Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Devastating Heat Disrupts Activity Across The World; Biden Considering Executive Action On Climate Change; Survey: Nearly 20 Percent Of U.S. Stations Selling Gas For $3.99 A Gallon; Economic Consequences Of Abortion Bans Could Be Devastating For Low-Income Women; President Biden Moves To Improve Efforts To Free American Detainees, Hostages; National Archives Asks To Explain Potentially Deleted Secret Service Texts From January 6. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 19, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I mean, just that guy passing by saves these five.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And how can he be that brave? I mean, first of all, it's a house on fire, and he runs back in when he hears there's a 6-year-old trapped inside. And he gets her.

So he used to be a delivery man. I'm not sure what he will be in the future, but he will have job offers.

BLACKWELL: He's a superhero today.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, it's summer. Yes, it's supposed to be hot, but it is never been like this.

THE LEAD starts right now. Extreme heat alerts in 21 countries in Europe and more than 100 million people in the U.S. also in danger zones. Disasters sparked by the climate crisis now threatening your travel, your food supply, and quite literally, even your life.

Plus, while moving to ban abortion outright, one state is leaving lower income pregnant women with few resources, little support, and almost nowhere to turn.

And a theme park apology after a costumed character appeared to snub two little black girls. Mother's response right here on CNN as the park called the incident a misunderstanding.


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

And we start in our earth matters series. Half of humanity is in a climate danger zone. That is the message today from the very top of the United Nations and the record temperatures many of you are feeling right now are just a symptom, multiple heat waves across the globe are creating a series of crises.

Just look at this video from London. A row of houses on fire, officials say because of the heat.

The London fire brigade says they have never seen weather related incidents, quote, on this scale before.

In Spain, in France, in Italy, wildfires spreading rapidly. The flames on top of an extreme drought in Italy, destroying crops, which could cut off a source of food this fall. In major cities, travel disrupted, trains and flights canceled over and over, due to the heat and causing a global ripple effect.

In Portugal, "Reuters" is now reporting that hundreds have died because of the soaring temperatures. There are, of course, extreme heat issues here in the United States as well. Dallas and Oklahoma City reached 109 degrees today. Again, this is a global problem. Just look at the heat map. Mexico, Central America, Brazil saturated in red.

Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East in an even deeper shade of red. India and parts of the Southeast Pacific are in orange. All of those colors, signs of crippling and dangerous heat.

This heat devastation is evidence, as if you need more of it, that climate change is here and is a crisis -- what scientists and activists have been warning about for decades.


DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, AUTHOR, "THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH": We knew these temperatures were coming. We might not have known 2022, but we knew they were coming.


TAPPER: What we are experiencing right now is a crisis. A crisis there are not 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to try to even remotely address. From London to Washington, D.C. and throughout the U.S., CNN has teams positioned around the world to cover these devastating temperatures.

Let's start with CNN's Lucy Kafanov, who is in Denver and is tracking how the city and much of the U.S. is trying to cope with this blistering heat.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One more million Americans baking under heat alerts that cover 20 states. The Plains from the Dakotas down to Texas getting the worst of it, forecast highs of 110, feeling as high as 115.

The extreme heat fueling fires in Texas. This one west of Ft. Worth burned more than 500 acres and damaged some buildings. Just to the south, the chalk mountain fire tripled in size overnight, burning more than 4,000 acres.

The searing temperatures in Texas straining the power grid. ERCOT, which operates most of the state's power, reporting more than 30 days of record use since May. It's the same power system that failed in polar opposite weather, the winter of 2021.

TRAVIS HOUSTON, DALLAS ASSISTANT MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR: I'm less concerned about a failure. There are a lot of differences between this event and the winter storm. After that event, we purchased a number of mobile HVAC systems. So, if we do start losing power and we have folks that are using the cooling centers, we can get there quickly and start supplying them with cold air.

KAFANOV: In Paris, Arkansas, storms knocked out power, leaving residents to fight the heat without air conditioning. Even for those who live and work in the heat, it could be extremely dangerous.

Watch as this UPS worker collapses on the front porch in Scottsdale, Arizona, while delivering a package. The company says he's okay. Experts say if you must be in the heat, hydrate before it's too late.


CAPT. EVAN GAMMAGE, PHOENIX FIRE DEPARTMENT: It only takes a matter of minutes. And, by the time that your body stops sweating, you're getting nauseous, you're getting light-headed, you're behind the curve.

