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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Rep. Sara Jacobs, (D-CA), Is Interviewed About Humanitarian Assistance In Ukraine; Dem. Lawmakers Calls For Humanitarian Assistance For Ukraine As Biden Pledges $800M In Military Aid; Hearing To Determine If Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's Role In Jan 6 Disqualifies Her From Seeking Re-Election; Climate Crisis Looms Over Biden's Earth Day Legislation. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 22, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: CNN's Jim Sciutto reports from Ukraine right now on the struggle for survival in Mariupol.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Evidence of new horrors emerging from the desperate Ukrainian standoff in Mariupol. Satellite images show what appears to be a massive grave just outside the city. A local official accuses Russian forces of war crimes there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed Russian forces liberated Mariupol and says he personally called off an assault on the Azovstal steel plant, where the last of the city's defenders are now dug in along with hundreds of civilians. The U.S. is not convinced, however, that Russia controls all of the city and Ukrainian officials have denied it.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Actions, not words. I think we have to watch and see what the Russians actually do here.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Ukraine says that Russia has not agreed to establish civilian corridors to allow residents to escape.
MAYOR VADYM BOICHENKO, MARIUPOL, UKRAINE (through translator): It's important to understand that the lives that are still there, they're in the hands of just one person.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today, the Russian military announced a new goal for the invasion, capturing Mariupol and the entire Ukrainian coastline, as well as creating a land bridge between Russian held areas in the east and Crimea. There was already fierce fighting in the Donbass region in the east.
A senior U.S. defense official says Russia has added 20 battalion tactical groups to its forces there just over the past week, bringing the total to 85. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the moves will not deter Ukrainian defenders. PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINE (through translator): None of these steps will help Russia in the war against our state. They can only delay the inevitable, the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Ukrainian intelligence released what it says is further evidence of war crimes by Russia, intercepted communications among Russian commanders ordering soldiers to murder Ukrainian prisoners of war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What can I tell you, damn it? (INAUDIBLE). You keep the most senior among them an let the rest of them go forever.
Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again including relatives.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The U.S. response to Russia's ruthless campaign remains a combination of weapons shipments to Ukraine and economic sanctions on Russia, neither of which has yet stopped the war or the alleged war crimes.
Today I asked President Biden's deputy national security adviser whether U.S. is considering intervening more directly.
(on camera): Why is the U.S. NATO response sufficient in your view and the President's view?
DALEEP SINGH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, we're going to we're going to have time to hold these people to account for what they've done, Jim. Everything short of a direct military confrontation with Russia, we will do and will do with our allies and will intensify it for as long as it takes.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCIUTTO: The concern among some administration officials is that Russian ambitions do not stop at the land bridge between Crimea and the east, but extend the whole length of the coastline, including an intended assault, at least on Odessa, and then carrying that all the way through to the north eastern region of Moldova known as Transnistria, which would make Ukraine really a landlocked state, a rump state and cut it off from both the commercial and strategic interests in the Black Sea.
Now, as you say, Jake, there's a lot between -- a lot of space between that ambition and the reality of carrying it out on the ground but it does speak to this concern, right, that the war does not end tomorrow or next week or next month or perhaps even next year. But this is a long-term ambition of Putin and Russia, which would then mean a long war.
TAPPER: Jim Sciutto in Lviv for us, thank you so much.
I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Sara Jacobs of California. She's on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. So you say Russia, in addition to all the other horrific things that country is doing, that they're weaponizing hunger in Ukraine by purposefully causing food shortages. You've called on the U.S to make sure support for Ukraine includes humanitarian assistance.
Yesterday, President Biden pledged another 800 million dollars for military aid. Are you aware of efforts to also provide the humanitarian assistance you say is needed?
REP. SARA JACOBS (D-CA): Yes, President Biden has committed over a billion dollars in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and for Ukrainians who are fleeing. We're also working to make sure that the planting season in Ukraine can continue as best as it can, since we know that in addition to Russia actually targeting these food sources that making sure that Ukraine can continue to produce food, as it is an exporter of food to the rest of the world and especially low-income countries will be incredibly important to avert food insecurity in the rest of the world. And we're continuing to assess the situation and make sure we're doing everything we can to help Ukrainians and help make sure that this issue of hunger doesn't, as much as it can, not affect the rest of the world.
