Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

W.H. Press Secretary: Russia Could At Any Point Launch An Attack On Ukraine; Source: U.S. Considering Sending Military Equipment To Ukraine TO Help It Fend Off A Possible Russian Invasion; Oklahoma City Hospitals At "Breaking Point" With No ICU Beds; White House Quietly Launches Free At-Home Test Website; Study: School Closures Have "Consistent" Negative Impact On Kids; Jan. 6 CMTE. Subpoenas Giuliani & Other Former Trump Attorneys; Biden To Take Questions Tomorrow To Mark One Year In Office; Gallup Poll: More Americans Identify As Republicans Than Democrats; Personal Testimony Of Laura Coates & Her Days As A Prosecutor; New Images Of Damage After Undersea Volcanic Eruption Spews Ash Over Island Nation Of Tonga. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 17:00   ET




JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe we're now at a stage where Russia could, at any point, launch an attack on Ukraine. I would say that's more stark than we have been.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on route right now to Ukraine as the U.S. ways its next move to counter Russia's aggression. CNN's Matthew Chance is in Kiev ahead of Blinken's arrival.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the actual video complete with soundtrack put out by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Being fired to the beat, javelin anti- tank missiles supplied by the U.S. as part of its growing military support is these kinds of weapons Ukraine hopes will help stop another Russian invasion, and it wants more. Cue a flurry of diplomatic fist bumps and grand promises of U.S. support.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Blinken visits Kiev. But earlier this week, a congressional delegation was here.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think Vladimir Putin has made the biggest mistake of his career.

CHANCE (voice-over): Vowing more tough action in Washington against Russian aggression. BLUMENTHAL: We will impose crippling economic sanctions. But more important we will give the people of Ukraine the arms, lethal arms they need to defend their lives and livelihoods.

CHANCE (voice-over): It certainly doesn't look deter. These are the latest images of Russia's live fire military exercises near its border, where the latest Ukrainian Defense Intelligence assessment, obtained exclusively by CNN, says Russia has almost completed its military drill there (ph).

The assessment says, there are now more than 127,000 Russian troops poised to invade, including Russian infantry units seen here practicing urban warfare, the kinds that may play a major role if any potentially messy incursion into Ukraine is ever ordered. Sources in rebel controlled eastern areas of the country tell CNN training has also been ramped up there. With a significant increase of rebel fighters and heavy weaponry on the frontlines.

The new Ukrainian intelligence assessment says Russia supports more than 35,000 rebels and has about 3,000 of its own military based in rebel territory. Moscow denies having any forces there and continues to insist it has no plans either to invade.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do not threaten anyone, but we hear threats against us. I hope all of this only reflects emotions within the camp of Western countries. We will be guided by concrete steps and deeds.

CHANCE (voice-over): But those deeds and steps seem to point to escalation. These are new images showing troops from Russia and its ally Belarus preparing for joint exercises near Ukraine's northern border. It may be just a distraction. But as Russia continues to mass forces, Ukrainian intelligence says it now sees this region as a full- fledged Russian theatre of operation. In other words, another dangerous potential front line.


CHANCE: Well, Jake, well that start warning from Ukrainian intelligence coming as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrives in Kiev to show U.S. support for the country at this time and to meet the leadership. But frankly, Jake, the Ukrainians want more than just words from Washington. They want military support to help them fight what they regard as an impending Russian threat.

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

I want to bring in CNN White House reporter, Natasha Bertrand.

Natasha, a source tells you that the Biden administration is considering maybe sending Ukraine more military equipment in case Russia invades. How extensive would that aid be? How close is the President to a decision on whether or not to send it?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, these conversations are still at the relatively preliminary level and it's coming as the administration becomes increasingly pessimistic about Vladimir Putin's intentions here. They see an invasion as increasingly likely as Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary said earlier today, they are at a moment closer than they have been really to being able to launch an attack at virtually any time. And so, what the administration is thinking about now is less how to deter an invasion by bolstering Ukrainian military forces there and more how to sustain a resistance campaign essentially if Russia were to invade and were to occupy large swaths of territory of Ukraine. They essentially want to raise the costs to make it very difficult for Vladimir Putin to make a decision about whether to invade because of how hard it will be for him to hold on to the country.


