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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Updated Report Shows GDP Shrank Less Than Anticipated; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Is Interviewed About GDP, Debt Forgiveness; Dems In Tough Races Criticize Biden's Debt Forgiveness; Abortion Trigger Laws Go Into Effect In 3 States; MN GOP Nominee For Top Election Post Compared Changing Voting Rules In 2020 To 9/11 Terror Attack; At Least 11 GOP Nominees For State Elections Chief Have Disputed The Legitimacy Of The 2020 Election; Biden's Loan Forgiveness Sparks Heated Debate; Two Individuals Plead Guilty To Stealing Ashley Biden's Journal And Selling It To Project Veritas; PA High School Cancels Entire Football Season Over Hazing Accusations; FedEx Contractors Threaten To Halt Deliveries. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 25, 2022 - 17:00   ET



EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Agents, and uncharged parties, the investigation's strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and grand jury information that is protected by the federal rule of criminal procedure.

The judge, obviously, Jake, was very, very familiar with this document. It is after, after all, the document that he based his decision to approve this unprecedented search and seizure at the president's home -- the former president's home, but clearly he was leaning in favor of releasing something. And so now we wait to see what the Justice Department will do. They can, of course, often, as you know, Jake, they often wait, if they have a noon deadline, they'll release it at 11:59:59. We'll hope to see whether that happens earlier than then.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Turning to our money lead now. There is some good news on the economic front, new numbers show that the U.S. economy shrank less than previously estimated, leading most economists to throw cold water on the notion that the U.S. is actually headed towards a recession. But of course, inflation remains at an all-time high.

Let's go to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. He's in Rockville, Maryland where President Biden is participating in a reception for the Democratic National Committee.

Phil, Democrats are trying to ramp up support and energy ahead of the final stretch to the midterms. President Biden is expected to make a significant political speech tonight. That's how they're billing it. Do you know what he's expected to address? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, in case you can't tell from the Bowie High School Band behind me, it's officially campaign season for the President and his team. They've been talking about getting on the road for several weeks now. This will be really the launch of the midterm campaign season. And that includes a very clear and deliberative speech on the issue of contrast.

The President making clear that while he understands that wind is not necessarily a democratic backs going into a midterm election, the first midterm of a new president that may have real things that they can campaign on, they can campaign on legislative results over the course of the last couple of weeks, they can campaign against Republicans that they feel like are against most of the things perhaps Democratic voters want to pay attention to.

More than anything else, Jake, over the course of the last several weeks, there have been very clear signals that the Supreme Court's decision on Roe vs. Wade is boosting democratic fortunes. You've seen it multiple special elections. You saw it down in Kansas on a referendum vote, the White House likely since the President is going to be talking about that as well.

This is not really a battleground area. This is Rockville, D.C. suburbs out in Maryland, West Moore. The governor candidate, Democratic leader (ph) will be here. The President really kind of giving a test run tonight in what we're going to hear from him the next several months.

TAPPER: Phil, an updated report on the GDP today showed that yes, the economy shrank in the second quarter, but less than originally thought. And now people are throwing cold water on the idea that we're headed towards the recession. Are Democrats starting to feel more optimistic about the direction of the economy?

MATTINGLY: I think Democrats when I talked to them both in the White House and on Capitol Hill feel like they have a story to tell. And it's not just a story about inflation, there is clear acknowledgment from the President's team and his top economic advisors that inflation is still high, it's still a four decades high and is still the foremost concern on voters' minds at this point.

But they believe based on the work they've done, particularly legislatively over the course of the last 18 or 19 months that the U.S. has recovered much faster than many other economies, much faster, certainly, than after the great recession. And they have that story to tell in this moment as we head into this critical campaign months. That said, recession is still as high as it is, that is going to be very difficult to overcome. You'll hear the President addressed that tonight, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil, we'll let you go. Enjoy that high school band behind you. Thank you so much.

And joining me now to discuss this Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

So, the second quarter GDP report shows that the economy didn't shrink, but less so than originally thought from April to June this year. The GDP shrank 0.6 percent not 0.9 percent which the July estimate showed. Unemployment is also very low, but Americans are still facing high prices because of rampant inflation. So, how do Democrats campaign on an economy that is such a mixed bag?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), FINANCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think it's about are we trying to head this thing in the right direction? You know, look, we've got a lot of reasons that prices are driven up for families and we have to worry about high prices for families. But part of it is still COVID that causes shutdowns around the world. We've still got supply chain problems. We still have a war in Ukraine that drives up energy prices.

