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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Florida Braces For Life-Threatening Storm Surge As Ian Nears; Michigan House Race Heats Up, Winner Could Determine Which Party Holds Majority In Congress; PA Gubernatorial Candidate Says Women Should Be Charged With Murder If Gets An Illegal Abortion; Texas Attorney General Allegedly Fled Home To Avoid Subpoena; Retired Army Col. Chris Kolenda To Bike 1,689 Miles Across The Country In 28 Days; World Chess Champion Accuses American Opponent Of Cheating. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 27, 2022 - 17:00   ET



TOM STATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In fact that tropical storm force winds are almost a swath of 300 miles and hurricane force winds are now outward almost 80 miles. So, again, as the storm continues to move toward Florida, it's going to go through some reorganization. And we might be seeing the beginning of that now.

If you notice the well-defined eye, even though we're seeing some bright purple, deep convection, it looks like the eye is trying to shrink somewhat, this may be the beginning of what we call an eyewall replacement cycle. These major hurricanes can only sustain their strength for so long, it's like spinning top on a table, after a while that tops going to start to wobble. It's a better indication on radar.

When you look at the eye, you'll start to see those bright yellow bands. But if you notice a secondary band out in around the eye, some distance away, what happens is once it goes through this eyewall replacement cycle, the eye collapse, and then we'll watch the convection around it tighten back up, and it's like getting strong again. Each time it goes through one of these, and it can take several hours to do so it gets stronger and it gets larger. This has enough time unfortunately, to go through this cycle before it makes landfall.

So on a grander scale, we're already starting to see some tornado warnings in the Everglades right now, they have now posted a tornado watch that will be in effect until 5:00 a.m. That's an extraordinary amount of space and time to deal with that. And those problems with those tornadoes are not like in the Midwest and in the plains, they spin up without any notice, usually EF1s EF2s.

OK, category four before landfall, there has been significant differences, Jake, as we mentioned, from where it was going to stall off the coast of the bay and turning to the right, and we still could see that happen. There's still plenty of time for this to happen. When you have a change, this is not unusual, a great sigh of relief for some communities, but other communities staring heart ache right in the eye and dire straits.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: How does this shift change? How in -- will directly impact Florida?

SATER: OK, first and foremost, because of the angle of approach, it's going to be making landfall sooner than we thought 24 hours ago, and that landfall may be a difference between 12 and 18 hours because it's farther south. Because of the angle of approach, as I mentioned a few moments ago, it's going to scrape a large portion of Florida from areas of the southwest all the way to the northeast, remember those tropical storm force winds are out 300.

The biggest issue is going to be two things, it's the surge and the rainfall amounts. Tampa Bay, which was looking at worst case scenario may actually be on that surge on the south facing coastlines of the bay. But then you'll see the bay empty, almost the water levels go down because as it circulates counterclockwise, it'll dump that bay out.

Now, good news for them, however, they're going to be in the heavier rainfall. To the south is where we're seeing a significant difference, first into the bay, this is not what we saw yesterday. So again, those south facing areas still will see a little bit of a surge. It's down to the south, it's from Sarasota, down toward Venice, down toward again in Port Charlotte where we're seeing significant increases several miles inland. Of course, we'll be talking more about this throughout the night.

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

Nearly 7 million people along the coast, including all of Tampa Bay, are facing the risk of life threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds as high as 129 miles per hour. CNN's Ryan Young reports for us now from Tampa on how those in the danger zone are preparing for Ian's menacing approach.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. Hey, we're coming by and letting everybody know that you're in a mandatory evacuation situation.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tampa Bay area and its final hours of hurricane preparations, Tampa Bay police making last ditch efforts to warn residents on flood risk zones to leave now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a reinforcement to let them know that, hey, you're in an area where you need to evacuate.

MAYOR JANE CASTOR, TAMPA, FLORIDA: This is not a drill. This is not the time to stay.

YOUNG (voice-over): Serious warnings to residents here, this vulnerable area expected to be in the crosshairs of Hurricane Ian as it barrels toward the west coast of Florida.

