Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Big U.S. Banks Agree On $30B Plan To Rescue Troubled Regional Bank; Dozens Of Mar-A-Lago Staff Subpoenaed In Classified Docs Probe; New Chief Judge In D.C. Could Impact Possible Trump Indictment; CDC: U.S. Maternal Death Rate Surged In 2021; Netanyahu Cutting Short Germany Trip Amid Protests; Ten People Charged After Man Dies In Custody At State Mental Health Facility. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is $30 billion the answer?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Another troubled regional bank is about to get rescued. This time, the big banks are stepping in, bringing cash, lots of it. But will it be enough to ease market fears?

The terrifying reality about women's health care in America. The number of expectant moms dying from complications in pregnancy and during childbirth. That number is soaring, and some groups are hit worse than others.

Plus, coming soon to a Florida beach near you, a 5,000 mile wide blob of seaweed. And frankly, guys, it stinks.


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

And we start today with our money lead and a $30 billion, with a B, dollar rescue than. America's largest banks announced they are going to step in to try to prevent what could lead to a domino effect that would theoretically wreck the economy. The group of banks including JPMorgan Chase, the Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, they are all going to provide a $30 billion rescue for San Francisco-based First Republic Bank.

First Republic saw its stock plummet after two other banks failed over the weekend. And Moody's downgraded its outlook for the entire banking industry. Stocks rebounded today over the rescue news, the Dow closing up 373 points, signaling that experts are, at least for now, breathing a sigh of relief that further economic damage may be avoided or at least delayed.

CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon joins us now.

Rahel, tell us about this rescue plan and how it would work. RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is a

major development, essentially, a cash infusion into First Republic, giving it a sense of financial power that SVB did not have at its finger points. I want to read for you for a moment, Jake, the statement we just got from the Treasury Department, essentially saying 11 banks in total, 11 banks announced $30 billion in deposits into First Republic Bank.

The show of support by a group of large banks is most welcome and demonstrates the resilience of the banking system, essentially patting these banks essentially on the back for stepping up here, really arming First Republic with financial firepower in the event, Jake, it sees customers move their money, similar to what we saw with SVB, so sort of shielding First Republic if it sees a significant problem in that way.

It's also a sign of support, a really show of confidence from these major banks stepping up, signaling not only are they able to land in this way, but they are willing to land, and perhaps also shoring up confidence for depositors. If you are at home and have an account at First Republic Bank and you hear Wells Fargo, Citibank is willing to step up and support this bank, well, maybe that makes you feel more confident about leaving your money there, as well.

TAPPER: And, Rahel, you just spoke with an expert on the global market. What's the outlook on this bank turmoil from -- I've seen from the rest of the world?

SOLOMON: Well, I mean, look, he said net positive for sure for the reasons I just said. But in terms of volatility, in terms of what the outlook looks like from here, I want to show you the S&P over the last five sessions. We've talked about this over the last five days, how volatile the markets have been, they close up, down, everywhere in between.

So when I asked what Brian Levitt the outlook looks like moving forward, this is what he told me, Jake. He said, look, we may not be out of the woods with regards to potentially seeing other bank challenges. But policymakers stand ready to support.

So it may take time to get there, but hopefully those are the catalysts that lead to more calm in the markets, Jake.

TAPPER: Let's go now to CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju, who is on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before Congress today, trying to assure lawmakers and the public that the economy is safe, that the economy is stable. How did that go over?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, members of the Senate Finance Committee are still uncertain whether or not the emergency actions taken by the Biden administration will be enough to stave off a wider spread meltdown of the U.S. financial system. Even as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen defended the administration's actions so far and said taxpayer money would not be used for a bailout and that the banking system in her words were, quote, "sound." She also said Americans can be assured that deposits are safe.

Now, at this hearing, there was also ample discussion about other issues, namely the issue looming over Congress about raising the national debt limit. Yellen once again made her call for the debt limit to be increased without conditions. House Republicans want spending cuts. She wants to keep those two issues separate.


She also criticized House Republican plans or contingency plans in case of a debt default to prioritize payments the federal government would make. She called those dangerous and risky.

And at one point, things got very tense. Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who has been pushing for some changes to Social Security to shore up its long-term solvency, said that Yellen was not telling the truth when saying that Joe Biden was willing to talk to senators about this issue.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The president knows many people on Social Security --

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Then why doesn't the president care?

