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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Kansas Vote Overwhelmingly To Protect Abortion Rights; Trump- Backed Election Deniers Win Three Key Arizona Races; Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas Ex-Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; NFL To Appeal Deshaun Watson's Six-Game Suspension; Alex Jones Testifies In His Own Defense In Sandy Hook Defamation Trial; Gas Prices Drop For 50 Days In A Row, Now Average $4.16/Gal. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: After giving him some much-needed water, Rivas posted that video on Twitter and that puppy was soon able to be reunited with his family.

Okay, that's a good news story to end our show on.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It was an unholy alliance between Democrats and MAGA to unseat a principled Republican.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Voters sending a resounding message to Republicans about abortion rights in ruby red Kansas. While in other states, Trump-backed election deniers sail to primary victories, setting up key showdowns for the fall. It was a consequential night. And we will explain it all.

The truth has never stopped Alex Jones from his devious grift. Now the conspiracy theorist and radio host has been caught lying on the stand about sandy hook. The shocking news today in court on how Alex Jones' own lawyers accidentally helped illuminate what a liar he is.

Plus, it can make the difference if you're trying to buy a car or a house. The stunning report that Equifax erroneously issued millions of Americans lower credit scores that they did not deserve.


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

We're going to start today with our politics lead, a report card and a reality check for both Republicans and Democrats gearing up for this fall's midterm elections. The biggest takeaways from another primary night, now coming into focus starting in Kansas where abortion rights were on the ballot. The first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Voters in Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion in the state.

The turnout is giving Democrats new hope, they say, that anger at that decision by the high court could deliver a midterm boost. On to Arizona now where Republican election deniers won big last night. CNN now projecting three Trump-endorsed Republicans who embraced Donald Trump's sad election lies will win their party's nominations for U.S. Senate, for attorney general, for secretary of state.

Right now, election-denying Kari Lake who is running for governor is ahead in that primary, though those votes are still being counted.

In Michigan, Republican Congressman Peter Meijer became the second House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump to lose his primary race to an election liar. But notable in his race was the Democratic meddling. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent more than $300,000 to boost Meijer's opponent, conspiracy theorist John Gibbs, in hopes that Gibbs, endorsed by Trump, will be easier to defeat in November.

The move was criticized by even some Democrats as so cynical, because it undermines Democrats' claims that these election liars pose an existential threat to the republic.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny starts off our coverage from Overland Park, Kansas, with more on how the latest primary results could have national implications come November.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A surge of Kansas voters sending an overwhelming message to protect abortion rights.

It was the biggest sign yet of the backlash to the Supreme Court's decision to send the question of abortion back to the states. And here in conservative Kansas, voters delivered their answer loud and clear. The abortion measure drew historic turnout for an August election, with more than 900,000 voters casting ballots, dramatically outpacing primaries in 2018 and 2020.

REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): You cannot take people's rights away and expect there not to be some kind of engagement, some kind of activism, and we saw that. We saw that yesterday in a way that I don't think anybody expected.

ZELENY: It was a question of whether voters wanted to amend the Kansas constitution to allow lawmakers to further restrict or ban abortion. A resounding 59 percent said no, 41 percent said yes with a coalition of some independents and Republicans joining forces to preserve access to abortion.

Three months before the fall elections, the outcome in Kansas reverberated across the political landscape with Democrats expressing fresh hope that support for abortion rights could be a motivating force in November. Across the country on Tuesday, more pieces of the midterm election

puzzle fell into place with supporters of former President Donald Trump who have embraced his false claims about the 2020 election, scoring wins at the ballot box.

In Arizona, Trump-backed Kari Lake leading in a divisive Republican governor's race over Karrin Taylor Robson who had the support of former Vice President Mike Pence.



ZELENY: Arizona has been a hotbed of denialism about Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election with Mark Finchem winning the Republican nomination for secretary of state, the top election official in Arizona.


BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Arizona has sent a message loud and clear.

ZELENY: Blake Masters riding his Trump endorsement to becoming the party's Senate nominee, setting up one of the nation's most closely watched Senate contests against Democratic Senator Mark Kelly.

In Michigan, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon becoming the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

TUDOR DIXON (R), MICHIGAN GOV. CANDIDATE: Frankly, Michigan, we deserve better.

