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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Fed Hikes Interest Rate To Curb Inflation Despite Banking Crisis; Source: Trump Attorney To Testify Friday In Classified Docs Probe; NY Grand Jury Hearing Hush Money Case Will Not Meet Today; Russians Warn U.S. Not To Provoke Them By Flying Over Black Sea; Bipartisan U.S. Lawmakers Meet With Mexican President; Suspect At Large After 2 Shot At Denver's East High School; Police: Stephen Smith's Death Now Being Investigated As Homicide. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 22, 2023 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news: Donald Trump's lawyer must testify in the classified documents case.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Moments ago, a federal court ruled that Donald Trump's defense lawyer, has to be called back to answer more questions and turn over more documents as part of the criminal investigation into whether Trump mishandled classified documents. What does this mean for the case? That's next.

Plus, series of Russian strikes targeting the Ukrainian town Zaporizhzhia.


Children among the victims. Why this town and why now? CNN is live in the residential area just hit.

And an all out search this hour for a high school student accused of shooting two staff members at his school. How a pat down on the student led to shots being fired.


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

All that news and we're going to start with our money lead, the economic decision today that could affect every single American right now. The Dow is closing more than 500 points down after the Federal Reserve announced its ninth consecutive interest rate hike, this time raising rates by a quarter point. The goal of this historic right hiking campaign by the Fed, they say, is to reduce inflation and to avoid a recession. But the Fed also acknowledged this rate hike could put more than a million Americans out of work by the end of this year.

And raising interest rates, we should note has also been a factor in the current banking crisis, lowering the value of Treasury bonds, setting off a domino effect of banking problems.

Today's move by the Fed means Americans will have to pay more for houses, for cars for anything you charge on your credit card.

CNN's Matt Egan is at the Federal Reserve for us.

And, Matt, walk us through what the Fed's decision will mean for the economy and for consumers.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, today, the Federal Reserve made clear that in their eyes, public enemy number one remains inflation. That's why they went ahead and raised interest rates for the ninth meeting in a row, lifting benchmark rates to the highest level since 2007. Now this is aimed at trying to cool off the cost of living that so many Americans are dealing with.

But this was no easy decision. A lot of experts wanted the Fed to pause here because these rate hikes have contributed to the pressure in the banking system to these bank failures, and Powell did say that they considered a pause, but they went ahead and raise interest rates because inflation still remains way too high.

So what does this mean for regular Americans? Well, hopefully, it means inflation continues to cool off, but we know it does mean that borrowing costs are going to remain high. You know, credit card rates have never been higher, car loans are expensive and mortgage rates, they're near the highest level in 20 years.

Let me show you exactly what the impact on mortgage rates is just because mortgage rates have spiked monthly payments on a home that is $500,000. Those monthly payments are $600 higher than they were a year ago. And that money is not going to get you another bedroom or bigger yard. That money is all going to the bank because of the Fed's war on inflation.

TAPPER: All right. Matt Egan, thanks so much.

We also have some breaking news in our politics lead. Donald Trump's defense attorney has been ordered to testify again and turn over documents as part of the investigation into whether Trump mishandled classified documents.

CNN's Sara Murray joins me now live.

Sara, when will this testimony happened? And what all does it include?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, a federal appeals court is saying that attorney Evan Corcoran is going to have to provide additional testimony to a grand jury as well as hand over documents, which my colleague Kaitlan Collins, and I are learning includes handwritten notes and includes transcriptions of verbal notes. He's currently scheduled to return to the grand jury on Friday.

Now this all came about Kevin Corcoran had previously appeared before a grand jury, but he declined to answer some questions, citing attorney client privilege. Prosecutors went before a judge and essentially said, we have evidence that we believe that Donald Trump may have used his attorney to try to commit a crime. The judge said, there was essentially a preponderance of evidence

here. There are some public preliminary evidence that indicates Donald Trump may have committed a crime enough evidence that I'm going to allow you to pierce this attorney client privilege to try to force even Corcoran to testify.

What we're learning today is the Appeals Court uphold that lower court's ruling, Jake.

All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.

