Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

GOP Leaders Deciding Which Members Will Serve On Key Committees; House GOP Create Select Committee To Investigate "Weaponization" Of DOJ; Garland Weighs Next Steps Over Biden Classified Documents; Storms Continue To Pummel Northern California Today; Fight For Eastern Ukrainian Town Appears To Be In Final Stages; Psychologists Warn Of App's Threat To Young People's Mental Health. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 11, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: So, that's great. I mean, it seems like they fixed some of their problems.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yeah, they fixed some of them. I thought it was a great show. I enjoyed it. I watched it. I watched the Golden Globe, like sat down and looked at the screen.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You actually stayed up and watched?

BLACKWELL: I did. You know, that's new for me. But I did. I did watch it. I enjoyed it.

ELAM: New Victor, new you.


CAMEROTA: New Year, new you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Stephanie.

CAMEROTA: Stephanie, thanks a lot.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Can't blame Southwest for this one.

THE LEAD starts right now.

System meltdown. The FAA tries to get flight backs on track after a pilot notification system failed colossally. What caused the massive outage that led to massive delays and cancellations?

And the dangers of TikTok. Beyond suspicions that the Chinese government can use it to access your data, this time, how according to one study the addictive content puts teenagers, particularly teen girls at risk of depression.

But first, Republicans rolling out committee chairmanships and assignments with some interesting and provocative picks, while the notorious Congressman George Santos is denied his first choice for committee seat while his fellow Republicans begin to call for his resignation.


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

We start today with our politics lead, major decisions underway right now on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers say their party's steering committee is meeting today to decide which Republican members will sit on the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives. And it is giving us all new insights into the deal set now Speaker Kevin McCarthy may have made with his hard-line opponents to get their votes and secure the gavel, as four of the previous holdouts who voted against McCarthy on valid after ballot, today's scored committed committee seats.

Also on Capitol Hill today, the new leader of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee is setting his sights on bank accounts of members of the Biden family accused of cashing in on their last name. We'll have more on that in just a moment.

We're going to start with CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, who has a closer look in McCarthy's strategy as he chooses which Republicans to reward.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Republicans behind the scenes crafting their strategy for the next two years.

And working to implement the deals Kevin McCarthy had to cut to win the speakership. To win over his holdouts, McCarthy agreed to name more members of the hard rate freedom caucus to serve on the most powerful committees in the House, giving them more sway to shape their party's agenda, including two who flipped the GOP leader, Andrew Clyde, and Michael Cloud, to serve on the committee that funds the government.

REP. BARRY LOUDERMIL (R-GA): We are looking at the different ideas and philosophies and ideologies, and make sure that asked the bills come out of committee they already reflect the entire conference.

RAJU: McCarthy, planning to reward some of his allies, including fire-brand Marjorie Taylor Greene who lost her spots in 2021 when Democrats punished her over her past controversies.

And they can give you that assurance to be on the Oversight?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Well, I have assurance to be on committees, but I haven't been promised any committees. RAJU: As McCarthy is already selected his committee chairman, and

perhaps an aggressive investigative agenda, his biggest test could be navigating another key aspects of his deal, funding the federal government and raising the national debt limit.

REP. DUSTY JORDAN (R-SD): That is going to mean some tension with the Senate. That is going to be some tension with the other party. But I'm not concerned about the tension. What I am concerned about is a country that has been engaged in financial irresponsibility for so long.

RAJU: According to a slide obtained by CNN, McCarthy deal says the House GOP will reject any negotiations with the Senate and funding the government if the levels are above GOP demands, and saying that the House will not agree to raise a debt limit to avoid a debt default without commensurate physical reforms, setting up a major showdown with the White House.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): And if you are going to ask for an increase in the limit, at some point in time, you got to sit down and say, why are we hitting the limit?

RAJU: As all GOP leaders grappling with a major headache. Freshman Congressman George Santos, facing GOP calls back home to resign, after lying about his past. But if he steps aside, it would set up a special election in a New York district that Democrats could flip.

McCarthy, for now, siding with Santos.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: But right now, the voters have a voice in this decision. It's not what people pick and choose based upon somebody's (INAUDIBLE). So he will continue to serve.


RAJU (on camera): George Santos wanted a seat on the House Financial Services Committee but he did not get that, but McCarthy indicating that he would get other lower profile committees. Now, we're also learning, Jake, about some of the rewards he gave to some members of the House Freedom Caucus. That is that hard right groups. We are learning that 16 members of the House Freedom Caucus got spots on the four of the top committees.


