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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Ex-W.H. Aide Provides First-Hand Account Of Trump's Actions On Jan. 6; NATO Expected To Scale Up Number Of Troops On High Alert To 300,000; NATO Summit Could Help Determine Next Phase Of War In Ukraine; 18 Killed, Dozens Missing And Injured In Ukraine Shopping Mall Attack; Polish Doctors Describe Difficulty Of Providing Health Care To Women When Abortion Is Restricted; 51 Migrants Found Dead In A Semitruck; Ghislaine Maxwell To Appeal 20-Year Prison Sentence For Sex Trafficking Underage Girls. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 28, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Quote, "imaginable." Today, Trump denied trying to grab the steering wheel of the limousine.
As CNN's Pamela Brown reports for us now, Cassidy Hutchinson gave damning testimony about her immediate boss, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and his refusal to intervene in the events of January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO W.H. CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: As an American, I was disgusted.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bombshell testimony from surprise witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.
HUTCHINSON: I ever heard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I don't -- I think that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in, they can march the Capitol from here.
BROWN (voice-over): Hutchinson describing how Trump allegedly directed White House staff to remove the metal detectors around the ellipse because he was upset the crowd didn't look big enough. Hutchinson testified that lead White House Counsel Pat Cipollone warned about legal exposure if Trump followed his supporters to the Capitol.
HUTCHINSON: We're going to get charged of every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with?
HUTCHINSON: In the days leading up to the sixth, we had conversations about potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral account. BROWN (voice-over): Hutchinson relaying a secondhand account about a defiant Trump, who wanted to go to the Capitol anyway, allegedly even attacking the leader of a secret service detail while in the presidential motorcade.
HUTCHINSON: I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel.
BROWN (voice-over): Hutchinson telling the committee White House officials knew something big was brewing on January 6, testifying that Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani told her.
HUTCHINSON: We're going to the Capitol, it's going to be great. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful.
BROWN (voice-over): And when she approached Meadows for more details, she says Meadows gave an ominous response.
HUTCHINSON: It didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, there's a lot going on, Cass (ph), but I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6.
BROWN (voice-over): After things did get real bad at the Capitol, Cipollone pleaded with Meadows to get Trump to do something to stop it according to Hutchinson.
HUTCHINSON: And Pat said something to the effect of, and very clearly has said this to Mark, something to the effect of, Mark something needs to be done or people are going to die and the blood is going to be on your effing hands. This is getting out of control.
BROWN (voice-over): Hutchinson testified that watching the violence and destruction unfold on January 6 was devastating.
HUTCHINSON: It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We are watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie. It's something that -- it's still -- I still struggled to work through the emotions of that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BROWN: And another revelation coming out during that hearing was that her former boss she said, Mark Meadows, asked for presidential pardon relating to January 6. Now, former President Trump or his party is shaking the truth social and denied some of the most shocking allegations from today, including that he allegedly lunged at the wheel.
But I will note that Cassidy Hutchinson was under oath when she told that story. And she made clear that this was an account coming directly from Tony Ornato, who was actually there. We have reached out to the Secret Service, still no comment. Jake.
TAPPER: Pamela Brown on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.
Joining us live to discuss, John Wood, former senior investigator for the January 6 committee and a former U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush. He also clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Mr. Wood, thanks so much for joining us. So we learned so much today. Were you surprised by this last minute hearing? And what effect do you think this witness had?
JOHN WOOD, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATOR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: I was a little bit surprised, obviously, since I just left the select committee last week. I was well aware that the committee had been talking to Cassidy Hutchison several times. But I thought that some of this new information that came out today was just eye popping.
I would have to think that for anybody who is sort of open minded and on the fence about what happened on January 6, that her testimony will convey to the American people just how dangerous the president's conduct was, and the danger posed to our democracy as well as the people who are in the capitol at the time.
TAPPER: And I just want to, again, reiterate for anybody watching, you are a U.S. Attorney in Missouri during George W. Bush's administration, you were Chief Counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce, you clerked for Clarence Thomas, you're a conservative Republican.
