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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Loses Key Legal Fight To Keep Jan. 6 Documents Secret; Biden Speaks To Ukrainian President Amid Russia Invasion Fears; Retired Judge Dodges Questions On Wisconsin's (4th) Election Review; CDC Makes It Official: Teens 16-17 Can Get Pfizer Booster; New Poll: 30 Percent Of Parents Say They Will Not Vaccinate Their Child; Murders Reach Record Levels In Handful Of Major U.S. Cities; Bob Dole Lies In State At U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 17:00   ET



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And they rested much of their opinion on what has been repeated by the Biden administration as a reason for not asserting the privilege here, saying that it was the unique and extraordinary circumstances surrounding January 6 that demands that these records should be turned over.

I'll read you one line from the 68 page opinion here, saying "The President of the United States and Congress have each made the judgment that access to this subset of presidential communication records is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic." So, they went on to say that the former president gave no reason to really subvert that decision from the current president here.

This is a decision that came actually pretty quickly. The appeals court here in D.C. heard these arguments last Tuesday. They issued this opinion today, but crucially, they did say that they will provide a two week window for the former president's legal team to fight this decision, to go up to the Supreme Court. They could potentially also ask for the appeals court here to hear this argument again, to have the full court, all the judges hear, this argument.

So, these documents will not be handed directly over to the committee. Former president's legal team still has a two week window here to fight this. But Jake, this is yet another loss for the former president. A second court now ruling that he cannot block these records from being handed over to the House Select Committee investigating January 6. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Let's bring in former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Wehle.

And Kim, what's your reaction to the argument you heard the appeals court make? Basically, the Trump cannot claim a privilege that the current president, Biden, has waived.

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Right. So, the Article 2 of the Constitution creates one office of the presidency. The baton gets handed from person to person. Donald Trump's no longer president, the president is Joe Biden. Joe Biden has, in this moment, the discretion and the authority to decide what to do about things like executive privilege.

Jake, Donald Trump seems to continue to misunderstand what the nature and the role is of the president United States, which is to work on behalf of the people. These records Congress has established by statute don't belong to even a single president, don't belong to the White House or the government, they belong to the people.

And that's really what's boiling down to here. This court is saying, we have to think about what's the need for these. The need is, so the people can understand what happened again, on January 2. And Donald Trump is stuck up -- is stuck in -- still stuck with this notion that he is somehow special. And it also, I think, elevates this narrative, this false narrative that he is the real president.

So you know, that that's unfortunate that this -- because frankly, I think it's a really a very weak argument.

TAPPER: Is there any scenario where the U.S. Supreme Court, 1/3 of which was appointed by President Trump would side with him and allow him to keep these records under executive privilege?

WEHLE: You know, Jake, if you had asked me that prior to what's happening with abortion, that is in Texas, and most recently in the Dobbs case in Mississippi, I would say, you know, it would take moving a mountain. But in this moment, I'm not so confident that this court is not ideological and political anymore.

Now they did they did rule against Donald Trump, prior to Amy Coney Barrett joining the court on important issues of executive privilege, including his claim that his accounting firm and his banks and stuff can't respond to third party subpoenas, respond to subpoenas as third parties because of executive privilege. They knock that down.

But there isn't a lot of law around executive privilege. The reason, because presidents act presidential. And I think, you know, the idea behind the Presidential Records Act giving the former president a say, and that is in the statute, is not to get into kind of a tug of war between presidents, but it is around probably more like collaboration or if something really personal, made its way into a document that a former president would sort of say, hey, let's keep this out. Not this idea that somehow a private citizen supersedes the president who, in this moment, holds the power of the executive branch until a new president is sworn in, and that's Joe Biden.

TAPPER: All right, Kim Wehle, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with my panel.

