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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Ukraine Won't Confirm Or Deny Strike On Russian Fuel Depot; Now: Buses Arriving Carrying Evacuees From Mariupol; Western Sanctions Causing Shortages, Panic For Russians; U.S. Has Recovered More than 90 Percent of Jobs Lost During Pandemic; COVID-19 Hospitalizations in U.S. Lowest Since June 2021. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 01, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I've never been prouder.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: There's no bird more common in New Jersey.

CAMEROTA: There isn't. There's not one that you see more often.

BLACKWELL: Oh, yeah.

CAMEROTA: That's true.

Okay. That's what he said. This is an official tweet from Governor Phil Murphy. It's just so perfect. But this is April Fools.


THE LEAD WITHI JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A strike on a major strategic target in Russia, and a mystery. Who did it?

THE LEAD starts right now.

The Kremlin pointing fingers, accusing Ukraine of hitting a Russian oil depot. But is Ukraine actually to blame? Or is this all a Russian ruse?

Also ahead, panic in Russia as sanctions set in. The deteriorating quality of life as the average Russian scrambles to buy what he or she can. World leaders also pressuring Putin to try to end his deadly, ruthless invasion.

Plus, President Biden celebrating a positive new American jobs report. Not everything, of course, is rosy. One leading economist is sounding warnings of a recession. He will join me live to explain why.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

And we start today with our world lead, and what could be a huge military accomplishment for the Ukrainian military, or, or, a false flag operation carried out by Russian forces to further attempt to try to justify their brutal and unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

This afternoon, Ukraine's foreign minister would not confirm nor would he deny whether Ukrainian forces were behind this attack on a fuel depot in a Russian town. There were no reported deaths or injuries. Russia claims that Ukrainian helicopters carried out the strike and that more than 3.5 million gallons of fuel are on fire as a result.

Now, if true, that would be a first for this war. The first time a Ukrainian airstrike has hit Russia in Russia. But the Kremlin has already told countless lies about this war, including that they had no plans to invade Ukraine. So that makes it even more difficult to know who was truly behind this attack.

Also today, new signs the Russian offensive is shifting and re- centering on Ukraine's Donbas region. President Biden and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, all of them are now warning the Donbas region could become the target of the next major offensive in the war.

Let's get straight to CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour who's live for us in Kyiv.

And, Christiane, you spoke this afternoon with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba and you directly asked him if Ukraine was behind the strike in Belgorod. What did he have to say?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, just like the Ukrainian ministry of defense and the intelligence and everybody we've asked here, the foreign minister did not answer either confirming or denying for operational security reasons. And this is what he told me.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I saw the video, but the quality is insufficient for me to identify whether it was a Ukrainian helicopters or not. I'm Ukrainian. I have trust in the people of Ukraine and in our armed forces, and, of course, as foreign minister now, diplomacy.

This is a war. They attacked us to destroy us. They reject our right to exist as a nation. So, it means that we will be fighting back by all means available us to within existing law -- international laws of warfare, of course, because we are a civilized nation, unlike them.


AMANPOUR: So, Jake, a lot contained in that answer, because he said, we will be fighting back, this is a war, within the international rules and norms that govern war. So just to say that, okay, so if Ukraine did that, that's legitimate

target just the same as the Russians felt striking a fuel depot in near Lviv in western Ukraine just last weekend was a legitimate target. So I think he was hinting that perhaps Ukraine had done it, although he did not want to confirm. Then he also said we will continue fighting within the norms and rules of war, unlike them. We're a civilized nation, unlike them.

And there, of course, is implying and actually stating that their continued focus from the beginning on civilian structures, having seen that their more conventional land operation has not gone as planned, is something that is outside the laws and norms of war -- Jake.

TAPPER: Christiane, you also spoke with a key player in the diplomatic negotiations, the foreign minister of Germany. What did she have to say?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, you know, they are very much a key player. They have reversed decade of military policy in order to help Ukraine. They've just announced today they're sending something like 56 new modern tanks to Ukraine.


They've given a lot of lethal aid again for the first time since their post-World War II policies.

