Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Defends Visit To Saudi Arabia Despite Khashoggi Murder; Ivana Trump, First Wife Of Donald Trump, Dead At Age 73; Watchdog: Secret Service Erased Texts From January 5 & 6; Russian Missiles Kill At Least 23 In Ukraine, Including 3 Children; Republicans Who Doubted Story Backtrack After Child Rapist Arrested; Grand Jury Indicts Alex Murdaugh For Murdaugh Of Wife & Son. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: She was a wonderful, beautiful and amazing woman who led a great and inspirational life. Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric. She was so proud of them as we all -- as we were also proud of her. Rest in peace, Ivana!

That is from Donald Trump.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Eric Jump, Jr. placed on Instagram: Our mother was an incredible woman -- a force in business, a world class athlete, a radiant beauty and a caring mother and friend.

CAMEROTA: More on this as we get it.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: How to stop Iran.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid both agree that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons, but they do not agree on how to stop that from happening and their disagreement was made public today. Will this prove problematic for the reminder of President Biden's Middle East trip?

Then, horror in Ukraine. Russian missiles several buildings including homes. At least 23 people are dead, including three children.

Plus, a dead wife, a dead son, a botched hit, an alleged fraud scheme. Murder charges have now been filed against a once prominent South Carolina attorney in this case that has more twists than a country road.


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

We start today with our world lead and President Biden's first trip to the Middle East being overshadowed today by a disagreement with a key ally and a controversial sit-down that's not yet even happened.

Today, President Biden stood side by side with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and promised Iran will never get a nuclear weapon. But how to go about that? Well, that's where the two leaders very publicly disagreed.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.

YAIR LAPID, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them.


TAPPER: President Biden was also pressed by reporters today by whether he will bring up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with leaders and Saudi Arabia tomorrow, the leaders who are responsible for Khashoggi's murder.

But as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from Jerusalem, President Biden stopped way short by making any such commitment.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the world stage, President Biden defending his decision to meet with the Saudi crown prince accused of authorizing the murder of a U.S. journalist.

BIDEN: I'll be meeting with nine other heads of state, it's not just -- it happens to be in Saudi Arabia.

COLLINS: Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Lapid, Biden was pressed on whether he will confront Mohammed bin Salman over Jamal Khashoggi's killing.

BIDEN: My views on Khashoggi have been made absolutely positively clear.

COLLINS: Biden stopped short of directly saying he will bring it up with the crown prince.

BIDEN: I always was ring of human rights. But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear. If anyone doesn't understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anyone else, then they haven't been around for a while.

COLLINS: Instead, Biden making a broader argument for stabilizing the region as he stressed that Iran should never be allowed to become a nuclear power.

BIDEN: We will not, let me say it again, we will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

COLLINS: But the U.S. and Israeli leaders revealing their sharp divide when it comes with how to come to stop Iran from doing so.

LAPID: The only thing that will stop or run is knowing, if they continue to develop the nuclear program, the free world will use force.

COLLINS: Prime Minister Lapid urging President Biden to act if Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, not just obtained a weapon. As Biden insisted diplomacy is still the best path.

LAPID: Diplomacy will not stop them.

BIDEN: I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.

COLLINS: As Biden pushes for full diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, he leaned into his predecessor signature foreign policy achievement, without saying his name.

BIDEN: We will also continue building a neighbor -- which I strongly support, because they deepen -- they deepen Israel's integration into the broader region.

COLLINS: Biden even echoing his predecessor on Israel's capital.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

BIDEN: I'm honored to be back here in the capital of Israel.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, when the president leaves here and goes to Saudi Arabia, he says he is doing so in the interest of the United States, which obviously includes pumping more oil.


But whether or not he walks away from that trip with any commitments, concrete commitments from Saudi Arabia to do so still remains to be seen, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to have more on that issue in a second. Kaitlan Collins in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

Before President Biden heads to Saudi Arabia, however, he's going to meet with another key leader in the region, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas. Officials previewing that meeting is said to expect, quote, significant announcements tomorrow.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live for us in Jerusalem.

Hadas, why is this such an important meeting for President Biden? And what should we expect?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, tomorrow, President Biden will start the day with a visit to a hospital in East Jerusalem that mainly serves Palestinians. The funding to which was severed under former President Donald Trump. Now, the Americans are restoring that funding. Before he will then head to Bethlehem, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

And just a symbolism of him meeting with Abbas will be important because keep in mind, under former President Trump, the Palestinian Authority sever their relationship with the United States. So, for this administration, it's been important to rebuild that relationship, rebuild that trust once again with the Palestinians.

