Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

National Archives Letter Sheds New Light On Top Secret Documents Trump Stored At Mar-a-Lago; Source: U.S. To Send Up To $3B In New Aid To Ukraine; Father Of Murdered Russian Calls For Escalation With Ukraine; Primary Elections Today In New York, Florida & Oklahoma; Anger Mounts Among Uvalde Families Over School Board Inaction; Whistleblower: Twitter's Security Problems A Threat To Democracy. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 23, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: He is not aware anyone is recording. He likes drinking his beer through a hotdog.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I don't know why you need to drink a beer through a hotdog. I don't know why you need to drink a beer through a straw. There are so many questions.

BLACKWELL: The smell of like hotdog water, even the thought of it makes me a little queasy.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's get out of this.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Team Trump just curiously confirmed that hundreds of pages of secret documents had been held at Mar-a-Lago.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A letter from May of this year just released revealing that for months, the National Archives made it clear to Team Trump urgently that they worried about classified material being stored improperly at Mar-a-Lago. Why was it there, who had access to it, and what does the letter say the release of it about the Trump folks that they thought releasing it spelling these concerns helped their case?

Also, urgent warning. The U.S. urging Americans to leave Ukraine immediately. The warnings of a possible Russian attack as Ukraine prepared to mark its day of independence.

Plus, explosive whistleblower claims in a CNN exclusive. The man who was head of Twitter security says your data on the site is not safe and security problems at Twitter are so grave, they are even a risk to national security.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We start today with our politics lead and damning new details in the

battle over the classified documents that Trump and his team improperly took to Mar-a-Lago. We're now learning that officials from the National Archives directly told Donald Trump's legal team in May that they were so concerned about what the Trump team had taken with them and how those documents were being stored at Mar-a-Lago that top U.S. intelligence agencies had been called in to do a damage assessment, as in damage to national security.

Now, to be clear, this letter from May is not about the boxes of documents that the FBI seized from Trump's home earlier this month. These were the records that Trump's lawyers turned over to the archives back in January. But we are only learning about it now because Trump world decided to share this letter from the national archives. They shared it on the pro-Trump website of John Solomon who is also serving as one of Trump's liaisons with the federal government.

They obviously thought releasing this letter would be damaging to President Biden and we'll talk about that in a minute. But the letter reveals real concerns from career professionals that Trump was improperly holding more than 700 pages of materials, materials that his lawyers had to turn over to the government, including documents that legally can only be viewed in secure facilities. The National Archives told Trump's team, quote, the executive branch must also conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported, and take any necessary remedial steps, unquote.

As CNN's Jessica Schneider reports for us now, this letter raises the stakes as the criminal investigation is looking for even more evidence from Mar-a-Lago.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New information about the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago months ago details how the National Archives delayed providing hundreds of pages of classified documents recovered from former President Trump's possession until mid-May to the FBI and the intelligence community, so they could assess the damage done to national security.

REBECCA ROIPHE, FORMER MANHATTAN ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Obviously, these sorts of documents belong in the national archives. This is precisely why they are to be held by the government itself, not by somebody who is a former president or anybody else.

SCHNEIDER: The letter lays out how the national archives tried to work with Trump's team and carefully considered their privilege claims. In fact, sources now tell CNN how the Justice Department initially balked at launching a criminal investigation. Top officials weighed the national security implications of the classified information being stored in unsecured sections of Mar-a-Lago, knowing that political blowback was likely.

JARED KUSHNER, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: We have lost a lot of faith in the fairness of the judicial system, and it seems like they keep trying to find more and more things to go after Trump on. It just seems like what they keep doing is breaking norms in their attempt to try to get him.

SCHNEIDER: As the letter was released, the former president lashed out on his social media page, accusing the Biden administration of acting for purely political reasons, saying the White House stated strongly that they were not involved. And knew absolutely nothing about the political witch hunt going on with me and that they didn't know anything at all about the break-in of Mar-a-Lago. This was strongly reiterated again and again. Wrong.

