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The Lead with Jake Tapper
First Shipment Of Baby Formula Arrives From Germany; Satellite Images Of Russia Stealing Ukrainian Grains; Trevor Reed's Frustration Lawmakers And The Marine Corps; Record Early Voting In Georgia Despite New Voting Restrictions; Pence Campaigns In Georgia Tonight Against Trump-Backed Candidate; Police Ask For Help In Identifying Suspect In Fatal Attack; Report: Trump Admin Targeted Brother Of Key Impeachment Witness. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 23, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to say there are other things that have gone on for example the other big major infant manufacturer, infant formula manufacturer, Reckitt, that's also known as Mead Johnson. They've been ramping up production 35 percent since February so, that's a lot. And still, we are experiencing these shortages.
So, let's take a look at Operation Fly Formula. That was the -- what you were referencing earlier, Jake. I was there last weekend to witness it. It was really quite something. So, between the flights this past weekend and the one that's going to take place on Wednesday, it will be the equivalent of 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles in those two flights.
So again, the first flight landed Sunday. It was hypo-allergenic formula for hospitals, pharmacies, doctors. That is not going to supermarket shelves. The second flight, the one Wednesday is also hypo-allergenic formula. It is unclear where that is going. So, even with all these attention to these air lifts, parents may not see shelves looking very different. It's going to take a while until they really notice that things are getting better. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Elizabeth, more babies are being hospitalized due to the shortage. What do we know about their condition? Could we see even more infants going to the hospital?
COHEN: I think we could, unfortunately, because this shortage is going to continue for a while. The babies that we have heard of, Jake, they have conditions and some of them are actually children. They have medical conditions where they need a very, very specific formula, and their parents tried to find replacements and they couldn't and the children didn't tolerate it well. And so, the children got dehydrated. They're now being fed on g-tubes, on tubes into their stomachs.
I'm not saying that there are a lot of these children out there. We don't have a number, but we have heard from a number of hospitals that this is going on, including MUSC, which is in South Carolina. We spoke to one of their dieticians. Let's take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTI FOGG, PEDIATRIC CLINICAL DIETITIAN, MUSC: The majority of what we have seen is when patients are on specialized formulas for, like, feeding intolerance or milk protein allergies or something specific related to their disease state, and they try an alternative and it doesn't go well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Now, let us hope -- let us hope, Jake, that some of these -- the shipments that are happening now from Europe, these hypo- allergenic formulas, it will help some of the patients who Kristi Fogg was just talking about. Jake?
TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Joining us now is Brian Deese. He's the White House Director of the National Economic Council. Brian, thanks for joining us. So, the Biden administration announced the second shipment of baby formula is going to leave Germany on Wednesday as part of what you guys call Operation Fly Formula.
The first delivery, though, it's only going to feed about 27,000 babies and only for one week. Have you guys done the calculations? How many more international shipments will the U.S. need?
BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, the international shipments are one component of the strategy here. We're going to -- we're in the process right now of identifying additional sources outside the United States and working on additional flights as well. So, you will see more of this, and we're going to build on the progress to date.
As you said, the flight that landed yesterday, that is a specialized medical grade formula. That amount alone is about 15 percent of the total national volume for that type of formula for this coming week. The second piece, though, is we need to get all of our domestic manufacturing capacity to 100 percent, more than 100 percent production and make sure that we keep it at that.
We made a lot of progress on that over the course of last week at getting manufacturing to be running overtime and full tilt. Now, we're using the Defense Production Act to make sure those manufacturers have full access to all of the input supplies that they need so that over the course of this coming week they can continue to run at full capacity so that we're not only relying on production that's coming in from abroad but also production that we can ramp up here in the United States as well.
TAPPER: The baby formula business, as you know, in the United States is dominated by three or four major players. The recall in Abbott happened back in February. President Biden only invoked the Defense Production Act last week. Why was the Biden administration so slow to respond to this crisis?
