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The Lead with Jake Tapper

International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin; Source: Trump Attorney Ordered to Give More Grand Jury Testimony; New Analysis Suggests COVID-19 Link to Raccoon Dogs at Wuhan Market; Despite Huge Protests, France Raisers Retirement Age from 62 to 64. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 17, 2023 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So this is the end of one chapter, the beginning of the next. But I'm still here with CNN.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: I selfishly was dreading this moment, because I'm so excited, and we all are, about the future for you in Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: You know I'm excited.

GOLODRYGA: I know you are excited. You have your excitement, but I have loved getting to know you and spending time with you and becoming friends.

BLACKWELL: Likewise.

GOLODRYGA: And you make me laugh. I look forward to our time together.

BLACKWELL: Sometimes on air.

GOLODRYGA: I loved watching you with Alisyn. So I know from all of us behind the camera and everyone here at CNN are wishing you well. I will miss you sitting next to me, though, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Likewise. Thank you, Bianna.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: After 24 years of trying his hardest, Vladimir Putin has finally become a wanted international war criminal.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The International Criminal Court issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin today. The Russian president and another top official are accused of committing war crimes by deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. Then, could this be furry mammal be responsible for the COVID

pandemic? New data from a wet market in China links the virus to raccoon dogs, raising new questions if animal sold at the market were at the origin of the global pandemic and not a lab leak.

Plus, are you sick of getting annoying spam texts? The new rules that will force phone companies to crack down on those robo texts blowing up your phone.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our world lead and an arrest warm issued for Vladimir Putin. This afternoon, the Kremlin is trying to dismiss the warrant for the Russian president, issued by the International Criminal Court. Earlier today, the ICC alleging that Putin and his commissioner for children's rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, forcibly detained thousands of Ukrainian kids, and then deported them to Russia. Putin's spokesman called the warrants, quote, outrageous, and unacceptable, and they are, these warrants, likely symbolic, as Putin would either have to be handed over the Kremlin, which he controls with an iron fist, or arrested outside of Russia to face trial.

But top Ukrainian officials are applauding the move with one saying, quote, the wheels of justice are turning, unquote.

Let's bring in CNN's Matthew Chance and Clarissa Ward. Clarissa is at The Hague in the Netherlands, where the ICC meets.

And, Clarissa, you spoke with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court about these warrants. What did he have to say?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, understandably, I think, Jake, he is feeling very excited about this moment. This has been months of investigating several trips to Ukraine, and he really feels this is hugely historic, symbolic, important. It's the first time, according -- according to Mr. Khan, the chief prosecutor, that an acting head of state from a member of the General Security Council has actually been issued with an arrest warrant.

Take a look at what he had to say.


WARD: Do you believe it's possible that one day, we will see President Vladimir Putin in the dock?

KARIM KHAN, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CHIEF PROSECUTOR: I think those that think it's impossible fail to understand history, because the major Nazi war criminals, Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, former President Charles Taylor, (INAUDIBLE) from Rwanda, all of them were mighty, powerful individuals, and yet they found themselves in courtrooms, whose conduct was being adjudicated over by independent judges. And that also gives hope that the law can, however difficult it may be, the law can be supreme. WARD: So is the message today that nobody is above the law?

KHAN: I think the message must be that basic principles of humanity bind everybody. And nobody should feel they have a free pass. Nobody should feel they can act with abandon, and definitely, nobody should feel that they can act -- commit genocide or commit war crimes with impunity.


WARD: Now, Jake, one of the other things that he was, you know, felt victorious about was the speed with which they have moved along with these investigations. In the past, the ICC has often been accused of being a very sort of slow-moving instrument. This time, though, investigations began within a month of the war starting, and he's hoping that this is sort of the beginning, the first step in a journey and that you'll continue to see more investigations, not just in Ukraine, but worldwide. The hope is to try to force the wheels of justice to turn more quickly, Jake.

TAPPER: Matthew, the Kremlin called the warrants outrageous, but does the Kremlin deny taking these Ukrainian children?


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it doesn't. In fact, it seems to be proud of the fact that so many children from the war zone in Ukraine have been taken into the Russian federation.