And frankly, we still have giant corporations that are out there that are engaging in price gouging. All of those keep pushing those prices up.

Now, there's a lot of evidence that prices are coming down. Best part is, as you point out, unemployment is low, so paychecks are coming in. But the main part as I see it is the Democrats are working to get this economy and keep this economy on track for everybody. Put the Republicans in charge and let them do another $2 trillion tax break for billionaires and giant corporations.


When the Democrats are in charge, what we're doing instead is we're trying to make this economy work for everyone. And that's what I think we're doing right now with lower unemployment and with more money back in people's pockets on things like we're going to put a cap on the cost of insulin, a cap on the cost of prescription drugs for people on Medicare. Those are the directions we want to go in, and canceling student loan debt as part of that.

TAPPER: Let's talk about --

WARREN: Trying to help out working families.

TAPPER: Yes. So, President Biden yesterday announced his decision to cancel up to $10,000 of student debt for millions of Americans, up to $20,000 of debt for Pell Grant recipients. Democratic colleagues of yours, facing tough reelection races don't seem happy with the decision.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said quote, "It doesn't address the root problems." Congressman Jared Golden of Maine said this decision is out of touch. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, he's running for Senate said this sends the wrong message. Senator Michael Bennet, of Colorado said, quote, "the administration should have proposed a way to pay for this plan," unquote. Are they wrong?

WARREN: The way I see it is that this is about the President of the United States bringing the full force of our government to help working people. Keep in mind that 42 percent of the folks who have student loan debt do not have a college diploma. These are folks who tried but there are folks who, you know, went to beauty school, there are folks who may have tried Community College, and they are not earning enough to cover their student loan debt burdens.

The way the President has set this up, is to concentrate the help among those who need it most. So by doing the Pell recipients with the largest beneficiaries of this cancellation, it's people whose median -- whose income, family incomes, for 95 percent of them is below $60,000.

Think about that. These are people who are disproportionately working people, they're veterans. They are mamas and daddies who are trying to go back to school. They're first generation people trying to get into college. Those are the folks that the President is reaching out and trying to help, working people who are struggling. And as Democrats, that's what we ought to be doing.

TAPPER: Is this one time student loan forgiveness just a band aid on the real underlying issue here, which is the skyrocketing cost of college tuition?

WARREN: Well, it's part of the problem we're dealing with here, and that is the built up student loan debt. But the President made another announcement yesterday, and that is how people are going to pay for college going forward. And he's going to change the income determined repayment plan so that nobody has to go through debt hell to try to get an education if they can't afford to write a check for it.

But the third part is absolutely about holding colleges and universities accountable. This is something I've been working on for a very long time, so have other Democrats. We want to see colleges have skin in the game. We put additional money into historically black colleges and universities. I've got a piece of legislation that is almost made it through that demands more transparency from colleges, so that the costs are clear upfront, so that they have to post information about how long it takes people to graduate on average, how many graduate and how much money they make when they get out.

So there are a lot of things we need to do to get the cost of college under control. But it's three different parts that we've got to work on. And I start today by celebrating the part that says for literally 20 million hard working people, you don't have to pay student loan debt anymore. And for another 23 million, you've got some relief on that debt. And that's going to be life transformative for a lot of people who now will be able to start a small business, start a --


WARREN: -- family, save up money to buy a home, good for the economy overall.

TAPPER: What do you make of the fairness argument that I've heard from Republicans and from Democrats, which is what about all those Americans that paid their debts and took second jobs, third jobs or decided to not go to the priciest school? Isn't this unfair to them?

WARREN: You know, I think of the fairness argument this way. I went to college. I'm the -- my daddy was a janitor. I went to college when it cost $50 a semester, when a part time job would cover the cost of college tuition. It doesn't do that anymore. And that is a real generational fairness problem, that opportunity is just not out there.


Or look at it this way, do you know what proportion of Harvard undergrads have to borrow money? Two percent. Do you know what proportion of state school undergrads have to borrow money? About 50 percent.

And what proportion of HBCU grads have to borrow money in order to make it through college? Eighty percent.