ZELENY: Congressman Peter Meijer, one of ten Republicans voting to impeach president Trump losing his primary to John Gibbs, a fervent election denier whose candidacy was boosted by Democrats with hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV ads.

ERIC SCHMITT, MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL: You guys ready to take this country back?


ZELENY: And in Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt easily winning the Republican Senate contests, blocking the political comeback from former Governor Eric Greitens who resigned four years ago amid a sex scandal.

ERIC GREITENS (R), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: God has a plan. It doesn't always work on our timeline.


ZELENY: Now, the surge of supporters coming together to support abortion rights here in Kansas, independents, Democrats, libertarians, even some Republicans is certainly causing alarm among Republican strategists across the country watching this race here. Now, they still believe the midterm elections will turn on the economy and other issues. Jake, this simply adds a new question into the equation, has that Supreme Court decision simply upended the narrative of this campaign. It's something we won't know until, of course, a November election.

But Michigan also has abortion rights on the ballot, a constitutional amendment there. Now, this outcome in Kansas yesterday is going to stay with the rest of this campaign for the next three months.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny in Kansas for us, thanks so much.

Let's discuss now with Ron Brownstein, senior editor for "The Atlantic.", and Laura Barron-Lopez, White House correspondent for "The PBS NewsHour".

So, Ron, I don't know how to interpret the Kansas results. Take a listen to how Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer interpreted it.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What happened in red Kansas last night is a reflection of what is happening across the country and what will continue to occur through the November elections.


TAPPER: Am I wrong for wondering if all these Kansans, especially Kansas women, privately going to vote to keep the government out of their bodies, will necessarily translate to all of them voting for Democratic officeholders?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, look, this was a pure referendum solely on this one issue. When you get to November, it won't be. People will be voting on many issues and that's what Republicans say.

But you can't ignore the turnout and you can't ignore the result of the big counties in the counties. Johnson County, where Jeff was, suburbs of Kansas City, is the prototype of the Northern well-educated suburb that has moved from Republican to Democrat over the last generation, particularly in the Trump era, 68 percent voted for the pro-choice position in that county. The turnout was enormous.

I think what that signals is that this Republican Party in the image of Trump with candidates like Tudor Dixon in Michigan who are talking about banning abortion in all cases except the life of the mother, said a 14-year-old victim of incest should carry a baby to term, that Republican Party still has trouble in white collar suburbs, whether Oakland County in Michigan, the suburbs of Atlanta, and that probably is the Democrats' best chance to avoid the worst in November.

TAPPER: And then Republicans don't necessarily know how to interpret this. They don't seem eager to talk about it.

Take a listen to Republican Senator Roy Blunt from neighboring Missouri talking to CNN's Manu Raju earlier today.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I think the best place to deal with these issues is at the state level. If that's what Kansans want to do, that would fall within my longtime held view that the states are in the best position to deal with these kinds of issues.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But do you think it will energize Democrats this issue after last night's --

BLUNT: I don't know.


TAPPER: What do you think? Should Republicans be worried?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: I think there is certainly data points to suggest that some of this, this energy that occurred in Kansas last night can happen in other states. One data point that Democratic data firm put out after the results was that 70 percent of the Kansans that registered to vote after the June 24th Dobbs decision were women. So, is that happening in other states? That Dobbs could potentially be this watermark, and after that more and more are motivated to vote?

Also, I know there were other reports that progressives and young students who go to college there saw the decision to have this vote in August as an attempt to try to go around the fact that students are sometimes out of state during this time.


And so, they felt motivated and students were organizing in droves in Kansas to try to defeat this ballot initiative.

TAPPER: Very interesting. Let's turn to Michigan where Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump. He's one of only ten Republicans to do so.

He lost his primary to conspiracy theorist MAGA guy named John Gibbs. He's an election liar. The big story is that the Democrats, the DCCC, basically made John Gibbs' campaign. I mean, they give him $300,000, the DCCC, and other Democrats give more.

Now, look, it's the Republican voters --

BROWNSTEIN: It's the Republican voters in the end.


BROWNSTEIN: Look, this is a tough one because, first of all, this strategy by and large in the past has been somewhat successful, whether it's Harry Reid in 2010 or Claire McCaskill in 2012. I mean, the opponent you get can matter. It is also true that Meijer, if he was re-elected, would vote to make

Kevin McCarthy the speaker who would probably have a committee investigating Hunter Biden and doing other things that might undermine democracy. So it's not as though for Democrats it's a black and white choice.

