Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Sources: U.S., Western Allies Working On Cease-Fire For Ukraine; Russia's Unprovoked War On Ukraine Enters 100th Day; Summer Tourist Spots Cope With Inflation, Low Staffing; Fetterman Yet To Return To Campaign Trail After Stroke, Primary Win; Ex-Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Indicted For Refusing To Cooperate With January 6 Committee Investigation; Biden Has Cancelled $17 Billion In Student Debt Tied To Faulty Loan Practices & Defunct Schools. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 03, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This summer, summer vacation is back after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus for millions of Americans but getting to your destination might be only half the battle. Once you arrive it might be anything but relaxing, we'll explain.

Plus, the Uvalde cops in the cavalcade of false information they initially shared told you and all those mourning families that a teacher had propped open a door that the killer use to enter the school. That like so much the police originally told us was false. We're going to hear from the teacher's lawyer this hour.

And leading this hour, today is the 100th day of the war in Ukraine. One hundred days of the same unprovoked brutal Russian assault that Vladimir Putin seemed to think was only going to last a few days with Russia seizing the capital of Kyiv and asking Ukrainian President Zelenskyy quickly. One hundred days later that has decidedly not happened. Zelenskyy remains defiant, releasing a message to his country that quote, "victory shall be ours.'

One hundred days in the cost of victory is steep, a top Red Cross official saying the scale of destruction in Ukraine quote, "defies comprehension." Once vibrant towns now piles of dust. Nearly 7 million Ukrainians have escaped the violence by leaving their country according to the U.N., millions more displaced and war cutting short the lives of at least 243 Ukrainian children according to officials.

For 100 days the world has witnessed the cruelty of Russian forces. Bucha, Borodianka, Hostomel now home to hundreds of war crimes investigations after the Russian invaders left behind mass graves filled with the bodies of the innocent of women and children. A theater sheltering innocent women and children bombed despite the giant words written outside in Russian twice, children, as an attempt to appeal to Russians humanity. Despite these 100 days in Ukrainian forces stand strong, stopping an invasion of their capital and sinking the jewel of Russia's fleet of warships. CNN's Matthew Chance is live for us in Kyiv. He's been covering Putin's brutal invasion since the beginning.

Matthew, how is the mood among Ukrainians in the capitol today on this grim milestone of 100 days?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's amazing because I've been out and about inside Kyiv over the course of the day. And it's remarkable how the city has sprung back to life since the dark days of when it was being bombed on a sort of daily, if not hourly basis by Russian cruise missiles and Russian warplanes.

And of course, since the Russian forces have been pushed back from the suburbs of the city, people have flooded back into it, shops have started to reopen, cafes have started reopened, people are sort of trying to sort of re gather some semblance of normal life. And you know, in some ways, you can imagine at times that there was no war happening at all. But scratch the surface of that, of course, and everybody you speak to knows of the atrocities that have been carried out over the course of the past 100 days. We're all painfully aware of the territorial losses that Ukraine has endured. Twenty percent of its territory now under Russian occupation, according to Russian officials, and of course, the damage that's been wrought on the infrastructure on towns and cities elsewhere and on the civilian population.

And everybody in this city knows that even though it's pleasant in the center of Ukrainian capital, right now, those dark days could be back and people are aware that at some point in the future it's possible that Moscow could once again turn its attention back on the Ukrainian capital. And so, yes, people are, you know, kind of trying to live their lives, but with that in the -- well, not just in the back of their minds, but, you know, also thinking about the terrible fight that the country is still engaged in.

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

Today, President Biden trying to make it clear that he's leaving enough to Ukraine to decide if Ukraine should give up land to Russia for peace. Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand.

Natasha, you have new reporting on the U.S. working with allies on a framework for a ceasefire as they fear there is no end in sight to the war without diplomacy. What are some of the ideas being discussed? And is Ukraine on board?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Jake. So, really intensive conversations happening between U.S., U.K. and European officials about what a framework for peace would actually look like, a ceasefire would actually look like. Importantly, the Ukrainians are not actually part of these discussions because these Europe -- the Europeans, the United States, and the Brits do not want to make it seem like they're pressuring Ukraine to come to any kind of concessions.

