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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden: I Raised Khashoggi Murder "At The Top Of The Meetings"; Georgia District Attorney Tells State Republican Party Chairman He Could Be Indicted In 2020 Election Probe; January 6 Committee Plans To Reach Out To Secret Service About Deleted Texts; Indiana Attorney General Says Investigation Into Doctor Is Ongoing, Even After Documents Show She Complied With Law; Airlines Struggle To Keep Up With Air Travel Surge; Large Numbers Of Migrants From Multiple Countries Arriving At U.S. Southern Border. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 15, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And, of course, you read this, and I'm going to read it again because it was so concise and potent. The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a hand shake. It was shameful, a part of the statement from the publisher and CEO of "The Washington Post."

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: All right. We will hear much more about this trip, no doubt.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our world lead. President Biden just spoke from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, moments ago after meeting with leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the man that the U.S. says ordered the murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. President Biden says he brought up Khashoggi's murder and human rights issues with MBS at the top of the meeting.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made my view crystal clear. I said very straightforwardly, for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am.


TAPPER: Still, the Saudis are rejoicing at the meeting, and President Biden's presence there at all, despite his campaign pledge to make Saudi Arabia a, quote, pariah, over Khashoggi's murder.

President Biden, in fact, greeted MBS, the country's de facto ruler, with a fist bump earlier today, neither leader answering questions from the press at the very start of their meeting.


REPORTER: Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family, sir?



TAPPER: A reminder, according to President Biden's own director of national intelligence, quote, we assess that Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, unquote. Among the reasons for that assessment, the DNI notes, that among the murderous thugs who killed "The Washington Post" columnist and then chopped him up with a bone saw, were seven members of MB', quote, elite personal protective detail, one that, quote, exists to defend the crown prince, answers only to him, and had directly participated in earlier dissident suppression operations in the kingdom and abroad at the crown prince's direction, unquote.

The report also noting, quote, the crown prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him, unquote.

Fully aware of the blowback they would face for today's fist bump with MBS, the White House kept the details under wraps until last night. President Biden denied the sit-down would happen in the days leading up to the visit.


BIDEN: I'm not going to meet with MBS. I'm going to an international meeting and he's going to be a part of it.


TAPPER: CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live for us in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Kaitlan, President Biden clearly wanting to take control of the narrative after the barrage of criticism over not only the greeting and meeting with MBS, but the fist bump.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Also, Saudi had really had all the stage craft here, Jake. They were the ones set up when the fist bump took place. U.S. reporters weren't present when that happened. They really had so much control over this, handing out photos of Biden and the Saudi crown prince walking into this meeting.

And so, I do think that played a role in these last-minute remarks you saw from President Biden given it's 11:00 at night here in Jeddah, when he decided to come out and give a summary of what happened in that meeting.

And Jake, he started with a list of what he thought they accomplished. He said he believed it was extensive and they got a lot of ground covered in that meeting. And I'll get to those accomplishments in the minute. But, of course, the main questions were about Jamal Khashoggi and whether or not his death, his murder was raised during that meeting.

And at the end of his remarks, the president said that was one of the first things he raised in this meeting. He said later on that the Saudi crown prince denied personal responsibility in that. Of course, U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed he authorized the murder of the journalist.

And I want to take a pause here to note that is also something that former president Trump told us, that MBS had denied personal responsibility, and Trump said at the time, maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Biden says he relayed to MBS that he does believe he was personally responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder. He said he did push back when the crown prince denied any culpability on that front. That certainly is notable.

Reporters also asked him, Jake, though, you know, how could he be sure that the Saudi crown prince won't be complicit in another murder like he was with Jamal Khashoggi's, and President Biden was pretty candid. He said he cannot be sure that's not something he will do again.

He did laugh off a question about the criticism that he's gotten for that seemingly friendly fist bump that he had with the crown prince as he arrived to go into the meeting that lasted for nearly three hours at the palace.


And one other thing I want to note because he was asked about criticism from Jamal Khashoggi's fiance saying that she believed Biden has blood on his hands for the next murder that the crown prince commits. The president said he is sorry she feels that way, but clearly he does not share that, Jake. So, that is really notable given that that was such a part of the meeting and obviously a very sensitive subject and the White House had not said before directly that Biden would bring it up, and he did bring it up, he says. It was very crystal clear on his feelings.

