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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Inside The "Chaotic" Process That Led To Classified White House Materials Ending Up At Mar-a-Lago; CNN Poll: 42 Percent Of Voters Prefer A Candidate Who Opposes Bide, 32 Percent Prefer A Candidate Who Supports Biden; Biden Admin To Split $7B Afghan Funds Between 9/11 Victims, Relief; Two Dem Senators Raise Concerns About CIA Handling Of Americans' Information Collected During Foreign Surveillance Programs; Critics: Olympics Are Opportunity For Chinese Gov't. To Take Attention Away From Human Rights Abuses; Fate Of Russian Olympian Hangs In The Balance After Doping Test; Eagles Player Anthony Harris Escorts Girl To Father-Daughter Dance; Woman Rescued From Hostage Situation After Failing To Share Wordle Score With Daughter. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 11, 2022 - 17:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sources say Stern, frustrated by the pace of the turnover, sought the intervention of another Trump attorney in October.

Also last fall, a top official in Trump's orbit was concerned that classified documents had been brought to Mar-a-Lago and warn people not to touch the boxes out of fear that sensitive material could be exposed to those without the proper clearance. This situation becoming so tense that sources tell CNN the archives warn Trump's team, it plans to notify Congress and the Justice Department if this wasn't resolved quickly.

Trump says something different, claiming the boxes taken to Mar-a-Lago "Contained letters, records, newspapers, magazines, and various articles" that are to be featured in his presidential library someday. "The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis," he said.

The Archives has since asked Justice Department officials to investigate Trump's handling of White House records, including whether he violated the Presidential Records Act. Separately, the House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation, critics crying hypocrisy, especially since Trump attacked Hillary Clinton over her handling of e-mails.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People who have nothing to hide, don't smash phones with hammers, they don't. People who have nothing to hide don't bleach, nobody's ever heard of it, don't bleach their e-mails or destroy evidence to keep it from being publicly archived as required under federal law.

BROWN (voice-over): The Mar-a-Lago documents only the latest revelation about record keeping. CNN has reported Trump repeatedly ripped up documents and --

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Staff in the White House residents where the President lived, you know, were discovering that the toilets were clogged. And when engineers went in to go see what was happening there were, you know, clumped up wads of paper, you know, apparently, notes or documents.

BROWN (voice-over): Former White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told CNN that when he was in the White House, his staff had a foolproof system for their own record keeping.

H.R. MCMASTER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The staff is running it well. Everything that goes in to the Oval Office should -- is logged in. Everything the President sees should be logged in. I can't speak about what happened after I left.


BROWN: And as of now, the DOJ has not said whether it is investigating this. And a spokesperson for Trump has not responded to CNN's request for a comment.

We do want to note that Trump did say in a statement that the toilet flushing claim was simply made up. But Jake, I just spoke to a source familiar with the matter tonight to -- tells me that this issue with the document turnover has not been fully resolved. As you'll recall, the National Archives statement earlier this week hinted to that saying Trump representatives were still locating documents to turn over, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

Let's discuss. Linda Chavez, let me start with you. And I'm going to remove the toilet part of this conversation for the time being. You've worked in a White House, how easily do something like this happen where confidential documents are dropped into the wrong box and end up 1000s of miles away?

LINDA CHAVEZ, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, it certainly never happened in my knowledge when I was in the White House. I will tell you, I had above top secret clearance, so I got documents that really had to be carefully guarded. I had a safe in my office. And if I had to get up to go to the restroom, and I happen to be in the middle of reading something, I had to put it in the safe, lock it up and wait to retrieve it when I got back. This just simply is not done.

TAPPER: And Margaret, you know, you heard in Pamela's report, there was a top Trump official who told aides, do not touch those boxes, you might not have the right security clearance. So clearly, there were some people in Trump's orbit who knew the importance of the documents.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: Yes, I think this is going to be one of the big questions now is who was in charge. It's not like the, you know, former president himself is rifling through boxes trying to figure out what to grab or maybe he was.

TAPPER: Well, who knows? You can't say anything. Yes.

