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The Lead with Jake Tapper

One-On-One With Longtime D.C. Journalist Mark Leibovich; President Biden To Meet With Saudi Leaders Friday; Jan. 6 Cmte Chair: DOJ Interested In Testimony On Fake Electors; Poll: 49% Of GOP Primary Voters Say They'd Nominate Trump; Growing Worry About Possible COVID Wave In The Fall; Protesters Storm Prime Minister's Office After President Flees. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 13, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Plus, he promised to turn Saudi Arabia into the pariah of the Middle East, but in two days the President will be visiting that country despite its hideous human rights record. We're going to talk to a 9/11 widow about President Biden's visit there.

And leading this hour, next stop, the Justice Department. The January 6 Select House committee is in talks to share some of its vast trove of material with the DOJ. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson telling CNN, the DOJ is focused on transcripts about the fake electoral scheme. This as a different committee member says the panel needs more evidence to prove its claim that former President Trump may have tried to tamper with a witness. As CNN's Manu Raju reports, the latest hearing highlighted the complexities of documenting former President Trump's past transgressions as well as alleged new ones.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6 committee promising new evidence to build the case against Donald Trump, this time focusing on his inaction during 187 minutes as the attack unfolded.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: And the first one or two minutes I think any other president would have moved very quickly to try to prevent violence and bloodshed and an attack on the Capitol. But more than three hours went by before Donald Trump said much of anything.

RAJU (voice-over): Next week's hearing, eight one (ph) in this series, building upon evidence showing how Trump tried to use the power of his government to overturn Joe Biden's victory.


RAJU (voice-over): He called on his supporters to come to Washington on January 6.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why did you decide to march to the Capitol?

STEPHEN AYRES CAPITOL RIOTER: Well, basically, you know, the president got everybody riled up, told everybody head on down. So we basically we just follow on what he said.

RAJU (voice-over): At Tuesday's hearing, Vice Chair Liz Cheney, revealing that Trump tried to call a potential witness, something that committee relayed to the Department of Justice.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Let me say one more time, we will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously.

RAJU (voice-over): But today, Chairman Bennie Thompson telling CNN that the committee does not plan to depose this potential witness. It doesn't know why Trump made the call.

(on camera): You guys have interviewed more than 1000 people, how do you know it had anything to do with your investigation?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIRMAN, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, we don't know because he didn't -- the call never went through. And that's a concern that we have is even an attempt raises a question, but it's one that we think is better handled by the Department of Justice.

RAJU (voice-over): the committee now plans to share information with DOJ focusing for now on the effort to put forth fake electors and overturn Biden's win.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: I certainly think that the Justice Department has more than enough evidence to begin an investigation involving the former president.

RAJU (voice-over): Democrats say DOJ needs to focus on Trump.

(on camera): Do you believe the Justice Department should at least investigate Donald Trump's actions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly no one is above the law.

RAJU (voice-over): But Republicans aren't moving.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think the people who are responsible for the riot itself, Manu, are the rioters.

RAJU (voice-over): Congressman Greg Pence defending his brother former Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the certification of Biden's victory despite the pressure campaign from Trump.

REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): The hero that day, OK. He did what he had to do.

RAJU (on camera): Does the conduct or the former president alarm you in any way not just with your brother but everything else?

PENCE: I worry about what other people do, right? I just worry about what I have to do.


RAJU: Now Benny Thompson also told me that next week's hearing could be the last one before the committee issued its report in the fall, though he cautioned that that plan could change. And as far as that report is concerned, Jake, Thompson told me he has not yet made a decision about whether he believes the committee should make a criminal referral to the Justice Department to investigate Trump's actions. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Joining us to discuss, longtime Washington journalist Mark Leibovich. He's the author of the brand new book, "Thank You for Your Servitude," which focuses on the Republican establishment in D.C. who helped enable and continues to help enable former President Trump.

Mark, you called some of those individuals, the most pathetic men in America and a piece for The Atlantic where you're a staff writer. And let's start off with a what you just heard in Manu's piece, because you had a congressman pence, the brother of former Vice President Pence, refute -- you know, very reluctant to criticize Donald Trump. It's astounding to me, Donald Trump who put his brother's life in danger.