On the accomplishments he says he feels they gained extensive ground, and that's really notable in and of itself because when you heard him on the campaign trail, Jake, he did not sound they could have a workable relationship, and now he says they talked about the cease- fire in Yemen, they talked threats to Saudi Arabia from Iran, and the things American consumers will want to know most, they talked about oil.

And the president did not say explicitly what is going to happen, but he does expect an announcement to happen in the coming weeks, and when he was asked when Americans could see it affect their gas prices, he predicted in a couple weeks, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, thanks.

I want to bring in CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson who is also in Jeddah for today's meetings.

Nick, before we get to your analysis, I want to read this from the publisher and CEO of "The Washington Post," Fred Ryan. "The Washington Post," of course, the former employer of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He said the fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman, MBS, the crown prince, was worse than a handshake, it was shameful. It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.

So, Nick, we heard President Biden list what he feels they accomplished today. Do you think this was ultimately worth it in terms of the accomplishments he listed?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's a very big question to answer in a short way, Jake. But let me lay out a couple points here. Before I came here to Saudi, I talked to a couple of opposition activists. They're not in the country because it wouldn't be safe for them to be in the country.

They both believe that unless President Biden confronted Mohammed bin Salman directly on the issue of Jamal Khashoggi, unless he did that directly, then that would have no impact at all.

One of the people I spoke to was Lina Hathloul, I'm naming her because a lot of people will be familiar with her sister, Loujain Hathloul, who President Biden pressured the crown prince to release early last year. She was released. She's still in Saudi. She can't leave the country. Her parents can't leave the country.

And her sister spoke very eloquently to this point. That anything less than calling Mohammed bin Salman out will fail. She said this is the only way that the United States can seek and expect to have any kind of pressure, and she said it can have pressure. President Biden's pressure has worked before.

But the United States needs to keep it going and keep leaning on MBS. And in that respect, these opposition activists, both would assess therefore that Biden has gone the distance in this first meeting. A lot more to go, but making very clear on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

I think on the other achievements, these are been things we have been hearing from the Saudis. They no longer want to be seen as a gas spigot for the world, but privately, they have been saying, look at what OPEC Plus has been doing. There have been increases in the past few months and there will be increases to come.

So, what -- my takeaway from that is this is a type of diplomacy the White House was talking about best done behind closed doors and not have the Saudis feel that they are getting stuff like the redemption, if you will, of MBS, through that fist bump for free. They don't want the notion that they're being used as a gas spigot.

But clearly, there is going to be an increase of output of gas and oil from Saudi Arabia. So I think there was something of a gain in there. Would it have happened if President Biden hadn't come here? It's not clear.

But what the Saudis have desperately wanted is this reset and is the engagement of President Biden because they want the relationship first and foremost with the United States, not China, not Russia.

TAPPER: Nic Robertson in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, I want to start with your reaction to what president Biden said he told the Saudi crown prince. Was that enough, do you think?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Jake, no one has as strong a record in the Senate, as vice president and president as Joe Biden on human rights. And I did not get to hear his press conference. I was on my way in here to the studio.


But from what I have been able to pick up in the last few minutes listening to your broadcast, I am encouraged. I fully expected him to directly and up front at the beginning of the meeting raise with MBS the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, tell the crown prince that our intelligence community has concluded that he is responsible, and to going forward sustain pressure on the Saudi kingdom, on their leadership, on MBS, for a change in their human rights practices.

There are many other concerns we have had over the years about the war in Yemen, about domestic policy, about their regional influence. But the Jamal Khashoggi murder really crystallized long standing concerns that many of us in Congress and in the American government have had about Saudi conduct, and I'm -- from what I have heard so far, I'm encouraged that president Biden directly and right at the front of that meeting raised his grave concerns.

