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The Lead with Jake Tapper

New York Grand Jury Meets, Not Discussing Trump Case Today; Violence Erupts As France Stages Strikes For Ninth Day; Ukrainian General Says Bakhmut Counter-Offensive Will Be "Very Soon"; Biden, Trudeau Set To Meet As Both Nations Confront Thorny Issues; Court Rules Parents Of School Shooter Can Stand Trial; Buttigieg: Runway Near-Misses Occurring At Double The Rate Of Past Years. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 23, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump says the prosecutor investigating him in New York is doing the work of the devil. Yes, he really said that.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Trump attacks on another level, belittling the importance of keeping protests peaceful as New York prosecutors weigh an indictment and the D.A. leading the hush money case sends a letter to Republican leaders with a few choice words of his own.

Also, protests taking over parts of Paris, setting fires, disrupting train and airline travel. The uproar over the Macron government's plan to raise the retirement age.

Plus, in the U.S. feared news confirmed near collisions on airport runways are actually happening more in fact, they've doubled this year. But why?


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

We start today with our politics lead. The New York grand jury is in session. The district attorney is really steamed and Donald Trump is back to screaming in all caps on social media.

The legal headlines are plenty today, starting in Manhattan, where the grand jury hearing the hush money case involving Stormy Daniels is meeting today. Sources saying, however, they are not discussing Donald Trump the grand jury, which means the decision on whether to charge the former president in the Stormy Daniels hush money case that decision slides into next week.

Meanwhile, the man prosecuting the case, District Attorney Alvin Bragg is unleashing on house Republicans who have been taking steps to investigate the team investigating Donald Trump. Bragg sent a letter today, claiming that the GOP leaders only got involved, quote, after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene, unquote. We should note that day that Trump was supposed to be arrested, according to Trump, that day was Tuesday and that day came and went without an arrest or indictment.

In a separate case, the federal investigation into the activities surrounding January 6, today, lawyers for Trump and his former Vice President Mike Pence. They are all back in court. They're trying to block a subpoena for Pence's testimony about his conversations with Trump around the time of the Capital insurrection.

We're going to break down every one of these developments for you. We're going to start with CNN's Kara Scannell in Manhattan, outside the courthouse.

Kara, what do we know about the timeline moving forward and the deliberations happening behind the scenes right now?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we know that the grand jury hearing testimony involving the investigation into former President Trump's alleged role in the hush money team will be back on Monday, and they will likely hear from another witness. Sources tell us that prosecutors are weighing bringing back at least one witness, possibly more. Other sources say. It's possible they could even bring back Michael Cohen, who already testified for two days last week before the grand jury.

Now, this comes as Bragg is weighing this big decision of whether to bring the first charges against the former president, and it comes as the office, sources tell us, are regrouping following the weeks of testimony and the testimony on Monday when they heard from Michael Cohen's former lawyer at the request of the Trump team.

Now, as you said, this comes as the D.A.'s office was also pushing back on the House Republicans who want Alvin Bragg to come and testify before their committees. And Bragg's office saying that that is unprecedented interference by a federal body into a local prosecution. Bragg's office also saying essentially to them, just back off -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Kara, in a lengthy, all caps rant on his social media, Truth Social, today, Donald Trump wrote, quote: Everybody knows that I'm 100 percent innocent, including Bragg, but he doesn't care. He's just carrying out the plans of the radical left lunatics. Our country is being destroyed as they tell us to be peaceful, unquote.

I know a lot of law enforcement not happy about the belittling of the importance of being peaceful.

Have there been crowds gathering outside the court where you are and what can you tell us about security preparations?

SCANNELL: Well, Jake, on Tuesday, the day that the former president said he expected to be arrested, we definitely saw an increase in crowds here. Most of the media, though, to be quite frankly, there were some pockets of individuals, some of them satirists who were showing up and looking to get on camera, but it really hasn't drawn the type of crowds that Trump has been calling for.

There is an increased security presence. They have installed security cameras around here around the perimeter of the courthouse, and they placed barricades around in case there does become a crowd control issue. But otherwise, it's been fairly calm outside the courthouse with most of us wondering what is going on inside behind us in the grand jury room -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell in New York for us, thanks so much.

Now, to the federal investigation into Donald Trump's actions around January 6, CNN's Katelyn Polantz is in D.C. where Trump and Pence lawyers were earlier this afternoon.