That includes six of the holdouts who initially voted against McCarthy. But now they are being rewarded for seats on the Appropriations Committee, Financial Services Committee, as the other major panels will also be decided in the days ahead. They will be represented there, as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

Also in our politics lead today, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee wants some of the financial records of members of the Biden family.

Congressman James Comer of Kentucky asked the Treasury Department to turn over bank information for President Biden's son Hunter, as well as the president's businessman brother James, known as Jimmy, and several other family associates who are accused of profiting off the Biden family name and connections.

As CNN's Sara Murray reports for us now, Republicans now claimed some of those deals could potentially compromise President Biden.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Oversight Chair James Comer wasting no time launching his long promised probe into the Biden family.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): I want to be clear. This is an investigation of Joe Biden. And that's where the committee will focus.

MURRAY: Comer demanding financial records from the U.S. Treasury Department, and public testimony from former Twitter executives after the social media company temporarily suppressed a story about Hunter Biden and his laptop in 2020. The letters call for bank activity reports for President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, the president's brother, James Biden, and a handful of associates and related companies, as well as any communications between the White House and Treasury.

The Kentucky Republican trying to make a case that foreign business deals by Biden family members could compromise the president.

COMER: What is the Biden family business? I would argue it's influence peddling. And Joe Biden was not truthful with the American people during the presidential campaign when he said he had no idea what his family was involved in.

MURRAY: But that is merely an allegation, one the newly minted chairman has yet to prove. And Joe Biden has denied playing any role in his son's overseas deals.

JOE BIDEN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.

MURRAY: The bank reports known as suspicious activity reports Comer is clamoring for don't necessarily indicate wrongdoing. Financial institutions filed millions annually, and few lead to law enforcement inquiries.

A White House spokesman dismissed the GOP moves as political stunts driven by the most extreme MAGA members of their caucus in an effort to get attention on Fox News.

As Republicans flex their new investigative powers, they've also established a new select subcommittee focused on the, quote, weaponization of the federal government, and particularly DOJ and the FBI. REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): There is going to be a select subcommittee

that is going to focus on that. We've got 14 whistleblowers come talk to us about how political that places become.

MURRAY: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pointing to the panel as a vehicle to delve into the classified records recently found in President Joe Biden's former private office.

MCCARTHY: Why does his Department of Justice treat people differently? Every time we find something that comes out before the election dealing with Biden's family, it is pushed under the rug. It's called a lie.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Jake, we are still waiting to see who else is going to end up on the oversight committee, as well as the subcommittee on the weaponization of government. But we are hearing today from Jamie Raskin who is the top Democrat on oversight. He is slamming James Comer already for pursuing debunked and hyper-partisan conspiracy theories on the Biden family -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.

Elie, let's start this new select committee designed to investigate what they call, the Republicans call, the weaponization of the Justice Department and the FBI. Is this a legitimate line of inquiry, do you think?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it is, Jake. I reject the underlying premise that DOJ has been weaponized.

First of all, is DOJ investigating Donald Trump? You bet. As Donald Trump engaged in conduct that requires investigation? Absolutely.

And by the way, you know who else DOJ is investigating right now? Joe Biden. You know who else they're investigating right now? Hunter Biden.

Now, look, the attorney general is a political appointee of the president. But when it gets vetted through the Senate, the main thing he's being vetted for as well as person maintained a political independence. But I think it is really important keep in mind, the vast majority of people who work at DOJ do not care about politics. I was there, for public administration, Democratic administration. It made zero difference what so ever into the way we went about our cases.

So I reject the basic premise that there has been a weaponization to begin with.

TAPPER: What happens if Attorney General Garland or others at the Justice Department including the FBI just refused to cooperate with this committee? HONIG: First of all, I think Merrick Garland can, should, and must refuse to cooperate if he is asked about specific pending criminal investigations. If he crosses that line, he will jeopardize those investigations, and he will jeopardize the reputation of the people who are being investigated. They are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

If Merrick Garland refuses, then this new committee can hold him in contempt of Congress. That committee would have to vote for it, then the full house without a vote for it. The catch is, it would then go where for prosecution? To the Department Justice. So it is only going to be symbolic.

And, Jake, there is some history here.