What we're expecting to hear is what we've already heard from President Biden, in terms of his reaffirmation, his belief in a two state solution. We will also expect announcements restoring funding, some of which we've already heard of, some more as well, as well as some other symbols, gestures towards the Palestinians aimed at making their everyday life of Palestinians better.

Things like better border crossings, even things potentially like the expansion of 4G, in places like the West Bank.

But, Jake, what I think will be notable is what will be missing. This has been to a great disappointment to Palestinians both at the official level and at the every day level. These are things like, there was a promise from the administration to reopen the American consulate that mainly serve Palestinians in Jerusalem.

That was shut under former President Trump when the embassy moved to Jerusalem. That has not been reopened. There is a long list of disappointments in the Biden administration, things that have not been fulfilled that many Palestinians were looking for -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, previewing tomorrow's meeting, thank you so much.

Joining now to discuss the president's trip to Saudi Arabia is Lina al-Hathloul, a Saudi human rights activist, best known perhaps for pushing for the kingdom to free her sister.

Lina, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

For our viewers who might not be familiar, can you explain more about your activism and also why your sister was detained?

LINA AL-HATHLOUL, SAUDI ACTIVIST: Absolutely. Thank you for having.

So, I'm the sister of Loujain Al-Hathloul. My sister was the leader of the Women to Drive campaign. She was in prison because of that and also because she wants to dismantle the male guardianship system. My sister --

TAPPER: Explain what is the male guardianship system is, because for people who don't know, it's going to blow their minds.

AL-HATHLOUL: Absolutely. So, in Saudi Arabia, women are considered as minors until the end their lives. So, for every important decisions of their, lives they have to have the consensus of their male guardian. If they disobey their male guardian, they go to prison basically, and they cannot leave the prison without the consent of this very male guardian.

TAPPER: Absolutely insane. Your sister is out now though?

AL-HATHLOUL: My sister is out.

TAPPER: How she's doing?

AL-HATHLOUL: It is difficult to say. I mean, she's under a travel ban. She's monitored. After she has been released, she was targeted with (INAUDIBLE). So she knows that she is always surveilled. The people around her are targeted.

Her boss, actually, when she got her first job is imprisoned. So, because they know they cannot target her, they target the people around her.

TAPPER: Absolutely awful. I want to get your reaction. President Biden was asked today if he's going to bring up the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, who is responsible for the murder of Khashoggi.

Take a listen.


BIDEN: My views on Khashoggi have been made absolutely, positively clear. And I have never been quiet about talking about human rights. The question that I'm -- the reason I'm going to Saudi Arabia, though, is much broader, is to promote U.S. interests.


TAPPER: It sounds like he's suggesting he is not going to bring it up with MBS. How will you feel if that happens?

AL-HATHLOUL: Well, for us, it is absolutely -- I mean, it's a betrayal. I have two messages. He says that he is not meeting with MBS but he is going on a broader meeting.

But the important thing is how MBS perceives it. For him, it's a big win. Biden is coming to Saudi Arabia. He completed all the scandal with the big win. Finally, Biden is coming to see.

And so we will be involved after that. He will feel like he has been rehabilitated and no one will hold him to account after all these crimes.


This is one thing.

And the second thing is that President Biden is saying that he is going to mention or talk about human rights. But, concretely, what does that mean?

We need to have recon sessions after Biden leave Saudi Arabia. We have to see releases of political prisoners. We have to see the travel bans lifted.

We have to see another thing is to see President Biden's meeting with MBS, but why is he meeting with the oppressor and not be oppressed? I wish Biden would have accepted our call to meet with civil society, but this is been refused.

So, we are a bit disappointed. But there is still a chance any has the choice to make the right decision to push for the release at least of political prisoners in Saudi.

TAPPER: And some of those political prisoners, we should note, are American citizens. There are American citizens in Saudi prisons for political reasons. You have said if the world does not stop MBS, Mohammed bin Salman now, he will become the new Vladimir Putin. What do you mean by that?

