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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Reports: 2 Dead After Missiles Hit NATO Member Poland; Sen. Chris Coons, (D-DE), Is Interviewed About Missile Hit Poland; GOP On Verge Of Slim House Majority With Several Races Uncalled; House GOP Nominates Rep. Kevin McCarthy For Speaker; McConnell Seeking Another Term As Senate GOP Leader; Uvalde Mayor: Acting Police Chief Should Be Gone By The End Of Week; EPA To Propose Long-Term Presence In Jackson, MS Over Water Crisis; Parents Seek Accountability From Social Media Companies. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, new CNN projections just in putting Republicans even closer to securing control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And a secret ballot vote today puts Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that much closer to becoming the next Speaker of the House.

Plus, CNN given exclusive access to the water treatment plant at the center of a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi. See exactly why the problems could persist for years to come.

And leading this hour, the breaking news, a reported missile strike beyond the borders of Ukraine hitting Poland, NATO territory. CNN has the first international news team at the scene. So let's go right to CNN's Matthew Chance. He's on the ground in Przewodow, Poland.

Matthew, tell us what new you're learning.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of big a lot of activity taking place here right now as the Polish authorities, you can see, they've sealed off this street here, which leads directly to the location, where the apparent rocket strike missile landing happened. They won't let us go any closer than this. But the Polish authorities have now confirmed officially within the past few minutes that two people were killed in this incident. Local residents who I've spoken to said that they knew those people, they were farmers working on a farm just a short distance from here, about 200 yards or so in this kind of direction, in a field basically over there. As pictures circulating of farm equipment that's been destroyed and those two people killed as well.

Locals have spoken to me about how they heard a huge, terrifying whoosh as this -- just before the explosion took place. The explosion itself rattled the windows of a local school. I spoke to the caretaker inside that school and she told me about that, the children are all gone home, fortunately, but nevertheless a terrifying experience. And it's one that could have implications as well for regional security, of course, because Poland is a member of NATO.

It's not confirmed that these are Russian rockets. In fact, the Russians have denied it saying that this is a provocation to suggest that these weapons are from Russia. But that's what's being investigated right now. That's why these Polish teams are coming to this location here. And it's, what, close to 11:00 at night here local time to try and establish exactly what kind of weaponry this was and who may be behind it.

TAPPER: All right, Matthew Chance at the site of this suspected missile strike in Poland, thanks so much.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Bali, Indonesia for us at the G20 Summit.

And Phil, it's still quite early where you are, but we're hearing President Biden has been briefed on this situation.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. It's just after 6:00 a.m. in what is expected to be President Biden's final day of his foreign trip, six day foreign trip. And it was early this morning when the President was woken up by his team and briefed on the explosion on the ground in Poland. Now, the President's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Polish counterpart, and the President himself has just concluded about 30 minutes ago, a phone call with the Polish president.

This has been a process that one U.S. official described to me as methodical as U.S. officials try and get a sense of what exactly happened on the ground. There has been no confirmation of the origin of what landed on the Polish side of the border, but there is an understanding and a very vivid one at bat about the repercussions of what this may mean. Obviously, as a NATO ally, the Article Five commitment that the President has been so unequivocal about over the course of the nine months of Russia's war against Ukraine, that really hangs heavy over everything here. But U.S. officials making clear they don't have all the details yet. And until they confirm exactly what happened, they will not say anything or lay out potential next steps.

One thing to be sure of, obviously, the President here at the G20 summit where Russia's invasion and war against Ukraine has been the central focus over the course of the last 48 hours, many of those leaders are -- have been closely united with the U.S. in the response to that war. Over the course of the last several months, the President has been very clear that he didn't want to do anything unilaterally in response to what's been happening on the ground in Ukraine, that will most likely be the case here as well, all those leaders on the ground. Now there are two events scheduled for the President today. We don't have any idea right now, whether or not his schedule will shift.

