Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Parents Scramble For Baby Formula As Shortage Worsens; White House Announces Steps To Address Infant Formula Crisis; Russia To Stop Sending Electricity To Finland; Ukraine Using Facial Recognition Technology To Identify Bodies Of Russian Soldiers Killed In War; White House Warns Fall & Winter COVID Wave Could Infect 100 Millions In U.S.; Police And Mourners Clash At Slain Journalist's Funeral. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The White House refuses to call the baby formula shortage a crisis. I know quite a few parents who disagree.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Baby formula under lock and key in some spots, impossible to find in others. How the Biden administration is now responding after shortages that have been here for months.

Plus, Russia retaliating. The Kremlin threatening to cut its power supply to Finland after Finland, a neighboring nation, looks to join NATO. What might come next?

And a chaotic scene at a funeral, as Israeli police beat mourners with batons, attacking a procession for a slain Palestinian-American journalist.


TAPPER: Hello, and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

If you're the parent of an infant and you rely on formula for your baby's nutrition and survival -- well, empty store shelves have become a frustratingly familiar sight. This is in Minnesota today, but it is happening all over the country. Slim pickings at a Walmart outside Dallas also today. Few choices at a pharmacy in Atlanta, just a few hours ago.

And this afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia, literally across the river from where lawmakers are currently wringing their hands and making speeches about the shortage. Nothing. What's left in stock, that's actually formulated for toddlers, not for infants.

Parents from coast to coast panic-texting their relatives asking them to check stores in their neighborhoods. What's that? No luck. They go to the local parent Facebook group, pleading for help, along with every other parent in the Facebook group. It may only be grabbing national headlines now, but parents of infants

have had trouble finding food for their babies for months, and many are at their wit's end. A February recall and subsequent shutdown of a factory making some of the most in demand formulas exacerbated what was already a stressed supply chain. And now, 43 percent of formula, 43 percent, out of stock across the country on average.

The Biden administration and Washington lawmakers are struggling to answer the questions and fears of families across the country. The president himself saying moments ago, if only we had seen this coming.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we had been better mind readers I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us. And we have to move with caution as well as speed because we got to make sure what we're getting is in fact first rate product. That's why the FDA has to go through the process.


TAPPER: That is cold comfort to all those parents still unable to find what their babies need.

As CNN's MJ Lee reports for us, critics say the White House was caught flat footed by the shortage and they're racing for solutions.


MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A nationwide shortage of baby formula sending the Biden White House scrambling.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're going to do everything we can.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The president is extremely focused on this.

BRIAN DEESE, BIDEN SENIOR ADVISOR: We're looking at every possible angle.

LEE: Stories of depleted or empty store shelves and panicked parents across the country ratcheting up the pressure on the federal government.

PSAKI: So, we're working on every lever to expedite addressing this and to insure that when people go, when mothers go to the grocery stores in coming weeks, that they will see the shelves stocked.

LEE: The president convening a call with manufacturers and retailers this week to discuss ways to boost production.

BIDEN: I spent a couple hours on the phone.

LEE: The administration also announcing other initiatives like cracking down on price gouging and importing more baby formula from abroad.

CNN also learning the White House is strongly considering invoking the Defense Production Act to try to ease the pressure, though it's seen as a longer term, not an immediate solution.

PSAKI: The production of baby formula is so specialized and so specific that you can't just use the Defense Production Act to say to a company that produces something else, produce baby formula. It just doesn't work that way.

LEE: And one major problem is getting in the way of faster progress, according to the White House -- hoarding.

PSAKI: What we are seeing which is enormous problem is hoarding -- people hoarding because they're fearful. That is one element of it, and people hoarding because they're trying to profit off fearful parents.

LEE: Even as it confronts questions and criticism about whether it waited too long to act and hasn't been aggressive enough, the White House declining to call the nationwide formula shortage a crisis.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I don't think it's about a label. I think it's about addressing directly the need that families all across the country have.

LEE: And also reticent to publicly predict when the shortage will end.