Katelyn, what do we know about the arguments that those lawyers have been making?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, these arguments are coming after Mike Pence, was subpoenaed to testify in the January 6th investigation. Remember, this is a separate criminal investigation than the others we've been talking about. It's the January 6th investigation being led by the special counsel's office here in Washington.

And what we know now, Evan Perez and I could confirm that there has been fighting over two fronts here. Donald Trump's team wants to limit what Mike Pence is willing to say to the grand jury by claiming executive privilege, basically trying to block him from divulging what might have happened in conversations between the two, the president and the vice president.

Pence's team is also preparing to fight on the speech or debate clause side of things. The speech or debate clause is in the Constitution and what it does is, it basically allows Congress to have a lot of protections. What they're going to be arguing is that Mike Pence should have those protections because on January 6th, he was an officer of the Senate.

So that is what is going to be argued in these hearings. It may have been argued today in court. All of the lawyers a whole crowd of them for Pence, Trump and the January 6th investigation. They were all at the courthouse before Judge Jeb Boasberg, the new chief judge in D.C. but we don't know exactly what happened in that hearing because it was under seal, like so many of these things.

TAPPER: And, Katelyn, one of the lawyers defending Trump in federal court today, he has to testify in a different case tomorrow?

POLANTZ: That's correct as far as we know right now. Evan Corcoran, one of the defense attorneys for Donald Trump, and really the primary defense attorney for Donald Trump, in the Mar-a-Lago documents, investigation. What happened with the classified records kept at Mar- a-Lago after Trump left the presidency? He was ordered by the federal appeals court in Washington to testify to the grand jury investigating that. That is a major step forward in the special counsel investigation, looking at that issue.

He also was ordered to turn over documents to the grand jury investigation, and this is the type of information that prosecutors believe could really potentially make or break their case. We know that they have argued to the judges that they have been before that these things that he has that he knows, and the notes that he has could show Donald Trump himself trying to commit a crime -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

Let's discuss all of this with Elie Honig. He's a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Also with us, Jennifer Rodgers, who's a former federal prosecutor.

Thanks to both of you for being here.

Elie, let me start with you. Let's start with the January 6th case in court today.

So, Vice President Pence's team is expected to say that he's protected by the speech and debate clause of the Constitution because so many of his activities related to his being a president of the Senate on January 6th. Trump's lawyers are expected to claim executive privilege that because he's the president, he's allowed to have advice from close advisers that won't be forced out into the public.

Do either of them have a strong case?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well Jake, I think Mike Pence has a reasonable chance of at least partial success. I think Donald Trump does not in this instance. So if Mike Pence is questioned about his activities as the presiding -- as the president of the Senate, as part of his job as vice president, I think he does have a reasonable claim to protection under the speech and debate clause. It's never been an argument that's been squarely decided by the courts, but I think there's a reasonable basis for it.

On Donald Trump's end, he's got two big problems with trying to claim executive privilege. First of all, this is a criminal grand jury subpoena, which usually prevails over claims of executive privilege. And second of all, Donald Trump is a former president. It's not impossible for a former president to claim executive privilege, but it's definitely an uphill climb.

TAPPER: Jennifer, how do you see this shaking out in terms of what arguments are made, and whether Trump or Pence have to testify?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I agree with Elie that Pence will have to testify over Trump's claim of executive privilege. But the question of speech and debate clause is much murkier.

The other thing is that it's going to take time. I mean, unlike the executive privilege argument, this speech and debate clause issue has never been litigated before, so I think we can expect appeal upon appeal, probably all the way up to the Supreme Court before we know how they'll parse out exactly what pens has to testify to and what can maybe be held back.

TAPPER: Okay, I know there are a lot of cases and so I just want to try to be as clear as possible. So that's the January 6th case. Now let's go back up to Manhattan with the hush money case involving porn star and director Stormy Daniels.

Today, Elie, Trump appeared to issue another call to action to his followers. He posted: Our country is being destroyed as they tell us to be peaceful.


I know some law enforcement officials upset that Trump was belittling the idea of being peaceful. You worked right by this court heart courthouse for more than eight years. If protests turned violent and do break out, what is it like in that area? What would you expect to happen?