This comes after Trump's legal team filed in Florida federal court asking for a third party special master to review what was retrieved from Mar-a-Lago and demanding the government stop sorting through any more documents in the meantime.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER TRUMP ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: It sort of telegraphs the Trump team doesn't trust the FBI. There's some very bad blood between the FBI and president Trump.

SCHNEIDER: The criminal investigation continues. "The New York Times" reporting that even after the FBI executed its search warrant at Mar- a-Lago August 8th, investigators sought additional surveillance footage from the club. Members of Congress continue to ask for more information.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Attorney General Garland needs and the Justice Department should be as transparent and there is an obligation to get all of the information out there that they can when you have a former president involved. So my view is, get it out there.


SCHNEIDER: And meanwhile, we have just learned from our team on the Hill that Robert O'Brien, who served as Trump's national security adviser, he is scheduled to meet with the January 6th Select Committee today. That's according to a source.

And O'Brien will be the latest cabinet official to be interviewed by the committee, as they prepare for more public hearings in September and as they continue to investigate conversations between cabinet members about potentially invoking the 25th Amendment to force Trump from office in those days after January 6th -- Jake.

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

Here to discuss, CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, former FBI senior intelligence adviser Phil Mudd, and former assistant U.S. attorney Kim Wehle.

Let me just also say, it's so odd to hear Donald Trump describe the FBI conducting a lawful search as a break-in. That's not what a break- in is. But I guess we're in the upside down here. Phil, let's start with the National Archives security concerns. The

letter says that the materials included documents, quote, top secret and special access program materials. Translate that for us. What does that mean, and what kind of materials could we be talking about?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, a lot of people have been saying, Jake, that a lot of U.S. government material is overclassified. That is correct. But not in the circumstances of documents that you just described.

Let me explain the kinds of stuff you're talk about.

Top secret code word which I had access to would include stuff like intercepted communications from foreign governments. If you're trying to intercept, for example, communications at an Iranian nuclear facility, that's top secret code word. Let me translate, if that stuff is released, the people who you're intercepting obviously will see it and they'll shut down those communications.

Special access program, that's a special category that you have to get signed in, literally signed in, you sign your name, to see every one of those documents. For example, if you have an infiltration into Kim Jong-un's circle in North Korea, a human infiltration, that information gets released. They're going to be able to find that human infiltration. That person will be killed. That would be something that you would put in a special access program.

Don't talk about overclassified. This stuff is nasty if it gets out and people die.

TAPPER: And, Kim, the national archives says these documents were held in a location that doesn't meet the requirements for highly classified sensitive materials. Is there any legal liability here, and if so, for whom?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, absolutely. We saw three statute cited in the warrant that gave rise to the Mar-a-Lago search. That is espionage, unlawful taking of these documents, as well as obstruction. Under the Presidential Records Act, the day a president leaves office, all of that stuff belongs to the American people.

Now this is getting ratcheted up well beyond that. That is there a criminal laws that kick in if this kind of material is taken by anyone, and we're not talking one document. If it were one document, it would be a big story. We're talking hundreds, and we don't even really know in this moment the full scope of what was taken, who saw it, and frankly I think it's going to push back on the Biden administration at some point not so much to justify the search but to tell the American people whether we're secure as a result of this massive stunning breach of national security by a former president.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, Trump and his allies are using this letter to bolster their argument that it's all a witch hunt, because the letter does mention communications between the National Archives and the Biden White House. Trump claimed on his social media platform, quote, the White House

stated strongly they were not involved and knew absolutely nothing about the political witch hunt. They didn't know anything about the break-in at Mar-a-Lago. Again, it wasn't a break-in. It was a lawful FBI raid or search.

