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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Police Release Frantic 911 Calls From Kentucky Bank Shooting; Appeals Court Could Rule At Any Moment On Abortion Medication; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' Claim He Was Unaware Of Uncle's Antisemitic Controversy Undermined By 1992 College Editorial Defending Him; Rep. Ro Khanna Calls On Sen. Dianne Feinstein To Resign; Biden Admin Declares Fentanyl Combined With An Animal Tranquilizer "An Emerging Threat"; Evictions Surge Amid Rising Inflation And Pandemic Eviction Moratoriums Ending. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 12, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: 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, but several of her colleagues did not.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has anybody been shot?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. Probably eight or nine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight or nine people have been shot?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you with any of them?

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


TAPPER: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus starts off our coverage from Louisville where a vigil to honor the victims is getting underway.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know you have an active shooter on the site?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just watched it on a teams meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watch it on a teams meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are having a board meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the suspect?


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight we're hearing dramatic 911 calls from Monday's mass shooting in Louisville that killed five bank employees, including one call from the mother of the gunman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes ma'am, my son might be -- he said he has a gun and he's heading toward the Old National at -- on Main Street here in Louisville.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Main Street, Old National?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, this is his mother. I'm so sorry. I'm getting these details second hand. I'm going through it now. Oh my Lord.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and what exactly is going on with him? What is he saying he's doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, I'm getting this information from his roommate. He apparently left a note. He's never hurt anyone. He's a really good kid. Please don't punish him.

His roommate called me. His roommate was concerned. Please, he's nonviolent. He's never done anything. He's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And you don't believe he owns guns?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know he doesn't own any guns.

BROADDUS (voice-over): In another call, you can hear a woman inside the bank talking to a 911 operator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you see the person? Are you able to give me a description?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know who it is. He's probably 6 feet tall. He's young -- a young male.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know the person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He works with us.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The release of the calls comes one day after police released body camera footage from the first two officers who responded to the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up, back up, back up, back up.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Rookie Officer Nicholas Wilt and his training officer Cory Galloway started taking incoming fire immediately after they arrived on scene. This is when both officers are hit. Shortly after, more officers arrive on scene.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Moments later, Officer Galloway and the gunman exchange more fire. The gunman is killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I got him down. I think he's down.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The family of the shooter says the 25-year-old struggled with depression, but his family had no idea he was planning an attack.

In a statement to CNN affiliate WDRB, the family says, quote, "No words can express our sorrow, anguish and horror at the unthinkable harm our son Connor inflicted on innocent people, their families, and the entire Louisville community."

Investigators are still trying to figure out what Sturgeon's motive was. We know he was employed by the bank at the time of the shooting. Police say he bought the AR15 style weapon used in the attack on April 4 legally from a local shop. This as we learn more about Sturgeon, a former classmate telling CNN he was a varsity athlete in high school and played basketball and ran tracks, saying, quote, "I never in a million years would expect him to be capable of such a monstrous act."

Three people remained in the hospital, including officer Wilt, who had brain surgery. He's in critical condition.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It works. It works for some.

BROADDUS: And tonight here in Louisville, members of the community have already gathered. Hundreds are here to honor and remember the five people who died in that shooting on Monday.

And even though we heard those 911 calls, we didn't see, obviously, the callers. But it was easy to hear in their voices that they were terrified. One caller hiding in a closet barely spoke above a whisper.

And after tonight's vigil, at least 20 churches will gather in prayer for what they call a night of resilience. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Adrienne Broaddus in Louisville, Kentucky for us, thank you so much.

I want to bring in CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller.

John, I wonder what stood out to you the most as you listen to these calls, especially the one from the gunman's mother saying that her son is not violent, a good kid, he doesn't even own any guns?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what stood out from the calls was two or three things. One, you know, the 911 call takers went by the book. You know, they gathered information, but they dispatched the call while they were getting that information.


