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The Lead with Jake Tapper

McConnell Defeats Rick Scott To Keep GOP Leadership Post; NATO: Poland Incident "Likely" Caused By Ukraine Air Defense Missile; Trump Launches Third White House Bid Amid GOP Midterm Losses; Ongoing Investigations Loom As Trump Announces 2024 Bid; GOP Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Sits For Exclusive Interview; Texas Woman Denied Abortion Says She Developed Infection, Almost Died. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell can claim at least one key election victory.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A secret vote, and Mitch McConnell beats back a challenge defeating Florida Senator Rick Scott to keep his seat as Republican leader in the Senate.

Plus, top Pentagon leaders weigh in on that strike in Poland that killed two people, saying the missile likely did not come from Russia. But they are still pointing the finger at Putin for blame.

And Donald Trump launching his third White House bid with a cloud of investigations over his prior time in office, including the ones over his attempt to steal the 2020 election, and incite the deadly Capitol insurrection.


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

And we begin today in our politics lead in the race to 218. That is the number of House seats needed to control Congress, and right now, Republicans are on the cusp of snatching the House of Representatives from Democratic control.

Republicans need to win just one more uncalled House seat to gain a majority in the first time in four years, 11 House seats currently remain uncalled. Fresh off securing the vote to be the Republican nominee running for House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy is facing another key vote on a host of rule changes pushed by the MAGA wing of his party meant to curb the power of his own leadership, as McCarthy works to secure the speaker's gavel.

While in the Senate, the Senate pointing continues over Republicans disappointing performance in the midterms. Democrats kept control, and may even pick up a seat. For the first time in his 15 years, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had to successfully fend off a leadership challenge. He defeated Senator Rick Scott of Florida after nearly four hours of closed-door deliberations declaring after the vote, quote, I am not going anywhere, unquote.

Rick Scott who lead the campaign this cycle was urged to mound to the opposition bid by former President Donald Trump who made his third campaign official last night and then announcement you will be shocked to learn was filled with exaggerations, and distortions, and flat out lies. Trump's announcement coming just one week after the dismal results by candidates he endorsed in key battleground races. And before the January 6th Select House Committee issues its recommendations on conclusions about the former presidents role in inciting an insurrection to undermine democracy in the United States.

Let's go to CNN's John Berman at the magic wall right now.

John, what are the races that you are looking at right now to see if Republicans can get to 218 House seats to take control over the House of Representatives?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, any one of the races left on the board could give the Republicans the majority. We have called 217 races for them. The Democrats 207. Of course, you only need 218 for the majority. There are 11 uncalled races now. The Republicans lead in for, the Democrats lead in seven. Any one of the four that the Republicans lead and could give them the majority.

That includes California's third congressional district, which is a Republican-leaning district, R plus one. You can see Kevin Kiley. He is ahead by 10,000 votes with 56 percent in.

There are races where the Republican incumbents. California 27 congressional district, Mike Garcia, the incumbent there, is leading by 13,000 votes, 72 percent reporting here.

Lauren Boebert's seat still has not been called yet either in Colorado. This is a Republican-leaning district. It's R plus eight or so. She leads by 1,100 votes, not much, but 99 percent reporting.

Again, any one of those races could give the Republicans the majority. If they win, every race they are leading in right now, they would end up with 221 seats, the Democrats 214.

How does that compare historically to other close congresses? Well, you could see this past congresses, what it was, it was full, the Democrats with 222, sees Republicans with 213. That is right in line where we could be this next Congress. There were also close calls, 19 99 to 2001, and 2001 to 2003.

So, the Democrats, by the, way if they end up with 214, that would be a net loss of eight seats. How does that compare to history? We can look at that also. You could see also in the presidents first term, which is what President Biden is in right now, the average loss of 31 seats.

[16:05:03] Minus eight is actually a pretty good showing for a presidents incumbent party. But in this case, enough for them to lose the House, which, of course, is a significant, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. John Berman, thank you so much.

In the fight for leadership, the win today for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky puts him on pace to become the longest-serving Senate party leader in American history.

But, as CNN's Manu Raju reports for us now, despite the lopsided, vote only ten defections, dissension within the Republican Senate conference remains.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After trading blame for more than a week, amid the GOP failure to take back the Senate --

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The country is screwed for the next four years, because of this.