We manage to go 230 some years in our history without ever having an attorney general held in contempt. However, Eric Holder was then held in contempt in 2012. Bill Barr was held in contempt in 2019. Of course, they're never prosecuted. But we will see if Merrick Garland was willing to have his name added to that list.

TAPPER: How much do you think -- I mean, do you not think that there's anything worth investigating here when it comes to potentially shady deals or ethically questionable ones by Hunter Biden, by Jimmy Biden who's made a lot of money, you know, while his brother was becoming a very prominent politician? Or do you think it's purely politics?

HONIG: No, I think there's absolutely a good faith basis to investigate. But I think the investigations need to be kept separate.

First of all, DOJ has every right to investigate Hunter Biden for his business dealings. They are doing that. They have been doing that for several years now. That case is ongoing in the district of Delaware.

Congress is free to investigate as well. I believe in broad oversight powers of Congress. But what they are not free to do in my view, and I think constitutionally in terms of separation of powers is dragged in the attorney general and say, okay, Mr. Attorney General, where are you in your criminal mastication? Open up your books. Tell us about that. That I think is a line that can be crossed.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the request from the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee after classified documents were found at Joe Biden's private office.

Plus, a temporary break in the rain out west. But the damage is mounting. The moment one west coaster said felt like an earthquake during the storm.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we are back with our politics lead.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is now weighing whether to open a full blown criminal investigation after 10 classified documents were inappropriately transferred and then found in a private office used by Joe Biden after he served as vice president and before he launched his 2020 campaign. We do not know who had access to these classified documents for the six years they were in that private office.

CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins me now live.

Evan, what do we know about any next steps here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, one of the big questions that hangs over this is whether the attorney general should order a full scale investigation, a full blown investigation of this now that the initial preliminary work review was being -- that was being done by John Lausch, the Trump appointee, U.S. attorney in Chicago. Now that that has been completed, Lausch has briefed the attorney general and the leadership of the DOJ.

And so now, the attorney general has to the side what are the next steps. And those of course could include just launching a new full scale investigation. It also could be to appoint a special counsel to look at this, Jake. And you know, of course, there's already a special counsel looking at the handling of classified documents, the investigations of Donald Trump.

There's still John Durham out there. We are starting to joke that the Department of Justice is the department of special counsels. So this is something obviously that is a very big concern for the White House. They do not want to see a special counsel in this. They like to see this wrapped up instead.

TAPPER: And, Evan, the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat and Republican, had sent a letter to the director of national intelligence asking for access to these documents, a bipartisan request. Is that normal procedure?

PEREZ: It is normal procedure. I mean, you certainly saw that I think on the Senate side during the Trump administration. You saw an effort to try to be bipartisan in investigating the handling of things like this.

What you often see, Jake, a different story in the House. And what you might see here is that the intelligence community is involved with this effort to see whether any sources or methods may have been exposed or damaged as a result of the handling of these documents. Of course, Jake, you know that putting these documents in a place where there weren't necessarily up to the standards of security and a private office here in Washington is something that is very, very concerning to the intelligence community. So, before this is wrapped up, the FBI, the intelligence community,

will want to know who might have had access to those offices. Also, are there any documents anywhere else that Joe Biden has not accounted for?

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is here to discuss.

And, Kaitlan, how does the Biden White House see all of this? Especially the possibility you just heard Evan discuss of a new special counsel, specifically about him?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't want to special counsel. They don't think awards special counsel. They have been working basically 24/7 since this came out to draw the distinction between what's happening in the Trump case and what is happening here. Mainly in the number of documents, and also in the efforts that Trump took to resist the efforts to get them back into the possession of the federal government.

Now, as Evan noted, it's really important that we fully don't know what it is when it comes to the numbers and what the content is of these documents when it comes to President Biden and what he took when he left office. And so, the White House is working to draw that distinction. But it is not up to them if they have a special counsel, it is up to the attorney general and you can already see he is trying to make clear that this is not political by putting the U.S. attorney appointed by Trump in charge of this review.

And so, it's still a big question, even for them, if this does ultimately lead to a special counsel. It would be a headache for that because it would kind of make it look more similar to the Trump case because it would both have a special counsel.

TAPPER: Of course, Republicans are seizing on this. They're criticizing Biden for this. But you also spoke with a Democrat, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey. She also had some concerns. Let's play that.


