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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Feinstein's Absence Divides Dems, Stalls Judicial Confirmations; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), Is Interviewed About Senator Feinstein; Supreme Court Weighs Fate Of Most Common Abortion Pill; DeSantis Super PAC Releases Ad Accusing Trump OF Spreading Lies; DeSantis Threatens To Build State Prison Next To Disney World; Donald Trump Jr. Calls For End To Conservative-Led Bud Light Boycott; GOP Campaign Committee Backs Off Tweet Attacking Bud Light; Akron, Ohio Officers Involved In The Deadly Shooting Walker Will Not Face Criminal Charges; Teen Gets Shot After Going To Wrong House In Kansas City; Two Big Returns Happening On Capitol Hill; Feinstein's Absence Creates Division Among Dems, Slows Down Judicial Confirmations. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 17, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The general says police did not know Walker was unarmed when he ran. Officers fired 94 shots at Walker. His corpse said 46 gunshot wounds. That's according to state officials. Protests erupted in Akron after officers' bodycam footage was released.

We're gonna start our coverage with CNN's Polo Sandoval, who's been following this case for months. And Polo, what do we know about the grand jury's decision to not bring charges against any of the eight officers?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jake, a likely deciding factor was what Ohio state investigators were able to determine. That is that the 25 year old Jayland Walker reportedly shot at least one time at officers doing the vehicle pursuit portion of that night back in June of last year.

And because of that, when the 25-year old man bailed out of his vehicle and then initiated that foot chase, according to the attorney general, officers believed that he was still armed and that is why authorities established that when he reached toward his waistband, they assumed that he had a weapon, and that's when they opened fire.

Of course, we still have to find out if that use of force will actually be justified, but this certainly is going to raise a lot of questions about a potential -- about what might happen in the community there in Akron. I should tell you, Jake, I've been speaking to people there in the community they have prepared for this for weeks for this announcement that you're about to hear from the state's attorney general.

TAPPER: And what is --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVE YOST, OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- concluded that the officers were legally justified in their use of force. The grand jury just a little while ago issued what is called a "No Bill", meaning that there will be no state criminal action, no charges at the state level. That does not resolve any potential civil action that might be brought for the wrongful death.

SANDOVAL: The family of the Walker -- rather the attorney of the Walker family telling me, Jake, that they had been briefed on all potential outcomes and that includes exactly what we heard from state investigators or at least the state prosecutors that the grand jury decided not to indict those eight police officers for shooting and killing Jalen Walker.

TAPPER: Of course, not being indicted doesn't mean that, you know, they did everything according to proper procedure. Well, what's next for the police officers?

SANDOVAL: So, this is "No bills" now will initiate an administrative investigation. The use of force investigation that Akron PD will now be looking into the actions that each one of those eight officers will have to account for each one of the bullets that left their weapons.

But we should stress, Jake, that is an administrative investigation, separate from any potential criminal proceedings that would have happened, which we now know after this grand jury decision in Summit County today but that will not happen. Charges will not be filed -- at least criminal charges won't be filed against those eight officers.

TAPPER: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks.

I wanna bring in Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson. Now, Joey, what's your reaction to the grand jury deciding to not indict any of the eight officers in this case?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Jake, I think the measure of really disappointment stems from the fact that I believe that the community would have wanted and everyone really, who was assessing this, would have wanted a jury determination.

What's the distinction? The distinction is a grand jury is impaneled and they don't decide guilt or innocence. They merely decide whether there's reason to believe that a crime occurred and that any of these officers committed that.

Of course, we know that the prosecutor controls the grand jury, instructs the grand jury as to the law, and it's done in secrecy. And so, I think if it were brought to the forefront, and it were done where there were really a forum, where people would have been allowed to see the evidence, see the witnesses, look at the questions, see the responses, I think that there would be more public trust.

But to the extent that it did not get that far, I think that there's great disappointment within the community with respect to the grand jury's determination, Jake. TAPPER: So, the grand jury must have concluded that the officers were legally justified in their use of force. What do you think likely went into that decision?

