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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Today: Biden Meets With Families Of Griner, Whelan At W.H.; Sen. Risch: "Not Always The Case" That Americans Come Home; Putin Publicly Concedes China, India Have Concerns Over Ukraine; Biden Slams GOP Govs For "Playing Politics With Human Beings"; Dems Gear Up For Leadership Change As Pelosi's Future Unclear; New Documentary Explores U.S. Response To The Holocaust. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 16, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: As CNN's Matthew Chance reports for us now, Putin's confidence is curious considering his recent losses on the ground in Ukraine have led to a spike in criticism back home from some rather unexpected places.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukraine's game here set to dramatic music by their own troops is increasingly Putin's loss. Russia's stunning military setbacks, stirring broad public criticism at home with shocked military hardliners voicing anger.
DMITRY PALYUGA, RUSSIAN LOCAL DEPUTY: Hi, I'm Dmtry.
CHANCE (voice-over): And a dozens of elected local Russian politicians too for signing an official petition authored by this local council demanding President Putin to be impeached.
Russians have offered to pay his fines for speaking out, even to hide him, he told me, if the Kremlin tries to put him in jail.
PALYUGA: Well, obviously Russian army is being destroyed right now. So, we lose people, we lose weapons, and we lose our ability to defend.
CHANCE (on camera): And that fact that the Russian army is suffering the setbacks, that is fueling anger, isn't it? Not just amongst the liberal aspects of Russian society, but also amongst hardliners as well, they're furious.
PALYUGA: Yes. Actually pro war activists they are now really feel betrayed. And that there is a point where both liberal group of people and that pro war group of people can have the same goal.
CHANCE (voice-over): Like these early antiwar protesters in Moscow back in February, hardliners complain of Russia being too soft on Ukraine and sending woefully underprepared troops into battle. But it's the heavy price Russia is paying whether may be common cause.
KSENIA THORSTROM, RUSSIAN LOCAL DEPUTY: Hi, my name is Ksenia Thorstrom. I'm a municipal deputy of --
CHANCE (voice-over): And why another Russian counselor has filed a second petition calling for Putin to resign, the Kremlin strong man, she told me, is depriving Russians of a future.
THORSTROM: Russia has become poor. They are not welcome anywhere. Then there was less of facilities supplies. Russia doesn't really produce anything itself. And I don't know what future can be for the country which is isolated.
CHANCE (on camera): Can you talk to me about what impact that lack of a future is having on people that you speak to?
THORSTROM: Ah, well, it's quite depressive now, very depressive atmosphere in Russia, and the frustration feeling fear, anger, shame.
CHANCE (voice-over): The Kremlin insists the mood of the people is still with the Russian president. The growing criticism at home and abroad may at least threaten to take the swagger to Putin step.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CHANCE: Indeed. And tonight, Jake, more than 70 deputies in areas across -- you know, cities across Russia have now signed a petition calling for Vladimir Putin to resign. That's an extraordinarily high figure in a country that no longer tolerates public dissent, yet alone official dissent from elected officials. The five deputies that call for his impeachment, they've all been prosecuted and fined.
TAPPER: Matthew Chance in London, thank you so much.
Also on our world lead today, President Biden has been meeting at the White House with the families of two Americans detained unfairly in Russia Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. The White House says the President is quote, "Not going to let up" in trying to bring them home.
This comes as CNN reported earlier this week that former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson met with Russian leadership in Moscow. He works privately to free hostages and detainees abroad. The Biden White House has told Richardson to stop and to leave Russia. CNN Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us again live.
Kaitlan, why is President Biden finally meeting with these families now? And what do we know about the status of any negotiations to bring them home?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, Jake, because this is a meeting that these families have pushed for for months. They have wanted to come to face to face with President Biden to talk about obviously how much they want this to be a priority for him and for his administration, bringing home their loved ones who are being held prisoner in Russia. And so, they are finally getting these meetings separately today we are told with these families. They are really scheduled because the White House said one family was in town, they were scheduling that one and they wanted to make sure they met with both because you've seen situations play out in the last several months where Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner got a call from President Biden and then Paul Whelan's sister, Elizabeth, was saying that she also wanted a direct call from the President.