CASTOR: We have over 120 miles of coastline just in the city of Tampa.

YOUNG (voice-over): At least 2.5 million Floridians under various evacuation orders. It's a storm that's predicted to cause water damage like none before.

MAYOR KENNETH T. WELCH, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: You're talking about 10 or 15 inches of rain on top of the surge that's unprecedented. No infrastructure is built for that.

YOUNG (voice-over): With this hurricane, a direct hit isn't necessarily to cause severe flooding. The slow moving storm is predicted to stall just off the coast of Tampa Bay starting Wednesday evening.

CASTOR: It's going to be in our rivers. It's going to be in our streams. It's going to be in our canals. It's going to be in our Stormwater drains and ditches.

YOUNG (voice-over): Sandbag locations around Tampa close today at 2:00, residents doing what they can before heading out.


REGGY DAVIS, TAMPA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: We're late, but we are -- we think that if it is a storm surge issue we will try to seal the openings of the house.

YOUNG (voice-over): Former Florida Congressman Jim Davis and his wife aren't taking chances. They're prepping their house and getting up.

JIM DAVIS, TAMPA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: I'm not a very good gambler and it's a bit of a gamble if you don't take it seriously.


YOUNG: Jake, at 2:00 today, the city stopped giving out the sandbags. So many people were in line to get those sandbags. We saw some lines a mile long, they got 10 bags each to try to protect their homes.

We wanted to show you something right here, what's happening now you can see workers who are working on that Aqua gate right there. That's outside Tampa General Hospital. What they're hoping is by creating that barrier right there they can stop some of the water from going in to the critical area of the hospital. That's a trauma one level hospitals.

You understand how important is to have that hospital up and running. And there are times there are storms here that that hospital is affected because of water. They're taking precautions by putting that barrier up.

And you can understand all throughout this area people are so concerned about storm surge. One woman told us today she wants to get out of her mobile home, she just doesn't know where to go right now. She doesn't want to go to a shelter. Jake.

TAPPER: Have you seen an increased amount of traffic on the roads as people are encouraged to evacuate?

YOUNG: Yes. Yes, absolutely. We were actually talking to some police officers today who've noticed that traffic going out of the city. There are people who are heating this warning.

It's been 100 years since a storm has hit directly in the Tampa. So people are concerned about the water, especially with the ground so saturated at this point.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young in Tampa, Florida, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Barbra Hernandez on the phone. She's the Communications Director for Pinellas County, which is part of the Tampa Bay area on the west coast of Florida.

Thanks so much for joining us. This is obviously a slow moving storm. There is concerned that it could hover over your area, over the Tampa Bay area for up to two full days. What might that mean? Is that your biggest fear right now?

BARBRA HERNANDEZ, PINELLASCONEWS: Yes, that is our biggest concern at this time. We are preparing proactively to respond to the storm. It is the first time in over 100 years that we are anticipating a direct hurricane landfall in Pinellas County. And so, with that comes extensive preparation and coordination with our residents to make sure that people are ready and safe ahead of the storm.

TAPPER: Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for parts of your county, emergency shelters have been set up. How are those evacuations going? Are people leaving?

HERNANDEZ: We have been very successful at getting the message across to our residents and being a highly tourist driven area. We have also been working with our tourism partners to make sure that our visitors and guests understand the seriousness of the threat and they have been heating our advice.

TAPPER: As always happens, there are always some people who stick behind, they want to brave the storm, they don't want to abandon their home, maybe some of them don't have a car or a place to go. Are you concerned that there are some people might -- who might not be taking it seriously enough given that your area hasn't been directly hit by a major hurricane in 100 years as you just noted?

HERNANDEZ: Yes, we are very concerned with that. Our message to our residents is don't wait, evacuate if they are under a mandatory evacuation order. And if they are not required to evacuate, make sure that they are sheltering in place by midnight tonight. Again, this is a very serious storm at the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time.

TAPPER: Does your county have what you need in terms of supplies from the state of Florida from the federal government? Do you have enough sandbags? Do you have enough bottled water?

