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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Judge Bannon Request To Delay Contempt Of Congress Trial; Prominent Conservatives Issues Report To Debunk Trump Election Lies; Griner Hearing Without Verdict, Will Resume Friday; War Takes Extreme Mental Toll On Ukrainians; Watchdog: Secret Service Erased Texts From January 5&6; Trump Says He's Made Up His Mind About Running For President Again; More Than 1,000 Monkeypox Cases Reported Nationwide; CDC Recommends Monkeypox Vaccine For High-Risk Individuals; Last WW II Medal Of Honor Recipient Lies In Honor At U.S. Capitol. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 17:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is under discussion today. It's something that the panel has been kicking around for some time exactly how far to go and trying to get Mike Pence, in particular, his testimony or to have him answer some questions from the panel. We, of course, have seen some of his closest aides and advisers, people like Marc Short, his former chief of staff, Greg, Jacob, former counsel of his testify before this committee. But how far will they go with Mike Pence?

Adam Kinzinger, one of the members on the committee telling the Wall Street Journal that there's some discussion about whether they seek a written interview, a potential issue, a subpoena for him. And Bennie Thompson, the chairman of that committee, indicated to a group of reporters earlier this week that indeed, Thursday would be a day where this issue would be discussed.

And, Jake, also, what will they do to get the former president himself to testify? Almost certainly, he would fight that if there is a subpoena to him. But whether the committee willing to go that far, willing to drag things out, or if not just move on without his testimony. Those are some of the key questions as they move into next week, the last hearing in this phase before they start to finalize some of the report language that they hope to issue later this fall.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Manu tell us more about this group of senators that have been working on a deal to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, the first official legislative response to Donald Trump's attempts to overturn President Biden's legal and legitimate win. Where does that effort stand?

RAJU: Yes, this is the law that essentially governs how that happens on the day of the congressional certification, on the day of January 6 2021 when Donald Trump tried to pressure Mike Pence to simply disregard state certified electoral results, something that constitutional experts say would be completely illegal. But nevertheless, there is some ambiguity in that law. And senators are telling me that they are close to a deal to change how that law actually governs that process on that day.

And one of the issues they have agreed on is to make it crystal clear that the vice president's role is ceremony, that doesn't do anything other than certify the state's electoral results, they cannot simply disregard a state's election results. But there are other issues in discussion too, including making it harder for senators and House members to simply object and force votes to disregard how a state's electoral results ultimately come out. All of which there is some fresh optimism after these discussions, which have gone on for months that this deal could actually happen, a deal could be announced in the Senate next week. And Jake, that means there's a good chance that it could potentially pass the Senate this year and also the House, which would indeed make it the first response to Donald Trump's effort to overturn the election.

TAPPER: Yes. Manu Raju reporting live for us on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Also, in our politics lead today, a federal judge today denied former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's latest request for a delay in his trial. Bannon has been trying to push back the start date arguing that he can't get an impartial jury in part because of publicity he's getting from an upcoming CNN documentary. CNN's Sara Murray joins us now live.

Sara, what was Bannon's argument here and what happens next for him?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, his argument has been basically do everything you can to try to delay the trial. In this case, he's saying that the CNN documentary, which set to air Sunday night, it's just going to further bias more people against him. They've said the same thing about the January 6 hearings that he's been featured in these hearings. It's all very inflammatory. You could never get an unbiased jury poll.

The judge is not buying that. He wasn't buying that when it came to the hearings. He's not buying it when it comes to the CNN documentary. He says, you know, we have a process for which we choose these jurors and we ask them questions like, have you been watching every single one of these hearings? Do you already have an opinion about whether Steve Bannon is guilty? And he feels confident they'll be able to find a jury weeding those folks out.

TAPPER: And remind us why the January 6 committee might be quite interested in speaking with Bannon if he meets their requests?

