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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Economy Shrinks Again, Fueling Recession Fears; Biden Celebrates Economic Deal That Doesn't Have The Votes Yet; January 6 Committee Probes 25th Amendment Conversations After Capitol Attack; Outrage After Burn Pits Vote Fails: "Veterans Are Going To Die"; Official: "25 Miles In Under An Hour -- Russia Has Gone Mad". Aired 4- 5p ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: She says her dream job is to work as the editor of "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post."

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: That's awesome. I hope we have gotten Dawn a cupcake or margarita or whatever she wants today right now, and the world needs journalists. So print or broadcast, fantastic.

BLACKWELL: A cupcake or a margarita.

CAMEROTA: Or a cupcake and margarita.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, what's the common definition of a recession?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Traditionally, two successive quarters of negative economic growth has been deemed a recession. And confirmation of that ugly reality came today. But the Biden White House insists the job growth is too strong to be a recession, and saying Senator Joe Manchin may have a fix to inflation. We'll talk to a top economic adviser to President Biden.

Plus, outrage on the Hill. Republicans block a bill to help sick veterans, a bill most of them already voted for.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the Founders, and all that they profess to hold dear.


TAPPER: Comedian and veterans advocate Jon Stewart is here, standing up for veterans and explaining why this could be a matter of life and death. Plus, right now, the January 6th committee is interviewing high

profile names from Donald Trump's White House, and they're in talks to speak with even more.


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

We start today with our money lead and heightened fears that the U.S. economy is on the verge of a recession or is already in one. The numbers released this morning show the U.S. economy shrank for the second quarter in a row. That is the common definition of a recession.

And this comes just hours after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates once again, forcing Americans to pay more for loans or credit card bills. The official rules of whether we're in a recession will come from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

But President Biden is dismissing these concerns. He says job growth is too strong for this to be a recession, and he's highlighting instead a new energy and health care deal reached on Capitol Hill which he claims will help fight inflation and lower health care costs. We still have not seen the final details, so hard to know how much this package would help the average American or how quickly.

We should note, any deal that includes more than $350 billion in investments for energy and climate change programs and provisions to lower some prescription drug prices is nothing to balk at. But Republicans are already slamming the proposal, claiming it will raise taxes and make inflation and the economy even worse. And one could be forgiven for questioning why the White House is parading this today, when there are more immediate steps Joe Biden could be taking to help American families, steps he has not taken.

CNN's MJ Lee starts off our coverage today from the White House with more details on this deal that has been more than a year in the making.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just give you what the facts are in terms of the state of the economy.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden putting a positive spin on the U.S. economy.

BIDEN: We have a record job market -- record unemployment of 3.6 percent today. We've created 9 million new jobs so far, just since I've become president. Businesses are investing in America at record rates, at record rates.

LEE: Thursday's GDP report showing the economy contracting for the second consecutive quarter, likely to further fuel concerns of a recession. But the president, again, shooting down that suggestion.

BIDEN: That doesn't sound like a recession to me. LEE: As top White House officials insisted that the new GDP data was

widely anticipated.

BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We are in a transition, there's no doubt. The economy is slowing, and that is what most expected when coming off of an extremely strong and fast recovery last year.

LEE: With record high inflation remaining a top concern for many Americans, President Biden also celebrating a major breakthrough for his economic agenda. A surprise deal struck between Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin that would make unprecedented investments to fight climate change, lower prescription drug prices, and also include significant health care subsidies.

BIDEN: Simply put, the bill will lower health care costs for millions of Americans, it will be -- and it will be the most important investment, not hyperbole, the most important investment we've ever made in our energy security.

LEE: The senators, billing the package the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

BIDEN: This bill is fighting inflation.

LEE: The U.S.' competitiveness in the global economy, top of mind for President Biden when he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping for over two hours Thursday morning.


LEE (on camera): Now, looming over that phone call between President Biden and President Xi, of course, was the United States' desire to contain Beijing's economic influence in the region.


And the Democrats just scored a big victory, the passage of the so- called Chips Bill, which would make the U.S. less reliant on China's semiconductors. The president was in a middle of an economic meeting here behind me at the White House, Jake, when an aide handed him a note card as he was speaking. He announced the deal, and the passage, and the aides around him broke into applause -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee, thanks so much.

