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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Supreme Court Faces 11:59 P.M. ET Deadline To Rule On Abortion Pill; Court Docs: Charges Dropped Against Actor Alec Baldwin; Divide Growing In East Palestine, Ohio Over Whether To Leave Or Stay Following Toxic Train Derailment; Sources: Biden Plans To Announce Bid For A Second Term On Tuesday; Poll: 41 Percent Of GOP Voters Say DeSantis Most Electable, 31 Percent Say Trump; Montana GOP Silences Trans Lawmaker Who Condemned Care Ban; Report: Planet Failed Its Annual Climate Health Checkup In 2022; 18 Attorneys General Call For Certain Hyundai And Kia Models To Be Recalled. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 21, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Their main options, Jake, either grant the Biden Administration request or deny it. And what the Biden administration, joined by drug manufacturer Danko, wants is to preserve the availability of mifepristone as it is now. Up to ten weeks of pregnancy, the ability for women to get it through the mail after consulting with medical personnel rather than have to pick it up in person, and the availability also of a generic. Those are things that lower courts had lifted. And if the Justices do not grant the Biden Administration request, those restrictions will go into place at 11:59 tonight.

So, grant or deny or do something in between, and the Biden Administration says if the Justices try to get fancy with some regulations and not other regulations, they'll just be creating havoc across the country for, not just this abortion medication, but for all FDA approval of existing and new drugs. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Joan, just quickly --


TAPPER: -- is it possible that they did come to a conclusion and they just want to get the hell out of town before releasing it?

BISKUPIC: No. It's possible though, that they did come to a conclusion and someone is writing. They could have five Justices already for either grant or deny. And someone who is angry about how that outcome is going is writing a dissenting statement.

And I have known times where the Justices went frankly to one to 3:00 a.m. in the morning waiting for that dissent, but tonight they can only go to 11:59. And if somebody is indeed writing a dissent two of five justice majority opinion right now, then we won't see it until that individual is done writing.

TAPPER: Well, I think it's guaranteed that somebody is writing an angry dissent no matter what. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.

Turning now to our pop culture lead, moments ago, prosecutors officially dropped charges against actor Alec Baldwin, citing new evidence in the case. Baldwin, as you might recall, was facing involuntary manslaughter charges after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after a gun he was holding went off during rehearsals for the movie "Rust." And now a source says the drop charges may be due to modifications to the firing mechanism in that gun. I want to bring in CNN Entertainment Reporter Chloe Melas.

And Chloe, what happened in the hearing today?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, listen, just moments ago, that status hearing wrapped and it looks as though the trial hearing that was set to start May, 3 the preliminary hearing has now been moved to August, so that the district attorney in New Mexico that they can finish their investigation because, remember, they dismissed the charges, Jake, but said that they were leaving it open to finish up their investigation. But this is a big moment for Alec Baldwin's legal team because today the court paperwork was officially filed that the charges are dismissed for now.

TAPPER: And Chloe, you're hearing some new details?

MELAS: Yes. So, Jake, so we have two sources telling CNN, one telling me, one telling CNN's Josh Campbell, that the D.A. got new evidence and that is what led to this dismissal, this, you know, kind of shocking moment for these charges that were just filed in January to be dismissed just two and a half months later. That had to do with the gun, modifications to the gun that Alec Bobbin was holding on the set of "Rust." Meaning, that potentially those modifications could mean that the gun might have fired a bullet without Alec pulling the trigger. The same thing that Alec Baldwin has maintained in interviews to me and ABC News. Take a listen.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, CHARGED IN "RUST" SHOOTING: I never once said, never, that the gun went off in my hand automatically.

Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So you never pulled the trigger?

BALDWIN: No, no, no, no, I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never.


MELAS: So this could mean, Jake, that it goes against everything the FBI ballistics report said. When they took that gun, they examined that gun for months and they came back and they said the only way that this prop gun could have fired around would be if someone pulled the trigger. So if there were modifications done to the gun by who, we don't know, but potentially that will come out in the D.A.'s investigation, you know, that clears Alec Baldwin. Right? Because there is, you know, evidence outside of what has just happened.

So this is new, this is developing and we are going to stay on this. And hopefully we're going to have more information very soon. But as of now, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on set, she still faces two counts of manslaughter and up to 18 months in prison. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Chloe Melas, thank you so much.

