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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) Is Interviewed About War In Ukraine; U.S. Assesses No Major Territorial Gains For Russia In East So Far; Russia Tests New Intercontinental Ballistic Missile; Russian Billionaire Blast War; Urges west To "Stop This Massacre;" New Calls For Justice Thomas' Recusal As Texts Show Links Between His Wife & Others Who Tried To Overturn Election; Trump Endorses Ohio Senate Candidate J.D. Vance; Netflix Stock Plunges After Subscribers Dump Streaming Service; Former Lakers Star & Exec Jerry West Demands HBO Apologize For Portrayal In Drama "Winning Time"; Arizona Fire Surges To 19,000 Plus Acres. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 20, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister says today's evacuation quarter, quote, "did not work as planned." So what are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So I spoke to a number of Ukrainian officials today. And the fact is they're skeptical, right? Because the track record of Russia, respecting abiding by the rules of humanitarian corridors is lousy. In fact, there's a lot of evidence of Russian forces deliberately shelling at times humanitarian corridors, quote, unquote, "even when civilians are using those."

I spoke earlier today to an advisor to Zelenskyy's chief of staff and I asked him, does he trust Russia's word that the people leaving Mariupol would be safe? Listen to his answer.


SERGII LESHCHENKO, SENIOR ADVISER TO ZELENSKYY'S CHIEF OF STAFF: Their plan is to take them as hostages. And of course, it does require soldiers not ready to give up. So their proposals give up. And we are going to be imprisoned in Russian media after this, of course, Ukrainian soldiers going to fight.

What our view on this that it has to be humanitarian corridor for Ukrainians to live to Ukrainian territory controlled by Kyiv government, not Russia.


SCIUTTO: What Ukrainian forces trapped there in Mariupol and some officials are hoping for is some sort of third party to monitor guarantee a safe passage out, not just for civilians, but those soldiers holed up there. It's not clear exactly how that would happen. There's not precedent for that in this conflict so far. But tonight, again, and I was in touch with one member of the military, the Ukrainian military, they're trapped in that steel plant tonight, and they're worried and they're scared and understandably so and of course, the civilians there, including women and children, perhaps even more so.

TAPPER: Jim Sciutto reporting live from the Lviv, Ukraine. Thank you so much.

Joining us live to discuss, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas. He's the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He just got back from a congressional trip to the Polish border with Ukraine.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. We have some images of you meeting with U.S. armed forces while you were there. How has the situation changed on the ground since your last visit to the region in March?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): Well, you know, is there three weeks ago 100,000 refugees were pouring into Poland every day. And a three-weeks later, hardly any refugees are coming into Poland, but rather a lot of unmarked 18-wheeler trucks going into Ukraine from Poland. That's some good news, because those are weapons going into Ukraine to help the Ukrainians win this fight, that they must win.

And it's, yes, have been critical. We should have gotten these in sooner. But I was very pleased to see that. In addition, the 82nd airborne now is surrounded by basically a patriot battery system, which will harden that target that we know the Russians want to go after.

TAPPER: You also met with the leadership of Romania on your trip just days before Russia ended up testing this new intercontinental ballistic missile. How nervous are European leaders right now?

MCCAUL: You know, very, because if you're in Poland or Romania, you know, the Russians better than anybody they're very worried still about Odessa that Putin will not give up. And that's when we heard from the Prime Minister of Romania who was secretary defense previously, that he's all in. This is going to be something he's going to put everything he has to extend this land bridge even past Crimea to Odessa, then he could go into Moldova, where he has 8000 troops here and then they're up on the border of Romania. That's a worst-case scenario.

The good news is, is that the Ukrainians were able to down a major Russian ship, you know, off the coast in the Black Sea with their own antiship. And the U.K. is now sending a lot of antiship weapons that are far superior to what they were using. So that gives us some hope.