JACKSON: There's always three things that go into any decision with respect to justification, right, whether you are engaging in defense of self. And that goes to the issue of were you in immediate fear of death or serious bodily injury by anyone who you were chasing, right? In this particular case, the young man that died that had 46 wounds on his body. Where you an immediate fear?

The second analysis is, was the threat posed and your actions to that threat proportionate to whatever threat was posed? One could question whether the amount of shots, there was any proportionality or disproportionality which I believe the community feels.

And the last thing, Jake, is whether there was a degree of reasonableness. Did you act reasonably under the circumstances based upon all the evidence the grand jury heard having been instructed by the prosecutor who controls the grand jury in secret.


Apparently, this grand jury determined that there were those elements, the immediacy, the proportionality and the reasonableness were present in this case. Many may disagree.

TAPPER: Do you think that if the evidence was presented, suggesting that a shot was fired against the police officers and that the police officers did not know that he left his gun in the car, that that would be enough to exonerate the police.

JACKSON: So, I think the issue with that, Jake, is that those are questions for a trial, right? I think you can have people -- the direct answer to your question is that it depends when the shot was fired. If you shot a -- if you fired a shot at some earlier time and informs the judgment of the police as to whether or not there is a gun, that's going to heighten your alertness. That in and of itself doesn't give you the right, as an officer or anyone, to fire a shot unless at the time the shot was fired. You had that immediacy of fear.

But the issues about whether or not the actions were justified, whether they were not, did the police act properly, appropriately in accordance with regulations and rules, et cetera, that's something, I think, again, that the public would have wanted to see by virtue of bringing the case to a jury, and to the extent that we've heard many times that a jury would indict a ham sandwich, you're left to wonder what happened in this particular case.

And I think, the community, you know, whether real, imagined, perception or otherwise, the perception is the reality. They didn't indict. Why didn't they? Why wasn't the public allowed to see what would have occurred? And I think this goes to the notion of whether people really trust a system, who is that system working for, should it not have gone to trial, and if it did, the public would have had every right to see, evaluate, review the evidence and making draw their own conclusions. Grandeur is a secret. You don't have that ability in this case.

TAPPER: Joey Jackson, thanks so much.

Also internationally, the door knock gone terribly wrong. An elderly white man allegedly shot 16-year old Ralph Yarl twice after the teen knocked on the wrong door when going to pick up his younger brothers. Yarl's family says the teen thought he was knocking on the door of 15th Terrace, instead he was at 15th Street.

According to the Kansas City Star, the teenager has been released from the hospital but now protesters are demanding that the suspect in shooting him be charged. He was arrested, but he was released less than two hours later.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov was in Kansas City where 16-year old Ralph Yarl has a long road of recovery ahead of him.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Calls for justice as hundreds of protesters marched in Kansas City, Missouri, after the shooting of a black teenager.

UNKNOWN: When black class are under attack, what do you do?

UNKNOWN: Stand up, fight back.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Hit by bullets to the left side of the head and his right arm after he went to the wrong home to pick up his younger brothers Thursday evening.

UNKNOWN: Black Lives Matter.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Sixteen-year old Ralph rang the doorbell at a residence just before 10.00 p.m. on 115th Street instead of 115th Terrace and was shot by an elderly white man.

UNKNOWN: To have black people rang the doorbell and then have a white citizen shoot him in the head first and then shoot him a second time, I mean, there is no way you can justify this. We can only imagine if the rows were reversed.

KAFANOV (voice-over): A neighbor called 911 after Yarl showed up on her doorstep, bleeding but alert. The suspect in a shooting, a man in his eighties was taken into custody just before midnight placed on a 24-hour hold, then released less than two hours later. Police saying they are working to get a victim statement and additional forensic evidence before making a decision about referring the case for prosecution.

Missouri has a standard ground law that allows physical force to defend yourself if there's reasonable belief that unlawful force is imminent.