YELLEN: He cares very deeply.

CASSIDY: Then, where is his plan?

YELLEN: He stands ready to work with --

CASSIDY: That's a lie, because when a bipartisan group of senators has repeatedly requested to meet with him about social so that somebody who is a current beneficiary will not see her benefits cut by 24 percent, we have not heard anything on our request. And we have made multiple requests to meet with the president.


RAJU: I caught up with Senator Cassidy after that exchange. He said he was not calling Yellen a liar. He said someone from the White House or someone administration official was passing along false talking points, even as some Democrats took exception to his remarks.

Of course, the White House has said that changes to Social Security would not be part of any debt ceiling negotiation, even as Republicans press Yellen to at least negotiate with house Republicans going forward.

Now, Yellen did say that the White House, the president is willing to talk with House Republicans about the debt ceiling, but said any talks about spending cuts must be kept separate from the issue of ceiling to avoid a debt default. So, a major stalemate still looms here between House Republicans and the Biden administration over such a huge fiscal issue as this looms over Congress and the White House heading into a potentially very consequential summer.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.

Here to discuss Art Laffer, the former economic adviser for President Reagan and founder of Laffer Associates.

Art, thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: The major banks are stepping in to rescue First Republic Bank. Do you think that this move will stop the small bank failure contagion, or is this just a temporary fix?

LAFFER: Well, it will surely delay it and probably slow it down a lot. And the nice thing is it gives time for this administration to figure out a game plan, Jake, as to how handle it. More banks have these same types of problems and they can have a plan to re-address the issue fundamentally.

My guess is that they should assure all depositors in all banks, federally regulated banks on their deposits, that there will never be a default on the depositors. That's the right thing to do. But clearly, it's good that the banks are stepping in to help Republic.

TAPPER: This all started last week with Silicon Valley Bank. I've heard a number of conservatives, Pat Toomey, Gary Cohn, say that that bank, Silicon Valley Bank failed because of an old-fashion run on the bank. There wasn't any other particular reason. They disagree with Joe Biden and others who say that deregulation in 2018 played a role.

What is to explain, if it's an old fashion run on the bank for Silicon Valley Bank, what is to explain these other banks and these larger fears about the industry in general?

LAFFER: Well, it's not just one bank. I mean, the whole system is under a lot of pressure, Jake. I mean, interest rates rose dramatically, which means that banks that had long-term government assets, those assets fell in value, mark to market. And short-term deposits cost more, and so what you have is your income is being reduced and your expenses are being increased and it just flipped over.

Silicon Valley, from what I understand, and I'm not an insider on that at all, but from what I understand, just got caught in the rise in interest rates and flipped the bank over. A lot of financial institutions are facing this sort of problem. What surprises me is that the regulators at the San Francisco Fed, the supervisor, the supervisory group didn't catch it and didn't understand their balance sheets. They didn't have enough reserve to match that shortfall of revenues.

And that's really what happened with Silicon Valley Bank and also Signature, and now it's coming to Republic. It will probably come to a lot of other banks, as well. As long as interest rates stay high. TAPPER: Treasury Secretary Yellen testified that the U.S. banking

system is secure. Take a listen to Larry Summers, an economist with the Clinton, Obama White House, what he had to say about this.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I don't think this is a time for panic or alarm. America's money is safe.


TAPPER: Do you agree?

LAFFER: Yes. I do agree. I mean, I think it's not a time for panic. I think -- if the administration had made a different on Sunday, I would not agree. But they made the right decision. They pulled the guns out and they guaranteed all the depositors.

Once they've done that, I think they have assured all the depositors that they're not going to lose their money. And one thing that a run on the bank is, when you really are worried whether you can get your money out of that bank.


And once they are assured they are not going to lose their money, I think -- I think this really sets the tone and makes the banking system a lot more secure, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Art Laffer, former economic adviser for President Reagan, and founder of Laffer firm, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

Coming up, another phone call captures Donald Trump pressuring lawmakers to overturn election results. He really had Georgia on his mind. And three more people charged with murder in the death of a man who was smothered on the ground for 12 minutes in a mental health facility.

Plus, an update on the American drone downed by Russian fighter jets and the debris being scooped out of the water by one of the United States adversaries.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says New York prosecutors in his view have a, quote, tremendous amount of information, unquote, as the prosecutors work to build a case against the former president in connection with that hush money payment to former porn star and director Stormy Daniels.