KAFANOV: Heat is the number one cause of weather deaths in the U.S. and as much of the northern hemisphere experiences similar record heat, experts say climate change can't be ignored.

WALLACE-WELLS: We're talking about weather events we probably would have expected to see a decade or two down the line, but what's more striking than that, I think, is how poorly we're preparing and adapting because we knew these temperatures were coming.

KAFANOV: As the nation's midsection seeks relief, much of the East Coast is up next.

Boston declaring a heat emergency today through at least Thursday. By tomorrow, New York and Philadelphia forecast to join Boston with temps in the 90s. Add in the humidity and it could feel like 100 degrees for tens of millions of people.


KAFANOV (on camera): And even before today, it's already been a sweltering summer that shattered heat records across the U.S. and unfortunately not much relief coming in the coming days. The climate prediction center forecasts above average dangerous temperatures will prevail through most of next week for much of the lower 48 states -- Jake.

TAPPER: Lucy Kafanov in Denver, thank you so much. Today was the hottest day ever recorded over most of Western Europe,

21 countries in Europe under a heat alert, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees in many places.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo is in London where the city who had prior to 2019 had only experienced 100-degree heat once, is now seeing triple digit temperatures annually.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): London commuters made it through the UK's hottest ever night and braced for its hottest ever day. For the first time since records began, temperatures here soared above 40 degrees Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit. It's the only time authorities have issued a red warning for extreme heat.

PENNY ENDERSBY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UK MET OFFICE: Here in the U.K., we're used to treating hot spell as a chance to play in the sun. This is not that sort of weather.

NOBILO: It's the sort of weather that leads to death, the government is warning. Police say at least three teenagers have drowned after getting into rivers and ponds to cool off. Airport runways are melting. Wheat is being harvested early and dry fields are vulnerable to fire. London's fire brigade declared a major incident on Tuesday because of a, quote, huge surge in fires across the capital.

The sun is even buckling train tracks, leading to mass cancellations. For a country more used to complaining about rainy summers where air conditioning at home is rare, it may be the new normal.

GRANT SHAPPS, UK TRANSPORT SECRETARY: Infrastructure much of which was built from the Victorian Times, just wasn't built to withstand this type of temperature. And it will be many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could, because the temperatures are so extreme.

NOBILO: Nine of the ten hottest British days have been recorded since 1990. The British government estimates these extreme temperatures have been made ten times more likely by humans' impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government isn't doing nothing, and in fact, the world is doing nothing. I mean, the world is burning, and we are doing nothing about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have never had this kind of heat, so why would be prepared?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we just have to adapt. Our homes have to change, our way of life has to change.

NOBILO: The change may be necessary even in countries more accustomed to extreme summers.

Wildfires are raging across southern Europe from Spain to France to Portugal, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes. People are growing desperate. In Spain's northwest region, a man

drives an excavator across burning fields in a desperate attempt to dig a trench and safeguard his town. Within seconds, flames engulf his machine. He dives for safety, running with a close singe off his back.

The EU now says nearly half of Europe including the UK is at risk of drought. Record temperatures were set across western France this week. Ireland was the hottest in a century, and Germany is next. As south to north, Europe sizzles.


NOBILO (on camera): Jake, there were so many emergencies in London today that the London fire brigade ran out of all their fire engines. I'm at the site of one of those fires where I have seen in the last couple minutes another six fire engines go behind me where they're still trying to struggle to contain a fire burning around 100 acres.

I have been speaking to people here who have lost their homes, who are trying to rescue their animals, who never imagined in this country they would be witnessing this kind of fire and this kind of heat. But luckily in the last few moments, finally some respite because it's just started to feel some droplets of rain.

TAPPER: All right. Bianca Nobilo in London, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Taking action after West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin torpedoed President Biden's chances of passing climate provisions in Congress.


Biden said he's not going to back down. The president is now considering taking executive action this week to try to address the climate crisis.

MJ Lee is at the White House right now.

MJ, tomorrow President Biden is traveling to Massachusetts, we're told he's going to deliver remarks on the climate crisis.