Now, it remains to be seen whether or not President Biden's commitment to not putting U.S. forces on the ground there. In the event that a war erupts holds special operations forces are obviously kind of circling in and out of Ukraine. And the CIA may actually be instrumental in maintaining that kind of resistance force helping the Ukrainians put out that fight essentially if a war does erupt, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Natasha Bertrand, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's turn now to Garry Kasparov, the world renowned chess master, and most recently a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Good to see you again. I want to play again what we heard today from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


PSAKI: We believe we're now at a stage where Russia could, at any point, launch an attack on Ukraine. I would say that's more stark than we have been.


TAPPER: This wasn't an off the cuff remark. She's reading from a document. It wasn't a gaffe. It wasn't a mistake. Psaki, in fact, made that comment twice today. What do you make of that coming from the White House?

GARRY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, RENEW DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE: I just want to say that, you know, I'm not a recent critic of Vladimir Putin. My first article, pointing at the danger coming from KGB guy running Russia was dated by January 4, 2001 in my "Wall Street Journal" article. And actually, 15 years ago in February 2007, Putin himself told about his plans to return to spheres of power just to control, you know, the former Soviet republics and hell with international law. And it took four U.S. administrations to actually read this message, because now he's messing up troops. And it is very serious. It's more than serious.

And what's we're discussing now, I heard these wars and wars, crippling sanctions, it's too little. I hope it's not too late. Because let's not forget, President Biden had three talks with Vladimir Putin. One post (ph) and two on video, on Zoom. And every time we were told that he made an ultimatum, he warned Putin. Putin didn't hear the message or it was not the right message to deter Putin.

And right now, there are too many wars. And speaking about Ukraine receiving American military assistance after invasion, it sounds odd to me, because if Russian troops enter Kiev, who cares, you know, what U.S. is going to send to Ukraine.

TAPPER: Yes. I only -- fair enough. I only met more recently, in terms of -- since you became world famous as a chess master, that's all. But I take your point, you've been criticizing him for a generation.

From Natasha's reporting, we're hearing that the U.S. might send Ukraine's army some more military equipment, including ammunition, mortars, javelin, anti-tank missiles. NATO allies might send anti- aircraft missile systems. Will that help? Do you think this all signals an invasion is definitely imminent?

KASPAROV: Look, it's a -- everything will help. But let's not forget, the day before yesterday, a German foreign minister, she was in Kiev, and she again repeat the German position not to sell lethal weapon to Ukraine. And let's not forget, Germany is one of the largest arms sales country in the world.

So, again, wards (ph), promises, crippling sanctions, but I do not see anything in paper. I do not see any document that will tell Vladimir Putin, beyond any doubt, that the cost of invasion of Ukraine will be too high. And if he doesn't believe that the costs will be too high, so he's experienced tells him that it's only lip service.

He invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. He helped Bashar al-Assad, he propped up Maduro regime, and of course, invaded Ukraine in 2014. So far, nothing happened. Why does he believe these words today?

TAPPER: So Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is headed to Ukraine right now to meet with the Ukrainian president. Just yesterday, a bipartisan delegation of seven U.S. Senators also met with Ukrainian President Zelensky. The senators say they stress that the U.S.'s standing with Ukraine and its sovereignty. How effective can all these meetings and support be if ultimately what happens next comes down to Ukraine and its standoff with Russia?

KASPAROV: It's better than it used to be. But let's not forget, you know, the Russian propaganda for years has been steadily denying Ukrainian sovereignty. Ukraine is a failed state, it doesn't have rights to exist.

In the last few days they stepped up their attacks on Ukraine, talking even about using nukes if anybody interferes with Russia's sacred right to take control of this territory. Yes, of course it's talk, it's -- you may say it's hot air but propaganda machine in Russia under full control of Kremlin. And it seems that the stepping up, not only military preparation, but also propaganda campaign to back up the force coming invasion.

I'm not sure that decision has been made yet, but it's very, very serious. And unless Putin recognizes that this time the response will be too costly for him to bear. I'm waiting -- I would expect the worst.


TAPPER: And what would that be? What would be too costly for him to bear that the U.S. and NATO could warn Putin about that would actually have an effect?

KASPAROV: Crippling economic sanctions, that will include, you know, just cutting Nord Stream 2. Basically cutting Russian gas supply to Europe, cutting the rush out of Swift (ph) and going after Putin's money, of the Russian oligarchs that plates that immense fortune all over the free world, from Baltic States to San Francisco.

