Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Administration to Review Drug Classification of Marijuana; N. Korea Fires 2 More Missiles, Marking Sixth Launch in 12 Days; Kidnapped CA Family of Four Found Dead, Suspect in Custody; 36 Dead, Including 24 Children, in Thailand Nursery Rampage. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 06, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden just took a major step towards making marijuana legal at least on the federal level.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A campaign promise almost fulfilled, announcing today, the president, that certain marijuana convictions are going to be pardoned. How quickly will we see Biden's next steps on this issue?

And, world on edge. North Korea last night launching two more ballistic missiles. That's six in less than two weeks. How far will U.S. and allies go to try to calm rising tensions in the region.

Plus, a heartbreaking find last night. That California family kid night at gunpoint that was missing. They were found dead. The youngest victim only eight months old. What detectives are now saying about the person they believe is responsible.


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

President Biden taking his first steps possibly toward the decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level. He is pardoning all prior federal offensive of, quote, simple marijuana possession. This will clear convictions for several thousand Americans. President Biden is now also encouraging governors to follow his lead and pardon those convicted on similar state charges.

The Biden administration also says that it will begin to review the federal classification of marijuana. Right now, marijuana is still a class one drug, alongside heroin and LSD, which mean that according to the federal government, marijuana, cannabis, has no accepted medical use at the federal level, despite study after study suggesting positive health benefits which is legal in more than 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Let's get right to CNN Kaitlan Collins, our chief White House correspondent who's at the White House. Kaitlan, today's move is a step towards fulfilling a Biden campaign


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, a campaign promise that he made in 2020. It's a major shift for the federal government to take this position, and it's also potentially life-changing for thousands of people, with President Biden saying that he will pardon people who have been convicted of marijuana possession on the federal level. That is going to affect about 6,500 people, at least, Jake, potentially thousands more when you take into consideration the District of Columbia. That is based on estimates from senior officials who are briefing reporters in this decision that President Biden made.

And he faced some questions, Jake, over the last two years or so since he took office, about when he was going to take action on this particular step. And officials told reporters today that it was a decision that had been on his mind for some time when he is now moving toward doing.

You're right. It is not the full decriminalization that some people have called for. But it is a significant step, and a very big shift for the federal government to take this step, Jake. And he is also, in addition to that, encouraging governors to consider taking the same step for people who are convicted on state offenses, on state charges, to also take a step and look at the people who have been convicted of simple marijuana possession.

And, Jake, it might be that last but that is also incredibly significant. You talk about there when it comes to the schedule one drug and could -- asking the HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the attorney general to look into how that is considered, because, obviously, fentanyl is not even considered a schedule one drug and you've seen the deaths that that is caused, especially in teenagers in the United States. So, that's a major step there. We'll see how that review goes.

And then when the president is talking about why he was doing this, Jake, he said in a statement that sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession of also impose needless barriers through employment, housing, educational opportunities. And, Jake, he notes that while White and Black and Brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Brown people have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionate rates. And, Jake, he is working to change that with his decision today.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

Now to our world lead. North Korea today mobilizing 12 warplanes to fly near South Korea. This comes after North Korea fired two more missiles, marking North Korea's sixth launch in just 12 days.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has been tracking the latest escalation from North Korea and how the U.S. and its allies are responding around the world.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the North Korean peninsula, messages over the 38th Parallel have been conveyed in a show of military force. North Korea test launching two more ballistic missiles Thursday and the U.S. responding with a joint exercise, sending two warships from USS Reagan carrier strike group to the region for ballistic missile defense drills with South Korea and Japan after the latest launches.


South Korea says the exercises focused on the defection, tracking, and interception of future North Korean missiles. According to a CNN count, North Korea has launched ballistic missiles six times in the last two weeks. Most were short range ballistic missiles, but one launch earlier this week was an intermediate range missile that flew over Japan, the first time that's happened in five years.

And this morning, Kim Jong-un flying fighters and bombers for an exercise near the South Korean border causing them to scramble their own fighters in response.

BRIG. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Clearly, North Korea is testing its missile program. It's looking to adapt and the issue here though is that these actions are provocative. They're dangerous.