So that is going to be the meeting that they are having today face to face with President Biden, talking about how this is still a priority. But Jake, unfortunately the White House says, you know, they're getting the meetings that they would like, they're not getting the news that they want, because of course, they want news about their release. They still have not moved the ball forward on that, unfortunately, even though the White House as you know has made a proposal for a prisoner swap to Russia that they just really have not engaged on.
TAPPER: We're also learning that the U.S. State Department is not ruling out the possibility of a meeting with Russia's top diplomat when the U.N. General Assembly convenes next week in New York. What are sources telling you?
COLLINS: Yes, this is the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He has gotten a visa to come to the United Nations Summit that's next week. Obviously President Biden is going to be there on Wednesday, also Secretary of State Blinken. And the White House right now in the State Department are not saying that a meeting is not going to happen.
They say there are no current plans for Blinken to meet with Lavrov, but they're not ruling it out. And the scenario that they laid out there, Jake, for why a meeting could potentially happen as they said if a senior Russian official meeting with a senior American official helps bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home then they would pursue that. Right now it's not on the books, Jake. And they have been in the same room, I should note, in recent months since the invasion started without actually speaking or meeting whether or not they do next week is going to be something that everyone's watching closely.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House forest, thank you so much.
Joining us now live to discuss Thomas Firestone. He's the former legal adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Also with us, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Beth Sanner.
Thomas, let me start with you. The U.S. has been urging Russia to send a serious counter offer when the U.S. has made an offer this Bond villain arms trader in exchange for the two, Russia hasn't really responded. And they haven't responded to this desire for a counteroffer. What's going on?
THOMAS FIRESTONE, FMR. DOJ LEGAL ADVISER, U.S. EMBASSY IN MOSCOW: Well, I think they're going to let it play out. I don't think they're going to do anything until Brittney Griner's appeal is heard and presumably denied, which I would put in early October. And I think that they're in no rush to have this happen. I think they're enjoying seeing the American politics play out. Bout's been sitting in jail for quite some time and I think that they'll let it go on a little bit longer.
TAPPER: And Beth, what do you make of former Governor and Ambassador Bill Richardson going to Moscow, meeting with Russian officials? The White House has -- had, let's just say not so glowing things about Richardson being there. They say no one speaks for the U.S. government other than the U.S. government and he should go home. Explain all this because he did play a role, Richardson, in helping to get Trevor Reed released.
BETH SANNER, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATL. INTELLIGENCE: He did and it kind of surprises me. And it makes me think that maybe there is something more going on behind the scenes and they don't want Richardson to kind of muck it up by starting some kind of new negotiation or taking an angle that they haven't already been pursuing. So, I think it's just, you know, too many cooks in the kitchen and that's I leave it there.
TAPPER: My colleague, Pamela Brown, spoke today with Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho. Play -- let me play a little bit of what he told her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM RISCH (R-ID), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: It's going to be difficult, there's no question about it. On the other hand, you still need to deal with the families and explain to them that, you know, there are limited things that you can do when you have this kind of situation going on.
In most instances, we do get the people back. But that's not always the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, he seems to be urging skepticism really, like, please don't get your hopes up.
FIRESTONE: Yes, I think he's wisely managing expectations. He recognizes how hard this is. The Russians have a lot of leverage here, we don't have a lot. As I say, I think that it seems like they're willing to let Viktor Bout sit for a while. So, we're in a very difficult situation.
I think it's important to manage expectations. I think they will get them home, but it's not going to be quick or easy.
TAPPER: When you say that they're willing to let Viktor Bout, that's the bond villain arms trader that I talked about earlier, do they care about their people as much as we care about ours?