DEESE: Well, we acted immediately, and here's what happened, which is in mid-February, as you said, that Abbott facility was closed. Immediately after that, the FDA began working with the other producers, as you say, there's too few producers in this market, we're going to address that over the long term, but began working with them to ramp up their production. That got us to the point where as of last week, the other producers in the United States had gotten their production up 50 percent, 30 percent, to really record levels.
That's where the Defense Production Act comes in because sustaining that production at those record levels means that these producers need to have access to all of the supplies that they need, not only the inputs to make formula but also the bottles, the different packaging, and we want them to be able to run at that very high level without having any impeded access to supply.
So that's where the Defense Production Act comes in. But there's another piece of this, too, which is our retailers when those products get to market, our retailers need to have the flexibility to actually sell and our consumers to buy whatever type of product that they have, and to do so safely.
So, we've got to waive a bunch of regulations that traditionally make sense but don't make sense in this crisis. And we also have to make sure that people are not going in, buying up out of the retailer's large amounts of formula and then selling them for exorbitant prices online.
TAPPER: The FDA, I mean, the whistleblower contacted the FDA I think back in September or October. They didn't do an inspection until December. The recall didn't happen until February. Are you confident that the FDA is on the case and not too close to industry is a criticism of the FDA for decades now?
DEESE: The FDA has an incredibly important safety mission and it's particularly the case when it comes to babies and infants and our children. And I will leave it to them to describe the exact circumstances, but what happened here was a thorough investigation. They need to go in and really examine what the sources of the potential negative impacts are, try to connect them to where they could be happening, and then make a determination.
They did so in February, and that recall happened as a result of those actions, and then since then have been working to try to increase production. Right now, our focus is on getting that formula out to the families that need it by bringing it in from abroad, by increasing production and manufacturing here, and then also by giving our retailers the flexibility to sell what they need and not have it taken and expropriated for exorbitant prices online.
TAPPER: Speaking of exorbitant prices, another issue affecting Americans right now is skyrocketing gas prices. Today on average, gas is costing $4.60 a gallon. That's up more than 10 cents a gallon from last week, almost 50 cents from last month. We're one week away from Memorial Day. Should Americans be buckling up for these high prices for the entire summer? DEESE: Well, we're doing everything we can to try to bring those
prices down. As you know, this all emanates from Putin's decision to invade Ukraine, which took Russian oil off the market.
TAPPER: Not all of it. Not all of it. I mean, some of it, yes.
DEESE: Since -- just to be really clear, since troops started amassing on the Ukrainian border and there was a concern that Russian supplies would come off, we have seen prices at the pump go up $1.50. That is the price hike that is associated with the impact of taking Russian supply off the market, but also to your point, Russian refining capacity as well, because we have not only a shortage of supply of oil but also the refining capacity to turn that oil into gasoline and diesel as well.
So, we're doing everything we can to bring more supply on to the market, working with domestic industry. They're ramping up. They can't do it fast enough, so we're releasing from our domestic reserves. We're also trying to work around the world, wherever there is spare refining capacity, to try to get -- to turn that oil into gas and diesel that we can use for production here.
TAPPER: Brian Deese, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
The new images that appear to show a Russian theft with global implications. CNN got the exclusive images.
Plus, more from my exclusive interview with Trevor Reed and his family. Their message to certain members of Congress. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our "World Lead," new exclusive satellite images from Maxar Technologies images appear to show Russian ships stealing Ukrainian grain from a port in Crimea. Ukrainian officials and industry sources have told CNN that Russian forces and occupied areas have emptied silos and trucked the grains south.
CNN's Alex Marquardt got an exclusive look at Maxar satellite factory and reports on how their images have helped uncover many of the dramatic and tragic events in this war.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These new satellite images show what appear to be the ramping up of theft by Russia of Ukrainian grain being poured into the open hold of a Russian ship. This was in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on May 19th. Then, two days later, a second ship docks and it too is filled. Now, both Russian ships are sailing away.