TALEV: You can't say anything. But a couple of key questions is like, what are the legal thresholds if this were to go to the Justice Department? And remember, as long as he was president, he had the ability to declassify. So, then the question becomes, well, if they're declassified, can everyone else see them? And so everyone will want to see what these documents are.

But it actually may be a little bit more difficult to prosecute this if that is what the former president did. There are going to be a lot of questions about who had their hands on this, who was directing this and at whose direction they were directing that.

TAPPER: So Tia, I know from the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy and scandal in 2015, '16, '17, that a lot of Republican officials are very concerned about the top secret clearance and information not going into the wrong places. So I assume, and correct me if I'm wrong, that many top Republican officials have come out today and decried what the National Archives found here.


TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTE: Oh, you'll probably be disappointed to hear that is not the case. Republicans have mostly been silent, you know, a lot of times when they don't want to contradict their previous statements, they'll just conveniently not respond. So we're seeing a lot of silence from Republican members. And we know it's not going to be the same.

We know that the way they came a, the way they came to Hillary Clinton was partisan and it wasn't equal to the way they have responded to many of the controversies from former President Trump. And so, this is just another one on the list where Republicans are not holding him accountable in the same way they've held Democrats for similar behavior or, quite frankly, even less serious behavior.

TAPPER: You were -- you -- not surprising to you, Xochitl Hinojosa.

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Not surprising to me at all. I worked at the Justice Department and I will tell you, we were not getting rid of documents in any way. But what I will say is, this is general disregard for the rule of law. We lived through four years of Trump, we've seen this before, this is the way that he's acted and Republicans have been silent about the whole thing, right? And then he was not reelected and nor were Republicans.

And so, the interesting thing is, Republicans want Trump to go away. And right now we're sitting here on national television talking about exactly what the former president did.

TAPPER: So, let me stick with you for a second, because I let you say that and now I want to ask you about some CNN polling that you might not be happy about talking about. So, this new CNN poll show about the midterms, 42 percent of voters say they prefer congressional candidate who opposes President Biden, as opposed to 32 percent of voters who prefer candidate supports President Biden. Democrats seem to be vulnerable in the midterms, usually, I guess if the incumbent president is above 50 percent in approval rating, they still lose like 15 seats, 14 seats, if they're below 50 percent, it could be 35, 40 seats.

HINOJOSA: Well, the midterms are always tough for the party in power as we all know. I think that this is in large part to COVID fatigue. And I think that the President understands that and so do a lot of these candidates right now. And so, that's what you've seen in states then lift COVID restrictions, because they understand that people are just sick of this.

TAPPER: Also inflation, don't you think?

HINOJOSA: Well, I do think that inflation does play a big part of it. But I think the biggest hurdle for the White House and for Democrats right now is how do you -- what do you do with a disconnect between the poll numbers and what is happening with the economy?

The economy is booming right now. You had 6.6 million jobs that were created under President Biden. And there is people feel better than they did a year ago, the first year of Biden.

We all feel a lot better than we did under Donald Trump. So then how do we reconcile that? And how do we tell it to the American people? And right now, if I were a Democrat, I'd be saying, we got to spend money to tell people exactly how we've helped them in their lives. And that's why you've seen states make some of these changes in their COVID protocols.

CHAVEZ: Generally speaking, that's always the answer when your poll numbers are bad. It's just that we're not getting out and telling our message the right way. And that's simply not.

TAPPER: So, it's a comms problem.

CHAVEZ: Yes, it's not a comms problem.

Look, I think there is a problem with President Biden and the way in he -- in which he communicates, and he's been very snarky on the inflation issue. I mean, he takes it out on reporters who asked him inflation questions, and that does not play well. There is a serious problem with inflation, and this administration has got to get a handle on how it is they are going to change the trajectory upward prices.

Now some of it's not in their control. Presidents don't control the economy when it's as large as complex as ours. But it's more than a comms problem. People are not happy with the President.

MITCHELL: Yes, that's -- I think that's the biggest point that I think perhaps is not getting communicated to the American people is that we say we want a free market society and we want businesses to be able to do what they want, and set prices the way they want. And some businesses are taking advantage of this moment to raise prices and recoup some of their losses during the peak of the pandemic.

And do we want that free market that allows businesses to raise prices? Well then, that's leading to inflation.


