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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Republicans Slams Biden's Afghanistan Review; Biden W.H. Blames Trump Admin Chaotic Afghanistan Evacuation; White House Denies "Chaos" In Afghanistan Withdrawal; Tennessee House GOP Expels 2 Black Democrats Over Gun Reform Protest; CNN Poll: Only 29 Percent Call Economic Conditions Good; Justice Thomas: Trips Didn't Need To Be Disclosed At The Time; Fmr NCAA Athlete Says She Was Assaulted After Speaking At Event On Excluding Trans Women In Women's Sports; Lack Of Funding, Certified Providers And Low Birth Rates Contribute To Closure Of Maternity Units. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 07, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A 16 and a 20 year old -- 16 and 20 year old sisters. CNN's Fred Pleitgen just arrived at the scene of the latest attack in Tel Aviv.

Fred, what more are you learning about this terrorist attack?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jake. You're absolutely right. We are at the scene. I'm going to get out of your way immediately, because you can see that there are the first responders still out there who right now we believe are taking away the body of the one victim who was killed in this ramming attack that took place earlier this evening here. And you're absolutely right. It's right on the promenade here in Tel Aviv.

And there's some social media video out there of that car that you see there as well, that's now laying there, overturned, just racing down that promenade at some point, getting off course and then flipping over several times before just coming down on its roof. The latest that we have from the authorities here is that there are seven people who were injured in this, four of them being tourists three, as you mentioned, come from the United Kingdom, and one is from Italy. Some of them are moderately injured, and some of them lightly injured. Some actually tried to flee to a hotel in the area to seek help.

But as you can see, this is a wide cordon here now in the center of Tel Aviv, there's a lot of ambulances, obviously a lot of police cars here, as investigators are obviously still working the scene here as well, and probably will be for a long time to come. Right now this is still extremely fresh. So far, it's unclear who exactly is behind all of this, but certainly, obviously, a devastating event.

And as you were mentioning, Jake, obviously, it comes on a day of so much violence here in Israel where you also have that other attacks that you were speaking about as well with those two women who were killed when apparently their car was shot at and then crashed to the driver of that car, who was the mother of the two women who were killed, also severely wounded and severely injured in that incident as well. So as you can see a dramatic day here coming to a close. And a lot of people as you can imagine here on the scene standing around me who were absolutely shocked by some of the things that they witnessed here tonight, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Tel Aviv, Israel, thanks so much.

A newly released review by the U.S. State Department claims that the Biden administration bungled several aspects of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. CNN National Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood is live for us from the State Department.

And, Kylie, unlike the White House report released yesterday, this separate State Department review identifies several clear missteps from the Biden administration that contributed to the chaotic and deadly withdrawal. Tell us more.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. So according to our sources, Jake, this state department after action report has far more findings and recommendations in it than the document that was put out yesterday from the White House. And according to our sources, who have either seen this report or have been described the report, they say that there are 34 recommendations in total. And they're very specific. They talk about doing things such as putting a single official in charge when there are the complex crisis situations like this or standing up a red team to challenge assumptions that are being made.

These are things that the Biden administration did not do during the Afghanistan withdrawal and recommendations for how it could have gone better. Now, in contrast, that White House document that was put out yesterday does cite some lessons learned such as prioritizing earlier evacuations. But what it really does is dwells on the decisions that were made during the Trump administration and says that those decisions that were made such as striking a deal with the Taliban to get out the U.S. completely from the country, drawing down U.S. troops in the country, severely constrained what President Biden was able to do. And so, there's a disconnect between these two reports that NSC is saying that they are simply separate reports, that the one from the White House was drawing on certain parts of the State Department report but it wasn't mirroring it.

TAPPER: What are you hearing from members of Congress and diplomats about the White House report?

