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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hillary Clinton Campaign Lawyer Found Not Guilty Of Lying To FBI; Supreme Court Clerks Asked For Phone Record In Leak Probe; Extreme Weather Puts Strain On U.S. Electrical Grid; Families Begin Burying Victims Of Elementary School Attack; Video Captures Apparent Radio Call Of Child Saying "I Got Shot;" Battle For Eastern Ukraine Deepens As Russia Grabs New Territory. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I think it might still hold together.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: There are other movies I want to see coming out this summer.

CAMEROTA: Such as?

BLACKWELL: I want to see "Lightyear". I like the "Toy Story" franchise. I want to watch the Elvis movie.

CAMEROTA: Me too. I think that's getting good ratings.

BLACKWELL: Oh, look at the time.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Nineteen officers, 78 minutes, and countless unanswered questions.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Growing scrutiny on police and their response or lack thereof to the Uvalde massacre. Did officers know children were trapped inside a classroom with the killer? Did anyone push back on the chief's call for them to wait in the hallway? What new audio recordings might reveal.

Plus, hunt for the leak. Supreme Court clerks asked to hand over their cell phone records as investigators try to track down the person who leaked the pending opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also ahead, why experts warn we could see blackouts this summer in the United States and which areas are at highest risk.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We start today with our national lead and new questions about what

exactly police on the scene knew and when during the Uvalde massacre, as the community begins to say its final good-byes to some of the 21 victims. The visitations begin today for 48-year-old teacher Irma Garcia and two 10-year-old students, Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo and Jose Manuel Flores Jr. The funeral for their classmates Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez are planned today.

We're still waiting for more information from law enforcement, including a ballistics report and radio transmissions from the scene, not to mention basic details, how many kids were wounded, how many students came out of the classroom alive, and on and on.

CNN has also obtained a Facebook live video recorded outside the school during the shooting. It appears to include a radio call from a child saying that he or she had been shot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you injured?





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot a kid?


TAPPER: A group of bipartisan lawmakers are meeting today to see if they can find any common ground at all on potential new gun legislation in the wake of this horrific attack. President Biden confirmed earlier today he's going to meet with lawmakers about the possibility of new gun reform.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been to more mass shooting aftermaths than I think any president in American history, unfortunately, and it's just so much of it is -- much of it is preventable and the devastation is amazing.


TAPPER: CNN's Ed Lavandera starts off our coverage from Uvalde with more on today's services and a new interview with a teacher who saw the shooter approaching the school.


JULIE GARCIA, ATTENDED MEMORIAL: You cry and mourn harder here because they didn't have a chance. ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The

first funerals for the victims in the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, were held today. One week after a gunman stormed Robb Elementary, killing 19 students and 2 teachers.

GARCIA: When that casket closes and they lower it down, for me, it's the realization that you won't be able to touch them again. One more hug, one more kiss, one more good-bye.

LAVANDERA: The funeral expenses for every family are being covered at no cost, thanks to an anonymous donor, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. A family run company has made custom caskets for 19 of the victims, capturing their personalities.

FATHER EDUARDO MORALES, PRIEST: Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you how many, but I think one every day.

LAVANDERA: Father Eduardo Morales said he'll preside at 12 funeral services for victims over the next two weeks. Today, visitations or funerals were held for at least four students and one teacher.

On Friday, it was revealed there were at least eight 911 calls from two callers inside the school. The calls came in as 19 officers waited outside the classroom where the gunman was for 50 minutes. That's when a Customs and Border Protection team made the call to go in without direct orders, according to a Texas state senator. One teacher is now describing the tense moments inside her classroom after spotting the gunman outside.

NICOLE OGBURN, FOURTH GRADE TEACHER: I just kept hearing shots fired and I kept praying, god, please don't let him come in my room. Please don't let him come in this room. And for some reason, he didn't.

LAVANDERA: We are also hearing new audio taken by a man who spoke to CNN but didn't want to be publicly identified. A Facebook live video includes what he says is audio from the radio in a Customs and Border Protection vehicle outside the school.