MITCHELL: And that's not necessarily inside of the President's control, because if he tries to control businesses in pricing, that will bring another wave of criticism from a different direction.

TAPPER: I want to take -- go ahead.

TALEV: I was going to say, look at these poll numbers, this new CNN poll numbers, there's nothing good in it for President Biden. It's not just the economy that's down, it's 37 percent approval, it's COVID handling that's down. It's well below 50 percent now, 45 percent that's 10 percent--

TAPPER: And he used to have majority support on that. Yes.

TALEV: Once upon a time he had that. Now you've got the twin problem of people who were frustrated that it's not over yet. And the people who are frustrated that we still have to wear masks and --

TAPPER: Right.

TALEV: -- show that we've been vaccinated. And just all of that, it all pushes down on him, it pushes down on the party. People have lost -- Independents have lost faith, the Independent numbers are worse than they were for Obama at the midterms in this cycle. It's all bad right now.


TAPPER: And that was a shellacking Obama in 2010.

Speaking of midterms, I want to show you an ad a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona facing bipartisan condemnation for a new ad he released showing him taking on Biden and Pelosi and current Arizona Senator Mark Kelly in an old west themed gun battle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're tired to be pushed around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And open borders.


JIM LAMON, RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE IN ARIZONA: For good people of Arizona have had enough for you, it's time for a showdown.

I'm Jim Lamon and I approved this message.


TAPPER: I mean, to state the obvious, Senator Mark Kelly's wife Gabby Giffords was literally shot in the head while serving in Congress in a tragic incident. Six people were killed in that attack in Tucson. I mean, how does this even make it on T.V.?

CHAVEZ: It's terrible. And apparently their plans are to air it at least in Tucson and Phoenix during the Super Bowl, that's a very expensive buy. But one thing that they have accomplished is we're all talking about it and therefore talking about him, Jim Lamon, who is the person who's running that ad. And it remains to be seen there are a whole lot of people in Arizona who are not going to find this offensive, unfortunately.

TAPPER: Another Senate candidate says, this time from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania T.V.'s, Dr. Oz is running in the Republican primary there. His opponent say he's quote to Hollywood, today, Dr. Oz walked right into that criticism he participated in unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's even kissing it. I mean, so first of all, I wonder about the political advice he's getting.

Second of all, I wonder about the medical advice he's getting with your kissing the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I got some bad news for you about what was done on that spot, just like an hour before.

HINOJOSA: No, that's exactly right. I think that we're all talking about it here. But at the same time, I think that I don't -- I do not know who is giving him medical advice.

But to the ad it's featuring Mark Kelly, I will say that that is -- that primary is a race to the right. And they are not reading what is happening in Arizona. They are all trying to impress Trump right now. And Trump didn't win Arizona.

And you have on the other side, Mark Kelly, who is measured. Everyone who knows Mark Kelly knows that he's not the one trying out there -- going out there to make headlines. He's trying to fight for people of Arizona and he's a measured candidate. So the contrast is quite stark and I don't think this helps anybody.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. Have a great weekend.

The price of grief, the Biden administration clearing the way for September 11 families to get paid using Afghanistan's money. We're going to talk to a 9/11 widow what this might mean for her and for her family.

Then, things are heating up off the ice in China. New details about the future of Russia's 15 year old superstar skater who failed a drug test. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, today, President Biden signed an executive order that will split $7 billion dollars in frozen funds from Afghanistan's central bank between victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Afghan humanitarian aid. The Taliban were claiming rights to the $7 billion, which does belong to Afghanistan. But the U.S. government denied the Taliban's request after the fall of the U.S. back government last August.

For months, the Biden administration has been weighing how to proceed. And families of the 911 victims were pursuing financial compensation from the Taliban for years. So, Biden has decided to do this, $3.5 billion will go towards providing relief inside Afghanistan desperately needed. And the remaining 3.5 billion will be, quote, "subject to the ongoing litigation by U.S. victims of terrorism."

And one of those family members joins us now, Terry Strada, the widow of Tom Strada. He was on the 104th floor of the North Tower. She's the national chair for the 9/11 Families United.