ATWOOD: Yes. So, members of Congress, particularly Republicans, are being very critical of what the White House put out yesterday. Congressman McCaul who is leading the investigation into the Biden administration withdrawal from Afghanistan saying, quote, "that it was brazen whitewashing of their failure in Afghanistan," calling it disgraceful, unjust and flat out insulting.

And then we talked to diplomats in this building who, frankly, are more interested in seeing what the State Department's report's findings actually are, because those haven't been made public yet, Jake. And our understanding is that even though parts of this report were largely classified, the findings themselves were not but the State Department still has yet to release those widely except for sending it to Congress yesterday. Jake.


TAPPER: All right Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thanks so much.

Let's bring in former Republican Congressman Peter Meijer of Michigan. He's a former sergeant in the Army Reserves. He served in Iraq. He also spent some time in Afghanistan as a civilian aid worker. And as we covered in August 2021, he secretly flew to Kabul during the frenzied U.S. evacuation back then with Congressman Seth Moulton.

Congressman, good to see you. So, you call the White House report on withdrawal, you call it shameful, you call it a craven whitewash of events. Tell us why.

PETER MEIJER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R) MICHIGAN: Oh, it's a political documentary, plain and simple. This was the Biden administration's attempt to basically shift blame back onto the Trump administration for what happened under the Biden administration's watch in response to the hearings that are taking place on Capitol Hill with the now Republican majority finally scrutinizing the withdrawal operation. I mean, that was -- I served in 117th Congress while this was occurring, and the Democratic majority refused to probe deeply, refused to ask the tough questions of the State Department, of the Biden administration in terms of how this withdrawal went so catastrophically wrong. And finally, there are those questions being asked and the White House felt they needed to respond. And they put this report out as a political document and nothing more.

TAPPER: Without letting the Biden administration off the hook in any way, do you agree that the Trump administration, you know, in negotiating with the Taliban did constrain the Biden administration to a degree in terms of the withdrawal being mandated?

MEIJER: Well, if you remember under the Doha agreement that the Trump administration signed with the Taliban, it initially had a May 2021 withdrawal date. The Biden administration coming in, and it should be remembered that President Biden as a campaign pledge, similar to President Trump, vowed to get our troops out of Afghanistan. Right. So he may have been constrained by the troop numbers, there were 2,500 American service members in country by the time the Biden ministration took office. But he changed the deadline from May 1 to September 11th and then realize the political optics of that were bad, so moved back to August 31.

But frankly, again, I'm not going to say that the Trump administration set the Biden administration up for success. But the Biden administration executed the withdrawal and it happened on their watch. And the fact that nobody in this administration takes responsibility for it, there has been no one who has resigned or suffered any negative consequences from a career standpoint because of this, it's shameful. That hasn't been the case in other NATO countries. And it just shows how desperately this administration wants to leave Afghanistan in the rear-view mirror.

TAPPER: National Security spokesman, Admiral Kirby, took issue with the description of the withdrawal as chaotic. But as it was happening, he didn't have an issue with that description. I want you to listen to him in 2021, followed by what he told reporters yesterday.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The crowd size is smaller now than it was in those first few days. And so, we're not experiencing to the degree we did, you know, last Monday. The physical crush and chaos.

For all this taka chaos, I just didn't see it, not from my perch.


TAPPER: So, I mean, he did acknowledge seeing the chaos that we all saw, you know, babies being lifted into the airport grounds, the people running clinging to the plane, etcetera, etcetera, the 13 service members killed by the suicide bomber in August 2021. And then, yesterday, he said he didn't see chaos from his perspective. What was your reaction to that?

MEIJER: Astonishment, just a loss of words. I mean, this was a very well documented, horrific, chaotic moment.

Now, when it came to what our men and women on the ground were doing, they were incredibly, incredibly heroic and dedicated to the mission that they were forced into. But -- and they tried to make order out of the chaos that was there. But denying that there was chaos, it's equivalent telling us to not believe our lying eyes.