AL-HATHLOUL: We as long as he took power, he started a war in Yemen. He started a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. He imprisoned the prime minister of Lebanon. So, we see this man's impulsive, he's dangerous, he's a dictator. If now he gains the legitimacy that he needs, the power that he needs, nothing will stop him. The only thing stopping him now is the Biden administration is not giving him as much power as the Trump administration.

But once this will be done, and he feels that he is in power, then nothing can stop them. He can ally with China. He cannot lie with Russia. Nothing can stop. He has blood on his hands. This is how he is.

The only thing that can stop him is holding him accountable.

TAPPER: President Biden wrote an op-ed last week defending his trip and the purpose of his trip. Part of his reasoning was this. I want to bring this up.

He says: A region that is coming together through diplomacy and cooperation, rather than coming apart through conflict, is less likely to give rise to violent extremism that threatens or homeland or new wars that could place new burdens on U.S. from military forces and their families.

So his argument is, this might not be great in some ways, but this is the best thing for the United States. Would you say that?

AL-HATHLOUL: I don't think it's true. I think that the very notion of stability is not understood properly. Stability is having a stable government. And, you know, having MBS as a one-man rule in Saudi Arabia is not stable.

Stability means that the people are at the very process of building a country. There is no civil society in Saudi Arabia. MBS is starting wars everywhere. It is not possible to have stability in the region with the biggest

country being ruled by a man who starting wars everywhere without being held accountable. Sorry I'm repeating myself.

TAPPER: No, it's fine.

One of the arguments you hear from foreign policy experts here in the United States, in Washington, D.C. is, you have to have brutal dictators and places like Saudi Arabia because if you don't, al Qaeda will take over. There's so much extremism. That is why it's okay to have al-Sisi in Egypt, and that's why it's okay to have MBS in Saudi Arabia, because if you don't have these autocrats, then extremists will take power.

AL-HATHLOUL: I won't get into politics too much, but what I'm going to say, that Saudi Arabia was built by an alliance with Wahhabism and supported by the U.S. So, at the very basis of Saudi Arabia I think --

TAPPER: It's extremism already.

AL-HATHLOUL: -- is extremism alone ready. So I don't think this argument makes sense in the first place.

Another thing is, we have seen, we have evidence that an autocrat like MBS does not bring stability. I repeat myself but Qatar is an example. Yemen is an example. Lebanon is an example. He didn't -- he is autocrat, but he did not bring stability. So, this argument is destroyed in the very first base.

TAPPER: Lina, it's a pleasure to have you. Please comeback. It was very fascinating and we're going to continue to cover the story because MBS sadly is not going anywhere anytime soon. Thank you so much for being here.

AL-HATHLOUL: Thank you.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

We have some breaking news. Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of Donald Trump, and the mom of Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump, has passed away. We're going to take a look at her life, next.

Then the horrifying pictures as Ukrainian homes are obliterated by deadly Russian missile strikes fired from a Russian submarine. We'll live on the ground at the center of the strikes.

Plus, murder charges now filed against the once prominent South Carolina attorney for the death of his wife and son. But the story involves several suspicious deaths.

Stick around.


[16:18:44] TAPPER: We have some breaking news now. Ivana Trump, a businesswoman, and the first wife of former President Donald Trump, has died at age 73. The former president confirmed that moment ago on his social media platform, Truth Social. He did not share a cause of death. He called her a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life.

Ivana claimed in 2017 that President Trump wouldn't be who he was, if it weren't for her. Here is a look at her life in the spotlight.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a decade, Donald and Ivana Trump were New York City's tabloid power couple. After marrying the man, she called The Donald, in 1977, the Czech born model and her husband kept an active social calendar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people were the new stars of the late 80s.

BLITZER: Ivana was a key partner in several of Donald Trump's projects, supervising design work on Trump Tower, managing some of Trump's other properties, and it all resulted in a uniquely Trump sort of home life.

IVANA TRUMP, FORMER WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: I was running three casinos in Atlantic City for ten years, going on helicopter at 7:00 in the morning, from New York, you know, getting up, landing on the roof, going through 6:00, back home, children, home work.


BLITZER: The Trumps raised three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, who would later become key players in Donald's business empire, and political aspirations. Donald Trump was constantly followed by rumors of infidelity, but the gossip came to a head, when Ivana Trump confirmed Trump was having an affair with Marla Maples.

IVANA TRUMP: I was devastated, of course. But at this stage, you come and you say, why me? You get angry.

BLITZER: Using the same fighting tactic her husband was famous for, Ivana Trump went very public with her divorce battle.

