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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Mike Pence Fighting Special Counsel Subpoena; Norfolk Southern Derails Again In Ohio; Suspected Poisoning Of Iranian Schoolchildren; Apartheid In Jackson, Mississippi; U.S. Census: 83 Percent Of Residents In Jackson Are Black; Jackson's Mayor Likens Bill Passed By State House To "Apartheid"; Californians Trapped By "Walls Of Snow," Supplies Dwindling; Study: "Keto-Like" Diet May Be Linked To Higher Risk Of Heart Disease; Chris Rock Jokes About Infamous Oscars Slap In New Stand-Up Special. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 06, 2023 - 17:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: In this motion that they have filed to this judge, you're right, Jake. They are citing that speaker debate clause, saying that those are the grounds that they are arguing that Mike Pence should not have to go and fully comply with what the subpoena is from the special counsel, Jack Smith, who is obviously investigating not only the classified documents situation at Mar-a-Lago, but for this situation, it's the January 6th investigation.

And Jack Smith wants to speak to the former vice president and wants documents related to that. But I am told that Pence's legal team filed this motion on Friday night seeking to block this, asking a judge to block this federal grand jury subpoena.

That notably came, Jake, the same night that Trump's legal team also filed a motion to fight the subpoena, but they're arguing it based on the grounds of executive privilege, basically that the president and his senior aides can have those internal communications that don't have to be shared.

This is a separate matter that Pence's legal time is trying to block it on. Now, Pence's team did not comment, neither did the Justice Department, but it will be interesting to see where this goes because what I'm told that Pence is doing with this is basically trying to block the testimony that they believe is related to and pertains to his legislative actions on that day, how he was acting as president of the Senate.

And that could potentially cover a pretty broad swath of what his testimony could be. They're not saying just that he won't testify overall, but that is the argument that they're making there, Jake. And we'll see if the former vice president is successful in that. Of course, he has written a book where he talked about things that happened leading up to January 6th on January 6th that could potentially complicate this fight both when it comes to the former president and to Pence himself in this motion. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yeah. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much with

that first on CNN news. Turning into our "National Lead" now, the National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to Springfield, Ohio, after a second, a second Norfolk Southern train derailed in that state in just over a month. The EPA and Ohio officials say there were very small amounts of hazardous materials in the derailed cars, but the crash is once again raising concerns about the safety of Norfolk Southern trains and trains in general in the United States. CNN's Jason Carroll is in Springfield, Ohio near the site of this second derailment.


UNKNOWN: The gates came down. And all of a sudden right after that, it just started crashing.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caught on cellphone video, another Norfolk Southern freight train comes off the tracks, this time in Springfield, Ohio.

SEAN HEATON, WITNESS: When I looked up, all kinds of debris was shooting out underneath the train. So, I started recording, and you could see the train like get off in the gravel and then start collapsing and banking up.

CARROLL (voice-over): There were 212 cars on the 2 1/2-mile-long train, 28 derailed. No one was hurt. Four derailed tankers did contain residual amounts of chemicals, though county officials say nothing spilled on the ground.

CHARLES PATTERSON, HEALTH COMMISSIONER, CLARK COUNTY OH COMBINED HEALTH DISTRICT: There are no hazardous materials that have contacted the soil, been exposed to the air or contacted any of the water sources.

CARROLL (voice-over): Today, the National Transportation Safety Board visited the crash site as part of its investigation into this latest derailment.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB CHAIR: We will look at management practices and policies. We'll really dig in so the what of an accident investigation is usually immediately available. It's how we got here. That's what takes time.

CARROLL (voice-over): This is the fourth train derailment in Ohio since November and the second by Norfolk Southern in the state in just over a month. More than 3 hours away in East Palestine, Ohio, the cleanup continues as contaminated water and soil are being removed, though heavy rains have caused some delays. There, a faulty wheel bearing overheated, causing a fire that was caught on camera miles before the train derailed. Subsequent toxic spill forced many from their homes and is still causing health concerns.

