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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Tonight: Biden Addresses The National From Capitol Hill; U.S. Analyzing Debris Recovered From Suspected Spy Balloon; 7,200+ Dead As Desperate Search For Survivors Continue; 7 More Officers To Face Disciplinary Charges In Tyre Nichols' Death; Lawmakers Question FAA Over Airline Safety & Security Concerns; Tonight: Biden Gives First Address Before GOP-Controlled House. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 07, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CN HOST: Well, good luck to him, right?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes.
GOLODRYGA: We'll be hearing more from him.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, and I think the way that ended was, Dr. Tyson offered him some tickets to come see him in the summer. So, hopefully, we follow up and to get to see the two of them together.
GOLODRYGA: That's a really special moment.
Well, that is it for us this afternoon.
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The state of our union is -- THE LEAD is starting right now.
President Biden using tonight's address before a divided Congress and country to tout his accomplishments and perhaps lay out his case for another term. But how might his message land with the American people who according to polls disapprove of the job he's doing.
Rare cries of joy as a little girl and her younger sibling are pulled from the rubble alive.
A small bit of good news amid the growing death and destruction from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The death toll now soaring to more than 7,200 people.
Then, if you've flown in the past few weeks, you know the skies are not very friendly.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JFK TOWER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance! Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance!
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: An IT meltdown, one airline grounded during the holidays, two runway near misses, now lawmakers want answers.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper on Capitol Hill where in just a few hours, President Biden is going to deliver his second State of the Union Address. The speech tonight is meant to lay out President Biden's goals for the coming year, but it's also a test run to sharpen his message, as he is expected to launch a re-election campaign.
I sat down with the president and other TV news anchors this afternoon for an off-the-record conversation. I can say that the president seemed in good spirits. He seemed eager to share his optimism with the American people.
We do expect from separate reporting to hear President Biden mention a wide variety of topics tonight, including inflation and the economy, health care, policing reform, combating the opioid crisis, topics that are familiar ones for the president. But the dynamic, of course, is much different than last year's speech. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will be sitting over his shoulder as Biden delivers his remarks. Since the House of Representatives is now controlled by Republicans.
CNN's Phil Mattingly starts off our coverage from the White House with a closer look now at the last-minute preparations happening right now.
HOUSE SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Biden, a State of the Union Address that carries the weight of far more than a laundry list of policy priorities, where two years of legislative wins, rapid economic recovery, and a public health crisis waning --
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to talk to the American people and let them know the state of affairs.
MATTINGLY: -- have given Biden and his top advisers no shortage of accomplishments to highlight in front of Congress and millions watching at home in prime-time. But the moment and the audience critical for a White House still grappling with an electorate registering widespread unease, a newly divided Congress, and the partisan battles ahead.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Mr. President, congressional Republicans are ready to act.
MATTINGLY: All as a series of real time challenges have required revisions in the months-long process of crafting the speech. From mass shootings and police brutality to a brazen challenge from a geopolitical adversary, as the largest European ground war in 80 years grinds on. Moments that will be highlighted by First Lady Jill Biden's guests for the speech, as Biden presses to evaluate his administration's progress from blowout job gains just last week and an agenda now law and taking hold across the country.
BIDEN: It's about making investments in American cities, towns, heartlands in rural America. It's about making things here in America again. It's about good jobs. It's about the dignity of work. It's about respect and self-worth and it's about damned time we're doing it.
MATTINGLY: But also a clear message that there is more work to be done.
BIDEN: We're the only nation in the world that's come out of every crisis stronger than before we went in. And that's what we're doing now.
MATTINGLY: A not-so-subtle hint about another major speech that advisers say may come in the next few weeks.
BIDEN: So let me ask you a simple question. Are you with me?
MATTINGLY: And, Jake, while there is no timeline about a potential re-election announcement, one thing is clear, White House officials don't view this as just an opportunity to look back at the progress of the last two years. In fact, one of the constant threats throughout the president's remarks tonight, according to advisers, finish the job. They know there's more work to be done and they believe the president can demonstrate he's the man to do it, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thank you so much.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Abby Phillip are here with me now.