STACEY GRAVES, KANSAS CITY, MO POLICE CHIEF: The information that we have now, it does not say that that is racially motivated. That's still an active investigation. But as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case. I do recognize and understand the community's concern.

KAFANOV: Yarl was hospitalized and released Sunday according to the Kansas City Star.

FAITH SPOONMORE, RALPH YARL'S AUNT: My nephew is alive and he is healing. It is not the story that that individual intended for us to tell.

KAFANOV: Yarl's family says he's an honor student, a leader in the marching band at his high school and hopes to attend Texas A&M University to study Chemical Engineering when he graduates high school. His family attorneys, in a statement, asked that police prosecute to the full extent of the law the man responsible for this horrendous and unjustifiable shooting. Yarl's father asking for the gunman to be charged in the shooting.

PAUL YARL, RALPH YARL'S FATHER: We want charges. That's what we want.

KAFANOV (voice-over): While protesters pray, march and demand justice, Yarl's family also asks for hope and healing.


UNKNOWN: We have a lot to be thankful for. That, right there, is a lot of hate. This, right here, is a lot of love.


KAFANOV (on-camera): And Jake, This is the home where that teenager Ralph Yarl mistakenly show up -- showed up, ringing the doorbell. He managed to walk away crossing the street to a neighbor's home despite being twice shot.

My producer spoke with a neighbor. She described him as a very strong man, very brave. We also spoke to a fellow classmate of Yarl's who described him as a really nice all-around guy. Students, teachers, everyone appeared to love him.

No charges have been filed against the alleged shooter yet, but the Kansas City police telling CNN that the shooting remains under investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much.

Coming up. We're gonna talk to the attorney representing Yarl's family, Benjamin Crump. Plus, two senators make their return to work while big questions are building about another senator who remains absent.


TAPPER: And we're back with more on that tragic Kansas City shooting where a white man in his eighties shot a 16-year old black teenager who had knocked on the wrong door when trying to pick up his younger brothers.


Here now is Attorney Ben Crump. He's representing the family of the 16-year old Ralph Yarl. Ben, Mr. Crump, good to see you. The Kansas City Star is reporting that Ralph Yarl was released from the hospital yesterday. Is that good news? How is he doing?

BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: It's a miracle, Jake. Nothing short of a miracle. Obviously, he's still struggling, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, but he and his family are just happy that he's alive after being shot in the head.

TAPPER: Is he going to be ultimately okay? What's the prognosis?

CRUMP: The prognosis is that he's young and strong and he's a fighter. The fact that he has a lot of prayers that he hopefully will fully recover but it's just the beginning. Now, he's not out of the woods yet, but the great thing is, they said he was stable enough to go to his home.

TAPPER: Yeah, that's amazing. So, police have not yet released the name of the shooter. We know he's a white man in his 80s. Investigators say they're evaluating whether or not his actions -- shooting this young man are protected under Missouri's "Stand Your Ground" law. Is that a possible valid defense for him?

CRUMP: Jake Tapper, you know, it is so offensive when people try to justify, shoot and -- black people, especially young children. He merely rang the doorbell. That was it. And the owner of the home shoots through the door, hitting him in the head and then shoots him a second time, aiming at his chest and had he not have his arm there, the bullet would have went his chest.

And so, how is this ever justified? I mean, you have people who are delivery men. So, do you mean to tell me now we're going to tolerate as a society when you have a black delivery man from Amazon or FedEx ring your doorbell, that a white citizen can profile them and shoot them and say just because the color of his skin I thought he was burglarizing my home? That is unacceptable.

TAPPER: So, why has the Kansas City police chief not arrested this man?

CRUMP: It makes no sense to us, Jake Tapper, is to Americas, you know, because nobody can tell us if the roles were reversed, and you had a black man shoot a white 16-year old teenager for merely ringing his doorbell that he would not be arrested.

