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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Russia Halts Natural Gas Flow To Poland And Bulgaria; Rep. Mike Quigley, (D-IL), Is Interviewed About Russia Gas Flow, Energy, Prisoner Swap; Russia Frees Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed In Prisoner Swap; DHS Processed 20,000 Plus Ukrainians At U.S.-Mexico Border Since March; Gaetz: McCarthy, Scalise Displayed Behavior Of "Weak Men, Not Leaders"; CNN: McCarthy Gets Standing Ovation From House GOP After Defending Leaked Comments About Jan. 6; U.S. Wind Energy Surpasses Coal & Nuclear For First Time; National Teacher Of The Year Honored At White House. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 27, 2022 - 17:00   ET



MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It shows a couple of different things. But it shows Russian armored vehicles, Russian military vehicles right near bodies, civilian bodies that were on that street. Another video from March 13 also shows Russian soldiers near bodies on those streets.

Those bodies are the same bodies that were then found by Ukrainian forces when they retook the suburb, the Kyiv suburb of Bucha on April 1. So consider what this means. We know that Russia was in control of Bucha on March 12, and 13th, we know that these people, these civilians were killed in Bucha around that time, and we know that when Ukrainian forces got in there, those bodies were still on the street. So when the Kremlin says they had no knowledge that atrocities were being committed, that their troops had nothing to do with it, this video directly contradicts that statement. And that is why this evidence is so important. Perhaps not surprisingly, Jake, Russia and its defense ministry refusing to acknowledge this latest piece of exclusive evidence from CNN.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Ukrainian authorities today acknowledged the loss of several towns in the east part of the country. How significant are those losses?

RIVERS: Yes, I think when you're listening to what the Ukrainians are saying, they are admitting that they have lost these towns, but it's certainly not the significance of losing a major city like Mariupol, for example, which still hasn't fallen or Kharkiv, which is constantly under Russian shelling in a second -- the second largest city in Ukraine. But it is significant in the sense that it does show incremental progress on the part of the Russians.

Remember what the Russian army is trying to do here, they are trying to capture the eastern part of the country by moving from the south up, from the north down and from the east inward. They're trying to capture that entire region by capturing these three towns. They get that much closer to not only doing that, but also encircling the Ukrainian troops that are in that part of the country.

That said, let's not overstate what this means. The Ukrainians have said that they've successfully repelled some nine different Russian attacks in just the Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone recently, they say they've continued to take out a lot of Russian military hardware in the process. So it's a loss for the Ukrainians, Jake, but they're also saying their frontlines largely are holding steady.

TAPPER: Matt Rivers reporting live for us from Kyiv, thank you so much.

The International Criminal Courts chief prosecutor says, quote, "There will be a case to answer in due course" regarding Russia's alleged war crimes and Bucha. CNN's Erica Hill joins us now live from Warsaw, Poland.

And Erica, you spoke today with the Polish national prosecutor who's working with the ICC and other groups to investigate these atrocities. What did he have to say?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's leading the investigation here in Poland. And he said something very similar. He said he believes with the nearly 3 million refugees that have come into Poland, they will be able to gather enough evidence to bring these alleged perpetrators to justice.

Now, Jake, of course, he couldn't talk about specifics, because it's an ongoing investigation. But he did address just how difficult it is for many of these survivors to share their stories.


DARIUSZ BARSKI, POLISH NATIONAL PROSECUTOR (through translator): We provide psychological support to refugees during these interviews. And of course, the interviews are voluntary. We are aware of the trauma that these people go through. All our interviews are aimed to be as minimally disruptive as possible to the witnesses and victims.

HILL: For many people in Poland, some of what they are seeing and hearing about may feel personal, because it may bring up a very difficult history for Poland in terms of what people suffered, forced deportations, the Katyn massacre. Is this personal for Poland? Do you feel more of a responsibility?