So let's play this out. There's no chance that Trump's not going to take this to the U.S. Supreme Court. If he loses, as he has with other similar cases, what happens? TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Well, normally I would say he would keep trying, but you know, the Supreme Court is kind of the buck stops there. So I do think if he goes to the Supreme Court, and I agree that's likely to happen. Whatever the Supreme Court decides I don't know if he's going to have further recourse, but that doesn't mean he and those who are allied with him are going to try other ways to kind of keep these documents from landing in the hands of Democrats who want to investigate him.


TAPPER: Normally, I would say there's a principle at stake here, executive privilege and all that. But I mean, let's just call it what it is. He's trying to hide information about his involvement in January 6.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I mean, you know, that's obvious. And today's ruling by the court, I was just reading through it, could not be clearer on that. And they say what Mr. Trump seeks unanimously, but what Mr. Trump seeks is to have the court intervene and nullify judgments of the president and Congress, delay the committee's work, derail negotiations, period. They make the same point you're making. This court is saying exactly the same thing.

Now I agree with Kim, you can't predict the Supreme Court. I don't know --


BORGER: -- what my friends over here say. But you cannot.

TAPPER: What do you think?

LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: Well, you may not be able to predict it, call me an optimist, but I could see a nine to zero ruling with all of the appointees, including those appointed by Trump coming down.

TAPPER: And just for the record, that's what the Supreme Court is decided against Nixon.



TAPPER: By those unanimous decision against Nixon --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is exactly right.

TAPPER: -- when he was trying to hide the tapes, I think.

CHAVEZ: You can only have one president at a time. And I think it is pretty well established that it is whoever is in office who exerts that privilege. And we're not just -- you know, we're not trying to find out private discussions with his advisors into how he decided a policy issue. This is an investigation into what was the most serious assault on our democracy since the Civil War, in my view. And I think, you know, I think we're going to see a Supreme Court that comes down against Donald Trump.

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes. And it's that passage Gloria read sort of suggests it's because it's a congressional investigation that this Court has decided that you can't just -- that is Biden isn't just -- Joe Biden and Merrick Garland are just like, hey, we found some documents here, we're just going to make them public, right?

TAPPER: Right.

KRISTOL: This Congress has asked for them. And I think this makes people who said, oh, what's the point of that January 6 commission, it can't do anything anyway, really, I do think shows what the point of it is once we have a congress requesting and subpoenaing certain documents from the archives or whoever holds these documents from the previous administration, it changes the character of it. And the president determines or the Justice Roberts determines they don't want to assert privilege. Congress wants them, the Executive Branch wants to give them over. Why not?

BORGER: Well, and conservatives would say, don't get involved.

CHAVEZ: Right. That's the conservative position.

BORGER: You know, Congress wants to do, it's not our job, right?


CHAVEZ: Correct.

TAPPER: Right. The U.S. Supreme Court might just refuse to take up the case and just let the appellate court ruling stand. I mean, that's a possibility as well.

MITCHELL: Right. And I think -- but I don't -- I guess the -- what we've been talking about is how the Supreme Court has shifted in a way that we think it may act in a way that's a little bit more partisan than perhaps what we would have expected from the Supreme Court in the past. And I think that's the, you know, that's the question mark here is, if there are justices who would like to weigh in on the issue. Because the easy thing for them to do is just to let the lower court stand, but are there justices who, for whatever reason, would like to be a little bit more activist on, you know, determining what is the precedent that should be said.

TAPPER: And we've seen from what Meadows is turned over, from John Karl's (ph) reporting, from CNN's reporting, we've seen there was a plan to try to stop the counting of the electoral votes in Congress. I mean, there was one, several.

CHAVEZ: At least on January 6 and for time shortly after that. I think most Republicans in Congress were appalled. I mean, you know, the speeches that took place on the floor that night were very different than what we're hearing from people like Kevin McCarthy today. So, you know, yes, I think -- again, I think Congress -- Senate, the Supreme Court is going to do the right thing.

TAPPER: What do you think? You think they're going to do the right thing?

