Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

White House Admits Dealing With Increase In Migration Is A Challenge; Arrests At U.S.-Mexico Border Top 2M In A Year For First Time; Puerto Ricans Suffer From Mudslides, Flooding After Hurricane; Russia Moves Toward Annexing Eastern, Southern Ukrainian Regions; Biden To Address United Nations General Assembly Wednesday; Video Shows Trump Allies In A Georgia County Elections Office On Day Of Voting Systems Breach. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I like the cherry rice one. I think that would be good.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Oh, no, no, you don't need rice in your milkshake. None of this is right. But they got the world record.

BLACKWELL: Banana tea hot dog is on there.

CAMEROTA: What's this?

BLACKWELL: This is a burger on top of it. Oh, this is the fish burger. There we go.




BLACKWELL: Two sixty-seven. It's sill attainable if anybody wants to go for it.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A record set. A record number of arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border, 2 million in less than 12 months.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The border crisis continues, as do the political maneuvering surrounding the crisis. This time, it's Delaware preparing for a possible influx of immigrants shipped from Texas via Florida to maybe Biden's home state.

Plus, Hurricane Fiona's trail of destruction. CNN on the ground in Puerto Rico with the National Guard, as crews try to get the U.S. island back on line. And President Biden this hour headed to one of the largest gatherings

of world leaders, while the White House once again trying to explain the president's comments about China and Taiwan, and more.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our national lead, the growing immigration crisis in the southwestern United States. Right now, officials and volunteers in Delaware are making preparations, after reports and flight plans suggest that airplane full of migrants could be heading their way from Texas and stop in Florida.

This all comes less than one week after Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, arranged to have nearly 50 migrants flown from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, a liberal enclave in Massachusetts, where former President Obama has a home. Critics accuse DeSantis and his Texas counterpart, Governor Greg Abbott, of using human beings, including children, as young as one month old, in a crash and inhumane political stunt.

While the Republicans say, they are just trying to highlight a border crisis exacerbated by President Biden's policies.

Now, to be clear, there is a crisis at the southern border. Just last night, the White House admitted it is facing challenges getting the situation under control. They seem to be trying to soften the blow of the report out today showing more than 2 million arrests over the last 11 months at the border. That is a record high.

There is, of course, another issue. The legality of these political stunts by DeSantis and Abbott being debated. One Texas sheriff, a Democrat, announced a criminal investigation into participants in that move that had Venezuelans who were fleeing communism, and legally seeking asylum, ending up on a plane to Florida, and then to Massachusetts, with no warning to or coordination with local officials and allegations by the migrants that they had been misled.

CNN's Ed Lavandera starts out our coverage from San Antonio, Texas, today with more on why the Bexar County sheriff police laws may have been broken and migrants exploited.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Days after dozens of mostly Venezuelan migrants were transported from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the Bexar County sheriff says, his agency is opening an investigation into the matter.

SHERIFF JAVIER SALAZAR (D), BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS: Preliminarily, what we are hearing. They feel they were lied to. They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County, from San Antonio, Texas, to where they eventually ended up. They feel like it was done through deceptive means. That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.

LAVANDERA: Sheriff Javier Salazar says, he believes laws were not only broken in Bexar County, but that federal laws were violated as well. After he says, migrants were, quote, lured to a hotel for two days, then flown to the Sunshine State, and later to Martha's Vineyard under what Salazar calls, quote, false pretenses.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has claimed responsibility and defended the process Tuesday saying, those migrants were treated poorly by the Biden administration.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: They were hungry, homeless. They had no -- no opportunity at all. The state of Florida, it was volunteer offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions because it is our view that one, the border should be secure. And we want to have Biden reinstitute policies like remain in Mexico, and making sure that people are not overwhelming.

LAVANDERA: This is the migrant resource center in San Antonio, and this is the area where the migrants who were flown to Martha's Vineyard told us that they were approached on these streets out here by a woman named Perla, and offered that flight out of San Antonio.

And what's interesting is that even after all of the news that that flight first made, migrants here today are telling us that those offers for flights out of San Antonio are continuing.

State budget records show that the Florida Department of Transportation paid $950,000 to Vertol Systems, an aviation company based in Florida days after migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard.


