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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pediatrician Describes "Carnage" Of The Uvalde School Shooting; Gymnast Sexually Assaulted By Larry Nassar Seek $1 Billion Plus From FBI Over Mishandling Of Investigation; NFL Assistant Coach Calls Jan. 6 Capitol Attack A "Dust-Up"; Ukrainian Forces Consider Pulling Back In Part Of The East; Experimental Taco Bell Design Delivers Tacos From The Sky. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 08, 2022 - 17:00   ET




KIMBERLY RUBIO, DAUGHTER KILLED IN UVALDE SHOOTING: Lexi received the Good Citizen Award and was also recognized for receiving all A's. At the conclusion of the ceremony, we took photos with her before asking her to pose for a picture with her teacher, Mr. Reyes. That photo, her last photo ever was taken at approximately 10:54 a.m.

To celebrate, we promised to get her ice cream that evening. We told her we loved her and we would pick her up after school. I can still see her walking with us toward the exit.

In the reel that keeps scrolling across my memories, she turns her head and smiles back at us to acknowledge my promise. And then we left. I left my daughter at that school. And that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: These are American stories. And now the people at the center them are begging and pleading with their elected leaders to do something and do something now.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has been trying to strike a narrow modest deal on gun reforms. One of the lead negotiators telling me in the last hour that he is cautiously optimistic that they can get something done. Despite ongoing talks on Capitol Hill, today, it is still illegal in most states for an 18 year old to buy a semiautomatic weapon. CNN's Josh Campbell went to a gun range to show us just what such a weapon can do.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are known as assault style weapons and have been used in some of the country's deadliest shootings from Uvalde, Tulsa and El Paso to Parkland, San Bernardino and Sandy Hook, the high powered assault rifle has been the weapon of choice for many of the killers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Light (ph) is hot.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The Los Angeles Police Department demonstrates an AR style semiautomatic rifle for us on the department's gun range.

SGT. JAMES ZBORAVAN, LOS ANGELES POLICE: You have a 16 inch to 20 inch barrel, you have a stock that is shouldered, you're going to be accurate at farther distances, as opposed to a pistol.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Not to mention like some other weapons it can fire a bullet with enough power to appear soft body armor something Sergeant James Zboravan knows firsthand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus, it's a definitely an automatic weapon.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): He took assault weapons fire during the now infamous 1997 North Hollywood shootout where to bank robbers wearing body armor fired on police for nearly an hour, injuring eight people and 12 officers including Sergeant

ZBORAVAN: You're being hit with pieces of the vehicles we were hiding behind, asphalt, radiator fluid felt like we're being stung by bees.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): That shooting changed policy, prompting the LAPD and other departments to upgrade their own weaponry to counter the increasingly powerful guns used by assailants. That firepower from weapons is studied inside a ballistics lab at Wayne State University where researchers simulate a bullets impact on the human body.

CYNTHIA BIR, PROFESSOR, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY: It's a block of 20 percent gelatin, and it's meant to represent the human tissues. So soft tissues.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Watch as Cynthia Bir's team fires a handgun round at 1000 feet per second into the gelatin block.

BIR: For this particular round, you'll see the bullet come in on this side. You see this temporary cavity here happening, so that expansion is what happens in the body and then it collapses down. So that's where your damage comes in.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Now watch as the team fires around from an assault rifle.

BIR: We see a lot more disruption. This round actually breaks apart, it doesn't exit. So, it's about 3,000 feet per second and all of that energy goes into the soft tissue. We have a piece of plastic here to reflect to do the videos and it actually lifted the plastic up off the table with the energy.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): An aftermath photo of the handgun rounds shows a relatively straight line through the tissue exiting the other side, but not so with the round from an AR-15.

BIR: It basically goes into the body and creates an explosion inside the body. CAMPBELL (voice-over): Trauma surgeons say the wound from an assault rifle can be catastrophic.

DR. CHETHAN SATHYA, PEDIATRIC TRAUMA SURGEON: And the worst part is in a child, all the vital organs are that much closer together, so each of those bullets causes, you know, irreversible damage.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): In Uvalde, Texas, families were asked for DNA swabs to help the authorities identify their children.

BIR: As a mom it really affects me, right, because I cannot imagine having a child endure this.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): And with high capacity magazines, suspects can shoot for much longer.

