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The Lead with Jake Tapper

DOJ: Breonna Taylor's Death Was A Symptom Of Louisville P.D. Problems; Breonna Taylor's Mom: DOJ Report Shows Her Death Wasn't "In Vain; Legal Filing: Fox News Knew Election Conspiracies Were Bogus; House Bill Would Ban Transgender Females From Women's Sports; Report: Climate Change Is Making Allergy Season Start Earlier And Last Longer. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 08, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Veterans and service members describing what went wrong and warning about the disaster still building.

And leading this hour, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issuing a scathing critique of the Louisville Metro Police Department after the Justice Department's nearly two-year review of that botched raid where police killed Breonna Taylor in March 2020. The report found Louisville police officers used excessive force and, quote, "unlawfully discriminate against black people." We're going to talk to Breonna Taylor's mother in a minute, but first, CNN's Evan Perez joins us.

Evan, what kind of evidence did the Justice Department gather?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this was a scathing report, and it really goes to show that the Louisville Police Department has been practicing and abusing the black community in that city for many, many years. According to the Justice Department, they've known for years that the police department was targeting African Americans for pretextual police stops, for instance, trying to figure out ways to get them to pull over and then finding additional things -- additional crimes that they could look into. They renamed a crime unit called the Viper Unit, but continued doing the same things. The city itself looked into some of the practices of the police department targeting African Americans, and nothing changed after doing that.

Here's Attorney General Merrick Garland describing some of the findings.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some officers have demonstrated disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect. Some have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities, and called black people monkeys, animal and boy. This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking.


PEREZ: Jake, the number of things that the department lists in this investigation, including unlawful neck restraints, using dogs against suspects even after they had surrendered, it just goes on and on. And now, this is going to be part of a court ordered settlement that the Justice Department will enter into the city that's going to be overseen by a judge.

TAPPER: Evan, how are officials in Louisville reacting?

PEREZ: Well, they say that they're now going to cooperate fully to try to fix this police department. Again, they've known for years that these were problems. And they also say that they're trying to keep this away from politics.

Obviously, you know, Jake, that the issue of police reform invariably gets tied up in partisan politics here in Washington and around the country.

TAPPER: Yes. Evan Perez, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss Breonna Taylor's family attorney, Lonita Baker, and Breonna Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer.

Mrs. Palmer, let me start with you. You said earlier you feel like this report indicates your daughter's death was, quote, "not in vain." I know that closure doesn't really exist in this world of losing a child, but tell us how you're feeling today.

TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: Just a lot of mixed emotions. I don't want to say -- use the word grateful, but in a sense you are to know that all the work that we've done, we're able to see the outcome of it.

TAPPER: Yes. Lonita, do you think if this report had come out five years ago, that Breonna Taylor might still be alive?

LONITA BAKER, BREONNA TAYLOR FAMILY ATTORNEY: Oh, Breonna Taylor absolutely would have been alive if this report had come out five years ago. The report today is not surprising to me as, you know, we represented Breonna Taylor in 2020. We represent the young man that is cited within the report that was detained for over 40 minutes with an illegal traffic stop. We've -- I've represented a number of people who have been the victims of this egregious and racist behavior of local metro police department.

So, this Department of justice investigation was necessary. It was long overdue. Had local metro governed itself accordingly, Breonna Taylor would absolutely be alive. And it's why we welcome the Department of justice. We welcome the consent decree.

We look forward to real change in the city of Louisville, but not just in the city of Louisville, you mentioned about the politics and the political when we talk about police reform. This is why police reform is necessary. This is a culture that's invaded police departments across the country, and it has to stop. Black and Brown Lives matter. TAPPER: And Mrs. Palmer, do you agree that if this report had come out five years ago, your daughter would still be alive? And does that suggest perhaps that future lives will be saved because of the horrible tragedy that happened?