MURRAY: Well, they were very interested in speaking to him, they may still be interested in speaking to him going forward. I mean, part of this is because they say he was reportedly one of the people who was in Trump's ear ahead of January sixth saying this is what you should be focused on. You know, at their last hearing, they said they have White House call logs that show that Bannon and Trump spoke twice on January 5, and of course, they also played part of his war room podcast where Bannon says on January 5, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

So they want to know, of course, what he and Donald Trump were talking about. They want to know what his interactions may have been like with people in the Proud Boys or in the Oath Keepers if there were any in the run up to that. And we'll see if they ever get his testimony. Bannon has said he wants to testify publicly, it seems pretty clear that the committee does not have the appetite for that.

TAPPER: Yes, the man that Donald Trump once called sloppy Steve. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

A group of prominent conservatives, including lawyers, former lawmakers and retired federal judges has released a lengthy report completely refuting former Donald -- President Donald Trump's election lies. Here's a quote to the reports intended audience, "There is absolutely no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election on the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. We urge our fellow conservatives to cease obsessing over the results of the 2020 election," unquote.


Joining us live to discuss, one of the report's signatories former Republican senator for Missouri, John Danforth.

Senator Danforth, thanks so much for talking to us. I want to start by reminding our audience that you are very conservative, Republican. None of the co authors of this report not one as a Democrat, I assume this is a report you didn't want to have to write.

JOHN DANFORTH, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, everybody who signed it is a Republican, three retired federal appellate judges, one retired Solicitor General of the United States, the leading Republican election lawyer, all signed this. And we all thought that it was important to do it, not just to refute a bogus story, people call it the big lie with that it were only a big lie, but it's much worse than that.

It's an attack on the constitutional order when 30 percent of the American people believe that our American democracy doesn't work, that elections don't work, when they believe that the president until legitimate, when they believe that the courts are not the final place to resolve our differences, then there's a real breakdown of the constitutional order. And this has a continuing effect on the United States. It's not just a one off situation. And you see it in politics right now. You particularly see it in our state of Missouri.

When there is a disbelief in democracy, then the next step is March in the Capitol, right? That's violence.


DANFORTH: Well, in our Senate race here in Missouri, we've got one candidate who is brandishing a gun saying we should go hunting for Republicans we don't agree with. We've got two other candidates who are cradling the AR-15s. We've got another candidate who's got a blowtorch and he says he wants to take it to the Senate. And another one who says that this is he's the human hand grenade, pulled the pin and roll them out on the floor of the Senate. So this is where we are today in American politics.

TAPPER: Yes, not to mention, of course, the incumbent senator Josh Hawley, Republican, a former protege of yours, I know you've expressed disappointment in him, he was one of the people who told these lies about the election and who objected. Him and Ted Cruz were the ones who, you know, in many ways, that created this illusion that the election could be overturned.

DANFORTH: That's absolutely correct. And the question is, so what do we do about it? And what we're doing in our state is we will have it -- we are having an independent candidate named John Wood, who's running for the U.S. Senate. And he's running on the on the theme that the country is too divided, that politics has gone crazy, and that we have to hold ourselves together as one people.

TAPPER: Do you ever talk to people like Kevin McCarthy or Steve Scalise or Elise Stefanik, the House Republican leaders that have done so much destruction to the belief in the integrity of elections by publicly backing Donald Trump's lies about this?

DANFORTH: No, I don't talk to them. I really don't know those people. I don't know that I would get very far. It's become a political style now and it exists predominantly in my party, but also on the left of, you know, just being extreme, hostile against them or at war.

Count the number of times the word fighter or fight is used in political solicitations these days. Everybody wants to be a fighter as though, hey, what we need is disruption in Washington loot. For me, how do you disrupt chaos?


DANFORTH: I don't know. But that's their basic theme. And I don't think that I would persuade these people, because I think that they think it's their -- to their political advantage. They're appealing to the base and the party and it's the primary elections that are worth everything. So, I don't think -- I think the only way to change it is to provide the voters with a centrist alternative. And that's what we're trying to do in the John Wood campaign.

TAPPER: Yes, John Wood, we've had him on the show. He was a former attorney on the January 6, committee. Interesting guy. A lot of integrity.

I want to highlight another quote from your report, quote, "Even now, 20 months after the election, a period in which Trump supporters have been energetically scouring every nook and cranny for proof that the election was stolen, they come up empty. Claims are made, trumpeted in sympathetic media and accepted as truthful by many patriotic Americans. But on objective examination, they have fallen short, every time."


