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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Lawmakers Engage In Bipartisan discussion On Red Flag Laws; Rep. Ruben Gallego Is Interviewed About Red Flag Laws; House Judiciary CMTE plans Thursday Vote On Gun Legislation Package; Biden: I Didn't Know Until April The Formula Shortage Would Be So Serious; Ukraine: Russia Stormed Severodonetsk, Controls Most Of City; U.S. Sending Most Powerful Rocket Systems Yet To Ukraine; Sheryl Sandberg To Step Down As Chief Operating Officer For Facebook's Parent Company, Meta; Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Pennsylvania Recount; Celebrations Begin Tomorrow For Queen Elizabeth II; PGA Tour Threatens "Disciplinary Action" For Golders Who Play In Saudi-Backed League. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 01, 2022 - 17:00   ET




PETE ARREDONDO, UVALDE SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE CHIEF: Just so everybody knows, we've been in contact with UPS every day, just so you all know.

PROKUPECZ: They say you're not --

ARREDONDO: Everyday.

PROKUPECZ: They say that you're not cooperating.

ARREDONDO: I've been on the phone with them every day.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The embattled chief was quietly sworn in to the city council on Tuesday. When CNN questioned the secrecy, he called the meeting quote, "a private thing" that was done out of respect for grieving families.

On the investigation, the Texas Department of Public Safety now says the back door the shooter used to access Robb Elementary was closed but unlocked, contradicting earlier reports that the door had been propped open by a teacher.

PROKUPECZ: What about the --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, we appreciate you being here.

PROKUPECZ: I understand. But the door --

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Uvalde school district spokeswoman, when asked about the unlock door deferred to a statement released today that "Students and staff will not be returning to the Robb elementary campus." And that they're "also working with agencies to help us identify improvements on all UCISD campuses."

(on camera): We've been speaking to resident after resident here, a woman whose niece was killed, a local store employee whose cousin was killed, a fast food employee whose niece was killed. Another person who was not too far from here grew up going to Robb Elementary and then decades later hears gunshots before calling 911. All of them were too heartbroken to go on camera being that close to the story.

But one thing we heard from every single one of them is that this goes beyond this week. This is something that is going to be with them for the rest of their lives.

(voice-over): Today, more funerals for teacher Irma Garcia and her husband, Jose, who died of a heart attack just days after his wife was gunned down. The community grieving and I'm frustrated. Now with more services to come every day for the next week.

RUBEN MATAMONTEY, UVALDE RESIDENT: As for Arredondo, it's -- I leave it to his conscience. Why didn't we do more? That's all. Why didn't he do more?


JIMENEZ: And what exactly was done in those moments is precisely what's under investigation right now. And we follow it up with the Texas Department of Public Safety on Arredondo's comments to CNN that he had been in contact with them every day, after of course, DPS said that he hadn't responded to their request for a follow up interview in days. We haven't heard back there.

Separately, Governor Greg Abbott recently announced that he is now asking for a comprehensive review of school safety across the state, all of it within the backdrop of course of continuing funerals. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are proposing new gun restrictions in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. One of these proposals is pushing states to offer red flag laws which allow authorities to seize guns and block the sales of firearms to people showing signs of violent intent.

Florida, with its Republican governor and Republican led legislature enacted that measure in the wake of the 2018 massacre at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 innocent people were killed. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Florida with an up close look at how these orders work in that state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are to have no firearms or ammunition in your possession.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like when a Red Flag Law is at work.

In this Florida courtroom, we watched as a judge ordered individuals to turn over their guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never used a in two years.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The judge ordered this man to give up his weapons, the man told us it was because he sent a photo of himself with a gun pointed at his chin to a loved one on the anniversary of his son's death. He agreed to surrender his gun.

SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: Listen, I'm a strong second amendment guy. I'm a conservative. I believe risk protection orders work.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Those risk protection orders or RPOs that the Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is talking about are at the center of Florida's Red Flag Law. It allows a judge to temporarily take away firearms and ammunition from anyone deemed a threat by law enforcement, usually for a year. They can't buy guns either.

JUDD: It's simply a cooling off period until you have some mental health counseling.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Florida is one of 19 states that have passed a law like this, one of just a few red states with such legislation.