Joining us to discuss, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Laura Coates.

And Laura, just to start off, do you think the high profile nature of the shooting might have caused initially prosecutors to charge Alec Baldwin even if they didn't have a solid case? Because it works both ways, right? Sometimes people are so powerful they avoid charges and sometimes they're so powerful prosecutors want to be sure that they're not seen as bending over to power and they might get overexcited.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the celebrity status put the huge spotlight on this case and amped the pressure to be very, very comprehensive in your investigation. I will also say that there was certainly of that feeling when the D.A. wrote something about his big fancy lawyers and tried to point to celebrity as a way of why his defense was as it was. So it could be a little bit of that.


But at the end of the day, you're still talking about a case involves the loss of a human life on a movie set. So whether it was Alec Baldwin who was the one who did it or somebody else, it was the idea here that there was going to be a focus on this particular instance.

TAPPER: So special prosecutor say that this decision does not clear Baldwin of criminal culpability and that charges may still be refiled. Do you take that seriously?

COATES: Well, what they're pointing to is that it was dismissed without prejudice. If it was with prejudice, it would mean no one can bring this case again. You've done something wrong, so egregious or there is something so exculpatorious to say, no one ought to ever bring this case. So they're leaving themselves of a window.

It might be a bit of a saving of the face. Remember the process here, you had one prosecutor who stepped down, another one who stepped down, two now special prosecutors who are in this place who've now said, something has come to light to show us that we cannot bring this case or follow this timeline. I think the notion of culpability, though, is use of words, not guilt, but culpability.

There are still civil suits that are happening. He settled one with the widow and the son. There is one ongoing, I believe, with the sister and mother of the cinematographer for loss of consortium, meaning loss of opportunities to bond or spend time with or love in the presence of somebody. And so, there is a combination of those things. The word choice here is so important. But can you imagine a jury having this case one day and seeing the different iterations of the prosecutorial frontier and saying, well, now this is a winner, something has changed. And to the point that Chloe made, remember, if a gun was modified in some way, it might explain why the armorer has not yet had her cases and her charges yet dismissed. That is the person on the set whose job it is to ensure that what is handed to the actor or whoever is going to handle the weapon, that it's safe, secure, and according to the guidelines. If there's a modification, then that will be very interesting.

But remember, he was also focused on because he was a producer. And so --

TAPPER: Right.

COATES: -- there must be a disconnect if charges have been dropped between what he was responsible for and what ultimately happened.

TAPPER: Interesting. So he might be culpable for a lesser charge because he hired the armorer who was theoretically not trained enough. I mean, that could be a charge.

COATES: It could be a civil -- part of a civil lawsuit. Right now, the criminal charges have been dismissed without prejudice --

TAPPER: Right.

COATES: -- but it's unlikely they would revisit that very notion. But it's always possible in a civil world that culpability, which is a different standard than, say, beyond a reasonable doubt criminally --

TAPPER: Right.

COATES: -- could rear its head.

TAPPER: Interesting. Laura Coates, thanks so much.

How do you sell a home next to a toxic train derailment? CNN checks in with the people of East Palestinian, Ohio, months after the train wreck. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, it has been nearly three months since that disastrous toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, residents there are still struggling to decide whether to leave or stay. Some so desperate to get out, they're willing to sell their homes for far less than what they're worth. Others, as CNN's Jason Carroll reports for us now, are trying to convince people and businesses to stay.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Throughout East Palestinian, Ohio, there are signs of trouble for homeowners looking to leave.

MELISSA HENRY, HOMEOWNER: It's been a process and it's been a nightmare. We were the guinea pigs for my realtor because she wasn't even sure what was going to happen.

CARROLL (voice-over): Melissa Henry's home that she remodeled sits about a mile from where the Norfolk southern train derailed in February, leading to a release of toxic chemicals from the overturned cars. She was thinking of moving before the accident, but after it happened and her family started experiencing symptoms, she wanted out.

HENRY: Me and my youngest son have had bloody noses. I couldn't tell you how many times. And we've never had bloody noses.

CARROLL (voice-over): She put her home on the market weeks after the derailment for $150,000.

HENRY: The first offer I had on my house was 50,000 -- almost 50,000 below what I asked for. That was like a stab to the gut.