FIRESTONE: I think they care about them, but for different reasons. We don't really know why they want Bout back so badly. Maybe they're afraid he's going to talk about who he split the money with when he was doing all this arms dealing, maybe they need him back to help with arms deals right now, given the worst situation, we don't know. But they have let him sit there for quite some time. And so I think that they have some leverage here.
TAPPER: I should note that if you want to see more of Pamela Brown's interview with Senator Risch, you can see it on her show this weekend. That's at 6:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
Beth, the Indian Prime Minister Modi told Putin today at a summit in Uzbekistan that Putin needs to end the war in Ukraine. He said now is not the time for war. This is after Putin publicly acknowledged Modi's apparent concerns about the war, quote, "I know your position regarding the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns which you continuously express." And yesterday, Putin also divulges publicly that China's President Xi had also concerns and questions about the war. Is this significant, the fact that potential allies like Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi are pushing back on his war?
SANNER: I think it really is. I think this has been a terrible week for President Putin. You know, starting with the Ukraine counteroffensive going to Central Asia where he should be, you know, kind of the king of the roots, these are the former Soviet states, Uzbekistan where they're hosting it. And here, you know, you're meeting with Xi, you're meeting with Modi, and people are either being very neutral, he didn't get anything out of President Xi. And -- or they're actually challenging.
And you also had President Xi deciding to make his first stop outside of China, not directly to this meeting in Uzbekistan, he went to Kazakhstan. And the Kazakhstan is the one central Asia state, the biggest, the richest, and they actually stood up. The president sat there at a table next to Putin and said, you know what, I'm not recognizing Crimea still and I'm not recognizing these news breakaway republics.
So, Putin is having a problem with his stature. And I think what we're seeing this week is really the diminishing power of President Putin play out in living color.
TAPPER: All right, Thomas and Beth, thank you so much for your expertise. Have a great weekend to both of you.
Coming up, a look at the staggering numbers needed to pull off the world's biggest security challenge, the Queen's funeral. Then, why is California's Democratic governor putting up billboards in a bunch of red states? What's playing? Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead you are looking at live pictures from London, 100s of 1000s of Britons and others are waiting more than 24 hours in line for their chance to say final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. Their line is reaching nearly five miles long earlier today. It's obviously forcing authorities to briefly close it off and take extreme measures. The U.K. government has even set up a live tracker that displays the current length of the line and the endpoint to try and make the queue as efficient as possible.
No one's been given special treatment in this line, Even British football superstar David Beckham was spotted in the queue, adding some Posh Spice to the long wait. And of course when I say football, I mean soccer.
Authorities say hundreds of police officers and marshals are on hand to maintain order and to make sure impatient mourners do not attempt to jump the line. Monday's royal funeral presents one of the biggest security challenges the world has ever faced, hundreds of leaders from across the globe expected to attend to pay their respects to the late Queen. CNN's Bianca Nobilo reports now in the unprecedented and challenging security situation facing British authorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST (voice-over): These mourners are among 2 million expected to gather in London ahead of the Queen's funeral. For the capitals authorities balancing ceremony and safety is their toughest test yet. Thousands of officers are being deployed each day. One thousand personnel alone will guard the line to Westminster Hall where the Queen's coffin is lying in state. Air traffic above London was suspended while the Cortes made its journey there, 1500 soldiers on hand to help with crowd control with such large numbers comes high risk.
NICK ALDWORTH, FORMER U.K. COUNTER TERRORISM COORDINATOR: In the U.K., our national threat level is substantial. That means a terrorist attack is likely. We know that terrorists are attracted to crowds, and we're about to generate one of the largest crowds that we could possibly ever generate in this country.
NOBILO (voice-over): The pinnacle will of course be Monday's state funeral, which police say will be the largest in British history.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER STUART CUNDY, METROPOLITAN POLICE: This is the single largest protection operation and that police has ever undertaken. There is nothing that could probably possibly compare to, not just what's going on already, but what will occur on Monday at the state funeral.
NOBILO (voice-over): There's hundreds of dignitaries to consider from the King of Spain to France's President Emmanuel Macron. They have been urged to limit the size of their entourages. But Downing Street may make exceptions for certain guests. One of the most high profile being President Biden.