So, also, you have to put it on paper, it has to be some form of a law, just you know, supported by Congress, by Senate. Administration has to make it very clear that it will push European allies because there's very little appetite. Germany still, you know, hesitant about its position in case of an all-out war regarding Nord Stream 2 because for 20 years Europe did absolutely nothing to diminish its dependence on Russian gas. And even after Crimea's annexation, Germany almost doubled the amount of Russian gas they had been buying.

TAPPER: Garry Kasparov, thank you so much. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Are we turning COVID corner? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to help diagnose how we can live with COVID.

Then a massive volcanic eruption launches a tsunami that wipes out all of the houses on one island. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, a desperate plea from four of the biggest hospital systems in the state of Oklahoma writing an open letter to the public saying there are zero ICU beds left. They're short hundreds of hospital staff. And on top of all that, violence against healthcare workers is at a, quote, "all-time high."

The hospitals warning, quote, "Soon, you or a loved one may need us for life saving care whether for a stroke, emergency appendectomy or trauma from a car accident, and we might not be able to help," unquote. A stark warning.

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

Sanjay, as of Monday, there were more than 100 patients in the state of Oklahoma in need of a hospital bed that could not get one. We're starting to see cases come down in places like New York. When will places like Oklahoma start to feel some relief?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this, what typically happens as you see these waves around the country. So, you are seeing cases come down in New York and D.C. and other places as well and that reflects what's even been seen around the world in the U.K. and South Africa.

But let me show you, when it comes to hospitalizations in particular in Oklahoma and look what's happening in the United States, typically, Oklahoma sort of preceded the United States sort of waves. Here, you know, you see it's just chasing the United States a little bit, and it's still on its way up. If you look at the model, specifically, they say probably end of the month before you have sort of a peak when it comes to hospitalizations in places like Oklahoma, it's a bit of a moving target. But then obviously, Jake, it's a few weeks after that before the numbers really come down to a more manageable level.

I should also point out, just vaccination rates. You know, you look at vaccination rates in New York and you see where the numbers have sort of come down versus Oklahoma, 73 percent versus 54 percent in Oklahoma. The country as a whole is just almost right in the middle there, Jake, around 63 percent, 64 percent. So, you know, we'll see. But it sounds like a few more weeks where it's going to be pretty tough there.

TAPPER: The White House website for ordering free at home tests is up. I've ordered one. What should people know?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, this was a bit of a surprise, because the website was supposed to go up tomorrow. But what we've heard is that this is sort of the beta phase, they wanted to put it up a day early and see if they could work out some kinks.

You were able to order them. A lot of people have already ordered them. Some people have run into problems and they're getting an e-mail that basically says check in tomorrow when we're actually fully up to try and work out some of those kinks.

I don't know what your message, Jake, that you get. But typically what people are hearing is that by the end of January these tests should start going out and you can put your e-mail and you can sort of track it along.

A lot of people are ordering. Jake. This is half of the internet traffic for the government in total right now is the ordering of these tests. So a lot of people in on it. Five hundred million of these are expected to go out over the next 60 days. So, you know, we'll see how that goes, but this is obviously a big endeavor.

TAPPER: Do you recommend that everyone order the tests now just to have them on hand even if they're not feeling any symptoms right now? Do these tests expire?

GUPTA: Some of them do expire. They do have a shelf life, and it's different for different tests, so you should certainly look at the box. But it's usually months to a year in terms of shelf life.

Yes is the answer to the question that you asked. I think people should order them now. You can get a sense of how hard they may be when you need them.

Hopefully, you know the numbers continue to go down as we're talking about and the demand for these sort of eases up a bit. But having them on hand even, you know, if there's another surge or something, but certainly be helpful. And again, if you've had an exposure to somebody, to be able to test yourself and know if you in fact are contagious as well, is important to slowing down the spread of this pandemic.

TAPPER: A compilation of 36 studies across 11 different countries show the impact of closing schools on children finding increased anxiety, depression, higher screen time, not as much exercise. In the U.S., kids account for less than 0.2 percent, 0.2 percent of the coronavirus deaths. What would you say to a school administrator thinking about going back to remote learning?


GUPTA: Oh, I would say we've learned a lot over the last couple of years. In the beginning, when we weren't sure exactly how this virus would behave, who would be most likely affected by this, I think there was a lot of confusion. And if you add into that, that we were sort of flying blind because there wasn't enough testing, it was tough to make the case that kids should be in school at that point.

