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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Dow Tumbles Over New Fears About the Banking Sector; Top U.S. General: Downed Drone "No Longer" of Intelligence Value; Texas Judge Hears Case That Could End Abortion Pill Access Nationwide; Biden Admin, Airline Official Discuss "Uptick" In Close Calls; Senate Votes To Confirm Eric Garcetti As Ambassador To India; California School Board Sues Social Media Companies For Contributing To Teen Mental Health Crisis. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is the banking industry suffering from a crisis of confidence?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Markets around the world tumble, as concerns grow over yet another possible bank failure. What might that mean for your money?

Then, a Texas judge may overrule a decision made by doctors and scientists 20 years ago. The hearing today that could block access to medication abortion.

Plus, as one plane speeds down the runway to take off, another plane makes a wrong turn.


ATC: United 2003 cxl takeoff clearance.

UA 2003: Aborting takeoff, aborting takeoff United 2003.



TAPPER: The latest runway near-miss under investigation as federal officials try to answer if it is safe to fly.


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

And we start today with our money and the economic turmoil rocking global markets. Moments ago, Dow closed down almost 277 points over banking fears, as did shares of major U.S. banks such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase down 278 points. Experts were already worried about the health of the banking industry after two U.S. banks failed within three days of each other. That led credit firm Moody's to downgrade its outlook for the entire U.S. banking sector. And those worries skyrocketed today because of troubles facing the global investment company Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse's biggest shareholder, the Saudi National Bank, appeared to rule out giving funding to the already embattled company, and that combined with the recent U.S. issue sent stocks falling today.

I want to bring in CNN business reporter Rahel Solomon.

Rahel, walk us through how all of this unfolded today.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Jake, essentially what we're witnessing here is the mood worsened, right? Investors really search for the next sign of weakness, the next domino to fall. Now, to be clear, stocks today closed off their lows of the day, but slightly lower. I think the Nasdaq actually closed slightly higher which is interesting.

But this is really just a confidence issue at this point. You can see that reflected very clearly in some of the bank stocks.

I want to point your attention to some of the regional stocks that, Jake, you and I have talked about this week already. Take a look, First Republic Bank off 21 percent, PacWest off 5 percent on top of their losses over five sessions or so. So, it's been a rough go for some of the regional stocks as we face the confidence issue in banking.

But some of the larger banks getting swept up in the selloff. Take a look, Chase was off earlier. Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo also getting swept up in this larger selloff.

And to be clear, Jake, Credit Suisse is a bank that has had significant challenges over the years, certainly had some scandals over the years. It's been considered the problem child of European banking, so it had its fair share of issues even before SVB's collapse, even before Signature. But I think what we're witnessing how on edge investors are about the sector and the outlook for banking. So, really, some confidence issues here moving forward.

TAPPER: And, Rahel, the Swiss regulator just put out a statement trying to shore up confidence in Credit Suisse. What did they say? And might that work?

SOLOMON: Well that is the big question, right, this comment, this statement coming out about 30 minutes ago from Swiss regulators, essentially saying, and the SNB, and the Swiss National Bank, that the problems of certain banks in the USA, i.e., Signature, i.e., SVB, do not pose a direct risk of contagion for the Swiss financial markets.

Here's what's perhaps most important, Jake. Credit Suisse meets the capital and liquidity requirements imposed on systematically important banks, essentially saying that its books look solid, but this is the most important thing. If necessary, the SNB, the Swiss National Bank will provide Credit Suisse with liquidity. So, you're getting assurances there with the national bank there, much like we saw here with our Federal Reserve.

TAPPER: All right. Rahel Solomon, thank you for that. CNN chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now live.

Phil, you've been speaking to top officials at the U.S. Treasury Department. What's their plan?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, what's interesting is what Rahel just read off track what is officials are trying to make clear throughout the course of this day. And that is the fact what happened over the weekend with Silicon Valley bank, with Signature Bank, the problems that we've seen with regional banks are not necessarily connected to what is happening with Credit Suisse. However, they are very cognizant of the fact, as Rahel was pointing out, that there has been a mood shift, there has been a different in terms of how people are viewing the entire sector, and therefore any problem can create a real risk, particularly in one in a bank as large as Credit Suisse.