As CNN's Paula Reid reports for us now, Cohen is suggesting this investigation could be broader than most people seem to believe.



PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Trump facing increasing legal jeopardy and criminal investigations in multiple jurisdictions.

In Washington, D.C., a former White House aide, Margo Martin, who followed Trump to Mar-a-Lago, appeared before a grand jury as part of the special counsel's investigation into classified documents found at the Florida estate. And his former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen, appearing twice this week before a grand jury in New York investigating hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: It was like, it was like being on trial.

REID: Cohen had already met with investigators 20 times to share what he knows.

COHEN: What I can tell you is that their questioning of me started out at like 35,000 feet. By the time that I hit the 20th interview, we were down to like three feet, ready to land. The grand jury was the actual takeoff back to, we'll call it accountability-ville.

REID: Cohen helped facilitate $130,000 in payments to Daniels right before the 2016 election. Daniels also spoke with investigators Wednesday via Zoom.

The Manhattan district attorney's office invited the former president to testify, as is the right of potential defendants in New York, but he declined, and his lawyer says if he is indicted, that would actually catapult him back to the White House.

JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I think it will ultimately embolden him and embolden his supporters and give him more strength because it will be proven to be wrongly accused.

REID: And down in Georgia, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" spoke with five jurors who served in the Fulton County special grand jury, investigating Trump's actions in the state after the 2020 election, revealing they had heard a previously undisclosed recording of a conversation between Trump and the late former Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, where Trump pushed for him to call a special legislative session to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state. A source confirmed the existence of a recording to CNN.

One of the jurors called Ralston basically cut the president off, telling Trump, I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate. Ralston has since died and the recording has not been public. But it echoes the now infamous call made to Georgia's secretary of state around the same time.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: All I want to do is this -- I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

REID: And we're learning special counsel Jack Smith has cast a wide net in his investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a- Lago. We learned that over two dozen people connected to that resort had been subpoenaed. Everyone from attorneys to grounds keepers, even servers have been asked for testimony. Investigators want to know what, if anything, they have seen or heard about documents or even boxes that could contain classified documents -- Jake.

TRUMP: All right. Paula Reid, thank you so much.

There is a new chief judge in Washington, D.C. who could help determine the fate of Donald Trump when it comes to investigations led by the Justice Department.

CNN senior crime and justice reporter Kaitlan Polantz sat down with this new judge and the judge he's replacing.

Katelyn, tell us about Judge Boasberg and what he's inheriting here.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, he's going to be inheriting a lot, an investigation that's been moving at a really fast clip and has been seeking lots of information. That's the investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith into Mar-a-Lago documents, classified documents potentially kept by the former president, as well as the January 6th political investigation around the election.

And so, Judge Boasberg, this judge -- he's becoming the chief judge of the D.C. district court, he's been a judge since the Obama administration. He's a long-time creature of Washington. He is the type of person whose father is a lawyer, who knows personally many Supreme Court justices, is close friends with them, and has previously worked as a judge, not just in the district court in D.C., but also over the foreign intelligence surveillance court, this court where he has tried to bring transparency and also in that court, has really been harsh towards prosecutors.

But in this context, there's big questions for how he's going to handle his role as the chief judge now. What he will do is have to determine how far prosecutors can get, if they're seeking information that people are challenging, when they're issuing grand jury subpoenas. So witness testimony, search warrants, where does he land on that and how quickly does he make calls there?

Judge Howell, Beryl Howell is the judge who is outgoing as the chief. She moves very fast. She advocates for transparency. She's been a judge that's been very pro-investigator. She's given the Justice Department a lot of leeway.


Boasberg, when I asked him, he didn't say anything about how he would rule on these things but pledged he would try to be as transparent as possible on sealed proceedings. But he's going to take over potentially many of these cases and they're right in the middle of an investigation that's quite serious right now.

TAPPER: Also with the investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents and the U.S. attorney in Delaware's investigation into Hunter, would he supervise those as well?

POLANTZ: He wouldn't. So, the U.S. attorney's investigation into Hunter Biden, that as far as we know is in Delaware. So that's a different court.

As far as the Biden documents go, that could be before this court in Washington, D.C. that is the court he's on, the district court. But at this time, I don't believe we have any knowledge whether there's grand jury activity or the type of challenges before him.