And joining me now to discuss is Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to President Biden.

Gene, President Biden today pushing back on suggestions that the U.S. economy is in a recession right now. Generally, traditionally, a recession is understood to be two successive quarters of negative economic growth, and that is what we're in. I understand that you will tell me that that's not the official definition, but doesn't this semantic debate risk making the White House seem as if you're in denial and out of touch with Americans who are really struggling out there?

GENE SPERLING, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Not at all, Jake. Let's acknowledge that every single family is the world's leading expert on how they themselves are doing. And we totally appreciate the degree that so many Americans feel pinched and squeezed by the higher gas prices at the gas pump, even with gas prices down, you know, 75 cents now, squeezed at the grocery line by the impacts of global inflation on the U.S. we feel that, we're not denying that.

But I do think it's also responsible to give people a balanced view of the state of the economy. And I'll offer you one fact, which is in the history of our country, only last year, only in 2021, has there ever been greater job growth in the first six months of a year than there were this year. There have been 2.7 million jobs created in the first half of this year.

It is just really common sense that the second greatest amount of job growth in a six-month period could not be consistent with any historical definition of a recession.

TAPPER: But it's been two quarters in a row of negative GDP growth. I mean, that is an ugly fact. And traditionally, that has been the colloquial way that a recession has been defined, two successive quarters of negative GDP growth.

SPERLING: Yeah, I agree that for many people, even though it's not the accurate definition, that's been the colloquial definition. But let's also remember that in the first quarter, when you actually looked at private sector growth, when you took out some of the -- you know, trade and inventory numbers, you actually saw the private sector economy expand by 3 percent. So, even the first quarter of this year really was not consistent with any version of contraction.

So I am just reminding people, that those six months that people would claim we're in recession are the same six months that we grew 2.7 million jobs, and that only last year have we ever had that many. And the second closest was 1946, after World War II.

TAPPER: I understand the White House is very supportive of this new Manchin/Schumer deal on energy and climate. What is your response to Americans who say, look, climate investments aren't great, but they aren't going to pay my rent, they aren't going to buy groceries or gas, we need help right now?

SPERLING: Well, then they should be very happy with this bill, because this is a bill that lowers prescription drug costs, it lowers people's energy costs. It's going to lower premium costs for 13 million people on health care.

And while you have seen debate between us and other people, sometimes friends, sometimes critics on different aspects of spending, everyone from Elizabeth Warren to Larry Summers, has been united that this plan is anti-inflationary, that it reduces the deficit by over $300 billion.

So by simply making the most well-off corporations pay some minimal fair share, we're able to use those funds to provide these benefits, these incentives for job growth here and production in the United States, at the same time, we're paying for them and actually bringing down the deficit. So, therefore, tamping down on inflation.

Just look at prescription drug costs. That's going to save -- not only Medicare, that's going to save Americans, you know, well over $200 billion in the next ten years. You talk about price increases, Jake, what has mattered to most seniors year in and year out than prescription drug price increases?

TAPPER: But, Gene, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying, quote, this legislation includes taxes that would discourage investment and undermine economic growth and price controls that would limit American innovation. Both will make our economic problems worse.

SPERLING: You know, I have to say all this bill does really, it doesn't raise rates, it just says if you're a large company and you're claiming over $1 billion of profits to your shareholders, you should pay at least 15 percent.


I don't think most people would think that was unfair, when that's what every other American has to do. And I have to say right now, that today is a great day for the idea of promoting innovating, creating, and locating in the United States. With the passage of the Chip Bill and this agreement on climate change, we are going to have the most incentives that our country has probably ever had, to locate, innovate and create jobs in the United States.

People look at the Chips Bill they just passed and now they look at what's in this bill. This is a huge winner, if you care about not just a corporation's bottom line, but the bottom line for jobs and manufacturing and location and production in the United States.

TAPPER: Okay. Gene Sperling, thanks so much for your time.

SPERLING: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Up next, digging in on the actions of Donald Trump. The names very close to Trump's White House now in talks to testify before the January 6th committee.

Plus, this hour, CNN returns to Ukrainian towns hard hit by Russia. See the damage that will likely last decades after strikes in the early days of this war.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead. The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to remove an incapacitated president, is one of the new focuses for the House January 6th investigation. Sources tell CNN that former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who

served in Trump's cabinet has been interviewed by the select committee.

