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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Fox Attempts To Downplay Jan. 6 Attack With New Footage; Two Kidnapped Americans Found Dead, Two Alive & Back In U.S.; Texas GOP Censures Rep. Gonzalez For "Lack Of Fidelity" To Party; Gov. DeSantis Touts Agenda In Speech To Florida's Legislature; Philadelphia Inquirer Report Shows Six Former Phillies Baseball Players Died From The Same Brain Cancer. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 07, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, Fox, the very channel whose executives and hosts have recently been revealed in a deposition to have knowingly presented lies to their viewers about the 2020 election lies that inspired the very same assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Now, the Capitol police chief says the channel conveniently cherry picked video showing calmer moments during the insurrection, showing, for instance, video of rioter Jacob Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, walking through the Capitol, not receiving pushback from police in those moments. This was presented without the fuller context as if this video of how Chansley actually got into the Capitol building did not exist. It was not aired in court documents, of course. Prosecutors say that officers tried repeatedly to get the shaman to leave the Capitol, and he, of course, ultimately pleaded guilty to felony charges related to his activities on January 6.
Now, Fox claimed these small snippets of video prove that Democrats and others on the January 6 committee have been lying to the American people about what happened on that day, that very little about the attack was violent, Fox claims. Here's how Republicans who were actually in the Capitol on that day described what happened inside the Capitol during the insurrection. Again, these are Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): I mean, this is insane. I mean, I've not seen anything like this until -- since I deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. I mean, this is America, and this is what's happening.
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Madam speaker, today the People's House was attacked, which is an attack on the Republic itself. There is no excuse for it. A woman died, and people need to go to jail.
MIKE PENCE, (R) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So here are some of the things we know to be true about January 6. Fact, Fox was given access to more than 40,000 hours of Capitol security footage by Speaker McCarthy. CNN and other media organizations such as ABC News or Gannett, which owns USA Today, or CBS News or the Los Angeles Times among them, we have also requested access to the same footage, as of now, we have not gotten that access. McCarthy's office said they're still working on it.
Another fact, this move comes at the same time that Fox is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for repeatedly lying about its company and airing lies about the 2020 election results. Those lies resulted in the January 6 Capitol attacks.
As part of that trial, Rupert Murdoch, the chair of Fox, admitted under oath that some Fox guests and some Fox hosts lied about the 2020 election on the air. And we know from the evidence presented by Dominion that hosts texted each other about various liars whose deranged nonsense they covered and, in some cases, plat formed. "Sidney Powell is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy Giuliani," wrote one of those hosts. But none of that stopped Fox from feeling hours of airtime elevating these false conspiracy theories about the election.
Now, in his deposition, Chairman Rupert Murdoch, when asked if he seriously doubted the claims of massive election fraud by Trump and his allies, Murdoch responded, "Oh, yes." And he later said it under oath, "I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight." That's the channel, the network that McCarthy handed over all this footage to or gave access to all this footage.
Here's another fact. Fox used the footage given to them exclusively by Speaker McCarthy to frame a description of the events of January 6, where they say, very little was organized and very little was violent, where the phrase, in their view, deadly insurrection was a lie. Deadly insurrection they say every part of that was a lie. Keep in mind, four Trump supporters died that day. One of them was shot by Capitol policemen as she tried to climb through a window to get into the House chamber where police were trying to evacuate lawmakers, including Republicans, from the unruly mob.
Now, Donald Trump immediately said after this Fox presentation that the special shows all the January 6 defendants should be freed. All the prisoners. "Let the January 6 prisoners go," he said.
Now, all of this alternate theory of what happened that day contradicts law enforcement, contradicts people who were there that day, contradicts Capitol Police officers, contradicts bipartisan members of the January 6 select committee, and contradicts Congressional Republicans. But don't take my word for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Terrorists, not patriots, literally occupied the floor of the House.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): It was a riot. It was a dangerous riot. It was a violent.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Law enforcement agents were attacked and seriously injured.
OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, U.S. METROPOLITAN POLICE: I was electrocuted again and again and again.
OFFICER CAROLINE EDWARDS, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: They were bleeding. They were throwing up. They were -- you know, they had -- I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This morning, I reached out to Speaker McCarthy's office and I asked four simple questions. Does the speaker of the House agree with Fox's conclusion that everything about the phrase deadly insurrection is a lie? Does the speaker of the House agree that very little about January 6 was organized or violent? Does the speaker of the House agree that members of the January 6 select House Committee lied about what was on the security footage? And does the speaker of the House agree that, quote, "the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of democracy," unquote.
So far, Speaker McCarthy has not responded. One does wonder how much facts matter to him.
This campaign to belittle what happened on January 6, 2021, was also done in service of the continued argument that 2020 election was a great betrayal of American democracy. So how are congressional Republicans reacting today to Fox's airing of January 6 footage last night as they did? Well, let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you think of, you know, Tucker Carlson got this security footage from Speaker McCarthy and who had to downplay January 6, that it was, you know, mostly peaceful chaos in his view, and said it was not an insurrection. So the Brian Sicknick's death was not related to January 6. How do you feel about that?
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I think it's bullshit. I was here, I was down there, and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things, but when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that, or you had to be in close proximity to it, I just don't think it's helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN's Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill.
And Manu, you've been talking to both Republicans all day getting their reaction to Fox's airing a security footage last night. What are they telling you?
RAJU: Yes, they are making it very clear that they sharply disagree with the whitewashing of events here. They lived through what happened. They saw what happened. They've seen the investigations. And they know how deadly the violence was.
Many of them, they all had to leave the Senate in the hurry to secure locations. And we saw deadly violence occur that day at the hands of Donald Trump's supporters.
And it wasn't just moderate Republicans who broke from Tucker Carlson's portrayal of it. It was leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but was also rank and file members, including some conservatives like Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. When you come into the chambers, when you start opening members desks, when you stand up in their balcony, to somehow put that in the same category as a, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I mean, I think it was -- yes, it was attack on the Capitol. There were -- yes, there were a lot of people in the Capitol at the time who, I think, were scared for their lives.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): I thought it was an insurrection at that time, I still think it was an insurrection today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And Mitt Romney told me that he believed that giving Tucker Carlson the security footage and the way that Carlson portrayed it was, quote, "disgusting and dangerous." And he also said it was a mistake for McCarthy to give that footage to Tucker Carlson.
No word yet from McCarthy himself. We approached him in the Capitol today, Jake, and he said he would answer questions later today about all this. So we'll see what he has to say.
TAPPER: But didn't he say that last week, too, Manu? Didn't he say he was going to take questions last week and he never took questions?
RAJU: He did on one day in the Capitol. The next day he answered a question. So we'll see what he does --
RAJU: -- tonight, Jake.
TAPPER: Well, let's see what he does. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Joining us now to discuss, two people that were there that day, former Congressman and January 6 committee member Republican Adam Kinzinger. He's also the honorary chair of the Country First PAC. And we have with us former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was injured during the January 6 insurrection.
Congressman Kinzinger, let me start with you. Last night, when airing the security footage, Tucker Carlson called you a liar. He said you and Liz Cheney lied about what happened during the January 6 Capitol attack and, quote, "you should never be taken seriously," again, unquote. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to that.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, look, Tucker knows better. He's actually a smart guy. He is taking the people he's talking to. He's lying to them. I mean, there's no doubt.
It's basically been admitted in these court documents with the Dominion suit but he doesn't care because he wants people's money. He is an unserious man who is doing serious damage with the cooperation of Kevin McCarthy, who wants to have Tucker Carlson on his speed dial because he likes to impress people in the room with who's on his speed dial. This is dangerous.
