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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Putin Calls Up More Troops Amid Humiliating Losses in Ukraine; Biden Condemns Putin's Overt Threat to Use Nuclear Weapons; Rockets Hit Residential Buildings in Kharkiv; New York AG Fraud Lawsuit Targets Trump, Three of His Children and Business; Trump Shares QAnon Conspiracy Meme on Truth Social; GOP House Candidate Once Railed Against Women Voting. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 17:00   ET




MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many Russians have gone along with Putin's Ukrainian disaster. What he calls special military operation. But suddenly in the wake of dramatic military setbacks, all this has become very real. With the Russian leader announcing an immediate callup of hundreds of thousands of men to bolster his depleted forces.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): To protect our homeland, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity, to provide safety for people in liberated territories, it is necessary to partially mobilize citizens. This is a partial mobilization, only for reservists and those with military experience.

CHANCE: But a partial mobilization that risks fully mobilizing. Opposition to the war at home. Independent monitoring groups say more than 1,000 people have been detained across Russia at heavily policed protests.

You always feel worried at moments like this, says Dennis from Moscow. If you have a wife and kids, I wouldn't want to leave them, he adds.

It all comes as occupied areas of Ukraine announced snap referendums on joining the Russian state. For critics, a tiny fig leaf to cover a blatant annexation of Ukrainian land, and an opportunity to halt Ukraine's advancing army by warning its Western backers Russia may use nuclear weapons to defend the motherland. Even its newest bits.

PUTIN (through translator): This is not a bluff. Citizens of Russia can be sure our territorial integrity, our independence and freedom will be ensured with all the means at our disposal and those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.

CHANCE: It's a threat Ukraine bristling with U.S. and Western arms has already rejected out of hand. And officials are accusing the Kremlin of throwing more men into the flames of a war it has no chance of winning. But in an already dangerous conflict, Putin's latest turn dramatically raises the stakes.


CHANCE: Well, Jake, it's for Putin that the stakes, though, seem to have been raised the highest with anti-war, anti-draft protests breaking out in towns and cities across Russia as we've been reporting. We've just heard from independent monitor groups that in Moscow, some police stations are actually organizing the draft of some of the people they're detaining directly into the military after they were lifted off the streets, which, you know, seems very harsh even by the hard lined standards of the Russian authorities -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

As the world grapples with Putin's latest threats, back in the United States President Biden addressed fellow leaders at the United Nations.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is just outside the U.N.

And Kylie, President Biden pitched reforms to the U.N. Security Council. What would those reforms look like?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Two specific things that he touched on in this address to the United Nations today. First of all, when it comes to the number of countries on the U.N. Security Council, there are five permanent members, 15 members in total. He said the United States would like to see that number increase, would like to see countries from Africa and from the Caribbean and Latin America on the Security Council.

The other thing that he spoke about was the vetoes that are used in the Security Council. He said that they should only be used in rare and extraordinary circumstances, of course, that is speaking to Russia in some way, shape or form because they are the country that so often uses that veto power in the Security Council to strike down resolutions.

Now, when it comes to generally speaking, his attacks on Russia because of this Ukraine war, he really tried to establish a set of facts to not desensitize the fact that they have invaded their neighbor. Listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us speak plainly. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map. President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe and a reckless disregard for the responsibilities of a non-proliferation regime.


ATWOOD: Now when it comes to those new clear threats, he also called the words that we have heard from President Putin overnight irresponsible threats on the nuclear front. And that is something that of course we'll continue to watch incredibly closely -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right, CNN's Kylie Atwood, at the United Nations for us, thank you so much.

Let's go now to Ukraine as the country contends with the dramatic escalation from the Russian aggressors. CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Ben, Putin insisted today that his nuclear threats are not a bluff. How are Ukrainian officials reacting to this overt threat?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Zelenskyy, Jake, said he doesn't believe that threat. One of the members of his staff, the head of his office, described it as nuclear blackmail and the mayor of Kyiv said that Putin has begun the process that will eventually bury him. So, Ukrainians are being somewhat dismissive at this point. I think they're hoping this is indeed just bluster from the Russian leader.

But I think ordinary Ukrainians are a little more concerned when the Russian leader brings up the possibility of nuclear weapons entering this conflict -- Jake.

