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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Taiwan's President, Speaker McCarthy Meet In Show Of Solidarity; Pence Won't Appeal Judge's Order To Testify In January 6 Probe; Former Top National Security Officials Testify Trump Was Warned He Couldn't Seize Voting Machines In 2020; DOJ And FBI Open Investigation Into U.S. Park Police Shooting; Maryland AG: More Than 600 Children Abused By Clergy And Staff Of The Archdiocese Of Baltimore; Progressive Beats Pro-Police Moderate In Chicago Mayor's Race; Blinken Demands Russia "Immediately" Release WSJ Journalist. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Taiwan's president just met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the Chinese government is not pleased.

THE LEAD starts right now.

In the face of threats, Speaker McCarthy and the president of Taiwan defiantly meeting moments ago, symbolically at the Reagan library, as Beijing warns the Chinese government will, quote, resolutely fight back.

Plus, one day after Donald Trump's arrest and arraignment in New York, two major developments in the federal case investigating him. One, a CNN exclusive, the grand jury testimony revealing the Trump was warned he could not legally seize voting machines. Plus, the decision from his vice president, Mike Pence, that could set up his own historic testimony before the special counsel.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. And we start with the world's superpowers on edge, in a potentially provocative show of solidarity between democracies.

Moments ago, Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen wrapped up a news conference with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on the Republican's home turf in California, and the Chinese government is not happy about it.

The top official in Beijing warning that Tsai's visit could lead to a, quote, serious, unquote, confrontation with the United States.

Quick refresher here. China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, and China has vowed to take Taiwan by force if necessary. The U.S. government does not recognize Beijing's claim over the island of nearly 24 million people, but also for fear of offending China's government, the U.S. government does not recognize Taiwan as its own sovereign country.

It is also worth remembering right after then Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August 2022 trip to Taiwan. China's military fired several ballistic missiles over the island, bombarded them with cyber attacks and iced the U.S. out of several communications channels.

Ahead of today's meeting, China says it positions several warships right next to Taiwan's coast.

We're covering all of this consequential meeting from California to Washington, D.C., to Taiwan. CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei, Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill.

But let's start with CNN's Josh Campbell outside the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

Josh, this meeting comes as China's Xi Jinping is developing this increasingly cozy relationship with his fellow autocrat, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake, and that's one of many issues that are factoring into these tensions we've seen recently between the U.S. and China.

As you mentioned the U.S. officials concerned about China's unwillingness to condemn Russia's invasion of its neighbor. Now, two other issues also include the national security concerns that the U.S. intelligence community has voiced about Chinese technology, including the popular app TikTok as well, of course, China's ongoing territorial claims in the South China Sea.

And just to remind our viewers why this is so important. This historic meeting today between President Tsai of Taiwan and Speaker McCarthy, as well as this bipartisan delegation, it's important to note that the U.S. sees Taiwan as a strategic ally in three key areas. First, economic. Taiwan is a powerhouse when it comes to the manufacturing of computing technology, of semiconductors. It is also a geographic ally as well strategically placed serving as a buffer of sorts to ongoing Chinese expansion into the Pacific.

And then finally, as we've heard from Speaker McCarthy, other U.S. officials, Taiwan is an important Democratic ally. Of course, its Democratic government completely counter that the Chinese government, run by the communist Chinese party.

And so what we'll have to wait and see here, Jake, is how the Chinese government does actually respond. We know that when Speaker Pelosi at the time when to Taiwan in August, the Chinese responded with a barrage of missiles, increased military exercises over 100 airplanes flown in and around Taiwan. And so, of course, those concerns remain here will have to wait and see how they respond to this visit. They clearly are not happy, but that's not stopping this bipartisan group of lawmakers here from the meeting, historically with the president of Taiwan here in California, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Melanie, why did this bipartisan group of lawmakers led by the House speaker? Why do they want to do this now? Tensions with China are high. Is that the point?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, well, Kevin McCarthy, this has been important to him on a personal level. He has made countering China a key priority of his speakership. One of the first things he did actually was create a bipartisan select committee on China. The House also passed a resolution to condemn China over the spy balloon incident there. They're also exploring legislation to ban TikTok amid national security concerns.

And so, McCarthy really views this meeting as just another way to send a message that the U.S. supports Taiwan in their unofficial relationship here.