And you know, Michael Fanone will tell you about how all dangerous that was because it was a really bad day that is being whitewashed. But the kids of the people that believe that somehow that wasn't an insurrection, they're going to know better, and the parents will never admit they ever believed it in the first place.
TAPPER: Officer Fanone, Fox last night aired this never before and seen video that they said showed U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who we should know died one day after the Capitol attack, appearing to give instructions to rioters in the area. We do see Sick Nick waving his arms, which Fox says shows Sicknick looking healthy and vigorous. And therefore, they said it's hard to imagine he died because of the Capitol attacks.
We also do have video in which we see Officer Sicknick being sprayed with pepper spray from a rioter and you can later see him crouching down trying to recover in the aftermath. The D.C. medical examiner, we should note, say that he died of natural causes. But all that transpired that day played a role in his death. What do you think of how Brian Sicknick's death was discussed last night? I know his family has been pushing back a bit.
MICHAEL FANONE, FORMER D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I mean, it was outrageous. It was outrageous that Tucker Carlson would use footage from a fallen police officer's last moments to disparage the officer, to disparage and discredit law enforcement's response that day, and to disparage the family members, the survivors.
TAPPER: So, Congressman Kinzinger, one of the clips played last night showed the QAnon shaman, Jacob Chansley, walking through the Capitol. And it's true that the video shows there's no pushback going on. Nobody's instructing him or yelling at him. There's no audio in the video, so we don't know if the officers are talking to him. Now, that does -- I mean, I guess the narrative is obviously much more complicated than either side would have it be, but prosecutors have said Chansley disobeyed requests from police to leave the building. We saw him -- how he got into the building. What did you make of this?
KINZINGER: Yes, this is what Tucker is doing, he's creating strawman. So, Fanone will tell you better because he knows the techniques and procedures involved in this. They were trying not to escalate with the rioters, because if they escalate with the rioters, people are going to die, including police officers. They had no way to arrest people and take them to jail because they were surrounded. The Capitol was surrounded.
So what Tucker has done is taken moments claimed, like, for instance, the Sicknick's death, so like, hey there's. Brian Sicknick, therefore he didn't die. Nobody has argued. Nobody has said that he died on that day. Everybody has said he died the next day in relation to that.
But he pretends to his audience like somehow the committee said it happened on the 6th and we were lying. He creates strawman, refutes the strawman, and it's a complete lie to his audience, and we could go on forever about it. But, I mean, look, the police were scared of escalation because they were outnumbered like a jillion to one.
TAPPER: So, I don't know exactly what the deal was that Speaker McCarthy cut with Congressman Matt Gaetz and others who were objecting to as being speaker. But apparently part of it, according to Gaetz, was releasing as much of the CCTV footage, the security footage, as possible from that day.
And as a journalist, I'm all in favor of transparency. I think that's a good thing. Obviously, we don't want to reveal anything that could put anybody in -- put them in jeopardy in terms of secret passages or whatever in the Capitol, but obviously more transparency is good. But, Officer Fanone, I wonder what you make of the decision by Speaker McCarthy to give the footage exclusively to Fox.
FANONE: Well, first I want to point out a huge distinction between somebody like yourself, Jake, and someone like Tucker Carlson. You know, by company's own admission, Tucker Carlson is an entertainer while you're a journalist.
That being said, you know, if there's one thing that Kevin McCarthy has proven, is that he is Donald Trump's useful idiot. He -- you know, he proved it when he went down to Mar-a-Lago with a jar full of starburst. And he's proving it again by, you know, essentially handing over 40,000 hours of security footage from inside the Capitol, unvetted by, you know, Capitol Police's own admission to a propagandist and an entertainer like Tucker Carlson for the sole purpose of creating an alternative narrative to January 6 to best serve Donald Trump and those that would make money off of Donald Trump's grift.