LIEBERMANN: With tensions rising, U.S. officials have called for Kim to engage in diplomacy rather than saber rattling, but an administration official confirms they've heard only silence from Kim's regime. The U.S. now pressuring two of North Korea's supporters, Russia and China, without naming them, at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The DPRK has enjoyed blanket protection from two members of this council. These two members have gone out of their way to justify the DPRK's repeated provocations and block every attempt to update the sanctions regime.

LIEBERMANN: Since the beginning of this year, North Korea has carried out 24 missile tests so far including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and claimed hypersonic tests.

The worse may yet be ahead. The U.S. has warned for months now that North Korea is ready to carry out its seventh nuclear test, a step officials and analysts say could come at any time.


LIEBERMANN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned North Korea that if they keep this up, what's ahead is more condemnation and more isolation. But, Jake, looking at this practically given the record- breaking pace of missile launchers that is not seem like a warning they are willing to heed. TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss is the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Admiral, thanks for joining us.

Today's provocation from North Korea, its sixth launch in just two weeks, under two weeks. Why? What do you think is behind the sudden escalation?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Difficult to know with certainty exactly what Kim Jong is thinking on any given day. We don't have perfect visibility and his decision making process. But, clearly at the very base level, he is trying to improve his ballistic missile capabilities.

He's testing ranges. He's testing capabilities. Clearly, whatever he want, he does. Whether it's successful or not, he learns from that, and the program continues to move on. So, obviously, this is at the very least, an effort to improve his capabilities to threaten his neighbors.

TAPPER: The U.S. participated in a ballistic missile defense exercise with Japan and with South Korea today. I assume that these exercises are at least partly because of a desire to deter North Korea. Doesn't seem to be working.

Is it possible that those exercises are also provoking North Korea?

KIRBY: Well, I think if you ask Kim Jong-un, he'd probably say they haven't but that's not the effort at all.

You're right. We are trying to make sure we can deter aggressive, provocative actions out of the North, but more importantly than that, actually just as importantly as that, we want to make sure we have the appropriate military capabilities at the ready in the region in case we need them. That's what these exercises are really all about.

Obviously, yes, we're sending a message that we're going to defend our national security interests and that we continue to discourage more provocative actions out of the north, but again, at our basic level, we've got to be ready to meet our national security interest, we have five of seven treaty alliances in the Indo-Pacific. Two of them, one with Japan, one with South Korea, that we take seriously.

And so, we've working on those military capabilities. You've also seen this, Jake, operate together with the Japanese, with the South Koreans and working on a trilateral cooperation. All three nations trying to improve our defensive capabilities.

TAPPER: I mean, you heard Kaitlan Collins reporting that North Korea is not even picking up the phone when the White House reaches out. Is the problem that the U.S. is now in a bad state with both Russia and China? Not that we're the bad guys in that situation at all, but is that one of the problems? Why is the dynamic so bad right now?

KIRBY: It's difficult to connect the fraught relations we have with China and Russia with the absence of diplomacy with Kim Jong-un. We have said and we've said it publicly many, many times, we are willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un, without preconditions, to find a diplomatic way forward here to denuclearize his capabilities, to denuclearize the peninsula.


And we're serious about that. But because he hasn't, you know, answered any of those entreaties, we have to make sure we have the military capability ready in case we should come to conflict, which of course nobody wants to see that happen.

Now, with Russia and China as you heard our U.N. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, say at this emergency session, these are countries that have influence in Pyongyang and fail to use that influence. These are countries that are looking the other way when it comes to sanctions execution against North Korea and just by dent of that, of not being willing to enforce the sanctions in place, they are enabling Kim Jong-un to fund and resource and try to improve his program.

TAPPER: Do you think North Korea's trying to take advantage of this moment where the U.S. is trying to handle relations with Russia as well as this situation in the Middle East amid the possible oil crisis and OPEC and Russia agreeing to reduce production?

KIRBY: Again, it's difficult to know what his motivations are or what the timing is here. I mean, it's possible that he's looking out and seeing and thinking falsely that the United States is distracted elsewhere and we're not going to pay attention to this. That would be a mistake on his part because as you've seen, we're not going to look the other way.