But I think by the fall of 2020, Jake, certainly by the end of 2020, it was pretty clear. You and I did a town hall on this. There were big studies that came out not just from around the world, but even here in the United States showing that schools could open safely if you did a few things, including masking, improving ventilation, having testing, those things make a big difference. We obviously have the vaccines now as well.

So I, you know, I can understand that concern. But I think we're basically, you know, close to two years or a year and a half at least of knowledge that schools can open safely. I realize that it's still frightening for some people. And, you know, 0.2 percent is still a small number, but you know, have a huge overall, that's number.

If this was something that just affected kids, and I told you, you know, close to 5,000 kids are in the hospital, hundreds of kids have died, as a country, we would have done everything we can to try and drop those numbers. Now we know how to keep kids safe. And arguably, Jake, even as we discussed in a town hall more than a year ago, schools could be some of the safest places in society in terms of transmission.

TAPPER: Yes. Especially if those kids are vaccinated.

GUPTA: That's right.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

A House divided cannot stand but one year in President Biden and his vision of bridging political divides faces the reality of his own party broken into factions. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: We have this breaking news for you now, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection has just subpoenaed for close allies of Donald Trump, including Rudy Giuliani. Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid who's breaking this for us.

Paula, walk us through who's on this list.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The House Select Committee investigating January 6 just firing off for subpoenas to Trump allies who helped push the big lie. As you just noted, the biggest name on this list, Rudy Giuliani, the longtime personal attorney to former President Trump who helped spearhead efforts to try to uncover evidence of election fraud and undermine the results of the 2020 election.

Now they're also targeting two other individuals who once served as attorneys to former President Trump. The first is Jenna Ellis. Now she's circulated two memos purporting to analyze how former Vice President Mike Pence could either delay or stop the counting of electoral votes.

The committee also firing off a subpoena to Sidney Powell who was once part of the Trump legal team, that she was eventually pushed out, one of the loudest voices pushing the big lie.

Also a subpoena for Trump's adviser, Boris Epshteyn. And he is significant because he attended meetings at the Willard Hotel, which was the location of the so called war room for many Trump allies trying to brainstorm ways to stop the certification of the electoral results. According to the committee, he also spoke with former President Trump on January 6 about their options to make that happen.

Now, Jake, we know from our sources that as recently as late last week, lawmakers were asking witnesses about Giuliani about Powell. Specifically with Rudy Giuliani, they were asking witnesses some of his close associates, including former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, they were asking how Rudy Giuliani's work was funded, what he was doing, who was directing him. They also asked about those comments he made at the rally on January 6 calling for, quote, "trial by combat."

Interestingly, Jake, they also asked specifically when it came to Sidney Powell, how she came to be removed from the Trump legal team. So clearly, these are big targets for the committee.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates.

Laura, what do you make of these new subpoenas for Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Boris Epshteyn?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first people probably wonder themselves, Jake, what took so long? These were people who were very prominent in the media for their role in promoting the big lie, which we know of course, in part, actually developed into the January 6 insurrection. But the timing of it is so critical here because it's the end of the investigation towards the end of more than 300 witnesses at this point in time by the committee and I'm assuming that they've had all those people to lay the foundational bricks to be able to corroborate in anticipation of their testimony.

As a prosecutor, why you do that is because you want to have all of your I's dotted your T's crossed to be able to compare their statements against other statements, to build enough evidence and sense to say, and understand and decipher a truth from fiction. And so, that these people, the most prominent of all, and up to a guy, of course, the president of United States, Donald Trump, the former president, having them at this juncture is really telling me that they were building, in many respects, a lot of corroborating evidence that could support and substantiate early witnesses and now they're going to compare what they say now.

And I know Sidney Powell, for one has civil lawsuits already in terms of defamation and her statements on dominion as of Giuliani. So, they have that worth that wealth of evidence as well.

TAPPER: Once they have those civil cases against those companies, those election companies, they say that they defame them and hurt their business model. But as a general note, even though these four are notorious liars about the election, that's not a crime, right? So what is the committee hoping to get?

COATES: Well, you're right. And again, the civil case versus what the DOJ might come up with, which is criminal context. This is the congressional committee who has legislative and oversight function. They have said from the very beginning, they're trying to figure out what led up to the event to try to either fortify certain laws or to fill in the gaps from what was legal, and what ought to be illegal, and try to figure out who contributed to what they saw that day, and afterwards and before.

And so, these are the jigsaw puzzle pieces in terms of figuring out what are the missing links here. Was there somebody else that they were answering to? Were they answering to somebody else's directives? Is there somebody who even above them? It has played a role in all of these things.