And we've been hearing this in the hearings as well with the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone or the brave young woman Cassidy Hutchinson talking about, you know, what was going on behind the scenes, no evidence of fraud. But you touch on something there, the conservative media perpetuating these lies. How comfortable do you think that conservative media is?

DANFORTH: Well, I think there's a lot of culpability by the media, and particularly by politicians who think that this furthers their political cause. But this wasn't just right after the election. I mean, Trump was saying that the election would be stolen before the election. And now they're setting up the same kind of theme after the next election. You know, that if he runs, and I guess he will, and if he loses, I'm sure he would, he would then say, well, the election was stolen.

So they're now in the business of trying to change or affect elections for secretaries of state and local election officials, so that they're in a position to claim that this was rigged. It is a terrible damage that they are causing to our country.

This is -- I wish it were just a big lie. You know, we can -- politicians lie, OK. It's more than that. It is destructive of the constitutional order.


DANFORTH: It's destructive of Americans faith in their system and their government, in their constitution that's been around since 1789. It's a very, very big deal and it has to be confronted.

TAPPER: Former Senator John Danforth from the great state of Missouri, thank you so much. It's always good to see you, sir.

DANFORTH: Thank you.

TAPPER: This Sunday, join CNN's Drew Griffin for an investigation into Steve Bannon and his master plan to reshape the U.S. government and the Republican Party and indeed the United States of America. The CNN special report, "Steve Bannon Divided We Fall" airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Sunday night. And if you live in D.C., watch it, you'll get out of a jury duty.

Gold medalist and WNBA star, Brittney Griner, returns to a Russian courtroom. Why she will have to keep waiting to learn her fate?

Then in Ukraine, the wounds of war not only physical, also psychological, a look at what mental health experts are doing to try and help children who have only known missile strikes and death for months and months. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, still no verdict for WNBA star Brittney Griner who has been detained in Russia since February on drug charges. The two time Olympic gold medalist was briefly seen arriving at a Moscow court for her third hearing earlier today. Another hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. CNN's Kylie Atwood takes a look now at what happened inside that court and what's next.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russians who know Brittney Griner defended her character in court today. The captain of the Russian team Griner played on said this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Brittney was always a great teammate, that is why I am here to support her and be there for her at this difficult time. We miss her so much, miss her energy.

ATWOOD (voice-over): The head of the Russian basketball club noted her pivotal role in contributing to the team success.

MAXIM RYABKOV, GRINER'S HEAD COACH (through translator): Our aim today was to come here and tell the court about her character as a sports woman and as a person and to say how important her role was at the Yekaterinburg basketball club, the success she had there and in Russian women's basketball in general.

ATWOOD (voice-over): The hearing was part of Griner's ongoing trial. She faces drug charges in Russia after being arrested in February, one week before the Russian invasion of Ukraine with cannabis oil while traveling through Moscow airport.

BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA STAR: I would like to plead guilty on the charges.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Last week, Griner pled guilty but said that she had no intention of breaking the law, explaining that the cannabis oil was in her bag because she packed up in a hurry. The conviction rate is 99 percent in the Russian judicial system, a factor that Griner and her legal team took into account when she decided to plead guilty. And after her plea, her lawyer said they hoped for leniency from the court.

The Biden administration says they're actively working to try and bring Griner and Paul Whelan, another American wrongfully detained in Russia, home quickly. Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner's wife, has been publicly pleading for her release.

CHERELLE GRINER, BRITTNEY GRINER'S PARTNER: Tonight, I asked for your help and continuing to fight for BG'S safe and quick return home. Let's make sure this administration knows that they have our support to do whatever is necessary and that we are not going to ever be quiet.


ATWOOD: Now, Jake, there will be a fourth hearing as part of this ongoing trial tomorrow. And Griner's lawyer said that tomorrow will focus on written evidence. So we aren't expecting a verdict or sentencing tomorrow. But we should note that these drug offenses are punishable with up to 10 years in prison. So that is something that Brittney Griner is facing. And just last year, there was another American who was arrested in Russia for the same thing, having cannabis oil, and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison just last month. So, not a great signal in terms of the direction that things could be headed here. Jake.