We are making sure we've got the capabilities in place -- the training, the programs in place to defend ourselves and our interests. The United States is big enough. We're powerful enough to be focused on multiple contingencies and multiple threats and challenges around the world. So if that's his motivation, he's making a mistake.

TAPPER: All right. Rear Admiral John Kirby, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Coming up, the Oath Keepers sedition trial and testimony revealing a member of the group was in touch with the Secret Service before the Capitol attack. Why?

Plus, from devastation to frustration for victims of Hurricane Ian with attempts to get aid turning into an exhausting process. Also, the prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia. New this hour, CNN is learning when charges could drop in that case.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: A federal judge in the sedition trial of five members of another far right wing militia group the Oath Keeper ruled today that the jury will not see a death list allegedly written by one of the defendants. The judge called it, quote, too prejudicial. The extremist group members each face up to 20 years in prison for their roles in the deadly insurrection.

CNN's Sara Sidner takes a look now at the explosive testimony in court today.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four jurors arrived in the Oath Keeper sedition trial. Judge Amit Mehta ruled on whether they would be able to see this handwritten note allegedly written by defendant Thomas Caldwell. It has death list scrolled across the top and lists the name of two Georgia election officials, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who tearfully testified to the January 6th committee about death threats they received after they became the subjects of a fabricated conspiracy about election fraud.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIAN ELECTION WORKER: there is nowhere I feel sate safe. Nowhere.

SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I don't go to the grocery store at all. Haven't been anywhere at all.

SIDNER: The judge ruled jurors should not see the note saying it wasn't related to the case and would prejudice the jury. Caldwell is one of five defendants and the only one not in jail. He walked into a court using a cane. His attorney is painting him as a severely disabled veteran who took more prescription opioids than prescribed on January 6, and was not part of any conspiracy to stop the peaceful transfer of power from President Trump to Joe Biden.

THOMAS CALDWELL, RIOTER: Every single (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in there is a traitor. Every single one.

SIDNER: Prosecutors paint a very different picture of Caldwell, playing these videos of him on Capitol grounds on January 6th.

CALDWELL: Today, I wiped my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on Pelosi's doorknob.

An FBI agent testified that Caldwell was able to walk to the Capitol without a cane and climbed over a low cinder block wall. Prosecutors introduced messages they say Caldwell sent to another Oath Keeper as to his intentions in the alleged conspiracy. They were sent in early December after the January 6 rally was announced. Attached, please find OP plan which can serve as template for future training action.

Caldwell allegedly included a link to purchase a zombie killer hatchet and wrote about getting non-attributable weapons. On January 6th, after the attack had begun, the FBI testified Caldwell sent a group message. If we had guns, I guarantee we would have killed 100 politicians, it said.

Then former Oath Keeper John Zimmerman testified. He believed Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes was in touch with a Secret Service agent in the lead up to the 2020 election. Extremist groups traveling to Washington for rallies after the 2020 election did have numerous contacts with law enforcement agencies. CNN reached out to the Secret Service for comment.


TAPPER: Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

In another January 6th case, a top lieutenant to the Proud Boys leader just became the first member of the far right militia to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with his role in the January 6 insurrections. Investigators say Jeremy Bertino was not at the Capitol on January 6th, but they claim he was involved in meetings and chats with Proud Boys leaderships ahead of the riot. Bertino's guilty pleas to seditious conspiracy charges will boost the Justice Department's case against other members of the Proud Boys.

And in Georgia, the investigation into the January 2021 phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during which the president asked Raffensperger to, quote, find enough votes to overturn the election. That could wrap up by the end of the year.

CNN has learned that the Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis is preparing to issue indictments in that case by as early as December.

CNN's Sara Murray is here with us following the case.

Sarah, where does the investigation stand now?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the district attorney there has made it clear she wants to wrap up her work with the grand jury, her investigative work by the end of the year.


We are learning that indictments may come as early as December. Right now, though, she's getting ready to go into this pre-election quiet period. We're told the grand jury has been working up until that point which will start later this week. They're still issuing for subpoenas, just calling for witnesses to show up for their testimony after we get past Election Day. We learned in a court filing they're going to move ahead with some search warrants. Of course, we're not going to learn the details of what those search warrants are seeking or who the targets.