It sells it domestically as an act of mercy, to rescue these unwanted orphans, as it characterizes them, who have been abandoned by the authorities in Kyiv, and bring them into the safe, welcoming arms of the Russian federation.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, have spoken about it on television. They talk about how members of these -- this group of children have been adopted.

Lvova-Belova herself has apparently adopted a child from Mariupol. She has spoken in the past about how none of these children were -- had to be re-educated because they were singing the Ukrainian national anthem. But, you know, with re-education, they develop a love for the country.

So, it's quite chilling stuff, and all this remember as many of these children still have living parents in Ukraine, who, of course, desperately want them back.

TAPPER: It's really twisted, really sick.

Clarissa, what do we know about another possible ICC investigation into Russian actions against Ukraine? Certainly, there's no shortage of potential other war crimes that Putin and others could be charged with. WARD: This is something we asked about, why this specific case? Why

the deported children? I think, you know, as Matthew just outlined there, it's low hanging fruit, in a sense, because the Russians have not really tried to hide it. But it is by no means the only line of investigation that they're pursuing.

Karim Khan has called the whole of Ukraine as basically a crime scene. He's looked into the massacre in Bucha. Obviously, they're looking into things like what happened in Mariupol where the theater where civilians were sheltering were killed in air strikes and many others.

The other thing that's interesting is the nature of the charges could change. So, at this point, the arrest warrant is for war crimes, but under the Rome statute under the ICC, that could potentially change, even to something like crimes against humanity, or potentially even genocide because technically, the forced deportation of children falls under the rubric of both of those charges, as well.

So this is a way to get your foot in the door and start the investigation and the proceedings. But there is a lot of road to run in terms of developing those and other investigations, as well, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Matthew, does this arrest warrant restrict where Putin could travel in the future, such as to G20 meeting or the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan?

CHANCE: Well, it depends on where Putin chooses to go, where he considers going, and what the action of those countries would be. There are, I think, 123 countries that are signatories to the International Criminal Court. This is the Rome statue, the founding act of the ICC, and each of those countries is legally bound to arrest people who have been indicted by the organization.

But Russia isn't one of them, for instance, so Russia isn't legally bound to send Vladimir Putin to the court.

You mentioned the G20. The next one is going to be held in India. India isn't a signatory either. So, possibly, Putin can go there, too.

And the U.N. General Assembly, the United States in New York, United States isn't even a signatory of the ICC. And so, while Putin's options are limited, it is possible to navigate this geographically.

But morally, it's going to be very hard for any country to sit at the same table, to shake the hand, to meet face to face, with a Russian president who has been indicted for this kind of terrible war crime.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance, Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And you can watch Clarissa's full interview with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. That will be tonight at 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Let's talk more about this with former U.S. ambassador for war crimes issues, David Scheffer. He was the first person to ever hold that position. And we also have with us, the former deputy of director of national intelligence, Beth Sanner.

Thanks to both of you for being here. Really appreciate it.

Let's start with this arrest warrant. Do you think it's likely that Putin will actually ever stand trial in The Hague or face any consequences because of this?

DAVID SCHEFFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR FOR WAR CRIMES: It's possible, and it's possible because this is the first step towards delegitimizing him on a legal scale, even before his own people.


Other top leaders who have been indicted, whether by the War Crimes Tribunals of the 1990s, or even by the International Criminal Court, ultimately lost their authority, even domestically. And they then stand the risk of standing trial before any of these tribunals once that happens.

I don't think we should assume that Vladimir Putin is in power for the next 10 to 15 or 20 years in Russia. At some point, he will lose that power. And when he does, I think in part prompted by this arrest warrant against him, he will be subject to the possibility of arrest.

That's also true, even if he travels to India or Pakistan or China or North Korea. It's not that he will be immediately arrested, but there will be a tremendous amount of pressure put on those governments, particularly India, for example, not to cater to him, because I would suspect that some government leaders from the G20 will actually boycott the G20 summit if Mr. Putin, indeed, is going to be present there.

They cannot -- as was stated in your report, they cannot literally sit at a table and negotiate with an indicted fugitive of the International Criminal Court or engage in diplomatic discussions without a tremendous amount of blowback if they do so.

TAPPER: Do you agree? Do you think this will further isolate Putin?