I mean, this citizen went home and slept in his bed at night after shooting that young black kid in the head. It harkens back to tragedies like Trayvon Martin being killed, and like Ahmaud Arbery being killed. And so, yet again we continue to fight to say, you can't profile and shoot our children just because you have this "Stand Your Ground" law, unacceptable. TAPPER: Police have said -- have claimed that they can't make an

arrest until the 16-year old Ralph is up and can provide a statement. But we've talked to some Kansas City attorneys who say that's not true. Phillip Brooks, a Kansas City area defense attorney told "The Kansas City Star," for example, that the victim doesn't have to say anything on physical evidence alone. The prosecutors can charge a suspect.

Do you think the Kansas City police are purposefully delaying an arrest or even just refusing to conduct an arrest?

CRUMP: I think the Kansas City Police is treating this differently than they would have treated it have the racial components being reversed. We have had this play out far too often, Jake Tapper, when you have innocent black victims, whether it's Breonna Taylor or any others, they try to come up with excuses why not to arrest people. You know, we saw Tyre Nichols when it was five black police officers that they terminated, arrested and charged those officers within 20 days.

It is just inexplicable when our children are laying on the ground, shot or killed, the ways that American legal system, try to go to justify these horrendous acts.


Jake Tapper, if it would have been a black man shooting a 16-year old white teenager and they didn't arrest him and process him and set a bail, there would be chaos in the streets.

TAPPER: When will Ralph be able to talk to the police, do you think?

CRUMP: You know, I'm sure Attorney Lee Merritt and I, we will make him available when the police want to talk to him, but we find it offensive that they're trying to use this excuse. And so, are you telling me if they -- the miracle wouldn't have happened, Jake Tapper, and Ralph would have been killed, are you telling me that they're saying they can't arrest the white shooter until they get a statement from the person? So, if he would have been killed, so they're trying to tell us they never would have arrested the shooter.

TAPPER: Yeah. Lastly, sir, before you go, I wanna get your reaction to the grand jury in Akron declining to indict those eight police officers who fatally shot 25-year old Jayland Walker last year. What did you make of that decision?

CRUMP: Again, it's the sad reality that we live in, being black in America, that police could shoot 60 times this young man who didn't kill anybody at all and it be justified, but, yeah, you have Dylann Roof go into a church, shoot nine innocent people. They follow him across two states and then they take him to get a burger and fries from Burger King. And yet, they try to tell us that it's equal justice. We have to make America acknowledge that we have to justice systems and we have to fight to get equal justice for every citizen in the United States of America.

TAPPER: Ben Crump. Always good to have you on. Thank you so much, sir.

CRUMP: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still ahead. Surprising pushback on the Bud Light boycotts. Why Donald Trump, Jr. is calling to end it.




TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead and two big returns on Capitol Hill today. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, is back in the Senate after spending the last several weeks recovering from a fall. McConnell was hospitalized with a concussion and a rib fracture after taking a spill at a dinner event last month.

Democratic Senator John Fetterman of the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also returned to the Hill today after receiving treatment for clinical depression, which worsened last year after the stroke that he suffered in May. Fetterman told reporters, quote, "It's great to be back," as he arrived at the Capitol earlier this afternoon.

Also in our politics lead, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York says he's hopeful Republicans will join Democrats to vote to temporarily replace Senator Dianne Feinstein of California on the Senate Judiciary as Feinstein recovers from shingles back in her home state, an effort to move on judicial confirmations, which are currently stalled by her absence, but will Republicans go along with this?

Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican has already said she's not gonna back this effort.

CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill. Manu, how likely is it that other Republicans are going to go along with us?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Very unlikely, Jake. In fact, I have been speaking with top Republicans all afternoon, and they are making clear that they will not support the Democratic effort to replace Dianne Feinstein from the Senate Judiciary Committee, essentially giving Republicans veto power over the judicial nominees who may move along party lines because that one absence -- five (ph) Dianne Feinstein's absence ensures that they could bottle up any judicial nominee in committee if they do not give consent to advance any of President Biden's judicial nominees to the Senate floor.