In another Trump investigation, the New York grand jury that's been hearing information in the Trump case about Stormy Daniels will not meet today, leaving the former president and the public waiting to see if he will ultimately be indicted in that hush money case.

As CNN's Paula Reid reports, Trump's team is waiting for the news.


REPORTER: Mr. President --

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the legal drama surrounding former President Trump reaches a fever pitch, the waiting game continues in New York for a possible indictment. The Manhattan grand jury investigating a hush money scheme is not expected to reconvene until at least tomorrow after they didn't meet today, as was expected. But preparations continue for any possible protests.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: There's a lot of speculation of the NYPD. They have deployment plans under all circumstances.


REID: Sources tell CNN that behind the scenes, the district attorney is taking a moment to regroup. One source telling CNN that the D.A.'s office has suggested to an attorney for at least one witness that they might need to provide additional testimony and as the investigation nears its final stages, prosecutors are considering the historic nature of indicting a former president, an unprecedented move in U.S. history.

Sources also tell CNN Trump has celebrated a potential indictment as a boost for his 2024 White House campaign and also complained about how unfair it would be. Trump has long denied any role in payments to silence a porn star about an alleged affair, which he denies.

REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the under $30,000 payments to Stormy Daniels?


ROBERT COSTELLO, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: If they want to go after Donald Trump, and they have solid evidence, so be it. But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence . REID: Attorney Robert Costello attacking the credibility of Michael

Cohen, a key witness for the prosecution whom Costello advised in the past.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL TRUMP LAWYER: If, in fact, that I waived attorney-client privilege, I'd like to know when, how, where? I don't recall waiving anything.


REID: Well, the grand jury did not meet here at court today. They have traditionally heard evidence on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. So, at this point, Jake it's unclear if they will meet again tomorrow.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss is CNN senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

A lot of -- lot of trials going on with Donald Trump or not even talking about all of them, but let's start with the breaking news, the Appeals Court -- having to do with the Jack Smith, general counsel investigation into whether Trump violated the law having to do with classified documents. The appeals court for that case says Trump's attorney has to testify before a grand jury.

What does this tell us about the case?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, this tells us that the Justice Department believes and was able to prove to the satisfaction of a federal judge that Donald Trump committed a crime and the crime here appears to be obstruction. The theory is that Donald Trump lied to the FBI through his lawyers about those classified documents.

It is important to keep in mind. The burden of proof here is lower than it would be a trial. Of course, at trial, you'd have to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But DOJ here did make a substantial showing to the judge, and they had to do that using specific evidence, it's not enough in a situation like this for prosecutors to just say, judge take our word for it. You have to show specific proof.

TAPPER: What do you make of how quickly this happened?

HONIG: It's remarkable how quickly this happened. And, you know, Donald Trump has a long history of taking this kind of dispute into the courts and dragging it out for months or even years. Credit is due to the court here. People sometimes say, well, these things take time. They only take as long as the judges want them to take.

I give credit to the district judge here, she ruled on Friday. Here we are on Wednesday and the court of appeals has already done its job. It's possible to move these things quickly. TAPPER: Okay. So that is just trying to help people at home, keep

this all straight, that is the classified documents investigation. Now there is the hush money case. That's the New York, or rather than Manhattan district attorney. The grand jury did not meet today as expected. In your experience, and obviously, this is speculation. But what could be going on behind the scenes.

HONIG: So I can see a couple of possible explanations here, Jake. First of all, it could be that the D.A. wants to think about this some more. This is a momentous decision. It might be one that's worth taking a night's sleep on.

The other possibilities. It could be there's a witness that the D.A. wants to call that wasn't available today.

And the last thing is, if the D.A. already has an understanding in place, either with Donald Trump's team or with the security forces that are going to be needed down by the courthouse, that the actual surrender will happen on a certain day, I would want to absolutely minimize the time lag between an indictment and that day because only bad things can happen. So they may want to get that indictment as close as possible to the day of the actual surrender.

TAPPER: Right and it's not just, you know, pro-Trump forces. It's also anti-Trump forces. They have to worry about everything.

Sources are telling CNN that as this investigation, the hush money investigation wraps up, prosecutors are considering this historic nation of prosecuting a former president. As you just noted, it is a big decision. It would be unprecedented.