PALMER: I absolutely agree that she would still be alive had this already been done. I've said even from the beginning that whatever the outcome is won't change what happened to Breonna, but it will definitely help the Breonnas to come.

TAPPER: And Lonita, the report clearly states that the Louisville Police Department, quote, "unlawfully uses race in its enforcement activities." In the Justice Department's, 36 recommendations for the city's police racial bias training or antidiscrimination training, however, is not mentioned. Do you think it should be included?

BAKER: I think it definitely should be included. I think it's going to be necessary, and I don't think even though it may not be specifically referenced, I think it's going to happen. You can't have a policy called people, places -- people, places, narcotics, and targets black males driving nice cars in the West End of Louisville and not deal with race and racial bias within the department. So, I definitely think it should have been listed, and I'm hopeful that it will be included as we move forward.

TAPPER: Mrs. Palmer, was there anything in the report that surprised you?

PALMER: No. Just the amount of time that it took to get here. That would be it.

TAPPER: Yes, it did take a long time.

Lonita, the city and the police department have agreed to a consent degree with the U.S. Department of Justice, which means that a judge will keep tabs on the Justice Department's recommendations to make sure they're implemented. A retired NYPD lieutenant tells CNN, however, that the city of Louisville will really have to shoulder the cost of these recommendations. And in many cases, cities like Louisville don't have the money to make all these changes. This NYPD detective told us, quote, "these consent decrees don't accomplish anything." Are you worried about implementation?

BAKER: I'm not worried about implementation. We -- the local Metro Police Department has spent 30 million over as was cited in the report, over 30 million to settle claims of police misconduct.


BAKER: If we fix the report, we don't have to continue to pay out those settlements. So, we definitely can find the money and we definitely have to change. We cannot continue going the way that we are. And again, that's not just local, but that's nationally, we cannot continue to police the way that we policing. Our Fourth Amendment right, legal search and seizure, is just as important as our Second Amendment right.

It's just as dear. It's just as supportive of the Constitution. And just because people look a different way does not mean that the Constitution does not apply to them as well.

TAPPER: Mrs. Palmer, everybody watching has heard of your daughter, Breonna Taylor. She is a symbol of the need for policing reform to a lot of people, she is a change agent we see today because of what the Justice Department is recommending. But to you, she was your daughter. Tell us about her? What do you want us to remember about her beyond being a symbol and a change agent?

PALMER: She was the best part of me in every way possible. She loved life. She loved family. She loved -- she was content on just living and being great. And she had this spirit out of this world of smile that could light up a room into -- 26 years was just not enough.

TAPPER: No, it was not. Our deepest condolences to you, Mrs. Palmer.

Lonita Baker and Mrs. Palmer, thank you so much for talking to us today. We were honored by your presence.

BAKER: Thank you.

PALMER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Shortly before the Louisville review, the Justice Department announced it will also review the Memphis police department after the brutal police beating of Tyre Nichols in January of this year. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.

And Shimon, in addition, the Memphis city council has launched a separate independent review. What's the scope of these reviews? How long could they take?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, the practices, you know, it's really what, the use of force practices, the de-escalation practices, this is something that the Department of Justice is really interested. And because when you look at the video from when Tyre Nichols was stopped, that aggressive action by officers in those first few moments when they intercepted, when they interacted with Tyre Nichols, so that is what they're going to be reviewing. Those two key things, because community members have been complaining about the Memphis police department and as well as Tyre Nichols' family, they asked for this. So now the Department of Justice is launching this review.


And also, Jake, important is that they're now launching a review of specialized units all across the country, these police units that, you know, have these aggressive police tactics to try and fight crime. So now those teams all across the country are now under review by the Department of Justice.