So, what we've learned is that as part of these discussions, a four- point plan that was presented by Italy has been among the topics of conversation, and that includes Ukraine potentially giving up, of course, its bid for NATO membership. So neutrality in exchange for some security guarantees from the international community, as well as, and this is the part that Ukraine really does not like seating or negotiating territory with Russia, so negotiating the future of the Donbass region and Crimea. And that is something that the Ukrainians have really ruled out at this point.


And this is a challenge for the Biden administration. And as these officials have these conversations, because they see no appetite right now by the Ukrainians or the Russians to sit down at the negotiating table and actually come to some kind of agreement, the Ukrainians are digging in, in the south and the east, they see this relatively limited gains that the Russians are making there. But they still believe that any kind of concession at this point is unacceptable. So, really no movement there in terms of what the Europeans and Americans are discussing. Although there is still some optimism that some kind of deal sometime in the future could be worked out.

TAPPER: In April, the U.S. goal was for Russia to, quote, "fail" according to a National Security Council spokesman. Doesn't sound like that's the goal anymore with 100 days in if the U.S. is part of these talks.

BERTRAND: That's right. And there was a lot of optimism in the beginning of the war when we saw Ukraine kind of push back the Russians pretty decisively from Kyiv from the northwestern region of Ukraine. But that has kind of waned, that optimism, as we've seen how Russia is really just going scorched earth in the eastern part of the country, and they are making gains, limited gains, but steady. And that has really worried a lot of U.S. officials who have -- who saw the initial optimism here, who saw, you know, some of the Americans coming out kind of gung-ho in saying, look, the Ukrainians can defeat Russia decisively on the battlefield and that is how this will end.

Now, there's a little bit less optimism that that is the case. And they're saying that even with all this advanced weaponry that the United States is sending to Ukraine, ultimately, this is going to be solved at the negotiating table.

TAPPER: Yes, Zelenskyy said this week that Russia occupies, controls 20 percent of his country. That's a lot of his country, 20 percent.

Natasha, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now to discuss, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis. He's also the author of the book, "To Risk It All, Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision."

Admiral, thanks for joining us. In your view, will this war last another 100 days or even beyond that?

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think it'll certainly last another 100 days, maybe 100 after that. But at some point, Jake, the pressures on both sides are going to drive us toward a negotiation, Putin's burn rate is occurring in two elements. One is cost, you know, war is hell, war is also really expensive.

And secondly, lives, his killed in action numbers are ticking up. He's having trouble getting competent troops to the front. So he's got a burn rate going on that side.

On the other side for President Zelenskyy who was heroic Churchillian and extraordinary strategic communicator, despite all that, over time for the West, there'll be inevitable cracks in support. So those two things, ultimately, Jake, will bring these two, I believe, to a negotiation, whether that's three months from now or six months from now, I don't know. But we're not going to be at this for another couple of years.

TAPPER: How much do you think the Europeans and even possibly the Americans are being influenced by the fact that this war is inconvenient for Americans and Europeans in terms of energy prices? I mean, that's really costing people at the pump in terms of what we're paying. But is that a reason for Europeans or Americans or whomever to ultimately encourage Ukraine to cede territory?

STAVRIDIS: I hope not, Jake. I think there are bigger issues at work here than the price of gas.

And oh, by the way, ultimately, we'll be able to make that fungible shift, so that we will be able to supply oil and gas. There's going to be a great rewiring here and certain level in terms of energy flows. But there's going to be inconvenience and consumer pain in the meantime. On the other hand, in Russia, they'll start to really feel the effects of the sanctions toward the end of this year. So again, it's kind of a foot race between impact in these two populations.

I hope and ultimately, I believe the West will stand firm on this because they see how reprehensible the behavior and dangerous the behavior is in Putin.

TAPPER: President Zelensky said this week that 20 percent of Ukraine is now under Russian control. To be honest, doesn't that mean Russia is to a degree winning?

