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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pence Won't Appeal Judge's Order To Testify In January 6 Probe; Fmr. Top Natl Security Officials Testify Trump Was Warned He Couldn't Seize Voting Machines In 2020; DeSantis Signs Bill Allowing Permitless Carry Of Concealed Weapons; Officer Calls It "Fate" He Was Near School During Shooting; Tennessee State Lawmaker Facing Expulsion Joins The Lead; Israeli Police Storm Jerusalem Mosque For Second Time; NCAA Women's Champion Rejects White House Invite. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 17:00   ET



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what a lower court ruled. And Pence's team said, essentially, they were fine with that. Now there is another maneuver for the Trump team. They could appeal once again on this executive privilege, arguing that Pence should not be answering questions about his conversations with Donald Trump.

Trump, though, has fought this battle on so many fronts, with so many other people who served on -- in his administration, including attorneys who were serving in the White House. And he has lost every time he has tried to fight this fight.

So the Trump team hasn't said yet whether they will go that route, but, you know, privately, they've said in conversations that they thought the argument that Mike Pence was making was the best one legally. So I think what we're really looking for is, when could we see Mike Pence in front of a grand jury?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Sara, CNN is learning that former Trump national security officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli have testified to a federal grand jury about Trump's efforts and desire to seize voting machines after the 2020 election.

They said that they told the president, and it seemed that he'd had no authority to do so. This really speaks to how Special Counsel Jack Smith is zeroing in on the various ways Trump tried to overturn his election loss.

MURRAY: That's right. I mean, this is excellent reporting from my colleague Zach Cohen, sort of looking at how the special counsel is digging into a bunch of these schemes, the Trump team, considered to try to overturn the 2020 election. Of course, we know that one of these sort of crazy ideas under consideration was seizing the voting machines.

And now we're learning that there are a handful of these officials who have either gone before the grand jury or spoken to prosecutors saying, look, we told the former president, we told his allies that there was no authority to do this, that they could not go ahead with this kind of plan, Jake.

TAPPER: In January, switching to the other investigation into January 6. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said a decision on charges was imminent. She said that in January, I don't mean to be impatient here, but it's now April. What's going on?

MURRAY: Well, it's very clear she meant imminent in terms of a court timeline, not in terms of a breaking news timeline, because we are still sitting here waiting. Frankly, the latest indication we have is that, you know, these charges, whether she decides to bring any those decisions could come as early as this spring.

So maybe sometime in the next few weeks. Essentially, what she has to do is just go before a regular grand jury. There are two of those empaneled right now in Fulton County that she could go in front of in any time and present her case. You know, that might take a day, it may take two days, it may take longer, and seek these indictments.

So it is really in the hands of District Attorney Fani Willis about when she wants to bring this case. I mean, one thing is we know they've been looking at a racketeering case. Those are complicated. Maybe it's why it's taking a little time.

TAPPER: Eminence in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Sara Murray, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Don Ayer now, he was the Deputy Attorney General during the George H. W. Bush administration. Good to see you, sir. Pence's testimony would include conversations he had with Trump ahead of the Capitol attack. As a legal matter, how significant is this?

DONALD AYER, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGE H. W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION: I think it's tremendously significant. I think there's the potential that those conversations which we've heard about, we've heard other people talking about what they heard, you know, listening from across the room or outside, they could really fill in an enormous amount of detail about what Trump was thinking and doing, both on January 6 and on the days before and I think potentially even on the days after. So I think it's really potentially quite a lot of detail that we could get out of this testimony.

TAPPER: So Pence won't appeal the ruling, but Trump could. Do you think it's possible, likely that Trump and his team could successfully prevent Pence from testifying?

AYER: No, I think it's not improbable, although I don't know that they might (INAUDIBLE) as your commentary would said. They lose all of those efforts. It's gotten to the point where the courts, whether they have Trump appointees on them or whoever, are turning this stuff down routinely. So it's a matter of time.

You know, I think what's really significant about this week is that we now have Trump sitting on the other side of the table. We now have Trump as a criminal defendant, and the momentum of all of these cases continues to accelerate. I know it's been frustrating for lots of people, including me, that things have moved slowly.