TAPPER: The regional military governor of Luhansk, which is in the Donbass region, tells CNN that 80 percent of his region's territory ,80 percent, is under Russian control. And he warns, quote, "Russia is certainly not going to stop here." And he says, quote, "There is no safe town in Ukraine."

You said that Ukraine can win this war if its fighters get the weapons they need. Do you still believe that and are they getting those weapons?

MCCAUL: I do think they can win this. I think the Russians overplayed their hand. I think they have demonstrated competence. And I think an important point, Jake, is that, you know, when I asked, are these the same worn out troops that evacuated Kyiv, went up through Belarus to go around to east, you know, east of Donbass to then go.

The answer is yes, they don't have any fresh recruits coming in. These are the same demoralize Russian troops. But the Ukrainians need these weapons to win this thing and that's why it's so paramount that we ship them in. I'm glad the President has drawn down on the $800 million that we appropriated in Congress to help them win this fight.


There's really too much at stake here now for Ukraine to lose this war.

TAPPER: Multiple sources tell CNN the U.S. is prepping another $800 million weapons package for Ukraine. If approved, this would bring the total U.S. assistance to some $3.4 billion since the invasion began in February. How long can the U.S. keep that up? Are these weapons infusions sustainable? Do European partners need to do much, much more?

MCCAUL: They do. I would argue that NATO is stepping up to the plate. The Eastern Flank of NATO, remember, they're on the east side that are next to Russia. They have a lot of Russian weapons that they're dumping into Ukraine. And then it's incumbent upon NATO and the United States to backfill these orders.

That could be another program you and I could talk about in terms of our supply chain with respect to these weapons. But that's the current state, we have to bring Patriot battery systems in, to say, Slovakia as they put in the S300. That's anti-aircraft anti-missile, you know, capability.

TAPPER: How concerned are you about any of this military hardware getting into the wrong hands once it crosses into Ukraine?

MCCAUL: That's always a concern. I sign off on all foreign military weapons sales. The good news here is that the stinger missiles that we took out the very sensitive chip information. The javelins are old. They're very old stockpile equipment.

You know, the S300 is a Russian. We will never put a patriot battery system in there because we don't want the Russians to capture that. So everything we're throwing in really has no value, if you will, or new value to the Russians, which is the good news.

I am worried about Mariupol, humanitarian wise. We intercepted and it was made public in the initial battle plans that we were briefed on in the classified space last fall that killing civilians was part of their battle plan. And we saw that play out in Bucha. And I have no reason to believe that's not going to change in Mariupol. And I think when the dust clears, you're going to see a lot of really awful atrocities taking place, which is why I passed my War Crimes bill on the House floor last week.

TAPPER: CNN is reporting that the U.S. military is keeping a constant watch on Russia's nuclear arsenal. And the Secretary Austin is being briefed two or three times a week by the top U.S. general overseeing U.S. nuclear weapons and defenses. How much do you fear a worst-case scenario with Putin using nukes?

MCCAUL: If he gets desperate, now, as I've said, like a scorpion backed a corner, remember, he's brought the Butcher of Syria who dropped barrel bombs and worked with Assad to drop chemical weapons on the civilian population in Syria. This is very disturbing that now the Butcher of Syria has been tasked to deal with the Donbass.

I worry that we could see chemical weapons. We know they've dropped a lot of really bad stuff thermobaric bombs into the Ukraine and other weapons. But if they dropped chemical, and if they use short range, tactical nukes, I think it changes this warfare all together. In fact, this was an issue we brought up with NATO in Brussels is how much can we sit back and watch before we react and take action?

We don't want this to happen, but it would escalate the war and I hope he doesn't do this. But as a matter of desperation, we have to be prepared. And we have to have these discussions.

TAPPER: House Foreign Affairs Ranking Republican Mike McCaul of Texas thanks so much. Good to see you as always

Coming up, a Russian billionaire, as harsh words for Vladimir Putin and an insult for the Russian military. But do Russian citizens agree? Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead. A Russian billionaire is blasting Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine and calling on the west to do more to stop the massacre. Oleg Tinkov writes this on Instagram, quote, "I don't see a single beneficiary of this insane war. Innocent people and soldiers are dying. Generals waking up with a hangover have realize they have a shit-army. And how could the army be good when everything else in the country is mired in nepotism, groveling and servility?"