Kaitlan, how much of tonight's speech do you think will be President Biden testing out a possible message for his 2024 re-election campaign?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, CNN THIS MORNING: I don't think all of it will be about 2024. It's not going to be this big campaign rally-style speech. It will be a more serious speech reflecting on what they've done and what they think that will look like over the next two years as it's implemented, because the White House is looking at the same polls we are that show Biden is not getting a lot of credit for Americans. I think over 60 percent of Americans don't think he's accomplished that much. That's because it's not basically set in yet, it hasn't taken effect. People haven't got to realize some of those legislative accomplishments that he definitely has gotten done. I think that will be more of the message tonight selling that, and what you'll see is a sales pitch him on the road going forward after the State of the Union.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I do think what we'll see in this speech is Biden making the pitch not just for the next year or the State of the Union as it stands right now, but what he would like the American people to allow him to do, perhaps in another term. I think that a lot of the things that you're going to hear about today are not going to be things that they reasonably think can be done in this particular Congress, as it's constituted, with Republicans running the House, and Democrats with a very slim majority.
So, all State of the Unions' large wish list items, but I think Biden is going to be road testing an argument to the American people that he needs more time to do a lot of the things that he's promised, when he ran the first time, and also that he has on his agenda for the next few years.
TAPPER: How do you think, Kaitlan, how do we think this speech will be different than if Democrats had been able to hold on to the House of Representatives, which, you know, historically, is a very difficult thing to be done? I just mean in terms of the fact that there is this reality that's going to be sitting over his shoulder, Kevin McCarthy and the new speaker, who disagrees with Biden on a whole host of things?
PHILLIP: Yeah, it's going to look a lot different than what it has in the past. I think what they'll try to use with that is showing, you know, the chaos that we've seen happen with Republicans, as they were electing house speaker. They're going to be really seeking to draw divide.
We just had an on-the-record briefing with Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer, the two Democratic leaders over here on the Hill. That's what they said they believe a lot of this will look like, is showing what that divide can be.
But also, they're walking into this with better odds in the House than they thought they were going into in the midterm elections. They actually have a -- Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House. So they think that serves them.
And I think they will be trying to draw a divide in what they've gotten done over the last two years, and not expecting a ton of legislation to happen over the next two years.
TAPPER: And Speaker McCarthy has reportedly reminded his caucus that they need to behave and we've seen them not just misbehaving in his leadership race, but also, you know, in the last year's State of the Union Address and previous events, where Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, just to be fair, were making spectacles of themselves.
PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, look, this is a conference that he's dealing with that actually feels emboldened, despite not -- despite Republicans underperforming in the last midterms. So I think McCarthy, this is actually a test for him. Can he convey the importance of decorum in that room to a group of members who each one of them feels like they are each empowered in their own right to do, frankly, whatever they want.
I don't think, though, you know, maybe I'll eat my words later tonight, but I don't think that we will see Marjorie Taylor Greene, necessarily, or even Lauren Boebert --
TAPPER: You're betting on Boebert and Greene, okay --
PHILLIP: Greene, for example, she has integrated herself in Republican leadership.
PHILLIP: And she's trying to portray herself in a very different light. And so, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw Republicans really toning it down. They have the gavel now. There's really no reason for them to make a spectacle.
But, I'll probably eat my words later tonight when we're talking at 11:00 tonight.
TAPPER: And the State of the Union from the oldest president in American history, the response will be delivered by the youngest governor in America, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was Donald Trump's -- President Trump's press secretary. What do we think she's going to say?
COLLINS: Yeah, obviously, she's going to push back. They're going to talk about what we saw happen this week.
Look at how Republicans seized on what was happening with the surveillance balloon from China that was floating across. Now they used that to criticize Biden's leadership. We're going to see so much more of that, of course, as we are gearing up for that expected re- election announcement from President Biden, whenever it does come.
So they're going to draw a sharp contrast. The other thing, though, it's not just the formal response from Republicans, which governor Sanders is expected to give.