Earlier today, John Cornyn, the Senior Republican and member of Mitch McConnell's leadership team, made clear he does not believe Republicans should cooperate.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), U.S. SENATE: This is, it turns out, unprecedented. Over the years, senators from both sides, as I indicated a moment ago, have needed time away due to various health issues. Never, not once, have we allowed temporary substitutes on committees and now is not the time to start.

Republicans are not gonna break this precedent in order to bail out Senator Schumer or the Biden administrations' most controversial nominees.


RAJU: And I just talked to Senator Chuck Grassley, who is also 89 years old like Dianne Feinstein. Someone who's close to Dianne Feinstein said he would not support this. He told me I don't think senatorial courtesy will work to move liberal judges. This will only intensify pressure on Feinstein herself to either resign or come back to the Senate.

So far, Democratic leaders are not going as far as calling on her to resign. Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, telling me earlier that he was not willing to go there yet. He just wants her to come back soon so they could move on some judges. At least 12 at the moment are stalled, potentially more the longer Feinstein is out.

TAPPER: Right. If she actually resigns, then a seat opens up on judiciary and then Schumer just gets to name who that person is, but they don't have to vote on this accommodation.

Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman from Washington and House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. Chairwoman, first, what do you think about all this? It looks as though that judiciary -- judicial nominations are gonna be held up because of the situation with Senator Feinstein. Do you agree with your colleagues Ro Khanna and Dean Phillips that that she really should just resign?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA), U.S. CONGRESS: Well, Jake, it's great to be with you. I mean, first of all, I wish her well with her health. That is what she's dealing with as a serious health concern. Secondly, I think Republicans should think about what's going to happen when the shoe is on the other foot. This is ridiculous that they don't want to accommodate.

But third, and maybe most importantly, look, I think that -- I hope she's able to return quickly, but I think that there are serious concerns about judicial nominations, about other bills. There may be votes on abortion that the Senate will have to take. There maybe -- there's certainly going to be votes on the debt ceiling. These are critical pieces of business that the country needs, and we need a full complement of senators in order to make those things happen. So hope she returns quickly, but obviously we need to move forward on these votes.

TAPPER: Well, if I'm interpreting you correctly, are you saying that if the reality is she's not going to be able to come back, let's say in the next few weeks, she should resign just for the good of the country? Is that basically the message you're saying?

JAYAPAL: No, I think every senator has got to make that decision. But obviously, there's a lot at stake for the country. She's been an amazing leader in the Senate during her years, and I think she's going to have to make that decision for herself. But there is a lot at stake for the country.

TAPPER: I want to turn to another huge issue this week, the U.S. Supreme Court weighing a judge's decision, a judge in Texas, to restrict, basically to ban an abortion drug mifepristone. You've been vocal about your own experience having had an abortion in 2019.

You wrote, quote, "I have never spoken publicly about my abortion. In some ways, I have felt I should not have to because it is an intensely personal decision. But I have decided to speak about it now because I am deeply concerned about the intensified efforts to strip choice and constitutional rights away from pregnant people and the simplistic ways of trying to criminalize abortion." Obviously, that was 2019. Things have gotten dramatically worse for those who agree with you on this issue.

Are you concerned at all by this emerging tactic of conservatives to restrict abortion? And are you worried that the US. Supreme Court is going to keep mifepristone banned on a national level?

JAYAPAL: I'm really concerned, Jake. I mean, look, this is an issue that is right now being dictated by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party because the reality is that the majority of the country agrees that abortion should be safe and legal. And also the reality is that the whole discussion on abortion is about freedom and privacy.

Do you want a Supreme Court justice in your bedroom making decisions about what you can or can't do? This is, you know, at the core, it's a very Republican idea in terms of keeping our freedoms. And so, this is -- it has severe consequences for pregnant people across the country. And if mifepristone, if the Supreme Court decides to uphold the horrendous, nonscientific, completely outrageous decision by the Texas judge, then it's also going to throw the country into chaos as far as approvals of drugs in this country. Think about your cancer drug.

