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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Stocks Plunge On Fears Of New Interest Rate Hikes; January 6 Hearing Outlines GOP Efforts To Shut Down Trump Fraud Claims; Bipartisan Senators Agree On Framework For Gun Reforms; White House Is "Certainly Thinking" About A Trip To Saudi Arabia; Putin Unveils New Aim Of Restoring Russia To Imperial Power; Graphic Video Shows Group Of Men Assaulting 4 Women In China. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Everyone told Trump it was not going to happen.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Trump's attorney general, Trump's campaign manager, Trump's own daughter, the January 6th Select Committee lays out evidence that Donald Trump knew what he was saying about the election was a lie, but he kept going anyway.

Then, flipping the script. Vladimir Putin admitting the real reason he invaded Ukraine. The new propaganda message being spread as Russia scoffed as sanctions.

Plus, a woman in China brushes off a man's unwanted advance. What happens next in the video is sparking outrage as women across China say it's not surprising.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.


We start today with breaking news on our money lead. The Dow plummeting, about to close down more than 850 points. Investors are growing increasingly nervous that the Federal Reserve is once again going to hike interest rates when it meets later this week.

CNN's Alison Kosik joins me live.

And, Alison, is this a one off or do you think the markets are going to keep falling?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, that's anyone's guess. I think we have to wait and see what the Federal Reserve does on Wednesday when it announces what kind of interest rate hike is in store for the economy.

I think what you see is investors really taking a lot of nervousness to Wall Street as this point because the Fed, many say, has been kind of slow to react to the significant inflation that consumers have felt everywhere from the grocery store to the gas station. You know, does the market want to see the Fed raise interest rates more aggressively? Analysts I'm talking with say yes, they want to see the Fed be more aggressive about it, because that would wind up taming inflation, the very thing that is weighing on the U.S. economy.

The worry, of course, is that the Fed could tighten too much and plunge the U.S. economy into a recession. It's really a delicate walk for the Federal Reserve, but I think at this point, the market wants to see the Fed try to get out ahead of this because many believe the fed has been behind the curve for so long.

TAPPER: All right. Alison Kosik, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Turning to our politics lead in the January 6th committee laying out damning evidence that former President Trump was told over and over and over again that his claims of election fraud were not rooted in fact.

He was told by members of his campaign, he was told by members of his legal team, he was told by even his own Attorney General, Bill Barr.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: When I went into this and would, you know, tell him how crazy some of these allegations were. There was never -- there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were. In my opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud. And I haven't seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that.


TAPPER: But despite mountains of evidence, Trump continued to push absolutely unhinged claims of voter fraud over and over, leading Attorney General Barr to make this conclusion.


BARR: I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality.


TAPPER: Detached from reality. CNN's Ryan Nobles starts off our coverage from Capitol Hill with more on Attorney General Barr's testimony and declarations from three other Republican officials who investigated some of Trump's bogus claims.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's false claim that he won the 2020 election before all the votes were counted, a lie he continues to peddle, but one that some of his closest advisers told the January 6th committee they didn't believe. Like his attorney general.

BARR: He's become detached from reality, if he really believes this stuff.

NOBLES: His campaign manager.

BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I didn't think what was happening was honest or professional.

NOBLES: And several top campaign lawyers.

ALEX CANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I remember telling him that I didn't believe the dominion allegations.

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: What they were proposing. I thought was nuts. The theory was also completely nuts.

NOBLES: Trump's insistence that he won the election despite a wide range of evidence to the contrary is at the core of the committee's argument that he purposefully and potentially criminally worked to prevent the certification of the election results, a conspiracy that ultimately led to his supporters storming the Capitol on January 6th.

BARR: I told him that the stuff that his people were shuttling out to the public was bullshit, I mean, the claims of fraud were bullshit. That all the early claims that I understood were completely bogus and silly.

NOBLES: Bill Stepien, Trump's former campaign manager, was expected to appear live. But after his wife went into labor, he bowed out. The committee playing excerpts from his explosive deposition instead with him detailing election night in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody who is a part of that conversation disagree with your message?



STEPIEN: The president disagreed with that.