IVANA TRUMP: If you're good to him, he is incredible to you. If you're bad at him, you're dead.

BLITZER: But the Trumps set another surprise for the media, a sudden, seemingly amicable settlement, even walking out of the courthouse together.

DONALD TRUMP: She always loved me.

BLITZER: Ivana went on to become an entrepreneur in her own right. She started a fashion line, and wrote books. Along the way, she married and divorced her third and fourth husbands, and made a movie cameo as America's most famous ex-wife in "The First Wives Club". IVANA TRUMP: Can I get everything --

BLITZER: Donald and Ivana eventually had a friendly relationship. They even made a commercial together.

IVANA TRUMP: Eat our pizza the old way.

DONALD TRUMP: Crust first.

BLITZER: But as his political fortunes rose, their divorce came back to haunt him. Documents show that Ivana had accused Donald Trump of raping her during an argument. Trump denied it, and Ivana issued a statement saying that what she called a rape was not intended to be, quote, interpreted in a literal or a criminal sense.

In 2017, Ivana Trump got pushback from the White House, when she suggested that she limited her communications with the president, to avoid making first lady, Melania Trump, jealous.

IVANA TRUMP: I don't want to cause any kind of jealousy, or something like that, because I'm basically first Trump wife, okay? I am the first one --

BLITZER: A statement from the first lady's office called Ivana an ex, and dismissed her comments a self serving.

Around the same time, Ivana said her ex-husband offered her an ambassador supposed to the Czech Republic, where she grew up under communist rule. But she said she turned it down, content with the extravagant lifestyle she built for herself, even with the public spotlight.

IVANA TRUMP: You don't really have a choice. You know, once you become a public person, you know, you are in the public eye.


TAPPER: Ivana Trump, born in 1949, and dead at the age of 73. May her memory be a blessing.

We have some more breaking news for you. A new report for the Secret Service erased text messages from the day of the insurrection. This, after investigators requested them, according to a watchdog group. We'll bring to you next.



TAPPER: More breaking news. In our politics lead, the U.S. Secret Service erased text messages from January 5th and January 6th, 2021, the day before, and the day of, the Capitol insurrection. That is according to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, who says the texts were only deleted after they were requested, as part of their investigation into the insurrection.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is live on Capitol Hill, bringing us the story.

Ryan, why does the Secret Service say these texts were deleted?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, their explanation right now, Jake, is that the text messages were deleted, as part of what they are calling, a device replacement program that the Secret Service was undergoing at that time. But what is curious about the circumstances, and the timeline here, is that the text messages were only deleted, after that request was made by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, to preserve those records, and hand them over to the inspector general for their investigation.

And obviously, these text messages will be of great interest to the various investigations of, there are still ongoing, as it relates to January 6. The inspector general, themselves they, are handling investigations on their own. But the January 6th Select Committee was made aware of this information today, after they received a letter which was sent to the Homeland Security Committees, in both the Senate and the House. Of course, the Senate has conducted their own version of the January 6 investigation.

So, this was, this is crucial bit of information that were very important to the January 6th investigation that, Jake, are now gone forever.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's stinks, frankly. And as you note, Ryan, it's only part of the problem. The inspector general is concerned about other things.

NOBLES: Yeah, that's right. The inspector general, frankly, was concerned that it was taking the Department of Homeland Security so long, just to get this information to the inspector general. He said that in the letter that the Department of Homeland Security has determined that, in order for the inspector general to obtain this information, the DHS lawyers had to look through each and every piece of information, before it was handed over to the inspector general. And that just delayed the process even more.

This one, the inspector general, was trying to sift through all this information in a timely basis. And it was over the course of this process, that the text messages were deleted, so that's the problem. The inspector general is also pointing to it as well. And at this point, the Secret Service doesn't seem to have an explanation at this point. They're not commenting on this information, and this letter that was sent by the inspector general.


TAPPER: In general, how cooperative has the U.S. Secret Service been in these investigations?

NOBLES: Jake, I think it's fair to say it's been uneven. They certainly have allowed some members of the Secret Service to testify in front of these various committees, that have asked for information.

They have handed over certain documents, but it seems at each stage the process is laborious. It gets caught up with bureaucratic hurdles that make it difficult for the information to flow from one agency to another and then to Congress. The Secret Service is a subsidiary of the Department of Homeland Security that makes the process difficult.