But she has a couple of big issues she needs to resolve before the investigation wraps up. She's still trying to get testimony for instance from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She still wants testimony from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and she's holding out this possibility that she may try to subpoena the former president, Jake. TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, interesting.

Coming up, a bridge damaged by Hurricane Ian repaired in a matter of days but for other parts of Florida, recovery will take a lot longer. I'm going to talk with a top Army Corps engineer about the infrastructure challenges as the state enters its rebuilding phase.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our national lead, imagine going more than we got no electricity, with undrinkable water, schools are shuttered and in some cases you don't have a house in a more. Well, that is the reality for tens of thousands of Floridians who remain in the dark, literally, after Hurricane Ian's. Hard-hit Sanibel Island residents were allowed back for the first time yesterday. One woman surveying the wreckage of her, quote, dream home, told us that the instruction is in comprehensible. +

CNN's Leyla Santiago now reports for us the unimaginable loss and painstaking wait for help.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the line for help, people like Mary Fernandes.

MARY FERNANDES, FORT MYERS BEACH RESIDENT: Pretty awful. We lost our mobile home and everything in it.

SANTIAGO: She arrived really hoping to talk to FEMA, in time to make it to a scheduled surgery she's been waiting for two months for. On top of that, in a week, she has to leave the place where she is staying.

FERNANDES: We just have to wait and see, hope that they can give us something and we can go stay somewhere. We have no home

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My ref is gone. The shed's gone. My lanai is gone. And my car got flooded.

SANTIAGO: And way behind them, Mary Broomfield (ph).

MARY BROOMFIELD, HARLEM HEIGHTS RESIDENT: The sad part is that I've yet to see a government official or anyone that come -- came into our community.

SANTIAGO: It's a one stop shop set up by FEMA. Here, you will find the federal government state agencies insurance companies. You also find long lines under the hot sun, as well as overwhelming emotions and needs of all kinds, mounting frustrations.

BROOMFIELD: My patience is gone. People in my community, they lost everything.

SANTIAGO: FEMA says it will open other disaster recovery centers like this one in Fort Myers. Nearly 2,800 FEMA staff is supporting Ian's response efforts across the west coast of Florida where Ian hit. But still, some of these people feel that they have been left behind.

BROOMFIELD: I don't have to live in Sanibel or Fort Myers Beach to be one of the people that they care about, because to me, that feels like it's all they care but at this point.

SANTIAGO: We went to Mary Broomfield's neighborhood, Harlem Heights, with a loss on display on every road.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, McGregor Boulevard, nothing about Harlem Heights, so we felt -- definitely felt left out.

SANTIAGO: There are distribution points mostly by nonprofits.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: We are trying to provide and meet the basic needs of the people of my community.

SANTIAGO: As for Mary Fernandes, she never made it to the front of the line. She left when she realized she ran out of time to make it to her surgery. Time is not critical for those with dire needs a week after Ian left these people devastated, still waiting for help.


SANTIAGO (on camera): And, Jake, it has been less than 24 hours since Biden was in Florida asking people for a bit of patience when it comes to this response. But you can tell that patience is wearing thin here.

I give you two updates in the two other women that we spoke to. Mary Bloomfield from the Harlem Heights neighborhood is still in there. So, she has been in there all day waiting to talk to someone.

And then as for Susan -- Susan was able to go in. She had a bag with a new cell phone. She said that one of the insurance company's is going to help or get a car. FEMA is helping her with housing moving forward, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Leyla Santiago in Fort Myers, Florida, for us, thank you so much.

Let's talk to Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon now. He is the commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers. He's with us in studio.

General, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

So, you've got back from Florida. What is the most pressing sort term need for Floridians right now?

LT. GEN. SCOTT SPELLMON, COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Jake, first, I'd just like to say, on behalf of the men and women of Army Corps of Engineers, we are with the people of Florida and Puerto Rico, who have been impacted by this major storms. Governor DeSantis has asked us to focus on water supply specifically

in Lee County. The good news there is that the water treatment plant and sewage plant are serviceable and water has been restored to 95 percent of the communities there. Still some work to do on Pine Island. You can imagine these water distribution lines are underground. In many cases, still under water and underneath a lot of debris so there's much work ahead.