NOBLES: The result was a methodical rejection of Trump's claims of fraud delivered by his campaign and White House advisers. Respected professionals who said that Trump stopped talking to them and started trusting people like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

STEPIEN: There were two groups of them. We called them kind of my team and Rudy's team. I didn't mind being characterized as being part of team normal.

NOBLES: Election experts and state election officials also testified there was zero chance Trump won the election.


BEN GINSBERG, ELECTION LAWYER: There was no credible evidence of fraud produced by the Trump campaign or his supporters.

NOBLES: The committee also drawing a line between Trump's big lie and his fund-raising.

AMANDA WICK, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATOR: The claims that the election was stolen were so successful, President Trump and his allies raised $250 million.

NOBLES: The committee finding donors were told the money would be used to fight voter fraud, fraud that didn't exist. The last email sent to donors a half hour before the Capitol was breached.


NOBLES (on camera): And today was only step two in a seven-step argument by this committee and their belief that Donald Trump stood in the way of the election results and prevented the peaceful transfer of power, at least attempted to. On Wednesday, they'll take step three, and that's where they will outline an attempt by the former president to install a puppet attorney general that would take on the responsibility of investigating those thin fraud claims, and it's at that time that we're expected to hear from former DOJ officials who pushed back on Trump's claims of fraud and refused to do his bidding -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Joining us now, CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel.

Jamie, instead of fact-checking the former president's claims themselves, the committee today really used former Attorney General Bill Barr as a way to dismantle many of these insane conspiracies point by point and in general. Why did they choose that strategy?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think today, Jake, was a very bad day for Donald Trump. There's no question Bill Barr was the star witness. And look, it doesn't hurt your case for the committee when the former attorney general is really calling out his boss. It doesn't hurt also that Bill Barr is blunt and he is colorful and we have heard some of the quotes.

But just to go through them again. He called election fraud bogus, silly, rubbish, idiotic, and quote, bullshit, he said twice. He also pointed out Trump was not interested in the facts.

I think that the only question is why did it take Bill Barr so long to speak today? But I think the committee really knew that Barr would jump out as a very senior cabinet member, Jake.

TAPPER: Jamie, committee member Zoe Lofgren used the end of the hearing today to talk about how much he raised on the big lie, he called it the big rip-off and said members of the family were benefitted from the scheme. After the hearing, I asked her about it. Take a listen.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): For example, we know that Guilfoyle was paid for the introduction she gave at the speech. I mean, on January 6th, she received compensation for that.

TAPPER: Is that a crime?

LOFGREN: I'm not saying it's a crime, but I think it's a grift.


TAPPER: Kim Guilfoyle, obviously, Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee.

What role does the money from the big lie play in this investigation?

GANGEL: I think this is a critical part of the investigation. There was a team called the green team, and it was just to go after this. Follow the money.

I have spoken to people about this. They don't know where it goes as far as could there be criminal charges. But there are real questions here, Jake. $250 million that was raised and one of the things I was told by a source close to the committee is, they hope that Trump supporters understand that not only was there a lie here about election fraud, but to add insult to injury, Trump and his allies came and took their money by playing on that.

TAPPER: Yeah. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is Chris Krebs. He's the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He was fired by President Trump for publicly rejecting Trump's bogus claims of voter fraud.

Chris, good to see you again. Thanks for being here.

So you forcefully pushed back against Trump's claims of election fraud, both before and after you were fired. So what was your reaction today when you heard from these officials like Bill Barr, like Bill Stepien, people who also knew that the claims were B.S., and yet were letting people like you and commissioner Al Schmidt take all the heat for pushing back on it when apparently they knew it was bogus too.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: It was re-enforcing at least to see that in the depositions for instance that Attorney General Barr repeated his claims that he knew that the fraud claims were not true.

My team, as I understand it, after my departure had briefed the attorney general and leadership at the FBI on the process of elections, the security redundancies built in. So, it's entirely consistent with everything we knew all along.

[16:10:03] To have this now on the record in such a forceful way is I think important to documenting the -- ultimately this fraud that was committed upon America.

TAPPER: You're being very diplomatic. Wouldn't it have been nicer if some of these people had been more forceful publicly given the fact you went through what you went through and you had death threats and the like?