COLLINS: Does it concern you that this happened though the day before the midterm elections? That is when these documents were found and we are just now finding out about it?

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): It does. I will have to look as to when they were discovered, and why we are just finding out now. That does concern me. This has to be a very transparent process to ensure again that we are handling the classified secrets of this country very, very carefully.


TAPPER: Again, this is different in many important ways than the Trump documents case. [16:20:01]

But, do you think it is also a bigger problem than the White House is publicly acknowledging?

COLLINS: Well, it's definitely different. And we will make that clear day in and day out of the -- what it is here or not, you know, allow people to muddy the waters on this. But when it comes to the White House, there are a lot of questions that we still don't know. And the timing there is a big one, which is that, these were discovered the day before the midterm elections. Obviously it would have been a significant story. We don't know the outcome or effect that it would have had, if any, on the midterm elections. But it is definitely something that people are drawing questions about.

And the White House hasn't fully answered why it wasn't publicly disclosed. Of course, whether or not there are more documents in more locations. You know, are they going to carry out any kind of audit to see any other location that President Biden has and his house in Wilmington, one at home, if there are more documents.

Those are the questions that the White House hasn't answered. I think that is why you are seeing Democrats who said, the Trump case draws a big questions about the handling of classified information, and what could potentially be out there in unsecured locations. That's the big question that they have.

TAPPER: Also, who had access to those documents for six years? In that office here in D.C.?


TAPPER: And you have been reporting on how President Trump and his team view this.

COLLINS: They viewed it as huge for them. They think it's going to benefit them in a big way. We don't actually know that. This is just their point of view because, of course, legally, they are dealing with the fact that Trump's fought so hard when it came to the justice storm trying to get and the federal government trying to get these documents back in their possession. That led to an FBI search of his home.

But they believe that it helped because they have been making this argument that it is easier than people think perform present and former leaders to take the classified materials with them when they go. Now, the numbers here are very different, obviously.

TAPPER: Ten documents versus several boxes worth.

COLLINS: And not just. That they said hey you've got these documents, former President Trump, we need them back and he resisted those efforts. And then even after they went and got them, remember we reported there were more documents that Trump had found at another location.

So, that is a distinction that is John there. Obviously, it is clear to everyone else. But Trump's team does believe that this helps them. Politically, they believe it helps them, legally, they think it may help them. We don't ultimately know that it will, but they do believe that this is something that is beneficial to their case.

TAPPER: Yeah. Well, who knows? We'll see. We'll see. It's obviously not the exact same thing.

COLLINS: Of course.

TAPPER: Very, very different. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it.

Next, an influential Republican facing sexual assault allegations, and new text messages that may corroborate the claims.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our politics lead, now CNN has obtained some new contemporaneous evidence that would seem to back the sexual assault allegations made by a male Republican strategist. Last week, you might recall, Matt Schlapp, a prominent and influential Republican activist and lobbyist with close ties to Donald Trump, was accused of unwanted groping and fondling by that male staffer, who at the time works for the campaign of Herschel Walker. Walker, of course, the Republican who lost that hotly contended U.S. Senate race in Georgia.

Matt Schlapp chairs the American Conservative Union, best known perhaps for hosting the annual CPAC conference. Schlapp also works with the lobbying firm, Cove Strategies. Schlapp was also very active pushing Trump's 2020 election lies.

His wife, Mercedes Schlapp, was communications director in Donald Trump's White House for sometime.

Let's bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel.

Jamie, first, the allegations. What is this male staffer alleging happened?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, let's walk through this. The Republican strategist alleges that Matt Schlapp made unwanted sexual advances that he groped and fondled his groin as the staffer drove Schlapp on October 19th from two bars they had been at back to Schlapp's hotel.

Just to be, clear the staffer had been assigned to drive slapped during events there. The staffer said that when they got to the hotel, Schlapp invited him up to his hotel room, the staffer declined, and then a few hours later, he informed top campaign officials.

TAPPER: At the Walker campaign.

GANGEL: At the Walker campaign. Schlapp, through his attorney, denies the claim. This is the statement. The attack is false and Mr. Schlapp denies any improper behavior. We are evaluating legal options for response.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, you have obtained some text messages sent between parties involved. What they reveal?

GANGEL: So, CNN has reviewed text messages, phone records, that show that the staffer reached out to friends and acquaintances in real time that night.

TAPPER: Back in October?