BEDINGFIELD: We're working to move as quickly as possible. That is the candid, honest answer.


LEE (on camera): Now, when CNN asked the White House yesterday whether there is federal guidance for parents who can't find baby formula in stores, we didn't get a good answer from the White House.


But just moments ago, the White House announcing there is now a new website, that is that has some basic information on what parents can do.

But, Jake, I think it is so important to emphasize, the reason that there is such intense panic and desperation with parents is because there is no good substitute for formula or breast milk. This is why we're seeing some parents across the country asking questions like, is it safe to make formula at home? Is it safe to dilute formula? And the answer is no to both of those questions, Jake.

TAPPER: MJ Lee reporting live for us from the White House, thank you so much.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us live. Elizabeth, stores across the country have had a hard time keeping

formula in stock for months. How bad is the crisis, how fast can it be fixed?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it is bad. We're talking to parents who are in tears searching for formula for their babies.

Let's take a look at these numbers. As you mentioned, 43 percent out of stock rate across the country, according to Datasembly. If you look at these eight cities and these metro yare as if we look at the week ending May 8th, it was 50 percent. More than half of the formula that should have been there was actually there.

Now, this is not going to be solved quickly. It's going to be Abbott's plant in Michigan that got closed down, it's going to be at least six to eight weeks until they can reopen and start making product again. But let's talk about what Abbott and the White House say that they're doing to help alleviate this.

Abbott has air shipped millions of cans of formula from its plant in Ireland and it's also switching manufacturing lines from other products to formula to prioritize formula and the White House says that they're working to increase U.S. manufacturing and importing. But again, parents should know that we're talking at least weeks here, and maybe even longer until this gets solved -- Jake.

TAPPER: How can parents cope safely with the shortage if they're running low on formula? What are they supposed to do?

COHEN: This is really tough. And I'm going to give you more do-nots than dos, but let me give you a couple do-nots because this is really important, and MJ mentioned this as well.

Do not make your own formula at home. There's no such thing as DIY formula. You have to get the right blend of vitamins and minerals and proteins and sugars or you could really hurt your baby.

Also, don't give your baby under 1 cow's milk or soy milk or anything like that. Do not dilute formula. Your baby needs those calories and minerals and vitamins.

And do talk to your pediatrician. I'm going to be honest here, your pediatrician doesn't have a secret stash. They don't known some Target or Walmart that you don't know about. But there is -- it is possible that if your baby has a specific medical problem and needs a specific formula, your pediatrician may very well be able to help.

Also if you're a mom who recently stopped breast feeding in order to go on to formula to transition to formula, your pediatrician can introduce you to a lactation counselor who may be able to help you get that breast milk supply going again -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

Joining us now live to discuss is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state. She serves as the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. I know you know this crisis has been building for months. President Biden moments ago said, quote, if we had been better mind readers they could have avoided it.

Why does it feel like the Biden administration is only now starting to treat this like the huge deal so many parents know it has been for months?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Jake, it's good to see you.

I think there are many threads to this problem, and we have to kind of untwine all of them. The thing that really struck me when I started looking into this issue and hearing all the complaints from across the country and certainly from my constituents is that there are only four manufacturers of baby food formula. That is a stunningly small number.

And it just shows how market consolidation has made it so that then those four manufacturers are providing, I think it's 98 percent of all the baby food, and in fact, the manufacturing is only happening in one plant right now. So when you have a problem with a plant, a plant shuts down and you're down to one plant and just a couple of manufacturers, this is when you start to see the problems of consolidation on top of the pandemic.

Secondly, the WIC program actually has rules in place so that it's only one or two of those formulas that is actually allowed within the WIC program. The WIC program buys about 50 percent of the baby food formula in the country.

And so, what we're going to do next week and the president just announced this, is we're going to bring in emergency suspension bill to the floor to get WIC to be able to relax some of those restrictions and be able to get more of the different manufacturers' formula in.


The third thing is even though you see those numbers and it's a crisis, I mean, I fed my child, my daughter was really prematurely born, so I only could rely on baby food formula and it was really hard. We were in India at the time, getting the formula is like life and death for a parent. I mean, for a child and for a parent.