BETH SANNER, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, if you look at the autocrats he hangs around with right now, none of these people are signatories. So, you know, Iran, North Korea, China, and even these parties that are kind of in between parties, like India.

So, you know, in some ways I think it almost geopolitically solidifies even more the divisions that we are seeing in our world, you know, countries that agree and countries that don't agree. Even though the U.S. suspect signatory, we support this indictment, right, morally. So there is this division, you know?

But, ultimately, this just to me reinforces the -- let me count the ways of how Putin sees this war as an existential war, you know?


SANNER: Because if he loses, you know, the consequences are much higher.

TAPPER: So in a way, this might make him dig in even more. It's hard to imagine him digging in even more.

SCHEFFER: Historically that doesn't play out. Once these individuals are actually indicted, it's not as if they're emboldened, they actually start to lose their authority and their political clout, and they achieve international pariah status.

This -- we experienced this in the 1990s and early 2000s. Once these leaders are indicted, they are not strengthened, and they don't dig in. They actually start to draw back.

TAPPER: Although we should note that Chinese President Xi Jinping is traveling to Moscow next week to meet with Putin. Do you think that this could change that or affect that at all?

SANNER: Not at all. So I agree completely with David, but we're kind of in a different geopolitical moment now where, you know, what did the foreign ministry of China say about this visit coming up? He said, this is a moment where we are two strong powers. We are members, Russia and China, of the U.N. Security Council, and this meeting has so much more strategic value than a bilateral relationship.

This is about creating an alternative world order. And to me, you know, unfortunately, I don't think China is going to be swayed by any of this.

SCHEFFER: And both of these leaders have known for a long time that ultimately, Mr. Putin would be indicted. It's not as if this was a surprise. They knew it was coming.

TAPPER: All right. David Scheffer and Beth Sanner, thanks to both of you for your expertise. Thanks for being here. I appreciate it.

Coming up, a judge rules against Donald Trump, and now his attorney has to testify in the classified documents investigation.

And wild protests erupt in Paris after the government tries to raise the retirement age by two years. We're going to go live to the streets of Paris, filled with protesters and fires and giant barricades.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our political lead, a significant ruling in the special counsel investigation of Donald Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents. A source telling CNN that a federal judge has ordered one of Mr. Trump's attorneys to provide additional grand jury testimony.

Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider.

Who is this attorney and tell us why the order for more testimony could be important.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is a big boost to special counsel Jack Smith's classified documents investigation because, Jake, this involves Trump's top attorney, Evan Corcoran. And this is the court ordering Corcoran to provide additional testimony related to that probe into the mishandling of classified documents and possible obstruction by the former president or his top aides.

So, to remind viewers, Corcoran is the attorney who drafted a statement in June, and that statement said that Trump's team had done a diligent search of Mar-a-Lago and there was no remaining classified material there, when, in fact, of course, it was weeks later that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and found hundreds of government records, including classified material. So Corcoran was called before the grand jury back in January and at the time, he was asked about what happened in the lead up search. But he did decline to answer some of the questioning. He cited attorney/client privilege.

DOJ challenged that and they said that Corcoran's discussions with former President Trump, it could have been part of an attempt to plan a crime, namely obstruction. And that really because of that, because of that crime fraud exception, Corcoran should be compelled to testify.

So, that is exactly what happened today. The outgoing chief judge of the federal court here in D.C., they switched positions after today. She ordered that Trump's top attorney, Evan Corcoran, has to testify now to the grand jury, and this is significant, because it's about his conversations, his planning with the former president, all surrounding these classified document situations, Jake.

So this really will be key information for the special counsel to obtain in this ongoing probe of the classified documents case.


And it really could prove to be this pivotal moment, because Evan Corcoran will be forced to disclose some of his conversations with the former President Trump, and could be key to the special counsel's case here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

In our money lead, U.S. markets closing down more than 384 points today as uncertainty continue even after 11 of America's biggest banks pledged $30 billion to stop First Republic Bank from being the next victim of this banking turmoil.

CNN's Rahel Solomon joins us now to talk about this.