TAPPER: So, today, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jim in Inhofe of Oklahoma, he took issue publicly with how long it is taking for U.S. military assistance to actually arrive in Ukraine. He tweeted, quote, "The administration has almost hit the $3 billion ceiling Congress gave them to send weapons to Ukraine. I appreciate the administration's work on this, but the reality is it took six weeks to get $3 billion out the door."
So Senator Inhofe says when lawmakers return from recess next week, Congress needs to look at all tools available to expedite the process. Do you agree? Do you agree with his characterization that the process needs to be quickened?
JACOBS: I get briefed every week as a member of the House Armed Services Committee on the weapons assistance we're sending and how we're getting it into the country and through. And I think that we are getting a huge amount of weaponry in very quickly. And I think that the Biden administration and our partner and allies, who are also sending weapons should be commended for this work.
Now, it's clear that we are in a new phase of the conflict with the focus on the east, and so, we are going to continue to reassess what kinds of weapons will be most effective. It's why the President has announced another $800 million package. And why next week, when we are back in session, we're likely to vote on a supplemental request from the administration and a LendLease bill that will help streamline this process so that we remove any congressional barriers to the administration being able to get these weapons out the door as quickly as possible. TAPPER: One of the reasons we wanted to talk to you today is because you've called on the U.S. to not just support a war crimes investigation into what Russia is doing in Ukraine, but also you want the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court to ensure that Russia is held accountable. Is that likely to happen? I have never seen any presidents take seriously the idea of joining the ICC.
JACOBS: We know the United States actually signed the Rome Statute, we just never ratified it, which is the treaty that created the ICC, and that country signed to be a party to it. And we are already seeing bipartisan support for the ICC investigations into Russia's crimes in Ukraine, we passed a bill in the House that would make sure the U.S. is providing support to investigations and evidence collection for these investigations.
But I think it's incredibly important that as we support the ICC investigation in Ukraine, we also officially join because right now we are in a fight for the future of the international system for if it's going to be an international system based on autocracy or if it's going to be one based on the values that we all hold dear. And a very important part of making sure that our side wins that we continue to have a rule based international system is that we hold ourselves to the same rules we're asking other countries to hold themselves to, because one of the biggest things that gives us power is our ability to muster other countries. We've seen that in this case that we've been able to work with partners and allies around the world to stand firmly and united against Russia's aggression. And it's going to be important for us to be able to keep doing that, that we hold ourselves to these values and that other countries continue to want to join coalition with us and stand up against the aggression of folks like Vladimir Putin.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, thanks so much for your time today. Appreciate it.
Coming up, a look at what happens if parts of southern Ukraine fall. CNN is going to go live to a crucial Ukrainian city.
Then, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia is in court is taking the stand. Turns out she doesn't seem to remember much about January 6. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Staying in our world lead fighting rages along Ukraine's eastern front as Russian forces consolidate in the beleaguered Donbass region. This is pleased for evacuation quarters fall on Putin's deaf ears. CNN's Sam Kiley is live for us in Dnipro.
And Sam, we know Russia wants full control over southern Ukraine. How close might the Russians be to actually reaching that goal?
SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they're a very long way off at the moment, Jake. They're focusing their attention as you suggested there really in the east, particularly in and around the city of Kramatorsk, which in a sense is in an enclave that is almost pattern shaped. You've got Russian troops now surrounding the north, south and east of a pocket of Ukrainian troops were really the bulk of the Ukrainian forces have been concentrated across what has to be set a very long front line, some 300 kilometers at least. But clearly the Russians have refocused, as I said, they would on trying to capture those eastern areas.
And now we're hearing from a significant general in the Russian army that they want to also grab on to larger areas of the coastal littoral area along the Azov Sea are close to the Black Sea. But they are also being held up there, Jake. So I think at the moment we're going to see a focus. And we are seeing a focus of their efforts principally in the east.
TAPPER: If Mariupol falls to the Russians, what does that mean for Russia's playing overall?
KILEY: Well, Mariupol has been a really important defense, a strategic defense of their city over many, many weeks now at enormous cost of Ukrainians. As we all know, there some 100 Ukrainians still stuck -- civilians stuck in a city. But more importantly, there's estimated to be about 1000 fighters stuck in the Azov steel plant there, Azovstal it's called. A warren of industrial sites and underground tunnels with perhaps several 100 civilians too, but they are absorbing a lot of military operations from the Russians.