Do you know what specifically he's planning to address?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, first of all, this is, of course, not an unfamiliar position for the president to be in, to meet resistance on a top legislative priority on Capitol Hill, and then having to really resort to executive actions. All of this, of course, after Senator Manchin indicating over the weekend that he's a no go, at least for the time being, on a climate legislation that Democrats have been working on for weeks, because he is worried about inflation.

Now, the White House's public posturing for the time being is they're keeping their eyes forward. If legislation is not going to come together, then the president is going to take executive actions. Now, you mentioned that the president is going to be traveling to Massachusetts tomorrow. We expect him to appear at a former coal plant that is being transformed into a wind energy farm.

We do expect that he could talk about some of these executive actions that he is considering but for the time being the White House has not released details or a firm timeline for when he wants to make those announcements -- Jake.

TAPPER: What do we know about the talk in Washington that the president is considering declaring a national climate emergency?

LEE: Well, the White House is basically saying that no option is off the table, that everything is on the table for now to deal with climate change. But we don't expect that this is going to be the announcement that we hear from the president in Massachusetts tomorrow.

But basically, what it would do is allow the federal government to have more resources too, have more leeway to deal with climate change related issues. So certainly, this is just one way in which the federal government and the executive branch could take action in lieu of Congress not being able to reach a deal. We know that the pressure is only going to grow after talks with Senator Manchin basically broke down over this weekend, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

You have likely noticed gas prices are dropping. But for how long and how far will they drop? And could the drop help bring down other sky- high prices during this era of inflation?

And we'll talk to a senior White House aide who's advising President Biden next, and preemptive strike. President Biden's new actions to get ahead of another country that may try to take another American hostage.

Why some families of those already detained call his efforts a distraction.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead now, despite the sweltering heat, gas prices are cooling off a bit. The advertised price at most U.S. gas stations is just barely under the $4 mark. Nearly 20 percent show $3.99 a gallon right now, according to a U.S. gas analysis.

CNN's Pete Muntean is at a gas station in northern Virginia for us right now.

Pete, should drivers worry that prices might spike again?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the relief might only be temporary, according to top experts, even though the drops have been pretty dramatic. Seventeen states have seen their gas prices fall by about 50 cents in the last month. That include here in Virginia, $4.55 at this station in Alexandria. That is above the national average which is $4.50. We have seen it slip two cents overnight according to AAA.

Think about where we were a month ago. The national average for a gallon of regular was $4.98. And gas really peaked on June 14th at $5.02.

Now, according to Gas Buddy, the top price you will see in the most stations nationwide, the most common price is $3.99. What is happening here, the reason for all of this, is that the price of crude is now going down because there is global recession fears out there, even still, and that has caused fears to go up that demand for gas could crater.

I want you to listen to drivers who are fine with the relief in the short term.


UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER: Right now, it's ridiculous. At this time, and my husband being a truck driver, so right now, he's paying like at least $600, $700, traveling back and forth.

UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER: I'm glad the gas went down because it's making people feel a whole lot better.

REPORTER: How much lower do you want it to go?

UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER: I'll say probably in the $2 range. You know, $2.50, $2.75, people would be satisfied.


MUNTEAN: Unlikely we'll see $2.50 or $2.75. It was $3.17 on average a year ago. Top experts say this is more like an intermission in an Italian opera. We may see the softening of relief here by the end of this week. Maybe around $4.39 a gallon, according to GasBuddy -- Jake. TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Gene Sperling. He's a senior adviser to President Biden.

Gene, thanks for joining us where.

Your White House colleague Jared Bernstein called the drop in gas prices one of the fastest declines in a decade.

Do you expect prices for items such as groceries or rent to also go down?

GENE SPERLING, WHITE HOUSE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN COORDINATOR: Well, I think you had an excellent report there. I think the one thing at the moment which looks hopeful is actually, Jake, oil prices have dropped 20 percent, and the gas prices, as we have seen, have dropped about 10 percent, about 52 cents. And as your report just showed, about 25,000 are actually under $4.

The fact that the gas prices have still not come down the full 20 percent that oil prices have at least would give some positive reason to believe that this would continue.

I also think that if Congress would and the states would take seriously the president's call to have a federal tax holiday on both federal and state taxes, that would bring down another 50 cents, and then I think you could really see most Americans dealing for the rest of the summer with gas prices below $4.