TAPPER: And Shimon, Memphis was bracing for 20 hours of new video to be released today. Video of the events surrounding Tyre Nichols brutal death. But an attorney for one of the officers involved in the beating blocked the release of the video. You just got a statement from that attorney. What's his reasoning?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, were supposed to get some 20 hours of video, and he's arguing that in order for his client to receive a fair trial, he needs to review this video to see what's being released, because sometimes evidence is released that could perhaps not be admissible in court and they don't want to taint the jury. So he's asking the judge to give him some time and to work with prosecutors to review some of this information that was set to be released at this hour. We're now waiting for the judge said, OK, well, we're going to delay it until the two sides can come to some kind of an agreement. So we'll see when that will happen. But we are expecting to see this video at some point.

TAPPER: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

The stark warning about the fallout of the Afghanistan withdrawal from a former Green Beret who did three tours in Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're on the front end of a mental health tsunami, as 73 percent of our Afghan war veterans say they feel betrayed by how this war ended.


TAPPER: More of the emotional testimony on the Hill today that brought some service members to tears. Then, more details emerging about the last movements of those Americans kidnapped and killed in Mexico.



TAPPER: In our world, lead and emotional, illuminating and at times, frankly, infuriating hearing on Capitol Hill today, focusing on the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. CNN's Kylie Atwood reports for us now. A U.S. Marine who was wounded in that horrific suicide bomb attack outside the Kabul airport testified that his unit spotted an Afghan man that they believe was the suicide bomber. Spotted him ahead of time, but they could not get the authority to engage.


SGT. TYLER VARGAS-ANDREWS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: My body was overwhelmed from the trauma of the blast. My abdomen had been ripped open. Every inch of my exposed body, except for my face, took ball bearings and shrapnel.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U. S. Marine Corps Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews is now a double amputee. He was one of the 35 service members injured when a suicide bomber attacked Kabul as the United States was withdrawing from the country. Thirteen service members died that day.

VARGAS-ANDREWS: There was an inexcusable lack of accountability and negligence. The 11 Marines, one sailor and one soldier that were murdered that day have not been answered for.

ATWOOD (voice-over): The 25-year-old shared his story with the House Foreign Affairs Committee as they investigate the chaotic and bloody U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Hours before the attack, Vargas- Andrews used his sniper gun to spot a man in the crowd of thousands who looks like the suicide bomber that intelligence officials had warned was in the vicinity. He showed the man to his team leader.

VARGAS-ANDREWS: We asked him if we could shoot. Our battalion commander said and I quote, "I don't know," end quote. Myself and my team leader asked very harshly, well, who does, because this is your responsibility, sir. He again replied he did not know, but would find out.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Vargas-Andrews never got answer. He told lawmakers that the Navy and the FBI failed to interview him about his experience.

VARGAS-ANDREWS: Plain and simple, we were ignored. Our expertise was disregarded. No one was held accountable for our safety.

ATWOOD (voice-over): He's not the only U.S. service member who is haunted by the memories of that day. Here is former combat medic Aiden Gunderson.

AIDEN GUNDERSON, FORMER ARMY SPECIALIST: Screams from little children, women, and grown men echoed in the tight corridor. Marines and corp (ph) around me fought through tears to provide lifesaving aid to our motionless and severely injured American brothers and sisters.

Over the next hour, I tried to save the lives of countless Marines. We all tried our best. It was a nightmare.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Some witnesses blamed the Biden administration for the evacuation's failures.


ATWOOD (voice-over): Others widened the aperture.

PETER LUCIER, TEAM AMERICA RELIEF: This is not the story of a Biden failure or a Trump failure, this is the story of an American failure and the effect it has had and continues to have on Afghans who served alongside myself and so many others.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Multiple witnesses were U.S. veterans who stood up unofficial networks to help Afghans escape the country. They said they got requests from high ranking U.S. government officials to help them get people out.

FRANCIS HOANG, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, ALLIED AIRLIFT 21: Me, us, private citizens receiving requests from our own government to assist what is essentially a governmental function. It was humbling. It was terrifying. It was, at times, stupefying.