So I really sympathize with this. Part of the challenge is it's not the baby food formula is out of stock everywhere in the country. It's out of stock in particular states, because the shipments aren't being processed across the board evenly.

And so it is really important that we fix all of these things. We're going to have a couple hearings on consolidation and market consolidation. We're -- we need to dive in to the FDA and the problems with the FDA in actually finding the issues with that plant in Michigan.

And I think it is important for the president to look at the Defense Production Act and other ways to really increase the supply of baby food formula right here. But listen, if you're a parent, I know, you know, if you're a parent, this is a crisis, and I sympathize with parents across the country dealing with this.

TAPPER: This is hardly the first time that there's this slow rolling anticipated disaster happening exactly as forewarned, whether it's the exit from Afghanistan, the border surge, the Biden administration does not want to call this a crisis. You just called it a crisis. It's a crisis, right?

JAYAPAL: I mean, I think if you're a parent that can't get formula for your kid, it's a crisis. I think that I was trying to explain all the different factors because I don't think it's true that we don't -- we can't access this baby formula.

We can make some changes. We're going do some things to give more flexibility to the WIC program. We'll make sure that we get supplies across the board, and we do have to invest in getting more manufacturers producing formula.

But I will just say there's also this market consolidation, you know, Jake, this is something I have been on because there is also profiteering. We had a briefing this morning. I can't go into detail about what was in the briefing, but from the FTC chair, Lina Khan, and we're looking at what are the ways also to address price gouging when these situations occur.

These manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure this formula is available, accessible, and is not being, you know, the prices are increased across the board just for profits.

TAPPER: I want to give you an opportunity to respond to one of the criticisms we're seeing on the right in conservative media and Republican politicians focusing on images from the border that show there is formula available to processing centers for undocumented immigrants.

Here's Fox this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is saying that they are giving the formula, all of these palettes of formula to the illegal babies on the border. Meanwhile, so many American families can't find this formula on the shelves in their stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What terrible optics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look anywhere where the president's crackdown on what's happening at the border, there's no sign of it. If the president has his way, in one week, it's going to quadruple. You know how much formula we're going to need then?


TAPPER: Not exactly the Algonquin Round Table. I want to give you an opportunity to respond to that. JAYAPAL: Well, I found it disgusting. I would never call a baby

illegal, and this apparently from the party that says they're pro- life, pro-family, didn't want to fund the child tax credit so that millions of kids could come out of poverty. Don't want to provide child care. Don't want to provide paid leave, family leave.

I don't need to be lectured by people who won't even stand up for the children that are right here, and then use a crisis like this to again do what they have always done, demonize immigrants. That is -- it's just ridiculous.

Again, the reality is that we have got some issues we've got to address. Supply chain plus market consolidation issues, and we've got to make sure that we're getting this formula to all of the states, and, of course, increasing the supplies through the WIC program, because at the end of the day, it is Black, Brown, indigenous, and poor families who are most disproportionately burdened by this baby formula shortage.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, thank you so much. Have a good weekend.

Coming up next, new satellite images you'll only see on CNN. Bridges blown up as Russians retreat.

Plus, the White House warning of a possible spike in COVID cases in the months ahead, but why not release the data behind that projection? I'll ask one of the president's top health advisers.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the Kremlin says Russia will cut off gas powered electricity exports to Finland as of tomorrow. Now, Russia is claiming this is due to late payments, but the timing, we should note, comes just one day after Finland publicly expressed support for joining NATO, which Russia, of course, opposes.

In Ukraine today, the first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier began, a 21-year-old Russian is charged with killing an unarmed 62- year-old civilian riding a bicycle. The trial in the capital city of Kyiv comes as Ukrainian forces have taken back control of several villages near Kharkiv.

New satellite images show three bridges demolished in that area, Russian units likely demolishing the bridges to protect from a counteroffensive as Ukrainian forces advance in the region.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Kharkiv where Ukrainian forces are making those gains.