But for someone who voted to impeach Trump and stood for that -- I mean, it's pushing this about as far as I think you can.

TAPPER: I think what it does, it makes it seem, Democrats are saying these election liars pose an existential threat to American democracy. And I agree with them, they do. Empirically, they do.

If that's the case, if it's an existential threat, why are you risking in a particularly red wave year electing one of these guys?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, that's an argument a number of Democrats made. They said this is hypocritical if we're on one hand holding the January 6th hearings, warning about the threats that election deniers pose and then putting out an ad campaign that essentially boosts the Trump-aligned candidate.

I do agree with Ron, though, that essentially at the end of the day, you know, 68 percent of Republican voters think the election was stolen. And so, that is why they are voting for election deniers.

BROWNSTEIN: Michigan and Arizona, after yesterday, the entire top of the ticket in both states of the Republican Party are going to be election deniers. The secretary of state, attorney general and governor in Michigan, the attorney general, secretary of state, governor and senator in Arizona.

I mean, this is bigger than Trump. This has kind of taken root in the party in a way that goes way beyond him. It's going to be challenging him. In a red wave year, as Laura is saying, some of these candidates are likely to get elected. The level of chaos that's going to bring to 2024, I don't think we're really prepared for.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, the level of chaos that's going to the United States and our democracy is going to be insane.


TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much both, to both of you.

Getting close to the inner circle. Subpoenas into the federal probe have been issued by the Justice Department to the two highest ranking members of the Trump administration so far.

Then, at any moment, the jury could start to decide the cost of a lie. How much will Alex Jones be forced to pay for lying and in some ways organizing the torture of the Sandy Hook massacre victims?


[16:17:0] TAPPER: We're back with some sad breaking news.

Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana has been killed in a car crash. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy shared a statement confirming that the congresswoman's husband was notified that she was killed in a car accident in Indiana this afternoon.

The statement goes on to say, quote: She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers, unquote.

Walorski was born and raised in South Bend, an area that she has represented since first being elected to Congress in 2012. May her memory be a blessing.

Also in our politics lead, former Trump deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin has now been subpoenaed in the federal criminal probe of the January 6 insurrection, two sources tell CNN. This comes just a day after we learned his former boss, Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, was also subpoenaed for documents and testimony by the Justice Department.

These moves are the clearest signal yet that federal investigators are looking at conduct directly related to Donald Trump and his closest allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

And as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports for us now, executive privilege concerns could prove to be a complication for prosecutors.


JESSSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department escalating its investigation into January 6th, with CNN learning of two new key subpoenas to the former White House counsel and his deputy. Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin are the highest ranking White House officials to be subpoenaed so far.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is probably bad for former President Trump.

SCHNEIDER: Prosecutors are already deep into their investigation from Trump allies to overturn the 2020 election. Two top aides to Vice President Pence appeared before a grand jury last month.

Subpoenas have already been served to several people who schemed to create fake slates of electors saying Trump won the 2020 election in several swing states. Earlier this summer, FBI agents seized lawyer John Eastman's phone and raided Jeffrey Clark's home.


KINZINGER: It shows that this is more than what did John Eastman do, the attorney that basically came up with that crazy scheme to overturn the election. It probably is a very deep interest on what the president did.

SCHNEIDER: Cipollone's subpoena was significant. He was close to the president and in the West Wing on January 6th.

PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think I was pretty clear there needed to be immediate and forceful response statement, public statement that people need to leave the Capitol.

SCHNEIDER: Cipollone sat for several hours of a closed-door deposition with the January 6th Select Committee, careful not to divulge any conversations directly with Trump.

Former Prosecutor Elie Honig says that could prove to be a hurdle for Justice Department prosecutors.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Donald Trump might try to step in and claim executive privilege in front of a grand jury. You can claim executive privilege. There's a difference between claiming executive privilege and actually winning on executive privilege. This is exactly what happened in the Richard Nixon tapes case back in 1974.