We certainly hope this will have a positive effect on lower prices on other things that are energy dependent. We've seen some downward movement in a few places like, you know, a dozen eggs was a little cheaper in June than May, but let's be honest. The good thing in this economy is that people are working, unemployment is low. It's a very strong labor force. But there's global inflation, and American workers and their families are still struggling with it. This is good news but it's not good enough.

TAPPER: One thing that the White House could do to provide some relief for families suffering from this insane inflation is to get rid of the Trump era China tariffs. I have seen estimates of anything from $500,000 to $1,000 a year saves for the average family if those were -- if the president were to get rid of them. I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't get rid of them other than the fact that labor unions like them and Biden is tight with labor unions.

SPERLING: Well, Jake, I don't want to get ahead of the president's decision making announcement, but what I would say is that when you're looking at something this central in our trade and economic relationship with China, you can't just be looking at any one factor. Our relationship with them, insuring that they are trading fair, dealing fair with the United States, not taking advantage of supply chain issues to exert leverage over the United States or the rest of the world, these are very big geo-economic issues.

So whatever your view is, I think one -- I think any president right now would be wise to look at all of the factors affecting our relationship with China, with trade, with our economic relationship in making a decision like this.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the sweeping climate change -- sweeping package to combat climate change that was squashed by Democratic Senator Manchin in the 11th hour last week.

Here's what Manchin told CNN today. Take a listen.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I never strung anybody along. I was the first one to raise the alarm on inflation. I have done it well over a year ago. I saw all the signs and indications.

I was told there were 17 Nobel laureates that said, oh, no, it's going to be transitory. I -- in my mind and what I understood and the people who have the knowledge, I could come to the conclusion that it wasn't going to be transitory. It's damaging.

And right now, inflation is the number one damaging and -- damaging effect in our economy. It's affecting everybody.


TAPPER: What's your response to Senator Manchin, who is claiming that the package to combat climate change would make inflation worse?

SPERLING: Well, you know, first thing I would say is that there is still a lot of positive movement on, as you know, Jake, lowering something that's been a price problem for seniors and other Americans for decades, which is prescription drug costs, which could come down very significantly with what is still likely to be in reconciliation, and 13 million Americans could be having lower health care premium costs. So you still see a lot of potential legislative progress on two major things in health care. That could lower costs on families.

In terms of climate change -- no, we don't -- you know, we disagree, but we have honorable disagreements, and I have always worked well with Senator Manchin. But, you know, we actually think that the Build Back Better elements would not be inflationary, and in fact, I believe that is the view of a large number of economists.

But we'll make progress where we can. And in areas where -- in other areas, we'll go back and keep fighting, as you say. The president will look for other legislative opportunities. He'll look for other executive actions, as MJ Lee was saying earlier.

This is not an issue that this president is ever going to take a pass on or give up on. We're always going to be fighting to do the right thing on climate change. And I do believe that by moving towards a more climate-friendly policies with more people having incentives to do -- to use energy efficient products, that's also a way we start building a very positive independence, so we are less dependent on the Russia's and the other countries in the world for our basic supply, our basic price issues.

TAPPER: All right. Gene Sperling, thanks so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the urgency pushed into overdrive in the post Roe v. Wade era. How one state legislature is skipping parts of the process to get an abortion ban on the books as soon as possible.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, abortion rights supporters are raising alarms about the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe and what that decision will have, the impact it will have on low-income women forces to carry pregnancies to term, many of those women in states that offer very little in terms of support for those women during their pregnancies.

South Carolina, which currently has a six-week abortion ban, has a poverty rate far higher than the national average and one state-wide program to help pregnant women.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich traveled to the Palmetto State which could be headed for a total ban on abortion.


PROTESTER: Oh, no, we don't need Roe!

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the half century precedent of Roe versus Wade, dozens of states banned or rolled back abortion laws, including South Carolina, which now has a six-week abortion ban.


PROTESTERS: My choice!

YURKEVICH: And now, the state house and senate are tracking dual bills to stop abortions outright.

JOHN MCCRAVY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: Our state is free and unconstrained by the Roe versus Wade decision.

YURKEVICH: Republican State Representative John McCravy chairs the ad hoc committee created to draft the legislation.

MCCRAVY: Terminating the life of a person for economics should not ever be a choice.

YURKEVICH: But in a state with a poverty rate that is higher than the national average, the economic consequences could be devastating for women.

What kinds of economic legislation are you proposing, looking into, going to put forward to support women?