Joining us live to discuss our CNN Senior International Matthew Chance and International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson.

Nic, who is this businessman. Why is this Instagram post in your view so remarkable?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Yes, self-made billionaire started up a digital bank, made a lot of money at it. Seeing the value drop off over the past few years, sponsored a major European cycling team that notched up some big international race successes. So this guy was certainly a larger than life character in that sense that he was well known could rub shoulders with other oligarchs, rubbing shoulders around Putin.

So when he criticizes Putin right now, the language he's using is not just criticizing the way the war is being fought, but essentially criticize the last 22 years of Putin's rule. The nepotism, the greed, the groveling has created this current system a weak arming and he says 90 percent of Russians are opposed to the war. Of course, that's completely counter to what the Kremlin says.

So this takes a strong man to stand up and say this knowing what has happened to other oligarchs that have criticized Putin in the past, some poison, some forced out the country, some in jail. Would it change the course of the war? Not clear.


TAPPER: Matthew how much influence do you think Tinkov could have on public opinion and Russia is there any chance his views can influence Putin?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think, you know, Nic's right in the sense that, you know, these are very strong words. And it's a very brave man that writes these words, when you're in that position particularly when you've got business interests inside Russia, it might influence Putin negatively, certainly towards him.

In terms of, you know, what audience is going to be able to see this message in Russia, well, that's very much debatable, not a lot of people have Instagram in Russia, I think. And those that do have it, they've been blocked from it, you can access it through VPN, etc. But it's not going to get a very wide airing, shall we say, inside Russia itself. It's clearly, obviously, the biggest audience for this message is going to be people outside of Russia, people in the West who are going to be reading it and circulating it.

But even if it was, you know, viewed in Russia, it's not going to make much impact on the Kremlin as long as it's just the views of one man. It's only if that view starts to become widespread, and the population at large start to adopt the opinion that this war is costing too much, that it's bloody, that it's incompetent and that is wrong, that the Kremlin is really going to sit up, take notice and potentially change its policies.

TAPPER: Nic, Russia just carried out a test launch of its new intercontinental ballistic missile, Putin called it a success. U.S. officials were warned about it ahead of time by Russia, and they do not seem concerned. Why not?

ROBERTSON: Yes, this is a missile system that Russia has been talking about for a few years. It's an upgrade of a Soviet era intercontinental ballistic missile. U.S. technology can track its path from northern Russia right to the sort of furthest Eastern Peninsula flying towards, you would know that, towards the United States. But Russia here had announced that it was going to do this test at a created a window of when it was going to do that test. So, its launching is not a surprise. What it can do is not a surprise in a way. And so therefore, you know, Russia has sort of mitigated against a misreading that it is launching something new towards the United States.

I think it's also worth noting on balance here, that the United States itself has stayed away from doing similar types of tests during this period of heightened tensions. So it's still a very big message for Russia, perhaps again for domestic consumption, but also an international one as well, saying, hey, we've got this, we're doing this. But there's much propaganda as Putin can get out of it at home. It's going to generate the narrative he wants, we're still strong.

TAPPER: And Matthew, Alexei Navalny, who -- that's the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, he's urging French voters to vote to reelect President Emmanuel Macron, the upcoming French elections. Navalny is the subject, obviously, of a new CNN documentary that's airing Sunday. Do you think his anticorruption campaign, his pro- democracy message has gained momentum since the war began?

CHANCE: It's hard to say, isn't it? I mean, look, we've witnessed such horrors in the past couple of months at the hands of Russia inside Ukraine. To some extent, the terrible things that happened to Alexei Navalny and the corruption he has exposed over many years, have been overshadowed by the much worse crimes that we've seen unfold in towns and cities and are unfolding now across Ukraine.