GANGEL: Back in October that same night. The text revealed that he was upset, there is also -- there are video recordings he actually made that we have also reviewed in which he memorializes what happened.

In addition, we spoke to top campaign officials who spoke to the staffer in real time and described him as being quote, angry, and mortified. And they instructed the staff or not to drive Schlapp the next day. They provided him with a car service.

There is an exchange between the staffer and Schlapp night, which I wanted to show you. The staffer text Schlapp to inform him he's not going to drive him. He says, I did want to say I was uncomfortable with what happened last night.


The campaign does have a driver who is available to get you to Macon and back to the airport.

According to phone records we've reviewed, Schlapp tries to call him a couple of times. Then, a few hours later, he sends the following text message: If you could see it in your heart to call me at the end of the day, I would appreciate it. If not, I wish you luck on the campaign and hope you keep up the good work.

We also obtained a brand-new text message exchange that's being made public for the first time. This is the staffer texted a friend who is in politics. Sort of telling him what happened, allegedly, but also asking for advice about how to tell the campaign. The staffer tells this political friend, quote: He's pissed I didn't follow him to his hotel room.

Then later, the friend responds, I'm sorry, man, what an f-ing creep. A little later the staffer texts, I don't know how to say it to my superiors that their surrogate fondled my junk without my consent.

TAPPER: Why is he going public with this now three months later? Did he report this assault to the police?

GANGEL: So, he says that he didn't want to come forward initially because the election was a couple of weeks away.


GANGEL: He didn't want it to be a distraction. He says he is coming forward now because he doesn't want someone else to be victimized. I do want to say that the Walker campaign and -- the staffer says this -- was completely supportive during this process, offered him a lawyer, offered if he wanted to go to the police.

He is leaving his legal options open for now. I do want to add, we should mention that the American Conservative Union put out a statement saying the board of directors is standing behind Schlapp and his leadership.

TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

A historic string of storms, at least 17 lives lost, neighborhoods look like lakes, sewage with floodwater. And to make matters worse, more rain is on the way. We're going out west.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, parts of California are getting a break today from the heavy downpour that has left widespread damage allowing some communities to begin the cleanup process. Well, other communities are still dealing with dangerous conditions.

But as CNN's Veronica Miracle reports for us now, the recent parade of storms that have claimed the lives of at least 17 people is set to make another round.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cleanup from a series of deadly unprecedented storms continues across California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt like an earthquake. The dog came running in. We could hear glass shattering.

MIRACLE: Heavy rainfall trigger flash flooding.

CAITLIN CLANCY, FLOODING VICTIM: So, it was shocking. It was really unreal seeing the water come surging up.

MIRACLE: In San Francisco, lightning and hailstorms. Trees falling, power lines downed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They saw sparks everywhere around me.

MIRACLE: At least 17 people have died in the storms.

LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS, CALIFORNIA: That's more than we have lost in the last go years in wildfires. This is a very significant emergency. CLANCY: If we flood more and more, it's not manageable.

MIRACLE: And in San Francisco and other parts of northern California, the rain continues to fall. Some 5 million people are under flood watches in northern California, while parts of central and southern California getting a much needed break from downpours, flooding and mudslides.

DREW LANDERS, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC WORKS: The ground is so wet. The water is pooling up. I would say this is like the worst winter I have seen in this short amount of time.

MIRACLE: In the sierra, one to three feet of snow has blanketed several ski resorts in the last several days. The snow closed a major thoroughfare in the state overnight, delaying shipments as trucks waited to pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to get this stuff where it's supposed to go.

MIRACLE: The snowpack offers some relief to lingering drought conditions in California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our streams and rivers and creeks are pretty high.

MIRACLE: And the rainfall is filling up some of the state's largest reservoirs.

KOUNALAKIS: We've never really seen anything like this. The state has been experiencing drought for the last four years. And now, we have storm upon storm.

MIRACLE: The benefit of so much rain falling so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted rain. We got it.

MIRACLE: Six storms in the last two weeks, and there's more to come. After almost 20 inches of rain in the last three days, even southern California's brief respite from the deluge will soon end. Another round of heavy rainfall is due this weekend with two more major storms to follow.


MIRACLE (on camera): And officials are warning people to stay home if at all possible when these conditions arise so that you can avoid situations like this landslide right here.

Back to you, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Veronica Miracle in San Francisco, thanks so much.