STAVRIDIS: You know, life is compared to what, Jake. And compared to what Putin set out to do, which is to conquer the entire country, and at the end of three months, with massive losses to his military, many, many killed in action, 1000s and 1000s. He's gotten 20 percent, if you will, of what he set out to do. I don't think that's even a passing grade.

Having said all that, of course, it's a deep concern to the Ukrainians, President Zelenskyy. How that ultimately gets negotiated to be determined by events on the battlefield over the next few months.


TAPPER: You right in time about your book and the war, saying, quote, "Today we are watching two international figures representing their nations who are locked in mortal combat, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Both risking it all in very different ways with unpredictable outcomes."

Do you think Putin at this point cares about the risks?

STAVRIDIS: I think he is concerned about one big risk, which is, could all of this lead to something that undermines his control? Thus far, he's not seeing that. On the other hand, you have Zelenskyy on the other side of this conflict, and he remains incredibly motivated because when he looks over his shoulder, he sees his wife, his children, his elders, his parents, his cities, his language, he's the motivated one on this side. So, as I look at two individuals both risking a great deal, and Zelenskyy risking it all, I score it to the Ukrainians.

TAPPER: Admiral James Stavridis, author of the book "To Risk It All, Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision." Thank you so much, Admiral. Good to see you again.

STAVRIDIS: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Texas, law enforcement falsely claimed that a teacher's aide left the door propped open, letting the Uvalde the gunman into the school, but that's not what the teacher's aide says happened. And now her lawyer shares her side of the story, next.

Then, whatever happened to President Biden's promise to forgive some of the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt? We'll tell you. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, a teacher's aide from Robb Elementary sharing her side of the story after police falsely blamed her for leaving the door the shooter used to enter the school propped open. In fact, it was one of the first things police did in the days following the shooting, claiming the shooter entered this school through a door left propped open by a school employee. But the Texas Department of Public Safety later clarified the shooter entered through a door that was closed though it didn't lock.

Now the teacher's aide's attorney is telling CNN's Omar Jimenez that his client is, quote, "shaking" from this whole ordeal.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be an end of the year class party before it became a nightmare.

DON FLANARY, ATTORNEY FOR TEACHER'S AIDE: She saw everything from the time he wrecked to the time she was taken out of there.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Special Education Aide Amelia Marin (ph) was meeting a coworker with food before she sees a car crash. So, she prompts the door open to get her phone and call 911 to report the crash, her lawyer says, before returning to the door.

FLANARY: And she looks over to the funeral home to her right and the two men are yelling, he's got a gun. And she looks and sees him and he has a weapon that she can't identify, but a big weapon flung over him and he hops over the fence and starts running towards her.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): So she kicks the door shut.

(on camera): And does she expect it to lock?

FLANARY: Yes, absolutely. She thought it was going to be locked.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Marin scrambles into a nearby classroom as she begins to hear gunshots.

FLANARY: He's inside now. She hides. The 911 call drops. They don't call her back. She doesn't attempt to call back because she doesn't want to make any noise. There's some sort of counter that she gets under but it's exposed. She said that she thought that at that point she was going to die and she made a piece of that.

JIMENEZ (on camera): So, she hears every single gunshot?

FLANARY: Every single gunshot.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But she was one of the lucky ones who survived. Days later though, she hears law enforcement say she had left the door the shooter used open.

(on camera): And she's second guessing herself?

FLANARY: Right. Yes, it even made her second guess her own memories. And she had already spoken to the FBI and the rangers and told them what happened.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The Rangers eventually publicly corrected the record.

As the community grieves, a flurry of unanswered questions linger, including more about Texas School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, acting as incident commander during the shooting.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: That I had been told that this person did not have -- this person being the incident commander did not have radio communication and I don't know as to why.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): At question if the 911 calls were properly relayed to first responders on the scene, CNN has calls out to Arredondo and law enforcement to confirm. All as documents to prepare death certificates were released listing the grim realities of what was at stake, multiple gunshot wounds, gunshot wound to the head and more.