MARK LEIBOVICH, AUTHOR, "THANK YOU FOR FOR YOUR SERVITUDE": It really is astounding, and it's completely emblematic of what my whole book is about, which is basically, you know, Donald Trump without the complicity of the Republican party without the constant sycophancy that we see over and over and over again. Not only wouldn't be have been in office to begin with, but he wouldn't be able to agree, you know, be been rehabilitated as often as he has been.


And the fact is, these hearings are a nightmare for Republicans. And you know, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell hate having to talk about them. And they've been nowhere to be found around this. And they could have ended this. They could have ended this right after the election. They could have ended this right after January 6, and their path of least resistance or their path, whatever it is, has been to continue to try to placate Donald Trump. And I wrote a whole book about this effort and how it sort of became the platform of the Republican Party and looks like it's going to continue to into the immediate future.

TAPPER: You write in your book, quote, "Republicans became the party that made Trump possible that refused to stop him even after the U.S. Capitol fell under the control of some madman in a Viking hat. It was always rationalization followed by capitulation and then full surrender the routine was always numbingly the same, and so was the sad truth at the heart of it, they all knew better." What response have you gotten to your book from members, the Republican establishment in the wake of the the excerpt coming out and now the book being published? LEIBOVICH: You know, it's been very emblematic of everything you hear to this point, which is a lot of sort of silent attaboys. I mean, off the record, you did a really good job, I agree with you on everything, but I can't go public with this because, you know, I don't want to anger Donald Trump, I don't want to get in trouble with my voters and so forth. So it's the same basic two step, cowardice in both -- I guess, just cowardice overwhelmingly, but also adulation towards Donald Trump in public to really contempt in private and hoping that this thing just goes away. But as long as no one does anything, it's going to keep going.

TAPPER: And some of these folks, as you note on the back of the book, there's a quote from Marco Rubio, who I would not say is one of the worst offenders in Trump world, but he used to be a really harsh critic of Donald Trump, and has become you. And as you say, you mark my words, though, will be prominent people in American politics will spend years explaining to people how they fell into this. This is on talking about Republicans supporting Trump. How do you account for individuals like Cassidy Hutchinson or Alyssa Farah or Olivia Troye, young women who worked in the Trump White House, who are now speaking out on the hideousness of the election, denialism and insurrection. And all these other men, middle aged men, old men, McCarthy, McConnell, etc, who know better, and haven't shown even an ounce of the courage that these young women have.

LEIBOVICH: Yes, I mean, that to me is one of the powerful things about these hearings, which is that it is cast into such relief, the simple, you know, courage of just telling the truth and being a patriot that Cassidy Hutchinson, you know, even those election workers in Georgia, you know, Rusty Bowers, from Arizona, I mean, just very simple truth telling and it's just in such contrast to everything and every silence, you know, complicity that you see from within the Republican Party. And it's not like it's just here, it's, you know, in England, the Conservative Party stood up and they said, enough, Boris Johnson. Now, granted, it's a different system, but there's that example.

And out of a political context, even in Ukraine. I mean, you see what a resistance looks like. You see what it's like to actually fight for what is right what you believe and ultimately for your country. And again, this is just so prominently displayed in these hearings in the silence on one hand and the courage on the other hand.

TAPPER: I want to read another quote from your book. This is about former Vice President Pence. Quote, "Pence was the unquestioned maestro of the top level symphony of sycophancy. No one did complete submission the way Pence did, the hushed voice, the bowed head and the quivering reverence for my president, this extraordinary man. He was constantly referencing Trump's broad shoulders, which was weird. The former altar boy could always deliver when called upon until the bitter end."

Yesterday, we saw a clip of former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, saying that Pence should get the Medal of Freedom for his courage for ultimately certifying the election results, which of course, was his job. What do you make of the praise that Pence has received? LEIBOVICH: Yes, well, you know, I think, you know, Mike Pence did the bare minimum, William Barr did the bare minimum, they were right there till the very end. But I would not under estimate what the bare minimum meant to the country, how important it was. And I guess have sort of evolved a little bit. I mean, I think -- look, it was a it was a massively important courageous act, came at great risk to him as we now know, and probably will cost him, I assume his ability to be a nominee of the Republican Party, which he seems to still want to be.