TAPPER: And Ben, you heard massive explosions where you are in Kharkiv last night. Tell us more about that.

WEDEMAN: It wasn't last night, Jake, it was about an hour and a half ago when there was several Russian missiles fired over the city. Several of them were intercepted, one hit a non-residential building. Local authorities say nobody was injured in this incident but this is the second night in a row where we've seen these missile strikes, and the worry is that because it's going to take the Russians so long to mobilize, equip, train and deploy these 300,000 reserves that President Putin has called for that in the meantime the Russians are going to be striking out harder than before using the kind of long- range missiles that they tend to employ in situations like this.

The worry is for instance if they're going to be targeting civilian infrastructure which is something they've been doing particularly during this recent offensive in the Kharkiv region -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ben Wedeman in Ukraine, thank you so much. Please stay safe.

This hour I sit down for an exclusive live interview with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, fresh off his meeting with President Biden. That's ahead.

Then, is this going to be the case that sticks? Donald Trump and his three oldest children being sued by the New York attorney general. Plus meet the Republican House candidate who wants to or wanted to repeal the 19th Amendment, you know, the one that gave women the right to vote. Stick around.



TAPPER: In our "Politics Lead," former President Donald Trump along with three of his adult children are now facing a sweeping new civil lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James who alleges fraud, lies in more than 200 examples of false valuations of Trump's assets, spending years before he ever entered the Oval Office.

CNN's Evan Perez joins us now live with more on this.

Evan, walk us through what the New York attorney general is actually accusing Trump and his kids and his business of here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, according to Letitia James, who is the attorney general for the state of New York, she says that the Trump Organization is a giant fraud. She says that over the last 10 years, the organization, Trump and three of his kids as well as a couple of executives of the company have been deceiving not only lenders, insurance companies but also tax authorities.

She says that she is now going after $250 million in ill-gotten gains from this fraud, this 10 years of fraud. And she's also looking to cancel Trump Organization's corporate certificate to operate in New York state. Along with that she's asking a judge to permanently bar Trump, some of his kids as well as a couple of these former executives from ever serving as officers of companies in New York.

This is a sweeping lawsuit, Jake. Of course, you know Letitia James is a Democrat, and of course the former president and his sons have already taken to social media to accuse her of carrying out a political witch hunt -- Jake.

TAPPER: We should note this is a civil case, not a criminal one so there would if anything be fines and penalties but no jail time. James says she is, however, referring this case to federal prosecutors. What might that mean?

PEREZ: Right. Well, the lawsuit that she filed today, as you pointed out, you know, has a lower burden of proof. Now she's saying that she believes that they've also violated criminal laws in the state of New York and she's referred it to prosecutors at the Southern District of New York, the federal prosecutors, as well as the IRS. Listen to her describe what she found.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: We show that they violated several state criminal laws including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations. We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law.


PEREZ: Jake, we've reached out to those federal and state prosecutors' offices. They so far say that they're not commenting. Obviously, the district attorney in Manhattan has an ongoing case, Jake, that they say is active and ongoing obviously.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Coming up, we're going to explore Donald Trump's relationship with the cult-like conspiracy theory QAnon and how that relationship has evolved. Plus our exclusive interview with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron. He's going to join us live fresh off his meeting with President Biden. Don't go anywhere.



TAPPER: In our "Politics Lead," we're going to take a closer look now at what happened during Donald Trump's weekend rally in Ohio, as well as recent posts on his Truth Social account. This all appears to have connections to the deranged QAnon conspiracy.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more on Trump's flirtation with this far- right extremism.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Trump has long flirted with QAnon but this illustration meme he re- shared last week with QAnon slogans and a Q on his lapel is one of his most brazen endorsements of the conspiracy theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even President Donald J. Trump put that on there, a guy wearing a Q pin, storm is upon us, patriots are in control.

O'SULLIVAN: Posts on this QAnon radio show celebrating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the reason that you are all here because you know the truth.


You all know who Donald Trump really is. You all know who the fight is really about and who the players are that actually want to destroy our country.

O'SULLIVAN: On Trump's social media platform, QAnon followers saw the president's post as a clear sign he's with them and with QAnon. One post read, "At this point anyone denying that Q was a legit operation affiliated with the Trump administration is in major denial." Another read, "At real Donald Trump has over four million followers yet he seeks out Q people to re-truth."