HERNANDEZ: Yes, we have had an excellent working relationship with our partners at the state level with the Florida Department of Emergency Management. As a matter of fact, Governor DeSantis was here yesterday meeting with us, hearing what our needs are and ensuring that we have all of the food, the beverages, the water, and the necessary search and rescue teams deployed and ready to respond as soon as the storm threat is over.

TAPPER: All right. Barbara Hernandez, thank you so much. Please stay in touch so we can help shine a light on anything that you're not getting from the federal government that you need. Really appreciate it.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to give a new update on Hurricane Ian and just moments. We will bring that to you live.

Plus, how Russian President Vladimir Putin could use sham elections in Ukraine to try to justify using nuclear weapons perhaps.

Then, the story of one army veteran biking from Nebraska to Washington, D.C. We're going to check in with him on day three of his 2600 mile journey. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Now in our world lead, today was the last day of what many critics are calling a fake election in some occupied areas of Ukraine. This week, Putin will likely declare for partially occupied areas of Ukraine to be Russian territory.

Ukraine, the United States and the rest of NATO have made it clear that these sham referenda, as they're called, will lead to sanctions against Russia, further sanctions. But this is about more than just a land grab, the sham referenda could be used by Russia theoretically to claim any of that land that Ukraine tries to take back is an attack on Russia, which could, that's the fear, prop up a justification for Putin stated threat of using nuclear weapons. Now the U.S. is trying to convince the Russian leader that a nuclear war is a war that no one can win.

Meanwhile, multiple explosions have been detected on a major undersea Russian gas pipeline according to his Swedish seismologist. The Nord Stream pipelines, which run from Russia under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark are not currently pumping gas to Europe. The timing and rapid drop in pressure are concerning considering Putin's unprovoked war in Ukraine has put the world's energy supply on the brink of collapse. And Norwegian official says this could be an act of sabotage. The White House says it's, quote, "not going to speculate on the cause of any leaks."

Moments ago, the European Union Commission president said any deliberate attack to disrupt European energy infrastructure, quote, "will lead to the strongest response possible," unquote.

Now to Russia, heart wrenching goodbyes as Russian men get called up to serve in Putin's bloody war. CNN's Ben Wedeman brings us to a recently liberated Ukrainian town and shows us the horrors that might await these recently drafted men. We want to warn you some of the images we're about to show you are disturbing

[17:15:05] (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bodies of dead Russian soldiers are scattered around the town of Piski-Rad'kiv'ki far from home and what the Kremlin chooses to call a special military operation, but it's a war by any other name. War into which many more Russians will be thrown now that the so-called partial mobilization has begun, and who may well meet a similar end.

(on camera): This is a bank document found on one of the soldiers. The soldier is from St. Petersburg and he was born on the 30th of September 2001. He died three days before his birthday.

(voice-over): A charred remnants in Russian armor scattered around town, outgoing artillery pursues an army once considered one of the most powerful on Earth. An army that abandoned tanks of plenty, many in working order.

Dimitri and his crew are tinkering with one such tank fresh from the battlefield.

It has minimal breakage, he says, I can turn it on now without any problems.

Sure enough, it's motor roars to life.

When they run away, they lose not only the tanks, says Olexander, but also on the ammunition, in the next day it's all used against them. This tank almost ready to go back into action.

Piski-Rad'kiv'ki lies just north of the Donbass region, which after sham referendum President Vladimir Putin plans to annex to Russia. Yet few here have fond memories of life under Russia's sway.

Stanislav is cutting sheet metal to put over the shattered windows of his sister's home. It was looting in spring he recalls, they were taking everything.

Down the road, Varvara and Raisa are back to what they did throughout the Russian occupation. Just sitting here, says Varvara, they didn't bother us. But Raisa found them annoying. Nazis, Nazi, she says, they always ask where are the Nazis.

The Russians have left or like dead in the dirt. Lives wasted for nothing.


WEDEMAN: And Jake, just about three and a half hours ago, this city Kharkiv, came under Russian missile attack. We counted five very large explosions, one just about five to 600 yards from where we're staying. It knocked out an electrical substation, which basically knocked out electricity in most of this city. In fact, you see just almost pitch black behind us, the few lights maybe coming from generator power. Jake.