It's so good to see you, Terry. It's been more than 20 years since the attacks. I wonder, will this money provide any sort of compensation or closure beyond financial?

TERRY STRADA, HUSBAND DIED IN NORTH TOWER ON 9/11: To a very small degree, I mean, the financial part definitely will help the children, my children, you know, money will always alleviate problems that they have in their lives. But as far as closure goes or, you know, make me feel like OK, we finally are vindicated. No, absolutely not. Because the Taliban just played a small role in 9/11. We are still ignoring the biggest player, and that's the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

TAPPER: Right. And I'll get to that in a second.

We should note, though, that there is, I mean, losing a husband and a father and somebody who made money, like, that is a big loss of income that you and your family suffered, though, right? I mean, there is a financial importance here.

STRADA: Oh, absolutely. You know, we've managed 20 years to get through, you know, the past few decades. And yes, like I said, the money will alleviate and help my children, you know, immensely all the children that lost their parents and the families that were really left destitute. Money will be a good thing for everyone. But it doesn't bring us the justice that we deserve and that we're fighting for.

TAPPER: So you are involved in this long running lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, and most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. What do you say to the people who say this is just penalizing this move today, the Afghan people who are suffering greatly, and they shouldn't be hurt, because of what happened on 9/11? As you know, the Taliban played a relatively small role compared to Saudi Arabia.


STRADA: Yes, so I have great sympathy for the Afghani people and I hope and pray that 3.5 billion, in addition, we've given them about 800 million in aid since September, since the fall. And I hope that that 4.3 billion finds its way through these humanitarian aid organizations, you know, where it belongs, and it will give the Afghan people some relief. The fact is, that Taliban did play a role in 9/11, and we have had judgments against them for 20 years. And you know, we are entitled to fighting for what we fight for what's right, as well as they do. So I hope it works for them. And I hope it works out for us.

TAPPER: Where is your lawsuit against the Saudi government going? Where is it right now?

STRADA: Yes, so the Biden administration, you know, there's no way alleviates their promises that they made to the 9/11 families back when Biden took office and said that he was going to reset the relationship with the kingdom and he was going to be tough on the Saudis. He signed an executive order last September that would release information that we've been fighting for years.

And unfortunately, while that was a very favorable move, it is not being implemented. The Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, intelligence agencies, DNI are still not cooperating. And they're still not handing us the information and these documents that we've been asking for, for a lawsuit.

We can't ignore the facts that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, that the charities, the Saudi charities funneled the money, and that Saudi agents that working through the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, really were the ones here in this country, setting up everything.

And the most important thing, Jake, that we have to pay attention to is the evil ideology. You know, it was --


STRADA: -- spawned by the kingdom, it poisons the minds of the jihadists, and they need to take the responsibility. And this government needs to get tough on the kingdom. We have diplomatic ways, we have foreign policies we could be implementing. And we need to stop protecting them, take the blinders off and make them pay for what they did.

TAPPER: Terry, before you go, how are you and your family going?

STRADA: You know, it's still challenging Jake, believe it or not, 20 years later. It just hits us all at different times. But they're managing. And my youngest one has actually joined the military. And he's 20 years old and has decided to, you know, make a commitment to this country and fight for what's right.

So I'm very proud of all three of them. My daughter, she's married now and my oldest works for a bank in Manhattan. And I'm proud of them. They've struggled a lot as we all have.

TAPPER: Terry, stay in touch with us. And we continue to cover your efforts to get some justice from the Saudi government.

STRADA: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

TAPPER: New accusations that the CIA was collecting data on Americans without permission. They're not supposed to do that. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national leads of newly declassified documents allege that the CIA may have collected data from Americans, even though the spy agency is only supposed to focus on acquiring foreign intelligence. Now two senators, Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico are raising concerns about how this could have happened and what is being done to stop it. So let's bring in CNN's Katie Bo Lillis.

Katie Bo, first of all, what do we know about what data specifically the CIA collected that is called -- being called into question?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Jake, so these two lawmakers have made some pretty dramatic allegations here. They say that the Senate Intelligence Committee has a report that shows that for years the CIA has been collecting intelligence in bulk and that some of that data has been American's data and that they have been sifting through it in ways that these two lawmakers say raised some real concerns about privacy and civil liberties. Now, the CIA is saying that they can't declassify either the report itself or information about the underlying intelligence programs themselves because it would damage sources and methods, the real sort of crown jewels by which the CIA goes about doing its business.

