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The Lead with Jake Tapper

King Charles Pledges To Carry On Queen's Duty To Country; White House Making Plans For Biden To Attend Queen's Funeral; Texas' Top Cop Rejects Claims of Cover-Up In Uvalde Investigation; Trump, DOJ Face Midnight Deadline To Submit Special Master Proposal; U.S. Officials Praise Ukrainian Success, Caution War Will Last Longer. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 09, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ELTON JOHN, SINGER: I send my love to her family and her loved ones. And she will be missed, but her spirit lives on, and we celebrate her life tonight with music. Okay?



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Our special coverage continues. THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: For the first time in seven decades, a king addressed the British commonwealth.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Honoring the Queen. The royal family's meticulous plans laid out as an official period of mourning begins and Britons showed up in droves to honor the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Plus, King Charles III starts his reign, as the world watches to see what kind of leader he might be.

And in the U.S., pressing for answers in Uvalde, Texas. CNN asking the state's top law enforcement officer, why did he allegedly say no one is losing their jobs over the massacre at Robb Elementary? His answer you'll only see here.


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

We start today with our world lead and the first full day on the job for King Charles III, as the world mourns the death of his mother, Britain's longest reigning monarch. This afternoon, King Charles addressed the nation and the world for the first time since Queen Elizabeth's passing.


KING CHARLES III, UNITED KINGDOM: As the Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time god grants me to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.


TAPPER: That address was followed by a ceremony of remembrance at St. Paul's Cathedral where the new British national anthem "God Save the King" was officially sung.


TAPPER: Earlier today, upon returning to London, King Charles and his wife Camilla, the Queen consort, greeted crowds outside Buckingham Palace where mourners have been leaving flowers and tributes.

And the king met with the brand-new British prime minister, Liz Truss, where the king was overheard saying he had been dreading the death of his mother, the Queen.


KING CHARLES III: A moment I have been dreading, as I know a lot of people have.


TAPPER: CNN's Bianca Nobilo starts off our coverage from London today with more on King Charles' pledge to the nation and the new tributes pouring in for Queen Elizabeth II.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A kiss of approval for a new king. King Charles III, arriving to applause at Buckingham Palace.

Flowers laid just feet away, mourning his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The cheers reassuring for a king who's not always enjoyed the country's full support as Prince of Wales. Commencing his reign, there was no time to show his personal grief. His first act: to greet and reassure his subjects, an early hint of his sovereign style.

KING CHARLES III: And whenever you might live in the United Kingdom or the realms and territories across the world and whatever maybe your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect, and love as I have throughout my life.

NOBILO: A new era of the British crown begins as the world grieves the late Queen. The first day of royal mourning in the U.K., which will last until seven days after the funeral is one of deep remembrance.

The other new leader, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, just four days into her role, met with the new king and led tributes in the House of Commons.

LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Her late majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. She was the rock on which modern Britain was built.

We need that courage now. In an instant yesterday, our lives changed forever. Today, we show the world that we do not fear what lies ahead.

NOBILO: Truss also attended the first service for the British public at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.


Members of the royal family are back in England to prepare for King Charles III's accession ceremony on Saturday. The burden is heavy. King Charles III facing rising Republicanism, the task of consolidating the monarchy in the modern age and carving his own identity in the long shadow of his much beloved mother.


NOBILO (on camera): Jake, I'm here outside St. Paul's Cathedral where earlier thousands of members of the public joined together to remember and say prayers for the late Queen Elizabeth II. And I spoke to those who attended the service, and they had come from as far as Argentina, Italy, America, Australia. They happen to be in the country. It was first come first serve and they wanted to be a part of that historic moment. So that's how the day ended.

The day began with tributes in the houses of parliament, led by the prime minister, the opposition leader, and former prime ministers like Boris Johnson.

And for once, all of them sung from the same hymn sheet. They were magnanimous, they were open hearted. They were revealing of their own emotions. Boris Johnson even spoke about being brought to tears at the mere thought of the Queen passing away.

And Jake, there simply is not another figure that could have the global reach that I saw at St. Paul's and have the ability to unite the Houses of Parliament other than the late Queen Elizabeth ii. She is simply lightning in a bottle.