SCHNEIDER: Nixon's tapes were ultimately ordered released by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the January 6th Committee blindsided by more revelations of missing text messages from government phones. CNN learned the Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing Defense Department and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting texts that might have existed from key witnesses to the response to the Capitol attack.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Was the January 6 Select Committee aware of these deleted Defense Department records prior to today?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I do not believe so. I was not, which is another concerning matter that this was not disclosed to us by the Department of Defense.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): Tonight, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, he's calling on the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate the missing texts from senior officials at the Defense Department. The Pentagon has responded saying they are aware of the request.

But, Jake, they're still waiting to get an official ask from Senator Durbin.

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

Let's bring former U.S. Attorney and CNN senior legal analyst, Preet Bharara.

Preet, thanks for being here. So, Adam Kinzinger, a member of the committee, says the subpoena of Cipollone is, quote, probably bad for Donald Trump. What do the Cipollone and Philbin subpoenas signal to you about where the Justice Department is in this investigation?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it signals I think very, very clearly and loudly that the Justice Department is doing the kinds of things lots of folks have wondered, why were they not doing those things. Certainly, those depositions spurred the Justice Department along.

We now know they are interviewing people, calling them to the grand jury at a very high level. They're not going after low level people and working their way up as far as a grand jury practice goes from what the reporting has been. They brought into the grand jury two top officials to Vice President Mike Pence, and now the two top officials at the White House counsel's office, it means they're very serious, it means as you said in the opening, they're focusing on conduct by Donald Trump himself. Maybe an interest in looking a at the conduct of people who are stuffing Donald Trump like John Eastman.

You don't call in the White House counsel, the deputy White House counsel, particularly in the wake of the testimony they gave to the 1/6 committee unless you're looking squarely and directly at Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Is there testimony that Cipollone or Philbin would give to a grand jury that they were not willing to give to the January 6th committee. We saw Cipollone -- we're told he invoked executive privilege many times. We saw in the video his reluctance to describe any specific conversations with Donald Trump.

Can the grand jury force him to?

BHARARA: Not in connection with the testimony he'll give in real time. There's two things perhaps going on. One is it's possible that the Justice Department through Cipollone and the other lawyers, counsel can convince them their claim of executive privilege or other privilege is too broad and having looked at the testimony he gave before the January 6th committee, winnow it down a little bit if they're reasonable people and will negotiate.

And then the second thing is more likely, that Cipollone and others will assert the same executive and other privileges, but it will be teed up in a more direct way for the Justice Department, and the Justice Department will have to fight it out in court. It's a very different thing to fight between the justice department and the witness versus the January 6th committee and the witness as we've seen before.

TAPPER: The -- we've heard last week and the week before about U.S. Secret Service agent text messages being wiped and disappearing from January 5th to January 6th. We heard the same thing for the texts of two top officials at the Department of Homeland Security under Trump, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli.

Now we also hear this happened at the Pentagon from key witnesses at the Pentagon to events surrounding January 6th. Take a listen to what former Trump defense secretary Mark Esper who had already left the administration told CNN earlier today about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: That needs to be looked into. I think what we'll find is this I think what we'll find is this was a circumstance of people leaving government two weeks or so after January 6th and their phones being wiped and cleared for the next person to take them.


TAPPER: Do you buy that?

BHARARA: Look, I think it's possible. You know, I've been trained to keep an open mind and wait for conclusions to be drawn after an investigation has been done. Clearly, a lot of interest, hopefully bipartisan interest in making sure an investigation is done and find out the answers as to why it is, as you point out, three different government agencies had their phones wiped. It's particularly peculiar in the circumstances we're talking about.

When big events happen, government officials become aware there will be future testimony sought about those issues.

TAPPER: Don't delete anything at all.

BHARARA: I was a United States attorney. There were certain times when certain things were going on, you were very, very particular and careful because there's going to be an inquiry.


And here, based on what happened on January 6th, there were going to be multiple inquiries and everybody knew it.

And the tech people knew it and the individual agents knew it and their supervisors knew it and the inspector general should have known it. So, for that to have happened in the wake of everyone having clear direct knowledge there was going to be a lot of interest in this by the American people, by courts and potentially by prosecutors, it's unforgivable.

Whether it was deliberate or not, we'll have to wait and see.

TAPPER: So far, the Justice Department isn't getting involved into the missing Secret Service text messages, which to me seem the fishiest of all of them. Garland said that will only happen if there are criminal allegations.

Do you agree with that?