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

It is the House race that could theoretically determine which party ends up controlling the House of Representatives and Democrats took a big gamble boosting a ultra MAGA candidate in the GOP primary. Will it pay off for them or for MAGA? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, all eyes are on Michigan where a heated congressional race between Republican John Gibbs and Democrat Hillary Scholten could determine which party ends up holding the House Majority. CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Michigan, where Gibbs extreme views are raising some eyebrows and why Democrats could be partly responsible if he wins the election.



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Scholten is the Democrat running in Michigan's Third Congressional District.

SCHOLTEN: This is a critical election. Michigan's Third Congressional District has been noted as one of the districts that could determine who holds the House Majority.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Her opponent is John Gibbs.

JOHN GIBBS, (R) MICHIGAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: My opponents name happens to be Hillary, and no matter what, not another Hillary.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): He's a former Trump administration official who's called the results of the 2020 election mathematically impossible and wrote as a college student in the early 2000s, "The U.S. has suffered as a result of women's suffrage," now insisting it was satirical.

GIBBS: Thank you, President Trump.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But the Trump endorsed Gibbs is also someone who the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent about $450,000 on for this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two conservative for West Michigan.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The amount was more than Gibbs has spent on his entire campaign at the time, seemingly designed to help Gibbs with Trump voters and boost him as a weaker general election candidate than the incumbent Republican Peter Meijer.

(on camera): Do you feel someone like Gibbs is a much more beatable opponent than Meijer? SCHOLTEN: You know, I wouldn't say that necessarily. At the end of the day, Republicans decided who their standard bearer was going to be in this race, and they chose Mr. Gibbs.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The dynamic came at the expense of Congressman Meijer, lost the primary by fewer than 4,000 votes.

REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): I never expected the other side to as well double down in a cynical ploy to put forward the candidate they think is less electable.



JIMENEZ (voice-over): Some Democratic voters in the Grand Rapids area district weren't fans either

DAVIS: Politics sucks. I think that like that was money that was wasted. Tactically, I guess I get it.

RUTH KELLY, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC VOTER: Well, it bothered me. And I know it bothered others.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But some GOP voters don't think Gibbs is the easier candidate at all. Appearing at a Michigan rally alongside Donald Trump Jr., Kellyanne Conway and others.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Tell me about why.

VICKI WARE, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN VOTER: No, I mean, I think he is very strong. And I think he's going to be really hard to beat.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Many of Gibbs supporters feel they lost their country in 2020.

GIBBS: We are in a civilizational fights, it's not so much Democrat versus Republican, it's crazy versus normal.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): For Democrats --

SCHOLTEN: We need every vote.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): -- the stakes are similar.

SCHOLTEN: This election is a referendum on our democratic ideals as a state and as a nation. There is nothing easy about this race. Let me tell you, this is going to be a fight to the finish.


JIMENEZ: Now, this isn't just happening here in Michigan, nationwide, Democratic align groups have spent millions of dollars across races in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado to create more at least perceived favorable opponents. Now, I can tell you the Scholten campaign here in Michigan's third fields, they would have been whoever came out of the GOP primary. But of course, nationally, it remains to be seen whether these bets end up paying off or backfire. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

We should note last Wednesday, we did a segment here on THE LEAD about John Gibbs and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took part of our segment and they've been running an edited version on Twitter. They posted the part where I noted Gibbs previous opposition to women voting, but somehow they cut out the part where I noted that the D Triple C has contributed to the Gibbs campaign by funding almost a half million dollars worth of ads promoting him.

First I'm going to play what aired here on THE LEAD, then we're going to play how the D Triple C edited out my words to hide the role that they played in boosting him.


TAPPER: 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, we thought he would be an easier candidate for their democratic nominee to beat.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gibbs is a former Trump administration official.


TAPPER: We just wanted to set the record straight since apparently the D Triple C cannot be counted on to do so.