But look, I mean, he did what he did in the moment, and I think the country should be grateful for it. I also wouldn't go too overboard about, you know, him being a profile of courage through much of what went on over the last five years.

TAPPER: I mean, I'll give you a Presidential Medal of Freedom if you want.


LEIBOVICH: Me? You know if I had one to give, you know, I would do a thorough search first but I would certainly consider you for having me on.

TAPPER: I appreciate it.

LEIBOVICH: Your courage.

TAPPER: Well, apparently they're just handed them out now. Be sure to check out Mark Leibovich's new book, "Thank You for Your Servitude," available at your favorite bookseller.

Now, Mark, thanks so much best of luck with the book. You're always one of the best --

LEIBOVICH: Thank you.

TAPPER: -- chroniclers of politics today.

The day after the Uvaldez school shooting, the Texas governor praise law enforcement for running towards the gunfire, for being heroic. But the 77 minutes of hallway surveillance tells a different story.

Then out of control, they storm the presidential palace and now the prime minister's office. Will a new interim president bring any stability to Sri Lanka? Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our national lead, renewed anger over why the Uvalde police spent so much time just standing in the hallway, 77 minutes before taking any serious action to stop the gunman who ultimately killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.

A leaked surveillance video published by the Austin American Statesman newspaper sparking more questions today about the lack of urgency and lack of transparency by police. CNN's Rosa Flores takes us through how the officials responded that awful day.




ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Disturbing surveillance video released by the Austin American Statesman showing just some of the law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting, setting off a chain of angry reactions from families and officials today. The hallway video begins as the gunman enters Robb Elementary School on May 24th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kids are running.

FLORES (voice-over): A teacher can be heard calling 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get down. Get in your room. Get in your room.

FLORES (voice-over): Then gunshots. CNN is meeting the sound of the deadly gunfire. The surveillance video shows the police responding three minutes after the gunman enters the school with their weapons drawn while shots are still being fired. Some rushing towards the classrooms, other officers holding back.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ, (D) TEXAS STATE SENATE: Police response on this day was horrible. They all chose to violate the protocol of the incident of the mass shooters.

FLORES (voice-over): The failed law enforcement response on tape contradicting praise for police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): They showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives.

FLORES (voice-over): At 11:36, the husband of teacher Eva Mireles is seen on camera, a lawmaker confirming that his wife contacted him from inside her classroom saying she had been shot and was dying. Seconds later, more gunfire and police take cover. At 11:52 more officers arrived heavily armed, some with ballistic shields poised to shoot down the hall from the classrooms where children some hiding under tables are waiting for help.

JAYDIEN CANIZALES, SURVIVED UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING: We covered our ears so we won't hear the gunshots.

FLORES (voice-over): One survivor said she called police.

MIAH CERRILLO, SURVIVED UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING: We call 911. I told her that we need help. And she send the police in the -- in our classroom.

FLORES (voice-over): At least two children called 911 multiple times during the more than 70 minutes police waited, say authorities. One child telling dispatchers eight or nine students are still alive, leaving the children finding ways to survive.

CERRILLO: He shot my friend that was near to me. And I thought he'll come back to the room, so I covered blood and me put it all over me.

FLORES (voice-over): Back in the hallway at 11:59, more than 23 minutes after the police arrived the surveillance video shows Border Patrol evacuating someone from a classroom. The details revealed in the video prompting further scrutiny. At 12:09, when an officer is seen outside holding keys raising questions about early reports that law enforcement waited to unlock doors while the doors were unlocked. Then the gunman fires another four shots and police start to move down the hallway again.

At 12:35, one officer tries to use a radio that appears not to work. Then at 12:50, 74 minutes after police first arrived, a border patrol Tactical Unit enters a classroom and kills the gunman. Some of the families are now criticizing the release of the video shown before they had a chance to prepare for it.

JAVIER CAZARES, FATHER OF UVALDE VICTIM JACKLYN CAZARES: The families didn't deserve it. I don't deserve. That's a stop to our babies faces. And we're tired of this. You know, we can't trust anybody anymore.

FLORES (voice-over): Others say it just compounds their grief.