WOOD: I am.
TAPPER: At the end of today's hearing, Vice Chair Liz Cheney highlighted what she called a concerning trend of witnesses describing intimidation from members of Trump's orbit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: This is a call received by one of our witnesses. Quote, "A person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How big of a problem has this been for the committee when it comes to interviewing witnesses?
WOOD: Well, it's not impeding the investigation because the vast majority of the witnesses, whether they were subpoenaed or asked to come voluntarily, have cooperated and appeared to be very truthful. But there have been some witnesses who have been less than forthcoming with the committee. And the evidence that came out today suggested that it's at least possible that that was at the request of the president. And so, I think that was one of the really big things that came out of today's hearing is this evidence suggesting that President Trump may be attempting to tamper with witnesses. And Vice Chair Cheney didn't say anything explicit about a criminal referral for witness tampering, but she certainly hinted that that was something the select committee was going to consider and it sounds like they're going to consider it in the coming days.
TAPPER: One of the things that was so shocking today, I think, the most shocking thing other than the story, which was kind of hearsay about what happened in the limo, that was according to a story she had heard from a Secret Service agent but she didn't witness it herself, was the story from in the tent on the Ellipse on the rally, right before the rally, January 6, were Donald Trump, in a conversation she heard, wanted the magnetometers removed because he wanted even those with weapons to be allowed to hear him speak because he didn't think that those individuals posed any threat to him. And then also talked about how he wanted that group, which included armed individuals to march to the Capitol to stop the counting of the electoral votes. Is that a crime, do you think?
WOOD: Well, I don't want to reach a conclusion based just on one witness's testimony. But it certainly suggests that there's enough there that the Justice Department can at least investigate whether the President committed a crime, they'll need to talk to multiple witnesses and get more evidence before they can reach a conclusion. But it suggests that they need to at least look into the issue.
And I agree that I thought that that evidence was extremely compelling, even shocking that the President knew there were people who are armed. He wasn't concerned about it, because he didn't think they were coming after him. But he wanted them to go to the Capitol. Not just that he didn't stop them from going to the Capitol when they were armed, but that he actually wanted them to go to the Capitol, that's really just frightening.
TAPPER: Well, and it also puts in new light, all the language we heard from the podium, that they trial by combat, Rudy Giuliani said, et cetera. If Rudy Giuliani knew that some of those people in the crowd, whether right near him or it's in the expansive crowd, we're armed. That certainly puts his speech in new light.
We also learned that Cassidy Hutchinson has had to hire security or there's security protecting her. Are you worried about her safety?
WOOD: Of course, I think that she was incredibly brave to go before a national or even international audience and speak the truth about what happened. She's a young person. I know, she had a lot of responsibility in the White House, but she's still very young, so it had to have been frightening. And, you know, I think the vast majority of Trump supporters are peaceful people, but you have to be worried about one crazy person being out there. And so, it's really frightening.
And I haven't gotten the sense that there's anything that President Trump has done to try and tamp down the risk of violence. To the contrary, he seems to be just pouring gasoline on the fire.
TAPPER: Yes, exactly. I was going to say that was quite an understatement. But John would appreciate it. Thank you so much. Joining us now live to discuss, former U.S. attorney and CNN Senior Legal Analyst Preet Bharara, who was appointed during a Democratic administration, I should note just in contrast to Mr. Wood.
So, Preet, Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows were among those who inquired about getting pardons for their actions related to January 6, is that legally significant?
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. There's a doctrine that prosecutors referred to called consciousness of guilt. It often refers to activities that someone engages in when they're being pursued by the police, but it certainly obtains in this context as well, it's not dispositive, it doesn't give you a slam dunk case. But it tells you that people like Giuliani and others were sufficiently concerned that would be -- that they would be charged with a crime based on things that they had done, that they preemptively sought blanket pardons.
