Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Eleven Killed In Shooting Rampage During Lunar New Year Celebrations; Report: School Employee, Two Students Hurt In Shooting; House Oversight Chairman Calls On Secret Service To Release Visitor Logs For Biden Wilmington Home; Rep. Katherine Clark's Daughter Arrested During Protest In Boston; Former Top FBI Official Charged With Violating Russia Sanctions; Germany Yet To Reach Deal On Sending Leopard Tanks To Ukraine; Tyre Nichols' Family Sees Arrest Video For The First Time. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 23, 2023 - 16:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Maybe it's a rose, Victor.


So, this phenomenon is called lenticular cloud, or lens cloud. It generally forms when air blows across tall structures such as mountains and causes water vapor to condense.

CAMEROTA: There you have it.

BLACKWELL: There's your cloud for the day.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thirty-six mass shootings already in 2023 in the United States, and we're not even a full month into the year.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Eleven victims now dead with the latest update from the hospital from the massacre in Monterey Park, California. Today, what we're learning about the victims, all in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and what we are trying to piece together about the 72-year-old gunman's motive. He has been described as quick to anger.

Plus, a high-ranking FBI official is now in federal custody, arrested after his plane returned from Sri Lanka. Now, he's now facing money laundering charges and questions about his connections to a sanctioned Russian billionaire.

Plus, the bizarre defense in court for the January 6th rioter who kicked up his feet on the desk of Speaker Pelosi's office and posed for a photo. How a stun gun in his pants ended up as key testimony in the case.


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

And we start today with our national lead in the search for answers in Monterey Bay, California. What started out as a festive lunar new year celebration, in the town outside of Los Angeles, became a nightmare on Saturday when a 72-year-old Asian man opened fire instead of a dance studio in a predominantly Asian American neighborhood.

This afternoon, we learned that the death toll has risen to 11, with at least ten other innocents injured. The shooter apparently moved into second location where he could have potentially taken even more lives if a man named Brandon Tsay had not fought him off.


BRANDON TSAY, DISARMED MONTEREY PARK SHOOTER: Something came over me, I realized that I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take his weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.


TAPPER: The gunman ran away, only to be tracked down by police hours later, where he took his own life during a standoff with law enforcement.

CNN's Nick Watt starts off our coverage today from Monterey Park, California, where investigators are revealing new details about the gunman's connections to the scene of the massacre.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspect, dead in a panel van, a self inflicted gunshot after an overnight manhunt. Officials say this 72-year-old murdered 11, injured nine more, and opened fire during lunar new year celebrations at an Asian American dance hall on Saturday night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so surprised, here it is safe.


WATT: We're told that this man wanted to kill more.

DISPTACH: Additional units requested, multiple victims, gunshot wounds.

WATT: Ten-twenty-two p.m., police respond to a shooting at the Star Ballroom end Dance Studio in Monterey Park, a suburb of L.A.

CHIEF SCOTT WIESE, MONTEREY PARK POLICE: It was chaos. There were wounded people. There were people trying to flee out of the doors.

WATT: At around 10:40 p.m., the gunman arrived at another dance hall in nearby Alhambra. TSAY: I turned around and saw that there is an Asian man holding a

gun. When he was looking around the room, it looked like he was looking for targets, people to harm.

WATT: Brandon Tsay was getting ready to close up for the night.

TSAY: When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both of my hands, grabbed the weapon, and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.

WATT: Eventually, the suspect fled, leaving that weapon behind.

SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: An assault pistol that had an extended large capacity magazine attached to it.

WATT: The weapon led to an identity.

This was not like so many other mass shootings, a teen attacking kids in a school, this was apparently an old man attacking the middle aged and older out dancing. But why?

LUNA: We still are not clear on the motive. The investigation continues.

WATT: Apparently, the suspect taught dance here informally at one point, met his now ex-wife at this very dance hall. They divorced in 2006.

MAYOR HENRY LO, MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA: Was it an issue of being disgruntled, or an issue of domestic violence? We don't know unfortunately. In the past, he was a frequent attendee of this dance hall.