Now, Treasury officials have been monitoring the U.S. exposure, the U.S. financial markets exposure to Credit Suisse throughout the course of the day. They've been talking on a pretty regular basis with their counterparts in Europe as well, trying to ensure that the spillover risk is limited. And if there is spillover risk, they're cognizant of that fact. Try to make clear, these are separate issues, but, also, Jake, very aware at the moment, that there is just a general sense of the market of the anxiety, and they need to be prepared for anything that may come next.

TAPPER: Phil, has all of this had officials question whether they did enough three days ago from stop this from exacerbating?

MATTINGLY: Well, what's interesting, in conversations I've had throughout the day, the short answer is, no. And it's not spin because their view of it is the tools they put in place, both back stopping the uninsured deposits, well as the insured ghost deposits at the two banks. And to other lenders that may fail as well, trying to restore confidence in depositors, making sure they start to put a halt to the significant outflows of deposits from regional and smaller banks over the course of the last several days.


That, they feel, has started to take hold. The lending facility they've set up at the Federal Reserve has created options for lines of banks most stressed at this point. So, they feel those were the right tools.

It's worth noting they were very significant emergency interventions put on the table. And Credit Suisse -- and what's happening with Credit Suisse right now doesn't change their view that those are the right answers. I do believe, in talking to these officials, again, as we've been discussing, they are cognizant of the fact that the real concern, the real problem they face at this moment in time is perception, is panic, is people's perception of risk, as this continues to play out, even if they don't think necessarily these institutions are connected, these particular problems are connected. If the view becomes that the system is unstable, that it doesn't

matter what capital bank is holding or what the regulations are in place, then they have very big problems that can spread very quickly. If you look at the equities markets, Jake, and you look at the biggest banks taking a hit right now, whether it's JPMorgan or whether it's Bank of America, you know, on the equity side of things, that is just not track with how everything is going over the last several days. Most of the major deposit outflows from those regional lenders have been going to those banks. They feel like those banks in particular are very stable and yet, they have also taken a hit.

All of this kind of drives to the idea that there's a shifting in the marketplace right now. A very real concern about risks, a very real concern about contagion and spillover effects. They feel what will they've put in place can manage what they're dealing with at home. But they know things can spread. And very aware of that fact and I think prepared for that fact as well, Jake.

TAPPER: Presumably, Phil, the administration is discussing whether or not Congress should step in and legislate. Tell us about that.

MATTINGLY: I think when you talk to administration officials, they say two things when it comes to the regulatory side and whether or not they'd need emergency action from Capitol Hill. One, the president has talked about regulation and perhaps putting back in place the 2018 regulations that were eased on smaller banks under president Trump. That is something that does not seem to have any pathway forward nor any immediate effect of what we're watching and dealing with now.

When it comes to Capitol Hill with emergency infusion of cash, there just aren't a lot of conversations right now, in part because it's a recognition of a political environment and government where Republicans have stated opposition what happened over the weekend, almost all of whom are deeply opposed to what happened back in 2008. So there's no real move to doing something like that.

Plus, they don't think that's necessitated at this point in time based on what they're seeing. But it does raise a question, Jake, which is if they find themselves in a moment where that's what they need, they absolutely have to go get, can they actually get it? I don't know that the answer is yes.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks.

So, the CNN special this evening focuses on all these latest developments. Tune in for a prime time special with CNN's Poppy Harlow "Bank Bust: What's Next for America's Money". That airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Turning to another major story in world lead, two U.S. officials say sensitive software on unmanned Reaper drone was erased remotely before it crashed into the Black Sea as Russia races to recover the wreckage of the $30 million aircraft. Two of its fighter pilots harassed over international airspace yesterday.

This afternoon, top U.S. General Mark Milley, the chairman of joint chiefs of staff said the drone, quote, is no longer of any U.S. intelligence value.

CNN's David McKenzie is in Ukraine's capital, where one Ukrainian thinks the U.S. may have had more sinister implications behind that airborne altercation.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian President Vladimir Putin in East Siberia on Tuesday, touring an aviation factory, taking to the virtual skies in a helicopter simulation. While over the Black Sea Russian Sukhoi fighter jets like this in a dangerous encounter with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying the Russian aircraft dumped fuel on the drone, then made contact with the unmanned aircraft, crushing it out of the sky.