Also, former President Trump is expected to weigh in, as well. He'll be giving his own response, essentially. People will be watching to see what he says, how he criticizes Biden in that sense. I think it's pretty obviously what he will say. They do not think that he did a good job, but that is something that they're going to use tonight.
TAPPER: It's a pretty thankless task giving the response to whoever the president of the United States is. I was going to be mean and give you a quiz -- a pop quiz about who gave the response last year, it was the governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds. But it's not -- you might think, oh, anybody would want to have that national audience. Not necessarily.
PHILLIP: Yeah, ask Marco Rubio, who it became a punch line for Donald Trump, actually, on the campaign trail when he gave his response.
It's a tough job. And honestly, the task is really to do no harm. If you want to present the alternative to what the president is saying up there, but not make it about yourself. It has, in a lot of times in the past, been seen as a platform for people with aspirations as Marco Rubio was seen at one point, as Bobby Jindal was seen at one point.
I think at this point, it's not quite that anymore. I think people recognize, you just need someone competent. I think Kim Reynolds was actually a great example of how a competent, do-no-harm kind of speech lays out the Republican agenda. Doesn't make any huge waves, but gives Americans who are interested just something else to chew on, as they digest what the president has said.
I mean, one last thing. Just as Kaitlan was saying about the 60 percent statistic of Americans who don't think Biden did anything. I don't know that 60 percent of Americans know much about any one topic, right? And so, it's very hard to expect that Americans are going to digest a speech that is already probably too long, it's going to be like probably an hour long. And take a whole lot away from it.
And so, for Biden, I think, a lot of what is going to happen tonight is he needs to deliver it strongly to present to the American people a picture of a president who has, who has two more years in him, and maybe four more years after that.
COLLINS: One thing Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer was saying earlier, it's not necessarily how Biden delivers it that he's concerned about, he wants more people watching. That is what they want because those numbers are real. They want people to hear President Biden lay out what he's gotten done.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan and Abby, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Join me and my colleague, Anderson Cooper this evening for special live coverage of President Biden's State of the Union Address. That begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here CNN.
Coming up, Chinese government official now say that all of that debris from the suspected spy balloon that the U.S. shot down, hey, that belongs to China, not the United States. Give it back.
Then, new accusations against the five Memphis police officers charged with the beating death of Tyre Nichols. These involve a different attack three days earlier.
TAPPER: In our world lead, Chinese government officials today are protesting with, claiming that that debris from the suspected spy balloon that hovered over North America for more than a week, but was shot down by the U.S. belongs to them and the U.S. should hand over the debris. The statement comes just days after the Biden administration shot it down over the Atlantic, off the coast of South Carolina.
Today, the U.S. Navy released these photos, showing the balloon being pulled out of the water. The debris will be sent for testing to determine the type of intelligence that may have been onboard.
CNN's Oren Liebermann takes a look now at the new information that the U.S. is learning.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Bit by tattered bit, salvage teams have pulled the remnants of the Chinese high altitude balloon out of the Atlantic Ocean, learning its secrets now just a matter of time. The first recovered parts already at Quantico for FBI analysis. CNN has reviewed parts of an Air Force report from last April that show the trajectory of one high altitude balloon that flew around the world in 2019 during the Trump administration.
According to the report called "People's Republic of China High- Altitude Balloons", the balloon was launched and controlled by China, as it drifted near Hawaii and over southern Florida at 65,000 feet. But it's unclear when the U.S. first became aware of the 2019 balloon or its intent.
A House Armed Services Committee hearing on the threat China poses to U.S. national security focused on this balloon.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Make no mistake, that balloon was intentionally launched as a calculated show of force. We have to stop being naive about the threat we face from China.
LIEBERMANN: The commander of Northern Command and NORAD, General Glen VanHerck, acknowledged that there was an awareness gap that allowed three balloons to overfly parts of the United States during the Trump administration. China's initial apology for this latest incident they claim was a weather balloon has turned into indignation. China says the balloon debris doesn't belong to the U.S. and they want it back.