And what -- tell me what the truth is behind the claim. I recall the Biden people saying they didn't know anything about the investigation, not that they didn't know anything about this desire to have important national security records returned to where they should be.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHTE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that was publicly reported information. It was very well known that there was this fight going on between Trump and the National Archives about getting these documents back, because remember, it was back in January when they got those 15 boxes of documents which is what is at the center of discussion between the National Archives and Trump's attorney in this letter from April that was released today.

And it's not implicating President Biden as you are seeing Trump and other allies indicate or try to imply on certain social media and whatever. What it is saying in this letter is that the National Archives official consulted with the White House about this and said that President Biden deferred to the decision that she made, which the decision that she ultimately made was rejecting Trump's claims that he could basically assert executive privilege over these documents and that was something she made after consulting with top Justice Department officials.


So what it says in the letter is that Biden deferred to the National Archives on this matter. And essentially, the argument that she was making here to Trump's attorneys after she had consulted with officials at the Justice Department, top officials, was there's no precedent for a former president not being able to access documents that belong to the federal government because a former president is making these arguments that an incumbent president wouldn't be able to access these documents because of some claim that his predecessor is making. And she was saying that is what led them to make this decision.

But, Jake, what's at the heart of this is they're saying they could not basically do a damage assessment of what was taken to Mar-a-Lago because they were having these ongoing discussions with Trump's team about what was taken and about these arguments about executive privilege. So that is what is stated in this letter.

TAPPER: So it seems like they leaked this letter so that they could lie about the contents of it. Phil --

COLLINS: Which, Jake, can I make one thing clear?

TAPPER: Yeah, yeah.

COLLINS: What Biden and the White House have said they have no awareness of was the search of Mar-a-Lago.

TAPPER: Right.

COLLINS: They did not know that was going to happen. That's what they found out from watching cable news, from reading Twitter. They did not know that was going to happen.

It's not necessarily they weren't aware there was a struggle going on to get these documents back because that was publicly reported.

TAPPER: Yeah, we already knew it. That's my point, the Trump people thought they could leak this to bolster their lie.

Phil, to play devil's advocate, is there any legitimate reason a president would need these materials that were so highly classified to the degree he would take them improperly and keep them for months and months, even though the National Archives say they need those back?

MUDD: No, typically when a president asks the CIA, the FBI or anybody else to show up and talk to them about anything in the world, Iran, North Korea, et cetera, people get on a plane and talk to him at the top secret level. You don't need to keep documents at the house. You keep murder mysteries at the beach house, Jake, not top secret stuff.

TAPPER: And, Kim, I want to play something that Congressman Turner -- Mike Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told me last week about his view of the raid on Mar-a-Lago.


REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): This must rise to the level of an imminent national security threat that they're trying to secure, that they would go to his house, because they had many options. One of which is they could have gone to court and asked the course to enforce the subpoena that was prior issued.


TAPPER: So what is your take on that?

WEHLE: Well, it sounds like they're saying the quiet part out loud, this is a national security threat, and getting people really confused about how the law works. There was a subpoena. We don't know all the reasons why they decided that the non-responsiveness to the subpoena was not something to wait around for, to actually execute the warrant.

But we have a long affidavit presumably with lots of detail, and frankly, it's the Trump team that's now giving us some of the facts that presumably are in that affidavit. Maybe so people can get warmed up to the idea that this is somehow normal, but there's absolutely nothing normal about it, and of course, the DOJ is balancing on the one hand, oh, you shouldn't go after a former president.

On the other hand, this shocking jaw-dropping breach of the most, as Phil was saying, the most sacred information in intelligence that keeps America safe. TAPPER: All right, thanks all for being here. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, an urgent warning to Americans. Leave Ukraine immediately. The growing fears that new Russian strikes could happen specifically in the days ahead.