But we do know the President has been briefed, the President has spoken to his counterpart in Poland, so has the President's team. U.S. intelligence is still in the midst of gathering information trying to definitively identify what transpired here, but the President very awake -- very aware of what's going on and already talking to his counterparts in Poland and elsewhere, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly traveling with President Biden in Bali, Indonesia, thanks so much.

Let's bring in President Zelenskyy's former spokesperson right now, Iuliia Mendel. She's in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Iuliia, let me get your reaction to the breaking news missiles hitting in Poland. What are you hearing from your sources in the government about who may be responsible and what is definitely known at this point?


IULIIA MENDEL, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: Well, OK, let me say that Ukraine considers that this is the part of the largest missile attack that Russia has done to Ukraine today, because the missiles really were striking almost every region of Ukraine and easily could cross the border to Poland. But let me say that Poland has already taken the decision to increase its combat readiness of several units, military units that are situated near the border with Poland, because Poland, of course, is very concerned. And President -- Polish President Andrzej Duda is going to have another meeting of its security council tomorrow because of this.

Well, we are very passionate, of course, about that. And we understand that Russian missile already recently has hit the territory of Moldova, and so, possibly that it could easily hit their territory of Poland. Let me remind you that Russia already attacked the region of Ukraine, which is Lviv region, which is like dozens of miles from Russian border earlier, and there were hundreds of victims because of those Russian missile attacks on Ukraine.

TAPPER: Now, Russia, obviously, the Russian government lies, they lied and they've lied throughout this entire process. Obviously, they lied. They said they were never going to invade Ukraine to begin with, so I don't -- I want to ask this question acknowledging that I don't really believe them. But I should not they deny, the Kremlin denies that had anything to do with the strikes, they call this a deliberate provocation. How do you respond to that?

MENDEL: They said that this is deliberate provocation for the escalation. And let me remind today that Mr. Lavrov, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs left Bali today, the G20 Summit, and before that he had a very open comment to media that was saying another conspiracy, that the west, allegedly by Russian conspiracy was supporting the war in Ukraine, was supporting Ukrainian, some neo Nazi, quotes, "illogical government," which means that Russia itself tries to escalate the diplomacy, tries to escalate their propaganda thing. So, our ministry of foreign affairs already said that Russia tries to spread the lies that this was Ukraine air defense system that hit Polish territory, but we already denied as the government.

TAPPER: We should -- Iuliia just froze up there.

MENDEL: Air defense system.

TAPPER: She's back with us.

OK. Iuliia, there were several explosions just a few miles from you in Kyiv today. How are you doing? What can you tell us about that?

MENDEL: Let me say that right now there is another air alert in Kyiv and it started like 10 minutes before, and there are several regions that also have sirens in Ukraine right now. So today, there was the largest attack of Russia on Ukraine since the beginning of this large scale invasion. And the last explosion that happened in Kyiv was so close to my house that I had my windows fumbling (ph). I don't know if there are many victims, we know at least about one person who died that were residential buildings that were hit today, but -- they are defeated by Ukrainian army with the help of western partners on the battleground and that's why they're sending missiles to civilian infrastructure to kill civilians. And in this way, try to make us defeat, surrender.

Let me say that just in an hour before this largest missile attack on Ukraine, I learned that there were 14 Russian jet flying with the missiles. Each jet would have at least eight missiles. So we were counting that there would be 112 missiles. And Ukrainian air defense system, with the help of western partners, managed to shoot down 73 missiles. All others hit the civilian infrastructure, we have problems with the light, electricity, water, hitting in different regions and still hear that it keeps attacking. So definitely Russia behaves not less than as a terrorist state.

TAPPER: What do you think is behind Putin's latest missile barrage? Do you agree with the top Ukrainian official who says that this is Russia retaliating for Zelenskyy's speech to the G20?