ATWOOD: Now, one of those who provided testimony today, Jake, warned of a mental health tsunami for the veterans who were involved in trying to get out Afghans who they had actually worked with in Afghanistan. Just talked about how challenging that was and how hard it was on them when they weren't able to get out some of the folks that they worked with in the country.

Of course, today we didn't see any Biden administration officials providing testimony, but we do expect that this committee is going to seeking -- be seeking out that testimony from administration officials down the road. This is just an investigation that is only beginning, and presumably, this testimony that was provided today, in addition to documents that they are trying to get from the administration, are going to be what will drive the questions for Biden administration officials when they do provide testimony. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood, thanks so much.

Also in our world lead, the remains of Shaeed Woodard and Zindel Brown should arrive in the United States today, while the two survivors of the attack in Mexico are being treated at an American hospital. CNN's Rosa Flores reports on new details now that are emerging about how this kidnapping unfolded.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two of four Americans kidnapped in Mexico are now in the U.S. and preparing to return home. Latavia Washington McGee, a mother of six heading, to South Carolina today, according to her family, who spoke to her by phone.


AMMONIE WASHINGTON, DAUGHTER OF MEXICO KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: All I did was say, hey, and tell her that I missed her.

FLORES (voice-over): The other survivor, Eric Williams, remains in Brownsville, Texas, undergoing treatment for three gunshot wounds to his legs. For now, one person has been detained linked to the kidnappings, a 24-year-old male who Mexico and authorities said was watching the victims. Mexican officials would not confirm whether he is linked to a criminal organization.

The U.S. now working to bring home the remains of Zindel Brown and Shaeed Woodard, the two people found dead after the kidnapping in the Mexico border city of Matamoros. Their autopsies were completed today.

Mexican authorities say they are still investigating what happened after the four Americans crossed the border. We do know the group was driving a rented minivan and got lost in route to a clinic where McGee had a medical appointment according to a close friend.

(on camera): We just left the hotel where the Americans stayed, and it's about an eleven minute drive to the International Bridge where Mexican authorities say that the Americans crossed into Matamoros at about 09:18 a.m. on Friday.

(voice-over): McGee's mother says she spoke to her daughter about the kidnapping.

BARBARA BURGESS, MOTHER OF LATAVIA WASHINGTON MCGEE: A van came up and hit them, and that's when they started shooting at the car. The others tried to run and they got shot at the same time. She watched them die.

FLORES (voice-over): The four Americans were ultimately found by Mexican authorities here on Tuesday. The two survivors were hospitalized and the bodies of the two killed were recovered in and around this wooden structure. But questions remain about where the group went during the four days before they were found by Mexican authorities.

(on camera): There's the International Bridge, there's a gas station. And I talked to the attendant who was here on Friday, he says he doesn't remember the Americans, but there's a store next door and they're checking their surveillance video.

(voice-over): Brownsville officials say Americans routinely cross into Mexico for medical care at this border crossing. According to patients beyond borders, millions of people travel to Mexico each year expecting to save anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent on major medical procedures. But there are risks beyond the medical ones, and officials urge caution.

MARTIN SANDOVAL, PIO BROWNSVILLE POLICE: It's very easy to get lost in Mexico.

FLORES (on camera): Yes.


FLORES: Now, Mexico's AG's office telling our colleagues at CNNI (ph) that the repatriation of the two Americans is expected very soon. A timeline was not provided. Now, Mexican officials say that the autopsies of the Americans have been completed, but Jake, they are not releasing at this time cause and manner of death. Jake.

TAPPER: And Rosa, you have seen migrants treated completely differently at the border. Tell us about that.

FLORES: Yes, this particular case really shines light on a double standard, Jake, that we see on the border. And if you just think about it like this, we have the U.S. State Department telling Americans and warning Americans not to travel to places like Matamoros because they are too dangerous for Americans to visit.

And yet DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, based on its policies, is practically forcing migrants to wait in Mexico to seek asylum. I've been in multiple parts of northern Mexico, and I can tell you a lot of those migrants are trying to use that app that was released by Customs and Border Protection, and they're having a lot of trouble. They have to use that app to set up an appointment to seek asylum at a port of entry. And what is the net effect they're having to wait in very dangerous conditions.