Rahel, why are we see thing reaction from investors? I thought they had been reassured by the move by the big banks to help this one in San Francisco.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it seems like investors feel like this may not be enough. There are questions whether all of this intervention, including the 11 banks banding together, as you pointed out, also what we saw on Sunday in terms of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department providing that life line, that backstop there with that line of credit, whether that will ultimately be enough.

I mean, even for example with First Republic, despite that cash infusion that it received from those 11 banks, despite the fact that it announced credit's borrowing more than $100 billion from the Federal Reserve, it also announced that it's cutting its dividend, which suggests it's in a position where it still feels like it needs to shore up cash, but it still feels like that it could be having some financial difficulties.

So investors don't like that, but it's also the larger confidence that we're dealing with in the banking system, a large erosion of trust as one economist said on our air earlier today. And, Jake, as you know, I mean, you think about erosion of trust even in personal relationships, it takes some time to rebuild that trust.

So I think the question now is, how long is this ultimately going to take, and how much damage that lack of trust can really create in the banking system.

TAPPER: And, Rahel, what does all this stress on smaller banks, what does it mean for our viewers? What does it mean for the American people?

SOLOMON: Yeah, I think that's a great question and important to point out that these smaller and medium sized banks are essentially banks that have $250 billion in assets or less. These are major sources of lending.

Take a look, this coming from Goldman Sachs, pointing out that these banks, they're responsible for 45 percent of consumer lending, 60 percent of residential real estate lending. So, Jake, in an environment like we find ourselves in now, you have to imagine banks are going to become more risk averse and more careful about lending, that they might tighten standards.

And what that means for all of us is that it essentially becomes harder to borrow, maybe harder to get a car loan. If you're a small business, it might be harder to get a loan. So it will have all sorts of implications in terms of the larger economy. Goldman Sachs saying larger banks sitting on deposits that aren't FDIC insured, listen to this, we could see a pullback in lending from 15 percent to 40 percent.

So, this will certainly have implications. The question is, ultimately, how significant?

TAPPER: The Fed has a big decision next week. Have you seen any clues whether they are going to hike interest rates again or not?

SOLOMON: Well, the market seeming we are in for another rate hike of a quarter percent. But, Jake, a lot can change in a week, right, because a week ago before SVB fell, the expectation was for about a half percent of a rate hike. The question now is, can the Fed essentially prove that it can walk and talk at the same time, right?

Mohamed El-Erian, a very prominent economist, telling our colleague, Jake, Zain Asher, earlier today, the Fed needs to be clear about keeping its eye on the ball in terms of fighting inflation. So the expectation moving forward now is half a percent. We'll hear from the Fed on Wednesday. A lot can change between now and then, though.

TAPPER: All right. Rahel Solomon, thanks so much.

Coming up, could this mammal we're showing you right here, it's called a raccoon dog, could this be one of culprits behind the global COVID pandemic. Coming up, the new data that is raising some new questions about the origins of the disease.



TAPPER: In our health lead, a new analysis suggests that the origins of the COVID pandemic may, may be linked to raccoon dogs. If you've never heard of raccoon dogs, well, they've never heard of you either.

But this is it. This is what it is. It's a mammal that aligns more closely with raccoons and with dogs. International scientists examined previously unavailable genetic samples taken from the Wuhan market early in the pandemic where raccoon dogs were known to be traded. The genetic samples were quietly posted on a data sharing platform in January, then taken down earlier this month after international scientists began asking Chinese researchers about it.

Let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, obviously, it's been difficult to determine COVID's origin, especially because of the lack of transparency from Chinese officials. What can we learn from this new data? And bottom line, are we ever going to know for certain where COVID really came from?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, two questions there. First of all, I think that this new data is really interesting, but it's not conclusive. Can we ever learn?

I think what this new data shows us more than anything is that there is data out there that could help answer this question. That data has been very hard to come by because of the opaqueness, the opacity of the Chinese government.

Jake, this is like a scientific drama on this story. So these samples taken in March of 2020 that are intermittently made available for researchers to look at. They said yeah, we've looked at these samples taken from the Huanan seafood market, and there's really no evidence of anything other than there was COVID there like there was in a lot of places in Wuhan.