MCCRAVY: We actually put in the budget this year, a one-time grant to a lot of our crisis pregnancy centers. They can plug them into what we call WIC benefits, Medicaid. They get them transportation.

YURKEVICH: Are these funded by the state?


YURKEVICH: They're not? Right.

MCCRAVY: Not currently. YURKEVICH: In other states, like Texas and Missouri, Arkansas, and

Oklahoma, who resemble South Carolina's stance on abortion, antiabortion supporters often point to state-funded programs that provide health care and services to pregnant women and new moms.

In South Carolina, there is only one such program, the postpartum newborn home visit.

It's one visit on average.

MCCRAVY: It's not enough.

YURKEVICH: It's not enough. What would you like to see? That's a state funded program. What would you like to see that program do?

MCCRAVY: I think we need to have a task force put together to look at these things.

YURKEVICH: But a special session will likely be called in weeks to vote on the abortion bill, all but guaranteeing a total ban. McCravy says the bill will exclude a ban on contraception when the woman's life is in danger and will not criminalize women who cross state lines.

ANN WARNER, CEO, WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT NETWORK: This is our primary concern and priority right now.

YURKEVICH: Ann Warner has been lobbying legislators here to vote no on an abortion ban.

WARNER: People who are denied abortion care are more likely to live in poverty and financial insecurity.

YURKEVICH: Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults said before the roe decision they would want their state to set abortion laws that were more permissive than restrictive.

South Carolina has not expanded Medicaid or increased their minimum wage from $7.25 an hour in decades. Both could lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty.

COURTNEY TOMAS, COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR, THE GROVE: When Black women, Latina women, Native women are unable to plan for their families, then the entire economy suffers for it. And that's something sadly that South Carolina has fallen short on again and again.

YURKEVICH: But for now, the priority here is for a total ban on abortion. Is there one single additional economic priority that would benefit women and children?

MCCRAVY: There's probably not one particular any one thing you could fund that would really make the difference across the board other than maybe adoption.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YURKEVICH (on camera): Now, today, the ad hoc committee in the state made their recommendation for a total ban on abortion. And Jake, this has some pro-abortion activists obviously upset, but upset also because they had just one public hearing. It lasted seven hours. There were lines out the door. Many pro-abortion activists said they didn't get in to make their comment.

They feel like these state legislators had made up their mind already. This is also a state that had a $1 billion surplus last year. I asked the chairman, Representative McCravy, whether or not he would use any of that money to fund economic programs for women and children. He said that they would look into it but probably not until next year.

So, clearly, the economic policies and these abortion bans are not tracking at the same time. The priority for them is the ban and then following potentially economic policies might be too late for some women, though, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Vanessa Yurkevich, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this with CNN political commentators Errol Louis and S.E. Cupp.

And, S.E., let's just start with the obvious, if you made a list of the states that have the least generous benefits for pregnant women and poor women and poor children, and then also made a list of the states with the most restrictive abortion laws, it's basically the same list.


TAPPER: It's basically the same list.

CUPP: Right, and because of that reason, you would have hoped, I guess, that the Republican Party who has been, you know, going after this prize for decades, would be prepared, would have set in place some safety nets.

And it wasn't that long ago, Jake, you remember this, when Republicans like Paul Ryan talked a lot about safety nets and opportunity zones.


And this wasn't out of place inside the Republican Party. But now, you have Republican Party for whom safety net is akin to socialism. Compassion is akin to wokism.

You can't effort anything like that without being almost ostracized from the party. That's the unfortunate part of all this.

TAPPER: I mean, it is a cliche, Errol, but there are Democrats and pro-abortion rights supporters who say that, and I think George Carlin said something along the lines of Republicans care about life up the moment of birth. And then after that, you're on your own.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The gap between the rhetoric and the reality is yawning, and we just saw a perfect example of it. A billion dollar surplus and they say maybe next year, we might provide some of it to these women who we are going to put in terribly --

TAPPER: The task force.

LOUIS: Yeah, the task force, that we're going to put into a life threatening, life altering situation due to this 40-year campaign that we have been on to take away their choices. There are those who think that the harm and the control was always the point and that there was some window dressing around, oh, we're into life and we're into making sure babies grow up and so forth, but the reality really sort of counters that. So I think we're going to see that play out in the midterms this year.

