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The Lead with Jake Tapper

WaPo: FBI Found File On Foreign Nation's Nuke Capabilities At Mar-A-Lago; Obamas Return To White House For Unveiling Of Official Portraits; Ukraine Considers Shutting Down Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant; CNN Speaks With Putin Critics Forced To Become Russian Spies; CNN Speaks With Putin Critics Forced To Become Russian Spies; Unclear New Restrictions Force Texas Woman To Seek Abortion In New Mexico; Source: Record 748 Deaths Along Southwest Border. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 07, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Why would Donald Trump need top secret nuclear documents at his Florida country club?

THE LEAD starts right now.

"The Washington Post" reports FBI agents found nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago, material so secret only a tight circle knew they even existed. So why were those documents there? And how secure might they have been from any prying eyes?

Plus, former Russian spies tell all. Where insight into the inner workings of the FSB from operatives who defected from the Kremlin's secret service agency.

Plus, a veteran Las Vegas investigative reporter found stabbed to death outside his home. The move today that may put police one step closer to his killer.


Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start today with our politics lead, and striking new details about what exactly Donald Trump took to Mar-a-Lago. One of the documents that FBI agents recovered during their search of the Florida resort described a foreign government's nuclear capabilities. That's according to "The Washington Post," which goes on to say, quote, some of the seized documents detail top secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them, unquote.

Donald Trump's lawyers once again trying to deflect from any serious national security implications here, instead, decrying what they described as leaks about the investigation, which one might observe is a curious time to suddenly express concern with the security of sensitive information. But this does further explain why Justice Department officials and U.S. intelligence agencies were apparently so worried about this classified material that was improperly removed and taken to the Trump country club in West Palm Beach.

CNN's Sara Murray starts off our coverage with a new push from lawmakers in both parties to learn more about what else the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New revelations about the sensitivity of the documents seized from Mar-a- Lago.

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Very, very troubling that this type of information would be there, anywhere, for that matter.

MURRAY: A document describing a foreign government's nuclear capabilities was among those recovered from former President Trump's Florida resort, sources tell "The Washington Post."

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: When I went to CIA, I didn't have access to them because there is a strict need to know.

MURRAY: The Justice Department has said in court filings that some of the documents previously recovered from Mar-a-Lago were marked special access program, significantly limiting who should be allowed to view the information.

All of this underscoring the potential security risks of stockpiling highly sensitive materials.

BRENNAN: It just really raises serious, serious questions about whether or not anybody saw them who shouldn't have, and whether or not our national security and maybe the national security of our allies has been compromised.

MURRAY: In a statement, a spokesman for Trump condemned never ending leaks and lies. Trump allies still up in arms over the august search.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: This whole thing is corrupt as hell.

MURRAY: The Justice Department now blocked from reviewing those materials after a judge granted Trump's request for a special master. Though the intel community's damage assessment continues. Despite a sharp criticism of Trump's document hoarding, former Attorney General Bill Barr saying he doesn't want to see Trump indicted.

BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: What will that do to the country? What kind of precedent will that set?

MURRAY: As bipartisan pressure builds --

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): It's an outrage.

MURRAY: -- among lawmakers demanding more details about what was recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

GOP Senator John Kennedy saying --

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I'm not saying I'm not concerned about the whole situation. I'm just saying I don't have the facts.

MURRAY: As Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, calls for a briefing as soon as possible.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): I definitely want to know what's in there. Given the fact that you have a number of agencies looking at these issues, the briefing probably needs to be conducted by more than one agency.


MURRAY (on camera): Senator Mark Warner, who is the chair of Senate intel told our colleague Manu Raju that he is hoping to get a briefing from the intelligence community soon but it's not likely to happen before the House returns to Washington next week, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Donald Ayer. He's the former deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, and former CIA chief of Russia operations, Steve Hall.

Steve, how dangerous theoretically is this type of information if it were to fall into the wrong hands?


STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, this is some of the most sensitive stuff, Jake, that one can imagine. I mean, our primary adversaries in today's world are those rogue nations that have nuclear weapons. We're talking here, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea.