WATT: His last known address, a trailer home in the senior community further east, was searched. Of course, investigators can't interview the suspect, he is dead. But they say that what was found in this van in Torrance, 30 miles or so from the scene, ties him to this terrible slaughter.



WATT (on camera): As you mentioned, Jake, 11 are dead, ten died here at the club, and one more died in the hospital. We only have two names of the victims so far. Lilan Lee (ph) who is 63, and Mymy Nhan who is 65. Her families say that she was a loving aunt, sister and daughter, and friend, and that she loved to dance. She came here to dance for many years, and this is where she died on lunar New Year.

TAPPER: So senseless. Nick Watt in Monterey Park, California, for us, thanks.

Joining us now to discuss is Thomas Wong. He's a member of the Monterey Park City Council. Thank you so much for joining us. I know that this is an incredibly

difficult time for your city right now, for your community. How are you and your community holding up?

THOMAS WONG, MONTEREY PARK CITY COUNCIL: We are dealing with this in the best way we can. We're obviously still in a state of tremendous morning. I just got back from going through the victim service center, where notifications are being made. It's just tremendously said. As people are checking in with me, people are just trying to make sense of this, and I don't know that will ever happen.

TAPPER: Have all of the families of the victims been notified?

WONG: My understanding is the notifications are currently taking place. I don't know when those will be finalized.

TAPPER: You attended the new lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park on Saturday. You describe it at "The Wall Street Journal" at a time for many different Asian cultures to come together.

Can you explain what the celebrations mean to the Asian American community?

WONG: Yeah, the lunar New Year is the largest holiday, the most popular holiday for many Asian cultures around the world, including here where there is a large Asian Diaspora, a large Asian-American community. Monterey Park has hosted this festival for many, many years, and this is typically our largest public event of the year. This was the first time back in person to have this lunar New Year festival since the pandemic broke in 2020.

So, everyone was excited, I was excited to get back together in person to celebrate community, to bring families together. But instead, we are dealing with this tragedy and trying to get through this together.

TAPPER: Investigators say they are still trying to figure out the shooter's motive for the attack, it's not like there's any answer that would ever be satisfactory. But in Monterey Park, about 65 percent of residents are of Asian descent. Apparently the gunman was Asian as well.

Do you know anything about a motive?

WONG: We don't know. And I and everyone else is trying to figure this out, and like you said I don't know that any answer will satisfy us. We want to know more, and we want to find out more. I'm hoping as the investigation continues that we'll get some more of these details so that we can start to figure out what we can do to prevent something like this from happening again.

TAPPER: Regardless of motive, I know that these last few years have been brutal for the Asian American community, with all sorts of racism and acts of violence targeting AAPI individuals.

WONG: Yeah, our community along with many in the region have been dealing with the rise in anti-Asian sentiments and Asian hate incidents, crimes. We have been on edge for the last few years as COVID rose, and impacted our communities. And the rise in Asian hate in our communities as well. And to deal with this on top of that for our local community has been tremendously tragic, tragedy piled upon tragedy.

I've seen our communities come together, and the outpouring of support, both in our neighborhoods here, check neighbors taking our neighbors, family checking on family, and just providing support in our neighbors in the region, our neighboring cities, the county, the state, and from the White House on down. The outpouring of support has been encouraging in this time of tragedy.

TAPPER: The gunman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended 30 round magazine, which police say is currently illegal to buy new in California, the 30 run magazine, not the pistol. Do we have any idea, do investigators have any idea how he got the magazine, and was there anything in the shooters background that should have prevented him from getting the pistol?

WONG: That I don't know. I'm hoping for answers as well. As the investigation continues, I think we are all eager to get more of these details. But regardless of whether it was legal or illegal, I would say that this is tragic for our country that guns, here in California, in Los Angeles, even where gun lives are very strict, that access to guns is just too easy.


TAPPER: Monterey Park City Council member Thomas Wong, thank you so much for your time, and our deepest condolences to your community.