The first call you hear, the one where the lady is actually watching the shooting on a Zoom connection from another location after they sort out the confusion that here's where the shooting is happening that's where police need to go but that's not where I am, she tells us something important. It was a board meeting, she says, which really suggests a regularly scheduled meeting that the shooter, as an employee of the bank, would have or could have known about. It tells us he may have been targeting that meeting on that day at that time because he knew he would find senior leadership from the bank, including Tommy Elliot, the executive vice president in one place.

The mom's call you bring up is also very interesting because what she tells us is not what she knows, but what she doesn't know. My son isn't violent. He doesn't have a gun. He's never had a gun, she says, which suggests that the family is totally aware that he is going through this emotional downturn, becoming more unhinged, and that he's already purchased a weapon. Something he's kept secret because this is going to be his surprise attack.

TAPPER: Yes. John Miller, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Moments ago, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, where he reacted to those heartbreaking 911 calls. And he remembered his good friend, Tommy Elliott, who John just mentioned, one of the victims who tragically was killed.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The police department has also released today that 911 audio that they got of the many calls that people placed, one of them is from the shooter's mother, who calls to say that her son's roommate has called to say he has a gun and he's headed toward the Old National Bank. Just to hear something like that, to see the mom calling, what's that like?

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): This person murdered my friend. Still, I can't imagine how his parents must be feeling right now.

COLLINS: This is difficult for you to talk about, I can tell.


COLLINS: And your friend is Tommy Elliot. What do you want people to remember about him? You talk about what a good friend he was and a great dad.

BESHEAR: He had a great smile. His eyes lit up when he did it. Loved life, was always into something. You know, trying to make the city a better place, trying to make University of Louisville a better place. Trying -- he's just always into something.

I mean, heck, he was trying to plan for me for when I'm done being governor, which was something I hoped that we could eventually plan together. An amazing human being, a loving dad.


TAPPER: And you can see all of Kaitlan Collins exclusive interview with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear at 09:00 p.m. Eastern tonight only on CNN.

Joining us now to discuss is Jillian Peterson, the cofounder of the Violence Project, which is a nonprofit research center that studies gun violence. She is also the co-author of the "Violence Project, How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic."

Jillian, thanks for joining us. We just heard parts of the 911 call, including from the shooter's mom. As part of your research, you spoke to both perpetrators who have carried out mass shootings and the people around the perpetrators. What did you learn from that?

JILLIAN PETERSON, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, a lot of what I heard in that 911 call reminded me of other mothers of perpetrators that I've interviewed and spoken to. I think a common thread is that families know something is wrong. They're concerned about their son, but they never think it's this is what's wrong. They never think their son is planning a mass shooting, but they certainly see warning signs around things like depression, suicidality, changes in behavior, and they may not know who to reach out to for help.

TAPPER: And as we discussed with Congressman Donald (ph) earlier, we need to emphasize most people who experience mental health issues are not homicidal, are not suicidal, pose no danger to themselves and to others. Is there a way to figure out who are the ones that we need to worry about when it comes to violence?

PETERSON: It's such a difficult question. So, we've studied about 200 of these perpetrators, including interviewing several of them incarcerated, and we see a common pathway to violence. So we see things like early childhood trauma, a crisis point, suicidality, studying and becoming fascinated with other mass shooters and grievance with the world, access to guns. And then the planning of the shooting, which is ultimately kind of angry suicide meant for us to watch and witness.


There's no checklist where I could say, here's the things that make somebody a mass shooter. It's too hard to do that. What we do know is that mass shooters leak their plans, they tell other people. Oftentimes they're expressing suicidal thoughts to friends or family.

And that is our critical moment of intervention, not because they have a mental illness. We know that so many people have mental illnesses, it does not make you dangerous, but that that's just one piece of a complicated story.

TAPPER: How common are mass shootings in the workplace?

PETERSON: Workplace is actually a fairly common place for mass shootings to occur. We saw a spike of workplace mass shootings more so in sort of the '80s and the '90s, they've faded away and we've had more school and retail establishment work shootings, but we still see them. And when there is a workplace shooting, it's an employee who works there, oftentimes an employee who's recently been reprimanded or getting fired.