BARSKI (through translator): Poland suffered a lot from Russia in the not so distant history. We remember all that's part of it. But we are also aware that we may be next.

HILL: You say you're concerned Poland might be next.

BARSKI (through translator): Obviously we hope that it will not come to that. But we would be naive to think that there is no threat.

HILL: It can take a long time to bring a case to court. Any case. Do you have a sense of the timeline that you may be looking at? BARSKI (through translator): It is difficult to predict such a timeframe today. But let us remember there are prisoners of war in Ukraine, some of whom are also responsible for war crimes. Provided we gathered that evidence, they could be brought to justice sooner.

HILL: If you find the evidence to bring this case, are you confident that these alleged decision makers would show up in court?

BARSKI (through translator): It is unlikely that they would willingly appear but there are legal instruments to detain these people and bring them, for example, to The Hague.

HILL: In your time as a prosecutor, have you seen anything similar to the evidence that you have been gathering related to these alleged war crimes?


BARSKI (through translator): Fortunately in my lifetime I have never experienced war. This is unprecedented. And neither have my colleagues, but we have to face it.


HILL: Jake, as you mentioned earlier this week the ICC agreed to work with the joint investigation team that was established in late March by Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania. They're still asking other European nations to join in.

I asked the prosecutor if he was worried that the ICC joining may actually deter some of those countries. He said he hopes it wouldn't. It's possible, but he hopes that folks in other countries will join this investigation because as he says, refugees have fled to a number of countries and they need to document as much as possible. Jake.

TAPPER: Erica Hill reporting live from Warsaw, Poland. Thank you so much.

And joining us live to discuss, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois who serves on the House Intelligence Committee and just returned from the congressional delegation trip to Poland, Slovakia and Romania.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. So the Russian energy giant, Gazprom, cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, both of them NATO countries, after those countries refused to pay for gas with Russian currency, with rubles. You have already called for Europe, to shut off the pipeline and energy coming from Russia because that money pays for the war and it would weaken Putin to do so. So, what do you make of this latest move?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, first, kudos to Bulgaria and Poland and others who are pushing back. I know as Estonia is being very helpful in this regard as well. I also hope this -- the French election will add assistance and help bolster the west toward this in. Now the U.S. needs to do more than just encourage Europe, particularly Western Europe to do this, we need to help supply them. And I know Poland is put in liquid natural gas joiners in their ports so that this will be easier to facilitate. But we need to increase production, we need to make it easier for Europe to do this, short term and long term. Short term is more difficult. Long term is something we all should have been doing more of moving towards sustainable energy sources.

TAPPER: So many Western nations have chastise European countries for their energy dependence, some would even say subservience when it comes to Russia. Candidly, this helps speed up that goal, though, right?

QUIGLEY: No, exactly. This pushes the issue and makes it very real, the fact that it shut off. So what was once theoretical is now very real. And then the old saying, winter is coming, I know, it's only April, but we're only talking about a third of the year before it gets cold again. So, I think it's up to Europe and also the United States to work diplomatically and economically to assist those countries move away from their dependence.

TAPPER: Yes, and we should acknowledge the polish and the Bulgarian people are their allies of the American people and this is going to hurt them.

QUIGLEY: You know, it is. And you know, a lot of the things that haven't been done in terms of sustainability or conservation, they just weren't done, particularly in Eastern Europe where the Soviet Bloc countries were trying to make them dependent, we can help them move away in that direction as well, providing that sort of assistance at the same time.

TAPPER: New data shows low income American families are paying an average of 38 percent, 38 percent of their income on energy, partly because of the war in Ukraine is causing energy prices to skyrocket, but not entirely just because of that. How much are your constituents struggling to pay their energy bills? And how much worse do you think it's going to get for them?

QUIGLEY: Look, it's going to get worse, particularly in the summer months is a bit of a of an easing of this in terms of heating, obviously, but obviously, in terms of transportation, it's going to get tougher. And obviously, as you know, it ripples throughout the economy, energy prices, because of the cost of production. So, we're going to have to help in that regard. And we're also going to have to amp up production.