JOAN DONOVAN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL AND AUTHOR, "MEME WARS": What we've seen recently from Trump is different from what we've seen in the past. Prior to this, he would say he's heard of these QAnon people and he believes them to be great patriots, now the message is directly one to one. It's no longer ambiguous.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, certainly, we are concerned about the QAnon phenomenon.

O'SULLIVAN: The FBI has warned of the dangers of QAnon and its potential to inspire violence.

GREG EHRIE, ADL VICE PRESIDENT AND FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: What we have is a former president, potential candidate for the presidency of the United States, legitimatizing what's in essence a cult.

O'SULLIVAN: QAnon has been associated with bizarre claims about cabals and child sacrifice, but the slogans and symbols of QAnon have now become intertwined with Trump's lies about a stolen election.

(On-camera): Yes, I go to a lot of Trump rallies, I see a lot of people wearing QAnon T-shirts. It doesn't mean they're all necessarily violent or dangerous. Does it?

EHRIE: Does not. And that's the most difficult law enforcement scenario to deal with because you want to identify threats amongst these hundreds, sometimes thousands of people.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Trump delivered some of his speech Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio, to a backing track.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We are a nation that is no longer respected or listened to around the world. We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke.

O'SULLIVAN: That music you hear sounds identical to a song associated with QAnon. While it played, the crowd all pointed their fingers in unison toward the sky.

DONOVAN: The imagery of everybody, their heads bowed, with their finger pointed in the air showing the number one, this is where meme wars are most potent because for some people they were seeing that reflected in the QAnon meme where we go one, we go all. Others were seeing "America First" be reflected.

O'SULLIVAN: The Trump team denied the music was a QAnon sound.

EHRIE: It was played and to the people who are listening, that's a siren song. Even if it was an accident, it becomes the perception. And it's easy to counter that. Where is the no, that's not what I meant? No, I do not support this group's statement that you would expect from a viable candidate.

O'SULLIVAN: But Trump has never outright disavowed QAnon. Quite the opposite. He's instead endorsing candidates who have echoed the conspiracy theory like Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Arizona.

STATE REP. MARK FINCHEM (R-AZ): There's a lot of people involved in a pedophile network, in the distribution of children, and unfortunately there's a whole lot of elected officials that are involved in that.

O'SULLIVAN: At a fundraiser for Finchem this weekend, a performance of another QAnon song named after the QAnon slogan, "Where We Go One, We Go All."


O'SULLIVAN: Now people who are in Trump's orbit and Trump world are saying that, look, he's retweeting this stuff, he's reposting this stuff, he's not really giving any thought. He doesn't think about QAnon. But look, he's been asked multiple times to disavow this dangerous conspiracy, I mean, it's more than a theory now, it's really a movement. And he's refused to do that again and again.

TAPPER: Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Also in our "Politics Lead," get this, a congressional candidate supported by Donald Trump by the way whose past writings and associations indicate that he is against women voting. We're talking about John Gibbs. You might remember him, because with some financial support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with ads, you'd thought he'd be an easier candidate for their Democratic nominee to beat.

He defeated Republican Congressman Peter Meijer in this year's Michigan primary. Meijer of course voted to impeach Donald Trump.

Andrew Kaczynski, the senior editor of CNN's KFile joins us now.

Andrew, what have you found?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: So Gibbs is a former Trump administration official who in the early 2000s ran this think tank called the Society for the Critique of Feminism, and it basically argued several things. One of which was that the U.S. has greatly suffered from women having the right to vote, that women did not possess, you know, the necessary qualities to govern and that women should not be allowed to be in the workplace basically.

TAPPER: So on the Web site you found he gives specific reasons as to why he thinks women should not have the right to vote?


KACZYNSKI: Yes, so he makes this argument that the 19th Amendment that allowed women to vote, he says it's been unequivocally bad for the United States. He says the 19th Amendment led the whole U.S. government to increase in size, adding we conclude that the U.S. has suffered as a result of women's suffrage.

Now on a few other occasions, as well, he also praised an organization that was actively trying to repeal the is 19th Amendment. His own Web site that he maintained called this organization great. He even wrote them an e-mail that they then posted on their Web site in the early 2000s that said you have my support.