I mean, and I'm grateful that journalists not only because of the footage that was coming out, but also because many journalists had either worked in Afghanistan or had friends and colleagues who are still there, fixers, you know, folks on the ground, local journalists, you know, they know the truth. The American public have seen the truth. But now this is an attempt to basically revise history and pretend it was anything other than what it was and I lost for words.

TAPPER: Yes. Former Republican congressman, Peter Meijer of Michigan, thank you so much. Always good to see you, sir.


MEIJER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: French President Emmanuel Macron is just about to depart from China after attempting to fulfill a lofty goal to negotiate an end to the largest ground war in Europe since World War II. Macron says he is counting on China's leader, Xi Jinping, to reason with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as Xi tells Macron, it's quote, "in nobody's interest," unquote, for the war to drag on.

Back on the battlefield, CNN's Ben Wedeman visits Ukrainian troops defending positions in the east armed with resolve and very, very old weapons.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zhenya prepares his 50 caliber machine gun, he didn't fire this time, but he needs to be always on alert. Russian forces are nearby. This position on the northern edge of the Kharkiv region hasn't seen much action of late but the men here have seen plenty elsewhere.

In January, Zhenya was in a frontline foxhole in Donbass.

From early in the morning they would shell us with artillery, and right afterwards their infantry would try to take our positions, he recalls, you could see them.

Much of the area south of here saw vicious combat. Last September, Ukrainian forces routed the Russians for much of the Kharkiv region. Before retreating, they toppled this Soviet era communications tower, scorched earth their tactic of choice. This position man by the 209th battalion of Ukrainian armies 113th brigade is holding steady, defense not offense is the order of the day.

Oleksi was a nuclear physicist before picking up a gun.

OLEKSI, UKRAINIAN ARMY: We have enough ammunition. We have enough weapon and different armor, equipment. But in small for defense, weapons for the counter attack, it will be better because we sooner free our land.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The weapons they have are hardly the latest. The troops showed us a Swedish made recoilless rocket launcher dating back to 1978. They defend their position with other decades old methods.

(on camera): Beyond this razor wire just on the other side are landmines. Fortunately, this area is relatively quiet.

(voice-over): Which is a welcome respite for these battle scarred troops.

It was a nightmare how Yevgen describes the battle in the dead of winter and Donbass all remember it for the rest of my life.

Fifty-two-year-old Vitali served with Russians in the Soviet Army. This war has severed old ties. We ate from the same pot, he says, reminiscing of his days as a young recruit. That was then, this is now after so many battles they prepare for the next.

Ben Wedeman, CNN in the northern Kharkiv region.


TAPPER: And thanks to Ben Wedeman in Ukraine.

In Russia, authorities have formally charged Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich with espionage. That's according to Russian state media, which added that he continues to deny the accusation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Wednesday that there's no doubt he's being wrongfully detained. Gershkovich is a journalist not a spy. He was detained by Russian authorities last week, ludicrously accused of spying. This is the first time it's happened to an American journalist since the end of the Cold War.

The Wall Street Journal released this statement after reports emerged the Gershkovich had been formally charged, quote, "These charges are categorically false and unjustified, and we continue to demand Evan's immediate release," unquote. Russian state media says a Moscow court will hear an appeal filed by Gershkovich's lawyers against his arrest later this month. What a travesty.

Coming up, the controversy in Nashville not dying down. We're talking to a Republican member of the Tennessee legislature who voted to save two of the Democrats and expel one of them. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Moments ago, Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Nashville where she is meeting with state legislators and gun reform advocates amid the fallout from Tennessee state Republicans decision to expel two elected Democrats, Justin J. Pearson and Justin Jones from the legislature. Jones and Pearson broke House decorum rules to participate in gun reform protests on the legislative floor in response to the deadly Nashville school shooting. This is only the third time that state lawmakers have been expelled from the Tennessee legislature since the Civil War.

With us now, Republican Tennessee state lawmaker Bryan Richey.