SEN SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): The railroads continue to enrich their executives at the expense of public safety and public health and lay off workers and compromise on safety. So, the fact Ohio's now had four derailments as of yesterday, four derailments in the last five months. East Palestine was the most serious, but we still have questions about these other derailments too.

CARROLL (voice-over): Norfolk Southern says safety is of the utmost importance and today announced a six-point plan that includes installing more temperature sensors, the first near East Palestine. This, as the investigation continues into what caused the derailment here in Springfield.


(On camera): And Jake, as you can see, one of the rail cars out here in Springfield still on its side. Investigators still have been unable to remove it. NTSB is here on the ground at last check. They are conducting a meeting right now with both county and local officials as well as a representative from the rail company as well.


NTSB saying it's just too soon at this point to be talking about what caused this derailment. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much. And speaking of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy is with us. She is the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB. Let me just start with the question I think on a lot of viewers' minds. What do you say to Americans out there who read about constant train derailments and plane near misses on tarmacs and wonder just what the hell is going on?

HOMENDY: Yeah. I mean, that's a great question, Jake. It is really tragic what's happening right now and we are investigating many of these tragedies, whether it's a near collision in our air space or on the ground or whether it's a derailment. We will get to the bottom of all of this and issue safety recommendations.

But, you know, one thing I can tell the viewers is, our aviation system is the safest in the world. It is the gold standard. And when it comes to rail, generally our rail system is safe. Certainly, we would not want to see more tankers on our roads where thousands of people die annually and many more are injured. But that's not really a consolation of course for those in East Palestine who are suffering.

TAPPER: Your agency is sending investigators to West Central Ohio to investigate this second train derailment by Norfolk Southern. What are you specifically looking for? What are you hoping to learn?

HOMENDY: Yeah. Well, right now the team is on the ground and it sounds like they're at their organizational meeting where they will begin to ask for factual information from the different entities that are there, whether it's state and local or the railroads. And we will start evaluating the track. We'll look at the point of derailment. We'll look at the rail cars.

What they're doing on scene right now is looking at the perishable evidence. What that is, is the evidence -- everything that goes away once we release the scene and the railroad cleans up. So, we'll get that evidence and then we'll begin to collect the information that we could collect at any point and start really looking at the investigation and gathering facts.

TAPPER: The EPA and other emergency responders on the ground in Springfield have determined there was no hazardous spill from this train derailment. Several of the cars that were derailed were empty or had minimal toxic product. There were a few ethanol and propane tank cars on the train so this could have been much worse, but it was not, thankfully. Are the safety guidelines in place for trains right now good enough? Or are we going to keep seeing these derailments?

HOMENDY: Well, that's something we're going to look at in our investigation. The great thing about the NTSB and which is why we are independent, which is why we are separate from the U.S. Department of Transportation, is we conduct federal oversight. We'll look at regulations, law and see what's missing and report that in our final recommendation report.

TAPPER: The train that derailed on Saturday had 212 cars with two crew members on board. Is that an adequate number of crew members, two for a 212-car train?

HOMENDY: That's a great question. That is a really long train. And as you said, it had 28 cars of hazardous materials. There was a spill of a nonhazardous material, polyphene, about four dump trucks worth so, that had to be cleaned up. But two crews can be a really small amount, especially if something happens on the train en route and they have to inspect say a rail car or an axle. That can be quite an endeavor. So, we will look at that, again, as part of our investigation as well.

TAPPER: There have now been two train derailments in Ohio in the span of a month, both of them from Norfolk Southern, which made billions of dollars last year, billions, and is also doing billions in stock buybacks for its shareholders. Does it concern you about the safety of Norfolk Southern trains and are they spending too much money on things other than safety?