It's especially extreme, given that they were seeking something in advance of being charged, in advance of really even investigation that they knew about being launched and a blanket broad based pardon which is almost unprecedented -- not completely unprecedented but almost unprecedented, certainly unprecedented for someone at their level.
TAPPER: Let's focus on Mark Meadows for one second, then White as Chief of Staff. What jumps out at you that could potentially be a legal liability for Mark Meadows based on what we heard today from Cassidy Hutchinson?
BHARARA: Well, you know, so Cassidy was a, I think, a very compelling witness, very strong witness. She wasn't tested by cross examination. But she was very calm. Her demeanor is the thing that I think people will look to see if she was credible. And I think she was very credible.
And she was very particular in describing three categories of people, the people who were trying to get Donald Trump to stop doing what they were doing, the people who were sort of neutral, and the people who were deflecting blame. And it sounded like she was saying a little bit enabling of Donald Trump's conduct on the sixth, leading up to the sixth and immediately after the sixth.
So to the extent that there was testimony she gave about Mark Meadows being sort of in cahoots with this idea of going to the Capitol even after knowing the law enforcement had been overrun, even after knowing that the lawyers at the White House Counsel's Office were suggesting criminal exposure, even after knowing that people in the crowd were armed and had body armor, things that we can now attribute to Donald Trump's mind and also to Mark Meadows. I'm not saying there's definitely a criminal case, but you're inching closer toward it.
TAPPER: There was another really interesting moment in today's hearing when Cassidy Hutchinson was describing a conversation she had with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, where Cipollone was really -- was urging her to not let Donald Trump go from the Ellipse to Capitol Hill on January 6. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.
CHENEY: And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with?
HUTCHINSON: In the days leading up to the sixth, we had conversations about potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral account.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, you're we're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if Trump goes, but he didn't ultimately go. Does that mean that the case against Donald Trump or his team on those matters is weaker?
BHARARA: Here, look, any attempted crime is easier. It's harder to prove than completed, you know, crime. If you plan a burglary or robbery at the bank and you don't complete it, people can always argue, well, it was just, you know, a figment of my imagination, it was just hypothetical, it was a fantasy, it wasn't real. So, attempts are always harder to prove just as a general matter than completed crimes. But it tells you a lot about Donald Trump's state of mind, as you pointed out earlier, it was not only the case that he wanted to go, he basically had to be physically restrained from taking his own presidential vehicle, the beast over to the Capitol and engaged in, you know, what sounds like near assault of a secret service agent in his car and almost grabbed the wheel.
And by the way, that's not the only time that we've heard in the last number of days that some of the White House Counsel's Office talked about criminal exposure, we have the example of another White House counsel lawyer who was talking to John Eastman and saying, you need to get yourself an effing criminal defense lawyer, a really good criminal defense lawyer. So all over the place, Donald Trump, John Eastman and others were being told, not only about the potential for violence, but also knew actual violence was taking place, people were armed. And we're being told by their own handpicked lawyers again and again about criminal exposure, so I think that's significant.
TAPPER: Yes, I think it wasn't the beast itself, I think it was actually the SUV version of the beast, the suburban, but that's all presidential vehicle --
BHARARA: Oh, all right.
TAPPER: -- lingo. Anyway --
BHARARA: The beast, too.
TAPPER: -- former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, thanks so much.
After today's testimony, a former Trump insider says he expects the public to hear from the former chief of staff. That's next.
TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead, a blockbuster six hearing from the January 6 House Select Committee Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified that former President Trump and his inner circle were well aware that the crowd was armed and aware that they plan to walk to the Capitol and yet not only did little to stop it, encouraged it. Let's discuss.
Gloria, we can't overstate the risk to her life and livelihood that Cassidy Hutchinson took today. And so, that a source tells CNN she's gotten private security --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: -- in recent days. How do you see her courage compared to some of the other members of her party?
BORGER: That's an easy question. I think she's a courageous young woman, 26 years old clearly puts her life in danger. She's got to leave the environs of the Trump circle, right? She is -- and I think that other older, more experienced people, oh, Pat Cipollone comes to mind, might be looking at what she did today and say, you know, this is a woman that's going to be remembered in history, I think, we're doing the right thing at the right time. And I'm sure it was so difficult for her.