Representative Richey, thanks for joining us. So you were one of seven Republicans who voted against expelling Democrat Gloria Johnson, and one of just three Republicans who voted against expelling Representative Justin Pearson. But you did vote to expel Representative Justin Jones. Can you explain your votes to us?

BRYAN RICHEY, (R) TENNESSEE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, absolutely. So, I started sharing with leadership and everybody that I did not think that expulsion was the right thing. What these three individuals did was completely horrible. It was a disrespect to our general assembly, those members that have served before me, and that will serve in the future.

According to Article Two section 12 of our Constitution, did it constitute them being expelled? Absolutely. In my opinion, was it warranted, and I did not believe so.

Representative Jones's office is right next door to mine, I had multiple conversations with him this week, letting him know that I wasn't in favor. And essentially he told me that he wanted to be kicked out because his following was growing. He's getting all this national exposure and that the Metro City Council had already said that they're going to reappointing back to the general assembly. So, I was honoring his wishes and voting for him. But I didn't think that any of them should end up getting kicked out. Even though it was warranted based on the letter of the law.


TAPPER: So, Republicans voted to expel two young black men and not the 60-year-old white woman, Representative Gloria Johnson, who did the same thing. Johnson says that that's because she's white. What do you think of that? And do -- how do you think this looks to the rest of the country?

RICHEY: That's political nonsense. If anything, it was too energetic, youthful males that were a little bit more animated while they were up there. And Ms. Gloria Johnson, Representative Johnson, stood their sheet. When the -- they played the video, it clearly showed her standing there not doing as much and I think that swayed other members to not vote for her. And that's why she's still there.

Had nothing to do with the color of their skin. I respect all three of them and their constituents that voted for them, I felt that they should stay. I honored Representative Jones, but it had nothing to do with race. Anybody that stating that is just trying to talk political nonsense that should not be discussed.

TAPPER: So, I guess one of the other reasons that this has gotten so much attention is just because the punishment seems so much harsher than the offense. And as you know, last year, the former State House Speaker Republican Representative Glen Casada, he was indicted and arrested on federal bribery charges. He's contesting that, but he wasn't expelled for that. In 2018 Republican state lawmaker David Byrd, as we covered on our show at the time, he was accused of sexually assaulting three teenage girls years before when they were on his high school basketball team, he was not expelled.

If Republicans are so concerned about decorum and conduct, why would Byrd and Casada be allowed to keep their seats as long as they wanted while these two gentlemen were ejected and expelled?

RICHEY: I was not -- I'm a freshman lawmaker, I just got elected. I can't speak on what happened last year 2018. I know that the conversation that was taking place amongst the Republican Party this week is this is the first time that this has happened in any of our lifetime as far as for somebody just blatantly coming out and disrupting our floor session and that precedent had to be set. And that's what the Republican Party was sharing, as they were going around and chatting amongst everybody knew each other, but not once did it end up coming up as far as anything that happened in the past, it was based on this right here. And this had not happened in any of our lifetimes. And we needed to set a precedent.

I didn't agree with it, that's why I was against the expulsion.


RICHEY: But according to Article 2 section 12, it's there in black and white.

TAPPER: So I mean, I guess the issue -- another reason that this is getting such attention, I think, is because of the really offensive thing that happened, which is that disturbed individual going into the covenant school in Nashville and slaughtering six innocent people, including three-nine-year olds, at the covenant school in Nashville, horrible, offensive, you know, just a horrific mass shooting. And it seems like to a lot of people outside the legislature that lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, are more concerned about a disruption on the floor than they are about the six innocent people killed at this Christian school.

RICHEY: That's complete nonsense. That's the narrative that the media has wanted to share. And that's what these three individuals are wanting to share. There's not one member of that body, Republican or Democrat, that was not devastated by this horrific horrendous action that this lady took down there in Nashville when she went in there and murdered these six innocent, sweet lives.