ADRIAN ALONZO, NIECE ELLIE GARCIA DIED IN UVALDE: But just watching it and basically I was in the moment -- I was in that hallway with that audio and it was heartbreaking.


FLORES: Now, the Uvalde mayor is calling for a criminal investigation into the leak of that video. The Austin American-Statesman stands by its reporting and it stands for the publishing of that video. All this as we learn more about how it's going to work on Sunday when the Texas House Investigative Committee issues the report to the families first.

According to a source close to that committee telling me that the families will get an opportunity to receive the report early in the morning. They will have several hours to review the report, process it. And then they will be meeting in private with lawmakers, with the individuals of this Texas House committee. They will be able to answer questions, asked questions. And then after that, Jake, is when this report will be presented in a press conference where reporters will be able to ask questions.

TAPPER: Rosa Flores in Uvalde, Texas, thank you so much.


President Biden promised to turn Saudi Arabia into the, quote, "pariah of the Middle East," but he's visiting that country Friday. Coming up next, we're going to talk to him in 9/11 widow about President Biden's trip. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: In our world lead, President Biden is in Israel today for the first day of his Middle East trip. Biden started the day in Tel Aviv where he joined Israel's defense minister for a briefing on the Iron Dome missile defense system. Later he traveled to Jerusalem where he visited a holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and met with survivors of the Holocaust. This trip comes amid heightened scrutiny because on Friday, Biden will travel to so Saudi Arabia where he will meet with the Saudi King and his advisers including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or MBS.


The visit has drawn criticism for lots of reasons, including Saudi Arabia's repeated abuses of human rights, including the murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom's role in the 9/11 attacks.

With me now, Terry Strada, her husband died on September 11, 2001. She is the national chair of 9/11 Families United.

Terry, good to see you again. So there's been a lot of back and forth from the White House over whether the President would travel to Saudi Arabia, would greet MBS, who U.S. intelligence blamed for the murder of Khashoggi. But now the time is here, Biden's meeting with Saudi Arabia's leaders on Friday. How do you feel? What's your response?

TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIRWOMAN, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: Well, I've been really disappointed in the President lately, when he put out his op-ed in the Washington Post, he completely omitted 9/11. He didn't talk about what we're going through and what we've been requesting from him.

You know, President Biden claims to be Mr. Empathy. He is the least empathetic president we have had since September 11. He offered us no words of comfort at the 20th anniversary. He has ignored our letters, he has ignored our requests. We're all over the news, but we get nothing from this president.

So we're very -- we're going to watch him very closely. We're not going away. When he comes back from his trip he's going to have to answer to us. What did he do in those meetings? Was 9/11 brought up? Is he going to hold the kingdom accountable for the murder of our loved ones?

If not, if he chooses to sweep this under the rug, then we're going to ask him, what did you trade for the murder of 3,000 innocent people? What is the story here, Mr. President? You owe us an answer.

TAPPER: What do you want him to do in Saudi Arabia when he meets with MBS and and other rulers there? What exactly are you looking for from the Saudi government?

STRADA: So the President released a lot of documents, many, many U.S. intelligence documents that now show there's evidence confirming that the kingdom was deeply involved in September 11. So it is the president's obligation to tell the crown prince that he needs to hold his countrymen accountable. The Saudi banks, the Saudi funded charities, state run charities, the billionaire, Saudi elites, all that were part of the funding for Al-Qaeda, there has to be accountability for all of that, because that is the pipeline of money that supports terrorism. And if we don't deal with it with him now at this first meeting, that he's going to sit down with him, then we have no guarantee that the money will not continue to flow to terrorist organizations and that this country will still be at threat from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

So that is really what is at the crux here. How do you protect us going forward? And you do that by dealing with the truth and holding them accountable for the murders of September 11?

TAPPER: You mentioned the op ed that President Biden wrote in the Washington Post over the weekend. Let me read some of that just to give his side of why he's going to Saudi Arabia. He says, quote, "As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure. We have to counter Russia's aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in the world. To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them."

What do you say to that?