I mean, don't forget, she's worked in Republican politics. She worked for Steve Scalise. She worked for Ted Cruz. She worked for Mark Meadows both on the Hill and at the White House.
And she's going to be ostracized by those people who think she should have kept these terrible secrets about Donald Trump's behavior and what he was doing on January 6, and how we didn't care that the mob -- members of the mob were armed. And she told us that Mark Meadows, her former boss, asked for a pardon, as did Rudy Giuliani. So this is a woman of great courage.
TAPPER: Yes, she brought a lot of new facts to light.
TAPPER: Tim Miller is with us right now. We should note, your new book is out today, "Why We Did It, A travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell." So, on that subject, Tim, the House Judiciary Committee's Republicans official Twitter account tweeted this as the hearing went into its first recess, quote, "That was their star witness? OK then." And the tweet has the crying laughing emoji.
[17:20:00] In addition, former President Trump posted on his social media platform that, quote, "I hardly know Hutchinson." He also called her phony. What will the Republican campaign to discredit her do? And will it work, do you think?
TIM MILLER, WRITER, THE BULWARK: Depends on what you mean by work, right? I think it certainly is going to be --
TAPPER: Keeping Republicans in the fold.
TAPPER: Keeping their supporters in the fold.
MILLER: For sure. I think if that's the definition, I think, absolutely, they'll keep supporters in the fold. And look, this is what I tried to figure out when I was writing this book, which was so relevant to today, which is, why did people who know better continue to go along with this stuff? And I consider most of the people on the Hill to be part of that, probably whoever's running that House Judiciary Committee Twitter feed, these people know it, but they --
BORGER: A 12-year-old who's going to --
MILLER: Yes, the 12-year-old. But they've decided that the game and staying within their social circle and owning the LIBS (ph) is more important than doing the right thing for the country. And the reason why they can get away with that is because that's what Republican voters want. This is all a demand side problem. Republican voters, you know, want to you know, have their grievances and biases reinforced as long as the politicians are giving it to them, they're going to be rewarded. And so, it's -- so they've created these rationalizations in their head for why they don't have to do the right thing.
And Cassidy I thought today was really brave. And I think it just speaks to how powerful it was that she was able to kind of break free from all these rationalizations when you had all these grown --
MILLER: -- A-S-S men and women.
TAPPER: Right. You can say ass.
MILLER: Yes. With all these grownups in Washington who did --
TAPPER: I said the F word earlier. So you can say that.
KASIE HUNT, CNN NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: (INAUDIBLE) tables.
MILLER: I know the rules right over here in CNN.
TAPPER: Well, I was quoting. If it's in -- well, we'll talk about the rules.
So that's, you know, that's a guy who used to be a top aide for many Republican politicians.
HUNT: We were just talking. We have been working together for years.
HUNT: And we first encountered each other (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: So we saw -- but we saw in the testimony today, Kevin McCarthy, Mike Gallagher, a number of House Republicans who have since completely fallen back in line --
HUNT: Oh, yes, they have.
TAPPER: -- talking on that day about how upset they were. You were on Capitol Hill that day.
HUNT: I was.
TAPPER: And I mean, ultimately, what Cassidy Hutchinson said today is Donald Trump sent arm -- knowing that they were armed, sent them to Capitol Hill.
HUNT: He sent his own army, militia up to Capitol Hill to do his bidding. I mean, can you imagine? We didn't know at the time. And in fact, for years, months now, Republicans have insisted that there were no weapons in the crowd. And this was one of the reasons why this was not a problem, that we should not have all have been as worried or scared or as traumatized by what happened. But imagine if Kevin McCarthy and Mike Gallagher and the others who we did hear from in the moment, knew that actually the police had spotted several people in that crowd with weapons ranging from pistols to AR-15, right?