RAJU: Mitch McConnell reelected for another two years as Republican leaders, but for the first time, in his 15 years as a leader, facing each challenge, Republican Rick Scott. The vote in the secret ballot election, 37 for McConnell, 10 for Scott, one voting president.

What lessons did you learn from this and will you change your approach at all?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: First, I don't own this job. Anybody who wants to run for it can feel free to do so, as everyone has said. We had a good opportunity to discuss the various differences. And I am pretty proud of the 37 to 10.

RAJU: Behind closed doors for more than three hours, the Republicans engaged in an intense debate for the second straight day.

Some criticizing Scott's tenure, running the Senate GOP campaign arm. Others calling on McConnell to be more inclusive.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): What is our plan? Why -- what are we running on?

RAJU: And some say blame for the midterm failure rests with McConnell. Not with former President Donald Trump, who pushed Senate candidates that ultimately lost critical races.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): In Senator McConnell's view is that Trump is largely to blame, and that Republicans have an image problem because of Trump. I don't agree with that.

RAJU: What is it about Mitch McConnell's leadership style that you don't like?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): I look for something that tries to get us in a better place than where we have been.

RAJU: McConnell has yet to publicly blame Trump, but told CNN that certain people in their party fright moderate voters.

MCCONNELL: Their impression of many of the people in our party and leadership roles is that they're involved in chaos, negativity, excessive attacks.

RAJU: Across the Capitol, House Republicans preparing for their turn in power, even though their majority is expected to be far smaller than they had hoped.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We could have one bigger, and we will continue to work harder.

RAJU: But, first, McCarthy will have to win 218 votes in January to become the next speaker, a day after 188 Republicans voted to nominate him for the job, 31 voted for Congressman Andy Biggs.

REP. MATT GAET (R-FL): Kevin McCarthy couldn't get 218 votes. He couldn't get 200 votes. He couldn't get 190 votes.


RAJU (on camera): Now I just caught up with Senator Rick Scott, and I asked him if he has confidence in Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader. He said, quote, I support the Republican leadership.

Now, I also asked him about the decision by the Senate campaign arm that he chairs, not to engage in Republican primaries. Something that some critics say would hurt their ability to root out weaker candidates that emerge. He said we should trust the voter of the states. I asked him whether or not he supports Donald Trump's bid for the presidency yet again and he said that he is not going to get involved in the presidential campaign.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks.

Let's bring in former Republican South Carolina congressman and former Governor, Mark Sanford.

Governor, good to see you.

So, Mitch McConnell held off this challenge to his leadership in the Republican conference today. We are told the challengers knew that it would not be successful. Why do you think they went ahead with it anyway, and what do you think of Mitch McConnell's leadership?

MARK SANFORD (R), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Well, I mean, obviously, this was not the Republican unit that a lot of people thought it would be in terms of electoral cycle based on the way that these things have gone in mid term congressional elections against the party in power. So, you know, when you have disappointing results, there is a whole lot of highlight, and the whole lot of finger pointing, and I suspect that that challenge, both on the Senate side and on the House side is borne of blaming somebody at the top. So Mitch gets the blame, and Kevin will get the blame when his term comes in January.

TAPPER: But why do you think that there was this underperformance by Republicans? Do you think that it is because Trump got involved and endorsed too many MAGA candidates in battleground states that weren't able to win?

Do you think that it's because Mitch McConnell wasn't supportive enough of the MAGA movement, and their candidates? What's your take?

SANFORD: I think it's more the first and the second.


At the end of the day, as much as we might play inside baseball, most folks don't know who Mitch McConnell is, and the most folks don't know who a whole array of folks in leadership in both sides are on. They maybe know that they are a member of Congress, and that is probably a stretch.

I think what they do know is the impression that they left as they sit around the kitchen table. Some really like him, some really don't. But I think that there is increasing surge against him, and sort of the vitriol that has come with him, and I think that we saw that with a whole host of suburban voters across the country in the midterms, wherein they were not voting for somebody, they were voting against somebody. In this case it was Trump, and much of what he stood for.

TAPPER: You were a member of the Republican conference in 2015 when McCarthy's last attempt to become speaker was derailed. You have also been a member of the House freedom caucus, which includes many of the members who voted against him. How do you see this playing out? Do you think that McCarthy is going to be able to get a 218 votes?