Plus, frustration and fear in Uvalde, Texas. The latest attempt for answers as the community struggles to get accountability for the murders of 18 students and two teachers while police just stood there.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, the United States government is set to announce its largest ever security assistant package to the Ukrainian government and military, up to $3 billion according to a senior U.S. official. That includes western air defense systems and a massive amount of ammunition. Fears of increased Russian attacks are blanketing Ukraine on the eve of its independence day, and the U.S. State Department sent an urgent message to any Americans in Ukraine, get out now.

Let's go right to CNN's David McKenzie who is in the center of the action in Kyiv.

David, you asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about foreign military aid today. What did he have to say?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is very important to the Ukrainians because as this war drags on and they are stuck in these defensive positions all across the front line, that aid is really crucial. I asked President Zelenskyy how important is it that the world is still focused on the plight of Ukrainians? Here's his answer.


PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAIN (through translator): We need to be clearly aware that as soon as the world becomes tired of this war that's going to be a great threat to the whole world, and annihilating Ukraine, so we're grateful for any kind of assistance. We need more of it, that's true.


MCKENZIE: Almost $3 billion or up to $3 billion, that will be a big difference for Ukraine. Ammunition, anti-aircraft facilities, what it means for the long run, though, they need to be getting that aid consistently in the months ahead, Jake.

TAPPER: David, President Zelenskyy also vowed to take back Crimea, which the Russians grabbed in 2014. He said they wanted to take it back, quote, by any means possible. Is he not worried about further provoking Russia?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think the horse has bolted on that one. They certainly have already struck in Crimea two at least spectacular attacks in the west, in the north. We're not sure exactly how they did it, but they did admit to doing those strikes which has really rattled Russians and Russian tourists who have found Crimea to be a place to relax, even on the edge of this war.

So it's clear that Ukraine can strike beyond the front lines here. Actually taking over Crimea, that's a much taller order because this front line has been static for many, many weeks.


Ukraine has managed to defend effectively, but whether it can go on the counteroffensive, that remains to be seen.

But Crimea really is the original sin for Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian leaders. They feel they need to get there, take it over, and only then they would have defeated the Russians -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's David McKenzie in Kyiv, please stay safe. Thank you so much.

Now over in Russia, calls for revenge have grown despite Ukraine's insistence had it nothing to do with Darya Dugina's murder, the daughter of the right wing influential Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports from Russia's capital for us where some Putin supporters are done using the term special military operation in Ukraine.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As Darya Dugina's body lay in an open casket, among the mourners, grief, sorrow, but also massive anger and a thirst for revenge. Dugina's father, the hard line pro-Kremlin ideologue Alexander Dugin, emotional, openly calling for a massive escalation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The price we have to pay can be justified by only one thing, the highest achievement, victory, he said. She lived in the name of victory and she died in the name of victory -- our Russian victory, our truth, our orthodoxy, our country, and our empire.

Some going even further than that, demanding an all-out war.

Maybe this event in the capitol will help convey the message to our government that we have to stop playing around with, quote, special military operations, and it's time to start a war, a serious war with first and foremost spiritual mobilization, a friend of Darya Dugina said.

After Darya Dugina was killed when her car exploded and crashed on a Moscow highway, it took the Russian intelligence agency only about a day to blame Ukraine, releasing video of what they claim is a Ukrainian special services operative who allegedly infiltrated Russia, killed Dugina, and then fled to a neighboring country.

Those claims cannot be independently verified by CNN and Ukraine's president reiterating Kyiv was not behind the killing.

ZELENSKYY: This is not our responsibility, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. She is not a citizen of our country. We are not interested in her. She is not in the territory of Ukraine occupied or not.

But Russia's allegations come as the war in Ukraine has seemingly reached a brutal stalemate, with heavy losses but few territorial gains for either side. Another fire brand pro-Kremlin commentator at the memorial calling for tougher action against Ukraine and lashing out at the U.S. for supporting Kyiv.