TAPPER: Bianca Nobilo in London, thank you so much for that report.

North now to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, CNN's Isa Soares is there.

Isa, the Queen's body remains at Balmoral as this period of mourning begins. So, what comes next?


Well, as you can see, the temperatures have dropped. The light has gone as well, but we continue to see a stream of people coming in to pay their respects to the Queen. Of course, like you shared, she still remains at Balmoral, a residence, a place of refuge that she really felt like she could be herself. 50,000 acres here in beautiful highlands where she walked her corgis, where she drove her Land Rover, where really she was away from the limelight and really part of the community.

But behind, of course, inside that residence at Balmoral, it's also family grieving. A family who lost their mother and lost a matriarch, so important to mention. We know inside still is Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Princess Anne.

They are still inside, in the last 20 minutes, we saw a car drove in. It's pitch black, but the first car we have seen enter the residence so far today. After we know that the Queen is expected to stay at Balmoral for some two days before then being taken to Edinburgh, to the cathedral, where she will lie in rest -- Jake.

TAPPER: Isa, how was the king's speech received by the individuals you spoke with near Balmoral Castle today?

SOARES: I think the majority, Jake, I think was very well-received. People said that it was emotional, it was warm, it was touching, but clearly, a son deeply grieving. Majority of people I spoke to said clearly he had huge shoes to fill. But -- and even one person said to me, you know, I hope he's half as good as his mother.

Have a listen to what one lady told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think stepping into the shoes of such a legacy is going to be incredibly difficult. He clearly wants to be his own person, and I think we need to give him the opportunity to do that as well, because it's very easy for us to very quickly judge, but actually just like anyone, we need to give him our time and support.


SOARES: And while people are on the whole ecstatic to have a new king, many people said to me today that we need time to reflect and pause on really 70 years of service by the Queen. One person telling me they think it's all happening too quickly -- Jake.

TAPPER: Isa Soares at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss is CNN royals historian Kate Williams.

Kate, let's start with King Charles' first act as king, greeting the crowds outside Buckingham Palace earlier today. We have to be frank here. Charles has not always been hugely popular among the British public, but I wonder if you think he has an opportunity here to turn that around.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes, I think he has, and I think Charles really, we all know he's sincere, we all know he's thoughtful, he thinks deeply, but what we haven't seen from him is a real sense of heart. And he spoke today, he spoke from the heart. He talked about trying to serve the country with love and really I think that's what came across today.

A lady just reached out and grabbed him and kissed him, and Charles really seemed very in for that. I think that this is really going to win people over.


That if Charles doesn't seem stiff upper lip, if he seems someone who is there to share grief and share this moment with the people, that's going to be really important. So I do think that his focus today and that very good, very significant speech in which he very much wanted to continue his mother's legacy of service, of devotion, of love, of respect, and really call to mind her warmth, talked about her brilliant ability to see the best in people. That I think was coming out today that he too is seeing the best in people, being warm and I don't think being warm is something he's found easily, but clearly he's getting in touch with it here.

I think it's because he's so touched by the outpouring of support and sympathy and the love for his mother. I think he really has found it very touching and very comforting in these difficult times.

TAPPER: King Charles also reflected in his speech on how much the commonwealth has changed during his mother's 70-year reign. Take a listen.


KING CHARLES II: We have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths. The institutions of the state have changed in turn. But through all changes and challenges, our nation and the wider family of realms of whose talents, traditions, and achievements I am so inexpressively proud, have prospered and flourished.


TAPPER: Now, we know Britain is dealing with serious issues now including high inflation, soaring energy costs, the possibility of a recession. You have a brand new prime minister.

Is it possible that King Charles is trying to position himself as something of a unifier here?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think he is trying to position himself as a unifier. As you say, we're on the brink of recession here, energy prices, the effects of the global conflict crisis have caused great energy prices, huge inflation running at past 13 percent, I think, the latest estimate it.