It is not clear at what point during the shooting this video was taken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you injured?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid got shot?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot a kid? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why law enforcement did not take action is beyond me.

LAVANDERA: The Texas Department of Public Safety director said on Friday it was the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, who made the decision not to breach the classrooms earlier. Arredondo is facing harsh criticism for what officers didn't do when they responded to the shooting.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: One little girl, I won't say who, received only one gunshot wound through her lower back. The first responder told the family that she likely bled out. That little girl might have lived had law enforcement done their job.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Jake, the first funeral service is just now getting under way, and that's for Amerie Jo Garza.

And as we were at one of the funeral homes earlier today watching the procession of people walking into a viewing, what really struck us was the number of small children walking inside to these funeral homes to say good-bye to their friends, far too young to be doing something like that -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera in Uvalde, Texas, thank you so much.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is also in Uvalde following the latest on the investigation.

And, Shimon, and we heard that recording reportedly of a radio transmission where a child is saying he or she was shot. What could we potentially learn from the full cache of transmissions and do we know if police are going to release them?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We don't know, Jake, if the police are going to release them. You know, this is something that a state senator here now is calling for the release of these audiotapes.

It's very significant because it will tell us what officers were saying to each other. Were the 911 operators, which we believe they were, telling the officers that they were receiving 911 calls from people inside that classroom that were alive, that were still facing the threat from the gunman? We know there were several 911 calls from that class.

So these tapes would reveal to us if the 911 dispatches were relaying this to the officers on the scene, which would 100 percent indicate that this was an active shooter situation, not as what police have initially said, that this was a barricaded subject, which they should have treated differently, Jake.

TAPPER: A lot of blame has been placed on the Uvalde school police chief, who made this final call to hold officers in the hallway instead of doing what post-Columbine protocols say, which is to rush where the shooter is.

Do we know if anyone in a person of authority at the time challenged that bad decision?

PROKUPECZ: Right. We don't know, Jake. And that's something that many people here want to know, obviously, from the state senator to other law enforcement officials who I have been talking to, just all across the country, some retired, still currently working, saying why weren't more senior level people, people with more experience than the school chief, making these decisions? Why was he allowed to sort of make this decision on his own?

He didn't maybe perhaps know everything, but there should have been other people at the scene chiming in, giving their opinion. And that is something that certainly investigators want to know, they want to know if other senior level, other law enforcement officials were weighing in to sort of try to override this chief. This chief, who is in charge of essentially a very small police department, Jake, four police officers, we don't know what his experience is in dealing with such a situation.

So, that is why so many people want to know, why weren't more senior level people, people with more experience on scene voicing their opinion of what should be done?

TAPPER: Shimon Prokupecz in Uvalde, Texas, for us. Thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss is Jillian Peterson. She's the cofounder of the Violence Project which studies mass shootings and the best ways to potentially stop them.

Thank you so much for joining us.

You talk about this idea that mass shootings are socially contagious. Does that mean that you think it's possible or even likely that the Uvalde shooter may have been motivated by the horrific murders by the Buffalo gunman?

JILLIAN PETERSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CRIMINOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTTICE, HAMLINE UNIVERSITY: Yeah, I think it is likely, although we don't know yet. But our research shows that mass shootings are socially contagious. They tend to cluster, so when one happens, you see two or three more happen right afterward.

And part of this might be somebody who is thinking about this, who is maybe planning it. They're kind of right on the edge. They see somebody else do it, they see the attention that perpetrator gets. They see their manifesto go viral, and that's enough to embolden them to then also carry out a mass shooting.

TAPPER: So, you've done this very detailed research, and you have found that most mass shooters fit a specific profile.


Tell us more. PETERSON: Yeah, we see this similar pathway to violence. Our research

is really focused on understanding who these perpetrators are, where they're coming from, what their lives look like building up to this point, so we can really start preventing it.

And we see that perpetrators do have this similar pathway. They start out in households with a lot of violence, sexual assault, parental suicide, that kind of lays the foundation. Over time as they get older, they're often isolated, depressed, kind of hopeless. Many attempt suicide.