HONIG: Jake, my advice to anyone who is thinking about going down there and causing violence or mayhem is don't even try it. There may be no more heavily fortified few acres in the country than right down there. If you were to go to that middle of that plaza and sort of look around from your right to your left, you would start with 1 Police Plaza, the headquarters of the NYPD. Then you would come to the federal building where Jennifer Rodgers and I used to work, which is backed by a federal prison. Then you would come to the state courthouse, which also has the old state prison called the Tombs behind that. And then you would come to 26 Federal Plaza, which is the regional headquarters for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

I also think anyone who's thinking of going down there and causing trouble ought to take heed of the lesson of what happened to the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, many of whom are now serving long prison sentences.

TAPPER: And, Jennifer, today, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg sent a letter to Republican lawmakers, attacking the House GOP investigation into his office. He called it unprecedented.

Republicans have been trying to paint Alvin Bragg's case and investigation as politically motivated. Do you worry that Bragg's strongly worded letter might make this look even more political?

RODGERS: I don't think so, Jake, because actually, while he was very strong on the point of this is unprecedented, there is no basis for Congress to try to interfere in a local prosecution and you have no oversight over my office. All of that was very strong, but I thought he struck the right tone. He said. Listen, we can have a meeting conferred to the extent that you think you have legislative reasons to ask me questions. I'm happy to hear those. They also offered up some information about federal funding of the office.

So, you know, Alvin Bragg is the adult in the room here, and I think that came across in the letter, so I think it struck the right tone. Now we'll see what Jim Jordan then do with that, but it was a good letter.

TAPPER: Elie, do you think Bragg could refuse to participate in Congress's investigation? What would happen if he does?

HONIG: I think he could, and I think he should, Jake. What Congress certainly has the right to try to get testimony to subpoena anyone they want. But anyone who gets a subpoena from Congress also has the right to challenge that.

And if we want a recent example, let's remember the January 6th Committee. They served subpoenas on several Republican members of Congress, including Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, who ignored those subpoenas. Others challenge them in court, and I think Alvin Bragg is doing the right thing here if he said says to the federal us Congress, what jurisdiction -- what legitimate legislative purpose do you have in overseeing me, a local elected county district attorney?

So I've certainly raised questions about the potential merits of a case here, but I absolutely think Alvin Bragg is doing the right thing and standing up for the independence and integrity of his office.

TAPPER: Jennifer, do you think there's any chance Bragg's office is reconsidering the decision to pursue an indictment?

RODGERS: I mean, I have no idea. Of course. None of us has any idea what's happening behind closed doors. I'm glad that maybe he's taking a beat to think once again about this.

Alvin is a very thoughtful, measured person, so I would expect him to have thought long and hard about it before pulling the trigger. We just don't know. We just don't know. We'll have to wait and see.

It will be very interesting. I think to see if another witness does go into the grand jury, which might give us a clue about you know what they're thinking. So we'll know more next week.

TAPPER: Jennifer Rodgers, Elie Honig, thanks to both of you.

In a nation with a mask shooting seemingly every day, a tweet drawing backlash compares gun rights to the Holocaust. Judge it for yourself. That's coming up.

Plus, what could be a precedent-setting case and accused school shooter facing charges and now a court says his parents to should face trial.

But, first, the uproar in Paris. Protests in the streets set off by a move by the French government. We'll take you there, next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, these images out of Paris coming in just moments ago. It looks like this could be a scene from Les Miserables, but it's not. Twelve thousand French police officers are mobilized across France today amid protests after French President Emmanuel Macron defended his move to raise the national retirement age from 62 to 64.

Some perspective here, even with that two year increase, French retirees will still be younger than those in most other Western countries, including the United States, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris. She describes the scene and the smells as the strikes there show no signs of retiring themselves.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More determined than ever, they set off, for a ninth official day of protest, after a week of unplanned ones.

The scuffles almost nightly, ever since the French government announced it would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.

The government narrowly surviving to no confidence votes on Monday, but determined nonetheless.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We will not tolerate any flare ups. We will make sure that life is as normal as possible in spite of those who are blocking normal life.

The very next morning, normal life blocked from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport to the country's oil refineries and depots. Weeks of strikes becoming painfully obvious at gas stations and on the increasingly smelly streets of Paris.

The numbers on the streets on Thursday, also aimed at getting the government to buckle.

ADRIEN LIENARD, STUDENT UNION MEMBER: Historically, French people are always protesting good social system. This is why we have a good social system.

BELL: A battle of wills, neither side seems prepared to back down from.