[16:30:00] All of a sudden, just this past week, the samples show up on a server again. And you got these researchers around the country who are constantly hitting refresh to see if there's any new data on these servers, and they say, yeah, this new data showed up, so they quickly downloaded it. And what they found was this -- in samples that had previously been positive for COVID-19, they also saw that there was the presence of this animal DNA in those samples as well.

That animal, as you pointed out, the raccoon dog. A type of animal that is known to be able to carry coronaviruses and possibly transmit them. So that's what we know now, there was animal DNA, COVID DNA intermixed within the Huanan seafood market in March of 2020.

It's not a silver bullet. It doesn't answer us for sure, because what you need to know is in the actual infected animal.

You would also need to know a timeline, meaning is it possible humans could have still brought the virus to the market and the raccoon dogs got infected by humans? It's possible.

So, it's really interesting but not definitive. And I'll just leave with this as well, Jake, you know, you may say, why is this data so hard to come by? Remember, the sort of narrative from the Chinese government is that COVID, they say it originated in the United States, in Maryland at an army lab. So there is lots of reasons that this data has been hidden or at least suppressed.

TAPPER: That's insane.

All right. Well, let's turn to the current state of COVID in the United States. Today, fewer than 1 percent of counties in the United States have a high COVID community level. So what does that tell us?

GUPTA: Well, I think it's good news, obviously. If you look at that map and say, okay, let's look at COVID levels around the country. When you look at it, it's less than 1 percent. What that is reflective of is how much COVID is out there, but also how much of an impact it's making on society, because it takes into account hospitalizations.

So when you take hospitalizations and COVID into account, it's a pretty good looking map. If you look at another map that looks at transition, there is still a lot of COVID out there. There's still a lot of people who are getting exposed to the virus, but seemingly getting more minor illness as a result of the amount of infection acquired immunity out there.

So we're starting to live with it. We've been -- what does living with COVID look like? It probably looks like the picture we are starting to see now.

TAPPER: Let's turn to a different topic, because, Sanjay, in addition to both of us being huge Dave Matthews fans, we both are parents of teen girls. In your latest pod cast, you explore, not Dave Matthews, but you explore teen girls and what's known as the selfie effect, the impact that social media can have on one's mood and psychological health, which is not confined to just teen girls, I should note. But what can you tell us about this phenomenon?

GUPTA: Yeah, first of all, I think about my girls, I think about Alice a lot when doing this podcast, because it's a big issue, just social media and devices. Selfie effect is a term coined by Professor Sinclair McBride saying, hey, we take all these selfies, but we look at them and then rapidly compare them to these heavily filtered photo shopped images of amazing looking people.

What happens when you're constantly comparing yourself real time very quickly, the selfie effect takes place and makes you feel inadequate, creates feelings where you find less joy in your own accomplishments and things like that. We have known that for some time. I mean, when we were growing up, Jake, there was no devices in social media, but there were magazines, you know, where you had sort of unrealistic models and stuff on the covers. The difference now is the abundance of these images, and the persistence of these images.

Kids are carrying these around on their phones all the time. It is teen girls most affected. Filters and those things are not going away, Jake. What I think is interesting is when you talk to the makers of these filters and say what is really going on here? What are those fillers supposed to be doing? Listen to what their concerns are.


KENEISHA SINCLAIR-MCBRIDE, CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: A lot of the filters kind of have a very Eurocentric lens. So, it would be great if they did not make people's skin colors lighter or change the shape of their noses or change how big their eyes are, or do things that make them more towards a standard of beauty that may not be from the cultural background they are from, right? Like I think that would be really clutch. It would be nice like when you put a filter on, they said, you're beautiful as you are, but you can place with this if you want, right? Like it's just a tool, it's just something that is here. But also this picture of you without the filter is also really cool.


GUPTA: The point, Jake, which I found fascinating, I hadn't thought about it, was that filters may be creating these more conformed looks, lightening the skin, changing the features of the face, trying to create a uniformity, which, you know, I mean, that's a thing in society which a lot of people are very concerned about.


So I tell my girls, you're beautiful as you are. I think the filters are here to stay, but we have to be aware of these larger issues.

TAPPER: Yeah, important stuff.

And you can listen to Dr. Sanjay Gupta's awesome podcast. It's called "Chasing Life", wherever you get your podcasts. Check it out.