When it comes to the legislative process, the same three individuals that are up there advocating and saying I'm for gun -- or we need to end gun violence, and we need to protect our kids were also the same three individuals that voted against the school safety proceed bills yesterday. And just in February, there was a bill that Chairman Faison introduced that would allow more security in co-ops with private schools. And out of the seven individuals that voted no, three of them were up for expulsion yesterday. So, it's very hypocritical when they want to get up there and say we need to stop gun violence and we need to protect our kids. Yet they don't vote on legislation that would actually end up doing that.

And when it comes to the legislative process, we have bill filed with deadline that was back in January, and they didn't submit any bills that would end up moving through the process. And then to state, that bills that are being voted on now is just in reaction to that horrible event is nothing close to the truth because those bills were filed back in January. They were planned and prepped back in October, November and December.


So, my heart goes out to the families and the community. And this is something that should never end up happening. But it's something that every member up there in the general assembly is working towards.


RICHEY: Anybody trying to make a political statement that that's not what's happening is so far from the truth. It's absurd.

TAPPER: I'm out of time, but I just want to get a yes or no on this in the wake of the Parkland School shooting in 2018. A lot of states passed red flag laws that's been encouraged in the in the national federal legislation after the Uvalde shooting. But now your -- Governor Bill Lee, Republican, suggests he might be open to a new red flag law. Yes or no, is that something you'd be willing to think about?

RICHEY: Can you repeat that last part?

TAPPER: Would you be willing to support -- would you at least be willing to consider a red flag law for Tennessee to keep guns out of the hands of individuals that have been flagged if Governor Lee brings it to the legislature?

RICHEY: I'm not in -- the term red flag law is so broad and it covers so many things. I think that gun law abiding citizens should be able to keep guns. There should be a process which Tennessee already has steps for somebody to be declared mentally, not stable to be able to possess those guns, that's already on the books, but everybody wants to overlook that. So, I would have to look at whatever particular legislation is.


RICHEY: But when it comes to a broad term red flag law, no, I'm not in support of that because I don't know what that entails.

TAPPER: Tennessee state lawmaker, Bryan Richey, thanks for answering your questions today. Appreciate it, sir.

RICHEY: Thank you, sir. Have a great one.

TAPPER: Still ahead, President Biden still has not officially announced his bid for re-election. The poll numbers that might be playing into the delay. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, an incumbent President Biden his time when it comes to starting his reelection campaign perhaps waiting for his poll numbers to improve. CNN's latest survey shows only 32 percent of Americans say President Joe Biden deserves reelection, 32 percent. That's down five points since December.

Let's discuss all this with our political experts. Abby, let me start with you. How long can Biden wait?



PHILLIP: That's the benefit of being the president is that you don't have to announce anything because by virtue of being the president, you are newsworthy most days, I shouldn't say every day, some days.


PHILLIP: Some days. He's not doing anything. But I think that the Biden campaign understands that if they can stay out of the chaos, if all the chaos stories are coming from the Republican side, that is good news for them. And they're going to keep that going as long as possible. I don't think it's going to be forever because they want to be able to raise money for the campaign. But they're they're not rushing into this right now.

TAPPER: And Andrew, speaking of money, the economy complicating things for Biden, new CNN polling shows, only 29 percent of Americans say the economy is in good health. And that's the best the numbers been in a year. Still pretty lousy, though.

ANDREW DESIDERIO, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Right. And I think inside the White House right now, you're seeing a lot of unease right now about this, especially with cost of living, inflation. What the Fed is doing right now is working ever so slowly to sort of cool the economy and slow inflation a little bit.

But I want to go back to one more thing that Abby said about the President's posture right now. And I think he's trying to tack to the center a little bit. In the meantime, there are three big areas where he's done that and we see, often see, incumbent presidents do that when they're setting up a reelection campaign. The first is on immigration, he's embraced some tougher immigration enforcement measures at the border, angering members of his own party.