MAO NING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): What I can say is that this air ship belongs to China and not the United States.
LIEBERMANN: A high-level group of congressional leaders will get a briefing tomorrow. That group known as the Gang of Eight. Their staffers got a briefing earlier today. That briefing is expected to come from North Com and NORAD commander, General Glen VanHerck -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks so much. Joining me now to discuss, Republican Congressman Mike Waltz of
Florida. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and an Army veteran.
Congressman, the Gang of Eight, including Congressman Turner, they're expected to be briefed tomorrow on what the U.S. officials have been able to learn about the suspected spy balloon. What kind of information do you want to learn from that briefing?
REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL): Well, I want to learn what the Chinese were able to extract. We've heard from the Pentagon, there really wasn't much additive value to their satellites. But clearly, the Chinese think there is in doing this incredibly provocative act.
I'm also very interested in the timing of it, why now? Right on the heels of Biden and Xi's kind of detente type engagement and just before Secretary Blinken was going out.
So, you know, sending it over the continental United States, which they did deliberately, that is very clear. It was incredibly provocative. I mean, it's kind of a middle finger, frankly, to our diplomacy.
WALTZ: So what were they thinking and why and what were their motivations and what were they able to get and transmit back?
TAPPER: And what do you make of the Chinese demanding the debris be returned to them?
WALTZ: That's just garbage. I mean, that's just rich, right? I mean, we shot it down over our territorial waters.
Now, I would argue, we should have shot it down in the other ocean, in the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic Ocean.
TAPPER: Before it entered U.S. air space?
WALTZ: Well, as it entered our nautical waters, clearly on a trajectory that we could see was entering U.S. airspace and Canadian airspace.
So I also want to understand the decisions and why they were made to not take this out on the front end. If we saw the trajectory, it was over our territorial waters and we know there's a history of them having these spy balloons.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that. CNN has some exclusive reporting about a U.S. military report from last year, that suggested a spy -- a Chinese spy balloon circumnavigated the globe, including flying over Hawaii and Florida, your home state, in 2019 --
TAPPER: -- during the Trump administration. The Biden White House has offered briefings about this to Trump officials, as they say. But listen to what former Trump official Mark Esper called Kaitlan Collins on "CNN THIS MORNING" just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, FORMER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DEFENSE SECRETARY: I haven't heard from them yet, but we'll see. Give them a few more days.
COLLINS: What questions do you still have about this whole incident?
ESPER: Why didn't we detect it, right? That's question number. So -- and how -- what are we doing to address it? So, that's a big issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How concerned are you about this intelligence gap and not knowing about this?
WALTZ: Well, look, first, let's talk for a second about the White House's messaging. When they first came out and said, no, no, this happened under Trump, too -- the strong implication was, hey, quick beating us up for not taking stronger action. Neither did Trump or his officials. It was only after a whole slew of very credible national security officials said, we didn't know ain't.
Now the story has changed and saying, oh, well, it was undetected back then. There was no way they could have known about it. So, look --
TAPPER: That's true.
WALTZ: I think there was some spin --
WALTZ: -- got ahead of the facts, from the Pentagon. That said, I mean, we still have a lot to learn. Could our censors not detect it? Was it pointed in the wrong direction? Is it an altitude issue? These things move in between where we can detect aircraft and where we can detect satellites. Did the China know that and exploit it?
So, again, a lot of questions are being answered. We will have a series of briefings to understand this better and then if we need to, in the defense bill, address it. Obviously, we need to do so sooner than later.
TAPPER: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said the House is gathering more details on the spy maroon and is working to draft a resolution that will condemn the China government flying the balloon over the U.S. I thought originally it was going to be a resolution condemning the Biden administration's response to it. Did that change?
WALTZ: My understanding, I haven't talked to, you know, Majority Leader Scalise directly about it, is we want to present something that is bipartisan, that this is an America issue, not a Republican or a Democrat issue. I certainly disagree with aspects of how the Biden administration has responded to this. But at the end of the day, we need to condemn the Chinese communist party and their actions to violate our air space with one voice.