CARROLL (voice-over): The low balls continued. Last week, Henry finally accepted an offer 25,000 below asking, which she says leaves the family very little.

(on camera): Do you feel like in some way you should be compensated?

HENRY: Absolutely. I think everybody in this town who wants to move Norfolk should pay for them to move. There should -- we shouldn't be forced to stay somewhere we don't feel comfortable, we don't feel safe.

HARRY HOFMEISTER, REAL ESTATE AGENT: As far as right now, yes, the bloom is off the road a little bit but we will see. We just don't know.

CARROLL (voice-over): Harry Hofmeister has been selling real estate in the area for about 40 years and says sellers may have to accept less money or wait longer for homes to sell. He says it's too soon to tell just how much of a hit home prices have taken in East Palestine given Norfolk Southern's derailment and other factors such as a struggling economy and rising interest rates.

HOFMEISTER: I think they need to make things right, how you possibly determine what kind of loss is attributed to that or not at somebody else's department.

CARROLL (voice-over): Since the derailment, Norfolk Southern CEO has repeatedly been pressed on the issue.

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Will you commit to ensuring that these families, these innocent families, do not lose their life savings in their homes and small businesses? The right thing to do is to say, yes, we will.

ALAN SHAW, NORFOLK SOUTHERN CEO: Senator, I'm committed to doing what's right for the community. CARROLL (voice-over): This week, when we asked for more specifics, the rail company spokesman referred us to this previous statement, "We also know residents are worried about their home values, we understand these concerns. We are committed to working with the community to provide tailored protection for home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment."

What this tailored commitment might entail, though, remains unclear.

DIANNA ELZER, OWNER, DOGS ON THE RUN: I would say that I believe Norfolk Southern is doing what they can at the moment.

CARROLL (voice-over): Dianna Elzer owns a popular hot dog stand in town and lives less than a mile from the derailment. She's an example of a divide here between those who want to leave and be compensated and people like her who want to stay.


ELZER: Why are you yelling at people that are still here trying to make sure the town doesn't die in the meantime? Because if all our small businesses go away, the town will die.

CARROLL (voice-over): Caught in the middle of it all, people like Vanessa Kastanek and her three-year-old son.

VANESSA KASTANEK, EAST PALESTINE RESIDENT: I do kind of want to get out of town, you know, just for his sake, just in case, just to be safe.

CARROLL (voice-over): Kastanek says she has little resources and fewer places to turn for help.

KASTANEK: You know, I can't just pick up and leave like most people can. And -- so, you know, I kind of -- I am kind of just, you know, a little stuck.


CARROLL: So, again, Jake, what is still unclear, even after all this time, is how some homeowners here are going to be compensated for their losses. It's still basically an unanswered question for many of them.

Meanwhile, as you look around town and look at some of the front yards, there are slogans on signs there that read, East Palestine, get ready for the greatest comeback in American history.

It's also very clear here, Jake, that some folks are just not ever going to give up. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll on East Palestine, Ohio, thank you so much for staying on the story.

And let's bring in the Republican Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine. Governor DeWine, good to see you, as always. So some homeowners and business owners, they're worried about how safe it is to stay there, and they're starting to leave, essentially taking parts of this small town's economy with them. What are you doing, if anything, to try to get them to stay?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Well, Jake, what we're doing to try to get them to stay is to give them all the facts that we have. We continue to test just last week. For example, there was a concern expressed by some farmers, they're growing a crop. One farmer, we went out to his field, he was growing, you know, winter wheat, which is now starting to really grow, and we took samples of that. And we're going to get that evidence back.

We're going to continue to test the water. We're going to continue to test the soil. We're going to continue to test the air. So I think those are positive things that we can do.

It's interesting, I was listening to at least part of your report, and I had a meeting in the governor's residence in Columbus just several days ago with the CEO, Alan Shaw, and one of the things that I said to him is that if people sell their house and they do not get what that house was worth before the train wreck, I think you owe them the difference. And that really, I think, is my position. And I think candidly, they may be willing to do that or they will do it. I expect them to do that.