So we are in quite difficult times in Britain and I think Charles here is really focusing, as he says, on the family, the wider family realms because, Jake, this is Charles' big challenge as a monarch, not just the situation that we're in in Britain, but also the future of the commonwealth and the future of the other countries which the monarchy is head of state, the monarch is head of state of 15 countries. Last year, Barbados decided they no longer wished the monarchy to be

head of state. We heard Australia say the same, Jamaica, Antigua, Belize. And they all said that once the Queen was no longer here, these were discussions they would really accelerate. And I think in the next few years, we'll see many countries no longer have the monarch the head of state.

And I think the commonwealth, 54 nations, 2.1 billion people, so important to the Queen. Her real abiding legacy. I think that's going to change because to many members of the commonwealth, it was a sense of unity, but to them, many of them feel it's founded in the oppression of empire, the exploitation of empire, and there are other countries they wish to comply with not Britain, but other countries across the world.

So, we will see I think the commonwealth fragment and I think that Charles will be head of very few countries than his mother was. That's his big challenge, to oversee that transition in a way that celebrates independence.

TAPPER: Yeah, let's talk about that because there has been some criticism in the last couple days not specifically of the Queen, but the Queen as a figure head for the U.K. and imperialism, colonialism, the South African opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, put out a statement that said in part, quote: We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth because to us, her death is a reminder of a very tragic history in Africa's history. During her 70-year reign as queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities her people inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world, unquote.

How should Charles go about addressing this, do you think?

WILLIAMS: William and Kate made a visit to the Caribbean, and this was not a successful royal visit. Many people felt it was colonial in tone and look. They traveled in the back of a large car and it looked very colonial, and they didn't apologize for slavery.

And also, there's been a scandal of more recently in Britain where those who came over from Jamaica post war to rebuild the country and the children who came over with them, just tiny children who thought they were British citizens suddenly in 2011, 2012, the British government tried to deport them. That caused a lot of anger across the Caribbean that people who always thought of themselves at British suddenly were being deported. I think this should have been acknowledged during the visit. What we're going to see, I think, is Charles really having to discuss this question of slavery, of perhaps reparations, and also of the suffering that countries have been through, this great exploitation under empire.


TAPPER: Kate Williams, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Just in, Britain's ambassador to the U.S. just greeted well-wishers outside the British embassy here in Washington, D.C. She's now at this moment headed here to the studio and I will speak with her in our next hour.

Plus, CNN catching up with a woman who dared to kiss the new king as he greeted the crowds in London today. We're also standing by for significant court filings as a deadline approaches and the U.S. Justice Department and Trump lawyers clash over the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead.

Just moments ago, we heard from the British ambassador to the United States outside the embassy here in Washington, D.C.


DAME KAREN PIERCE, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: She was also a very human person. She was a remarkable individual. She had a fantastic sense of humor, and an amazing ability to get right to the heart of the matter.


TAPPER: British Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce will join me right here on THE LEAD live in our next hour.

We're also learning heads of state from around the world, including President Biden, are expected to attend the queen's funeral service when it is scheduled.


CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

Kaitlan, what do we know about whether President Biden will travel to the U.K. for this funeral?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, President Biden says he does plan to go to the funeral. Obviously, key details like when the funeral is actually going to be held still remain to be seen. But President Biden did confirm to reporters today as he was on his way to Ohio that he is going to go to the Queen's funeral.

He said he has not spoken yet with King Charles, as he is now known, but he says he does know him, Jake. So that's another conversation we wait to see is well given we know he did speak with the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss early yesterday morning as the reports about the Queen's health were coming in.

Now, Jake, when the president goes, he will likely be part of an official delegation. Obviously, this is something they're closely organizing here at the White House to follow protocol for that, but it remains to be seen who goes with President Biden. One thing to watch is whether or not we're going to see this reunion of what's known as the president's club. All the living presidents that gather at events as monumental as something like this one for the Queen's funeral.

And those are something that we are told, my colleague Jeff Zeleny is told, it's not likely to be individual invitations to each of the living presidents. Instead, it will be one invitation to the United States and President Biden will ultimately make that decision. But, of course, the White House, they're still waiting on the formal invitation and then they'll make those decisions.

TAPPER: Tough decisions to make there.

Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.

Much of life across the United Kingdom was on pause today, as Britain enters an official period of mourning. Major stores and the London zoo are closed, sporting events have been postponed. Concerts and awards ceremonies delayed.