SANFORD: I believe so. Again, I was one of the ones throwing cogs on the machine trying to gum it up, and I guess we did last go around. You know, Kevin is an incredibly personable guy but in terms of laying out a clear vision with the conservative principles, I, and others have found him lacking. And I think that that is what Andy Biggs saying is about, and I don't believe that they will prevail. I think maybe a couple of rounds to sort things out, but at the end of the day, I think he gets it.

TAPPER: All right. Former congressman and former Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, good to see you again. Thanks, sir.

SANFORD: Yes, sir. Pleasure.

TAPPER: Next, what gives U.S. and allies reason to blame Russia for a strike on NATO territory even though their intelligence shows the missile might have come from Ukraine?

Plus, a Texas woman who says her states ban on abortion almost cost her, her life.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the missile that hit a small town in eastern Poland and killed two people may have come from neighboring Ukraine in an effort to defend itself from Russian missiles.

As CNN's Sam Kiley reports, NATO allies are now scrambling to defuse the situation with many still putting the overall blame on Russia.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Death in Poland. Two farmers killed in a missile strike, a spillover from war in Ukraine. But Ukraine's president insisting that his country wasn't responsible.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I don't even doubt that report that I have received, from the defense command, I don't doubt that it wasn't our missile, I don't have a reason to doubt them, I am going through this more with them.

KILEY: In any case, there's no blame on Kyiv from Poland.

PRES. ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLAND (through translator): It was probably an accident, Russia attacked Ukraine and they shot quite a few Russian missiles to neutralize the attack. There is a high chance that maybe one of the missiles just fell on our territory.

KILEY: And it could have been much worse, a tragedy turned into global catastrophe. Because if Poland's civilians have died in a deliberate Russian missile strike, Poland, a member of NATO, could have demanded all out war against the Kremlin.

Those fears are now over as it appears likely that the Ukrainian air defense weapon was fired at a Russian missile, and hit this polish farm six kilometers in from the border.

The West is blaming Russia.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Let me be clear, this is not Ukraine's fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.

KILEY: On Tuesday, Ukrainians endured close to 100 cruise missiles on a storm of attacks on cities on infrastructure. Many Russian missiles were shot down, but Ukraine's electrical network was still hit with 7 million facing power shortages.

The internet was cut by a third and two people killed in Kyiv. Russia denied that it had launched against targets close to Poland, but the Ukrainian border town of Lviv, local officials say, had shot down ten out of 13 Russian missiles on Tuesday.

YURIY SAK, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY ADVISER: We have been requesting to close our skies for a long time now. And we are talking to our international partners about this almost on a daily basis. We believe, we are confident, that the air defense capabilities of Ukraine will continue to be a top priority, both for us and for our international partners.

KILEY: Ukraine wants to rely a lot less on these, and more on these 21st century Western weapons. To help it hold off Russia's aerial counter attack while it is recapturing territory on the ground. Heavy hints are coming about the tragedy in Poland may accelerate that process

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are going to maintain our momentum throughout the winter so that Ukraine can continue to consolidate gains and seize the initiative on the battlefield. Our NASAMS air defense systems are now operational. And they have had 100 percent success rate in interrupting Russian missiles.

KILEY: Ukraine's stated need for more modern weapons, now tragically proven in a polish field.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Jake, the President Zelenskyy is also asking for Ukrainian officials to be allowed to inspect the site in that Polish field, and to be allowed to see all of the data available to NATO. That, notwithstanding, though, I think that the general attitude here in Ukraine is that it does rather prove the point in that tragedy, that they need better kits.

TAPPER: All right. Sam Kiley, reporting for us from Ukraine, thank you so much.

Coming up next, Trump launches a new race to the White House, but could his legal troubles catch up to him first?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Sorry not to give you much of a breather, but the 2024 race for president has officially begun. Former President Donald Trump, kicking off his campaign last night at Mar-a-Lago.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, Americas comeback starts right now. In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.


TAPPER: If elected, Trump would be the second commander-in-chief ever elected to serve two non-consecutive terms following Grover Cleveland, though, we should note Cleveland won the popular vote every time he ran. [16:25:03]

And, of course, Cleveland never incited a violent insurrection to prevent Benjamin Harrison from becoming president in 1889.

Trump's announcement comes as Trump faces turmoil in the GOP, and many Republican lawmakers blaming the former president for disappointing midterm election results. "The National Review's" editorial about Trump's candidacy is one word, no. "The New York Post" buried the news and mocked Trump. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page has been vicious.