And also that the United States is willing to stand up to threats from China and any attempts to coerce or isolate the island. And one other thing here that McCarthy found incredibly important was to ensure that this was a bipartisan affair. You saw members from both sides of the aisle in attendance at today's meeting, including Pete Aguilar, a member of Democratic leadership, and trying to really has been one of the rare areas in Congress, where we have seen bipartisan consensus.

That's because lawmakers across the board view China and agree that China is a threat, but they think that speaking with one voice when it comes to China is incredibly powerful. And we saw that continuing today.

And, Jake, one other thing I would look out for is that not only this meeting with Kevin McCarthy, but he also hasn't ruled out going to Taiwan himself. That is something that he has expressed interest in. His predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, of course, did the same thing last year in a very historic visit, something that would certainly almost certainly provoke a military response or some sort of response from China. But that is something that Kevin McCarthy when asked about, it said China is not going to tell me when or where to go, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Melanie Zanona, Josh Campbell, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley, who's in Taiwan's capital, Taipei.

Will, considering the response to the Chinese government, the military response, to the last meeting that the leader of Taiwan had with the House speaker, Taiwan must be on edge.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are used to this sort of thing, because ever since Nancy Pelosi's visit, China has essentially already changed that status quo that President Tsai Ing-wen talked about, crossing over that median dividing line. The Taiwan Strait only 110 miles wide, but Chinese warships and planes are regularly crossing over that line that both sides had respected since 1954, not to mention the threats of the -- you know, possible retaliation and by China to the United States because of this meeting, which China views as highly provocative.

They were even apparently emailing some U.S. lawmakers, Chinese diplomats telling them not to do this because then China would have no choice but to respond because there's a lot of domestic pressure on the communist party, largely because of the propaganda. People want to see China fight back if you will, when the United States conducts this sort of high level meeting with Taiwan because Chinese people have been fed a lot of lines, Jake, about how -- about how Taiwan is part of their homeland, and it's only a matter of time before they're reunited and China builds a bullet train across the Taiwan Strait.

Here in Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen, by meeting with these U.S. lawmakers, trying to elevate Taiwan's position on all of this and show the legitimacy of her government, which was rightfully and democratically elected by almost 24 million people on this island, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Will Ripley in Taiwan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

As the U.S.-China relationship frays, China's ties with Russia appeared to be strengthening, and now Western officials fear that President Xi Jinping of China is laying the groundwork to invade Taiwan in a blatant illegal land grab, just as Russia is attempting to do in Ukraine.

And here to talk about both after his trip to Ukraine and exclusive interview, the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence in the House of Representatives, Ohio Republican Mike Turner.

Chairman Turner, good to see you.

What do you make of McCarthy and that bipartisan group meeting with Taiwan's president amid this difficult time between the United States and China?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Well, Jake, after China complained that Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan, they're reminding everybody that they're an authoritarian regime by now complaining about Speaker McCarthy meeting with the president of Taiwan here in the United States.

Now, one thing they obviously don't understand about freedom is the freedom to meet with whoever you want. Taiwan is a democracy. It certainly is important for Speaker McCarthy to meet with them, recognizing our support for their democracy.

This certainly is way overstepped up by China. They emailed members of Congress with very threatening language, and I think, again, they're just reminding everybody. This is an authoritarian regime. They're in opposition to democracies, and we certainly support democracies around the world.

TAPPER: How much is the fear of China invading and seizing Taiwan and depriving those 24 million people of the freedoms and democracy that they currently enjoy, how much is that part of the calculation as to why the United States is so strongly supporting Ukraine with the Russian invasion?

TURNER: It's absolutely part of it. As you just outlined, Jake, the fact that we have provided weapons and that the Ukrainians have fought and have rebuffed the initial Russian invasion certainly shows to China that, you know, this is not a walk in the park for them if they should choose to invade Taiwan and Taiwan does have the support of the United States.

But even more so, when Russia invaded Ukraine, there was world outcry. There was world rejection and consternation for what Russia did. China knows that would occur to them also.

And the longer that we can let them know that there's a severe cost for invading Taiwan, that the longer Taiwan gets to remain a democracy.

TAPPER: The D.C. think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggests that the Chinese invasion of Taiwan would fail, but it would impose a huge cost on the U.S., the Chinese and the Taiwanese militaries. The U.S. has already spent more than $30 billion on Ukraine over the last year.

Does the U.S. have the resources to also support Taiwan defending itself?