They're probably going to keep moving somewhat deliberately. But the momentum is really moving forward now, and I think there's good reason to think that these processes are going to come to something pretty significant.

TAPPER: CNN's reporting that former Trump Department of Homeland Security officials Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli testified before that January 6 grand jury. Then they testified about telling Trump and his team repeatedly that the Trump administration had no authority to seize voting machines after the election.

Obviously, you know, the fact that Trump was talking about this is disturbing. The fact that he was contemplating this is kind of nuts. But is it criminal?


AYER: I think to the degree that it's part of the overall effort to overturn the election in a situation where the evidence, including evidence that Pence may provide a great deal more of that Trump knew darn well he hadn't lost the election. It's all part of the case that he was deliberately trying to overturn a national election, which clearly, I think, assuming that can be proven, which I think it can, is the most serious wrong that he has committed.

TAPPER: Don Ayer, thanks so much. Appreciate your insights, as always.

Let's talk about this with my August panel. So, Margaret, let me start with you. As Sara Murray reported, Special Counsel, Fulton County prosecutors are zeroing in on Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. You just heard Mr. Ayer say that is the most serious of all these charges. It is also a reminder that despite Trump's historic arrest and arraignment in New York, there are more serious and perhaps better argued prosecutions to come.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And Jake, it is thought that to some extent, the Georgia case and certainly Jack Smith's cases out of the Justice Department or as special counsel could be much more legally impactful for the former president. I think things to watch on what just happened with Pence, just because he's not going to appeal this does not mean that he's going to show up in front of a grand jury and blow open the door with all kinds of new information or testimony that we've never heard or considered before.

It's not even clear to me he's going to show up in person before a grand jury. Some of this could be done in the form of depositions, transcriptions provided to the grand jury. He may argue in some cases that in his role as Senate President, he has immunity from answering some of these questions, even though he has agreed to participate in the process.

So it's not entirely clear to me how impactful this will be.

TAPPER: Right. TALEV: I do think there's a lot of case law emerging that is going to constrain the executive and the former executive out of all of these tests that Trump has initiated, and this is one of them. It could constrain the actions or words of future presidents and future vice presidents.

But in this, you know, particular case, I just think he's an institutionalist. He has a respect for the courts. If he speaks, and I think we will hear him speak in the coming days, he's going to talk about his loyalty being to the rule of law.

TAPPER: Right.

TALEV: I don't know how much more is going to be revealed as --

TAPPER: Right. He might just hand over his book to say, it's all in here.

Ramesh, let me ask you, a lot of Trump supporters and a lot of non- Trump supporters were very critical of the case that the District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought, at least what we saw of the indictment and the statement of facts. Do you think that same level of skepticism is going to come with these other cases where there seems to be much more serious consequential actions and punishments?

RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, we'll, of course, have to see the details.

TAPPER: Right.

PONNURU: The details, of course, of the Bragg indictment. The New York City one turn out to be largely as people had reported beforehand, and the people who are underwhelmed beforehand are still underwhelmed. And I think everybody agrees that the matter here is graver, that there is -- that this is a much more serious business than some sort of record keeping lapse or falsehood.

It's I think also a case, though, with governor -- excuse me, with Vice President Pence. I think there's a political angle here that we should be all clear about which is he does want to be positioning himself as a reluctant critic of Trump.

TAPPER: Right.

PONNURU: So he is -- he wants to say --

TAPPER: Mourn and sorrow the next (INAUDIBLE).

PONNURU: Yes. He wants to say, when duty makes me break with him, I'll break with him. But I'm not looking for opportunities to break with him. I think that's the way he's been playing it so far, and I think what he's done in this case is consistent with that, because he didn't have a strong legal case.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, he's not going to -- wouldn't -- I mean, I'd be interested to know what you think about it, but I don't think it will make any difference to a Trump supporter, right? A Trump supporter is going to think, stand up to the deep state, and --

TAPPER: Right.

POWERS: -- you know, how could you go in and betray him and say all these things? So he can act as reluctant as he wants and do it very reluctantly, but ultimately, he has a lot of information that, you know, is very important and has a very clear perspective on this issue and insight that I think is important and could be really to the detriment of Donald Trump.

TAPPER: I'm dying to know what you thought of the Bragg indictment yesterday.