TAPPER: Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.

Griner's former teammates here in the United States continue to push for her release. Joining us now another WNBA star Sue Bird.

Sue, thanks for joining us. You've played with Brittney Griner on the US Women's National Basketball team, you've played in the WNBA together for years. How are you and other teammates dealing with this horrible episode?

SUE BIRD, WNBA PLAYER: I think it's a combination of emotion. Of course we miss BG dearly. Yes, we're her teammate. We know her as a basketball player, but it goes way beyond that. We know her as a person. We know what she has given to all of our communities, given to our lives. So there's a mix between you know heartbreak, but at the same time, what we're really good at is strategizing and, you know, bringing our collective voices together so we can just continue to keep BG on the forefront


TAPPER: At her hearing today, a former Russian teammate and club director testified on her behalf. You've played overseas and in Russia during the WNBA offseason, what do you make of their support for her?

BIRD: I think it's really telling, you know, it kind of speaks to what I was just talking about with just who BG is as a person, what she's been able to give not just us here in America in the WNBA but also her club in Russia in terms of on the court performance but off the court, I believe the word that was used was energy. They miss her. I think that's really telling.

TAPPER: Would you ever go back to Russia?

BIRD: You know, it's a tough question because when you play overseas, you develop relationships and friendships, and these aren't just teammates, these become friends, they become family. So it's tricky because I have that connection, but at the same time, I don't think so. And that's really what makes it sad.

I don't think Americans will go over to the play. I don't think elite players from other countries will want to go play in Russia. And it's also impacting those Russian clubs because they probably won't be invited back to your league for a really long time. So, it's sad on many levels.

TAPPER: LeBron James recently criticized how the U.S. government is handling Brittney's detention, saying if he were her, quote, "I would be feeling like do I even want to go back to America?" What did you make of his comments?

BIRD: I know LeBron, I think we all know what LeBron meant. We all know where LeBron's heart is. I think people are making too big of it.

Thankfully, since that was taped, we have actually heard from BG directly. We know that there's a lot of progress happening. So, with that we feel good about the administration's commitment to bringing BG home. She's an American and getting her home will be a win for all of us.

TAPPER: So her name was inescapable at the WNBA All Star game this past weekend at halftime, all the players changed the jerseys with Griner's last name and her number 42. How important do you think it is for players such as yourself to continue to do everything you can to keep her name in the spotlight?

BIRD: Oh, it's so important. I think at this point, you know, it's been an evolution in terms of staying quiet at the start, then things change when when BG was considered wrongfully detained. And now we just want to make sure her name is out there that people know her story, because we want to support the administration. We want to make sure they're doing everything they can. So, some might call it a little bit of pressure, we're calling it support and we want to make sure her name is out there.

TAPPER: So Trevor Reed, the former U.S. Marine who was released in April from Russia because of a prisoner swap, he's been calling on the Biden administration to do more prisoner swaps just to get people like Brittney and Paul Whelan home. Do you agree? Does the U.S. government need to change its policy and just be much more willing to do this?

BIRD: I mean, now I'm venturing into waters that I'm not sure I am equipped for other than I know I want BG home. And I think what's what's really unique about BG's case, of course, any wrongfully detained American deserves the chance to be brought home. What's unique about BG's case is being a sports person, having played, you know, as someone who has played and traveled the world.

As a sports person, you want the ability to to travel and play and I think that's what makes this really tricky. You want the sanctity of sport to be first and foremost. But like I said, Any wrongfully detained American, of course, I would love for there to be ways for them to be brought home immediately and safely.

TAPPER: WNBA Star Sue Bird, thank you so much for joining us. It's good to see you.

BIRD: Yes, thank you. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Doctors on the frontlines now raising concerns about the unseen wounds of war. We're on the ground in Ukraine. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead now, we've been covering the physical toll of the war in Ukraine, the deaths, the injuries, but what about the mental toll, the psychological toll it's having on Ukrainians. CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Kyiv where people say the war is leading to heightened stress and anxiety, even heart attacks.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): With every Russian strike a deep crater, collapsed homes and shattered lives. The pain and the fear are palpable.