TURNER: I think one of the things that's important here that that is a lesson that's learned from Ukraine, and certainly Taiwan is stepping up to, that it's important for them to have weapons now, and the United States is certainly working to ensure that Taiwan has the resources that they need, because any fight over Taiwan if they're invaded by China, in the end, is going to come up to the issue of the Taiwanese people like the Ukrainians being able to stand and defend their own democracy.

That's something that certainly is a party and to be part of the debate this year in Congress as to how we can get them the resources to make certain that that they have the ability also to defend themselves.

TAPPER: You met earlier today with leaders from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog. What are their foremost concerns right now? What are your foremost concerns when it comes to nuclear weapons?

TURNER: Sure. The director general from the International Atomic Energy Agency, General Grossi, he took the unusual step when Russia invaded Ukraine of looking for his agency under the United Nations of having an ability to go into the nuclear power plants that Russia has put at risk, that they were shooting missiles at, that they now occupy, to try to ensure that there's not a human catastrophe there, that we don't have a meltdown and a real tragedy.

I was interested to get an update from him on the status of those power plants that he believes that at this time, there's certainly stable. But we, of course, discussed North Korea and Iran, who continue to be both threats to the United States and destabilizing in their areas and their nuclear weapons programs and how they remain a threat.

TAPPER: Today, Russian President Putin told the new U.S. ambassador to Moscow that D.C. is ultimately responsible for Putin's invasion of Ukraine, adding that relations with the U.S. and Russia are in, quote, deep crisis.

You just met with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. How does Zelenskyy view this increasingly volatile U.S.-Russia relationship?

TURNER: Well, President Zelenskyy knows that he is the front line of democracy, and I met with both our military and, of course, advisors to Zelenskyy that the planning is in place, the logistics are in place to provide them the weapons systems that that they need. He is certainly emboldened by what they're certainly being able to accomplish now. They're holding back Russia. They're looking in the spring to be able to even regain greater territory.

But, you know, as I was able to tell him, he's been inspirational to the world. He's addressed more, you know, legislative bodies around the world than any other human being in history, and he's certainly done the call to the world of we need to stand up for democracy and hold back at their authoritarianism.

When President Xi met with President Putin, you know, he said. We're going to make change that hasn't happened in 100 years. They mean the fight between authoritarianism and democracy. And it was very good to see him and to hear from him -- you know, his continued optimism of their ability to fend off and push Russia out of Ukraine.

TAPPER: Before you go, I want to get your thoughts on former President Trump's arrest and arraignment. Some Republicans, many Republicans in Congress are saying that the indictment is a reach and it's unfair. I know that you told my colleague Dana Bash on Sunday, it's, quote, politically motivated.

Bottom line, though, do you think Trump did not actually have these business records falsified to cover up hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels? I mean, don't you think that that obviously did happen?

TURNER: Well, I think what needs to happen and this is obviously judicial process needs to go forward. As you know, as your own legal analysts at CNN have said, you know, this is something that's happened six years ago that the we now have the indictment, the indictment appears incredibly weak as a basis for a legal theory there. There is no fraud that is actually been proven here. That's something that they will have to establish.

But even, you know, CNN's legal analysis that analysis and I'm not one, in looking at this indictment say that this is very weak. Certainly, the prosecutor has made statements and his targeting of President Trump certainly illustrates it that this is a political indictment, not a criminal indictment. We'll have to see how this unfolds.

TAPPER: Ohio Republican, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, thanks so much to see you. Safe travels.

Coming up, the CNN exclusive, testimony to a federal grand jury. [16:15:02]

Two former Trump national security officials who say Donald Trump had to be told he had no authority to seize voting machines after the 2020 election that he's so ignominiously lost.

Plus, the founder of Cash App stabbed to death in San Francisco. What are we learning about the attack?

And the declaration Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today he's trying to get for "The Wall Street Journal" reporter unfairly detained in Russia.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead. Former Vice President Mike Pence has said he will not appeal a judge's ruling that will require him to testify in federal -- in front of a federal grand jury probe in the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He will not -- not appeal the decision.

Pence's testimony will therefore mark the first time a former vice president has ever complied with a criminal probe subpoena to testify about the actions of the then president.

Let's bring in Adam Kaufmann. He's a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Good to see you.

Vice President Pence's testimony would include conversations he had with Trump ahead of the Capitol attack. How significant is the ruling and pence's decision to not appeal it?


