He says it did not take long to realize the system needed some serious improvement.


STEPHENS: At the age of seven, I knew something wasn't right. And I kind of evolved to be that vessel to change.

TAPPER (voice-over): By 15, Stephens was on his own.

STEPHENS: I've experienced most of the statistics that surround foster care. But again, I've been lucky enough and I've worked hard enough and have the right relationships in place to be able to get on the other side of foster care.

TAPPER (voice-over): Twenty years later, Stephens is a licensed social worker and an advocate for kids and families in the child welfare system. He founded Underdog Dream which helps foster children with their mental and physical well-being as they navigate their constant life changes. And now, Stephens is a foster parent himself, taking in one of his nephews.

STEPHENS: Now being a kinship caregiver for my nephew, I don't see a lot of changes. TAPPER (voice-over): In 2019, nearly 675,000 U.S. kids spent some time in foster care. Many pulled from their homes and placed in unfamiliar settings with strangers. And experience experts say can be even more traumatic than the pain they may have experienced before or well after.

BABCOCK: The trauma of removal for kids is pretty significant. And we don't -- we often don't if not always don't think about that should be the first thing that we should be doing is addressing the trauma of removal.

TAPPER (voice-over): Patricia Babcock was the Deputy Secretary at Florida's Department of Children and Families until this past April, and a 20-year veteran of working with foster kids and families. Babcock says the old child welfare model needs an overhaul because there's too much focus on getting a child into a room that appears on its surface to be safe, instead of creating a healthy long-term environment for the child's well-being.

BABCOCK: I'm a big proponent of inverting that pyramid, and primarily focusing on well-being. And I fundamentally believe if we would do that, the safety and the permanency would fall right into place. But that means that we've got to really shift our mindset.

TAPPER (voice-over): Babcock and Stephens both believe more mental health and wellness services are critical to improving the lives of foster children. And they feel it's time to redefine what success is and make it a little higher.

BABCOCK: We have set a standard, a standard that every state is trying to meet that in 12 months, 40.5 percent of the kids have reached what's called permanency. I don't know of any other field that would set a bar that low.

TAPPER (voice-over): The key, experts feel much more emphasis needs to be placed on preventing kids from being taken from their homes in the first place.

BABCOCK: I think there's very few children who would not fare better back in their home.

TAPPER (voice-over): That means redirecting energies into promoting a safer home environment so that a child does not need to be removed.

STEPHENS: I think there's a social contract that exists to say, hey, how can we prop up, how can we use finances to come in and maybe prop up childcare or prop up food -- a food or housing and so that this family can stay together.

TAPPER (voice-over): The 2018 Family First Prevention Act is giving child welfare advocates hope.

BABCOCK: I do think it could be a game changer. The law gives states the option to use additional federal funding on mental health services, substance abuse treatment and parenting skill training to prevent child removal. Stephens says if implemented correctly, it could make a huge difference in these kids' lives.

STEPHENS: Once you start to put money behind in this is, you'll then start to get some seriousness and some behavior changes.

TAPPER (voice-over): But whatever future changes happen, advocates say they need to include the people they directly impact.

STEPHENS: I don't want to find myself taking my grandkids in or taking my great nephew in because the foster care system or child welfare system has now been involved throughout my lifespan because we have not found a real way to not only reunify families, keep families together, but then set a tone and set a foundation so that generations can -- to come can heal from the trauma and thrive and move forward.


Coming up next, the punishment for the man who slapped the face of the President of France. How long he's going to be in prison? That's next.



TAPPER: We're back with our national lead and an update today to the story of Andrew Brown Jr., that's the black man shot and killed by police in Elizabeth City, North Carolina in April, you might recall. CNN has obtained the state autopsy report which concludes that Brown was killed because of a gunshot wound to the back of his head that confirms the results of the autopsy commissioned by the Brown family. Brown's killing was caught on body cam video and released when the County District Attorney announced he found the shooting to have been justified, which the family called an insult. The FBI has launched a federal civil rights investigation and family attorneys tell CNN that they plan to file a federal lawsuit.

Finally in our world lead today, prison time for the man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron. You can see the attacker, Damien Tarel, striking Macron across the face in southeast France on Tuesday. A French court today sentenced the 28-year-old to 18 months in prison but suspended all but four of those months. Tarel admitted he did indeed slap President Macron, but argued it was not premeditated. He acted without thinking, he said. He was expressing his discontent. He has 10 days to appeal the ruling.

You can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.