TAPPER: Do you think that red flag laws work? Is there evidence, is there data that they keep guns out of the hands of individuals who would use them to harm others or themselves?

PETERSON: You know, our research shows that over 80 percent of mass shooters are in a noticeable crisis before the shooting happens. They're telling other people about their plans. They're leaking their intent. And so, anything that we can do to keep guns out of the hands that people who are saying to us, I am thinking about hurting myself and others, that's going to beneficial.

There is some evidence to show that they are effective, especially when it comes to suicide. It's harder to know when you've prevented a mass shooting, but certainly we know that people are communicating their plans, they're communicating their crisis. And red flag laws would be one way to stop them from carrying it out.

TAPPER: In your book, you wrote about more than 30 prevention strategies that you believe could reduce mass shootings. We don't have time to get into all 30, but what do you think it would make the biggest difference?

PETERSON: For me, one of the keys here is actually suicide prevention. These are suicides. We saw the perpetrator who did this shooting sit down and wait for the police to show up so that he could go out in a shootout with them. And so, if you want to be alive, you're not going to do something like this.

So I thinking about suicidality, about crisis intervention, and then at the same time, how do we make it harder for people who are feeling that way to access firearms? And there's a lot of different ways we can do that from red flag laws to even things like safe storage.

TAPPER: All right, Jillian Peterson, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

At any moment, the Fifth Circuit Federal Court -- Appeals Court could issue a ruling one of the drugs used in medication, abortion. Where that court battle will head is next. Plus, as the cost of housing skyrockets, people are kicked out of their homes at a troubling rate, leaving more Americans without a place to live.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, will access to the abortion medication mifepristone be restricted, essentially banned starting Friday? At any moment, we could learn the answer, as an appeals court will decide whether to leave in place a ruling from a Texas judge that would suspend the drug's FDA approval, which has been around for decades at the end of this week.

CNN's Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic is here to discuss.

Joan, tell us what could happen next as we await this appeals court ruling?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, this is a very tense waiting period. The Department of Justice has made its case to the Fifth Circuit and asked the court to decide by noon Thursday, just in case they have to go all the way to the Supreme Court for a temporary reprieve. The question is going to be, which side will the Fifth listen to, the Department of justice and the drug manufacturer Danco that says that order will just completely upend not just medication abortion access but healthcare and drug screening because this judge put himself in the shoes of the FDA, which normally would have the expertise to decide if something's safe and effective. They've got -- as I said, all the filings are in, and this issue, just so our audience knows, is not about abortion at this point, it's about whether there'll be a temporary pause on this litigation so that then there could be thoughtful consideration on a part of an appellate court as to which side is right on the merits.

TAPPER: But this case is likely to go to the Supreme Court, right? No matter who wins in the appeals court, it's going to be appealed.

BISKUPIC: One way or another it will go. It will either go for this temporary stay of the litigation at this point if the Fifth Circuit doesn't do that itself over the next 24 hours. But it will likely eventually, when all the appeals play out, go up there on the merits.

But the one thing I want to remind people about is this is not like what happened back in June when the justices, by that narrow five four vote, reversed all constitutional abortion rights nationwide. This has to do with the authority of a federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and who gets to challenge those scientific determinations about drugs that are safe and effective and when they can do it.

TAPPER: Yes. So, you mentioned the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.


TAPPER: Justice Kavanaugh wrote in his concurring opinion, quote, "To be clear, the Court's decision today does not outlaw abortion throughout the United States. On the contrary, the Court's decision properly leaves the question of abortion for the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process."

Look, nobody demands consistency from Supreme Court justices, but could he make that argument last year and then this year say it's fine for this judge to do whatever he wants and have it affect the entire United States?

BISKUPIC: That's right. The entire United States. That's why this is such a different case. And I actually think it could have the reverse outcome when the justices finally take it up.

The court, not just Justice Kavanaugh, but the majority also said, this is going back to the states. We're no longer going to be in the business of moral judgments, policy judgments.