As CNN's Ryan Nobles reports, this interview comes as investigators are hoping to learn more about conversations among officials about possibly invoking the 25th Amendment after the Capitol attack.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th select committee zeroing in on members of former members of President Donald Trump's old cabinet.

MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We had discussions about appearing before them, trying to make sure we understand what it is they're asking for. As I always said when I was in service to America, I'm happy to cooperate with things that are fair and transparent and deliver good outcomes to the American people.

NOBLES: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one of Donald Trump's most loyal allies, confirming CNN's reporting that he's in talks with the committee and willing to cooperate. But Pompeo says when is an open question, calling the committee a circus.

POMPEO: You mean I testify? We're trying to figure our way out. I want to make sure the American people get the full story of the things that happened in the Trump administration.

NOBLES: Pompeo joins a growing list of cabinet officials who have either engaged or set for interviews with the committee. CNN also learning former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has talked to the committee, while forming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney met with investigators today. Mulvaney has become a vocal critic of Trump's behavior on January 6th.

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The West Wing was broken. It was not functioning properly. In that type of setting, can people make really bad decisions? Absolutely.

NOBLES: Mulvaney was serving abroad January 6th. His insight may be different than Pompeo and John Radcliffe, who is also in talks with the committee.

Cabinet officials could help the committee learn more about talks related to the 25th Amendment, which was a real discussion at the time. Marc Short, the then chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, says there were reasons those talks never got any traction.

MARC SHORT, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF: The reality is, there were ten days left in the administration. This was a political ploy, and further, you know, when they designed the 25th Amendment, it has higher standards, higher hurdles than even impeachment does.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES (on camera): The Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson telling reporters today that the committee is close to releasing a report on the National Guard response to what happened on January 6th. He said it will partially address the claim by the former President Donald Trump that he wanted 10,000 National Guard troops here on that day. According to Thompson, the report should show that the Department of Defense has no record of Trump making that request -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, Senator Joe Manchin giving new life to the promises of Joe Biden. But why now a year and a half later? Well, I'll ask one of Joe Manchin's Democratic colleagues who's long been trying to get Congress to act on Biden's priorities.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The politics lead. One senator calls what could be the most significant climate action ever taken by Congress, a, quote, big f'ing deal, the agreement quietly negotiated by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, also includes a plan to lower health care costs.

If passed, the bill would set corporate taxes at a minimum of 15 percent to get $369 billion to fight climate change. Tax credits for electric vehicles. The bill allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices, lowers prescription prices for Medicare Part D users and extends subsidies from the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live for us on Capitol Hill now.

Jessica, what are the main hurdles to get this bill to the president's desk?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are several, Jake. Chief among them, they have to first half all 50 Senate Democrats on board. We know based on what senator Joe Manchin said earlier today that as of this morning, he had not spoken with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Of course, a key part and a key voice in all of this.

We tried to speak to her all day. She's had no comment publicly. We do know that in the past, she has raised concerns over some of the tax provisions included in this, specifically the carried interest tax provision, that's been a concern of hers in the past. I also spoke to her office about the corporate minimum tax. They pointed me to previous statements that she put out in October that showed her supporting that.

But, again, we need to hear from her. A spokesperson saying she wants to read it first, and will develop some opinions. We also know that she wasn't consulted. As you mentioned, this is between Schumer and Manchin.

And that's one thing, is you get all 50 Senate Democrats on board on this. Then, you got the parliamentarian. They're using this particular budget procedure that requires all Democrats to vote for it. It also requires a lot of parliamentarian process. So the parliamentarian has to review this and make sure that it follows the rules that it's allowed to go through this particular budget process.

And then you have to get it over to the House, and that's where, again, you see so many factions oh of the Democratic Party within the House Democratic Caucus, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to have to pull them together, specifically those northeastern Democrats who have been focused on the local and state tax provisions not included in this current agreement.


So, the question is will they vote for it? Will progressives see this as enough? So, that's a lot of what is going on in the Democratic Party right now.

But President Joe Biden is very pleased and is urging Congress to pass this. Take a listen.


BIDEN: This bill is far from perfect. It's compromise. But it's often how progress is made by compromises. And the fact is, my message to Congress is this -- this is the strongest bill you can pass to lower inflation. So pass it.