He said this both as a candidate and as president, that he sees that the conduct of MBS and the role of the Saudi kingdom in this particular brutal killing was beyond the pale, was despicable, and I would expect that we will continue to balance advocating our core principles around human rights with the sustained partnership with the Saudis that is critical for us to sustain the unity of the West that President Biden has played such a central role in pulling together in the months since Russia invaded Ukraine --

TAPPER: So, Senator, first of all, Joe Biden when he was running for president, he said he was going to turn Saudi Arabia into a pariah nation. Okay? He said he was going to turn Saudi Arabia into a pariah nation.

He flew to Saudi Arabia, and he fist bumped Mohammed bin Salman, the man responsible, according to Biden's own director of national intelligence, for ordering a brutal murder of a "Washington Post" journalist, killing him and then dismembering him with a bone saw.

I mean, that fist bump photograph, I think a lot of Americans saw that and were revolted by it.

COONS: What I'm revolted by is what I saw in Bucha and what is a brutal and tough choice that our president faces is the path forward. When Russians are committing horrific human rights abuses every day in Ukraine, when the unity of the West and NATO is at risk, if we cannot secure additional resources for the gas and oil needs to replace Russian oil and gas in the coming months, and bluntly, our president faced a tough choice.

The only three countries that have significant untapped reserves are Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. And I think our president made a tough choice but one I can respect as long as he continues to raise and press human rights issues.

Absolutely, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi was horrifying. I would rather not be on this show saying that our president went and met with MBS. But given the situation we're in in the world today, given what changed on February 24th, given what we all know about the ongoing murders, the brutal killing of innocent civilians happening every single day in Ukraine, I support our president.

TAPPER: The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi tweeted this in response to the fist bump photo. It says, quote, what Jamal Khashoggi would tweet today. And then there is a tweet from Khashoggi, saying hey, POTUS, president of the United States, is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS' next victim is on your hands.

The president's response to that was to say he was sorry that Khashoggi's fiancee felt that way.

What do you say to her?

COONS: Well, I hope to have a chance to talk with her directly. I know that senior White House officials did meet with her before this trip. And I think it is important that we listen to Jamal Khashoggi's widow, fiancee as you describe her, those in the journalism community, those in the Saudi dissident and Diaspora community who find this a profoundly offensive moment and are gravely concerned about what comes next.

I do think that engagement with MBS at a moment when he was making a choice between leaning more towards the west or leaning far further towards Russia and China, was a hard choice but one where I trust our president to sustain his commitment to human rights and to do the best thing he can in a tough circumstance.

TAPPER: Saudi activist Lina al-Hathloul who was on the show yesterday, she helped get her sister out of Saudi prison. Her sister leading human rights marches and efforts in Saudi Arabia so that women can drive, because women are treated as if they are minors in Saudi Arabia.


They do not enjoy the rights of men in any way, shape, or form. She told me yesterday that no matter what happens in these meetings and we'll see how big these accomplishments end up being, it's already a win for MBS. Take a listen.


LINA AL-HATHLOUL, SAUDI ACTIVIST: The important thing is how MBS perceives it. For him, it's a big win. Biden is coming to Saudi Arabia. He has -- you know, he completed all this scandal with a big win. Finally, Biden is coming to see him. And so, he will be involved after that. He will feel like he's being rehabilitated and that no one will hold him to account after all these crimes.


TAPPER: As you know, Senator, the Saudis are the ones, the royal crown prince's photographer, they're the ones who took the photo of the fist bump. U.S. journalists were not allowed to be there. They put it out on the Internet almost immediately. They love this.

What do you see happening today? What accomplishments make it worth it?

COONS: Jake, that's the thing we're going to have to watch closely in the weeks ahead. What matters about this trip to Israel, to the West Bank, to the Gulf, the whole series of meetings President Biden has had across several days, across several countries, is what comes next. What concrete and positive steps are taken to push back on Iran's aggression through their proxies in the region? What steps are taken to try and help reconcile Israel and some of its regional neighbors, and what steps are taken to further open Saudi society or to embolden MBS in a negative way?

I think that all is yet to be seen. So, it's tough to gauge this meeting today, just a few moments after it concluded. I'm not going to measure it just based on a photo op. I'm going to measure it based on what happens in the days and months ahead.