There's a short term solution to this, which is to increase production to help lower those costs, and through diplomatic measures, provide greater sources to the rest of the world. But long term, it's the same issue as it relates to climate change. We're going to have to wean ourselves off this, because it's either one tyrant or another that we have to go to for assistance on this diplomatically.

TAPPER: Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, thank God, has been released by Russia in a prisoner swap that the Biden administration negotiated, kudos to them. And it's wonderful news for the Reed family. We're so happy for them.

But we should also note Paul Whelan, as a U.S. citizen, also a former Marine, he's still detained in Russia. He just released a statement through his family where he asks, quote, "Why was I left behind? Why hasn't more been done to secure my release?" Do you have an answer for that, Congressman?

QUIGLEY: Look, we have to people we care a great deal about and obviously there are more that are highlighted by this. We can't be dismissed, these are extremely difficult times.


And again, kudos to our diplomatic corps engineering this release. And I know that they're doing everything they possibly can to address the releases of others that are held captive. This isn't easy. I know the Biden administration is doing everything they can.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, one of the most terrific stories from this war that we have heard to date, it involves a drunken Russian fighter and a Ukrainian family who survived to share. What happened is heartbreaking.

Plus, intense conversation today as Republican lawmakers call down House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: In our world lead, defiance in a Russian occupied part of Ukraine, residents protesting today against their occupiers, holding up Ukrainian flags, chanting glory to Ukraine and then being forced to run from tear gas as the Russian forces broke up their protest. Russian forces have of course been pushing a sham referendum planning to make residents vote to approve the, quote, "independence" of the Kherson People's Republic. Needless to say residents have reason to fear this will not be a secret ballot, nor will it be a fair ballot. If held, the referendum would be the latest indignity in a region that has been terrorized by the Russian forces for more than two months.

As CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports, Russian soldiers have even targeted children for the most brutal of crimes. We want to warn you this report contains extremely disturbing content.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It's from these gentle shrugs of villages, lazy and clean in the green expanses of Kherson region that some of this wars ugliest crimes are being dragged into the light This is Dasha (ph). She's 16 and was already six months pregnant when just over a month ago, Russian forces came to her village here. Her family were in the basement sheltering from bombs, the cold and the Russian shooting in the air or at cars and legs. She said, at dusk, they brought the children out to the kitchen to eat where there were two soldiers, one drunk.

DASHA (through translator): He asked how old everyone was. There was a girl there who is 12, another one 14, and I, 16.

First he called my mother into another room. He let her go quickly. Then he called for me. Then he started to shout, well, first he started telling me to undress. I told him I will not and he started shouting at me. He said that if I don't undress he will kill me.

WALSH (voice-over): His sober colleague then came in and told the drunk attacker to stop to no avail and left.

DASHA (through translator): When I resisted, he was strangling me or he was saying that he'll kill me and he said, "Either you sleep with me now or I will bring 20 more men."

WALSH (voice-over): By then, night had fallen in the cold house.

DASHA (through translator): I just remember he had blue eyes, it was dark there and I don't remember more.

WALSH (voice-over): She heard the Russian say her attackers name was, Blue. He was from Donetsk and had a criminal past. He tried to attack her again, she said, until Russian snipers later came to help her.

(on camera): But still some of the Russian soldiers in that unit even were disgusted by what happened and tried to move her and part of her family away to safety. And then began a process in which Russian soldiers seemed to try to get her to go back on the claim she'd made.

(voice-over): Two days later, she was taken to a Russian paratrooper commander who, she said, began shouting at her like her attacker had.

DASHA (through translator): He said he would do to me the same as what the rapist did. I was so frightened I started crying. He said it was a test for him to check whether I was lying or telling the truth.