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This episode is part of a pattern of aggressive risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots until international airspace. Now, I just got off the phone with my Russian counterpart, Minister Shoigu, as I said repeatedly, it's important that greatly powers be models of transparency and communication.

And the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.


Russian officials have unilaterally declared the airspace part of their so-called special military operation. But it's an area of routine U.S. surveillance. Russia denying they brought the UAV down. They claim the drone's transponder was off. And say they will attempt to retrieve and study the piece of American hardware with millions.

NIKOLAI PATRUSHEV, RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY (through translator): As for the drone, the Americans keep saying they're not participating in hostilities. Yet, this is another confirmation that they're directly involved in these events, in the war.

JOHN KIRBY, NSC SPOKESPERSON: We took steps to protect information and to protect -- to minimize any effort by anybody else to exploit that drone.

MCKENZIE: International reaction has been swift. The United Kingdom called for Russia to respect international airspace. And Turkey said it's working to resolve the matter in a, quote, logical way.

A Ukrainian official saying the move signaled Putin's readiness to, quote, expand the conflict zone. And the White House says that this isn't the first close call between Russia and U.S. assets in the last few weeks. This aerial incident is just the latest sign of the broader risk in this war of the U.S. and Russia coming into direct conflict.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Now, Jake, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs saying that this incident was intentional, in his words, that the aggression was intentional. They are investigating whether actually downing that drone in the Black Sea was also intentional.

And in the coming days, we believe they may be releasing video evidence from the Pentagon of this incident and what the U.S. is saying is a very dangerous escalation, Jake.

All right. David McKenzie in Kyiv, Ukraine, for us -- thank you so much.

Coming up, a Texas judge appears poised to end access nationwide to an abortion drug that was approved by the FDA 20 years ago. We're going to take a look inside the high-stakes hearing.

Plus, why a California school board is suing social media giants TikTok and Snapchat. And they're not alone.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead today, a hearing in the biggest abortion- related case since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, depending on how a Trump-appointed judge in Texas handles this lawsuit. Access to the most common method of abortion, pills, could be cut off nationwide.

CNN's Rosa Flores explains how this could happen even in states where medication abortion is perfectly legal.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The national abortion debate, heating in a federal courthouse in Amarillo, Texas. Inside, the biggest legal battle over abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A federal judge is seriously considering undoing FDA approval of mifepristone, an abortion medication that has been available for more than two decades in a lawsuit brought by an anti-abortion coalition.

DR. KATHERINE MCHUGH, FELLOW, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND : The impact in overruling the FDA's approval of mifepristone is far- reaching. Doctors and patients will not know if we can trust the national guidelines which tell us to follow the standard of care.

FLORES: During the four-hour preliminary injunction hearing, the judge raised one possible scenario where he could keep the drug's approval intact, and instead block the FDA's most recent moves to make the abortion pills easier to obtain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a 20-year-old drug actually used to save women's lives.

FLORES: Legal concerns already restricting access. Walgreens plans to stop the sale of the abortion pills in states where abortion remains legal after Republican-led states threatened to sue. In this case, the plaintiffs are arguing the drug is unsafe. And the FDA's approval process was flawed.

The Women's March and other abortion advocacy groups say the plaintiffs went, quote, judge shopping for someone they believe will rule in their favor.

By fling the case in Amarillo, where there's one federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a President Trump appointee who went working on anti-abortion advocacy to the federal bench.

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It would be unprecedented for a judge, a single judge, to say the FDA got it wrong 23 years ago. There's never been an instance where anyone has overturned the ruling of the FDA against the FDA wishes.

FLORES: Judge Kacsmaryk's handling of today's hearing have been shrouded in secrecy, the judge saying he didn't want to out of security concerns, pointing to unnecessary death threats and voice mails and harassment, sparking outrage over lack of transparency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm dressed like a clown to show what a circus he's created. It's just a joke. He's making the American court system into a circus.

FLORES: More than half of the abortions in the U.S. in recent years were medication abortions, most using mifepristone, and a ruling against this drug would have wide implications.

MCHUGH: And mifepristone is not just used in abortion care, it's also used for miscarriage management.

FLORES: The judge didn't rule from the bench today. And said he'd issue an opinion as soon as possible.