KREBS: Yeah, look, I think all along, I would have preferred a little bit of additional support from --

TAPPER: Some company.

KREBS: -- the GOP and the leadership.


KREBS: But, you know, ultimately, I think to see the work that we did in 2020 play such a crucial role in establishing a fact pattern that the committee is working towards right now, and I think that -- you know, there's some reassurance and some comfort there. But where they go with this, what happens next, what law enforcement or the Department of Justice does next is I think -- what's also critical.

TAPPER: So, your name came up today, as you may have mentioned. Alex Cannon, a former Trump campaign attorney, cited your work in a phone call with former Trump trade adviser, Peter Navarro. Take a listen.


CANNON: I mentioned that Chris Krebs released a report saying the election was secure, and I believe Mr. Navarro accused me of being an agent of the deep state working with Chris Krebs against the president.


KREBS: I mean, it makes perfect sense, right? The trade adviser is an expert in election security. I got it.

TAPPER: Right. He knows more about election security. Well, he knows deep state when he sees it.

KREBS: Right.

TAPPER: So that report was also entered into the record at today's hearing. That's more important than the crackpot delusions of some of these aides.

For viewers who may not remember your report and what it found and what it did not find, can you remind us the big takeaways?

KREBS: Yeah, so, it was a statement issued on November 12th by a coordinating committee of state, local, federal election officials and security officials along with private sector representatives. They said, basically, were the ones that won elections, we know how these things work, there is no evidence of any interference and it was a safe and secure election. And that was issued on the 12th.

So I personally didn't that, but the people that we were working with for months and months if not years in preparation for the 2020 election, there was a second report that was released by about 59 election security experts that said that the claims that were made at the time, whether it was by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and others or whomever, they were technically incoherent eventually nonsense. Having both of those pieces in the record establishes that Trump and his circle knew or should have known that it was in fact a secure election. And yet, they proceeded with the grift anyway.

TAPPER: Yeah, and just to remind people. I mean, the claims were so insane. It was that software was being, you, know changed by Internet, by, like, the Italian military using satellite. I mean, really crazy things.

Meanwhile, Sidney Powell, you mentioned Sidney Powell, her video statement talking about how it was a landslide victory for Donald Trump? That is still on the Republican National Committee's Twitter feed.

KREBS: And worse than that, I mean, I think the references to Hugo Chavez, the dead Venezuelan dictator from the grave reaching and changing votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, wherever. I mean, it's absolutely ludicrous that we have not seen across the border denunciations of the grifters.

So, I think that speaks to a bigger wrong with politics, we've all talked about it. But getting this through moment right now, I think we're seeing a pretty effective establishment of just the nonsense that we've been through the couple of years.

TAPPER: Have you talked to the January 6 committee about your work in your takeaways and what needs to be done to make sure that they, whoever tried to do this in 2020, can't do it successfully in 2024?

KREBS: Well, I interviewed with the committee back in December, voluntarily. I have been pretty forthright and forthcoming about the things that we did and might use on the kind of state of peril in elections. I think you saw number witnesses today that haven't necessarily been as out in front in public. So, I think it was a valuable use of their time to use those rather than, perhaps, me as a witness.

But, yeah, seeing someone like Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election attorney, his recommendation that he made today and elsewhere, I think that's -- they're laying the path forward on the Electoral Count Act and others, that we can insure that this sort of sabotaged the electoral college doesn't happen again.

TAPPER: But when you see a bunch of these people spewing these incredibly crazy election lies, running for office, even getting party nominations, in Pennsylvania, in Arizona, are you worried? KREBS: Absolutely. And '22 is paving the path for '24 where you could

see someone in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, who just I guess announced he was hiring Jena Ellis as his campaign counsel, right?

TAPPER: Sure, why not?


Of course.

KREBS: You're seeing secretaries of state all over the country that have previously said they would not certify the 2020 election.

So, it does give me a significant amount of concern that again, the risk to 24 will be determined here now in 2022.

TAPPER: Chris, as always, great to see you. Thanks so much for what you do and be here today.

It could be a 30-year first. The big breakthrough on gun reform on the Hill. What's in? What's out?