Let's discuss. Jonah, you have some thoughts on this Michigan primary. And look, it's entirely possible, who knows what's going to happen. It's still a very favorable atmosphere for Republican House candidates. It's entirely possible Gibbs could win.


And look, I get hardball politics. And this is a tactic that both parties have played many times in the past. But there's something different if you saying that people like Gibbs, who's a fringe guy, you know, you're saying that election deniers and MAGA types pose an existential threat to democracy. The democracy itself is on the line because if these people get in power, they'll end our 200 and plus year experiment with democracy. You should have a little more concern about not helping them get to off -- make it easier for them to get to Office.

We heard an enormous number of people say how brave Representative Meijer was for voting for impeachment, and what a profile and courage it was. And yet when it comes down to election time, they're like, yes, it was courageous but in the same people who lament what's happened to the Republican Party are helping encourage sane people like Meijer from the Republican Party for hardball cynical political reasons. And I just think it's a qualitative difference from normal, you know, pre Trump politics, and it should be condemned.

TAPPER: And David Corn is here, I'm sure he has some thoughts on extremist politics. You have a new book called "American Psychosis, A Historical investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy." Where does John Gibbs fit into the panoply that you document in your book?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: He's in the epilogue, for the paperback edition. I mean, the book goes over 70 years of the Republican Party exploiting and encouraging far right fanaticism, extremism, it could be racism, bigotry, paranoia, conspiracy theory to show that what's the present moment is didn't come out of nowhere, they were deep roots. Donald Trump was not an aberration, he was a continuation, in some ways, an escalation. And so, his MAGA movement, the people out there saying -- talking about the big lie, and Gibbs takes it further.


As you know, he used to tweet out, this was a CNN story, satanic conspiracy theories about the Democrats. He's been deep in this craziness that Trump has encouraged and accepted and that the whole party has accepted. You see who's campaigning for him. Donald Trump Jr., Kellyanne Conway --

TAPPER: Not the whole party. We got Jonah here.

CORN: Well, he's not a Republican anymore. He can't wear that badge.

TAPPER: Are you not a Republican?

GOLDBERG: I'm not a Republican anymore. But, look, 70 years ago, when you say the Republican Party is all been about racism all the time, some years ago, more Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats --

TAPPER: By percentage.

GOLDBERG: By percentage, yes.


GOLDBERG: So my point is --

CORN: But they switch, they gave that up then they dumped that because they thought they could get votes from race.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think that there -- that Trump represents more of a break, maybe a psychic break with the past of the Republican Party than you do. But I agree with you that whatever it is, the Trump represents a sharp turn from what the Republican Party should be. TAPPER: Should be. Abby, NBC found an interview that Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, did with a radio station WTF in November 2018. Mastriano in this interview says that any woman who gets an illegal abortion should be charged with murder. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that woman who decided to have an abortion -- which would be considered an illegal abortion -- be charged with murder?

DOUG MASTRIANO, PA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: OK, let's go back to the basic questionnaire. Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection on the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're saying yes?



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, this is exactly the kind of thing that I think Republicans frankly had been trying to run away from, but it's been there. There are many people in the Republican Party who believe that if abortion is murder, that the person, you know, committing the murder ought to be charged with a crime. The problem is that that is not a position that I think is frankly tolerable to a majority of Americans in this country.

I mean, just to take the time machine back a little bit, I remember back in the 2016 campaign, when one Donald Trump as a candidate actually said something very similar in an interview and then had to take it back.


PHILLIP: Because it was --

TAPPER: With Matthew, yes.

PHILLIP: -- with -- because it was so controversial at the time, that he suggested that women ought to be charged with crimes. But today, a Doug Mastriano, who is on the far of the right, is now the nominee to be the governor of a major political party. But I will also say that it is not just him, there are many Republicans who share that view. And I think the task of the Republican Party right now going into the midterms, is to try to tamp that down as much as they possibly can. It's just harder now that Roe is no longer on the table.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And similar to Mastriano in Pennsylvania, in Arizona, we saw where there's an abortion ban now on the books except for the life of the mother. And I was just talking to a GOP consultant there who said that this was supposed to be the best midterm cycle for Republicans in that state in a while up and down the ballot. And that now they're basically saying that they're screwed because of the fact that abortion is becoming front and center in that state, and that the majority of people they believe in that state are not going to be on the side of Republican.