We have more breaking news, just as we are reporting on this mass shooting in California, reports of another school -- another school shooting. This one at a school in Des Moines, Iowa, this afternoon. The victims include an employee and two students, according to CNN affiliate KCCI.

CNN'S Adrienne Broaddus joins me now live.

Adrienne, tell us about this. Is the suspect or suspects in custody?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to investigators in Des Moines, multiple people are in custody, Jake. It's unclear if they or how they are linked to this shooting that left at least one person, according to police in Des Moines seriously injured, and two others are in critical condition. I want to take you through the steps of what we know so far.

Right now on your screen, you are looking at that strong police presence, as police responded to this shooting, at what has been described as a charter school. This all happened shortly before 1:00 p.m. local time, in Des Moines, Iowa. That's where Des Moines fire and other officers responded to this shooting that left at least one person seriously injured, and two others in critical condition.

We are waiting to hear information from the chief of police in that city at any moment, and Jake, when we have those details we will bring them to you, of course.

TAPPER: All right. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much. The state of America, you interrupt one mass shooting story to bring news of another breaking school shooting story.

Up next, now, House Republicans are now calling at the White House for its lack of transparency on the classified documents found at President Biden's home, and office including new documents over the weekend, and making a specific ask in the letter today. And the new convictions today on the rare seditious conspiracy charge that underscores the gravity of actions by insurrectionists on January 6th.

Plus, the daughter of the second highest House Democrat faces charges. A protest against police led to her arrest.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, Republican James Comer of Kentucky is ramping up his investigation into President Biden's handling or mishandling of classified documents. Comer is calling on the U.S. Secret Service to handover visitor logs from Biden's Wilmington suburban home, and demanding that any locations where Biden spent any amount of time be searched.

This comes after the latest revelation of more documents found last Friday, when the FBI searched Biden's house.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.

Manu, what do we know about Comer's request, and has the White House responded?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, James comer wants all communications, all records related to visit its did might have come to Biden says by the time of 2017 up until a current day amid the discovery that more classified documents were found in the president's Wilmington residents. He says that in a letter today, the Secret Service does generate law enforcement and criminal justice information records from various individuals who might come into contact with secret service protected sites.

Now, the White House counsel's office says there are no visitor logs the contract guests who come in and out and, it's also unclear what information the Secret Service may have. Remember, after Joe Biden left office in 2017, the Secret Service protection was not actively monitoring the time. He did later get it in March of 2020 when we became the presumptive Democratic nominee.

But still, Jake, there is still a lot of scrutiny on Capitol Hill over the president's handling of this issue. Not just from Republicans, but Democrats as well. Criticism from people who are normally allies of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, criticizing the president of this issue. Adam Schiff, who used to be the House Intelligence Committee chairman, saying that he has deep concerns about this issue.

As well as Senator Joe Manchin, who today told me that the president's claim that there was nothing there is just not passing the smell test, and needs to be more investigation about this going forward.


RAJU: Biden says there's nothing there there. I mean, do you buy that?

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-WV): That's just not a good statement. We don't know. And with that, let's just say if you want to find the facts out, if one of the presidents did nefarious more so than the other one, these are both wrong. It should've never happened. And so there is a lot of guilt for both. The mishandling or misappropriating, and let's just find out if there is any damage done to our country, or any damage done that could be have done, that we could've prevented.


RAJU: Now, it still remains to be seen how much cooperation the White House will give house Republicans. They did send out a letter saying that they are engaging in some good faith over this oversight requests. What this means remains to be seen.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.

As the investigations into Biden's document controversy intensifies, we're learning more about the man who is running the response strategy for President Biden.

With me now, CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

And, Jeremy, the man running this strategy is Biden's personal lawyer, longtime Democratic attorney Bob Bauer. What have you learned about him and his strategy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I've learned that Bob Bauer is the one who actually broke the news to the White House on November 2nd, that classified documents have been found at the Penn Biden Center offices in Washington.