(BEGN VIDEOTAPE) NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Charred, chewed, mauled, northern Kharkiv's scars seem infinite. Troops breathing artillery fire breathing down the neck of this city of a million for months.


But even still, it's a shock to see how close the Russians got, on the other side of this road. We are told this is from de-mining, a controlled blast. Yet here, everything is fluid. Ukraine stopped Russia's advance here on the first day of the war, killing two soldiers by this armor.

Three civilians shot dead in this car then, and their bodies recovered only two days ago. You can see the colossal force used here. A tank turret literally that full distance thrown off the tank body.

The village of Zarkony (ph) lies ahead, liberated days earlier. People are starting to go back, he said, but they are still shelling it.

Two women died two days ago when they walked onto a trip wire trap set in the village and even around these factories, special forces here warn that a soldier was wounded by a booby-trap three days ago.

The zed markings of Russia's invasion still a deranged sign of their collective insanity. Even two months on. Why do they do this?

They say they reclaimed this area about a week ago, but they're now in the difficult task of de-mining what they can, but look around here. There's really not much left to make safe. These civilians evacuated from the next village, just two kilometers away.

It's a nightmare, she says. The shooting is heavy, the driver adds, and we let them race on.

Desperation takes different forms here, and caught by another kind of survival is Dmitri, whose wife moved away a while ago. Wheeling back food he's got for his six dogs.

I haven't really left my home for two months, he said. I crossed the fields, passed the bomb fragments to get the food.

His gentle stroll in the open, a sign of how long the violence has swirled here. Not that it is slowing.


TAPPER: Now, we understand, Jake, tonight as in the night before that Zarkony has come under intense shelling. That's part, it seems, of the Russian operands here, that they retreat, shell what they leave behind, and they do appear to be forming a pattern here of moving back towards their border, often under intense duress from Ukrainian forces.

And you mentioned, too, earlier there do appear to be signs as they're trying to protect the vital supply line to the east of where this retreat is occurring, that runs from Russia right down to Izyum where the bulk of their forces are, they may have destroyed some bridges to increase their protection there, but a lot moving back and forth in small incremental amounts around the front lines here. And in the east, in the center of the country, and also in the south, predominantly a stalemate, though.

The U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, speaking to his counterpart in Russia, Sergei Shoigu, just today, to keep that communication line open. The rest of the call not entirely clear, but interesting it occurs right now at the stalemate here quite palpable, Jake.

TAPPER: Nick Paton Walsh, thanks very much.

Here with me to discuss is Congressman Adam Smith of Washington state. He's the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.

CNN is reporting Russia said they're going to stop sending electricity to Finland as of tomorrow. They say it's due to a problem in receiving payments but this is a day after Finland's leaders expressed support for joining NATO.

Do you this is Russia retaliation? And should neighboring countries expect to see more of it from Russia?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): No, absolutely. We have seen this already. Russia has cut off -- I think they cut off Poland. They're trying to leverage their energy sales to put pressure on NATO countries.

But the EU, NATO countries like Finland, Sweden, they have been remarkably resilient in resisting that pressure and finding alternatives and working with partners and allies to fill the gaps the Russians are leaving. But yeah, no question this is retaliatory step and a step to try to stop Finland from being -- from wanting to join NATO.

But it does not appear to be working. It appears to be having the opposite effect. It lets countries like Finland know they need allies they can rely on because Russia is going to continue to threaten them in a variety of ways.

TAPPER: Russian forces are continuing to retreat from some Ukrainian villages in the Kharkiv region. Do you think there's a direct line between the growing success of the Ukrainian army and the increased aid and equipment coming from the U.S. and some other Western countries?


SMITH: There's absolutely no doubt about it. It has been a united effort across NATO and a number of other allies as well have been able to get forces in. I spoke with the chairman of the Ukraine defense committee this morning, and he was incredibly thankful, in particular, for the howitzers we were able to send in. They are getting ammunition to push back against the Russians and to take advantage of the Russian weaknesses, the weaknesses that have been well-documented in their supply lines and morale of their troops. It's having a huge difference.