TAPPER: And that law dates back to what year? Isn't it in the 19th century?

CORN: It was a territorial law, right? It wasn't even when it was a state. But, you know, this gets to my point. The Republican Party can't hide what it is, whether it's wanting -- not everybody, but a lot of it wanting to ban abortion as much as possible, or embracing crazy conspiracy theories. Donald Trump, as you guys have covered, you know, embrace QAnon, just a couple of days ago, right? Fully embraced it. So now tweets about it.

I mean, this is crazy conspiracy, extremism. I mean, my argument, Jonah, it's there's always been part of the Republican DNA not always dominant, but now it is highly dominant. And it's, you know, they're trying it. They'd like to have this election I think tomorrow before anything else comes out.

PHILLIP: And just from a political perspective, I mean, Democrats had wanted going into the cycle to be able to paint Republicans as extreme. That job got so much easier once Roe was overturned. The abortion issue, not all these candidates are running on abortion, per se, but they're using abortion as a way in to open up the conversation to voters to say these candidates are too extreme for you. And that has been very helpful to Democrats, even in states where abortion is not necessarily on its own a winning issue in states where there are a lot of other issues, especially the economy. They're painting a wide swath of Republicans with an extremist brush, in part, because of the door opened by them.

TAPPER: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was trying to point to an alternate route for the country when it comes to abortion laws. And also I think it's fair to say for the Republican Party, even though that's not officially what he was doing, he wanted to upheld Mississippi's 15 week-ban, would have banned all abortions after 15 weeks which is probably at least -- well, you tell them what do you think about it?

GOLDBERG: Yes. So look, the smartest in KJS (ph), whatever you think about their policies or their personalities, Republican politicians, people like Ron DeSantis and Glenn Younkin, they announced the 15-week cut -- you know, point and then just stop talking about abortion.


And it's worked for them because the 15-week cut off is actually pretty close to where a lot of American people are. The problem is, is that the Republican Party has no muscle memory to talk about abortion in a nuanced way, because Roe took it off the books as a legislative option for 50 years. And so now you have the biggest goofballs like Mastriano who fill the void, fill the vacuum, while the smart Republicans are just running for cover and not talking about it at all. And it is worth pointing out in 2016, you're absolutely right, there's enormous pushback against Donald Trump for saying that punish the mothers, which was an idiotic thing for him to say. The most effective and relevant pushback wasn't from liberals or the media, it was from pro-lifers saying, dude, you don't know how to talk about this. This is not what pro-lifers are arguing for, and most of the same pro- lifers I know and I know lots of them, they don't want to criminally prosecute women for having abortions. That's never been part of the argument.

Just in response to David, look, I agree, there's something called what Richard Hofstadter called the paranoid style in American politics. I just don't think the Republican Party is the sole manifestation of it. It is an American problem. And I agree that the Republican Party has a huge problem with the paranoid style right now. But there are lots of instances over the last 70 years where the Democratic Party and Liberals have been guilty of all sorts of paranoia book (ph).

CORN: Read the book and then we'll talk.

GOLDBERG: Fair enough.

TAPPER: I just want to get Laura's quick take on this because on Monday in Arizona, the Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell appeared with the university, at the University of Louisville with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat of Arizona. Listen to what McConnell had to say about her.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: She is, in my view, and I've told her this, were the most effective first term senator I've seen in my time in the Senate.


TAPPER: OK, what's going on? It seems mischievous. That seems mischievous (INAUDIBLE)?

BARRON-LOPEZ: No, you're -- it is mischievous. I mean, McConnell -- Senator Sinema and Mitch McConnell clearly have a very good relationship. She clearly enjoys and has demonstrated that she enjoys being a senator who works frequently with Republicans, to the dismay of a lot of Democrats in the Senate, to the dismay of a lot of Democrats on the ground in Arizona. And so, I think that we should not be surprised when she faces a primary challenge potentially from House member Gallego --


BARRON-LOPEZ: -- because he's forecasting that frequently right.