TAPPER: How much water per person do you try to get? I remember, this is obscure, but I was reading an old World War I thing where they were talking about how every individual needed one gallon a day. That was just for cooking and for drinking. Not for washing.

How much do you --

SPELLMON: I don't know that specific figure for these communities. We're trying to get the system back to 70 pounds. That's the standard pressure for homes in the area. We've achieved that with just 5 percent remaining to go for the people that are remaining on Pine Island.


TAPPER: You briefed President Biden on what you saw. What other resources do you think the Biden administration needs to deploy?

SPELLMON: Yeah. So, for us, it's additional -- we talked about water supply. We have over 600 of our experts in Florida now working on additionally temporary emergency power. So, Governor DeSantis asked us to focus on adult living facilities and water infrastructure. So sewage treatment plants, lift stations. So, we have a number of those generators already placed with more on the road today.

The governor also stood up our temporary roofing program. We've already received over 11,000 requests. And these are communities from all zip codes, from Sarasota all the way down to Naples. We'll get those to people this weekend.

TAPPER: So, as you noted, you're working to restore water in the Gulf Coast. How long do you think it's going to be until everyone has safe drinking water?

SPELLMON: It's hard to predict. We've got to get the debris off Pine Island. These are slow draining basins in Florida. We've got to get the flooding under control then I think we can attack the remaining leaks.

TAPPER: Are they still finding victims of the storm? Finding bodies?

SPELLMON: When I was there yesterday, the search and rescue teams and ambulance crews were still out.

TAPPER: Two days before Ian made landfall, you approved a plan to reduce erosion and flood risk along the shoreline of Miami-Dade County. What impact would this have for future hurricanes that didn't hit Miami-Dade? SPELLMON: We have a number of studies that will be presented to

Congress for this next water resource development act of 2022. Projects around the country that we're attacking these more powerful storms and of course sea level rise that we have been working to account for all of our projects for the past 12 years. This would help.

TAPPER: You're not a political guy. You're army commanding general.

Anytime we talk about climate change and the fact scientists say these storms are getting more intense, we've had more cat 4s, 5s hitting the United States. People accuse us of being political or bringing an agenda.

You don't have a political agenda. Are you seeing things getting worse?

SPELLMON: I'll stay technical. The example I like to use is Missouri River. We have 125 years of run off data for the upper Missouri river and we believe we have a good idea of how that system behaves and we built six massive dams on the upper Missouri and levees from Omaha, Nebraska, to St. Louis, to accommodate for those flows. That infrastructure served the nation well to 2011, when we had the massive flood on the upper basin, then just eight years later on the lower Missouri River where we had record flows out of Niobrara, the Elkhorn, St. James, and it overtopped nearly every levy between Omaha and St. Louis.

We know -- the challenge for the engineers is how do we account for the changing precipitation patters and sea level rise in our coastal projects and our inland.

TAPPER: So, you are seeing things changing in recent years.

SPELLMON: That's correct.

TAPPER: All right. Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

And to help victims of this disaster, please go to, learn how you can help if you have the ability to do so.

Coming up next, the awful tragedy in California. Family kidnapped at gunpoint and killed. The hint of a second suspect possibly involved.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Sad news, tragic end to the search for the kidnapped family in Merced County, California. All four family members including an 8- month-old baby were found dead in a rural area late Wednesday. Police say the family was abducted at gunpoint at their business on Monday and while a suspect is in custody, police have yet to file charges or discover a motive in the killing.

CNN's Nick Watt takes a closer look now at this disturbing case.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's the suspect. He looks up at the camera, takes out a weapon.

Monday morning, 9:02 a.m. Minutes later, the back door opens. The brothers Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh are ushered out with their trucking business office, zip tied, driven away. Minutes later, the suspect is back. This time, he takes Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month-old baby Aroohi Dheri. One victim's ATM card was used the next day.

BALWINDER SAINI, VICTIM'S RELATIVE: Please help us come forward so my family come home safe.

WATT: They never did. Their bodies found by a farm worker last night just hours after that plea. Slaughtered, authorities believe where they lay.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: There is no words to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident. I said it earlier. There's a special place in hell for this guy and I mean it.