Thanks, Sanjay. Turning now to our politics lead, since the start of the year, dozens of bills seeking to restrict access to the kinds of health care that transgender kids and transgender adults want have been introduced around the country.

In Nebraska, one state senator, a Democrat, has been filibustering for three weeks to block an effort from a conservative colleague. Machaela Cavanaugh, the state senator vowed to burn the session to the ground over Republican legislation that would ban some of these medical treatments for transgender individuals under the age of 19.


MACHAELA CAVANAUGH (D), NEBRASKA STATE SENATOR: This legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority. And I am going to make it painful, painful for everyone.


TAPPER: Nebraska State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh joins us now.

So, Senator, why are you pausing your filibuster?

CAVANAUGH: Well, I would say it was a very mini pause. So, Wednesday evening, I met with the speaker, and we agreed that the bill that I have been filibustering against, LB 574, the anti-transgender affirming care for children, it's going to be scheduled first thing next week. It does not have the votes to pass, and so I still have to filibuster it.

So I can still go on week four of filibustering, but I did take yesterday morning off of filibustering for an hour and a half. So it was a short pause. I will be back at filibustering next week. It will be four weeks of filibustering. Assuming that the trans bill fails, the anti-affirming care bills on cloture, then hopefully we as a legislature can move forward and stop trying to legislate hate.

TAPPER: What has been the feedback from your colleagues? I've seen a lot of articles from Nebraska of your colleagues complaining that you have slowed business down.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah. They're frustrated, which was the intention. I wanted them to be frustrated. I wanted them to be frustrated enough to realize this should not be a priority in the state.

TAPPER: So the State Senator Kathleen -- is it Kauth? I don't know how to pronounce it. But she introduced a bill and she says, quote, Senator Cavanaugh, that's you, your comments that she doesn't care if nothing gets done, it reflects a disregard for the citizens of Nebraska. By postponing the debate, through the filibuster, Senator Cavanaugh has thrown away our ability to hear many bills on many topics. It's been a selfish calculation to gain attention -- cloaked in the insincere guise of defending gender dysphoric youth -- at the expense of our constituents, unquote.

So what is your response to her? CAVANAUGH: What I am doing is not selfish. I'm not doing this for

myself. It would be much easier to do anything other than what I'm doing. I'm doing this to protect the children of Nebraska, the most vulnerable children are trans youth who need to have people, especially the adults in the room, standing up for them and standing up for their rights.

I would say that what she's doing is completely inappropriate, and outside the scope of what our government should be doing. Our government should not be legislating away parental rights and medical decision making. And as someone who vehemently opposed vaccines, I think that it's really inappropriate for her to be pushing something like this.

TAPPER: State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, thank you so much.

And for our viewers, if you or someone you know needs help, please call or text 988. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Coming up, a fresh baguette, some good French wine, files of burning trash. What's behind the enormous protests in Paris right now?



TAPPER: In our world lead, the government of French President Emmanuel Macron has done the unthinkable. They raised the retirement age in France from 62 to 64. This comes despite weeks of nationwide demonstrations and strikes to protest the change, including a sanitation worker's strike that according to the mayor's office in Paris has left that city, that magical town littered with 10,000 tons of trash.

CNN's Sam Kiley is in Paris where protestors are on the street right now.

Sam, not to be rude to our French friends, but why all the fuss? Most of us on this side of the Atlantic are scratching our heads, because the retirement age here in the U.S. is between 66 and 67.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly. And in other Anglo-Saxon countries like the United Kingdom, there is not a compulsory retirement age. Macron is trying to bring his country more into line with some of the more capitalist economies effectively around the world.

But that is flying in the face of many, many decades of culture and economy here that has resulted in demonstrations. Here you can see just the latter stages the police have shut it down pretty effectively, Jake. But at the same time, they're saying that some 4,000 people were here, there were rocks thrown. There were about a dozen arrests.

And it all began yesterday essentially in that building at the end there underneath above the blue police lights, which is the national assembly. It was in that building that the Macron-appointed prime minister decided that she wasn't going to take his proposals to a vote.