POWERS: You know, I'm torn about it because I think my initial feeling about it was just as we were looking at it coming down the pike. I don't know. I don't really see a lot of there there. The more I've read about it, the more I'm thinking I think there may be more there there because of how New York law is.


POWERS: And so there -- so he actually -- this matter, I mean, this matters a lot if he's found guilty, right? I mean, it's not a minor thing. And if he violated the New York law, which I think he may have, then this is very, very serious, and we could talk about whether or not it should be serious or whether or not what he did or he was accused of doing is the worst thing he's done. I think we all agree it's probably not the worst thing that he's done.



POWERS: But the point is, if he's found guilty and possibly sent to prison for it, then it is extremely --

TAPPER: Well, even within the confines of cheating on your wife with a porn star in an unprotected manner just days after your son is born. And then paying hush money and covering it up, and then falsifying business records to pay the hush money. The falsification of the business records is not even the worst thing about that entire story.


TAPPER: You know, one of the things that's interesting is I haven't heard anybody, except for people, like, on the fringe, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, I haven't heard anybody make the argument that Donald Trump is innocent of these charges. What about you?

CAMILA DECHALUS, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I actually spent a lot of days in New York actually talking to Republican voters and asking them in the swing district of the Congressional 17th District, whether that is going to --

TAPPER: Which district is that, the 17th?

DECHALUS: That's the one that Sean Patrick Maloney --


DECHALUS: -- that Mike Lawler held and that just recently split, where Sean Patrick Maloney held it for about five terms. And I asked him that question about whether this indictment, what their reaction to it. And across the board, all of them, every county I went to, they said that the indictment, it was base lifts, that had no merit.

But whether that indictment is going to then propel them to throw their support behind Trump, they essentially said no. Some of them really do want to see new leadership in the Republican Party. They threw up the name of Ron DeSantis, saying that, we know that he hasn't formally announced that he's going to run, but we would just like to see new leadership.

Others, they were Trump supporters saying that, OK, I voted for him twice, and I liked how the country was running when he was in office, and I want to see him run again.

They all think that the indictment is just another reason, another way for Democrats to keep him from running for office again. But really, the indictment really didn't sway them. They already had this instilled belief whether they were going to vote for him or not. They just kind of shrugged their shoulders --


DECHALUS: -- and then (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Very interesting stuff. One of the other things that I think is interesting is the voting -- the election results I'm sorry in Wisconsin Supreme Court.

TALEV: Oh yes.

TAPPER: -- race, where it really does seem to be -- and tell me if you disagree, but it really does seem to be like the issue of abortion rights really helped the more liberal candidate win that race decidedly so.

TALEV: It's 100 percent what it looks like. And, I mean, look, Wisconsin is a swing state. It's not like a burgeoning liberal state. It's Wisconsin. It's going to be important in the 2024 election. But in terms of turnout and what galvanized voters, it does look like the backlash against the Dobbs ruling is still paying dividends for Democrats or for left to center candidates.

And we've seen just in hours since those results talk about whether there could be a GOP legislative effort to try to bring impeachment proceedings against her. So the politics of this is not over. But I think between Wisconsin and Chicago, you're looking at voters in liberal cities or galvanized around liberal issues turning out --


TALEV: -- in races that matter at the local and state level.

TAPPER: In kind contribution from Samuel Alito. I do want to ask you, as a former Fox employee, Kirsten, a judge has ruled that Dominion can force Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to testify in the defamation trial regarding Dominion. How do you see it playing out? He no longer has a wedding to plan for, by the way.


TAPPER: I'm sorry about that.

POWERS: Well, I think this is -- I mean, this is good that they're being held accountable for what happened, and having -- I mean, forcing somebody like Tucker Carlson or Rupert Murdoch to testify. I think we can't really stress like what a big deal that is and that there is some real accountability going on through, frankly, things that they've been doing for a long time, you know, with no accountability, saying things that just aren't true and can't be backed up, and now they're getting sued for it.

TAPPER: You can talk about Wisconsin or Fox, whatever you prefer.

PONNURU: Let me talk about Wisconsin. I think that this was another state where it's not just the abortion issue or a backlash to Dobbs, but the exact posture of the abortion issue. You're dealing with a mid-19th century law that could have come back that was outlawing abortion at any stage and with no exceptions for rape and incest.