This 19-year-old told us her friends go to bed terrified and jump at every sound. This father of a six-year-old girl talks about the terror they feel but insists they will cope. But cope how? Psychologists like Dr. Camilo Garcia, who's with Doctors Without Borders, are increasingly alarmed and pessimistic about the long term effects of the daily trauma that Ukrainians are facing.

CAMILO GARCIA, MSH MENTAL HEALTH ACTIVITY MANAGER: Right now, especially in the East, we are still seeing acute phases of stress. We are expecting if we don't act that those symptoms evolve to worse or get worsen, they can evolve to anxiety disorders, depression disorders, and we will definitely see some PTSD as time passed by.

MARQUARDT (on camera): And so, over time as this war continues and we expect it to go on for quite some time, the issues are just going to compound?

GARCIA: If they don't find somewhere to work on it or if we don't provide the support, they will struggle with that.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Stress and anxiety are already having a devastating impact on Ukrainians physical health according to Olha, a doctor in a rural village near the front line.

It's making preexisting chronic diseases worse and creating others, she says. There have already been multiple heart attacks recently, and people have gone to the hospital.

The relentless sound of explosions, we're told, has also led to heart attacks amongst dogs. Dr. Alex Shtemenko has been treating patients since the last Russian invasion in 2014. He says now things are far worse.

Now it's impossible to hide from war, he says. We only have dangerous or very dangerous places. When you go towards the frontline and you meet people who you think need help, how do you convince them that they need to talk to someone when maybe it's a concept they don't even think of?

I asked them how they're doing. I'm interested in their lives, he says. That's the first step to get them to open up.

Doctors Without Borders goes into affected communities and the teams try to spark conversations about dealing with mental health, a relatively new concept and conversation here in Ukraine.

GARCIA: We don't only deal with stigma about, I'm not crazy so I'm not going to a psychologist, but also lack of knowledge. So they say like, are you going to end this? Or are you going to end the war? Or are you going to give my house back? No. So what should I work with him for?

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Experts say older Ukrainians are the most vulnerable in many ways, often living alone and reluctant to leave their homes when there's fighting and bombing.

They asked me how do I go on with my life. Why should I go on living? Because there's nothing left, Dr. Shtemenko says. My task is to answer the question to find this new meaning of life because they're asking God to take them away to let this life be over.


MARQUARDT: And very sadly, we have heard that for ourselves, Jake, where with a woman in our frontline village standing next to her bombed out home and she told us I wish it was over for me, which of course is extraordinarily difficult to hear.

Now a number of mental health initiatives have been launched in Ukraine, including a national initiative by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, who announced today that some 600,000 educators and teachers would be trained in what they're calling psychological first aid for young people, for children and adolescents. Jake?

TAPPER: Alex Marquardt in Kyiv, Ukraine, thank you so much.

Coming up, is Donald Trump planning the ultimate shake up right before the fall's midterms? Let's talk about it next.



TAPPER: Topping our politics lead today, a significant new development in the investigation into the deadly capital insurrection. The U.S. Secret Service erased text messages from January 5th and January 6th, 2021. The day before and the day of the attack on the Capitol. That's according to a letter from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general who says the texts were only deleted after they had been requested by officials investigating the Secret Service's response to the riot.

Let's discuss. Eva McKend, let's start with you. The letter does not say whether the Homeland Security Department watchdog believes they were deleted intentionally or for nefarious -- a reason. But this really looks awful and it really prompts more questions.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: It does. It's a surprising development. Something tells me we are not going to be seeing these text messages anytime soon. But what we don't know, we don't know as yet, if they were intentionally deleted, it certainly doesn't look good.

There's just going to continue to be a lot of interest about the role of the Secret Service on January 6, for good reason. Because of what we have learned thus far from the committee hearings that Vice President -- former Vice President Pence, he was nearly whisked away by the Secret Service. We want to be there and get all of these inside interactions between these officers to find out if they can corroborate some of the things that we've heard. And now we may not have that opportunity.