Then, for some Ukrainians, home sweet home could be a dark basement you could be sharing with strangers, stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, a first in 30, a bipartisan group of senators agreeing on compromise legislation to try to reduce gun violence. Now, the deal is just the framework. It has yet to be written as a bill, but it is expected to include mental health and school safety resources as well as an enhanced review process for 18 to 21-year-olds trying to buy certain semiautomatic weapons such as AR-15s.


CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill for us.

Lauren, senators have been negotiating many different ideas for this gun reform bill. Take us through the framework. What's else in it and what's not?

FOX: Well, this bill is not going to be as sweeping as what the president or even Democrats have been advocating for over the last decade. Instead what it does do however, is make significant changes and put a lot of resources into trying to avoid the kind of mass shootings we've seen across the country.

That's more money for mental health. More money for school security, as well as incentives for states to pass their own so-called red flag laws.

There is also a change in that review process when someone between the ages of 18 and 21 goes to a gun store and wants to buy a gun like an ar-15. Also significant in this legislation is it closes the so-called

boyfriend loophole. This is the provision the Democrats tried to put in the Violence Against Women Act. They almost got there, at the last- minute, the NRA was opposing it. They took it out of the bill in the last moments just a few months ago.

It just shows you how much has changed in the last several weeks, that ten Republicans now signing on to a framework that includes closing the boyfriend loophole, Jake.

TAPPER: And ten Senate Republicans have agreed to support the bill. But, of course, we have a long way before it's actually passed.

Are Democrats confident they can maintain the bipartisan support?

FOX: Well, they are cautiously optimistic, according to aides I'm talking to. They're going to try to write this bill as quickly as possible. But like you said, a lot of details to fill in here.

And just an example, the kind of pressure Republicans are getting right now. Gun Owners of America, a conservative gun groups that's a bit further to the right then even the NRA, they blasted out an email to their constituents today, arguing that they need to convince just one of these ten Republicans to change their minds.

There's going to be a lot that anyone of those Republicans can point to and say, look, I've supported the framework but I don't support the specific detail added at the last minute. So, already, intense lobbying afoot, trying to convince one of these Republicans to back off.

Now, the other side of the argument? Republican leadership hoping to get more than just ten Republicans, because they want to get those ten Republicans some cover if they'll vote for this legislation -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, I think nine of the ten are either retiring or not up for reelection until 2024.

Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Our other top politics story -- from a pariah to a strategic partner. That's what the White House is now calling Saudi Arabia, amid a possible meeting between President Biden and the Saudi Crown Prince MBS, despite campaign promises that he would ostracize the Saudi regime.

For now, the White House is still declining to confirm if or when the meeting with the Saudis will happen.

CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with us.

Kaitlan, we're now hearing from White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, he's the highest profile person to comment on this possible meeting. What does Kirby have to say?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, Jake, what the White House is trying to do know is square what the president said on the campaign trail and the promises he made there, with what he's prepared to do now as president, which is take this trip to Saudi Arabia, which hasn't been formally announced by the White House, but everyone knows it's in the works and they're working on finalizing those details.

So what we are hearing from officials, including John Kirby who is at the Pentagon and now the National Security Council, is that basically they see this as a matter of balancing moral values and those vows to make Saudi Arabia a pariah with strategic national security interest.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: The president has put in place accountability measures with respect to the Khashoggi killing. But Saudi Arabia is also a strategic partner. An informed policy is about balancing the values and we're standing up for values. And we are not afraid to speak to our human rights concerns in any country around the world, but also pursuing national security interests.


COLLINS: And, Jake, what John Kirby was referencing there at the beginning was when the White House did release that intelligence report that showed the Saudi crown prince did approve the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Of course, when that came out, Jake, there was a lot of criticism from some typical allies of this White House, because they only penalized lower level Saudi officials. They did not directly try to go after the Saudi crown prince himself, basically deciding that the cost of doing so was too high.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, today was the first of three January 6 hearing scheduled for just this week. Did President Biden say anything about today's hearing?

COLLINS: He hasn't commented on it yet. He did comment after that first high-profile hearing last week, talking about the importance of these hearings. The fact that they were going to lead to new details, he believed, maybe details a lot of Americans had not really seen all pieced together yet.