You know, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who previously decided not to do this.

What do you make of how he's handling this all?

HONIG: Well, Jake, I think we have to say the disclaimer that we don't know exactly what the charges are going to be. I do know Alvin Bragg. I have a lot of faith in him as a prosecutor.

That said, I do question the notion of bringing his historic first ever indictment of a former president and, frankly seeking to lock that person up based on the charges as we understand them now, based on a bookkeeping failure relating to a 6-1/2 year old payment of hush money, I think people will question whether that's worthy of such a momentous decision, especially given the possibility that there are much more substantial charges ahead relating to January 6th.


TAPPER: Right. And now that we've heard this breaking news in the documents case, which do you think is a bigger legal issue for Donald Trump, Stormy Daniels, or the classified documents? Potentially, again, no charges have been filed in either one.

HONIG: Yeah. TAPPER: But potentially, which one do you think is -- a big -- a bigger hassle for Donald Trump, I guess?

HONIG: Yeah. If I was Donald Trump's lawyer, I would be worried about the three big cases really in this order. I think the January 6 cases the most serious and the biggest threat. That includes Fulton County, Georgia, and DOJ, and I think the Mar-a-Lago classified documents would be in second place, and I think in a distant third would be the bookkeeping around the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

TAPPER: But isn't -- you say the January 6th is potentially the biggest one. Aren't those two different cases though?


TAPPER: You have the Fulton County D.A., they're looking into whether or not Donald Trump broke the law trying to overturn the results of the election. Just in Georgia, we don't even know what the general counsel Jack Smith is looking into when it comes to January 6th necessarily.

HONIG: Exactly. Those are two different cases. I think Fani Willis has made quite clear that she's likely to indict and Jack Smith is making progress. We know, for example, that he subpoenaed Mike Pence the other day. So, there's real action, both federally with DOJ and at the state level. I think both of them are very serious threats.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much as always.

Coming up, CNN goes live to the Ukrainian town of Zaporizhzhia this hour, this after a series of Russian strikes hit a residential area, hitting civilians, including children.

And the new homicide case that seems to be linked to disgrace South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh. This one is connected to a classmate of his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh.

Plus, the spying controversy uniting the House Intelligence Committee. The top Republican and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee are going to join me in just a moment.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead. You are right now looking at a destroyed apartment building in Zaporizhzhia. That's a city of thousands in southeastern Ukraine. It was indiscriminately bombarded by Russian missiles earlier today in this residential part of Ukraine with no military targets nearby, according to a top government official in separation.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy called the strike that killed one and injured more than 30, including children. Quote, bestial savagery.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live for us on the scene and separation.

Ivan, how are residents dealing with the aftermath of this brutal attack?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they're -- they're just getting on and look, it's nighttime. It's after 10 p.m. here, but even -- even with the low light, you can see just the crater in the side of these 9-story apartment buildings where Ukrainian authorities say a Russian rocket slammed into it at around 11:00 this morning. You can just see the devastation here.

And to understand a little bit better about what happened, we got a survivor, Kyrylo Chorniy.

Welcome. He is a 20-year-old university student. Thank you for coming to speak with us.

And you were home in your apartment building when this happened, right? What did you hear? What did you think?

KYRYLO CHORNIY, SURVIVOR: Well, I heard an explosion and I saw a fire actually. And well as you can see, rocket landed somewhere here, but the explosion wave and the fire still got there.

WATSON: I mean, you were 10, 15 meters away from a missile strike.

CHORNIY: Well, yeah, and actually in my in my parents' room.

WATSON: Your dad was right there.

CHORNIY: Yeah, my dad was right there, and actually, he was near window. But he was like, little bit to his desk, and he survived. And if he was a little bit right, he would be dead.

WATSON: So how are you feeling tonight? Are you going to stay here in your home tonight?

CHORNIY: Of course, I will stay, it's my home. It's my homeland. I have nowhere to go.

Actually, mayor give us hotel or something, so we can basically move there. But I don't want to leave my home and my house.