HOMENDY: Well, overall, train derailments have -- per million miles has gone up slightly. So, that is always a concern. And there's always a concern for safety in transportation. We can do more when it comes to rail safety.

For Norfolk Southern in particular, we will look at their management practices, their policies. We'll also look at safety culture. That's an important part of this, to make sure there is a safe -- a robust, comprehensive, strong safety culture in the railroad. And that will be part of what we look at.

TAPPER: I hear from Americans all the time who think, you know what, the fix is always in, these companies make billions of dollars, these rail lines in this instance, but it could be almost anything, really.


But these rail lines make billions of dollars and then they lobby Congress so that they have to do very, very little in terms of safety. And then what happened in East Palestine is just the natural result. What's your response to that?

HOMENDY: Well, we have seen improvements over the decades in rail safety, certainly over the last several decades we've reduced the number of accidents, but we can do so much more. And frankly, it should not take an act of Congress to improve rail safety. The NTSB has rail worker safety on our most wanted list of transportation safety improvements.

And over 250 recommendations on rail safety that haven't yet been implemented. So, actions should be taken now and it shouldn't require an act of Congress to do so. But if action isn't taken, then that's what has to be done.

TAPPER: Well, Norfolk Southern announced today that it will reform its hot bearing detectors that detect whether or not the bearings of the train are heating up too much after your agency said in a report that the East Palestine train derailment was caused by the train's wheel bearing overheating. Are you satisfied by the company's plan to reform these hot bearing detectors?

HOMENDY: Well, it's a good first step. I imagine we're going to have many more recommendations. I imagine we'll have some urgent safety recommendations. We've sent off the pressure relief valves and devices off to testing to check those. We're going to look at the tank cars. There were 15 tank cars, DOT 111 tank cars that don't have the type of fortification that other tank cars do. And so, we'll look at that as part of this investigation as well.

TAPPER: Just to explain to our viewers, you say there's the most wanted list of train safety, 250 recommendations. You've issued them already, is that -- was that what you're saying and you're just waiting for the railroads to just do this on their own voluntarily? How does it work?

HOMENDY: So, our recommendations, at the end of our investigation we issue a safety recommendation. And then those safety recommendations are looked at by those who receive them. It could be the Federal Railroad Administration. It could be other portions of the Department of Transportation. It could be the railroads. It could be firefighters or state and local entities.

And so, we have over 250 that are still on our books that are open, some of which are open unacceptable status because there has not been movement on those. But we're going to continue to advocate for those. When the NTSB ends an investigation, that doesn't stop our work. We then spend the rest of our time advocating and pushing entities to implement those recommendations because that's when real safety change occurs.

TAPPER: Right, but they don't have to do it, right?

HOMENDY: No, they do not. And you know, Jake, on that point, many people don't understand why the NTSB doesn't have regulatory authority. If we did, we would have to do cost benefit analysis. What we owe to the American people is what occurred, regardless of cost, regardless of feasibility, what happened and what would prevent it from happening again. And then the other entities like FRA, PHMSA and others can take a look at it and see if they want to implement it. But we continue to advocate for those recommendations to see them implemented.

TAPPER: NTSB chair, Jennifer Homendy, thank you so much. It sounds like you should get regulatory authority, but that's just me. I'm a different of cat.

Coming up, horrifying numbers out of Iran where officials now say they're investigating the suspected poisoning of 5,000 school children, mostly girls.

Then, trapped and cut off, more than 15 feet of snow has buried entire communities in the United States where people are running out of food and medications.

Plus, comedian Chris Rock slaps back at Will Smith, but did he miss his target? That's ahead.



TAPPER: TAPPER: And we're back with our "World Lead." Today, Iran's so-called supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the suspected poisoning of hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls a, quote, "unforgivable crime," although Iranian officials say they're investigating. So far, no one has been arrested.

On Saturday alone, CNN verified dozens of new poisonings across 10 provinces in Iran. CNN's Nima Elnagir talks to young victims and their families as investigators try to pin the girls' symptoms on anxiety.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Furious parents outside an education office Tehran.