Then, that self-hate kind of turns outward. It becomes whose fault is this? Whether they blame their school, their workplace, or a racial group or women, they spend time online studying other shooters, getting radicalized, often time leaking their plans.

And then mass shootings are designed to be a final act. They're meant to be watched and witnessed so that their anger and their grievance of the world is something we all watch. And then, of course, they have access to the weapons that they need to carry it out.

TAPPER: I want to get into that idea of these shootings being a final act. First, I have to note, both the shooters in Uvalde and Buffalo reportedly had a history of abusing cats. Does animal abuse or that type of violence fit into the normal profile that you see?

PETERSON: You know, we do in our database that we have created have a column that looks at animal abuse. You do see it, not all the time. A lot of it is dependent on how much information emerges about that perpetrator's background. But when it comes to school shooters, it is something that you do see.

TAPPER: Now, back to the point you were making before about mass shootings being intended quite often as a final act. In the wake of the shooting in Uvalde, some Republicans are calling for more armed security at schools. But you note that in your study, your research, mass shootings are a final act, an act of suicide, and having someone else with a gun on scene won't stop them. In fact, it might actually be worse.

Explain that for us.

PETERSON: Yeah, this is something that we have studied closely. We have interviewed perpetrators of school shootings who told us, I went there specifically because I knew there was an armed officer there who was going to kill me. Perpetrators go in planning to either kill themselves, be killed by law enforcement, or spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Part of this is you have to be caught or killed in order to be known for this. In order to get the notoriety you're looking for and make the history books.

So when we have looked at this, and looked at school shootings and attempted school shootings, what's remarkable is that when you have armed officers on the scene, you actually see more casualties, often because that perpetrator is suicidal. They're familiar with that school, they know that officer is there, and so they come in heavily armed.

TAPPER: Maybe having armed officers but they're not armed openly would be some sort of compromise at this.

Jillian Peterson, thank you so much. Really appreciate your research.

PETERSON: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up next, punishing Putin for the war on Ukraine. World leaders are now cutting off oil supplies from Russia. Could that ripple effect however leave Americans in line to pay the price?

Plus, the chances of widespread blackouts this summer and the model plan in one city that could help keep the lights on.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, you're watching new video of Ukrainian Special Forces flying resupply helicopters to the Azovstal steel plant while it was under siege by Putin's army earlier this month. These images show some of the extensive damage done to the plant and other areas of Mariupol by the Russians.

Now, there are, quote, battles along the entire front line, according to the Ukrainian military.

CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is live in Kyiv.

Matthew, what are you seeing in the capital where you are, Matthew?

I'm not sure he can hear us. Matthew, can you hear us?

All right, we're having some issues here. Matthew, are you -- let's bring in the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks. He's a Democrat from New York. We'll go back to Matthew after this interview with the chairman, who just led a bipartisan trip to Europe meeting with leaders in Moldova which borders Ukraine.

Chairman Meeks, thanks for joining us.

You have also been to Ukraine twice, once before the invasion and once during. What did you learn from your trip this time around? Is anything changing?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Yeah, what I have learned is a couple things. Number one, we went to Moldova and the president and prime minister there are very much locked in with Ukraine, concerned as everyone else is about the Black Sea and how it has been bombarded by Putin. But they're accepting and taking in all of the refugees that they can, and with open arms.

Then we went to Davos where I saw that the EU and NATO allies and others united behind President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine. They were working collectively together, talking about how they have to stay together because of the -- not only the aggression, but the invasion of Putin into Ukraine, and that they will stick with it and be continued and more sanctions applied.

And we saw today that there were more sanctions applied to Russia in regards to oil. So the pressure is continuing to mount, and of course, the other piece that is important, Putin had to change his strategy.

He thought he could take Ukraine in two to three days -- and Kyiv. He's not.