DEAN: And, again, Jake, they want to pass this before August recess. That would be the end of next week, which is ambitious. And they already have some senators out with COVID. That's another X factor. They need all 50 present -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean at the Capitol for us, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Democratic senator from Virginia, Mark Warner, to talk about this.

So, Senator Warner, Senator Manchin has finally agreed. I guess one question is, what took him so long?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Well, you know, Jake, I'm good friends with Joe. I gave up predicting Joe Manchin's actions a long time ago. I'm glad he's come to this agreement.

And I actually think one of the things that, frankly, only Joe Manchin could have forced, which is I'm very supportive of all the green energy components. But I also think he may have been forcing the administration into areas where it should go, but maybe there was some reluctance. For example, as we think about energy, we have to include nuclear. As we think about all of the energy, we've got to increase American natural gas, not only from an energy stand point but a security standpoint to sell that to our European friends, so they can get off Russian gas.

I think some of the carbon capture. I think there are -- this is a green energy component, but with that transition energy as well that maybe some of the initial plans didn't have. So it makes sense.

TAPPER: So what about Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema? She still hasn't commented on the deal. Historically, we know, she has had some concerns about some of the methods to pay for this bill. I mean, you need her vote. It's a 50-50 Senate.

Are you worried she could sink the whole thing?

WARNER: Listen, I -- again, Kyrsten and I have been involved, as Joe Manchin and personally all the bipartisan gangs. She's a very effective senator. She was very active, for example, in working to get the now after two years of us working, to get the Chips Bill, which has not gotten much attention but I think will look back as kind of a 21st century sputnik moment where we as a country step up on semiconductors but a whole set of other research and development.

But, you know, Senator Sinema has some concerns, and, frankly, as somebody who thinks that we need to deal with the carried interest issue, but we have a structure that doesn't destroy venture capital. And again, I have not seen these materials, but I'm going to -- again, let's Senator Sinema weigh in once she gets a chance to review these documents.

It was -- you know, on the components beyond the drug pricing, it did catch a lot of us off guard yesterday afternoon.

TAPPER: Republican Senator John Cornyn says Republicans were deceived with the quick turn around from passing the Chips semiconductor bill to the announcement of the Manchin/Schumer bill. Cornyn called it an absolute declaration of political warfare.

So what do you say to your Republican colleagues who feel as though they were misled or duped?

WARNER: Well, again, I think these are two separate paths. I tell you as someone who has spent the last 24 hours making sure that the House Republicans who are going to support this kind of record investment in semiconductors, in research and development, held on. I mean, you know, I wish that perhaps Senator Manchin and Senator Schumer could have waited to this afternoon opposed to yesterday afternoon.

You know, that caused some bumps. But I think into the day, the chips bill passed with 24 Republican House members today. And there is, you know, we have these competing timelines. We want to get this bill, Chips, to the president as quickly as possible. But we recognize with reconciliation, the sausage-making over the next week is going to be pretty ugly, because we have to go through these -- the voter-rama, and a series of weird, procedural things that make my eyes glaze over.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic senator from Virginia, Mark Warner, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

WARNER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: And this note, if you want to hear from Senator Joe Manchin, he himself will join me this weekend on "STATE OF THE UNION". That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Coming up next, calling out what's wrong with Washington. A bill stalled, even though it could save lives, even though it already passed.

Comedian and activist Jon Stewart is here with strong words for lawmakers holding up this legislation, essentially over some technicalities.


We'll talk to him next.


TAPPER: And we're back with the politics lead.

A stark warning today that American veterans are going to die because of Washington, D.C. dysfunction. That message from advocates who are outraged after a Senate failed last night to advance legislation that would have helped millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits abroad during their military service. It was a surprise, because last month the Senate passed another version of the same bill with overwhelming support, 84-14.

But yesterday, 25 Republicans who voted for that original bill, voted no. They say because Democrats didn't allow amendment votes that Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania wanted.

Today, the mother-in-law of Heath Robinson, a veteran who died in 2020 of complications tied to his exposure to burn pits, for whom the bill is named, she called out every Republican who voted against it.



SUSAN DYER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF SGT. 1ST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON: They don't give a shit about veterans! And like someone said before, every single one has pictures with veterans on their Facebook pages, on their websites. Well, screw that!