Trump could also face challenges from his former vice president, Mike Pence, his former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, who was quick to point out that he won reelection in a landslide last week.

Let's bring in senior political reporter for "The New York Times", Maggie Haberman, and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig will talk to us about the illegal ramifications.

So, Trump has a large chunk of his base behind him, no question. Many Republicans do not seem to be to sharing the same enthusiasm, as I noted. Pompeo tweeted today, quote: We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror, claiming victimhood -- which is a clear reference to his former boss.

How do you think that Trump is handling the reaction, which is not universally positive from even former supporters?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: As you know, what Trump reacts to is news coverage. And so, the news coverage of the speech has not been favorable for the most part, but I will note, on aspects of Fox News, even where they have been attacking him, they were pretty positive about his speech last night when they cut away. So I imagine it is something he is focused on.

But in general, he reacts to negative coverage, and he is not happy about all of these criticisms. I will say, Mike Pence -- excuse me, Mike Pompeo's tweet was notable, but he did not name Trump. So if Republicans continue to not name him, or say let's look to the future, and not really go directly at him, we have seen that movie before, Jake.

TAPPER: So, it's not enough to be, shade is not enough.

HABERMAN: Shade does not get you there. And again, you know, we don't know what things are going to look like in a primary, we don't know how many challenges, if any, he faces a new primary. If he is a nominee, I think a lot of people who you just mentioned not being with them may change the tune.

TAPPER: So, that would surprise me.

Speaking of other challenges that Trump is facing, Elie, several investigations and legal problem, some of the big ones include the investigation into the January 6th, into his handling of classified documents, the Georgia grand jury investigating his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Could Trump's new campaign launch -- could it have a legal effect on these cases, could it chill the eagerness of prosecutors or Merrick Garland, the DOJ, to go forward?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, technically, no. No legal impact whatsoever. You are not insulated or immunized by being a candidate for office. I also don't think this announcement is going to influence the prosecutors, Merrick Garland, Fani Willis, the DA who have to make these decisions.

However, as a practical matter, somebody who has tried cases, this is going to make going from indictment to conviction even more complicated, and I think difficult for these prosecutors. Because no you are in a position where you are going to have to ask a jury, and we need unanimity, 60 40, 70 30 does not count, 12-0 to find not just a popular, in some quarters, even if you have 30 percent popularity, former president, but somebody who is going to be a front-runner, potentially a nominee for president, that is going to be a difficult task. Really, I fault DOJ, I fault the D.A. in Fulton County for taking nearly two years, and getting into the punch bag Trump now.

TAPPER: Maggie, how much of his decision is predicated on that? If I run, he has announced really early in the election cycle, if I run this is going to make it tougher for them to put me in jail?

HABERMAN: That's definitely part of it. That is not the only thing. He has been talking about announcing a campaign since before he left the White House, but as far back as the spring. It is absolutely part of this calculation.

He believes it makes it harder on the Justice Department for all of the reasons I just said, to indict him. You know, look, the Biden White House has made clear that it wants, and President Biden has made clear, they want DOJ to operate independently. But whatever happened there, whatever Merrick Garland does, and should he not tell the White House Trump is still going to say, President Biden is having his DOJ investigate me and there are going to be people that it resonates with.

TAPPER: Elie, George Conway wrote in "The Washington Post" op-ed that he thinks Trump is running to avoid criminal prosecution. That is his view. He is a desperate man, a threatened then rabid animal -- this is Conway's words, not mine -- who could face multiple indictments over the next year.

As Senator Mitch McConnell said last year, Trump was determined to, quote, torture institutions on the way out, in just 2021, merely because he lost an election. So, just imagine what Trump would do to stay out of jail.

Could that not be used in an argument against him, though? Like, this is what this guy does, do not let him intimidate you into not delivering a conviction, or not delivering an indictment.

HONIG: I think -- I don't think that would be admissible in a court. I don't think that a judge would say that that is relevant enough. I think that one of the big questions here, is it going to influence Merrick Garland? Is this going to influence Fani Willis?

I've certainly been critical of Merrick Garland, I probably will continue to be. But I do not think Merrick Garland's decision will be swayed by this announcement. I think that his job is harder now, but I don't think he's going to back off an indictment or be more likely to bring an indictment because of this announcement.