What's happening right now in America is that it's working great if you're born into a family that's well to do, but it's not working great for the rest of the folks. People are out there, they're trying to get an education. These are the folks who are working two jobs in nursing homes. These are folks who are air conditioning and repair maintenance, people who are waiting on tables, and they can't cover the rent, put food on the table, and still manage an average $400 a month to be able to pay student loan debt.

We need to get that debt burden off their backs. We need to set up an investment in our colleges and universities so they don't cost an arm and a leg. And we need to make sure that no kid in the future, who can't afford to go to college, has to go through debt hell and mortgage their future all the way to the end of their lives in order to try to get an education. We need to do all.

TAPPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, thanks so much for your time.

WARREN: Thank you.

TAPPER: As new abortion restrictions go into effect impacting 10 million women in three states, what is it like providing health care for women at this time in our history? We're talking to a doctor who owns a family planning center where they perform abortions. That's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, access to abortion will become much more difficult for more than 10 million women in the United States this week, women and girls, that's because so called abortion trigger laws go into effect in three states today. This comes, of course, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins us now to explain the changes.

Tom, what states are seeing these changes today?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're focusing now on Idaho, Tennessee and Texas because they're joining many other states in here that already have restrictions. Look at what Texas is doing. They're criminalizing performing an abortion from fertilization onward. The only exception is for the life or the health of the mother, and pay attention to that word, health of the mother, and no exception for rape or incest.

Texas already had laws many of these states already have laws. This is the next phase of what's been kicking in as part of this.

Tennessee very much like Texas, abortion from fertilization banning that, exception for life or, again, health of the mother, no exception for rape or incest.

And then Idaho, a bit of an outlier in this prohibits all abortions, the exception for rape and incest if reported to law enforcement. But look at this one, the exception for life of mother period, not health. So if a doctor has a patient that needs an abortion to protect their health, no matter how debilitating it may be, if it's not going to kill the person, the mother involved, the doctor can't perform it. Jake.

TAPPER: Have there been any recent court rulings on any of these trigger law?

FOREMAN: Yes, specifically on Idaho, that's the one that's attracted a lot of attention here. Because that notion of saying that a doctor cannot take care of the mother in there at that moment, if that's all they're concerned about instead of death itself, that conflicts with federal law. Federal law says that that doctor must take care of the patient. So, the Biden administration stepped in and said, you have a clear conflict here, a federal judge looked at and said, yes, the state law, the federal judge collide with each other, that part of the state law has to be put on hold here. See if the state wants to challenge it and move forward.

Also in Texas, kind of the reverse in Texas. And there, Texas has the provision there pretending to the health of the mother, but it was considered so narrow that the Biden administration stepped in and said, no, no, you have to do it for all these conditions. And the court said, no, it's OK if it's narrow as long as it's there.

TAPPER: Tom, there are other trigger laws taking effect this week as well, right?

FOREMAN: Yes, it's still moving steadily on. North Dakota is going to jump in near total ban on all abortions, abortion of felony, the exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest there. It's been delayed waiting for a judge's decision on whether or not it will be blocked.

And Oklahoma is jumping in as well. They've got felony to foreign abortion face up to 10 years in prison, $100,000 fine, and it now has the nation's strictest abortion law. But this is a context for the most strict law that's still running, Jake. Bottom line, many red states out there are steadily improving upon or making more severe, would be a way to describe it. There are laws against abortion, and stepping up there penalties for anyone who tries in any way, shape or form to get around it. Jake.

TAPPER: Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss Dr. Deshawn Taylor. She's the owner of a family planning center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Doctor, thanks for joining us. You just heard Tom Foreman explained the five states where abortion trigger laws are going into effect this week. You're doctor in Arizona, which has a pre Roe v Wade abortion ban on the books, though a judge is not set to rule on whether that ban still stands until later in September. So you're kind of in limbo there. How is it affecting you and your practice right now?

DR. DESHAWN TAYLOR, OWNER, DESERT STAR FAMILY PLANNING: Well, thank you for the opportunity to shed some light on what's going on here in Arizona. It has been exhausting, frustrating, an emotional roller coaster to be on as not only someone who is a provider of abortion care but also someone who owns an abortion clinic in this state.

I did not go to medical school to keep track of this legal activity that we need to be intimately involved with to be able to proceed safely in providing abortion care for the people who need it in our state.


TAPPER: Has the back and forth been confusing to you as a health care provider what you're allowed to do?