WATSON: I saw inside your apartment. All the windows are blown out. You're just less than a stone's throw away from where a deadly rocket hit the side of your own building. Will you be able to sleep tonight?

Are your parents, how -- what emotional state are they in right now? Are you guys afraid? Are you angry? How are you feeling?

CHORNIY: We are mostly angry. We are not afraid. Why would be afraid it's our home and Russia is invading us. Note we invade Russia.

I will sleep at my bed. My parents will sleep in their bed. It will be a little bit cold because we don't have windows. But still we are not going anywhere. WATSON: All right. Kyrylo, thank you very much for sharing that with


Now, Jake, just so you and the viewers know, Zaporizhzhia is about half hours drive from the front lines. This is not the first time that Russian missiles and rockets have hit apartment buildings in this town. There are other people were killed earlier this month by a similar, similar strike.

And it just leaves you with this question. What possible military strategic reason would there be for firing a long range, deadly projectile with this kind of explosive strength at residential buildings? That's a question that I am left with unless they were aiming in some other direction, and the aim was terribly wrong.

And this is a pattern that Ukrainians have been dealing with in different cities and towns across this country for months -- Jake.

TAPPER: It's incredible to hear the will of this 20-year-old young man in Ukraine and his resilience in the face of this.

Ivan Watson, with some very important journalism from Zaporizhzhia, thank you so much.

Earlier today, Russian officials issued a warning for the United States, stop, quote, testing our patience, unquote, by flying U.S. drones over the Black Sea's international waters. This after last week's incident were to Russian fighter jets harassed and unmanned U.S. Reaper drone and forced the U.S. Air Force to crash land the drone in the Black Sea.


CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon for us.

Oren, are U.S. drones being more or less aggressive now in the Black Sea, in that general area?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, from Russia's perspective, all of this is aggressive. They view much of the Black Sea, including international waters and international airspace, as essentially there's and try to make some claim that they can use it exclusively whether that's in the eastern parts near the Russian city of Sochi or near occupied Crimea. The U.S. has made it clear they don't recognize that and they will and have continued to fly drones over the Black Sea, both MQ-9 Reaper drones and RQ-4 Global Hawks. So, two different types of drones operating in different areas.

But after that encounter between the two Russian jets and the U.S. Reaper drone that downed the drone, the U.S. did carry out an assessment. Essentially look at all the parameters around these missions to make sure that it's worth it to make sure the intelligence gathered is worth the risks of confrontation with the Russians. We have learned from two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The U.S. has moved some of its drone operations over the Black Sea a little further south, so operating closer to Turkey there to make sure there isn't a risk of confrontation, especially at the heightened tensions now.

But one of the officials also said, look, there's already an appetite to get back to where the U.S. was operating closer to Crimea. There's more intelligence to gather there. It's also frankly a statement to the Russians that the U.S. will continue to operate in international airspace above the Black Sea and where else international law allows.

So those sorts of discussions and deliberations are going on right now. Again, Jake, we have seen the U.S. continue to operate drones, after the encounter between the Russian jets and drones. But the U.S., as it has been pretty much since the very beginning, being very careful in how it operates with Russia trying to avoid any unintentional conflict that leads to perhaps an unintended escalation.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks so much.

Joining us now, in a rare joint interview, the chairman, the top Republican and the ranking member, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Mike Turner of Ohio, and ranking member Jim Himes of Connecticut.

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

So you've been vocal about the U.S. needing to maintain a presence in the Black Sea. It sounds as though from Oren's reporting that the U.S. has decided to back off a little. Do you agree with that decision?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): And I hope it certainly it's temporary. So, the key is that we have to gain intelligence from the area to be able to give the information to the Ukrainian so they can defend themselves, but also to get an understanding of what Russia is doing in the area.

Crimea is an area where they're doing a massive build up and it's where they're operating the war. Obviously, that's a scenario where we need to gain intelligence. We're operating in international waters. That means we're certainly allowed to do so.

TAPPER: So, Ranking Member Himes, last fall, you went to Ukraine with the chairman here, and you spent 13 hours on a train together. You told "The Washington Examiner" that was, you know, a good time bonding experience for the two of you. Needless to say that the previous chair and ranking member, Nunes and Schiff, those were contentious years.