And she also talked about these kind of strikes and kind of -- I asked her about whether or not Putin is isolated. Does her chancellor or if French president tell him the truth, if his own ministers and officials are not? Any way, this was her response.


ANNALENA BAERBOCK, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Putin is saying every other day he's having, as he is calling it, peace negotiations, but on the same moment he is bombing Mariupol, he's bombing so-called humanitarian corridors. He's not allowing medicine and food inside the cities, which is obviously a violation of humanitarian law. So, it's war crimes.

So you cannot say on the one hand you're having so-called peace negotiations, and on the other hand, you're bombing a hospital.


AMANPOUR: Well, indeed, as she said, you just cannot keep doing that, but that is what's happening. Those talks apparently did happen, the latest round of negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegation. It was by remote, and we haven't yet got a readout.

Of course, Germany is fundamentally important to maintaining the sanctions, stiff sanctions, including the painful energy sanctions for Europe and she says they're committed to divesting from the kinds of energy dependence on countries that do not share, she said, their values. TAPPER: All right. Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv, Ukraine, thank you so


Also today, another attempt to evacuate innocent civilians from the besieged southern city of Mariupol. City leaders say around 2,000 people on evacuation buses left Mariupol this morning. Moments ago, they arrived in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

And CNN's Ivan Watson is in Zaporizhzhia for us live right now.

And, Ivan, this journey took a lot longer than expected.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yeah. I mean, this has been a real odyssey for people.

Dozens of buses have just arrived here, and I've just been talking to Olga who is -- she was already here in Zaporizhzhia waiting for her granddaughter, Evelyn, an 11-year-old girl to arrive. She's just showed up here.

This is one of dozens of buses full of civilians who have now escaped from Russian occupied territory, from the besieged and bombarded Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

And they have now finally reached Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian officials aren't just letting hundreds, thousands of people to pour out of the buses. The police are waiting to check documents, to check people, and then there's an entire system of volunteers, city government officials, aid workers who will greet people, people who have -- almost everybody I've spoken to says their home has been destroyed in Mariupol during a month-long siege and bombardment by the Russian war planes and artillery.

And yet, you know, that grandmother I just spoke with said, yes, we lost everything, but finally our family is back together now. She was describing how her granddaughter spent three weeks hiding in a basement.

This, believe it or not, is one of the white rags that people have been hanging on their vehicles when they're trying to escape, try to go through many, many Russian military points to come to safety, like a little talisman just trying to not be attacked by the invading army that in many cases has destroyed people's homes. You can see how police are checking documents here.

The men that I've spoken to that have arrived, they say when they get to Russian military checkpoints, the Russian soldiers make them take off their shirts and they check people for tattoos the Russian military believes could identify some of these men of fighting age of being part of the Ukrainian military.

And one man, Jake, actually told me he arrived earlier in a van. And he said a 18-year-old boy was taken -- he was seen with tattoos and immediately hooded by the Russian troops and thrown into an armored personnel carrier and taken away. So, you can just imagine not only have people here endured bombardment, siege, hiding in basements, seeing their homes destroyed, perhaps seeing neighbors hurt or killed. But then when they finally get to escape, they have to undergo interrogation and searches by the same military that destroyed their city and their homes in the first place -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Ivan, so how many people were able the get out in this civilian bus convoy that you're among in right now? And are there any other buses expected?


Are there any other residents of Mariupol who are going to be able to get out alive?

WATSON: Well, that's the thing. I mean, this is a wonderful moment. There's been an awful lot of hard work that has gone into trying to get these people brought here. But it's a drop in the bucket. There are still estimates of more than 100,000 civilians still stranded in Mariupol.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has a team here. They tried to go to Mariupol to kind of do an assessment and start to bring aid. And they made a public announcement that they were not allowed in. They didn't say who stopped them, but it's pretty obvious -- the Russian military has encircled the city, so access would presumably lie in the hands of the Russian military, and it doesn't appear they let the ICRC in.

You can see all of these vehicles have been branded with the red cross to try to ensure they cannot be attacked on the road, because there have been instances of some of these vehicles of fleeing civilians coming under fire. I interviewed a young girl who was shot through the face, her mother says, by a Russian soldier while trying to make this journey.