TAPPER: All right, one in all, thanks for being here. Again, David's book, "American Psychosis" available right now on And even better, go check out your local bookstore. Coming up, the top law enforcement official in Texas has been accused of running away from a subpoena, literally running away. That's one way to avoid getting served. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is being accused of literally running away from a subpoena. This according to an affidavit filed Monday in federal court. Court documents detail the process servers attempt to deliver subpoenas related to abortion access lawsuits. The server says he saw Paxton run out of his house and into a truck being driven by Paxton's wife.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is following this. And Ed, we now learned that a judge has squashed and sealed the subpoenas. So what happened?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is quite the story. Yesterday morning, this person trying to serve a subpoena for an abortion rights group here in Texas showed up at Ken Paxton's house in a Dallas suburb to serve the papers against the attorney general at his home. According to an affidavit filed in court, this person says that Angela Paxton, who is a state senator, that is the A.G.'s wife answered the door, and she said that the Attorney General was too busy to answer so the man waited outside the home to try to serve the papers a little bit later.

Then a little while later, he sees Ken Paxton come out of his garage. The man runs up to Ken Paxton and as soon as, according to this document, Paxton sees the man with the court documents, Paxton runs back inside the house. Then a few minutes later, the man says in this court document that he sees Angela Paxton, come out of the house, open up several doors to a truck. And then Ken Paxton ran back outside into the truck as this man tried to serve the court papers there at their home.

So quite the scene that was described in these court documents, all of this lasted about 90 minutes. And just a few hours ago here today, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, quash the subpoena. So Ken Paxton doesn't have to appear.

TAPPER: What has the Texas Attorney General said about this?

LAVANDERA: Well, it was quite the statement. Initially, he went on a tirade criticizing the media and political opponents for all of this and then later today, he put out a statement that because of perceived threats, and threats that he has received, he saw this situation as a threat. We should point out that the man knocked on the door and described himself as someone who was there to serve court papers.

But Paxton in a statement said, "I took -- I take a number of common sense precautions for me and my family when I'm at home. Texans do the same to protect themselves. He is lucky this situation did not escalate further or necessitate force." We should point out a couple of things, Jake. This idea of perceived threat and you know many people questioning and wondering why would he send out his wife alone to start the car before they drove off. We've also reached out to local police in McKinney, Texas where Ken Paxton lives, they said that during the 90 minutes that the man was there they received no calls for help at the home. Jake?


TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

Why one army veteran is biking 1,689 miles from Nebraska to Washington, D.C. We'll tell you his story next.


TAPPER: In our buried lead, that's what we call stories that we don't think are getting enough attention. A cross country bike ride to honor fallen U.S. soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and to raise funds for the survivors. Retired Army Colonel Chris Kolenda has now lost more former troopers under his former command to overdoses and suicides than he did to deaths in combat. Here's a look into Kolenda's solemn mission.



TAPPER (voice-over): 1 mile down, 1,688 to go. For most cyclists, biking cross country would seem like a grueling challenge. But for Retired Army Colonel Chris Kolenda, it's a solemn mission.

COL. CHRIS KOLENDA (RET.), U.S. ARMY: This bicycle ride is part of that just respecting their service and sacrifice.

TAPPER (voice-over): He say in 2007, Kolenda led a group of 800 paratroopers in Afghanistan on a particularly brutal tour. He lost six men, three of whom I wrote about in my book about the dangerous and deadly combat outpost Keating.

KOLENDA: Their deaths are my responsibility. You know, I feel that every day.

TAPPER (voice-over): 15 years later, Kolenda will bike to each of their graves to visit them, to honor them, to ensure that they are never forgotten. Their names even etched on his bike.

KOLENDA: I want people to know them as flesh and blood Americans and not just as names on the, you know, etched in granite.

TAPPER (voice-over): So Kolenda rides, raising money for both his units veterans as well as for a scholarship endowment in the names of the fallen soldiers.