ALDWORTH: There's no doubt about it that the Americans are very demanding customers in terms of security, and we recognize where each other's boundaries are in terms of what can be asked for and what can be delivered.
NOBILO (voice-over): Planning for protests is also inevitable.
ALDWORTH: If they don't break the law, it's regrettable but it needs to be allowed to take place. I've met the queen on many different occasions in many different settings. And I for one, I'm certain, that she would be here today advocating for people's rights.
NOBILO (voice-over): The crowds are still coming, but Britain has been preparing for this for many years to ensure her majesty's final sendoff goes as smoothly as possible.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
NOBILO: World leaders have already started to descend on the capital. The Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia are both already in London.
Monday will present an unusual opportunity, a chance for leaders to reflect on the contribution of the late monarch and put politics aside, that before politics becomes very much the focus again and diplomatic dialogue continues at the UNGA in New York next week, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much for that report. When you when your primary but then scrub your campaign website to try to appeal to independent voters who might have hated everything you said just a few days before, the general election shuffle playing out in a bunch of battleground states. We're going to take a look at one of them next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, shifting with the political wins, Arizona Republican Blake Masters won the support of Trump and the far right in his Senate primary by supporting Trump's lies in the 2020 election. And attacking hard right, having secured the nomination, Masters is now trying the old Etch A Sketch to changing his position or at least hiding them on many of the most hotly debated issues, seeking to try to reach independent voters and make up a third of voters in Arizona who determine elections as well as moderate Republicans in Arizona.
But as CNN's Kyung Lah reports for us now, Democrats are now using Masters own words against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join me in welcoming --
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters pledges he's paving a path for the new political rights.
BLAKE MASTERS, (R) ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Who's ready to beat Mark Kelly?
LAH (voice-over): But first Masters needs Arizona voters like Jon Cain to get behind him.
JON CAIN, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: If he doesn't turn his head around, OK, he's going to lose the election.
LAH (on camera): Are you concerned about him?
CAIN: Absolutely. He runs an ad on T.V., and then at the end it says independent for Arizona. I said, what?
LAH (voice-over): It's the general election pivot trying to appeal to Independents who make up roughly a third registered voters in Arizona.
MASTERS: They've made a whole party out of just dividing people.
LAH (voice-over): In this speech, Masters focuses on the border, inflation, and crime.
MASTERS: Republicans have a plan to make our families safe again, to make this country prosperous again, and to make everybody free again. Does that sound extreme to you?
LAH (voice-over): But the edgy rhetoric and imagery that marked his primary was missing.
MASTERS: This is designed to kill people.
LAH (voice-over): The primary candidate who doubted the 2020 election results --
MASTERS: I think Trump won in 2020.
LAH (voice-over): -- and downplayed the January 6 insurrection --
MASTERS: It wasn't a coup. It wasn't an insurrection. This was trespassing.
LAH (voice-over): -- didn't mention Donald Trump in this room.
MASTERS: I'm prolife and I'm proud to be prolife. I will never run away from that. Thank you.
LAH (voice-over): But he has altered his campaign website scrubbing strict antiabortion language. And he's backed off from this primary position.
MASTERS: Maybe we should privatize Social Security, right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it.
LAH (voice-over): To this in the general election.
MASRTERS: Don't want to privatize it. They, you know -- that was probably a misstatement by me.
I'm saying the same stuff I said in the primary, right? The Democrats in charge have failed, they've delivered nothing but chaos and pain. We're pushing back. We've got a beautiful America first agenda. I was proud to campaign on that for more than a year and that's exactly what I'm campaigning on now.
LAH (on camera): So you're saying the message is exactly the same as it was before the primary?
MASTERS: Asked and answered.
LAH (voice-over): The Senate Leadership Fund, the Super PAC to help elect Republicans, canceled $8 million in planned ad spending to boost Masters this month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blake Masters too dangerous for Arizona.