CNN's Matthew Chance is outside Buckingham Palace in London.

And, Matthew, you have been speaking to mourners there all day. What did you heard from them? What's been their message?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's incredible. In fact, you join me now, Jake, right at the gates of Buckingham palace. You can see the palace lit up in the background and then there is this, you know, sea of bouquets of flowers that have been laid by the thousands upon thousands of people that are thronging these gates to pay their respects.

There's, of course, grief at the loss of this iconic figure, the sadness as well. But the overwhelming sense of it being respect, being expressed here is one of gratitude.


CHANCE (voice-over): It was a day of grief for these mourners, the first without their beloved Queen. A sea of flowers lined Buckingham Palace, a symbol of Elizabeth II's strongest legacy, the affection and respect she inspired in people's hearts.

KATIE MALLINGS, MOURNER: She's been a part of our life, for all of our lives apart from anyone born before her. So, she's been that constant strength and a rock, really, throughout any bad times through our entire lives.

CHANCE: For most here, Queen Elizabeth was the only monarch they have ever known, some even comparing her death to losing a member of their own family.

We can see there is this enormous outpouring of grief, sadness, I think overwhelmingly respect from people in Britain towards Queen Elizabeth now that she's passed. People at the Gates of Buckingham palace here, thronging with thousands of people. They're coming to lay flowers, stacking them up. Outside the gates of Buckingham palace and laying messages as well like this one here that says addressed to the Queen, thank you for all you have done for the people of the world. May you rest in peace.

Indeed, a Queen of many countries. The monarch who ruled over 15 nations as well as Britain and touched the hearts of the millions of people who respected her. The same people now mourning her loss across the globe.

But this was also a day of renewal, to celebrate a new sovereign. It was an apprehensive King Charles II, who met his new subjects for the first time as their monarch, and his welcome was encouraging and warm, even received an out of protocol kiss from a member of the public -- memorable moment indeed, as he became king.

The succession may be automatic in Britain's system of monarchy, but what's not automatic is the transfer of respect his mother enjoyed as the head of state. King Charles III will have to work to achieve the same place as his mother in the hearts and minds of the British public.

LESLEY GARRETT, OPERA SINGER: Sorry. That's just really got to me. I'll ever, ever sing "God Save the Queen" again. She's just meant so much to this entire country for so long. It's like the tectonic plates of our society have shifted and they'll never be the same, never.

CHANCE: From now on, it's "God Save the King". For a younger generation, Charles III will have to become their symbol of the British crown.



CHANCE (on camera): Well, Jake, there you have it, a lot of people still right here outside the gates of Buckingham Palace laying some of their flowers, paying respects.

Let me give you a quick overview of some of the messages. This card over here, look, it's just a thank you card saying: thank you very much. Love, the Price family who have come, taken the time to come out here.

This message here, obviously written by somebody very young. I hope you had a nice time at England and having -- and being the Queen, which is a quite nice little message from a child. It just shows you that young and old, there's been this incredible outpouring of gratitude for Queen Elizabeth II, but, of course, now the country is looking at embracing its new king, King Charles III -- Jake.

TAPPER: Matthew Chance outside Buckingham Palace, thank you so much.

Coming up next, CNN confronts the top cop of Texas about the Uvalde massacre. Were there efforts to protect the jobs of police officers before an investigation is complete? You'll see his answer only here on CNN.



TAPPER: In our national lead, a CNN exclusive for you now. The leader of Texas' top law enforcement agency privately told law enforcement officers last month that, quote, no one is losing their jobs, unquote. That in reference to the inept, some say cowardly response or lack thereof to the Uvalde school massacre in which 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered. That account is according to the official minutes of an internal meeting obtained by CNN.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz tracked him down and confronted him over his private reassurance to his officers.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People have accused you of being part of a cover-up.


PROKUPECZ: Do you disagree with that?

MCCRAW: Absolutely.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): It's been three and a half month since the Uvalde massacre, since the failed police response that left a gunman alone in a classroom full of children and their teachers for over an hour. In that time, anger at the Texas department of public safety has only grown. The agency had 91 officers who responded. None has lost their job or faced any consequences.