KRISTOL: Yes. Yes. And I don't think they'll simply let the appellate court decision hold. If the president -- ex-president personally appealing this, I think they'll want to have their say, and we'll see if it's unanimous or not. It will be healthy for the country, I think if they show that they're not simply partisans, honestly, that'd be another good side effect of Trump actually appealing the case.

TAPPER: You guys are such an optimist.

KRISTOL: Yes, once a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't say that.

KRISTOL: Once a year, it's Christmas, it's December, Jake, Christmas, you know, season.

TAPPER: It's very nice and very Christmassy.

Thanks all for being here. Appreciate it.

With a big chunk of the Russian military hanging out right over his border. Ukraine's president speaks to President Biden. What is the plan, if any, to handle Vladimir Putin?

Plus, big lie loyalists still trying to undermine the 2020 election. CNN tried to track down the man in charge of one of these. That's ahead.



TAPPER: In our world lead this afternoon, President Biden spoke with Ukraine's President, fresh off his two hour call with Russia's President Putin earlier this week. All amid fears that Russia is about to invade Ukraine once again.

As CNN Oren Liebermann reports, the U.S. is trying to support Ukraine without putting U.S. boots on the ground.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden trying to lower the temperature as tensions soar in Eastern Europe, promising Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky support for his country's sovereignty amid a massive buildup of Russian forces.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we know is that the aggression here is on the Russian side. The military buildup is on the Russian side. There's a path, a diplomatic path forward, the part of the President's objective -- our president's objective in having the call was to convey that clearly.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Russia has amassed 125,000 troops near Ukraine's borders and in Belarus to the north. Ukrainian security sources tell CNN that includes tanks, ground vehicles and aerial patrols, potentially laying the groundwork for a quick strike and rapid reinforcement, the sources say.

On Monday, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin have severe economic sanctions if Russian forces invaded Ukraine, steps the U.S. wasn't ready to take the last time this happened.

Since the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, the U.S. has given Ukraine more than two and a half billion dollars to bolster its self- defense. This year alone, that amounts to $450 million, including lethal Javelin antitank missiles, small arms and ammunition from the latest security assistance package are set to arrive this week, and more could be coming if Russia attacks.

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We would provide additional defensive material to the Ukrainians above and beyond that which we are already providing. And we would fortify our NATO allies on the eastern flank with additional capabilities in response to such an escalation.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The Ukrainian military also trains alongside U.S. troops. About 150 guardsmen from Florida's Task Force Gator recently arrived in Ukraine rotating in for the 81st Stryker Brigade. The 81st was there for months working with Ukrainian forces and taking part in September's rapid tried an exercise. There's been an increase in U.S. diplomacy with European allies and partners in recent weeks to coordinate and he responds to Russian aggression.

But the most serious sanctions targeting Russia's energy sector remain a last resort U.S. officials say as the White House remains wary of roiling domestic gas prices.


LIEBERMANN: A senior NSC official says the White House will not take domestic political considerations into effect if and when it comes to time to decide what sanctions to impose on Russia. But experts warn, if you don't impose energy sector sanctions, you may not have the influence required to try to affect who Kremlin decision making.

Meanwhile, how important is security assistance when it comes to Ukraine? The White House wanted 250 million, Congress, as of right now, has added 50 million more. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thanks so much.

Let's go now to CNN's Matthew Chance who is live for us in Kiev, Ukraine. And Matthew, President Biden and Ukrainian president Zelensky spoke for about an hour and a half. You're getting some new insight into what the two leaders talked about specifically, tell us.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, publicly, of course, the Ukrainians very grateful for the U.S. leadership on this issue, and for President Biden's support for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. But you know, behind the scenes, you get a sense, there's a bit more frustration creeping in.

(INAUDIBLE) had a briefing from a government official here in Ukraine with knowledge of the call. And he spoke to me and he said, look, you know, President Biden did spell out all these very tough sanctions that would be imposed on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine. But President Zelensky was less than impressed by that. And so that's he didn't believe that prospective sanctions would have the deterrent effect that President Biden think it might have -- thought it might have on President Putin because on Russia, because he thinks that Russia would have already affected that in.