LAH (voice-over): At the same time, as incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and allies are pouring millions into ads using Masters words against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't trust Blake Masters with our retirement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your incredible senator, Mark Kelly.
LAH (voice-over): Kelly, one of the Senate's most endangered incumbents has 20 times the amount of cash on hand compared to Masters and vows to continue calling out the contrast between the candidates.
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): Well, I think it's important that Arizonans know what each of us stand for. And I think that's pretty clear.
I think all elections are about choices, you know? And they're pretty obvious choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Now this week, we got a little more clarity from Masters about his exact position, the specifics on abortion. He says that he will back Senator Graham's 50-week abortion restriction. In the primary, when he was running in the primary, he said that he backed a federal personhood law and he also wrote in his website quote, "Always work to protect life from conception." Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah, thanks so much.
Is the sun about to set on Nancy Pelosi's days as House Speaker? The growing calls for her to step aside from a surprising source. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden blasting Republican governors such as Florida's Ron DeSantis and Texas's Greg Abbott, accusing them of using undocumented migrants as human political props for transporting them on buses and planes and then leaving these migrants in supposedly liberal enclaves such as Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they're doing is simply wrong. It's un- American, it's reckless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Abby, let me start with you. This is some pretty strong words from the President, and the Republicans would argue they are fed up with an immigration crisis, a border crisis that the Biden administration doesn't do enough, which also has tragedies and this is the only way to get the attention of the administration. That's their argument. But what do you think of it all?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: Well, I mean, it's a political stance and a pretty transparent one, but it's also interesting to me that Democrats could be really leaning into this contrast even more. The Democratic Party's argument to voters is that we can welcome in asylum seekers, not only can we as a country, but we should. And so, the message from Biden should not only be the part about Ron DeSantis and whatever it is that he is describing it as a cynical ploy, but where's the other part about whether or not these cities like New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, can and should have the capacity to take in these individuals who are lawfully seeking asylum in this country?
And so, there is a little bit of an imbalance here in some of the messaging from the Democrats, but it's a base play for the Republicans. I think Democrats could probably do a little bit more to make that contrasts clear.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Abby is absolutely right. Let's see if Democrats can be disciplined enough to stay cohesive, right? We often see that Republicans win the immigration argument because Democrats abandon the values that they say that they have on this issue. We actually have the capacity in this country to do quite a lot. And I think that we saw it in the wake of the argument over Title 42, the Trump era immigration policy or COVID policy under the guise of COVID, Democrats sort of one by one back away from what they initially said was characterizing it as white supremacist policy. So let's see now that immigration is at the fore Republicans want to make it the issue, let's see if Democrats have the spine to stick to their so called values.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Love, I want you to take a listen to California Governor Gavin Newsom who, as is his want, is slamming Florida's Ron DeSantis for the treatment of migrants. He calls it monstrous. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): What Ron DeSantis is doing is a disgrace, it's almost monstrous, he's got kids, I have kids. You saw those young girls with backpacks, no older than his children, my children, being used as political pawns, and now he's using it to fundraise to raise money. It's disgraceful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He's referring to images such as these that we've seen, you know, as these immigrants, these migrants have arrived in Martha's Vineyard and elsewhere. You're a Republican, is this a good way do you think for Republicans to highlight the issue of the border?
MIA LOVE, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, UTAH: It's really interesting, because I agree with Abby. I agree. I just like, this is just politically polarizing. It's not helping us work together on immigration. The administration is not helping us work together on immigration.
This is something that obviously is incredibly important to me as a daughter of Haitian immigrants. I just cannot -- I look at what happened with Haitians that were left under a bridge for weeks on end, under conditions that were horrible. Why are we -- I mean, this is just the blame game to distract from what we should be doing.
What about ownership? On the Republican side and Democrat side, I want to see somebody say, I want to own this problem. I want to do something to fix this problem. But again, here we are as Americans blaming the other party without knowing all of the information. I'm sorry, but the administration -- and Newsom, he's got his own problems he needs to deal with in California.
KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR ADVISER AND SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY FOR AMERICA 2016: But I do think we have to take a step back here. And the fact that these people were lied to and put on an airplane and sent to Martha's Vineyard, where they didn't know -- as some have said, they felt like they're being kidnapped. I mean, there is -- it is shocking that in 2022 an American governor, I don't care what party you're from, would treat human beings that way. And as we reported on CNN earlier today, it also has a very troubling history, it reminiscent of the 1962, what they called Reverse Freedom Rides where black families were put on buses from the south to the northeast with the idea of humiliating both the African Americans and the white northerners for their positions. And I just think if you are trying to be a governor of a state or the president of our country, you cannot resort to this kind of gamesmanship to make your point, period.
TAPPER: Can I just make a crass economic point, which is one of the reasons why the Chamber of Commerce historically has supported immigration reform is because of needs of the labor market. And we're in a huge labor shortage right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TAPPER: I mean, try going to a restaurant and getting your meal within an hour. I mean, there are -- we have a shortage of workers. So, I wonder if that's an argument the Biden's can be making, too.
PHILLIP: I think this is to the point that even I were talking about, there is an argument to be made that this idea that we are out of room in this country is just got it from a factual perspective, not true. There is room, there are jobs, there are opportunities, and the Biden administration ran on the premise of making this country's immigration system more humane and more rational. But part of that is about this idea that we're treating immigration in and of itself as a crisis when in fact it we have the capacity in this country, just from a factual perspective, the unemployment rate being as low as it is and the search for workers being such a drag on this economy.
TAPPER: Yes, I do want to switch to one other topic, which is so interesting. Increasingly, we're hearing Democrats off the record or on background, saying it's time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step aside. CNN spoke with more than two dozen Democrats in the House, that consensus from which was Pelosi should not continue as leader if the party loses its majority in November, which is expected.
Well, let me start with you because it's toughest for you.
FINNEY: Why not. Yes.
TAPPER: Is it time for a new generation of leadership in the House?
FINNEY: I think we will get to that question when, you know, we get to the other side.
TAPPER: You're pivoting.
FINNEY: No, I am pivoting. I am pivoting.
TAPPER: You're pivoting.
FINNEY: Look, here's what I will say, I give Pelosi a lot of credit for the fact that she actually has encouraged younger generations of people by creating more positions in leadership so that we would have a pipeline. I do hope that if she chooses not to run, that those folks are the ones who have the opportunity to step up.
MCKEND: Look at how the Democratic establishment treated their freshman leader, right, when Mondaire Jones the whole redistricting episode, they didn't rally around to keep him. I think the Democrats have a real issue with passing the baton.
TAPPER: Let me get the former congressman the last word. What do you think?
LOVE: I actually was able to sit on the floor with my former colleagues, my former friends from the Congressional Black Caucus and their areas and going back and forth. And I think they are looking for new leadership. There isn't anyone that has this idea that there will be legislation that will be passed bipartisan. I mean, they honestly believe that any legislation that's going to be passed is going to be completely party line, there is no hope at all that there's going to be bipartisan effort.
And so I think there is the sentiment of new leadership, something that'll give the Democrat party a little bit more out in the general public because Nancy Pelosi has been around for a long time, even though she has a lot of influence and a lot of power within the -- within Congress --
LOVE: -- outside of that, they need a little bit more --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got plenty. We got plenty. We got plenty.
TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Appreciate it.
And of course, if you did not get enough Abby Phillip, there's a place you can go to get more. Look for Abby Phillip on her show "Inside Politics Sunday." It's at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, and again at 11:00 a.m. only here on CNN on Sunday.
Coming up, revealing a dark hidden history. What some American companies did to placate the Nazis during World War II. Part of a new documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick with whom we will speak next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our pop culture lead, shining a new light on one of the darkest chapters of American history. A new PBS documentary premiering Sunday examines America's response and lack thereof during the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazi German regime. Here's a little preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tell ourselves stories as a nation. One of the stories we tell ourselves is that we're a land of immigrants. But in moments of crisis, it becomes very hard for us to live up to those stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Holocaust was beyond belief. People just disappeared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary goal was get to the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the golden door was not wide open. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are challenged as Americans to think about what we would have done, what we could have done, what we should have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The co-directors of "The U.S. and the Holocaust," Ken Burns and Lynn Novick join me now. And it's an honor, I'm a huge fan of both of you.