DPS officials never fully answered any of the lingering questions about its officers' actions that day. Not to furious parents, to an angry town mayor, or to any reporters until now.

MCCRAW: First of all, there's no cover-up. And the bottom line is as soon as we can, we'll release everything.

PROKUPECZ: It needs to be done, sir. The families are starving for information.

MCCRAW: It will be done when the district attorney says so.

PROKUPECZ: This week, two DPS officers were suspended with pay and referred for formal investigation by the inspector general. The department said three others will also be investigated.

CNN tracked down DPS Director Steven McCraw after obtaining minutes from an internal meeting held in August. These minutes seem to paint a very different picture than the pledge of full accountability that DPS chief has given publicly. And oh, by the way, the minutes quote him, no one is losing their jobs. Quite the contrary, all leaders in region three did what they were supposed to do and have stepped up to meet the moment. You said no one is losing their jobs.

MCCRAW: No, I didn't say that.

PROKUPECZ: You're denying you said that?

MCCRAW: I'm denying that I said that.

PROKUPECZ: You're denying you said no one is going to lose their job.

MCCRAW: Victor Escalon lost his job.

PROKUPECZ: Victor Escalon is the DPS regional director for south Texas. He can be seen in the hallway at Robb Elementary and in the days after he repeatedly helped deliver incorrect information to the media.

Before this, McCraw has not given any extensive interviews since the may 24 atrocity. He became a public face of the law enforcement response in the days after.

First, at a table with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, when the efforts of officers were praised.

MCCRAW: Law enforcement was there, they did engage immediately.

PROKUPECZ: Then, at a later news conference when he admitted to the police failure.

MCCRAW: For the benefit of hindsight, where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision.

PROKUPECZ: And in Texas Senate testimony when he called the operation a, quote, abject failure.

MCCRAW: I don't care if you have flip-flops and are wearing Bermuda shorts. It doesn't matter. You go in.

PROKUPECZ: McCraw's comments put him in the middle of a vastly changer narrative that left him and his department open to criticism by the Uvalde mayor, the victims' families, and local politicians.

I think it's important.

MCCRAW: I can't think of any more important thing.

PROKUPECZ: That's why people think there's a cover-up, because no one is talking about what happened.

MCCRAW: When we get the ability to talk, I'll go line by line in terms of what trooper did what, but not what trooper, what DPS officer. We'll be entirely transparent.

The public will have it. They'll have excruciating details in terms of what we did, when we did it, and those gaps, and like I said, what we're not going to do is not going to give anybody an opportunity to undermine the criminal investigation.

PROKUPECZ: Now, McCraw says he'll resign if his agency was shown to have culpability for the botched response.

MCCRAW: I'll be the first to resign, okay. I'll be gladly resigning, tender my resignation to the governor, okay, if I think there's anyone culpable in the Department of Public Safety, okay? But we're going to hold our officers accountable, no one gets a pass. But every officer is going to be held accountable.


PROKUPECZ: And, Jake, you know, the statements in those leaked minutes are raising concerns now with family members.


We're just getting a statement in from a representative for the family members, several of the family members who said that they're quote, disheartened and angry to hear that Texas DPS Chief McCraw believed his officers stepped up to the moment. The referral of only five officers to the Texas IG is a slap in the face to families. We have been calling for transparency and accountability since day one and the DPS chief's leaked statement does nothing to instill in us that trust will happen.

And the other thing, Jake, of course, the families want to meet with him. They want to meet with the chief so they can get some information. He told me he will at some point meet with them. We'll see if he keeps his word. But I do think it would go a long way for many of these families if they could hear from him directly, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Shimon, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Great reporting.

We're expecting to see court filings soon from the Justice Department and lawyers for Donald Trump. How might this impact the Mar-a-Lago documents case? That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, the Justice Department and Donald Trump's lawyers are up against a midnight deadline to submit a list of names and ground rules for a special master to go through the documents seized last month at Mar-a-Lago.

But as CNN's Pamela Brown reports, the Justice Department is appealing that judge's ruling.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department is fighting to keep its criminal investigation and a damage assessment into highly classified documents found at Mar-a- Lago to continue uninterrupted.