MENDEL: Well, you know, Zelenskyy, at least, was open about negotiations for peace. Like I mean, he said, definitely that there were -- the conditions, preconditions for a peace deal, and definitely they were dealing not only with Ukraine. They were managed to stop a blackmail of Russia in different sectors globally, like for instance the world and the energy blackmail to stop this financial crisis that works around the globe, and of course to keep Ukraine safe and security guarantees for Ukraine. And of course about the nuclear threat, because this is something absolutely unacceptable.


So what we've heard that Russia absolutely reacted in absolutely aggressive way, and of course, let me say that they are very disappointed by the loss of Kherson region, which is my hometown region. And they see that Ukrainians are celebrating it and they can -- they need to retreat. This is already a systematic retreat of Russian troops from Ukraine, because let me remind you that they retreated from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson, so obviously they are angry. But this is only the Russia who is guilty in everything that is going on in Ukraine and actually globally with the crisis in different countries. And of course, with its defeat, because it meets the unification of the civilized world who fight for freedom, who fight, actually, our future.

TAPPER: All right. Iuliia Mendel, thank you so much, coming to us live from Kyiv, Ukraine. As President Biden is briefed on this suspected strike in Poland, I'm going to speak with one of his closest allies. And just in, CNN speaking with the mayor of Uvalde, Texas after new audio surfaces proving a top police officer knew that children were in danger but failed to act. Might this lead to more resignations? Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with more of our breaking news reports that missiles or rockets from Russia allegedly landed in Poland today killing two people. Let's bring in Democratic Senator Chris Coons from Delaware. He's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he was just in the region about a week and a half ago.

Senator, what do you know for a fact about this explosion in Poland? Was it in fact a Russian rocket or missile that struck and killed two individuals in Poland? And what's your reaction?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Jake, if this were an intentional missile strike by Russia on Poland, our vital NATO ally, that would be a major escalation. But we do not know, I do not know, at this hour, exactly what happened in the southeastern corner of Poland earlier today. Press accounts state that two people were killed when something fell out of the sky, either the parts of a missile that had been intercepted or a missile strike. So, first, I think we need to investigate more thoroughly and make sure that, we, the United States and folks in the international media know exactly what happened. And second, we need to give some time for our close and vital ally, Poland, whose national security leadership is currently still meeting to come forward and say what they believe has happened, and what response they're calling for.

Poland has been one of the strongest and best allies in supporting Ukraine, welcoming millions of Ukrainian refugees, several of whom we met with when I was in Poland, and providing a critical base for material and supplies to flow into Ukraine. So they are all in in supporting Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression. I think we need to give them the time to make sure this is thoroughly and properly investigated before we jump to a conclusion.

TAPPER: Sure. And I just heard from a different congressional source who told me that it's unclear right now whether it was a Russian missile or Ukrainian interceptor missile or both. But let me ask you, just devil's advocate, what's the difference if the Russians are firing missile after missile after a missile into Ukraine onto the civilian population of Ukraine, even if it was a Ukrainian Air Defense System that landed in Poland, it's still true then that Russians are firing missiles over Poland. It's not the first time we've heard of Russians invading Polish airspace. And also they're creating this entire situation.

COONS: That's right, Jake. The unjustified unprovoked immoral invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been denounced by the United Nations General Assembly, obviously, by the United States and our NATO partners. And recently, a vote was taken on the liability of Russia, Russia's responsibility to pay for the harm, the costs imposed by its aggression. It was overwhelmingly endorsed by those members of the U.N. who voted many abstained. But those who voted pro or con it was overwhelmingly in favor of liability for Russia.

So, whether or not this was a Russian missile or Ukrainian interceptor, the people who were killed, the property that was damaged, that's just one more outcome from Russia's unjustified aggression in Ukraine.

TAPPER: The tides have been turning in favor of Ukraine over the past few months on the ground. Just last week, Ukrainians won back Kherson from Russia control. Do you think these rockets could be, because there is, without question, even removing this Polish situation from it, there is a barrage, a Russian barrage of missiles against Ukraine right now, could this be Putin trying to shake up the war as an act of desperation? What's your take?