TAPPER: And you wrote an interesting op-ed comparing the spy balloon to when Russia launched the Sputnik satellite into space in 1957.
You wrote, quote: The United States has been under an espionage assault from China for years, but much of it has been behind the scenes. They didn't need to send a balloon given their rapidly expanding constellation of spy satellites, but I'm glad they did. It was a very visible symbol of what so many of us have been ringing the alarm bells about for years. But, until last week, the magnitude and sheer scale of the Chinese operations were often cleverly hidden behind the scenes.
So do you think this is a wake-up call for the American people?
WALTZ: I hope it's a wake-up call for the American people. This was very visible. I think, you know, everyday Americans who don't normally dive into national security issues were asking, what the heck is going on and why can't we defend against it? Why can they do this?
And to your point, just as -- and the point of my op-ed, just as this was a wake-up call in 1957 about the cold war that they were in then and that we couldn't take success in that Cold War for granted, I hope this is a wake-up call at the end of the day that this is a far more dangerous enemy. They control our supply chains. They seek to supplant us.
And this isn't about the Chinese people. This is about a dictatorial communist regime that seeks to defeat the United States. And we need a wake-up call as a society that this is all of society, all of government competition, and I would argue that they have entered into a cold war with us. We need to wake up to that fact, too.
TAPPER: All right. Congressman Waltz, good to see you. Thank you so much.
TAPPER: Enjoy the State of the Union tonight.
Coming up next on THE LEAD, a mounting death toll. More than 7,200 people killed by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria as rescuers are racing the clock to reach people buried alive. We're live on the ground.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead and the tragedy in Turkey and Syria following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit early Monday morning.
Here's what we know right now. The death toll at last count has risen to 7,200 people. The first quake was followed by a destructive 7.5 magnitude aftershock nine hours later. That was just one of more than 125 other aftershocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At least 6,000 buildings in southern Turkey and Northern Syria have completely collapsed.
Now, CNN's Becky Anderson brings us up closer to the utter devastation.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From underneath the destruction, the momentary sigh of relief as search and rescue teams find a sign of life while sifting through the rubble.
But seconds later, another lifeless body is found. Monday's devastating quake has left an ever-growing death toll in its thousands, leaving families across Turkey and Syria without homes, and without loved ones. As the snow falls, grief is being compounded with freezing conditions. Huddled around small fire, survivors worry about friends and relatives still trapped under the rubble.
Forbidden by authorities to intervene, Murat Alinak says he just wants to help recover his relatives to give them a proper sendoff.
MURAT ALINAK, EARTHQUAKE VICTIM (through translator): We were under the snow without a home, without anything. We can overcome this. We can fast for 40 days and still overcome this. But let us recover for the funerals.
ANDERSON: International aid has poured in from all corners of the world. France, Mexico, Germany, and India are some of the countries who have pledged to step up efforts. Planes carrying supplies from Iran and Iraq also arriving in Damascus on Tuesday.
As C-17 cargo planes from the UAE flew quickly to the quake-stricken area.
UMUR ZAMANOGLU, TURKISH SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM LEADER: Now, 25,000, the Turkish search and rescue crew is on the mission. And more estimates 5,000 people is coming from the other country.
ANDERSON: Back in Gaziantep, survivors at this gas station are desperately trying to fill up and find safety away from the destruction. Gas lines stretch throughout the airport with cancellations expected for at least three days.
And Turkey's Erdogan declaring a state of emergency for the next three months, passengers slowly resigned to the fact that there may be no escape anytime soon.
ANDERSON (on camera): And, Jake, likely no escape for those who are caught underneath the rubble in the building behind me here. This was until 4:15 a.m. on Monday morning here, an eight-story building. There were four flats per building, so the rescuers here estimate there were between 100 and 150 people in this building. And sadly, as we understand it, nobody has come out alive, as of yet.