I am someone who, like President Biden, is committed to making human rights central to our foreign policy. But who also recognizes that there are human rights violations in countries all over the world, and we need to be strong. We need to be able to deliver to our allies in Europe and to the American people an answer to inflation and to prices at the pump and to a positive path forward.

When MBS first came into a position of power in the Saudi Kingdom, he had a very ambitious proposal for how to reform the kingdom. And as the months and years went by, many of us in initially concern and then horror saw their conduct in Yemen and then ultimately the killing of Jamal Khashoggi made us conclude this was not a redeemable regime.

President Biden chose to open a door for a path forward for them today. We have to see how they conduct themselves. How in particular MBS conducts himself.

This has not wiped away the permanent stain on MBS and on the Saudis of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The entire world is going to watch what happens in the months and years ahead. And I for one intend to watch closely whether they make any positive changes or whether they are simply as the activist you just cited put it, emboldened to continue with bad behavior.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Chris Coons from Delaware, thanks for your time.

We have a lot going on this Friday. Coming up, a warning to the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party about an indictment that might be in his future.

Then, will Sri Lanka have a government next week? A look at the week of political chaos.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We are back with our politics lead. A Georgia county district attorney told the state Republican Party chairman he could possibly be indicted as part of her investigation into Donald Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Georgia party chairman, David Shafer, acted as a pro-Trump elector in Georgia, and helped organize that slate of fake, fraudulent electors.

CNN's Sara Murray is here.

Sara, what might this mean?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it remains to be seen.

Sources tell me and Zach Cohen, my colleagues that he did receive what is known as a target letter, essentially explaining you're a target of this investigation. It's possible you could face an indictment. You know, we don't know if that could be imminent, if that could be down the road. We also don't know if the district attorney wants something else from him that she hasn't gotten so far in order to avoid indictment.

Initially, he had been cooperating with the prosecutors there. He was under the impression he was a witness in this investigation and he was sharing information with them about his role as a pro-Trump elector, about, you know, his efforts in sort of organizing this slate of electors. I think the people around him felt like he hadn't done anything wrong because he made public at the time they were trying to do this in case Donald Trump somehow managing to win in court.

But it is clear he has some legal exposure. What is unclear is whether he could actually face an indictment. Obviously, we know the D.A. there is chugging ahead in this investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Also in our politics lead, CNN exclusively reporting that the Department of Homeland Security inspector general briefed the special committee investigating the January 6th insurrection today regarding the U.S. Secret Service erasing text messages that were sent both the day before and the day of the January 6th Capitol attack.

The inspector general says the texts were deleted after they had been requested as part of its watchdog investigation into the insurrection.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us.

Jessica, we're now learning that the January 6th committee is hoping to question the Secret Service about these texts. Tell us more.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they just wanted more information here because they're really concerned about this different version of events that is emerging between the inspector general and the Secret Service. So committee members got that briefing from the IG today.

So, now, they want the Secret Service to explain why these texts from January 5th and January 6th aren't accessible. So here's what the IG revealed about that in a letter to congressional committees this week. He put it this way, saying many U.S. Secret Service text messages from January 5th and 6th, 2021, were erased as part of a device replacement program.


The U.S. Secret Service erased those text messages after OIG quested them from the Secret Service as part of our evaluation of events at the Capitol on January 6th.

The Secret Service, though, is pushing back, saying that any implication that the erasures were malicious is just wrong, and they said this in a statement. DHS, OIG requested electric communications for the first time on February 26th, 2021 after the migration was well under way. The Secret Service notified DHS-OIG of the loss of certain phones' data but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration.

So, the Secret Service pushing back on this. They also say that they have been cooperative. They said they handed over 800,000 emails, nearly 8,000 Microsoft teams chat messages, but our team has learned the inspector general went directly on multiple occasions to DHS Secretary Mayorkas to complain that the IG just wasn't getting the information he needed for a review of the Secret Service conduct over January 6th.

So, Jake, now the committee is pressing for answers, saying they need to hear from Secret Service.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Joining us to discuss is Ron Brownstein. He's a CNN political analyst and a senior editor for "The Atlantic Magazine".