And now, you know, as someone in -- I'm processing this as both a reporter who was there observing and reporting on what was going on with our democracy, but also as a person who spent, you know, a decade working at the Capitol and who was having, you know, my workplace attacked, and now as a citizen, I'm learning that the president of the United States who's supposed to be the president of all of us, actually sent, knowingly sent, and encouraged an armed mob to go and attack whoever was at the Capitol complex. And they were looking specifically for people like Mike Pence, and Nancy Pelosi. But those guns were coming for all of us. That is stunning.
BORGER: But he said they weren't coming for him.
BORGER: That didn't matter.
HUNT: He knew --
TAPPER: They didn't hurt him.
HUNT: -- they were on his side.
BORGER: Right. HUNT: And by the way, there are still a ton of questions, and I'm interested to see if the committee digs into this, as to why then the Defense Department was so slow to dispatch the National Guard.
HUNT: Is that because the President knew like the guys with the guns that were on his side were already there and he didn't need any extra guns that were going to get rid of them? Who knows?
TAPPER: That's a question.
TAPPER: Ashley, one of the most stunning stories we heard today was actually a hearsay story. It was a story that Cassidy Hutchinson said she had been told by somebody in the president's Secret Service detail. Let's roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now. To which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.
The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel.
And when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had a motion towards his clavicles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now to be clear, we do not have any corroborating evidence from that story and both into the Secret Service agents testified before the committee but I don't know if they were asked about that story or if they have a contradiction about it. Although, Jamie Raskin, Congressman Raskin, said that they haven't heard anything contradictory about it. But still a very stunning image. And I think it was Jeffrey Toobin who noted that if somebody had told you 15 minutes before the hearing that we would hear this scene, you would say, come on that's not going to happen.
ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATL. COALITION DIRECTOR, BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: Yes and then 15 minutes after when you say, I bet Donald Trump would do something like that actually because it was -- I mean I gasped out loud when I heard her describe it. But he was so erratic that day to know -- to say, if you've ever worked a presidential event, take down the mags, like that is protocol 101.
TAPPER: Right. ALLISON: You don't go into a presidential event without magnetometers.
HUNT: Remember, the guns coming into this event were not going to put him --
ALLISON: Were not for him, no. His people, they were with him.
BORGER: And there was a hole and it looks bad, right?
ALLISON: But to think -- right. Hearken back to the inauguration, all about crowd optics, not about people and the republic and protecting our democracy. To think that he knew that there were people in trees with AR-15s outside of the perimeter, the fact that they could even stay there so that they could go to the -- it is beyond me --
HUNT: It's illegal in the District of Columbia, just to be clear.
HUNT: Just straight up illegal.
TAPPER: Tim, I want to give you the last word here --
TAPPER: -- because you have worked for a number of Republican officials, Jeb Bush is when -- I think that's when I met you, when you're working for Jeb Bush and others, who are clearly not on team Trump, but also they're not out there issuing statements about this. They're not out there condemning it. I mean, I'm sure Jeb Bush is somewhere saying, I can't believe, this is the most hideous thing I've ever heard. But he's not -- I mean, now maybe --
TAPPER: -- he thinks he's a private citizen, he doesn't need to.
TAPPER: But what do you think should he be? Not just Jeb, but anybody else who's a Republican politician, should they be out there condemning this?
MILLER: Absolutely, they should. And the only reason they're not doing it is because of, you know, social pressure, fear of being ostracized, fear of losing power, you know, fear of losing access to power. Look, the Republicans could have taken care of this already. You know, they only needed, what, 10 more senators or seven more senators, whatever it was, to convict --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MILLER: -- and we could have been done with Donald Trump for good. And that wouldn't have meant the Republicans couldn't have had power, they could have already been turning to Ron DeSantis. But yet we're stuck here because they were all too cowardly to actually do anything about it and do what Cassidy Hutchinson did today.
HUNT: Because they were worried about their own personal power.
TAPPER: Personal power over the safety of individuals and democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TAPPER: Let's plug your book one more time. Tim Miller's new book is out today. It's called, "Why We Did It, A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell." Thank you so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
TAPPER: Good to have you here.