And it's incredibly important, obviously, for us to know what they're doing with those nuclear weapons. And you can rest assured that the U.S. government works very hard, the intelligence community works extremely hard to try to find out and get its way into these secret programs. And, of course, they're secret because our adversaries don't want us to know about it, so there's just an amazing amount of time, effort, money, and danger undertaken to get those secrets.

And so, if they're stored, which they were, incorrectly, in an unsecure fashion, in a country club at Mar-a-Lago, the idea that that could get back to our adversaries could reveal some incredibly damaging stuff about how we got that information, Jake. It's just really -- it's very bad.

TAPPER: And, Don, "The Washington Post" reports, quote, some of the seized documents detailed top secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. If we're talking about information that secret, how can one even go about finding a special master, this third party, to review this information? DONALD AYER, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGE H.W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION:

Well, I think that's incredibly challenging. And I think it raises from one point of view the problem with the order. It's a very impractical kind of an order. We don't know what these documents are, and the kind of clearance that somebody would have to have to review them are the kind that are not generally available to those sorts of people out in society who you could bring in.

So I think one of the things that the department is going to have to focus on is and surely is focusing on is whether they're going to go forward with this process or whether they're going to appeal it and challenge it in some respect, at least with regard to the order that they're not allowed to review the documents while it goes forward. It's quite a mess, this judge has created.

TAPPER: Are you surprised they haven't appealed yet?

AYER: No, I'm not. I think it's pretty clear they would wait until the response that's supposed to be filed by Friday, a joint response, in terms of indicating how to proceed. I think that's an occasion when the department can say here's where we're at and here's what we're going to do. I think it's going to be very interesting to see what they do do.

TAPPER: Steve, unlike you, I am no expert in spies or tradecraft, but it does seem fairly obvious to me that it's likely that foreign intelligence agencies would have targeted Mar-a-Lago just to see if there was any information they could grab, information exactly like this. Am I wrong?

HALL: No, not at all. To answer the question you posed at the very top, which is, is there any good reason for Donald Trump to have this information at a resort? And the answer is absolutely not. It's extremely dangerous.

A number of things could have happened to this information. Donald Trump has been known to -- to be clear, we have no evidence this has happened, but there are patterns of behavior. So, Donald Trump has played fast and loose with intelligence. You remember when the Russian foreign minister was in the Oval Office, he talked about sensitive Israeli information. So, that might be something that he's doing again conceivably, in a darker way. He could be bartering with this information to try to, I don't know, get information if he has financial difficulties.

But the last point, which is what you just raised, there is no doubt in my mind that the Chinese and the Russians and other adversarial intelligence agencies have seen Mar-a-Lago as a soft target. They have already sent people in to try to make contacts, to try to find people who have access to that information, wherever it is stored at Mar-a- Lago. And I think we're going to continue to see more of that unless somehow something is done. And it's, again, it's a grave counterintelligence concern, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Don, we should note that in a statement to "The Washington Post," a Trump attorney criticized leaks about this case, saying, quote, the court has provided a sensible path forward which does not include the selective leak of unverifiable and misleading information. There's no reason to deviate from that path if the goal is to find a rational solution to document storage issues which have needlessly spiraled out of control.

Now, leaving aside this document storage issue, belittling of the situation, does he have a point about the leaks?

Look, I'm a journalist. I'm always pro-leak. I want as much information out there as possible. But we have also heard Judge Cannon talk about leaking in her ruling.

AYER: I don't think we know, you know, I certainly don't, and I don't know who does have any idea what the source of any leaks is. I think giving a lecture to the Justice Department about leaking when there's no indication that they have leaked anything seems to me to be quite inappropriate.

I totally take exception to the argument that the judge has laid out a sensible path.


I think you have heard in the commentary of many experts have made over the last few days. This judge's opinion is an abomination. This judge had no business getting into the question in the first place unless there was some substantial reason to think that equitable involvement in it was needed and there was none. Nobody said the Justice Department had done anything wrong.

And so I think where we now are is in an inappropriate place with the department enjoined from looking at its own documents for purposes of criminal investigation. That's a place we should not be, and we can't be for any length of time.