TAPPER: All right. Very interesting. Katelyn, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this with former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who served on the January 6 Committee. We also have with us, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Elie Honig.

Elie, you're intimately familiar with this New York office. When you hear Michael Cohen suggest that he was asked about topics broader than just the hush money scheme to keep Stormy Daniels quiet, what does that tell you?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it tells me that the D.A. is trying to look at every angle here, as good prosecutors, good investigators should. I think the Stormy Daniels hush money payment remains the primary focus, but are there more charges? Are there more counts here?

First of all, you want to give yourself more ways to win, more ways to get a conviction. And second of all, you want to make sure you're accounting for criminality. So that's a smart move by the D.A., and it's not unexpected.

TAPPER: Congressman, I want to ask you about this other recording that we just learned about, that the jury grand jury reportedly just heard. We learned this from "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution", of Trump allegedly pressuring the Georgia statehouse speaker to push for a special session of the legislature, again, to overturn Biden's victory based on these election lies.

Did the January 6th committee know about this call? What is your reaction to the news?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, for me, this is news. You know, I think -- I'm not sure where this recording was, but we know the gentleman who was on the recording is no longer with us. So I'm glad that the grand jury is being presented it. I think this is not necessarily probably anything that in and of itself will be any different than what we have heard when it came to Secretary Raffensperger, but the one will add is another layer on that. So, if the president, his defense team said well, you know, what he said is we meant this or we had no intention of actually overturning the election.

Now if you compare this with that, I'm sure in many cases this takes that argument away. And now you can have different layers of a president potentially saying, look, I know I lost Georgia, but I would rather just win Georgia. If I'm the defense team, I'm going to be a little nervous about this, for sure.

TAPPER: Elie, the phone call, if it is as "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution" has described it, and they talked to a number of members of the grand jury, it's Trump pushing the statehouse speaker in Georgia to reconvene a meeting of the legislature to overturn the will of the voters in Georgia and give the electoral votes to Trump instead of Biden.

I don't know if that sounds illegal on its face. What is the significance legally?

HONIG: So, I think the significance, Jake, it's part of a pattern. It shows intentionality if I'm the prosecutor here. I would argue this wasn't just Donald Trump having a bad day lashing outlet's say brad Raffensperger. This was an effort over several weeks.

And we now know of three calls. We know, of course, that Trump called the secretary of state and asked him to find certain votes. We also know and we heard the audio of Trump's call to an investigator, Frances Watson, asking her to investigate and try to find voter fraud. Now this is a third piece he called the then speaker of the Georgia House and asked him to convene a special legislature.

So, I think any of those events in isolation may not constitute a crime per se. But as a prosecutor, you are trying to argue this is all part of an intentional pattern that, taken together, amounts to criminality.

TAPPER: Congressman, I want to get your reaction to something Donald Trump's current attorney said on CNN last night. Take a listen.


TACOPINA: I'm not saying it's a great thing if he gets indicted. I said if they indict him, if they indict him, it will embolden him, because he will win this case. It will catapult him to the White House.


TAPPER: His reasoning is, any indictment will embolden Trump supporters, will embolden Trump. Do you agree? And do you think him talking this way suggest that it's a fait accompli, the lawyers themselves think that Trump will be indicted?

KINZINGER: Yeah, I certainly think they're out there prepping the ground. It's a smart political move to go out and basically try to take the narrative before the prosecutors to take the narrative from him. I do think he is a little right. I think within the kind of Trump circle, this will -- this will be a

circle the wagon moment. It's kind of like you're under artillery attacks, everybody is going to gather in the bunker.


But what this will do is those that are on the fence between say a DeSantis and a Trump or Nikki Haley and a Trump, here is where they might going, I think it's time to move on. Whether you agree with this or not, it may be time to move on.

You add this to Georgia and potential January 6th charges now, I think it spills a real doom for Trump politically.

TAPPER: Elie, do you think prosecutors are listening closely every time a member of the Trump legal team speaks?

HONIG: Oh, for sure, for two reasons. First of all, of course, look, if the other coach is talking about his playbook, you are listening and you are taking notes. And also secondarily, and maybe even more important, the statements that a person's agent or representative makes on their behalf, are, at times, admissible against that person in court. So it may be possible they can use some of these statements as evidence in a case.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig and Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up, more and more expectant moms are dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Experts worry this trend in the United States is going to keep getting worse. The terrifying statistics, next.