Ron, I want to start with this reporting that the Georgia district attorney, this district attorney in Georgia, rather, is telling the state GOP chair he could possibly be indicted in the state's election probe.

What does this tell you about the investigation in Georgia?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's kind of remarkable, right, that the Georgia Fulton County D.A. with all of the vast resources of that office seems to be further ahead than the Justice Department in examining the potential criminal liability on aspects of this. I mean, it is -- it is important. They do seem to be serious down there in terms of looking at the extensive efforts that Trump and his allies made both to overturn the election in Georgia and also to promote this fake elector scheme.

It really, to me, it kind of underscores one of the broadest conclusions I think coming out of the January 6th investigation is how broad this was. How widespread there was willingness to go along inside the Republican Party with Trump's efforts to overturn the election.

TAPPER: There's also this new reporting you heard from Jessica about the U.S. Secret Service erasing text messages shortly after they were requested by the Inspector General's Office of the Department of Homeland Security. What do you make of that?

BROWNSTEIN: First of all, I think it's the same story. You know, one of the things, if you think about January 6th, our kind of initial conception of it, it was almost as if it was a kind of a random eruption of kind of Trumpian willfulness and volatility, and in fact, what we learned is that it was the culmination, as Liz Cheney said at the first hearing, of a multi-pronged, multi-month effort that included legal activities. It included political activities.

It in effect had a paramilitary arm with the insurrection itself and the riot at the capitol itself, and bled down into the states in a way we were just talking about. The thought that there are questions about what the Secret Service was doing on that day and whether they are being fully forthright about what agents were communicating with each other, again, it just to me underscores the enormity of what we are witnessing. I think the Senate -- excuse me, the House is going to want to get much more understanding of exactly what was said and what kind of records have been destroyed.

TAPPER: There have been some Secret Service individuals who have testified behind closed doors. My understanding is at least one of them, Tony Ornato, gave a lot of "I do not recall" answers when asked. The committee Chairman Bennie Thompson tells CNN that he wants the Secret Service to testify before the committee. I assume in an open hearing under oath and live.

Do you think that will happen?

BROWNSTEIN: I think the general practice has been usually to interview people on camera first before they put them in front of the country. Look, I don't know.

Right now, the only hearing that I think we're guaranteed is the hearing next week. But it is clear, Jake, as this has gone on, right, it's not as if the areas of inquiry are narrowing. They're expanding.

You're seeing more connections, broader involvement, issues about witness tampering, about cover-up. And I think they are going to be investigating and turning over stones and finding serious information right up until the last hour they have, if Democrats lose control of the House in November.

TAPPER: There's a D.C. police officer who was apparently corroborating at least some of the testimony of what Cassidy Hutchinson says she heard from Tony Ornato after the confrontation between the Secret Service and President Trump in the presidential SUV.


Let's take a listen to just an excerpt of what she told the committee about what Tony Ornato had told her happened.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now. To which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.


TAPPER: Bobby is Bobby Engel, the president's Secret Service agent at that moment and apparently Tony Ornato told Cassidy Hutchinson that story in front of Bobby Engel.

Now, since she testified, there's been some back and forth about the heated exchange Trump actually had with the Secret Service detail when they told him he could not go to the Capitol. Now you have at least some corroboration from a D.C. police officer.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, and look, we also have -- look, we know her credibility as a witness, based on what we were told at the hearing this week is bolstered by the fact there's not appeared to be that Pat Cipollone disputed significant parts of her testimony regarding him. So she's already being corroborated in one area of her testimony. And I think that at the moment gives her the benefit of the doubt over someone who has not been in public and as you say, has a lot of "I don't recalls".

Whether Trump grabbed for the steering wheel or not, the fact he wanted to go to the capitol when he knew the crowd was armed and could only be a source of further kind of inflaming of the situation, I think it is significant. And beside the legal question, there is a political question of what is all of this meaning for his prospects in 2024. And I do believe that the revelations of the January 6th committee, not to mention the events of January 6th themselves that we all saw in real time, have had an effect on him.