WALSH (voice-over): It seems they did believe her, but the fate of her rapist remains unclear. While we can't independently verify her harrowing story, Ukrainian prosecutors told us they have investigated the case and confirmed this attack, which they said was a war crime. But like so much here, the question why is the one without a humane palatable answer.

DASHA (through translator): If we hadn't gotten out to eat he wouldn't have seen us and then maybe he wouldn't have touched me. we were told that he was going around the village looking for someone he could, "a girl of easy virtue" as they said.

WALSH (voice-over): There are lives here that you can see Russia has changed forever, but also those whose traumas sits beneath the surface and lives on.


WALSH: As she point, out we have reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment and not received an answer. Ukrainian prosecutors speaking to us said that through her testimony and other investigative work they've done they are confident in the claims that she has made confirming them. And prosecuting this, they think as a potential war crime.


And slowly Jake, as we see villagers change hands here back Ukrainian control, it seems in some that are being pushed back again into Russian hand slowly, the awful atrocities that occur under often brief moments. Just over a week in the instance possibly of this village of Russian occupation, the atrocities slowly coming to light.

And I'm still haunted by the question Dasha is asking herself as to whether or not she should have ever been should out of the basement looking for food and possibly avoided this ghastly occurrence. Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, it's heartbreaking, difficult story, but very important for people to see what the Russians are doing to Ukrainian kids, children. Thank you, Nick.

Nick Payton Walsh reporting live for us from Kryvyi Rih. Appreciate it.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the Department of Homeland Security processed more than 20,000 Ukrainians at the U.S.-Mexico border since March 11, about two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. But U.S. officials are strongly encouraging Ukrainians still looking to come to the U.S. to apply directly from Europe where they will have greater support than if they apply from Mexico.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

Priscilla, the Biden ministration is preparing for an influx of migrants at the border from all sorts of countries when Title 42 expires. Title 42, of course, that Trump era policy that allowed border agents to turn migrants away because of the pandemic.

Secretary Mayorkas, the Secretary of DHS was asked about this on the Hill, what did he have to say? And how does this affect Ukrainians trying to come to the U.S.?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, there are a few issues at play here. So over the course of the last several weeks, one of the issues the administration has been contending with is hundreds of Ukrainians going to Mexico to gain entry into the U.S. or the land border. The reason that they were doing that is it was easier for them to obtain a visa to go to Mexico to then come to the U.S. We now no more than 20,000 took that route.

And the Secretary said today that he discourages the Ukrainians from doing that and instead urge them to apply through a streamlined process from Europe to get relief into the United States. That's one piece of the broader situation on the U.S.-Mexico border, though. And on that front, the Secretary tried to relay that there are preparations that are in place or going to be in place for the end of a Trump era pandemic restriction come next month when more migrants are anticipated to try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. And on that front, he also recognized that there are strains on the system now as there will be moving forward. Take a listen.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain. It is not built to manage the current levels and types of migratory flows. Only Congress can fix this.

Yet, we have effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States and interdicted more drugs and disrupted more smuggling operations than ever before.


ALVAREZ: And it's that bit, quote, "effectively manage that did not sit well with Republican lawmakers." We heard from Republican Congressman Mike McCaul who said the situation is, quote, "out of control," Republican Higgins saying that this is a failure and asking Mayorkas to admit failure on this front.

The Secretary trying to navigate this in a longer than two hour hearing saying that plans are being put in place. He's expected to be questioned even more on this tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee.

TAPPER: Republicans and Democrats could fix this problem if they passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, right?

ALVAREZ: Indeed, and that did also come out today. It is on Congress to change the immigration law if they want to.

TAPPER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much.

Tense moments, then a standing ovation. Next, Republican reaction in the room on the day after leaked audio revealed that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had been worried that his fellow Republicans were sending potentially dangerous messages that could incite violence in the days after the January 6 Capitol attacks. Stay with us.