The White House says that President Biden isn't watching these live in real time. Obviously, he has other things on his schedule, but his staff is certainly watching. They are updating him on the development of these hearings.

And, Jake, also, the Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre just told reporters they believe all Americans should be watching these hearings and seeing what happened, of course, as former -- as President Biden made no secret about how he feels how former President Trump handled that day, calling it a flagrant violation of the Constitution.

[16:25:10] TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Remember when Vladimir Putin told the Russian people he was invading Ukraine to get rid of the so-called Nazis in Ukraine? Well, now, Putin's reason is changing and it seems he saying the quiet part out loud.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, the White House says Vladimir Putin, quote, absolutely has weaponized food as Ukraine and others continue to accuse Russia of blocking shipments of grain from leaving Ukraine, an accusation Putin called a bluff in an interview with Russian state media.

Now, after a weekend of patriotic celebrations in Russia, Putin's bigger end game seems clearer than ever.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports from Moscow where the president of Russia has shifted from his initial rhetoric of denazifying Ukraine to an openly imperial takeover.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A display of patriotism on Russia day. Russian President Vladimir Putin handing out medals just days after he likened himself to Peter the Great, claiming like Czar Peter 300 years ago, in Ukraine, Russia is taking back land that is rightfully Russia's.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): He went there to take it back and strengthen it. That's what he was doing. Well, it seems it has also fallen to us to take back and strengthen territories, and if we take these basic values as fundamental to our existence, we will prevail in solving the issues we are facing.

PLEITGEN: After stating at the start of the war that Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine, Kremlin TV now is amplifying the new slogan, taking back and strengthening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We all need to explain to the Ukrainians we are not playing. We, as our President said, are taking back what's supposed to be ours and strengthening it.

PLEITGEN: Take back and strengthen, those words also start the show of the man known as Putin's chief propagandist, then showing images of people in Russian occupied territory in Ukraine receiving Russian passports.

And pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine's Donbas region firing at Ukrainian forces with a clear message. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of this is Russian

territory, Russian land. They had been separating us for centuries. But the center of Ukraine and the southeast, those are all Russian people.

PLEITGEN: At the same time, the Russians are making clear the current sanctions won't make them change course. The country's economy has stabilized and this weekend, a Russian company reopened several restaurants formerly owned by McDonald's, under the new brand name, Tasty, and that's it.

Some at the grand opening wearing "Z" embroidered clothes, the symbol of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as they ate American style fast food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Food and politics have nothing in common. Come on, man. Keep things separate.

PLEITGEN: A big run on burgers in Moscow, while the war in Ukraine drags on, and Vladimir Putin is far from finished with what he sees as his mission.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And a lot of this, Jake, has some of the U.S.'s Eastern European NATO allies extremely alarmed. One of the places that Vladimir Putin was talking about when he spoke about Peter the Great and some of the territories that Peter the Great took back as Vladimir Putin put it, is in today's Estonia, which is, of course, a NATO ally. Finland, which is looking to join NATO, also extremely concerned because they have a big ethnic Russian population, and there's actually a member of the Russian parliament which is in a party close to Vladimir Putin that has now started a motion to essentially unrecognized the independence of Lithuania.

So the big question for a lot of Eastern European states is, where does Vladimir Putin intend to stop?

TAPPER: Exactly. Fred, apart from the new Russian replacement for McDonald's, how else is Russia trying to buck the Western sanctions?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, I mean, I think right now, the Russians feel they're in a fairly comfortable position. One of the things the Biden administration said as the war started is they said there would be crippling sanctions that would cripple this country's economy. And being on the ground here, it certainly seems to us as though Russia's economy is fairly resilient and is still somewhat on its feet.

There are no doubt big issues here. A lot of people have lost their jobs. A lot of industries have problems getting parts and especially higher end equipment which they need, but by and large, inflation seems to be under control, the shelves are still well stocked in many stores. And the Russians have said they now also believe that they have inflation under control and that they can keep going at this pace for a fairly long period of time.