What Ukraine wants to see is upfront sanctions, perhaps with the delayed implementation that could be rolled back if, in the words of this official, Russia behaves itself. There was self (ph) frustration expressed as well, apparently a month ago, there was all this request -- there were a lot of requests made by the Ukrainian defense ministry to the United States for lethal weapons to help it prosecute its war in the east and to fight off any Russian potential invasion.

By the U.S.'s own intelligence assessments, the Ukrainian say, that invasion could come as early as next month, and the weapons that they requested have still not arrived. And they've been some weapons sent and expected to arrive this week. But there are more that have been requested that haven't come.

Finally, the issue of NATO, Vladimir Putin saying that he wants to stop to NATO expansion eastwards. It is not what Ukraine brought into the western military alliance.

President Biden told Zelensky on this call, you know, look, it's up to individual countries to decide whether they join NATO or not. No assurances were given to Vladimir Putin. But he also told Zelensky that he didn't see Ukraine joining the western military alliance until at least 2030, Jake.

TAPPER: All right Matthew Chance in Kiev, Ukraine, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this all with CNN Global Affairs Analyst Susan Glasser and the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor.

Susan, let me start with what we just heard there from Matthew in terms of the Ukrainians behind the scenes being frustrated that the Biden people, the Biden ministration, is not proposing tough enough sanctions, that they really need to be coming down and doing energy sanctions if they really want to change the Kremlin's behavior. What's your take?


SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, I think President Biden has been very wary of escalating further the situation and being drawn into, you know, a kind of tit for tat that Russia seems to want. You know, Vladimir Putin already has alienated Ukrainians by sending a gigantic RV to their borders. You know, it's a bullying technique in the spring that resulted in Putin getting the meeting he wanted with Joe Biden. Joe Biden came out with thinking, well, we're going to have a stable and predictable relationship, that's what he said he wanted. This is obviously not stable and predictable at the moment.

The U.S. has very limited tools in all honesty right now and is very unwilling, I think. President Biden is very unwilling to escalate right now.

TAPPER: And what's your take? How do you think the Ukrainians are handling this? And what is the best way to deter Vladimir Putin from invading and ceasing land again in Ukraine?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Jake, the Ukrainians will fight hard. Mr. Putin undoubtedly knows that this army, this Ukrainian army that has been fighting his troops for seven and a half years, this is a battle tested, tough, well-motivated, well equipped, better lead army than Mr. Putin was up against in 2014.

And the Ukrainian people, as Susan said, the Ukrainian people are very opposed. They hate this idea of the Russian aggression against them. They begin to hate the Russians. And this core, there's a core of veterans, of Ukrainian military veterans who have fought in the east, a large core, and they're ready to fight again. They're ready to pick up arms again. Mr. Putin, I think knows that.

And so, my first answer to your question is Ukrainians themselves are going to make it very hard, make it very bloody. The sanctions, you know, they're talking about some serious sanctions, as Tony Blinken says, such as you've never seen before. And we know kind of what those could be. They're very disruptive, there's no doubt about that. They will be painful, they will be very painful.

And the idea of putting them on now and then taking them off if they don't, I'm not sure about that. The Ukrainians, of course, were going to be asking for more, more sanctions now, more weapons now. And they should, and they should, they're under attack, they're on the front line. So they should be asking for this. But my sense is that President Biden is pushing hard.

TAPPER: And Susan, you were stationed in Moscow with "The Washington Post" tickets inside Putin's thinking, I mean, is there any way to deter him?

GLASSER: Well, you know, Jake, this is my point that I wanted to make even about right now with President Biden, they're just limited tools. We've been through this with three previous American presidents, right? And you've seen both President George W. Bush with Georgia, and President Obama in 2014 with Ukraine all over again. There was endless talk in Washington at that time about off ramps and sanctions. And you know, Vladimir Putin is not looking for an off ramp built by an American president.