TAPPER: You expect them to do that, we want them to do that, but like to be completely candid, whether or not it's in the town hall we did with Mr. Shaw or the congressional testimony, he doesn't say, I'm going to do that. He says things like, we're going to do right by them. I mean, he's -- I don't want to insult him, but he's pretty wormy about it.

DEWINE: Yes. The only thing I will say, and I'm not here -- certainly here to defend him, that's not my position at all, but my position and my job is to, you know, advocate for the people who live in the community. Everything that we've asked them to pay for so far, they have paid for, and we expect them to continue to do that.

We also had a discussion, again, with him, I raised this issue, you know, a number of weeks ago about a fund. There needs to be a fund set up, you know, fairly quickly so that people in the community who are concerned about where they're going to be in five years or 10 years or 15 years if they have cancer or something occurs because result of this crash --

TAPPER: Right.

DEWINE: -- they need to be assured. And so, he did not disagree with that, in fact, he agreed with that. And so, I expect there to be a fund set up. He's in conversations with our attorney general in Ohio, David Yoast. So I think, you know, that's another thing that we can do to help assure the people in the community that we're going to do everything and that, you know, we're not going away.


DEWINE: His money is not going to go away. Very, very important to people.

TAPPER: Well, that's the thing. I mean, he can say as many nice things as he can to the powerful governor of Ohio, but I'd like to see him cutting some checks to these people, many of whom, as you know, still complain about health problems and headaches.

DEWINE: Jake, look, let me give you kind of maybe a little more of the whole picture. We set up a clinic very early on. We now worked with East Liverpool Hospital to set up a permanent clinic in town. People can go there. They can get treated.

It's a full clinic. It's going to not only help people who have a concern or an ailment that they think comes from this train wreck, but it's also going to improve, frankly, the quality of life in the community. It's an underserved community as far as medical care.


But when we have asked the railroad to do something, every time I've asked them, they have done it. And so, I fully expect them to pay for the difference if someone is going to sell their house, and it's under the amount that they would have got before the train wreck, I fully expect them to pay for that.

TAPPER: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, thank you so much. Good to see you again, sir.

DEWINE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Now versus then, the challenges facing Joe Biden as he prepares to officially kick off his 2024 campaign. That's next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else. There's an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.


TAPPER: That was March 2020. Not so much anymore that sentiment. CNN learned President Biden is planning to formally announce his reelection bid on Tuesday of next week, four years to the day from when he kicked off his 2020 campaign. An important anniversary for the famously superstitious and sentimental Joseph Robinette Biden.

Let's discuss. So, Abby --


TAPPER: That was a long -- right.

PHILLIP: It is a long bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or is it a bridge to nowhere?

TAPPER: Right, the very, very long bridge like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

PHILLIP: Yes, like the Chesapeake Bay.

TAPPER: Yes. Then the people on the -- I'm just thinking of the Buttigiegs and the Klobuchars and all the people who dropped out and they all ran behind Joe Biden and boosted him so as to make sure that Bernie Sanders didn't get the nomination. What happens to them?

PHILLIP: Well, they wait. They continue to wait.

TAPPER: Tic toc. Yes.

PHILLIP: I mean, the Buttigiegs of the world, they're -- he's in the Biden administration. Amy Klobuchar is probably going to continue to be a good soldier. Democrats have lined up behind Joe Biden. You're not hearing as much complaining now as you used to hear, let's say, last summer when things were really bad in terms of the private griping that became more public. A lot of it has to do with the midterm performance in 2022.

The other part of it is he started the year, remember, with that State of the Union address in which he really showed Democrats that he was willing to kind of take the fight to Republicans. And that matters, I think, a lot to the party. He also spent the first two years, and he's continually being criticized for this, but he spent the first two years basically tending to his gardens, making sure that his base was happy. And that was all about shoring up the runway for a potential reelection bid.

TAPPER: It's a great observation about the State of the Union because he was, to his credit, agile. You know, there were some booing and then he basically played along with it, got Republicans to like commit through applause that they didn't want Social Security or Medicare cuts. But one agile moment in a heavily scripted State of the Union address is not indicative of his overall performance. And look, there are a lot of Democrats still rather skittish about the fact that he's 80. He sometimes loses his train of thought and on and on.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I mean, if you look at polling, a lot of Democrats, even if they like Joe Biden, are concerned about him running again. They raise concerns about his age, although when asked, you know, would you vote for him against Republican X? A lot more say that they would. So, I think the White House will point to that. You know, this is not a choice in a vacuum, it is a choice of two options.