STRADA: I understand that there's a lot of reasons to sit down and have a conversation with the Crown Prince. But what my organization, what all the families, the survivors have been trying to get across to this president is that you have to deal with September 11 first because that was such a tragic tragedy in this country. We were brutally attacked and there's been no accountability. There's been no justice to the families, and there's been no remorse.

And we are very concerned about how do you protect yourselves going forward. We're very concerned about what's going to be written in the history books. We're very concerned that the crown prince will not stop the flow of money that supports these terrorist organizations if we don't confront him.

And now the evidence is there. And that's the difference with this president and the other presidents that sat across from him, the evidence is overwhelming that the kingdom was involved. Not only their agents that they sent over here, but again, with all of their institutions and their citizens that were supporting Al-Qaeda, this needs to be addressed first. Our national security depends on a true account of September 11.

TAPPER: Terry Strada, thank you so much. Good to see you as always. Appreciate it.

STRADA: Yes, thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, the 2024 numbers that Donald Trump might want to pay attention to. Stay with us.


[17:34:07] TAPPER: In our politics lead, January 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson tells CNN that the panel has begun to set up a process to share information with the Justice Department including interview transcripts related to the effort to put forth fraudulent electors from battleground states that Trump lost. This comes as Vice Chair of the committee Liz Cheney announced the panel has already flagged the potential case of witness tampering by Donald Trump.

Let's discuss with our experts and analysts. Seung Min, let me start with you. We heard from former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and others in the administration yesterday, which highlighted just how many people in the administration in the White House knew that the election was not stolen, that the claims were false. And I guess, you know, one of the one of the questions I have is, how come Pat Cipollone we're only finding out about this now. I mean, it wasn't just political damage. This hurt the United States.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a good question and I think what's been -- one of the many compelling parts about the January 6 hearings is just seeing these people when they talk to investigators, when they talk to the committee lay out the facts saying that the election was fair, there was no evidence of fraud and that Joe Biden was duly elected and just how much this was just kind of carried on behind the scenes. I mean, I think it's a similar question, as you know, why didn't they resign when a lot of this stuff came out? I think, you know, I would guess that perhaps people like Pat Cipollone felt they needed to kind of stay in there to try to persuade the president.

And we saw so much detail about these really heated moments in the Oval Office where you saw a team of people try to persuade other teams of people away from these conspiracy theories, but it's a good question. But, you know, transparency is good, glad we're getting it out now.


TAPPER: Yes. And let's talk about that meeting, December 18th, you have Cipollone and the other White House lawyers coming in, and there's Donald Trump, honestly, with a bunch of unhinged conspiracy theorists, Mike Flynn, Sidney Powell, and on and on. What was your take away from that?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I mean, the fact that it was allowed to happen that these people were allowed to come into the White House, there's sort of no gatekeeper there to prevent somebody like Sidney Powell from coming in there. This is a meeting that lasts like four or five hours of their screaming apparently, their tears. At some point, I don't know who it was, who was crying and Donald Trump really wanting to make this happen, right?

I mean, he kept siding with the crazies because he was saying, oh, well, at least they are giving me a shot, even though the shot involves, you know, seizing voting machines and folks in Venezuela, changing the results of the election. But one of the I think the enduring questions is, so with that meeting is, you know, at 12:00 in the morning, 1:00 in the morning, and then about 1:48 or so then he sends that tweet out saying, listen, come to Washington and it's going to be wild. Like what happened sort of intervening in those minutes that made him send that tweet.

TAPPER: You've been, in addition to being formerly a Trump adviser, friend, you've been very clear eyed about the actual conduct of the election. What is it like watching this for you?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's tough so, you know, the question, you know, Nia asked earlier is like, how do these people get in there, right? And so, one person we haven't heard from, and I think is kind of at the pinnacle of all this is, where's the chief of staff --

TAPPER: Mark Meadows.

URBAN: -- to the President of the United States, right?


KIM: Right, right.

URBAN: The Chief of Staff to the President of the United States is normally the gatekeeper, normally the adult in the room --

TAPPER: They wanted you to do that job at one point, didn't they?

HENDERSON: You wouldn't have liked it.


URBAN: I don't know if it's true.

TAPPER: OK. It's good that you didn't the job.

URBAN: However, right, however, that is the person who was supposed to say, no, hell no.