So this is a success for the time being. But these people, unfortunately, also have to start rebuilding their lives. Their homes have been destroyed. Their businesses are gone. Their livelihoods are gone.

And as Olga was explaining to me, she and her family are going to try to travel to western Ukraine and just figure out what to do and where to go from there. It's worth adding, Jake, there are still Ukrainian troops fighting in Mariupol, fighting against the Russian military, a vastly larger number.

So there's still a battle going, there's still civilians caught, and there's a big problem with trying to get civilians evacuated, because prior to today, many of these attempts at convoys failed, ceasefires failed. So, this is one glimmer of hope now -- Jake.

TAPPER: Remarkable reporting from Ivan Watson in southern Ukraine. Thank you so much for that report. I appreciate it. So do our viewers very much.

Joining us now to discuss, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, and Andrea Kendall Taylor, she's a former senior intelligence officer who served as the deputy intelligence officer for Russia.

So, Mr. Ambassador, let me start with you. What do you make of this ambiguity from Ukrainian officials refusing to say whether or not Ukraine was behind this airstrike on the Russian fuel depot?

JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, this represents their recognition that if they were to acknowledge it, Putin would say, see, they're attacking us? On the other hand if they were to deny it, they would remove the possibility they actually had a major tactical success. So I think it's the right play for them.

TAPPER: And, Andrea, Russia blames Ukraine, but, frankly, the Kremlin has already told so many lies about that war, starting with they weren't going to invade. What do you think the chances are that Russia might have been behind the strike as a false flag in a further attempt to justify its aggressiveness, its bloody attacks on Ukraine?

ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FOR RUSSIA: Well, I think as you laid out in your report it's really difficult to know. We really are in this fog of war where it's difficult to discern what's going on on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, Russia lies. Of course, they try to create pretexts to justify their actions. But in this case, I think this is much more elaborate and well-executed, the attack, and what we've seen Russia do in the past. All of the pretexts that Russia's tried to create have been extremely flimsy and poorly executed, so this attack, I think would, if true, if it were actually a false flag operation that Russia conducted would be comparatively much more elaborate.

So, to me, it still seems likely that it's the Ukrainians, and I think that reflects where they are in their state of mind. They see this war going well. They have a counteroffensive mindset. And so to have that success and to be able to demonstrate to the Russians they're not going stand down seems to me to suggest that this is likely the Ukrainians.

TAPPER: Ambassador Herbst, the president of Turkey, Erdogan, said he told Putin today that he would like to set up a meeting with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Is that a good idea at this point in the war? Is there any hope for a diplomat diplomatic end to this?

HERBST: Well, Zelenskyy has been pushing for such a meeting for quite some time. I don't think diplomacy will work at the president time. I think Putin still believes, despite all the setbacks, that he can achieve his maximal objectives within Ukraine. And until he sees otherwise, real negotiation is not possible.

But I see no problem with Zelenskyy and Putin sitting down because you have had lower level Russian negotiators suggesting flexibility that Putin himself does not endorse.


So let's see what the big man has to say for himself. TAPPER: Andrea, despite claims from the Kremlin that they were going

to de-escalate around Kyiv, you see signs that Putin is preparing to fight a long war, right?

KENDALL-TAYLOR: Yeah, that's absolutely right. We shouldn't kind of read anything into these announcements that they're de-escalating or moving away from Kyiv, because as you've noted, those forces are just being redeployed to the Donbas. But we have to remember that this war is not about the Donbas. It was never about the Donbas.

At the beginning of the conflict, if you remember, Putin and the Russian legislature recognized the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk republics. There were a lot of people who I think breathed a collective sigh of relief and said, whew, that's all Putin really wanted.

It was not all that he wanted and it's not all that he wants now. So, for Putin, this is about creating options for himself by focusing on Donbas, he can create a narrative that could give him a face-saving way out of this conflict at a later date.