TAPPER: Okay, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

In this note, join me tonight for a CNN town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

Coming up on THE LEAD, a popular Republican governor in deep blue Massachusetts, what Charlie Baker told me was one of the worst events of his time as governor.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: As President, Trump announces another presidential bid, his third, many in the party appeared to be turning away from him after the unsuccessful midterms were getting more insight from some Republicans, including outgoing Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a red governor and a blue state, and the most popular governor in the United States.

We spoke with Baker recently about the challenges he's faced relating to COVID and immigration.



TAPPER: Let's talk about COVD, because you brought it up. I'm sure the challenge of your governorship.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: How about the challenge of my life?

TAPPER: Yeah. In your book, "Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done", you write about the Holyoke soldiers' home. I know that is a very tragic story, and very tough for you and for the people who lost family members. There's an outbreak of COVID. It took the lives of more than 80 veterans.

You moved to bring in the National Guard in new management, but you write, quote, although, our team acted quickly once we understood the circumstances, we could not undo the tragic consequences. How did that inform the rest of your leadership as governor? BAKER: I mean, I guess I would say three things. The first is when we

realized on a Sunday night at 10:00 the significance of what was going on there, which was fairly early in the chain of events, we had a new team on the ground by 7:00 the next morning. And that new team really did say save dozens and dozens of lives by being there.

So we acted as fast as we could. The second thing, I called all the family representatives of everybody who died, and, I mean, I felt horrible about the whole thing. And the only thing I could think of was just calm. So I spend hours, and hours on the phone over the course of the next couple of weeks talking to people.

And then, the third thing we did, we said we would make sure that we put in place the strategy to eventually build a new facility, which is moving forward at this point in time, requires significant changes and the governance and the operation of the facility, which was a law that I signed this past fall and to try to write as many of the wrongs as we possibly could.

But there's no -- there's no getting around that at the end of the day, that was probably the single worst thing that happened during the entire pandemic to people here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

TAPPER: You were a governor that was forward leaning compared to other Republican governors especially, when it came to masking, testing, that sort of thing. What do you think you did right, what do you think with the benefit of hindsight you would have done differently? Because I know it was very complicated.

BAKER: So, I would argue most of the decisions we made, especially around employment, probably made nobody happy. We didn't go as far as the other side would have wanted us to go.

And in the end, I think we probably landed as solid, and appropriate, and in a responsible place. We did the shutdown on the emergency that I think pretty much everybody did, except essential workers in the spring of 2020. But by the middle of May, after hours, and hours, and hours of meetings with folks in the business community, and the public health community, we had a strategy we rolled out and we pretty much stuck to all the way through.

And it got a lot of people back to work in a reasonable period of time, reasonably safely, and I think that that, in some respects, was the piece that I feel the best about.

I -- you know, I wish we had been able to get kids back in school sooner. I thought the data on this one was pretty clear from other countries. And I also thought it was pretty clear from the parochial schools in Massachusetts. Parochial schools in Massachusetts never closed. They just follow the guidelines that we put out there.

I visited tons of them, and they had very few problems with COVID, because there was very little transmission between, and among students.

TAPPER: And they were a masking also. BAKER: Yeah, and they paid attention to all of those rules. But

here's an example of where the feds were a problem. The six feet rule, right? There were studies done in other parts of the country, excuse me, other parts of the world that said three feet with the mask is the same as six feet. It totally changes the dynamic with respect to what you can do in a classroom if you're actually three feet with a mask.

We actually did a study, we had one done by educators and researchers here, peer-reviewed, sent to the federal government, and said you guys really need to change our policy on this one. Because he is six feet thing is making it almost impossible for a lot of folks to get kids back in school, but with a mask, three feet can work.

And eventually, and I mean eventually, eventually, they got around to agreeing with that.

TAPPER: It was a very difficult conversation, and we started having it -- I have kids, so I knew how difficult it was to have them at home. And realize that they are not learning anything. They are not learning anything, remote education.

BAKER: Well, especially if you think about grades one through three. You cannot teach a kid how to read remotely, you just can't. So, one of the things that we did do in the spring of 2021, we did move teachers to the sort of so-called front of the line, ahead of some of the other groups that were going through the process.


TAPPER: For vaccines?

BAKER: For vaccines.

TAPPER: Yeah, which they deserve, absolutely.

BAKER: And in the last quarter of the year we basically said, if you -- you know, we also put in place the test and state program which was basically -- it was a state wide program at that districts could choose to participate in or not, basically everybody did, but we tested all of the kids and the adults once a week.