(on camera): Now the discussion about high capacity magazines largely centered on reducing the amount of time that a suspect can fire without having to reload. As a former FBI agent we were trained to quickly get your weapon reloaded and backup on target. But for a suspect, for example, who isn't trained, you can see using this training weapon that is a process and involves removing the empty magazine, obtaining a fresh round of ammunition, loading it into the weapon charging the weapon, getting it back up on target. Those are all precious seconds where victims can be fleeing. The gun can jam or the suspect could be engaged by law enforcement or bystanders.


(voice-over): Knowing the damage that sustained firepower can do, researchers hope their critical findings lead to awareness.

(on camera): Regardless of where one comes down on the gun control debate, it's indisputable that the assault weapon causes significant damage inside the body.

BIR: Definitely, but this is the reality. This is what's happening.


CAMPBELL: Now, Jake, although the Justice Department says that handguns have been used in most mass shootings, it's important to note that the deadliest mass shooters have opted for this AR-15 style weapon. And you can see why, that ballistic demonstration there in our story shows you the disastrous impact that this weapon can have on the human body.

Jake, this weapon that was designed originally for the use by soldiers on the battlefield is now causing unspeakable carnage here at home. Jake.

TAPPER: Josh Campbell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta to get the other end of this coverage. Sanjay, today, a pediatrician on the Hill describe witnessing what he calls the carnage in my hometown of Uvalde during the hearing. Take a listen.


DR. ROY GUERRERO, PEDIATRICIAN: What I did find was something no prayer, whatever we leave, two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue as their identities was a blood spider and cartoon clothes still clean to them, clean for life and finding none.


TAPPER: Explain why are bullets from rifles such as an AR-15 or an AR- 15 style weapon so much more destructive to the human body than others?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's -- it's hard to hear, Jake, first of all, but it's all about the energy of the round, you know? And what's interesting is that it's not even necessarily about the size of -- the round size of the bullets, some people think it's a bigger bullet, not necessarily, it could be smaller bullets, it's about the velocity, its velocity times the mass of the bullet, but it's just going so much faster coming out of one of these AR-15 type rifles, that overall the amount of energy that is then transferred into the body is much, much higher.

The process that Josh was talking about was something known as cavitation. It literally causes cavities within the body. Whereas a handgun, for example, much less energy will go straight through a linear line, a bullet size line through that with the rifle because of that energy, it creates that cavity instead.

TAPPER: You have witnessed injuries like these firsthand when you were in Iraq covering the war there. Tell us what you saw.

GUPTA: Yes. And you know, when I was in Iraq, you may remember, Jake, that was during the time that there was a ban on these types of weapons. So we weren't seeing a lot of these types of injuries here in the United States. So, for the first time for me is was really on the battlefields and it's tough to describe even. I mean, you know, limbs really kind of blown off people who came in initially into these devil docks camps, the medical camps where I was reporting.

A lot of times you couldn't tell initially, was it a firearm or was it an IED or something? That's how significant the injuries were. I ended up operating on somebody, Jake, who had been shot and it went through the Kevlar of his helmet and landed through the skull into the brain. Just to give you an idea, again, of the energy of one of these bullets, that is the big difference.

TAPPER: You talk about, quote, an "Emmett Till" moment, in your essay today on For folks who don't know Emmett Till, if they remember, that he was the black team that was violently murdered in Mississippi in 1955 when he allegedly whistled at a white woman, although that's supposed to -- it's actually not true. He didn't do that. His mom, Till's mom, famously insisted on an open casket funeral for him to, quote, "let the world see what I've seen," and those photos did, they were published in a magazine.

What are you hearing in the medical community about AR-15s and the desire to show the American people what they do? So the news media and the government is no longer sanitizing this --


TAPPER: -- as these massacres happen.

GUPTA: This is a big point of discussion within the people that I've been talking to the medical community and there is no consensus on this. There are people who believe those types of images as with Emmett Till, might make a huge difference and there's others who think maybe not.

I think where there is consensus is, it has to be the family fundamentally that's, you know, making this decision. I mean, Emmett Till's mom in that case. It's tough, Jake. I mean, you heard that pediatrician describe some of what they saw in that classroom. I mean, if you listen to his words very carefully, it is horrific to think about, to add the imagery to that would be a lot for people to absorb, I mean, even for medical people. But I think again, the consensus is that it has to be a family's very personal decision.

TAPPER: And you know that you think that we in the United States should be treating gun violence as a public health emergency, explain.