But as the ambassador said, we're just not there yet, and we should remember that if they do have success in the Donbas, it is just as likely they would then renew their offensive, including against Kyiv at a later date. So, it's really about options for Putin, and as the ambassador said, there is no sign that he is ready to reduce his very maximalist objectives in Ukraine yet.

TAPPER: Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Ambassador John Herbst, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up, life inside Russia under sanctions. The psychology being pushed by the Kremlin despite the run on food, medicine and essential goods. See what effect this has all been having on the Russian people.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the Treasury Department just announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, targeting Russian tech companies, high profile hackers and networks that enable the Kremlin to avoid sanctions.

But as CNN's Matthew Chance reports for us now, Vladimir Putin continues to shield himself from the sanctions, and the Russian people are taking the hit. And now, most Western goods from McDonald's burger to life-saving medicine are out of reach in Russia.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Russia, they're calling it the sugar panic. As Western sanctions on the country bite, ordinary people have been snapping up essential, they're jostling with each other in the Russian city of Saratov to buy sugar off the back of a truck. "God bless you," the voice says as a supermarket worker pushes a trolley of sugar towards anxious shoppers. Scramble to grab as much as they can before supplies run out. Pleas from Russian officials for the public not to panic buy are going unheard.

But now a prominent Russian economist tells CNN, this economic pain is set to these.

We're seeing the shortages now and that's bad enough for some people in Russia, but what you're saying is that, that soon we could see a much bigger, much more serious economic impact because of these sanctions.

RUBEN ENIKOLOPOV, PROF. OF ECONOMICS, NEW ECONOMIC SCHOOL: Yes. Most of the shortages are a temporary problem, so that will be solved and these goods will appear. There will be a very acute phase and everything is fine. With the quality of life, actual real income, that is not that apparent yet, but that will be -- this problem will be accumulating and becoming more and more apparent in the coming months.

CHANCE: In fact, that impact on quality of life is already being felt. These are the crowds that flocked to an IKEA superstore in Moscow the day before it closed down last month.

Across Russia, Western brands have suspended production or simply pulled out over the invasion of Ukraine. Jobs may soon go permanently.

Even more seriously, there are concerns a shortage of Western medicines is starting to have a real impact on people's health. People like Anastasia in Moscow and her father, who she says has been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.

We asked, everywhere, but no one had his medicine, she says, now he feels sick.

Russian officials say they are aware of the shortages and are trying to address them. But if sanctions persist, Russia faces being cut off from medical advances and other technologies that may send it back, even cause harm.

Many Russians accustomed to hardship remain unshaken by the economic doom threatening their nation.

I was born in Soviet times, says Larisa in the Russian town of Pokrov. She then speaks of the challenges since then like economic restructuring and food stamps. We got over it all, she says.

Valentina, also in Pokrov, says she doesn't mind that prices have gone up at all. In a month, it will straighten out, she hopes. After years of navigating Western sanctions, there is a belief -- perhaps misplaced -- things will work out this time too.

ENIKOLOPOV: When Russians are seeing this, I mean, yes, psychologically, they are used to sanctions. But in terms of the effect on the economy, it is much more damaging than the sanctions that were previously implemented. CHANCE: Well, previously as well, the sanctions have not really worked in terms of changing Russian policy, changing the Kremlin's policy. Do you think there is a chance that these sanctions in that case will work and they will force the Kremlin to change course?

ENIKOLOPOV: Honestly, I doubt it. Just with the logic of the current regime in Russia.


They -- it's a thing about Putin, that he doesn't give up under pressure. It makes him even more persistent, at the expense of the country.

CHANCE: Economic pain it seems is a price the Kremlin is willing to let's own people pay.


CHANCE (on camera): Jake, the Kremlin is trying to strike back to prevent its economy from imploding. For instance, by forcing countries to pay for Russian gas deliveries in rubles instead of dollars or euros. But Western countries have rejected that, and with the war in Ukraine continue to thing to rage, the scene is set for more sanctions and, of course, more economic pain.

Back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much for that report.