He also recently approved an oil drilling project in Alaska, which climate activists were very upset about. And of course, the most high profile one was when he ended up signing that Republican led resolution on the DC Criminal Code, which not only blindsided Democrats, but frustrated many of them because, you know, it really showed a rift within the party.

But I think it's a conscious effort on the part of President Biden to take these more tactical moves to set up a reelection campaign rather than focus on the logistical moves of, you know, where are we going to headquarter the campaign? Who am I going to hire --

TAPPER: Yes. Alencia, also to add to that, President Biden just embrace this policy when it came to transgender athletes, basically saying that he's against bans on transgender athletes, but competitive college and professional and -- I'm sorry, competitive high school and college athletics, there can be exclusionary rules for trans athletes. What did you make of that?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'll be very honest, it was very disappointing. I know a lot of LGBTQ groups were very frustrated because they feel as though there is a champion with President Biden, but so the point that the panelists are making, he has to make sure he is setting up a good bid for reelection, that includes moderates, that includes independents.

And I'm not saying whether or not the policy is correct. But there are different conversations when it comes to some of these issues, whether a lot of these cultural issues, some of these issues that work in certain states that unfortunately, Democrats have to win. And so it's a very interesting position that he's in right now. But to the point Abby was making, let's let the Republicans deal with their crazy mess and Biden be out there talking to people about the policies that he has -- him and his administration have already been able to pass through.


TAPPER: And Doug look at this, our poll also shows that the economy by far is the top issue for most Americans way ahead of political divisions or guns and crime, which essentially are tied for second other issues, such as immigration, climate change, national security, racial injustice in the single digits.

Of course, people can care about more than one issue at a time. So I never know really how much stock to put in these polls. But what do you think economy is going to be the main thing?

DOUG: At this point, it looks like and it usually is. And part of that is, you know, as we look at jobs numbers that came in, by and large a good jobs report for the administration today, it also highlights when we talk about facts and figures and numbers, politics is about people. And the economy is about people.

So they go to the store, and they're paying more for steal, everything inflation is down. But it's still way too high on everything from haircuts to eggs. And people see that every day, that's what they respond to, not a good jobs report that comes out on the first Friday of the month.

TAPPER: Let's turn to Justice Clarence Thomas putting out a very rare statement about his personal life. This after the ProPublica report, suggesting that he and his wife took luxury tips -- trips hundreds of thousands of dollars worth by -- paid for by a Republican mega-donor.

Justice Thomas says he didn't disclose them at the time because he had been advised he did not have to report them. His statement goes on to note that the guidelines for reporting personal hospitality had been recently changed adding, quote, "And, it is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future." What do you think?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I think that this is a clear case of a Justice Thomas, not following the spirit and possibly even the letter of the law here. One thing that really caught my eye was there was a time when he reported some of these gifts.

TAPPER: 2004.

PHILLIP: And then he stopped doing it.


PHILLIP: Why would you stop reporting gifts if you didn't have to in the first place? So it seems to me that it's a certain point, he decided to treat these gifts differently. And it raises real problems. And perhaps this is an opportunity for them to clarify where things are as it relates to ethics for the court. But the idea that just because Harlan Crow, the wealthy Republican donor doesn't have a specific case before the court can't possibly be trying to influence the court with all of these lavish trips is absurd on its face. And I think the spirit of the law really speaks to that. But Justice Thomas seems to be now saying, well, now that it's really laid out, I will, I will disclose them, but I think it was clear many, many years ago,

TAPPER: The LA Times is writing that in 2004, he had disclosed a few expensive gifts he got from this billionaire. And then they criticized him in a report, and then he stopped. So I think there is a question about how much of this as he just didn't like the scrutiny versus how much of this is he was abiding by the letter of the law.

DESIDERIO: Right. And Congress actually has a very specific role that they can play in here. I know that the Judiciary Committee Chairman in the Senate, Dick Durbin has already come out with a statement saying we will act on this. But separately through the appropriations process coming up here, especially in the Senate, they have the authority to basically condition funding for the court on the adoption of a stricter ethical code.