GUPTA: Well, I mean look if you look overall at what constitutes a public health emergency, a sudden incidents of increase in violence, injuries and death, we are certainly seeing that over my career as a trauma neurosurgeon. The numbers have gone up significantly. But if you look at the United States, for example, compared to other countries in the world, many people they know this data, but -- I mean, it's not even close, right, U.S. ranks first among large high income countries, 13 times greater than France, 23 times greater than Australia.

But for children, now under the age of 19, this is the leading cause of death. I mean, it's hard to believe that, in part is because automotive accidents have come down to some degree over the years, but gun violence, gun related injuries have gone up significantly and that's part of the problem. If you look at the CDC's website, there is a dashboard for COVID, understandably, there is now a dashboard for monkey pox. But there's still not a dashboard for gun violence and gun related deaths.

Still very hard to collect this data as I found writing the article, news reports, media reports, things like that local reports, people cobbled together to create this sort of data. We're not treating it like the public health emergency that it clearly is. Leading cause of death for kids right now, Jake, is this.

TAPPER: An absolute disgrace. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Gold Medalist Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and others are among the gymnasts seeking a billion dollars from the FBI for their agents having ignored the sexual abuse complaints and allegations against Larry Nassar, the next step in the gymnasts' long fight for justice.

Then the eyebrow raising comments from an NFL assistant coach about January 6. Why the House Select Committee might want to pay attention.



TAPPER: Just moments ago, President Biden arriving in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas where he is expected to unveil a new economic partnership. The summit is for every nation in the Western Hemisphere, theoretically, but this time the U.S. chose to not invite Venezuela or Nicaragua or Cuba and the leaders of several other countries including Mexico are protesting their absence by boycotting the summit. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in Los Angeles ahead of President Biden's big speech.

Kaitlan, is the absence of the Mexican president hanging any sort of shadow over the event?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A huge shadow really, Jake, because of course, President Biden is hosting this here, that means the United States gets to decide who was invited. And they chose not to invite those three countries saying that they believed that they were not going to invite dictators to this event.

And that's what caused the president of Mexico to drop out. He had been threatening to do so. And the White House wasn't quite sure whether or not he would live up to that threat. But then he did this week by saying he was not going to be attending the Summit of the Americas if all of the leaders were not invited.

And so now the White House finds himself in a place where they've been trying to talk about these lofty goals they have while here, talking about reestablishing U.S. leadership, solving and working on issues like climate change, recovering from the pandemic, obviously, migration is top of the list. But it's pretty hard to do that when the president of Mexico is not even here. And the White House has kind of tried to downplay those absences, Jake, instead, those governments are sending deputies in their place. But it is still going to make it difficult for them to put on this front of American leadership back in the region, given a lot of those leaders of -- key leaders of places in the region are not here actually present.

One thing I should note, though, Jake, is that of course, the leader of Venezuela was not invited, neither was the interim leader Juan Guaido, though President Biden did just speak to him as he was on his way here.

And we should also note that the President will be meeting with the president of Brazil while he's here, who was famously close, of course, to president -- former President Trump. It's going to be a pretty awkward meeting, potentially, Jake, given President Bolsonaro has questioned whether or not President Biden actually won the 2020 election, but the White House says, expect them to have a candid conversation.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, one of the focuses of the summit is of course migration, which is a big issue in the United States right now. Can there be substantive accomplishments on that issue if the president of Mexico or our neighbor to the south is not there?

COLLINS: I think that's why there's such skepticism as people are coming into this summit knowing that that's really the dynamic. But the White House is arguing that yes there can be progress. Despite that, they pointed to the fact that the President of Mexico is coming to the White House next week.

But this issue of immigration is obviously one of -- the ones at the forefront, Jake. It is something that every president has dealt with, with migration. You see there's a caravan in southern Mexico right now. They say they are coming up to the southern border of the United States. And so, this is something that President Biden has dealt with, given there's already been an influx of migrants there at the border.

And so, that is a big discussion here. But of course, Jake, now the president of Mexico will not be president for those discussion -- not be present for those discussions.

TAPPER: I knew what you meant. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Searching for justice, what will it take for the people meant to protect us gymnasts to be held accountable for allowing Dr. Larry Nassar to continue to sexually abuse hundreds of gymnasts. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, they're trying to find out. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our sports lead, the biggest scandal in the history of athletics. Today, more than 90 women and girls sexually abused by convicted child molester and former team USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar are seeking more than a billion dollars from the FBI. The gymnasts say that investigators could have ended Nassar's abuse and protected them and other victims had FBI agents not mishandled the case.