TAPPER: Congressman, I want to break down some statistics, 999 people are facing federal or local charges related to the January 6 attack, 326 of them have been charged with assault or resisting or impeding officers or employees, 140 officers were assaulted at the Capitol that day, 518 people have been charged and pleaded guilty. How can Fox really try to paint this as largely peaceful, filled with sightseers? Obviously not every single person in the building, I don't even know numerically what the percentage would be, but obviously no one's saying everyone was violent, but the numbers speak for themselves.
KINZINGER: Yes. Here's how Fox does it. Because -- and particularly Tucker, because they realize that no matter what they say, their audience is vested in that tribal narrative. That audience is invested in the fact, because they've been programmed by Tucker Carlson for many years. They've been invested in the fact that you have to pick your side and stick with it, no matter what the cost is, suspend your belief, suspend your disbelief, just, you know, trust us. We're going to tell you -- we're going to give you the talking points and the arguments.
Fox knows that's not true. Tucker knows it's not true. And you can see it all throughout the Dominion lawsuit. But has Fox News talked about the Dominion lawsuit? I'm going to guess probably not.
Has Fox News told their own audience that they were lying to them? Probably not. They just keep them hooked, give them a bigger dopamine rush, give them more of that hit. And that's how it goes.
TAPPER: I think it's not just Fox that hasn't covered the Dominion lawsuit. I think "The New York Post" hasn't covered it. I think there's been a lot of conservative media that hasn't covered it at all.
Michael Fanone and Adam Kinzinger, thank you. And you know, I know it probably is pretty upsetting personally to have been there, and in your case, Officer Fanone, to have been physically harmed severely and see this entire presentation pretending that this didn't happen. And I want you to know we see you. We know it happened.
And I don't know what to say about this except I'm sorry.
Coming up, we're going to talk to one woman who lost her pregnancy at just four months, then almost lost her own life. Now she's one of five women suing Texas over the state's abortion law.
Then, new developments about the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico. Tragically, two are dead. Two are back in the United States. Are investigators any closer to finding those responsible? Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead a new front in the legal fight over abortion. Five women have sued the state of Texas, claiming that the state's abortion ban after six weeks posed significant risks to their health. The women say uncertainty around the medical emergency exemptions in Texas's six week abortion ban put their lives and their fertility in danger. CNN Sunlen Serfaty hears from one of the women suing Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amanda and Josh (ph) Zurawski were thrilled last year to tell family and friends that after years of trying, Amanda was finally pregnant. Then four months into her pregnancy, her water broke.
AMANDA ZURAWSKI, TREATMENT DELAYED BECAUSE OF TEXAS LAW: You're 100 percent for sure going to lose your baby. We just kept asking, isn't there anything we can do? Isn't there anything we can do? And the answer was no.
SERFATY (voice-over): But doctors in Texas said they couldn't do an abortion. Amanda became septic, needed a blood transfusion. Her family flew in because they feared she would die. Amanda lost her baby but survived and is now the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Monday in a Texas court against the state and the Texas medical board.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Because abortion is a crime in Texas, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. What the law is forcing physicians to do is weigh these very real threats of criminal prosecution against the health and well-being of their patients.
SERFATY (voice-over): Amanda and four other Texas women and two doctors are asking the court to clarify that abortions can be performed when a physician makes a good faith judgment and that the pregnant person has a physical emergent medical condition that poses a risk of death or a risk to their health, including their fertility.
JESSIE HILL, PROFESSOR OF LAW, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY: It's particularly unusual for people to be willing to bring these lawsuits in their own names and not to use a pseudonym and to really share these personal details about their lives.
SERFATY (voice-over): Another new front, a battle between Walgreens and California Governor Gavin Newsom. Last month, attorneys general from 21 states that have passed antiabortion laws wrote to Walgreens about sending abortion pills through the mail. Walgreens says they won't distribute abortion medication in those states, saying in this letter to the Kansas attorney general that Walgreens "does not intend to ship mifepristone into your state." Newsom countered with a tweet, "California won't be doing business with Walgreens or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk." He didn't specify what business his state has with a drugstore chain.