According to the Texas governor's office, more than 8,000 migrants have been bused from Texas to Washington, D.C., and 675 to Chicago. New York City Mayor Eric Adams says, they have received about 13,000 migrants, a number that's expected to climb.

All cities in blue states and all part of a planned by some Republican governors to fly or drive migrants north, in protest of the Biden administration's immigration policies. Adam said Monday that one migrant, a mother, took her own life while in a shelter after record high numbers arrived in the city on Sunday.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: I think the governor of Texas and others are at fault for creating this man-made humanitarian crisis.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Jake, as you mentioned, officials here in Texas and in Delaware, President Biden's home state, have been chasing reports throughout the course of the day that there was another flight of migrants scheduled to arrive there. The state of Delaware officials saying, this afternoon, telling CNN that so far, there are no reports that migrants have arrived there. But that they continue to prepare for that possibility here in the hours or days ahead -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera, thanks so much. Let's bring in Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington

state. She's on the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

Congresswoman, let's start with the news that this Democratic Texas sheriff is announcing that his agency is going to open investigations into participants, into this maneuver, this public maneuver, political maneuver, the transportation of up to 50 migrants from Texas to Florida, to Martha's Vineyard. The sheriff says, laws were broken in Bexar County, as well as federal laws.

What's your reaction?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Jake, first of all, this is just disgusting. What we are seeing now is discussing and I just have to say that first because you know I was at the forefront of the family separation crisis, did the Republicans learned nothing from that? That they are once again turning this into -- turning human beings into political pawns, using immigration just to win elections, it's disgusting.

So yes, I think it's a good thing that the sheriff is investigating this. I think if there are state laws, or federal laws that have been broken, that needs to be investigated. I think we need to look at the fact that this behavior is continuing.

And if these Republicans think that shipping people across the country to different places is going to turn people against Democrats, it's actually only increasing the compassion that Americans have towards these immigrants. And people are pulling together to try to be compassionate and welcome them into communities, instead of doing what DeSantis and Abbott are doing, which is just disgusting. There's no other word for it.

TAPPER: They and their supporters say that they are trying to get attention to a border crisis with 2 million arrests at the border in the last less than 12 months, which is a record. And they say that they need blue states to share the burden.

What do you say to that?

JAYAPAL: Well, blue states already share the burden because people do actually go and get transported across the country to different states. We have a lot of people that we welcome into Washington state, and we are proud of that. But they don't do it by being tricked to get on a bus, and then being shipped to places that are not ready to receive them. That's number one.

Number two, Republicans have no interest in trying to fix this. Don't forget, Jake, that when Donald Trump was president, in March of 2019, he actually ended the support that we were giving to Central American countries to actually stop, you know, help aid people in their country so that they wouldn't necessarily feel that they had to make the journey here. And because of that, he destabilized the assistance that we need to give as part of the holistic solution. Number two, he put in place all these things that eliminated legal

ways for people to come into this country. Let me just tell you that when we said to Haitians that they could actually come to ports of entry and there was a legal way for them to be able to get into this country, then all of a sudden, that is what they did; 97 percent of Haitians do it that way. We've done that with Ukrainians. If we had legal processes, people would use those legal processes.

And finally, don't tell me we need more money at the border. We have continued to increase money at the border, but we haven't done it by also fixing the legal immigration system and providing people the opportunity and ways to come in here legally.

TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to something of an Israeli mantle to our affiliate, case a, to migrant resource center in San Antonio. He says, he's been offered a deal that even he knew was too good to be true.

Quote: No one is going to give you four days at a hotel with free food, than they're going to pay for a flight because you're an immigrant, no they're lies.


They're doing it for another purpose, unquote.

He went on to share this message for governors transporting migrants and individuals offering false hope. He said, quote, stop doing it. If you are going to help people, do it out of your heart. Don't you like us immigrants. We don't want to be used as toys in your political games, unquote.

That's from one of these Venezuelan migrants. We should note that the Venezuelans are fleeing horrific oppressive conditions under the Marxists, communists Maduro government. This is a different situation than from other migrants.

JAYAPAL: No, that's exactly right. I could not see it better than he did. I'm sick and tired of people using Republicans, using immigrants as political pawns.

And yes, a majority of those were sent to Martha's Vineyard and many that are coming to the border right now are fleeing the Maduro regime. And that's why I reference the northern triangle countries because many of those countries, people are fleeing war. They are fleeing destitution. They are fleeing violence.