LUCEY: But -- and I think the other thing that the White House really talks about is, you know, watch what he has done on the job. So, are there moments when he stumbles? Yes. Has he passed a ton of legislation on Democratic priorities? Also yes.

MATTHEWS: I think another compelling point that his team has is that he's already beaten Trump once, so who's to say he couldn't do it again? Makes him probably the best person to take him on. Obviously, you know, we're presuming that Trump will be the nominee and polling right now shows that he's most likely to secure the nomination. So, Biden can make that argument. Like, I've already taken him on before, and voters chose to elect me.

LUCEY: And (INAUDIBLE) of Trump --

PHILLIP: And by the way, that's the part that he -- that's actually the part -- the argument that Biden himself likes the most.

TAPPER: Well, and look at this, because the Wall Street Journal has a new poll, and despite the fact that we need to acknowledge he has bad approval ratings, Joe Biden. President Biden has low approval ratings. But among voters who disapprove of how both Trump and Biden have handled their respective presidencies, Biden leads 54 percent to 15 percent. This is among people who don't like either Trump or Biden, and there are a lot of them, and they're going to be voting. And Biden is up by nearly 40 points.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. And Trump won the both haters against Hillary by 17. So Trump was up almost 20 in that crowd when he won, kind of won. And he --

TAPPER: He won.

BEGALA: He won. I'm kidding.

TAPPER: He won.

BEGALA: He lost a popular vote, though, but he --

TAPPER: He won.

BEGALA: -- he's down by 40 --


BEGALA: -- among those folks. Now, Biden's best strategist is not, and they're all friends of mine, it's not Anita Dunn or General (INAUDIBLE) or Mike Donilon or Steve Ricchetti, t's Henny Youngman (ph), real comedian, who said, how's your wife? He said, compared to what?

TAPPER: Right.

BEGALA: How's Biden compared to what? Well, thank goodness for the Democrats, he can compare to Donald Trump, who Democrats really don't like, and that's holding his team firmly in place.

TAPPER: So, Sarah, voters who dislike both Biden and Trump overwhelmingly prefer Biden to Trump. You might think Republicans would see someone like Governor DeSantis as being a better option and more electable, but only 41 percent say that about DeSantis, compares to 31 percent who say Trump's more electable. That's who Republican voters see as the most electable candidate.

And DeSantis is, you know, he's up, but only by 10. I mean, that's got to be a disappointing number considering Donald Trump lost in 2020. His candidates help the Senate, the Democrats keep the Senate, and keep the House majority for Republicans small in 2022, and on and on, not to mention 2018.

MATTHEWS: Yes, obviously, DeSantis hasn't formally declared yet, but it's been kind of interesting to see his polling slip in the last couple of months. And I think in December it looked really promising. And I think that, you know, looking at the polling now, DeSantis's big case is electability. But right now, it doesn't look like he's much more electable compared to Trump to face Biden.

TAPPER: Why do you think that is? Do you think it's because he's gone hard right, going to the Trump base, or is there another reason?

LUCEY: One thing is just that Trump's support is so durable.


LUCEY: The Trump voters, people --


LUCEY: The people who love him --


LUCEY: -- it seems like our latest polling shows that some people have come back to him. His numbers have improved, some with women and some other groups. So part of it is that DeSantis hasn't really able to cut into that support at all, and that's a big issue for him.

TAPPER: And also, I have to say like people still haven't -- people -- the more they watched Trump, the less they liked him. And he still kept a fairly low profile so far. If he gets the nomination, people are going to see, oh, yes, that's right. Lots of drama.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, I think the time is a huge function here. I mean, first of all, actually, DeSantis is not that well known among just sort of people who are out in the world living their lives. So I think there's probably a little bit of room for him to grow.

I also think you just have to kind of look at DeSantis's profile and how different really is he from Trump, and that's actually something he's trying to sort out. He's making an argument that he's basically the same as Trump, except a little less messy. And I just don't know if that's enough of a differentiator for people who don't like Trump very much to basically kind of jump ship entirely and go to DeSantis.