TAPPER: A dramatic spike in the maternal death rate in the United States tops our health lead today. An alarming new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of women who died due to pregnancy or childbirth complications rose significantly in 2021. And the death rate among Black women is twice as high as that of white women.

Here to discuss is Dr. Megan Ranney. She's the deputy dean of public health at Brown University. Thanks so much for being here.

So the maternal death rate this the U.S. has been a problem for decades. Why is it still an issue today?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, DEPUTY DEAN OF PUBLIC HEALTH, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Well, the decades of issues reflect so many of the things that you and I have discussed, the inequitable access to health care. We see mortality in states that have not expanded Medicaid access. It's about a lack of pre and post-partum care. So many women failed to show up for visits to an obstetrician in that first or second trimester, don't care until it's too late to address many of those preventable causes of maternal mortality.

And then, of course, there is structural racism. We know that chronic stress plays a role not just in setting up black women for all the things that raise rates of maternal mortality, like high blood pressure or asthma, but also are related to their care in the health care system. There's story after story about women who are well- educated, high income, each a woman who worked at the CDC, a black woman, was unable to advocate and get herself the proper care and die.

So it's this combination of factors that put the U.S. far behind our peer countries among industrialized nations.

TAPPER: Yeah, I think I heard an interview with her mom on NPR this morning. A shocking story. But I can't help but notice it went up again in 2021. What role did COVID and the pandemic play in this, if any?

RANNEY: COVID was a huge driver of that rise in 2021, and in fact, we have preliminary data showing that rates dropped in 2022 as COVID, as many of us got vaccinated and the new variants became less serious.

So, let me be clear, if you are unvaccinated, pregnant, and catch COVID, your rate of intensive care unit admission, being put on a ventilator or God forbid, dying, is somewhere between four and ten times that of someone who is pregnant and does not catch COVID. So vaccination is huge. But secondly, being pregnant and catching COVID puts you at a large risk, and most of that increase in maternal mortality in 2021, was due to COVID related deaths.

TAPPER: So what does society, what does Joe Biden, what do the governors need to do to start reversing this trend?

RANNEY: So, the first and biggest thing is to expand Medicaid. We have seen study after study showing that states with Medicaid expansion have lower rates of pre-delivery, as well as post-delivery mortality. So that's -- you know, make sure everyone has access to insurance and it's easy to get.

The second is to make sure there is access to obstetricians, even in rural areas. There are lots of closures of hospitals in rural areas. Many of the women who are at highest risk of maternal mortality, live more than 25 miles from an obstetrician. So making sure there is that access in rural areas.

And then the third thing is, addressing all those problems that lead people to have a higher risk during pregnancy or immediately after delivery. So, addressing rates of high blood pressure, addressing food access, addressing mental health.

And then, of course, addressing the structural racism in the health care system. Jake, there have been studies showing if women are treated by Black doctors, their rate of mortality is lower. So training up more Black physicians will also help with these disparities and mortality rates.

TAPPER: I'm sure there are pregnant women watching right now, and they're terrified from this report. What reassurance can you provide for them, what recommendations -- look, I know they literally write books about what to do when you're pregnant. But the quick advice you can give, what would you tell them to do to have the healthiest pregnancy as they can?

RANNEY: So, first and biggest thing, make sure you see that obstetrician in the early parts of your second trimester, if not before.


Second, get your COVID vaccine. And if you're eligible, get boosted. Try to avoid catching COVID during pregnancy.

And then the third thing is to make sure that you get access to the insurance that you are eligible for as a pregnant woman.

TAPPER: You addressed mental health for expecting and new mothers. What is access like for those experiencing post-natal depression?

RANNEY: So it's just like with all aspects of mental health in this country. There is an absolute dearth of therapists and psychiatrists who can treat women suffering from post postpartum depression. It is absolutely an epidemic in this country, made worse by lack of parental leave, by issues with access to childcare, all of the things that combine to make being a parent in this country difficult. Add on to it the fact that therapists are in short supply across the country. Women in postpartum period are in a no different position.

TAPPER: Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you and congratulations on your new job. You're going to be going to Yale to be the dean of School of Public Health.

RANNEY: I am, yeah.

TAPPER: You're going to still keep coming on, right?