And if you're going to say that you're not outlawing abortion nationwide, then what do you say to the states that right now make it legal and most of the women in their states use this method, this two pill medication abortion method to end their pregnancies? If this drug is removed from the market and no longer can -- women no longer can have access to it, you are effectively outlawing abortion.

TAPPER: Yes. Joan Biskupic, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the old college newspaper op-ed that House Democratic leader Hakeem Jefferies probably would rather CNN had not found. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Newly uncovered material from House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, contradicts his repeated previous denials that he was only vaguely aware that his uncle in the 1990s was spreading antisemitic filth. Leonard Jeffries is his uncle. He was then a college professor at City University of New York, and he was facing backlash for falsely blaming, quote, "rich Jews," for financing the slave trade, and for saying that Jews in Hollywood were engaged in a conspiracy to denigrate black people in film.

This is a big story back in the '80s. Jefferies has said in the past that since he was in college and it was the pre Internet era and his parents hid the controversy from both him and his brother that he did not know much about the uproar. But CNN's KFILE found that Jeffries was more than well aware of the controversy surrounding his uncle. He wrote a college editorial in his college paper supporting his uncle, inviting his uncle to speak on campus amid this furor. And he also defended noted bigot Louis Farrakhan from the Nation of Islam. Andrew Kaczynski of the CNN's KFILE team joins us now.

Andrew, tell us what you found.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, that's right. So Jeffries and the Black Student Union invited his uncle to speak on campus following the controversy. After this was protested by Jewish student groups, Jefferies actually led a press conference defending his uncle on campus, and he wrote an editorial in which he defended him and Louis Farrakhan, writing, "Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Minister Louis Farrakhan have come under intense fire. Where do you think their interests lie? Dr. Jeffries has challenged the existing white supremacist educational system and long standing distortion of history. His reward has been a media lynching, complete with character assassination and inflammatory, erroneous accusations." So, that was then. Fast forward to 2013, he's first running for Congress. He gets asked about his uncle. This is actually after he got elected, it's 2013, he was elected in 2012. And look at what he told the Wall Street Journal.

He says, "when a lot of this controversy took place, my brother and I were away at school. There was no Internet during that era. I can't even recall the Daily Binghamton, New York area newspaper but it wasn't covering the things that "The New York Post" and Daily News were at the time."

So, obviously, we know we see him hosting a press conference, we see him writing an editorial defending him. We look at those Wall Street Journal quotes, we can see that that is obviously severely undermined Jeffries' claims that he told The Wall Street Journal. He's also made similar claims over the years, recently in 2019. And he does often like to point back to that Wall Street Journal interview when he does get questions about his uncle.

TAPPER: Right. So this is 31 years ago, but the denials are not 31 years ago. You reached out to Jeffries office, he's the Democratic leader of the House. How are they responding?

KACZYNSKI: So we reached out to them. We asked them, does he see any inconsistencies between the comments in 2013, the actual history there? They didn't answer those questions for us. They did give us a statement that said, Leader Jefferies has been consistently clear that he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over 30 years ago.

TAPPER: OK. Andrew Kaczynski with KFILE, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Let's discuss. So, look, I would not want to be judged by anything I thought in college --


TAPPER: -- and I'm roughly the same age as Leader Jeffries. But you know, full disclosure, get it all out, get it all out early on your own terms. Tell the truth.

BORGER: Right. But he's then going to have to explain and go in over again what his uncle said at the time, which was hugely antisemitic.


BORGER: You know, calling Jews dogs and the rest.

TAPPER: This was -- yes, this was the early '90s. This was a big story at the time.

BORGER: Yes. It was a big story. And I think, look, he hid behind saying, and it's understandable, his parents tried to shield him from it, et cetera, et cetera. I think at a certain point, though, you have to say, look, I was young, and I should have denounced it then, and I denounce it now. I don't see how difficult that would be.

TAPPER: What do you think?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think to that point, yes. And also, if we look at his record, Jeffries record, right, he has been a champion for his constituents, which he represents the, I believe it's the 9th largest population of black citizens in his district and the 14th largest for Jewish citizens, right? And so, I think the office is probably trying to let their record speak --


JOHNSON: -- while he is -- he may be saying, look, let me figure out what else I don't remember, because I don't remember what I said in college, so that there's no more of this, so that we can get in front of it, so that we can have or we can address it, and we can talk about the work that we are doing for these communities at this time.


DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This should be a teachable moment, not just for Jefferies, but House Republicans and House Democrats. We've seen a rise, as we know, not just in anti-Semitic rhetoric, but obviously violence and graffiti put on people's houses. This is an opportunity, I think, for Jefferies to address what he wrote in the past, what his uncle has said, and use that to move forward.

We see so often words and symbols of bigotry being used. Anytime that we have the opportunity to kind of repel them, we should seize that.

TAPPER: Yes. The Republican Campaign Committee, the NRCC is already seizing on the K-File story slamming Jeffries for referring to black conservatives back in that op ed in 1992 as tokens and opportunists. And -- you'll forgive me for saying House Negroes, is the term that he used. So he is going to have to address this.

NICHOLAS WU, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: It's something that -- you know, so it looks like his office is coming up pretty forcefully already and trying to, you know, respond to this coming up again. I mean, look, I used to work for my campus newspaper. People, you know, would write things in there. A lot of us did. Right.

A lot of people wrote things in there that 30 years down the line, they might look on a bit differently. And that, you know, seems to be somewhat of the case here. At the same time, the interesting thing with the NRCC is this is where we see Republicans trying to sharpen lines of attack against Jefferies since, you know, they've been able to use Speaker Pelosi -- former Speaker Pelosi as a foil for quite some time. And now, they have a relatively someone who's more of an unknown quantity to a lot of Republicans.

TAPPER: Yes, I think he has an opportunity here but --


TAPPER: -- we'll see what he does. But another interesting thing in Democratic politics today, just moments ago, there's this bubbling up controversy about the fact that Senator Dianne Feinstein, who's old and obviously not at 100 percent of her mental capacity and was hospitalized on March 2 of this year, I think with shingles, she's not running for reelection. She's up for reelection, she's not running, but she's not present.

And she's missing a lot of votes. She's on the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's causing a lot of problems. They can't get their judges. The Democrats can't get their judges confirmed. Just moments ago, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California called on Feinstein to resign.

He tweeted, "It's time for Senator Feinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it's obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people." Do you agree?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think there's a conversation right now that we're trying to have -- getting some actual work done with this very slim majority. And, you know, we know that he is one of the co-chairs of Barbara Lee's campaign.

TAPPER: She's running to replace Feinstein, right. Yes.

JOHNSON: She's running to replace Feinstein. And there has been some conversation about the disappointment that a black woman wasn't appointed to former Senator Kamala Harris' seat when she became vice president. And so, I think there's more than just the Feinstein piece. It's also like, who will get that seat as well as can we actually get some work done, particularly around these judicial appointments, because we see what's happening in the court.

BORGER: Well, it's a block. When you miss more than 50 votes, I think it's a problem. And when your presence is needed for judicial nominees to get confirmed, I think it's a problem. And I think --

TAPPER: Why doesn't Schumer just take her off the Judiciary Committee?

BORGER: Well, remember she was supposed to be chairman at one point, and that didn't happen. I guess he could. I guess he could ask her. But he's a -- you know, Ro Khanna was just going to say this. Ro Khanna is a House member, not a senator, and it would be more likely that a House member would do this, correct me if I'm wrong. And a senator would do this to a fellow colleague and say she ought to leave.

TAPPER: Do you think there's a deference too much to people in Congress who are unable to carry out their duties because of illness of one kind or another, as opposed to a deference to the American people that they represent?

HEYE: There's a deference too much to members of Congress, period. Stop the sentence. And we see that in Washington, D.C. every day.

BORGER: Senate, in particular. HEYE: And we can talk about what maybe could happen or should happen. But the reality is Strom Thurmond couldn't do his job in the final day.

TAPPER: Like the last decade --

HEYE: Yes.

TAPPER: Not just the final day.