This weekend, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of fueling a food crisis and of gradually stealing Ukraine's food supplies and trying to sell them. An earlier image from Maxar Technologies shows one of those same Russian ships in a port of their close ally, Syria. The Ukrainian grain waiting to be unloaded onto trucks. These extraordinary revealing images are so close and so clear they look like they could be taken by drone or helicopter.
STEPHEN WOOD, SENIOR DIRECTOR, MAXAR NEWS BUREAU: You can actually see the grain pouring into the open hole of the ship.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Stephen Wood and his team at Maxar spotted the ships in this much wider image of Crimea.
WOOD: This is 400 miles up in space. To be able to see that kind of level of detail, the ships, the cab of the truck, pretty phenomenal stuff.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Maxar and other commercial satellite companies have played a critical role in what we know about Russia's war in Ukraine with satellite imagery that is unprecedented, both in quality and how it's being used.
WOOD: Before, this was only available in the halls of the CIA or the U.S. government or friendly foreign governments. To now we're showing it on CNN.
MARQUARDT (on camera): We're keeping a very close eye on that column of Russian vehicles, that convoy we've been talking about for several days.
(Voice-over): They alerted the world to the famous 40-mile-long Russian convoy outside Kyiv, the rows of hundreds of mass graves near Mariupol, potential war crimes in Bucha, and the aftermath of the Russian bombing of the Mariupol theater.
DANIEL JABLONSKY, CEO MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES: The satellite is in the final stages of getting ready to be shipped very soon.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): We were given a rare tour of Maxar satellite factory in Palo Alto, California by CEO Dan Jablonsky. Joint projects with NASA and others, construction under way on six new Maxar satellites which will allow them to scan a single spot on Earth 15 times a day. For decades, Maxar has provided all kinds of images to both private clients and to the U.S. government, their biggest customer.
(On camera): How much does the U.S. government tell you where to look?
JABLONSKY: They tell us where to point the satellites and take the imagery and then that's what we feed into them as a service, the same way we would do for Google maps, for example.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Will the intelligence community, for example, say we know that there is a war crime that has been committed. There are all these mass graves, for example. Train your satellites there and then push out those images to the press? JABLONSKY: They actually -- they might ask us to make those
collections, but they don't -- they do not influence or ask us to necessarily put out what we're putting out to the public.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Maxar is now giving imagery to the Ukrainian government, part of the U.S. aid for Ukraine. In a fight, the U.S. and others now say that has resulted in Russian war crimes.
(On camera): To what extent are your images going to be critical in these war crimes investigations?
WOOD: For example, the bodies that were found on the street in Bucha. We had imagery correlating at that exact same time where these bodies were, down to the place, the time, and the moment. It's having that kind of fidelity of data that we now have that makes that possible. And I also only think it will play an important part.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Each one of those Russian cargo ships that we showed you there in those new satellite images carries 30,000 tons of grain. Russia, of course, denies that they're stealing that grain. But what they aren't taking, they are targeting or blocking from getting out of the country, which is of course devastating for Ukraine, and Jake, the entire world, which depends so much on that food that comes from Ukraine.
TAPPER: Alex Marquardt, thanks so much. Appreciate that exclusive report.
While he was being held in a Russian prison for 985 days, his family was back in the U.S. fighting for Trevor Reed's release. Now they're sharing one of the most frustrating parts of the fight. We have some new clips from our exclusive interview with Trevor and his family. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Trevor Reed is back in the United States and adjusting to life as a free man after 985 days as a prisoner in Russia. In our exclusive sit down with Trevor Reed and his family, he discussed everything from the horrific conditions he was held in to the surreal moment he was handed over to U.S. officials and seeing his family again.
The entire time Trevor was detained, his family was fighting for his release appealing to anyone who would listen. But the Reeds were frankly frustrated with some people they say had the power to help Trevor but did not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY REED, TREVOR REED'S FATHER: To a certain extent, there was a certain apathy that Trevor described in the Russian government with some of our elected officials because if it's not about them getting a vote, they're too busy to deal with it. And this is an American issue, not Trevor, but all the other Americans in the situation.