That's the big question for the department is, are they going to take some action, i.e., appeal, in order to address that? Or are they going to go the different way and think on all the facts they can make due, get through it in a somewhat limited time period, and at least have the benefit of having the public look and see -- well, here's another person they looked at, if there was nothing going on, and now it can go forward? These are really hard calls the department has to make.

TAPPER: Don, you're a former deputy attorney general for George H.W. Bush. I want to get your reaction to something we heard from Donald Trump's former attorney general, Bill Barr, earlier today. Take a listen.


BARR: Do you indict a former president? What will that do to the country? What kind of precedent will that set? Will the people really understand this is not failing to return a library book, that this was serious?

And so, you have to worry about those things. And I hope that those kinds of factors will incline the administration not to indict him, because I don't want to see him indicted as a former president.


TAPPER: To be clear, it's a political decision to indict him or not to indict him. What do you think?

AYER: Well, I think the nature of the conduct at issue, and I'm thinking mainly about the biggest thing that he did, which was trying to steal the election, which we have seen dramatized in the context of the hearings on the Hill and multiple steps he was personally involved in and now this. Where it appears that Donald Trump, we have to look at all the evidence, the department as to look at all the evident, but Donald Trump apparently was personally involved in taking documents of a top secret nature that belong to the government and then persistently over a period of more than a year refusing to give them back.

These are really serious offenses. And the big issue is how can a country not take action when those sorts of things, those two critical things are being done? Anyone else would be in jail. There's no question.

TAPPER: And Steve Hall, just to put a button on this, what if you had done this? Former CIA station chief in Russia. Where would you be right now?

HALL: Well, I would definitely be out of a job. I would probably be in jail. There are people on Twitter who reminded me I'm not the president of the United States, and so, therefore, you know, it doesn't matter, but again, I get back to the primary question you asked at the top. Why? Where is the innocent reason that Donald Trump needed this information?

There's no innocent reason and it did nothing but open up the United States to significant national security damage.

TAPPER: All right. Steve Hall and Don Ayer, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, migrants at the border turning into a cross country fight. The jabs between the Chicago mayor and the Texas governor as they tussle over options to solve the same problem.

Plus, the big unveiling at the White House today and the reunion between President Biden, his former boss, and some special invited guests.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thanks for letting us invite a few friends to the White House. We'll try not to tear up the place.






B. OBAMA: He refused to hide any of my gray hairs, refused my request to make my ears smaller. He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way.



TAPPER: Nothing wrong with going gray.

Former President Barack Obama celebrating the return of a Washington tradition this afternoon, visiting the White House with former First Lady Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official portraits.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, amidst the jokes and applause were some pointed comments about democracy and the peaceful transfer of power.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A return to tradition at the White House today.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack and Michelle, welcome home.

COLLINS: Greeted by over a minute of sustained applause, former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room for the unveiling of their official White House portraits.

BIDEN: Nothing could have prepared me better or more to become president of the United States than being at your side for eight years.

COLLINS: President Biden inviting Mr. and Mrs. Obama to the stage where they lifted blue curtains to reveal their portraits. Hers by Sharon Sprung.

B. OBAMA: I want to thank Sharon Sprung for capturing everything I love about Michelle. Her grace, her intelligence, and the fact that she's fine.

COLLINS: And his by Robert McCurdy.

B. OBAMA: Refused my request to make my ears smaller. He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way.

COLLINS: The 44th president then growing serious.

B. OBAMA: Presidents so often get airbrushed. Even take on a mythical status, especially after you have gone. And people forget all the stuff they didn't like about you.

Presidents and first ladies are human beings like everyone else. We have our gifts, we have our flaws.

COLLINS: The last time a sitting president invited his predecessor for a portrait unveiling was a decade ago.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: When you were wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?

COLLINS: The long standing tradition was put on hold when Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office and declined to host Obama who had little interest in attending a ceremony organized by his successor.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: It means so much to come back to friends.

COLLINS: With no direct mention of Trump today, Mrs. Obama emphasized an unmistakable message, saying these traditions matter.

M. OBAMA: You see the people, they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to insure a peaceful transition of power. And once our time is up, we move on.

COLLINS: The former first lady also noting her own historic role.

M. OBAMA: A girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison. That's what this country is about. It's not about blood or pedigree or wealth.