Ken, to you first, what are the main points you want people to take away from this documentary?
KEN BURNS, CO-DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, "THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST": I think it's a very basic simple one that at the moment when escape was still possible for hundreds of 1000s of refugees from Europe. The United States of America, the land of immigrants of at least the idea of that did not make it easy for them to come in. We did let in 225,000 people more than any other sovereign nation. But Jake, we could have led in five times that many, and we didn't because of rampant antisemitism, lack of political will, racism, xenophobia, draconian immigration laws that put quotas that made it very, very hard in a State Department that kept changing the rules and, you know, raising the bar and moving the goalposts.
TAPPER: And Lynn, this documentary comes on a weekend where Venezuelan refugees fleeing the horrific conditions in Marxist of Venezuela under the Maduro government are being used for political messaging by Republican governors. And I'm wondering how resonant you think that is, and how much, when you're watching this play out in real time --
LYNN NOVICK, CO-DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, "THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST": Yes.
TAPPER: -- you're thinking about the work in this documentary about Jewish refugees?
NOVICK: Well, you know, this latest news is sort of in a continuum of disturbing things that we're seeing all around us in the way that we think about immigrants and refugees and who should be allowed to come here and who shouldn't, and whether we have a policy that reflects our values. And one of the things we've tried to show in this film is that these values are not settled for this country. So we have the Statue of Liberty, which is, you know, a beacon of welcome and has been seen that way for generations. And yet, we also have the impulse to keep people out. And both of those things are part of who we are. And that all came to sort of a tragic outcome during the '30s when so many refugees were trying to flee Hitler.
So, this is not a new story, this is a very old story. And I think, you know, working on this project helped us to gain some perspective on things that are happening around us right now.
TAPPER: And Ken, right now, there appears to be a surge of the far right in European politics, a party founded by Ultra-nationalist extremists and Neo Nazis is gaining popularity in Sweden. Italy has elections next week, a party they're founded off the country's Neo fascist movement is currently leaving -- leading in the polls. What's your take on what we're seeing in Europe?
BURNS: Well, I think it's very worrisome. I mean, one of the threads that runs through our story about the Holocaust, and we're not equating what's going on today at all with the Holocaust, this is the nadir of human behavior as one of our survivors says in the film, but we are saying that by studying the past, we can learn a little bit about where we are now. And one of the three lines of American history is of course, authoritarianism.
And the easy way in which people are drawn to the supposedly easy answers that authoritarianism promises, and one of the aspects of it is a sort of an us against them mentality. The othering of people and immigrants are often, often the number one scapegoats in this regard.
TAPPER: I often wonder what the band of brothers would make of all of the people that are fans of Nazis here in the United States given all the sacrifice they made to fight them.
And Lynn, we're seeing this far right extremism in American politics. Earlier this month, a woman spoke at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania pleading for justice for her nephew who is a convicted January 6 rioter who admired Adolf Hitler. You see him here in -- with his Hitler mustache. A judge kept this defendant in jail because the judge appointed by Trump was so worried that his neo-Nazi rhetoric would turn into violence. And then just yesterday, that man in the Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt during the Capitol insurrection was sentenced to 75 days in jail.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano, who is close friends with the founder of Gab, which regularly is a site for neo-Nazi hate, Mastriano attacked his rival, a Jewish Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, essentially because Shapiro went to a Jewish private school. He use words like elite and privilege, saying that Shapiro has disdain for regular Americans.
How do you make sense of all this antisemitism in American politics given what America did to stop it in World War II?