They cannot -- the Russians cannot get them out, they've got at least 12 battle groups, that's some 12,000 men at least, tied up in that fight that they are having to continue to pursue. So, as long as those Ukrainian troops can hold out, those Russian troops are not available for reinforcements. Particularly, I think, the suspicion is that they would try and drive north from Mariupol in order to close the gap.
If you look at a map there, Jake, you can see in the north you've got the Russians have captured Izium. If you look do south from there, you can see Mariupol. If they can join those two frontlines up, consolidate their positions, they can track Ukrainian forces in the east, and that would really, really severely damage the Ukrainian effort. But for now, therefore, those fighters are continuing to hang on in Mariupol, very important of the whole national defense structures of Ukraine.
TAPPER: All right, Sam, Kiley, thank you so much.
CNN takes a look inside some of the math textbooks that Florida banned because of, quote, "objectionable content." That story is next.
TAPPER: In our national lead today, Florida education officials claim that some elementary school math books are being used to indoctrinate students. Florida recently rejected about 41 percent of the textbook submissions, claiming they referenced critical race theory or other prohibited topics. CNN's Leyla Santiago reports on some of the images from the books that Governor DeSantis's administration is objecting to.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the images released by Florida's Department of Education, examples of what it finds too objectionable to be included in public school math books. One of the images which the Department of Education says were sent to them by the public shows a bar graph measuring racial prejudice by political identification. Another, adding and subtracting polynomials, a section that begins with, "What? Me? Racist?" It goes on to talk about racial prejudice and measuring bias.
Public school textbooks just the latest battleground in a culture war waged by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There's really outrageous things going on about what they're doing by basically using critical race theory to bring ideology and political activism as it's in the forefront of education.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Florida's Department of Education says it's rejecting publishers attempts to indoctrinate students. The overwhelming majority of materials they deemed problematic were for students K through fifth grade. Some of the books, according to the department, did not meet state standards. Others incorporated prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including critical race theory.
SUMI CHO, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC INITIATIVES, AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICY FORUM: It's kind of interesting to see this ever expanding umbrella under this fear mongering campaign that's, you know, using critical race theory as the sort of Trojan horse in education.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Another reason textbooks were rejected, references to social emotional learning in math. It's a practice that supports the social side of learning and emotional needs of children as described by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.
TIM SHRIVER, BOARD CHAIRMAN, COLLABORATIVE FOR ACADEMIC, SOCIAL, & EMOTIONAL LEARNING: This is a fight about, honestly, next to nothing. A lot of this is inspired by political disputes and by political advantage. There is a vast industry in this country that uses contempt and hatred to divide us politically. And I think sometimes that industry of division and contempt. Uses schools to advance its own aims.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): A New York Times review of 21 of the rejected books found many of the textbooks included social emotional learning content, but found little that touched on race or critical theory, perhaps not a focus in the textbooks, but a focus for the political playbook of a potential 2024 presidential candidate. DESANTIS: Nobody wants this crap. They're trying to shove it down the throats of the American people. You're not doing that here in the state of Florida.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SANTIAGO: And we should mention the Department of Education released those images that were sent to them by the public. But when I asked the press secretary where exactly these images came from, in other words, which textbooks these images are from, we did not hear back.
And Jake, I've been talking to a handful of math teachers here in Florida, they worry about this delaying things, they worry that what will now be an appeal process by some of these publishers will be a back and forth between publishers and the State and the Department of Education and that could delay them in getting materials in hand so they can start planning for next year.
TAPPER: It seems like an easy thing to provide for you the textbooks and the page numbers of those images.
TAPPER: Yes. Leyla Santiago in Miami, thanks so much.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy caught on tape making candid comments about President Donald Trump, comments he was denying he ever made. That's next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, a Civil War era law is at the center of a hearing today. The stage is in Atlanta courtroom with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, known for her outlandish statements supporting the big lie about the 2020 election. Greene is testifying under oath.
The issue at hand, should she be barred from running for office and serving the people of Georgia given her role leading up to the violent assault on the Capitol to overthrow the rightful election of Joe Biden's president. There's a provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that bars anyone who participates in an insurrection from serving in elected office.
Even under oath, Greene today, continued to lie about the election. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW CELLI, LAWYER FOR CHALLENGERS: Do you believed that Joe Biden had lost the election to Mr. Trump, right?
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Well, yes, we saw a tremendous amount of voter fraud. We have investigations going on right now in the state of Georgia. There's investigations going on in multiple states.