TAPPER: Yes, just to put a point on that. He was -- the testimony from Greg Jacob, Pence's attorney was that, Pence didn't want to get in the car, because he thought the Secret Service were going to take them away so he couldn't do his constitutional duty.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Congressman Raskin said that the most chilling six words that he has heard during this whole testimony are Pence's words to the Secret Service saying, I won't get in that car. And then explaining that if he did get in the car, who the hell knows where he would have ended up. And if he had, this might have been a completely different election in terms of how it turned out.

And so the Secret Service, let's remember, this is part of our homeland security or law enforcement, the people who take care of the President, the, you know, biggest secrets of national security, I mean, this is just scary stuff that you hear from a spy novel, to hear that this is happening as we speak. And one of the most important investigations our country has ever undergone about how close we were to losing our democracy is incredible.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, WASHINGTON JOURNALIST: We may never see the text messages, but to me and reading this, and we're just reacting to this in the moment, the most damning part of this really is the timing that had happened right after the OIG, the Office of Inspector General, had requested to see the text messages. So what is it coincidence that this was just part of some regular data cleaning house, cleaning operation that went out?

TAPPER: Yes, they said it was part of a device replacement program.

JOE WALSH, SPOKESMAN, CENTER STREET PAC: Jake, the other really interesting point is how since these hearings have begun, new information continues to come out and people want to testify and people want to be heard the information about Trump's phone call to a potential staffer. I think that's really interesting how -- and that may compel these hearings to last longer, because new information keeps coming out.


TAPPER: Yes, you're referring to specifically sources tell CNN that former President Trump tried to call a White House support staffer who is talking to the January 6 committee. The staffer did not take the call, told his attorney about it. And then you heard Congresswoman Liz Cheney talk about at the hearing.

One other point in the Secret Service that I think is interesting is that after Cassidy Hutchinson's stunning testimony, she told one hearsay story, which was told to her by a Secret Service agent turned Deputy White House Chief of Staff turned back to a Secret Service agent. And there's been this like whispering campaign that he, you know, he doesn't back her story. But --


TAPPER: -- they're -- the stuff from the Secret Service gets really fishy and murky these days.

MCKEND: It does and they're not under oath. They can -- the whisper campaign can go on as long as they want. But until they have the guts to come before the committee, and actually refute what she's saying, I mean, I think we take it with a grain of salt.

TAPPER: Yes, he did testified behind closed doors, but my understanding is he said a lot of, I do not recall, I do not recall.

PRZYBYLA: There have been some reports that potentially the person who was contacted or attempted to be contacted by the former president would have been someone who could have backed up Cassidy Hutchinson. And then we also have in these final hearings, well, let's not call them final, but --

TAPPER: Right.


PRZYBYLA: -- potentially final hearings, the possibility that Pat Cipollone will have additional information to verify what's already been.

WALSH: And it's also troubling, Jake, that a few of these Secret Service agents seemed to be loyal to Trump, even politically. That's really troubling.

TAPPER: Yes. You're not -- that's supposed to be -- you're supposed to protect them.

WALSH: Thanks them.

TAPPER: Take a bullet for them.



TAPPER: If you vote for them privately, great, but you're not supposed to put them above.

WALSH: Exactly.

CARDONA: I think that is one of the most disturbing parts of this, is that the Secret Service, right? Again, one of the most important agencies, I believe in law enforcement and then taken care of the President, and, you know, other elected officials and agencies is being politicized and being politicized in the most ugly era of this kind of investigation and conspiracy theories. And, you know, who did what and when. And, you know, the whole issue with Mike Pence is that there continues to be this sort of narrative that that could have changed the whole, you know, way this ended up in terms of if Mike Pence actually took the ride that --


CARDONA: -- the Secret Service folks had offered him.

TAPPER: And I'm sure we all agree that most people in the U.S. Secret Service are honorable --

CARDONA: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- courageous and doing their job.