And, of course, it doesn't take rocket science realizes the orbit in many respects of the former president of the United States. And so, I can't tell if they're circling around as vultures at this point, or they are themselves going to be the top fish? They'll actually look to say, all right, the buck stopped here. And we have all that we need to now have to conclude what transpired provided the American people.

Now I would note, Jake, they've already talked about having public hearings. And so I'm wondering if these will be the people they will look to to provide those public hearings and statements, or will they be other people.

And I'm wondering what each of these individuals will say knowing what they've already said in their civil lawsuits in many respects what they've already said publicly on airwaves, on podcasts and writing wherever it might be at their own press conferences. How will it compare, and what will they say now under a congressional subpoena if they even choose to answer.

TAPPER: All right, Laura, stay with me in a little bit. I'm going to talk to you about your amazing new legal memoir. That's out today, a real page turner. So, stay right there.

Coming up next, call it a political flashback. The shift shown by one poll, a shift that has not happened since 1995. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden is set to hold a news conference tomorrow as he prepares to start his second year in office. And despite some major accomplishments, including a bipartisan trillion dollar infrastructure law and a major ramp up of vaccine production and availability, President Biden is also facing a slew of horrific domestic headlines and growing global threats. And in some polls, astoundingly low approval ratings.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny takes a closer look right now at the highs and lows of Biden's first year as commander in chief.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As President Biden enters his second year in office, that unity is elusive. With the very same crisis and challenge still burning red hot and complicating his path forward. The optimism from Biden's inaugural address --

BIDEN: Bringing America together.

ZELENY (voice-over): -- tempered by the bitter reality of a Capitol and a nation even more divided, and a president scrambling to find his footing. From an unrelenting pandemic, to stubborn inflation, to dangerous threats to democracy at home and across the globe. The White House is trying to reset and restore a floundering presidency.

Tonight, election reform on the cusp of failing in the Senate, the latest example of the limits of presidential power in today's Washington, where Republicans are loath to cooperate and Democrats with a razor thin majority struggle to compromise.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's been a lot of progress made. We need to build on that. The work is not done. The job is not done. And we are certainly not conveying it is.

ZELENY (voice-over): Still in March, Biden signed a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to ease the economic fallout from COVID-19. And months later, a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan.


ZELENY (voice-over): A landmark accomplishment that has eluded presidents of both parties.

BIDEN: Despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results.

ZELENY (voice-over): But that bipartisan bridge did not extend to the second part of his economic agenda. The Build Back Better plan stalled in the Senate and facing an uphill road in this midterm election year. But above all, top White House officials concede the first year of the Biden presidency has been complicated and consumed by coronavirus.

Remarkable gains were made on vaccines. But the President Summertime declaration of success proved utterly premature.

BIDEN: No longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyses our nation, and it's within our power to make sure it never does again.

ZELENY (voice-over): A fall wave of the Delta variant followed by a winter surge of Omicron laid bare the failures in COVID testing and eroded confidence once again in the administration's grasp of the crisis.

BIDEN: It's clearly not if I had -- we'd known we would have gotten harder, quicker if we could have.

ZELENY (voice-over): On the world stage, Biden reassured allies after the whiplash of the Trump era.

BIDEN: America is back.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet the prospect of a new Cold War is now an urgent fear. That was not apparent during Biden's summit with Vladimir Putin in June, which focused on cyberattacks, a threat overshadowed by Russia's aggression toward Ukraine.

BIDEN: Look ahead in three to six months and say, did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work?

ZELENY (voice-over): Biden sought to reset the Russian relationship. Now, Putin is testing Biden and Western allies. For all the challenges outside any president's control, one of the most devastating periods of Biden's first year was a decision that he made in stands behind.

BIDEN: I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit.

ZELENY (voice-over): The swift follow the Afghanistan government and the chaotic evacuation that followed, including 13 Americans killed in a suicide bombing raise critical questions about competence that Biden and his team still struggled to shake six months later.


BIDEN: I take responsibility for the decision.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet taking responsibility marks a noted change between Biden and his predecessor, who looms even larger one year out of office. That point was clear on the anniversary of the Capitol attack.

BIDEN: He's not just a former president. He's a defeated former president.