COLLINS (on camera): And Jake, one question that has been raised to the White House in recent days is whether or not President Biden would host former President Trump once his portrait is ready. They have declined to answer that question, instead referring it to the White House Historical Association which commissions these portraits -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thanks so much.

Coming up next, they worked undercover as spies for Russia. Now, they're taking CNN inside the operation and sharing why they believe they were recruited by the Kremlin.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, Europe's biggest nuclear power plant may have to shut down following an assessment by United Nations nuclear watchdog group. A top Ukrainian official says it's clear security at the Russian occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine is, quote, deteriorating, as a top U.S. official echoes those concerns and says Russia is exposing the world to a possible, quote, nuclear catastrophe.

CNN's Sam Kiley is south of the plant in Odesa, Ukraine.

Sam, how reliant are Ukrainians on the power generated from this plant?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at its peak, and that's with all six reactors, when the whole power plant, the largest in Europe, is operational, that's one-fifth of the electrical generating capacity for the whole of Ukraine in peace time. Of course, that's much reduced at the moment with only two reactors functional.

And now we have this problem with periodic and frequent now disconnections, Jake, between the main power grid, that's the incoming grid, I should stress, rather than the product. This is the incoming supply of electricity to work the cooling systems for the nuclear reactors. Now, they have been periodically severed, certainly with reactor number six was shut down the other day, in fact, during the visit of the U.N. inspectors, there's now concerns that the lines connecting the nuclear power station to the nearby traditional power station from which it drew the power for these cooling systems are now being cut, resulting in the Ukrainians saying they may have to shut down all nuclear reactors there and effectively moth-ball that power plant. That would be a strategic disaster for them.

TAPPER: Sam, senior U.S. officials are telling CNN the Ukrainian forces are well on their way to making gains in the south, targeting the ambitious goal of taking back most of the Kherson region by the end of the year. Do you think that's a realistic goal based on your assessment of the situation?

KILEY: Yeah, I think they probably have been watching CNN. We have been producing -- been reporting on the incremental gains now for about a little over a week, Jake. In the first 24 hours, the Ukrainians captured or recaptured four small villages, the president of Ukraine then announced another couple villages were captured.

One shouldn't overemphasize the significance of these relatively small gains, though, because as you rightly point out, the target is Kherson. They do hope to achieve capturing that, recapturing that by Christmas. But that is going to be harder and harder as this whole campaign wears on because, of course, there's a very large number of civilians concentrated in that location.

But elsewhere in the country, we have also seen some incremental gains around the city of Kharkiv and elsewhere in the east, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sam Kiley in Ukraine, thank you so much.

Now in Russia, today, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia has, quote, lost nothing, unquote, in its brutal unprovoked war on Ukraine and the innocent people of Ukraine. But intelligence from the United States shows Russia has a severe troop shortage.

And the United Kingdom estimates they have lost more than 25,000 soldiers, the Russians. Unsurprisingly, that nation with a knack for deception, refuses to verify those numbers or any numbers really.

CNN's Matthew Chance investigates the Kremlin's secretive security service for us now, known as the FSB, and a string of recent defections from its normally tight-lipped ranks.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where we sleep. This is how we live, Mikhail says. As the Russian political activist turned FSB informant shows us around the Dutch refugee center, where he's now seeking asylum.

All I want for the future is a positive, normal live, he says, without any more of those adventures.

It was as a young opposition campaigner that Mikhail, seen here at an anti-government protest in Russia, caught the attention of the Kremlin security service, the FSB.


His later work for Alexei Navalny, Russia's most prominent jailed opposition leader, must have made him particularly valuable. But he was originally targeted to be turned, he told me, with FSB threats.

MIKHAIL SOKOLOV, FORMER FSB INFORMANT (through translator): They knew I was avoiding military service and gave me a simple choice, either to cooperate with them or go to prison for years. Basically, I was threatened, and as a 19-year-old student, very frightened. There are so many stories, even videos, of people being abused in prison, to even think about that is scary.

CHANCE: You were working with Navalny. There's pictures of you working quite closely with him. What kind of information did you give the FSB about him?