When you've got that law in the books, Republicans are going to be in a bad position because that's not popular and they're not going to want to -- their hardcore pro-life supporters aren't going to want them to soften in their support of it and say, let's amend it and make it a little looser. That makes it impossible. And it made it hard for them in Michigan, made it hard for them in Wisconsin.

TAPPER: And we're going to talk about the abortion law in Florida coming down the pike. Thanks one and all for being here.

Coming up, Florida man making some moves from investigating Disney to new gun laws and abortion bans. Governor Ron DeSantis has been quite busy. Then, a wild police raid inside one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem. That's ahead.



TAPPER: Turning to our politics lead, it has been an action packed week in Florida, even not including the arrest of Palm Beach's most prominent citizen, Donald Trump. In a state that not long ago was considered purple, Obama won it twice.

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that allows individuals to carry concealed weapons in public without a government issued permit. On that same day, Florida's state Senate passed a six- week abortion ban, which is now awaiting House approval. Plus, of course, the DeSantis-Disney drama continues after Disney quietly took power from DeSantis's new board before the state took over.

Here to discuss all of it, Marc Caputo, National Political Reporter for The Messenger. Marc, good to see you. Guns, abortion, Disney, without question, all of these issues that could help DeSantis in a Republican presidential primary. But might they hurt them and -- hurt him in a general election?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: They might, that's the risk of anyone running in any primary. You go to the extreme right or to the right if you're in a Republican primary, the left if you're in a Democratic one. And then there's that general shimmying back to the middle.

What's kind of really interesting about DeSantis', you know, pre- launch here is that President Trump, or former President Trump, is anticipating him getting in, and it's already advertising to raise DeSantis negatives with general election voters by attacking DeSantis for having once backed Social Security and Medicare cuts and restrictions and reductions.


And this might actually kind of play into that narrative. Now the question is, to what degree does Donald Trump want to attack Ron DeSantis on guns and abortion? Probably not much, but the Trump people are kind of forecasting that this can be a problem. And to the degree that DeSantis wants to raise an electability argument against Donald Trump, well, Donald Trump's people are kind of hitting back and planning to fashion this against DeSantis.

And you can rest assured that the Democrats, Joe Biden, when he announces, is certainly going to try to fashion DeSantis or Donald Trump as a far-right extremist in the general election.

TAPPER: So DeSantis signed this permitless carry bill for guns during a politically fraught time. It was one week after a deadly mass shooting at that Nashville elementary school. Florida, of course, is the 26th state to recognize permitless carry, so it's hardly a rarity.

Yet we should point out, after the Parkland shootings in 2018, Republicans in Florida passed some of the most serious gun restrictions under Republican Governor Rick Scott. So will permitless carry be popular with Floridians?

CAPUTO: That's a great question. I'd like to see polling on it. At a certain point, Ron DeSantis realized he didn't want to go too far. He didn't publicly sign this bill. And though he publicly or he called for at a stop, I wouldn't call it a campaign stop, a book tour stop in Georgia for signing an open carry legislation that never passed the legislature didn't take that up.

That was a step too far for law enforcement. Law enforcement does have heartburn with the permitless carry, but the open carry issue where people are allowed to walk around with guns on their hips, similar to what they can do in Arizona, that for Florida law enforcement, at least right now, is a bridge too far.

Polling indicates that permitless carry is not very popular. I think there was a recent University of North Florida survey that found something like seven in 10, maybe eight in 10 voters didn't like that either. You know, the timing is what it is. And as I said, DeSantis didn't publicly tout this. He did privately sign the legislation.

TAPPER: We just saw abortion rights in some ways on the ballot in Wisconsin. In that state, Supreme Court victory for the more liberal candidate. One year ago, DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban into law. There's a new bill pushing for a six-week ban. It also includes restrictions on telehealth, abortion, and medication.

Now there's a University of North Florida poll saying that 61 percent of Florida Republicans oppose banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no rape or incest. Is this going to be popular even in Florida?

CAPUTO: I'm not sure it will be. Citing that poll -- also in 2012, the Republican legislature placed on the ballot in Florida a measure to ban public funding and financing of abortions. It really wasn't happening, but they wanted to put up anyway. That measure failed by 10 percentage points. That was in 2012.