JARED MOSKOWITZ (D), FORMER MEMBER, FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: We left nothing on the table to make sure that we prevented what happened here at Douglas from happening in the state of Florida again.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Former State Representative Jared Moskowitz graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In 2018, after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty there, lawmakers passed legislation that not only established its red flag law, it also raised the age requirement to buy a gun from 18 to 21, added a three day waiting period, a guardian program which allows trained school staff to carry guns and set aside $400 million for, among other things, mental health in school security.


Gun reform with bipartisan support passed by a Republican legislature signed into law by a Republican governor in a matter of weeks.

MOSKOWITZ: Not one Republican who voted for that bill in Florida has paid a political price for protecting kids and doing the right thing.

JUDD: We all have to work together to say this person's got a problem and if we don't address it, they have a large propensity to be an active assailant at some point in time.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Data obtained by CNN showed that more than 8,000 orders have been granted across the state.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): But the NRA has sued the state of Florida over the gun reform legislation and gun advocates are voicing concerns. REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): If there's such a threat that they're threatening somebody with a weapon already, well, then they've already broken the law. So why do you need this other law?

JUDD: Let me tell Representative Crenshaw, if that were so then Florida, which is dominated by conservatives, the Republicans, wouldn't have passed RPOs.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): And as the country once again grapples with finding solutions to end horrific school shootings, in Florida. Republicans and Democrats say this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any other weapons --

SANTIAGO (voice-over): -- is working.

MOSKOWITZ: I know we're more divided now than we were just four years ago. I mean, we didn't just give up in this was predictable, and preventable.

JUDD: Nothing is more important than protecting our children. Nothing.


SANTIAGO: And, Jake, let's take a look at the research. If you look at Connecticut, whose red flag law has been in place since 1999, so 23 years, one analysis there found that for every 10 to 20 guns taken away by these risk protection orders, one suicide was averted.

TAPPER: Leyla Santiago in Polk County, Florida. Thanks, great report. Really interesting.

Let's discuss with Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He's a Democrat. What do you think, are red flag laws a good a good way to start with this problem that we have in the U.S.? Would you like to see them expanded at a national level? Would you like to see them in your home state of Arizona that I couldn't help but notice was not included in that map?

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Well, certainly I do think it is a good start. You know, kudos to the Republicans in Florida that got together in a bipartisan manner, and really lead with courage and pass laws that have really saved probably hundreds of lives. It certainly would save a lot of lives in Arizona, especially people that are attempting suicide.

This is actually one of the biggest -- those -- that community is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this, but it is a good start. There are other gun safety regulations that we should really be looking at I think that would also be -- could also be inclusive, and could also be very helpful. But you know, let's get moving with this.

TAPPER: What are some of the other ones that you would like to see that, and let's be clear here, that you think could pass the Senate, because obviously Democrats control the House, but you need 60 votes in the Senate? GALLEGO: Right.

TAPPER: What do you want to see that could win over 10 Republicans plus Joe Manchin plus Kyrsten Sinema?

GALLEGO: Well, I think it's very logical for us to say, because we already do, that if you're below the age of 21, you do not have a right to buy a handgun. Why are we allowing young men --

TAPPER: Which is already the law.

GALLEGO: It's already a law.


GALLEGO: Why are we allowing young men, young women early age of 21 to buy a weapon that's even more dangerous than a handgun? Especially these AR-15 style variant weapons, right? I think that's something logically that they did in Florida and I think the same thing we can do here.

I know, it requires a little bit of courage from some of our Republican colleagues, but this is a type of moment that, you know, I think we can actually get together and say, we can actually truly save lives. Had we had a red flag law, plus a ban on those types of weapons being sold to men under the age of 21? I don't think the chances of us having Uvalde shooting are way diminished.

TAPPER: Well, and look, first of all, it's very clear that the Uvalde shooter waited until he turned 18 --

GALLEGO: Correct.

TAPPER: -- and bought that gun legally. I think the same is true for the Buffalo shooter and the Parkland shooter, I believe.

GALLEGO: Because (ph) it's true.