And seeking asylum is legal, Jake. It is not something that is not legal. It is part of our human rights conventions that we have signed, international human rights conventions.

So, it's just very frustrating because Republicans want to use immigration as a political football, but they don't actually want to fix the system. And I just have to say also that every time they say the border is open and all these people are storming over, they actually are inviting more people to come to the border because they are claiming it's open. So they are also a big part of the problem.

TAPPER: In 2001, for people who aren't familiar, you founded an advocacy group that pushed for immigration reform. There has not been a major immigration reform bill since Ronald Reagan was president.

Now more than two decades later, you in Congress, there's immigration crisis, would you be willing, is there any way you could work with a conservative Republican from Texas in coming up with a bill that has tougher border security measures like they want, but also some more humane treatment of emigrants like you want? Is there -- is there any sort of compromise to be had?

JAYAPAL: Well, actually, the House has already passed a number of immigration bills in a bipartisan way. The Senate has not taken them up.

But I want to be clear. In 2013, there was a comprehensive immigration bill. I was not in Congress. I worked on it from the outside. I had to hold my nose at some parts of it because it really increased border security, but it also provided illegal immigration system for people to come in. That bill was passed with 67 bipartisan votes in the Senate, and John Boehner, who is the speaker of the House at the time, held it up and refuse to bring it to the floor for a vote.

So, you know what happened, Jake? We got a bunch more border security, but no fundamental reforms to the immigration system. I'm ready to work with anyone and everyone, but let's be clear that we need reforms through the system to allow people to come in. Not just border security. That's not going to get us anywhere.

TAPPER: No, I've been covering this for more than 20 years and what always happens is that there's a compromise in the Senate with maybe 10 to 15 Republican senators, a bunch of, you know, a majority of Democratic senators, it passes or it's there, and House Republicans kill it. It happened under George W. Bush at least twice.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from the great state of Washington, thank you so much. Good to see you again.

JAYAPAL: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the force of Hurricane Fiona from mudslides to power outages. CNN is on the ground in Puerto Rico to show you the path of destruction.

Plus, Prince Andrew's past back into question after the death of his mother, the queen. Will Prince Andrew ever make good on his promise and spill what he knows about sex abuser, Jeffrey Epstein, to U.S. authorities as he said he would?

Plus, new surveillance video surfaces showing a fake elector inside an elections office in Georgia, and in arms reach of voting machines that had been breached the same day.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Hurricane Fiona is now a major hurricane. It is grown to become a category three storm. Its winds, battering the islands of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, where heavy rains are expected to bring life-threatening flooding.

A new video shows the U.S. Coast Guard assessing the damage now in Puerto Rico.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is on that island, where more than 1 million people are still struggling without electricity and without critical infrastructure, much of which is damaged.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five years ago today, Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Now, it barely recovered from that catastrophic storm. The island and its people are suffering again.

Hurricane Fiona, wiping out power to the majority of the roughly 3.1 million residents here; 60 percent of them without water and about 1,200 people housed in shelters.

Officials say, at least to have died on the island as a result of the storm. One man, swept away by a flooded river behind his home. Another man died while trying to fill his generator with gasoline, setting it on fire.

This morning, we traveled with the National Guard, as they tried to clear roads in the mountainous region of Cayey. Their goal? Excess and to start moving in much-needed supplies to these isolated areas.

In the island's interior like Cayey, a very mountainous municipality, this is part of the problem, the mudslides that block the road and block access to that power substation.

Roberto Santiago was gathering drinking water off the mountain side.

So he came to the mountain side to get water because there's no water at his house.

CARLOS VARGAS, CAYEY, PR PRESIDENT: The biggest concern is water -- can't live without water. SANTIAGO: Carlos Vargas lived just beyond a big mudslide that blocked

access to the road. The National Guard had to evacuate about 35 elderly patients from a facility here before the mudslide demolished the building.

LT. COL. JOSUE FLORES MORALES, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: We carry the elderly, their chairs and their beds, and we just ran over and carried them over the landslide so we could get him out before the house collapsed.


SANTIAGO: The recovery ahead not without its own set of challenges.