Claimants include Olympic champions Simone Biles and Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, each of whom have submitted claims for $50 million. And as CNN's Jean Casarez reports for us now, authorities now has six months to settle those claims before a lawsuit can be filed in federal court.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI on official notice.

SIMONE BILES, GYMNAST: We have been failed and we deserve answers.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Ninety female athletes victimized by disgraced Dr. Larry Nassar, seeking more than a billion dollars in damages from the agency and administrative claims are a required step before a lawsuit can be filed.


BILES: I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The FBI Indianapolis field office was notified in 2015 that Nassar, a longtime team doctor for U.S. Olympic gymnastics, and Michigan State University had sexually abused female gymnasts.

MCKAYLA MARONEY, GYMNAST: I then proceeded to tell them about London and how he'd signed me up last on his sheet so he could molest me for hours twice a day. I told him -- I told them how he molested me right before I won my team gold medal.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The FBI interviewed the athletes, but according to an inspectors general report senior officials, quote, "failed to respond with the utmost seriousness and urgency, made numerous errors" and failed to, quote, "take steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar.

MAGGIE NICHOLS, GYMNAST: I am haunted by the fact that even after I reported my abuse so many women and girls had to suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The Inspector General also found the FBI Supervisory Special Agent made false statements to investigators "in an effort to minimize or excuse his errors."

MARONEY: What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?

CASAREZ (voice-over): Nassar was convicted in 2017 and sentenced up to 175 years in state prison.

ALY RAISMAN, GYMNAST: Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well, you know what, Larry, I have both power and voice and I'm only beginning to just use them.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The Department of Justice declined multiple times to prosecute the FBI employees involved. It would not comment on these new claims, but the FBI has previously condemned the conduct.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The actions and inaction of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The FBI can now respond to the athletes claims. If they are not settled in six months, the attorneys representing them can file a lawsuit.

RAISMAN: It disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.


CASAREZ: Attorney John Manly out of California has stood by the side of all of these victims from the beginning pursuing for them justice. They have been at this for a long time. Many of these women were sexually assaulted when they were in their teens. Now we are 2022 and they are finally asking the FBI one last time possibly, we deserve justice. Jake.

TAPPER: Jean Casarez, thanks so much.

Here to discuss, CNN's Sports Analyst and USA Today Columnist Christine Brennan.

Christine, so, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney released a statement about why she and her fellow gymnasts are filing this claim. It reads in part quote, "My federal my fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us. I had some hope that they would keep their word and hold the FBI accountable after we poured out our hearts to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and begged for justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process," unquote.

Now, Christine, we all remember that incredibly powerful hearing last year. It is stunning that the FBI did not choose to prosecute. What's your reaction to this?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: It's so reprehensible, Jake, it's been going on for years. And every time you hear about this, every time we talked about it, Jean's report, you just get angry all over again.

What this nation failed to do for these women, forget for a moment that they're heroes and you're cheering for them and so red, white and blue and they're winning Olympic gold medals and they're great role models for your kids, forget all of that, just American women, girls and women to be failed so miserably by everything, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, Justice Department, the FBI, and it was two weeks ago, the Justice Department decided, Jake, not just prosecute the two FBI agents who so egregiously just basically tabled this horrifying news that they heard in 2015 allowing perhaps another 100 women to be abused by Larry Nassar before anyone woke up to what they were hearing in Indianapolis before making a phone call to Michigan. The most basic FBI work failed to do it and then the Justice Department fails to prosecute them. This is why we're seeing this lawsuit today.

TAPPER: Take a listen to what three time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman told me last year.


RAISMAN: I think there needs to be an investigation of the FBI, USAG and USOPC and also looking at the interplay among all three organizations. Because if we don't have answers, then we're relying on guesswork and people that enabled our abuse might still be in positions of power.


So saying that you're sorry, or we will never forget this will happen again, it's not enough. Those are just empty promises.


TAPPER: It's really interesting that she cited in that interview three organizations that she wanted there to be an investigation of. One was USA -- the USA Olympic Committee, one was USA Gymnastics, and the third was the FBI.