Americans at the head of NATO brought this up in Ukraine, very cynically turning Ukraine into anti-Russia. Americans don't care at all about Ukraine. They're only interested in their own future. Ukraine is expendable for them in a war with Russia that they are preparing.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So as you can see there, Jake, some pretty fiery language and some pretty serious calls to escalate what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Some of that was mirrored later by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who said after the investigation that the Russians have said that they carried out, that Russia would have no mercy with those who carried out the killing of Darya Dugina, despite the fact as we have been pointing out that the Ukrainians continue to insist that it was not them, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thank you so much.

Let's bring in national security coordinator for strategic communications at the White House, John Kirby.

Admiral, thanks for joining us. So, the U.S. State Department is warning for all U.S. citizens to get out of Ukraine. That warning came out last night, giving Americans there only a day to get out before Independence Day. Is the U.S. government doing anything for Americans who might be stuck in Ukraine for the next few days during this period of heightened anxiety and possible threat?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I would remind we have been inviting Americans to leave Ukraine since before the invasion back in February. There should be no reason for Americans to be in Ukraine at all. For months, they should not have been in Ukraine.

But given some of the indications that we have gotten about potential Russian strikes inside the country, including Kyiv, we believe it was important to restate that warning again for all Americans. We don't have a force presence on the ground, as you know, Jake, so we're not going to be facilitating the movement of American citizens inside Ukraine. We have warned for months and months that they should not be there. If anybody did remain, now is the time to start making your plans to get out of the country.

TAPPER: You heard in David's report, President Zelenskyy is worried the world is going to get tired of the war and assistance is going to stop flowing.


This newest package from the Biden administration, nearly $3 billion, that's a huge amount of money.

Will there be a point, though, where the U.S. just cannot afford to send any more assistance?

KIRBY: I can tell you what the president's committed to, and he said this loud and clear when he was at the NATO summit in Madrid, that the United States is going to continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And he meant every word of that.

I won't get ahead of the announcements of future aid and assistance, but, Jake, you understand that there are going to be future packages of aid and assistance coming from the United States, as well as from literally dozens of other countries, Jake. There's been no sign of letup by the United States or any of our allies and partners in terms of finding new ways to provide security assistance to Ukraine.

We know that the clock is not on Ukraine's side. We know the sense of urgency and we're going to continue to try to meet that.

TAPPER: Yesterday, you told CNN that the Biden administration has not yet come to any independent conclusion on who might have been responsible for that car bomb attack that killed Darya Dugina. There has been some speculation that Russia itself might have been responsible. For example, today, the spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Ned Price, told CNN this.


NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: This is a government, this is a regime that is in many ways devious and certainly wouldn't put anything past them.


TAPPER: I mean, that's a -- that's a statement of sorts. Is there anything more that U.S. intelligence has come up with that you can share with us that would suggest that there's anything to the idea that Russia might have done this to its own citizen?

KIRBY: No, Jake. We don't have any more information or data about this -- about this violence, and again, we have been very clear that there's no place for this kind of violence, period, against anybody. But we don't have any greater granularity or fingertip feel here on exactly what happened and by whom and what the motive was. I mean, obviously, we'll watch this as close as we can. We just don't have any more -- any more context to share.

TAPPER: A group of nine senators, Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to the secretary of state today asking to immediately designate Marc Fogel, that's an American teacher sentenced to 14 years in a Russian prison, as, quote, wrongfully detained," a designation that would allow the U.S. government to actively pursue his release.

Is there any downside to the Biden administration granting this classification?

KIRBY: There's a limit to what I can say on this case so I'm going to be careful. I can say we're mindful of it, and really, the designation of wrongful detention is one that the State Department has to make, and they take that very, very seriously, and they have not come to that conclusion. They're still working their way through this and reviewing the case, and that's really about as far as I can go on that.

TAPPER: Admiral John Kirby, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate it.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

TAPPER: We're just hours away from polls closing in three major primary contests. And a candidate who wants to take Ron DeSantis' seat as Florida governor used to also be, well, Florida governor. But past experience could be a liability in this race.