BHARARA: I don't know all the information they have. It seems to me, given the confluence of events, that there's enough smoke to warrant an investigation. I don't want to second-guess Merrick Garland, but maybe it's the case that, as more of these revelations come to life, if you have a fourth agency, a fifth agency -- I guess on one hand you could argue, I guess, that means it wasn't a conspiracy, it wasn't intentional. It was just something the government did in every single agency.

On the other hand, as I discussed with you a second ago, it's sure fishy given how important these text messages were going to be and how directly they could bear on the state of mind of Donald Trump, which is the central question at issue in the country.

TAPPER: It sure is fishy.

Preet Bharara, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

We've got more breaking news. The NFL made an announcement about Cleveland Browns' quarterback Deshaun Watson's 6-game suspension.

Stick around.



TAPPER: Just in on our sports lead, the NFL says it will appeal the six-game suspension handed down to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson after a judge found he violated the league's personal conduct policy in his myriad private meetings with massage therapists which resulted in many accusations against him.

CNN's Don Riddell joins me live.

Don, does the NFL want a tougher punishment or a more lenient one for Deshaun Watson?

DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST, WORLD SPORT: Tougher, Jake. They had originally asked that he was suspended for a year, the judge, the female Judge Sue Robinson appointed jointly by the NFL and NFLPA concluded in her 16-page report he would only be suspended for six games. She responded to the criticism that she received, basically saying that the penalty and the punishment that the NFL was asking for was far more than what other players who had been charged with similar allegations have received.

So it's going to be very interesting to see where it goes now, because the appeal will be heard by Commissioner Roger Goodell himself, and the NFL has asked for a lot more than the six games that were handed down. This remains an absolutely fascinating case, playing out just one month before the new NFL season kicks off. Deshaun Watson is one of the biggest stars in the game. He's one of the highest paid, his $230 million contract was the highest contract in terms of guaranteed money in the history of the NFL.

Another controversial aspect of the six-game suspension and penalty was that he wouldn't lose a cent from it. His team, the Cleveland Browns, rearranged his contract so that whilst he wouldn't be paid during the six games, he would still get every penny in the years after the suspension had ended.

But, of course, now we don't know exactly where this is going to lead. This is an absolutely huge story in American sports. TAPPER: That's right. Twenty-four women have leveled accusations of

sexual misconduct and more against him.

Don Riddell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is about to find out the price of a lie. That's next.




ALEX JONES, INFOWARS HOST: It's 100 percent real as I said on the radio yesterday, and as I said here yesterday, it's 100 percent real.


TAPPER: In our national lead, Sandy Hook happened, it's 100 percent real. That's the admission Alex Jones made on the stand today, but does he mean it?

The trial for the far right conspiracy theorist and radio host will determine how much Jones owes for defaming the parents of a 6-year-old among the 20 children killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting.

Jones' lies about the victims of Sandy Hook and their families led to years of harassment by his deranged fans. Some parents even had to change their addresses.

We should note Alex Jones is a full-fledged member of team MAGA. Trump went on his show in 2015. Jones was part of the January 6th insanity.

CNN's Miguel Marquez was tracking developments in the courtroom today where the jury could begin deliberating at any moment.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conspiracist Alex Jones facing reality, questioned by the lawyer representing parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis.

MARK BANKSTON, PLAINTIFF LAWYER: You and your company want the world to believe that this judge is rigging this court proceeding to make sure that a script, a literal script, is being followed. That's what you want the world to believe, right?

JONES: Aren't I barred from talking about this?

BANKSTON: I'm asking your question, Mr. Jones.

JUDGE: The way the court works is you answer a question until there's an objection.

MARQUEZ: John's struggling to answer without being contradicted by either his own words or those being said by others on his behalf.

Just last Friday, Robert Barnes filled in for Jones on his Infowars show.

ROBERT BARNES, ATTORNEY: That's why the judges rigging the court proceeding to make sure that the script -- this is literally a script. A script. It's called in a certain way for future audiences.

MARQUEZ: Jones' cross-examination follows withering testimony from Scarlett Lewis, Jesse's mother. She faced down Jones, the man who told and fanned lies that the mass murder at Sandy Hook never happened. Her son Jesse never existed, and his mother, merely an actress.

SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK SHOOTING VICTIM: And then to have someone, on top of that, perpetuate a lie, a lie, that it was a hoax, that it didn't happen, it was a false flag, that I am an actress. And you get on and say, oh, sorry. But I know actresses when I see them. Do you think I'm an actress?