[17:32:41] TAPPER: In our politics lead, the man who is likely to be the next Speaker of the House, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, is trying to cool his caucus after last night's explosive new audio reported by the New York Times was revealed show that McCarthy had been worried that Trump hardliners in the GOP were in danger of inciting even more violence after January 6 discussing whether their Twitter accounts like President Trump's should be removed as well.

McCarthy's specifically pointed to firebrand conservative Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is one of the primary offenders. Gaetz hit back after the New York Times report saying, "Congressman McCarthy and Congressman Scalise held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniffling calls with Liz Cheney, not us. This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders."

Let's get right to CNN's Paula Reid. Paula, has McCarthy been able to calm his troops after this?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's only been about 24 hours but so far, it appears that most House Republicans are closing ranks around McCarthy publicly rallying behind him after those audio recordings revealed his concerns about as you just described, fellow GOP lawmakers possibly inciting violence in the wake of the insurrection.

This morning, Republicans huddled behind closed doors for meeting sources in the room say McCarthy attempted to explain that he was simply discussing scenarios that the tapes released didn't include all the context and that he never acted on much of what he said. Now, he also insisted that the audio reported by the New York Times was part of an effort to divide the GOP ahead of the midterm elections. He got a standing ovation for that explanation.

Even Congressman Mo Brooks, who was specifically criticized by McCarthy in these recordings, is among those members who say they're willing to move on. But not every conference member is ready to forgive and forget. Some members of the far right Freedom Caucus firing back today, including Representative Gaetz, who you just quoted.

And in these recordings, of course, you hear McCarthy suggest that Gaetz's messaging could be putting people in jeopardy, and Representative Scalise even suggesting that Gaetz's conduct was potentially illegal. And of course Democrats have seized on this controversy saying these audio clips are evidence that McCarthy cannot be trusted.

TAPPER: And Paula, we're also hearing about a Republican staffer on the January 6 committee, a former congressman is leaving the committee. Why?


REID: That's right, Jake. Our Hill colleagues reporting today that former GOP lawmaker Denver Riggleman of Virginia, who has been serving as a staff member on the committee investigating January 6, will be leaving his post. He will begin working with a nonprofit organization in Ukraine.

Now Riggleman is an expert in disinformation. And he worked with a team that sifting through all the data that committee has been taking in as part of its investigation. In a letter to committee leaders informing them of his decision to leave, Riggleman said his initial work is complete. The former congressman has been an outspoken critic of former President Trump and GOP leaders in the House. But sources familiar with the move tells CNN that Riggleman's departure from the committee is amicable. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thank you so much.

Our panel joins us now. Congressman Dent, let me start with you. I'm interested to know what your perspective is. Matt Gaetz, referring to Congressman McCarthy and Congressman Scalise as weak men, do you agree with him?


TAPPER: Even if not for the same reasons that he thinks that.

DENT: Well, I think, in many respects, that the Republican leadership in the House is weakening themselves by placating these fringe elements within the conference.

TAPPER: So in other words, you think they're weak, but not for the reason Matt Gaetz --

DENT: I think they're hurting themselves by placating these fringe elements.


DENT: They continue to do this. And as -- look, I think Kevin McCarthy is going to wiggle his way out of this for the moment, but the more they placate Trump on this insurrection, the more they placate the fringe elements, they're empowering them. And what's happening is, there are too many members who are fearful. You know, I'll call it the fear caucus. There are too many of them.

By being silent, they just simply empower the fringe. And the fringe dominates the narrative. And that's going to make governing that much more difficult should he become speaker. Because how are they going to pass that ceilings? How are they going to pass appropriations bills and everything else they need to do to govern?

It will be enormously difficult with a Democratic president. So I think they have -- they're weakening themselves. There's probably some erosion of support from McCarthy right now because of this. The question is, how much?

TAPPER: So Ashley, former House Speaker Paul Ryan spoken at event on the future of conservatism today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: For new young people who are shocked at this infighting, so to speak, of the conservative movement, this is what happens in movements. And until you actually have a big standard bearer, Reagan-type person, you're going to have that kind of fighting.