How are you able to block out the noise and do your work in a bipartisan way? How have you been able to achieve that?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Sure, and it was, you know, we're people and so being able to spend time together and establish a personal relationship is pretty critical.

TAPPER: Thirteen hours on a train going to like each other or hate each other by the end of that.

HIMES: That's not the easiest train ride in the world either. So -- but, look, I think we both recognize that there's a lot at stake here in having a bipartisan national security focused committee. What I mean by that is that the American public needs to see that we are open to each other's point of view and that when we disagree, we do it constructively.

And the reason that's important is because whether it's the origins of the coronavirus or whether we should send more weapons to Ukraine, or whether we should re authorized surveillance technologies, they need to think of us as people who put the national security first and our partisan interests second. And the chairman, Mike, has been really dedicated to that, and, you know, we're going to make sure that that happens because there's just too much at stake for people to think that we're acting party first.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's -- and the Senate has been a pretty good model of that, Burr and Warner, and now, Warner and Rubio. It's good to see it back at the House.

Is there a specific intelligence-related policy that you two do not see eye to eye on?

TURNER: So there's going to be several that we don't see eye to eye on. But like the American public, you know, 95.99 percent of all the national security issues really are bipartisan, and the people who work on these issues, whether you're in the office of national -- director of national intelligence, whether you're working for the NSA, working for the CIA, Republicans and Democrats are too, and they're every day working on the those issues. So we're honoring them when we work together on them.

Also, we made our commitment that, the speaker and, you know, Hakeem Jeffries made a commitment that came before us and they said, look, we want this committee work in a bipartisan basis. So it's not just us. It's the leadership of the House and all the members of the committee that have jointly made this commitment. We're going to work on a bipartisan basis.


TAPPER: So there's a new bipartisan working group that the House Intelligence Committee announced today, focused on the reauthorization of this key section of FISA. That's the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has been controversial in the last few years, whether it has to do with this decision to spy on Carter Page and actions by the FBI, et cetera. It allows the intelligence community gather a call and text data of foreign targets.

Now the member who's going to lead this group is Republican Congressman Darin LaHood of Illinois. He says he's been a victim of FISA's overreach in his view, and surveillance on Americans.

Do you -- does the committee have concrete evidence that FISA has been a force for good? And that it should continue, even though there have obviously been mistakes and possibly abuses?

HIMES: Yeah. Well, I mean, let me be super clear on this point. Not only should it continue, it must continue. 702 -- FISA 702 collection, that's pointed at non-U.S. citizens abroad, and whether it's China or Russia or Iran or antiterrorism, if that gets turned off, this country is a much less safe country.

It is also true that there have been abuses and there has been incompetence in the use of that program, including what Mr. LaHood alleged.

So our job is, and I think this is really clear, is to figure out, first of all, how we educate all the other members on what is pretty fairly complicated, legal and technical stuff, and then how we put in place the reforms to make sure that those abuses and those incompetent uses that have in fact happened over time that we put a stop to those things, and that's a great example of where we're going to need bipartisan cooperation because the truth is, there are people on both sides of the aisle who are deeply skeptical of this program.

So we've got to convince them with reforms that this program needs to be reauthorized.

TAPPER: Yeah, and even Congressman LaHood, who's says he was a victim of its abuses. He wants to continue.

So, former CIA analyst Patrick Eddington wrote an opinion article on "The Hill" arguing that FISA should be completely scrapped. I know you disagree. I want to give you a chance to respond.

He writes: Those who support renewal of section 702 claim the program is invaluable. Yet that claim has never been validated by Congress's watchdog, the Government Accountability Office and prior government claims about the effectiveness of other must have surveillance programs have been exposed as false.

You disagree?

TURNER: Absolutely. I mean, first off that the world is not getting more safe. It's getting less safe and our adversaries are getting more aggressive.

Our tools, our ability to be able to spy, to be able to gather intelligence, to be able to understand how our adversaries intended to do both our allies and ourselves harm is even more critical now than it's ever been. There are abuses. We need to fix them. That's why we put this working group together.