My own husband showed up to vote on the general election and when he went in to vote in person, he was told that he had already voted by absentee ballot, when in fact he had never even requested an absentee ballot. But there's many instances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN's Amara Walker is there in Atlanta.
Amara, can you help explain Congresswoman Greene's defense here as well as how the lawyers challenging her responded?
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, Jake. So Marjorie Taylor Greene's lawyers argued a few points. First off, they said that the deadly attacks on January 6 did not amount to an insurrection. They refer to it as a riot. They also said that Marjorie Taylor Greene did not engage in those deadly events, differentiating it between the word in sight.
And the key word being here is engaged because that provision in the 14th Amendment says that any office holder who, quote, engages in insurrection should not be able to serve in office again. And her lawyer also insisted that she was also a victim on that day, who was afraid for her life who had to be whisked away to safety.
Now, if you're listening to this three-hour plus testimony, you heard multiple times, Marjorie Taylor Greene saying, I don't recall, I don't remember. I think we counted about 50 times she said that when she was questioned about her actions, about her comments and social media posts leading up to the January 6 insurrection. But she was able to recall one thing. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you answer the question with the best of your ability?
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I had no knowledge of any attempt. And so that's a question that I can't answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm --
GREENE: I can't answer that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Now, lawyers challenging the candidacy of Marjorie Taylor Greene, they have a much simpler arguments, if you will. They showed videos of Marjorie Taylor Greene making a statement where she said that this is our 1776 moment, a reference to the American Revolution, and also in public, indicating that she opposed any peaceful transfer of power. So their argument is that her words fuel the violence, the deadly violence on that day and thereby aided the insurrectionists, Jake.
TAPPER: Amara, what's the likelihood that Congresswoman Greene will be barred from running for office?
WALKER: Well, Jake, you have to keep in mind that this provision in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is from the Civil War era, it was intended to ban representatives who served in the confederacy from returning to office. So this is a provision that's never been tested in modern history. So this is going to be a very difficult case.
And, Jake, I should mention, court wrapped up a few moments ago. The judge is expected to make a decision in the coming days, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Amara Walker, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Here in Washington, Lordy, there's a tape House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy caught in a lie after denying a report from the New York Times that he had planned to recommend to then President Donald Trump that Trump resigned from office as impeachment loomed in the immediate days after the January 6 Capitol attack. McCarthy called that reporting in the New York Times, quote, totally false and wrong. But a newly released audio recording shows it was totally true and correct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I'm seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight. I haven't talked to him a couple days. From what I know of him, I mean, you guys all know him too, do you think he'd ever back away? But what I think I'm going to do is I'm going to call him. The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign. I mean, that would be my take, but I don't think he would take it. But I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The recording comes from a House Republican leadership conference call from four days after the insurrection and it backs up reporting from the New York Times Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin from their upcoming book. A source tells CNN that McCarthy tried to do some damage control last night. He spoke with Trump after the release of the bombshell recordings. We're told the former president is not upset with the House Republican leader who has worked very hard to stay in Trump's good graces over the last year.
Let's dig into this with our team here. And Abby, is this going to hurt McCarthy or not?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it might. I think there's still a possibility. Look, there are a lot of Republicans in his conference who don't like him very much. And don't think that he's particularly effective and don't think that he's particularly loyal to former President Trump.
And if there's one thing that this tape shows, it's that McCarthy's support for Trump right now is opportunistic, and that is obvious. But now there's proof and I think this only gives them more ammunition to when the time comes, which is frankly not right now. But when the time comes, make a case against him. There are some other much more Trumpy people who want to be, you know, first in line for the speakership and I don't think they're going to let this one go.
TAPPER: Jim Jordan comes to mind.
PHILLIP: Chief among them.
TAPPER: Congressman Jim Jordan. Seung Min, both the Washington Post and CNN have reported that Donald Trump's not mad at Kevin McCarthy. In fact, he's just still delighted that McCarthy is so subservient to him and obsequious. What does that say?
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I mean, if you look at the whole episode, it does underscored just how much power that Donald Trump has over the party that if Kevin McCarthy is willing to go out and lie, frankly, about what is on videotape, but what he was going to say. And you've seen kind of just how Kevin McCarthy's behavior has played out over the last, you know, over the last year or so that even like in the aftermath of insurrection, yes, he was angry. We saw his floor speech, but he has just kind of really crawled back into or tried to crawl back into Donald Trump's good graces.