And, you know, Jake, it's called the Secret Service and by nature, they are pretty clandestine operation and they're not often willing to just hand over information about their operation.

But there's no doubt that they've come under a great deal of scrutiny about their role in what happened on January 6th. Not just how they conducted themselves but how different people interacted with them.

Of course, the former president being the chief among them. The vice president as well. You'll recall that his chief counsel, Greg Jacob, testified that the vice president was unwilling to get into a motorcade for fear he would be taken away from the Capitol. So, this just adds to the growing list of concerns as this investigation flows forward, Jake.

TAPPER: Disturbing news. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.

Let's turn now to our world lead. At least 23 people are dead, including three children, after a massive Russian strike on the central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia. The missiles hit this morning when the streets were filled with people. More than 50 people have been hospitalized with dozens unaccounted for after 50 buildings were hit in the offensive.

Ukraine says the attack came from Russia cruise missiles launched from submarines stationed in the Black Sea.

CNN's Scott McLean is on the ground in Vinnytsia as rescue personnel continue to search for victims.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mid- morning, a busy commercial district in Vinnytsia, far from any front lines. Three Russian missiles landed here obliterating a medical center, severely damaging buildings all around, including offices and a theater. The husks of burned out cars littered the streets.

Rescue workers combed through the wreckage and amid this destruction had little hope of recovering anyone alive.

Throughout the day, the list of casualties grew. More than 20 people killed, including three children. Dozen injured and many of them in critical condition and others unaccounted for.

Among the victim, this 3-year- old killed in her stroller. Her mother was injured, according to the child's father.

What the Russia's target might have been is unknown. The defense ministry in Moscow has had nothing to say about the attack. Ukrainians say seven missiles were launched from the Black Sea, four were intercepted, tragically, three were not. People here in a state of shock. Ludmila Gudim and her husband owned a

business servicing cash machines. The building next to the crater, the store front windows were blown out.

LUDMILA GUDIM, VINNYTSIA BUSINESS OWNER: We are living in a beautiful, peaceful city attacked by a rocket. What for?

MCLEAN: Olha Mayenko works on the fourth flour. She didn't seek shelter when the sirens went off half an hour before the missiles hit.

OLHA MAYENKO, WORKS IN VINNYTSIA: We didn't go down into the shelter. We were certain this wouldn't happen here.

MCLEAN: Maxim Budyko was using an ATM machine next to his photo store, when the blast went of, he used the machine for cover.

MAXIM BUDYKO, SURVIVED STRIKE IN VINNYTSIA (through translator): The shield, which was my only protection, I was lying on the ground, all covered in glass. I didn't know if I would even survive that moment. And you can go take a look. The ATM machine over there is completely destroyed.

MCLEAN: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was addressing a conference, as the horror emerged.

This is an act of Russian terror, he said. People couldn't do this. They are animals.

Into the evening, the work of searching for victims and clearing wreckage continued. This is the third Russian missile attack in the last month alone, have killed more than 20 Ukrainian civilians. And as one Ukrainian official put it, nobody knows where the missiles will land tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.


MCLEAN (on camera): Now, at that spot where that three year old girl was killed in her stroller, people have started leaving flowers, leaving stuffed animals to lay their respect. I can't show you now, because about 30, 35 minutes ago, in Vinnytsia, the air raid sirens went off. We left the area, even the emergency service workers, the firefighters, were leaving, not wanting to take any chances, given what happened earlier today.

And Jake, I have to tell you, what I found really remarkable, being at this same for a couple of hours today, is the fact that you are allowed to roam around virtually anywhere, almost anywhere we wanted.


It is abundantly clear that the Ukrainians wanted us to be there. They want the world to see exactly what's happened here, and they want the world to see this was a deliberate strike on a civilian target.

TAPPER: Scott McLean in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Coming up, a ten year old rape victim travels from Ohio to Indiana to

get an abortion. Now, the Indiana journey general wants answers, not from the rape suspect, but from the doctor who performed the abortion.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: We are back with our health lead.

Earlier this month, "The Indianapolis Star" newspaper published a horrifying story, in which a doctor described a ten year old girl, in Ohio, who had been raped, became pregnant as a result of the right, and had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion, because Ohio law is so severely restrictive, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

Yesterday, in Ohio, the alleged rapist was arrested and charged.