BELL (on camera): Jake, it was over a million people on the streets of France today.


This is Opera in the center of Paris, where the march ended a short while ago. The police cars still lining up. You can see the debris littering the streets of Paris. The streets of Paris still full of that garbage, I mentioned a moment ago.

And as you said, there is no sign of letting up. Despite the government's determination to continue, French unions have announced that Tuesday will be the next big day of strike action and of marching. They're determined by the force of the streets by the force of blockages to bring the country to a state of paralysis and to force the government to sit down and negotiate with them.

For the time being, what we've heard from the cabin as you heard there, they're not planning to do that anytime soon. So over the course of the next few days and with the visit of the King of England on Monday, we expect extraordinary scenes here in Paris, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Melissa Bell in Paris, thank you so much.

Up next on the front lines, what could soon be a major loss for Russia and its long drawn out war against the Ukrainian people.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead. A top Ukrainian general insisting that Russia is losing steam in the battle for the key eastern city of Bakhmut. The general vowing of Ukrainian counter offensive will start there, quote, very soon after months of grinding, punishing urban warfare.

Further south, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy continues his tour of hotspots today, visiting the recently liberated city of Kherson on what Zelenskyy calls a mission to restore and rebuild.

CNN's David McKenzie is live for us in Odesa, Ukraine.

David, the World Bank estimates that the country's reconstruction after the devastation caused by Russia is going to cost at least $400 billion. What would the top rebuilding priority be?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the top rebuilding priorities everything. You look at that number 400 odd billion dollars, that's a billion, and at least $135 billion of that is direct damage from the relentless strikes of Russians, according to the World Bank. And, of course, that number goes up and up as this war drags on.

You had that statement coming from that senior commander in the eastern front that in Bakhmut and around that area, they have depleted forces significantly the Russian forces and he believes at least, this is one man talking, that there could be a possibility of a successful counteroffensive soon.

Now, that is up for debate. Certainly, while we've been here, Jake this time, there is a sense that there is frustration from leadership that they need the weapons in to try and make that counteroffensive happened -- Jake.

TAPPER: President Zelenskyy just said in a meeting with the European Council that victory, Ukrainian victory is possible this year, but that there are key areas of cooperation that are inadequate.

What does he mean by that?

Well, we've heard President Zelenskyy going on and on about this, Jake, that he needs more sophisticated weapons. He said specifically, they're looking for longer range weapons for more modern aircraft. They've had pledges from Slovakia even today for those older MiG Soviet era attack craft, but he said he needs better weapons.

He put it in an interesting way, said it's not just months, it's weeks, it's days and any delay that comes from their European partners could mean in his words, the enemy getting the momentum. So I think it's a very critical period here in Ukraine. Those weapons from the U.S., from Europe, those artillery shells are coming in. It's not fast enough for the Ukrainians.

Whether that delay or lag or speed of which is coming in has a direct impact on this possible counteroffensive? Well, it's too early to say, but you do feel they're gearing up for this fight -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. David McKenzie in Odessa, Ukraine, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Democratic senator from Connecticut and member of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Chris Murphy.

Senator, you have applauded your Republican colleagues when they came out and disagreed with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who said that the fight in Ukraine was a territorial dispute, not in America's vital interests. DeSantis gave another interview in which he declared Putin a war criminal and said that Putin should be held accountable. What did you make of that?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think he's listening to the criticism. I mean, his position is not a mainstream position in America today. Republicans and Democrats in my state still support Ukraine because they do believe there's a connection between fighting the Russians and protecting Ukrainian democracy and protecting our own democracy.

So it could be that DeSantis realized he got way out of step with where the broad American electorate is, and he's, you know, trying to make up the difference. The problem is that it's not just Ron DeSantis. It's not just Donald Trump. There's a growing number of Republicans in the House of Representatives who are saying the same things and ultimately, at some point this year, we're going to have to authorize additional assistance, especially if this offensive shows some signs of promise, and it's going to be a little bit harder this year with the DeSantis and Trump wing of the Republican Party being in control of the House to get that bipartisan support for Ukraine aid that we had in the last year.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the two day meeting this week between autocrats Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

[16:30:03] It's clear that wasn't that that there's no peace plan that came out of that meeting, even though no meaningful one anyway, even though there was talk of that peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, and it's also clear that wasn't really their focus. They really talked more about how they can help each other in other ways.