TAPPER: But let me ask you, because I have raised this with Senator Pat Toomey, who's generally conservative on these gun issues, but he's shown some wiggle room and willing to work with Democrats. Toomey's response when I said handguns are banned for anyone under 21, why not do the same for all firearms? Toomey's response, especially AR-15s, is response was, well, you can serve in the military at age 18, so why is it OK for somebody in the army to have an AR-15 at 18 but not somebody who's not in the army. You served, what would you be -- your response to Senator Toomey?

GALLEGO: Well, number one, you can have a rifle if you're going to go hunting, but you don't need an AR-15 go hunting. Number two, when you serve the military, you don't actually have a gun, that weapon belongs to the government. And before you can even use that weapon, you have to go through a background check. You're going to be under constant surveillance.

That weapons not even in your possession most of the time. It's actually in the armory, it's accounted for, every bullets accounted for and you have to recall and qualify every year.

Before I even got to shoot my first round, I had to lay on the grass and aim down -- on a barrel for two weeks and dry firing the Marine Corps. So if we wanted to actually establish that as a norm for all shooters, I'd be fine with that. But they're not the same. It's not -- it's definitely apples and oranges. And again, you know, you can't compare the two.


TAPPER: So the House Judiciary Committee is going to vote on -- tomorrow on a package of gun reform measures that almost certainly will pass the Democratic controlled House, but do not really have a chance of getting 60 votes in the Senate. Why do that now when there seemed to be legitimate efforts at a bipartisan compromise going on? Senator John Cornyn and Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Susan Collins, Republicans trying to work with Democrats to find something, might this not -- I mean, there's plenty of time between now in November for Democrats to pass a bill that can't get through the Senate, but they can pass the House. Why do that now? Why not wait and give this bipartisan committee or whatever, this bipartisan coalition time to work?

GALLEGO: Well, for us in the House, you know, trying to figure out the mysteries of the Senate is usually looking into a very, very foggy crystal ball. Also, the other thing we have to focus on, there is an outcry real, it's happening in our communities right now. And not just, you know, in mass school shootings, but also every day where the shootings in our urban parts of our country or just any parts of our country, they do want to see that they -- that there's politicians and there's actually left officials that care about them. And we do have sensible gun safe regulations that we should be pushing, we should be talking about, and we should be talking about them all the time.

So yes, it may not have a chance in the Senate, but doesn't mean that we shouldn't be having those conversations because one day we will have a chance to actually pass these types of regulations and truly save lives.

TAPPER: Are you going to run against Kyrsten Sinema for the Senate?

GALLEGO: I think this is something that we'll talk about in 2023. Right now, we're going to focus on 2022 and passing this piece of legislation.

TAPPER: I had to try to. Congressman Ruben Gallego, good to see you.

GALLEGO: Thank you. Thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us.

Breaking news on the infant formula shortage. Turns out President Biden did not think the shortage was going to be this bad until April. But remember, the Abbott factory was shut down by the FDA in February. We're going to talk to a member of the administration next. Plus, it's getting nasty on the golf course. Why the PGA is now threatening to punish some of the top professional golfers in the world. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our money lead, just moments ago, President Biden conceded that he did not understand how big of an effect the shutdown of one baby formula plant would have on the country until April. The White House previously said it had been working on addressing the shortages since that factory was shut down in February. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

Kaitlan, you just pressed President Biden about the timeline. What did he have to say?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, the President saying he did not understand the severity of the baby formula shortage until early April. At first, of course, that was well after the shortage was underway, given the Abbott facility had closed and led to so many of the shortages that you're still seeing nationwide, was actually shuttered back in mid-February. That was long after complaints had first been made about the facility last fall. And according to lawmakers, the FDA was very slow to act when it came to interviewing employees at the plant and actually moving to get it closed, which happened months later in February.

And, Jake, the President made these comments as he was meeting with baby formula manufacturers here at the White House talking to them about whether or not they were able to gauge the impact that the closure of that facility would have on the stock of baby formula nationwide. And several of them, Jake, telling the President they knew it would have a very large impact.


COLLINS: Didn't those CEOs Just tell you that they understood it would have a very big impact?