JONES: No, I don't think you're an actress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you can't talk right now.

MARQUEZ: Jones under pressure found liable in three separate defamation lawsuits brought by the families of ten victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The jury for this case determining how much Jones must pay for his lies.

JONES: Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured.

MARQUEZ: The parents' lawyer establishing Jones made hundreds of million dollars over several years based on text messages from his phone, evidence Jones didn't realize they had, catching him in another lie.

BANKSTON: Twelve days ago, your attorney has messed up, and sent an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you've sent for the past two years, and when informed, did not take any steps to identify this privilege, or protected in any way.

And as of two days ago, it fell free and clear into my possession, and that is how I know you lied to me when he said he didn't have text messages about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?

JONES: See? I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment. I gave them my phone.

MARQUEZ: Jones testified earlier in the deposition that he searched the text messages on his phone for the term Sandy Hook. It came back with no hits.

JONES: I had several different phones with this number, but I did, yeah. That's why you got it. BANKSTON: No, Mr. Johns. That's not why I have it.

JONES: My lawyer sent it to you. But I'm hiding it. Okay.

JUDGE: Mr. Jones, please, just answer questions.

MARQUEZ: Jones's defense, on his show, he's only asking questions, and the mainstream media is taking everything he says out of context.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Now, the family of Jesse Lewis are asking up to $150 million in damages. The defense lawyers for Mr. Jones are doing their closing arguments right now. We expect a jury may have this case any time this afternoon, and then it will be in their hands to decide what he's liable for -- Jake.

TAPPER: Miguel, if the jury decides to award a large amount of money to the family, what's the chance that the parents will actually see the money?

MARQUEZ: That is already a growing question, not only this family but others. Remember, there are three different defamation cases he's now been held liable for or he's liable in. The families are concerned that he's using bankruptcy laws to hide tens of millions of dollars that he -- in profits in order to keep it from liability in these cases. So, I think we're going to see a lot more litigation and many more lies ahead -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you for that report.

For more about Alex Jones and Infowars, be sure to tune in to CNN this Friday, CNN special report, "Megaphone for Conspiracy". It will air at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up, a huge mistake that may have cost millions of Americans homes and cars and lots of money. That's next.



TAPPER: Our money lead now. Today is the 50th day in a row that gas prices have fallen in the United States. The drop is driven by the fact that so many Americans cut back on driving due to soaring fuel costs and recession fears which have knocked down oil prices.

CNN's Pete Muntean joins us live from a gas station in D.C.

Pete, where do prices stand now? How much further do they think they're going to fall?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, most gas stations in the U.S. are selling gas below $4.00 a gallon. It is $3.99 at this Citgo station in northeast D.C. which is below the national average for a gallon of regular according to AAA for a gallon of regular. $4.16 is what it went to overnight.

That is down almost 90 cents from the peak we saw back on June 14th when gas price hit its highest ever record, $5.02. We've gone down 65 cents in the last month. It was $4.81 only a month ago.

Multiple reasons according to petroleum experts -- not only are there fears of a global recession, even though we're not officially in one, but that is also causing oil prices to go down, and gas demand has also gone down since those prices hit that $5.00 a gallon record.

I want you to listen to Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy. He says gas prices rise like a rocket and drop like a feather. They're dropping slower than what we saw when Russia invaded Ukraine when gas prices went up in a big way now that gas stations are trying to recoup their losses from the massive increases. Listen now.


PATRICK DE HAAN, GASBUDDY: We're not talking about stations making money hand over fist, but they are passing along the lower prices slower to recoup the margins to sustain their business from when prices went up and they were caught on the wrong side of things.


MUNTEAN: The next milestone we will see when gas prices hit $3.99 on average for a gallon of regular. Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy say we can see that in the next couple weeks.

The other milestone and other big question is whether or not we'll see gas prices like we saw in the peak of the pandemic in the $2 a gallon range. Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy says not likely. What we're seeing right now, even though this trend could continue, is likely the new normal -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We're following another major economic story. Credit giant Equifax issued wrong credit scores for millions of Americans, and that likely resulted in consumers paying higher interest rates or being denied loans altogether.


Let's bring in CNN business reporter Rahel Solomon.