TAPPER: Now, some might argue that they do have a standard bearer, it's just not a Reagan figure, it's Donald Trump.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you're right. To say, oh, I'm concerned about what's happening in the Republican Party, yes, there's infighting, but the real concern is that you're trying to undermine our elections, our democracy, and you're not standing with integrity. To say something behind closed doors, and then when you get into public say, oh, no, no, no, because it might not be popular, or it was just, you know, it took me out of context, that it should be the thing that young people are concerned about within the Republican Party.

And for, you know, Paul Ryan, to kind of just blow it off, oh, this is what happens in movements, movements are about change for progress to make the country stronger and better. And what the Republicans are doing or death is definitely undermining our democracy.

TAPPER: And one of the things, one of the reasons that McCarthy, you got some applause today, as you heard from Paula, is what the same kind of thing we heard from Steve Scalise, which is, oh, this is just the media trying to divide us just because they don't want attention -- pay attention to the border issues, which we just reported on. And they don't want to pay attention to the inflation issue, which we've reported on earlier as well. Obviously, that's not true. But for some reason, that seems to rally the troops.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think Republicans are in the middle of a midterm election cycle, they are on the verge of probably taking over the House of Representatives. And at the moment, the perception of unity is more important than, you know, people getting back at Kevin McCarthy, if that's what they want to do. But I think that's why a lot of this is for now, at the point at which Kevin McCarthy might be in a position to have a speakership vote. That's when I think these questions become a lot more salient.

And at that point, you're going to be looking at a republican conference, if it is larger, that actually has a lot more sort of hardline Trump types than are currently in the conference right now. And so it's a real question in the future of what McCarthy's leadership looks like, when I think there are probably going to be a lot of Republicans who are coming into the Congress, who are not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Post-election, they're going to have really no reason to say let's just put this aside for now until after, you know, November 2022.

TAPPER: It also depends how big the margin is assuming Republicans do take the House back. If it's a slim margin, that will -- it'll be a lot easier theoretically for some of the Freedom Caucus types to make sure that he's not the next Speaker of the House, because he's going to need every vote.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, look, I think right now it's seeming as though McCarthy is totally fine and he's going to survive this. Because as you said, Jake, he has said to them today, oh, I just was raising possibilities about what could happen to Trump given the January 6 insurrection, I didn't actually pursue them.


For a very brief moment, we saw McCarthy after January 6, go to the floor and lay responsibility at Trump's feet. And then about 19 days later, he decided to go to Mar-a-Lago and resuscitate the president and bring him back into the fold. So it isn't just silence from top leaders and allowing the Freedom Caucus to whether it's just the Freedom Caucus or other Trumpers to be loud. It's also deciding that their political fortunes are in line with Trump, and so that they are fine with the fact that he is continuing to spew lies about the election. And they're also fine with lying to the press, which is what McCarthy did in order to regain that the majority.

TAPPER: Yes. How big a deal do you think it is, Abby, that Tucker Carlson, who is, I think, for a lot of Republicans, one of the leaders of the ideological movement of MAFA if not the Republican Party officially, he went after Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik --


TAPPER: -- last night, calling McCarthy a puppet of the Democratic Party.

PHILLIP: Yes, I think it's fairly significant. To the extent that Trump is in a different place from some of these, you know, MAGA types, whether it's Tucker Carlson or others like Matt Gaetz, et cetera. I think it really just speaks to Trump at the moment, feeling like McCarthy's duplicitousness around what he said about Trump being beneficial to him right now.

But Tucker Carlson is speaking to the Republican base, the people who are going out and voting. And I think that's where it starts to matter. Do they put pressure on the members that they're voting for to put pressure on Kevin McCarthy? And I think that that remains a real possibility on these tapes, on his approach to social media, Tucker Carlson is a sort of, you know, canary in the coal mine, if you will, for what could be coming down the pike.