FLORES (on camera): Now, about what could be in that opinion, in the judge's questioning, he hinted at being sympathetic towards the legal arguments of the plaintiffs. But and this nuance is important, in his many questions, he also showed some skepticism towards granting an order that would be as aggressive as the plaintiffs would want -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Rosa Flores, in Amarillo, Texas, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Katie Watson. She is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. She's also an attorney.

Professor Watson, if the plaintiffs, a group of doctors who opposed abortion, medical associations that oppose abortion, if they d this preliminary injunction, it would force the FDA, correct me if I'm wrong, to withdrew the approval of the drug mifepristone, while his lawsuit plays out. How would this theoretically impact women across the country

practically speaking?


KATIE WATSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL SOCIAL SCIENCES, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: I think the impact is not theoretical. We know over half of people choosing abortion choose medication abortion. And so, in two-thirds of states in the United States where abortion is legal, it would remove this popular method of abortion.

So, essentially this is anti-abortion plaintiffs trying to control the choices of people who live in states where abortion is legal. And it would absolutely unprecedented dramatic overreach to have a federal judge tell the FDA what to do.

TAPPER: It is interesting because also, we've heard a lot of anti- abortion legal scholars after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, well, this is going to kick it back to the states and that's where it belongs. You're saying this would be much more aggressive than that?

WATSON: No, this completely counters that fabrication. The idea is to control abortion nationally. And when these plaintiffs say that medication abortion causes harm, as a medical ethicist, I'll tell you, I think what they mean, they perceive all abortion as a sort of moral harm.

But that's not how the FDA works or what science is based on. So they've made specious scientific claims to the fill a moral claim in a federal court.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the women that live in the 31 state where is this kind of medication abortion is legal. And if suddenly it's made illegal and women can't get it, and girls can't get it and they need to get an abortion for whatever reason, what would these women do?

WATSON: Well, let's be clear about what's on the table and what we don't know. So, this case specifically targets a drug called mifepristone which is the first of two drugs used in a medication abortion regiment. And so, it's possible that a ruling would still have the drug that's been on the market and stalked in pharmacies and been around for decades.

And so, people could in those states where abortion is generally legal do a misoprostol only regiment, which is my understanding is 5 percent or 10 percent less effective, it takes longer, and it's much less comfortable for the patient. A two-drug regiment really is the gold standard. So, it's possible some people who would have elected medication abortion will go with the misoprostol only regiment, and it's also possible some of them will choose a procedural abortion.

The problem with that is that requires an actual visit to a clinic, whereas, medication abortion can be done with telemedicine. Even folks driving from states where it's illegal, to states where it's legal, had the opportunity in recent months to cross the border, do a telemedicine visit from their car. And the hope was that they could fill it at a pharmacy, giving them access as well. That will be much more limited.

TAPPER: Yeah. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe mifepristone is approved and prescribed only to end the pregnancies through ten weeks. So, when people talk about using it -- like, we're not talking about third trimester, so this is plaintiffs trying to -- am I wrong? Correct me if I'm wrong.

WATSON: No, you're completely correct. It's FDA approved to ten weeks used nationwide off of tremendous studies of efficacy to 11 weeks. Now, the majority, vast majority, almost 90 percent of American abortions happen within that first trimester.

So we're absolutely not talking second or third trimester abortions. But we are talking about the vast majority of abortions which happen in the first trimester. And half of those patients are choosing these drugs so they can do it at home. They can do it on their own timetable. Some of them can avoid a visit to a clinic.

TAPPER: All right. Professor Katie Watson, thank you for your expertise. As always, appreciate it.

WATSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Another near runway miss and no clear answers why this keeps happening. What we learned from the FAA's rare safety summit earlier today.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: A simple scary question tops our national lead today. Is it safe to fly? After a series of near collisions at the nation's airports, we aren't the only ones asking. As CNN's Pete Muntean reports, the Biden administration and airline industry officials got together outside of Washington, D.C. today to search for an answer.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Close calls on America's runways are landing under new scrutiny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we emphasizing efficiency over safety?

MUNTEAN: Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration hosted a rare emergency safety summit bringing together investors and regulators, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: When you have all of these things happening at once it points to make sure the system is strengthened.

MUNTEAN: Near collisions continue to climb nationwide, from Hawaii to the latest incident at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C.