Rahel, how did this happen?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Jake, Equifax says it was a coding issue, a glitch that led to a miscalculation of credit scores, not the actual reports, but credit scores. It happened over a three-week period, likely mid March to early April, according to some reporting from "The Wall Street Journal".

And millions were impacted, Jake, but the company is saying only 300,000 actually saw an incorrect credit score of more than 25 points. The company saying in part in a statement, we've determined there was no shift in the vast majority of scores adding, for those consumers that did experience a score shift, initial analysis indicates only a small number of them may have received a different credit decision.

Look, if you are part of that small number, it doesn't feel small to you, Jake. So, look, the company is pointing out it's a small percentage, it wasn't a vast majority.

But again, if it was your credit score, you don't feel great about it.

TAPPER: No, I would think not. So, what's the solution for the potentially millions of Americans who are right now paying higher interest rates or may have been denied loans because of these mistakes?

SOLOMON: So, if you think you were impacted, you have to do a bit of self-advocacy here. I called around and so, the first thing to think about, did you actually apply for a loan in that time period? If you did, you have to pull all three credit reports, you can go to and look at the Equifax report and look if there were any hard inquiries.

If so, you might have to reach out to those lenders and look for any anomalies and point them to this information and hopefully try to self-advocate, as I said. But, Jake, unfortunately, we know rates are on average much higher than they were in that time period. It really complicates the effort if you feel like a decision was made wrongfully.

TAPPER: And, Rahel, new data shows Americans are piling up credit card debt as they struggle to keep up with inflation. The Fed raising rates again which means these credit card bills are probably going to cost even more.

SOLOMON: The credit card rates have really spiked this year. We know, according to this research from the New York Fed, that credit card debt has jumped about 13 percent for the second quarter compared to the same time a year ago.

Jake, that is the highest yearly jump in about 20 years. So, there is that. Certainly enough to make you pay attention.

The positive news, however, in the report is that delinquencies are still very low. So, that's positive news, and also the report suggesting that consumer balance sheets are still strong.

TAPPER: All right. Rahel Solomon, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a snag from Sinema. The Arizona Democratic senator revealing what she wants out of that major climate and tax bill that Democrats are hoping to score a big win with. New details coming up.



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

This hour a 12-year-old girl kidnapped, drugged, tied up. She breaks free by chewing through her restraints. What police found at her alleged captor's home is horrific. We'll tell you the story.

Plus, new polls giving a glimmer of hope to Democrats for the fall midterms. Will it be enough to hold on to the Senate? We're going to break it all down with our numbers wizard.

And leading this hour, President Biden better get fresh pens. He's got new laws to sign. The PACT Acts to help veterans exposed to burn pits and the CHIPS Act are just two big bipartisan accomplishments for the administration this week.

But can these wins counteract the criticism and defeat and high inflation?

We're going to start with CNN's MJ Lee at the White House. She's tracking both the wins and losses of the Biden administration this week.



Gas prices are coming down.

We've got 217 yes votes for the CHIPS Bill. The House has passed it.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden celebrating a series of victories and positive headlines in recent days. A year and a half into his first term, the president, who is still isolating in the White House residence with a rebound case of COVID --

BIDEN: I'm feeling much better than I sound.

LEE: -- COVID touting some of the most consequential achievements of his presidency so far. On Monday night, the surprise announcement of the killing of Ayman al Zawahiri, one of the master mines of the September 11th attacks.

BIDEN: My fellow Americans, on Saturday at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an air strike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed the emir of al Qaeda.

LEE: And next week, the White House preparing to celebrate two bipartisan legislative victories.

On Monday, Biden expected to sign into law a bill that would expand health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, the issue of personal significance for the president who has said he believes the brain cancer that claimed the life of his late son Beau could have been caused by exposure to burn pits.

On Tuesday, the president scheduled to sign into law the so-called CHIPS Act, which would boost semiconductor production in the U.S. and pass through Congress with Republican support.

BIDEN: It sure as hell thrilled me and thrilled everybody around this White House.

LEE: White House officials in recent weeks also optimistic about gradually falling gas prices.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're now seeing 50 days into what remains the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade.

LEE: And hopeful a surprise deal struck between Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin and a bill called the Inflation Reduction Act which ultimately get the support of Kyrsten Sinema, the last Democratic Senate holdout and result in unprecedented investments in fighting climate change.