TAPPER: We're talking about a few questionable characters. Joe, I have to get your reaction to this because Olivia Nuzzi has a great story in New York Magazine. And she's -- she interviewed Donald Trump. And, you know, he's clearly made his choice about whether or not he's going to run for re-election. He said, quote, "I will say my big -- I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after. You understand what that means?"

Meaning he's already decided he's going to run. The question is, does he announce it before or after the midterms?

WALSH: He wants to do announced a year ago.


WALSH: I mean, so and I think they've pushed him to try to wait until after the midterms. He's not going to, Jake. From his perspective, it's smart. He'll come out either before or after Labor Day. And if the Republicans do well, in the midterms, he'll take all the credit.

PRZYBYLA: It hasn't the entire political benefit of him waiting until after the midterms just blown up. Because he said --


PRZYBYLA: -- guess what, I'm doing it. It's just a question of whether it's before or after midterms.


PRZYBYLA: Politically, the Democrats have something out juicy --

CARDONA: I hope he does it.

PRZYBYLA: -- season, right?

CARDONA: Please do it, because then he will continue to be the focus of this. The whole issue of the 1/6 committee hearings won't go away. The thing that I think should be front and center for voters along with others, but damn it, we almost lost our democracy. And this is thanks to the former president, who aided and abetted domestic terrorists, OK, and has no remorse about it whatsoever. He is vying to be president of the United States once again.

TAPPER: It's weird either, because you'd think Republicans would want the focus to be exclusively on Biden, and on inflation and gas prices. And instead, it looks like the -- some of the focus, at least is going to be Donald Trump running for re-election. And how Republicans think that 10-year-old rape victims shouldn't be able to terminate the pregnancies.

MCKEND: Well, no doubt, Jake. Senator McConnell, many other establishment Republicans, the first things that you listed inflation gas prices, they would love that to be the issue for that to be on the ballot. But that is not going to dissuade the former president. He loves to be the number one topic, he loves to be out there. So I would imagine he thinks that he is only going to benefit Republicans up and down the ballot. But we'll have to see, we'll have to see if he decides to sort of I think throw a wrench in the midterms.


TAPPER: Does Trump announcing before the midterms help Republicans or hurt Republicans or do you think it's a wash?

PRZYBYLA: Well I would just look at history and say, it probably would be a bit of a liability considering Democrats are so eager --


PRZYBYLA: -- now to capitalize on this.

TAPPER: Right. Just look at Maria's response.

PRZYBYLA: But second --

CARDONA: Exactly.

PRZYBYLA: And secondly, I do think the abortion issue is becoming more of a stick of dynamite because all of the things --


PRZYBYLA: -- that the Republicans said wouldn't happen are actually happening pretty quickly --

CARDONA: That's right.

PRZYBYLA: -- since Roe has been overturned, which is children being raped in the news, unable to get health care that they need.


PRZYBYLA: And doctors potentially being prosecuted for helping them which we've now have that threat in Indiana that the A.G. is going to go after the doctor --

WALSH: I agree with all of that.

PRZYBYLA: -- who helped her.

WALSH: I think Trump coming out is going to rally Republicans.

MCKEND: They don't have a response to it, right? They don't --


MCKEND: -- have a cogent response to the abortion issue. They are all running scared from it. That's why we're seeing --


MCKEND: -- Congressman Jim Jordan, you're asking about this. He wants to demonize undocumented immigrants.

TAPPER: Right.

MCKEND: He wants to make this about everything else because it is. Some of the situations we're going to hear about are going to be nothing short of barbaric and they don't have a response to it.

CARDONA: I actually think it's a completely different election, frankly, than what it was a month ago.

TAPPER: Well you hope.

CARDONA: I hope. But, Jake, if you look at at some of the polling --


CARDONA: -- and actually it a lot of the polling, you're seeing a lot of the switch happening where the historic coupling of a president's approval rating that gives you what is going to happen in the midterm election, I don't think is necessarily the case this time around.

TAPPER: We will see. We will see. Absolutely. Great panel, thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you.