And we used to poll-test. So if one test in the poll came up --

TAPPER: Right.

BAKER: -- positive, we would then test everybody in the poll.

TAPPER: And how did your students do on the test, the big nationwide test that showed?

BAKER: They fell, right? They didn't fall as far as kids in a lot of other places, but they fell.

You know, we are going have to do a lot of summer enrichment programs, tutoring, exhilaration academies. Yeah, we're going to be playing catch-up on this one for a while. TAPPER: As long as you are talking about the Biden administration, I

want to ask you about the immigration failures at the border which -- thanks to some of your fellow Republican governors -- they have made their way to Martha's Vineyard and other places in Massachusetts. You are just pleading for help the other day to the Biden administration, what help do you need? And separately, what do you think of the stunts sending migrants, Venezuelan migrants fleeing communist socialist rule to Martha's Vineyard, what did you think of that?

BAKER: It doesn't solve anything. The letter that I sent to the Biden administration included a number of key points. But the two big ones were, number one, they have to get more expensive about work. You cannot, basically the way it works now is that there are certain groups, and it is a small number, who can actually get a work permit while they are processing their paperwork associated with their asylum status, right?

But a bunch of the folks who've been coming to Massachusetts are in those narrow groups. So these people, basically, are here, okay? They fled in many cases, horrible circumstances and situations from the country they were in. They would like to work, but they do not qualify under the current criteria that the federal government is using.

TAPPER: And I would imagine if Massachusetts is like the rest of the country, you have a labor shortage as well.

BAKER: We do, yes. It would make a very big difference. And if people -- it was the first thing they started talking to me about, how many of these people are qualified to work? The answer is, under the current rule, not many. It would be 180 days before you even start the process.

TAPPER: See, but I could hear a Republican governor somewhere else and why isn't he talking about border security? Why isn't he talking about sending more ICE agents to the border?

BAKER: I'm all in on border security. I think that, you know, you cannot have a country if you do not have a border. It is that simple.

TAPPER: But you don't have to see those issues up here, the border security issues?

BAKER: Except -- except through, I mean, I have talked to some of the governors along the border down there who were enormously frustrated about the situation there. And it all falls back to the inability of our friends in Washington to come up with some kind of policy on what the national policy should be with respect to immigration on the border. I get that it is a tough issue for both parties, all right?

TAPPER: But it's not really --

BAKER: That is a perfect example of where if you would have just talked to those almost 50 percent of voters now who are uninvolved, and swing votes in practically every election, if you said to them, do you think the United States should have a modern-day policy with respect to how we handle immigration, the answer would be yes. And you think the party should be willing to give up a little bit of the edge they get in terms of enthusiasm from the edges in their own parties to try to answer this question? The answer would be yes.

TAPPER: So, let me push back a little bit, because I have been in Washington so long, and I've covered attempts to deal with this problem.

BAKER: Yeah.

TAPPER: George W. Bush, who put a lot on the line for this, Barack Obama did not put as much but he tried to, and the problem is that you can create a big comprehensive bill that adds a ton of border security. One of the reasons Republicans would be able to snipe at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for voting for the wall was because they supported this compromise. And if you get through the Senate with people like Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio, and every time it would be killed in the House by Republican House members, every time, who would not even bring it up for a vote when they controlled the House, because they were afraid that Freedom Caucus, the right-wing, would undo them. And that happened over and over and over.

Yes, I agree it is a tough issue for both parties. Yes, I agree with both parties have demagogued it. But the reason that we haven't had an immigration bill since Ronald Reagan, a major one, it's because House Republican leadership has been terrified of Republican voters. Terrified.

BAKER: Well, then start on the margins. Some of the things associated with work.


I mean, can we really all be against work?

TAPPER: They're going to call that amnesty. That's what they are going to call that.

BAKER: Work.


BAKER: Work is amnesty.

TAPPER: I am not saying that I agree with it, but I am saying that that is going to be the argument.

BAKER: Some -- for some, it will be the argument, but if there is one message in Tuesday's election, it was, you folks need to figure some of that stuff out because what you are doing isn't working.

TAPPER: I agree with that 100 percent. One of the issues I think that's interesting about assuming Kevin McCarthy becomes the next speaker again, I still don't know if that is going to happen, but assuming it does, because so many voters were paying tension and rejected extremist candidates, one of the ironies is, because all those extremists were defeated, that is actually going to empower the extremists in that Republican caucus, that exist right now, because Kevin McCarthy, if he has the votes, at least three or four votes, and Marjorie Taylor Greene's of the world are going to have more power because he needs their vote even more.