Outside that horrific day, the teaching aid, Amelia Marin, has now filed legal documents to get a deposition from Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting, with our attorney saying because, the shooter got the weapons on his 18th birthday, he was likely planning the purchases beforehand.

FLANARY: So his motivations to get that gun was when he was a minor. Are there, you know, gun companies that are marketing to minors? Is that what they're doing? And how many mass shootings do we have to have by 18-year-old men? It's cookie cutter. So what are they doing to change?


JIMENEZ: Now it's worth noting the legal petition does not formally accused the gun manufacturer of wrongdoing. Instead, it's looking to investigate whether Amelia Marin has a basis to file a claim against Daniel Defense, who I should also mention, hasn't responded to any requests for comment.


TAPPER: And Omar, "The New York Times" just reported new details about one of the 911 calls that a student made from inside the classroom with the gunman.

JIMENEZ: That's right, Jake. I mean, one of the major portions of this investigation is whether 911 calls were being properly relayed to responders. And we're learning that at one point a 10-year-old made a call to 911 more than 30 minutes after the shooting began. And according to a transcript of the call reviewed by "The New York Times," this 10-year-old said, "There is a lot of bodies." Also said, "I don't want to die, my teacher is dead, my teacher is dead, please send help. Send help for my teacher. She is shot but still alive."

That call lasted about 17 minutes and gunfire was heard in the background at points throughout it. She made it out alive but as we know Jake, many of her classmates didn't.

TAPPER: Nineteen dead students, two dead teachers. Omar Jimenez in Uvalde, Texas, thank you so much.

Coming up, from playing tickets to trips to the amusement park, how was summer of fun might turn into a summer bummer for many Americans. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead, more problems if you're planning to fly for your summer vacation destination. Flight delays and cancellations galore. Some are due to bad weather, but many others are because of staffing shortages. It's forcing airlines to shuffle schedules and reduce service. CNN's Pete Muntean takes a closer look now at how one major airline is working to meet the summer demand.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With summer travel heating up across the country, airlines that receive billions in pandemic aid are hoping they do not melt down.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): On an exclusive tour of American Airlines Operations Center, 100s worked behind the scenes to avoid cancelling flights as an unexpected thunderstorm popped up over Dallas. Chief Operating Officer David Seymour showed me how dispatchers diverted arriving flights and reshuffled flight crews so departing flights were ready as soon as the weather clear.

(on camera): How confident are you that the summer will be a smooth one when it comes to travel?

SEYMOUR: I'm confident I think that my team is confident. But we're not overconfident.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): U.S. airlines canceled more than 2700 flights over Memorial Day weekend and delayed another 21,000 nationwide. Delta Air Lines lead cancellations after saying it will scale back its summer schedule with coronavirus causing higher than planned worker absences.

ED BASTIAN, DELTA AIR LINES CEO: We added capacity coming into the spring, Memorial Day was the first full test of it. And we did see with some challenges.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Crew shortages have hobbled the airline industry. A CNN analysis of the latest federal data shows the largest four airlines with 24,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: The demand has come roaring back and they are struggling to keep up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are staffing shortages and weather issues. It's a perfect storm.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): American airline says it has hired 12,000 new workers in the last year. Now the question is whether airlines have prepared enough for passengers packing planes at levels not seen since before the pandemic.

SEYMOUR: You can't let your guard down. We have the resources to run the airline. And that's the key thing for us.


MUNTEAN: American Airlines underscores that most of its flights were on time over the Memorial Day weekend, but it offers this reality check, workers are still calling out sick with coronavirus. It all comes to a head when there's bad weather, Jake. Just yesterday, airlines in the U.S. canceled more than 1,600 flights nationwide. Another 700 cancellations today, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Pete Muntean at Reagan National, thanks so much.

Once you get to your vacation destination, do not be surprised how much it might cost you to enjoy it. Food prices, gas prices, all eating to travel budgets, not to mention businesses still struggling with staff shortages. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, takes a look now at some vacationers -- how some vacationers and folks in the hospitality industry are trying to manage it all.