Bauer first notified a White House official, and in subsequent days, he was the one who gave Biden a full rundown of this discovery, and the reality that he was now facing a very real prospect of a federal investigation. Since then, Bauer has been the driving force behind this strategy to navigate the investigation, one that focuses on cooperating with investigators in order to try to zero out Biden's legal risk. But it's also been criticized for making the political and PR problems that Biden faces worse.

That criticism began when we learned that that first White House statement that confirmed the discovery of the first batch of documents actually omitted the fact that documents had also been found weeks earlier at Biden's Wilmington home. Bauer and a small circle of aides working on this issue understood that the omission would generate criticism, but I'm told that the Biden team wanted to avoid public disclosures that they felt could be viewed as undermining DOJ's investigation. They ultimately decided that they would rather lose some credibility with the press than with the Department of Justice.


And that continues even today, a source familiar with the matter tells me that Bauer and his team don't regret the decision at all. And that's because above all, this is a team that is willing to accept what they view as short term pain on the PR front as they believe, even though the legal strategy ultimately, as long as that legal strategy ultimately gets them where they want to be.

And now, the question is, in terms of future cooperation, will it continue? I'm told by a source familiar with the matter that look, they want to continue that cooperation, but there certainly could be disagreements between the DOJ and the Biden team about exactly what full cooperation means -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy, thanks so much.

Coming up, the rare conviction today for the Justice Department and the jury's verdict for the January 6th rioter seen infamously in his photos with the feet up on the desk in Nancy Pelosi's office.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead. A new guilty verdict for members of the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers. For men, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, and Edward Vallejo were convicted of seditious conspiracy in a federal court here in Washington, D.C. for plotting the stop of the certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. Moerschel was part of the so-called stack formation that prosecutors said acted as a battering ram for pushing through the mob and into the U.S. Capitol.

The convictions are another big win for the U.S. Department of Justice, which brought the rare charge of seditious conspiracy against members of the Oath Keepers last year. Back in November, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, the group's leader in Florida were found guilty of consumption, as you might remember.

Also in the politics lead today, a guilty verdict for an icon of insurrectionist idiocy, who was infamously photographed kicking his feet up on the desk in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. A jury found Richard "Bigo" Barnett guilty of all eight charges, including entering and remaining in a restricted area with a denture deadly or dangerous weapon, and obstructing an official proceeding.

During the trial, Barnett testified that he was not a protester, but instead had been pushed into the capital while looking for a restroom. Court documents show that he had a stun gun in his pants when he was in Speaker Pelosi's office. Barnett said that he thought the weapon didn't work, because it had been washed in the shower.

Barnett was seen in a video on January 6th showing off an envelope that he took from January 6th Speaker Pelosi's desk.

Here's what he said then about the envelope.


RICHARD BARNETT, DEFENDANT: I paid a quarter for this, I'm not a thief. It had my blood on it, and I left her a note. It's on her desk right now. And, Nancy, when you go back to work, you can read it, I'm going to tell you what it says, we won't have any surprises. It says, Nancy, Bigo was here you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


TAPPER: I don't know why they bleeped it out, if the word was bitch that he called the speaker of the House.

Theft of government property was one of the eight charges Barnett was found guilty of. Barnett is sentenced to be sentenced May 3rd. Boy, I can't believe the jury did not buy that explanation.

Also facing potential legal trouble, the daughter of House Democratic whip Katherine Clark is facing charges of assaulting a police officer and defacing a monument. Riley Dowell was arrested Saturday in Boston. Dowell allegedly spray-painted on a band stand built in 1912 the words, no cop city, and a CAB, which is an acronym that stands for all cops are bastards.

Joining us now is CNN's Jessica Dean from Capitol Hill.

Jessica, what more do we know about Dowell's arrest?

JEAN DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the 23-year-old had her first court appearance today, and the judge set bail at $500, all of this comes as police say that they found her spray-painting, as you mentioned, those monuments. As they went to arrest her, again police said that the protesters closed in, and at one point, one police officer was bleeding, and was hit in the face. We do know that she was charged with assaulting a police officer, among other charges, and there will be follow-up court dates, pretrial dates coming in in the coming months -- Jake.