Does that worry you? I mean, the message you are saying is pleased stop listening to the wackos. But I think he's going to be able to. I don't know that he's -- the Charlie Baker of the Republican House caucus.

BAKER: I keep coming back to this notion that in the end, this is supposed to be a business about progress. But I think the thing that is interesting to me about all of this is, what people really want is progress, right? You don't have to do the whale if you just did a whole bunch of, you know, smaller bills that demonstrated progress and prove points that you actually delivered on those things and made them work. I think you'd get more -- I think you'd get farther than you would by going for the big things all the time.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Governor Baker.

Coming up next, a Texas woman who says she almost lost her life because of her state's ban on abortion.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead now, a new push by Democrats to try to carve out exceptions to the strict Texas abortion ban. According to "The Texas Tribune", state Democrats will introduce two bills in January. One will call for an exception for rape and another to clarify when a mother's life is in risk, which is a current exception in the ban, though vaguely worded.

A Texas woman meanwhile tells CNN that the current law not only put her life in danger but because of it, she will never be able to carry a child.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has their story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amanda and Josh Zurawski met in preschool, dated in high school, and three years ago they married in Texas. They were thrilled to start a family.

Then in August, when Amanda was 18 weeks, just four months pregnant, her water broke. Losing the amniotic fluid, her baby needed to survive. Her doctor told her.

AMANDA ZURAWSKI, TREATMENT DELAYED BECAUSE OF TEXAS LAW: You are 100 percent sure going to lose your baby, we kept asking, is there anything we can do? Is there anything we can do? The answer was, no.

COHEN: And then, as she would later write on Instagram, the nightmare got worse. Her doctor said, because of anti-abortion laws in Texas, they couldn't terminate the pregnancy, even though Amanda was at a high risk for developing a life-threatening infection.

Texas law allows for abortion if the mother has a life threatening physical condition that places her at risk of death or substantial impairment. But Texas lawmakers haven't spelled out what that means. They haven't said exactly what in abortion can be provided.

A few days later, Amanda did develop an infection.

A. ZURAWSKI: I was shaking, my teeth were chattering, I was trying to tell Josh that I didn't feel good.

JOSH ZURAWSKI, AMANDA'S HUSBAND: Very quickly, she went downhill, very, very fast. She was in a state that I've never seen her.

COHEN: The bacterial infection spreading through her body could've been prevented if she had been provided and abortion.

J. ZURAWSKI: These barbaric laws prevented her from getting any amount of health care when she needed it.

COHEN: Finally, when her temperature hit 103 degrees, her doctors terminated the pregnancy. Amanda was still sick. Her blood pressure crashed and she needed a blood transfusion.

A. ZURAWSKI: There was a lot of commotion and I said, what is going on? They said, where we bring you to the ICU. I said, why? They said, you are developing symptoms of sepsis.

J. ZURAWSKI: That was when I was really scared I was going to lose her.

COHEN: They named their daughter Willow, her ashes in this necklace. And now, Amanda may not be able to have another child because her uterus is so scarred from the infection, an infection that didn't have to happen.

J. ZURAWSKI: A man almost died, that's not pro-life. Amanda will have challenges in the future having more kids. That's not pro-life.

A. ZURAWSKI: Nothing about it feels pro-life.

COHEN: Now, Amanda and Josh left heartbroken in the aftermath of Texas's antiabortion laws.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.


TAPPER: CNN reached out to the Texas legislators who sponsored that states anti-abortion law for the response to this couple's story. Not one of them responded. The couple also shared the story in a political ad for Beto O'Rourke, who we should note run and lost his bid for Texas governor. The Zurawskis hope to keep speaking out in hopes of changing this Texas law.

Coming up next, to the site of that strike in Poland and the Ukrainian president insisting that the missile did not come from his side of the border.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a red card for Qatar. Millions across the globe will tune in on Sunday for the World Cup. We're going to shine a spotlight before kickoff on a series of scandals in Qatar that the world has turned a blind eye to for years.

Plus, a murder mystery in a college town. There is no suspect in custody and police released almost no information about the killing of four university students. Now, the victims' families are coming forward and demanding answers.