BRENNAN: Right. Right. The failure there is, again, extraordinary, it's breathtaking no matter -- you know, you just -- you kind of can't believe that what these young women did was, Jake, they did the exact right thing, they call the FBI. They call the authorities, they said help. And the FBI failed to help them.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee did have a major investigation. All new leadership of the USOPC. A lot of the bad people are gone, the people that were involved in this. USA Gymnastics has had about four different leaders, obviously, still concerned about that, but there has been a change. I'm not saying it's over, but there have been new -- there are new people.

The FBI, though, again, one was let go of the two agents who blew it back in 2015. One was let go, the other retired. And these women continue to have to fight. And when they do this, Jake, as you know, they talk about how this plunges them back, once again, into the horrors of Larry Nassar. So we, as a nation, are making them relive this so that they can fight these battles, and hopefully get justice in the end.

TAPPER: Yes, they are fighting these battles for future generations of boys and girls. And it is a shame that we rely upon them to do it, and that we can't rely on our leaders to do it. But God bless them. They're certainly American heroes.

BRENNAN: Yes, they absolutely are. And I've covered a lot of them over the years and they're wonderful people. And, of course, Simone Biles, with the conversation about mental health. So they continue to lead and be the conscience of their sport, and of all sports, and reminding us of all the good in them even as we see all the bad in so many of our institutions.

TAPPER: Christine Brennan, thanks so much. Coming up, why an NFL coach's comments about the January 6 committee and January 6 itself should alarm the members of the committee ahead of their primetime hearing. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, another primary election night in America, voters in key states had very clear messages to send to their elected leaders. Fix crime, in two of the most liberal cities in America. Rising concerns about crime and homelessness burst to the forefront. San Francisco voters recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive who ended cash bail and tried to reduce the number of people sent to prison.

In the Los Angeles mayor's race, public safety also, issue number one, former Republican and billionaire developer Rick Caruso using the issue to best sixth-term Congresswoman Karen Bass. The two are now headed to a runoff in November.

Let's discuss. Maria Cardona, let me start with you. What message -- if you were a Democratic leader, and you're seeing this in liberal cities, what would you be telling your -- the members of the House and Senate?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That you should listen and serve the interests of the people who voted for you as opposed to a rigid ideology for the sake of a rigid ideology. And what is even more significant, I believe, is that Democrats have long been the party that believes in the good that government can do. And that I think can continue and should be one of the messages of these candidates.

But you also have to look at the concerns of their constituents, of the voters, what fears they have, and they are pretty clear. People are fearful in their livelihoods because of all the chaos that's going on, from the economy, to inflation, to crime, to gun violence. It is a slew of issues. And what Democrats need to focus on is what can they do to get government to respond in the best way possible to make people feel safe, to make people understand that they get that what their job is, is to hopefully make their lives better and easier. And that has not been happening.

TAPPER: And Ramesh, let me ask you because there are a lot of House Republicans facing primaries from, I don't know, if it's the right but from MAGA forces, people, especially who voted either for the January 6 committee or to impeach Trump even and they either won or were positioned to survive Tuesday's contests. What are your key takeaways from those races?

RAMESH PONNURU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I think if we look at the broad sweep of these races and Trump's endorsements, and who's pro-Trump and all that stuff, we always want to say, well, this means Trump's support is rising in the party, it's declining. But if you look at this overall pattern, it's not much of an overall pattern. The voters are not primarily evaluating these candidates in terms of Donald Trump. And in a way, that's actually a good sign if you want to see Trump's importance within the Republican Party declined. He is, I think, boosting his candidate, but by no means is he a shore guarantor of victory for some of these candidates.

TAPPER: So tomorrow night, the focus is going to turn back to the January 6 attack on the Capitol when the committee holds a public primetime hearing. The defensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders, Jack Del Rio -- that's D.C.'s hometown team, not when I wrote for -- today called the attack, January 6, he called it a dust up. I want you to take a listen.


JACK DEL RIO, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: People's livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down. No problem. And then we have a dust up at the Capitol where there nothing burned down. And we're not going to talk about -- and we're going to make that a major deal. I just think it kind of two standards.


TAPPER: OK. Well, first of all, obviously, people died. And second of all, obviously, this is bigger than about the vandalism. It was about trying to overturn an election. But the reason I'm playing it is because this is a prevalent attitude. Maybe not the majority attitude, but a prevalent one that the members of Congress are going to have to come to terms with.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, WASHINGTON JOURNALIST: Look, we have to talk about media consumption here because that is the elephant in the room, which is that let's just put it on the table that a third of the country is not going to watch it because networks including Fox News have said they're not going to carry it in prime time.