ADAM KAUFMANN, FORMER PROSECUTOR, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: I think the ruling is tremendously significant, and we're seeing coming out of the grand jury litigation a series of rulings and orders coming from the federal bench, limiting executive privilege, overruling claims of attorney client privilege on crime fraud exception, meaning that there was criminal element to the conversation, so they were not privileged.

And so all of this means that the efforts to shield the former president from having his closest advisers testify against him are collapsing one by one.

TAPPER: Now, it is also true that Trump and his team could appeal the ruling, even if Pence isn't going to. Do you think it's likely they could successfully prevent Pence from testifying?

KAUFMANN: You know, it would be hard to think of the basis that would that would let them let that would let them do so. I mean, I think I think Vice President Pence, you know, sort of did what he had to do to try to maintain appropriate privilege and brought it to court and heard a ruling from the federal bench. And once he had that ruling, I think from his perspective, the rule of law is clear, and you have to comply with the federal order.

Certainly, Mr. Trump, I mean, they appealed the Manhattan D.A. grand jury subpoena to the Supreme Court and beyond. So, certainly, he may seek to appeal it. It helps to delay and obfuscate, but it's hard to imagine that it would be a successful appeal.

TAPPER: CNN is learning the top Trump officials at the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and Ken Cuccinelli, have told a federal grand jury in that special counsel investigation that they repeatedly told Trump and his allies that the Trump administration had no authority to seize the voting machines after the 2020 election.

How important is that for any criminal charges against Trump? I realize it looks bad, and it sounds crazy, but is there actual criminality there?

KAUFMANN: So I think, you know, it's a piece of the puzzle. And when you're building a criminal case, you have to sort of anticipate what is the specific charge is going to be. And what are the possible defenses?

To the extent that someone is going to say, well, I was told that there was fraud or I was told we could, you know, go get the voting machines or there was a basis to do so, this takes away that defense and limits the ability of the of the former president or his closest allies to say we were told this or we were told that.

So I do think it's fairly significant that these national security advisors are coming out now and saying this is what we told the president and his top advisers at the time.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump and the Manhattan district attorney's office because the judge in that case, in the hush money case issued a stern warning yesterday -- yesterday about anyone using potentially dangerous rhetoric. Donald Trump was there to hear that warning, although it was to the prosecution and the defense, he said, do not engage in words or conduct which jeopardizes the rule of law, particularly as it applies to these proceedings in this courtroom.

Just hours later, Trump ignored the order and in the speech of Mar-a- Lago, he attacked the judge himself, his wife and his daughter during this address. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I have a Trump-hating judge, with the Trump-hating wife and family, whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris, and now, he receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign and a lot of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, the judge did not order a gag order during yesterday's hearing, and I understand there are huge First Amendment issues with such an action. But do you think if Trump keeps this up, that the judge might change his mind?

KAUFMANN: I think in a certain point you will. I don't. I don't think that the judge is going to act precipitously to take action against Mr. Trump in a way that would almost play into Mr. Trump's hands. So I think that there's a degree of testing the limits. There's a degree of baiting from the former president.

I think that the judge will be monitoring this. You know, the judge, the prosecution could bring some type of action, but the judge doesn't have to wait for that. It's the judge's order that the judge can enforce himself. But I think I don't think he'll act too hastily. But I do think, you know, if Mr. Trump wants to say the judge hates him, maybe that gets them so far. But I think attacks on people's families, to me, that's just out of bounds.

TAPPER: Well, right, he's been doing it for years.

KAUFMANN: I mean, right, well, sure.


But now, he's in front of the judge who has -- who has control over him and what he can say and, you know, could make a finding of contempt.

TAPPER: All right. Adam Kaufmann, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

Coming up next, the damning report out today, accusing even more Catholic priests of sexually abusing hundreds of Catholic children.

Plus, a mother's cry for justice as new body cam footage shows the death of her 17-year-old son shot and killed in D.C. at the hands of police.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time and time again, I said, and I try to get my head wrapped around this. And I can't.


TAPPER: We're going to dive into the officers' split second decisions that left a young man dead.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: A shocking killing tops our national lead. Bob Lee, the founder of Cash App, a software engineer who helped create the Android operating system for smartphones, has been killed. Multiple reports that he was the victim of a stabbing on the streets of San Francisco. Police confirm a 43-year-old man was found unconscious early Tuesday and died after being taken to a hospital. But the police are not saying much else.