At the same time, you know, that campaign that he's been at the head of, for so many years, in some ways, foreshadows some of the incompetence, some of the ruthlessness that the Putin regime is capable of that we're seeing it in Ukraine, but it was foreshadowed in all the sort of like corrupt anti-corruption campaigns and investigations that Alexei Navalny has been at the head of. And of course, you know, first and foremost, his own poisoning, you know, by suspected government agents inside Russia.

It's also, Jake, and important reminder that as Russia is sanctioned around the world for its activities inside Ukraine, there are millions of Russians that for years have been campaigning and standing against the regime in the Kremlin.

TAPPER: Matthew and Nic, thank you so much.

And as I mentioned, don't miss the unbelievable true story of the man who took on Putin and lived to expose the truth. The Sundance Award winning CNN film "Navalny" airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

Coming up next, a look at how Putin's war is threatening the farmers in Ukraine who helped feed most of Europe. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Thousands of innocent civilians in Ukraine have been killed and millions of Ukrainians forced to leave their country, that's millions of people unable to work, not sure where their next meal will come from. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary warned that 10 million people worldwide could be pushed into poverty because of soaring food prices and she blamed Russia.

CNN's Ed Lavandera talk to some Ukrainian farmers who know all too well how Putin's unprovoked war is killing the livelihoods of those who helped feed much of Europe.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sergiy Yaiichuk runs a one man dairy operation. He has six cows on a little farm just 15 miles from the frontlines of the battlefield in southern Ukraine. But neither Russian soldiers or falling rockets have stopped the 49-year-old from tending to his work.


(on camera): That is Sergiy's house there just in the distance and there is an unexploded rocket that landed this close, landed here about a week ago. Did you hear that rocket land?

SERGIY YAIICHUK, UKRAINIAN DAIRY FARMER (through translator): Everything happened before my eyes.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The explosions erupted all around him when this strike hit. Russian rockets often target his village of 500 people.

YAIICHUK (through translator): We were covered with dust, just dust and shrapnel all the way here. I fell to the ground crawling, not feeling my legs or arms. It was scary. For those who have not gone through this, you would not believe it.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sergiy keeps one eye on his herd and the other eye on the war.

(on camera): So these are Sergiy's six dairy cows. And if you notice, he has them spread out. He wants to separate them so they don't all get killed in one strike.

(voice-over): He must keep the cows alive. This is the life of a farmer in Ukraine.

Maxim Krivenko and his family grow the traditional Ukrainian crops of wheat and sunflower on these lush wide open fields near the village of Yavkino. But the war has up ended his business.

MAXIM KRIVENKO, UKRAINIAN FARMER (through translator): Basically everything has shut down and we aren't working.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Maxim says the cost of fuel and grain seeds have skyrocketed. It's difficult to find parts to repair farm machinery. He's supposed to plant this year's wheat crop in the coming weeks, but if the fighting returns to this land, it won't happen. (on camera): So this is the storage area where they keep their sunflower seeds, but they haven't been able to sell it because of the war.

(voice-over): Maxim is also stuck with an entire season sunflower seed harvest. It just sits in this storage space.

(on camera): Will this war kill your business?

KRIVENKO (through translator): It's already killed it. We have stockpiled our wheat production and our sunflowers but we aren't able to sell them. So I would say it is the beginning of the end.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ukraine is considered the world's breadbasket along with Russia producing 30 percent of the world's wheat exports. The United Nation says this war is creating a food production crisis not seen since World War II.

(on camera): Thousands of Ukrainian farmers now find themselves on the frontlines of this war and their growing fields of wheat and sunflower have been turned into debris fields for missiles and rockets and other explosives.

(voice-over): The wreckage of recent battles still sit in the farm fields. The body of a Russian soldier is buried next to this ammunition supply truck.