TAPPER: I'm not sure if we have the images but the Capitol police say they arrested 17 Democratic lawmakers in front of the U.S. Supreme Court today. They were protesting in support of abortion rights, having marched there from the capitol wearing bandannas saying won't back down. Legislation supporting abortion rights is not likely to ever get through the U.S. Senate where it needs 60 votes.

Is there anything Democrats can do beyond these largely symbolic measures on the federal level?

CUPP: I think what a lot of people are lamenting is that the time for that has come and gone. Democrats could have done some things and I don't think they're in a position to do it now. And I don't think these symbolic protests are really the kind of governing that Democratic voters, even folks in the middle, moderates, are expecting of their leaders.

TAPPER: We should note also, Errol, journalists are reported on stories of dangerously delayed care for pregnant women in the wake of what is described as a very confusing legal landscape in many states after the roe decision with doctors saying miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are under increasing scrutiny. Even in cases where the only treatment to save the mother's life is abortion, there are states where the lawmakers are saying that there shouldn't even be an exception for the life of the mother.

LOUIS: And there's always that horrific case of the 10-year-old, the victim of rape. This is just three weeks in, Jake. We're going to hear more horror stories. There will be more horror stories. Every three week period will yield the same number of stories if not more. It will all be reported.

And I think you'll see more lawmakers in the street. In fact, they're going back to movement politics. It was a movement that brought about the repeal of Roe.

It will take another movement, people in the streets, including lawmakers, who recognize that their legal -- there are legal limitations they cannot get past. They're going to for have to changed minds, put bodies in the streets, maybe cost some people their job at the polls, and it may take a long time, but that's what it's going to take to set things right and deal with some of these horror stories. TAPPER: I'm personally skeptical anything other than inflation and

the economy will reside over what's most important for voters in November. But there are people, Democrats, abortion rights supporters, who hope this issue will galvanize Democratic voters and pro-choice Republican voters. A majority of Americans, 55 percent, say Republicans are too extreme on this issue, 58 percent say Democrats are in the mainstream on this issue.

And in the generic battle -- sorry, the generic ballot for Americans for choice, Democrats have pulled even with Republicans. A significant change from May when the Republicans had a seven-point advantage. I have no idea what's going to happen in November, let me just underline that. But do you think that overturning Roe might actually help Democrats in November?

CUPP: Well, in a couple ways, I can't think of a more galvanizing issue to turn people out to the polls. But at the same time, it also took this issue away from Republicans. When the threat was hanging large, Republicans could really run on this. Now, the Supreme Court kind of took care of that for them and took, I think, a lot of the wind out of the sails. We'll see how it plays out.

I'm like you, not that convinced that abortion is going to be the driving factor of these elections, but I think in midterms which usually don't drive out anyone but the sort of motivated extremes, you could see a larger turnout because of this issue.

TAPPER: I'm sure Republicans generally would rather run on inflation than having to talk about Donald Trump and 10-year-old pregnant victims of rape, which is --

CUPP: And a ban that is very unpopular.

TAPPER: Very unpopular and against what the majority of the public wants.

CUPP: Right.

TAPPER: S.E. Cupp and Errol Louis, thanks.

President Biden today signed an executive order trying to get ahead of another country taking another American hostage.

Stay with us.


[16:44:05TAPPER: President Biden signed an executive order today focused on freeing American detainees and hostages in other countries, but some families of detainees and hostages say President Biden is just trying to distract from other news.

Let's bring in CNN's Kylie Atwood.

Kylie, what does this new executive order do? KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake,

there's two main aspects of it. The first of which is calling on Biden administration officials to identify and recommend options and strategies to bring these Americans who are hostages and wrongfully detained abroad home, back to the United States.

So, essentially, doubling down on the work that already is under way, and then the other aspect of it is that this will now allow for sanctions, financial sanctions and travel bans, visa sanctions, visa bans on those who are responsible for holding these Americans. Whether they are state actors or they are terrorist groups.

TAPPER: And, Kylie, tell us more about what families of detainees and hostages are saying about this executive order.


ATWOOD: Well, we're getting mixed responses. Some family members are saying this is incredibly welcome.