"The San Francisco Chronicle" reports that Lee had two stab wounds in his chest. Authorities are asking the public for information, what is now a homicide investigation.

The FBI and the U.S. Justice Department are looking into what led to a deadly police shooting here in Washington, D.C. this comes one day after the body cam video of the encounter was released. Seventeen- year-old Dalaneo Martin was shot by a U.S. Park police officer on March 18th.

As CNN's Brian Todd reports for us now, police were responding to a call about a stolen car. They then stumbled upon Martin, who was sleeping in a car that was allegedly stolen and a warning here, some viewers may find the body cam video disturbing.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shortly before nine o'clock a.m., March 18th, police body cam video shows officers responding to what police say was believed to have been a stolen car near a federal park in Washington, D.C. Inside the vehicle, 17-year- old Dalaneo Martin, asleep in the driver's seat. The car is running.

In the video just released by the U.S. Park Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police, officers from both agencies are heard strategizing on how to approach the vehicle.

POLICE OFFICER: Here's the plan. He's knocked out. The back window is just a plastic. I'm going to try to cut that out quietly, unlock the door. If he doesn't get started, doesn't wake up, then we're going to try to get in there. Grab him before he puts the car in gear.

TODD: One officer heard telling the others, if the suspect tries to drive away, let him go.

POLICE OFFICER: If he takes off, he takes off.


POLICE OFFICER: Just don't get caught inside of that car. You know what I mean?

TODD: At one point, an officer enters through a backdoor. Another officer opens a door on the driver's side.

POLICE OFFICER: Police! Don't move! Don't move! Don't move! Don't move! Don't move! Don't move!

POLICE OFFICER: Show hands. Got him?

TODD: The car suddenly drives off. One officer falls off the car, while another is still in the back seat.

Police say the driver did not comply with their commands.

DALANEO MARTIN: Stop man. Just let me out. Let me out!

POLICE OFFICER: Stop! Stop or I'll shoot!

TODD: The body cam video, then shows several shots being fired at Martin. The car crashes into a nearby house. The video shows officers pulling Martin out and trying to revive him. Police say Martin died at the scene. They say a gun was found inside the car.

A lawyer for Martin's family says one officer in one body cam video seemed to indicate that when they initially approached the car, he hadn't seen a gun.

ANDREW O. CLARKE, ATTORNEY FOR DALANEO MARTINS' FAMILY: It was very clear. To him that there was no gun, he said. Oh, he has his hand on his waist. But I don't see anything there, so there was never any threat for the use of gun.

TODD: The FBI and federal prosecutors have launched a civil rights investigation into the shooting. None of the officers involved have yet been identified by either police agency.

Martin's mother says she wants their names made public and wants them to face justice.

TERRA MARTIN, DALANEO MARTIN'S MOTHER: My son should still be here. But instead, officers I want all the offices punished for all their roles. This pain hurts so bad.


TODD (on camera): And showing you the scene now where the shooting took place, the officers converged on the vehicle right about where that black pickup truck is. The vehicle, then moved down the street in the opposite direction there, then crashed into a house a couple of blocks down and to the left.

What we can tell you this afternoon also is that the park police will not confirm the current status of their officer who shot Dalaneo Martin, but the Park Police Officers Union is defending that officer, telling "The Washington Post", the head of the union telling "The Washington Post" that they believe the shooting was justified. That use of force was justified and they're standing behind the actions that all the officers took -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Turning into our faith lead now. A brand new, heartbreaking and groundbreaking report, the Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown today alleged that within the archdiocese of Baltimore, 156 clergy members abused at least 600 children over more than six decades.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is with me now. And, Brynn, what else is in this devastating report? And how did it all come together?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, extremely devastating, Jake, and the attorney general calling today a day of recognizing reckoning.

Four hundred fifty-six pages in this report. It was actually an investigation that started before he even took office in 2018.


And the office was able to get a lot of records through grand jury subpoenas, and that's why this report is so expansive, so detailed, and it covers so many different allegations.

You listed those numbers, but I want to say them again, 156 members of the Catholic Church. This includes priests, this includes teachers at Catholic Schools. This even includes a nun, Jake, according to the report. Six hundred survivors, mostly children at the time of the abuse, over an 80-year period.