I think that, you know, he's more than two decades in power now. It's important for people to realize that he believes in some ways that it's his destiny to -- he called the breakup of the Soviet Union, the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. He wrote just this summer, essentially, that Ukraine is not real independent nation and should still be a part of Russia. And I think that informs and shapes his thinking, as far as this crisis that he has manufactured.

It's just so important for people to understand Ukraine wasn't about to join NATO next week. It's not that Vladimir Putin is reacting to some real crisis here. He's created one, in order to get this incredible attention that he now has of the world.

TAPPER: And Ambassador Taylor, President Biden spoke with the Bucharest Nine today. It's nine countries that were either part of the Soviet Union or under its sphere of influence that banded together in 2015 after Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. They're all NATO members, Ukraine is not. How big a deal is that force, the Bucharest Nine, if Russia does decide to invade?

TAYLOR: So one of the things that they talked about yesterday, and the day before was the willingness of the United States to provide additional military forces to those nine nations who are on the eastern flank of NATO. And they are very likely if the Russian tanks come across the border again into Ukraine, they'll be moving west. Those nine countries are looking at these Russian tanks coming at them. They will ask for additional sources, weapons, equipment, troops from the United States, and Jake Sullivan said they probably get a positive response. So I think they are an important group, they're an important force that is going to be focused on this issue.


TAPPER: All right, Ambassador Taylor and Susan Glasser, good to have you both here. Thank you so much. Appreciate your insights.

Coming up, some breaking news, the jury has reached a verdict in the Jussie Smollett trial. We're going to go live outside the courtroom as soon as it is read. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, we're now more than a year removed from the 2020 election. And yet, Donald Trump's big lie loyalists in one state they're still at it. This time conducting what is now the fourth review of Wisconsin's election results. It's a partisan effort paid for by taxpayer dollars. Despite the fact that Newsflash, Joe Biden won Wisconsin. CNN's Kyung Lah tried to track down the man in charge of this review. He's a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice who appears to be all in on Trump's big law.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what a threat to democracy looks like inside this building in the Milwaukee suburbs. Working behind this tinted doorway is a special counsel of Wisconsin's partisan review of the 2020 election.

Hello? Hello? They don't want to talk to reporters, declining our requests for interviews and now dodging my questions on the run.

Good evening, sir. The man we're trying to talk to is Michael Gableman, a retired Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice appointed by the Republican controlled legislature to lead an investigation that could cost taxpayers nearly $700,000.

MICHAEL GABLEMAN, RETIRED WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: To get to the truth of what happened in our 2020 election.

LAH (voice-over): Three separate audit recounts and court cases have found no evidence of widespread fraud in Wisconsin. But that's not stopping Gableman from moving forward, making bizarre threads like this.

MAYOR SATYA RHODES-CONWAY (D), MADISON: Attorney Gableman has asked the court to instruct the sheriff to come and take me to jail.

LAH (on-camera): To take you to jail?


LAH (voice-over): Satya Rhodes-Conway is the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, a Democratic stronghold, one of a number of local officials subpoenaed by the Special Counsel. Gableman wants to interrogate her in this building away from public view.

(on-camera): Because he wants to ask you those questions in private, he is going to seek your arrest?

RHODES-CONWAY: Yes. If it comes down to it, and I have to go to jail for democracy. I certainly won't be the first person to have done so.

LAH (voice-over): Gableman was hired by Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, pictured here with Donald Trump. Vos tweeted about the top to bottom investigation by Justice Michael Gableman. After this tweet, Gableman's investigation expanded.

(on-camera): Hi, good morning.

(voice-over): We try to talk to Speaker Vos.

(on-camera): We sent in a request for an interview.