So, it certainly seems as though if there is something that is going to make Vladimir Putin change course, the sanctions and their current form are probably not going to be it, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, that doesn't sound particularly crippling.

Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Also in our world lead, quote, give up or die. That's what pro-Russian forces are telling Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's army in the key city of Severodonetsk, according to Russian state media today. Now, Ukrainian officials say all three bridges into that city are impassable making the journey even harder for civilians who want to escape.


But a little more than 50 miles west of Severodonetsk, some who initially fled came back and are now hell bent on staying put.

CNN's Ben Wedeman visits a family in Sloviansk, sleeping in a damp basement as Putin's war knocks at their front door.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The city of Sloviansk may be half empty, but the church of the Holy Spirit is almost full. The city is perilously close to the front lines, but with faith and stubbornness, the few stay put while others have come back.

Luba and her family left shortly after the outbreak of war, staying with relatives in western Ukraine. She returned a month ago. For now, home sweet home is a dark, damp basement shared with other building residents.

Having lived through the fighting here in 2014, she left because she didn't want to go through it all over again.

I was scared for my son and my grandson, she says. Yet hospitality had its limited, and home sickness took a toll.

We felt our relatives were sick of us, she says. They have their own lives. You can put up with your relatives for a while, but we decided it was time to go back.

The basement is far from comfortable, but it's better than upstairs when the bombs and missiles fall at night. Her 14-year-old grandson Bogdan prefers it here.

Even if you can go to a safer place elsewhere, he says, it's better to be at home, even if you have to sleep in the basement.

The longer this war goes on, the cooler the welcome becomes for those who have fled to safer ground. And as dangerous as it may be here, there's no place like home.

With no cooking gas to be had, the kitchen has moved to the yard. The city water supply was knocked out. It now must be pumped by hand. Gone are the comforts and conveniences of modern life, but at least

it's home.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And Ukrainian officials say that it may be just a matter of days, Jake, before Severodonetsk falls to the Russians. And the worry is that Sloviansk, which is a city very close to the Russian front lines, may be in the crosshairs -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ben Wedeman in Ukraine, thank you so much, appreciate it.

A woman brushes off a man's unwanted sexual advance, but it is his response that's going viral. Why women in China say this is shocking but not surprising.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Staying with our world lead, growing outrage after the brutal and shocking assault of four women in northern China. The violent attack started when one of the women rejected man's unwanted advances at restaurant on Friday, security footage goes on to show the women being punched, kicked, and dragged by their hair on the ground. The video already has drawn hundreds of millions of views on social media.

And as CNN's Selina Wang reports, it's sparking a debate about violence against women in China.

We want to warn you, some of the footage we're about to show you is graphic and disturbing.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A late night dinner turned violent in northern China. Graphic surveillance video of what follows unleashed fear and outrage. It shows a man approaching one of the women. He touches her back, an unwanted advance.

She pushes him away. He slaps her in response. The assault escalates. A scuffle breaks out as she and her friends try to defend themselves.

The woman is dragged outside by her hair. Hit with a beer bottle. The men relentlessly kick her. As one yells, beat her to death. Her friend's head hits the pavement with a thud.

The viral video sparked uproar, not just over the brazen brutality of the attack but the indifference from bystanders with only women seen intervening.

A woman at the scene called the police and told authorities the following, according to state media.

Before this happened, I always thought that going out to dinner at night was a perfectly normal thing. But now, I have some sort of PTSD.

YAQIU WANG, SENIOR RESEARCHER ON CHINA, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: This men feel they could just freely attack a woman in such a public place because so many men in the past who have done the same, so the men feel I can do the same without any consequences.

WANG: Attacks like this are horrific and horrible to watch. But Chinese social media is flooded with them. And activists say we cannot look away. Violence against women is rampant in China.

Video from earlier this year shows a man viciously punching his wife while she holds their child in her lap. The man later pins his wife down and continues to punch her head. The man was suspended by his company after the footage went viral, according to state media, and police said they detained him for five days.


Another shows a man kicking and punching a woman in broad daylight in 2020. State media reported the man was investigated but it's unclear if any legal action was taken. Domestic violence was only made punishable by law in 2016. Physical abuse was not even grounds for divorce before 2001.