The report found that there was abuse, even physical torture of some of these children happening multiple times to buy multiple clergy members at the same church, again, all over those decades, and it basically as we have heard before, sadly, and included a sort of the cover up that was done by the Catholic Church of transferring priests and other clergy members in and out of different locations in order to cover up this the crimes.

And I want you to hear -- rather let me read you from the archbishop. He's responding to this report.

And he says: Through difficult, although deeply meaningful meetings, I have experienced your brave witness, and the power of your words and testimony compelled my personal conviction to ensure we do everything possible to prevent future incidents of abuse and promote healing for survivors.

A very expansive statement from him certainly coming this week of holy week.

I do want to also get to the attorney general because he talks about why this report was so expansive, listing the names of all of these abusers, which is different from the archdiocese, who only had a smaller listing when it released its findings into 2002.

Take a listen.


ANTHONY G. BROWN, MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL: The difference I think you'll see in this report versus what perhaps you would see on the website of the archdiocese of Baltimore. We don't just list the abusers and their age and when they died, and when they left ministry, this is a full accounting. There are details of repeated, tortuous, terrorizing depraved abuse. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Now the report recommending that the legislature changed the statute of limitations so civil action could be taken by the survivors. Of course, many of these abusers now have passed on.

I should note, Jake. There is one indictment to come out of this, a former wrestling coach at a Catholic Church -- Catholic school rather.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thank you so much. Devastating report.

Coming up next, what new election results in two key races might suggest about the state of politics in America right now.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our politics lead now, progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson will be the next mayor of Chicago after defeating more moderate Democrat Paul Vallas by a razor thin margin. And in the perennial battleground state of Wisconsin, voters made their choice for a seat on the state Supreme Court, which could have major national implications. Voters picked the more liberal judge of the two.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is following these key Midwestern races for us.

Omar, in the Chicago mayoral campaign, crime was one of the central issues. So how was Johnson able to defeat Vallas? Vallas had the backing of the Chicago police union.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I mean, this was really a barometer for where big city Democratic voters are at this point. Brandon Johnson was more progressive candidate, had the support of the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, had the backing of the teachers union.

And then on the other side, Paul Vallas, the more moderate, had the support of the police unit.

Now, one clue on this win here is both of them had to beat incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot to get to this runoff. Lightfoot when she was going through, took nearly every single Black ward in the city. So because she wasn't here, that's a lot of votes that was up for grabs. Brandon Johnson swept every single ward or area that Lightfoot did. That was likely the difference here.

But now comes a challenge to actually govern and at the top of the list as far as those issues he's going to have to manage, public safety. Take a listen to some of his comments on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRANDON JOHNSON (D), CHICAGO MAYOR-ELECT: I am arguably the first mayor to wake up in the city of Chicago who lives in one of the most violent neighborhoods of the entire city. And so what I want for my family, which is a better, stronger, safer community, I want that for every single family across the city of Chicago, and what Chicagoans said overwhelmingly, is that we have to get at the root causes of crime.


JIMENEZ: Now the head of the police union who did not endorse Johnson said that 1,000 officers, up to 1,000 would walk of if Johnson won, there will be blood in the streets. Even Vallas condemned those comments.

But it does underscore some of the challenges Johnson may face even immediately on the job.

TAPPER: All right, shifting to Wisconsin in that state Supreme Court election, the Republican-backed candidate, Dan Kelly, kind of a Trumpy Supreme Court candidate, he refused to even congratulate his opponent so other than being a sore loser, what are the other national implications in this race.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, but of a nasty end to the election, but the implications for the liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz is she is -- she could be the difference in how legal challenges are decided to the statewide ban on abortion. That statewide ban went into effect after the fall of Roe v. Wade, and how this sort of happened is that conservatives had held this majority there for about a decade and then one conservative judge retired. It created this opportunity, and now we've got implications not just here but potentially in the 2024 presidential election as well.

TAPPER: Interesting. Omar Jimenez, thanks so much.

Coming up, insight into Russia's actions. I'm going to speak with the American journalist accused of spying for the United States during the Cold War era, falsely accused, well before Putin detained a "Wall Street Journal" reporter.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, today marks one week since Russia dusted off its Cold War playbook and detained American journalist Evan Gershkovich and accused him falsely of espionage. It's a charge that is by all accounts completely make believe. A week later, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter has yet to even get consular access or meet with American officials.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken today said this:


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: In my own mind, there's no doubt that he's being wrongfully detained by Russia, which is exactly what I said to Foreign Minister Lavrov when I spoke to him over the weekend, and insisted that Evan be released immediately.