TAYLOR: So initially, the majority of us, including myself, providers in Arizona did pause when the initial Roe v Wade decision came down, because we wanted our state leaders to give us some clarity, because there's multiple conflicting laws on the block here in Arizona. And many of them carry criminal penalties, felony, mandatory jail time, et cetera. And so, it took some time, and actually, it took court action for things to become a lot more clear that the pre Roe ban is currently not in effect here in Arizona, and that the judge will be ruling on that later in September.

So with that understanding, there -- that still isn't enough for the majority of providers in Arizona to move forward. But each of us have our own risk calculus and decisions to make around this. And so, for me, I think that the law was clearly on my side that I can proceed safely and provide an abortion here. But the fear and confusion that has been sown all of this time since the decision has definitely made it difficult to keep the clinic staffed up and for people who care about the patients who are seeking abortion care as well. There's a great amount of fear in the community.

TAPPER: So several abortion clinics in Arizona have stopped performing abortions, if ultimately that's what the judge decides will happen in September that abortion is illegal in Arizona, tell us what that means on a practical level for girls and women in Arizona.

TAYLOR: On a practical level, people with means would be able to leave the state to go to neighboring states to receive abortion care and that is what we're seeing all over the country. But the people who don't have means, which is means in terms of finances, means in terms of transportation, means in terms of time off work, means in time in terms of feeling safe to move across borders, those people will have a difficult time accessing abortion care.

They may decide to self-manage their abortions, which is definitely safer and 2022 than it was prior to 1973. However, you know, there are people who do want assistance from a health care provider and they do want to have a medical partner in their pregnancy. And quite honestly, people deserve to be able to access health care where they live, and not have to jump through all of the hoops that, first of all, were already required prior to Roe v Wade and have definitely worsened since the decision.

TAPPER: We saw in Kansas a massive voter turnout from women, including Republican women to vote no on an amendment that would have allowed the legislature to take away rights to an abortion. Not every state is putting the question of abortion to voters. Many of them are letting trigger laws take effect or the governors or legislators are doing it that way legislatively. What can people do if they're unhappy with the abortion law is taking place in their state? What do you what do you tell your patients who are upset about the new normal?

TAYLOR: I really hope that this outrage does translate to more people going to the polls during a midterm election season. What I've found since I've been here in Arizona is that a lot of these extreme politicians stay in office in the midterm elections because people don't come out. So, the only way that we are going to be able to expand access to care as opposed to continually having to chipped away at is we have to have new leadership. We have to have people running our state who are in line with the ideals of nine and 10 Arizonans who believe that abortion should be legal in our state.

And so, the only way to really turn this around is to vote and vote in champions for the people. We in the meantime, we'll be doing a great deal of community organizing and mutual aid to mitigate the harms caused by these laws. But ultimately, we need wide policy change at the state level so that we can be protected by ebbs and flows that happen at the federal level like we've seen with this unprecedented overturn of Roe v Wade at the Supreme Court. And so, we have to demand that the people who represent us and run this state are actually representing our interests.


TAPPER: Dr. Deshawn Taylor, thanks so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Coming up, she called proposed changes to voting laws, her state's 9/11? And now she's one step away from being in charge of all elections in that state. That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, CNN's K file team has uncovered shocking and previously unreported comments from the Republican nominee to be the top elections official in Minnesota. Attorney Kim Crockett likened to changing the rules around voting during the pandemic and 2020 to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

KIM CROCKETT (R-MN), SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: We realize people are discouraged and this is still an exceptional nation. We are still the American people and and I'm betting on us. This is a challenge. Maybe we needed a wake-up call. This is our 911.


TAPPER: Crockett has a history of comments criticized as antisemitic and racist or campaign promoted a video featuring Jewish democratic donor George Soros, a frequent target of far-right conspiracies, as a puppet master controlling two Jewish Democrats. The Minnesota GOP claims that Crockett and her staff were not aware of the antisemitic tropes. And in 2020, she also made this comment about then President- Elect Joe Biden.


CROCKETT: They're just going to put a pillow over his face when they get tired of him. So when I was -- they'll put a pillow over Biden's face, oh, go quietly, Joe.


TAPPER: And a statement to CNN Crockett's campaign responded saying, quote, "There are so many important policy issues we should be discussing right now so that Minnesotans can make an informed choice when they vote. Instead, most of the media is intent on character assassination." That's what we call quoting people -- character assassination.