TAPPER: And his Web site was also critical of women in the workplace?

KACZYNSKI: His Web site was really critical of women in the workplace. It's sort of the arguments that, you know, generalized sort of sexism that you might hear. He basically said with women in the workplace, his quote was, you know, men have to basically bend over backwards to avoid offending women. You know, he argued that women in the workplace led to frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits, and you know, men couldn't make as many jokes.

TAPPER: How is the Gibbs campaign responding to your reporting?

KACZYNSKI: So we reached out to the Gibbs campaign yesterday. They told us that he made this Web site to provoke the left and modern-day feminists, saying this was nothing more than a college student being over the top. They did tell us that he does support now women voting and women working.

TAPPER: Interesting. All right. Andrew Kaczynski, thanks so much.

Also in our "Politics Lead," Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan facing criticism today from what several of her Jewish colleagues have deemed anti-Semitic comments. Here's what Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress, said at a virtual event yesterday.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I want you all to know that among progressives, it's become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel's apartheid government and we will continue to push back and not accept this idea that you are progressive except for full esteem any longer.


TAPPER: The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt slammed the comments saying that Israel does not have an apartheid government and said that she should not be imposing a, quote, "litmus test" in a tweet, saying, quote, "Tlaib tells American Jews that they need to pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive space." Some of Tlaib's Jewish colleagues in Congress agreed. Florida Congressman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called her comments, quote, "outrageous," and, quote, "nothing short of anti-Semitic." New York Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler, sometimes called the dean of the informal House Jewish Caucus, tweeted, quote, "I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive," unquote.

Coming up, French President Emmanuel Macron joins me live for an exclusive interview. We're talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, energy crisis, global alliances and much more. Stay with us.


[17:32:41] TAPPER: In our national lead, Category 4 Hurricane Fiona pulled away from Turks and Caicos in the Bahamas today after it left behind disaster-stricken communities in Puerto Rico someday, some on their third day without power. And now the giant storm system is making its way up toward the east coast of the United States.

Let's bring in Tom Sater who's at the CNN Weather Center for us. Tom, where's the storm right now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, as you mentioned, Jake, it looks like the outer edge, the southern edge is finally leaving Turks and Caicos, however, this is a Category 4, our first major hurricane of the season. And the eyewall, which was quite ragged, it is now well defined. And if you notice the bright colors of purple here, heavy convection is now encircling this eye.

So it's a monster storm. It's going to come very, very close to Bermuda passing just to the west. But the water temperatures are extremely high and even far to the north. So if you look at the track of the system, even though Bermuda is not in the cone, they're going to feel some effects with this. Tropical storm warnings hurricane watch there.

But this is more concerning. This system plowing into Atlantic Canada this weekend could be the strongest storm in their history. Notice the wave heights here coming very close to Bermuda. These are 50 and 60- foot forecast wave heights, that's massive. And then as it plows into the Canadian Maritimes, Nova Scotia could be hit very hard.

If you look at the isobars here, Jake, it really starts to expand. For hundreds of miles, we could have tropical storm force winds, hundreds of thousands could lose power. As you look at the winds, it is a broad storm and will grow in its size as far as that wind field moving out. The amount of rainfall could be quite staggering, not just with the power outages and the storm surge, but again, could be one of the strongest in history for this region of Canada.

And if you look at some of the notable ones, they're all since the year 2000. The last one in 2010, Jake.

TAPPER: We're also hearing the next named storm could be a monster hurricane --


TAPPER: -- and the U.S. may be directly in its tracks. What are you seeing on the models?

SATER: It's just off the coast of South America. It's not even a name system yet. I mean, we didn't even have one named storm in the entire month of August that hadn't happened in 25 years, but this is the acorn that could become the great oak tree. Computer models taking it through the Caribbean Sea, South Jamaica, could it go to the Yucatan of Mexico or could it go to Florida.

This is the American model, Jake, and it does create the system and to hurricane strength. But it's too far away to exactly say what's going to happen.


But the computer models differ and red is the American off the Yucatan and sliding north but the European model puts it right here in Florida. The next name storm -- the next storm's name will be Hermine. That's one to remember. And we're going to be watching it for the next several days. Until then, we've got our own problems here still with Fiona. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Tom Sater, thanks so much.