We'll explain next.



TAPPER: Just in to CNN, a federal judge is putting Trump's legal team on the clock. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, told the former president's lawyers they have until Friday to elaborate on their quest for a special master for the Mar-a-Lago search. Trump's legal team wants a third party, that's what a special master is, attorney, to be put in charge of overseeing the evidence that was taken from his Florida home. Judge Cannon says Trump needs to explain exactly what Trump wants to see happen here and why his legal team believes the court has the ability to step in in this case.

Also in our politics lead today, it's the tail end of the August primary season with election contests right now in New York, Florida, and Oklahoma. CNN is putting a spotlight on New York City where a number of incumbents are in competitive primaries. There's also a special House election where voters will decide if a Republican or Democratic candidate should fill a district seat that will be up for re-election again this November.

Another area of focus today is Florida where a Democratic challenger will be selected to take on Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

So, let's bring in CNN's Athena Jones in New York and Leyla Santiago in Florida.

Athena, to you first, what can we expect out of this contentious House race between incumbent House Democrats Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney? It's gotten really nasty.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it has gotten really nasty. This is a very unusual situation. You have Nadler, who has represented the upper west side, which is where we are now, for 15 terms, again, running against his longtime ally and friend, Carolyn Maloney, who has represented the upper east side for also 15 terms. But because of a messy redistricting process, their districts are now been combined and they're having to compete against each other. I talked to voters who are gutted at the fact they have to choose between one or the other.

I talked to all three campaigns, Nadler, Maloney, and the 38-year-old who is arguing he represented generational change. But, look, Maloney has been out six a.m., still trying to get out the votes, and Nadler's folks are saying he feels good. A busy campaign schedule unlike in recent days where he's been laying low. The bottom line is this is an odd time to have a primary, and a lot of analysts you talk to say it's absentee voters. People are out of town. If they're in town, they may not be paying attention.

So, whatever campaign has done a better job of reaching their voters, making sure if they're out of town, they cast their ballot for them. It's going to come down to turnout, but as you mentioned it has gotten nasty with Maloney saying Nadler is senile or half dead.


He, of course, pushed back saying he's just fine, that's ridiculous. He's not going to comment on that, but it's gotten nasty between these two fronts, Jake.

TAPPER: And here's another incumbent House Democrat in risk of losing a seat, Mondaire Jones, Congressman Mondaire Jones. He faces a crowded progressive field in an entirely new district where his name is not as well known.

JONES: Right. This is another result of this messy redistricting process. Mondaire Jones was elected two years ago to represent a district just north of the city, parts of Westchester County and Rockland County. But because of redistricting, he chose not to compete against one of his freshman colleagues. Instead, he moved to this newly drawn tenth district, which is lower Manhattan, really politically active district, he's competing against a dozen other candidates, several of them running in the progressive lane, which is what he styled himself as. So even in recent days he's been lamenting that they're kind of, the failure to consolidate means we don't really know, they don't really know who's going to come out on top.

I can tell you that Mondaire Jones and Dan Goldman, who does have some name recognition have been getting the most attention, the most air time, so there's a lot of eyes on Dan Goldman as well. It could be a narrow win here. TAPPER: Let's go to Leyla Santiago in Florida right now. The race

there in Florida is on to see which Democratic candidate is going to face off against Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

Leyla, who has a better chance right now, do you think?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I asked voters at one polling place here in St. Petersburg that question and I heard a lot of them, a lot of Democrats saying Charlie Crist. He is a former governor, also important to note that he was once a Republican and is now running in this primary as a Democrat.

He is up against Florida agricultural commissioner Nikki Fried, and her campaign will be quick to tell you she is the only state-wide elected Democrat. That's part of her argument for what you're talking about, Jake, the argument that they are both trying to make, to say they are the individual that can take on Governor Ron DeSantis come November, come that general election where Governor Ron DeSantis is a pretty big name within the Republican Party, and he has $132 million waiting for them to take them on in the general election.