TAPPER: How significant do you think it is a Tucker is going -- Tucker Carlson is going after McCarthy, even if right now it looks as though he -- McCarthy's place in the party is stable?

DENT: I don't think it's particularly shocking at all. You're never going to be able to outflank some of these guys. And that's always been the problem. I saw this with John Boehner and Paul Ryan, you know, they -- I always tell them to stop feeding the crocodiles, they're going to eat you sooner or later. Don't feed them. And so they continue to feed them, but they empower them. What I mean by that is these guys will use their leverage, Trump and many in the Freedom Caucus. They understand one thing, they understand leverage, and they will use it every single time when they -- especially when they get the majority, and they will determine what is going to be brought up and what is not. So they're empowering. So it's bottom line.

TAPPER: So Ashley, I want to turn to an opinion article written by Jay Michael Luttig, he's a conservative judge, a judge who advise then Vice President Mike Pence on January 6, and he writes, "The Republicans mystifying claim to this day that Trump did or would have received more votes than Joe Biden in 2020, or not for actual voting fraud, is but the shiny object that Republicans have tauntingly and disingenuously dangled before the American public for almost a year and a half now to distract attention from their far more ambitious objective, which is to execute successfully and 2024 the very same plan, they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election, if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest."

That is from a conservative Bush appointed judge, saying, Republicans are lying about the election and they're doing this because they're going to try to steal it again in 2024.

ALLISON: People have been saying over and over, this is a foundational play for the Republicans are doing in the long term to undermine our institutions. And they are doing it at all levels. When you look at the hundreds of voter suppressive laws that are being passed in states to undermine access to the ballot, when you're looking at how they're trying to have the people who run elections, be political hacks, so that when the time comes to bring up the electors in the next election, they do it for Donald Trump and not for what the people actually want to do.

And so, the big lie was a foundation. It didn't work this time. But other legal scholars have cited it's because the Justice Amy Coney Barrett wasn't actually going to be able to make a deciding vote on the court after the death of Justice Ginsburg. So we are in real danger. And we need leadership, not just in the Democratic Party, but in the Republican Party, for our democracy, not just for our politics.

TAPPER: And you're on Capitol Hill all the time. Is there any hope that others besides Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney are -- and on the Senate side, you know, Mitt Romney, are going to stand up and talk about the need for elections to be supported in the will of the people to be honored?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I don't think so. It's been more than a year since January 6. And if there was ever a moment for us to expect the two parties to come out and say this is not unacceptable and lies about the election are not acceptable, it would have been then that Republicans would have joined Democrats.


It's really difficult to see as you have Mitch McConnell saying that he is going to support Trump if he runs again in 2024.

TAPPER: If he's the nominee.

BARRON-LOPEZ: If he's the nominee --


BARRON-LOPEZ: -- knowing full well what Trump is doing right now and the fact that Trump is endorsing candidates at different levels in state elections that are saying that they are willing to send fake electors and that 2020 was rigged. So, you know, election security, legal experts are very concerned about the fact that without any laws changing in states, fake electors could be sent to Congress. And if Republicans are in charge, they can just accept them.

TAPPER: Yes, it was a dry run as they say. Thanks for all being here.

And a reminder, you can catch Abby Phillip every weekend on Inside Politics Sunday that's at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. If you didn't get your Abby Phillip fix at this sitting, there is more on Sunday.

Coming up, the swirling energy source that some politicians love to hate, why windmills have become a booming business especially in deep red states? Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our world lead, a story first on CNN, the United States left about $7 billion, that's with a B, worth of military equipment behind when it withdrew from Afghanistan last year. That's according to a new report from the Pentagon, which says its equipment was transferred to the Afghanistan government over the course of the war, and includes aircraft, air to ground munitions, military vehicles, weapons, communications, equipment and more.