There are thousands of migrants, Jake, waiting in Matamoros, and unfortunately, some of them have been killed, they're extorted, but nobody is investigating. That's what advocates in Matamoros are telling me. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

Coming up, new filings in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox reveal what several network hosts really thought about former President Trump. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics lead a trove of new text messages and emails revealing how Fox executives, hosts, and staff really felt about former President Donald Trump and the 2020 election lies he and his associates were pushing. One host writing that he hates Trump, quote, "passionately," adding, "there isn't really an upside to Trump." This all comes as part of Dominion voting system's $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox. CNN's Paula Reid poured through the wave of new court filings and the new insight they give us into what individuals who work at Fox were truly thinking.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New documents reveal more evidence that Fox News stars and top executives believed Trump and his allies were lying about the 2020 election.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Voter fraud is something that is real, that just took place two weeks ago.

REID (voice-over): But amid falling ratings, the network continued to promote Trump and his lies.

CARLSON: The outcome of our presidential election was seized from the hands of voters.

REID (voice-over): According to court documents, host Tucker Carlson texted a producer on January 4, 2021 just two days before the Capitol attack. "We are very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I hate him passionately. I can't handle much more of this. Admitting what a disaster it's been and is too tough to digest. But come on, there isn't really an upside to Trump."

Those private remarks a total contrast to Carlson's public support of Trump that same night.

CARLSON: What happened was the people in charge rigged the game.

REID (voice-over): Carlson's private messages were released as part of Dominion Voting Systems $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network. The trove of documents turned over in discovery reveal that doubts extended all the way to the top.

On January 21, 2021, the first full day of President Joe Biden's administration, Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch conceded in an email to Fox News's CEO Suzanne Scott that some of Fox's top talent went too far.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Disturbing irregularities have been found and must be investigated to the fullest.

REID (voice-over): Then, during his deposition, Murdoch was asked, "Do you believe that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?" Murdoch replied, "No."

Fox now saying Dominion is cherry-picking emails and documents to release. Dominion has been caught red handed using more distortions and misinformation in their pure campaign to smear Fox News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press.

But Dominion says the emails, texts, and deposition testimony speak for themselves. The revelations, though, didn't come as a surprise to at least one Republican.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: I'm not surprised that intelligent people realize that what they were saying on the air was untruthful, with lies, and I'm just disappointed that they would sell their personal integrity so cheaply.


REID: We're expecting new evidence to be released tonight. Some of the documents already coming in, we've begun to review those. Jake, as you know, both sides of this case have already asked a judge to resolve this in their favor without going to trial. There is, of course, also a small chance that they could settle, but right now, this case is scheduled to go to trial next month in Delaware. It's expected to last around five weeks.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

With me to discuss, CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers, a former democratic elected official, and former Trump White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin. Bakari, here are some of the quotes from Tucker Carlson revealed in the filings.

Tucker said, quote, "We are very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can't wait. I hate him passionately. I blew up at former White House official Peter Navarro today in frustration. I actually like Peter, but I can't handle much more of this. That's the last four years. We're all pretending we've got a lot to show for it because admitting what a disaster it's been is too tough to digest. But come on, there isn't really an upside to Trump."

Now, hold on one second, Bakari, because I'm going to say something that you might be surprised. This really isn't relevant to whether or not Fox lied about the elections. Dominion is not suing Fox for lying about Trump and pretending they like Donald Trump. Dominion is suing Fox for lying about the elections and platforming liars about the elections.

You're a lawyer. Does this not boost the Fox argument that Dominion is, in many of these findings, just trying to embarrass them?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they are trying to embarrass them, and I think that it is, you know, Dominion trying to win, not just in the court of law, but in the court of public opinion. And let me just kind of reframe your statement just because it's not just proving that Fox News lied about the 2020 elections, but they willfully lied about those 2020 elections.