We put on notice the intelligence community that FISA, in order to be renewed and must be reformed and we're going to begin working on that on a bipartisan basis. There are solutions that can protect Americans at the same time, letting us target our adversaries.

TAPPER: Before you go, I just want to get your quick reflections on this burgeoning partnership between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

How worried should the American people be? HIMES: Well, it's obviously an alliance of convenience. The Chinese

are getting an awful lot of very cheap energy from the Russians. The Russians are obviously getting equipment. And I think what they're not getting in any appreciable amounts, of course, is weapons and I think that's where we need to be focused right now.

It was interesting when they came out of their meeting in Moscow that there was no announcement about weapons, and that's I think where we really would sit up and take notice.

Look, we would love to the Chinese to be on the right side of history with respect to this murderous war that Putin is raging. But without weapons, you know, the Russians can't win this war. So for us, that's the red line.

I think the Chinese are probably smart enough to know that the economic sanctions that they would suffer -- frankly, the judgment of history that they would suffer if they were to militarily back the Russians would be a cost that would be a little high for them to bear.

TAPPER: Chairman Turner, we got to go. Well -- go ahead, make your last point.

TURNER: The most important thing that happened when he left that meeting that President Xi said, we're going to make change that hasn't happened in 100 years, he is talking about authoritarian regimes winning over democracy, and we have to make certain that that does not happen.

TAPPER: Well, okay, Chairman Turner and Ranking Member Himes, thank you so much for being here really appreciate it.

Let's do this every week. It's good. Every week, we'll do this.


TAPPER: Coming up next, the new promise from Mexico as its president tries to combat the fentanyl process. I'm going to talk to one of the U.S. lawmakers who went to Mexico to help secure that promise. Is it worth anything?

That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a group of Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers just got back from Mexico with a series of promises from the Mexican president. At the top of the list, more border security on Mexico sides and efforts to stop the cartels from further production of fentanyl.

Mexican President Andreas Manuel Lopez Obrador specifically promised that he would ask the Chinese government for help in that, too. Here's why, according to DEA in the United States, China is the primary source of fentanyl and chemicals that make fentanyl, the substances are often sent to Mexico through international mail and then smuggled into the U.S. more often than not, according to the DEA by U.S. citizens going through legitimate ports of entry.

Congressman Tony Gonzales of Texas was among 12 Republicans and some Democrats as well on that trip. He joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

So, more than 800 miles of your district border Mexico. Did you take the Mexican president at his word when he told you that he pressed the Chinese government for help with this horrific fentanyl crisis that is coming to the United States from Mexico?


REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Thank you for having me, Jake.

And I want to thank Senator Cornyn for putting this delegation together. It was six Republicans, five Democrats and independent. That doesn't happen and we traveled to Mexico City. I visited with many different heads of state before. Prime Minister Modi of India, former President Moon of South Korea, and the list goes on and on.

The visit with President Lopez Obrador, it lasted four hours, and it was a dialogue. It wasn't a one way conversation. I thought that in itself was very productive.

Now, there's a lot of takeaways from it. One of them was he committed to working with the Chinese government to prevent some of the raw materials from coming in. We're going to hold him accountable to that, but there was discussions on immigration, border security, water -- we even discussed water. Water is very critical in my district along the border.

So I think it was a good first step. But now the real the real work happens is how do we follow up on this visit?

TAPPER: So, the Mexican president also told you that he's moving a headquarters for customs officials from Mexico City to a town closer to the border. He also says he's putting more money into drug searches at the border.

Are these promises that we've heard before from previous Mexican administrations?

GONZALES: You know, there is a lot of talk and talk is cheap. You know, one of the things that I pushed back at the very beginning of the dialogue was the Mexican government was talking about how safe the border is and how orderly things are.

And I was clear to point out just last week, you know, Ozona, Texas, Maria and Emilia -- Amelia Tabunga (ph) died. This is a grandmother and her granddaughter. Imagine you're just driving down the road, and they got hit by a high speed smuggler that was smuggling illegal aliens. Some migrants died in this. And I go -- things are not orderly. People are dying. Americans are dying. I also mentioned just last week at the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso County, there are almost 1,000 Venezuelans that try to rush the border.