Think about any number of drugs that have been out there for a long time, if somebody suddenly doesn't like them, are they just going to be able to argue that, go to a judge and say, well, we have a political view of this drug, this vaccine, whatever it is, and we're not going to look at the science of it? And you know, I think that's why, in fact, a lot of pharmaceutical companies also are starting to weigh in on this because it has huge implications for all kinds of medications across the country.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman from Washington, Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much. Always good to see you.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, why Governor Ron DeSantis is threatening to build a prison next to the so called happiest place on earth.



TAPPER: A super PAC aligned with the possible presidential campaign of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking direct aim at Donald Trump, saying that the former president is lying about DeSantis' record.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is being attacked by a Democrat prosecutor in New York. So why is he spending millions attacking the Republican governor of Florida? Trump's stealing pages from the Biden Pelosi playbook, repeating lies about Social Security. Here's the truth from Governor Ron DeSantis.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We are not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did Trump say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will entitlements ever be on your plate?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point they will be. We will take a look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump should fight Democrats, not lie about Governor DeSantis.


TAPPER: Pretty interesting stuff. We showed that ad. I want to have full disclosure here, because I showed the pudding ad that Trump is doing, the Trump Super Pac is doing against DeSantis, I showed it twice because I think it's so funny. So, out of fairness, we ran that entire ad.

But, Heidi, this is interesting stuff. There really -- I mean, DeSantis isn't even a candidate.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, he has the benefit of knowing what doesn't work, which is in 2016, standing back saying, I'm taking the high ground and being attacked as low energy, as little, or in this case, a pudding pilfer. And so, he's doing what -- he's also in a very precarious position right now in his campaign, where the narrative seems to be shifting to that he's struggling.

And look, this is a guy who ran, literally had an ad that he is a warrior, the worst thing would be for him to be branded as weak. And so, yes, he learned from 2016.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: But he's not taking him on directly. This is a pack for him.

TAPPER: That supposedly has no relationship or contact with him.

MCKEND: Exactly.

TAPPER: Supposedly.


MCKEND: And so, I wonder if this is the strategy, if this is a playbook that Republican candidates are going to use. Are they not going to take on Trump directly but let others do it for them, let the PAC speak for them? I covered the Georgia Senate race last year, and sometimes the ads against Herschel Walker were really bruising. And then you would ask Senator Warnock about the contents of the ads, and he would change the conversation. He never really has brutally took on Herschel Walker. And so, I sort of seem the same strategy at work here.

TAPPER: Although, Sarah, we should point out, it's not as though DeSantis is not willing to punch. It's just that he wants to punch Mickey Mouse. He's continuing his fight against Disney and Bob Iger and all that. The company was trying to thwart the DeSantis effort to take over their kingdom that they had there. Here is a threat from Governor DeSantis about what he might do with the land surrounding Disney World should things not go according to plan.


DESANTIS: Come to think of it, now, people are like, well, there's -- what should we do with this land? And so, you know, it's like, OK, kids -- I mean, people have said maybe have another -- maybe create a state park. Maybe try to do more amusement parks.

Someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.


SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. So he would definitely rather fight with Disney than he would fight with Donald Trump. And this is an attempt to sort of change the subject, right?

The subject about Ron DeSantis for the last couple of weeks is this guy's taking in the polls, Donald Trump is owning him, he's pudding with three fingers. And so, you know, what is his -- like, the only thing he has right now, because he is governor of Florida, is to try to fight Florida fights, right? And so, he's going back to the well on Disney and trying to look like he's tough there.

I'm not sure this is it, though. Like I'm not sure this is a thing that brings this guy back. I mean, that ad was kind of lame. It's a little whiny. It's like, why are they attack -- why is he attacking me? Ron DeSantis is going to have to find a better strategy for a straight on attack on Trump.

TAPPER: What would you -- you're a Democrat, so you're not going to advise them. But theoretically -- JAMAL SIMMONS, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA


TAPPER: -- what would you tell DeSantis to do?