But what we do have are these allegations from these two lawmakers. And I want to read you part of what Senator Heinrich and Senator Warner and Senator Wyden are saying. They have said that this report shows that the CIA has secretly conducted its own bulk program, and that it has done so entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with FISA collection, which is the law that governs FBI surveillance. This basic fact, these lawmakers say, has been kept from the public and from Congress.

Now, the CIA has pushed back on this. The CIA has said, not only was the Senate Intelligence Committee kept fully informed of what it was doing and how it was doing it, but also that they complied with all of the necessary regulations that are designed to protect Americans information when it is collected by intelligence agencies.

Now, for Wyden and Heinrich, those regulations aren't enough. What they're worried about specifically here is backdoor searches of Americans data.

And let me explain what I mean by that. The CIA is a foreign focused intelligence agency, which means they are prohibited from collecting on Americans. They're prohibited from investigating Americans. But if an American is, for example, communicating with a target of foreign surveillance, then the CIA is able to -- analysts are able to look at their data, they're able to search for it without a warrant. That for Wyden and add Heinrich is a dangerous and unacceptable loophole. TAPPER: Well, especially in this era when people are having conversations around the globe all the time.

LILLIS: Right. Precisely.

TAPPER: Yes, Katie Bo Lillis, thanks so much.

So let's talk about this with our president (ph) CIA expert, Phil Mudd, a former counterterrorism officer for the CIA and also the FBI.

Phil, when you see these reports, do you worry about anything? And if so what?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, I do. I mean, I used to watch all this stuff come in in vast volumes both at the CIA and FBI stuff like e-mail data, phone data, financial data, and you always sit there and wonder. You know, I did grow up in the United States. I'm a U.S. citizen. What if they get my phone number?

Let me tell you what I would be concerned about. It's not necessarily the focus of this letter. It's not what the government collects. That's something the senators should look at. But it's -- as your reporter was talking about, what the government does when they collect the information.

One quick, specific example. If we find a new terrorist in Afghanistan, I want to know financial transactions. I go to financial companies and find, let's say, 10,000 transactions. Five of those might come from the United States, three of those might be U.S. citizens. The question is not what you gather those. The question is, once you located them, could you identify them as Americans? And did you sift that stuff out? That's what I'd be concerned about, Jake.

TAPPER: Give us an idea of what we're talking about here. We're talking about text messages. We're talking about WhatsApp messages, photographs, e-mails, what?

MUDD: Typically not. I mean, you're talking about 330 million Americans. You can't look at every single text message from every single American, I would start with thinking about data. That is if someone is e-mailing a suspect e-mail address in a place like Yemen or Afghanistan, if someone is texting a suspect number, I'm not talking about the content of the text, Jake, I'm just saying number one, called number two and number two is a terrorist number.

If someone is sending money to someone who's identified it as a terrorist, you might have vast volumes of data. So as soon as John Doe crops up as a terrorist, I can see, wow, he's called 8,000 numbers, he e-mailed 400 people. He's got money from 20 people. You got to sift through all that. And eventually, you're inevitably going to find that some of that might be U.S. persons, then you got to say, what do I do about it?

Not whether I collected it. Of course you did. What did -- what do I do once I find that stuff in my data holdings? TAPPER: So one thing we've learned from the declassified documents is CIA analysts get a pop up window, warning them that their search might involve Americans, and that would require a warrant. But analysts also don't have to keep records of their searches. So the CIA's watchdog says it's difficult, if not, impossible to keep tabs on how many of these potentially illegal searches might actually happen, right? I mean, that's -- that seems to be a real issue.

MUDD: But sort of -- let me see if I can take three hours and make it into 30 seconds, sort of. Let's say an analyst is looking through 20,000 records. One of those records might be a U.S. person that pop up comes up and says you're searching records that might, might contain a U.S. person's name. You can't look through 20,000 names and assume that every single person is a U.S. person.