So far, authorities have detained nine people involved in the restaurant incident. Local police have ramped up patrols on the streets in the area. Authorities claim the woman and her friend are in stable condition. Yet unverified video show what is believed to be one of their brutally beaten bodies lying motionless on a gurney in the hospital, bloodied and bandaged, her helplessness resonating across China.


WANG (on camera): After watching that video, Jake, so many women in China said that could have been me. They see this as part of systemic violence against women in a patriarchal society.

And the government is trying to silence the backlash. Chinese social media has been blocking accounts, has even censored posts for merely voicing concerns about women's safety, Jake.

TAPPER: Horrific. Selina Wang in Beijing, thank you for that report. Appreciate it.

Coming up, she was arrested in dramatic fashion after claiming Florida was falsifying its COVID data. But now an independent investigation says actually it's her who has numbers that don't add up.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead now, insufficient evidence, that's what a new inspector general report says it found in response to Rebekah Jones' accusations she was asked to falsify COVID data on Florida's dashboard.

CNN's Kristen Holmes dives into Jones' charges. Jones' charges garnered coverage that led her to become a progressive cause celebre, despite claims experts saw now do not stand up to scrutiny.



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Explosive claims from a prominent critic of Ron DeSantis were, quote, unsubstantiated and unfounded, according to an internal state investigation.

Rebekah Jones, who helped build the state's coronavirus data dashboard, gained fame after claiming health department officials in the DeSantis administration were asking her to manipulate data to minimize the scale of the COVID outbreak as the governor was pushing to reopen businesses.

JONES: When I brought basically what the results of whether or not each county could open to superiors, they essentially told me they did not like the results.

HOLMES: Officials denied the allegations. Now, in a 27-page report obtained by CNN and first reported by NBC News, the Florida Department of Health's Office of the inspector general says it found insufficient or no evidence to back up most of Jones' claims, after interviews with over a dozen witnesses.

In a rebuttal to the findings, Jones and her attorney argue the inspector general has a misunderstanding of her complaints.

In July of 2020, Jones filed a whistleblower complaint after being fired for what officials say was in-subordination. Jones alleging it was retaliation for not altering the numbers to favor reopening the state, a claim officials deny.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: She was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn't believe was valid data. So, she didn't listen to the people who are her superiors.

HOLMES: Jones later launched her own online dashboard of Florida coronavirus data, and later that year --

POLICE OFFICER: Open the door.

HOLMES: State police raiding her family's home.

POLICE OFFICER: Police, come down now.

JONES: Do not point that gun at my children.

HOLMES: Over a text message sent through the Department of Health's internal system after she had been fired, urging others to speak out over alleged COVID denialism.

According to the search warrant obtained by CNN, investigators traced the IP address of the messaging to Jones' house.

Jones denied sending the message.

JONES: This is just a very thinly veiled attempt of the governor to intimidate scientists.

HOLMES: In January 2021, she was charged with computer-related offenses. She pleaded not guilty.

A Democrat formerly appointed by DeSantis to handle the state's emergency response has said Jones was spreading disinformation to her hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. Twitter has suspended her account.

This week, a Florida state audit report finding the state's ability to accurately report COVID data at the beginning of the pandemic was hindered by, quote, inaccurate or incomplete data reported to the state by health agencies.


HOLMES (on camera): And one thing that's interesting here is actually both sides are claiming vindication in this report, noting that unsubstantiated means there was no evidence to prove or disprove those allegations. But we have to point out some of Jones' claims were actually found to be unfounded by the inspector general. And just one thing to note here about what Jones is doing now, she's currently the leading Democratic candidate in Florida's first congressional district, meaning that she is likely to take on Matt Gaetz for his seat in November -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Thirty-one men with alleged ties to a white supremacist group are arrested near a pride parade in Idaho. Now, police say there are death threats. Wait until you hear who they're aimed at.


Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, a mystery in the Amazon jungle deepens as the president of Brazil says something bad happens to a journalist and researcher who went missing last week. This after their belongings and human organs are found. Plus, when is old too old? A top Democratic strategist says the

whispers among Democrats about President Biden's age are growing louder, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won't commit to supporting Biden in 2024.