Mifepristone is also used in miscarriages.
HILL: Not to stock this medication in particular states really is most likely to harm those patients who would benefit from being able to use the medication for miscarriage where it's perfectly legal.
SERFATY (voice-over): Back in Texas, Zurawski mourns the loss of her daughter, her ashes in this necklace.
ZURAWSKI: I needed an abortion to protect my life and to protect the lives of my future babies that I dream and hope I can still have some day.
SERFATY (voice-over): Because of the scarring in her uterus from the infection, she may not be able to have more children. She's starting fertility treatments in the hope of one day having the baby she and her husband have dreamed of.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SERFATY: And CNN has reached out to all the defendants in the Texas case. A spokesperson for the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, says that he is, quote, "committed to doing everything in his power to protect mothers, family and unborn children" and he will continue to defend and enforce the laws duly enacted by this Texas legislature. No, we have not heard back from the other defendants nor the Texas governor, Greg Abbott. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the new details coming in on those two Americans back on U.S. soil after being kidnapped in Mexico. And, tragically, the two others from their group who are now dead. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with our world lead now. Two of the U.S. citizens kidnapped in Mexico have been found alive and we are told they are recovering in a Texas hospital right now. But tragically, the other two abducted Americans were killed when their group traveled into the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. Family members say the group crossed the border so one of them could get a medical procedure. As CNN's Josh Campbell of reports, it appears that the group may have gotten lost and they were mistaken for drug runners by a local Mexican cartel.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The search for four Americans kidnapped in Mexico ending in tragedy. All four have been located, but only two of them alive.
PRICE: The two survivors have since been repatriated back to the United States that occurred with the assistance of our Mexican partners, with the assistance of our officials in Mexico. We are in the process of working to repatriate the remains of the two Americans who were killed in this incident.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): They have been identified as Latavia "Tay" Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown, and Shaeed Woodard. Washington McGee and Williams have survived the incident while Woodard and Brown did not. Washington McGee was found uninjured and Williams reportedly shot in the leg. The two survivors are now back in the U.S. receiving medical care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): We condemn what happened and feel sorry for the loss.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Today, the Mexican government speaking about the tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The victims were found in a wooden house three days after the crime. The four persons who were kidnapped were taken to different places, one of them to a clinic in an effort to make this more confusing and avoid rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): The investigation is ongoing to find who is responsible.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Mexican authorities will process the bodies of the two dead victims before returning them to the United States. Family members tell CNN the group of friends traveled by car from South Carolina so one of them, a mother of six, could undergo a medical procedure.
Investigators believe that after they crossed the border from Texas and entered the city of Matamoros, they came under gunfire and crashed their minivan, according to a U.S. official familiar with the investigation. Terrifying video appears to show one of those Americans being shoved into the bed of a pickup truck at gunpoint in broad daylight and taken from the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): One person has been detained.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): It seems to be that there was a confusion of mistaken identity, but the investigation is still ongoing.
CAMPBELL: Now, Jake, although the recovery phase of this terrible episode is over, that investigation is ongoing. And sources tell me that those two surviving American victims will be key witnesses for the team of FBI agents, U.S. federal law enforcement and their Mexican counterparts, as they were to locate those responsible, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Josh Campbell, thanks so much.
In the backdrop of this tragedy is organized crime in Mexico. CNN's David Culver went to Mexico's state of Sinaloa, one of the many spots where fentanyl is produced on a high scale. Sinaloa was once home to drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and where cartels continue to run rampant today.
David Culver joins me on the U.S. side of the border. David, you went to Sinaloa to trace how fentanyl ends up in the United States. Tell us what you found. DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you really get a sense from our reporting down there just how prolific this is, the spread of fentanyl, and how difficult it is to track down. Now, you mentioned the organized crime aspect, you mentioned cartels, that's exactly what we stepped into in the state of Sinaloa in Culiacan, the city that went to.