TAPPER: How has Congresswoman Clark, just to remind our viewers, she is the number two House Democrat, how is she responding to this?

DEAN: Well, we got a tweet from her. I'll just read this response. She said, quote: Last night, my daughter was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts. I love Riley, and this is a very difficult time in the cycle of joy and pain in parenting. This will be evaluated by the legal system, and I am confident in that process.

And, Jake, that is all we've heard from the House minority whip on this.

TAPPER: Yeah. I've seen Republicans criticizing her for not condemning violence against police.

Jessica Dean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

A former high-level FBI official was arrested after getting off an international flight at JFK airport on Saturday, charged in two separate cases, one for taking money from a former Albanian intelligence employee while in office, and another for violating U.S. sanctions against Russia. The Justice Department says that after he left the FBI, Charles McGonigal took payments from a Russian oligarch.

CNN's Kara Scannell is following this story.

And, Kara, working for that oligarch after McGonigal left the FBI is technically not illegal, I don't think. How did he violate sanctions?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the rub here is that that oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, was himself sanctioned by the U.S. for his dealings with Russia. He is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, the fact that McGonigal, who is at one point the top official in the New York field office at the FBI, the special agent in charge of the counter intelligence division, he had overseen investigations into Deripaska, but when he left the government, prosecutors allege that he started working for Deripaska, helping to dig up some dirt on a rival.


And that is where they say he violated those sanctions because if you do any business with some of these sanctions, you're subject to the same prohibitions in the U.S.

Now, that was the first load of charges that we saw today. Then there was a second indictment that was announced by the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. They alleged that while Charles McGonigal, the former chief of intel in New York, while he held that position, he received $225,000 in payment from a former employee of an Albanian intelligence agency. Now, they say that he was working with that Albanian, receiving those payments. They say that he also did not disclose any travel that he took overseas, and he took multiple trips with him.

And that he did not disclose on government forms as required, the meetings that he was required with foreign nationals. And according to prosecutors, he met multiple times with the prime minister of Albanian. He appeared in court today in New York to face those New York charges. He pleaded not guilty, and was released on a $5,000 bond -- Jake.

TAPPER: Kara, how much prison time he could theoretically face?

SCANNELL: These are serious charges. The most serious of them being the sanctions charges of money laundering charges. And if convicted, he could face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison -- Jake.

TAPPER: Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the Kremlin's threat to any country that dares to roll German made tanks into Ukraine.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, you are looking at new aerial footage from Bakhmut, Ukraine. That's the eastern city of the epicenter of Putin's brutal campaign, where entire blocks are in ruins after months of heavy fighting there, as Ukraine continues its desperate plea for heavier weaponry.

Today, the Polish prime minister suggested that Poland would send its German made tanks to Ukraine, even without Berlin's approval.

Putin's top propagandist Dmitry Peskov is threatening Ukraine will play if those coveted Leopard 2 tanks roll on to the battlefield.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Kyiv.

Fred, how is Ukraine responding to this inter-NATO fight about tanks?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Ukrainians say that that fight needs to end as fast as possible, because they really need those tanks. It's quite interesting, because tonight, Dmytro Kuleba, who is the foreign minister of Ukraine, he came out and said that he believes that getting those Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is in the final stages.

It's something that could happen very quickly, or at least a decision could happen very quickly. Certainly not looking like that from what we have been seeing throughout the course of the day. The Germans seems very much on the fence about it, you just mentioned what the Polish prime minister had to say about it. They want to have this slow coalition.

But they're also not near any sort of decision on that either. The Ukrainians are seeing every day that passes, their fleet of tanks that they currently have, Soviet made ones, is depleting. They really said they need those new tanks also to keep their troops alive. The survivability of those Western tanks, a lot better.

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he was asked about this in an interview by Vassili Golod of ARD TV. Here's what he had to say.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is no time for bargaining. This is the time for survival. We need to survive.