Now, Russia is still -- they're still moving in particularly down south around Kherson, but the support that has been given to the Ukrainians and the incredible will they have to fight is clearly making a difference.

TAPPER: Earlier this week, the House passed the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. It was expected to pass the Senate quickly, but Kentucky Senator Rand Paul insisted on adding a provision that would create an inspector general to monitor the disbursement of the $40 billion. I have to say that probably doesn't sound all that unreasonable to a lot of our viewers.

What's the problem? Why not -- why not just add a watchdog to oversee $40 billion?

SMITH: Well, we are going to add watchdogs. The problem is that it slows down the passage of this aid. Because the House passed it, if they change it in the Senate, then we will have to pass it again. And there is incredible urgency, and this, as you know, is the original authority the president has had is running out, is gone.

So it's a procedural issue. It's a matter of how quickly we move this. I can't speak to why the Senate didn't resolve it earlier, why Senator Paul didn't bring it up earlier. But we know Senator Paul is not supportive of the aid itself. He's not supportive of a lot of U.S. actions in the world.

So while this offer is reasonable, it's not being offered just for that. It's being offered to try to slow down the process. And that's what the Senate has gotten bogged down in.

Look, the Senate is an impossible body to work in. I have enormous sympathy for the senators I work with. One person can mess things up at any stage in the process.

But understand, this isn't about whether or not we have an inspector general. This is about how quickly we actually get the aid out. There's also a bipartisan support for the inspector general. We just don't want to stop aid from getting to Ukraine while we figure that out.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Adam Smith of Washington, thanks so much, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate it.

See how facial recognition technology is playing a major part in Russia's war on Ukraine. That's next.



TAPPER: Continuing with our world lead today, one of the many challenges facing Ukraine's government and military is identifying and handling the bodies of Russian soldiers who have been killed and the Russian military has left behind.

CNN's Sara Sidner takes a look at how they're using technology both to help with this difficult task and help advance their aims in the propaganda war with Moscow. We need to warn you, of course, some of the images in this report you may find disturbing.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside this refrigerated train car, a gruesome sight. The bodies of Russian soldiers packed and stacked for storage.

Look, this is looted. Every Russian soldier who is stored here as a dead body has committed a crime against Ukraine, he says. Storing the bodies of enemies aligned with the rules of war set out by the Geneva Convention, he says.

After the active phase of combat, the parties must exchange the bodies of dead military, but they must try to identify the dead men first. This is where the Ministry of Digital Transformation comes in.

We have identified about 300 cases, he says. They do it by using a myriad of techniques, but the most effective has been facial recognition technology. They upload a picture of a face, the technology scrubs all the social networks.

Really fast.

Once they have a match, they go one step further. We send messages to their friends and relatives.

These are often gruesome photos of dead soldiers. Why do you send them to the families in Russia?

There are two goals, one is to show the Russians there's a real war going on here, to fight against the Russian propaganda, to show them they're not as strong as they're shown on TV, and Russians really are dying here.

The second goal is to give them an opportunity to pick up the bodies in Ukraine.

They do get responses from Russian families.

They're responding basically saying you will be killed. I will come and I will also take part in this war.

Eighty percent of the families' answers are we'll come to Ukraine ourselves and kill you. And you deserve what's happening to you. What about that 20 percent?

Some of them say they're grateful and they know about the situation, and some would like to come and pick up the body. The technology is not just being used on the dead. It is also being used to identify Russian soldiers who are alive. Some of whom are being accused of war crimes.

We have established the identity of one military man. We have a lot of materials, irrefutable evidence, this prosecutor says.

This is footage of the Russian military man he's talking about.


He says he was caught on video in Belarus trying to sell items he had looted from Ukrainian homes. But his alleged crimes go far beyond that. The soldier is accused of taking part in the execution of four Ukrainian men with their hands bound behind their backs.

CNN obtained new video of the scene just before shots were fired. You can see what appears to be soldiers standing around and a man on his knees on the ground to the right of them. Prosecutors say the soldier was first identified by the technology and then by a Ukrainian citizen who said the soldier tortured him after entering his home.

