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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Witness Called 911 While Hiding In Closet During Bank Shooting; Second Ousted Tennessee Representative Appointed To Seat After Expulsion; Evacuations Ordered As Blaze Spews Toxic Smoke In Indiana; Videos Appear To Show Beheaded Ukrainian Soldiers; Gov. Abbott Signals He Wants To Pardon Daniel Perry Based On Texas' Stand Your Ground Law; Judge Sanctions Fox News Over Concerns About Withholding Evidence. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 12, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: He works with us, words from a Louisville bank employee as she called 911 and hid from the gunman.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Heartbreaking and horrific. Louisville police released 911 calls from Monday's deadly shooting, including one from the shooter's mom who insisted that her son was nonviolent and said she did not know where he would get a gun.

And a massive inferno. Flames engulfing an Indiana recycling plant. The large smoke plume stretches for miles. The toxic risk as the fire is expected to burn for days.

Plus, the judge hearing the billion dollar Dominion versus Fox lawsuit today sanctioned Fox's lawyers, accusing the lawyers of withholding evidence and not telling the court the truth in a case about Fox lying to its audience.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our national lead. This afternoon, Louisville police released the frantic 911 calls from the moments after that horrific mass shooting began at a bank on Monday, and you can hear the panic in the voices of the employees who were inside the building when the senseless attacks started, including this woman who saw some of her coworkers gunned down.

She survived by hiding in a closet. I want to warn our viewers -- some of this audio is rather disturbing.


911 OPERATOR: Has anybody been shot?


911 OPERATOR: How many people? CALLER: I don't know. Probably eight, or nine.

911 OPERATOR: Eight or nine people have been shot?

CALLER: Uh-huh.

911 OPERATOR: Are you with any of them hiding?

CALLER: Yes, but I'm in a closet, hiding.


TAPPER: Police also released a call from the gunman's mother made to 911 a few minutes after the shooting began. She said she had heard from her son's roommate that her son might have a gun and that he was headed to Old National Bank where he worked. She begged for police to not, quote, punish him.

Let's get straight to CNN senior crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz.

And, Shimon, Louisville police released almost an hour of 911 calls and radio transmissions. What stood out most to you?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this harrowing call, really, Jake, of this woman who's on a board meeting. It's a board meeting that's going on. She's watching it on a video conference, and then she sees the gunman opened fire.

Take a listen.


911 OPERATOR: 911 operator Davis. What is with the address of the emergency?

CALLER: Oh, my God. What's the address of Preston Boyd (ph). Oh, my god. There's an active shooter there. But oh, my God. What -- we might know the address of Preston Boyd (ph).

Oh my god. I just watched. (INAUDIBLE)

911 OPERATOR: Ma'am? Ma'am?

CALLER: I'm sorry. Yes, okay.

911 OPERATOR: Okay, ma'am. How do you know you have an active shooter on this site?

CALLER: I just watched it.

911 OPERATOR: How do you watch --

CALLER: I just watched it on Teams meeting.

911 OPERATOR: On a Teams meeting? CALLER: Yeah, we're having a board meeting.

911 OPERATOR: Video board meeting?


911 OPERATOR: Okay.

CALLER: Our commercial team.

911 OPERATOR: Okay. Did you see the suspect?

CALLER: Oh, yes.

911 OPERATOR: Okay, stay on the line with me here. Stay on the line with me, please? Okay?

CALLER: He's a white man.

911 OPERATOR: Okay, okay. Let me get the run sent up. Give me -- just stay on the line with me, okay? And did you see anybody shot or you just see the guy?

CALLER: I saw somebody on the floor. We heard multiple shots and everybody started --

911 OPERATOR: Okay.

CALLER: -- saying "Oh my God," and then he came into the board room.

911 OPERATOR: Okay, save -- okay.


PROKUPECZ: And, Jake, just so difficult to listen to there as this woman is describing what she saw on this video conference, gunman coming in, killing friends of hers, colleagues, co-workers.

While that's going on, other calls are coming into 911 operators information that was helpful, Jake, to the police.

TAPPER: Shimon, the police also released the 911 call that the shooter's mother made, where she expressed concern that her son might be headed to his place of work with a gun.

PROKUPECZ: Yeah. And all of this came, that call coming already after the shooting had started, and she learns of it that he may be heading to this bank, that he wants to do something violent from a roommate. She then calls 911. And here's her describing that.


CALLER: My son might be (AUDIO GAP) has a gun and heading toward the Old National, at the -- on Main Street here in Louisville.

911 OPERATOR: Main Street, Old National? CALLER: Yeah, this is his mother. I'm so sorry. I'm getting details secondhand. I'm learning now. Oh, my Lord.

911 OPERATOR: Okay. And what exactly is going on with him? What he's saying he's doing?

CALLER: I don't know. I'm getting this information from roommate. He apparently left a note.


I think he's on (AUDIO GAP) and I think he's decided -- he's (INAUDIBLE).

Yes, hurry, shut the door -- lock the door and come here.

I don't know what to do. I need your help. I think -- he's never hurt anyone. He's a really good kid. Please don't punish him. Please? He's nonviolent. He's never done anything. He's --

911 OPERATOR: Okay, and you don't believe he owns guns?

CALLER: I know he doesn't own any guns.

911 OPERATOR: Okay. And so did the roommate mention him having any weapons or anything?

CALLER: I don't -- I don't know. I'm sorry. I'm trying to get into my car, my friends talking to me, and they're asking me questions about other things. And I'm shaking. I think maybe his girlfriend (INAUDIBLE) has done (ph).

911 OPERATOR: Okay.

CALLER: I don't know, maybe he saw them. I don't know.


PROKUPECZ: And, Jake, that note that she's talking about from the roommate told her of this note. Police have that note. They have not released any details on that.

The family also -- the gunman's family releasing a statement indicating that he was suffering from some kind of mental health issues and that they were trying to get him some help. But certainly there, as you heard from that mother, they certainly never expected anything like this to happen -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much.

Turning to Tennessee now. State Representative Justin J. Pearson has been reappointed to fill his seat in the state legislature. This, of course, comes after he was expelled last week after he and two other Democrats brought a boisterous gun reform protest to the House floor in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in that state. It's an action, not the shooting, but the protest that Republicans said violated the rules.

CNN's Ryan Young is in Memphis with a dramatic vote played out.



RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Massive celebrations today as a Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted to confirm the reappointment of Justin J. Pearson to the Tennessee state house, a city lost last week after he and two other Democrats call for gun reform on the chamber floor.

Two of the so-called Tennessee Three, Representative Justin Jones and Representative Justin Pearson, both Black, were expelled from their seats. Representative Johnson, who was white, was nearly spared.

Justin Jones was reinstated to the statehouse Monday after Nashville officials voted to reappoint him. Today, the three of them gathered with hundreds of protesters here in Memphis, supporting their expelled colleague as he waited on his vote.

GLORIA JOHNSON (D), TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE: We need a multiracial, multigenerational organization, the Tennessee legislature and these young voices are critical.

YOUNG: Starting their march in front of this iconic location in Memphis, Tennessee, the motel where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

JEREMY DEMAREST, MEMPHIS RESIDENT: Democracy is being threatened. This is not okay. We're -- what happened was a fascist.

YOUNG: A community standing together with the three lawmakers or what is at the center of this whole incident, gun violence and gun control.

Even Tennessee's governor now asking Republicans for change.

GOV. BILL LEE (R), TENNESSEE: When there is a clear need for action, I think that we have an obligation, and I certainly do, to remind people that we should set aside politics and pride, and accomplished something that the people of Tennessee want us to get accomplished.

PEARSON: I believe --

YOUNG: Today, one more step towards getting that accomplished for Tennessee, with Pearson getting his seat back. A community that now believes he wants to fight for that change.


YOUNG (voice-over): Jake, you've been following this with everybody since last Thursday. That vote happening here, right inside that chamber. Everyone poured out here, full of emotion. What happens next though, the minutes from this building has to be sent out to Nashville. And then tomorrow, the same swearing in process will happen again on the state capitol steps. And Justin J. Pearson will get his chance to go back into the building, and he was expelled from just a week ago.

I can tell you, the swell of emotions, the hundreds of people that showed up here today. They're hoping that something happens with gun control. They feel what's happening in this country is happening over and over again, and this may be the momentum they need to start that domino effect all over the country -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young in Memphis, Tennessee, thank you so much.

Let's turn to Republican Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

I want to start with the issue of gun reform because Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Lee, as you heard there is calling on the Republican-led state legislature to take action in the wake of that horrific Nashville school shooting, the Christian School Covenant.

Take a listen to some of what Governor Lee had to say.


LEE: It is important that we find a way to remove individuals who are a threat to themselves or to our society, to remove them from access to weapons. I'm asking the legislature to bring forth thoughtful, practical measures to do that, to strengthen our laws, to separate those dangerous people from firearms.



TAPPER: Congressman, what might be a practical measure to separate people from guns that that shouldn't have guns, shouldn't have access to guns because they're in some sort of distress that you might support?

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Well, Jake, it's good to be with you.

This has been a question that's been coming up in various state legislatures. When I was in the Florida legislature, similar question came up. The default position became red flag laws , risk protection orders or whatever you want to call them.

The issue with red flag laws is that the U.S. citizen who somebody thinks might have mental health issues, their property is taken from them, and then they have to go to court to get their property back if it's found out that the mental health claims are actually invalid. So, in short, you're actually violating the constitutional rights of an American citizen. And then they have to prove to the court that their rights should be in state be reinstated.

That's the issue with red flag laws as they exist today. If you're going to talk about a different situation where you're saying if somebody in the family said or in the community said it's talking about the mental health issues that exists, and then there is a procedure that goes through to attest to that to figure that out, you go through a legal procedure around that, and then something is talked about firearms, that might be palatable.

But the way red flag laws operate today violate the rights of American citizens. And at the end of the day, we are a nation of laws. We are a nation by the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional rights have to be protected at all times.

TAPPER: So, as you noted, you voted when you were in the Florida legislature against red flag laws or risk protection orders. That was in the wake of the Parkland school shooting that was passed by the Republican-led legislature and signed and by Republican governor then Rick Scott.

CNN's Leyla Santiago, our reporter in Miami, she interviewed the Polk County sheriff last year, a conservative, Second Amendment guy. I want you to listen to what the sheriff had to say.


GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF: Listen, I'm a strong Second Amendment guy. I'm a conservative. I believe risk protection orders work.


TAPPER: He said they work. We saw Leyla went into the courtroom. We saw individuals who had guns taken away from them to on a temporary basis from the judge because they were in a time of distress. This conservative sheriff says that law saves lives.

DONALDS: Look, Grady Judd is a great sheriff in our state, but on the implication about protecting constitutional rights, that's where he and I disagree. Like I said, if there is a process upon which people have to go and adjudicate their mental health first before their property is taken away from them, that's one thing. But that's not what risk protection orders do. Risk protection orders take away your property. And then you have to go to court to get your property back.

That is a fundamental taking under the United States Constitution. That's why I believe that the actual taking of property is unconstitutional, but that's something we're even conservatives disagree. That's no disrespect to Grady Judd. That's my position, and that's my way of looking at the U.S. Constitution and the property of people who are citizens in our country who until a tragedy occurs, they actually have not run afoul of the law.

And so, you have to adjudicate the mental health side first before you can go and take property. That's my point. That's my stance.

TAPPER: I understand your point. But what about the constitutional rights of those three 9 year olds that Covenant School in Nashville or the three faculty and staff members or the six individuals killed or I'm sorry, five individuals killed at the Louisville bank. They have a constitutional right to life.

And you -- I understand your concern about the Second Amendment rights of an individual, but don't those rights matter less than the individual right to live and not be gunned down in their school?

DONALDS: Well, actually, Jake, and I think you're conflating life living in the pursuit of happiness is in the Declaration of Independence, not the United States Constitution. We all want to protect life at all times. But that doesn't mean you get to abridge rights of American citizens. You don't get to do that.

If you want to go through the legal process and adjudicate mental health, I'm all for that. But you can't take somebody's property from them, and then they have to petition the court to get their stuff back. That's the wrong way to go. That's always been my disagreement with red flag laws. It's my disagreement today.

And look for the children who lost their lives in that church that is horrific. But what you're dealing with there is somebody who knowingly went about breaking the law. And so the law is designed to protect us all. If somebody never assailant chooses to break the law, that's what the criminal proceeding is for.

TAPPER: Right.

DONALDS: The Constitution is to protect the lot -- to protect the rights of all law abiding citizens.

TAPPER: Right, but I guess my last point here, and I understand the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but certainly the right to exist is a an untrammeled from being shot in one's place of work, or one's place of education is fundamental as well.


I guess my point is, what solution do you propose? This kid, this 23- year-old who shot up the bank or the other person in their twenties who shot up the Covenant School, these were individuals that had not broken any law. They had not done anything to run afoul of the law. But there were people obviously in mental distress. I'm not sympathizing with them, but they were in mental distress.

What can we do to keep guns out of their hands?

DONALDS: Look and that's why I'm saying, what I think the key thing is, we have to try to find better ways of adjudicating and understanding the mental health capability of certain individuals who are falling through the cracks. That's paramount. That's step one.

Then, step two, if you can get that mental health valuation understood, then you can start talking about whether they should possess firearms or not. That is step two.

And I think all we're talking about is which step goes first. You're saying that because of the tragedy that has struck, we should just take their property from them first, and then figure out the rest on the back end. And all I'm saying is, let's figure out the actual mental health issues first, and then go through the process of taking away guns. If it is adjudicated that, yes, they are a danger to themselves and their community.

TAPPER: I'm actually not advocated for one law or another. I was just quoting the Pasco County sheriff who, you know better than I who said that that red flag laws that you voted against. Works and saves lives. And I'm just I'm just somebody who's sick. I'm sorry, Polk County, not Pasco County.

I'm just someone who is sick and tired of reporting about innocent people being gunned down by people with mental problems. And obviously not everybody who has a mental problem is a danger to themselves and others. But there needs to be something done. Don't you agree?

DONALDS: Well, Jake, I think you said you hit the nail on the head, not everybody who is dealing with mental health issues is violent.

TAPPER: Most of them are not, most of them are not, in fact.

DONALDS: The vast of the majority are not, Jake.

TAPPER: Right.

DONALDS: If you're an American citizen who's dealing with mental health issues, we all sympathize and empathize. And we want to make sure you get the help that you that you need in order for your life to get back on track. But because that is occurring. That doesn't mean your property should be taken from you.

And that is the -- that's the crux of this issue. Like I don't really think we're too far apart. All we're saying is all -- I'm saying is really is, let's adjudicate the mental health issues. If that is clear and apparent, then we can talk about ways to restrict you from having guns. But don't take American citizens property from them, and then they have to go to the court to petition for it back. That doesn't protect their constitutional right, even when the vast majority of people who do have mental health issues are not even contemplating violence whatsoever.

TAPPER: I've already gone way over in. My producers are yelling at me.

Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida, it's always good to have you on. Thank you so much for the conversation.

DONALDS: Anytime.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the massive inferno burning right now in Indiana that officials deemed toxic, and a major revelation this afternoon from those leaked U.S. intelligence documents showing the Russian mercenary Wagner Group trying to buy weapons from a NATO ally.



TAPPER: In our national lead, evacuations are underway in eastern Indiana, where a toxic fire to recycling plant could burn for days, officials say. The smoke plume absolutely enormous, as you see in this new drone footage, is toxic.

And CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Richmond, Indiana, as officials warned that burning plastic and other unknown materials could pose major health risks for Hoosiers.


LAWRENCE MCCRACKEN, RICHMOND RESIDENT: Well, I've always said that place is going to go up in flames one day and it sure did.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This massive fire at a large recycling plant, putting out toxic smoke could burn for days. Officials say 14 acres of plastics stored on the property, but with this site, especially, it wasn't a matter of if, but when, with city officials aware the operations were a fire hazard.

CHIEF TIM BROWN, RICHMOND FIRE DEPARTMENT: Issue was an unsafe building and unsafe grounds.

JIMENEZ: And putting the blame squarely on an owner of the recycling plan.

MAYOR DAVE SNOW, RICHMOND, INDIANA: That business owner is fully responsible for all of this. We have the unsafe building order and the recorded court documents. And everything that's ensued here -- the fire, the damages, the risk that our first responders have taken, and the risk these citizens are under are the responsibility of that negligent business owner.

JIMENEZ: And evacuation order is in place for a half mile radius. Around 2,000 residents ordered to evacuate, including one who lives at the heart of it.

BRENDA JERRELL, RICHMOND RESIDENT: I can see from the debris that some of it was on fire and it hit the trees, the tree line, and the trees immediately ignited.

JIMENEZ: When she got the evacuation order, she didn't hesitate to leave her home.

JERRELL: And when they said evacuate, I didn't have shoes on. I had socks on and I left my purse, my shoes. I left a lot of things, personal things, you know, at the house and just got in the car and drove away.

JIMENEZ: For health officials, their key concern now is hazards from the smoke.

CHRISTINE STINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WAYNE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: These are very fine particles, and if they're breathed in can cause all kinds of respiratory problems -- burning of the eyes, tightening of the chest, it could aggravate asthma, cause bronchitis and all kinds of things.

JIMENEZ: The EPA monitoring particulate matter, looking for toxic chemicals. Residents are being told to stay indoors, but the uncertainty is causing concerns and frustrations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to say what's going into the city there right now.

WAZIR MOHAMED, RICHMOND RESIDENT: We would like to know that it is safe to be able to breathe the air and to drink the water. So, we want to hear from the officials.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, the previously mentioned owner of the burning property behind me, we've reached out to them. We have not heard back, but you may be able to see crews are still actively working on this property that is smoking pretty heavily behind me, though they have made some progress. It's a big difference from what we saw this morning.

The EPA has been on the ground here conducting air quality tests, and the good news is that at least the air quality at the ground level, they have not seen signs of toxins, but obviously, that could change and so they are continuing to test 24/7, as they tell us.

TAPPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, stay safe, my friend.


Coming up next, images too disturbing for TV appearing to show Ukrainian soldiers being beheaded by Russians. The Ukrainian president is outraged as the Kremlin tries to question if the videos are real in this new world of deepfakes.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Topping our world lead, horrifying videos appear to show the extent of Russia's battlefield of brutality. Two separate video surfaced online that appear to show Russians beheading Ukrainian soldiers.

And now, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging world leaders to do something about this as pro-Russian bloggers celebrate the atrocious videos. One posting, quote: You'd be surprised how many of such videos will gradually emerge, followed by a smiley face.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is an eastern Ukraine for us where it's believed some of these barbaric acts took place.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a war not short of images of brutality and horror, two videos purporting to show acts of unimaginable barbarism, too gruesome to air.

In this series of still frames, a man wearing military fatigues is seen using a knife to cut off the head of another man in army uniform. The victim is seen wearing a yellow armband typically worn by Ukrainian soldiers.

From the voices on the recording, it seems the victim was still alive as the beheading began.

The perpetrator's identity is also hidden, but he's seen wearing a white tie on his leg, a means of identification often worn by Russian fighters.

Ukrainian authorities say they're working to uncover where and when the incident might have taken place, as well as trying to establish the victim's identity and that of the other men in the video.

This is something that no one in the world can ignore, says President Zelenskyy. How easily these beasts kill this video of the execution of a Ukrainian POW. The world must see it.

Ask about the video during the daily call with journalists, the Kremlin spokesman acknowledged the footage was terrible, but added a caveat.

First of all, said spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in the world of fakes that we inhabit. We need to check the veracity of this footage.

At about the same time, another video also emerged on social media, this one believed to have been filmed in the last few days purporting to show the mutilated bodies of two Ukrainian soldiers lying next to the destroyed military vehicle.

Voices speaking in Russian claimed the soldiers had had their heads cut off. Images on the video appeared to show the soldiers hands and also been cut off.

Pro-Russian social media posters said the video was shot near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, scene of the war's fiercest fighting, but CNN is unable to confirm the location.

The United Nations said it was appalled by the videos, but 14 months into Russia's full scale invasion, reiterated these are not isolated incidents.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And these are just a few of the videos that have emerged from this war. Recently, there was video of Russian soldiers killing an unarmed Ukrainian soldier who had surrendered. Last summer, there was another video that showed what was clearly a Russian soldier castrating live a Ukrainian soldier -- Jake.

TAPPER: CNN's Ben Wedeman in eastern Ukraine with the grisly details. Thank you so much. A steady drip of shock and classified information is coming to light

after a trove of secret documents leaked from the pentagon. One document shows the private Russian mercenary group, the Wagner Group, trying to buy weapons from an unlikely source, the NATO country, Turkey. Though the intel shows Wagner met with, quote, Turkish contacts, there is no evidence yet that shows Turkey has moved forward with any arms sales to the Russian mercenary group.

Joining us now, former Trump administration national security adviser and retired army lieutenant general. H.R. McMaster. He's also the author of battle grounds, the fight to defend the free world.

General, good to see you.

What might the long term damage be do you think to U.S. intelligence collection and to U.S. allies and anything else because of this massive leak?

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER (RET.), FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Well, Jake, the long term damage is really reputational. I think there are really four categories of damage, tactical right information that maybe Russia could use to its advantage, for example.

I think you can remedy that pretty quickly. You can reposition, you know, reposition assets. You can change plans for the -- for the coming offensive, for example.

Then there are sources and methods. That's quite serious as well. You hope that these documents don't allow adversaries to shut down sources, maybe threaten human intelligence sources or to understand better methods so they can hide from you their intentions or the information the intelligence you're trying to develop.

But the reputational damage, especially maybe what you've seen in connection with the South Korea deliberations. I think it takes time to build that trust back. And then we have seen already or are there some crude attempts to manipulate the information. So there's information or information operations risk.

And I think what has to happen now -- you know, obviously an investigation to find out who did it, to hold that person or those people accountable. That will help restore a degree of confidence and then -- and then understand how it happened, and to put procedures in place involving a right of least privilege, for example, in terms of controlling sensitive information.


But also, you know, it's going to have to be a sustained diplomatic effort. That's already ongoing, I'm sure --


MCMASTER: -- to assure our allies and to mitigate the damage. TAPPER: So the documents showing unmistakable urgency for Ukraine. They need more weapons, heavier weapons. Today, the Ukrainian prime minister pleaded with Secretary of Defense Austin for F-16 fighter jets. Do you think it's something that the U.S. should provide, F-16 fighter jets?

MCMASTER: You know, Jake, rather even talk about specific capabilities, how about just some clarity and objectives as we see these this horrible -- you know, horrible news of beheadings and other forms of abuse? We know that Russia has been conducting war crimes. We know that -- we know that Vladimir Putin has been indicted by the international criminal court for the mass kidnapping of children.

So, how about some clarity? Like what do -- what? What? What do we want to help Ukraine achieve and I think really, it's Ukraine has to have the capability to regain all of the territory annexed illegally or taken since 2014 because that's what's necessary to convince Vladimir Putin that he's been defeated.

Any talk of these off ramps or beating out of incremental assistance based on fears of escalation -- I think any off ramp for Putin, it's just a chance to look for another on ramp. So I think if there are clear objectives, hey, how about stopping or giving -- helping Ukraine's stop Russia's ability to commit mass murder of their -- of their population or to attack their critical infrastructure? Remember, they tried to freeze people to death this winter.

TAPPER: Uh-huh.

MCMASTER: And that's a range of military capabilities, Jake. You know, it's -- that's air defense capabilities. It's long-range surveillance capabilities, long range precision strike.

But then the option -- your objective two militarily ought to be to help Ukrainians to build the capability and the capacity, right, the size and depth of a force to have a sustained counteroffensive. And this is, of course, what everybody's talking about, is the subject and some of these leaked documents. And that's another range of capabilities, including offensive air in the form of F-16s. But again, long range precision fires, protected mobility, mobile protected firepower tanks.


MCMASTER: Engineering capabilities to get across gaps. So you get the idea. It's just -- it's a range of capabilities that have to be integrated into capable joint formations.

TAPPER: I want to get your thoughts while you're here on the Biden administration's recent after action report memo on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, including a lessons learned.

There was not an accountability memo. Nobody has been blamed. A lot of people, a lot of observers say that the memos just sought to absolve Biden of responsibility, blaming Trump. Here's how one "Boston Globe" columnist put it. Quote: The chaos that

accompanied the hasty retreat with scenes of desperation so eerily similar to the fall of Saigon in '75 conveyed a global message of American weakness. A message Vladimir Putin undoubtedly read as a green light to invade Ukraine six months later. That's from Jeff Jacoby, a conservative columnist for "The Globe".

The withdrawal itself undoubtedly is going to be a stain on Biden's legacy. But what do you make of that specific argument that the withdrawal from Afghanistan the way it was done gave Putin a green light to invade Ukraine? Do you believe that's true?

MCMASTER: I do believe it's true. You know, deterrence is capability times will. And after the disaster, the horrors that we witnessed on the -- on the really a surrender to a terrorist organization. Jake, we got to call what it is. It was a surrender to a terrorist organization and a disastrous retreat.

I think that Vladimir Putin concluded, and so did Xi Jinping, that our will is zero. I mean, take a look at the timing of the essay that Vladimir Putin wrote in August of 2020, the same time as this disaster was unfolding in Afghanistan.

Take a look at the joint statement, right, between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin before the Beijing Olympics.

You know what the message there was? Hey, you're over, United States. You're over, Western democratic world. It's our turn to establish this new -- you know, this new era of international relations.

And so I think there was a geostrategic, huge, you know, huge downs, you know, huge consequence, negative consequence. But also, how about did you jihadist terrorist consequence, Jake?


MCMASTER: You know, what do we hear? What did they tell us across two administrations? They said, oh, there's a bold line, you know, between the Taliban, and other jihadist terrorist organizations. Oh, but and then Ayman Al-Zawahiri is there, the leader of al Qaeda.

TAPPER: Right.

MCMASTER: And we know that these groups are intertwined.

And then, of course, this humanitarian catastrophe. I mean, it really turns my stomach when I hear people crying -- these are -- you're seeing this crocodile tears about women's rights and we consigned the Afghan women to hell --


MCMASTER: -- by not only surrendering to terror organization, Jake, but I think towards the end there, we actually partnered with the Taliban against the Afghan security forces and the government, delivering psychological blow after psychological blow to them. [16:40:12]

TAPPER: And I know just for anybody watching, I know you are also very critical of the Trump administration, which you had left at that point, negotiating with the Taliban and in Doha, just for anyone out there who thinks you're only blaming Biden. You've been blaming both of them.

MCMASTER: Oh, absolutely.

TAPPER: No, I know I have to go there, but I just want to make sure people knew that.

Retired Army General H.R. McMaster, thanks so much, sir. Good to see you as always.

Coming up next, defending his case, I'm going to talk to the district attorney of Travis County, Texas, as Governor Greg Abbott pushes for a pardon just days after a man's murder conviction.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our national lead, attorneys for convicted Sergeant Daniel Perry are pushing for a new trial, at the same time that Texas Governor Greg Abbott vows that he will pardon Mr. Perry. On Friday, a jury found Perry guilty of shooting and killing Garrett Foster during a Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Both Perry and Foster are white.

Travis County district attorney says that he's confident in the guilty verdict that has already been reached by a jury.

That District Attorney Jose Garza joins us now.

Thanks so much for joining us, District Attorney Garza.

I want to go to the pardon request in a moment, but first the request for a new trial. Perry's attorneys say that they were blocked from using evidence suggesting that Garrett Foster the victim, allegedly instigated confrontations and was harassing people the night of the shooting. What's your response to that claim?

JOE GARZA, TRAVIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's a -- an incredibly appropriate and common argument and motion for them to make. It's appropriate for them to request a new trial. And it's just evidence that there are so many safeguards in place for people accused of crimes, and I'm glad that they're taking advantage of those safeguards. We remain confident in the jury verdict and we will await the judge's decision.

TAPPER: So the statement from Governor Abbott vowing that he will pardon Sergeant Perry seems to suggest he thinks Perry's innocent based on Texas's stand your ground law because both Perry and the victim had guns that night. What do you make of that claim?

GARZA: Well, that really wasn't the issue in trial, and it's again pretty clear that the governor didn't watch the trial, didn't have any of his staff watched the trial. And so, the issue at trial was whether or not the defendant in this case instigated this conflict and under Texas law, you are not allowed to avail yourself of the self defense if you initiate a conflict, the jury had the opportunity to hear his defense and to hear evidence that he initiated the conflict and ultimately determined that that's what he did.

TAPPER: Why do you think Governor Perry is pushing for this pardon?

GARZA: You know, I don't know what's in the -- in the governor's mind. You know, I don't watch Fox News often. I presume the governor does. I mean, it sounds like that's the direction he received from that network.

But, you know, I can't be sure what he's thinking.

TAPPER: This has become something of a conservative cause celebre. They think that the conviction was unfair because you have a right to defend yourself, and obviously they depict all Black Lives Matter protesters as hoodlums as instigators and such. You don't buy that, though?

GARZA: Well, again, there was a jury trial in this case, and the jury sat and listened to evidence for over a week. They had an opportunity to hear all of the evidence that the defense put forward. They had an opportunity to hear evidence from the state and at the end of the day after deliberating for over 15 hours, they determined that the defendant instigated this conflict and is guilty of murder.

TAPPER: District Attorney Jose Garza, thank you so much. I appreciate your time, sir.

GARZA: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up a judge's scathing ruling today against Fox, just one day before trial begins in a billion dollar, really, $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: One day before jury selection, the judge hearing the $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox is sanctioning that companies, lawyers accusing the lawyers of withholding evidence and accusing the lawyers of not telling the court the truth. This in the case where Fox is accused of lying to its audience.

Let's bring in CNN's Oliver Darcy.

What evidence or lack thereof is the network accused of withholding from the court, Oliver?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yeah, Jake. More bad news for Fox on the eve of jury selection in this $1.6 billion case. This is as it relates to Rupert Murdoch and his role at Fox News.

Fox lawyers had obviously disclosed that Murdoch is the chair of Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, but they hadn't disclosed to the court in the case that he is also an officer on Fox News's board.

This infuriating the judge, saying that he can no longer really trust what's coming out of Fox, and he's now appointed a special master to investigate whether Fox withheld key evidence in the trial and whether it lied to the court.

And not something, Jake, you want to see on the eve of a trial. I want to read to you some of the comments the judge made, he said: I am very concerned. There has been misrepresentations to the court. He says: This is very serious. I am very uncomfortable right now.

Those are the comments that the judge was making two Fox's attorneys on the eve of jury selection. So not how Fox probably wants to get started, and it really shows the judge's exasperation for the network that has been building for some time during these hearings, where he's just fed up with the right wing channel's antics, Jake.

TAPPER: As my grandfather used to say, what to expect from a pig, but a grunt.

Oliver Darcy, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, in his first TV interview since the Louisville bank shooting took the life of his friend.

Plus, new 911 calls from that horrific attack.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a dire warning about fentanyl laced with an animal tranquilizer known as tranq. For the first time in history, the White House's declaring this to be an emerging threat. The lethal combo that rots people skin now appearing in all 50 states.

Plus, CNN digs up an old college newspaper op-ed by the House Democratic leader defending his anti-Semitic relative. Hakeem Jeffries probably wished this stayed in the past.

And leading this hour, you can feel the horror and fear as they plead for help while the gunman terrorizes the Louisville bank. Police releasing the 911 calls today from that deadly bank shooting, including a call from the shooter's mother, who is confused and asking police to not punish her son.

I want to warn viewers that these 911 calls can be upsetting to hear. One woman calling 911 while hiding in a closet at the bank survived.