Let me show you from above what we had to travel in. This is part of an embed with the Mexican army. And you can see it, the convoy of six armored vehicles as they took us through not only the city of Culiacan to patrol and see if they could track down some of the fentanyl labs that have been popping up, as they compare it to basically a game of whack a mole.
I mean, one pops up so quickly that it's very difficult to really stop the spread of these laps. And from inside the vehicle, we were talking to one of the colonels who's been working drug bust for 35 years. He's dealt with cocaine, heroin, meth. This is fentanyl surpasses them all in the difficulty in stopping its spread.
And we went to one of those fentanyls, and this is why it's so challenging, Jake. It's basically a house that you're looking at, and it's not even the entirety of the house that is a fentanyl lab, but really a small room. So you compare that to, say, a meth lab, and those are rather sprawling. They need more infrastructure, they need to be near water.
A fentanyl lab could be done really, as the colonel put it, just in the closet, and it can produce a significant amount of pills. In fact, the house that we went there, the small room, produced 270,000 pills in the bust that they made. So it is a huge challenge and one that tonight we hope to give you more insight on as we show you how this is an international blame game involving Mexico and China, Jake.
TAPPER: That's right. And it ends up too often with dead American kids.
David Culver, thanks so much. You can see more of what David uncovered in a special CNN town hall tonight, "America Addicted: The Fentanyl Crisis," that's tonight at 9:00 only here on CNN.
With us now, Republican Congressman Tony Gonzalez. He represents Texas 23rd district, which stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border. He's also a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. Congressman, always good to see you.
As we just heard, the problem of fentanyl coming across the southern U.S. border is pervasive, we should point out most of it is done by U.S. citizens at points of entry. Americans driving their cars legally into the United States and not disclosing, obviously, all the illegal drugs in their trunk. What can be done about it?
REP. TONY GONZALES (R), TEXAS: Jake, thank you for having me. You know, I represent 42 percent of the southern order, 823 miles, and we're at war. And I've seen it firsthand. You know, right now, I mean, let this sink in. Drug cartels just killed two Americans in broad daylight.
This is what terrorism looks like. I've got a bill, the Security First Act that labels cartels as terrorists. It's time we do that. I'd also say all Americans should be in support of keeping these bad actors out and making sure things are safe. At the same breath, all Americans should be in support of finding an immigration reform option that focuses on legal immigration.
I think this is something that we can solve. It starts in Congress. We need the White House's help. The reality is, on the border, it is pure health.
TAPPER: I want to get to the immigration reform aspect of this in a second, but to talk about right now that the two Americans who were kidnapped in Mexico that are now, sadly dead. There was also a Mexican national, a 22-year-old mom who was also killed in the crossfire. The other two Americans have been returned to the U.S.
This does appear, this doesn't make it any better, but this does appear to be a case of mistaken identity. They were confused by the cartels to be competing drug smugglers from Haiti. How dangerous is it for U.S. citizens to visit Mexico, especially areas like this?
GONZALEZ: You know, the tough part, Jake, I represent a lot of communities along the border, like El Paso, that is a sister city with Juarez, Eagle Pass, it's a sister cities with Piedras Negras. And in many cases, it is safe. In many cases, you have U.S. citizens traveling back and forth on a regular basis because ultimately they are one community.
But at the end of the day, this border crisis is spreading. I was just in Uvalde. You know what happened in Uvalde 10 months ago. Just about 10 months ago, I was speaking with a very prominent figure. I won't say his name, but he told me a story.
On Saturday, he had his granddaughter over for the weekend, and his wife was bathing her in the bathtub, and someone broke in. An illegal alien broke into their bathtub. He held him at gunpoint until the authorities were able to arrive. What I'm getting at is things are getting more and more dangerous.
It is safe in some places, but many people along the border do not feel safe. We got to stop with the rhetoric, and we got to have tangible solutions that keeps people safe, the bad actors out. Also welcomes those that want to come and work and live the American dream. We can accomplish that if we work in a bipartisan manner.