GOV. PEDRO PIERLUISI (D), PUERTO RICO: The hurricane and now the storm, the related storm, has impacted the whole island. So, we're still in the middle of this event. We're basically responding at this point. The next step will be recovery. We're not there yet.


SANTIAGO (on camera): And Jake, when it comes to power, the governor has said this afternoon that he is fairly confident, but that by the end of the day tomorrow, a good chunk of the island will have power restored.

One exception, where we are right now. That southern part of the island. I am in Ponce, an area that saw a lot of flooding. And I can tell you on the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a striking and quite frankly demolishing this island, there's a lot of fear among the people here that history could repeat itself.

TAPPER: All right. Leyla Santiago in Puerto Rico for us, thank you so much.

Joining us now is Mario Hurtado. He's the chief regulatory officer of Luma Energy, which is the main power company for Puerto Rico.

Mario, there's still more than 1 million people on the island with no electricity. What is Luma doing to restore power for these individuals?

MARIO HURTADO, CHIEF REGULATORY OFFICER, LUMA ENERGY: Yes, good afternoon, Jake. We have brought in, we have all of our personnel deployed, which is more than 1300 electrical workers, and we brought others in, including our contractors here from the U.S., so now we have over 2,000 strong out in the field. Today was the first real day that we could actually get out there without having to ground flights, for example.

We've been looking at our transmission system and assessing damage, as well as we can, and also with ground crews. We have started to reconnect customers. We have about 300,000 customers reconnected at this point with service out of about 1.5 million customers.

So, we still have quite a ways to go. Unfortunately, we suffered a full blackout. Excuse me, which as you probably know is a very big deal in the electrical world. It takes a lot of work. We do a lot to avoid getting to that situation.

TAPPER: Right.

HURTADO: Unfortunately, as the cat one hurricane brought very strong winds across the south and we had already had probably already more than 24 hours a very strong rains, took out several transmission lines, that took out a lot of our power stations. And so, we lost the system then we started to rebuild immediately from there. TAPPER: So after Hurricane Maria in 2017, it took months, and months

for some customers to get power restored. You just heard Leyla Santiago mentioned the governor hopes power will be restored to many tomorrow, but not in the southern part of Puerto Rico.

Do you have any indication how long it will take to restore electricity in the south?

HURTADO: Well, in general, we are still doing this as the initial assessment. And based on that, we can start talking about how long our estimated time of recovery or restoration will be. It's going to take several days to get the bulk of our customers back on, and, you know, we are shooting to get everybody on as soon as absolutely possible.

But we are hampered both by access. We are also working hand in hand with the power generator, which -- we don't generate the power, but we transmit and give it to customers. And they've had damage in several key generating facilities, which has impeded, so we don't have kind of a choice in some of the places that we can get power to our customers from.

But we've made really great progress in the last 48 hours, and the next 48 hours, I think, will make a lot more progress.

TAPPER: So Hurricane Maria devastated the power grid of Puerto Rico, causing millions to lose power. The ramifications of that were devastating, life and death in some cases. That was five years ago. Since then, there have been several other major blackouts impacting the island.

How can you explain Luma's familiar to not strengthen the grid ahead of this storm? It's not as though hurricanes are uncommon on the island.

HURTADO: Well, we, you know, we've been operating this isn't for about 15 months. It's been neglected and had underinvestment literally for decades. So, we never thought we were going to be able to rebuild the system in a year.

So, we have started that. We have 14 FEMA funded reconstruction projects already under construction. We have about that many already in advance design and ready to get more contractors on board. We have more than 200 projects that we've put in front of FEMA, and it's in that FEMA process. So, we are pushing extremely hard to get going with FEMA and to get those projects, get the shovels on the ground, and we've already shown some success with that.


But it is tough going and it does take a while. Hurricane Maria after -- excuse me, New Orleans, the New Orleans area after Katrina, most of that work, I mean, they were still doing recovery work a decade after that hurricane.

We are trying to do this as quickly as we can. We have already been able to replace more than 3,000 electrical poles. We've been replacing key equipment all over the system. But, you know, we are starting behind the eight ball, but we've been making very good progress. We still have a ways to go.

TAPPER: All right, Mario Hurtado, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Moments ago, President Biden left the White House for New York City while his team was playing cleanup over comments he made about Taiwan, about COVID being over, and much more.