And Senator Chris Van Hollen who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee that handles the Supreme Court has signaled an openness to exploring a process like that. And just within the last hour or so group of Democrats wrote a letter to the Chief Justice asking for an investigation into this. So I think this is one of those instances in which Congress isn't just going to, you know, yell about something they could actually get something done.

JOHNSON: Well, on that point, actually, there are senators like Senator Tina Smith, who are in support of actual court reform and Supreme Court expansion and actually have been talking to people about this and you have groups like demand justice, who are speaking to voters about what they are thinking about the Supreme Court, and this goes back all the way to like the Kavanaugh days. And so I feel like the conservative justices are having hit after hit for the American people to not trust the system.

TAPPER: So Abe Fortas as you know, when he had to resign from the Supreme Court --


TAPPER: -- in -- the story, you know, not Abe Fortas in 1969, he had to resign after a scandal involving gifts that he was getting. And the chief justice at the time, Earl Warren, he said we need to do a code of conduct. But all the other justices said no, they, you know, adjourn for the rest of the year, they still don't have a code of conduct. That was 54 years ago.

HEYE: Yes, look, we had this big leak about the Dobbs decision, and we're going to find out who the leaker was, we still haven't. Getting behind -- what happens behind those closed doors in the Supreme Court is very tough to find out. We don't know specifically, you know, what has gone wrong, if something has with Thomas, what other justices are doing.

But Thomas has obviously hit there's some real questions that have come up and he needs to actually answer them which his statement doesn't. And it's not just the left, Quin Hillyer in the Washington Examiner, not a lefty publication or writer has asked these questions as well in a column just today. We're going to hear more about this obviously.

TAPPER: We don't know who leaked it because it was up to the marshal of the Supreme Court Who's afraid of the justices.

PHILLIP: And they didn't talk to the justice.

TAPPER: They didn't (INAUDIBLE), this is of course not.


PHILLIP: This is seminal moment for the court. I think that if they don't understand the way in which public trust is eroding in the court, I think they're missing the point and it matters for them, for the legitimacy of that institution, but also for the overall democracy that we're in. This can't continue, but it might, because no one is policing the court.

TAPPER: Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks so much for being here.

And be sure to tune in to CNN when Abby Phillip host Inside Politics Sunday. That's Sunday morning, that's a new time 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

A former NCAA swimmer advocates banning trans women from women's sports during his speech at a California New York University. And then she says she was physically attacked. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Our sports lead now, Riley Gaines, a former NCAA swimmer says she was assaulted at San Francisco State University last night. Gaines was escorted from the campus after giving a speech on her view that trans women need to be kept out of women's sports competitive athletics.


The event was held by students with Turning Point USA. That's a nonprofit organization that advocates a conservative politics on school campuses. CNN's Natasha Chen has more on the story. Natasha, tell us more about what we know happened.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Riley Gaines told me that she was asked to speak at this event about her experience competing in her words against a male and why she thinks that's harmful to Title IX and women's sports in particular. Now, this happened Thursday evening, and she said that there were people who ambushed her and struck her twice. She said that she was struck twice and it hit her shoulder that one of the punches grace her face, and that campus police had to bring her to a separate room. Now in speaking with the Turning Point USA spokesperson, he wasn't physically there but spoke to three members who were in the room. He said that this was actually a very civil discussion.

The event itself went on peacefully, even though the room was full of people who both agreed with and disagreed with Gaines, that there was constructive debate and that this disruption happened as the event was wrapping up. He said he was texting with Gaines as she was locked in a computer room with campus police as protesters were at the door.

And that he said it took a couple of hours, eventually for San Francisco police to come and disperse the crowd and escort Gaines out of there. Of course, she's been very outspoken on this issue since she tied for fifth place in the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships with its transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in the 200 yard freestyle competition.