HEYE: Thad Cochran from Mississippi couldn't do his job, and we see this time and time again. And the reality is, it's the seat of the people. When you go to their office, it says the congressional district. It says the Senate seat. It's not just that member's seat. They don't own it.

But the reality is, for all intents and purposes, George Santos isn't going anywhere. Why? Because he has a two-year unshakable contract unless he decides to go or two-thirds of his colleagues kick him out.

TAPPER: One of the unspoken things, and I'm not saying this applies to Feinstein, but a lot of times somebody will become infirm or not all there, and the family and the staff don't want them to resign because then they don't have a job and they don't get goodies, and they don't get invited to all these cool events. I mean, there's an incentive structure for people in Washington to hide the illness.

WU: Yes. And I think it's part of a broader national conversation here about how exactly we talk about age and how it relates to our elected officials. California is the largest state. You know, we have a senator who has been absent for some time, which is raising a lot of questions among Democrats I've talked to about whether she'll even come back. And I think that's the question here.


BORGER: Well, we have two septuagenarians running for president, potentially. And, you know --

TAPPER: I'm sorry, but one of them is an octogenarian.

BORGER: Well, right. Oh, that's true. Oops, I forgot. That's right.

TAPPER: He had a birthday in December I think.

BORGER: He did have that birthday, right. So, you know, I think age is an issue that not only the Senate has to grapple with, but when you think in terms of the presidency.

TAPPER: So are -- there is a new generation of people running for president, younger people. Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, Doug speaking of Strom Thurmond, launched a presidential exploratory committee today. Here's a little bit of his launch video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I know America is a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression. I know it because I've lived it. That's why it pains my soul to see the Biden liberals attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb.

I bear witness that America can do for anyone what she has done for me. But we must rise up to the challenges of our time. This is a fight we must win.


TAPPER: Is there a lane for Senator Tim Scott in a Republican presidential primary?

HEYE: There is. What we see shaping up right now is it looks to be Donald Trump versus probably Ron DeSantis. If they beat each other up, if a Republican is willing to stand up to Donald Trump and that happens, there's an opportunity, and it could be Tim Scott.

Tim Scott is the most popular Republican I've ever met. Every Republican likes him. When he got promoted from the House to the Senate, I was in House leadership, we were sad to see him go. Republicans members and staff all love Tim Scott.

TAPPER: All right, thanks to one and all for being here.

Coming up, the dire new warning from the White House about a popular street drug that is dangerous enough, but now it's also being mixed with a dangerous animal tranquilizer. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead now, recent high profile deaths illustrate that the growing fentanyl crisis spares no one. Medical reports show the highly powerful opioid fentanyl played a role in the deaths of both Coolio, the Rapper and "Green Book" actor Frank Vallelonga Jr.

Just last week, a man charged in the fentanyl overdose death of "The Wire" actor/producer Michael Kenneth Williams pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges for that 2021 death. Today, even more troubling news as the Biden administration issued a strong warning about the dangers of fentanyl, dangerous enough on its own, laced with xylazine. That's animal tranquilizer, also known as tranq.

This is the first time in history any U.S. administration has declared a substance to be an emerging threat. CNN's Elle Reeve visited Philadelphia, where, sadly, fentanyl laced with tranq has become all too common on the streets.


ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tranq was found in over 90 percent of the dope samples tested in Philadelphia, and it's spreading to other cities on the East Coast. In 2021, it was detected in 34 percent of overdose deaths in Philadelphia.

Users did not want xylazine, but now they're addicted to it.

(on-camera): OK, so someone told me you're a real OG out here. What does that mean?

JENNIFER BARG: Original gangster. OK, yes, I've been out here for a long time. I -- a lot of people know me.

REEVE (on-camera): So like, you've been here when, like tranq started being in the supply, right?

BARG: Absolutely, yes. I've seen the whole transition go from real heroin to tranq and (INAUDIBLE), and it really changed a lot of people's habits, lifestyles.

REEVE (voice-over): Xylazine is a powerful sedative, not a proof for use in humans. It can cause users to be motionless for hours, even days.

MAGGIE: Elephants dealt with it.