So at a certain point, if Democrats get their act together and they're showing some signs that they are, they're going to try to make this an issue to put around the neck of DeSantis should he decide to seek the nomination, the presidential nomination. Already, the Florida Democratic Party chair, the new one, Nikki Fried, who's the former agriculture commissioner, she got arrested at a rally in support of abortion rights, along with the Senate's Minority Leader, the Florida Senate's Minority Leader, Lauren Book.

So Democrats are showing some signs of life here. But after years of neglect by Democrats and after years of gains by Republicans, there is a lot of catching up for Democrats to do.

TAPPER: Mark Caputo, thanks so much. Always good to see you, sir.

CAPUTO: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, we're hearing from the police officers who were the first on the scene at the Nashville school shooting. Why one officer says it was, quote, fate that he was there. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, for the first time, we are hearing from the heroic law enforcement officers who track down the Nashville school shooter who killed three nine year olds and three adults last week. As CNN's Isabel Rosales reports for us now, one of the officers calls it fate that he happened to be in the area when those police calls came in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the Covenant School, 14 minutes of terror.

CMDR. DAYTON WHEELER, MIDTOWN HILLS POLICE PRECINCT: March 27 is a day that I will never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shot. Fire. Shot. Fire. Shot. Fire. Move.

ROSALES (voice-over): The massacre coming to an end at the hands of metropolitan Nashville police officers.



ROSALES (voice-over): Officer Rex Engelbert says it was by chance he was near the school outside his precinct when the first 911 call came in.

OFC. REX ENGELBERT, RESPONDED TO DEADLY SHOOTING AT THE COVENANT SCHOOL: You can call it fate or God or whatever you want, but I can't count on both my hands the irregularities that put me in that position.

ROSALES (voice-over): Blaring alarms and chaos.


ROSALES (voice-over): Engelbert's body camera capturing the moments a group of five officers raced down hallways decorated with children's artwork.

WHEELER: We began to receive gunfire from a second floor window as officers were inside searching for that individual.

ROSALES (voice-over): Door to door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Door, door, with me, with me.

ROSALES (voice-over): This is their desperate search for a shooter armed with three guns and showing no signs of stopping.

Along the way? Rim discoveries.

DETECTIVE SGT. JEFF MATHES, RESPONDED TO DEADLY SHOOTING AT THE COVENANT SCHOOL: All of us stepped over a victim. I, to this day, don't know how I did that morally, but training is what kicked in.

ROSALES (voice-over): They followed their senses.

MATHES: The smell of gunpowder was in the air. ROSALES (voice-over): Then a chilling sound.

MATHES: Once we got near the shooter, and the shooter was neutralized.

ROSALES (voice-over): Investigators say Audrey Hale fired 152 rounds rom start to finish, killing three nine year olds and three school employees. The violence horrifying a nation. And following these officers home.

MATHES: There's obviously been loss of sleep. Children hugged more than normal.

ROSALES (voice-over): Frustration boiling over in a House committee hearing as parents and others protested a proposal to allow school employees to carry guns with certain stipulations.

RACHEL BEAUREGARD, MOM PROTESTING FOR GUN REFORM: If someone comes in with an AR-15, what is my child's teacher going to do? I do not believe that is the solution. I think, again, we have to come at this at many different angles, but it is not to put more weapons in schools.

ROSALES (voice-over): Rachel Beauregard said school officers should be armed, not teachers. Police Chief John Drake says these officers are trained to protect and serve.

CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE POLICE: You saw other officers who didn't take the time to even put on ballistic helmets. We had so many personnel that was running in that didn't think about ballistic vests, that didn't think about ballistic helmets. They just wanted to save kids.


ROSALES: And, Jake, more than a week since that shooting, investigators are still working to determine a motive. They're analyzing Hale's writings, and they've got a lot of work ahead of them. That is because in the last couple of days, they executed a search warrant on the shooter's home and they seized a bunch of evidence, including memoirs, home videos, a suicide note, also more guns, ammos, photos of the Covenant School and yearbooks from that school.

Plus, that judge signed warrant is also giving investigators permission to access the digital files of that shooter. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Isabel Rosales, thank you so much.