Farm or fight is the choice facing frontline farmers. Sergiy Yaiichuk has already faced this life and death decision. When the Russians invaded this village last month, Sergiy joined the fight. He was shot in the shoulder.

(on camera): Oh, wow. If the Russians come back, do you want to fight again?

YAIICHUK (through translator): What else can we do? I'll take my pitchfork and go fight. I will defend my village until the end.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): When the war returns, the harvest will have to wait.


LAVANDERA: Jake, the United Nations estimates that about 30 percent of Ukrainian -- of the Ukrainian agriculture fields will not be used to grow food this year. One small village mayor told us that Ukrainian farmers are good at two things, growing bread, making bread and fighting. They will grow bread until they have to start fighting. But if they have to fight, they will. Jake.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera in Kyiv, Ukraine thank you so much.

Coming up more revealing text messages about the 2020 election from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Turning to our politics lead now, CNN has uncovered new text messages from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Turns out while she was texting Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election, she was also having similar conversations with her longtime friend, Connie Hair.

In addition to being Thomas's longtime friend Hair is also the chief of staff for Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert. Gohmert, you might recall, push two lawsuits and ended up in the Supreme Court challenging the election results.

Our political panel joins us now. Alyssa, there are a lot of folks out there who say how is it possible for Justice Clarence Thomas to be impartial when his wife is so in the thick of all this?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, and it's a very fair and legitimate question. What I'd note about Connie Hair is she's part of this broader group that Ginni Thomas is part of called groundswell, that basically is a nationwide effort of conservatives to try to advance pro-Trump policies that actually predated him. I knew her when she was in the House. This is not someone I would say is in the mainstream of Republican politics. So it's interesting to now see that she has a relationship with a Supreme Court Justice's wife.

I think the pressure is going to continue to ramp up on Justice Thomas. He -- the easy solution would be for him to explain both his -- I do think that there's going to be growing calls for his recusal from January 6 related potential rulings, but I also think he just needs to explain what his role was with regard to his wife.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, though, the January 6 part of this is just a small piece. I think what you're going to see is more pressure for actual overall ethics reform, was a poll just released 54 percent of Americans actually would support an ethics policy for the Supreme Court. Part of the problem with Ginni Thomas, it's not just that these are her friends. These are people she is paid by.

So her involvement in a number of organizations that have business before the court from a financial perspective, I think raises as many questions as being the wife of a Supreme Court Justice and advocating for overthrowing a fair election.


GRIFFIN: Well in the rules would have to be changed because she does have a right as a, technically --

FINNEY: Of course.

GRIFFIN: -- private citizen to engage in politics but that is the question. This is call for some kind of (INAUDIBLE).

FINNEY: Certainly. When it comes to your financial, you know, when it comes down to your financial wellbeing of your family, and you're going to be then having your husband see a case where your own finances are impacted, I think that's where people start to get very uncomfortable. And she's been a problem -- this has been a problem for a long time coming.

TAPPER: I mean, I would like to point out that it's not just that she advocates conservative policies. Her Facebook feed is a garbage dump. I mean, it's just insanity.

GRIFFIN: Well, I think that's what's striking to me is Justice Thomas is someone I've admired my whole life as a conservative, you know, judicial appointee, but he -- to have a wife who was so just maybe off the reservation in terms of her viewpoints and supporting some very conspiracy theories that do have serious repercussions like what led to January 6, that's scary.


GRIFFIN: But that's also -- that's our society these days. I mean, you have elected members of Congress who espouse debunked conspiracy theories.

TAPPER: Yes. Let's turn to the midterm elections, Laura. Bad news for Democrats. The Cook Political Report published a new outlook for the midterms, it's looking even better for Republicans. David Wasserman writes, "President Biden's approval rating remains stuck at 42 percent. And if anything the political environment has deteriorated for Democrats since January as inflation concerns have soared and Build Back Better has stalled, that means no Democrat in a single- digit Biden or Trump-won district is secure. And even some seats Biden carried by double-digit margins in 2020 could come into play this fall, giving the GOP surprising reach opportunities."