Now to a story we broke on CNN this morning. After 100 days in captivity, an Afghan American and a Naval reservist and his brother have finally been freed from Taliban captivity. The Biden administration secured the release of 27-year-old Safi Rauf and his brother Anees Khalil after months of negotiations. As former Afghan refugees, they founded the group Human First Coalition, which was working to evacuate those desperately trying to flee after Kabul fell to the Taliban. Safi himself was born in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan, and later came to the U.S., and graduated from high school in Omaha, Nebraska. Safi embedded with U.S. Special Forces as a linguist in Afghanistan for four years before returning to the U.S. and enlisting himself in U.S. Navy Reserves.

State spokesman Ned Price said today that negotiators also pressed the Taliban for the release of Mark Frerichs who has been held in captivity since January 2020. Earlier today, "The New Yorker" what family members say is a proof of life video of Frerichs recorded last November.

President Biden is pushing a positive picture on the economy, but what about inflation or gas prices or sharply rising mortgage rates? The factors that have some economists trying to send a warning. That's next.



TAPPER: In our money lead, the greatest job comeback in the history of the United States is nearly complete. That's how one economist is describing today's blockbuster jobs report.

In March, the U.S. added 431,000 jobs and the employment rate dropped to 3.6 percent, that's a pandemic era low.

Here to discuss, the chief economist from Moody's Analytics, Mark Zandi, and CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar.

Mark, these are the kinds of job numbers that any president would love to have, but the inflation numbers are clouding what would otherwise be jubilant news. What needs to be done to further combat inflation so we all are really experiencing this economic recovery?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Well, Jake, three things. One, we've got to get on the other side of this pandemic. The pandemic has scrambled global supply chains and messed up the job market and added inflationary pressures. We have to get some resolution to the Russian invasion of Ukraine because that's juiced up oil prices and agricultural prices and adding to the inflationary pressures.

We need the Federal Reserve to hopefully gracefully raise interest rates here to slow the growth rate in the economy so that we don't blow past full employment and this inflation doesn't become persistent and endemic. But we need a little bit of luck and some debt policy- making to get to the other side of this reasonably soon.

TAPPER: Rana, the U.S. is now just 1.6 million jobs short of where we were back in February 2020, and we are on track to be back to pre- pandemic levels by the end of this year. What's your takeaway from these job numbers, any surprises?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Not really. You know, I mean, they are hot -- this is a hot labor market but it's not like last month. We're not talking about 750,000 created, we're talking about 431,000. That is hot, in a normal period of time. But we're still coming back from COVID.

You know, I look at this not with too much worry about wage inflation which some economists are worried about that, but I look at it in the context of 30 years where we had a lot of wage stagnation. We're coming out of a very unusual period. I'm not worried about wages going up a little bit.

I am more worried, as mark pointed out, about supply chain issues and where those are going to land, where the war is going to land. We've seen Biden trying to curb some of the energy inflation, releasing strategic petroleum reserves. But I think we'll be looking at an energy inflation, gas price, food price inflation for a little while longer for sure.

TAPPER: And, Mark, before today's new jobs report, you warned that recession risks in the U.S. are in your view uncomfortably high right now. Is there anything in the jobs report that might change that prediction?

ZANDI: No. You know, I think the economy is at risk because we have a very strong economy coming into full employment very quickly. We have very high inflation expectations due to the pandemic and the Russian invasion. And the Fed is raising interest rates. In that kind of environment, a misstep is a high probability.

So I put recession risks at about one in three at this point. I will say, though, Jake, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. You know, you don't create a half million jobs every month for over a year with an economy that's not doing pretty well. So I think odds are that we will navigate through. But it's going to be a bit tricky.

TAPPER: And, Rana, in the midst of the pandemic, childcare issues kept a lot of women out of the paid workforce during the pandemic.


Today's report showed women are returning to the workforce in larger numbers, which is great news. Women made up the majority of new employees in March. What more needs to be done, do you think, to get employment numbers for women back to where they were?

FOROOHAR: You know, it's all about childcare. That is the complaint I hear. It's one I've experienced personally. You know, I think if we could fix childcare in America, you could release so much productivity, both at the higher end, you know, allowing more educated women to take up work, do more work, but also amongst careers.