ZELENY (voice-over): And that adviser's say is a glimpse into Biden's current mindset. He's no longer ignoring Trump and as assault on democracy. The outcome of his second year will help shape how Biden answers the biggest question of all, likely by this time next year, will he run again?


ZELENY: Now there has been no president who entered this office with as much experience as Biden. Accomplishments, yes, but the string of recent setbacks really have eroded that sense of competence that once was Biden's calling card. Jake, at the news conference here tomorrow, look for the President to tout his accomplishments, as well as I'm told, acknowledged those shortcomings as he tries to turn the page and chart a course for his second year.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny at the White House for us. Thanks so much.

Also, on our politics lead, 1995 was the last time this many Americans identified as Republicans, according to a new Gallup poll. That was right after the 1994 Republican revolution, of course, when the GOP had just taken control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

CNN's Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten is here. Harry, you see Gallup shift and political identification is possibly part of a trend?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, I do. You know, look, simply what Gallup is asking is, are you a Democrat, Republican or Independent? And then among Independents, which way do you lean towards the Democrats, Republicans?

Look at what we see so far this year. Now, there are a lot of numbers on the screen that you'll see. But here's the key thing to take away from it among Gallup is, look, back in the beginning of 2021, Democrat -- a lot more people identified as Democrats, Republicans, Democrats had a nine-point advantage on party affiliation.

But flipped forward to the end of the year, October to December, what do you see? You see that now more people are identifying as Republicans than Democrats by five points. Now, the question I had was whether or not this poll was an outlier. So I looked at the Kaiser Family Foundation polling as well. And what do you see there?

You see basically the exact same trend line. You go back to January, March of 2021, you see that Democrats had this large 14-point lead, jump ahead to October and December. And now that Democratic advantage has smushed considerably down to just three points to the same trend on Gallup and Kaiser Family Foundation, with Americans moving towards the Republican Party, at least in how they affiliate themselves.

TAPPER: And you're seeing this shift in party identification trending along the same lines, as President Biden's approval numbers.

ENTEN: It's exactly right. You know, why are more people identifying now as Republicans than Democrats, or at least more -- at least in the Gallup poll, and overall, the shift towards Republicans. And I would make the argument, it's because folks really just don't like the job that Joe Biden is doing as president.

So if you look at Joe Biden's net job approval rating, which you see is in the beginning of 2021, it was plus 16 points, many more people approved than disapprove. Jump ahead to October and December, what do you see? Minus 10. Many poor people disapprove than approved, and that is occurring at the same time with that large democratic advantage on party affiliation, which was 12 points in the average of polls, in January, March actually switched to a GOP advantage of plus one the average of the Kaiser and Gallup polling.

TAPPER: What about Independent voters?

ENTEN: Yes. You know, if you ask Independent voters, which way do you lean? This, I think is the key nugget, right, which is there, the swing voters. And what you see now is an October to December, they are more likely to lean Republican and Democratic by plus five percentage points. From January to March, the Democrats had a nine-point advantage. So very clearly, Independent moving towards the Republican Party.

TAPPER: So, should we expect something of a Republican romp in the midterm elections this November?

ENTEN: Historically speaking, what we see over the last four cycles, if you look at 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018, when Democrats have a clear advantage on the generic ballot, they win in both 2006 and 2018. You look at 2010, 2014, looks a lot like the polling now, the GOP one. And here's the other thing to keep in mind is if you ask voters, if they're Democrats or Republicans, which way they're going to vote in the midterms, the fact that more people are identifying as Republican now is key because people basically vote along the lines of how they affiliate themselves.

TAPPER: All right, Harry Enten, thanks so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: True crime that is hard to believe and a revealing window into the American legal system. A renowned prosecutor makes her case next.



TAPPER: In the national lead, a unique look into legal system in America, the legal system. It's not really a justice system, is it?

My next guest spent years in the courtroom in private practice, then as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice. She investigated alleged voting rights violations and prosecuted violent felony offences including drug trafficking and child abuse and sexual assault. Today, she is giving us a glimpse into what the process is really like.

Let me welcome back to the show CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Her new book is out today. It's called, "Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness." I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a compelling read. It's about incredibly important issues but also it's a real page-turner, very crisp writing.

So, Laura, are you really open the curtain into life as a federal prosecutor? The book opens with you saying that you thought the job would be an uncomplicated act of patriotism and that justice was when a person was fairly tried and convicted for their crime and it's obviously a lot more complicated than that.