At the Tennessee State House, there was this.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): No hatred (ph), no peace. No hatred (ph), peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Republican lawmakers are now looking to oust three Democratic members of the State House for rushing to the well of the House floor and leading this protest with a bullhorn. Last Thursday, the three lawmakers were calling for gun reform in the wake of that deadly Nashville school shooting that Isabel just told you about.

The House Speaker, Cameron Sexton then had state troopers remove the three Democratic lawmakers from the House floor, but he didn't stop there. On Monday, House Republicans voted to strip them of their committee assignments. And tomorrow, the State House is going to be holding a vote on whether these three should be expelled from the chamber, leaving 200,000 Tennesseans without representation.

Joining us now, one of the three Democratic lawmakers, Representative Justin J. Pearson. Thanks for joining us.

Let's start with the substance of why you were in the well doing that. It's clear your Republican colleagues are not on board. What kind of gun reform would you like to see Tennessee pass?

JUSTIN J. PEARSON (D), TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE: Yes. We went to the well in a peaceful protest to elevate the voices of our community. Thousands of people came to the state capitol in order to be heard. And instead of them being heard about the issue of gun violence and the need for gun reform in our state, they were escorted out by troopers. We have more to do in our state to protect kids, to stop the incidents in Nashville, like at the Covenant School from happening, as well as to stop the gun violence epidemic that we're seeing in communities like Memphis and Shelby County.

The legislature has a responsibility and an obligation to do what our peaceful protesters, who are mostly kids and children said to do something with red flag laws, banning weapons of war that can do nothing but kill people or police. We have a responsibility and obligation to not do things that are injurious and inaction in this moment and the words like calling these children and teenagers insurrectionists is appalling and part of the problem of the status quo that is going to continue to hurt us.

Us peacefully protesting and going well is not deserving of expulsion of myself, Representative Jones, or Representative Johnson.

TAPPER: So I'm just reading an interview with Speaker Sexton with News Channel Five, and one of the things he claims in this is that you and your two Democratic colleagues were trying, to, quote, incite violence. News Channel Five's reporter said that there's no doubt you were disruptive, but what's the evidence they were trying to incite violence?

And Speaker Sexton said, well, they were trying to jazz people up. When we had representatives go to the bathroom, they got spit on. What's your response to that?


PEARSON: Yes, that is entirely untrue. The reality is we were elevating the issue of gun reform, the need to have gun control legislation in the state of Tennessee. And the speaker and the speaker's words are harmful.

They are dangerous and they are not what we need at this moment, where we need to be putting forward legislation that helps to protect kids, that helps to protect schools and that helps to protect our communities that are under siege by the proliferation of guns and legislation that is coming from the State House that makes it so you don't need a permit to carry a weapon.

That has increased the amount of car theft that we're seeing in our communities because people are in search of guns. We need the speaker to do the work of justice that the thousands and millions of constituents across the state of Tennessee want to do.

But instead of that, we're being told that because we spoke up and listened to the people in our communities who were in the gallery, that we need to be expelled. That is wrong. And we need to have the speaker and the leadership of the Republican Party in the Tennessee State House to do their job as the constituents are asking us to do, to protect communities with real solutions and resolutions and not calling peaceful protesters insurrectionists.

TAPPER: So Republicans are looking to expel you and your colleagues for violating Article II, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution, which states that House members can be punished for disorderly behavior. I mean, you were obviously engaged in disorderly behavior. I'm not saying that you didn't have a righteous cause behind you or not, but you were obviously engaged in disorderly behavior. What do you say to state representatives who say, look, you need to be punished for this?

PEARSON: Yes. There is no doubt that when we walked to the well of the House and we spoke out of order, that there was some rule, potentially of decorum that was being broken so that we could prioritize the issue of gun violence so that we could prioritize the issue of doing something about gun violence in our state and elevate the lives of those who cannot speak anymore because they have died under the bullet of assault rifles and of handguns and weapons that people should not have had access to.

We knew that we were breaking a House rule of decor. We did not know and did not think that were doing anything that could get us expelled by exercising our First Amendment rights and encouraging those protesters of children and adults and grieving parents to do the same in the House. The reality is, it is what we were talking about.