And I think that some of these comments, some of these text messages, some of the things that are coming out, show that not only did they know it was false, not only did they despise this man, but they did it anyway. When you look -- when you combine these things with some context, in Rupert Murdoch's context, this was all about green. This was all about money.

When you look at this just from a viewer's perspective, though, it shows you that there's no difference really, than between, you know, Tucker Carlson and, say, Hulk Hogan or a professional wrestler.

It looks like it's all entertainment. It looks like it's all done for show. And regardless of those journalistic ethics or truth, it does not matter to certain hosts at Fox News. And the problem is that there are good people at Fox News and good journalists at Fox News, but Tucker just doesn't want to be considered one of those.

TAPPER: So, Alyssa, again, Tucker is not being sued for pretending that he likes Donald Trump, and you and I are not attorneys. But I'm wondering if somebody who worked in the Trump administration and the Trump administration obviously worked hand in glove with Fox, what's your reaction to what I'm saying right now?

Like, does this not -- look I mean, I hate those election lies, wherever they come from, and certainly Fox pushed them all, and apparently willingly, but this isn't really part of the case here.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not, but I do think it matters. It just shows how craven the line was, frankly, and the motivations behind that. I mean, Bakari mentioned I think that the most damning thing that's come out is this Rupert Murdoch quote where he says, it's not red or blue, it's green.


I'm not even sure that they necessarily care about which party they're boosting or who they're boosting, so long as the ratings are there. And here's the danger. I talk about how we live in split screen America. Half the country is going to keep watching Fox, and they're not really going to know that this lawsuit takes place. They're not really going to know that they've been actively lied to by one of the most watched man in cable news about the election and any number of other things. I do give credit to people like Bret Baier and some reporters who have at least covered the story on the airwaves. But it is -- I mean, it is such -- it's so indicative of just this climate that we're in politically where you can kind of choose your own news, you can choose your own facts, and Fox has been boosting some of the biggest liars in their prime time.

TAPPER: I don't think Bret Baier has covered the Dominion lawsuit. I think he covered the fact that --

GRIFFIN: January 6.

TAPPER: -- the McConnell was pushing back on the January 6 coverage. But I don't think --

GRIFFIN: That's basic journalism and, yes, there was much point --

TAPPER: I don't think anybody at Fox or the New York Post or any number of conservative outlets have even covered the Dominion lawsuit, which is just a basic journalism story.

Bakari, we're also seeing -- let's talk about Rupert Murdoch, his deposition. We're seeing more from that. Murdoch was asked by Dominion lawyers, "Do you believe that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?" Murdoch replied, "No".

"Have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 election?" "No", Murdoch replied. And this is more of the chairman of Fox saying that he knew stories and guests on Fox about Dominion allegedly engaging in voter fraud were not true.

You're an attorney, is this case going to be a slam dunk for Dominion?

SELLERS: It's a very -- it's not a slam dunk, but it is going to be something as more and more of these depositions come out, where you're going to see Fox. And I would not be surprised if this actually did not make it to a jury verdict. Now, the trial may start, but I can only see this particular case with all of this somewhat what appears to be damning evidence.

We haven't seen all of it, but I can't imagine this actually going to a jury verdict. But you look at this evidence as it comes out. You look at reaching that high bar. It's still a very high bar to reach. But these comments by Rupert Murdoch, and I agree with Alyssa, this is the most damning piece of evidence that comes out.

This is the CEO of this Fox News conglomerate knowing that the information that they are putting out is false and willingly just or acquiescing to it being disseminated. That is a huge problem for their lawyers to overcome. I can only see their lawyers saying, look, we need to get out of this some way. We need to find an off ramp.

What does that number? What does that settlement look like? Let's have that conversation, and let's see if it can be done.