So this is the big difference, right, between the bombshell revelations, for instance, during Watergate when the entire nation was riveted, and all watching the same thing. Third of the country is not going to be watching this. We've had people saying the same thing, Jake, depending on what your political stripes are really since the beginning after January 6.

So I don't know that this is necessarily an indication of us being in a different place versus we just haven't changed. You still have a third of the country that's not going to be tuned in to this and not necessarily going to absorb the bombshell revelations if there are.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And that gets right at one of the primary goals for the committee here.


KANNO-YOUNGS: It's never been just about -- this is definitely part of it, but there's never been just about filling in the gaps of what happened that day and finding out who knew what and how high up the chain, some of that communication went. It was also about telling the public just how under threat democracy was at that point, is when you talk to members of Congress. That's one of the reasons they've always emphasized the need for public hearings here. So the fact that a main portion of the country may not be tuning into that we'll have to see is important.

TAPPER: And I think one of the points here that you're getting at is that -- and Jack Del Rio needs to understand this -- it's not just about the attack that day, right?


TAPPER: This is about a month's long plan to overturn the election, whether, you know, by suppressing the vote in ways of legal or questionable, and then in courtrooms before election boards with pressure campaigns, calling the Secretary of State of Georgia and all --

CARDONA: The collectors.

TAPPER: Yes, and all these alternate sites (ph). I mean, this was more than just that day.

PONNURU: Yes, that's right. And I think that has the potential being lost when it's not just that one-third of the country is going to be watching, way more than a third of the country is not going to be watching this. We have a much different culture when it comes to the consumption of political news than we had during Watergate.

And I'll tell you one other thing. People like to forget this, we have the self-serving mythology about the way Watergate played out. But a lot of it was also people were unhappy with the way things were in the country at large under President Nixon, partly to inflation, right, which we have again right now, a bad economy. This time, we've got all of those things competing with this January 6 story, and they cut against the incumbent president rather than in favor of these hearings.

TAPPER: And Maria, I just want to note that a Mr. Del Rio, whether he was watching our show, or you heard from Dan Schneider, or what, just put out a tweet saying, "Referencing that situation as a dust up was irresponsible negligent. I'm sorry. I stand by comments condemning violence in communities across the country. I say that while also expressing my support as an American citizen for peaceful protest in our country. I've fully supported all peaceful protests in America," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So --

CARDONA: See what we did, Jake? Probably watching.

TAPPER: You might have done that before we were talking about it. But I mean, look, you hear that a lot like people are outraged by January 6 where was the outrage when cities were burning in the wake of the death of George Floyd. And I certainly understand that sentiment, those -- that vandalism, and that destruction of property was awful. But it's not the same thing.

CARDONA: It is absolutely not the same thing. And I'll tell you, one of the big differences is that Democrats absolutely condemned from the moment that it happened, all of that illegal vandalism and violence that happened on those streets. What Republicans have refused to do, except for very few, is to condemn what Donald Trump and everyone around him had been doing in terms of planning to overturn a free and fair election.

And I think that what we're talking about, the members of the committee understand that or else, I don't think they would have bothered to put this on prime time and to get --


CARDONA: -- at a producer to actually do it, to tell the story. That's what they need to do.

TAPPER: Do you think it was a tactical mistake by Kevin McCarthy to boycott this? There's nobody that's going to be in this hearing that's going to argue anything that he agrees with.

PRZYBYLA: I think it probably was a tactical mistake. They are saved by everything that we've been discussing at this table given that a lot of his followers probably won't be watching it but you want to have someone in the room to make those kinds of headlines, right? Because if there were a moment like that, they would capture it, it would go viral. It would be on Newsmax, it would be on Fox and it would help them too in their audience's discredit in their minds.

TAPPER: Yes. Is the mistake of Fox to not air this do you think?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, I mean, look, if again, if we're talking about when you talk to members of Congress that are involved in this committee and the goal that they've said, it is about portraying this and trying to show the truth that there was a threat to democracy that day.


KANNO-YOUNGS: You can't deny that by having a major television network not air it, many people will miss that.


PONNURU: You can think McCarthy should have cooperated but you can't deny that he has largely succeeded and dealers utilizing (ph) this.

TAPPER: Yes. All right.

PONNURU: I think he made the right political call.