BEGALA: He is bad at this. Trump, who I don't like, he has great performance skills, though. Donald Trump does great performance skills. DeSantis, he stinks at this. I mean, even the SpaceX starship cleared the launch pad before it exploded. This guy's exploding before he even gets the launch.

PHILLIP: Launch still pretty (ph).


PHILLIP: You cannot go after Trump and just get out the gate and not be prepared for actually some pretty obvious things that might come your way.


PHILLIP: How are you different from Trump? What is your view on Ukraine? What is your view on -- how are you going to position yourself on abortion? And it seems like a lot of these things, maybe they've thought about it, but he hasn't executed the answer publicly.

TAPPER: Let's not forget all of the House Republicans from Florida that Trump got to endorse him most, so many of them this week when DeSantis was coming to Washington. Thanks to all.

And you know what? If you didn't get enough Abby Phillip just now, and honestly, who did? She's going to host Inside Politics Sunday. That's every Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN "Inside Politics Sunday with Abby Phillip".

Coming up next, I'm going to talk to a transgender Democratic lawmaker in Montana who's been silenced by her fellow Republicans lawmakers. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, crowds gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol after the Minnesota State Senate passed one of three bills to support health care for transgender individuals. But this is not the norm in state legislatures across the country. At least 417 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced so far this year. It's a new record, many of them directly targeting the nearly 2 million transgender people in the U.S. at a time when one in four trans adults say they've been physically attacked, according to a Washington Post survey.

In the last few weeks, Idaho's governor signed a bill restricting transgender students from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identities. Kentucky lawmakers overrode the governor's veto and passed a sweeping bill that would ban transition related health care for trans children. Tennessee faces a lawsuit to block its transgender health care ban. And in Montana, the Republican led legislature passed amendments to enact barring children from receiving access to health care such as puberty blockers.

Before that bill passed, the Montana House, however, the state's first openly transgender legislator, Zooey Zephyr, criticized it and the legislators voting for it on the House floor.


ZOOEY ZEPHYR (D), MONTANA STATE HOUSE: If you are forcing a trans child to go through puberty when they are trans, that is tantamount to torture. This body should be ashamed. Only thing I will say is, if you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there's an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.


TAPPER: Now the Montana Freedom Caucus is calling for Zephyr's censure, claiming she tried to shame the legislative body and used inappropriate language. All the while they referred to the representative by the wrong pronoun.

Plus, the Republican House Speaker has refused to recognize Zephyr on the House floor since Tuesday. The Montana Democratic State lawmaker Zooey Zephyr joins us now.

Your understanding is that rather than a former censure -- a formal censure, the Republican Speaker of the House is just going to continue to refuse to acknowledge you on the House floor for the rest of the session, so you won't be able to participate in debate on any legislation, is that right? And how do you plan to work around it?


ZEPHYR: Speaker Regier has stated that he's not going to recognize me on any legislation regardless of topic. And what I will say is I was elected on behalf of my constituents to come here and debate bills and have the hard discussions, and I will punch in on every bill that my community would want me to speak on. And what the Speaker does with that is up to him.

TAPPER: So let's talk about what you said, because, you know, I think the Montana Freedom Caucus is correct that you tried to shame the legislative body. I'm not judging whether that was right or wrong, but you definitely were. Why do you think it is tantamount to torture? Why do you think that lawmakers who vote against allowing trans kids or kids who identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth having puberty blockers, for example, why would that cause there to be blood on their hands?

ZEPHYR: So I know as a trans person, the joy and how we come alive when we are allowed to transition and I know the pain that comes with not being able to transition. Also, in terms of blood on their hands, I have lost several trans friends to suicide this year. I have had trans family members tell me or trans Montanans and their parents tell me about suicide attempts in their family, including one trans teenager who attempted to take her life while watching a hearing on one of these anti-trans bills.

That's the impact that this legislation has, and that's why I rose to defend my community and hold the Republicans accountable for their actions.

TAPPER: So, obviously, a lot of opposition to the transgender community is rooted in ignorance and bigotry, without question. What might you say to somebody who says, look, there just isn't enough research on trans kids getting these procedures done, whether it's puberty blockers or, you know, a more severe step such as a sex reassignment surgery, and sometimes it happens every now and then that somebody regrets it, and we want to make sure that doesn't happen. What would your message be to that person?