Just ahead, I'm going to sit down with French President Emmanuel Macron. Fresh off his meeting with President Biden at the U.N. Stay with us.


TAPPER: New body cam video obtained by CNN shows horrifying conditions faced by migrants smuggled into the U.S.


Human smuggling has grown into a multibillion-dollar multinational business in recent years as the U.S. sees a jump in migrants from countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. CNN's Rosa Flores shows us the disturbing reality.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what human smuggling looks like. Migrants gasping for air in this 2015 case or a trailer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody stand up?

FLORES (voice-over): Covered in whaling humans in this 2017 case, 10 people died, authority say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know which one next. Just pick one and I'll help you up.

FLORES (voice-over): A similar scene unfolded in June when 53 people died in San Antonio in a tractor trailer.


FLORES (voice-over): Craig Larrabee is the acting special agent in charge with Homeland Security investigations in San Antonio, the arm of DHS that investigates human smuggling and says migrants have more than death to fear.

LARRABEE: The extortion, the assaults, physical assaults, sexual assaults, they're real. FLORES (voice-over): He says human smuggling has changed in the last decade, from small family businesses that charged $2,000 per migrant to multinational criminal organizations that charge $10,000 and make billions of dollars a year.

LARRABEE: So, maybe a vehicle had 50 bodies in it years and years ago, they'll put 150 bodies in that vehicle.

FLORES (voice-over): Larrabee debunks the myth that migrants are usually smuggled into the U.S. in tractor trailers.

LARRABEE: They're smuggled across the country on foot. That's generally speaking.

FLORES (voice-over): Once in the U.S., migrants are taken to so-called stash houses.

SGT. AARON MORENO, HIDALGO COUNTY SHERIFF: I've seen over 70 people in a little apartment.

FLORES (voice-over): Hidalgo County sheriff's lieutenant Aaron Moreno shows us a stash house they dismantled last year, the windows of the small home, clues smugglers tried to hide 37 people inside.

MORENO: This is a tactic. You put aluminum foil and/or cardboard so nobody can see inside, so they can't see outside.

FLORES (voice-over): From those stash houses, migrants are packed in travel trailers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're under arrest for human smuggling.

FLORES (voice-over): In the trunks of cars, tool boxes, vans and other vehicles that are sometimes locked shut, like this one last week --


FLORES (voice-over): -- that had to be pried open by law enforcement. The driver sometimes get thousands of dollars per migrant, according to these TikTok videos used by the Mexican cartels and provided to CNN by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Why would the cartels pay drivers so much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to pass this checkpoint right here.

FLORES (voice-over): There are Border Patrol checkpoints in South Texas that those drivers have to go through sometimes with human cargo.

(on-camera): Smugglers will try to avoid that checkpoint by guiding migrants through this tough terrain. Now, the migrants that can keep up continue north. The ones that can't are left behind, sometimes to die.

(voice-over): Migrant deaths so far this year, a record nearly 750, a number already exceeding last year's total of 557. The alleged driver in the deadly June tractor trailer tragedy in San Antonio apparently went through a checkpoint near Laredo. He has pleaded not guilty. It's unclear if the migrants were already on board. While Larrabee says a lot has changed in the business of human smuggling, one thing is constant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you stand? Come on.

FLORES (voice-over): Smugglers have no regard for human life.


FLORES: In April, the Biden administration launched an effort to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling organizations. So far, nearly 5,000 individuals have been arrested. As a matter of fact, just last week, eight individuals were arrested and they allegedly helped smuggle hundreds, if not thousands of individuals into this country in brutal conditions.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

TAPPER: Our thanks to Rosa Flores for that report. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has just addressed the United Nations General Assembly. His message to world leaders as Putin bows to ramp up the war, that's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing the United Nations General Assembly right now as the world grapples with Putin's latest threats to use nuclear weapons and the Russian leader calls up hundreds of thousands of more troops.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now live from outside the U.N. Kylie, what was President Zelenskyy's message?

ATWOOD: Well, listen, what he said is that Ukraine didn't provoke this war. In fact, he pointed to the fact that Ukraine engaged in more than 80 rounds of talks, diplomacy, to try and prevent this war from happening. But now that it is here, now that Russia has invaded and continues to attack Ukraine, he is calling for punishment.