But as with many of these rescue, search and rescue sites, where there is hope, there is heart. And where there is heart, the efforts will continue to try to ensure that they have rescued anybody left alive under the rubble -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Becky Anderson in Turkey for us, thank you so much.
If you're looking for ways to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, you can go to CNN.com/impact.
Coming up, new action taken against more Memphis police officers after the beating death of Tyre Nichols.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, seven more Memphis police officers are facing discipline for their actions in the brutal beating of 29-year- old Tyre Nichols, which ultimately, of course, led to his death. Officials say the actions are not criminal in nature. This comes as five officers are facing second-degree murder charges for the assault.
CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Memphis, Tennessee, for us.
And, Nick, the city council where you are met today to discuss nearly a dozen police reform proposals. What happened?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most significant news, Jake, was those officers that they will be disciplined, seven additional officers, bringing the total to at least 13 who either already have faced discipline and will be terminated or will face disciplinary action. This is separate from what the TBI is doing in their criminal investigation.
The city council meeting was emotional and at times tense. The police chief was particularly grilled by members of the city council and in one tense exchange, it was alleged that she was like "Where's Waldo?" in the days after this incident took place.
She asked whether what happened to Nichols was a culture problem or a training problem. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CERELYN DAVIS, MEMPHIS POLICE: Culture is not something that changes overnight. You know, there is a saying in law enforcement that culture eats policy for lunch. We don't want to just have good policies, because policies can be navigated around. We want to ensure that we have the right people in place to ensure our culture is evolving and it's changing to the philosophy that we're talking about, the reforming and the reimagining of what policing looks like in our community. So having the right people in the right place at the right time is criminally important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: There were more than a dozen public safety reforms on the agenda, including support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It was a well-attended city council meeting, Jake, with those that attended being very clear that they want the end to plains clothes and unmarked cars being used in traffic stops and they want more transparencies when it comes to the data involving those traffic stops to know why people are pulled over and what happens to them afterwards.
We're expecting a long line when it comes to public comment, which is expected to get underway here at any moment. Jake?
TAPPER: And, Nick, a new lawsuit claims that the five officers specifically charged for Nichols' death allegedly assaulted a different man just three days before. Tell us about that.
VALENCIA: That's right, 22-year-old Monterrious Harris who is a U.S. Navy veteran, claims that three days prior to Nichols stop, he was assaulted by the Scorpion unit. He says the same five officers that were charged with second-degree murder in the beating of Nichols contributed to his assault. He claims in the lawsuit that the police report was falsified, making no mention that he was beaten during his arrests. He is suing the city of Memphis, as well as the police department, Jake.
We reached out to the city of Memphis, as well as the police department and the attorneys for these officers have not got to comment back, but the police department says they do not comment on ongoing litigation -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia in Memphis, Tennessee.
And I want to bring in right now, Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush from Missouri, along with her guest for tonight's State of the Union Address, Michael Brown Sr., whose 18-year-old son was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
Thanks to both of you for being here.
Congresswoman, let me -- let me start with you. It seems likely that President Biden will talk about policing reform in some capacity this evening.
What do you want him to say?
REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): You know, that this is more than just about accountability, you know? There has to be actual change that people can feel. And you can feel it because people's lives are saved.
So, what we -- you know, can we -- can we bring to the table legislation that we have? We have Helping Families Heal Act, which would make sure that there are money going into our schools and funding mental health agencies to make sure that they are dealing with the trauma that so many youth are facing -- young and adults are facing after police violence.
But we also have the people's response act, where we can send in mental health professionals when there is a 911 call for a mental health crisis. We can send in someone who is an expert on substance juice issues when there is a substance use crisis. When there's an issue with our unhoused community members, send in someone who does that work. Sent in those experts instead of sending in those who are not qualified or trained to be able to deal with those situations, because what it does it frees them up to be able to work in an area where they have the specialty, where they are the experts.
But obviously, what about civilian traffic enforcement? 911 diversion programs? Those are the things that we can see and we can see that now.