COLLINS: Shouldn't the FDA have been more aware of that when they took months to conduct the inspection, to interview people at this plant after the complaints were made, and then only shuttered it in February?

BIDEN: Well, the real problem occurred when it started -- when it got shuttered. So, you're saying they should have anticipated that would be shuttered? The answer is --

COLLINS: (INAUDIBLE) only last fall, Mr. President.

BIDEN: Well, here's the deal. I became aware of this problem sometime and after April or in early April about how intense it was. And so, we did everything in our power from that point on and it's all I can tell you right now.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, at the White House briefing that just happened, they were asked multiple times why the President wasn't informed by staff sooner about how bad this shortage was. Why he wasn't informed until April, they did not offer any real answers to that, Jake. They said, instead, this has been a whole of government approach. Of course, it wasn't one that involve the President, according to the President until April

TAPPER: Kaitlan, President Biden also just admitted that there's not much, in his view, that he could do to lower prices for Americans right this -- right now. Not a message that a lot of Americans suffering from inflation were hoping to hear.

COLLINS: No, but it's one that has been a realistic conversation inside the White House. The President saying there is no switch he can just click to change gas prices immediately in the near term to get them back to closer to the average of $3 a gallon now that we are seeing gas prices come up every day including five cents today alone saying that it is going to be really difficult.

And Jake, he talked about other ways he could potentially ease the pressures that are on American households right now when it comes to other prices of drugs, prices of drug -- of food, things like that, that he could deal with and childcare as well. But he said that that is going to take some time, Jake. So what he is saying is right now in the immediate future, it is going to be a struggle under the gas prices aren't likely to change anytime soon. Of course, that has been something the White House has been dealing with as they are on this new messaging push to convince voters they are aware of how high the prices are and they are working to bring them down even if that is not happening in the near term, Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss is the Director of the White House National Economic Council Brian Deese.

Brian, your council is working on the response to the baby formula shortage. The White House has said the administration has been working on the issue since February. So, how come President Biden didn't know it was going to be bad until April?

BRIAN DEESE, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, let me just clarify what's going on here. We were informed by the FDA of the closure in February. And from that point, the FDA and the staff across the administration in all the relevant agencies in the White House was working to try to address the issue.

Part of the reason why production has increased and the companies that were here today have been able to increase production by as much as they have is they've been working on this issue now for months. But it took too long for Abbott to agree to a consent decree. And once it was clear that that facility was not going to be able to come back online sooner, that it was clear that we were going to have a more significant challenge.

TAPPER: Brian, why didn't --

DEESE: So at that point --

TAPPER: -- anyone tell the President?

DEESE: -- the President was informed.

TAPPER: Why didn't anybody tell the President?

DEESE: At that point, the President was informed and the President directed us to use all the available tools that we had available to address them. And that's why, for example, we issued the DPA, and as you and I have discussed, the opportunity to use the DPA comes in when production facilities are at full production to make sure that supplies are uninterrupted. The reason why the producers were in that position to do that was because of the work that had been taken to date. And we are now -- we're moving out, not only with the DPA but also Operation Fly Formula and other metrics as well to approve more importers as well.

TAPPER: I guess I still just don't fully understand why you didn't tell the President until April. If the problem was reported to the FDA last fall, the FDA didn't check it out until, I think, December and then they shut down the factory in February. The President, the guy who -- the only one who can invoke the Defense Production Act to force companies to produce this incredibly direly needed infant formula. He's not told until April.

Karine Jean-Pierre, your press secretary, just said this has been a whole of government approach. That doesn't include the President?

DEESE: The FDA took the appropriate measures to shut down the facility in February. And when that happened, the FDA and the relevant officials from across the government were on -- focused on the effort to try to increase production from other producers, and also figure out how quickly they could get that facility back online. It took too long to get that facility back online. It took too long to get Abbott to agree to a consent decree.

Once it was clear that that facility was not going to be able to come back online, it was clear we were going to need to even more greatly increased production, particularly of those specialty formulas. But I want to be very clear that the President's role in this has been, at the right and appropriate moments when we needed to do things like the Defense Production Act, when we needed to take extraordinary measures like Operation Fly Formula, he has been informed, he has directed the action that we have taken.