WATT: Officials think all four were murdered. Uncle, two parents and their tiny baby, before they were reported missing, Monday lunch time.

SAINI: This is a peace loving family and running a small business in Merced area. They had been living this area for a long time.

WATT: Suspect, authorities say, is 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado. He attempted suicide after he was taken into custody after a tip from his own family. Allegedly caught on security camera Monday, back in 2005, he was convicted of robbery and attempted false imprisonment, paroled in 2015.

SHERIFF VERN WARNKE, MERCED COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: That investigation showed he was by himself and he knew the victims.

WATT: He is now talking to investigators.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: : Right now, he's the only definite suspect I fully believe that we will uncover and find out that there was more than just him involved. When we are able to release everything should anger the hell out of you on how things went down.


WATT (on camera): Now, we still don't know a motive that sheriff said that in cases like this, it's often financial. It's often greed, but nothing confirmed so far.


And, Jake, as you mentioned, no charges yet either. Worth noting that the suspect has been in the hospital getting treatment after that suicide attempt.

Now here is one just awful little detail. On Monday afternoon, one of the relatives of the people missing called their cell phone, hoping they would answer. They didn't. That phone was answered by a farmer who had found the cell phone lying on the road -- Jake.

TAPPER: Just absolutely brutal. Nick Watt, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Turning to another horrible story in Thailand where an ex-police officer killed 24 children while they were sleeping in a day care center today.

CNN's Selina Wang has the details on the massacre and how the shooter took the lives of his own family after the attack.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day care center teacher describes the moment a former police officer storms the nursery, pulls a gun from his waist and aims it at her face. More than 20 children killed during their lunchtime nap. A massacre inside a nursery in a small and peaceful town around 540 kilometers northeast of Bangkok.

I didn't expect he would also kill the kids, she says. Describing how he repeatedly used a knife to kill the children and a pregnant teacher who she says died inside the room. By a roadside, the body of a woman allegedly run down by the shooter as he drove away in his car.

Officials identifying him as 34-year-old Panya Kamrap, a former police officer who had been fired and was in court earlier Thursday on a drug charge just hours before the shooting. Police said he went to the childcare center looking for his 2-year-old stepson, discovering the boy was not there, the man began shooting and stabbing people at the nursery. Later driving home to kill his wife and stepson before taking his own life.

Ambulances and medical workers rushed to the nursery. Family members of the victims were weeping outside the building.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in a statement I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families and injured. I've instructed the national police chief to quickly enforce the law and all concerned party to give help and rehabilitate those affected urgently. The prime minister has ordered an urgent investigation into what is now the country's deadliest ever massacre carried out by a lone perpetrator. The country left in shock and horror.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Selina Wang for that report.

Coming up next, America's mental health crisis and its effect on teens. How the high cost of treatment is only contributing to the problem.

But first, or turn of the hit CNN series "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY". Let's take a look


ANNOUNCER: Stanley Tucci is back in Italy. There are more surprises to be found.

STANLEY TUCCI, CNN HOST: I've never seen anything quite like it.

There you go, dad, it's your family home.

Wow, wow, wow. The food is amazing.

Come on, that is amazing

ANNOUNCER: "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY", new season premiers Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.

TUCCI: You can start filming. We're just going to eat.




TAPPER: In our health lead, it is no secret that they have a negative impact on people's mental health, especially children and teenagers. But many of them are not able to get the help they need, next to a long waiting list and high cost.

According to a new survey by CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half of the American people, 55 percent, think that most children in teenagers are unable to get the mental health services that they need.

Let's bring in Mary Norris. She's one of the 2,000 adults surveyed by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation about mental health issues in America. She works for a nonprofit. She lives just outside Fresno, California. She's mother to two adult children and a 12 year old daughter.

Mary, thanks for joining us.

In the survey, you talk about your 12-year-old daughter and the emotional toll that the pandemic has had on her and her ability to adapt and in-person schooling. Tell us more about that and how she's doing.