The Pentagon says it has no plans to return to Afghanistan to retrieve or destroy the equipment which of course now is in Taliban hands, the very enemy the U.S. spent the past two decades trying to defeat.

In our Earth matters series, you may have heard former President Trump or other Republicans slam wind energy over the years but far from the coasts wind energy is thriving in America's heartland. And the deep red states long devoted to oil and gas many of which voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Analysts say the middle of the country is an ideal location for wind energy to flourish.

And as CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir reports for us now, the industry has some of the fastest job growth in America.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This month, and for the first time ever, wind produce more American electricity than coal or nuclear, and was second only to natural gas. That's right. Wind and climate weary carbon cutters on the coasts have the red states in the heartland to thank, especially Texas.

JENNIFER GOODWILLIE, VICE PRESIDENT FOR DEVELOPMENT, ORSTED: Texas is consistently number one and installed capacity both in wind and like more recently, in solar as well. Yes.

WEIR (on-camera): Everything's being in Texas.

GOODWILLIE: Everything's being in Texas, yes.

WEIR (on-camera): Including green energy.

(voice-over): A Danish company called Orsted, which used to drill for oil in the North Sea, now has 1,000 turbines from Texas to the Dakotas, the new American wind belt.

(on-camera): This is not easy.

(voice-over): Just one reason wind technicians are among the nation's fastest growing jobs.

(on-camera): So do you see guys go back and forth between the the oil and gas industry and to land?

TOMMY GAGE, PLANT MANAGER, ORSTED WESTERN TRAIL WIND FARM: You know, a lot of times, you know, we'll see them come into the wind industry and typically, you know, not leave. It's a lot more of a stable job. You know, and we're here for the long haul, right?

WEIR (voice-over): The next wave of new jobs will come off shore after the Biden administration smashed records with multibillion dollar lease sales along the Atlantic coast.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They can be placed way out in the ocean. And, you know, and by the way, I've made it clear to my friends up in Nantucket in that area, I don't want to hear anymore about, you know, like looking at them. They're pretty.

WEIR (on-camera): The late Senator Ted Kennedy famously killed an offshore wind farm in Chesapeake Bay because it didn't like the way it ruined the view. But they love the view in this parts of rural Texas because it means money. As for the other criticisms, yes, turbines killed maybe 800,000 to 1 million birds a year but for prospective, house cats kill 2.4 billion. And no, there is absolutely no science that says turbines cause cancer.


WEIR: Experts predict, Jake, that just in the next seven or eight years, over $100 billion will be invested into offshore wind. It'll be interesting to see if the coastal communities accept that the way folks out here have as well. If the money follows that may be the case, Jake.

But the one thing they all want is a smarter grid. That's a big ticket item both in infrastructure bill that passed and Build Back Better, which Biden would like to pass. Jake? TAPPER: Bill Weir with the standup of the year so far in Vernon, Texas. Thank you so much. Good to see you. Great report.

The special honor at the White House just moments ago, that's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, pencils down. Moments ago, President Biden honored the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, a mentor from the classroom to the basketball court, Kurt Russell. No, not that one, has 25 years of experience under his belt teaching history at Oberlin High School in Ohio. That's the same town he was raised in. Mr. Russell teaches African American history. He developed a course on race, gender and oppression. Take a listen.


KURT RUSSELL, 2022 NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR, OBERLIN HIGH SCHOOL: I created courses that allow students to feel value, courses that deals with women's rights, gay rights, and also a survey of black history. It's important that my students see themselves as I see them.


TAPPER: Mr. Russell's achievement comes as Republican efforts spread across the country to limit conversations about race and gender and sexual identity in the classroom. When adjusted for inflation, American teachers bring home $2,000 less per year on average than they did a decade ago. President Biden finished today's event and a high note to a roar of approval from the room full of educators.


BIDEN: I don't have to give teachers praise. We want to give you a raise.


TAPPER: 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 tomorrow.