COONS: That's possible. When I was in Kyiv with Senator Portman of Ohio, we visited the headquarters of the National Power Utility. It's a single integrated nationwide grid built under the Soviet system. And the Russians have been targeting the power infrastructure, trying to put millions of Ukrainians into the cold and dark this winter. Winter is very cold in Ukraine. And the administration has just sent to the Senate earlier today a request for supplemental funding to provide humanitarian support for Ukraine, more military support for Ukraine, and budget support for Ukraine.

I'm hopeful that my Republican colleagues will join us in funding another round of support for Ukraine so that they can be victorious. The civilians who are at risk here from this latest barrage of Russian missile attacks in central and western Ukraine are partly subject to attack at military sites, but mostly subject to attack at civilian sites, civilian infrastructure like power and water.

TAPPER: So, Senator, let me just tell you we have some breaking news, the Polish government says that it is invoking Article Four of the NATO Treaty. Article Five of course is the one that says if one NATO ally is attacked it's as if every member of NATO has been attacked. Article Four is consultation with other NATO partners about what to do next. What is your reaction to that news?


COONS: Oh, that conveys that the Poles take this very seriously and they are calling all NATO members for an emergency consultation to come to a common course of action moving forward. That's a significant step forward.

I've been to NATO headquarters twice during the course of this conflict and several times as a senator and had the opportunity to visit with NATO representatives. We are very well staffed and represented at NATO headquarters. And I know this next step will be an important one.

I think that President Biden's leadership on the world stage strengthening NATO, strengthening the western response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, representing us at the G20 in a face to face with President Xi of China just in the last few days, and representing us at the Global Climate Summit in Egypt. All of this is a part of his leadership and strengthening NATO, strengthening our forward deployment of American troops and our investment in common security and common defense is a key part of his accomplishments so far as our president.

TAPPER: All right, Democratic Senator Chris Coons from the small wander state, Delaware, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

COONS: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: I had the new projections just in the last hour putting Republicans even closer to controlling the House of Representatives. And a major hurdle cleared today for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on his way to becoming speaker. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And topping our politics lead, a shift in the balance of power just in the last hour with two new races called by CNN. Democrats now have won 205 seats in the House, Republicans now have 216. That means Republicans are only two seats shy of the 218 needed to win the majority. There are 14 seats that remain uncalled.

Today Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy won his party's nomination to become leader of the House Republican caucus. Sources tell CNN, the vote was 188 to 31, that is 30 votes shy of what he will need in a future vote to lock up the speaker's title.

Let's discuss. So Gloria Borger, let me start with you. Both Pelosi and Paul Ryan failed to secure 218 votes from their parties during this initial stage to become leader of their party --


TAPPER: -- which is not the same thing as becoming Speaker of the House. Notably, they both had at least 200 votes, McCarthy does not. Does McCarthy have -- is there a risk here that he won't actually become speaker?

BORGER: There is a risk. But we've seen other people not get the required 218 votes in a private caucus before, you know, namely Paul Ryan, for example, who became speaker. So, he's going to have to have a lot of work to do, a bit of horse trading. But the question is, and I think Charlie knows a lot about this, the question is, what do these conservatives want, the Freedom Caucus?

You know, they -- one of the things they want is to be able to call -- recall the speaker whenever they want with, you know, just somebody coming on the floor and saying, oh, we got to have a new speaker, and then let's have a vote on it if the speaker does something they don't like. I don't think they're going to get that. But there -- he's going to have to give him something. And the question is, what? What would he be willing to do?

TAPPER: What do you think?

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I tend to agree with Gloria, he does not have 218 votes today. He can get there. But how many concessions does he make? What the man's are going to be made of him? Why would you weaken yourself to take a job that, you know, what -- don't give your opponents the rope with which to hang you, which could happen. And so, he's got to be careful.