Turning now to the ongoing investigation into the suspicious disappearance of a Massachusetts mother. Police continue to look into the bloodied evidence found so far. Law enforcement sources say a hacksaw, torn up cloth and apparent blood stains were found in a trash transfer site. They say that might be linked to 39-year-old Ana Walshe's disappearance.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in coastal town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, where Walshe is from.

And, Jason, what more do we know about Ana Walshe's husband Brian Walshe who has been arrested for misleading investigators about this case?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Jake. It turns out, before this case that you were talking about, before the case where he pleaded guilty to selling fake Warhols, there were allegations he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his father. This was uncovered in court documents we found. He was also referred to as a, quote, sociopath.


Again, these are court documents which show that he was estranged from his father for many, many years and that's basically of some sort of a legal entanglement that he had gotten into with him over a real estate deal. It got so bad at what point that his father actually, according to these court documents, cut Walshe out of his will.

His father ended up dying back in 2018. That didn't stop him, even though he was cut from the will, from contesting the will, trying to go after his estate. That was unsuccessful. A judge did not side with him.

One of the points that we found here in all of the court documents that really stood out, Jake, and I want to read part of it to you. This comes from a friend of Walshe's father that said this about Brian. He said the following: Brian is not only a sociopath, but also a very angry and physically violent person. I want nothing to do with him.

That was back in 2019. Very chilling words considering now Walshe's wife is missing -- Jake.

TAPPER: And can we expect any changes or any adjustment to the charges against Brian Walshe?

CARROLL: I think that's the big question a lot of people out here are asking. That's really going to depend upon some of the items that were found at that trash facility that you talked about, the hacksaw, the cloth material, which appeared to have blood on it. They will run tests, see if they can make a connection between what they found there and -- if they can make connections, then legal experts that we talked to say expect some charges to be coming in terms of timing, hard to say at this point.

TAPPER: All right. Jason Carroll in Cohasset, Massachusetts, thanks so much.

Let's turn now to our world lead. Russia has appointed a new commander to lead its war in Ukraine. This is second new leader for Putin's war in just three months. A move so significant, former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton tells me it would be as if we moved the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, to the job.

The move comes as a major battle is underway for the town of Soledar, in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces claim Russia is close to capturing the town. Those claims by Russia are false.

But as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports for Ukraine is struggling in this fight.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Medics load a wounded soldier onto an ambulance, another casualty from the embattled town of Soledar.

It varies depending on the number of casualties on the front lines.

Russian forces, mostly troops from the Wagner group, the private military company, claim to have control of the entire Soledar territory.

The battle for Soledar may be in its final stages, and it doesn't appear to be going well for the Ukrainians. And if indeed the Russians do emerge victorious, the villages around it may be the next to fall.

Ukraine's helicopters still flying sorties, its forces aren't giving ground easily. One soldier says it's difficult but we're hanging in there.

Despite the fighting, Irina is staying put with her pigs and cows in her home in a nearby village.

We won't leave, she says. You can only die once. I will not abandon my house.

Her 81-year-old mother Ludmila has lived here for more than 40 years.

We had a good life here, she says.

Sergei Goskov (ph), head of the Soledar military administration. I'm delivering aid, he says, and reminding people they need to evacuate before it's too late.

Svitlana says she will heed his call. Everyone is tired, she tells me. We can't take it any longer.

As Soledar burns, there is little time to waste.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And the picture that is emerging from inside Soledar is one of a Ukrainian army desperately struggling to keep its positions. Now, as we were leaving that area, we did see Ukrainian forces -- rather Ukrainian reinforcements coming in. It wasn't clear if they were preparing for a counterattack or to cover a retreat -- Jake.

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

Coming up, the new warning about TikTok. This time it's not just your data at risk that's cause for alarm. Parents, you're going to want to listen up on this one.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: This just in. The White House physician says that surgery today revealed a lesion on the face of First Lady Jill Biden. They say it was basil cell sarcoma. Dr. Kevin O'Connor issued a letter moments ago, saying the procedure lasted several hours today, and also revealed an area of concern on the left side of the first lady's chest which that lesion was removed and confirmed to be cancerous. Dr. O'Connor says the first lady is experiencing facial swelling and bruising but is in good spirits.

In our tech lead, the U.S. government says TikTok, the social media app that comes from China, is a national security threat because the government may be able to access user's data.