BRIAN KNOEBEL, CO-OWNER, KNOEBLES AMUSEMENT RESORT: We got a steam powered carousel, and a food stand and a couple of games of chance. And little by little, we're now 60 rides.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since 1926, Knoebels Amusement Resort in rural Central Pennsylvania has been a summer tourist destination.

KNOEBEL: See the train slowing down, so there should be some squirrels around.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Or little chipmunks. Oh, little chipmunks.

KNOEBEL: Have a little chipmunk. Yes.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The park is free to enter and rides like the Pioneer train or pay as you go. But even prices at this family run park surrounded by idealic farmland aren't exempt from high inflation.

KNOEBEL: The rising cost of everything from, gasoline to chicken to rolls electricity. We had to increase our prices.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Inflation is gripping the nation's pocketbook with prices at a four decade high, a pain point for President Biden as most Americans are sour on the economy. Still an estimated 39 million Americans were expected to travel Memorial Day weekend, most by car up from last year.

TIMOTHY DOWHOWER, MARKETING DIRECTOR, SUSQUEHANNA RIVER VALLEY VISITORS BUREAU: When I hear inflation, that's where we're going to spend our ad dollars more locally. So that's where we're going to be focusing on the backyard tourists. The locals will spend more reaching people within a two to three hour range.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): People like Rebecca Kent, who usually makes a day trip from Philadelphia. She says gas prices won't cut her summer plan, they'll just be scaled back.

REBECCA KENT, PARK VISITOR: The one year we were coming up here, I think we made it up here 26 times in the summer.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Do you think you're going to dial it back a little bit?

KENT: Not 26, but probably pretty close to a dozen or more. YURKEVICH (voice-over): Valerie Bloom says she's being mindful of higher prices elsewhere like groceries so she can still give her kids a great summer, meaningful after two years of COVID.

VALERIE BLOOM, PARK VISITOR: What are you going to do? I mean, like, you got to live, you got to have, yes, have fun, it's summertime.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But more customers means the need for more workers. Despite rising wages, labor shortages persist with a near record 11.4 million open jobs in the U.S. And inflation is hitting employees here too. So the park is launching a cost-effective shuttle to save employees gas money and ensure the park is staffed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's more money in the employees' pockets.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): In smaller communities, places like this are economic drivers, supporting other businesses in town.

KIMBERLY COOPER, DOLLAR GENERAL MANAGER, ELYSBURG, PAUL: For our success here in town is pretty critical of our sales will go up once they start.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): And despite also having to raise prices in store, Kimberly Cooper says the crowds are still coming and buying.

COOPER: It doesn't seem to have made a difference here so far this year.


YURKEVICH: And the small businesses we spoke to in that town say they're excited that they're already seeing the summer tourists come into town. And in just the week leading up to Memorial Day, gas consumption was 5 percent less than last year, just 5 percent. And prices were up more than $1.50 in the last year.

So people clearly feeling the pain of these prices, but are making budgetary choices, choosing maybe to cut back elsewhere, may be scaling back on their summer vacations, Jake. But the folks that we spoke to were eager to get out and have a great summer despite these high prices. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, thanks so much for that report.

It's hard to run for a U.S. entity if you have not been seen in more than three weeks. A doctor's letter was just released as the mystery surrounding Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman defense. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead it has been three weeks since Pennsylvania's John Fetterman suffered a stroke, which he disclosed a couple of days after the fact. He had a defibrillator implanted to regulate his heartbeat and he went on to win the Democratic nomination for the Senate in Pennsylvania in a landslide. But since then, there has been no announced plans for Lieutenant Governor Fetterman to return to the campaign trail. No sightings of him in public, no interviews, and some Democratic strategists are getting worried.

CNN's Kasie Hunt has been following the story. Kasie, Fetterman's only appeared in previously recorded edited social media videos such as this one. Take a listen.


JOHN FETTERMAN, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: Hey, everybody. I just want to say I'm feeling great. And I just want to thank all of you so much for everything. We're doing really well. We just want to thank you for all of your support. Can you chip in 10 bucks to help our campaign now?