It is a hideous ordeal, and it was made all the more grotesque by the fact that in the days after that story was published, and after President Biden mentioned the report and the girl in the speech, many Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures immediately began attacking this poor girl's story as a lie. It's a lie that these conservatives falsely alleged, was invented by liberals, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and states are enacting strict abortion bans.

Let's start with the Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost. He's the top law enforcement officer in the state of Ohio. On Monday, he went on Fox, where anchors are also calling the story a lie. And he made this claim.


JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: So, Dave, have you had anybody come to you in your state to say, we're looking into this? A police report was filed?


I know our prosecutors and cops in the state. There's not one of them that wouldn't be turning over every rock in their jurisdiction, if they have the slightest of hint that this occurred there.


TAPPER: Of course, it did occur there.

And Attorney General Yost did not stop there. The next day, "The Columbus Dispatch", says told "The USA Today" network in Ohio that the rape allegation is, quote, more likely that it's a fabrication. There's not a damn scintilla of evidence, unquote.

A fabrication, he said. Not a damn scintilla of evidence, he said. But it was not only the Ohio attorney general casting doubt.

Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, he also chimed in. He tweeted: Another lie, anyone surprised?

That same day, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board published an editorial with the headline, "An abortion story too good to confirm," writing that it's a, quote, unlikely story from a biased source that neatly fits the progressive narrative and can't be confirmed.

No, no, no. All of them, wrong. Yesterday, the man suspected of raping the ten year old girl was arrested at Ohio. He appeared in court for his arraignment. As far as reported by "The Columbus Dispatch". "The Wall Street Journal" published a correcting the record note, with no apology.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he has nothing to be sorry for. He thought the Cleveland devastation, quote, apologized for what? Watching a newspaper story?

After the arraignment, Congressman Jordan deleted his tweet, calling the accusation a lie. Earlier today, this was his exchange when asked about his tweet by CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You tweeted that it was a lie, that this ten year old was --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): It was a new story. The real thing, this is a heinous crime by an illegal immigrant. And I hope he's prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

RAJU: Do you regret saying it's a lie, though?


TAPPER: Do you regret saying it's a lie, though? No response. Later, Congressman Jordan told Manu that he never doubted the child, perhaps, some other meaning of the word lie in Congressman Jordan's lexicon.

Look, there's nothing wrong with wanting more confirmation of facts about such a hideous story. Facts are vital. But you can be forgiven for finding it odd to witness the glee, the glibness, the other shamelessness of these various published public figures over the past few days, declaring that this is a lie, seemingly more focused on making political hay out of this tragedy, than trying to find out if it was true.

After all, as Dave Dewitt (ph) writes in "The Ohio Capital Journal", quote, the case was never implausible. In 2020, the most recent here from which statistics are available, 52 girls aged 14 and younger had abortions in Ohio, according to the state department of health. A review of just the city of Columbus's police log, since March 15th, uncovered 59 reports of sexual assaults of girls 15 and younger, that based on the information available, could have resulted in pregnancy. This included at least one case of a ten year old, unquote.

It is remarkable that in the United States today, there are prominent figures and politics and news media who heard a story of a ten year old girl, being impregnated by her rapist, and decided that the appropriate action to take was to make it even worse.

CNN's Alex Field has been tracking the story.

Alex, I wanted to back to the police investigation, into this alleged rapist. Police are saying that the girl was raped at least two times. What do we know about this heinous crime?

ALEXANDER FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. While critics are doubting that this could possibly even happen, as it turns out, police are actually investigating the entire time, collecting enough evidence to arrest Gershon Fuentes. He's 27 years old. He's not been charged with first degree rape of a minor, under the age of 13, according to police. He did confess to raping the girl, at least two times. They say they collected DNA evidence and the case that they're now testing.

They also, of course, spoke to the child at the center of this, who did identify Fuentes as the perpetrator.


We are also learning from court testimony that it's the mother who did initially report the rape to child services. Child services reported it to police, who say they started investigating that very day, Jake.

TAPPER: Indiana's attorney general, is jumping and. He says he's now investigating the doctor who performed the abortion?

FIELD: Yeah, he seems to be less focused on the crime that's been charged here itself, more on the undocumented status of the suspect, and the physician, who helped this young girl in Indiana. He says that he's looking into the physicians license, and looking into whether or not the abortion was properly reported.