So I think Trump makes things that makes him look powerful. And there are other examples of Republicans who were very critical of him after the attack who did, you know, again, get back into, you know, Donald Trump's good graces by frankly just crawling back to Mar-a-Lago and begging for forgiveness.
TAPPER: Yes. So we know that Trump is not only the leader of the MAGA movement, sometimes he's a follower of the MAGA movement. Sometimes he does what they want him to do. Steve Cortez is a fixture in the MAGA movement. He tweeted this, "Frank Luntz's roomie has to go." Frank Luntz is a Republican pollster, and I think he and McCarthy share an apartment.
"Frank Luntz's roomie has to go. Not America First. Dishonest. Disloyal in the pocket of Big Tech. Adios."
So he might be in trouble with the MAGA movement, even if Trump himself is not mad right now.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but I think he already wasn't very popular as, you know, as we've already heard here. I think he's already not popular with Matt Gaetz or Marjorie Taylor Greene or -- so it's not that surprising that there are MAGA people that are complaining about him. I -- just from observing Trump over the years, it seems that he doesn't really seem to care that much about what you say, he cares about what you do.
So if you -- so look --
TAPPER: Look, he's an endorsement of J.D. Vance.
POWERS: Sure. McCarthy had already said things publicly, that he had to go down and beg for forgiveness for and once Trump understood that, oh, I now have him under my thumb and I can have control him and he'll do whatever I want, that's all that really matters. And so, you know, we're getting reports they have this conversation, we will have to see what Trump says publicly.
But if I could very easily see Trump just thinking, oh, this is what he thought in his conscience and he overwrote it.
POWERS: And that's what I like in people. I like people who overwrite their conscience.
TAPPER: So even if he knows for right or wrong --
TAPPER: -- he's willing --
POWERS: He's willing --
TAPPER: -- to put it all aside.
POWERS: Yes, exactly.
TAPPER: What do you think?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I keep thinking about there's a focus group that I did for the New York Times back in January and was asking a group of Republican voters about the response after January 6, and I mentioned that specific quote that McCarthy had said publicly, he said, I think Trump, quote, bears responsibility. And I asked them about things like Laura Ingram and Sean Hannity's texts to Mark Meadows that day, saying, call it off.
And the response from these Republican voters was pretty unanimously. Well, that doesn't make a lot of sense that I think that a lot of these people criticize Trump to try to get in the good graces of the establishment or K Street or Corporate America. That, well, you all sitting around the table thinks that the insincere thing is the praise for Trump and that the sincere thing is what he's saying on these phone calls, the criticism, there are a lot of Republican voters that actually see it the other way around, that they think when a Republican like McCarthy is out there criticizing Trump, that he's just trying to do that to make nice with someone like Liz Cheney, who was on the call, and that in reality, he's a Trump guy through and through.
I just think that's a fascinating dynamic. And it's part of why I am skeptical that unless Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns have some more stuff in their bag of tricks, they may well have more recordings that we will hear, it seems likely, at least at this point that McCarthy will survive this. TAPPER: So speaking of new recordings, there is another audio recording which was released in which McCarthy claims Trump agreed that he bears some responsibility for the January 6 attack. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I have been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands, or buts. I asked him personally today, does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he needs to acknowledge that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you think?
PHILLIP: I mean, this is one of the things --
TAPPER: Nothing means anything, basically.
PHILLIP: Right. Yes. I mean, this is one of those things where the contents of the conversation were more or less reported, but it is something to hear the words come out of his mouth --
TAPPER: But he did not remember to end the call when was asked about it.
PHILLIP: And to know that, you know, just, you know, days later really, he went down to Mar-a-Lago to make sure that he was able to get the donor list in order to fundraise --
PHILLIP: -- from Trump. But I don't necessarily think that I don't think any of this hurts Trump. You know, Trump's support is pretty rock solid among Republicans.
He can pretty much do and say what he wants even saying that he deserved responsibility and then changing his mind the next day. It's just a question of whether, you know, I -- and I think that your focus groups, voters, that makes sense. That's what I -- that's the sense I get to. But I think in Washington, there are just a lot of people who kind of want to get rid of Kevin McCarthy, and they want to use something as an excuse, and this might be a decent excuse for them to at least injure him politically, given that he's not in a particularly strong political position right now.