RANNEY: That's up to you.

TAPPER: On THE LEAD, right? Okay, I think they have studios in the where is that, Connecticut somewhere?

RANNEY: Somewhere in New Haven.

TAPPER: New Haven, that's right.

All right. Megan, thank you so much.

RANNEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Also in our health lead, even though the RSV or respiratory virus surged from last fall and winter is over, parents are still having a hard time getting hospital beds for their sick kids.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

And, Elizabeth, what is behind this decline in access to pediatric beds.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, my colleague, Christine Janowicz (ph), she talked to parents and doctors, just heartbreaking stories. The children need to be in the hospital and the parents have such a hard time accessing a bed. So, let's talk about why that's happening because as you said, RSV is over, that's not the reason why.

One of the reasons is that pediatricians and pediatric nurses have kind of been leaving the profession in very disturbingly large numbers. Things were so tough and so difficult during COVID. Also, also related to COVID, there's also been an increase in the need for mental services for children. So that's putting a demand on beds.

And also Dr. Ranney referenced this -- hospitals are closing, often closing their pediatric units. Why would they close a pediatric unit over an adult unit? These hospitals are often struggling financially and kids don't make that much money. That's the problem.

Take a look at this number. When you look at the percentage of children in this country who are on Medicaid, it's 39 percent. Only 19 percent of adults are on Medicaid. Medicaid pays hospitals at a terrible rate. Medicare and private insurance pays much better. Medicare pays much better.

So, when a hospital says we're suffering, we need money. Sometimes the kids are the first to go. Also when a child is hospitalized, Jake, it's often for something like asthma or an infectious disease. That doesn't pay very well.

Kids don't get coronary bypass. Kids don't get hip replacements. Those are the things that make hospitals money. Those are the kinds of things that adults get. So, often, hospitals will opt to fill those beds with adults rather than children -- Jake.

TAPPER: If only kids could vote, right? And give political contributions.

COHEN: Right.

TAPPER: What can be done, besides my theoretical world, what could be done to improve access to pediatric care for these kids?

COHEN: So I like your idea, Jake. I think maybe they should try that.

But in addition, what they could do is just increase Medicaid rates. I mean, they are so low compared to other types of insurance.

Also, they could increase telemedicine. We heard Dr. Ranney talking about access, and especially in a lot of rural parts of the U.S. is it hard to get to a pediatrician. So sometimes a child gets so sick, if the problem were taken care of in the beginning, maybe they wouldn't have ended up in the hospital. So telemedicine could help, but all of these things require money -- Jake.

TAPPER: What happens if there's another surge of illnesses among likes like we had in the fall and the lack of hospital beds continues to be an issue?

COHEN: Yeah, I got to tell you, Jake, I don't mean to sound like a cynic, but I think you and I will be on your show talking about why didn't we learn something when this happened during RSV? There are some things in the works to try to improve this, but I don't think anyone thinks this is going to be fixed soon.

TAPPER: Yeah, a lot of politicians out there acting as if they are doing things for kids. But not a lot of them doing anything to talk about this.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

Coming up, the growing protests that forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a meeting with yet another world leader.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cutting short a trip to Germany amid ongoing protests back home against his plans to weaken Israel's independent judiciary. A dispute that the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, warns is bringing that country to the brink of civil war.

During a news conference alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz today in Berlin, Netanyahu insisted his plans are not a threat to Israel's democracy, but tens of thousands of Israelis disagree and have taken to the seats for weeks.

CNN's Hadas Gold spent the day out among the demonstrators.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we are in Jerusalem at one of the dozens of protests across Israel today. The protestors here are students from Hebrew University. They have made their way from the university and ended up here actually in front of the entrance to the prime minister's offices.

Now, these protestors are young, they are students, and they are very concerned about this massive judicial overhaul. They say they worry about their future. They worry about minority rights. They worry that this overhaul would change how justices are chosen. They worry it will destroy the independence of the Israeli judiciary and change the face of Israeli democracy.


But supporters like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office sits right. He says that this is a sorely needed reform that's been a long time coming that will help balance the Israeli branches of government.

The Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaking in an impassioned speech last night, calling for compromise. He laid out his own proposed compromise and warned Israel is on the brink of a civil war.

ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm going to use a phrase I haven't used before, an expression that there is no Israeli who is not horrified when he hears it. Whoever thinks that a real civil of war of human lives is a limit that we will not reach has no idea. Precisely now in the 75th year of the state of Israel, this is within touching distance.

GOLD: But, Jake, almost as soon as the Israeli president finished speaking, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government rejected the proposed compromise saying it would only perpetuate the problems they see and doesn't do enough.

So, now, the question is, what will the Israeli government and Netanyahu do next? Will they push forward with the legislation saying they want to get this done within the few weeks, or will there be some sort of softening of the legislation? Perhaps not a full compromise, but some sort of softening that will perhaps help dampen this fervent emotion that you can see with these protestors here behind me? Jake?


TAPPER: And our thanks to Hadas Gold for that report.

Coming up next, a man dies after being essentially smothered for 12 minutes while in custody at a mental health facility. That man's family just saw the video. Hear their response, next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, three additional people in Virginia have been charged with second-degree murder after a man died at a state mental health facility, bringing the total number charged to ten. Prosecutors say 28-year-old Irvo Otieno was held on the ground and smothered for ten minutes while in handcuffs and leg irons. This was done by seven sheriff's deputies.

They were arrested Tuesday. And today three hospital employees were also charged.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Virginia.


CAROLINE OUKO, MOTHER OF IRVO OTIENO: My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog. I saw it with my own eyes on the video.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The family of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno, who died in custody, has now seen video of the fatal incident. LEON OCHIENG, BROTHER OF IRVO OTIENO: At what point do we stop

preserving life? At what point do we consider mental illness a crime?

TODD: Prosecutors say Otieno was smothered to death by seven sheriff's deputies and three hospital employees restraining him during intake at a mental health facility. Seven sheriff's deputies in Henrico County, Virginia, were arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR OTIENO FAMILY: Why would any law enforcement officer put a knee on the neck of a person who is face down, handcuffed and restrained?

TODD: Otieno was arrested March 3rd after police say they responded to a burglary call next door, took him to the hospital for evaluation, where he became, quote, physically assaulted. After a weekend in jail where prosecutors say video shows Otieno was pepper sprayed, punched and mistreated, he was brought to the central state mental facility on March 6th, where authorities allege he became combative.

CRUMP: In the videos, are never confrontational with them. He is not posing a threat to them. He is not violent or aggressive with them.

TODD: Today, prosecutors announced there staffers at the mental health facility have also been arrested on second degree murder charges.

ANN CABELL BASKERVILL, DINWIDDLE COUNTY COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: Ultimately, some staff as well on top of them. No one assisting.

TODD: In court this week, an early glimpse of the deputies' potential defense. One lawyer citing this.

EDWARD NICKEL, ATTORNEY FOR DEPUTY BRADLEY DISSE: The ongoing issues that he had been -- that they had been having with this individual with regards to his disorderly conduct, with regards to his aggression, with regards to his resistance.

TODD: But his family says what he needed was help.

What do you want to see happen to these deputies? Either of you.

OUKU: Justice. I would like them put away if you ask me for life. That they don't see the light of day again. What they did to my son was horrific. Horrific.


TODD (on camera): We've reached out to the central state hospital mental health facility for their response to three of their employees being charged with second-degree murder. We have not heard back. We have also reached out to the attorneys identified so far for the seven deputies who have been charged. We've only heard back in detail from the lawyers for one of them, Deputy Bradley Disse, who told me their client looks forward to being vindicated in court -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd in Dinwiddie, Virginia, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up at the top of the hour, U.S. officials now believe Russia has some of the debris from the downed American drone they helped bring down. Should the Pentagon be worried?

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a 5,000-mile-wide smelly blob of seaweed headed right toward Florida, inciting panic among beachgoers, business owners and government officials.

Plus, tick-tock for TikTok. The Biden administration telling the Chinese government to heed its warning about the popular social media app or it will get banned.

And leading this hour, video doesn't lie. That's what U.S. officials are saying after releasing the stunning video of the moments a Russian fighter jet hit an unmanned American drone, damaging the drone and causing it to go down in the black sea.

Russia has claimed their jets did not touch the American drone. But since the video was released Russian officials have been silent. This comes as the U.S. believes Russia has recovered some pieces of the drone.

We're going to start our coverage with CNN's Natasha Bertrand as National Security Spokesperson John Kirby says this video shows that clearly Russia has been, quote, flat out lying.