Now, that said, let me give you the flip side of the coin, you come up on a name, it looks like that name corresponds to somebody in the United States. Is that analyst then required to go through a formal process to say, I want to look at that name. That is a legitimate question. It's hard to do. That's what the Senate should focus on.

My only other comment is, can you ask the CIA in person before you send letters, say, accusing them of wrongdoing? That really ticks people like me off.

TAPPER: Ticked off Phil Mudd. Always good to see you. Ticked off or not. Have a good weekend, sir. Thanks so much.

MUDD: Thank you.

TAPPER: A picture can be worth 1,000 words, especially in China. We're going to go behind China's wall to look at how the Chinese government is manipulating images to fit its narrative. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Now our behind China's wall series in which we go behind the fanfare and the glamour of the Olympic Games. The Chinese government hopes to use the games to distract the world from its crackdowns on freedoms, its crimes against humanity, it's genocide. From tennis player Peng Shuai's calm presence in the stands to the Uighur athlete at the center of the opening ceremony, these Olympic Games may be the ultimate display of pro-Chinese government propaganda.

From Beijing, CNN's David Culver gives us this closer look.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A picture may be worth far more than 1,000 words when it gets beamed onto the jumbotron during the Olympic Games. IOC President Thomas Bach with Peng Shuai, watching freeskiing superstar Eileen Gu win gold for China. Oh, just one day after Peng again retracted a sexual assault allegation aimed at a powerful former Chinese national leader. Bach, appearing to be in line with China's narrative that Peng is just fine. That narrative strengthened by the success and happiness of Gu, an American athlete who chose team China.


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Thomas Bach owns these games. It is his reputation. He made the choice. He has decided to not focus on the Me Too aspect of the Peng Shuai story.

CULVER (voice-over): Beijing was always going to be a controversial choice to host the Olympics, the seat of power for a country accused of crushing dissent, of threatening neighbors, of genocide against its own Uighur Muslim minority, claims China has denied. While the U.S. and like-minded countries politically boycotted the opening ceremony in protest of China's human rights record, China chose a Uighur athlete to light the Olympic cauldron of thumbing of their nose at the country's calling out Beijing for alleged genocide. A state media showed her family cheering from her home in Xinjiang.

SOPHIE RICHARDSON, CHINA DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: It was a way of saying, we will continue to manipulate this population and put forward our version of reality and deny atrocity crimes even in the context of the opening ceremonies of the games.

CULVER (voice-over): The United States's so-called genocide remarks is a great lie of the century. China's Foreign Ministry blasted but it's not a lie, say, multiple governments and scores of Uighur Muslims interviewed over the years by CNN.


RICHARDSON: Really from the get go season Peng has used this as an opportunity to project a particular perception of the Chinese government and its role in the world on the rest of the world and get the rest of the world to buy into that.

CULVER (voice-over): For Beijing, the Olympics is an opportunity for political gain.

(on-camera): During the parade of delegations at the opening ceremony, state media announcers introducing the self-govern democracy Taiwan as China-Taipei instead of Chinese-Taipei, implying its sovereignty over the island.

(voice-over): Then during the performance, they used a lost dove reunited with a flock, widely seen as symbolizing China's unification with Taiwan, politicized moments on bold display to the world. Whether the West is watching or not, game broadcaster say, no Winter Olympics has been followed this keenly in China. Once again, the audience for much of China's political messaging is at home.


And Jake, China has repeatedly blasted the U.S. for politicizing these games. But it's really tough to argue that there was any bigger geopolitical statement made than at the opening ceremony a week ago. President Xi welcoming his good friend and guest of honor, President Putin. The two strongman leaders calling it a new era that Russia factor, Jake, more relevant today than ever before.

TAPPER: All right, David Culver in Beijing. Thank you so much.

Also in China, and our sports lead, the fate of 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva hangs in the balance after it was revealed that she failed a doping test that was taken ahead of the Olympic Games. The result of that test came to light after she helped Russia win gold in the figure skating team event early -- earlier this week. But Valieva's ability to receive that gold medal and compete in the rest of the games will be decided at an urgent hearing in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The International Olympic Committee is pushing for her suspension.