TikTok denies that, but the app has been banned from federal workers' devices.

Now, however, some psychologists are warning about another problem. TikTok's impact on young people's mental health.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich looked into why they are concerned.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): In just five years, TikTok has amassed more than one billion global users.

Eyeballs around the world glued to the endless content and viral videos.

How long do you think you spend on TikTok every day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two to three hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three to four hours.

YURKEVICH: But last month, the U.S. government, along with more than a dozen states, banned TikTok on most federal devices, citing national security concerns over its Chinese parent company and the possibility it could pressure TikTok to hand over personal data. There is no public evidence the Chinese government has done that but

there is evidence of another risk, social media's impact on mental health particularly among Gen Z.

DR. JEAN TWENGE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Teen depression started to rise after 2012. So did self-harm and suicide.

YURKEVICH: Dr. Gene Twenge says as smartphones and social media grew, so did the rate of depression among teens, nearly doubling between 2004 and 2019. By that year, one in four U.S. teen girls had experienced clinical depression according to Twenge.

TWENGE: Pro-anorexia videos, videos to instruct people how to cut themselves. What the algorithms trying to do is get people able to use the app for longer because that's how the company makes more money.

YURKEVICH: TikTok in a statement said, quote: One of our most important commitments is supporting the safety and well-being of teens and we recognize this work is never finished. We continue to focus on robust safety protections for our community while also empowering parents with additional controls for their teen's account through TikTok family pairing.

Users of TikTok spent an average of an hour and a half a day on the app last year, more than any other social platform.

What is it that keeps you scrolling even if you know maybe you've spent one two hours on it?

EMERALD GOLDBAUM, SOPHOMORE, UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO: Once you watch the one video, you're like, well, time to watch another. So you just keep doing it's like a cycle you don't realize that the time is passing.

YURKEVICH: That's exactly what happened to Jerome Yankey.

JEROME YANKEY, DELETED TIKTOK IN 2021: I've definitely done all- nighters on TikTok before I had just been scrolling until the sun came up.

YURKEVICH: He says he lost sleep. His grades suffered. He lost touch with his friends. He lost his sense of self. In 2021, he deleted the app.

YANKEY: Getting disappointed by my own life is never something I want to be doing, especially when I have the power to change it, but I just wasn't because I was spending hours on this app.

HANNAH WILLIAMS, CREATOR, SALARY TRANSPARENT STREET: We have like a lot of cool resources that we give to our audience for free.

YURKEVICH: But Hannah Williams proves the positive side of TikTok, allowing her to create a business, Salary Transparent Street, providing paid transparency to her new nearly million followers.

WILLIAMS: I think TikTok definitely helped just because they have such audience reach potential.

YURKEVICH: She hopes TikTok's algorithm works in her favor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Helping people in marginalized communities is the only reason I am doing this. It's my entire mission.


YURKEVICH (on camera): And there are so many other people around the world that have launched entire careers off of TikTok making money for them and their families and there are studies that show the positive sides of social media. According to pew research one in ten teens report they feel more connected to friends on social media and about 70 percent, Jake, of teens say they feel like they're more creative when they're on social media -- Jake.

TAPPER: Vanessa, the Chinese version of TikTok built in time limits for Chinese kids. The American version does not. Is TikTok going to do anything to help teens cut back on screen time here in the U.S.?

YURKEVICH: Exactly, there is no natural shutoff of the app here in the United States. However, TikTok does say that they have screen time management tools and testing a sleep feature where you can set the app to tell you when it's time to turn off and go to bed.

But, of course, Jake, you know that for you section very well. It's -- the algorithm is so smart it gives teens and everyone they want what they want to see and that is time consuming about this app, leading to lack of sleep, lack of interaction with friends and that's ultimately what cycles into depression -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, the Chinese version doesn't have these problems because it encourages positive things as opposed to what we get here in the U.S.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the nationwide ground stop not seen since 9/11.


What caused the massive airlines meltdown system and could it happen again?


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

This hour, will freshman Republican Congressman George Santos be able to escape the web of lies? A growing number of fellow Republicans are calling for his resignation.

Plus, students return to the campus of the University of Idaho since the arrest of a suspect in those horrific murders of four students. This as the accused mass murderer is set to return to court. And leading this hour, flights throughout the United States are slowly

getting back on schedule after an FAA system outage early this morning, forced every plane in the U.S. to be grounded for 90 minutes.