She was going to use his executive powers, or the president was going to use his powers to ram through this legislation, to force it on the people without it being sanctioned by the national assembly. That resulted in quite a lot of violence and demonstrations and the burning of that garbage that you referred to that's been littering the streets here for about a week, and, again, another round of then demonstrations today. Smaller demonstrations, very, very heavily policed because, of course, as you can see, we're not far from the Eiffel Tower. The top of the Champs-Elysee, this is the iconic heart of France.

And, on Monday, President Macron's government faces a vote of no confidence in the national assembly. It may not go against him, even if it did, though, Jake, this is the interesting thing, just like the U.S. president, but in different ways, he's directly elected, so his term will run on even if his government fell. There would have to be a legislative general election.

But that doesn't mean he won't give up on this policy of trying to reform the pension structures here, which he has been trying to do since 2019. He says his supporters say 12.5 billion euros, similar numbers for dollars, are produced as a deficit, as a consequence, a constant deficit of this relatively young age that people can retire here, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Sam, are more protest in the works? And at the end of the day, do you think they're going to make a difference?

KILEY: There's very big protests and potential wider strikes. We're waiting to hear about that next Thursday.

Those have been organized by the unions. They were not behind today's demonstrations, which involves younger people chucking rocks and a little bit of tear gas thrown back at them by the police.

On Thursday next week, the unions, both private and public sector, are going to hold demonstrations across the country. And they may be very diplomatic for Macron politically because the latest polls show that about 2/3 of the country from the left and the right in this country, are opposed to his reforms, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sam Kiley in Paris, the city of lights, thanks so much.

Coming up -- are you sick of that sound? There might be a new way to stop all of those unwanted robo texts.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Are you annoyed yet? Well, you're not alone. More than 18,000 complaints were filed with the Federal Communications Commission last year over spam texts and it seems as though the FCC got the message on Thursday. The agency rolled out a set of new rules for phone companies which will require them to block texts that are, quote, highly likely to be illegal.

CNN tech reporter Brian Fung joins us now.

Brian, the FCC says spam texts can be even bigger risks to consumers than those unwanted the robo calls I'm also inundated with. Why?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yeah, Jake, the issue here is all that security. So, when you get a spam text, it can contain a link that if you click on it could lead you to malicious software being downloaded on your device or maybe it takes you to a website that can get your personal information and it get stolen.

That's different than a robocall where, you know, there isn't that link that's very easily clickable or tappable. But, you know, speaking of robocalls, the SEC and the state governments have actually made a lot of progress in reducing the volume of robocalls, thanks to law enforcement efforts.

Unfortunately, that's lead to a surprising rise in the spam and scam texts which brings us to these rules that the FCC is imposing now. What is the FCC actually doing? Let's take a look.

It's saying phone companies have to block text messages from numbers that are, quote, unlikely to transmit text messages, numbers that are invalid, unallocated or unused or numbers that the government says are not used for texting at all. That's basically meant to prevent texts from being spoofed or being sent as impersonations of government agencies.

That's not all. The FCC is also considering new rules, future looking rules that would apply do not call protection to these sorts of text messages in the future, but, again, that's just a proposal for now. We'll see how that goes.

TAPPER: Well, let's hope it works. Brian Fung, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the White House just responded to the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And welcome THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, troubled water. CNN gets an up close look at the 5,000- mile-wide seaweed blob that's headed to Florida's beaches, as another part of the state deals with toxic red tide.

Plus, first, it was the laptop, could have been stolen or hacked, now it might not be his laptop. The ever involving legal defense of Hunter Biden.

And leading this hour, today, the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of his top officials for war crimes, for allegedly deporting thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia since the war began. Ukrainian president Zelenskyy calling this just the beginning.

The White House just released a statement on the warrant, saying America supports, quote, accountability for perpetrators of war crimes. Our reporters are panned out around the world, covering the story from all angles, from the White House to the Black Sea to China.

But, first, we're going to start with CNN's David McKenzie who's in Kyiv, Ukraine.

And, David, walk us through the details of these allegations specifically against Putin and one top official.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, these are hugely significant. The allegations are the arrest warrant has been put forward because of the thousands of children allegedly taken from Ukraine, from Russian occupied Ukraine and other areas into Russia, against their will, deported as it were.