At the same time, I should note, China continues to not promise publicly any lethal aid to Russia to defeat Ukraine. What did you make of that?

MURPHY: Well, listen, I think it's a sign of the difficult spot China is in, right? It's very attractive to them to make Russia a client state of China, the reverse of how Mao and Stalin dealt with each other decades ago. And so, I'm sure there are those inside Chinese government who are telling Xi, you should give defensive weapons. It creates a 30-year dependency, Russia on China.

But he knows the cost that would come if he was to provide the assistance that allowed Russia to make a breakthrough or if he was providing the assistance that prevented a diplomatic agreement from being achieved. It would be a fundamental break between the United States, Europe and China, and a moment when China's economy couldn't withstand that, right? Post-COVID lockdown, the Chinese economy is in more trouble than it's been before. They're not seeing 78 percent growth rates.

And so, he's got to be very careful to preserve his economic relationship with the United States, notwithstanding how attractive it might be for him to make Russia wholly and completely dependent on Beijing for the next decade.

TAPPER: Let's turn to another policy area. You're deeply invested in having to do with guns. You and the youngest member of Congress, Florida Democratic Congressman Maxwell Frost, you introduced legislation to establish an office of gun violence prevention in the Justice Department. Your fellow Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal characterized this bill as a, quote, uphill battle.

Why is it an uphill battle? And do you think there's still a bipartisan appetite for gun violence prevention and reform measures after last summer's rare gun safety package got passed?

MURPHY: Well, listen, first of all, really excited to be part of Maxwell Frost's first bill introduction. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a young member of Congress, and so it's exciting to partner with him. He represents a new generation of anti-gun violence leaders that are going to be showing up at the Capitol and in Congress and increasing -- an increasing pace.

Listen, I don't think this bill is as heavy a lift as other proposals because all we're asking is that there'd be an office, a clearinghouse for all anti-gun violence policy in the federal government. But I get it. Republicans engaged in a pretty heavy lift last year. The bipartisan safer communities act was the first time in 30 years that the Republican Party has broken from the NRA and any sizable numbers. There is a lack of enthusiasm from Republicans to go right back at it again in 2023.

But I just think we have reached a paradigm shifting moment in this country where the NRA is in shambles, the anti-gun violence movement is growing and whether it's this bill or something else, this year, next year, I do believe we'll see more victories.

TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, I want to get your response to this tweet from the Michigan Republican Party chair. She tweeted a photo of Holocaust victims wedding rings with text over that reads before they collected all these wedding rings, they collected all the guns. It's obviously caused an outcry by the Jewish community in Michigan and elsewhere.

What's your response?

MURPHY: Yeah, it's disgusting. It's, you know, an example of a party that's lost its mooring, but it's also sort of more evidence of this idea that Republicans really don't care if they lie because they're lying about their enemy, and that justifies the lie. At the foundation of that tweet is a suggestion that there is a Democratic agenda to confiscate weapons, right? That's made up out of thin air in order to scare people.

And so, the most offensive part of that communication is the association between background checks and the Holocaust. But what's just as offensive as the fact that these guys continue to just make up stuff about the Democratic agenda, and they seem to be okay with it because as long as they're making stuff up about Democrats, they can live with it and justify it.

TAPPER: Yeah. All right. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, CNN goes one on one with the prime minister of Canada. The issues, he says Canada and the U.S. need to challenge the Chinese government on and why. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, America's neighbor to the north will welcome President Joe Biden just a couple hours from now. This is a brief 24-hour visit with a packed agenda that could include complicated discussion.

CNN's chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly is in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, where President Biden will land shortly.

Phil, what is the main goal of President Biden's first presidential trip to Canada?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, when you talk to us officials, they make clear the primary goal is to elevate a relationship that has only grown in importance over the course of President Biden's top first two years in office, particularly given some of the geopolitical challenges the two countries face in unison and a unified manner, and that's Ukraine or that's China. Those are two areas where they have been very closely aligned.

But over or underneath that is definitely some significant issues that they have to grapple with, thorny bilateral issues and the U.S. officials are also clear. This is a very bilateral focused meeting where they will try to get into the details of those. The president will have drinks with the prime minister and his wife tonight. Tomorrow will be a day of those bilateral meetings, followed by a speech to the parliament and then a press conference by the leaders.