PLEITGEN: And, Jake, I've also been in touch with a couple of German officials today, and one of the things that they told me is that they really want the Americans on board with this. You have had this discussion about the German saying that they want the U.S. to deliver tanks to Ukraine, and of course the U.S. says it is not going to do that. What we've heard from German officials today is that they want there to be closure and close coordination, especially with the United States. Whether they are backing off from that demand for the tanks here, if they are going to move is unclear. It certainly seems as though they need something from the U.S. to move forward. Jake?

TAPPER: And, Fred, we're also hearing about a new southern defense taking shape. Tell us about that.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, you have something that really started over the weekend when the Russians were saying that they were heavily shelling some areas around the town of Zaporizhzhia. That's a place that for a long time has been seen as one of those places that could turn into a hot spot, with the Russians really wanting to defend that place. If the Ukrainians breakthrough there, they could be down at the black sea pretty quickly, and cut off Russia's access to Crimea. The Russians say that they have taken a couple of villages, and Ukraine's acknowledge there had been heavy shelling going on. They said that they were actually holding the line there.

It's unclear whether or not the Russians are going to make any additional moves, but that is certainly one of those places, Jake, where in the future, possibly the not too distant future could become a hot zone of this war. Right now, we are mostly looking at the east -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Mark Esper, former secretary of defense under President Trump.

Mark, why won't the Germans do this? I don't understand. Anytime you talk to an administration official they tried to downplay the tensions going on in NATO, but it's really spilling over. It's quite obvious that you have the Polish prime minister criticizing Chancellor Scholz. Why won't they allow other countries to give the Leopard 2s?

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Nobody knows for sure, Jake. In my mind, it's a lack of leadership. The Germans seem very reluctant still to depart from decades-old policy of us politic, where they try to make nice with the Russians. And it's the Ukrainians who are paying the price for it.

TAPPER: And one of the arguments that the Germans are making is that they don't want to go into this alone, they want the Americans to send some Abrams tanks, which the Ukrainians are not really asking for because the fuel is different, they are bigger, they're older.

What's the downside of the U.S. sending a few of these tanks, just to satisfy the Germans? Could that actually -- I mean the Russians don't think of Germany is a threat, but certainly think of the U.S. has won. Does that play into it? ESPER: Well, first of all, I think the Biden administration is right

the Leopards are better tanks than Abrams, for logistical and other reasons. I'd be critical, of course, of the Biden administration in the past.

But on this one, I think, if the key is to send a dozen Abrams to unlock the Germans, get it done, send over a dozen Abrams tanks and allow them Germany and Poland, and Finland, and others who have Leopards as well in order to provide to Ukrainians, because look, time is not on our side here.


We talk about a spring offensive, either by the Russians, happening sometime in March, about five weeks away, or preferably the Ukrainians launching their own offensive before hand. And that is going to take time to deliver the tanks, to train the Ukrainians up, set the supply lines, for logistics and maintenance.

Let's get it moving. And I'm hopeful, I suspect this will get unlocked during the next couple of days or so.

TAPPER: Do you think -- how do you think it's going to get unlocked?

ESPER: I think they're moving towards a solution whereby the Polish and Germans at the highest level will get it done. We had the German foreign minister today say, well, if the Poles want to send it, go ahead, we won't mind.


ESPER: And so now, the Polls are saying, well, we want to hear from the chancellor. So, it looks like they are inching their way towards it. But, look, again, if it takes a dozen Abrams tanks positioned somewhere in western Ukraine to unlock this, let's get on with it. Time is not on the Ukrainians' side.

TAPPER: If you are secretary of defense right now, what would you be arguing that the U.S. should be doing that the U.S. is not currently doing?

ESPER: Well, I'd send some tanks.

TAPPER: Right.

ESPER: Unlock the Germans. I still think they need ATACMS, long-range precision missiles. Why? Not to strike deep into Russia, but to strike deep into Crimea and knock out those Shahed drone launch points. And to knock out other logistics lines of communication, and all of the things that they need.