NOVICK: Very disturbing times we're living in. An antisemitism is not new, it's been around for hundreds of years. And we're seeing a resurgence of overt threats and violence, as the Anti-Defamation League says, unprecedented, unscale that we're not -- we've never seen. And you know, I'm not qualified to explain why this is happening but we can definitely see that it is happening.
And that there's kind of a fear mongering and hate speech that was on the far fringe for most of my adult life that I can recall now really being mainstreamed and rhetoric being used by mainstream political figures in a way that -- and people saying things that sort of weren't said before and keep on saying it. And the more you say something, the more people believe it.
TAPPER: Yes. NOVICK: And this sort of the, you know, the propaganda and the lies. It's not just directed against Jewish people, it's also directed against immigrants, people of color, marginalized people of different kinds. This is -- there's a whole wide spectrum of bigotry and prejudice that is definitely in a resurgent mode right now.
TAPPER: And I should note as just in the area of transparency that I went to the same school as the Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Jewish day school, which was not elite, by many senses, though, certainly was a private parochial school. And at that school, I learned so much about the Holocaust. It's an important part of the Jewish experience.
But I learned so much, Ken, from your documentary, so much I did not know. One of the things that was so shocking was about how some American companies like Woolworths and the Associated Press mollified Nazis, they fired their Jewish employees in Germany or kept business in Germany despite the atrocities happening in Europe, including all of the Hollywood studios with the exception of Warner Brothers. It is really something to see and I kind of feel like we see it today with how we mollify China.
FINNEY: Yes, I know. You know, Mark Twain said History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. And why we study the past, why Lynn and I do these films is because we are trying to find a place around which you can have a civil discourse about some of these very concerning things.
Yes, sometimes the almighty dollar trumped one's own conscience. And you would have people making concessions to the Germans because they did not want to lose that valuable market. You had the out and out anti-Semite Henry Ford choosing to accept a German contract over a British one. It's a very disturbing thing.
And we have to remember that we see these through lines in history that continually recur and reoccur these echoes. And our only guard against them is the investigation of the past that might provide us with a kind of leadership but it's the best teacher I know. Deborah Lipstadt, the Holocaust historian in the film says, the way to stop a genocide is before it starts, and the way to save a democracy is before it's lost.
And so, I think we need to study the aspects of our past to see the ways in which these trends as Lynn is suggesting reoccur and reoccur with sometimes marginalized frequency, sometimes with mainstream frequency as they are now and as they were in the 1930s, which prevented us most important from saving hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of refugees, mostly Jewish from fleeing Nazi horror. That's the thing we can't forget.
TAPPER: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, an amazing feat. Congratulations. It's a great journalism, great storytelling and very difficult to hear lessons about the United States. Congratulations again.
You can watch the first episode of "The U.S. and the Holocaust" this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, check your local PBS station. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: In our pop culture lead now, Jeopardy host Ken Jennings is facing some backlash for allowing one contestant to change his answer. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN JENNINGS, JEOPARDY HOST: Luigi.
LUIGI DE GUZMAN, JEOPARDY CONTESTANT: What is constant?
JENNINGS: Say again.
DE GUZMAN: Who's -- sorry, constable. Who is constable.
JENNINGS: Constable is correct, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The issue is that later in the same show, another contestant, a woman tried correcting her answer but got a different response from Jennings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIET WAGNER, JEOPARDY CONTESTANT: Who was Angela LeGuin?
JENNINGS: No, sorry.
WAGNER: Ursula LeGuin.
JENNINGS: Luigi or Winston.
DE GUZMAN: Who is Ursula LeGuin.
JENNINGS: Yes. Harriet you remember that her name was Ursula but I'm afraid I had already begun ruling against you when you corrected yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: According to Jeopardy's rules, contestants can change their responses so long as neither the host nor the judges have made a ruling.
My guests on Sunday on State of the Union, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield who will Preview the United Nations General Assembly next week, plus New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. That's Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. And Sunday night, my CNN special, American Coup, the January 6th Investigation. That's Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Our coverage continues now with, one, Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I will see you on Sunday morning.