The video that proves Russia is lying about the inhumane double strike on a crowded mall in Ukraine, that's ahead.
TAPPER: Turning to our world lead, a critical summit today in Spain where NATO is expected to agree to massively increase its high readiness forces. President Biden and other NATO leaders are discussing scaling up the number of troops on high alert to 300,000. That would be a seven fold increase and the largest troop enhancement since the end of the Cold War. This comes amid growing concerns that rising energy prices and waning interest in Russia's war against Ukraine could fracture NATO unity.
CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is live for us in Madrid, Spain. Kaitlan, what are NATO leaders saying about the next phase of this war in Ukraine?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, two things that they really want to do, and one is beef up their military funding for Ukraine that is sending more weapons and assistance in that's been helping Ukraine since this invasion started fend themselves off from these Russian forces. But the second is increasing there in Europe.
And obviously two of those things are things that President Putin of Russia does not want to see, especially the latter half. And that has really been a message that you've seen President Biden during these two summits, the G7 summit that he had in Germany. Now here for this NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain has been pushing this message about how really what Putin was trying to do when he invaded Ukraine has backfired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, NATO is united and as united and galvanized as I believe it's ever been. And we are ready to face threats of Russian aggression. Because quite frankly, there's no choice. And when we agreed we were going to respond, we acknowledged there was going to be some cost to our people. They were going to now center our imposition of sanctions on Russia. But our people who stood together. They stood up and I stood strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And Jake, there's just been another blow Delta Russia today when Turkey dropped its blocking of Finland and Sweden joining the military alliance known as NATO. That is something that, of course, seemed a year ago, unlikely to happen anytime soon. But you saw Finland and Sweden really try to fast track those applications after Russia invaded Ukraine because they became concerned about their own security.
But when they did become in this application process, Turkey was the only member of NATO standing in the way of this. They said they had these objections. They wanted to speak to the other leaders about them. Obviously, it has to be a unanimous decision. And that had been a concern for the White House, though, officials had said privately all along, they thought eventually Turkey would drop their objections they would allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO and now they have done that.
And Jake, that is a huge blow for Putin and a pretty big win for President Biden who has been pushing for this and saying the enlargement of NATO is exactly the opposite of what President Putin wanted to see.
TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins in Madrid covering the NATO Summit, thanks so much.
President Zelenskyy is calling a Russian airstrike on a shopping mall in central Ukraine, quote, one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history. Officials say at least 18 people were killed in the attack with dozens more injured as emergency personnel continue to search for more victims. CNN's Phil Black takes a look at the devastation caused by the strike.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pulling apart what remains of Kremenchuk's shopping mall is an effort to account for the dead. Officials say there are no survivors beneath the rubble but it's likely there are more bodies.
Mykola and Ludmilla (ph) made it out somehow. Their bodies battered, their minds traumatized by those moments after the missile hit.
I saw lots of wounded people, burned people. Some were covered in blood, Mykola says. One girl fell down and we helped pull her along. She kept falling and losing consciousness. That's not possible according to Russia's military. Its version, a precision strike destroyed weapons and ammunition stored nearby in a road maintenance plan.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stuck to that story. As a result of the ammunition detonating, an empty shopping center standing next to it caught fire, he says. This video geolocated by CNN proves the lie. The people in this park has seen reacting to the explosion at the shopping center. They run desperately trying to get further away or find cover. This man picks up a child and runs to a tree.
Moments later, a second blast near the maintenance plant. This is the same explosion captured from different angles on the park security cameras. Its force knocks people to the ground and blows debris across a wide area.
Ukrainian officials say that second missile destroyed no weapons or ammunition because none was stored at the plant. But the strikes on Kremenchuk have driven Russia's reputation further beyond redemption.
BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Utter barbarism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).
BLACK (voice-over): After countless atrocities through four months of war, Russia has again proven its capacity for destroying innocent lives and disgusting much of the world.