TAPPER: OK. So, the whistleblower complaint in the fall, the FDA waited till December to act, waited until February to shut the plant down, President Biden wasn't told about until April, you don't think any of that should have been done more quickly or sooner? You think everything just went exactly how it's supposed to?

DEESE: Look, the FDA commissioner has already said that he will conduct a thorough investigation to make sure that we understand fully the timeline. And I will leave that -- those evaluations with respect to the facility and making safety judgments, I will leave to the FDA.

Once the facility was shut down, what was clear was that we were going to need to do two things. One, the FDA was going to have to work to reach a consent decree with Abbott to get that facility back going and that other producers were going to need to ramp up their production. It did not happen fast enough that the consent decree with Abbott was reached.

And as a result, we are in a position where we had to then take extraordinary measures to rely on production from other facilities. Those extraordinary measures required the direct -- the President's direct intervention. And that's what the President has directed and that's what the President has done.

TAPPER: I don't need the FDA to investigate itself to come to the judgment that they did not act quickly enough. And on behalf of all the frustrated moms and dads and guardians out there, I hope you don't either.

DEESE: Well, look, these are really serious safety judgments. And you're absolutely right that people are a right to be frustrated and concerned. But when the FDA goes to a facility and conducts an investigation, that has to be done thoroughly and in their best scientific judgment. And so, I think it is appropriate that they look at that timeline and understand what happened in that context. But I also think that we need to take very seriously that -- oh, whoa, whoa, guys --

TAPPER: All right. Camera fell down. OK. Brian Deese, thank you so much.


President Biden sending rockets to Ukraine. CNN is near the front lines where Ukrainian. CNN is near the front lines where Ukrainian forces say those rockets could prove very useful. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our world lead today, today marks Children's Day in Ukraine. Officials in Ukraine say at least 243 Ukrainian kids have been killed, hundreds more injured since the start of Russia's attack on Ukraine. Experts say these estimates are presumed to be a vast underground -- undercount as Russian troops are still actively storming at least one eastern city, Severodonetsk. Let's get right to CNN's Melissa Bell who is live from Zaporizhzhia.

Melissa, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration says that Russians now control most of that city?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 80 percent of it this hour, Jake, it is streets to street combat that is now taking place. And what we've been hearing from that head of the Regional Military Administration is that there's been heavy shelling all around the Luhansk area. With those villages, those settlements still in Ukrainian hands at the scenes of heavy shelling this evening. They've managed to evacuate.

Some of the civilians they've been managed to bring some humanitarian aid in, but the fall of Severodonetsk were to happen, means that the only large city in the area that will remain in Ukrainian hands on the whole of Luhansk will be the big city and next door Lysychansk. Now that's important, because it means that 90 percent of the Luhansk region will be in Russian hands.

And just to put that in perspective for you, before the start of the Russian invasion, there's two breakaway People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic represented about 31 percent of the entire Donbas region. Tonight, we believe that it is two-thirds of that region that is under Russian control.

TAPPER: And today, the Biden administration announced it will be sending the most powerful and advanced rocket systems to date, as part of the U.S.'s 11th security package to Ukraine. How important the Ukrainian forces think these weapons will be?

BELL: Crucial, and I think a lot has been made of the question of their range, because Ukrainians had been asking for a longer range than what they've received. But to give you an example here in Zaporizhzhia, the Russian positions are about 30 miles down the Dnieper River. And what we've been seeing here over the course of the last 48 hours is heavy shelling of some of these settlements.

The village is just to the south of here and other weapons that we're talking about, that the State Department confirmed Ukraine was going to be receiving include not just rocket systems that will allow them to get within about 49 miles. So crucial in terms of range somewhere here. But more importantly, perhaps, Jake, they are much more modern than anything that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have right now.

So not just rocket systems, but also munitions that guide themselves towards targets and specifically artillery positions that have proven so effective. And so devastating for the Russian forces since they began that invasion and continue to cause huge damage, not just in that northern part of the Donbas that I was talking about a moment ago, but all the way down that line right through Zaporizhzhia and all the way down to Kherson. That line that divides even tonight, Russian held Ukraine from the rest of the country, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Melissa Bell in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, thanks so much.