But then others who were on a phone call as the administration described what they were going to do yesterday, said they felt extremely isolated because they weren't able to ask any questions about these new efforts that were being rolled out. They felt it wasn't great delivery, and they also felt that what they're rolling out here isn't what they have been asking for, which is more engagement with the administration on this and specifically, of course, meeting with President Biden -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood at the State Department for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a mother's response to a theme park apology and the costumed character who appeared to snub two little black girls. Oh, no, Rosita, say it ain't so.



TAPPER: In the national lead, Sesame Place, an amusement park right outside the great city of Philadelphia, is apologizing after a video appears to show one of its costumed characters, one of its Muppets, ignoring two young black girls during a parade on Saturday. The video taken by one girl's mother shows the character known as Rosita high fiving a young child and adult who appear to be white and waving off, snubbing the two black girls who had their armed stretched out. The character also wagging her finger at someone else before the girls.

Let's bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras.

The mom who took the video is now responding to Sesame Place's apology. What does she have to say?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, it's the video there, she said what happened after that is what she took them in and said whoa, whoa, that's not okay. Essentially, she said, after she stopped recording, she saw Rosita turn to a child that was white next to those two little black girls and embrace them in a hug.

And that's again when she was like, something was not right. And she made complaints about it. I want you to hear from her as she spoke to CNN shortly -- a short time ago.


JODI BROWN, DAUGHTER & NIECE IGNORED BY CHARACTER AT SESAME PLACE: I spoke up and released my video, now there's multiple parents who have similar videos with that character doing the same thing to the same race of children. So for me, that's not a coincidence at all. It's absolutely disgusting and I do feel like the organization honestly really and truly needs to accept accountability.


GINGRAS: And we actually reached out to sesame place in regards to those allegations about other videos of possible racism. They referred to some statements they have already released and we're also working to verify the other videos at the moment.

But I do want to get to those statements. The first was released the day after this incident happened. And Sesame Place said this, our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms. That is what Sesame Place is about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.

So, they also went on to say, Jake, that this was all a misunderstanding. This isn't the first statement they released, saying it's possible that this character was actually telling one of the parade goers that no, I can't hold your child because that's not allowed to have photo ops by holding children or it's possible that the costume was too big and they didn't see the two little girls at a lower level.

The mother I talked to her, she said, you know, these are differing sort of opinions, like really, this sounds like a denial to her is what she said.

TAPPER: Explain the backlash the park has received since this video went viral.

GINGRAS: Yeah. So, the mom said she tried to talk to a supervisor that day, and got no response. So she put it online, and it's gone viral. That's why we're all talking about it, and they then were sort of forced to send out a second statement. I want to read that to you. That was released on Monday night.

It said: We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday. We know it's not okay. We're taking actions to do better. We're committed to making this right. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize, and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience to our guests.

Again, this mother, her attorneys say it's not enough. More needs to be done. They're in conversations with the park, but they also say, listen, this -- we deserve more of an apology. We deserve more than just a refund. They want this to be taken care of in more ways than one.

TAPPER: You know, I learned to read by watching Sesame Street as a kid. The show was launched the same year I was born. It is about inclusivity.


TAPPER: Right? Maria, Gordon, Luis.

GINGRAS: First character to be bilingual.


GINGRAS: I mean, it's just --

TAPPER: So it's inappropriate. Thank you so much, Brynn Gingras. I appreciate it.

Coming up, a man arrested accused of stalking a congresswoman and her family. I'm going to talk with that member of Congress about the ordeal her family is going through in the wake of this incident.


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

This hour, a temporary win for Twitter, as the social media company takes on the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, when tried to back out of a $44 billion deal.

Plus, a nationwide staffing shortage putting your safety at risk. Police departments now begging for recruits to join their ranks.

And leading this hour, explain yourself. The National Archives demanding answers about a batch of missing text messages from the U.S. Secret Service sent before and during the January 6th Capitol riot. This as the committee investigating last year's deadly attack sets the witness lineup for Thursday's primetime hearing.

Let's bring in justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, what exactly did the committee receive and not receive from the Secret Service today? And why is the National Archives getting involved?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the archives is getting involved, Jake, because there are federal laws that govern government records, but under the Presidential Records Act, and one of the things they're asking the Homeland Security Department is to report back within 30 days exactly what the circumstances were for deleting all of these text messages that the Secret Service now says are not recoverable. They turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, emails, and other things they say that the committee wanted as part of its subpoena.

But they now say that they cannot recover these deleted messages that they say occurred simply because they were changing over devices.