They don't support veterans. If you voted no on this bill, you do not support veterans.


TAPPER: I want to bring in comedian and activist Jon Stewart who has fought for years to get this legislation passed. But you just heard the passion of Heath Robinson's mother-in-law, just heartbreaking. We also understand that some of these advocates were escorted by the Capitol police out of a Senate building.


TAPPER: What's your response to that?

STEWART: It's dangerous to have to explain to people's faces why you're denying them health care and benefits. So if anybody should have been escorted out of the building, it should have been the senators that chose to stab these veterans in the back. So I have no sympathy for them being asked to explain their really -- I mean, honestly, Jake, I don't know what to say. I've been coming down here for years. I've never seen anything like this.

And it's not, as I was saying in the press conference, I'm used to lies, I'm used to hypocrisy, I'm used to their cowardice, I'm not used to the cruelty, like the casual cruelty of passing a bill they had fought for, for more than a decade.

Look, there are Vietnam veterans on this bill. They've been fighting since the '60s and '70s, people that fought for us, people that say we support the troops.

To pass that bill for them, to give them that moment of exhale -- by the way, their trial isn't over. That just means that maybe they'll get their health care, maybe the family get the benefits, maybe they won't have to decide between chemo and their car.

TAPPER: Right. They still might die.

STEWART: Well, a lot of them, unfortunately, you know, when you have cancer, and a lot of these guys tell me, they live scan-to-scan. They live in three-month increments.

These guys are, don't worry, this is procedural. It's a protest against an amendment. It's mandatory versus discretionary. It's all of these nonsensical reasons to delay and deny, when they passed the exact same bill on June 16th. Nothing's changed.

TAPPER: So Pat Toomey, the Republican from Pennsylvania, he says it's his amendment.

STEWART: We should say Patriot Pat Toomey. He prefers Patriot Pat Toomey. He's -- that's his given moniker.

TAPPER: So his amendment is the one we're talking about, this is all held up over he says -- his amendment addresses how this $400 billion can be spent. He says as it's written, the money can be used for things unrelated to veterans.

STEWART: That's nonsense.

TAPPER: And burn pit exposure.

STEWART: This is utter nonsense. The secretary of the V.A. has to go in every year, even though it goes in to a mandatory spending tranche, where it comes to that, the V.A. secretary still has to go in every year and explain the appropriation and the use. And the spending of the money is related to the bill.

It's not a slush fund.

TAPPER: Right.

STEWART: But if you want to talk about slush funds, if Senator Toomey wants to explain his fiscal conservatism, why it is that he voted, you know, every year we vote for what's called the OCO. It's a $60 billion, $70 billion fund that goes on top of the $600 billion or $700 billion or $800 billion that the Pentagon already gets.

And it is unaccountable. There are no guard rails. It truly can be spent on pretty much whatever they want to spend it on it.

Toomey's never raised a peep about it. He's never raised his hand. He's never objected. He's never held up the NDA because of it.

TAPPER: The defense bill you're saying, the NDA.

STEWART: That's right. And Overseas Contingencies Operations fund, is a literal definition of a slush fund. And all of these individuals that voted to deny the veterans and the health care they've been fighting for, for 15 years, voted for this slush fund.

So they're lying. A, you can't just spend this money on whatever you want to. And B, when there have been billions in expendable money that they can spend whatever they want to, they vote for it. So, this is nonsense.

TAPPER: The Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who's one of the co- sponsors of the bill in the House, when I asked her about this, she said, I'm paraphrasing, it's odd how nobody has any objection and how much money we spend on going to war. But when it comes to taking care of the people who wage these wars --

STEWART: Trillions of dollars.


STEWART: You know, Rick Scott, senator of Florida, had a great tweet today. Glad to be here at the VSO to pack care packages for those and honor their service for how much they gave us. And then an hour later went on the floor and denied those veterans health care and benefits.

Like, the hypocrisy is so galling. But then you get to a place where I'm at right now, which is how do you shame the shameless? What will get through to them?


The stories that you heard are heartbreaking. A gentleman today told me of someone who committed suicide, Rosie's husband attempted to take his own life based on his desperation with this system and process of being denied care. And these guys, they act like oh, don't worry. Maybe we'll get to it now or in the lame duck session. Some of these folks won't be around. They live scan to scan. So they

can pretend to be on Senate time, but these other folks are on human time. And that time is precious.