This is the statement from the Republican attorney general. He says: Aside from the horror cost here by illegal immigration, we are waiting for the relevant documents to prove if the abortion, and/or the abuse were reported, as Dr. Caitlin Bernard had requirements to do both under Indiana law. The failure to do so constitutes a crime in Indiana, and her behavior could also affect her licensure.

And Jake, we should note that we have a fickle of course reached out to representatives for Dr. Caitlin Bernard a couple of times. They have not yet commented back.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Field, thanks so much.

A new twist in the already bizarre mystery, involving a once prominent South Carolina attorney, and the death of his wife and his son. That's next.


TAPPER: In our national league, Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced attorney from South Carolina, has been indicted for the 2021 murders of his wife, and his son. His wife, Maggie, and their youngest son, Paul, were found shot to death on June 7th last year, at the family's home in South Carolina. Murdaugh originally called police to say he had discovered their bodies. This is the same man who months after the murders of his wife and youngest son was accused of a suicide for hire plot, allegedly so that his surviving son, Buster, could cash in on a $10 million life insurance payout.

And this is just some of what Alex Murdaugh has done, or have been accused of doing. For the past few months, he's been sitting behind bars over a slow of charges, for alleged financial crimes.

Let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher to walk us through today's indictment -- Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, these indictments, handed down by a grand jury that was inside this courtroom here behind me, a little earlier today, they say that Alex Murdaugh himself pulled the trigger. And yes, I said, triggers, as in plural.

There are very few details, included in these indictments. But what they do say is that Murdaugh shot and killed his 52 year old wife Mackie, with a rifle, and that he shot and killed his 22 year old son Paul with a shotgun. Now, his attorney, again, Murdaugh himself, was once a prominent and powerful attorney, until he was disbarred this week by the South Carolina state Supreme Court.

His attorney released a statement quickly after the documents were handed down. I'm going to read it to you right now.

It said, quote, Alex wants his family and friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He left them more than anything in the world. It was very clear from day one that law enforcement and the attorney general, prematurely concluded that Alex was responsible for the murder of his wife and son.

But we know that Alex did not have any motive whatsoever to murder them. We were immediately filing a motion for a speedy trial. We are requesting that the attorney general turn over all evidence within 30 days as required by law, and we demand to have a trial within 60 days of receiving that evidence.

Now, Jake, that's what we'll likely learn more, in terms of what law enforcement has to connect Alex Murdaugh to the murders directly of his wife and his son.

Again, the indictment didn't have very much information. I will say, a source just told CNN that some of the evidence that they believe that law enforcement has, that connects Alex to this scene, and the murders, include a high velocity blood spatter on his clothing from that night, which is typically associated with a rifle shot at a close range.

Jake, the attorney general tells us that a bond hearing for these murder indictments has been set for Wednesday of next week.

TAPPER: Dianne, remind us of what else he's been accused of.

GALLAGHER: So, there's a lot here, Jake. You mentioned that sort of bizarre roadside attempted suicide for hire insurance fraud scheme that he had going on there that he was arrested for. But there is also the 70-plus financial charges that have piled up over the past few months, from clients and victims who have accused him of defrauding them millions, upon millions of dollars. And then, there are the deaths. But there's a lot of mystery that surrounds the Murdaugh in general.

But in addition to the murders of, excuse me, Maggie and Paul, there are also three death investigations that have either been reopened or opened in the past year, they're associated with the Murdaugh family in some sense -- and there was continuing to be more evidence and more mystery that surrounded them.

Again, the hope is that we learn more about the specific deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, sometime next week, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much.

Former President Trump is calling a potential witness in the insurrection investigation, declines to pick up. What this missed call is raising alarms, that's next.



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

This hour, WNBA star Brittney Griner back in a Moscow courtroom, this time laying out how she contributed to Russian society in hopes of getting a more lenient sentence. So, what is next for the Olympic gold medalist?

Plus, there is a vaccine out there, but even as monkeypox spreads out in the United States quickly, getting that vaccine is proving to be very challenging and confusing.

And leading this hour, a missed phone call from the former leader of the free world. Sources say a White House support staffer recently and potential witness who's talking to the January 6 committee refused a call from Donald Trump. This comes as committee member, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, tells "The Wall Street Journal" is discussing whether to seek an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence and with perhaps Donald Trump himself.

CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us now live.

And, Manu, what do we know about the committee's plans to try to talk to Pence and maybe Trump?