Clearly a very heated topic about transwomen's participation in women's sports. And there seem to be multiple groups present at this event, some of them there to listen and to have this conversation, some of them they're definitely to protest, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Vice President Kamala Harris expected to renew a call to ban assault style weapons, semi-automatic weapons in a last minute trip to Tennessee after the National School shooting and the expulsion of two Democratic state lawmakers.

CNN's Alex Marquardt will be covering that. He's in for Wolf Blitzer next in The Situation Room. Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. A lot going on in both the international and domestic fronts. We are watching that visit by Vice President Kamala Harris to Nashville very closely. She is due to sit down any moment now with Democratic state lawmakers at Fisk University, including the three who faced expulsion yesterday. Of course, two of them were expelled Justin Pearson, Justin Jones.

And then we're also going to be interviewing Representative Jason Crow, who sits on the House Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs Committees about the many international headlines of the day. As you know, Jake, the administration just yesterday released a review on the Afghan withdrawal and Representative Crow served in Afghanistan. So we have all that coming up in just a few moments. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Alex Marquardt, we'll see you next in The Situation Room, which is right next door.

Coming up, the growing dangers of childbirth in the United States depending on where expectant mothers actually live. We're going to meet one woman who is worried she might have to give birth and she'll end up doing so on the side of the highway. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our health lead now, a new reality for expecting mothers giving birth could be even more dangerous depending on where you live. A new study says that the highest rates of life threatening complications during pregnancy or childbirth are in Washington, DC, California, Nevada, New Jersey and New York. On top of that, some hospitals are shutting down their maternity wards entirely.

As CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports for us now, abortion laws appear to be playing a major role.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bonner County, Idaho picture perfect idyllic, a great place to ski or swim or fish but not a great place to have a baby.

LEANDRA WRIGHT, BONNER GENERAL PATIENT: I just found out a couple of weeks ago via Facebook that my local hospital is shutting down their OB units.

COHEN (voice-over): Leandra Wright has six children and now she's five months pregnant with her seventh. 10 minutes away is Bonner General Hospital where they've been delivering babies for more than 70 years. But next month, they'll stop. That means when Leandra's new baby is born this summer, she'll have to do this 40-mile drive all the way to Coeur D'Alene on a good day, it will take 45 minutes.

WRIGHT: It's frustrating and worrisome.

COHEN (voice-over): Leandra has a history of fast labors. Her son Noah was born on the way to the hospital.

WRIGHT: My fifth child was born on the side of the highway.

COHEN (voice-over): New moms in Bonner County aren't alone. Since 2011, 217 hospitals in the U.S. have closed their labor and delivery departments. In the past year alone, hospitals across the country have stopped delivering babies.

Money is one reason the American Hospital Association points out that almost half of U.S. births are paid for by Medicaid which has low reimbursement rates. Employer sponsored insurance pays about $15,000 for a delivery and Medicaid pays about 6,500.

Bonner General says one reason for shuttering their obstetrics unit is because they won't have enough providers certified in neonatal resuscitations. And abortion laws appear to be playing a role too. A hospital press release says due to Idaho's legal and political climate, highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. The Idaho legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalized physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care.


While Bonner didn't specifically name abortion, the state does have one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country, banning the procedure almost completely, with only a few exceptions.

Next month, Leandra's obstetrician will stop seeing her.

WRIGHT: Even as existing patients will have to find other services. It just really is surreal that it's something I have to worry about.

COHEN (voice-over): She needs to find another obstetrician and then figure out what she can do to avoid giving birth on the long road to the hospital.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Elizabeth Cohen for that report.

Coming up, this Sunday on State of the Union, my colleague, Dana Bash will talk to Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York as well as Republican Congressman from Texas Anthony Gonzalez, that's at 9:00 a.m. and again at noon Eastern on Sunday.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and 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 whence you get your podcasts all two hours sitting there waiting for you to dive in like a giant stack of delicious peeps.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Alex Marquardt in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM". See you Monday.