BLACK: Jake, we know too well that denials and lies are part of the Russian playbook and try to explain away civilian deaths in this war. Now, a senior Russian official to the United Nations has described the images out of Kremenchuk as being a Bucha-like provocation. Bucha, of course, is that area in the Kyiv where the Russians left behind hundreds of dead civilians but blamed the whole thing on Ukraine, said it was all a fake.
But as with Bucha, so with Kremenchuk, world leaders, Western leaders are clear in their condemnation. This is they say yet another Russian war crime, Jake.
TAPPER: Phil Black in Ukraine for us, thank you so much.
What will America look like in the coming months and years with Roe versus Wade overturned. CNN is going to visit a country where abortion has been banned for 30 years to get a preview of the future.
TAPPER: In our health lead, from physicians to a resistance, that's the reality. Many abortion rights doctors face in Poland where abortion has been restricted for nearly 30 years. And last year Poland made its partial abortion ban even stricter by eliminating the exemption for fetal abnormalities. CNN's Melissa Bell now takes a closer look at the laws in Poland and what that might tell us about what life might look like in some parts of the United States now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grave in southern Poland that should serve as a warning, says Barbara Skrobol, that in trying to protect the unborn, Poland is now sacrificing the living. Barbara sister-in-law, Izabela, desperately wanted a sibling for her nine-year-old daughter. But at 18 weeks, prenatal tests showed the fetus had severe abnormalities and would live no longer than a year.
BARBARA SKROBOL, LOST SISTER-IN-LAW (through translation): They went to the doctors and asked if Izabela's sister-in-law. They said no. Then as she was looking to travel abroad, her waters broke.
BELL (voice-over): Abortions in Poland have been illegal for nearly 30 years with just three exceptions, cases involving rape or incest, those involving a woman's life being in danger or fetal abnormalities. That third exception which had accounted for 98 percent of all known abortions was struck down in 2020 by the country's highest courts. There were massive protests with polls showing just one in 10 people supported the move.
(on-camera): There's also concern within the medical profession here in Warsaw. Abortions are now only possible in Poland in cases of rape, incest, or where the life and health of a woman is clearly in danger. And that is open to interpretation. It also places a great deal of power in the hands of doctors.
(voice-over): And some are too scared now to help even those women who are in danger.
MAGDALENA DUTSCH, DOCTOR, WARSAW WOMEN'S INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH: I talk with my friends and they tell me, listen, I had this patient yesterday who should have an abortion. You, too, legally allow reasons but I was afraid to give her information where she can get it because I was afraid that someone might consider this as a breach of law.
BELL (voice-over): The last Izabela Sajbor's mother heard from her was a series of texts she sent from hospital when her waters broke at 22 weeks. "The doctors can't help as long as the fetus is alive. Thanks to the anti-abortion law." Worrying that her fever was rising and hoping that she wouldn't get sepsis because then she wrote, I won't leave this place.
She died about 12 hours later. Thousands took to the streets under the banner, not a single woman more. Her family's attorney says she died of a heart attack on her way to surgery after the baby died, but an official cause of death has not been released. It is now part of a criminal investigation, say prosecutors.
The hospital denies malpractice saying in a statement, "All medical decisions were made taking into account the legal provisions and standards of conduct in force in Poland." The hospital also says, "The two doctors on duty at the time have been suspended." It's unclear why Izabela's doctors did not perform an abortion.
In response to questions from CNN about the tightened ban, the government said that the termination of a pregnancy remain legal in Poland, where a woman's life is at risk. But Izabela's family believes her fetus's faint heartbeat prevented her doctors from acting in time. The two now share their final resting place beneath the gravestone that bears the slogan, Not A Single Woman More.
BELL: Jake, the lessons from Poland are twofold. First of all that once in place, abortion bans tend not to loosen but rather to harden over time. But also, and perhaps more importantly, that abortions continue. So the figures, of course, are hard to come by. But it is estimated we've seen several from women's groups but other organizations that up to between something like 100,000 and 200,000 Polish women will every year either head abroad to have their abortions or underground. And that really tells you that abortion bans have many effects on society, on women in particular, none of which include actually ending abortions, Jake.