Plus, the constant blasts in one Ukrainian town and the tactic that foreign fighters are using to expose Ukrainian forces.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, Russia has mounted a coordinated effort to transfer stolen Ukrainian land into Putin's hands. Pro- Russian authorities in four occupied regions just called for referenda to officially join Russia. Some of those referenda started as soon as Friday, as the war rages on, ever-changing battle lines.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh got excess when eastern Ukrainian town under constant shelling, as Russia desperate for soldiers begins to recruit convicted felons into their ranks.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The mood here is black and old. From a time passed, Ukraine did not feel it was winning, taking heavy losses, but struggling to hold on.

But the Russian enemy is something new. This is the very front line with Russian positions literally 100 meters away from where I'm standing.

The Kremlin really wants the city of Bakhmut, so here, on its edges, it sent ruthless mercenaries from the Wagner group to fight. The shelling, endless.

We are taken off to their vantage point from where they see the Wagner fighters rushing them, leaving the Ukrainians to open fire.

It is just over there. They say that the Russian Wagner mercenaries appeared to try to run at them, exposing Ukrainian positions, so the Russian artillery can hit where they are.

The field but between them, charred, pockmarked. They are almost eyeball to eyeball. The next attack is imminent.

We can see a mortar unit, the drone operator says. They are preparing to fire at us.

Down in the shelter, the commander says, they've captured Russian convicts who were recruited to fight.

It was get shot or surrender for the convict, he says. Wagner act professionally, not like usual infantry units.

Shells continue to land all around them.

Bakhmut is a mess. Russia edging towards it, but not inside. Prepared for street to street fighting and meanwhile torn to pieces. The losses are heavy and exposed positions around the city, particularly here. Russia's invasion, tearing through the green treasured land that claims to covet.

Why do they want Bakhmut?

They retreated elsewhere and they need a victory, something significant, he says, so they throw forces here. Of course, we have casualties. Not today in our unit, but you can't avoid dead or wounded. I lost my close friend five days after we came here.

There are still many people here, buying a lot of Natalia's potatoes.

We sold half a ton today, she says. Who knows where the shooting is coming from or going. Don't to be scared, she said.

Twenty-four hours later, a Ukrainian artillery is hitting positions on the city's edge, amid reports Russia has gotten closer. Much fresh smoke, but it's always hard to know what Moscow thought it was hitting.

Walking home with a squeaky wheel and food is Maria, back to her son.

MARIA, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (translated): With God you have no fear. And on your own land you cannot feel fear either.

WALSH: Silence and terror in turn enveloping the city.


WALSH (on camera): Jake, these four referendum are a big deal. As Moscow trying to get a grip of a narrative after weeks of defeat? There were rumors Putin might speak tonight. That has not happened.

And we are now looking possibly by Monday or Tuesday, these undemocratic rubberstamps being pushed through. It puts pressure on Ukraine on the frontlines here to make advances, to try and disrupt this process that Moscow has put in play. But we are looking at a week ahead now, not only a fiery rhetoric, but possible real changes and danger on the ground here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, thank you so much.

President Biden is bound to bring up Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow. What is not clear is if the president will bring up another sensitive subject, China, and Taiwan, even after a bold declaration on CBS "60 Minutes" on Sunday.


Take a listen.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS'S "60 MINUTES": Would U.S. forces defend the island?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, if, in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.

PELLEY: So, unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?



TAPPER: CNN's Kaitlan Collins in New York, where President Biden will speak tomorrow.

Kaitlan, the Taiwan line is just one comment the White House seems to be trying to clarify or cleanup. Biden has now said publicly three times that the U.S. would come to Taiwan's defense. That's not official U.S. policy, and, yet the White House is saying today there is no policy shift.

So, how do they explain this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESOPNDENT: Well, Jake, it's supposed to be a policy of strategic ambiguity. But the president has been very clear his stance on this, and he was explicitly so in that latest interview, where he said yes, U.S. men and women will come to Taiwan's defense in the event of a Chinese invasion.