And so, that's -- usually in these high level meetings, it's pleasant trees. No, you're great. You're great. This was more of a dialogue. Good, the good and the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it. I think that's an important thing for us to do.

TAPPER: It may be that the public thinks that the fentanyl crisis in the United States, that most of the fentanyl maybe smuggled secretly by undocumented immigrants crossing the Rio Grande. But as you and I have discussed before, that's not actually the case. Most of the fentanyl is smuggled in by American citizens crossing legally at legal ports of entry.

So the Department of Homeland Security has its own new plan to help stop fentanyl traffic. It's called Operation Blue Lotus, uses K9 dogs and scanning technology to look for drugs at entry ports.

Do you think this is going to work?

GONZALES: You know, I'm not too sure. I mean, we've tried some of these things before. But the good thing is, we're now trying new things, and I think it's important that we throw everything, including the kitchen sink at the problem.

I will say this isn't just an administration problem. The House of Representatives has an opportunity to lead and one of the things that I'm concerned about is that we're going to just have these bills that don't go anywhere.

And I'll give you example, in the Homeland Security Committee. There is a border security package right now. Right now, that bill has a long way to go before it gets my support, and I have no interest in just a messaging bill. This has to be real tangible things because once again, the people in my district are at the forefront of this.

This is important where House -- the House of Representatives needs to lead.

TAPPER: Well, and also, you and I have talked about this before, regardless of who controls the House, you have a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president. So whatever the House passes, if you want it to become law, it has to be something that Democrats are willing to sign onto two, which undermines any messaging bill on that way.

GONZALES: No, you're exactly right. That's what another thing that was so powerful about this trip. You mean, you essentially had six Republicans and six Democrats, five Democrats and independent boast that both the House and the Senate come together.

Jake, that doesn't happen and we traveled to Mexico City, was a very real tangible thing. And once again look, it starts in the House. The power of the purse is in the House. I sit on the appropriations committee, but it also starts with the bills that we pass, these anti- immigrant unchristian bills, I have no interest in allowing that to get passed over to the Senate and have them go nowhere with it.

These have to be real tangible things that ultimately help it. And right now, what I'm seeing in the Homeland Security Committee is this bill doesn't go far enough to secure our border.

TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales of Texas, thank you so much. Always appreciate it.

Coming up next, the urgent search right now for a student accused of shooting to faculty members at a Denver High School earlier today, and the pat down that might have prompted the incident.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning to our national lead, the latest in the nation's long and shamefully growing list of school shootings. This time it happened in Denver, Colorado's East High School. Two people have been wounded, one critically, we're told.

The shooter described as a student who was on what's called in that school safety plan. That student got away. The safety plan required him to be searched every morning that he came into school.

CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild is monitoring the situation.

Whitney, what are authorities saying?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying as you point out every day, this student had to be searched. He had never produced a weapon before. But today, it was different. Today, around 9:15 Mountain Time, the student produced a firearm and shot two members of the faculty at East High School.

This search happens at the front of the school. It's away from other students and it's in the administrative area. That was Denver Public School's plan to try to mitigate any threat that they thought this student represented. However, clearly, today those mitigation efforts were not enough.

Now there is a rapid manhunt underway to try to find the suspect. The suspect is being identified as 17-year-old Austin Lyle.


They say that he's a Black male. He's 5'5". He's 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a green hoodie and according to police, he is associated with a 2005 red Volvo with a Colorado plate BSCW10.

Earlier today, Jake, police were reluctant to release this student's age, his name, because he's a juvenile, but at this point, now, they think that he represents such a significant risk, that they are willing to put his name and his photo out there.

When this shooting happened, Jake, again, this was two members of the faculty he again produced a firearm produced a handgun, shot these two members of the faculty and then fled on foot. He has not been apprehended. The weapon is not apprehended.

Again, this is -- these are all the reasons that Denver police believe he's still represents such a significant risk.

What I can tell you is that the condition of the faculty, one member of the faculty is in serious condition. That was the latest update. We got that that faculty member was alert enough to give a description of the event. The other faculty member earlier today underwent surgery was in critical condition. We have not yet received a new update, on that member's condition.