And our sports lead today, a well-earned victory for Ukraine's men's national soccer team today beating Scotland three to one in the World Cup playoff semi-final. The match had been delayed for three months because of the war in Ukraine. But now the team is just one win away from officially qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that to begin in November. Emotions understandably high as players became a vivid display of national identity on the international stage. Russia, meanwhile, was banned from its qualification playoff semi-final.

A big shake-up at Facebook. One of the social media companies' familiar faces is leaning out. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead, Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Sandberg told Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the weekend of her decision to leave her job as Chief Operating Officer. And moments ago, a spokesperson for Meta told The Lead exclusively that Zuckerberg is supportive of her decision.

Sandberg has been with Facebook for 14 years. She officially stepped down as CEO over this fall, but will retain a seat on the board of Meta.

Turning into our politics lead, the recount for Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary race is officially underway and celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz holds a narrow lead over David McCormick with about 900 votes. But now McCormick's chances may be getting even slimmer. The Supreme Court has stepped in and temporarily blocked the counting of some mail-in ballots.

Let's discuss. So Alyssa, let me start with you at issue of the ballots where voters did not write a date on the outer envelope. Those envelopes do get postmarked by the Post Office and timestamp by the counties when they receive it. But state law does say it needs to have the date written by the voter.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito paused a ruling that would have allowed the ballots to be counted. How is this news being received in Republican circles?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the RNC is basically siding with the McCormick camp -- I'm sorry, with the Dr. Oz campaign because I think the understanding is a prolonged recount that spans into mid late June is going to ultimately boost Fetterman, the Democrat. I'd say this with all due respect to your home state, the Pennsylvania laws make it incredibly hard to actually count ballots, have confidence from any voter, that their ballots are being counted the right way.

And this is sort of an interesting mix of the post-Trump post-big lie era where you're seeing one candidate, this very slim margin saying we need to fight through and through make sure all the votes are counted. Whereas, the other is just saying, no, we're going to hang on this, you know, kind of is -- you know, what was something that who would think to even write the date necessarily on their ballot? That's a very easy oversight to do.

And so they're saying, no, we're going to kind of push through. So I think Dr. Oz is going to pull it out. But the -- at the end of the day, I think the goal of the Republicans should be more votes need to -- we need to be counting as many votes as we can, not going this other direction.

TAPPER: You're a fellow Pennsylvanian, what do you make of that? That's fighting words.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I will say, I mean, we ran into this during the presidential election as well. The rules for absentee ballots for ballots that are coming in through the mail are a little bit complex in Pennsylvania. They're actually pretty easy to screw up. And so, I do think there is this broader question where, you know, I think it's important for journalists especially to be consistent in saying as many people whose votes can be counted should be within the law.


Right now, Pennsylvania's law is written a certain way which is --

TAPPER: If saying that the voter has to write even if it's clear that the vote -- the ballot came in --

HUNT: Right.

TAPPER: -- at the right time.

HUNT: Exactly. And so it's going to be up to the legislator to -- the legislature to change it, if that's what they decide that they want to do. I think the important thing here, the political question is, it does become harder every day, every day that David McCormick trails, Mehmet Oz in this race, it becomes harder for his campaign to see any change in the outcome.

TAPPER: Yes, and Mehmet Oz has declared himself the, quote, presumptive winner --


TAPPER: -- of the primary even though nothing's official yet. Is that premature you think, or does that make sense?

TALEV: Well, it depends on which audience you're trying to please. And Donald Trump was telling me how to do it. He felt that he had to do it. I think, on this broader question of whether these technicalities, these small technicalities, like did you hand write a date on something where it's it -- it's not may not be material irrelevant, but when it's what the law says, like that is a warning sign to every voter in every state in America, that you have to read the fine print.

If you want your vote to be counted, you have to follow the instructions explicitly. And it's of grave concern to voting rights advocates, people who want to expand ballot access, because it shows you that when legislatures kind of put all these little bits into the law, technicalities that can trip you up, it costs votes. And if it's a Republican versus Republican or a Democrat versus a Democrat, it's not the party, you know, that's affected, it's the candidate.

But when it's a general election, there's two parties, and it'll play out. I mean, I just think this may be a foreshadowing of things to come.