TAPPER: Melissa Bell, thank you so much.
Horror inside a tractor trailer. Dozens of dead and dying migrants are found with no water. The upsetting details emerging about what happened. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, an absolutely horrific story. The Department of Homeland Security is currently investigating a deadly human smuggling incident in San Antonio, Texas. 51 migrants died after being found in a semi-truck in mid-sweltering conditions last night. Those who survived are recovering in nearby hospitals.
CNN's Rosa Flores is in San Antonio. Rosa, how are these migrants found and what are officials saying about this tragic discovery?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, here's what we know from authorities. According to police and local officials here in San Antonio, there was an individual who was working nearby where this tractor trailer was and heard cries. This individual went to the tractor trailer, saw that some of the doors on the trailer were open, opened the tractor trailer and made the gruesome discovery.
This individual found dozens of bodies inside, called authorities. And according to officials, the bodies were hot to the touch. They had no water, no air conditioning, and they were, of course, responding to this very, very gruesome scene. According to authorities, the death toll has increased to 51. Today, federal authorities are leading this investigation. HSI, Homeland Security Investigations, a portion of ICE is leading this investigation calling it a smuggling event. According to federal authorities, at least three people have been taken into custody.
And, Jake, we should add that Representative Cuellar (ph) says that this truck went through a checkpoint in the Laredo sector, but it's unclear if these migrants entered that truck before or after that checkpoint.
TAPPER: Rosa, do we have any idea of the nationalities of these migrants?
FLORES: According to officials, most of them are from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Of the 51 individuals who have died, they're still trying to figure out the ages of these people. They know that 39 are meant well are women. But, Jake, just because of the number of individuals that we're talking about here, 51 that the medical examiner is having to take care of right now, they're asking neighboring medical examiners to help them out, to figure out the ages of these individuals and exactly where they're from. Jake?
TAPPER: Rosa Flores in San Antonio, thank you so much.
Sentenced. Jeffrey Epstein's longtime girlfriend learns her fate for recruiting underage girls for him to sexually abuse him and his clients. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell is heading to federal prison for 20 years. Maxwell was sentenced today for sex trafficking underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, her former former boyfriend and longtime associate. Epstein died by suicide in prison. That's the official story, anyway, a month after being indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019.
Let's bring in CNN's Jean Casarez. Jean, what happened at Ghislaine Maxwell's sentencing today?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's so interesting because the U.S. Attorney's Office had asked for 30 to 55 years, which is a life sentence, right? She is 60 years old. But the judge during sentencing said you've got the wrong sentencing guidelines. You've got the wrong year. So the judge determined the maximum was 19.5.
Now she added a little bit to that. But she also said that it has to be a significant sentence that after conviction, she didn't see anything that showed acceptance of responsibility. She also said that she was looking at Maxwell and Maxwell actually spoke to the court saying that she felt terrible. I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused you. She was really speaking to the victims at that point.
But it doesn't seem like the judge listened to that. But there were four victims that emotionally spoke before the court. They were speaking to the court but the judge allowed them to look at Maxwell straight in the eye. She didn't look at them, though, as they were speaking, say what had been done to their lives.
Now the judge is recommending Danbury it'll be 20 years. Two years she's already spent in there, she'll get credit. There'll be five years of supervised release once she gets out but she is a convicted felon at this point.
TAPPER: Jean, quickly if you could, what about all these disgusting men that availed themselves of these poor young women? When did they have accountability?
CASAREZ: We'll have to see what develops with the U.S. Attorney's Office if anything.
TAPPER: Well I hope they get on it. Jean Casarez, thank you so much.
If you ever missed an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever get your podcast. Be sure to tune in tonight, Anderson Cooper and I starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We're going to provide some special coverage of today's hearing.
Our coverage continues now with a guy I like to call Wolf Blitzer and he's in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM" right next door. I'll see you at 8:00 p.m. tonight.