It was the fact that we were fighting for just legislation to help protect our communities, which we will continue to do, that has led the speaker and those in positions of power to seek to expel us. People who have been expelled, right, recently, in recent memory, one committed 22 acts of sexual assault, actual crimes.

The other committed bribery while being an elected official in the state House. Another crime. These folks were indicted. They faced real criminal consequences for their actions. We broke a House rule, but it does not meet the threshold for actually expelling members of the House who were duly elected by their districts, who sent us here to serve.

And now they are being disenfranchised by the Republican party of the state of Tennessee because we need gun control and we need true legislation that protects our communities right now.

TAPPER: Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson, a Democrat, thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it.

PEARSON: Thank you. We're going to keep fighting.

TAPPER: Still ahead, witnesses say Israeli forces stormed one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem for a second time today. What happened? That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, brand new video showing Israeli forces once again storming one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, this time during nightly prayer time. This follows a similar raid earlier, further inflaming tensions, just as Jews, Muslims and Christians are observing various holy days of special significance.

CNN's Hadas Gold reports from Jerusalem on the violence and the hundreds of arrests.


HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem early Wednesday where Palestinians worship during the holy month of Ramadan.

Video put out by the Israeli police shows officers entering the mosque by force as fireworks are launched at them.

Videos on social media appear to show officers striking people with batons. Eyewitnesses telling CNN, police also fired stun grenades and rubber bullets.

The police said in a statement that they went in because hundreds of what they called rioters and mosque desecraters barricaded themselves inside in a violent manner and, quote, "threw fireworks, hurled stones and caused damage."

The authorities arrested more than 300 people during the incident. The Palestinian Red Crescent saying at least two dozen Palestinians were injured. Israeli police say two of their officers were also wounded.

(on-camera): The holy sites behind me are known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or Haram al Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam. You can actually hear the call to prayer going on right now. But it's also known as Temple Mount to Jews and it's the holiest site in Judaism. Now there is a status quo that governs these holy sites and the Israeli police entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is this building right here with the black roof behind me. That is considered a violation of the status quo and then not only them entering but then them entering in the way they did, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets, well that brought it to a whole other level.

(voice-over): Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have denounced Israel for what happened. The Jordanian foreign minister saying the world must clearly condemn the attack.

Shortly after the raid, rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. The militant group Hamas saying Israel's actions in Jerusalem wouldn't go unanswered. The Israeli military said it had struck Hamas weapons sites in Gaza in response.


GOLD: And Jake, as you noted, once again, just in the last hour or so, we saw more Israeli police entering the mosque by force. But this time, many more people, many more worshippers were there as it's earlier in the evening.


Israeli police saying once again that they had to enter because they say that there were young people inside barricading themselves inside and using fireworks and hurling stones. But this just goes to show you how tense the situation is here on the ground and how it will likely continue and could very easily spiral into something even bigger.

Keep in mind this is what helped lead into that 2021 war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. It was these sorts of clashes at Al-Aqsa that led to that. Jake?

TAPPER: Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

This just into CNN, anti-vaccine quack Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for president as a Democrat in launching his presidential bid. Kennedy is the latest in a long line of family members to enter politics.

So far, only Marianne Williamson, who last month launched her second long shot campaign, has entered the Democratic primary against Biden. Kennedy is such a health care menace in 2019, even his cousins wrote an op ed criticizing his anti-science views on life saving vaccines.

Coming up next, the strong message sent to the White House as a new national champion unapologetically shows the world what she's made of.



TAPPER: In our sports lead now, a slap at the Biden White House by women's NCAA basketball champion Angel Reese, who suggested she and her team might prefer to visit the Obamas. Let's bring you up to speed on this historic and buzzy championship game that continues to generate headlines.

Louisiana State University's 102 to 85 victory over the University of Iowa Sunday marked the most points ever scored in a women's college championship game and it was the most watched game ever. ESPN noted an average of 9.9 million viewers for the women's championship game.

But what dominated the headlines the next day was maybe not LSU's win as much as it was the trash talk. Toward the end of the game, LSU's Angel Reese waved her hand in front of her face. It's an ironic pro- wrestling taunt, a braggy reference. I'm so good you can't see me. That was followed by Reese making a championship ring reference.