However, Jake, what is so notable here is it just so happens just through pure luck that paramedics were on scene, treating another student for another completely unrelated incident, and so they were able to rush over to this two faculty members who were shot and administer what we hope are life-saving measures. And so hopefully, that hopefully, this other faculty member survives, but truly good luck that those paramedics were on scene, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah. Whitney Wild, thank you so much. Appreciate that reporting.

Coming up next, the new homicide investigation opened there's authorities. We're digging into the Murdaugh murders in South Carolina. CNN is laying out the circumstances coming to light now.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, for those who thought the Murdaugh drama was over, not so fast. South Carolina police are investigating the 2015 death of Stephen Smith as a homicide. Smith was a classmate of Buster Murdaugh, that surviving son of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh.

Investigators now say there's no indication that Smith's death was caused by a hit and run, as originally reported by a medical examiner. The family attorney raised concerns that Smith might have been targeted because he was gay.

And as CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports for us now, the initial police case file mentions the Murdaugh family dozens of times.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The investigation into who killed 19 year old Stephen Smith is heating up, with state investigators calling his mother's attorneys Tuesday with an update on her son's case.

RONNIE RICHTER, ATTORNEY FOR STEPHEN SMITH'S FAMILY: This is not a hit and run, that this is something more and something different. And that SLED is actively investigating this as a homicide.

GALLAGHER: Smith's body was found in the middle of this rural Hampton County, South Carolina road in July 2015. Highway patrol investigators at the time said there was no evidence he had been hit by a car, but a pathologist who performed the autopsy said Smith was the victim of a hit and run. The nursing student with dreams of becoming a doctor died from blunt force head trauma.

Sandy Smith has said she feared her son was targeted because he was gay.

ERIC BLAND, ATTORNEY FOR STEPHEN SMITH'S FAMILY: He was an openly gay young man, in an area of the state where it's not popular to be an openly gay man. And it probably had to do with one of his relationships, friendships or something that he was involved with.

GALLAGHER: Tuesday brought the first real update in Smith's homicide investigations since June 2021 when state law enforcement were SLED investigators announced they were opening a case into his killing, based on information gathered during their investigation of the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

SLED has never revealed what that information wants.


GALLAGHER: But the trial of Alex Murdaugh was discussed on that Tuesday phone call with the SLED chief.

BLAND: He said that now there's been a conviction of Alex Murdaugh. He thinks that people are more apt to come forward and discuss what they know about Stephen Smith.

GALLAGHER: The Murdaugh name is mentioned dozens of times in the original case, like in this audio interview with the trooper mentions Buster Murdaugh.

CPL. TODD PROCTOR, SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY PATROL: Buster was on our radar, the Murdaughs know that.

GALLAGHER: But there was never been any official connection made between the Murdaugh family and Stephen Smith's death this week, in a statement given to CNN, buster Murdaugh said, quote: This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Steven and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.


GALLAGHER (on camera): And again there are no suspects that have ever been named in Stephen Smith's killing.

SLED chief Mark Keel said today they were assigning additional state agents to the region in hopes Jake that perhaps people would feel more comfortable and be able to speak freely now more than they did, of course, in 2015, or even 2021.

TAPPER: All right. Diane Gallagher, thank you so much.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be here. She has repeatedly said that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell needs to step down. What does she think of Powell's decision today to raise interest rates again in the wake of the banking turmoil? All that and more, next.



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

This hour, the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates once again, and it's a decision that could impact every single American and their wallet. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who says Jerome Powell should not be chair of the Fed, joins me live for an exclusive in studio interview. That's coming up.

Plus, approximately 6,000 people die every year waiting for organ transplants in the United States. The proposal aimed at making it easier to get an organ transplant.

And leading this hour, a blow for Donald Trump and a major win for prosecutors. An appeals court has ordered one of Trump's defense attorneys has to testify again in the classified documents case. Evan Corcoran is scheduled to testify this Friday before a grand jury.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us now live.

Sara, what kind of information does Corcoran have to testify about and to turn over?