TAPPER: And Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings is hoping to emerge as the Democrat that will face Republican Senator Marco Rubio in November. What are her chances against Rubio should she win?

JONES: Listen, a lot of Democrats are keeping an eye on her because she's a pretty prominent name within the party. She's a former police chief. She was one of the impeachment managers when it comes to Trump's first impeachment trial. But as of last year here in Florida, there are now more active registered Republicans than Democrats.

So they're going to really have to put up a fight here, and already, if what Senator Marco Rubio is saying is any indication, he's already tweeting out ads against her, ads that question her record even by her own fellow law enforcement officers.

TAPPER: All right. Athena Jones in New York, Leyla Santiago in Florida, thanks to both of you.

Coming up, his case sparked outrage in the wake of George Floyd's murder. Rayshard Brooks killed by police in Atlanta after a fight in a Wendy's parking lot. But what did a special prosecutor announce about the case? That's next.



TAPPER: Our national lead now. This afternoon, a Georgia special prosecutor announced that he will dismiss all charges against two white Atlanta police officers in the 2020 death of a Black man. Rayshard Brooks was shot after he drunkenly fell asleep in a Wendy's drive-through, then he attacked officers after they confronted him. You might remember the shooting came at the height of the nationwide demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

CNN's Nick Valencia was at today's news conference.

And, Nick, the prosecutor played lots of video to support his conclusions that the officers deserved no charges.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. It's video from this scene where we are now. This is outside the Wendy's or what's left of it where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police, and you can see there's really nothing left here because it was burned to the ground by activists after news of Brooks' death.

And Pete Skandalakis, the special prosecutor, in this case says that there was a lot of video, that this was a very well-documented incident, which gave them a true and complete review of the incident that happened, bringing them to the conclusion that the officers acted reasonably and committed no crimes and that no charges should be filed. In fact, they said charges should be dismissed.

These officers were initially charged by a district attorney here named Paul Howard who lost his re-election bid. He actually campaigned on these charges against the officers, losing his bid to current district attorney Fani Willis who was then recused from the case, paving the way for the man who went through a lot of effort to underscore that under Georgia state law, a Taser is considered a deadly weapon.

And in the video of the incident, we could see Brooks wrestle away a Taser from one of the officers and in video presented today, you could see Brooks use that Taser, deploy it at least twice against the officers.

Now, Skandalakis went on to say he does not believe that race played a role in this, but he was asked, what do you say to those who do believe that race was a factor?


PETER SKANDALAKIS, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Black lives do matter. I have spent my entire career representing black victims of crime. And I will tell them that I understand that the encounters between police and the African-American community at times are very volatile.

But I will ask them to look at the facts of this case. This isn't one of those cases. I do understand there has to be an outreach between law enforcement and the African American community. And I encourage that outreach to continue.


VALENCIA: Shortly after the announcement was made, the Atlanta Police Department released a statement that the two officers involved will be reinstated to the police force and be given additional training.

Jake, we've still yet to hear from the Brooks family, but that is going to happen eminently. They have scheduled a 5:00 p.m. press conference that's going to happen in just a matter of minutes -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

Two men could now face a maximum life sentence after a jury convicted them in a kidnapping plot against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Today, a federal grand jury found Adam Fox and Barry Croft guilty of conspiring to kidnap Governor Whitmer and use weapons of mass destruction. You might recall their arrest in 2020 at the height of tensions in the early days of the pandemic.

At that time, Whitmer faced some backlash over COVID restrictions in her state. Prosecutors say Fox and Croft planned to kidnap Governor Whitmer from her summer home. They even practiced detonating explosives at a so-called shoot house.

Prosecutors say the two had an ultimate goal to set off a second American civil war and the second American Revolution, unquote.