You know, we used to go to war over these things and now it's lucky if we get news time about it. And they need to start bringing all of our Americans home that are taken like Trevor was.
TAYLO REED, TREVOR REED'S SISTER: We had bipartisan resolutions in Congress and Senate and still handfuls of people would not sign them, and they all got very strongly worded e-mails from me, but it's outrageous to think that there was anybody that we elected or put in these positions that would not be --
J. REED: Marjorie Taylor Greene is not our representative. The day before Trevor's appeal hearing where they were going to give the decision, she called for every resolution and every bill in the House that day to have a roll call vote so they would just put them off. And they didn't have to do that on Trevor's. This was a call for Putin to release an American Marine, but she called for a roll call vote. It got put off to the next day where they rolled them all into one roll call vote and her and her cronies in that small group of idiots voted against it. So, you voted for Putin?
TREVOR REED, IMPRISONED 985 DAYS IN RUSSIA: I'm going to go to every single one of their campaigns and thank them personally about that. So --
TAPPER: Thank them for hurting your ability to get out of prison?
T. REED: Yes, thank them for voting against a bill that was only about getting American political prisoners out of Russia. How do you -- how do you justify that? That's embarrassing to me that anyone who represents the United States would vote against something, you know, like that.
I'm sure that the Russians loved that. I'm sure that, you know, they're all big fans of all of those congressmen who did that. That's completely unacceptable to me. It's embarrassing. And I better not ever see that happen again to any other Americans because I promise that I will be at every single campaign that that person runs for the rest of their life to tell everyone that they did that.
(END VIDEOC CLIP)
TAPPER: Trevor's father, Joey, a retired Marine himself, was also disappointed in the organization that he and his son Trevor risked their lives serving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joey, you were not happy with the Marines initially.
J. REED: We heard nothing from the Marine Corps. Not a single representative from the Marine Corps, no Marine Corps groups, VFW, people we reached out to wouldn't even respond to us. And it just kind of, to me, it just kind of weakened our, you know, our motto of semper fidelis. You know, always faithful, because other than the people that we knew directly that we served with, there wasn't -- I mean, there was a few people that were strangers that were Marines that reached out.
But Marines need to think about it this way. There's millions of former Marines. Think of the voting power that you would have. Think of the voice you would have. And you can't use any of that for another Marine? Semper fidelis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: When asked for comment, the Marine Corps provided CNN a statement reading, quote, "Trevor Reed served his country honorably as a Marine and we thank him for his service. We are happy he has returned home safely and wish him and his family the best as they reunite." The Marines did not specifically address the substance of Joey Reed's criticism that they did nothing to help their son.
The Georgia surprise that is defying Democrats' prediction about a controversial new voting law. Stay with us.
TAPPER: And we're just hours away from another set of crucial primary elections including in Georgia where election officials are reporting record turnout in the state's early voting.
The high numbers coming despite a new law in Georgia that President Biden once called Jim Crow 2.0. It included new voter ID requirements, limits on ballot drop boxes and allowed four partisan takeovers of some local election board.
CNN's Amara Walker reports for us from Georgia now on what all of this means for not just tomorrow's race, but November's key elections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never been so excited to stand in line. And this has me feeling really good and very optimistic that the numbers are in people do care and we're putting our votes where it counts.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgia primary voters are turning out early in record numbers.
TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Georgia voters, you know, now they know that the nation looks at them. It's like a state to pay attention to.
WALKER (voice-over): During the three-week early voting period that ended last Friday, more than 850,000 people cast a ballot in-person or by mail in the Georgia primaries. A 168 percent increase compared to the same time period of the 2018 primary. That's according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is seeking re-election this year.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: As you recall, when we pass the Election Integrity Act of 2021, everyone said it was going to make it hard for people to vote. Well, the numbers prove them wrong, doesn't it?
WALKER (voice-over): The turnout defying predictions from many Democrats and voting rights activist that Georgia's new voting law could lead to a drop off in voting. President Biden and Stacey Abrams who's running unopposed in Georgia's democratic gubernatorial primary, both like in the bill to Jim Crow last year.