TAPPER: Have Scalise or Stefanik, the number two and number three House Republicans and leadership, have they said anything to support McCarthy?
KIM: So what I found interesting from -- regarding Steve Scalise, the -- if you look at the statement from his spokesman, when first of all, she clarified that neither Scalise nor his team had any role in releasing that tape which is -- which I get why they have to say that. But there is actually no explicit support for McCarthy and this, which I thought was kind of fascinating kind of line to straddle.
But at the same time, you do have other Republicans coming out and we've proactively and also potentially nudged by McCarthy himself, who are issuing supportive statements of Kevin McCarthy. You know, Ashley Henson who's considered a rising star --
KIM: -- in the conference, you know, sent out a statement today. You've seen other comments like that. When we were talking about the split between Trump and that MAGA movement, I think one thing that might be more problematic for Kevin McCarthy is his comments saying he wants to kick some of his problematic members off Twitter. I think that might actually --
KIM: -- bubble up --
PHILLIP: The Big Tech outline --
PHILLIP: -- and Steve (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Because he's been publicly leading the charge against Big Tech.
POWERS: Yes, yes. No, I mean, and that is -- that's getting exactly on the wrong side of not just MAGA people, frankly, but a lot of Republicans and inciting one particular person Marjorie Taylor Greene who loves to make a scene.
TAPPER: Yes, she does. She does. Thanks one and all. Great to see all of you.
Be sure to tune in to Inside Politics Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, that's where you can get more Abby Phillip and who doesn't want more Abby Phillip in their life.
Coming up, prices on the rise and everyone placing blame. How will inflation play out in the midterms? That's next.
TAPPER: In our money lead this week, President Biden hit the road to tout his accomplishments, but warned Russia its war on Ukraine will, quote, take its toll on the economy. Biden also stuck the blame on Putin for inflation. However, as Jeff Zeleny reports, blame who you want, but in just 200 days, frustrated voters are headed to the polls. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you go to the grocery store, it feels like you're shopping in Hawaii.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Moriyama Davis (ph) lives in Georgia and feels the sting of inflation for herself and customers at her boutique, The Beehive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea that eggs are $3 now, is that's a lot and people have their families to feed. So if they have an option between buying a gift or putting food on the table, I'm going to expect folks to put food on the table.
ZELENY (voice-over): Six months before voters decide if Democrats maintain control of Congress, a sour mood is hanging over the economy. As inflation looms as a major issue in a national election for the first time since 1980. Some blame President Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since Mr. Biden took office, everything has been going up.
ZELENY (voice-over): Others do not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a number of things. I wouldn't just blame President Biden solely.
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet it's a problem he owns. And one of the biggest challenges facing the White House. At Daddy D'z Barbecue, owner Christianah Coker-Jackson sees inflation everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that.
ZELENY (voice-over): From paper goods, to the cost of meat, to how often people are dining out.
CHRISTIANAH COKER-JACKSON, OWNER DADDY D'Z BARBECUE: We're not seeing the same amount of traffic that we normally do. And I think that's a fear of just spending with the talk of inflation, inflation, inflation. Customers are scared.
ZELENY (voice-over): And as a Democrat, she's scared of the consequences come November.
COKER-JACKSON: If we can't get out and vote for the midterms, then all the work that we did in 2020 is not really going to matter, because then we're going to have a handicap president.
ZELENY (voice-over): Georgia is also a hot political battleground, which Biden narrowly won in 2020. This year, it will help determine whether Democrats hold the Senate by re-electing Raphael Warnock. His early campaign ads trying to redirect any economic blame.
RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): What if I told you shipping container companies have been making record profits, while prices have been skyrocketing on you? That's why I'm pushing to hold them accountable. ZELENY (voice-over): But that message is competing with loud Republican criticism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden's ruining our country.
ZELENY (voice-over): Jen Jordan, a state senator who turned a suburban district from red to blue and is now running for Attorney General knows that Democrats face headwinds, but she said Republicans have not offered a positive alternative.
JEN JORDAN (D-GA): We're still in the middle of a pandemic, right? And so what people do is they respond to, you know, how are they feeling? How are their lives, right? And they're always going to tag the president for that. But look, we have got a million miles to go before November.
ZELENY (voice-over): Back at The Beehive where we first met Davis a year ago, she then urged people to give Biden time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just be patient, like it's coming. Everything doesn't happen overnight. Folks know that.