TAPPER: Yes, and Alyssa, I want to get your reaction to the fact that while this story is breaking, at the same time, the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, gave Fox exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of capital security footage of the January 6 attack.

And obviously, that has been used on Fox to try to paint the insurrection as largely peaceful, largely unviolent, with a bunch of sightseers. Take a listen to how Republicans are responding on the Hill, to how Fox portrayed this.

REP. DAN NEWHOUSE (R), WASHINGTON: It's a revisionist thing that I think is unfair to the American people.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It wasn't a stroll through the Capitol. It was an attack on our Capitol.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: It was an outrageous act. A lot of people were injured. Our building was severely damaged, and efforts to try and pretend that it was something other than that are despicable and, frankly, dangerous.


TAPPER: McCarthy had a huge hand in this. Why would he do that?

GRIFFIN: Oh, it's just so irresponsible and reckless, but it's also the most predictable outcome. So Tucker Carlson got something like 40,000 hours of footage, and he decided to air just random bits to suggest, of course, that it was peaceful, not going -- you know, not airing the footage that shows people like my friend Officer Fanone being beaten and people saying, use his weapon to kill him.

But this, again, this was a deal that Kevin McCarthy had made when he was trying to get the speakership. And what I think it does is it just undermines everything in the moment that this huge lawsuit is looming, Tucker Carlson is actually leaning into conspiracy. He's not shying away from it, and I think it shows how untouchable he feels at a network that has just boosted conspiracies left and right.

TAPPER: Yes. By the way, we're on day two of Speaker McCarthy not getting back to me on my four questions about whether he agrees with the conclusions on that Fox program.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much.

Coming up, a look at the Republican proposal that would use Title IX to sideline some athletes and impact all women's and girls' sports teams. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our sports lead now, House Republicans are looking to place transgender girls and transgender women athletes on the sidelines. A new bill would make it a violation of Title IX to allow transgender females to participate in girls and women's athletic programs.

Title IX is a 1972 law that protects people from discrimination based on gender in education programs or activities that get federal funding. With me now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. He's the chair of the Equality Caucus, which is made up entirely of Democrats.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. Republican Congressman Greg Steube of Florida, who introduced this bill, said in a press release, quote, "It's simple. Biological males have no place in women's sports. Last spring, Sarasota's own, Emma Weyant was robbed of her NCAA championship in the 500 freestyle by a biological male, Lia Thomas. Floridians and Americans across the country are rightly outraged at what has become of women's sports."

He represents the Sarasota area, we should note. What's your response?


REP. MARK POCAN (D), CHAIRMAN, EQUALITY CAUCUS: My response is Republicans said that they were going to come to Washington and take the majority to lower costs for American people to have a smaller, less intrusive government. And instead, this is the biggest Big Brother grab I've ever seen trying to stop literally handfuls of trans kids, specifically trans girls, to participate in sports.

You know, this is really nothing but a bunch of politicians who've made their brand going after some of the weakest by numbers in our society. It's bullying trans kids. And yet this is all the Republican majority can do. They can actually get anything big done, so they're going to go and peel to certain elements of their base.

And that's all this bill is about. There's no problem that exists in this country on kids who want to play in sports. And honestly, I think a bunch of people in Washington bullying trans kids is pathetic at best. I have other words I'm not allowed to say on your program.

TAPPER: Actually, you're allowed to say anything you want. It's cable. We're not governed by the FCC, but, you know, you have voters to respond to. What do you say to Americans who consider themselves progressive, who think that transgender individuals deserve equal rights, deserve protections in law, but do worry that trans girls and women could have an unfair competitive advantage in women's sports?

And I've seen women athletes, I believe, like Martina Navratilova and others, voicing concerns about these issues. These are not bigots. What do you say to them?

POCAN: Sure. Well, first of all, there's professional organizations for sports and for women in sports that don't agree with this bill or any positions that there's an unfair advantage. In fact, it's such a small issue as far as the number of people involved that you're really using it just to kind of build the culture war more than anything else.