SOKOLOV: I wasn't his close friend, so I couldn't give them information specifically about him. I was just working in a regional office, so they were more interested in when we were planning to hold meetings or protests, and, of course, what kind of investigations we were conducting.

We even cooperated on some of these investigations. Following any media outcry, the FSB would either imprison or protect a particular official.

CHANCE: But as well as keeping tabs on activists inside the country, the secretive Russian security services also appeared to have been stepping up surveillance of Russians living abroad. Mikhail says the FSB pulled him out of Russia and sent him to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to infiltrate the growing expatriate community there, escaping repressions at home, alongside a network of other FSB informants already in place.

Informants like Vsevolod, a young political activist who says the FSB also threatened him with prison unless he sent detailed reports from Georgia on what Russian opposition figures there were thinking.

Specifically on the Ukraine war launched in February this year, which forced many Kremlin critics into exile, and the FSB's informant operations, he tells me, into overdrive.

What does that say to you about what the fears are in Moscow about what could happen in the future? What are they frightened of?

VSEVOLOD OSIPOV, FORMER FSB INFORMANT (through translator): Russian special services are very well aware of our history. When a huge Russian immigrant community emerges abroad where people speak freely to each other, work on projects together, help Ukrainian refugees, and basically create a mini Russia abroad, which is not under the control of FSB, they are afraid that history will repeat itself.

In 1917, Lenin came to Moscow and started a Russian revolution. And they are terrified the regime will be threatened once again by war.

CHANCE: It was there opposition to the war, both Vsevolod and Mikhail say, finally compelled them to turn their backs on their FSB handlers.

Mikhail even appeared on Georgian television berating the Russian regime for which he had spied.

SOKOLOV: I texted the FSB guys and told them they had started this war, that it was horrible. I saw all the images online and they had turned my world upside down because I not only felt hatred toward the Russian government but towards myself for working for them for all these years.

CHANCE: It is self-hatred and a deep sense of guilt for the lies and betrayals he says he was forced to make.


CHANCE: Jake, these testimonies are fascinating because they give us that insight, that glimpse into the concerns, the suspicions and paranoias of the Russian security services and of their Kremlin sort of handlers and masters as well. But it's also important that many Russians now like the people we spoke to have been working with the FSB, are so angered by the Ukraine war they're feeling compelled to speak out.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Matthew Chance for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, one woman's agonizing decision complicated by new laws in her state, as she carried a child that doctors said would die after delivery.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our health lead, we are now going to take a look beyond the politics of the coast to coast fight over abortion rights at the consequences of the new laws passed in the wake of the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe versus Wade. As you know, many states are enacting restrictions or outright bans while other states are trying to make abortion more easily accessible to anyone who can get across their border.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen brings us the story of a woman caught in the middle of this ugly fight and it could have killed her.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kailee DeSpain got married in Marble Falls, Texas, right out of college.

What were your plans for having a family?

KAILEE DESPAIN, DENIED ABORTION IN TEXAS: Oh, man, we wanted kids right away.

COHEN: Late last year, Kailee, a third grade teacher and her husband Cade (ph), an electrician, were thrilled to learn she was pregnant. But about four months later at a doctor's appointment --

K. DESPAIN: He said this is what a normal heart looks like but this is what your baby's heart looks like and he was missing heart chambers.

COHEN: Her medical records show more, the fetus had an extra set of chromosomes, a severe heart defect, a severe heart defect, and his lungs were too small.

Dr. Leah Tatum is a spokesperson for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

DR. LEAH TATUM, SPOKESWOMAN, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS: If the fetus develop to term, that fetus will deliver and that baby will suffocate and pass away.

COHEN: Kailee's doctor was clear.

K. DESPAIN: When he's born, he's going to suffocate to death. He may live for a few minutes, he may live for an hour, but he's going to die.

COHEN: Her doctors said they could not perform an abortion, noting in her records, termination is not legal in the state of Texas.

K. DESPAIN: I remember her saying, you know, the course of action I would have taken with a patient a year ago would be to advise them to terminate. [16:40:06]

She said that is the safest course of action for you. And it's the most humane course of action for him. And I just remember being so angry and shocked in that moment that I'm being told that my child's not going to survive and that I have to carry him to term no matter what.

COHEN: And carrying him to term could have put Kailee's life in danger. She was at high risk for several potentially deadly pregnancy complications. Blood clots, preeclampsia, and cancer because of an abnormal placenta.

Texas law allows for abortion if a mother has a life-threatening condition that places her at risk of death of substantial impairment, but Texas lawmakers haven't spelled out exactly what that means.

KATIE KEITH, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: They're extremely vague. They don't spell out exactly the situations when an abortion can be provided. I would say it's the opposite. They're extremely restrictive and broad. They threaten criminal penalties against physicians. They threaten to take someone's medical license away.

COHEN: They were faced with a choice, Kailee could risk her life and give birth to a baby who would die quickly, or go out of state and have an abortion.

K. DESPAIN: How could you be so cruel as to pass a law that you know will hurt women and that you know will cause babies to be born in pain? He was going to die a painful death. So how is that humane? How is that saving anybody?

COHEN: They decided to travel to New Mexico. Texas law prohibits insurance companies from paying for abortions in most cases, so Cade said he had to convince a relative to give them thousands of dollars.

CADE DESPAIN, WIFE DENIED ABORTION IN TEXAS: My job as a husband is to protect and love my wife. If I'm not fighting to keep her here, then I failed.

COHEN: The doctors in New Mexico recorded the baby's heart beat. Kailee sleeps with a giraffe at night and cries, mourning the loss of her baby and another loss, too. She and Cade were born and raised in Texas.

K. DESPAIN: And I have never felt more betrayed. That place was once so proud to be from.

COHEN: They desperately want to have another baby but there's a high likelihood something will go wrong again.

K. DESPAIN: The last time I saw my OB, she said do not get pregnant in Texas right now. She said this is not safe.

COHEN: Now, Kailee and Cade have to decide, abide by that advice and leave Texas, leave their families and their jobs, or stay in Texas and risk Kailee's life once again.


COHEN (on camera): We reached out to ten state legislators in Texas who authored or sponsored the state's anti-abortion laws. We did not get one response, not one legislator wrote us back with their thoughts on Kailee's situation, not one legislator took responsibility for the very laws that they wrote -- Jake.

TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, a murder scene in Vegas. An investigative journalist killed. Are there clues to his death in some of the stories that he wrote?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Stabbed to death. Jeff German, a veteran investigative reporter for "The Las Vegas Review Journal", was found dead, murdered over the weekend near his home. Now police are searching for his killer. Authorities today served search warrants in connection to German's death.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Watt.

Nick, have police narrowed down a suspect?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not yet. But here is what we know, Jake. Las Vegas police tell us they are serving search warrants today in connection with the murder of that veteran investigative newspaper reporter, Jeff German. He was found dead outside his home in Vegas Saturday morning. Cause of death, homicide. Multiple sharp force injuries, that's according to the local medical examiner.

Now, uniform police were seen this morning by Las Vegas media outside the home of a local government official. The Clark County public administrator, a man named Robert Telles, but Las Vegas police would not tell us what transpired there or if the police activity is in any way related to the Jeff German homicide investigation.

We have reached out to Robert Telles' office for comment and we're still waiting for a reply.

Now, back in May, Jeff German published a long piece about Telles in "The Las Vegas Review Journal". It began, quote, the Clark county public administrator's office has been mired in turmoil and internal dissension with allegations of emotional stress, bullying, and favoritism.

Now, German went on to write that Telles was, quote, carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. Telles denied those allegations. In June, he lost the Democratic primary, so will not be seeking re-election this fall. And he slammed Jeff German in a series of tweets, calling him a, quote, typical bully and writing, looking forward to lying smear piece number four.

Now, to be clear, we do not know if there's any connection here. Police aren't saying one way or another. Meanwhile, the paper is mourning a dedicated reporter.

"The Review Journal" family is devastated to lose Jeff, the paper's executive editor, Glenn Cook, has said in a statement, going on to say, it's hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light on dark places -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Also in our national lead, the crisis along the southwestern border. The U.S. Border Patrol has seen a record number of deaths for the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year, that started last October 1st, 748 deaths and counting. This news comes as Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to ship migrants to cities with Democratic mayors, and continues to therefore add new Democratic critics to his ranks.

For weeks now, on Abbott's orders, thousands of migrants who reach the U.S. border, many seeking asylum, have been put on buses and sent to places such as New York City or Washington, D.C. or more recently, Chicago.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is there. We're also joined by CNN reporter Priscilla Alvarez who covers border issues for us.

Omar, first to you, the Democratic mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, she's calling Governor Abbott a man without any morals?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, a man without any morals, shame, or humanity, to get her full statement in there. She's not one to spare the details on that.

This goes back to about a week ago when dozens of migrants began arriving by bush here in Chicago. And another 50 came on Sunday, so a little over 100 at this point.

And Mayor Lightfoot said she's been in constant contact or regular communication with people on the ground in Texas, but that Governor Abbott hasn't been one to cooperate or coordinate, and in doing so, is helping manufacture a human crisis. Take a listen.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: This is not a governor who wants to collaborate and cooperate with us. There's a way to do it. It's real simple. Pick up the phone, send me an email. Work through third parties. I would love to see that, because that to me would show that he's -- importantly, that he's regarding these folks as human beings who are deserving of respect and dignity and not treating them like freight to be shipped across the country.


JIMENEZ: And in the near future, Mayor Lightfoot said Chicago is going to continue being a welcoming city for these migrants, offering food, shelter, medical care if necessary.

But as you can imagine, Governor Abbott's office has not been happy with the statements coming out of Lightfoot's office and I want to read a bit of a statement that his press secretary put out saying: Instead of lowly personal attacks on the governor and complaining about a few dozen migrants being bussed to her sanctuary city, Mayor Lightfoot should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border, something the president continues failing to do. Again, in his words.

Now, Customs and Border Protection has seen record numbers of migrants along the southern border. And it's also important to note that a lot of these migrants can come to Chicago even if they're not bused, but of course, it is a dynamic the city of Chicago continues to expect from the state of Texas.

TAPPER: Priscilla, let me bring you in because you have new numbers about the deaths along the southwest border.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Jake. This might be the deadliest year, the deadliest fiscal year. Homeland Security official now tells me that so far this fiscal year, there have been 748 deaths along the southwest border, and that is still with a month to go in the fiscal year. Now, to compare, last fiscal year there were 557 deaths and 247 deaths in fiscal year 2020.

Now, remember, migrants often pass through treacherous terrain, dangerous waters, and sometimes fall off the border barrier when crossing from Mexico to the United States. And that really came into focus last week when eight bodies were recovered from the Rio Grande in what was a mass drowning incident.

Now, immigrant advocates say it is U.S. border policies that sometimes lead migrants to take even riskier journeys, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as you heard from Omar, has been grappling with a record number of migrants, and they pointed me to smugglers as some of those taking advantage of migrants, saying, quote, smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, quote, leading to a rise in number of rescues and tragically a rise in the number of deaths.

So, Jake, this remains a grave concern as the months go on.

TAPPER: Priscilla and Omar, thanks to both of you.

Coming up next, video you will only see here on CNN. Hear what poll workers were told in a training session as Republicans try to control future elections.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


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

This hour, California is baking under record-breaking temperatures well into triple digits.

Also, hurricane is threatening to keep relief at bay.

Then, fears of more flooding with one-third of Pakistan already under water and some places it's so bad, families have nowhere to bury their loved ones.

And leading this hour with a CNN exclusive, video of MAGA loyalists training poll workers in Michigan, even suggesting that they break the rules.

And as CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports, the trainers went so far as to call the poll workers, quote, secret agents.


PATRICK COLBECK: Look, don't be fearful, guys.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN obtained this recording of a Wayne County GOP training session over Zoom the night before the Michigan primary last month.

CHERYL COSTANTINO: So you're all really undercover agents. Congratulations. That's undercover training.

GRIFFIN: It is extra training, partisan training. Not just for volunteers observing elections, but including the actual paid election workers who will check in voters, hand out ballots, even help in the counting, which is why what they are being told is alarming.

COLBECK: There's a lot of bad stuff that's happening in this upcoming election. So we're going to have to keep our heads on a swivel and just start documenting irregularities.