Listen to what he said to the United Nations General Assembly virtually in these remarks.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment. The crime was committed against our state borders. The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men. The crime was committed against the values that make you and me a community of the United Nations. And Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory, punishment for the murders of thousands of people, punishment for tortures and humiliations of women and men, punishment for the catastrophic turbulence that Russia provoked with its illegal war and not only for us, Ukrainians, but for the whole world.



ATWOOD: He also called for a special tribunal to punish Russia. And, of course, there will be questions as to how other nations respond to the President of Ukraine throwing that idea out there. Does the United States support it? Do other European nations support it? That is one thing that we'll be following up on, Jake.

TAPPER: And Zelenskyy, he's been quite critical of the U.N. in the past. Did he echo any of that sentiment today?

ATWOOD: He did. He was less explicit than he has been in the past. But one of the things that he was critical of is the fact that Russia is a member of the United Nations Security Council. And because of that, what that allows Russia to do is essentially to veto any resolution that the Security Council is trying to pass. He said that there will be peace, but he juxtapose that to the fact that Russia is on the Security Council, meaning that he thinks that those two things essentially can't coexist.

TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.

The perils of live television. We are currently in touch with the team traveling with French President Emmanuel Macron as he tries to get from the east side to the west side. He is in, of course, in town, New York City for the United Nations General Assembly. He just wrapped up his speech. But as with all U.N. annual gatherings, security around the event is tight. And of course, it's always very difficult to navigate through New York City.

Macron is trying to get here to our studios. We will speak to him for a full interview as soon as he arrives. But I regret to tell you that full conversation will not air today, it will air tomorrow, right here on The Lead. Our apologies as President Macron runs a bit late through no fault of his own.

Turning to our health lead, many women throughout the U.S. have faced difficult choices in the shifting legal landscape around abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports on one couple who was denied an abortion in Ohio even though doctors told them the baby would not survive beyond a few hours if they carried the child to term.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tara and Justin George met right out of high school, got married. And this spring, they were thrilled to find out they were expecting. Early on, sharing ultrasound pictures with friends and family. Buying onesies for the boy they named Griffyn.

JUSTIN GEORGE, SPORTS PODCASTER: I'm like, oh, it's a boy. Like I get to see him, like I'm so excited. All I could think of was just hanging out, watching sports, taking him to games, just doing everything a dad would do with his son.

COHEN (voice-over): But then at a routine ultrasound halfway through Tara's pregnancy --

J. GEORGE: The woman doing the ultrasound gets up and just kind of leaves the room, doesn't say anything.

COHEN (voice-over): That's when Dr. Mae Winchester, a high-risk pregnancy specialist came into the room and did her own scan.

DR. MAE WINCHESTER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: There was no fluid around the baby. And so right away, I knew something absolutely terrible was going on.

COHEN (voice-over): The baby had severe heart defects and --

WINCHESTER: The baby had complete kidney failure.

COHEN (on-camera): Could that baby survive after birth?

WINCHESTER: This was a uniformly fatal diagnosis for this baby.

COHEN (voice-over): Tara and Justin's dreams shattered.

TARA GEORGE, MOTHER: The chances of him being stillborn was extremely high. They said, if you did live, the chances of him living would maybe only be a few hours.

COHEN (voice-over): Tara could stay pregnant, but she was at high risk for blood clots and possibly preeclampsia to potentially deadly complications.

WINCHESTER: When you have a baby that will never make it, we have to really think hard about if you want to put Tara's life at risk for that.

COHEN (voice-over): Tara and Justin decided to terminate the pregnancy. On Ohio where the Georges live, an anti-abortion law took effect this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It allows for abortion to prevent the death of the mother or when there's a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

(on-camera): How sick does a woman have to be to be protected by Ohio law?

ATTY. JESSIE HILL, OHIO: Well, I think one of the problems is that it's unclear how sick she has to be.

COHEN (voice-over): Attorney Jessie Hill has been fighting Ohio's anti-abortion laws in court.

(on-camera): The authors of these laws say that the laws protect the life of the mother, do they?

HILL: They do not. These laws absolutely put patients at risk far more than they protect them.

COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Winchester tried to get an abortion in Ohio for Tara but was denied.