ATC: United 2003 cancel takeoff clearance.

UA2003: Aborting takeoff, aborting takeoff, United 2003.

MUNTEAN: The FAA is investigating a total of seven dramatic runway incursions since the beginning of this year.

In an exclusive interview, Buttigieg told me there's an uptick in incidents at airports.

BUTTIGIEG: What we're finding is that pilots, ground crews and controllers alike seem to be experiencing this uptick, some who describe it as kind of a rust.


But that needs to turn into a concrete diagnosis and specific action steps.

MUNTEAN: Airlines insist safety is always their top priority. But labor unions say airlines are pushing the limits, as they struggle to bounce back from the pandemic.

CAPT. DENNIS TAJER, ALLIED PILOTS' ASSOCIATION: The data is right behind you. It's happening out there. These incidents, things we've been talking about well over a year ago are starting to show up on the flight deck and operations.

MUNTEAN: So far, the FAA sees no apparent common trigger of these incidents but the National Transportation Safety Board said change cannot wait.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: What I want to see is action. Our whole goal at the NTSB is lives saved and that has to be the focus.


MUNTEAN (on camera): Right now, the NTSB is not launching an investigation into that latest incident at Reagan National Airport. It happened last week but is only coming to light just now.

The head of the union representing air traffic controllers makes this one extra point as to the cause of these close calls. He says that air traffic control facilities like towers and other places are critically understaffed and puts the onus on the FAA and Congress to secure money to hire more people, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Here to discuss, Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Transportation Department.

Mary, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's start with the most simple and troubling question, is it safe to fly?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: Well, you know, that was one of the topics at the conference today. Of course, the conclusion was it is safe to fly but that was part of the problem. There was a consensus at the conference that complacency because it's so long there has been a major airline disaster that people take safety for granted. And everybody has gotten complacent and they just assume they can continue to stretch the rubber band and not think that it's going to break.

TAPPER: I guess that's what the secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was referring today, talking about this uptick in airline collisions -- near collisions, near collisions. To his words, he called it a kind of rust involving pilots and ground crews and controllers.

Is there anything more specific to which this can be attributed?

SCHIAVO: Yeah, he actually came up with five factors today, sounded reasonable. Unfortunately, the ways to solve the problems are a little more difficult but I call them the five C's. Complacency, we've been safe so we assume we'll be safe.

COVID -- COVID was one of the causes. That's where the rust came in. We all got rusty during COVID because air demand was significantly down.

Churning, they say a lot of new people are coming into the system. A lot of near misses, collisions have been with newer people, small planes, big planes, thrown into the mix. When you churn people around, they don't have the experience and training.

There was a big concern about equipment. They said equipment and parts and maintenance are not being timely performed, again, perhaps, because of the shortage of staff, et cetera. But a real issue with the equipment out there.

And finally, cash. There was a lot of complaint that they want more money, more employees, more controllers, more everything. But all of those take time. In the meantime, the other problem was we have so much more traffic and a lot of bottlenecks. And I think the logical conclusion is some of those bottlenecks have to have relief. They can't have that much traffic.

TAPPER: The airline industry says, there are 25,000 flights a day in the U.S. carrying 2.3 million passengers every day. There's always a chance of disruptions, of course, weather, computers problems and other things. What does the airline industry need do to improve?

SCHIAVO: Well, I think, first and foremost, we have concentrated so much traffic in just today, the number they used was 35. I would say it's even fewer airports than that, 35 airports. And we don't have some of the most modern equipment.

For example, we had equipment that would give alerts to pilots if you're about to have a collision on the runway. But it's not mandatory. It's not widely available. The European Union was looking to put that in place.

And, then, you know, finally, there is one common theme for all of these near misses. And in almost every case, there's a communication error. There's confusion about the runways and so you have to eliminate the confusion through training and better awareness.

And, finally, almost all of them, there's a human failure. So if someone messed up, it wasn't usually equipment. So there are common themes and those have to be fixed.

TAPPER: Yeah. My car is almost seven years old, and it has a feature that alerts me if they think I'm going to hit the person in front of me. I would think that every airplane would have that.

SCHIAVO: Well, yeah. You know, this is really interesting that was one of the things the NTSB brought up today. They said one of our recommendations is 23 years old.