TAPPER: And Navin, I mean, one of the things that's interesting is, first of all, these are Republican votes that they're throwing out, right? I mean, it's the Republican primary, so the Republican votes are throwing it. And second of all, there really is no presumption of, well, you're a Pennsylvania legal voter, we want your vote to count. Even if you forgot to put the date on it, we know that it arrived in time.

NAVIN NAYAK, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Well, I mean, I think that's the reality of elections now in this country, which is the -- this should be a moment of just an expression of voter's will, of the public's will of actually making this decision. That is not how the Republican Party and certainly matter, Republicans are litigating this.

You know, Dr. Oz doesn't one side of the argument this time McCormick, it could be switched next time. The point is really to gain power. That's what this is an exercise in. And, you know, McCormick is on one side of the argument now that the date doesn't matter, the law is wrong.

Let's see if that's actually -- if he wins the primary what he actually thinks in November, if that's actually the place, they will land. And it just goes to show you that from their perspective, the truth and actually the expression public will is never the exercise there.

TAPPER: Yes. And I think we've all covered or been part of enough recounts to know that you're trailing by 900 votes so long after the primary. It doesn't look good.

Politico has been reporting that says GOP operatives are assembling a multipronged network of party loyalists that could, could cause chaos on Election Day. Politico outlines four specific networks are all focused on poll workers, GOP lawyers, district attorneys, board of canvassers, all of this helps put in place a partisan take over a vote counting and certifying the votes if things don't go their way.

Is that, I mean, look, there's always a degree of this in every election, but they're preparing to push and challenge in ways that we hadn't really seen before.

GRIFFIN: Well, and this is related to the previous conversation, which is the Republican Party, my party, should be putting money, putting recruitment, putting training toward getting as many people to register as Republicans to want to vote Republican. But instead, they're focusing their efforts on how are we going to challenge results at the ballot box. That's to me the wrong focus. If you have a winning message, this is not where you need to have your focus being.

And granted, poll watchers have always been partisan, changing that it's poll workers that you're recruiting to be distinctly partisan, concerns me a bit on this is the Trump playbook. They want to play in states and challenge election results at the state level. And you're going to see more of this Michigan, obviously hugely consequential but I know Nevada has looked at similar measures.

TAPPER: Yes. Are Democrats prepared for this?

NAYAK: I don't know that they are -- I mean, this is a challenge because what you do these are -- the key point here Alyssa made is that pole watchers is something both parties have done.


NAYAK: Now we're talking about someone who's an official who's a direct line to the RNC to, you know, start a process of creating chaos. And you're right to say they could, but that is the goal of this whole operation at the RNC is standing up. It is to create chaos, whether they're successful or not, is not really a thing.

Democrats are going to have an easy hand in controlling. I think this is great reporting by Politico, and I think it sort of shines a spotlight on what Republicans are trying to do in states across the country.

TAPPER: What do you make of it all?

HUNT: Well, I think the environment in Michigan is actually potentially very much a tinderbox because of some of the way that the state's politics have broken some of the militia activity that goes on. And I think one of the things that we need to see from our institutions and that, you know, many of my sources on both sides of the aisle, Republicans tend not to say it in public as much as Democrats do.

But there is concern that this lays the groundwork for something worse than just our politics being about choices and ballots and counting votes and instead crossing the wrong line into violence.


And so I think there needs to be a very careful, you know, accounting and approach when it comes to these kinds of things, or you're potentially ginning people up for something that, you know, our system should categorically reject.

TAPPER: I want to turn to the infant formula shortage for a second, because you just heard Brian Deese talking about why it was appropriate. The President Biden didn't find out about this crisis until April, even though the Abbott factory was shut down in February and the whistleblower complaint was last fall. Do you think his explanation and his argument was good enough for voters?

TALEV: I think this is a big topic of conversation, and that if President Biden really wasn't briefed on this for two months, it's a problem about how the administration communicates internally. And if he was, and it just wasn't a formal briefing or something like that, that we will find that out too.

I think for the President and for his team and for the Democratic Party, the real problem with inflation and supply chain and now baby formula is this. This impacts the most important parts of their base and of their swing, right? Inflation is infecting -- affecting, infecting -- affecting people of color, affecting young people. This is affecting women.