Let's talk with our panel right now. Tia, let me start with you. Minnesota is hardly the only state that -- in which a Republican nominee is something of an extremist. And at least 11 states, the Republican nominee for Secretary of State is someone who has questioned, rejected or tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. That's just on the election live, forget the antisemitism and the racism. What's going on?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Well, what's going on is that far-right Americans, MAGA Americans, followers of President Donald Trump want to influence our election system. And it, you know, these people who will be elected in 2022, will have great control over the next presidential election in 2024. And the concern is that if people are coming in with an agenda that is not free and fair elections, which is to undermine and question the outcome of elections, but they're also in charge, you know, it could be chaos in 2024. It really could. We're seeing so many, not just the -- it's just -- where they're coming from is -- doesn't seem to be about democracy, fairness, equal representation, equal voice for all, and that should be concerning.

TAPPER: What's your take?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, 9/11 is our 9/11.

TAPPER: Right.

JENNINGS: I mean, it's -- these comments are not the comments of a serious person and --

TAPPER: The Republican nominee for Secretary of State.

JENNINGS: I know. And look, I think you could actually, you know, responsibly construct an argument saying something like, well, I don't agree that all the voting rules were changed in 2020. And that, you know, we change the rules, and that affected the electorate, perfect policy debates, or I don't agree that we should federalize all elections, because that's what Republicans find policy debate.

But when you start referring to things as our 9/11, I mean, this just dips into the nonserious. It's a dead end. This is a total dead end for the Republican Party. Be a serious person. You can have policy views, you can have ideas about the way elections should be run. You cannot be this sort of unserious, nonsensical garbage. It's not good for you, not good for the party.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. The issue, though, is, as you said, Jake, she's not the only candidate that is saying this.

TAPPER: Right, there are tons of them.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Jim Marchant in Nevada, who's the nominee now for the Secretary of State, he has also made antisemitic comments and launched his campaign at a QAnon rally. And he also is someone who is an election denier. This is something that has been happening again and again with the candidates.

And when I was in Wyoming ahead of Cheney's lost primary, to also another candidate who decided to go along with Trump's election lies, and I was talking to these Republican voters, it just became so clear how many of them believe the lie very much to their core. And when you attempt to present evidence, which is that there is no evidence and Republican leaders of the states who ran multiple audits found no widespread fraud, they don't believe it. Because ultimately, it comes down to what former President Trump said, what a lot of the other Republicans in their state are saying, which is that there was fraud, you know, and they're continuing this lie, and that has an effect on the electorate.

TAPPER: You know what it reminds me of? Speaking of 9/11, it reminds me after 9/11, there was this whole 9/11 truther nonsense, where people were saying that George W. Bush -- and again this is insane -- I'm not suggesting any if there's any reality with George W. Bush knew, George -- you know that they were in on it, whatever, and this mainly was on the left and Democrats did a pretty good job of drumming it out.


I mean, Cynthia McKinney was a congresswoman who said this kind of nonsense. And, you know, Democrats ran an opponent against her in the primary. Here we have the party just like acquiescing. And, by the way, Marjorie Taylor Greene said that, who's a Republican congresswoman, who's part with of all this nonsense, said that, you know, a plane didn't crash into the Pentagon, which is of course not true.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I lost friends on that plane --


BEGALA: -- that crashed in the Pentagon. And the animals who committed that terrorism were foreign terrorists, and they were fueled by hate and lies. On January 6, domestic terrorists attacked our Capitol, something that the heroes of Flight 93 did not allow to happen on 9/11. But on January 6, they did. They were domestic terrorists, also fueled by hate and lies.

And, you know, this matters, what leaders say matters. Ms. Crockett also called the election in Minnesota, lawless. Her word. She went to University of Pennsylvania Law School. She should know.

TAPPER: After they appreciate that.

BEGALA: I'm sorry to plug pen, but, you know, maybe she couldn't get into University of Texas. But my hero Willie Nelson has a new song. One of the things he says is energy leads to thought. So be careful what you think, right? And his point is that these words lead two things, they lead to consequences.


BEGALA: And we saw the consequences on January 6, and it's hateful, and it's frankly unpatriotic on American to tell Americans that their country doesn't work. It's not free because we are free. It's -- and in Michigan, in Arizona and Nevada --

TAPPER: Pennsylvania?

BEGALA: -- and eight other states.