TAPPER: The Americans who went into Mexico did so for medical procedures. What advice would you give American citizens who are considering doing the same thing for this medical tourism?
GONZALEZ: I mean, the reality is Americans, because of the cost of health care, are having to travel into Mexico every single day. Veterans are having to do that. So this is an area where, you know, if folks are going to travel, they need to be safe about it. They need to make sure that they know where they're going.
But once again, not everywhere is a war zone, but in some cases, it is absolutely hell. The fentanyl that is killing our kids, we have to push back against that. I'd say, you know, a lot of times there's more to the story. Go to our website, tonygonzalezforcongress.com, and learn more about what's happening on the border.
TAPPER: So, Congressman, obviously the bipartisan immigration reform you're talking about is an important component about this. The immigration system is broken. How do you get Republicans in the House, who control the House, to work with Democrats so that there can be a bipartisan compromise bill that the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, will pass and the President, who's a Democrat, will sign, how do you do that? There doesn't seem to be a lot of incentive right now for House Republicans to work across the aisle.
GONZALEZ: Look, politically, you take a lot of risk, but you have to be bold and you need leadership. I host on Monday. I hosted my 16th congressional delegation at the border. We went to Uvalde, we went to Eagle Pass. We listened to Republicans and Democrats, both border security and immigration reform, over 100 members of Congress. So that's what I'm doing in the House.
I also work in a bipartisan manner there. I've also had discussions with senators, Republican and Democrat senators. I've also had very high-level discussions with the White House. So to your point, there is an opportunity here, Jake, where we can come with a solution that both solves the border and also welcomes those that want to come through and have work visas and others.
Nobody wants to put their political life on the line, if you will. But this is an important topic. You mentioned earlier fentanyl is killing our kids.
GONZALEZ: Not Democrat kids, our kids, period.
TAPPER: Right. But, I mean, just -- you know this as well as I do. The Republican Party of Texas voted on Saturday to censure you for -- even though you're a very reliable conservative vote, you don't always vote along party lines. Practically, that decision, that essentially means they're not going to financially support you in the next primary.
I mean, how can there be any incentive for there to be bipartisan work if the Republican Party of Texas is censoring somebody who is as conservative as you are, who just every now and then votes in a different way?
GONZALEZ: Jake, the reality is they've never given me financial support. You got to kind of build it out your own way. But going back to Uvalde, there were 21 innocent people that were killed. 19 of them were babies. And so I'm proud of my vote for the Safer's Community Act. If it was today, I would vote on it again the exact same way. I think there's a way for us to be conservative in our values and our principles. I mean, I'll give you an example. Right now, I have six children. My children, my younger children, they go to school with a bulletproof backpack. My oldest son, who's 18 years old in college, not only does he have a bulletproof backpack, he carries a glock around. This is the world that we live in. I don't want my children growing up in this. I don't think anyone does.
So we have to find real, tangible solutions that do not infringe upon the Constitution. I think we can accomplish that if people are bold and willing to stand up. I've always done that my whole life. Spent 20 years in the military. This is no different.
TAPPER: Congressman Tony Gonzalez, good to see you again as always, sir. Thank you so much.
GONZALEZ: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is laying out his agenda for Florida lawmakers that might have national implications. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Returning to our politics lead, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivered his State of the State address to the Florida legislature earlier today. It's a speech many see as an audition to a possible run for the White House.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. Leyla, tell us about the governor's to-do-list.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a long to do list, Jake. We certainly heard him sort of tally his political victories in the state of the state address today, and it really kind of reflected what we've heard from him over the last few days as he's promoted his recently released book. And it also aligns with what we've seen from Republican lawmakers and the bills that they have filed here today being the first day of the legislative session.