SIMMONS: Well, I'll start here, which is that he's got to get into the rhythm of the fight and the campaign, right? And if you've never been on the national stage before, it's really hard. It's so different than running for governor. And so, he's got to get his legs and learn how to fight Donald Trump.

And so, I give him of space, and that this isn't the greatest attack ad I ever saw, but these things have metaphysical properties as much as physical properties. And he's got to learn kind of the energy level and the rhythm of getting in a big national fight. And so far, this is for his first trip.

TAPPER: So, right now in a big national fight is Budweiser, and specifically Bud Light. And that's happened. Conservatives calling for a boycott of Bud Light over the company's partnership with a trans influencer. They just -- they sent her a beer, I think, with her picture on it.

Now, Bud Light does seem to have an unlikely ally, Donald Trump Jr., who generally rails along with DeSantis against woke messaging. He's calling for an end to the boycott. He explains that the company, Anheuser-Busch mainly donates to Republicans. We should know that alongside him doing this, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the NRCC, they got rid of all their anti-Bud Light activism. What is going on here?

LONGWELL: The donors started making phone calls. You can't go around attacking donors, Republican donors. And once they start making calls, they're basically, you know, they got the Trumps involved. And so, they were saying, call off your attack dogs.

The problem is, you may have noticed, the Republican base now has very much a life and a mind of its own. And so, I think they will probably continue this despite what Don Jr. might say.

PRZYBYLA: They had to be a little worried about the big donors when you think about it. Like what made Trump novel in 2016 is now a potential liability. The Cokes are a hard pass, Sheldon Adelson is no longer around, and the religious right got what it wanted with the court that Donald Trump filled. And so, he -- you know, it's unclear whether he can recreate the magic of running with small donors and small contributions like he did in 2016.

TAPPER: What's the objection, though? I mean, like beer companies have all sorts of niche advertising here and there?

MCKEND: Right. And it's sort of intellectually inconsistent with what they argue, right? They argue against cancellation, but they're going to cancel a business for making a business decision. It doesn't really seem like it makes a whole lot of sense.

PRZYBYLA: Just 10 million followers or something like that. So it's a pure business decision.

TAPPER: Yes. What's your take?

SIMMONS: Well, for the Republicans, the bear is out of the cage, right? So for them to try to go around and clip its fingernails, they're going to end up getting bitten, because the Republican Party today is not on board with anything that has to do with a kind of multicultural, multi ethnic, you know, America where everybody gets to participate. And so, for them -- for Don Jr., who's come out and sort of been against this, to try to put this bear back in the cage, I just think he's -- it's already gone. It's already gone.


TAPPER: It's a cocaine bear, that's what you're saying.

MCKEND: And aren't they always railing against identity politics? Like, why are they even waging this battle that centrally like leads back to this issue of identity?

TAPPER: Well, all I'm going to say is it's not particularly good beer. But that's a separate issue. Thanks to all.

Coming up --


TAPPER: You're going to -- well, it's cheap.

Babies in NICUs abandoned without doctors or nurses. Hospital patients left to fend for themselves all because of what's being called a violent coup attempt. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Our world lead now, what's being called an attempted coup in the African nation of Sudan. Residents of the country's capital say today has been the heaviest day of shelling since the outbreak of violence began last week. And the United Nations says at least 180 people were killed there over the weekend. As CNN's Nima Elbagir reports for us now, even hospital have come under fire.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sudan's military with a show of strength over the capital Khartoum.

As birdsong and artillery fire echo, this country roiled in recent years by conflict and coups, is once again the placing of strongmen and what the military is calling an attempted coup.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan's military's leader, is fighting for dominance with Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which gain notoriety in the western Darfur region, and it is the most vulnerable who are paying the price.

Two doctors organization say that in Khartoum, both sides have hit hospitals in the fighting, at least half a dozen, though both sides deny it. CNN obtained eyewitness accounts from doctors on the ground who told CNN that the paramilitary Rapid Support Force directly targeted a hospital where wounded armed forces, soldiers and their families were being treated, including one doctor who says she witnessed the RSF approach Al Amal (ph) hospital in central Khartoum.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have to be strong enough to speak to you, you're the one that's going to tell the world what's happening to us. The evacuation was chaos. We were running as soldiers were shouting run and then someone else would yell stop it's not safe. But what choice did we have?

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Three separate doctors there described to us coming under intense bombardment. The country's Central Committee of Doctors tell CNN that with no doctors to tend them, the dead and injured are left to rot in their beds. And the Sudan Doctors Trade Union called the targeting of hospitals and the housing of military personnel there a clear breach of international humanitarian law, a charge both sides denied.

Both military leaders now fighting for control, were key allies in subverting the country's nascent democracy after the popular uprising in 2019, which deposed Sudan's longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, who now languishes in prison. The memories of those protests and the symbolic photo that became its emblem are slowly fading, as has the promised transition from military to democratic civilian rule.

But in an interview with CNN from inside Army HQ, the leader of Sudan's military tells me that the RSF militia is staging an attempted coup.

ABDEL FATTAH AL-BURHAN, SUDAN'S MILITARY LEADER (through translator): Yesterday and today a humanitarian ceasefire proposal was put forward and agreed upon. Sadly, he did not abide by it. You can hear right now the attempts to storm the army headquarters, and indiscriminate mortar attacks. He's using the humanitarian pause to continue the fight.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): I asked him why the Sudanese people should trust him, given his previous partnership with Commander Dagalo.

AL-BURHAN (through translator): The Sudanese Army is the people's army. It is not owned by specific people or specific organizations.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): General Burhan also committed to a return to civilian rule.

The leader of the Rapid Support Forces also told CNN this weekend that he wanted to ensure democratic rule.

GENERAL MOHAMED HAMDAN DAGALO, LEADER OF PARAMILITARY RAPID SUPPORT FORCES (through translator): I don't want to be the leader of the army. There's a framework agreement between all the Sudanese stakeholders that should be adhered to. I don't want to lead anything. ELBAGIR (voice-over): Neither general could tell us when the people of Sudan could expect this deadly fight to end while many languish without water, food, electricity, and no way to bury their death.


ELBAGIR: Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeated his calls for calm, joining other world leaders. But neither he nor those standing alongside him in these calls appear to have any way to deliver on them currently. And there really is no end in sight at the moment, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nima Elbagir, thank you so much for that report as always.

New reaction is coming in after that grand jury decided not to indict those eight Akron, Ohio police officers who killed Jayland Walker last year.

Alex Marquardt is in for Wolf Blitzer in this situation.

Alex, what's coming up?


Well, moments ago, we did hear from the police chief in Akron who said that the officers involved in this case will remain on administrative duty for the foreseeable future and that their identities will not be released due to what he called credible threats against them.

Now, shortly, we expect to hear from members of Jayland Walker's family. That will be their first reaction to this news unfolding in Ohio today. We are expecting to hear from Walker's mother as well as his sister and the family's attorney.

Now this as CNN is learning that Jayland Walker was shot by the Akron police 46 times during that traffic stop and car chase last June. So we'll have much more on this in the next hour right here in the Situation Room, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. We'll be tuning in in a few minutes, Alex. Thanks so much.


Still ahead, the Philadelphia Eagles certainly showed him the money. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is making history. Stay with us.


TAPPER: My beloved Philadelphia Eagles are making history in our sports league today. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has signed a record breaking five-year extension with the great city of Philadelphia. The deal is reportedly worth $255,000,000 or an average of $51 million a year, making the 24-year-old Jalen Hurts the highest paid NFL player in the history of the sport. One hundred seventy-nine million dollars of the contract is guaranteed, meaning even if Hurts is hurt, he still gets paid. This year, he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs. Hurts is now one of the highest paid athletes in the world, behind LeBron James, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD once you get your podcast just sitting there like a big slice of Lorenzo's pizza.


Our coverage continue now with Alex Marquardt, he's in for Wolf Blitzer in a place right next door that I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you tomorrow.