TAPPER: The governor in Pennsylvania because you don't elect the Secretary of State in Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the Secretary of State. Let's turn to a subject I'm sure Scott's more comfortable talking about, the criticism of President Biden over the student loan debt relief plan. A lot of Republicans are calling this socialism say it's not fair. What's your take? JENNINGS: Well, that's certainly right. I mean, the Republicans are incensed over this. They think it's illegal. They think it's unconstitutional. They think it's unfair. They think it's immoral. They think it's irrational. They think it's basically pitting Americans against each other, that's going to create resentment.

And for a guy who ran on a platform of, I'm going to bring Americans together, and we're going to have unity, I think the amount of resentment that it's going to breed in the country, for people who get this and people who don't is a real thing. And so Republicans are pretty bent out of shape about it. And it's all across all wings of the Republican Party.

TAPPER: What are you hearing from voters in Georgia?

MITCHELL: I think, you know, of course, there's a partisan divide, just like with so many other things in America. So on the right, for the most part, there's a lot of criticism and concern, which, you know, we should have some caveats there. America picks winners and losers, with its incentives and tax cuts, and so many other things. So student loan forgiveness is just one of the myriad kind of policies in America where some people get it, and some people don't.

Democratic side, of course, I think there are a lot of people who are appreciative and they realize that at least Democrats are doing something. They might not like it, they want more, a lot of Democrats want more, they want more student loan forgiveness. They want the cost of higher education to go down. They want a deferment on payments that will still exist for a lot of people. So Democrats aren't necessarily satisfied, but they're like, at least Biden is doing something.

TAPPER: And Laura, I just want to -- so Democrats are calling Republicans hypocrites on this issue. And on the issue of picking winners, Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips tweeted out a list of Republicans that got PPP loans in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. Billions of dollars in loans were given out and later forgiven. And some of the members of Congress who had businesses or have businesses that benefited from that include Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Greg Pence, all of them. Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips said, you know, benefited from tens of thousands of dollars in loan forgiveness. Is that a fair comparison do you think?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think that Democrats think it's fair. I mean, you know, it is a little bit of hypocritical for Marjorie Taylor Greene to be talking about loans given out to students when she also benefits from a, you know, loan that was paid for, as well as these other lawmakers. But another piece of this argument is, I think in an important piece is also moving forward.

You know, one of the arguments that Republicans and a number of Democrats, some Democrats have made against the decision by Biden was about, oh, well, does this create a slippery slope? Does this mean that students in the future are going to start to expect loan forgiveness over and over again? Does this cause tuition to go up? The response to that from the White House, as well as economists that are on the side of the White House, is that actually, this addresses future payments because it makes it so you don't have to pay interest on loans in the future.

So that something for future students which is you don't have to pay interest on it as well as the fact that it addresses the income and makes it -- so only 5 percent of your income is what ultimately -- discretionary income is what ultimately has to be repaid not 10 percent.


TAPPER: Quickly if you could, is that a -- is it fair to go after Republicans for taking PPP loans?

BEGALA: Well, yes. Hypocrisy is a massive problem that they have. If you supported Donald Trump, who declared bankruptcy six times, if you supported Mr. Trump's tax cuts, which gave 2.3 trillion to Wall Street and corporate welfare, and especially if you got a PPP loan, I have to say, I don't like this issue. I don't like the debt forgiveness Biden is doing.

I disagree with him on this thing. Bad policy and bad politics. But the hypocrisy coming from the Republicans is really rich.

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all.

Coming up, guilty pleas in the stealing and selling of a diary that belong to President Biden's daughter during the 2020 campaign. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, two people pleaded guilty today to stealing and selling the belongings of Ashley Biden, President Biden's daughter. The Justice Department says Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander admitted to trying to sell the materials first to the Trump campaign, eventually selling them to the conservative group Project Veritas in the months before the 2020 election.

CNN's Brynn Gingras sprint ingress joins us now live. Brynn, how did the pair get access to Ashley Biden's belongings?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So Jake, so Harris was living in an apartment where Ashley Biden once resided. It seems that they had a mutual friend. Ashley Biden left that apartment, asked her friend, can I keep some stuff here? Can I store it here? And Harris essentially took full advantage of that.

According to the court documents, the things that she had her hands on was a journal with highly personal entries, tax records, a digital camera with a bunch of family photos on it, a cell phone, among many things. Now, what the DOJ said they did and what they pleaded guilty to was essentially taking those things and like you said, Jake, first trying to go to the Trump campaign and saying, hey, we have actually Biden's personal stuff, do you want it?