We're just about 200 days from the midterms. Can Democrats make up any ground do you think?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, in the House, a lot of the Democrats that I talked to, a lot of them expect the House to flip. I mean, that's what history shows. It's also the fact that a lot of those seats, that are swing seats are not looking good in the House, where I see them focusing a lot more of their attention is the Senate, which is that a lot of the Democratic pollsters or operatives that I've talked to in the lawmakers think that they have a better shot at holding the Senate.

But a lot of that does depend on, you know, whether or not they're able to come together with this cohesive message which is that, you know, I was talking to Biden's former 2020 pollster selling the lake recently. And she said that Biden needs to be out there traveling as much as he has been the past two weeks even more so because the biggest block of swing voters, she says, are women over the age of 50. And so they get a lot of their news from local news.

So if Biden's out there more, then he could potentially tap into telling them, look, this is what I've done to date, whether it's infrastructure bill explaining that, explaining the rescue plan. And this is also what I plan to do in the future.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, suburban women, its Hispanic voters, there are a couple of key blocks that both parties are going to be wrestling over. And in this latest shift from Cook, I think it's another eight seats.

We're not just talking about red states, we're talking about blue states, districts in New York. We're talking about what we used to think of as swing states like North Carolina. So these are really important shifts and they validate of strategy that we reported about in the last couple of weeks, where Republicans were telling us at Axios, they're going to put money into races that Biden holds -- the Biden and Democrats held by as much as plus 16.

So conventional wisdom says, just stick with the single digits for races you can convert. They're saying we can make conversions in 13, 14, 15, 16 point what we thought were advantages for Democrats. So that's a massive closing of the gap. And when we talk about January 6, this matters to people who think about democracy issues, but doesn't rank at the top of most voters list. It's inflation. It's gas prices.

TAPPER: Right.

TALEV: It's crime (ph). It's the border.

TAPPER: And that's the other thing, Karen, because a veteran democratic pollster, told Laura, "Voters as sympathetic as they are to Ukraine, are getting a little fatigued."


TAPPER: "And they're wondering, we're spending all this money abroad, but what are we spending here at home?" And look, I think we all would agree that what's going on Ukraine is very important to the United States, but maybe people don't feel it.

FINNEY: Well, but not at a time when everyone is already exhausted from COVID, we're exhausted from trying to organize our lives around COVID and gas prices are going up. And there's a lot of uncertainty I think that people still feel. And I would say -- let me disagree slightly, not surprising, because they're not listening to me with Democrats ought to be doing. Frankly, it's not about just what the President has done for them, it is about how can I -- how can you help empower yourself to make change?

You've got to get voters to see we just came off for two months and doing a lot of grassroots work around KBJ. The justice --

TAPPER: Supreme Court Justice, yes.

FINNEY: Supreme Court Justice, right. The energy is there, but to mobilize and galvanize it, people have to feel empowered to take action in their own lives. And why is voting for you going to make my life better? It's got to stay focused on voters and less about they really feel like Washington is not listening. And we've got to make sure they feel that way. TAPPER: And Alyssa, I'm fascinated to know what you think about this endorsement by President Trump, former President Trump of J.D. Vance.


Donald Trump Jr. was just featured in an event with J.D. Vance. He's running for the Republican nomination for the Senate in Ohio. Vance was also given millions by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel following -- I mean, what was honestly a fairly surprising Trump endorsement, especially because Vance's had really said some very, very nasty things about Trump comparing him to an American Hitler and that sort of thing. Were you surprised?

GRIFFIN: I was a bit surprised because yes, that's a tape that's going to play on loop by his opponents. But to Laura's point, Republicans stand to pick up the House, I would guess by double digits, as many as 24 seats. But the Senate is the whole game for Republicans.

And Donald Trump's endorsements are actually hurting their chances in so many different places. I would say J.D. Vance is an example. Tim Ryan is a very formidable Democrat and even a red state playing against Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, I think is dangerous and risks the Senate majority.