TAPPER: So Fetterman's campaign just released a letter from his cardiologist just this afternoon. What does it say?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. Well, the letter from the cardiologist, so first of all, I think we should underscore, his cardiologist is not the team of doctors that treated him for his stroke. That team was at Penn Medicine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is a cardiologist that he saw first back in 2017, who told him that he had heart problems.

So the doctor says in this letter, that if John Fetterman takes his prescribed medication, does the diet and exercise that he has been recommended to do, he will be fine. He will be able to serve in the U.S. Senate. But there's quite a bit in that letter that underscores that Fetterman didn't take care of himself. The doctor almost -- the tone is almost a little bit affronted. He didn't take my advice. He didn't do what I said he should do back in 2017, when I told him he had these heart problems. And that's part of why he ended up where he was today.

And Fetterman also put out a statement himself. And we have a little bit of that. We can show everyone. He said, "It's frustrating that this happened all the more so because this is my own fault." He acknowledges that this is his responsibility. "But bear with me, I need a little more time. I'm not quite back to 100 percent, but I'm getting closer every day. This race is so important for Pennsylvania and the country." He says, I'm going to be ready for it, and I can't wait to get back on the trail."

But, Jake, I think one thing that probably stood out to you in --


HUNT: -- the statements here is that he said he almost died.

TAPPER: Yes, he said that in the statement today.

HUNT: Right.

TAPPER: Which is not what he said --

HUNT: In the video that we showed to everyone.


HUNT: He said, you know, I'm going to be fine. It's like, I feel great. The way that this has now been portrayed is that the incident -- you know that he was probably very lucky that he was as close as he was to a stroke center when this happened, if indeed, it's something that he almost died from.

TAPPER: So first of all, I want to underline that obviously, we all wish him the best.

HUNT: Of course we do.

TAPPER: And as do his -- you know, whoever's Republican opponent is going to end up being. But that said, it does not seem that he -- they have been as transparent as they could have been. It took a few days for the campaign to even tell the public he was hospitalized. Are they being transparent now?

HUNT: So, we -- again, the cardiologists seems to be being transparent, although I would urge everyone to read the letter in full because you'll see that the cardiologist doesn't seem to be extraordinarily enthusiastic about endorsing the current good health of the Lieutenant Governor.

TAPPER: Right.

HUNT: He rose (ph) to great lengths to say he's got to do a lot more to get healthy here. We're not hearing from the doctors that treated him for his stroke. So we don't have a lot of information about what happened there. We have what the campaign claims, and that's all that there is here.

And, you know, again, I think we should underscore to viewers, yes, this is a personal health matter. But this is a person who is seeking public office and whose desire to serve the public may also decide the control of the United States Senate in its entirety.


TAPPER: Yes, and being transparent about these things I think for any public official is important. Xochitl, Democrats really want to flip this Senate seat which is currently red to blue. Does Fetterman's health condition does how he's been handling his health condition, jeopardize that at all, do you think?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BULLY PULPIT INTERACTIVE: No, I think that Fetterman is Democrats best shot in flipping. I think if you talk to the DSCC, any Democrat, they would say Pennsylvania is at the top of the list in terms of a seat that they can win. What I would say is that Fetterman is also not your typical politician. People don't see him as he is hiding something.

Actually, his statement was actually quite honest. He said that, yes, he may have -- he could have potentially died. He also talked about how he did ignore signs early on --


HINOJOSA: -- and that people shouldn't do that. And I think a lot of Americans understand like, yes, maybe I should have gone to the doctor, maybe I shouldn't ignore that headache. Maybe I shouldn't ignore, you know, whatever the side effect is, and maybe I should go to the doctor. So he is making this about a larger issue about how Americans should really pay attention to what is happening with their health, take it seriously and go to the doctor.

And so I think that he's very smart of him. I think it's also smart for them to release a letter saying that not only can he serve, but he can go out and campaign and I'm sure he'll be on the campaign trail soon. But I do think that Democrats still have a strong chance in winning.