And according to the court documents, the Trump campaign essentially says we can't use it, go to the FBI with that. And it just -- and they said, well it has to be done a different way. We need to make money off of this. So that's when days later, according to these documents, they went to the conservative group Project Veritas.

And there are tons of text message exchanges in these court documents, which explained their plan essentially approaching the conservative group, meeting up with them, exchanging some of these personal items actually being asked to go back to this Florida home, getting more stuff to give to this group. Basically making $40,000 off the sale of this personal property of Ashley Biden.

So both of these guys actually, Ashley -- or Aimee Harris, rather, and Robert Kurlander, they pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. Our understanding is a maximum of five years in federal prison, but a judge is going to sentence them at a later date. They apologized. Kurlander actually says he will be cooperating with the government as well in the future.

TAPPER: And what about the role of Project Veritas here? Did they release any of the information from Ashley Biden's possessions?

GINGRAS: Yes. So Project Veritas did not release any of this information. And they do say the way that they obtained it was completely up to their standards, completely ethical. As I said, though, Kurlander has said that he will cooperate with the government as part of his plea deal. It's unclear what that cooperation means is the government looking into Project Veritas further with this incident. So we're not quite sure about that. But certainly, that's a possibility.

I will say in this DOJ paperwork, it does say that this couple knew. Project Veritas was still sketchy in the way they conduct business and yet still decided to move forward with the transaction, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.

Three school districts, three separate hazing investigations, all of them in Pennsylvania. And now one of the schools is canceling their entire football season as a result. That's next.



TAPPER: In our sports lead, one Pennsylvania high school is canceling its entire football season because of reports of hazing. Two other Pennsylvania high schools are investigating hazing allegations tied to their football team.

CNN's Erica Hill joins us now. Erica, walk us through what happened at the school where the entire season has been canceled.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR & NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So first, we start on August 11. So this happened at the Middletown area high school. This is about 10 miles from Harrisburg from the Capitol. And what happened is the district became aware of an alleged hazing incident as you see there that was captured on video on August 11 at practice.

So the players who were allegedly involved were removed from the team, pending an investigation, that investigation opened on August 12. Then you see on the 15th, the football coach resigned. And then the superintendent yesterday sent this letter out, noting that they had become aware of additional video, Jake, which demonstrates that the hazing was much more widespread, in the words of the superintendent, and involves many more students than previously known. And so that led to the decision to cancel the entire football season.

In that letter, the superintendent saying quote, "The kind of hazing that occurred in our facilities with his team is reprehensible. It simply cannot and will not be tolerated." Now I should point out, the superintendent also noted the impact that canceling the entire football season would have specifically talking about the cheerleading teams, the marching band saying they would look for other opportunities for them. And also they're going to have to rethink homecoming. He said because it is generally of course focused around a football game.

TAPPER: What about the other two high schools? They're both investigating allegations but the seasons have not been canceled, right?

HILL: Correct. Season has not been canceled, so there are two. One is in the Athens area. So that's closer to the New York State line, as you can see on your map there in northern Pennsylvania. This involved allegations of bullying, hazing and improper behavior as the superintendent said in a letter that was posted on Facebook, among both varsity and JV players. Incidents that allegedly started at a camp in mid-July at Bloomsburg University and then continued into some of the preseason practices at the school facilities.

So at the moment, that season is not being canceled back. The superintendent said it would not be canceled. It is being investigated, though. They are, obviously, working with local authorities there. And then separately, Mohawk High School in western Pennsylvania, their season is on pause while they investigate some allegations there. CNN has reached out and we're waiting for further comment.


All right, Erica Hill, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, why shipping wars that FedEx could mean delays for your holiday orders. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Our money lead now, another reason to do your holiday shopping early maybe even now. Thousands of contractors who deliver most FedEx packages are threatening to stop working as of the day after Thanksgiving. Now you may not realize it but those people dropping off your packages in your neighborhood almost certainly don't work for FedEx, but were hired by a network of some 6,000 independent businesses that FedEx pays to make deliveries. The contractors say they're being squeezed by higher costs for fuel, trucks and driver pay while the FedEx divisions revenue is up 60 percent.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. We actually read them. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you know, you can listen to THE LEAD from whence you get your podcasts. All two hours sitting there for you like a ripe mango.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Alex Marquardt in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call it "THE SITUATION ROOM".