CNN Contributor Christine Brennan joins us live to discuss this controversy. And Christine, just to be clear here. Russia knew back in December, that she had failed a doping test, right?

BRENNAN: She took the tests, Jake, December 25th. And so, of course, the people around her knew the adults, there's a 15-year-old doesn't make this decision by herself. The test result only became known February 8th, that is a ridiculous length of time to not know. Of course, leaving lots of questions of sometime in January, did they find out that they covered it up all kinds of questions we don't know.

But, yes, I mean, Russia is a doping nation. And here is another athlete who's cheating and sadly, and so, of course, they had to know.

TAPPER: What will be discussed in this hearing that will decide Valieva's fate?

BRENNAN: Yes. Well, in this -- the first hearing, and there will be two. The first will be about whether or not the Russians were allowed to let her continue to practice. She should be suspended right now, and she's not. So the IOC is saying she should be suspended, which is finally good to hear from them, Jake.

After about 48 hours of hemming and hawing, I finally asked, are you for drugs or against drugs? And sure enough, they've come out with that answer. They want her out of the Olympics as harsh as that sounds. They are against doping.

There could be one more CAS hearing, Court of Arbitration for Sport, if in fact, the Russians then appeal an expected loss. And then the merits of the case will be looked at. That's the drug test, the B sample, every single piece of this. And this all has to happen, of course, before Tuesday.

TAPPER: What's the potential fallout if she is suspended?

BRENNAN: Yes. Well, if she is suspended, Russia will be furious. But Russia, as you have alluded to, in past conversations, Russia shouldn't even be here. They are the -- one of the worst state sponsored doping nations ever, and certainly the worst we've ever seen since East Germany. And the fact that keep getting let in without their flag or their anthem which is just silliness, is extraordinary.

So they'll be angry. Maybe this will lead to them finally being tossed out of an Olympics completely in Paris or in Milan the next summer winter games. The flipside, though, Jake, is even worse. If she is not removed from the games, then these games are tainted forever. How in the world can you have a drug cheat winning potentially two Olympic gold medals?

TAPPER: I mean, it's cliche at this point to invoke Colonel Renault from Casablanca, saying he's shocked, shocked to find gambling going on its establishment as he's holding his winnings. But what does the International Olympic Committee expect? You let the Russians dope, you let them compete, even though they've been dinged for doping. Yes, it's not under the Russian flag, it's under the Republic -- I mean, the Russian Olympic Committee flag, the Russian Committee flag but, of course, they're going to keep doping. There's no actual punishment.


BRENNAN: Jake, this is exactly what you get. Frankly, the IOC deserves this. They have been just playing along with Russia for the last and Putin who, of course, hosted those 2014 games where that I'm sure many people remember that doping with the urine going through the hole in the wall, clean urine coming back. That was the Olympics that Putin hosted.

And they've been doing this now for eight years. And the IOC has let them do it. And finally, finally, finally, it is blown up. And I -- we can only imagine how the Chinese are feeling right now with the Russians literally stealing their Olympics with a story that has just swallowed up everything else at these games.

TAPPER: Christine Brennan, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the numbers behind one of the most watched games in the world. That's next.



TAPPER: In today's sports lead is the sporting events seen in more than 180 countries and territories, translated into 25 languages in a stadium that seats 70,000 fans. On Sunday, all eyes will be on the Super Bowl as the Los Angeles Rams take on the underdog Cincinnati Bengals.

Now usually CNN's Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten is crunching political and economic numbers, today, a quite different assignment. Harry, first of all, where does the Super Bowl rank when it comes to TV viewership?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's numero uno in America, numero uno. And it's not even close to anything else. More than 90 million Americans tuned in to the last Super Bowl. And of course, what's interesting is if you look at the most watch, the next three were also NFL games, but all of those came in well under half of the people who watch a Super Bowl 55.

Now here's the thing that I really do love though, which is it's not just about the Super Bowl, it's also about the post-Super Bowl broadcast, right? Last year, it was the equalizer. 20 million people tuned into that. That was the fourth highest of any non-Super Bowl or non-NFL TV broadcast. And, of course, that post-Super Bowl show oftentimes as a chance to premiere programming. This year, it's the Olympics. In past years, The Wonder Years and Family Guy premiered as post-Super Bowl shows.