All of it aimed at Iowa's Caitlin Clark. And all of that went viral. Some commentators called it unsportsmanlike. The word classless even trended on Twitter. We should note that Caitlin Clark's trash talking for days had been celebrated.

Clark also made the same you can't see me gesture earlier in the tournament, which is what Reese had been referencing. But Clark did not get the degree of criticism. She got celebration for her trash talk.

Here to talk about this all is Cari Champion, she's a CNN Contributor and host of The Cari Champion Show on Amazon Prime. I have to say, look, I'm from Philly. I like trash talk. I got no problem with it. Why do you think this has turned into such a big deal?

CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I love that you said you like trash talk. I think that there are two schools of thoughts, right? And I think the first thing starts with gender and the way the women's game should be played. Within the last, you know, last few years, we've seen how the rise of women's sports has received more attention.

So with this instance, as you pointed out, the most viewed championship game in collegiate history for the women's game. And there were new people watching the game and they haven't watched how the sport has evolved since they remember because women didn't play with physicality, women didn't play tough. And that's what these young ladies did.

And that's how the sport is evolving and trending. So to see not only that type of play, the optics of an Angel Reese doing this and pointing at her ring finger, perhaps one beat too long, made people uncomfortable. And here are the optics, plain and simple, black and white, tall, not so tall, aggressive, seemingly aggressive, seemingly demure. None of that was the case.


CHAMPION: And so that's why it got so much attention.

TAPPER: Now, First Lady Jill Biden, and, you know, I'm sure she meant the best, but she suggested not only inviting LSU, the championship team, but also inviting Iowa because they played such a good game, inviting both teams to the White House. That really set off Ms. Reese.

Jill Biden appeared to try to walk it back, but the damage had been done. Reese responded on Twitter, calling the First Lady's suggestion a joke. She later spoke with the host of a sports podcast where it was brought up. Take a listen to this.


ANGEL REESE, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYER: Don't expect the apology. You can't go back on certain things that you say. I mean, you felt like they should have came because of sportsmanship, right? They can have that spotlight. We'll go to the Obamas.


TAPPER: We'll go to the Obamas. What do you think of that?

CHAMPION: Well, you know, Angel, and just give full context, right, to your point. I think Joe Biden was just being -- I'm sure -- and I'm not assuming, but I'm sure she didn't realize that that would be offensive because it's a tradition. Runner ups do not get invited to the White House.

We play sports. You win and then you go home. You win or you go home. And Iowa went home. So this -- and that's that level of sports mentality, that competitiveness, these battlers, and that's exactly what Angel Reese is. And she's like, no, we're good, we're fine.

And for her, it's an insult because -- and then she gave more context, saying that she felt like Joe Biden, the President did not have her and her team coming out of Louisiana. He didn't pick them to win. So they felt away. It's very much like that Michael Jordan. Have you watched that documentary, Jake, that the last dance --

TAPPER: Of course.

CHAMPION: -- Mike would perceive slight -- yes. So he perceived a slight. Whether it was real or not, it was perceived. And he was like, that motivated him. And that's the mentality of these ladies. They're motivated.


It may seem unheard of, it may seem gauche, but men talk that way in the game.


CHAMPION: And so that's what both Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese were saying. Men talk like that when they play sports. We're passionate creatures.

TAPPER: Yes, no, there's that great Jordan meme of him going like and I took that personally. Well, look, I think that Ms. Reese, who is a champion and awesome, but I think, you know, take the apology, go to the White House. LSU, celebrate your championship. The White House is trying to -- you know, this is a grandma. She didn't know. She didn't --

CHAMPION: I agree.

TAPPER: She didn't know all this stuff.

CHAMPION: I agree.

TAPPER: You know?

CHAMPION: Now, Jake, I do agree with you. I agree 100 percent. I think it would be nice and I do believe that they'll end up going to the White House. I do want to point out that, you know, when we are 20, we think differently than someone who is our age. So, you know, we --

TAPPER: Amen to that. Cari Champion, always good to have you on. Thank you so much.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD from whence you get your podcast all two hours just sitting there like a giant Matzah ball.

Happy Passover, by the way.

Our coverage continues next with Alex Marquardt who's in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".