But the details of those thorny issues, and whether or not they're able to make any headway on them, and they range from NORAD, which became very front of mine obviously during the Chinese spy balloon issues that the U.S. and Canada were dealing with a few months back. The defense spending where U.S. officials have made clear they want Canada to ramp up their efforts, on immigration, on Haiti.

There are no shortage of issues, Jake. One area where they do believe that they have reached an agreement, on immigration. What the details of that are we'll see in the day ahead, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly in Canada for us, thanks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will greet President Biden this evening. But he greeted someone else today first.

CNN's Paula Newton, she sat down with Trudeau for a wide ranging interview discussing immigration, the Russian regime, relations with Biden and more. It's a U.S. exclusive, and Paula joins us now from Ottawa.

Paula, you spoke with Trudeau about China, specifically those suspected Chinese spy balloons.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I got to tell you, Jake. That's all anyone can talk about in this town in this country, for that matter is Chinese interference, interference and in so many forms, not just the balloons and quite frankly buoys that they found in the Arctic but also more insidious kind of Chinese surveillance, and that would involve interference into elections or even spying that is going on in this country. Some of it has implicated the Trudeau government itself. They denied that they had any knowledge of this.

But again, these are thorny issues that, as Phil said, President Biden and the prime minister will be talking about. I want you to listen now to what Justin Trudeau told me about having to try and balance that Chinese relationship. Listen.


NEWTON: On China, we've seen balloons in the air over Canada. We've seen buoys in the Arctic. What do you think are the Chinese motives in those issues specifically, and what do you hope to learn from the Chinese balloon now in U.S. hands?

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think one of the things we have to remember is China is the second largest economy in the world and continues to grow. We are going to have to in some circumstances engage constructively with China, like we did around the conference and biodiversity that we co-hosted with them in Montreal. There's issues around climate change that we should be working as a world together.

There's other places where we're going to have to be stiff competition to China in terms of market access, in terms of investments in the global south, we need to be able to show that the West, the democracies are there to make those investments and there is competitive to China.

But there are also areas in which we're going to have to directly challenge China, whether it's on human rights, whether it's on security behaviors, whether it's on cyberattacks or concerns like that, we're going to have to continue to be wide eyed and clear about the threat that China poses and wants to pose to the stability of our democracies.


NEWTON: So I really want to underscore those words -- the threat that China poses. Jake, that extends to TikTok. The prime minister has three kids, two teenagers. At this point, he's saying Canada banned TikTok on government phones, they have government phones. His teenagers are now off TikTok, and he is clear that it could still pose a surveillance risk -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Newton in Ottawa, thank you so much.

Coming up, the frightening rise in near collisions between passenger planes acknowledged today as actually going up by the secretary of transportation.

Stay with us.




TAPPER: In our national lead, today, a Michigan appeals court ruled that the parents of a school shooter can stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, essentially holding them accountable for their parenting decisions surrounding their son's actions.

Jennifer and James Crumbley son Ethan killed four students at Oxford High School in November 2021. Ethan Crumbley has since pleaded guilty, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now live.

What kind of evidence is there against the Crumbley parents?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to show you that because there is evidence that came out in the preliminary hearing, but this is such a huge decision today because the court is essentially saying this can proceed to trial that the parents caused the mass shooting. Homicide is the charge, involuntary manslaughter, and some of the facts that they use to get to their decision was based on foreseeability that the parents knew there were issues. They foreseeably could have known and should have known that their son could have done this.

But let's look at one of this because in March of 2021, Ethan started texting his mother about feelings he was having and the justices say, quote, about one week later, Ethan Crumbley sent additional text messages to Jennifer, his mother, this time reflecting his belief that a demon was in the house, that it was throwing objects inside the house. Can you at least text me back? That was from Ethan.

His mother did not text him back. She was according to testimony, riding her horses at that time, so she didn't respond to it.

And then the justices went on to talk about in this decision a journal that Ethan kept and they said he kept it in the bedroom. His parents knew he had the journal, but they admitted that the parents had never read the journal. But the justices say, quote, everyone of the 21 pages of written material had reference to plans to commit a school shooting.

Ethan Crumbley wrote, quote: I will cause the biggest school shooting in Michigan's history and I will kill everyone I see.


Quote: The first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer like me.

And so this case at this point, the parents can appeal to the Supreme Court. That's where they appealed originally in the Supreme Court of Michigan, said we want the appellate court to look at this. But another hearing will be in several weeks.