I mean, they're not cratering his support. The bottom is not going to fall out, but whether they lowered the ceiling a couple points, I think is a very real prospect. We saw in the poll this week, "New York Times"/Siena poll, 55 percent, 56 percent of Americans say that he went so far as to endanger American democracy; 20 percent of Republicans, maybe not an overwhelming number, but a significant one in terms of whether people would be willing to entrust him with the power of the presidency again.

And you know, we're getting reports at the same time that he's more likely to run because it makes it tougher for either Georgia or the Justice Department to indict him.

TAPPER: Yeah. Ron Brownstein, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Always good to see you.

Coming up next, the Indiana doctor who performed an abortion for that 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio is now responding to the legal threats coming from the attorney general of Indiana.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the attorney general in Indiana says his office is investigating the physician who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been raped and impregnated by her rapist and had to travel to Indiana for the procedure because Ohio's laws are so restrictive now after Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us live.

And, Jean, how is this all playing out in Indiana?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was supposed to be the story, what you just said, but the attorney general of Indiana came out earlier this week saying that the doctor who had performed this medical abortion, that she wasn't following protocol with the mandatory reporting. And that has continued. And he says that investigation is ongoing.

We just got some brand-new documentation, and it is from the attorney representing Dr. Caitlin Bernard. It's directed to the attorney general of Indiana, Todd Rokita. It is a cease and desist letter saying for he to stop immediately spreading these mistruth statements about Dr. Bernard, that it constitutes defamation per se and that they are asking him to not say anything out of the scope of his official position because then it will form the basis of a defamation action.

Well, what we did at CNN, we went to the Illinois -- the Indiana state health department and were able to obtain public records. Of course, there's a lot of things that are blacked out and you cannot see, but there is a listing of abortion procedures. On June 30th, it says a procedure was performed of a 10-year-old girl.

The documentation is there. That is sent by the doctor. She did it within three days as it required for a minor. So, that seems to be foolproof there.

We have reached out to the attorney general of Indiana for response to this letter. Have not received anything. But I want to tell you quickly an update to the legal case because that is important too. This is a 10-year-old girl. They are currently doing forensic DNA testing of the fetus to confirm the DNA identity, because Fuentes was charged based on his confession and her ID. This would be forensic analysis confirmation.

TAPPER: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

Coming up, a high-flying headache. What airports you may want to avoid as more airline problems mount.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead, the summer pain of flight cancellations is far from over. Bad weather is forecasted at major hubs this weekend. To date, airlines in the U.S. have canceled more than 100,000 flights this year alone.

CNN's Pete Muntean takes a look at which airports are facing the most issues.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With storms threatening already jammed U.S. airports, the summer of travel pain could get even worse this weekend. New data shows airlines have canceled 30,000 flights nationwide since Memorial Day.

A Flight Aware analysis for CNN shows Newark topping the charts, where 8 percent of all flights have been canceled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight percent is pretty high.


MUNTEAN: Florida airports take three of the top ten spots for flight delays. A third of all flights from Orlando have been delayed this summer.

KATHLEEN BANGS, FLIGHT AWARE SPOKESWOMAN: The pain is not spread out evenly. Some airports have much bigger problems than others.

MUNTEAN: This new breakdown comes as passengers are packing planes at levels not seen since before the pandemic. But short staffed airlines say the federal government is also short staffed at air travel control facilities.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: New York, Newark, and Florida really are air traffic control challenges. There's different issues at some other airlines but those two places are really struggling.

MUNTEAN: The FAA puts blame back on airline staffing issues as well as bad weather and heavy air traffic.


At its round the clock command center in Virginia, the FAA showed us how Florida air space can become clogged with flights like a travel jam on a highway.

JOHN LUCIA, NATIONAL TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT OFFICER, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: If you have a couple thunderstorms right over the center of the state, now you have limitations on where you can go. If you want to get there on time, try to get there before lunch.

MUNTEAN: Airlines argued $50 billion in pandemic aid would make them ready for this rebound. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tells CNN he's seeing improvements but still expects airlines to do better.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We're counting on airlines to deliver for passengers and to be able to service the tickets that they sell.