KOLENDA: I want to do something special to commemorate their service and sacrifice. TAPPER (voice-over): Kolenda says he's raised more than $120,000 so far and counting. But this track is also about the other 794 soldiers in Kolenda's unit. As of now, he's lost more men to suicide and overdoses than to the insurgents they once battled.

KOLENDA: I like to call it PTSN, you know, post-traumatic stress normal because if you're normal, you are going to be affected by these experiences. There are people who are struggling with belonging and purpose and we want to get them the resources and support they need.

TAPPER (voice-over): Kolenda has painstakingly mapped out each mile of his 28-day journey, visiting the grave sites and families of Sergeant Adrian Hike, Specialist Jacob Lowell, Staff Sergeant Ryan Fritsche, Captain David Boris, and ending in Arlington National Cemetery for Major Tom Bostick.

KOLENDA: Our unit was 91st Cavalry (INAUDIBLE) Highway 91.

TAPPER (voice-over): But first Kolenda starts here in Spalding, Nebraska to pay his respects to Private First-Class Chris Pfeifer, surrounded by his loved ones and beloved community.

KOLENDA: Chris was always on top of it. And in a place like Afghanistan, when you can count on somebody to always do the right thing, that is absolutely invaluable.

TAPPER (voice-over): And with the cheers and support of new friends, Chris Kolenda sets off, determined to follow through on his mission. One pedal stroke at a time.


TAPPER: And let's bring in Retired Army Colonel Chris Kolenda. Chris, good to see you. You're in Des Moines right now. How many miles did you complete today?

KOLENDA: Thanks for having me, Jake. It was 80 miles today. So we visited Adrian Hike's grave in Carroll, Iowa, and I did 80 miles. Joe Herman, one of our guys who was at camp Keating provided escort along with his sister, Jenny. And then I've also got my videographer Seth Lang Bauer (ph), who's not only doing the videos, but also doing the SAG support. I couldn't have done the last 270 miles last three days without them.

TAPPER: And how's the mission going so far?

KOLENDA: So far, so good. You know, butt's a little sore, but I feel good. And, you know, we keep driving on. Yes, it's -- people ask me like, you know, why are you doing this? And, yes, there's a lot of things that go on in the subconscious, of course, and as I, you know, pedal in my bike and thinking about this question, it's like, it's love. That's what it's all about.

You know, it's love for the six paratroopers from my unit who were killed in action. It's, you know, it's love for the 794 paratroopers and their families, you know, many of whom are struggling with post- traumatic stress. You know, I was cycling across Nebraska and Iowa yesterday and going over the Missouri River and the Missouri Rivers glacier cut river. And you know, when that glacier moves through, it affects all the terrain around it permanently.

Combat is kind of like a glacier moving through people's lives but at a very high speed. And everybody who goes through that is permanently affected by it. And our troopers who are now entering the sort of midlife crisis period of their lives. When you combine that with all the post-traumatic stress that we all have, they're actually entering the most dangerous parts of their lives and we want to be there. They've had my back for 15 months and then some and I want everybody know that we got their back too as they enter this dangerous part of their lives.


TAPPER: Chris Kolenda, we're going to keep up with your progress and bring our viewers more in the future. Thank you so much for what you're doing. If you at home are interested in supporting Chris's cause, go to, You can donate, you could read more there.

And remember if you or anyone you care about needs to talk to a crisis counselor, please contact the suicide hotline by calling or texting 988, 988. There is love for you. There is help for you. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: The world's number one chess player who abruptly withdrew from a match after one move is now saying that his opponent cheated. Magnus Carlsen made the accusation against fellow Grandmaster Hans Neimann, seen here on the right. Neimann who has admitted to cheating in the past denies any wrongdoing. And while Carlsen has yet to provide any proof, he released a statement, quote, "I believe that Neimann has cheated more and more recently than he has publicly admitted."

Our coverage continues now with one Ms. Pamela Brown, she's in for Wolf Blitzer in a place right next door I like to call it "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you tomorrow.