REEVE (on-camera): Yes.

MAGGIE: That's why you see everybody on it, you know?

REEVE (on-camera): It also causes skin wounds that won't heal and that can become necrotic. Doctors don't yet know why.

NICK GALLAGHER: They removed 7 pounds of flesh and a liter and a half puff. It's been open for 21 months. That's how horrible was tranq could have. Whether or not your body heal.

REEVE (on-camera): It's killing us.

MAGGIE: A little bit, sure, it's killing us. Some of them is burler than others, but it's eventually going to kill you if you keep going. I see it every day. Death. Every day. Wait next year.

DR. JOSEPH D'ORAZIO, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN AND ADDICTION MEDICINE SPECIALIST, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL IN PHILADELPHIA: This has made it really difficult for patients to get into recovery. You know, they're so fearful of the withdrawal. They're fearful that the doctors and nurses don't know what xylazine is.

REEVE (voice-over): Xylazine withdrawal lasts longer than opioid withdrawal, and it can cause intense anxiety. Doctors don't know the best way to treat it, and they're trying different drugs to see what works.

But D'Orazio warns that cracking down on tranq will just push dealers to introduce other, more dangerous drugs. He says what will help is making it easier for users to get health care.

REEVE (on-camera): But how do you do that? How do you make that access to care better? D'ORAZIO: Better medications, so better ability to manage withdrawal, creating more housing access, housing is a major issue in our community, and I think that's something that we're not concentrating on is the prevention of this disorder.

REEVE (on-camera): And what would that be? More mental health care?

D'ORAZIO: Yes, absolutely.

SARAH LAURELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAVAGE SISTERS: The same reason that that mom on the main line reaches for a martini glass at noon is the same reason that I reached for a rig and put a needle in my neck. I was in pain. That's it. I was hurting. The people that are out here numbing their pain with substances, whether it's heroin, alcohol, cocaine.

We need to address the pain. We need to stop isolating the substance and look beyond it.



TAPPER: Very powerful. CNN's Elle Reeve is with us now. And I know the fentanyl crisis in Philly is a big issue in the mayor's race there. So Elle, harm reduction workers, people who help drug users focus on positive change, they've been sounding the alarm about this threat for years, you say?

REEVE: Yes. Sarah Laurell, the last woman interviewed in our piece, noticed about three years ago that her friends were getting these weird wounds, but there's no information about what was going on. So she started reading medical journals, even veterinary journals.

Another thing she noticed was that narcan wasn't working as well, and that's because while narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid, it doesn't work on tranq. So now her harm reduction group, Savage Sisters, is carrying oxygen tanks. They've been screaming at the top of their lungs for years, but now people are starting to listen.

TAPPER: Yes. And the Biden administration just declared this an emerging threat. What does that mean?

REEVE: So that means there's 90 days to develop a plan to address the issue, then the federal agencies figure out their part of the issue and how they can deal with tranq. It doesn't necessarily come with federal funding, but the Office of National Drug Control Policy is asking Congress for it.

TAPPER: All right, Elle Reeve, a very important report. Thank you so much for bringing that to us.

REEVE: Thank you.

TAPPER: In the world lead, two new disturbing videos that appear to show Ukrainian soldiers being beheaded by Russians in just a few minutes. CNN's Wolf Blitzer will be covering this intensely in The Situation Room.

Wolf, as these videos are now part of a war crimes investigation.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: They certainly are. And we'll discuss those gruesome beheading videos, Jake, and much more with the visiting Ukrainian prime minister when he joins us live here in The Situation Room for an exclusive interview.

The Kyiv government as you know has opened a formal investigation, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling the perpetrators beasts. We'll see if the prime minister is prepared to cast blame directly on Vladimir Putin. We'll also get his reaction to the leak of U.S. intelligence on Ukraine's military weakness, various weaknesses. It's all coming up in the next hour, Jake.

TAPPER: Very newsy. We'll definitely be watching, Wolf. We'll see at The Situation Room at 06:00 p.m. Eastern coming up in just under 15 minutes.