So I think -- I mean, thinking even further than 2022 to 2024, what Republicans are going to be looking at is who was actually helpful in getting us the Senate, the control of the Senate back. And if Donald Trump ends up wasting that with these bad endorsements, I think that could bode well for other 2024 contender.

TAPPER: And also he endorsed Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, which is also rather surprising, given Dr. Oz has a history of not saying anything nasty about Trump but saying a lot of very liberal things.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. I mean, what's interesting about these endorsements is that, yes, they may not end up being the person that is favored right now in the primary. As Alyssa said, it could very well end up hurting them. But, you know, a lot of the candidates like McCormick and others still very much are in line with Trump and support Trump and support his lies about the election.


FINNEY: And I think -- hey, I'm sorry, just this chaos in the GOP primaries, that's another opportunity Democrats need to be taking more advantage.

TAPPER: Well, we'll see if they take it. Thanks to out panel. Appreciate it.

45 billion reasons why Netflix is considering making some big changes to its streaming service, that's next.


[17:46:25] TAPPER: In our money lead, Netflix wiped out more than $50 billion of its value on the market today. The losses were in response to Netflix announcing that the company had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first part of this year, and they are expecting to lose 2 million more subscribers in the next quarter.

The host of Reliable Sources CNN's Brian Stelter joins me now. Brian, this is the first time Netflix has lost subscribers in more than 10 years what's driving this?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR, RELIABLE SOURCES: Yes, the company has enjoyed torrid growth, but now that's at an end. And here are the reasons or you might say excuses that Netflix is providing. Number one, COVID clouded the picture executive say, by creating so much growth in 2020 and 2021.

Second, password sharing means it's harder to grow membership because so many people are sharing accounts. And number three, many new streaming services have also launched like Disney Plus and our parent company's HBO Max. Here are some of the other reasons the company also identifies around the world, including inflation, "Sluggish economic growth, increasing inflation, geopolitical events, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and some continued disruption from COVID are also likely having an impact as well."

Basically Netflix saying there are a lot of reasons here even the invasion of Ukraine, because Netflix pulled its service from Russia. But all of this leaves a lot of this other than the invasion was predictable. This company has been facing these headwinds for years. And now it's finally really happening.

TAPPER: Before today, Netflix's stock value had already dropped 40 percent from the previous year.


TAPPER: What could this indicate about the future of streaming, or do you think this is Netflix specific?

STELTER: This is largely about Netflix because it is on top, because it has led the way and other companies are now chasing what it has. But it does have some sort of significance for other companies as well. It indicates the streaming is a win for consumers, but often a loss for investors, often a loss for the companies.

Now, viewers have more options than ever, but it's hard to turn a profit. The traditional media business in many ways was more profitable for Wall Street, for investors, for shareholders. And this is a reckoning now realizing the Netflix is not really a technology company like Apple, it's more of a content company.

TAPPER: What does Netflix do now to add subscribers? And how is this going to influence other streaming services?

STELTER: Well, it's going to get a lot harder to share passwords, that's for sure. Also, for the first time, Netflix is certainly a willingness to try an advertising supported option, basically a service that will cost less, but will carry advertising. Of course, that's the same sort of trade off that viewers make here on CNN or other cable channels.

It seems to me other streaming services are pursuing the same approach as well, looking for advertising supported models. I suppose, Jake, everything in media, everything old is new again. And the future of media is all of the above. Television didn't replace -- radio streaming is not replacing television. It's all additive.

And like I said, Jake, consumers ultimately benefit from this. They're more and more programs more shows to watch than ever before, but not necessarily investors. I think what's really interesting here for the next couple of years is whether Netflix can come up with new hit shows, new hit movies. Can that draw in more viewers or is there just so much competition in streaming now?