We showed these photos to the witnesses and victims. They identified the specific person who was among other Russian military personnel who killed four people in this particular place, the prosecutor said. The end result of all their investigations they hope will be a full record of what happened in Ukraine. And the proof they need to prosecute those who committed crimes against its people.


SIDNER (on camera): I couldn't help but ask the Ministry of Digital Transformation how they felt about sending those gruesome photos of dead soldiers to the families. And his response was, this is our job. They have done crimes against Ukraine. And frankly, they made the choice to come here and kill us.

This is our job. This is our duty, and we'll continue to do it -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara Sidner in Odesa, Ukraine, for us. Thank you so much.

And get this, researchers say today better vaccination rates could have prevented half of all COVID deaths in the U.S. that's 319,000 lives that could have been saved, but what about now? Is the U.S. doing enough now to get people vaccinated?

I'm going to talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci next.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the White House is ramping up pressure on Congress for new COVID funding as hospitalizations and infections tick up in parts of the United States. Numbers are nowhere near the height of the pandemic, of course, but 29 states now report more people in the hospital with COVID in the last two weeks. This as the new White House COVID czar warns of 100 million infections this fall and winter if more mitigation efforts do not happen.

Joining us to discuss, President Biden's chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, good to see you.

Let's start with this warning from Dr. Jha. You said 100 million could be a worst case scenario. But you know the lack of trust that people have these days, the public versus health officials and the government, et cetera. Why not have the White House release the modeling behind this projection to help convince lawmakers there is a need here, a real risk?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, Jake, it isn't a question of releasing the models. Models really vary, and as I have told you in previous interviews, the model is only as good as the assumptions you put into the model. They can change.

And obviously, we're dealing with a fluid and dynamic situation with the cases going up, not really sure what the variant will be as we get into the fall. So, it really was an estimate. And those estimates are soft.

And the real bottom line reason for it was to just make sure that we're prepared for the possibility that we will see that degree of a surge where you're talking about 100 million cases over the fall and winter.

Remember, when omicron hit in its big peak, about 30 percent of the country got infected. That was a really big surge there, so even though we're not sure what's going to happen, you can make some broad estimates.

TAPPER: There's a new report that says better vaccination rates could have prevented half of the U.S. COVID deaths since the vaccine was available early 2021. Only 66 percent of the country right now is fully vaccinated, meaning about a third of the country is not. Even fewer Americans, just over 100 million people in the U.S., have gotten the vaccine and a booster. There's not one state in the United States that has reached 50 percent mark on boosters.

It is hard to argue that the public education part of the vaccine campaign has completely worked. Yet I still don't see evidence that the government is using creative ways to reach people who refuse to get vaccinated such as using Donald Trump's words about how the vaccines work, to appeal to his fans. Why not?

FAUCI: You know, I can't address the issue of whether we should use former president Trump's words, but I have to tell you, Jake, it is really painful as a scientist, a physician, and a public health official, to see the overwhelming data that show the difference between vaccinated versus unvaccinated and boosted when it comes to hospitalizations and deaths. We really have tried, you know, virtually everything. I mean, I'm a little at a loss for what further we can do when you have this disparity of morbidity and mortality that's staring you right in the face.

And it's amazing, we have 1 million deaths and you're absolutely right. The estimates vary, but certainly, we could have prevented at least a few hundred thousand of those deaths if people who were eligible to be vaccinated got vaccinated.

I don't have any really smart and great answers for how we can do better, but I would just wish people would look at the data and believe the data.


It's not made up. It's real.

TAPPER: Yeah. I know you don't tweet from the White House account, but I wanted to raise this because amazingly this White House tweet is still up. They tweeted it yesterday. It says, quote: When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available. And it goes on from there.

But as you know, that's not true. There was vaccine available. It might not have been widely available, but it was available. CNN fact checker Daniel Dale points out more than 3 million Americans had been fully vaccinated, more than 18 million had one shot by inauguration day.