You know, Senate time, these guys all live to be 200 years old. They never lose their jobs. They always get their health care.

Like nothing matters to them. Nothing penetrates that bubble that they live in of procedural bullshit.

TAPPER: You were able to, you and all the 9/11 first responders, were able to shame Congress into helping with those benefits. You were able to do that. Your testimony and the testimony of others with you, some of whom are no longer with us, had an effect.

You don't think you can this time?

STEWART: It did. This passed.

TAPPER: Right.

STEWART: We passed the House. The fact that passed the House.

TAPPER: And it passed the Senate, too.

STEWART: And then it passed the Senate 84-14, a wipeout. And there was a technical error, one sentence. So, I want people to understand like the PACT Act, with the mandatory spend progress vision that Toomey is objecting to, passed with overwhelming Republican support.

Toomey hasn't supported it at all, because I think robots can't feel. So that may be why he hasn't supported it, because he's not a real boy and can't feel real boy feelings.

But this all passed. There was one provision in it that was snuck in by the V.A., not snuck in, but put in that wanted to let rural medical practices be sold to the V.A. so that veterans who lived far distances from the system could still get V.A. quality toxic exposure care, right? Just one sentence. It got flagged as a blue slip issue, because they felt that was a revenue-generating provision, and that has to start in the House, because why shouldn't we just live our lives by Robert's rules of order.

TAPPER: Right. So it went back to the House.

STEWART: So, it went back to the House. First of all, the Senate tried to go down in that moment on June 16th and say hey, a little bit of a screw up, can we just gent unanimous consent to remove that sentence? Senator Pat Toomey, no, we can't.

Three hundred House Republicans passed it, 84 senators passed it, and one guy can go, yeah, no, they don't get health care. And they don't get benefits. Why? Because I don't feel like it.

So, the House has to go back. They all go away for two weeks. The House comes back. They rewrite it without the sentence, they fix the one sentence.

TAPPER: Right.

STEWART: It passes with 90 more Republican votes. Chairman Bass (ph) from the House Veterans Committee, who was against it at first, writes along thing. The Senate version fixed all the problems that I had with. This is great for veterans. I'm proud to support it. It was 390, 380 to whatever. It passes, goes right back to the Senate.

This is just a memo vote on cloture, just to get it through. Pat Toomey, no.

TAPPER: We were all stunned. I mean, those of us who had followed this, we didn't see this coming at all. We had been told by Senate Republicans this was a done deal, it was all over.

STEWART: So we went to the Senate, you know, we were in the building, we start going to offices. God bless the assistants, because they have to cover up for the cowardice of their bosses.

TAPPER: Yeah, they're the ones to answer the phones.

STEWART: They're the ones that answer the phones, and by the way, when we walk into the offices, they're on the phone with people. The first office we went into was Marshall of Kansas. Yes, no, the fact -- no, he does support it. So we finally get one of his legislative people to come out.

You know that Senator Marshall was one of the first supporters of this. Great, so why did he turn it down? Well, we just have to fix the budget issue? What's the budget issue, because he voted yes for it when that budget issue was in it the first time? So what is it about it now that made him realize, oh? Well, there wasn't the energy behind it.

I don't know what that means. What are you fucking talking about? Seriously? Like what kind of nonsense -- I'm standing with people on oxygen tanks.

Like what are you -- do they understand that, you know, chips and reconciliation, and all these things, they're real people who face tragic consequences for their parliamentary fuckery.

TAPPER: And the important thing to remember is, they have these diseases because they went to wars that we sent them to.

Jon Stewart, we're going to stay on top of this. I know you're going to stay on top of it.


Thank you so much.

STEWART: Thank you so much. And the real thing is this -- our goal is, they can't leave for their recess until this is done. When you fight for this country, you don't get to leave until the mission is completed, until your job is done. They don't let you just leave.

And we feel that the Senate has to live up to the oath that the men and women who fight for this country have to live up to.

TAPPER: Amen. Jon Stewart, thank you so much.

STEWART: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: I should note that Senator Pat Toomey will be on "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday where we will give him ample chance to respond to all of that.