They have attended meeting after meeting and raised their voices. Next, the action community members in Uvalde, Texas, want immediately three months after the massacre of 19 students and two teachers.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, parents in Uvalde, Texas, are still begging for answers and demanding accountability three months after 19 students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary School with police waiting for more than an hour before taking on the shooter. And as the start of the new school year approaches, in just over two weeks, angry members of that community say the school board is not doing nearly enough.

Shimon Prokupecz joins us live from Uvalde, Texas.

Shimon, I don't need to tell you. Frustrated families have called for the superintendant and the school district police chief to be removed. What's the latest on that?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Last night, there was a school board meeting where they were listening to grievances that the community members, family members have against the superintendent. Over three hours this meeting went on for over three hours, and it was all behind closed doors.

And so, family members couldn't listen to what was being discussed. Then there was this level of frustration after the school board members came out and simply suggested some changes that they would have a town hall before school started, they would look into some of the police response. The school police response of that day.

It wasn't enough for parents. You know, time and time again, I'm at these school board meetings and time and time again, you leave these meetings and get the sense that the parents are just not getting the answers they want. There's been no accountability. Tomorrow, there will be another school board meeting, Jake, where we expect that the police chief, the school police chief, will finally be fired. That's still not 100 percent certain. But that is certainly on the agenda tomorrow night, and that is what parents are expecting. So, we will hear more about that tomorrow night, Jake.

TAPPER: Shimon, what securities measures if any new ones are to protect students in the new school year?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, Jake. So, we're outside this elementary school here in Uvalde, Dalton elementary school. You can see behind me, there's this fence. This is one of things they're doing. They're building out these ten-foot fences that stretch all across the schools, across this city now, across this county. This is one of the schools where they already installed some of this fencing. Some of the students from Robb Elementary are going to be attending here.

And it stretches all across the parking lot and all around the building. One of the things that happened with the gunman in the Robb Elementary School shooting was that he was able to jump over one of the fences and get inside that unlocked door. So this is one of the added security measures by the school district. They're also adding police officers, not the local police department, state troopers which are now going to be patrolling the school, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz in Uvalde, Texas, thanks so much.

A man who was head of security at Twitter has turned whistleblower and says your data on Twitter is not safe, and problems at the company could be a threat to national security. What else we're hearing from the whistleblower in a CNN exclusive. That's next.



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

This hour, the images of Jupiter from the most powerful telescope ever launched from earth. Images that startled even NASA scientists. What we can learn from those pictures, coming up.

Plus, back here on Planet Earth, excessive drought is exposing secrets from years ago, from newly revealed dinosaur tracks to artifacts of ancient civilizations and World War II warships.

But leading this hour, a whistleblower claims that Twitter has major security flaws that are a threat to your personal information, shareholders and perhaps more importantly threats to national security and democracy. The claim comes in a disclosure sent to Congress and to federal agencies last month and it describes a reckless environment where too many staff members have access to sensitive information and there isn't enough oversight.

As CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports, the disclosure also alleges some of Twitter's senior executives have been trying to cover up these vulnerabilities.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why are you coming forward?

PEITER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: All my life, I have been about finding places where I can go and make a difference.

O'SULLIVAN: This is Peiter Zatko. Until January of this year, he was head of security at Twitter, but now he's a whistleblower. And he says Twitter's security problems are so grave, they are a risk to national security and democracy.

ZATKO: I think Twitter is a critical resource to the entire world. I think it's an extremely important platform.

O'SULLIVAN: He's handed over information about the company to U.S. law enforcement agencies including the SEC, FTC, and Department of Justice.

JOHN TYE, FOUNDER WHISTLEBLOWER AID: We're in touch with the law enforcement agencies where. They're taking this seriously.

O'SULLIVAN: Twitter is pushing back, saying Zatko is peddling a narrative about our security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.

CNN and "The Washington Post" obtained a copy of the disclosure from a senior Democratic official on Capitol Hill.