So many options at our fingertips. The Netflix can no longer be the Godzilla of the streaming universe.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

In our pop culture lead, fact or fiction. A new HBO drama "Winning Time: "The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty," is sparking outrage from Jerry West. Jerry West is the former LA Lakers player and executive and coach and he's demanding a retraction and an apology from HBO and a letter from his lawyer to HBO and the show's producer.


West claims that the way he is portrayed in the drama is a baseless and malicious assault on his character. We should know, HBO is owned by CNN's parent company Warner Brothers Discovery. CNN's Natasha Chen now explores how West is crying foul.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Jerry West, former LA Lakers all star player later coach and executive recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 here mentioning his guiding principles.

JERRY WEST, FORMER LAKERS COACH: Lead, protect and assist whenever possible.

CHEN (voice-over): His silhouette is on the NBA logo. But this is a younger Jerry West viewers are now seeing as depicted by actor Jason Clarke in HBO series "Winning Time."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Billboards don't play the game of basketball.


CHEN (voice-over): The problem, according to West attorneys, is that these things never happened. West legal team demanded a retraction and apology sending this letter to HBO and its parent company on Tuesday. It claims this was a false and defamatory portrayal of West saying the series perpetuated and egregious wrong on a good and decent man and have harmed him in the process.

The letter includes statements from nine people who worked with West who say he did not yell, scream or drink excessively.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And listen, I used to drink a lot of bourbon. I switched to vodka. You can smell it less. Just a tip.

CHEN (voice-over): Former Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote this in his newsletter. "It's a shame the way they treat Jerry West, who was openly discussed his struggle with mental health, especially depression. Instead of exploring his issues with compassion as a way to better understand the man, they turned him into a Wile E. coyote cartoon to be laughed at."

Sam Amick, senior NBA writer at The Athletic says he knows West can run hot but he recalls what happened once when West was unhappy with one of his articles.

SAM AMICK, SENIOR NBA WRITER, THE ATHLETIC: He kind of came at me from the direction of, Sam, you're better than that. And it was almost more in an intense grandfatherly type approach, if you will. It was not screaming, it wasn't yelling. And really, in my experience that is more Jerry style than it is, you know, throwing something out the window.

CHEN (voice-over): West lawyers have given HBO two weeks to retract and apologize. But to win a lawsuit, First Amendment Lawyer Doug Mirell says they have to prove HBO acted with actual malice.

DOUG MIRELL, ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY: As we saw in the Sarah Palin vs. New York Times case, that standard, which the Supreme Court adopted in 1964 is very, very difficult to meet because West is a public figure.

CHEN (voice-over): And while Mirell doesn't believe a retraction will happen --

MIRELL: This shot across the bow may encourage HBO and it's clearance people to want to be even more careful than they were in Season 2 than they were in Season 1.


CHEN: HBO declined to comment for this story. Writer Sam Amick explained to me that this isn't just about historical events. Jerry West still plays a major role in the LA Clippers organization and many people seen in the series still work in the basketball industry. So Sam tells me the way that people view these real people relationships, these politics still matter today. Jake?

TAPPER: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, they are some of the fastest moving fires burning in the U.S. right now where dozens of people are being forced from their homes. But first, a look at the Sundance award winning CNN film about the unbelievable true story of the man who took on Vladimir Putin and live to tell the truth.



TAPPER: In our national lead now, hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their homes near Flagstaff Arizona as the tunnel wildfire rages in that state. First reported on Sunday, the fire quickly spread pushed by significant winds and low humidity. Yesterday morning, the fire had burned about 100 acres. As of a half hour ago, more than 19,000 acres. The fires destroyed dozens of buildings.

FEMA HUD says local power and gas distribution networks a number of historical sites and hundreds of businesses are at risk. Cindy Wilson (ph), a resident who evacuate it tells CNN affiliate KPNX, quote, I cried driving away because you just don't know you don't know if you're going to come home to anything.

The cause of the tunnel fire is still under investigation as of now. It is 0 percent contained, zero. More than 0.5 million acres have burned in the United States as a result of wildfires this year alone.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever from whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.