Coming up, six months into Russia's war and CNN is returning to a hard-hit town near Ukraine's capital. One walks us through her neighborhood after Russians invaded.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a cry for help from a member of Ukrainian parliament today tweeting, quote, 25 missiles in an under an hour. Russia has gone mad this morning, attacking Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. The launch pad is Belarus.

The bombs also shook Kharkiv and continue to rain down on neighborhoods outside the capital of Kyiv. That's where we find CNN's Jason Carroll, as he speaks with Ukrainians taking stock of the utter destruction.


NADIA KUBRAK, FORMER IRPIN RESIDENT: We lived here, yes, in this apartment. This is our neighbors' flat.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nadia Kubrak says there are times it is hard to recognize that this is the place where she and her husband and their son called home for ten years.

KUBRAK: This is the place where our son slept usually. So, we were very lucky not to be at home when it happened.

CARROLL: "It" is when the Russians fired missiles on the town of Irpin during the early days of the war, destroying pockets of the city located about 45 minutes northwest of Kyiv.

The Russians occupied Irpin for about a month, until the Ukrainians forced them out and stopped the Russians' march toward the Ukrainian capital.

Kubrak's town became a symbol of strength and resistance. Leaders stood outside her apartment complex and praised the heroic actions of the Ukrainians.

But now the attention is gone. What is left is wondering if they will ever be able to go home again.

Do you have any help at all, any assistance?

KUBRAK: Not really. But, you know, the government is -- is busy currently with the war. So, they don't have time for people like us. So, I think they told us, try to -- try not to die. And after the war is over, we will rebuild everything. But still --

CARROLL: Do you believe that?

KUBRAK: No. I think we have to do it by ourselves.

CARROLL: According to the Ukrainian government, the war has displaced million of Ukrainians, all with uncertain futures. People such as Iryna Ovcharenko now forced to live with friends. She used to live in the same complex as Kubrak.

Do you still want to come home?

Of course, of course, we want to come back home. We've lived here for seven years. We really like it here, she says.

As for Kubrak, the family now lives in the country further away from the missile strikes.

She still has home videos and pictures to remind her of what it used to feel like to be at home. As for their future --

KUBRAK: I don't want to live here anymore.

CARROLL: You don't?

KUBRAK: Hmm-mm.

CARROLL: Too many -- too sad or just --

KUBRAK: Yes, it's too difficult because we have built our apartment by ourself, by our own hands. And we have put into it a lot of power, love, and our efforts. And now it's all gone. And I don't want to do it anymore.


CARROLL (on camera): And, Jake, as this war continues to drag on, the question is what happens to all of those displaced Ukrainians who don't have family, who don't have friends to rely on, what happens to them. Those are the people who are going to have some very tough choices ahead of them -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jason Carroll in Kyiv for us, thank you so much.

Coming up, the mind-boggling comments today from the last leader to have United States, as Donald Trump tries to defend his partnership with Saudi Arabia at his New Jersey golf course.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, trying to defend his partnership with the Saudis, Donald Trump said today, quote, nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11, an outrageous statement uttered as Trump tees up the Saudi backed LIV golf tournament, set to play on his New Jersey golf course, denying the country's ties to the 9/11 terrorist attack and other atrocities.

Plus, state of emergency. Historic rainfall floods Kentucky towns as the climate crisis strikes again.

And leading this hour, President Biden's call with the leader of China Xi Jinping as the Asian nation threatens bold military action if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi goes through with a visit to Taiwan. China saying if the U.S. insists on taking this course, the Chinese military will not sit idly by.

CNN's covering the story from multiple angles. CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. Selina Wang is in Beijing with a response from the Chinese government today.

And we start with MJ Lee who is live at the White House.

MJ, do we know if the leaders, Biden and Xi Jinping, addressed Speaker Pelosi's possible trip to Taiwan on this phone call?

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, this is such a good question because as you know, this potential trip by Nancy Pelosi has become such a flashpoint in U.S./China relations. And the answer I have for you, the White House is not saying whether this came up. Senior administration official just wrapped up a call with reporters to go over this more than two-hour call, was asked multiple times whether the trip came up and they wouldn't engage on that issue. They did generally say the two leaders had a direct and honest conversation about Taiwan.

Let me read you a little more from the White House's readout. It said on Taiwan, Joe Biden underscored the United States policy has not changed and the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan strait.