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GOV. CANDIDATE: We have to remember that voter suppression isn't about stopping every voter. It's about blocking and impeding those voters who are considered inconvenient.
WALKER (voice-over): The controversial election law signed by Governor Kemp in March 2021, imposed new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and the hours they're available, restricts how voters can be provided food and water near a polling location, and it added an additional Saturday of early voting while making it optional for counties to have two Sundays for early voting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This actually expands access.
WALKER (voice-over): The Republican controlled Georgia legislature approved the voting law after Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in Georgia in nearly three decades.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are clear that that was voter suppression and intended to intimidate voters. They are like whatever they tried to do, it's not going to work. We are going to show up and show out.
WALKER (voice-over): Koran Blair (ph) with the new Georgia project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams says the new law may be mobilizing voters but it's still creating obstacles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we're at the polls tomorrow, how do we hand out ponchos and not get arrested?
WALKER (voice-over): While it's hard to measure the impact of Georgia's voting law, it's clear enthusiasm for the Georgia primary remains high.
MITCHELL: Yes, there was a lot of hyperbole on both sides about SB202. The question is, will those tweaks impact voters in ways that could influence the outcome of a close race?
WALKER: And Jake, of the more than 850,000 people who cast their votes early in this Georgia primary, 56 percent pulled a Republican ballot while 43 percent voted in the Democratic Party, a primary. This is according to the Secretary of State's office. Also, election officials tell me they are expecting a record breaking turnout in this election. The last time a record was set was back in 2018 when 1.3 million people cast their votes, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Amara Walker in Atlanta for us. Thanks so much.
Let's discuss, Jackie Kucinich, let me start with you. CNN's Eva McKend interviewed Stacey Abrams, and she asked her about this Republican argument. How can their new voting laws be suppressive when there's record early vote turnout? Here's what Stacey Abrams said in response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live. When you're number 48 for mental health, when you're number one for maternal mortality.
The moral equivalent of saying that voter turnout diffuses or disproves that or suppression is like saying that more people getting in the water means they're no longer any sharps. Those two things are just not true. And we know that voter suppression is alive and well in Georgia and we're going to continue to fight back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: OK, we'll get to the question about Georgia is the worst place to --
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
TAPPER: -- live in a second. We -- what I want you to talk about is the -- what she just said about the voter turnout diffuse or disproves voter suppression is like saying more people getting the water means you no longer any sharks. What do you make of that argument?
KUCINICH: You know, this is something that Stacey Abrams has been talking about as long as Stacey Abrams has been a national figure in politics. And one of the things that's happened since this law was passed is that there's been a lot of education for voters on the ground by Stacey Abrams group, and by other voting groups because they want to make sure that people still get out to vote and know what the laws are, and what the difficulties may be or what some of the obstacles may be.
But, I mean, if you looked at some of the earlier versions of this law, when they tried to ban Sundays, souls for the poles are obviously a very big deal in the black church. So that's I think a lot of this has been rooted in what the process was and what some of the obstacles are going into the -- in tomorrow.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. Look, I think it's always good if more people are voting, right? Like, can we just all agree on that?
HUNT: This is a system where we need people to participate, or it does not work. So the fact that there are more people going to the polls that there are more people who are able to cast their vote, that's absolutely good news. And you do have to give Stacey Abrams group some credit for doing all those education and outreach groups, outreach to do that.
You can't forget also that, you know, Republicans have been sending a message to many people in Georgia saying, hey, don't trust the system, don't trust what's going on. And that I think, backfires.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think we have to remember that what she was saying is the disproportionate impact that the laws that were passed have on black, brown, rural, disabled voters. Let me give an example. When they do exact match to try to identify people who are non-citizens, by their own admission, 63 percent of the people that they kick out, actually are citizens.
And those people then have to, themselves, fight the system to be reinstated so that they can go vote. So I think what's important to remember here, Stacey and number of other groups aren't working on the ground. What these numbers show is that they've been working very hard to work around laws that actually do make it harder for people to vote. And that is a bad thing.