(voice-over): His office says Vos had no time this week. We wanted to know why Vos would hire Gableman who just days after the 2020 election cast doubt on Wisconsin's election results.

GABLEMAN: Our elected leaders have allowed unelected bureaucrats at the Wisconsin Election Commission to steal our vote. LAH (voice-over): Records obtained by American oversight, a left- leaning watchdog group show taxpayers paid to fly Gableman to Arizona last summer where the widely debunked partisan review of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots took place. Then Gableman went to South Dakota to My Pillow guy Mike Lindell cyber symposium, which amounted to a gathering of outlandish conspiracies and election lies.

In Wisconsin, Gableman's investigation continues in the dark. His only two public appearances before state lawmakers combative.

GABLEMAN: Stop making things up, Mark.


GABLEMAN: Your constituents deserve better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have you hire Mr. Hoyer (ph) --

GABLEMAN: Shame on you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why -- shame on you.

LAH (voice-over): Josh Kaul is Wisconsin's Attorney General and fighting the Gableman investigation in court.

(on-camera): Is this about 2020 or is this about 2022 and 2024?

JOSH KAUL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think this is really about 2022 and 2024. I mean, I think what we've seen is that even though the insurrection ended, the spirit of the insurrection has remained with us. This is an effort to reduce people's confidence in our election results.

LAH (voice-over): Wisconsin Republican State Senator Kathy Bernier, former county clerk, believes elections can always improve, but says what's clear, there's no widespread voter fraud, and it's her party that needs to make that clear.

KATHY BERNIER (R), WISCONSIN STATE SENATE: If they don't have confidence in the electoral process, they're not going to come out and vote and primarily it's going to harm Republicans. So it's Republicans, including Donald J. Trump, who need to say, OK, let's stop. Let's move forward.

LAH (voice-over): The Gableman investigation shows no sign of stopping.

GABLEMAN: Thank you.

LAH (on-camera): We talk to you about your investigation, sir.

GABLEMAN: Hey, have a good night.

LAH (voice-over): Or answering to anyone.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAH: Bipartisan federal election experts tell CNN that they're very concerned about what's happening here in the state of Wisconsin. They see similar pressure that has been applied in Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, all of these swing states. They believe that this Wisconsin investigation jig is simply the next page in the playbook of the big lie. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We're following the breaking news. The jury has reached a verdict in the trial of former "Empire" Actor Jussie Smollett. We're standing by for their decision. Plus, a new poll suggesting many parents remain reluctant to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19. We're digging into why, that is next.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the CDC this afternoon encouraged all 16 and 17 year olds to get their booster shots after the CDC gave the final thumbs up this afternoon for the teens to get a third dose. But a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that most parents in the U.S. still have concerns about how safe COVID vaccines are for children.

Let's discuss this with Dr. Chris Pernell, a public health physician and Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Purnell, let me start with that study. 49 percent of parents say they did vaccinate their children, 13 percent say they are taking a wait and see approach. 30 percent, that's 3 and 10, will, quote, definitely not get their kids vaccinated.

So safety and potential side effects continue to be the most prominent concern. But this is the most researched and scrutinized vaccine to date. If parents don't have the information they need to trust this vaccine as of now, who do you blame, the government?


DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: You know, Jake, this is a difficult one. And this is something that I face in community every day. And I actually would say that parents of children in the five to 11 age group are even more skeptical of the safety of the vaccine. And I think it comes from parents being in an environment and atmosphere where at times we've had conflicting messages, and that -- this pandemic has been politicized. And that's very unfortunate. And the best way to break through that is just to be clear and emphatic about what the science shows.

TAPPER: Andrea, two-thirds of parents also say they do not want schools to require eligible students to get vaccinated against COVID. At the heart of this, it seems -- is parent frustration with how much the pandemic has taken from our children at home learning no socialization, mask requirements, et cetera. What do you make of this, of this lack of desire for another requirement, even though their kids are required to get vaccines for all sorts of other diseases?