TAPPER: Kristen, the Republicans are attacking him. They're not attacking him for the health issue or the transparency issue about the health issue, they're attacking him because they say he is too liberal, linking him to Senator Bernie Sanders. The ad just launched today, the TVN. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary is over. Now left wing radicals are rolling into Pennsylvania, pushing John Fetterman. Fetterman sided with socialists, back to government takeover of health care. Embrace parts of the Green New Deal that it cost you 50,000 bucks a year. Fetterman said Democrats need to be ruthless.

Bernie Sanders calls Fetterman an outstanding progressive. Fetterman admits he'll always vote with Democrats. In this economy, that's the last thing we need.


TAPPER: What do you think?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm glad it's an ad that's focused on issues --


ANDERSON: -- rather than on his health --

TAPPER: Issues are good.

ANDERSON: -- for sure. And I actually agree that the issue around the health in and of itself, you've probably got a lot of men out there in Pennsylvania were thinking, you know, my doctor told me I need to do X, Y and Y. (CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: But in this political environment, where Republicans are expected to do quite well where the wind is in Republican sales, you do want to make sure you are positioned so that the median voter, the swing voter in the middle does not think that you are too extreme. And this ad really I think, does a good job of talking about issues where Fetterman is perhaps outside of where the main mainstream or swing working class voter in Pennsylvania is.

I think the extent to which the health issue is going to be a problem is that in an unfavorable political environment, a candidate like Fetterman needs to be out on the campaign trail, shake in as many hands as possible.


ANDERSON: Doing as many rallies as --

TAPPER: Seven events a day.

ANDERSON: Yes, and the reality is that he can't. And so this is not an Aaron Sorkin movie, right? This is you have to be out there meeting voters and --


ANDERSON: I regret to inform you, Jake, that it's not. And so, well, I wish him all the best in his recovery. The reality is I do think it will hurt his campaign, not because of any transparency issue, but just the nuts and bolts of retail campaign.

TAPPER: So another high profile Senate races in Georgia, Herschel Walker, the UGA Heisman Trophy winner won the Republican nomination there. And that he -- they're going after him. Eva, take a look. This is from incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has this ad. It's a hard hitting one going after Herschel Walker. Take a look.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Do you know right now I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from COVID and won't do this damage (ph). As you walk through the door, it would cure any COVID on your body. When you leave, it will kill the virus as you leave this with product. They don't want to talk about that. They don't want to hear about that.


TAPPER: Yes, I don't know what that means. But you can see on the screen it says, is Herschel Walker really ready to represent Georgia? And this is, I mean, Walker says a lot of things. It sounds a lot like that.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Right. There's a lot more from where this came from that the Warnock campaign can use. And so they're going to lean into this heavily, because they think that this is a winning strategy. What I will say though, is during the primary, it felt like every day there was a bad Herschel Walker story. And it didn't change the reality of for him with Republican voters.

So I'm really curious to see now in the general election if this works for Democrats. He actually kind of reminds me of the former president a bit in that leading up to the election between the former president and Hillary Clinton, there was tons of bad stories about the former president and he's still won that election. So we'll have to see if it has an impact.


TAPPER: One other thing that struck me today, here's Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert. He was asked about the Justice Department indicting Peter Navarro with contempt of Congress for not complying with the subpoena. It's -- well, let me just play it.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): It actually puts an exclamation point on the fact that we have a two-tiered justice system. If you're a Republican, you can't even lie to Congress or lie to an FBI agent, are they're coming after you.


TAPPER: I mean, can you imagine? You can't even lie to an FBI agent if you're a Republican. I mean --

HUNT: You can't if you're a Democrat I think. It does not matter.

TAPPER: Wait, it's --

HUNT: Don't lie to the FBI, OK. It's not advice. Just don't do it.

TAPPER: I mean, do you have a response?

ANDERSON: No, no. When I got -- when before coming on the show, I saw this pop up (ph) and I thought there's -- what do you even say? I mean, look, Louie Gohmert --

TAPPER: You can't even hold up a bank if you're a Republican. The outrage, the indignities.