MUNTEAN (on camera): United Airlines says the problems at Newark are so bad because there are simply too many flights scheduled here for the airport to handle. In fact, United is even scaling back its summer flying here, but the problems go beyond Newark, Jake. LaGuardia, Reagan National, Raleigh, and Cleveland round out the top five for cancellations since Memorial Day -- Jake.

TAPPER: Pete Muntean in Newark, New Jersey, thanks so much.

Coming up next, we're on the ground along the U.S./Mexico border with a look at how the migrant border crossings are presenting a new problem for the Biden administration.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, hundreds of migrants in search of a better life are arrested daily along the U.S. southern border as they attempt to cross into the United States illegally. For those arrests and other potentially deadly risks do not apparently dissuade them from making the dangerous journey.

President Biden met with the president of Mexico this week as part of an effort to work with foreign countries to help curb mass migration into the United States.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez reports now from Yuma, Arizona, on who's arriving at the border.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mass migration is landing at the U.S. doorstep.

With conditions getting worse in their countries of origin, migrants are arriving in droves, relieved as they cross the border.

Sometimes the situation at home eliminates any possibilities, she says. In this part of the border, U.S. authorities arrest up to 1,000 migrants daily. The influx is an alarming trend made even more difficult by the nationalities of the people crossing the border.

Here past midnight in Yuma, hundreds of migrants have crossed into the U.S. and turned themselves over to Border Patrol. They come from a range of countries, including as far as Russia. They all, after speaking with them, said the same thing. They are looking for a better life here in the United States.

Yuma Border Patrol chief Chris Clem described the situation as dynamic.

CHRIS CLEM, YUMA SECTOR CHIEF PATROL OFFICER, U.S. BORDER PATROL: We are having countries from Mexico, Central America, things we could process and take biometric data and put them in proceedings and/or return them back to Mexico. The countries we are receiving now, those nationalities, are flying in, arriving to the border. And, you know, they're having to be processed. There are just so many of them it is posing a challenge to the workforce.

ALVAREZ: Authorities can turn back migrants at the southwest border, back to Mexico or their home countries under a Trump era pandemic rule, known as Title 42. But it doesn't apply to everyone. That couple with frosty relations with countries like Venezuela and Cuba, keeps the U.S. from removing certain people, meaning they might be released while going through immigration proceedings.

CLEM: With technology and resources not only for our agents but also for the overall mission, and former surveillance systems, and then we continue to add to the processing and the humane care of the migrants in custody. Wrap-around medical services, food contracts to make sure that we've got plenty of food to be able to take care of those in custody.

ALVAREZ: The pace of people journeying north presents a steep challenge for President Biden and one he raised with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of those is migration, at historic levels throughout our hemisphere. Like us, Mexico has become a top destination of migrants. And here's what we're going to do to address it together. ALVAREZ: The U.S. has looked to countries further south for help,

including Costa Rica, where many migrants travel through. An agreement between the two obtained by CNN outlines commitments to strengthen enforcement, exchange information on migrant flows, and stabilize host communities.

Biden continues to face political pressure from Republicans who say he is not doing enough. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation to shore up funds for border security, and following the example set by Texas has sent 25 buses with migrants to Washington, D.C.

Even so, people continue to come with hope of a new life on the horizon.


ALVAREZ (on camera): And, Jake, just this morning, we saw similar scenes play out as migrants lined up along the wall behind me. The sector chief tells me that he expects to reach 250,000 arrests in the coming days here in Yuma sector. So far this fiscal year, that would surpass all of the last fiscal year -- Jake.

TAPPER: Priscilla Alvarez in Yuma, Arizona, thank you so much for that report.

Coming up next, we're live at the world's largest truck stop, yes, that's a thing, to see just how a critical part of America's economy is being hit hard by inflation.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, acres of crops that once fed the world now are just fields of destruction. How do you feed a country hammered by war? Chef and philanthropist Jose Andres joins us live.

Plus, say it ain't so, Joe. Senator Joe Manchin doing it again, shooting a figurative bullet through Democrats' climate change agenda.

And leading this hour, economic good news, economic bad news. Americans say they're feeling slightly better about the economy compared to last month when sentiment was at an all-time low. Inflation remains excruciatingly painful for most Americans.