And, right now, the United States provides defensive weapons to Taiwan, but the policy is supposed to be intentionally vague. Not explicitly laying out what they would do if China were to invade Taiwan, as some U.S. officials obviously fear that they could do. And it's been highlighted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But the president often time and time again has been asked this question and has gone there, has told that line and said yes, there would be U.S. military involvement, should China do that. His aides are downplaying it saying that it doesn't amount to a shift in the change from strategic ambiguity, and saying that this is really all just a hypothetical question.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When the president of the United States wants to announce a policy change, he will do so. He has not done so. He stands behind the historic U.S. policy towards Taiwan that has existed through Democratic and Republican administrations, and has helped to keep peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait for decades.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, Jake Sullivan there was saying that this is a hypothetical question. We should note that U.S. intelligence officials do believe that China is working to prepare to have the military capability to invade Taiwan, to take over Taiwan, should they decide to do so. So, that's why all of this is so important.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, President Biden also raise some eyebrows when he said that COVID pandemic is over. If that's true, then the official state of emergency should and, and that would mean 15 million Americans could lose Medicaid coverage, the pause in student loan repayments would end, and on and on. A whole bunch of policy ramifications.

The White House was pressed about this today.

COLLINS: Yeah, it's more than just semantics when it's the president saying it. The White House is saying that what the president is saying is correct, but it's complicated because what he is saying, in their words, is that it's just not the most disruptive part of the COVID-19 pandemic, where people are wearing pasts, where you can't go to certain events, things of that nature. He's saying that part of the pandemic is over, according to the White House.

But, Jake, he was pretty clear in that interview. He said that COVID is still a problem, but he said the pandemic is over. And so, it does matter when it comes to not just a general feeling. Maybe someone's watching this feels the pandemic is over. But when it's the president's words, it does make a difference because there's still public health emergency in place, Jake.

That's what affects Medicaid, Medicare, student loans, so many of these other factors. That's something that White House says it's not going away, it's still in effect at least until October 13th. And this also could complicate the White House's efforts to try to push for that $22 billion in COVID-19 funding. Republicans were already skeptical of, it Jake, and now they may be more so.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins with President Biden in New York City, thanks so much.

As world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly, I'm going to have an exclusive U.S. interview with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. You can look for that right here on the lead tomorrow, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next, the surveillance video showing fake electors in elections office in Georgia. The same day that voting machines there were breached.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead now, CNN has obtained new surveillance video from inside a Georgia elections office, from the same day it's voting systems were known to have been breached, in January of 2021.

You can see Cathy Latham, the woman on the left with short white hair in the turquoise sweater, along with various Republican operatives who are working with a Trump attorney. They spent hours in a restricted area at the coffee county election office. Leave them is now under criminal investigation for posing as a fake electors. She has previously claimed she was not personally involved in the breach.

CNN's Nick Valencia is at the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nick, how did these people even get access to the voting equipment?

VALENCIA: Jake, they did so with great ease and it appears that they got help from the very same county officials that are tasked with securing these elections in Coffee County. And, most importantly though, it tells a much different story than what the former GOP chairwoman in Coffee County, Cathy Latham, says happened that day.

Previously, Latham says that she had no involvement in this illegal data breach. But the video tells a much different story, showing her for hours in a restricted area with these Trump operatives as the setup computers next to election voting equipment and appeared to illegally access the data. Additionally, we also see Scott Hall, who's a Republican Georgia poll watcher, who has previously admitted to being the one that charted the flight down for the Trump operatives.

All of this connects into what's happening here in Fulton County with Fani Willis's investigation into alleged election interference in 2020. Not only is Latham a target in the investigation in Coffee County, she's also a criminal target here for her role as a fake elector.

Also, we know that these Trump operatives, they were working on the behest of Sidney Powell, a former Trump campaign attorney who's been subpoenaed by Fani Willis to appear here. We know that Sidney P is scheduled to appear as a witness later this week -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia in Georgia, thank you so much.

Coming up next, new questions about Prince Andrew's past and his connections to Jeffrey Epstein.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the national period of mourning has officially ended in the United Kingdom, following the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Her death has revived a series of criticisms of the monarchy. New Zealand, Australia, and several African nations are considering leaving the commonwealth altogether, even President Biden's late Irish mother, we should know, was an outspoken critic of the queen. Then Vice President Biden told "Veep" writer Georgia Pritchard for her book that, quote, when his mother visited the UK, she had stayed in a hotel where the Queen had once stayed.