He's downplayed now going into the Donbas area and there is a fight that's going on there. And that the president of the United States and others are intent on making sure that we give the weapons to Ukraine that they need so they can defend themselves.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that because on Monday, President Biden said, quote, I won't send anything that can fire into Russia about the weapons he's willing to give Ukraine. Nothing to fire into Russia after Russia warned the U.S. that the U.S. would be seen by Putin as crossing a red line if it provides Ukraine with the oft requested long range rocket systems.

Now, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama, Michael McFaul, he's been vocal about in his view the need for rockets that can strike not only into Russia but deep into Russia.

Who do you agree with, President Biden or the former ambassador?

MEEKS: Well, I think that President Biden is probably correct, is correct, and I think he's working with our U.N., our E.U. allies.

What has been happening that I think that President Biden and history will record is keeping our allies united. As we have seen they have had constant conversations and working together and the key -- and compromise at times, so that that unity stays together.

The one thing that Putin did not count on was the unity between the EU countries and NATO. He thought they could split them. But President Biden's leadership has kept them all together and slowly but surely began to up the ante in regards to sanctions as well as weapons that are necessary.

So I think that President Biden has been doing a great job, and we just need to hold the pace and keep allowing him to do that job that I think that now we're into a third month when many folks did not think we would be here after three days or four days.

TAPPER: The EU is trying to punish Russia by banning most Russian gas imports by the end of this year. As a result, world oil prices jumped to the highest level in nearly three months.

The U.S. is already facing extremely high gas prices. How much longer do you think Americans are going to have to foot the bill?

MEEKS: Look, let me tell you something, that inflation and high gas prices are all over the world. It is something because of Putin, and Putin's war that is causing this inflation and causing the cost of gas to be so high.

The fact of the matter is that people who are suffering the most are the Europeans who are completely or have been completely dependent upon Russia's oil, Russia's gas, but now they are committed to weaning off.

So I think that what is going to happen as we continue to choke the economy of Russia, as the Ukrainians continue to fight, that we are working and conversations are taking place as we speak for alternatives to ways of getting additional energy and gas, et cetera, so we can eventually have the prices go down. Right now, yes, all of us around the world, not just America, but every country just about that is in Europe, a part of NATO, others, our allies, whether it's in Asia or Canada, we're all suffering from the aggression and the egregious war that's put on, led by Vladimir Putin.

TAPPER: I'm sure I don't need to tell you that polls indicate that the American people care much more about the economy and inflation here in the United States than they do about Ukraine. Even if they support what the U.S. is doing. Inflation is clearly a thorn in the Biden administration's side, and the president is now deploying cabinet officials to tout the White House message on TV all week. President Biden penned an opinion article titled "My plan for fighting inflation".

Is the message coming from the White House enough as of now to answer the questions that you are no doubt getting from your constituents who stop to tell you, you know, I can't afford groceries or I can't afford to fill up my tank?

MEEKS: Yeah, look, I can't deny that every day when you go to fill up your gas tank or go to your food, buy food, the prices have gone up, in America, and around the world. And it's not occurring because of the action or inaction of President Biden. It's happening because of Putin.

And so what we have to find a way to do is get through this. And this is why we're defending and given the Ukrainians all of the weapons they need and we're fighting back so that no one has to be dependent upon Putin's oil again. No one can be held hostage because of Putin's aggression.

And it takes a little bit of time. And President Biden is working on that as we speak, so that in -- when we get closer to July and August and September and October, there are alternative methods that have been worked on collectively that begin to reduce inflation and letting the Feds, given them the freedom to do what they need to do so that we can begin to reduce inflation here in America. [16:25:26]

And I would add, Jake, that when I look at the United States in comparison to other countries around the world that I just visited, there was no one better prepared to deal with this than the United States, and in fact, we're doing better than most other countries around the world.

TAPPER: We're going to talk about it later in the show, we don't have to go in to it right now, but obviously, there are a lot of reasons for inflation, including supply chain issues and a lot of spending as well as Putin's war.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, always good to have you on, sir. Thank you so much.

MEEKS: Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Let's go back to Ukraine now, and CNN's Matthew Chance in Kyiv.