ANDERSON: Don't lie to the feds. And additional advice to Peter Navarro who is, you know, this is all about Peter Navarro being sort of indicted and arrested today, who I believe is trying to represent himself --

TAPPER: Right.

ANDERSON: -- in court --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he's a lawyer.

ANDERSON: -- don't do that either.

TAPPER: Gohmert went on to know that there was a Democrat who was tried for this but was found not guilty. Yes, the FBI, they prosecuted him. OK.

MCKEND: This is sort of the woe is me, though, sort of playbook that we often hear from Republicans that they're being targeted by everyone, by the state, right, by the big brother, Democrats, everyone.

TAPPER: You cannot -- if you're a Republican, you cannot steal a nuclear missile. You cannot do that. Eva, I don't know what -- this is two tiered. All right. Thank you so much.

Breathe. It's not --


TAPPER: -- inflation or high gas prices for millions of Americans. Their number one issue is forgiving student loan debt. Is President Biden any closer to keeping a campaign promise on that? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead today this week, President Biden canceled $5.8 billion in college student debt for more than 0.5 million borrowers so largest loan cancellation from the Biden administration to date. The millions of others are anxiously waiting for President Biden to keep his campaign promise to forgive $10,000 in federal student loan debt per student.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus speaks with some Americans who say that relief is desperately needed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vinessa Gabriell Russell.

VINESSA GABRIELL RUSSELL, RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE: It's been such a trials and tribulations.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vanessa Russell became the first in her family to earn a bachelor's degree, but she's also graduating with student loan debt.

RUSSELL: The last time I checked, there was approximately 48,000. They come to find you.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Russell says a debt collector called her while she was working.

RUSSELL: They asked for Vinessa. They're like this is the debt collector basically collecting. We were trying to find you, like when are you going to pay your student debt. BROADDUS (voice-over): At one point, Russell temporarily dropped out of school.

RUSSELL: I did have to leave Columbia and pay a balance that was due in order for me to go back.

BROADDUS (voice-over): But she is not alone. Data shows there is about $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. Tayvia Ridgeway wants a six-figure salary. But right now, she has nearly a six figure student loan debt.

TAYVIA RIDGEWAY, COLLEGE JUNIOR: I'd be in the range of like 80 to 100k just based on my tuition rates right now.

BROADDUS (voice-over): That's even after Tayvia became a resident adviser to cut down on her room and board cost.

RIDGEWAY: You should get a free education because you can't put a price on knowledge.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to make sure that everybody in this generation gets $10,000 knocked off of their student debt.

BROADDUS (voice-over): On the campaign trail, Joe Biden promised to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for each of the 43 million people with federal student loans. Due to the pandemic, he did pause loan repayments until August 31st. But it is not clear if and when the White House will move forward with some form of permanent loan forgiveness despite pressure from fellow Democrats at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: You don't need Congress. All you need is the flick of a pen.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushing to cancel $50,000 of debt per borrower. Biden has rejected those calls.

BIDEN: I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The White House does say Biden is considering some debt forgiveness for those making up to $125,000. Gabby Bach, like Ridgeway was a Resident Adviser. She calls it a broken campaign promise.

GABBY BACH, RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE: I think this is something that Biden has promised and has something that I feel like he hasn't delivered on yet during the campaign or just knowing like that this was something that a lot of people who voted for him that this was something that they wanted.

RIDGEWAY: I've say it would only help a little bit if anything, I'd want my full tuition covered. But, you know, that's not the world we live in.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Russell welcomes any relief. RUSSELL: It would help me so much. It's like an emotional experience because it's taken me so long and I almost gave up and -- sorry, just thinking about it.


BROADDUS: And a year and a half into his presidency, Biden has canceled more than $17 billion in student loans but that is tied to investigations, into faulty loan practices and institutions that no longer exist. Jake?


TAPPER: All right, Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Be sure to join us for CNN State of the Union this Sunday. My guests include Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Democratic Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy and former Republican Congressman and Aide to the January 6 Committee, Denver Riggleman, that's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you know what you can do. You can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I'd like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." I will see you on Sunday morning.