COATES: It is. And I thank you for having me on today to talk about it because I really do try to pull back that curtain, Jake. It's not a book I think people thought I would write. They thought I would write maybe a very Supreme Court oriented text of a law school classroom. But instead, I really wanted to make it a narrative memoir that really personify the issues of today that are so important.

And look, if we're going to speak truth to power, shouldn't we first know the truth? I think we should. And I tell it here.

TAPPER: You were a prosecutor in D.C. in one scene. You give the testimony of a 73-year-old woman. She had her car stolen in her victim impact statement. She says, quote, of the person who stole it. "He's a child. He made a mistake. White children gets a joyride. But this black boy's chained on the other side of the table and you're asking me to help keep him that way."

And she goes on to say, "I know what this so-called justice system does when it gets its claws into black boys." A really compelling thing for a victim of a crime to say. How often did you see that steamer repeated young black men convicted of a crime and then they never leave the legal system?

COATES: I mean, more often than not. Once you're within it, it becomes a hamster wheel. It's not just a revolving door. It's a hamster wheel and you really cannot get off because they have parole, they've got the absent the second chances. And that chapter really talks about the poignant and the moments of real humanity and expressions of second chances. And knowing that the justice system, if there is one, has to do as much with redemption as it does with retribution.

And having someone come in who understood the interconnectivity between sociology and politics, and the history of race in America and the evolution since the 13th Amendment to know in that moment and be a champion for somebody. You know, when I was saying, Laura Coates on behalf of the people of the United States, I knew that meant that had to include the defendant as well as one of those people.

But to have a victim of a crime, who you would think would be at odds with and against understand the real nuance of decency and second chances. It's one of those moments a rare glimpse into how humanity has played a part in our system as well. But it's far and few between.

TAPPER: The book has so many amazing and horrific stories. Chapter 10, the jaw-dropping in raging scene involving a judge, a woman judge who we should note, who is distracted during the testimony of a teenage girl, allegedly raped by her -- essentially her stepfather. When asked to approach the bench, you were there for a separate case. You write, "The angle revealed what was now on her screen, a shoe-shopping website. While a child had poured her heart out relaying the trauma of serial rape without the benefit of even her mother as either a protector or champion, the judge was trying to find a cognac knee-high boot that fit an extra-wide calf."

Again, that was the judge who ultimately completely discarded and discounted what this young victim testified about. How often do you think the judges are part of the problem?

COATES: You know, I have to tell you, Jake. That chapter is so harmful and hurtful for so many reasons. And here's why. You know, we assumed simply in an era of the Me Too movement when the mantra and the slogan is believe women in the court of public opinion. How it actually looks in the court of law is something that is such a perverse notion.

And we expect, as women I believe, that another woman would at least have the decency of defending the benefit of the doubt or at least give somebody the open mindedness and objectivity, let alone a judge who we know well, we have a delayed case of sexual reporting -- of sexual assault reporting. The Cosby cases are a prime example, we'll talk about. The Weinstein era cases, the most recent in terms of Ghislaine Maxwell.

The reasons for which people have delayed in their reports, we oftentimes don't want a jury because we know about the preconceived notions. We are afraid of the subjectivity and about the bias. The assumption was that a judge and a woman at that might be better positioned to be able to give the impartiality and yet and still we've see even in those instances, that bias has a role in our justice system.

And I tried to expose it so people realize what is at stake, and it's not just a verdict, or a policy reform. It's a comprehensive system.

TAPPER: Yes. The judge criticize the victim for what she wore in court. You couldn't -- I mean, you can't even believe it.

Laura Coates, my friend, congratulations on the new book. I really highly recommend it for everybody watching right now.

COATES: Thank you.

TAPPER: It's called, "Just Pursued: A Black Prosecutors Fight for Fairness." Laura, good to see you again. Thanks -- thank you so much so much for joining us.

COATES: Thank you, Jake. I appreciate it. Thank you.

TAPPER: Under the sea, a volcanic eruption causing the tsunami. You're not going to want to miss these photographs next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Finally, in our world lead today, you may have seen the satellite pictures of this past weekend's undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific island nation of Tonga. The eruption caused tsunami warnings all around the Pacific Rim including the U.S. West Coast.

And now we're getting our first good look at Tonga itself. These are before and after satellite images. All you see now is grey, grey volcanic ash coating everything. Tongan officials call it an unprecedented disaster. Three deaths are confirmed. There's a drinking water shortage and almost no internet or phone service.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. I think he's next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."