And the Ukrainians need more air defense in order to protect the cities, and to protect themselves going forward as they move into an offensive.

TAPPER: Would you only give the ATACMS with -- under the provision that they cannot be used to fire into Russia, they would only be used to fire at Russian forces in Crimea? Would that be the rule?

ESPER: If that's what it takes to get ATACMS to Ukraine, yes. There is a concern that if you start striking deep into Russia, you may turn the population -- the Russian population alongside Vladimir Putin, and you don't want to unnecessarily escalate. So, in my mind, provide them the resources, allow them to reach into deep into eastern Ukraine, and deep into southern Ukraine to include Crimea, again, to knock out launch points and logistics centers.

TAPPER: Take a listen to the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, talking to my colleague Dana Bash about the importance of educating members of Congress. There are a lot of Republicans in that MAGA isolationist window who do not want to be involved in this. The importance of educating them as to why aid to Ukraine is so important. Take a listen.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): If Ukraine falls, Chairman Xi, China is going to invade Taiwan. It is Russia and China, Iran is pointing drones in Crimea. North Korea is putting artillery into Russia.


TAPPER: Do you agree?

ESPER: I do. I've said from day one that Beijing is watching very closely about how the United States and its allies will respond. Thankfully, we have responded in a unified way, comprehensively, financial sanctions, economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, and, of course, military support to push back on the Russians.

So, everybody is watching, I think this is a smart investment for the United States to continue to provide arms, ammunition, and assistance to Ukrainians, because a Ukrainian defeat would go a long way towards knocking back one of our clear and previously near peer competitors.

TAPPER: One of the knocks on the U.S. government's support for this war has to do with how good for profits this is for the military industrial complex. You used to work for Raytheon, which is a leading defense contractor, which won a massive $1.2 billion contract with the Pentagon. You don't work for them anymore, I know, but how do you counter that argument? But, you know, I'm not saying that I believe this, but you only want this because military industrial complex is getting fat.

ESPER: I want this because we are now in a struggle between autocracy and democracy. This would be the struggle of the 21st century. It's important that the western democracies band together and beat back the Russian autocrats called Vladimir Putin, because like we said earlier, Xi Jinping sitting in Beijing watching, and he's watching how we will react, and how we will respond.

Every day that we continue to be unified and support the Ukrainians is a day that he backs off of any intentions that he might have against Taiwan.

TAPPER: Do you talk to any of the House Republican leadership? They are in charge now, and I think there's a lot of Republicans who think the way that you do about an international affairs, who are worried about the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, and the other -- I don't want to -- whatever they, are isolationist, people that are not getting involved in Ukraine, worried about their voices getting louder and more powerful.

ESPER: I've talked to senior members on both sides of the aisle, and on the Republican side, I would say that most Republicans understand that this is important to do, this to support the Ukrainians. It's a narrow long term national security interests to do so.

So, I'm confident at the end of the day that that will prevail.

TAPPER: I want to ask you, there's a new book from your friend and colleague, Mike Pompeo, called "Never Give an Inch". And there's an excerpt that mentions you, not that many, but this is one of the few.


He writes, on July 19th, 2020, as I was on a flight back from D.C., White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows called me. Mike, Esper is not going to make it, he said. He added that the president told him that he wanted me to dual hat, and take on leading Department of Defense as leading additional duty. I told Meadows that I thought that was a nutty idea.

You survived until a few months later. What did you -- had you heard about that before? That he wanted Pompeo to run the State Department and the Pentagon?

ESPER: No, I had not heard about that, but, of course, that I knew there would be pushback on the president's desire to be active duty forces, and protests in the D.C. in early June. I came out and publicly spoke out against it. I knew that I was on thin ice from that point forward.

So, as I write my memoir, there are a number of things I had to do did advance the ball, to protect the nation, the national security and continued to do this. As I push back on what I thought were not smart ideas, and my game plan was to get to the election. And fortunately, I was able to do so, and there is not a need to dual hat Mike Pompeo.