ZELENY (voice-over): Now she adds this caveat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Patient or just frustrated, just frustrated. Just would like to get the relief that we need so we can start operating how we used to.
ZELENY: And since President Biden took office, Atlanta and the suburbs have recorded the second highest increase in inflation of any of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, second only to Phoenix.
Of course Arizona and here in Georgia also home to two of the closely watched Democratic Senate races in the country where incumbents are facing tough re-election battles in races driven at least for now by the economy. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Atlanta for us. Thank you so much.
As President Biden marks Earth Day with a new executive order to try to protect forests, tinderbox conditions and looming wildfires out west proved years of climate change cannot be fixed by a simple stroke of a pen. That's next.
TAPPER: Today is Earth Day and in our Earth matters series, President Joe Biden marked the day by signing a new executive order meant to protect America's forests. Executive Orders are a positive step but of course nowhere near enough to reverse climate changes dire effect on planet Earth. For the last two years, the hurricane season has been so active, they ran out of letters in the alphabet used to name storms.
The North Pole just recorded temperatures 50 degrees above normal. And at the South Pole, it was 70 degrees higher than normal. The U.S. government estimates that damage from floods and fires and drought totaled $145 billion last year.
Those to CNN's wonder list and Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir joins us now. Bill, the President's executive order comes as the fire season out west is starting. The season has gotten longer due to years of drought. Some parts of the country are facing an extremely critical fire threat today.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's grim. Colorado, New Mexico, the winds are howling, it's so tender drive there. And this is just the result of this 22 year mega drought that is gripping the West. And I think a lot of President Biden's greenest supporters love old growth forests and are happy to see today's executive order.
Those old growth, big old trees are the biggest and oldest carbon capture machines we have left on earth until we invent something better. But it's probably not going to offset the other moves he made last week, which is opening up federal land to more drilling and fracking even putting in a use it or lose it clause encouraging more drilling. That was disappointing to his green base, also opening strategic oil reserves, encouraging allies, you know, to basically fight the Putin-Ukraine war to, you know, get through it with oil when it could have been a moment to, you know, shift to something that is both safer for life as we know it and national security, something more renewable.
But, of course, he's also stymied by Joe Manchin in Congress with Build Back Better. And in the courts, probably in the Supreme Court will shoot down the EPA's right to regulate power plant emissions. So -- and also he didn't even mention climate really barely at the State of the Union. So it's a tougher day for Joe Biden. Yet, there was Jay Inslee who got, you know, bounced out as a one issue candidate.
TAPPER: And one of the impacts of the rapidly warming planet obviously, is melting glaciers, which causes sea levels to rise in Iceland. It's actually threatening the existence of fishing villages because there isn't enough water. Explain that.
WEIR: It's -- yes, it's counterintuitive. So, you know, there's so much heavy ice on top of Iceland and Greenland. As it melts, the land rises. I saw this in Greenland as well, there are docking mores where you tie up your boat, these giant shipping cleats, 100 yards from the water, because it's going up as the waters go down. But of course, all that water has to go somewhere and it's rising in other parts of the world, like Charleston, and others.
But fascinating stuff at cnn.com today. My colleagues really did an amazing job telling the story about how all the myriad ways are changing plan is affecting people's lives day to day.
TAPPER: You wrote this letter to your two-year-old son for Earth Day, as you travel the planet seeing firsthand the impact of climate change. What's your message to the younger generation who's going to be inheriting this mess?
WEIR: It's -- I'm sorry, we're sorry. We're living through the results of so many unintended consequences through human history. But there's so much hope, right? Elon Musk today released the first round of seed money, million dollar grants to 15 startups in his XPRIZE for carbon capture. There are dozens and dozens of natural systems that can capture these things, all kinds of alternative fuels that we haven't even begun to experiment with.
So if you want hope these days as a young person, know that we haven't even started trying and ultimately, this is just a political will story. It's a few people in C-suites and the halls of power that are preventing the big change. And that can change.
TAPPER: Yes. My message for my kids is blame the boomers.
Bill Weir, thanks so much. Good to see you.
WEIR: All right.
TAPPER: Be sure to tune into CNN State of the Union this Sunday. My colleague Dana Bash will talk to Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, Ukrainian born Indiana Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz and an exclusive with White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon on Sunday with Dana Bash on State of the Union.
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, I like to remind you that you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcasts. All two hours, just sitting right there waiting for you to listen.
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 will see you on Monday.