ALINA HABBA, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: They want the injunction to stop so they can continue their investigation and their criminal action, potential criminal action against Donald Trump.

BROWN: Justice Department lawyers are urging the Trump appointed judge who ordered a third party to review what was seized from Trump's Florida estate to reconsider temporarily blocking the FBI from accessing those documents.

NORM EISEN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: She says, hey, these documents are so dangerous we're going to allow the intelligence community to do damage assessment, but FBI, DOJ, you can't look at them.

BROWN: But the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines says the judge's ruling actually put the brakes on the intel community's assessment of any damage to national security. She stopped investigating the potential fallout for missing top secret papers until this is sorted out in court.

And the Justice Department is throwing Judge Aileen Cannon's own words back at her, writing in a court filing that the judge said in her own order, it, quote, was not intended to impede the classification review and/or intelligence assessment. But the DOJ is arguing that the intel community can't do it alone, and that unless the FBI and DOJ are allowed to access the documents and work on that damage assessment, quote, the government and the public would suffer irreparable harm.

DOJ pointed to the empty folders marked classified found at Mar-a- Lago, saying its hands are tied. Quote: The FBI would be chiefly responsible for investigating what materials may have once been stored in these folders and whether they may have been lost or compromised.

Justice Department lawyers are warning Judge Cannon they are, quote, likely to succeed on the merits. If they appeal to the 11th Circuit, which they will do by next Thursday if she doesn't allow their investigation to go forward.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: If DOJ appeals eventually, it would be overturned. I hope they expedited it, but it could take several months to get that straightened out.


BROWN (on camera): Now, the deadline for this joint submission from both DOJ and Trump's lawyers is midnight tonight. And in this submission, there will be things such as lists of who each side wants to be the special master and how they believe this process should proceed.

You can imagine, Jake, given how this has played out so far, they will come to the table with different visions for how they want this process to proceed. But the judge said once this filing comes in, that she will make an expeditious decision on how this process is going to go. TAPPER: Well, the person is going to have to have very high security

clearance given those documents.

BROWN: Absolutely.

TAPPER: All right. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Elie Honig. He's a former assistant U.S. attorney.

Elie, what do you expect from tonight's filing from the Trump folks. Can the Justice Department and Trump's team possibly agree on names for the special master?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, we'll see one of two scenarios tonight. It's possible that the parties come to the judge and say we were unable to agree on anything or anything of substance, and therefore the judge is going to have to do what judges do all the time, which is decide between competing positions between the parties.

There also is a possibility they reach a middle ground. DOJ sort of laid this out yesterday in their motion for a stay and a motion for a pause, essentially. Where DOJ basically said, of the 11,000 documents that were seized at Mar-a-Lago, the ones we care about most are the 100 or so classified documents. And judge, if you let us use those documents, then we'll likely be okay with the special master going through the other 10,900 or so documents.

That strikes me as the best possibility for some sort of compromise.

TAPPER: If this ends up in a full-out legal fight, what are the Justice Department's chances of winning and do you think that's going to happen?

HONIG: Well, if this goes up on appeal, the Justice Department is going to be in a tough circuit, the 11th circuit which covers federal cases out of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. There is a Republican conservative leaning tilt on that court. Seven of the 11 current judges on that circuit were appointed by Republicans, six of them by Donald Trump.

If you look at the merits of the arguments there, DOJ has a strong argument to some extent that executive privilege probably does not apply to these documents. But the problem with this executive privilege is we don't have a lot of black and white. There's not a whole lot of law on this. It doesn't come up a whole lot.

And so, I think Trump's response here is going to be, this is an issue for the district court. This is about case management, and there's no reason to overturn it.


TAPPER: Elie, on this show a few weeks ago, you predicted Trump had a reasonable chance of this judge granting his request for a special master. And I noted that a bunch of MSNBC legal commentators attacked you.

Have they apologized at all? Have they acknowledge that they were wrong and you were right?

HONIG: No, Jake. I mean, I have thick skin. You sort of grow that as a prosecutor. If you strip out the politics and look at this thing objectively, and we had this story as it broke, and if you understand how real district courts, trial courts, work, to me it seemed like Donald Trump's request was not unreasonable, was not unprecedented, and he had a reasonable chance to succeed.