TEXT: You are ISIS!

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Challenging Iranian authorities desperate for answers.

TEXT: Officials, come out, come out!

TEXT: Right now, my 8-year-old daughter is at home. I am scared. I am scared.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): After what is believed to be the worst day of incidents of suspected poisoning at girls' schools, these videos were filmed on Saturday, which marks the start of the school week in Iran. For months now, Iranian school girls and their families have been speaking out about incidents of suspected poisoning. The numbers of incidents reported to CNN in the dozens. Then over the weekend, dozens more. CNN was able to verify these new

incidents using video and witness testimony across 10 provinces. The U.S. and others are calling for Iran's authorities to investigate these incidents. But speaking to CNN, medical sources say they have been barred by hospital administrators from sharing details of symptoms and test results even with the patients' parents. We dubbed this doctor's voice for his safety.

UNKNOWN: I am inside Iran. My phone is being monitored. I can't share any more with you.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Iran's interior minister, after months of vague statements, now says suspicious samples have been found and are being assessed at laboratories. Parents, though, say they don't trust authorities to investigate.

UNKNOWN (through translation): To hell with this country and its rulers. We would be better off without a leader. This is our country. They don't know what they're doing. They don't even have medicine.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): All the incidents begin in a similar manner as described to us by students. A noxious smell and then --

UNKNOWN: I felt dizzy and fainted. I had dimness of vision and heart palpitations. All of us had identical symptoms. Palpitations, my hands and legs were numb and frozen. I was shaken. We had tears coming out of our eyes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): With no one so far held to account and parents no closer to answers, many continue to risk their lives to challenge Iran's authorities.

(On camera): What is so upsetting for these schoolgirls and their parents is that even while they are risking everything to call authorities to account, they're faced with this shifting narrative of both this claim the investigates will move forward but also the dismissal of so much of this as merely hysteria and rumor, Jake.

TAPPER: And Nima, in late February, your team published a story on the torture centers used by the Iranian regime to brutalize protesters, just protesters into submission. And now the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is calling for an investigation. What do we know about the scope of that investigation?

ELBAGIR: Well, our investigation found at least three dozen black sites across Iran, and we were working with an awareness that given the sourcing on this, given the fear that so many people face, that that was an incredibly conservative number.

What the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is calling for and as you know it, it is essentially the U.S. government's lead on foreign policy, is that the U.N. takes forward its international mandate to look into this and try and expand the scope of that beyond what we were able to do with the resources available to us. Those we're speaking to those who have spoken out to us, Jake, though

they see this as an incredible step forward. They are so heartened by this call on the part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They really feel vindicated.

TAPPER: Yeah. Amazing reporting as always Nima. Nima Elbagir, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, joins me live as lawmakers in his state discusses taking over part of the city's court system and legislation that he calls modern day apartheid. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our "Politics Lead," this hour, the Mississippi state senate is considering a controversial bill that critics call the 21st century Jim Crow. The area near the capitol government buildings right now in Jackson, that are has its own district patrolled by capitol police officers.

Republican lawmakers in the state house have passed a bill that would expand that specially designated district to encompass about a third of Jackson's population, including the densest populated white neighborhoods and also some of the city's most affluent.

This would also set up a separate court system for that district. Jackson as a whole is 83 percent black. Critics of this move say it's basically the white minority of the city taking control from the black leaders of a majority black city.

It's a move the city's mayor has called racist and likened to apartheid. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live for us in Jackson, Mississippi at the state capital. And Omar, state senate has made a few key changes to the House bill. How are residents and city leaders reacting to those changes?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. We just got out of a hearing with some of these residents and city leaders and really what they said, they were voicing concerns about how to address public safety here in Jackson, where violence has spiked in recent years. But more specifically, they were voicing concerns about this bill.