TAPPER: Right.

URBAN: Once they leave the room, Mr. President, that's -- we're not doing that, that's a terrible idea. You see that with Pat Cipollone comes running down the hallway doesn't even know these people get in there, and says, we're not going to do that. We're not going to let the President go there. We're not going to allow these things to happen.

So there were instances where people laid on the tracks to keep very bad things from happening. But that shouldn't -- that meeting should have never occurred.


URBAN: Should have never occurred. The call to Brad Raffensperger should have never occurred. Mark Meadows placed that call.


URBAN: Right?

TAPPER: And there might be criminal charges for Donald Trump --

URBAN: Because --

TAPPER: -- possibly --


TAPPER: -- because of that call.

KENNEDY: How head of gets into the White House --

KIM: Right.

KENNEDY: -- Oval Office meeting on this.


KENNEDY: And this discussion of nest thermostats switching votes is, I'm not exactly sure what that connection is.

TAPPER: Yes. You know, the House Republicans announced a couple of them banks and I forget the other one, are preparing a report to be like counterprogramming, that's going to come out at the same time as this January 6 committee report to basically talk about failures of security and intelligence at the Capitol on that day, basically, I assume, blaming it on Nancy Pelosi, et cetera.

KENNEDY: House Republicans are already helping to write the initial report. This is led by Liz Cheney, who last time I checked wasn't exactly a strong liberal force in politics, right. Adam Kinzinger is on that committee. There are Republicans that were there that have had an active and leading role in this commission.

And, in fact, it was the Republican minority leader that decided not to put more people on that commission. So the idea that they're not partaking in this is actually not accurate. And most of the testimony or much of the testimony we've seen over the course of the past several days, had been from Republican senior members of this administration. So --


KENNEDY: -- if they want to start refuting their own leadership, that's up to them.

TAPPER: A lot of Trump supporters, ardent Trump supporters have been the witnesses, including yesterday, one of the rioters and it was really interesting. I want to play this. This is -- this really illustrates exactly what Donald Trump said when he said that his supporters were so loyal, he could go on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and they wouldn't abandon him. Take a listen.


STEPHEN AYRES, PLED GUILTY TO ENTERING CAPITOL ILLEGALLY ON JAN. 6: I was hanging on every word he was saying. Everything he was putting out, I was following it. I mean, if I was doing it, hundreds of thousands or millions of other people are doing it or maybe even still doing it. Like he just said about that. You know, he got -- people still fall on and doing that, who knows what the next election could come out, you know, they could end up being down the same path we are now.



TAPPER: Yes, but there's still tens of millions of Americans who are still like he wants.

HENDERSON: That's right. I mean, I think the majority of Republicans believe Donald Trump's lies about the election and don't think that Biden is a duly elected president. And we see in state after state Republicans putting in laws, it'll essentially make what Donald Trump tried to do in 2020 possible, not only, you know, changing laws about who can vote, would we actually count the votes? People running in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

TAPPER: Thank you (ph).

HENDERSON: These are -- yes, I was going to say state but I know you're here.

KENNEDY: We're both correcting.

HENDERSON: Yes, yes, exactly. Who would -- who were election deniers and who were saying, listen, he has the power to elect the -- or appoint the Secretary of State. So this is, you know, in some ways 2020 could be seen as a dry run for something that happened in 2024.

TAPPER: So Seung Min, let's look at this poll from the New York Times and Siena College, it shows that Republican voters support for Donald Trump has waned and splintered a bit. 49 percent of Republican primary voters say they would vote for Donald Trump for the -- as a nominee in 2024. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a distant second 25 percent. And you have Cruz, Pence, Haley, Pompeo in single digits.

There are different ways to interpret this poll. One of them is most Republican primary voters don't support Trump, but 49 percent is still a way to --

KIM: Right.

TAPPER: -- get a nomination.

KIM: And it also depends on how many people end up running. And if there's a giant crew of potential Republican presidential contenders, then sure Donald Trump could easily emerge victorious depending on how many people are out there. But it will be really interesting to see what political impact the narrative that's coming out of the January 6 hearings have. Because we've heard time and time again that there are a lot of Republican voters who want the Trump policies with that sort of the Trump the kind of baggage that we've seen, and sort of the drama that we've seen unfold from the White House and how much of that faction takes hold, I think will be really interesting to watch (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Do you have a favorite for 2024? Is there anyone you love?