So the professional organizations that work with women in sports have said, whether it's the NCAA or the Olympic Committee, they have rules already that govern in this area. We don't need government to come in and be the ultimate Big Brother to make these decisions when we have groups that quite honestly are doing this quite well on their own.

So there's not a problem out there that exists. It really is a problem that we're creating. And really, you're putting kids at risk, kids who already have higher numbers of suicide attempts and mental health issues because of the bullying they get in schools.

And now you've got a bunch of people in Washington doing it as well. That's the real problem. There's not a problem about kids participating in sports, but there's a problem with people in Washington deciding that they're going to dictate what the rules are.

TAPPER: I don't have to tell you, Republicans control the House of Representatives. They can pass this bill without any Democratic support. If that happens, what's your plan?

POCAN: Well, we still have the Senate, the White House, so I think we've got a couple of things to do. What I'm more worried about is just by raising an issue that's really nothing more about cultural wars. Again, certain people have built a brand on issues like this, and they fundraise off of it and they build support off of it. That's what this is really about.

But they're bullying kids who just want to be with their friends and participate in sports. We had someone this morning, Rebecca, a 16- year-old who plays field hockey from New Jersey. Would you give a really very strong argument about why this makes no sense? And her mother as well came up and talked about it.

We're affecting real people, kids who just want to be involved with the positive aspects of sports, being part of a team, having fun. And here you've got Washington coming in saying there's a problem that does not exist, and that's the problem.

We should be addressing costs for the American people. We should be addressing things like healthcare and other issues that are really important. And here instead, in Congress, we're busy deciding what kids can play, what sports, at what time.

TAPPER: We should note that according to the ACLU, there are more than 80 bills seeking to restrict not just access of transgender girls and women to athletic competitions for women and girls, but restrict access to transgender health care.

Congressman Mark Pocan, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

POCAN: Sure. Thank you.

TAPPER: Pollen, Pollen everywhere. One of the reasons allergy season is starting earlier and getting worse. Stay with us.


[17:53:19] TAPPER: In our health lead, time to stock up on allergy medication. The allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer. It's a problem that researchers say is a result of climate change. That's according to Climate Central, a nonprofit focused on climate news and research.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here to explain why. Jennifer, researchers also say these are not isolated trends?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's not. These are trends that we've been seeing going on for the last couple of decades. And Jake, this is a huge talker this year. Here in Atlanta, there is a yellow haze across the sky. Everyone is suffering from allergies and it's hitting earlier than ever. This is one of the earliest allergies seasons we've seen in about 30 years.

Look at this graphic. This is January and February. Temperature numbers. You can see all of these states shaded in red, this is the warmest January and February we have seen ever. That's for 12 states. Top 10, warmest January, February for 30 states.

So this is hitting hard, especially in the east. The east is warming rapidly. You can see warmest February on record. All of these red dots, top five, the lighter shades. And this is the warming since 1970. And you can see across the Southwest and all across the east, we have just been gradually warming.

So what happens in a warmer world? You have a longer growing season. And so these areas with the green dots, this shows 60 or more days change with the longer growing season. We've had longer growing seasons, which equals a longer allergy season for Atlanta at 34 days.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, you've also had a longer growing season of 34 days. So, Jake, this just means the pollen is going to be in the air even longer and it's happening earlier as well.


TAPPER: Jennifer, what can people do to manage their allergies?

GRAY: Well, experts say to try to stay indoors, especially during the early morning and late afternoon. Also keeping the windows closed at home and in the car to stop that pollen from getting inside your home. Make sure you change your air filters more frequently and start the medications one to two weeks before allergy season begins.

And I think that was the problem this year, because people weren't expecting it to start soon, but because we had that super warm February, things just started blooming out of control earlier than expected. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jennifer Gray, thanks so much.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you know, you can listen to The Lead from whence you get your podcast to all two hours sitting there like a giant cantaloupe.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM".