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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Police: 4 Killed, At Least 9 Hurt In Louisville Bank Shooting; Soon: Rally In Nashville In Support Of Expelled Tennessee Lawmakers; DOJ, DOD Search For Source Of Leaked Classified Documents; GOP Intel Chair Joins The Lead After Briefing On Classified Docs; Police: 4 Killed, At Least 9 Hurt In Louisville Bank Shooting; DOJ Asks Appeals Court To Stay Ruling That Blocks Abortion Pill. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 10, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I could chart -- I could -- I could start the show every day, saying this: another mass shooting in America, another mass shooting in America.

THE LEAD starts right now.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: This is awful. Our bodies and our minds are not meant to go through these types of tragedies.


TAPPER: American people go through this again and again, this time four innocent people killed, nine innocent people injured and yet another community in horror today after a mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, after a lone gunman opened fire in his workplace, a bank. The governor himself, says he knew one of the victims killed.

Plus, emergency moves by the Justice Department and a drug manufacturer today trying to hit the brakes on the ruling from a Texas judge, appointed by Trump that effectively would ban the availability of a popular abortion pill.

And classified Pentagon documents leaked online, revealing top secret information on allies and adversaries. This leak different from previous ones because of how fresh the intel is. I'll speak with the House Intelligence Committee chairman who was said to be briefed on the matter just moments ago.


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

It is another emotional day. We start with our national lead. The search for a motive after another horrendous mass shooting in the United States. Moments ago, Kentucky officials giving an update on the attack at a Louisville bank this morning. Police say at least four innocent people were killed and at least nine others were injured. The four killed were just identified at a press conference. They are

-- they were Thomas Elliot, James Tutt, Joshua Barrick and Juliana Farmer. The police chief revealed that one of the officers injured was brand new to the job today.


JACQUELYN GWINN-VILLAROEL, LOUISVILLE METRO POLICE INTERIM CHIEF: The officer who is in critical condition today. Officer Nikolas Wilt, 26 years of age, just graduated from the police academy on March 31st. I just swore him in and his family was there to witness his journey to become a police officer.

He was struck in the head, engaged in this incident. Nick has come out of brain surgery and is in critical but stable condition as we speak.


TAPPER: Officials said that the gunman was a 23-year-old bank employee. They say he used a rifle in the attack. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says he knew many of the victims, one of whom had been a close friend.


BESHEAR: We lost four children of god today. One of whom was one of my closest friends. Tommy Elliott helped me build my law career.


TAPPER: Today is the 100th day of the year and already there have been 146 mass shootings in the United States. That's according to the gun violence archive, which defines a mass shooting as four or more victims shot or killed.

Let's go to Louisville now. CNN's Omar Jimenez is near the scene.

And, Omar, what's the very latest in the investigation?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake. We heard from public officials really, for the first time trying to process in real time while also trying to continue leading their communities. We know the shooting happened early this morning around 8:30 or so before the bank had opened. Police responded in just three minutes. But even in that time for people were killed before there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement. And the shooter and as we understand the shooter was killed by gunfire as you mentioned a 23 year old employee at the old national bank, who police say may have been live streaming the event as it was happening.

Outside of those killed, nine were taken to the hospital, including a police officer 26-year-old Nikolas Wilt, an officer who had just graduated from the police academy. We learned from the police department today that he was shot in the head and is in critical condition as the interim police chief thanked him as being one of the brave ones who ran towards the gunfire here and the mayor here, Craig Greenberg may have some with the sentiments from public officials here best.

Let's be clear about what this was. This was an evil act of targeted violence, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Omar, both Governor Beshear and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said they lost friends in today's shooting.


What do we know about the victims?

JIMENEZ: Yeah. I mean, obviously, these are two officials that have jobs to do in their official capacity. But it's a reminder of how close knit many of these communities here, especially in Louisville, we got the names of the four killed there. They are Joshua Barrick, Thomas Elliot or Tommy Elliott as he's been described, Juliana Farmer and James Tutt.

In particular, Tommy Elliott, Governor Andy Beshear said this was someone who helped him build his law career, one of his closest friends. And so, that while he's trying to lead he's also trying to process. And while he did say there is going to be a time to grieve or that they want time to grieve here and focus on the victims, he also wanted to commend those who rushed in to prevent even more lives from being lost. Governor Beshear has ordered flags to be ordered at half staff is this community begins to try and process things.

But separately, as for those that were transported the hospital, three were already released, but the head of the chief medical officer at the University of Louisville Health says that every single person that's arrives, none of them has increased to that deceased level, but obviously, that's something that could change in the coming days, Jake.

TAPPER: Omar Jimenez in Louisville for us, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller, as well as CNN senior crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz.

John, you have some brand new reporting about the gunman. What can you tell us?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, as it's been developing information about Connor Sturgeon, 23 years old, is becoming a little clearer, but the motive not entirely clear. But what we have learned is law enforcement sources say he was either terminated or was aware that he was about to be terminated from his employment at that bank. This certainly rose anxiety and he -- we are told by those sources -- wrote a note addressed to his parents and a friend, indicating he was going to conduct a shooting at the bank.

Here is what's not clear whether that note was something on paper that was left somewhere and found later or whether it was an email. We don't know if that note was read before the shooting or after the fact. We are aware that sources tell us that his parents hearing about it on the news rushed to the scene, believing it possibly could have been him.

We also have learned from law enforcement during the press conference that it was live streamed by the shooter on a social media platform, a well-known social media platform and that they were able to find that video and take it down. It's not clear at this point how many other people found that video or if it's out there, but as you would note, it's similar to what we saw in the Buffalo mass shooting at the supermarket.

So, on the gun, an AR-15 type rifle, that's being traced to determine its point of purchase and whether it was owned by the shooter or someone else. A lot of things going on in the background, search warrants being conducted at the resident legal process of being served on multiple social media platforms to see what they can glean about his communications and thinking before this.

TAPPER: Shimon, the police chief noted how quickly officers ran directly into danger, directly into the bank, confronting the gunman. And she thanked them. Tell us more about that.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it was a remarkable moment, certainly, Jake, the idea that a police chief would thank her officers for showing up and that's exactly essentially what she said, dealing with the fact that she has this officer who's just 26-year-old, 10 days on the job and a police department that is just been reeling. I mean, they've been under investigation for quite some time. We know there's that civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.

So it's really hard for them to hire police officers. There as it is all across the country, and it was a remarkable moment for her to stand there and to say thank you for showing up and then she said, if we don't do it, who will? And then she ended by saying this should not continue to happen.

And for many officers and police departments all across the country are now on the front lines of this and their actions save lives. If they do what they're told to do with the way they're trained, and we saw that here in this shooting the officers responding in just minutes, three minutes they were on scene, encountering the gunman, exchanging gunfire with the gunman and the police chief there, indicating that they killed the gunman and because of their heroic efforts, they were able to save more lives.

It was a moving moment, certainly, a significant moment. And really today for this police department and the officials there, Jake, it seems as much as we want to know what happened here and why it happened, they really want to focus on the victims here, and just the lives that have been lost and the pain now that this community is feeling.


TAPPER: John, police say that this was a case of workplace violence. An employee who attacked his office either because he was about to be fired or had been fired. How does that investigation differ from a mass shooting that might take place at school as we saw in Memphis recently or at a store as you mentioned that took place in Buffalo?

MILLER: You know, each one of these is the same in so many ways, and yet each one is different in its individual facts. If you look at today, here is someone who came to that bank, very young did three years of summer internships before getting training and then coming on in 2022 is a full time employee. This was essentially his first and only job from as an economic students from a University in Alabama, who seemed to be focused on a career in banking.

So, you know, losing this job or about to be losing this job certainly reached him. But if you look at Buffalo, that was a young kid who was coming off the year of the pandemic, who spent according to investigators that entire year online reading the vitriolic racist, things that you can find in the darkest corners of the Internet. But that takes us back to Nashville, which is, you know someone who went to that school but many years before who was looking back at, you know, issues that that affected her life.

So each one of these have the common threat of I'm going to go back to the people that I blame for my problems, and I'm going to carry out an act of violence.

TAPPER: Yeah, and I'm able to do so with a gun that can outgun police officers because that's the state of gun laws in this country.

Shimon, you've covered too many of these horrific mass shootings, as have I, what did the next few days and weeks look like for the people of Louisville, especially those who are part of the community surrounding that bank ?

PROKUPECZ: Well, certainly, you know, having spent most of the past year, Jake, in Uvalde, and then I did covered Buffalo as well, it's always, you know, the days after, always the most difficult -- you know, for all of us for those of us who come into this community, and obviously for the people who live there in these families trying to get answers planning for funerals, trying to just really understand why this happened.

And the other thing, really, that I'm always struck with, and we heard the governor and the mayor talked about are the survivors, and what happens to them and the way they feel and how much they suffer both physically and mentally. And then they also have, something that's not really talk a lot about it. Survivor's guilt and dealing with that and their families having to deal with that.

So it's going to be a very emotional day because in many ways victims often are left wondering what if someone did could have? What if we did something different? What if someone knew something? What if you know there were better laws? What if somehow you know, we didn't allow this gun to get into this man's hands?

Those are the kind of questions that they start to ask and the guilt that the families live with and then also just briefly for the police officers and sort of the pain that they're going to have to be dealing with in the coming days as well. But it's all around just going to be a really painful time for that community. TAPPER: Shimon Prokupecz, John Miller, thanks to both of you for your excellent reporting. Appreciate it.

Coming up, CNN is also live in Nashville, Tennessee, where protesters are gathering right now ahead of a vote that could reinstate one of the two Democrats kicked out of the state legislature last week.

Plus, the emergency measures today in the wake of a judge suspending the use effectively of an abortion pill despite its scientific research behind it.

Plus, the message in the West Bank as a sea of people marched to an outpost deemed illegal by the Israeli government.



TAPPER: Also in our national lead today, we're just minutes away from a rally in Nashville in support of reinstating State Representative Justin Jones to the Tennessee legislature. This comes after he was removed last week by House Republicans who said that Jones, along with two other Democratic representatives, broke the rules by bringing -- leading really a rowdy gun reform protest to the House floor.

In about an hour, the Nashville metropolitan council will meet in a special session and they will vote on whether Jones will be appointed to fill on an interim basis his own legislative seat until there is a special election.

CNN's Ryan Young is outside city hall.

Ryan, how likely does it seem that it will be that Jones will be appointed to fill his own seat.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems very likely at this point, Jake, I can tell you there's a lot of energy behind this. You think about a four o'clock meeting at city hall doesn't really get this kind of attention normally, especially in the national spotlight. But what we've seen here this really has galvanized people across the country. They actually want to be here, and we've talked to folks as far away who has come from several different states over who wanted to be here for this vote, because I think democracy is in trouble.

This vote here, have you been talking to people who've been watching the council for years? They believe they will vote to send Jones back.

There also be some symbolic measures that will take place in the next half hour or so. But listen to one of the council members talk about how they plan to push this forward in the next hour and a half or so.


KATHLEEN MURPHY, NASHVILLE METRO COUNCIL MEMBER: The state legislature, the House of Representatives does go in at five o'clock tonight. We are meeting, the city council's meeting at 4:30. We expect to move very, very quickly. We could have our certified results back up there by five o'clock, and then it will be in the state's hands once again whether they accept that tonight.


YOUNG: Now, Jake. When this happens, they plan to walk out those doors there, and they plan to march all the way down the street to the state capital with the minutes from that vote in their hands, trying to get member Jones back in his seat tonight. So you can understand the symbolism and all of this, you can see folks are starting to gather from all across this community to have their voices heard again.


TAPPER: Yeah, and while we're reeling from the Louisville shooting. We should remember the impetus for all of this was the shooting a Covenant School in Nashville.

And you're talking to protesters as they gather for this rally. What are you hearing from them?

YOUNG: Jake, that's a great question. If you think about what happened today, and now, this was all about gun violence. If you come forward, you can see some of the signs that people have about gun violence. Of course, when I go to show alive they've already split. But people have shown up with those signs and say, look, we want to stop gun bonds.

That's the conversation they want to have here. That's the one they want to make front and center. We talked to a woman from East Tennessee who came here who said look, she is a Republican, but she was could not believe that these members were pushed out in the way they were, especially when it comes to the subject.

It's the parents who really are galvanized around this right now because they are concerned about what's happening in schools, especially around those high powered weapons. So they want to see something changed. And they believe this could be the first step.

Again, they believe this will happen. There will be a march that follows that goes all the way to the state capitol -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young in Tennessee, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the chairman of the Select House Committee on Intelligence will be here just moments after he got a classified briefing on those top secret Pentagon documents that leaked online.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, a document leak with massive implications. Classified pictures, charts and slides are circulating online, and they showed that the U.S. government has been spying on its allies, including South Korea, Israel and Ukraine.

And though the U.S. has spied on its allies before leaked intelligence about Ukraine's weapons stocks and positions is so fresh. It is already forced Ukraine to alter battle plants, according to a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

And now, as CNN's Oren Liebermann reports for us from the Pentagon, U.S. diplomats are racing to attempt to damage control with key allies.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A damaging leak from some of the highest levels of the Pentagon, rattling U.S. officials who fear the revelations could jeopardize sources and hurt us relations abroad.

Among the 53 classified documents reviewed by CNN, a detailed look at key shortages and Ukraine's air defenses and battlefield assessments with the war in a critical phase and Ukraine preparing for a counteroffensive. The documents were posted on discord, a messaging and chat platform in recent weeks, where they resided unknown to the pentagon until they were picked up and disseminated further.

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the leaks. The U.S. government is reviewing how this type of intelligence shared. The Pentagon has already taken some steps to tighten the flow of such sensitive information.

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We're taking this very, very seriously. There is no excuse for these kinds of documents to be in the public domain. At the top of some documents, an alphabet soup of government secrecy. Top secret, SI-gamma is signals intelligence. NOFORN is no foreign nationals and FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The documents also reveal U.S. efforts to spy on allies around the world. A CIA intel update from March 1st says Israel's spy agency the Mossad advocated for protests against the government. The Israeli prime minister's office said the report was without any foundation whatsoever.

Another document has information and internal deliberations within South Korea to sell artillery ammo that could eventually go to Ukraine. The report came from signals intelligence, which includes intercepted communications and drew backlash from Seoul.

KIM BYUNG JOO, SOUTH KOREAN LAWMAKER: We strongly regret that the top U.S. intelligence agency had been illegally spying on allies like our country. We strongly demand a thorough investigation and urged that similar incidents do not occur.

LIEBERMANN: An official from one of the countries and Five Eyes, a crucial intelligence sharing arrangement between the U.S. and some of its closest allies said they expected the U.S. to share a damage assessment even as they conduct an assessment of their own.

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's not only the kind of intelligence we collect on foes, but also the kind of intelligence that all nations connect, collect on their friends, too. We do this, other nations do it, too. But you don't like it to be put into the public space.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): On the diplomatic front, it will be deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who will smooth things over with allies and partners if needed there. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has not yet named who will lead the interagency here to make sure this kind of thing, this sort of damaging leak doesn't happen again and to tighten the control of this sort of information.

Jake, what's even more troubling perhaps at this point is the Pentagon can't say certainly that there are no more documents that may come out that have already leaked and are out there already or that could come out in the near future.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Republican Mike Turner. His first interview since he received a briefing on the leaked documents, just a short time ago.

Chairman Turner, thanks for joining us.

What do you see as potentially the most damaging consequences of all this leaked intelligence, especially given how fresh the information is, just weeks or months old?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Right. Now, there's certainly concern here of the damage that could occur as Ukraine prepares for its big counteroffensive, and certainly the support that we have from NATO allies and the United States as we support Ukraine in that effort. It sort of is Russia and whoever has done this sort of taking a page out of our intelligence gathering where we previously have made public Russian actions as to what they were going to do in the future.

Now, this information coming forward can affect what we're doing with respect to aid Ukraine, and they're planning their logistics and their training.

But these are static documents and Ukraine certainly is flexible. We have the versatility as is our NATO allies to be able to adjust. This does come at a critical time, but we do have the ability as they try to adjust to this to continue the pressure on Russia, on that eastern front, trying to push them back to the Russian border.

TAPPER: You just said something I just want to get clarification. Are you saying that the Russian government was behind this leak?

TURNER: No, the -- we really have to figure out, you know, where this is coming from, in order to be able to stop it, but I think that whoever has done this, I think, as I said, was taking a page out of our book of trying to impact the outcome by where we've previously released Russian intelligence that we have received from Russia that shows what Russia was going to do.

Here, these are documents that show what Ukraine and what the United States and our NATO allies are doing.


TAPPER: Right. It's good to get clarity on that. Go ahead.

TURNER: So as we look to what -- where this is, obviously, our number one goal is to stop it.

Two is to, you know, damage control. How do we have to adjust as a result of these documents becoming public?

And thirdly, you know, finding out who it is, if it certainly is an American, bringing them to justice, because this obviously is espionage and would right to the level of being a traitor to your country.

TAPPER: Are you confident that the Pentagon has taken all steps necessary to mitigate whatever risks there are?

TURNER: Absolutely. And that was what I was saying about their there is, you know, flexibility and versatility. These documents are static. They're a picture of a specific time. Both United States and Ukraine have the ability to modify what they're doing and how they're approaching this issue, and we certainly have plenty of time for Ukraine to do so.

TAPPER: So I want you to listen to retired Colonel Cedric Leighton on CNN earlier discussing who might have leaked the documents based on the -- on the picture circulating online.

He said, I'll just read you what he said. He said, crumpled up paper that, you know, probably had been in someone's coat pocket or pants pocket and then spread out to be photographed.

So based on that, he said, he thought it was somebody maybe an inside job, somebody who took these papers crumpled them up, hid them somehow.

Do you agree?

TURNER: It's certainly possible and, you know, with the fact that these are our photographs, it does given an opportunity for a signature, for us to be able to track down these documents. And there is limited access to these documents and certainly in hard copy. So we do have the ability -- I think the Department of Justice is going to be doing an excellent job in tracking down exactly who is responsible for this.

TAPPER: Do you think foreign governments, allies that we spied on as revealed in this leak, whether Ukraine or Israel or any others, do you think that they are more irritated that the United States spied on them? Or that we did so in such a sloppy way that was able to get out and leak?

TURNER: Yes, certainly, I think it's the leak aspect that everybody is concerned about it, and every government has had, you know, situations where their documents have leaked out. These are largely to some extent, you know, diplomatic documents where you're trying to impact the diplomatic relationship to encourage people to do something else, perhaps even in this instance in the support of Ukraine.

So that narrative, that commentary is certainly something you don't want out in the public.

TAPPER: But, I mean, it seems really, really concerning that, potentially, there is somebody within some sort of small circle in the intelligence world who may have committed espionage here on behalf of the Russians.

TURNER: Absolutely, and I think, you know, as your report was saying earlier, that the concern we also have is what else is out there? And what is it that we don't know? This is what's been made public. What do we don't know that may have been, you know, transmitted or provided in some way about this subject matter or what other items are there?

That's why we're working diligently to try to find out what the source of this is. We can stop the leak itself. And also at the same time, try to mitigate the damage so Ukraine can be successful in its defense against this Russian aggression.

TAPPER: Republican from Ohio and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, thank you so much for talking to us. Appreciate it, sir.

TURNER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, I'm going to speak to the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, who knew one of the victims killed in the deadly attack today in his city earlier.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead, the search for answers in Louisville, Kentucky, after police say a 23-year-old man opened fire at the bank where he worked this morning. He killed four innocent people, injured nine other innocent people, including a police officer.

Joining us now to discuss is the mayor of Louisville, Craig Greenberg.

Mr. Mayor, first, how are you? And how is the community of Louisville doing on this horrible day? MAYOR CRAIG GREENBERG (D), LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: Our city is strong,

but today is certainly a horrible, tragic day. I personally lost a very close front friend in this evil act of violence. Three other families, also my heart goes out to and really just extending my love and thoughts and support for all of the victims and their families.

And special thanks to our first responders, whether it was our police officers who arrived bravely and quickly at the scene, who shot the assailant, to the doctors and nurses at the hospital who treated victims as they got there. They are the heroes today and every day.

TAPPER: You just mentioned that you knew one of the victims today. I believe it -- is it Tom Elliott that you were close with? That's who Governor Beshear was close with.

GREENBERG: Yes, the governor and I were very good friends with Tommy and I was with his wife earlier this morning at the hospital and it is. It is painful, painful for all of the families. I know. It just hits home in a unique way when you know one of the victims so well.

TAPPER: I know that there are others that are still in the hospital, including a police officer who was just a few days on the job, just 26 years old, had brain surgery.

Do you know how he or any other -- of the other survivors are doing?

GREENBERG: Fortunately, Officer Wilt made it through surgery and he's in serious condition at the hospital right now, but he is in great hands at U of L Hospital. We're all praying and supporting him. It was just a week and a half ago that I gave him, along with the chief, his graduation diploma from the academy.

And so I paid a visit to his academy class that was there at the hospital, offering to support him, offering support to he and his family today. So I -- we'll provide more updates on his condition as we have them. There's one other victim who was in serious condition.

It's -- we're fortunate we didn't lose more lives today than we did.

TAPPER: You mentioned this earlier in your press conference, but in case people didn't see it and others who just don't remember, you yourself survived a shooting at your campaign office last year.

What are the people who survived this going to have to grapple with in the coming days, weeks, months?

GREENBERG: It is very difficult and challenging time. I had a really unique, surreal experience earlier this morning when we were getting conflicting reports about another friend of mine who we knew was in that meeting. No one could get a hold of him and as I was leaving the hospital, I saw him. And no one from his family had heard from him.

And so to see someone who I thought had been killed alive, and this is what we talked about exactly what you asked about, Jake, and my advice to him from, unfortunately, firsthand experience of being a survivor of a workplace shooting is to -- is to be with loved ones, is to embrace yourself with that love, to talk to a therapist.

I actually started using a meditation app. I still meditate to this day as a result of following -- that I started that practice after the shooting. It is very difficult times to those who are victims, even if they weren't physically hurt, and today's shooting, they are definitely still victims. And so, I encourage them to take care of themselves physically and mentally in the days and weeks ahead.

TAPPER: I know that the information is just coming in and that this is a day for grieving, not a day for politics, but I will observe that a large part of your campaign platform was combating what you called Louisville's public safety and crime crisis.

And I want to invite you to come back when we know more about what happened today so that we can discuss ways it could have been prevented, because that is a conversation we need to have, maybe not today, but as a society, we've had almost 150 mass shootings this year, and we haven't even had 100 days.

GREENBERG: You're exactly right, Jake. The only thing I would say in response to for today is this isn't about politics. This is about life and death.

And so, yes, I welcome that to have that conversation and to work together with others across Louisville, but really across our entire country to end this gun violence epidemic.

TAPPER: Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, thanks for your time. Our condolences to you and the people of Louisville, and I am inviting you back to have that discussion when it is the right time. Thank you for being with us today, sir.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, next, the emergency requests today from the Justice Department as well as the pharmaceutical company that makes a popular abortion pill after a judge's ruling on that drug Friday evening.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the Justice Department just asked a federal appeals court to freeze the ruling of a judge in Texas invalidating the FDA's decades-long approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. That ruling from the Trump-appointed judge released late Friday was quickly cast into question when less than an hour later, a judge in Washington state issued a decision requiring the U.S. government to keep that drug available in 17 states in D.C.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is here.

Jessica, what is the Justice Department asking for in this latest file?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, DOJ and this drug manufacturer Danco, they're really asking the Fifth Circuit for more time before Judge Kacsmaryk's ruling goes into effect, because Judge Kacsmaryk set the timeline, saying that his ruling halting this FDA approval of mifepristone, it would take effect at the end of Friday night. So DOJ and Danco here asking the Fifth Circuit to step in before then to extend the judge's ruling, so it doesn't end.

And there's been some question and as to whether the FDA could just maybe ignore this ruling, but the fact of the matter is the way this ruling is set up, the approval of -- the FDA approval of this drug would immediately expire at the end of Friday night. There's nothing the FDA would actually have to proactively do.


So if this order were to come to fruition on Friday night, the approval would just go away. So, DOJ and Danco, they are asking the Fifth Circuit to decide by Thursday at noon, whether or not they're going to stay this order. That way, that will give them enough time to go to the Supreme Court before Friday night.

And to give you an idea of just how dire the situation is, according to the doctors here, Danco is actually attached declarations from several doctors. I'll read part of one. This is from an OB/GYN in Pennsylvania, saying: The district court order staying or alternatively, suspending FDA's approval of mifepristone will mean that many patients across my state and our country will not be able to access abortion care at all should mifepristone be unavailable.

I suspect patients will be confused and misled to believe that abortion is no longer available or unsafe. Some facilities may offer misoprostol alone, which will surely result in more unscheduled visits and emergency room visits for pain, incomplete abortion and side effect concerns. Many patients will not be able to access safe abortions at all. So, dire warnings.

In addition, Jake, just to mention, DOJ did go to a Washington federal judge today asking that judge to clarify his ruling that the FDA had to keep the drug mifepristone available in 17 states, plus D.C. They went to this judge saying, you have to clarify this because how can we comply with your order if this Texas order also takes effect.

So, the clock is ticking Friday night.

TAPPER: Yeah, and it certainly seems to undermine the argument from conservatives, this was really just about sending this back to the states if this one judge in Texas is banning it everywhere in the United States.

SCHNEIDER: This is federal judge stepping in nationwide.

TAPPER: Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. The impact of the ruling cannot be overstated as medication abortion makes up the majority of abortions in the United States. Mifepristone blocks the hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue. And it is the first pill in the two pill process to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation, a second drug, misoprostol is then taken within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Even though the abortion drug mifepristone remains legal, for now, at least until Friday, CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports for us now that some doctors are already afraid to prescribe it in case it does become illegal after future court rulings.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this women's healthcare clinic in Ohio, Dr. David Burkons is telling women who were expecting to get medication abortions next week that they should change their plans.

DR. DAVID BURKONS, NORTHEAST OHIO WOMEN'S CENTER: They're scrambling to change their schedules to get into see us earlier.

COHEN: Dr. Burkons says his lawyer told him that starting Saturday he can't give the drug mifepristone for abortions or miscarriages, because of a federal judge's ruling in Texas last week. Mifepristone in a regiment with another drug called misoprostol, is FDA approved for abortion, up until 10 weeks after the last period, and they've been used safely for more than 20 years.

Data analyzed by CNN shows mifepristone is even safer than some common, low risk prescription drugs, including penicillin and Viagra. Misoprostol can be used on its own in a medication abortion, but it's not FDA approved that way. Studies show it's not as effective and some doctors say it can make a woman feel much worse.

DR. ERIKA WERNER, TUFTS MEDICAL CENTER: We're more likely to see failures and therefore more likely to need surgical intervention after misoprostol alone. Dr. Erica Werner is chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts.

We trained to try to keep people healthy. Give them the most evidence based care and this ruling really jeopardizes that. We're feeling demoralized. We're feeling scared for our patients.

COHEN: She's hoping that something will stop the Texas ruling from going into effect.

WERNER: We may get advice from lawyers as the week goes on about whether we really need to stop next week.

COHEN: Monday, U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra vowed that the Biden administration would use every resource to protect a woman's right to reproductive health care.

XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: And I say this for every woman in America who may need mifepristone -- mifepristone is still legal for use. Mifepristone is still available today. And we are going to do everything we can within the legal process to ensure that that doesn't change.

COHEN: But at clinics around the country --

BURKONS: There's a lot of uncertainty.

COHEN: -- they don't know what will happen next if they'll be able to keep giving their patients the best possible care.


COHEN (on camera): California announced today that they're amassing a stockpile of misoprostol -- Jake.

TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

We're going to stay on that story.

Just in: CNN has learned that the U.S. State Department has now declared a "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich wrongfully detained by Russia officially. That designation comes roughly 12 days after his arrest. Ahead, I'm going to speak with a close friend of Gershkovich about how the process has impacted any effort to bring him home.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, the Texas governor jumps in and pledges to pardon the man convicted of killing a Black Lives Matter protester just hours after the verdict had been handed down, and before a pardon had even been requested. Why?

Plus, this hour, Nashville City Council will vote whether to reinstate one of the Democratic state lawmakers expelled after their unruly gun violence protests on the statehouse floor, but it's unclear they have the votes to do so.

Leading this hour, however, four people are dead and at least nine injured after a gunman shot up a bank in Louisville, Kentucky this morning.