TAPPER: Young moms?

TALEV: Young moms.

HUNT: I'm sorry, but the fact that the President didn't know this, like I have a two and a half year old son, all of my friends contacted me. Yes, I'm in the news business, but I heard about this from my social networks in February --


HUNT: -- when the plant was closed. And the formula was recalled. It is terrifying. If you are a parent and parents knew about this, then how did the White House not.

GRIFFIN: Well, at best, it's a massive staff failure. But ultimately, the buck stops with the President. This was foreseeable. I don't know if he's distracted by other aspects of COVID. But we were told the adults are back in charge and this was a foreseeable crisis they didn't act on.

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all for being here. It is the Queen's party and she can do what she wants to including control the invite list. Who will and who won't be by the Queen side during the big jubilee? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Platinum Jubilee, a historic four-day celebration begins tomorrow for Queen Elizabeth II. Moments ago, a special portrait of the Queen was released ahead of the ceremony honoring her 70 years of service.

CNN's Max Foster looks at what to expect from the Royal celebration.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final preparations are underway to celebrate a moment of history. Queen Elizabeth, the first British Royal to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, commemorating 70 years of service.

The lineup includes a birthday parade with gun salutes and the lighting of beacons across the Commonwealth. A Thanksgiving service, a palace concert, a platinum pageant. 12 million people across the U.K. are set to attend street parties over the weekend. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven decades from the throne is a huge milestone. Very hardworking lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The same kind of feeling as weddings. It's just everybody's happy and you want to make friends and say hi and smile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She used to (INAUDIBLE). And I'll just say thank you. Thank you, man. And God save the Queen.

FOSTER (voice-over): Events get started on Thursday with the trooping of the color which is marked the official birthday of the British sovereign for more than 260 years. All the pomp and pageantry that 1,200 members of the military, hundreds of army musicians and around 240 horses can muster.

On Sunday, the Gold State Coach will make its first appearance in decades, leading a procession of performers and personalities. Prince Charles will step in when his mother feels unable to make an event.

(on-camera): What's always most telling about these occasions is the balcony appearance, is used to project the modern face of British monarchy. In 2002, we saw the entire extended family. In 2012, it was stripped right back to its core to reflect the more austere times.

And this year, it's working Royals only. So that means you won't see Prince Andrew or Prince Harry with Meghan. They're all off the list.

(voice-over): The sussexes are invited and will appear possibly with their two children during events. And the world will be looking closely at their body language as they interact with other members of the family following that rift.


FOSTER: It will be quite something, Jake, I have to say to see the sussexes among in the Royal fold once again. But I have to say down here on the mile, people camping out ready for the big moment. Many of them are Royal fans, many of them just wanting to come along, have a party and celebrate after some tough few years for everyone. Really, though, the focus is on the Queen all those years of service.

This will be a hive of activity tomorrow and people are very keen to get in the best positions. It's going to be fun I think, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Have fun, Max. Max Foster outside Buckingham Palace. Thank you.

Who knew a golf tournament could spark so much drama. There's a threat from the PGA and now some of the world's top players are firing back. I'll explain next.



TAPPER: To our sports lead now, the PGA is threatening disciplinary action for tour golfers who participate in the new Saudi-backed golf event. The move comes as Dustin Johnson says he will headline the Saudi LIV league. LIV golf says its tour will kick off on June 9th, which is the same time as the PGA Tour's Canadian Open.

A spokesperson for Johnson says, Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity. He decided it was in his and his family's best interest to pursue it." Johnson is already facing blowback for his decision. The Royal Bank of Canada announcing today they will no longer sponsor him. The LIV league comes as Saudi Arabia has been under scrutiny for the slaughter of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and for the war in Yemen to say nothing of its overall day-to-day horrific human rights record.

Sixth time major winner Phil Mickelson's name so far is absent from the LIV event. Mickelson has been an outspoken and supporter of the new tour Rory McIlroy weighing in that golfers should not be punished for participating but that he would not participate in self.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. You can listen to our podcasts wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door to place I'd like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you tomorrow.