And by the way, if he can't get 218 Republican votes or if no Republican can, that could actually set up an interesting scenario where you would actually need a coalition speaker that Republican and Democrat. In fact, after 2015, I've never really said this publicly, but before Paul Ryan stepped up, I had Democrats approached me, they were sent to see me about, you know, get some votes, we'll provide the balance, and it never took off and Paul Ryan stepped in. But the point is, this has happened in Pennsylvania, it's happened in Texas, but you've had these types of speakers who are elected with a bipartisan coalition. And that might force the hard right, those people who will never vote for McCarthy or saying they'll never vote for McCarthy, that might force them back into the fold if there is a risk of having to share power with the Democrats.

TAPPER: I mean, this isn't just academic, Nicholas. I mean, look, right now there are 216 Republicans, they're going to have a slim majority. But if 31 who voted for Congressman Andy Biggs, far right member from Arizona, if 31 of them, if they hold fast, then, he doesn't have the votes. And Congressman Don Bacon, who is a moderate from Omaha, he has said maybe there would be -- need to be a deal struck with Democrats where the non-far right wing Republicans band with a -- bond with Democrats and create, obviously, it would be a Republican, but a more moderate Republican speaker.

NICHOLAS WU, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think we're a long ways away from anything like a speaker Liz Cheney, for example. I think --

TAPPER: He said Liz Cheney's off the table. He didn't say Liz Cheney's off the table.


WU: I think it was very much a hypothetical that a lot of Republicans, you know, don't think it's anywhere near a possibility. But there is a real danger here. As we've been saying that Leader McCarthy might not actually get to 218 votes. He's definitely not going to get that from Democrats, even though some Republicans did try to reach out to one moderate Democratic, Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, to try to bring him over to their side, he rejected them.


But that's coming from a sign of weakness, not from a sign of strength. TAPPER: And this is the bigger problem for McCarthy, even if he becomes Speaker of the House, and you have to give him the odds that that will happen. This far right caucus is really going to have power with him. And as much as he wants to steer a conservative agenda that has to do with lower taxes, et cetera, they're going to be wanting to do all sorts of things that might hurt that agenda.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's the problem of this very narrow, you know -- that's -- remember, McCarthy was saying he was going to pick up 60 seats, right? That would be a different scenario. But now he has this very, very narrow majority. And so these people are really empowered.

And so I think, what we're going to see is, you know, horse-trading, him offering to give away his children's inheritance, whatever he has to do, right?

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE) they're going to do --

POWERS: Yes, to try to, you know, get enough power to be able to stand up to these people. But I think what we're going to see is that they're going to have a lot of control over him. And I don't see any incentive for Democrats to crossover because how could you possibly trust McCarthy, a, and, b, what could they even agree on? You know, that wouldn't repel the far right, that has much more influence over the party.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, there's a sequencing problem here. You -- on January 3, they're going to vote for Speaker first, then they vote on the rule's changes. But if you're a pragmatic governing member, you might say, hey, I'm going to vote for Kevin McCarthy. But I'm not going to agree to those changes with the Freedom Caucus. I'm not going to agree to that, then what -- I mean, the Freedom Caucus, they're not stupid. That's a two -- that's just a two-step dance.

So I -- that's another thing they have to consider, these rules change. The more that Kevin would negotiate to the hard right, he's going to alienate his more pragmatic members --


DENT: And that's going to create a lot of (INAUDIBLE).

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's another question here, which is that suddenly Donald Trump wants McCarthy --


BORGER: -- as Speaker. And, you know, they've had an on again off again relationship. After January 6, we all remember that McCarthy went to go kiss the ring at Mar-a-Lago so he could get his support for the -- this campaign. How much influence now will Donald Trump have even on the right on the Freedom Caucus to say, OK, yes, because Donald Trump wants you, we're going to, you know, we're going to vote for you. Probably very little right now, I would think which I -- you know, two weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought that.