TAPPER: You're talking about a reimagining of how we police in this country, which probably a lot of police would like that. They don't want to focus on mental health issues. They don't have the expertise.
BUSH: Right, exactly, exactly. I want to -- I want to redefine it. I want to redefine public safety into a public health issue.
TAPPER: Mr. Brown, first of all, how are you doing?
MICHAEL BROWN SR., FATHER OF MICHAEL BROWN JR. WHO WAS KILLED BY POLICE IN 2014: Every day is still different. Still working on my foundation. Still doing a lot of community work. Doing things in my community and moving around trying to help the families all around the nation that's sadly losing their loved ones.
TAPPER: So you heard the police chief from Memphis there saying something about, you can make as many policy changes as you want, but you have to change the culture, she said, she quoted the old saying, culture eats policy for lunch. Meaning, it doesn't matter what you tell people what to do, you have to change how they think and how they act, as we saw with Tyre.
How does that -- how do you change policing so the communities are still being protected and still being safe, but there are fewer Tyres out there?
BROWN: Well, you got to -- we definitely have got to hit it from the inner core first. You know, we've been tiptoeing around this for a long time. This is the reason we're still having these problems. You know, so, like I said, I was there for the memorial of this weekend for Tyre. We've got a whole lot work to do. It's too much talking and no action, so, we've got to figure out what that action is going to be. TAPPER: Some of your work in this effort, in this area is going to be
challenged by the fact that Republicans now control the House and there are a lot of skeptics of policing reform and criminal justice reform. The new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan, says he's not clear if there's any policing reform that could have stopped what happened to Tyre Nichols.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I don't know that there's any law that can stop that evil that we saw, that is just -- I mean, just difficult to watch. I don't think that these five guys represent the vast, vast majority of law enforcement. But I don't know that there's anything that you can do to stop the kind of evil we saw in that video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you make of that?
BUSH: So I also remember, in an interview, he added to that, that no amount of training -- something -- you know, I'm paraphrasing, but no amount of training could have helped that. So I'm going to say, yes, I agree to that. That that is not a training issue. The training that is received is something that allows Black people to be killed, you know, disproportionately in this country.
So putting more money there is not -- that's not how we fix this problem. And the reason -- one reason why I go back to that is because I remember when Philando Castile was murdered, when he was killed, more money, the governor said, we're going to put more money, something like $12 million or something like that. We'll put more money into training.
Well, then, you know, George Floyd is dead. So is that training? You know, what does that look like? So what I'm saying is, you know, when our chairman, because I am on that committee, I'm on the judiciary committee, whether it's -- whether we're talking about training, whether we're talking about what accountability looks like, if we don't go and deal with who are the rank and file and who are not, because there are people who are sitting in these seats.
And I've talked to police officers who have said, you know, we can't move up. You know, they block us from moving up, especially Black and Brown officers. We can't move up. They're the ones out doing this work, trying to really bring community policing into the communities and we're blocked. Or they won't allow us to move into positions where we can actually make change.
Well, that hurts our communities. But I will say this. Just having Black and Brown officers also don't make us safe.
TAPPER: Well, as you saw with Tyre Nichols.
BUSH: Absolutely. And having more officers don't keep us safe. We invest in our social safety net, we invest in people, we invest in job programs, we invest in education, we invest in health care, we invest in us. That's how we make us safe.
TAPPER: So Mr. Brown, Tyre Nichols' parents are going to be here tonight at State of Union, guests of the first lady. We just learned seven additional officers are going to be disciplined.
Are you satisfied so far with how Memphis has reacted in terms of the accountability since Tyre Nichols died?
BROWN: Well, I think that they're showing what should be happening on both side of the badge. You know, these -- this is the first in history I would say black officers get fired and convicted this quick, you know?
So I think that we need to -- we need to overall look at this situation and see -- we don't have to see what the problem is. The problem is right there in our face. So we do need better training, on both ends and yeah, it's just a sad situation.
TAPPER: Very sad.
Michael Brown Sr., it's always good to see you. Congresswoman Bush, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Near collisions on runways, delays, cancellations, lost bags. A conversation today to address major issues in the airline industry, that's next.