She was so appalled that she slept on the floor all night rather than risk sleeping on a bed that the Queen had slept on, unquote. Then Vice President Biden also showed her poems that his mother wrote, quote, about her hatred of the English.

But beyond those historical resentments, also hanging over the royal families heads and the present day is Prince Andrew, whose ties to alleged sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein, in a sex abuse lawsuit against him of his own have him under intense scrutiny once again.

We are now going to take a closer look at the allegations against him because even a prince cannot mourn his way out of a scandal.


TAPPER (voice-over): For some in the UK, Prince Andrew's pained lots of his mother, the Queen, does not let him off the hook for his close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, an alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andrew, you're a sick old man.

TAPPER: The prince may prefer to see mostly out of the limelight, as he grieves the loss of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, but the public appearances are bringing renewed public scrutiny of his relationship with underage sex trafficker and pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, which has been immeasurably difficult for his victims.

According to Spencer Kuvin, who represents nine of Epstein's survivors, telling us that while the victims he represents want the world to mourn for the queen, he says, quote: Andrew should not be able to rehabilitate his image through this tragedy. The only thing that will help the healing of his past conduct would be a full accounting of his past. And sitting for an interview with U.S. authorities regarding his conduct.

And then there are the specific allegations Andrew sexually assaulted and underage American girl, Virginia Giuffre. She says she met the senior royal through his longtime friend, Epstein.

VIRGINIA GIUFFRE, PRINCE ANDREW ACCUSER: He knows what happened. I know what happened. And there's only one of us telling the truth. And I know that's me.

TAPPER: The prince has denied these accusations.

PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: I can tell you categorically I do not remember meeting her at all, I do not remember her photographs being taken, and I said consistently and frequently, that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever.

TAPPER: The royal, Prince Andrew, rumored to have been the queen's favorite, later paid an undisclosed amount to Giuffre in a financial settlement. He was stripped of his military patronages and the use of his royal highness title. Still, Andrew remains eight in line to the throne and has had a conspicuous role in the funerary ceremonies. And he has an official, quote, councilor of state, meaning he could temporarily fill in for King Charles III if necessary, calling the late queen, quote, dear mommy, mother, your majesty, three and one, in a statement. Adding, quote, mommy, your love for his son, your compassion, your care, your confidence, I will treasure forever.

Following the payment to his accuser, the prince claimed in a statement that he would help U.S. officials and their investigation of Epstein. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required, he said.

But it appears the prince was actually less than willing. The former top U.S. prosecutor on that case, Geoff Berman, told me that Prince Andrew was uncooperative, to say the least.

GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: What we wanted was the information. He said he was willing to give it to us. He didn't give it to us. He stonewalled us and as of the day I left, he was stonewalling.

TAPPER: Berman revealing to CNN that he got nowhere with the palace or the UK government in his efforts to talk to the prince.

BERMAN: His lawyers give us the run around. We even filed an MLAT request, which was an official request to interview a foreign witness with the government officials in the UK, and that got stonewalled.

TAPPER: And now, it seems even less likely that Prince Andrew will ever be held to keep his promise, leaving those seeking justice to wonder, when else officials could learn about Jeffrey Epstein and his perverse circle of associates?


TAPPER (on camera): Coming up next, why former President Trump might be regretting his push for a special master to review those documents seized at his home. Stay with us.



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

This hour, willing to risk their lives to have their voices heard. Iran trying to silence hundreds of people furious over the death of an Iranian woman in the custody of the so-called morality police. Her alleged crime? She showed her hair in public.

Plus, when teacher salaries failed to keep up with the rapidly high cost of living, how do schools retain teachers? Well, some school districts are now becoming landlords.

And leading this hour, the is special master overseeing the documents ceased by the FBI from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate has held the first hearing. Donald Trump's legal team still won't say whether or not the former president did or did not declassify any of those documents. And now, the special master says it's time for team Trump to offer up proof.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now live from New York.

Kara, this was the first time all these parties have met in one room. Did we get a clear idea of how this process will move forward?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Judge Raymond Dearie who is the special master in this case came in, he was wearing a suit, not a robe, sending a message he is wearing his hat as a special master. He said he'll issue a scheduling order. We'll know the timeline after today's hearing. One thing that is clear is that he's in charge and he is getting to the heart of the matter.

He brought up the issue of classification. These documents, it's the heart of the special master review.