Now, some of the key changes from when it was first introduced on the House side to where it is now on the Senate side is rather than having a single district with these state-appointed judges and an expanded jurisdiction of this capitol police force, that jurisdiction now expands city wide.

You still though have the issue of having judges appointed by state leaders, which in this case are majority white instead of elected judges in a city that is more than 80 percent black. So, therein lies one of the major issues. And that jurisdiction of the capitol police force would expand city

wide meant to strike an agreement with the Jackson police force on how to police in theory together. So, I want you to take a listen to the district attorney over the area of Jackson along with the mother of a man who was killed by a capitol police officer and why she believes this expansion is not a good idea.


JODY OWENS, HINDS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's laughable to talk about new bills, new things when we have not addressed old problems. The problem is not the police department as a system that we're not funding to actually get the system working.

ARKELA LEWIS, MOTHER OF JAYLEN LEWIS: I know there are bills that this legislature has introduced that will expand capitol police's authority, possibly to the entire city of Jackson. And that terrifies me. It also angers me.


JIMENEZ: And there is a lot of anger around this. You look no further than t-shirts we've seen that it's "Jackson Versus Everybody," which is how many residents feel. Now, proponents of this bill, including its Republican sponsors say that this is really needed to help keep Jackson safer and to increase and bolster resources towards judges in these cases, or a judiciary that haven't seen as much investment to keep up with the pace of what they've had to deal with.


But obviously, opponents of this say there are better ways to address those concerns than this.

TAPPER: All right, Omar Jimenez in Jackson, Mississippi. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in the Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Mayor Lumumba, thanks so much for joining us. So the state Senate version of the bill would remove the creation of this new unelected court system for parts of Jackson, where a majority of the city's white population lives, which would you likened to apartheid. But the state Senate version does still expand state control over other parts of Jackson. Are you satisfied with the changes made to the bill by the state Senate?

MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA (D), JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: When I think about this bill in both of its forms, I think about the legal principle of res ipsa loquitur, which simply means that it is flawed in its very nature. And so, even with the changes, it is still an attack on black leadership.

It's still is a Trojan horse cloak, in the notion of public safety, where it is not evidence based, where it looks to not only failed to support the needs of the city that have been enumerated for many years. We have asked the state legislature for support in terms of ballistic technology to close cases. We have asked the state for support of our 21st century real time crime center that helps officers in when a crime is actively in progress. We have asked for support of violence interruption programming, and credible messenger programming, all which have been denied and have met a deliberate indifference or willful disregard of Jackson's needs.

In order to have evidence-based solutions, you would need to know that the overwhelming majority of our violent crimes in Jackson are interpersonal. And so that is a very difficult matter to police. And so, we're trying to enter intercede or stop this cycle, where people are taking permanent solutions to temporary problems and bring other resources and other forms of intervention to the table in order for it to help our residents.

TAPPER: One of the bills chief sponsors, state Representative Trey Lamar, he denies any racial motivation behind the legislation. He says the bill is an effort to address that crime in Jackson is soaring and there's a backlog in the courts. How do you respond?

LUMUMBA: Well, first and foremost, we just listened to the testimony of Cliff Johnson today of the MacArthur Justice Foundation that did a actual true data comparison of the backlogs of Hinds County in comparison to other counties in the state of Mississippi.

To scale what you find is that there isn't a significant backlog in comparison to other places. Cliff Johnson also when asked -- not Cliff Johnson, Trey Lamar, when asked Amadeus (ph) defending his bill, why he felt that judges needed to be appointed rather than elected, he said, well, we simply want the best of the best.

That feeds into the notion of inferiority, that feeds into the notion that this largely majority black city is not smart enough or equipped enough to know who best represents them. And there is no evidence- based rationale for the creation of this district, whichever version, first of all, if you take the first version, we would need to ask from Trey Lamar, while his version of the bill selected the most densely populated white portion of the city.