JOE WALSH (R-IL), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: And I think it's also important to note that everybody at this table agrees the more people who vote, the better. But, unfortunately, Jake, there are too many people in my former political party who don't believe that, which is why they're trying to do what they're doing state after state.
TAPPER: So speaking of Republicans, let's talk about that first clip we heard in which Stacey Abrams said that she was sick -- that sick of hearing the Georgia is the best state in the country to do business when it's, according to her, the worst state in the country to live. That is a comment that a lot of Republicans are saying shows why that she's not fit to be governor. Now we should point out that you work for her in 2018.
TAPPER: It's not exactly a bumper sticker. Georgia vote for Stacey Abrams. Georgia is the worst place to live.
FINNEY: Well, again, I mean, knowing Stacey, obviously, within that same sentence, she corrected herself and acknowledge that they're going to use it against her, which of course not surprisingly, they did. But the point that she was making is look at the work that is undone. Look at the way that on the Republican primary side, which is a dumpster fire of who can out MAGA each other when we still, we didn't take the Medicaid expansion money.
Rural hospitals are closing, highest rates of maternal mortality, high uninsurance rate, the point being, there's so much other work that affects people's lives that is being undone. And her point is to, what are you supposed to do in an election? Draw contrast. So her contrast is they are so blinded by ideology, they're not getting the work done for people.
TAPPER: So Joe, I want to ask you about this because on the Republican side, Vice President Pence has endorsed the incumbent Governor Brian Kemp while Donald Trump has endorsed former Senator David Perdue in the primary. The Trump team sends us this statement about the fact that Pence is endorsed Kemp.
"Mike Pence was set to lose a governor's race in 2016 before he was plucked up and his political career was salvaged. Now, desperate to chase his lost relevance, Pence is parachuting into races, hoping someone is paying attention." That is Donald Trump talking about his vice president.
WALSH: Not at all a surprise. I feel bad for Pence, but it's too late. I mean, if pence ran against Trump right now, Jake, he'd have no shot. None at all. And I think we get bogged down in this, who did Trump endorse and did Trump have a good night or not?
Every single Republican that's won a primary this year and every Republican that will win a primary is a huge bow down in front of Donald Trump Republican. Brian Kemp in Georgia is as well. That's what Pence is up against.
TAPPER: Although a lot of Trump endorsed candidates have lost primaries for governor in Idaho and I think in Nebraska, right?
FINNEY: And it looks like Brian Kemp is going to be on the way to repudiating the Trump endorsement. I mean, he and David Perdue, Trump and David Perdue are good friends, business people. I just -- I have to say that I think he pulled back the lens a little bit. It's important to recognize that while we talk a lot about Trump and he has consumed us for the last five years, there are many examples of powerful Republican interests that are trying to stand up to him at every turn. Mike Pence is one of them.
Now, I mean, this statement was rough. But also the former president didn't really do anything when his supporters were at the Capitol singing -- chanting, hang Mike Pence. So like, I'm sorry, but this is not the worst thing that Donald Trump has ever said or done when it relates to Mike Pence. You also have the Club for Growth. They're throwing all kinds of money. Alabama Senate, the Pennsylvania Senate race, playing basically saying, you know what, we have a different opinion. We want a different, different person.
Now, we still got a couple months to see how this all shakes out, but I do think it's interesting that while, yes the party is beholden to him, the base of the party is beholden to him, you're seeing people attempt to buck that authority in new and different ways.
KUCINICH: So I do think this is a very Trumpy thing that he's doing. Brian Kemp doesn't need Mike Pence to come and campaign for him.
HUNT: That's not true.
KUCINICH: Brian Kemp is way out front of David Perdue. This is about Mike Pence. It's about Mike Pence separating himself from Donald Trump. And that's --
HUNT: And him running for president.
KUCINICH: And him running for president, exactly. This has nothing to do -- I mean, I'm sure he's friends with Brian Kemp. It's really like that.
FINNEY: There is also about the division within the Republican Party and the chaos. And what I keep trying to remind people is, imagine this chaos in the U.S. Senate, nothing is going to get done. And you still seeing these candidates trying to out Trump each other both in governor's races, Senate and Senate races.
And so whether Trump is a factor or not, it's the perception that these candidates have about what the voters want to hear from them --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
FINNEY: -- that I think is very troubling and will be difficult in a general election electorate.
TAPPER: And be sure to join me tomorrow night for Election Night in America. We'll be covering all these key primaries across the country. Our live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up, a deadly shooting on a New York City subway in the middle of the day just weeks after a different subway shooting. The mayor's new plan to stop the violence, stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, more deadly violence on the New York City subway. Police released pictures and are asking the public to help identify a man they say is wanted for homicide after Sunday's fatal shooting of a 48-year-old man riding in the last car train.
CNN's Brynn Gingras is outside the station where the suspect got off (INAUDIBLE). Officials say the gunman and victim had no interaction, Brynn, before the shooting?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Jake, they're calling it an unprovoked attack. Actually, witnesses are telling police that that gunman walked up and down the subway car before pulling out a gun and firing at that victim close range to their chest. And that person 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez ended up dying at the hospital.
Even more chilling is the fact that that man allegedly stayed on the subway car as it pulled into this train stop here at Canal Street in Manhattan and then got off and ran away and didn't hurt anyone else. Now we're actually seeing outside this train station posters set up with those pictures that you're showing your viewers asking for the public's help. And not only just identifying who that person is, but also trying to apprehend them.
Keep in mind, Jake, this happens at the late morning hour, a time where reportedly that victim was headed to brunch with family. It really hits home for a lot of New Yorkers here who are already on edge about taking mass transit. Of course, transit crimes only a small amount of the major crime and overall crime that's happening here in New York City. But we know this is a mayor who has sort of worked on an agenda of fighting this crime. And certainly this is seen as somewhat of a setback toward that.
TAPPER: And Mayor Adams is talking about using technology to track guns on the subway, how would that even work?
GINGRAS: Well, that's the big question. He has mentioned this before, we heard about it a lot, of course, 10 weeks or a few weeks ago when we had that subway shooter in Brooklyn during the morning commute, where 10 people were shot, no one was killed. But he brought that up and talking about having somewhat of metal detector type situation inside subway stations.
Most recently, he talked about possibly having some sort of situation at the Port Authority to fight illegal guns coming into New York City being a transit hub for New York City. So a lot of details that are sort of out there, but there's not really fleshed out. But certainly this is something that is raising a lot of eyebrows to help kind of secure the transit system but also raises a lot of questions, how do you do that in such a busy city with a lot of commuters and also civil rights issues? So, so many questions a lot more than answers at this point, but we'll stay tuned for that, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras in New York City, thanks so much.
His twin brother encouraged him to testify against President Trump at the first impeachment trial and now report shows just how far the Trump administration was willing to go for revenge. That's next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead now, a damning report from the Pentagon exposing just how far Trump administration officials went to punish people connected with Trump's first impeachment trial including the brother of a key witness. The witness then Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, heard Trump's 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. That's of course the call when Trump tied USAID to Ukraine to a request for the Ukrainians to investigate Trump's then likely opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Alexander Vindman raised his concerns with his twin brother, Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, an army attorney who was serving with the National Security Council, who relayed his brother's concerns to a National Security Council officials. Now the Pentagon inspector general's report says Trump officials then retaliated giving Yevgeny Vindman unfavorable reviews, stripping him of responsibilities. And days after the Senate acquitted Trump, firing him.
Yevgeny Vindman joins us now along with his attorney Mark Zaid. So Yevgeny, thanks so much for joining us. You're here in a personal capacity, we should note not representing the government. The report from the Pentagon inspector general makes no recommendations for any subsequent actions since your record has been corrected. But this must have been very difficult to go through.
LT. COL. YEVGENY VINDMAN, BROTHER OF LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN: It was difficult, Jake. It was 21 months in the making. And that was not including the time I spent in what felt like an armed camp since the July phone call. Alex and I spent up until February of the following year, just days after the acquittal in the Senate and the White House where it didn't feel like an enemy camp, whispers and it was tough.
And I'm glad that the DOD IG made the finding. I think 21 months is rather long in what appeared to me a fairly straightforward case of retaliation. But I felt vindicated and I feel good about that.
TAPPER: Mark, this report shows Trump administration officials violating just about every whistleblower protection on the books but they're gone. Trump lost. So is it simply case closed?
MARK ZAID, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WHISTLEBLOWER ATTORNEY: Now that is a problem, Jake, because accountability is really at the heart of trying to demonstrate why whistleblowers should come forward. And the vindication was absolutely welcomed. Yevgeny followed the rules, follow the law and how he properly reported his concerns of a whistleblowing nature. But now because the officials left, there's not much that or anything that the DOD Inspector General can do.
Now, that doesn't mean that these individuals cannot be disbarred from future federal employment, perhaps they will be made sure not to have security clearances and access to classified information. And because most if not, I think all of the individuals are lawyers, there could be consequences from their respective states that license them since there was this finding that they violated the law.
TAPPER: And Yevgeny, you say you feel vindicated by this report, but you're going to be retiring from the military soon. What are you going to do next?
VINDMAN: Jake, I intend to make myself useful. And I have not given up on making sure that I support National Security in any way that I can. And I'm very interested in the events that are occurring in Ukraine. That's certainly not only a humanitarian disaster, but it's also a National Security concern.
So I've planted a vegetable garden. And I'll do that for a while, but also focus on other things and making sure that we hold officials accountable and reinforce democracy and democratic principles. TAPPER: Mark, who are the individuals named in this report that were retaliating in contrary to whistleblower laws? Who needs to be shamed, even if there is no way to have any accountability?
ZAID: Well, it was because Yevgeny is a lawyer, it was lawyers within the White House Counsel's Office and the National Security Council up to the National Security adviser himself. I think if I recall, I don't have the report in front of me, of course, I think there were at least four individuals named specifically.
Now we also actually named President Donald Trump as one who was retaliating against and there is not much of any indication as to whether or not there was an attempt by the Defense Department to explore Trump's personal involvement. Now, I will say none of the individuals actually cooperated with the DOD IG, that is noted in the report. And that is very telling that they calculated and made this intentional decision not to cooperate. That's obviously very disappointing, and reflects on them.
TAPPER: And Yevgeny, you noted that you're interested in the war on Ukraine, I think it's been famously covered that you and your brother are Ukrainian-American, originally born in Ukraine, but served in the U.S. military full citizens, obviously. When you think back about the first impeachment and that scandal, and President Trump trying to tie aid to Ukraine with finding dirt on Biden and his son, do you think that had an effect on Putin's decision to invade?
VINDMAN: So first of all, what it -- what I think it does is reinforce that this is always about national security. Certainly was to Alex and I, when we reported it to the chain of command through appropriate channels with National Security in mind. And we had a clear idea of where Ukraine was even back then on the razor's edge between democracy and autocracy.
And I think that that is 100 percent true, and it has been borne out. And frankly, there are a number of events that I think led to the calculation to invade Ukraine. And the phone call was one of those events.
TAPPER: What are some other ones?
VINDMAN: I think that, for instance, there was an assessment that Ukraine was weak. There was a miscalculation, a strategic miscalculation that Putin's forces were strong, and Ukraine's were weak. So he overestimated his capability and he underestimated Ukraine's capability.
I think January 6 is another example. I think he felt and he saw weakness in the United States division. And so he made a calculation that it was the right time for him to invade.
TAPPER: All right, well, congratulations on having your name cleared. Yevgeny Vindman, appreciate it. Mark Zaid, thank you so much for joining us.
VINDMAN: Thank you. TAPPER: Appreciate it.
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