You know, I think some of the president's priorities about professionalizing care, trying to raise wages in the care economy are spot on, because if you can get more women in at both ends, that's good for growth.

TAPPER: Rana Foroohar, Mark Zandi, thanks to both of you, really appreciate it.

Coming up next, a judge's ruling today for man who brought Molotov cocktails along with firearms, and ammo, and machetes, and a crossbow right near the U.S. capitol on January 6th. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, another step in the attempt to hold people accountable for what they did during the January 6th insurrection. A man who brought multiple firearms and Molotov cocktails to a point near the Capitol was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, 72-year-old Lonnie Coffman was arrested the night of the insurrection. He was living in his truck which he had parked a few blocks away from the Capitol. Inside the truck, police found mason jars filled with gasoline, several unregistered firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a stun go, machetes and a crossbow with bolts as well as lists of politicians and other policy targets. Coffman has been in jail since his arrest. One year ago tomorrow, the U.S. Capitol police force which of course

was already reeling from the events of January 6th suffered another tragic loss. An intruder rammed a pair of officers with his car at a checkpoint guarding the entrance to the Capitol grounds. One of the officers, as you will recall, died, Billy Evans, an 18-year veteran of the Capitol police and a members of the first responders unit. Members of Congress whom he was protecting when he died showed their gratitude and appreciation by allowing his body to lay in honor in the rotunda of the Capitol. President Biden attended that ceremony. And now, a memorial plaque is being placed at that security checkpoint.

Joining us now exclusively is Billy Evans' former wife, Shannon Terranova.

First of all, Shannon, I can't even think of the unimaginable loss. This is the first time you've spoken publicly. We all know about your husband's heroics, about his sacrifice. What else do you want people to know about Billy?


You know, as many people have said, Billy loved his job and he was proud to be a Capitol police officer. The biggest thing for him was being a dad. And it's a tremendous loss and it's really difficult for our children to move on without him.

And I just know that what I want everybody to know is that he was a great human being and he is very greatly missed, not just by my children and I and his mother and sister, their family, but everybody at Capitol police.

TAPPER: You're coming forward now a year after this tragedy to thank Billy's co-workers and their families for what they did. Tell us how they've been present for you and your kids over the past year. We're showing some of the photographs you've shared with us.

TERRANOVA: Absolutely. You know, right after this happened, and we were all in shock, trying to figure out how to, you know, move on, we had some officers come to the house and be a distraction. They brought some motorcycles over.

TAPPER: We're looking at pictures of your beautiful kids. He looks like a great dad, you can tell.

TERRANOVA: Yes, he absolutely loved his children, he was the fun dad.

You know, some officers came over with motorcycle units to distract the kids the week after the K9 unit came to give us time and keep the kids distracted, especially during the first several weeks.

But, you know, it doesn't stop there. We could not have gotten through this year without the north barricade men, Sergeant King, and so many others who worked with Billy and loved Billy, they came to birthdays, they helped Christmas, the first Christmas without their dad, be special, have more presents under the tree, spoil them the way he would have.

For his birthday, which was just a couple of months ago, a whole group of police officers, Capitol police officers, got together, their families together, and we did a Billy bowl. And everybody did that in honor of his birthday because that's what he would do with the kids, take them bowling on his birthday, that's what he loved doing. You know, they've been there to help support me at a Cub Scout event when I just could not manage juggling everything and trying to be as present for my children as possible.

But, you know, when you're also going through grief, and they are too, so for me it's not only that they showed up in so many ways, but they're grieving too, and the fact that they were able to do that.


And I do want to mention my kids had the best last day of school pickup ever, a whole motorcade of them came. Everybody from the north barricade came to pick them up on their last day of school and have pizza with them the way their dad would have.

TAPPER: We should note that Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Roy Blount sponsored a resolution to place the memorial plaque honoring Billy on the Capitol grounds and I understand there's going to be a private ceremony tomorrow.

TERRANOVA: Yes. We -- our family is so honored, and I know Billy's family is so honored, for that. The feelings are still very raw. We still feel like sometimes it's very surreal, it doesn't feel like this really happened. I just want to thank both of them, Senator Blunt and Senator Klobuchar, for making sure Billy is not remembered -- not forgotten and that he is remembered, and that he is acknowledged, because he deserves that.