Jackson is at 85 percent black, but that portion is about 86 percent -- in compasses, 86 percent of the white population of Jackson was that by mere happenstance, there are no state facilities within that district. And so, you know, he is using the Trojan horse that has been used historically, on a number of occasions in order to disenfranchise, and in order to abuse largely black populations.

TAPPER: What would you say to a constituent who says, Mr. Mayor, I hear you and I agree, I don't trust the motivation of these individuals. But Jackson recorded the highest murder rate in the country for a city of over 100,000 people in 2021. Crime is a huge problem in Jackson.

I'd rather have something than nothing and they're not going to fund what you're asking for this at least would provide some relief from -- for the police that exist in the area that will not be included in this. LUMUMBA: Yes. But what I would say is that their concern is my concern. And that is why we continue to look for new solutions. That is why we not only recruit more officers, but talk about and build the institutions that I've told you about, such as our real time command center, which we've done through our own resources.

We've joined in with Wells Fargo Bank and National League of Cities to create an Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery. So that for every new officer or West, we're bringing on new officers, we're bringing on additional interventions, bringing in social workers and mental health experts to help curtail some of the challenges that we see in our community.

Our sharpest rise in violence has been amongst our youngest demographic. And so instead of doing a curfew where there isn't detention centers to hold people nor does it truly get to the root cause of why young people may find themselves in vulnerable places and vulnerable times, how do we have people who are specialized in the area of working with that population, so that we teach, train and support young people, if they don't take permanent solutions to their temporary problems.


We can talk about it continue, not only in addition to the things that I mentioned, other supports that help our police department. But what we don't want to do in a moment of crisis is reach for a solution which is worse than where we find ourselves.

TAPPER: All right, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Thank you so much for your time today, sir, we appreciate it.

LUMUMBA: Thank you.

TAPPER: The new warning about the trendy keto diet and how it could actually be bad for your health. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, a desperate situation in California as some residents remain trapped by walls of snow. Back-to-back winter storms are overwhelming mountain communities. And in San Bernardino County, emergency crews are struggling to reach people who are running out of food and medication.

CNN's Camila Bernal is live for us in Crestline, California. Camila, what are you hearing from residents in areas where grocery stores can't even open?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I'm hearing so much frustration and so much anger. Someone walked by me just a few minutes ago saying this is a mess. And rightfully so because it sort of is a mess. It's taking a long time to get all of these roads clear. That supermarket that you just mentioned, right behind me, this is the only one in this area. Of course, the roof collapsed because there was so much snow. And look, this community is coming together. There are a lot of people bringing donations just a few hours ago. They started bringing firewood.

And unfortunately, I've also talked to residents who've told me I can't even turn on my fireplace because there is so much snow on top of it. And I want to just show you some of the piles of snow just to give you perspective of what locals are dealing with, but also what officials are dealing with.

Right now what they're saying is that the priority is cleaning up the roads. They're about 80 percent done with that work. But now they have to go to the side streets. A lot of those streets are where you find the homes where people are in and can't get out because of those smaller roads that are blocking their entryway to maybe the main road.

We've also seen a lot of donations because of a lot of these people can't get to these places. Neighbors are coming and picking up donations, taking it to people who cannot get out of their homes. I talked to someone who told me, look, I've been here for more than 10 days and I'm starting to feel just extremely claustrophobic.

Someone said I feel like I'm in prison here. So it's just so much frustration. And authorities are just saying there's nothing you can do you just have to wait. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

Topping our health lead today, you may have heard of a keto or keto- like diet, that's low carbs, high fat. It's a meal plan. It's helped nearly one in five Americans, according to researchers, and it's clear why if you're trying to lose weight recipes, such as black and white keto fat bombs or cheesy bacon ranch chicken sounds, well, too good to be true. And now new Canadian study suggests they probably are.

CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now to break it down. Elizabeth, what did the researchers discover about the hugely popular keto diet?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, what they discovered basically is that for some people, it wasn't very good for their hearts. So let's take a look at what the researchers found. They looked at about 300 people some of whom were on a keto or keto-like diet. So in other words, very high in fat, some of those recipes you mentioned, and some of whom were on just a regular diet.

What they found when they followed these folks for 11 years. And that's one of the strengths of this study is that they follow them for such a long time. Nearly 10 percent of them who are on the keto-like diet had some kind of a cardiac event, a heart attack, a stroke, blocked arteries, whereas only 4.3 percent of the folks who are on the standard diet had one of those events.

Now, the researchers make it clear that there were, you know, certainly people who were on the keto diets who did not have higher cholesterol, who did not have heart problems. But certainly, those numbers even though it's a small percentage of each, there clearly is a difference there. Jake?

TAPPER: Elizabeth even before the keto diet became popular, doctors recommended it to some children with epilepsy. Is there still some usefulness to the diet if done correctly?

COHEN: There is, Jake. He really is sort of an interesting sort of beginning to how this started. Children with epilepsy, who were the drugs, you know, drug regimens weren't helping them, they would put them on this diet and it did help some of them. So that recommendation is still there for some children.

I mean, you have to consult with the doctor. You wouldn't want to just do this, but they have found that that diet can help some children who can't find relief from their epilepsy with medication.

TAPPER: All right, important note there. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

Still ahead, almost a year later, Comedian Chris Rock is still feeling the sting of the Will Smith Oscars slapped. Did his jokes pack a punch? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our pop culture lead, while it took almost a year and presumably tens of millions of Netflix dollars, but Chris Rock finally told us what he thought, what he thought about Will Smith slapping him in the face at last year's Oscars after Rock joked about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair.

It wasn't until the end of the hour plus long set Saturday night filmed live in Jada Pinkett Smith's hometown of Baltimore, that Rock then went off on the actor and perhaps even more pointedly on his wife. Here's CNN Stephanie Elam.


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN & ACTOR: I'm going to try to do a show tonight without offending nobody, OK? I'm going to try my best. You know what, because you never know who might get triggered.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Rock on stage and hitting back at Will Smith, nearly a year after the infamous Oscar slap.

ROCK: People say -- they always say, words hurt. That's what they say. Got to watch it to say because words hurt. You know, anybody that says words hurt has never been punched in the face. Will Smith practices selective outrage.

ELAM (voice-over): Rock suggesting Smith's response to his Oscars joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hairstyle was more about their relationship than him.

ROCK: His wife was -- her son's friend. She hurt him way more than he hurt me.


ELAM (voice-over): Rock covered a wide range of topics including addiction, abortion and racism, but left some of his sharpest lines for Smith.

ROCK: You all know what happened to me, getting smacked by Suge Smith? I love Will Smith. My whole life I love it. My whole life I root for this -- OK? And now I watch "Emancipation" just to see him get what --

ELAM (voice-over): Referring to Smith's role as an enslaved man in the period drama "Emancipation". Smith, who has apologized publicly has said he worries the slap could impact "Emancipation" success.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: My behavior was unacceptable.

ELAM (voice-over): Rock not holding back ending this special with this final blow.

ROCK: How come you didn't do nothing back? I got parents. And you know what my parents taught me, don't fight in front of white people.

ELAM (voice-over): Stephanie Elam, CNN Hollywood.


TAPPER: Here to give us more is Leslie Gray Streeter, a columnist for the Baltimore Banner. Thank you so much for joining us, Leslie. So let's start with your opinion piece you wrote about Chris Rock's special. You wrote, quote -- a partly quote, "He insisted last night that nobody was picking on that bitch," meaning Jada Pinkett Smith, "while he's been picking on that woman from behind the mic since the late 1990s", unquote.

The special -- Chris Rock special was titled "Selective Outrage". He accused Will Smith of selective outrage. You say, Rock has selective outrage. Explain.