WINCHESTER: I felt a lot of anger and disappointment. When I had to call Tara and tell her that we couldn't do it, that was really difficult.

COHEN (voice-over): The closest place Tara could go to get an abortion was Michigan. She went there last month. She had to spend two days there.

T. GEORGE: It was really scary. I feel for all the other women out there that are going to be going through it as well. It's just horrible.

COHEN (voice-over): Now all they have our memories.


T. GEORGE: Yes, this is the bracelet my friend got me. It says I love you, your whole life. I'll miss you for the rest of mine.

COHEN (voice-over): Pain of their loss on top of the pain of being sent away to get the care they needed.


COHEN: One thing that factored into Justin and Tara's incredibly difficult decision was they thought about how their son would suffer being born without lungs that function properly, without kidneys that function, with a heart that had severe defects. They thought how would he suffer after he were born. Jake?

TAPPER: There was a change in Ohio law after the abortion. Can you tell us about that?

COHEN: That's right. So last week, a judge put a 14-day stay on Ohio strict anti-abortion law. So now women are allowed to have abortions. We'll see what happens after that. We're now in the middle of that 14- day stay. We'll see what happens after. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

Emotional testimony today in the second civil damages trial against far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, including from the father of Sandy Hook shooting victim, six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler. He called Jones's hoax claims, quote, incredibly disorienting.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us that story now live. Brynn, Alex Jones spoke outside court today. What did he have to say?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. Well, he's good about speaking outside of court yet he hasn't yet appeared in Cornwall. This emotional testimony has been going on. I've been listening to court for the last several weeks, he's never been inside but he has spoken to reporters outside twice. And today was no different, basically saying he won't go inside because he's filming his show. And also, because he doesn't want to be the target of sort of this emotional testimony that's happening inside the courtroom referencing this previous case that happened in Texas just last month.

I want you to hear more about why he says he won't appear in court and the, you know, what we could expect to hear when he eventually does take a stand in this case.


ALEX JONES, HOST, INFOWARS: I'm not the Sandy Hook man. I've already said I was sorry years and years ago. I've already tried to make restitution. We gave the court all the discovery. They defaulted us, because they found there wasn't any evidence of premeditated master plans was Sandy Hook and all this garbage.

I think that the families are a victim of the process of these lawyers manipulating them and controlling them to go after the Second Amendment and the First Amendment.


GINGRAS: Now, again, Alex Jones has not yet been on the stand. We are anticipating that to happen sometime tomorrow, Jake. And certainly, we expect to hear more of sort of what he is saying. But again, he has not been inside the courtroom to face these parents yet, in this trial.

TAPPER: Brynn, what else did we hear from the families today?

GINGRAS: Oh, Jake, I mean, it was incredibly emotional. There were three family members that came to the stand today. Two of them had children that died and one was the daughter of the principal who was killed. And basically, they just described their loved ones, describe what life was like when they had Alex Jones and his followers say their deaths were a hoax, and then talk about just a fear and safety that they continue to live in as he continues to spread this conspiracy online, even now, almost a decade after this happened.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thank you so much.

Our out of this world lead is still stuck on the grounds but maybe not for much longer. During a test today, NASA engineers again detected hydrogen leaks on their new moon rocket, one cropped up at the same point in the countdown that earlier leaks forced NASA to postpone the rockets launch a few weeks ago. Engineers were able to come up with a fix but a second leak turned up before the test ended. NASA says all of today's objectives were met, they're going to analyze today's data before deciding whether to try launching this mission next week. Also, in our out of this world lead, NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio and two cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station after being launched earlier today. It's Rubio's first trip into space and his mission is scheduled to last six months. He's a medical doctor. Born in California. His mother lives in El Salvador. It's the first time since the Ukraine invasion that a NASA astronaut has traveled into space with a Russian crew. Although another U.S. astronaut came home with a Russian crew.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead whence you get your podcast.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. We'll bring you that Macron interview tomorrow. Thanks so much.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demands punishment for Russian crimes against Ukraine in remarks just moments ago before the United Nations General Assembly. This, as Vladimir Putin is escalating the war making nuclear threats and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists after defeats on the battlefield.

Also tonight, former President Trump is accused of committing fraud on a staggering level in a sweeping new lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General. The suit also targets Trump's three oldest children and the family's business.