ANDREA BONIOR, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes. I think exactly as Dr. Pernell said, there's been so much baggage of misinformation this entire time that it's become such a loaded subject. But there was one optimistic piece of news in that same study that said that when schools themselves encouraged and provided information about access to the vaccine, it actually increased vaccination rates among children.

So even though parents clearly are not all for it being a requirement, it does speak to a need for local and state school districts to be able to disseminate information. We know there's so much misinformation out there. And so it's not a surprise that a lot of parents who are skeptical about the vaccine for themselves are saying absolutely not for their children. We need to counteract that misinformation.

TAPPER: Dr. Pernell, what sort of resources do you think these parents and kids need to better understand this vaccine and so that we can all get past this pandemic?

PERNELL: I think we all need to be on the same side of this argument. And what I mean by that I think healthcare leaders, those in public health, or clinical medicine, as well as educators, and as well as family's personal primary care physicians and pediatricians, we all need to say the same message emphatically and clearly. And that is that the safety and the efficacy data is on the side of getting these vaccinations.

When I've been before parents, Jake, whether I'm on school grounds, or I'm doing it virtually, the more that I'm able to answer those questions, and to tease out the misinformation from the fact to use social math or so we say, give them examples of flu versus COVID. And then talk about how this vaccine really is our way in society as beating back this pandemic.

You see parents, if you will, thon (ph) to the possibility that maybe I should do this for my kid, because we're not going to finally cross the finish line until we have a substantial proportion of all of our population vaccinated.

TAPPER: And Andrea, you and I have been talking about the damage this pandemic has caused kids since last year. And there's this new study in JAMA showing there was an almost 66 percent jump per month in cases of anorexia among girls between the ages of nine to 18 years in Canada during the first wave of the pandemic.

Let's talk about that -- tell me about your observations of the toll this has taken on kids, may be especially on young girls.

BONIOR: Yes, young girls, I think it's so tied up into social media as well, because we've had that recent Instagram data about just how damaging certain aspects of social media can be to girls in particular about body image. And so when you think of one of the things that has happened with the pandemic, it's that our children's and our teenagers, social lives have moved so much more online even than ever before. So any kind of influences in terms of substance abuse, in terms of self-harm, in terms of eating disorders, have only been magnified, because that's the only way that a lot of these kids were actually able to interact and that became their life. And we know that the data is damaging. We know that when they're constantly exposed to over idealized body images or even behavioral techniques about how to do some kind of unhealthy eating behaviors, we know it has real effects.

And it's a real concern going forward because I don't think that we can put the genie back into the bottle. These kids are online all the time now.

TAPPER: Andrea Bonior and Dr. Chris Pernell, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

We're following that breaking news, a verdict reached in the trial a former "Empire" Actor Jussie Smollett. We'll bring you that verdict when it's red. Plus, a disturbing trend. Why are so many American cities seeing a record number of homicides? We're going to talk to the Baltimore Police Commissioner next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, homicides in a number of American cities are hitting record numbers with three weeks still left to go in 2021 in six major cities. The total number of homicides this year have not only surpassed last year's total but set a new record and several more on track to join that list.

And important note here, even though the national murder rate has spiked recently, it is still significantly lower than its peak in the 80s and 90s. But for communities, such as Louisville, Kentucky, that's not much consolation.


SHERITA SMITH, MOTHER OF HOMICIDE VICTIM: So what am I supposed to do when I led my son on the right path? And he get killed and hurt by a senseless violence?


TAPPER: Joining us now to discuss what's behind these statistics is Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. He's also president of the Police Executive Research Forum which works to combat these crime spikes.


Commissioner Harrison, thanks for joining us. So you've served in two cities with some of the highest homicide rates in the country, Baltimore, and before that, New Orleans. How concerned are you by the numbers we're seeing so far this year? COMMISSIONER MICHAEL HARRISON, BALTIMORE POLICE: Well, first of all, thank you for having me, Jake. Jake, were very concerned, not just in Baltimore, but most cities are seeing spikes in their gun violence, their non-fatal shooting numbers in and their homicide numbers. And we're concerned for a number of reasons what we're seeing and what I'm hearing. And what I know to be effect in Baltimore, by and large, is conflict.