URBAN: No, I'm serious, we're happen to be friends with most of the folks that (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: We you friends with Pompeo?

URBAN: And Ted Cruz and Ron DeSantis and on and on.


URBAN: And so --

TAPPER: You haven't picked a horse yet?

URBAN: No, no, I haven't. And so the question I have to ask is like -- and the people I think should think about in America's why -- so they see all this stuff that's taking place on these hearings, right? And yet, there's so many people in America that still would vote for Donald Trump, still love Donald Trump. Why is that? Why do they feel this flawed candidate, they see the flawed person, they still feel like he's the best guy for them, right?

What is it about what Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress is doing today in Washington and across the country that makes him feel like Donald Trump's my only choice, or he's the best choice for me, right? Because that's what they're doing. They're -- it's not Donald Trump versus nobody, it's Donald Trump versus what's going on right now, right? And I think that's what's happening, right, so --

TAPPER: That's interesting. And that why do you think it is? I mean, it's not -- there are legitimate reasons, right? People think that Washington is ignoring them. They still think that they still --

URBAN: They want a fighter.

TAPPER: They want -- they still want a fighter.

KENNEDY: People do want a fighter. And the challenge is at the moment, you've got a divided country. And so different sides want people fight a leader that's going to fight for them. What we need to do is change that narrative and recognize that we succeed as a nation when we come together and take on those common challenges.

What I would also point out, David is, as much as there might be an awful lot of Republicans that still want Donald Trump, that polling shows that even with President Biden's challenges, he still beats Donald Trump. So --

TAPPER: Well, within the margin of error, but I hear --

URBAN: I would be taking to the bank for saying that.

TAPPER: All right.

URBAN: I'll go with you on that one.

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all.

The Biden administration pushing everyone to get a second booster shot but there's one problem if you're under 50, we'll tell you what it is. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our health lead and coronavirus vaccine news for those under 50. Whitehouse COVID Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha says the FDA will have a decision, quote, relatively soon on whether everyone under 50 should get a second booster shot. Decision even more important now, Dr. Jha says as the highly contagious BA.5 variant takes hold in the U.S.

Joining us now to discuss CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, I want to play for our viewers exactly what Dr. Jha said about getting another booster shot.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Well, so in my mind, everyone over 50, if you have not gotten a shot this year, if it's been six months or longer, yes, got to go out there and get that shot. That to me is a no brainer. For people under 50. You know, FDA is looking at this topic right now and trying to sort out whether they're going to open that up, and they're going to have a decision on that relatively soon.


TAPPER: If it's really that important, what's taking the FDA so long to make this decision for people under 50?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with when you actually look at that age group under age 50, trying to quantify how much risk they really have. By the way, when you listen to Dr. Jha, listen to Dr. Fauci this morning, I think that they're getting closer and closer to actually authorizing these boosters for people under the age of 50.

But let me show you quickly, Jake, this graph, you know, when we look at who's most at risk, it's no surprise that people who are the oldest are at risk. So the top line peaks, those are people over the age of 75. The next two lines below that are people between the ages of 65 to 74, and then 50 to 64. So people over the age of 50. Those are where you see the peaks. People younger than 50, it's pretty flat in terms of the incidence of death and people who are vaccinated. So, you know, the point really is that you -- everyone has pretty good protection with things as they are but the people who are most going to benefit from the booster based on that data are people over the age of 50. So that's the risk reward proposition they're trying to determine here.


TAPPER: Dr. Fauci says he's paying close attention to hospitalization numbers because they're taking up right now. Does this suggest that BA.5 can cause serious illness in people who are vaccinated, or is this mostly an issue for those who are unvaccinated, or maybe unboosted?

GUPTA: Yes. It's people who are the least -- had the least protection, either because they haven't been vaccinated or boosted and who are older. But I think there is a stark sort of difference here between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, Jake. I mean, this is something you and I've talked about.