I happen to remember that, I was in the department back then. They tested some of this equipment back in Dallas in 20 -- oh, 20 years ago. And it was doable back then in about 2000, they tested.

And that was the equipment to give pilots the alert, just not air traffic controllers the alert. For example, if you're confuse at the runway and you aren't getting the right communications, the controller, you know, yelling stop, abort isn't going to get through where the new systems would actually give the alerts to the pilot. So there are many things or the horizon, but the problem is, we've got to get the equipment out there and working and people trained on it.

TAPPER: Yeah, but the airlines aren't going to put it in unless it's required, I would think.

Mary Schiavo, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Coming up, more than 600 days later, President Biden's pick for ambassador to India is confirmed, albeit by a slim margin. And the Democrats voting against him. The allegations that almost sank former L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's nomination.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: After a more than 600-day delay, today the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 42 to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the U.S. ambassador to India. Garcetti's nomination faced bipartisan scrutiny and opposition after whistle-blowers allege that he ignored complaints of sexual harassment against a top aide and adviser, while he was L.A.'s mayor. Garcetti's denied any wrongdoing.

CNN's Manu Raju joins now from Capitol Hill. And, Manu, this vote was not down party lines.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it wasn't. In fact, if it weren't from the support of seven Republicans, Garcetti wouldn't have gotten the position, that's because three Democrats defected. So, if it were came down on party lines, that wouldn't have been enough to scuttle his nomination. But he was able to win the support of seven Republicans, ultimately get enough votes, 52-42, the final vote for nomination.

This coming after this nomination have been delayed because of concerns over that allegation that he did not act on the accusation of sexual harassment against a top aide. Something that he forcefully denied, saying he was not aware of those allegations. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigating the matter was able to bring up two members on the committee even though some Democrats came up concerned about his nomination.


SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): It's a national security imperative. We have to balance concerns people might have about the nominee, against the real risk of waiting another year, until we have an ambassador on the ground.

SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): I have significant concerns over, you know, his nomination to his position.

RAJU: Why is that?

KELLY: The way, you know, certain -- the environment that was allowed to exist in his office over an extended period of time.


KELLY: So that last senator was Mark Kelly of Arizona, one of three Democrats who will voted against this nomination. The other one were Sherrod Brown of Ohio, someone who's up for reelection in the next year. And also, Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat who told me that, quote, she has credible information given to me in confidence about Eric Garcetti.

Now, they would not say exactly what that was. She steadfastly refused to elaborate, saying that was enough to vote no today, but, Jake, that was not enough. It's now Eric Garcetti is going to take that post after two years' delay in an important region of the world.

TAPPER: So, Manu, I'm just doing the math here, 52 for his nomination, 42 against. It seems like there are a lot of absences today.

RAJU: Yeah, that's right, six members missed it. That's a persistent issue in the Senate, given that three of them have extended absences. Two of them, Democrats John Fetterman and Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein was expected to support Garcetti. She'd be out with shingles. The 89- year-old is recovering from shingles at her home. John Fetterman has -- is still recovering from clinical depression,

I'm told he's doing well. And it's unclear how he would have voted.

It's also unclear how Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, last week, he hit his head while -- after speaking at an event at a Washington hotel, treated for a concussion, still in an in-patient rehab facility, expected back in the Senate maybe next week, potentially longer than that.

So, these absences changing the math mere and calculus of Democratic leaders as they schedule the votes in a very narrow, divided Senate.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

Turning now in our national lead, a Chinese billionaire close to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been arrested and charged with defrauding thousands of his followers. Guo Wengui is a staunch critic of the Chinese government. He's exiled in Manhattan. Prosecutors say he's used several complex measures to scam investors out of more than $1 billion.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now.

Kara, how did he allegedly pull this off?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the way the prosecutors described this in a charging document was a complex scheme. He used multiple different ways to attract his followers through his media company GTV, and also using a cryptocurrency exchange he created to track money from investors. And then prosecutors say that he diverted a lot of funds paying for the maintenance of this luxury yacht called "The Lady Mae". That is the same yacht where Steve Bannon was arrested in 2020, and then Trump later pardoned him on those charges.