TAPPER: You've got to the election. Thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it.

ESPER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Mark Esper, former secretary of defense.

He was arrested by police. He died just days later. Now family attorney say that the victim was beaten like a human pinata. The details of this one are disturbing. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the family of Tyre Nichols saw today for the first time the police footage of their son's arrest in Memphis, Tennessee, giving the family an indication of what happened earlier this month to the 29-year-old, shortly before he was taken to a hospital where he died a few days later.

This video has not yet been made public. Police say that Nichols tried running away after being pulled over for reckless driving on January 7th. He was ultimately captured by police and then hospitalized after complaining of having a shortness of breath. All five officers involved were fired more than a week after Nichol's death.

CNN's Nick Valencia is following the story.

Nick, what was the family's reaction to the video, and when can the public expect to see it?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the family attorney said this video was reminiscent of the 1991 beating of Rodney King. They did not hold back in their characterization of the family, very emotional during the press conference, saying it was not only violent but savage. During these three minutes that Tyre Nichols was repeatedly beaten by police, he reportedly asked, what did I do?


ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY FOR NICHOLS' FAMILY: He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human pinata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop, beating of this young boy for three minutes.


VALENCIA: The family and their attorney said that they were careful they're not offer too many details of what they saw, but did say that there were multiple videos that they saw earlier today. Again, this is being the first time since that January 7th incident. They're careful because there is an invite active investigation going on by the Shelby County district attorney, and also the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as well as the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division -- Jake.

TAPPER: Do we know where the investigation into the officers actions stands, and whether those officers could potentially face criminal charges?

VALENCIA: We do. And that investigation appears to be moving forward. We had a conversation moving forward in the Shelby county district attorney's office, and they say they're considering charges against the five officers involved in the arrest. The officers are looking at now, they're identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Nills, Jr., and Justin Smith. The spokeswoman for the Shelby County district attorney's office told

me that if any charges are filed, they could come later this week. They also told me that they plan, not a matter of, if but when they released this video, they say when that happens, it could be later this week or sometime next week -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

Coming up, former President Donald Trump pictured with Philly's own former mob boss Skinny Joey Merlino. What Team Trump is saying about the image obtained by "The Philadelphia Inquirer"? That's coming up.



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

This hour, what drove a 72-year-old man to shoot and kill 11 people celebrating the lunar new year at a California dance studio. The search for a motive.

And then, former President Donald Trump posed at one of his golf courses with convicted Philly mob boss Skinny Joey Merlino, who operated with the likes of Tommy Horsehead and Pete the Crumb.

And leading this hour, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee now wants the secret service visitor logs for President Biden's private home in Wilmington, Delaware, after claiming the White House is refusing to cooperate. But Secret Service says the agency does not keep visitor logs for Biden's Wilmington home.

This comes after it was revealed over the weekend that the FBI found more classified material at the home on Friday.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is live for us at the White House.

And, Phil, let's walk through this because these new documents were discovered on Friday. The White House didn't announce the discovery until Saturday night. It's not clear what exactly was discovered. The White House statement said that they found, quote, six items consisting of documents from classification markings and surrounding materials, unquote.

But that language seems almost perfectly designed to confuse. Is that six documents, six folders of documents? Six boxes of documents? Do we have any idea?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we just got off of a phone call with the spokesman for the White House counsel office briefing reporters on the latest. We still don't have a good sense of what exactly in terms of specifics related to those six items that the Justice Department actually picked up. To some degree, that underscores the White House position. Mainly focuses on the search being something proactive and the president's legal team side, voluntary on the president's legal team side, but in terms of what the Justice Department actually discovered, they will not go beyond what they said in that Saturday statement.

The rationale given by the spokesman was that this is an underlying information that is tied for the investigation, and is better for the Justice Department to answer those questions while that investigation was going. And once again, it underscores the attention for White House officials as they intend to try to address some of these issues publicly, address what is very much an ongoing investigation into the course of the last two weeks.