TAPPER: And Nicholas, this is interesting thing going on in the Senate, where Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, two more extreme MAGA senators who are at least partly responsible for what happened on January 6. They are out there blaming Mitch McConnell for the Republicans not taking the majority, the McConnell people would say, Hawley and Cruz are the problem. They were supporting all these far-right candidates that had no chance of winning election in Arizona and Pennsylvania, et cetera. But their -- looks like there's going to be a challenge to Mitch McConnell's leadership position.

WU: It looks like there really will be. And challenges to a leader are somewhat rare in the Senate that they are in the House. This looks like the kind of contest that Mitch McConnell can win. He's set as such, he thinks he has the votes. But again, as with Leader McCarthy, even if he comes out on top here, will this be a victory for him, right? Will this be a victory that will weaken him as a leader?

TAPPER: It's interesting. And I think that they just changed the law in Kentucky. So that if you retire from the Senate, the governor doesn't automatically get to pick who replaces you because the governor of Kentucky is a Democrat.


TAPPER: I think they changed the law. I think the governor tried to -- what is his name, Beshear -- he vetoed it and now there's an override of it because they want -- Mitch McConnell wants the ability to retire early if he wants to retire.

POWERS: Yes, but he's -- he probably will retain his power.

TAPPER: Right.

POWERS: I mean, Rick Scott is not very popular, first of all, in the caucus. Second of all, mark the date where I had to kind of defend Mitch McConnell. The idea that somehow he is responsible and Rick Scott who ran the committee responsible for electing Republicans is not, is just bananas.

TAPPER: Indeed, it is. But it's a bananas coming here. Thanks to all.

This programming note, former Vice President Mike Pence will join me for a live CNN Town Hall, that's tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up here on THE LEAD, the water crisis that has plagued the city of Jackson, Mississippi for decades and now a plan to help just announced by the Biden administration. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with the CNN exclusive, now the mayor of Uvalde, Texas says he was shocked by the revelation in new audio obtained by CNN that Uvalde's acting police chief knew, knew that children were alive in Robb Elementary School last May and needed to be rescued, but officers failed to intervene nonetheless.

CNN Shimon Prokupecz is in Uvalde. Shimon, you just spoke with the mayor. What is he telling you?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, we just finished the interview with the Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. He tells us to obviously that he's frustrated, but he is shocked by this new information, as you said, and as a result of this new information that they are just seeing for the first time here in the city of Uvalde that the Lieutenant Mariano Pargas, who was the subject of our story last night, that he will be gone, that he will not be a lieutenant with the Uvalde City of Police by the end of the week.

He also said he's frustrated by the overall investigation that's being conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and he feels there's actually a cover up here. Take a listen to what he said.



MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE, TEXAS: I think if we'd had this, all this and I think if we would have had your video and what we saw and everything we saw last night, I think Mariano would have been gone sooner, in my opinion, would have been gone.

PROKUPECZ: Because you feel that this is direct evidence of --

MCLAUGHLIN: It just goes to show what we originally put him on leave for his failure to act and set up a command situation. And then as Acting Chief of Police, he gets information and did nothing with it that what I saw. This smells of a cover up to know him from the DPS's side because there's been no transparency, no forthcoming with honesty and so forth.


PROKUPECZ: And so, Jake, on that audio that we obtained exclusively, and we aired last night, you hear the lieutenant calling a dispatcher trying to get more information, trying to learn more details about a 911 call that a child inside that classroom call to report that students were alive, that there were also sadly, some dead children as well.

But it is because the mayor says because he failed, because the lieutenant failed to act, failed to lead and take a command and order officers inside that classroom, he wants him gone. Now the lieutenant has been on leave from the police department, he's been on paid leave. Jake, we don't exactly know what this means by him being gone. Is he going to be fired or if he's going to be allowed to resign. But the bottom line is the mayor says, by the end of the week, he's no longer going to be part of the police department.

And the other thing, Jake, just quickly, what I think it's important to point out is the fact that information is continuing to be withheld from city officials here in Uvalde is a problem because they're not able to make certain decisions about their police department, about people that need to be removed from the police department, about their internal investigation without this information. And they are only learning it because we are able to obtain it, we are able to report on it. And they are then taking action, Jake.