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all, appreciate it. She's been in Kyiv for less than two weeks. We're talking to the new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine about the challenges that lay ahead including growing questions about what the end game might look like. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our world lead today, Ukrainian forces are considering drawing back in the Severodonetsk region. But military leaders clarify that the pullback is to reach a more fortified position and they insist they're not going to give up a key city. This all comes as the U.S. is supplying more weapons to Ukraine in hopes of bolstering Ukrainian efforts against Russia.


And joining us now is the new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, she was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote in the Senate on May 18th, arrived in Kyiv on May 29th. Madam Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us. You've only been on the job three weeks. Since then, the U.S. has reopened its Embassy in Kyiv. But on Sunday, Russia launched an airstrike on the capital city. Do you and your staff feel safe in the capital?

BRIDGET BRINK, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, Jake, thanks so much for having me. It's really great to be back. We're really proud and happy that the U.S. Embassy has reopened in Kyiv. My staff and I, obviously, we're in an area of a war zone, but we feel very strongly that we need to be here in order to advance U.S. interests and carry out the President's objectives and the interests of the people of America.

TAPPER: You know the importance of your being there. The U.S. has not had an official ambassador to Ukraine since 2019, when former President Trump removed Marie Yovanovitch. Do you think in any way a lack of U.S. leadership in Ukraine may have contributed in any parts to this war?

BRINK: I mean, I would say that the President, President Biden, Secretary Blinken, Kristina Kvien, who is a longtime and excellent charge here in Kyiv, have been incredibly active to gather a coalition of friends and partners in support of Ukraine in response to Russia's brutal attack. So no, I think that, in fact, the opposite has happened in terms of -- we've done exactly what we said we would do.

We told Russia that if it launched a war in Ukraine, that we would support Ukraine with weapons and other assistance, that we would put an unprecedented level of sanctions on Russia, and that we would also reinforce NATO's eastern flank which is on the border of this conflict.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to what President Biden said about sending long-range rockets to Ukraine last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to send to Ukraine rocket system that can strike into Russia.


TAPPER: So that was the President saying, we're not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia. But one day later, President Biden announced in an op-ed, that he would give Ukraine rockets that could strike Russia, why the flip flop?

BRINK: I would just go back to who started this war, it was Russia. It is Russia that is the aggressor. It is Russia that is changing or trying to change borders by force. This is a very dangerous precedent to happen in Europe, and one which is in the United States national interest to prevent and stop. So President Biden and the Congress and the American people have now given an enormous amount of support, and are supporting Ukraine and its ability to defend itself and deter further Russian aggression.

And this is exemplified in the latest supplemental package of $40 billion, which President Biden signed on May 21st. And we are working closely with partners and allies to make sure that we're working together. And it really is important that now we support Ukraine now more than ever.

TAPPER: OK, you don't want to answer the question. I'll move on to a bigger one, a bigger picture one. We're more than 100 days into the war. It appears to be, in effect, a stalemate. Last week, President Zelenskyy said Russian forces control 20 percent of Ukraine. How do you anticipate this is going to end?

BRINK: I mean, I might characterize it differently. I think that it is quite remarkable and shows the incredible courage and bravery of the Ukrainians that essentially this David and Goliath story, the Ukrainians have pushed back Russia from the capital, which it had amassed troops. And I was just recently in Bucha and Irpin, which are two of the cities right at the capital gate, so to speak, where the Russians were trying to come in to what appeared to be take over the capital.

Now the Russians have regrouped, and they're in the South and in the east. And the fighting in the east is very close and very difficult. It's street by street. And so, I guess, I would characterize it as an incredible fight where the Ukrainians have had incredible success because of their bravery. Everybody knows and has seen President Zelenskyy and he has inspired the entire world.

And now as I would say, again, it's more -- now is more important than ever to support the Ukrainians in this fight. They're fighting and dying in the Donbas to try to stop Russia from changing borders by force.


TAPPER: Ambassador Bridget Brink, thanks so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

BRINK: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, tacos will soon be falling from the sky. And yes, I mean that literally. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's raining tacos from out of the sky.

TAPPER: That's right, it's raining tacos, kind of. At a brand new Taco Bell in suburban Minneapolis drive thru, customers received their food from the sky or rather via mini elevators from kitchen above the drive thru lanes. Taco Bell says the design is a response to the way fast food orders have changed during the pandemic. But I would like to think that somewhere The Jetsons are celebrating that they manifested this dream come true.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.