TAPPER: As monkeypox spreads quickly through the United States, more and more people are finding it difficult to get a vaccine. Next, we're going to hear from a man who had monkeypox. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, more than 1,000 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the United States spiking the demand for the vaccine. But many are having trouble even getting an appointment for a vaccine shot. And now New York City Mayor Eric Adams is asking the White House to delay giving the second dose so that more first shots can be administered.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a moment now to explain the threat of this virus and disturbing echoes of past public health failures.


MATT FORD, MONKEYPOX PATIENT: I started off with just a few lesions. I got intense flu like symptoms. As the flu symptoms abated, the lesions will, a, more of them start to appear and, b, they became at worst excruciatingly painful and at best, mildly irritating.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Knowing exactly what it feels like to have monkeypox, Matt Ford has taken to social media to now warn people about the virus.

FORD: This sucks and you don't want it. I've got these on my arms.

GUPTA (voice-over): But now his frustration is that even as awareness grows, those who need it might have a hard time finding a vaccine.

FORD: Supply is so low that there's not that much to go around.

GUPTA (voice-over): Since May, the number of cases in the United States has continued to grow quickly. But the two-dose JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine has been rolling out slowly.

DR. DAVID HOLLAND, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, FULTON COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH: We got an allotment of 200 vaccines and the appointments for that went in about an hour and a half.

GUPTA (voice-over): New York City Mayor Eric Adams has reached out to the White House to underscore his state's unmet demand. The two doses are usually given four weeks apart. But Mayor Adams wants the White House to consider a longer interval in between the doses. So more first doses could be administered immediately.

Right now, the CDC recommends the vaccine for high risk individuals, people who have been diagnosed with or exposed to monkeypox and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox. That means not for the general populations prevention.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The problem is we simply don't have enough vaccine. So we're trying to play catch up. We need to get vaccination to people because we know that, you know, vaccinating people may not necessarily prevent the infection, but it will certainly decrease the severity of disease.

GUPTA (voice-over): The CDC estimates this vaccine is at least 85 percent effective, giving it within four days of exposure is best to prevent the onset of disease. And even if given within 14 days of exposure, it may still reduce the symptoms.

(on-camera): I'm looking at something that I've never seen before as a doctor. I want to introduce you to Koy (ph), she's 22 years old. And what she has is an active case of monkeypox.

(voice-over): But this is not necessarily what monkeypox always looks like. For Matt Ford, the lesions started smaller, and not as obvious.

FORD: I maybe would have suspected that they were like herpes simplex virus or some other skin condition.

GUPTA (voice-over): Right now, public health officials are sounding the loudest alarms in the LGBTQ community. That's due to most cases being reported in men who have sex with men. But experts warn, the outbreak could still expand.

DEL RIO: It's a very reminiscent of the early days of HIV, right, in which it was impacting, you know, man have sex with man, the gay community in the United States. And it's almost like the general public were not paying attention. And then HIV became a disease that affected other people who've been affected everybody and then all of a sudden people got interested.


GUPTA: Jake, just to give you a little context, it was about 135,000 doses that have now been distributed to states. There's probably about a million and a half people who are eligible based on those criteria you just heard. So, you know, it's about a 10 fold shortfall here. We hear from the White House that there's about 2 million more doses that should be released by the end of the year. But, obviously, you know, we're in the middle of the outbreak now. So that's why they're discussing the possibility of just using all these doses as first doses and delaying the interval.


We talked to the CEO the company that makes the vaccine, they say that scientifically a sound proposal, you could even delay that second dose up to a couple of years. And that would give you added protection at that point as well, Jake.

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

One of the last members of the greatest generation receiving a hero's honor in Congress right now as he's laid to rest. We'll be right back with that story.


TAPPER: Finally, in our national lead, Washington solemn goodbye to the last World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Hershel Woody Williams died just over two weeks ago at the age of 98. He was a Marine honored for conspicuous gallantry fighting in the battle of Iwo Jima. President Harry Truman awarded him the highest military honor in October 1945.

Today, congressional leaders and members of the public paid their respects as Williams lay in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. What a hero. May his memory be a blessing.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. We actually read them. If you miss an episode of THE LEAD, you know what you can do? You can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, who is in "THE SITUATION ROOM".