TAPPER: That's right. Shimon Prokupecz, you are doing, you are providing the transparency and accountability that the government and law enforcement of Uvalde, Texas are refusing to provide for those poor families in Uvalde. Thank you again for that excellent journalism. And honestly, I don't know how any of those people live with themselves.

Also on our national lead, a new plan just announced a deal with Jackson, Mississippi's water crisis, this comes more than two months after Jackson, Mississippi's main water treatment facility failed. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Jackson for us. Sara, the Biden administration has announced a long-term plan to help here. How so?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, look, this is the fourth time that the EPA Administrator has been here in Jackson. He's been here over a year's time, partly because of the situation with the water in this town. And the proposal is that the EPA is going to be here for the long haul. And what he wants to make sure of is that there is someone that has oversight to fix the water problems that have plagued this city that is predominantly black, that's plagued the city for years.

It wasn't just what happened in August where residents didn't have water for weeks on end that they could drink. But it is a problem that has gone over for at least a decade. According to residents. Here's what he had to say about how this would all work.


MICHAEL REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: People have lost trust in their government. So this will give transparency to the process. But also having a federal court in Jackson's backyard oversee and call fair shots is exactly what we need to rebuild, not only the infrastructure, but the trust that the community has lost.

SIDNER: So this means you are not going anywhere as the EPA Administrator and the EPA itself is going to be here to try to get things done?

REGAN: We're going to be here for the long haul.


SIDNER: So you hear him say they were going to be here for the long haul, that is the proposal. It has to be agreed upon, though, by the state and local officials. We are expecting there to be some sort of a vote on this which the mayor would then have to sign on the EPA. Will be right back in here overseeing fixing the water problem finally here in Jackson. Jake? TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner in Jackson for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a mother who knows all too well the dangers of social media and she's here in Washington, D.C. and here on THE LEAD with an urgent message every parent needs to listen to. Stay with us.



TAPPER: An important story for parents and kids now in our national lead, social media and the real-life consequences when it comes to children's mental health, in particular. A group of parents with children who've died by suicide, who have -- or who have struggled with cyber bullying are now trying to take action.

Joining me now is one of them, Kristin Bride. She's one of the parents who went to Capitol Hill today to urge lawmakers to try to hold social media companies accountable. She's the mother of 16-year-old Carson who tragically ended his life in 2020 after being cyber bullied on Snapchat. Since Carson's passing, his mother has become an outspoken advocate trying to hold big tech companies accountable.

Kristin, thank you so much for being here. I cannot imagine what you're going through and I appreciate that you are putting yourself through it to help other kids and help other parents to try to make some sense of this madness. First of all, before we get to what you're doing, tell us about your son, tell us about what kind of person he was.

KRISTIN BRIDE, LOST SON TO SUICIDE DUE TO CYBERBULLYING: Carson had amazing blue-green eyes, super affectionate, loved people, had a great sense of humor. He taught kids skiing and love to act and he has left a permanent hole in our family.


TAPPER: I'm sure -- and I'm sure not just for your family but at people who knew him. What were you and other parents who have been through this nightmare, what are you asking lawmakers to do?

BRIDE: We are here asking for KOSA, the Kids Online Safety Act to be passed. It has bipartisan support. And it will go a long, long way in helping to create guard rails for our kids online.

TAPPER: And what would it do?

BRIDE: Many things. One thing that it would do is require social media companies to have a duty of care to our children. Carson was cyber bullied on anonymous apps on the back end of Snapchat. And traditionally, every single anonymous app has led to teen cyberbullying and suicides. Yet, even though through a national class action lawsuit, we were able to get snap to suspend the two anonymous apps that were used to cyberbullying my son, immediately following two other ones, NGL and Sendit went viral, and are charging kids $10 a week for useless hints, for who is messaging them. And so --

TAPPER: What does that mean? Just explain what -- it's charging $10 a week for what?

BRIDE: Useless hints.