While many people think it's drug-related, some of it is, but by and large, I'm hearing from all the other chiefs that are colleagues of mine, that it's conflict-related, simple, petty beefs arguments, and retaliations from previous bad acts, which are conflicts also. And then you had two years, almost two years of no trials, no indictments, no grand juries. And so there is a either a lack of consequences or the offenders don't fear the consequences.

Either one of those is bad. But that's what we're hearing around the country, which we all believe is leading to the increase in gun violence. Not to mention the enormous amount of guns that are hitting our streets in record numbers to include those guns, which as you know, can't be traced, can be ordered online, purchase with a credit card, even young people are buying them, assemble them in about an hour and you have a fully functional gun that cannot be traced. When you put all that together, we're seeing spikes in Baltimore, and we're seeing spikes in most major American cities.

TAPPER: So one of the things you just said is that because of COVID, the legal system, the justice system has slowed down or stopped at times in terms of getting dangerous people off the street. Am I hearing you correctly?

HARRISON: Well, we're making arrests, of course, that's happening all over the country. And what -- but for about 18 months or longer, there were no indictments, there were no grand juries, there were no trials being held. So the offender on the street, while may be arrested at times, would sometimes and this is what they tell us, they don't think that anything's actually being done, because there's no demonstration of consequences being held to these individuals.

And so they had continued to offend. And while some of the criminal justice system slowed down, we're now just getting back into a groove of trials, indictments, grand juries, and really beginning to demonstrate to the public, that we're holding people accountable, which is the main deterrent factor that we use to deter them from violent crime.

TAPPER: So what do your fellow police chiefs all over the country and you, what do you think needs to be done to bring these numbers down other than resuming indictments and prison sentences for individuals who have been arrested for offenses?

HARRISON: Well, we all believe that they have -- there has to be consequences. Now, hear me correctly, not the severity of consequences, but swiftness and the certainty of consequences. When offenders know for a fact that they will be caught and they will be held accountable, swift and certain, that's the best deterrent that there is. So it's not necessarily the severity, but the swiftness and the certainty.

We have to get back into the groove of, number one, having indictments, trials, convictions, sentences, but the police are out there doing the work. Then there's an issue some -- you know, in some parts of the country where, because of, you know, bad police-community relations, police don't always feel as comfortable in some types of engagement. And we're working to make sure that we can have police not only feel comfortable, but make sure that we're doing it the right way, in a constitutional way, in a way that builds trust, in a way that builds relationships. But we're working to reengage our police to make sure that we can keep our community safe.

TAPPER: Baltimore Police Commissioner Harrison, thank you so much for joining us as always. We're standing by for a verdict to be read any moment in the trial of Actor Jussie Smollett. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, members of Congress and other dignitaries are paying tribute to Bob Dole right now as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Just moments ago, Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Kagan and Breyer said their farewells to the late Senator.

And a ceremony earlier today, congressional leaders praise Dole's character and his decades of public service. President Biden spoke about their friendship and the legacy Dole leaves behind.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's lost one of our greatest patriots. We may follow his wisdom, I hope and his timeless truth. In a sentence, Bob belongs here. He too, was a giant of our history, and that's not hyperbole, it's real.


TAPPER: Senator Bob Dole was a highly decorated World War II hero in 1945. Seriously wounded while carrying a fellow soldier to safety while serving in Italy. The wounds left him permanently disabled. Dole was the last of the greatest generation to be a major political party nominee for president.

He was 98 years old when he died. The funeral service for Senator Dole is tomorrow morning. Live coverage begins on CNN at 11:00 a.m. May his memory be a blessing.

On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. You can also listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.