And I can just show you, this graph here, I think tells an important story. Looking at the likelihood of death, based on vaccination says, the bottom lines are people who've been vaccinated, maybe not boosted, vaccinated and boosted, those lines are pretty close together. That black line at the top of the screen, Jake, that is the unvaccinated. So no matter how you look at this data, there is a huge difference between having received no vaccines at all at this point, and people who have been vaccinated or vaccinated and boosted. There's a benefit, again, from getting the boosters, you can see that, but a much bigger benefit from having received a vaccine in the first place.

We're nearly two and a half years into this pandemic. Most people have returned to some version of normal life back in the office, back in restaurants, back at concerts. But Dr. Michael Mina, who is an epidemiologist, he tells CNN, he expects another COVID wave in the fall. Should we be making adjustments in our daily life now in anticipation?

GUPTA: I -- look I think so. I mean, I think in some ways, the way that we're going to probably be thinking about this is like, we think about the weather. You know, the weather, when it rains it take out your umbrella, and you try and keep yourself dry. We know there's a lot of virus out there.

Let me show you the community map the CDC puts out, you know, you find on their website, basically gives you an indication of how much virus there is, and also uses hospitalization data. And this has gotten a lot more read over the past few months, a lot more virus out there. But if you're just like asking the question, how likely am I to be exposed to this virus, if I'm out and about, then you'd look at the transmission map. And if you look at the transmission map, it is basically almost entirely red no matter where you are basically in the country, there is a lot of virus out there.

Now Jake, again, if you're vaccinated, boosted, you're protected against serious illness, protected against death if you're up to date on those vaccinations, but I will say, you know, the emerging evidence of just getting infected and re-infected, that's a cumulative risk, Jake. So, you know, even if you're somebody who's not a big risk from a single infection, if you're getting infected over and over again, that's a problem. And that's why I think the masks and ventilation and trying to do events outdoors, that's why it's still important when you look at those maps.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

Coming up, out of control. They stormed the presidential palace and now the prime minister's office will a new interim president bring any instability to Sri Lanka. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Continued chaos in Sri Lanka after protesters breached the prime minister's office. Hundreds of demonstrators are seeing storming the Prime Minister's compound after the president fled the country and named the prime minister the acting leader.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live. Will, what is in Sri Lanka now?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have this acting president, who was the Prime Minister, the prime minister that these angry mobs demanded should resign. And yet now he's the one in charge because the president fled to the Maldives on a military plane. And he appointed him, the guy who's now running the show. And so he has called a meeting of senior military officials and ordered them to restore law and order.

They've also started to deploying water cannons, tear gas, and there have been dozens of injuries, at least 75 people injured and scuffles outside the prime minister's office just yesterday. But keep in mind, these crowds have been growing more brazen, they breached and occupied the prime minister's office, they're still occupying the presidential palace, still swimming in the pool, working out in the gym and, you know, demanding that this government, including the acting president, step down. Now, what will happen in the coming days, that's really anyone's guess, Jake.

TAPPER: Is there any idea of where this is all headed?

RIPLEY: It could go one of two ways. There could be a peaceful transfer of power. You know, the acting president could follow through on the pledge that he made to resign. They could elect a new government that people accept as legitimate and credible, a new government that can start to tackle Sri Lanka's massive financial crisis, more than $50 billion in debt.

People's living expenses have tripled in recent months. They can't afford food, medicine or fuel and there's not much of it in the country anyway, or this could descend into further chaos, and there could be a violent suppression because the military seems to be on the side right now of the government that is in control. So there's a lot of human rights watchers who are worried that this could turn into real bloodshed, Jake.

TAPPER: Will Ripley, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

In our pop culture lead, maybe they were trying to afford life in the fast lane. The Manhattan District Attorney's office just indicted three men for possessing and trying to sell Don Henley's handwritten lyrics and notes for the Eagles "Hotel California" album.




TAPPER: The 100 or so pages were stolen in the 1970s. They're valued at an estimated million dollars. The indictment alleges that one of the defendants bought them in 2005 and the three plotted to sell them at auction houses, attorneys for the three deny all the allegations. A hearing is set for October as Henley one saying, bring your alibis.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter at JakeTapper. Or tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM", but it's not next door, it's all the way in the Holy Land of Israel. See you tomorrow.