As far as Ethan, he has to have a major hearing in may because he was a juvenile when he did this and, according to the United States, Supreme Court precedent, you cannot sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole, before you look at the mitigating and the aggravating factors, and the parents continue to plead not guilty to these charges.

TAPPER: All right. A groundbreaking case.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

Today, the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg confirmed that you're not just hearing more about airline collisions. They're actually happening more frequently.

Listen to what Buttigieg told senators today.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: In past years, they have occurred at a rate of roughly once per month. Right now, they are this year occurring at a rate that is roughly double that.


TAPPER: CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is here now.

And, Pete, this is stunning, and definitely not what passengers want to hear. Does the Federal Administration Aviation Administration have a plan to stop these close calls, at least as much as they can?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You know, since this FAA emergency safety summit that they had last week, it's been mostly memos and messages. They've laid out this plan to pilots, essentially reminding them to be more vigilant and step up their safety protocols after these runway incursions. We've seen six of them investigated by the NTSB so far this year, but they've also laid out this five point plan for air traffic controllers to get more help. It all centers on more supervisor oversight and air traffic control towers, also moving along the training backlog that was caused by the pandemic.

The top union of air traffic controllers says that is so key here because aircraft control facilities are especially short staff, they say. They break this down like this, and the FAA is actually admitted to this, even causing some flight delays and cancelations. This staffing right now at a key facility in New York and oversees the airspace of all three major metro airports. Fifty-four percent is the staffing level there right now. It's 90 percent nationwide, so still a long way to go.

And the FAA as it goes through its reauthorization period in Congress, they'll, of course be asking for more money. But the FAA has actually admitted that if we go into the summer, and airlines don't throttle back their schedules, we could see even more widespread delays and cancelations like we did last year.

TAPPER: Yesterday, there was just another mid flight incident on a Southwest Airlines plane.

MUNTEAN: Yeah. You know, it's really incredible incident, a pilot who was a passenger on board this flight, Southwest Flight 6013 actually was called into service, essentially brought up into the flight deck after one of the original pilots fell ill. Southwest Airlines says -- it thanks this pilot for doing this, this pilot was from a completely different airline. This is not a Southwest Airlines employee.

And this is a pretty serious incident. I want you to listen now to the air traffic control audio between that flight crew and controllers as this flight turned back to Las Vegas.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SOUTHWEST PILOT: The captain became incapacitated while enroute. He's in the back of the aircraft right now with a flight attendant, but we need to get him on an ambulance immediately.


MUNTEAN: 737, thankfully, experts tell us can be flown by one pilot, if absolutely necessary. It's a pretty modern airplane, although two pilots are better, of course, there's this push to make it so there's only one pilot flying a commercial airliner and the top union of airline pilots simply points at things like this, saying two pilots are better than one. A money saving issue really comes down to saving lives when it's all said and done.

TAPPER: Yeah, indeed.

All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the tap dancing today by the CEO of TikTok when asked just how much data the app collects that might be accessible by the Chinese government.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a West Coast deluge. The 12th severe storm known as an Atmospheric River is moving through parts of California. So does this mean no more drought now that the state is swamped with rain?

Plus, Secretary of State Antony Blinken facing a subpoena threat as lawmakers order him to turn over documents related to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In moments, I'm going to speak with the chairman of the House committee leading that charge.

And leading this hour, the CEO of TikTok called before Congress, pressed on how much data from users that Chinese government can access. The CEO insisting TikTok is not doing anything that other social media companies are not also doing.

Our coverage starts with CNN's Natasha Bertrand, who dove into today's high stakes hearing for TikTok.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawmakers grilling the CEO of TikTok today, accusing the social media company of spying on Americans for China.

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): TikTok surveils us all and the Chinese Communist Party is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole. Your platform should be banned. I expect today you'll say anything to avoid this outcome.

BERTRAND: The CEO, Shou Chew, rejecting claims that Beijing has any control over TikTok, through its Chinese parent company ByteDance, and insisting that Americans data is now largely stored on U.S. soil.

REP. BOB LATTA (R-OH): Do any ByteDance employees in China, including engineers, currently have access to U.S. data?

SHOU ZI CHEW, TIKTOK CEO: Congressman, I would appreciate. This is a complex topic. Today, all data --


LATTA: No, it's not that complex. Yes or no? Do they have access to user data?