TAPPER: What does that mean?

BRIDE: So you get a message like, may have an iPhone 13, or you may be able to ride your bike to their house. And there's some questions --

TAPPER: Just letting them know about other people that they could Snapchat with if they want to.

BRIDE: No. If they're being bullied online, they want to know who is sending them the message.


BRIDE: And so these companies are charging an additional $10 a week to give kids a message or a hint as to who's doing it, but it's not ever going to give them the information that they need.

TAPPER: So you want the apps to be able to tell the people who is bullying them. So some action can be taken?

BRIDE: I want social media companies to be held accountable for their products. We know that anonymous apps are dangerous. We need to have a process where these products are reviewed, like every other industry before they go and get marketed to millions of young users.

TAPPER: So what about the idea that maybe kids should not have access to social media? That kids bully each other. I have a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old and I know doesn't matter what I say or what teachers say that that's going to happen. Not the parents and teachers shouldn't be on top of it, but it's going to happen. And maybe the anonymity of social media is too much for people under 18 to take.

BRIDE: That's a great idea. I would love it. We waited until Carson was in eighth grade to give him a phone --

TAPPER: Right.

BRIDE: -- with no apps on it. We talked to him about how you behave online. And in the end when he was being cyber bullied, he followed all of our rules. He never lowered himself to the levels of his abusers. And he asked them to swipe up and identify themselves so they could talk things out in person. And even after having these conversations waiting until he was in high school to have Snapchat, yet this still happened to us.

TAPPER: Yes. In Oregon, you helped pass a bill in June 2021, known as Carson's Law, it requires school districts to report bullying incidents to both the parents of the victim and the aggressor. Has that worked? Has that made any positive change in Oregon? BRIDE: I hope so. I don't have kids in the school system anymore. But I was really happy to see when it went out to all the school districts and it was called Carson's Law. So they are now accountable for telling the parents of both the victim and the aggressor of incidents of bullying.

TAPPER: And you've mentioned how Carson kept it a secret that he was being cyber bullied, what advice would you give to parents who feel as though they are trying to be as on top of it as you are and where you were? And they're concerned about their children's mental health. But, you know, there's just so much you can get from your kids if they don't want to share something.

BRIDE: Right. And in the case of cyberbullying, it's been reported that only 12 percent tell their parents because they're so addicted to their phones --

TAPPER: Right.

BRIDE: They don't want it taken away --

TAPPER: Right.

BRIDE: -- or they don't want to be seen as a snitch, yet it's also reported that 60 percent of kids are cyber bullied.

TAPPER: 60 percent and then --


TAPPER: -- obviously, one of the other issues there, the snitch thing is a big thing because they know that they tell their mom and dad then the mom and dad's going to want to do something and then reach out to the other parents and then blowback. You're a snitch, you're a baby.


BRIDE: Right, right. So, you know, I go back to the social media companies themselves and their need to have a duty of care like every other industry.


BRIDE: And every other product in America to our kids.

TAPPER: And they're making billions of dollars.

BRIDE: They are.

TAPPER: They're making billions of dollars. Thank you so much for this and for your activism and for caring. I really appreciate it. My deepest condolences on your son and may his memory be a blessing in your activism.

BRIDE: Yes. Thank you. Remember, if you or anyone you care about needs to talk to a crisis counselor, you can contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling and texting, 988, that's 988. And we'll be right back.


TAPPER: Our out of this world lead for all you night owls out there, the countdown is on for NASA's latest attempt to launch its first Artemis moon mission. The launch window opens just after 1:00 a.m. Eastern and goes until 3:00 a.m. NASA is hoping this third time will be the charm after technical prowess (ph) prevented two launch attempts in August.

The rocket also survived last week's hit from Hurricane Nicole. Thanks Nicole. Again the launch window opens just after 1:00 a.m. Eastern tonight. It is the most powerful rocket ever built and should be quite a sight.

Our coverage now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM", I will see you tomorrow.