I think President Biden, then-President elect Biden had two shots by then. You're the president's chief medical adviser, why is the White House politicizing the pandemic by tweeting out there was no vaccine available until Joe Biden became president? It's not true.

FAUCI: You know, Jake, I'm sorry. I can't explain every tweet that comes out. So you're talking to the wrong person. I wasn't involved in the tweet. I can't explain it. Sorry.

TAPPER: But I know you can't explain it, but certainly you would agree that it's important to have facts when it comes to assertions being made about the vaccine, whether it's from the Trump White House or the Biden White House. And certainly you would agree that there was vaccine available before Joe Biden became president.

FAUCI: Yeah, of course. I mean, he got vaccinated, and others got vaccinated. So I mean, I think from a pure accuracy, that's not a correct statement. But I mean, you know, it just went out. I'm sorry, there's nothing I could do about that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Well, I think you have done something by pointing out it's inaccurate.

Dr. Fauci, thank you so much. Have a good weekend. Really appreciate it.

FAUCI: Yeah.

TAPPER: Coming up, Israeli police beat mourners at a funeral procession for a Palestinian-American journalist who had been killed. The shocking video and what led to the attack. That's next.



TAPPER: Also in our world lead today, more flash points in the rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians. An Israeli soldier was killed today during a counterterrorism raid at the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank. The Palestinian health ministry says 13 people were injured there.

This comes as funeral services were held for a Palestinian-American Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh who was shot and killed earlier this week while covering another Israeli military operation at the Jenin camp. An investigation into who killed her is under way, though Al Jazeera blames the Israeli military.

As Atika Shubert shows us now what happened at today's funeral only further fueled already existing outrage.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Muslim prayers at a Catholic hospital, a display of Palestinian solidarity for Shireen Abu Akleh, from strangers and family alike.

Her niece, Lareen Abu Akleh.

LAREEN ABU AKLEH, NIECE: She meant everything to me, and clearly to everyone we can see. She made a huge impact on Palestine, on all the people. She left her fingerprint on everyone's heart.

SHUBERT: But as the funeral procession began, Israeli riot police first blocked the coffin from moving forward, then charged, hitting several pallbearers with batons. The coffin nearly falling to the ground.

Things are very tense here. The funeral procession tried to walk out of the hospital gates. Israeli police did not allow it. They threw in tear gas, had flash bombs here, tried to disperse the crowds. And now, it appears the hearse is being brought here to try to bring the coffin out.

Israeli police insist they acted against stone throwing by mourners, providing this video as evidence, but CNN did not see any stones, but did witness dozens of plastic bottles being thrown at police. What is clear is that Israeli police ultimately used force to try and contain this outpouring of grief and anger.

Shireen Abu Akleh was beloved by Palestinian viewers for giving them a voice and chronicling their struggle. Born and raised here, Jerusalem was her home. Israeli authorities did finally permit the family to bring her coffin to the church by car. Thousands of mourners were also ultimately allowed to swell the streets, carrying her atop a river of grief, anger, and defiance to her final resting place at the Mt. Zion cemetery. Even at her own funeral, it seems, Shireen Abu Akleh gave voice to the

struggles and frustrations of so many Palestinians.


SHUBERT (on camera): It was a tremendous outpouring of solidarity, Jake, by the Palestinian community. This was really the biggest Palestinian funeral we have seen in east Jerusalem since the death of one of the biggest, anyway, since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. Just to give you a sense of how beloved she was, all of the different denominations of the Christian churches in the old city rang bells for her funeral. That is an unprecedented thing to happen for a funeral here in Jerusalem, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Atika Shubert in Jerusalem for us, thank you so much.

She's been locked up in Russia since February, accused of smuggling drugs with cannabis oil. The ruling keeping Brittney Griner detained even longer. That's ahead.


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

This hour, all eyes turning to Pennsylvania ahead of Tuesday's critical primaries. What happens when a Trump backed TV doctor, a former radio host too extreme for Fox, and a conservative hedge fund executive all try to out MAGA each other.