That's what's happened now. There's more to come on the appeal, but we're trying to call it down the middle, Jake, and that's all I aim to do.

TAPPER: I guess some legal commentators have a difficult time stripping out the politics.

Elie Honig, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: New gains for Ukraine and soldiers staking their claim in territory once held by Russia. Up next, the show of force that has impressed even U.S. officials.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our world lead, we are following significant and frankly startling progress in Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive against Vladimir Putin's Russian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims his military has liberated at least 20 settlements in this counteroffensive which is aimed at choking off the Russians' supply lines into the northeastern part of the country.

We're seeing pictures showing Ukrainian troops holding their flag in front of a sign showing they're on the outskirts of Kupiansk. In another, a Ukrainian flag flies atop a flag pole while soldiers stand on a Russian flag that's just been hauled down.

U.S. officials are taking notice.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have all been impressed by what we have seen -- their willingness to stand up to a much larger, much stronger force and be effective in their efforts.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Even as they're making progress, they're bearing real costs. This is likely to go on for some significant period of time.


TAPPER: That was the secretary of defense and the secretary of state.

CNN's Sam Kiley is in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

Tell us more about the counteroffensive. All these Ukrainian gains really significant?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are significant, Jake. What we have seen is this southern counteroffensive that you and I have talked about over the last week or ten days, and then just in the last three or four days, a sudden escalation in the pre-existing counteroffensive in the north in Kharkiv province.

Now, this is critical because it is in the north and the east where the Ukrainian forces had been under the most pressure. That is where there was a very serious concentration of Russian forces.

This counterattack has been very, very swift, President Zelenskyy talking there about 20 or 30 settlements being liberated. We have heard from our own military sources that number could be more than double that. They're talking about having captured some 500 square kilometers in about two days. So significant advances, which are significant because they sever or potentially could sever the supply lines from Russia proper down towards the front line, down to the city of Izyum, and that's a crucial city. It lies on the main east/west road from Kharkiv to Kramatorsk. You'll recall Kramatorsk is getting absolutely hammered there in the east.

And if the Ukrainians can break that supply line, can push the Russians back from there, they have a real chance of breaking the dynamic that is supporting the whole Russian effort. They have a real chance in the north, and now always in the south of setting the Russians back in a significant way that they couldn't really recover from potentially, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Sam, obviously, you're in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, right near the nuclear power plant. What's the latest on that story?

KILEY: Well, the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog that has two monitors on the ground now at that nuclear power station, has joined the Ukrainian government officials in saying that the danger is that that nuclear power station may have to be shut down because it's now more than 36 hours since it has lost power going into the nuclear power station. That is power from a traditional power station to drive the cooling systems. That means that if those cooling systems break down, in other words, the diesel generators that are running them at the moment run out of gas or break down, there's a risk of a meltdown. And that is something that is clearly catastrophic, something close to Fukushima or Chernobyl, so there is a deep danger there, Jake.

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

Today, Britain's now King Charles named his oldest son William the new prince of Wales. What this means for the succession to the throne, including Harry and Meghan's kids.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


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

This hour, an investigative reporter stabbed to death outside his home in Las Vegas, and a politician whom he had been covering charged with his murder. What DNA evidence might reveal about key moments before the murder.

And leading this hour, formal ceremonies beginning to honor Queen Elizabeth II. Today, President Biden confirms he'll attend her funeral. And with the queen's remains still at her beloved summer residence in Scotland, what we're now learning about the elaborate ceremonies for the U.K. to say good-bye and usher in King Charles III.

CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster is in London for us covering the first of dozens of events marking the queen's remarkable legacy, including today's address to the world from the new king.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a pre-recorded address to the nation, and the commonwealth, King Charles III renewed the pledge made by his mother more than 75 years ago. Speaking for the first time as sovereign, Charlie reached out to all religions and creeds.

He paid a glowing tribute to wife Camilla and bestowed his former title, Prince of Wales, on his son William, making Kate the princess of Wales.

He expressed his love to Harry and Meghan.

Most powerfully and holding back tears, he addressed his mother directly.