TAPPER: Back now with more in our national lead. Thousands of flights have been cancelled flights. They're delayed over the holidays. Flights grounded nationwide after an outdated safety system failure. Two near collisions at two different airports.
It's been a rather bumpy ride to say the least over the past few months for U.S. airlines and for the Federal Aviation Administration and now, lawmakers here on Capitol Hill want to know what is being done about all this.
Here is CNN's Pete Muntean.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The newest case of a near-collision on the runway comes as aviation officials are facing tough questions from Congress. Before dawn Saturday, a FedEx Boeing 767 was about to land at Austin's International Airport as a Southwest Airlines 737 was told to take off from the same ran runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board tells CNN the FedEx crew aborted their landing plans unprompted and started to climb averting disaster.
TOWER: FedEx is on the go.
JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: They saved in my view 128 people from a potential catastrophe.
MUNTEAN: NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy says the two planes came within 100 feet of colliding in thick fog. It comes three weeks after another near collision at JFK where a Delta Airlines flight abruptly stopped its takeoff as an American Airlines flight taxied across the runway in front of it.
TOWER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance!
MUNTEAN: The NTSB now says in both incidents, cockpit voice recorders timed out after two hours and not 25 like the agency recommended, leaving investigators without key clues.
HOMENDY: The ability to have accident data from cockpit audio as well as image recorders is critical.
MUNTEAN: Issues in the air are being met with issues on the ground from last month's FAA computer system failure that paralyzed airports to southwest holiday travel melt down that cancelled more than 16,000 flights.
SCOTT KIRBY, UNITED AIRLINES CEO: The operating environment is much more difficult.
MUNTEAN: United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby predicts a rough year for aviation and says his airline is trying to control what it can.
Brand-new graduates from United's industry first flights school are now headed to new jobs, on their way to sure up pilot shortages at the airlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last integration of older pilots is starting to leave.
MUNTEAN: Industry figures say more people now work at major airlines than before the pandemic but the pressure is on to keep their safety record clean.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Takes a lot of work to keep it that way, and we need to make sure we continue advancing as we see more and more demand, more and more complexity, more and more technology coming into the national air space.
MUNTEAN (on camera): Aviation experts say the two near collisions on the runway are freak accidents on their own but together, they could hint the aviation system now is fragile, especially with so many new workers joining the industry. Today's hearing officially kicks off the process of Congress setting
the FAA's budget, a practice these latest headlines made more interesting than ever -- Jake.
TAPPER: I'll bet. Pete Muntean, thanks so much for that update. Appreciate it.
Embattled Congressman George Santos has unexpected guests at tonight's State of the Union Address. Who are they? We'll tell you ahead.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, will he do it? In a few hours, LeBron James could become the highest scoring NBA player of all time.
Plus, the death toll from that earthquake in Turkey and Syria reaching 7,200 people and the death toll is only expected to rise as crews dig through the wreckage. CNN just reached one of the hardest hit areas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Building that seems to be split and fallen in two, and here, excavators and bear hands being used to try to get to anybody who might still be alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And leading this hour, in just a few hours, President Biden will deliver the second State of the Union Address, this time before a divided Congress.
Earlier today, I attended lunch with President Biden and other TV news anchors. It was off the record, but I can tell you the president did seem upbeat and eager to convey his optimism about the nation and he hopes that others will join him in that optimism.
Tonight's address is being viewed by many observers as a test run for Biden's messaging for a potential second term.
CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill.
Manu, walk us through what we're going to see unfold here in the next few hours.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we expect around 8:30 Eastern Time, that's when the House will gavel into session, when Kevin McCarthy will take the gavel and call the House into order before the senators come in there and the formal procession of all the president's guests, and then the president himself making an address to the nation in the 9:00 p.m. Eastern Hour, an address expected to run an hour or so, where he'll layout accomplishments, things that he is trying to sell to the American public at a time when voters are showing that they do not believe the president has done enough.