With new numbers showing the cost of housing on the rise, see a troubling effect that CNN goes inside one of the busiest eviction courts in the United States.



TAPPER: Our money lead now, new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that U.S. inflation has fallen to its lowest level since May 2021. However, there remain concerns when it comes to the U.S. housing market. Prices are still on the rise there.

CNN's Gabe Cohen visited a housing court in Texas as millions of Americans are falling behind in their rent and mortgage payments, and some are getting kicked out of their homes.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once a week, Houston residents pack into one of the busiest eviction courts in Texas.


COHEN (voice-over): On this day, more than 200 cases before noon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plaintiff or possession of the premises to the plaintiff in favor of the plaintiff.

COHEN (voice-over): As landlords take back their properties and families plead to stay in their homes.

JONATHAN MORRISON: It was me the most.

COHEN (voice-over): Jonathan Morrison is being evicted. He's been struggling with rent, he says, since his wife, the family breadwinner, died in December, leaving him to raise their daughter alone. MORRISON: No place to go. My 10-year-old is scared too.

COHEN (voice-over): In several cities, including Houston, evictions are surging even beyond pre-pandemic norms. More than 5 million U.S. households are behind on rent. Experts blame a perfect storm. Rents keep rising amid high inflation. COVID moratoriums on evictions are ending, and pandemic programs, especially rental assistance, are running dry.

In mid-March, a Texas rent relief program had to stop accepting applications just two days after starting overwhelmed by the demand.

WINONA BROWN: It's just a simple hard times.

COHEN (voice-over): Winona Brown (ph) says she fell behind on rent in February after losing her job. A photo of her kids in one hand, an eviction notice in the other. She says she wants to pay off her debt, but fears she may have to move.

BROWN: I've tried to make it and, you know, it's tough to do it on your own.

COHEN (voice-over): Some cities have bucked this trend, largely thanks to new tenant protections, like more funding for free legal assistance during an eviction, which few cities or states guarantee. Advocates say it's kept far more families in their homes.

Evictions disproportionately impact black and Hispanic communities and can make it far tougher for families to find homes later.

Kathy Bonilla (ph), a single mom, eight months pregnant with her fifth child, says she lost her government housing vouchers last year because of a paperwork issue. And now she's fighting a looming eviction with legal aid from a nonprofit.

KATHY BONILLA: It's like someone got their hands around my neck. I want to give up, but my family like, don't give up. If you give up, what about your kids? But I had it up to here already.

COHEN (voice-over): Erica Bowman (ph) is packing up her home to avoid packing into a courtroom. She said she struggled to keep up with rent in recent months since it went up more than $200 right as she started battling cancer.

ERICA BOWMAN: Everything just kind of hit all at once at that moment.

COHEN (voice-over): She and her kids need to be out in the coming days, unsure where they'll go.

BOWMAN: Trying to continue to stay positive and keep a smile on my face and to also not allow my children to feel the pressures of what I'm going through at this time has been extremely difficult.


COHEN: And a tricky piece of this puzzle is the lack of data that a lot of cities and states don't actively track evictions. And so, Jake, we really don't know the full scale of the national problem right now, and advocates say that makes it much harder to find solutions.


TAPPER: Right. You can't come up with policy if you don't know how to fix it.

COHEN: That's right.

TAPPER: Gabe, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. A powerful story.

In sports, Minnesota Twins' player is going to have surgery after being hit in the face with a fastball this afternoon. We're about to show you what happened, but a warning it might be a little hard to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Farmer gets hit above the shoulder.


TAPPER: The manager of the Minnesota Twins says that Kyle Farmer needs surgery to realign his teeth and fix a laceration on his lower jaw. The manager says it's a miracle that Farmer doesn't have any broken bones and that the injury isn't worse, given that pitch was 92 miles percent hours. For anyone who cares, the Twins went on to win that game against the Chicago White Sox, 3 to 1.

Our best wishes to Kyle Farmer for a quick recovery. That's brutal.

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 podcast all two hours just sitting there like a delicious cheesesteak from Geno's.

Our coverage continues next with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".