TAPPER: Joining us now, retired journalist Nicholas Daniloff. He was Moscow bureau chief for "U.S. News and World Report" in 1986 when he was falsely arrested and wrongfully detained in a KGB prison for 13 days, falsely accused of being a spy.


Thanks so much for joining us.

Secretary Blinken says the U.S. is still preparing to officially declare this a wrongful detention, which would trigger new U.S. government resources to work toward his release. It's been a week.

Is the Biden administration working quickly enough here?

NICHOLAS DANILOFF, RETIRED JOURNALIST, ARRESTED BY KGB ON ESPIONAGE CHARGES IN 1986: Well, the fact that the Biden's name has been attached to all of this strikes me as important and that the secretary of state is also involved. So something is going on.

TAPPER: When the Russians falsely accused you of being a spy, did they even bother to try to come up with any sort of junk evidence to use against you? Or did they just make the claim and lock you up?

DANILOFF: They made the claim and locked me up.

TAPPER: You were detained just days after an employee of the Soviet Union's mission to the United Nations had been arrested in New York and both you and that employee were released after two weeks of diplomatic negotiations. Why do you think Russia for the first time since the Cold War has now detained this -- detaining this American journalist, accusing him of espionage? Do you think it's the same basic idea as Russian spy was arrested, therefore they took this American journalist and they just want to do a swap, as seems to be the case with you?

DANILOFF: That may well be the case. I think that bureaucracies, you know, remain in place, and they're often guided by the practice of the past. So if this seems like a throwback to the past, it probably is.

TAPPER: Gershkovich is being detained in the same center, where they detained you in 1986, a place that has a long, intimidating history that dates back to Stalin's purges. If Evan could hear you right now, what would be your message or advice to him as he sits, essentially in the same place, you sat?

DANILOFF: Well, when I was in that prison, the one thing that I did not have any access to was information from the outside. I got information from visits from my wife.

And so, I think one of the things that he could do is demand to be informed about what's going on in the outside world, and they probably won't comply with that. But you make the demand anyway.

TAPPER: Do you think there's anything to the fact that both you and Evan are of Russian descent that that might be behind why they did this?

DANILOFF: I would think that that is not much of a connection. In my case, the Russian connection was helpful in that I could get on with the people surrounding me. I could speak with them in Russian, and that created a somewhat more friendly atmosphere within the prison.

TAPPER: You were released, thankfully, after 13 days of detention. This was what while Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union. Given that we're dealing with Vladimir Putin here who seems much more nefarious individual than Mikhail Gorbachev, perhaps, are you worried at all the Gershkovich's story will not end as quickly or as smoothly as yours did?

DANILOFF: It may not. It may not, because for the very reason that that you mentioned.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Daniloff, it's been an honor talking to you, sir. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

DANILOFF: Well, it's a pleasant being on your program.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir. Have a good day.

Coming up, the vote set to kick three Tennessee Democratic lawmakers out of office after they joined protesters, who were calling for more gun control. I'm going to speak with one of the state reps facing a possible expulsion tomorrow.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, more fallout from the women's NCAA championship game. The star of LSU is clapping back at First Lady Jill Biden and at the White House.

Plus, in just a few hours, Republican state lawmakers in Tennessee could oust three of their Democratic peers over their participation in a gun reform protest. One of those Democrat state reps is going to join us live.

Leading this hour, Mike Pence, the former vice president, will testify before the grand jury as part of the special counsel investigation into the events of January 6, setting up what we are historic moment. A spokesman for Pence says the former vice president will not appeal a federal court ruling ordering him to testify about Donald Trump's and Trump's allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

CNN's Sara Murray has been following this for us.

Sara, this decision by Vice President Pence, it's a pretty big deal. How damaging could this be for Trump? And is there anything Trump could do to stop Pence from testifying?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's absolutely a big deal. I mean, we know, of course, from others and from media reports of all of the pressure that Donald Trump put on Mike Pence to try to block the certification of the 2020 election. And what this means is that Mike Pence is going to at some point go before a grand jury, and he's going to answer questions about those efforts by Trump to pressure him in the run up to January 6.

There is a limited set of questions he won't have to answer because of his service as president of the Senate, that sort of lower court ruled and Pence's team said essentially, they were fine with that. Now, there is another maneuver for the Trump team.