But to pay the maintenance of that yacht, to buy a mansion in New Jersey, to cover -- to buy numerous luxury sports cars and also to use the money to spend $36,000 on a mattress. It's really just this list of luxury products that he spent the money on, according to prosecutors.

Now, when the FBI was in his apartment at his hotel apartment residence on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan earlier today, a fire broke out in the apartment which takes up the entire 18th floor.


No one was injured. It's unclear whether there was any connection or just a coincidence.

Gou Wengui has not appeared in court yet today, though he is expected to. His lawyer did not have any immediate comment on the charges but prosecutors are expected to ask that he'd be detained and held because he's not only an extreme flight risk but also an economic danger to society -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Provocative, toxic, addictive, how a California school board is taking on tech giants to try to help to protect its students. We're going to download the details.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead now, the San Mateo, California school board is suing social media companies such as TikTok and YouTube and Snapchat. The lawsuit accuses the companies of creating, quote, provocative and toxic content to entrap teenagers and then leaving the schools to deal with the growing youth mental crisis as a result.

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a state of emergency because of children's and teen's mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth between ages of 10 and 14 years old in 2020.

CNN's Nick Watt joins us now.

Nick, this is not the first school district to target social media companies.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's not the first and it won't be the last. Seattle already filed. There are a bunch of districts in California that are now in the process. You know, lawyers for the San Mateo school district are likening big tech to big tobacco, claiming that these tech companies, quote, in pursuit of profit, are knowingly creating this unprecedented mental health crisis, which is a feature, not a bug, of their social media products.

Defendants purposefully designed their platforms to be addictive and to deliver harmful content to youth.

Now, I spoke to the San Mateo superintendent. Take a listen.


NANCY MAGEE, SAN MATEO COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: We're sending more students in San Mateo county to 5051 emergency mental health calls than we've ever done if all of the time we have had school.


WATT: And, you know, they say that CDC data shows that between 2011 and 2021, there was a rise in nearly all categories of risk to kids. Suicide, mental health, substance abuse and, quote, this trend tracks precisely with the release and growing popularity of the YouTube, TikTok, and Snap company's platforms during the same period.

Now, the superintendent says due to social media, young lives are being lost in this country -- Jake.

TAPPER: And how are the tech companies responding?

WATT: Well, Snap told us that they review user generated content before it can reach a large audience. We also work closely with leading mental health organizations to provide in-app tolls for Snapchatters and resources to help support themselves and friends.

Google told us, we have invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children, and have introduced strong protections and dedicated features to prioritize their well-being. Now, it's not just legal, there is a potential action here, California lawmakers debating how to further regulate social media. And remember President Biden said at the State of the Union, quote, we must finally hold social media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit.

TAPPER: And what specifically does the school board want here?

WATT: Well, they basically want money and they want a partnership between big tech and schools to educate kids on how to stay safe on social media and also deal with some problems that come up.

You know, I put it to the superintendent. Listen, everyone must have freaked out when cars were invented, that kids were going to kill themselves. She said, yeah, sure, but we all got together and we got some rules together, speed limits, safety belts, seat belts, alcohol limits.

So, she wants us to do something similar here. There is a huge issue, a huge, new invention that humanity is going to enjoy. But we have to put in guard rails for our younger people. And keep them safe.

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

And if you or anyone you know needs help, you can text or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. That's 988.

Coming up, Russia says it will try to recover that downed American drone, but is there any sensitive information left for the Kremlin to find?

Stay with us.



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

This hour, the controversy following the University of Alabama's basketball team onto the court, as questions persist involve the team's star player, a gun, and a woman's death.

Plus, it's the case that could result in the indictment of former President Donald Trump, and today, Stormy Daniels met with prosecutors. Is she willing to go before the grand jury?

But leading this hour, a war of words intensifying amid an actual ground war. An unmanned American drone was forced to crash down in the Black Sea yesterday after two Russian fighter jets taunted it. Now, American officials while Russia's actions were aggressive, Russia's jet-clipping the propeller which forced the drone down was probably just a screw up.

Today, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. will continue to fly and operate wherever international law allows.

As CNN's Oren Liebermann reports for us from the Pentagon, even though U.S. officials say they have deleted the drone's sensitive information, and it's no longer of any intelligence value, Russia is still racing to get to the wreckage of the drone first, a drone likely deep, deep in the Black Sea.