Matthew, I'm glad we have the connection back. What are you seeing where you are?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, join me in the center of Kyiv, where this remnants of a ferocious battle right in the center of the capital, but this is just -- these are the real deal, of course. They're actually destroyed Russian tanks and other equipment that's been scattered around here.

But it's been put here as an exhibition by the Russian defense ministry, to show Ukrainian people the kinds of weapons that have been threatening them, that have turned their lives upside down over the course of the last four months. But the fact they're destroyed as well, it's meant to show that the Russian army, which poses such a threat to this country, is not invincible.

It's actually a tourist attraction. Speaking to some people who were seeing it earlier and showing their kids these twisted rumpled hunks of metal. They said the reason they're showing it, the reason they're coming here to see it, because seeing these destroyed tanks in this way makes them think that the Russian army can be beat. They're sort of like monuments to hope in the center of the Ukrainian capital, at a time when there is still very ferocious fighting taking place not so much in Kyiv, but elsewhere in the country towards the east, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, let's talk about that because just northwest of the city of Luhansk, there's a fierce battle ongoing for Severodonetsk. What's the significance of this region? How much land has Ukraine lost to the Russians so far?

CHANCE: Yeah, Severodonetsk very important in the sense that it's the last remaining big city, big town in the Luhansk region. Luhansk is half of Donbas -- Donbas, according to the Russians, is their military priority in the east of Ukraine. That's the area they want to take control of. Once they've got Luhansk, as looks likely over the coming days,

they'll be able to turn around, the Kremlin, and say we have achieved half of our goal, now we just got the other half to go. That will be a big political win for them.

And so, the Ukrainians have been fighting virtually to the last man up there, to make sure the price the Russians pay to take Luhansk is as high as possible. And even though the Russians say they have taken control of the city now, Ukrainians insist they have still got people inside. They're still trying to take it to the streets and making it a very hard fight, indeed.

Extraordinary video that has come from Luhansk earlier today, first of all, of the Russians in the center of the city, but then of this awful scene of a chemical dump that has apparently been exploded, a big orange plume of toxic gas pouring up into the air.

The Russians blame the Ukrainians for detonating that. The Ukrainians blame the Russians. Who knows what the reality is? But it shows you just how awful the battle and potentially poisonous the battle is in northeastern Ukraine.

TAPPER: Matthew, Putin's critics have a way of ending up dead or in jail. One of them jailed outspoken critic Alexei Navalny has a new round of charges against him. If he's found guilty, how much longer will he be in prison?

CHANCE: Yeah, if he's found guilty of founding an extremist organization, he could face another 15 years in prison. He's already in prison for nine years on essentially trumped up charges. Another 15 years, a disaster for the opposition in that country.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance in Kyiv, thank you so much.

CHANCE: Coming up next, the only verdict so far in a case three years in the making. Stick with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, not guilty. That is the verdict in the first and so far only trial to come out of a probe by special counsel John Durham that has lasted more than three years. The prosecutor picked by former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the origins and the Justice Department's handling of the Trump Russia investigation.

The defendant, Michael Sussmann, a former lawyer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, was charged with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting in which he passed a tip about Trump and Russia.

CNN's Evan Perez joins us now live.

And, Evan, this is a big defeat for Durham's probe. Where does the investigation stand now? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is a big defeat,

Jake, but there was more than just the lie that was the subject of this 11 days of trial here.


If you look on right-wing media, you'll see the fruits of what John Durham was trying to do here and that is, you know, make the point that in 2016, Hillary Clinton's campaign was part of a big conspiracy with Sussmann and others playing a role to use the media and the FBI to go after Donald Trump.

That's very much, you heard it dozens of times, the prosecutors used either Clinton's name, Clinton campaign, Hillary for America. They repeatedly did that during the trial. In the end, according to the jury, that didn't matter because they didn't prove their case. But you can listen to Michael Sussmann here after the verdict talking to the cameras today.


MICHAEL SUSSMANN, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I told the truth to the FBI and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today. I'm grateful to the members of the jury for their careful and thoughtful service. Despite being falsely accused, I'm relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in my case.


PEREZ: And, Jake, a couple reporters caught up to the jury forewoman after the verdict. And she said essentially that this was a waste of time.

TAPPER: But the larger point that you're trying to make, you're trying to say Durham made, which is that the Clinton campaign and associated of the Clinton campaign took opposition research, dirt, vetted and unvetted, true or not true, and tried to get it into the media.

PEREZ: And the FBI.

TAPPER: And the FBI by shopping it around. They did do that, right?

PEREZ: They did do that.

TAPPER: It's just not illegal.

PEREZ: It's just not illegal. And, you know, if it were, there would be a lot more trials like this in Washington. That's not what this was supposed to be about. The judge warned everybody that the 2016 election was not being relitigated in this trial.

TAPPER: It was just about the lie.

PEREZ: It was just about this lie, correct.

TAPPER: Of which the jury said he did not do.

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: How does the Durham investigation compare with the Mueller probe?

PEREZ: You know, Durham has been going now for over three years. This is his third case. One was pleaded guilty. This is the first trial. We have another one coming up in October of someone who helped do some of the research in the infamous Steele dossier.

By comparison, Robert Mueller spent just under two years investigating the Trump Russia investigation, $32 million he spent. By the way, Durham has spent about $3.8 million, but he managed to get, you know, people like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone. Some major people around the Trump campaign either pleaded guilty or found guilty at trial.

So you can see that, you know, certainly if you make that comparison, Durham has fallen way short of what President Trump and what Bill Barr wanted him to do, which is to unearth this great big conspiracy between the deep state and the media to get the former president.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the pending Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. What sources are telling only CNN on efforts to find one of the most significant leaks ever from inside the Supreme Court.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, a CNN exclusive. The U.S. Supreme Court going to unprecedented new lengths to try to find the person who leaked the draft opinion showing the court is poised to overturn the nationwide right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade.

Now law clerks are being asked to hand over their personal cell phone records as part of the probe with some considering hiring attorneys as the investigation intensifies. That's potentially good advice.

CNN's Joan Biskupic broke the story. She joins us live.

Joan, what more are you learning about the probe?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, this has really rattled those clerks. You know, it also shows for the last four weeks since Chief Justice John Roberts launched the probe, they have not made sufficient progress to avoid taking this dramatic step. What it's done, you know, as you said, this is a case that could reverse roe v. Wade, half a century of privacy rights, the right to abortion, and so the court itself is trying to figure out who did this and to stop any other potential leaks. And this is what a lawyer who has handled appellate litigation told me

about just what kind of advice he would give to law clerks who wonder should I turn these over? This is somebody aware of the new demands on the clerks. He said in a different kind of setting, any government lawyer would have -- any government employee would have already turned to a lawyer. That what's similarly situated individuals would do in virtually any other government investigation, and it would be hypocritical for the Supreme Court to prevent its own employees from taking advantage of that fundamental legal protection.

Now, law clerks have put out feelers about what they should do. I'm wondering, we don't know right now the breadth of what they're being asked to turn over or what they're being asked to sign.


BISKUPIC: But this is a really dramatic step. And I think it just ratchets up the tension there all the more because you know what else they're deciding right now, gun rights. Gun rights, religious liberty cases and the right to abortion.

TAPPER: Yeah, the number one advice I would give to anybody is lawyer up, whatever your political persuasion.


TAPPER: Joan, I want to ask you, the draft opinion leaked was dated February 10th. That does hap narrow down the list of people who had access to the document, which didn't leak for months later?

BISKUPIC: I think it adds to the mystery, Jake. What was going on with the document if it had left the building around February 10th?


Did it take two or three steps to get to "Politico" or was somebody holding on to it for an opportune time to let it leak to the media? I think that actually makes it more complicated for the justices to figure out how did it get out of the building and who carried it somehow to "Politico"? And I actually think it could be two or three steps to "Politico".

And maybe the actual target shouldn't be the law clerks who tend to be inside the lines kind of people. You know, to get to that job. There are other employees who were on that circulation and there are also spouses, relatives, friends, roommates. The possibilities are endless here, Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting.

All right. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. Good scoop.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

TAPPER: Just as the temperatures turn up, a new warning of system overload. The regions most at risk of power blackouts in the United States this summer. That's next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our "Earth Matters" series, wildfires and soaring temperatures this summer could strain the U.S. power system and even spark blackouts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summer forecast predicts above average temperatures across much of the United States and the area there you see in dark red, that's likely to be the highest. It's the same place where wildfires have been most destructive.

CNN's Rene Marsh reports on how extreme weather is overwhelming America's electrical grid.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As wildfires burn and temperatures rise across the nation, a sobering new report warns the U.S. power system could buckle, triggering energy emergencies this summer.

The upper Midwest and Mid-South along the Mississippi face the highest risk of blackouts. Texas, the West Coast, and Southwest face an increased risk.

ROMANY WEBB, SABIN CENTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE LAW: The electric system is old, and so, it's not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change.

MARSH: Extreme temperatures trigger a surge in demand, and that taxes the grid. An early heat wave has already knocked six power plants offline in Texas this month. In Oklahoma, heat also played a role in blackouts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a walk-in freezer.

MARSH: And last year, the Texas power grid completely failed for days under a deep freeze, 246 people died.

YAMI NEWELL, BRONZEVILLE RESIDENT: An energy crisis can become a public health crisis. It can become a food crisis.

MARSH: Yami Newell has seen the cascading effects of an unreliable power grid in her hometown of Chicago.

NEWELL: For a wealthier family, if they have a power outage and all the food in their refrigerator goes bad, they may be able to go afford to go back to the store and replenish the coffers. For a family that's operating on more restricted income, they might not be able to go back and refill the coffers.

MARSH: In her Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, solar panels now dot the rooftop of a public housing complex. A short drive from there, a backup battery stores energy from the solar panels as well as natural gas generators, creating what the state energy company calls a microgrid.

PAUL PABST, COMMONWEALTH EDISON COMPANY: Without power, we're talking about potential life threatening situations. So this microgrid provides that backup to be able to deliver power even when the grid isn't there.

MARSH: The project is pending approval, but once it's operating, it can connect and share power with the main power grid. In the event of a blackout, it can disconnect and operate independently, tapping its stored battery energy to power the homes, police station, and hospital in the area for four hours.

WEBB: We have seen a reluctance on the part of many utilities to factor climate change into their planning processes, because they say that the science around climate change is too uncertain.

MARSH: They're basing analysis for grid reliability and investments on historical averages because planning for extreme projections is more expensive.

WEBB: And so, we're continuing to design and cite facilities based on historic weather patterns that we know in the age of climate change aren't a good proxy for future conditions.

MARSH: As communities work to build a more resilient grid, Bronzeville is a possible blueprint for creating a backup for when climate wreaks havoc on the grid.


MARSH (on camera): And compounding the U.S. power grid supply and demand problem is drought. One U.S. grid regulator tells CNN there's been a loss of 2 percent of hydropower from the nation's dams due to low water levels. Add to that, the rapid retirement of coal power plants while everything from toothbrushes to cars are electrified.

I have spoken to so many energy experts. They all say the same thing. Adding more energy supply to the grid means adding more renewable energy. So that's one solution.

TAPPER: All right. It's good to see a story like that that has a potential solution as well as an existent problem.

Rene Marsh, thanks so much.

Still ahead, sky high prices for almost everything. The White House says inflation will be the top economic priority for them for the month of June. But weren't there warning signs well before now?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, we need answers. The growing scrutiny over the law

enforcement response or lack thereof to the school shooting in Uvalde, including the decision to hold off on entering the classroom, a decision that so distressed customs and border patrol officers, they ultimately took the matter into their own hands.

Plus, this is what it looks like when thousands of people are allowed to leave their homes for the first time in 80 days in an authoritarian society. But the easing of COVID lockdown in one Chinese city is a long cry from freedom.

And leading this hour, President Biden meeting with key economic leaders. The Federal Reserve chair, and Treasury Secretary to address inflation and the state of the economy as gas and other prices continue to surge.