TAPPER: That plaque will be there forever and that will be --

TERRANOVA: Yeah. And it will be where his co-workers will see and remember, that's important for them, too.

TAPPER: We're honored that you came here, Shannon, to tell your story, to express your appreciation and we appreciate you and we appreciate Billy. I know I'm going to get to meet your kids during the break, so I'm looking forward to that.


TAPPER: Thank you so much.

TERRANOVA: They're excited.

TAPPER: Our deepest condolences.

TERRANOVA: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: Coming up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, one on one with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the key factor he says we should watch if COVID cases go up soon as predicted.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, for once a positive milestone in the fight against coronavirus.

Here in the U.S., fewer people are hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point since the pandemic began really heat up in 2020. A total of just over 16,000 hospitalizations, fewer than 2,000 in intensive care; the previous low point was last June, before the delta variant swept across the country.

Hospitalizations have been perhaps the key metric to keep an eye on.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, you just sat down with Dr. Fauci for "Interview Club". That's a show on our new streaming service, CNN+. And, Fauci, you say, expects COVID cases to go up.

What about hospitalizations, though?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he -- the news is good there, Jake. When you look at that, he expects, based on what we're seeing overseas, in U.K. and other places, that even if cases go up, it's become clear now -- clearer, at least, over the past couple of months, that people aren't getting as sick.

And keep in mind when you showed that graph just now, Jake, I mean, there was 150,000 people in the hospital at some point with this, just a couple of months ago. The numbers have come dramatically down.

But listen to something Dr. Fauci specifically has been following. Listen to how he framed this sort of decoupling of cases and hospitalizations.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I spoke to our U.K. colleagues. They said that it's curious they're having an increase in cases but the overall mortality in the country has not gone up, and there's not an increase in the use of intensive care beds, which means they're getting cases but they're not really seriously ill.


GUPTA: So people don't seem to be dying from this, you know, based on the numbers we're seeing of cases, there's not any sort of percentage of people who are likely to die of this variant or getting sick to the point where they need an ICU bed. People may still be going into the hospital but it's not causing significant illness.

We've been following a lot of these countries as well, Jake. I'd just tell you, quickly, even before the U.K. BA.2, which is the variant spreading in the Netherlands and Denmark and places like that, and we can take a look. They're following cases over there, but even if you look at the cases, the numbers did go up, you know, pretty significantly, but they've come back down quite a bit as well.

And that's pretty good bellwether for us. I mean, Texas is bigger than both those countries combined, Jake, so it's a little hard to extrapolate the data but it does look good overall.

TAPPER: Sanjay, tell me about this new CDC study showing a deepening mental health crisis among adolescents, one researcher called the data a cry for help. Tell us more.

GUPTA: Yeah. Well, first of all, I'll put the numbers up here, Jake. I'll tell you a couple of things. This was a survey that was done of high school students, about 8,000 high school students, between January and June of last year, 2021.

So the country was obviously -- people were mostly at home, it was a really tough time. And it really played out in terms of mental health with regard to this survey. I mean, 37 percent reporting poor mental health most of the time, 44 percent persistent sadness or hopelessness, stopping usual activities.

To give you some context for that number, the felt persistent sadness number of 44 percent, if you go back to 2009, the number was closer to 26 percent. It's been a problem for some time. But it's pretty clear, if you look at the trajectory, the last couple of years, I guess no surprise but sad nonetheless, has had a real impact on mental health overall.

So, the cry for help is now what do you do about it, in terms of schools, in terms of counseling, in terms of investing resources to be able to address that problem?


TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much, appreciate it.

The CNN team is in Odessa, Ukraine. That's a key port city that would be a prime target for Putin, yet so many Ukrainians do not want to leave Odessa. How are they getting by despite danger on their doorstep? That's next.


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

This hour, more bad news for states already experiencing extreme and dangerous droughts. Why the lack of snow hurts much more than the ski resorts.

Plus, are we seeing the best jobs recovery in U.S. history?