TAPPER: Some come from the game, of course, some comfort the commercials. Why do most people watch because, obviously, this is not average football fans?

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, I watch for the game. I like the game. Most people who tune in watch for the game. If you look at the polling, you see it's 58 percent tune in for the football game. 24 percent though tune in for the commercials, 13 percent for the halftime show. I really don't know who that 2 percent is for the free game shows, but whatever. There you go.

TAPPER: Snacks seem to be usually a very important part of the celebration itself. This is a communal event in many ways.

ENTEN: It absolutely is. And I'm saving up, I had salmon for lunch today so I can gorge, gorge on Sunday and I'm going to be gorging on chicken wings. And the polling shows us that's in fact, a lot of people be gorging on. 33 percent say their favorite Super Bowl food is chicken wings. 19 percent say pizza. Chili is 5 percent.

I don't really get that and I'm not sure why they asked the difference between nachos and chips and dip. But there we are. They're also there.

TAPPER: You're from Buffalo, aren't you? You don't have buffalo wings?

ENTEN: No, I -- no, no, no. I'm not from Buffalo, I'm from the Bronx. I just like the bills (ph) because the only New York team.

TAPPER: Doesn't make any sense. Who do fans want to win this year's Super Bowl?

ENTEN: They want the Bengals, they want the underdog, they want the Bengals. 57 percent of those who have a preference want the Bengals. Just 43 percent want the Los Angeles Rams. But, of course, the thing that's so interesting is I think most of us want a good game.

And what we know from the past is that the games have been getting better the last few years. In fact, if you compare this century's game Super Bowls, the medium winning margin was eight points versus 16 points in the last century. And as you pointed out in the beginning, the Rams are favorite to win but just by five. So I'm really, really hoping that we get a good game because if I get a good game, plus those chicken wings and the family -- or the people that I'm going to be with, it's going to be a great day. I feel like I deserve it.

TAPPER: You do deserve it, Harry. And of course, you do. You deserved it.

ENTEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: You deserve happiness. I've told you this before.

ENTEN: Thank you and so to you, and so to our viewers.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

Also in the sports lead, a shout out to my hometown and one of Philly's finest, that's Philadelphia Eagles safety Anthony Harris, making good on a promise to 11-year-old Audrey Soape. Audrey lost her father and her grandfather last year. And Audrey's mom is a big fan of Anthony Harris. And when a father-daughter dance came up at a church, Audrey's mom reached out to Anthony Harris. The eagle told TMZ Sports loss in his own family inspired him to say yes.


ANTHONY HARRIS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES PLAYER: When COVID really hit, you know, I lost a loved one. And I shared a photo of me, you know, going to the game and I had cleats in memory of my grandfather who passed away. When I got the message about potentially, you know, being able to take her to the dance, I thought it would be a great way to, you know, uplift her, you know, and utilize my platform that I've been blessed with to try and, you know, brighten people's day and be a blessing to others.


TAPPER: Anthony Harris traveled all the way to Austin, Texas to escort Audrey to that dance, even telling the Washington Post he put Audrey's hair and makeup on his tab. God bless, Anthony Harris. God bless the Philadelphia Eagles.

It's an addictive word game and for one mother, it's also a lifesaver. How Wordle helped save her life. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, could Wordle save your life? For 80- year-old Denyse Holt of Illinois, the answer is yes. She shares the results, Denyse, from the online puzzle Wordle with her daughter Meredith every day. But the last Sunday she did not send her score to her daughter who was surprised and texted her mom, got no response. So she called the local police and said please check in on my mom and when cops showed up they discovered Holt had been held hostage in her own home for nearly 24 hours by naked intruder armed with knives. Remarkably, and thankfully, she was physically unhurt and the intruder is now facing felony charges.

To my own kids and frankly Twitter followers, all the more reason for me to continually to share my Wordle scores with you no matter how irritating you claim to find it. It is literally a lifesaver. Joining me Sunday for State of the Union. My guest this week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Sunday morning, 9:00 Eastern and again at noon.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. You can listen to THE LEAD as a podcast if you miss it. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Jim Acosta in "THE SITUATION ROOM."