MARY NORRIS, MOTHER SEEKING MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER: Thank you very much. First, thank you for having me. Yes, it has been a very big difficulty across two counties and she has dealt with the pandemic with two different schools, lost two grandfathers within a month and a half period to COVID. And now, currently, we still have yet to provide a provider due to the fact that now, they either want private pay or the numbers that we're calling a no longer in service, or they are no longer providing the service to a child any longer.


So it is becoming a very difficult situation because she is highly, highly emotional, finds it very hard to deal with not only the quarantine that we had to deal with just about two years ago, but the effects of that have just really affected a lot of the children around her.


NORRIS: People really need help.

TAPPER: It has just been awful for the kids. It sounds like what you're daughters going through is among the worst. Losing to grandparents.

Let's talk a second more about trying to find a therapist for your daughter because you would think in an era where telehealth, Zooming in to meet and talk with a psychiatrist or a social worker, with a psychologist and social worker, you think that that seems to have exploded in a good way, but you're still having difficulty, huh?

NORRIS: Absolutely. Apparently, it's due to the way the providers are not getting paid in a timely manner. But I can understand it. But in the meantime, our kids and our adults, they're all suffering for it.

So, yeah, that is very good point. It would be nice to have more providers like that who would be willing to use the telehealth, that platform most definitely.

TAPPER: Has it been group therapy or at school provided at all?

NORRIS: Finally, yes. Her last school, there was, which was in the Fresno community area, that unified school district. Now, here in Madera Unified, she is getting group therapy, although, that doesn't go ahead and suffice the personal one-on-one therapy. She needs to advance to a more competent level. More of the one on one that needs to occur.

TAPPER: You know, it's just a crime against this generation of kids. And so many ways, as if the school shootings are not enough. A year or two not in the classroom, that has really hurt them as well.

Do you know of a lot of other families going through the same problems?

NORRIS: Yes, I do, as a matter of fact we just last week had a young child who in her classroom happen during her time period had a fake gun. He went head to get his backpack until the teacher that he was going to shoot them.

So, there are three police cars there. The bottom line is I think that unfortunately the lack of moral compass is really evident there. It's only going to get worse if we don't go ahead and we make sure that we are active in addressing it.

TAPPER: I've said it a million times, I'll say it again. The adults in the United States are feeling the children of United States.

Mary Norris, thank you so much. God bless you and your daughter. And please tell you that we're all rooting for her here at CNN.

And remember that if you or anyone you know needs to talk to a crisis counselor please contact the suicide hotline calling or taxing 988. That's 988.

In our sports day today, the fallout continues over the investigation they found years worth of abuse women's professional soccer. More players are speaking out about how the league failed them, including the star player of the women's national team, Megan Rapinoe.


MEGAN RAPINOE, PLAYER, U.S. NATIONAL WOMEN'S SOCCER TEAM: Those people are in positions that have responsibilities. And they didn't fulfill those responsibilities. They didn't protect the players at all amidst, year after, year, after year. I feel like it is just like impossible to overstate that every single year, someone said something about multiple coaches, and leading multiple different environments.


TAPPER: The report which involve more than 200 interviews uncovered a culture of systemic abuse, allegations of sexual misconduct committed by coaches. It showed how the complaints were often just blithely dismissed. The National Women Soccer League has pledged to look into implementing the report's recommendations.

Coming up next, President Biden facing pressure from Democrats who faced after failing to get action from the kingdom that could help keep gas prices down.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a newly hired police officer for Uvalde schools is fired after CNN uncovers that she's one of the Texas Department of Public Safety officers under investigation for the botched response to last May's horrific school shooting.

Body cam video shows her arriving at the school and then waiting outside. Now there are new questions about why she was hired to protect children who survived that shooting. Plus, Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker responding

to the newest report that the woman he allegedly paid to have an abortion is also one of four mothers of his four known children. CNN is on the campaign trail in Georgia.

And leading this hour, gas supply is about to go down and gas prices are going up and Democrats are pointing fingers at the White House. President Biden calling the decision by the oil-producing OPEC states to cut production a, quote, disappointment. But he defended his meeting with Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, saying that was not just about oil. As some members of his own party suggest, the president perhaps got played.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, the White House is now grappling with a complex and potentially damaging set of geopolitical and economic challenges with no easy answers.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not mad. Just disappointed.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a disappointment. And it says that they're a problem.