LESLIE GRAY STREETER, COLUMNIST, BALTIMORE BANNER: I think so. I think that, first of all, if you get hit in the face, and you're the one who gets to decide how you deal with it. He didn't hit him. He waited a year, he sharpened his words, even though you say words don't hurt. Those words were certainly fashioned to hurt -- to hit, to do it in her hometown, to do it the week before the Oscars.

So, he selected what he was mad about. Not only did he select it, he kind of decided that it was about one thing being Will and Jada's marriage that he had just snapped somehow, that was it. The final thing I got to go, smack Chris Rock right before I get an Oscar probably. And nothing to do with anything that he'd said about her. And I thought that's probably not true. TAPPER: So I watched the special. He -- I think he's a brilliant stand-up comedian and has been for decades. I know you have felt the same way about his work in the past. It was very raw. He was very honest. I guess for reading your tweets and reading your column you feel that, you don't doubt his honesty, but that you feel like those feelings were kind of anachronistic and misplaced.

STREETER: You know, I think once can you get something and once again, like I said he was attacked on nationwide television. However, he's had a year to hone this, to get this right, to figure out what he was going to say.

And I thought that some of the things that he said like blaming things on her, it reminded me, someone pointed out to me today that Jada Smith -- Pinkett Smith is in the long tradition of women like Yoko Ono, and Meghan Markle, who are blamed entirely for the actions of grown men, that somehow, she's like going to it, do it, do it. We didn't see that.

And trust me, if we saw that -- if that had happened, if there was images of that, or video that, it'd be played a long time ago. I don't know about their marriage. I've never met them. I only know what they've told. And they've told a lot. But it doesn't really make a lot of sense to say -- to decide that, the only thing that this was about was them and not about him.

If you're not a victim, like you say you are, why do you keep talking about how much bigger Will Smith this than you? You weren't the victim of this one because you were on the other side of the slap. If you're over it, you're really not. If you took it like Pacquiao for holding on to things and you -- once again you get to, but be honest about that. And be honest about what you said about this woman calling her as we say out of her name in her hometown.

TAPPER: Yes. One of the things that's interesting that I hear you saying is that Chris Rock seemed to say, Will Smith hit me because he's upset that his -- they have an open marriage, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, he's upset that his wife slept with a friend of their son. And that was humiliating.

And then they have this like internet talk show where they talk about these things. And that must have been humiliating too, so Will Smith was mad at his situation, not at me. That's -- but you seem to be saying -- and maybe I'm wrong, tell me if I'm wrong -- he's not actually saying that. He just wants to embarrass Will Smith by mentioning all of that.

STREETER: Well, he might think that. I don't know if he thinks that. I think it was weird because then you have to talk about -- you don't talk about the history of him like, like you said, saying things about her jokingly or not since 1997. When he says that he -- that she wanted him to not host the Oscars in 2016 because of the Oscars so white boycott that she was a part of.

[17:55:00] He says this was just about not getting him to do it because her husband didn't get nominated. And once again this makes it just about her and her feelings that she did a personal thing to hurt his career because he wouldn't boycott the Oscars just because her husband wasn't nominated.

So all of these things were happening to say she started it in colorful language, I finished it. But then it slipped back at her, ha ha slept back last year, about her hair. If you got beef, and you think that you handled it and you still are re-beefing (ph), you know what you're doing, right? You know what you're doing. Once again, no one gets to slap you. But you can't think it's hard to feign ignorance. If you think that you've got beef with these people that she started and then go, oh, by the way, look at your hair.

TAPPER: Yes. Well, three incredibly brilliant performers. So it's a shame that it's the so much of the talk about them is about the beef as opposed to their talent. But Leslie Gray Streeter --


TAPPER: -- you always make me think about things differently. So thank you so much, really appreciate it.

STREETER: Thank you.

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