So let's take a look at those priorities that we've seen with the bills filed. They're calling for allowing for concealed carry without permits, prohibiting abortions after six weeks, with exceptions for rape or incest. That, by the way, was filed just minutes before DeSantis state of the state began today. And there's education, which has certainly become obvious. It is a very big priority on their platform from banning requiring teachers to use students preferred pronouns to, you know, expanding voucher programs.
And here's what I thought was interesting. The very final words that he used. He said, you ain't seen nothing yet. Listen to another part of his speech today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We must continue our momentum with K through 12 education by increasing teacher salaries, enacting a teacher's bill of rights, providing paycheck protection for teachers, expanding school choice, and fortifying parents' rights. Our schools must deliver a good education, not a political indoctrination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: Certainly hinting at what's to come in the state of Florida, possibly what's to come in the potential campaign that we might hear announced soon. We'll have to wait and see. Democrats saying this is all about fueling those culture wars. And what one Democrat told me was outtrumping Trump. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago in Tallahassee, thanks so much.
Still ahead, why the astroturf from an old stadium is raising new questions about what is in the turf that your kids play games on? Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our sports lead, questions about a possible link between artificial grass made by Monsanto and brain cancer. This was discovered by a Philadelphia Inquirer Investigative Reporter looked into the deaths of six former baseball players for the Philadelphia affiliates, all of whom died of the same cancer at three times the average rate of men who did not work on that astroturf.
Here to discuss is one of the reporters, David Gambacorta. David, tell us more about how you and your colleague uncovered this possible connection.
DAVID GAMBACORTA, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Thanks, Jake. So last year David West, who is a former pitcher for the Phillies, became the 6th former member of the team to die from brain cancer. So my colleague Barbara Laker and I got curious about whether there was a potential connection between these deaths.
We were able to track down pieces of the astroturf that covered the field of veteran stadium in the late 1970s and early 80s and we had them tested by two different labs. One of the labs found 16 different types of PFAS, which are another name forever chemicals.
TAPPER: So, the Vet was also used by the Philadelphia Eagles during the same time frame from the 70s until the early 2000s. It no longer exists. Obviously, football players, the season, the number of games, et cetera, it's not remotely the same as baseball players in terms of presence on the Astroturf. But have you found any similar diagnoses among former Eagles?
GAMBACORTA: No, we haven't come across any reports of this with the Eagles. But One thing we found with the Vet and the Phillies is that during the summer games, the turf would sometimes heat up to 165 degrees. And some of the experts that we've consulted with explained that that would allow some of the toxins in the turf to release and become airborne. So that's one possible mode of transmission that we considered.
TAPPER: This is breaking my heart because while you're talking, we're showing pictures of Philadelphia Phillies like Tug McGraw and Dutch Dalton, players that, you know, I grew up loving and who tragically died of brain cancer -- there he is -- after they beat the Royals in 1980.
You can also find these turn fields and parks and schools at all levels across the country. Now, obviously, we don't necessarily know if all of them have the same PFAs or these forever chemicals that were reportedly found at the Vet. But do you believe, do you hope your report will change the way communities look at using turf?
GAMBACORTA: Well, I think some of that's already happened. There are communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut that have already implemented moratoriums on new turf fields. Some states have legislation pending that would actually ban outright new turf fields.
Philadelphia still has quite a few or at least a handful of turf fields in some of the neighborhoods in the city and are looking at actually adding some new ones to a city park.
But I think, you know, simultaneously there's becoming, I think, an increasing amount of awareness around these chemicals and the fact that they are linked to a large number of very real human health risks. So I think there's going to be a lot of conversation around this, you know, artificial turf and how we use it and, you know, whether it's, frankly a good idea to keep putting it in places where children are playing.
TAPPER: Obviously, I'm going to tweet out the whole story so people can read it, including the responses you got from the various players, including Monsanto. A fascinating story.
David Gambacorta of the Philadelphia Inquirer, always good to see you. Say hi to all my friends up there in Philly.
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Our coverage continues now with Brianna Keilar, who is in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you tomorrow.