ZEPHYR: I would say first and foremost, we acknowledge when it comes to other procedures, any other type of medical care. We go with the recommendations of the major medical associations. And every major medical association says that gender affirming care is important. It's life saving for trans people.

And when it comes to people saying, well, there's some person may regret, there may be a de-transition there down the line. You look at something like knee surgeries that have a huge 5 percent regret rate. The regret rate for transition is minimal. The grit rate for gender affirming surgeries is less than 1 percent.

This care saves lives. We know it. We know it reduces suicidality. We know the regret rate is minimal. This care is important, and my community needs access to it.

TAPPER: So, in addition to the people -- the legislators across the country trying to stop the transgender health care, the puberty blockers and the like from people under 18, there is also a movement to prevent anyone, including adults, from getting access to that kind of surgery. And there was an interesting moment in Missouri this week. I'm sure you were focused on Montana, but I don't know if you saw it or not, but the Republican attorney general is trying to make Missouri the first state to restrict transgender health care for adults.

And his own secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft, a very conservative Republican, said he doesn't support hormone therapies. He doesn't support gender surgeries. He said, I wouldn't want to be the attorney that tries to defend this ban on adults getting it. And I thought that was interesting. I wondered if you saw it and what you thought of it.

ZEPHYR: So I think it's important to acknowledge the way in which these attacks have progressed. The attacks on trans rights began with attempts to limit trans athletes in sports. And as we're seeing that conversation begin at the federal level as well, and the folks who want to strip trans people of their rights, as Michael Knowles said, eliminate trans people from public existence entirely.

They're not going to stop with a sports ban. Their goal is to create more and more policies that limit trans people's access to the care we need. And that's why you're seeing some states say a youth ban, but they're looking to move the needle and that's why you see -- what you saw in Missouri. That's why you see Florida's limits on or law that allowed for trans children to be removed from their parents. The attacks are going to continue to escalate until we stand up and stop them.

TAPPER: Montana state lawmaker Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat, thank you so much for talking to us today. I really appreciate it.

ZEPHYR: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up, why whales could help reverse the climate crisis. CNN's Bill Weir takes a look at some creative solutions to reverse the climate crisis. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Earth matter series, F, F is the grade for the planet's yearly checkup. Congratulations, everyone.

2022 saw climate records on every continent, according to the World Meteorologist Organization's meteorological organization's annual report. So how do you solve an enormous problem such as climate change? Well, as CNN's Bill Weir discovered, you got to stop feeding Godzilla and bury it.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: While he was studying robotic engineering at Dartmouth and Earth Systems at Columbia, he realized a man-made monster was destroying his beloved Gulf of Maine, warming it up at a rate now faster than 95 percent of the rest of the world.


MARTY ODLIN, RUNNING TIDE FOUNDER AND CEO: It's a Godzilla. There's this thing out there, and it's like ruining everything that we love, right? All the good stuff is getting ruined. All the stuff that's free and fun.

It's burning forest down. It's stealing our fish. It's devastating our crops. It's hurting our farmers. Get mad and go kill that thing, right?

WEIR (on-camera): And right there on a docking main, Marty's metaphor is a lightbulb moment for me. A whole new way to think about a giant problem that began when people figured out how to move lots and lots of carbon, that stuff of ancient life. From the slow cycle locked and rock and under oceans into the fast cycle, in the sea water and the sky, and we've moved so much carbon. That monster now weighs a trillion tons, give or take, more than every living thing on earth. So not only do we have to stop making the monster bigger, we have to catch it, chop it up and bury the pieces back into these slow cycle. It was something called carbon removal.

ODLIN: Removal is chopping Godzilla down. We got this 400-foot-tall lizard, and we're just chopping that thing down. That sort of removal is.


TAPPER: So, Bill, for CNN's "The Whole Story: How to Unscrew the Planet", which is going to air Sunday night, you focused on some of the problem solvers. What did you find?

WEIR: Well, then Marty, you know, is one of the guys who want to unscrew a planet by harnessing the natural powers, biomimicry. He uses kelp, giant seaweed on Buoys in the North Atlantic to capture carbon and then sink them to the bottom. Also, oyster farms. We met people who use machines to pull it out of thin air and inject it into rock or scoop up field waste, turn it into oil, put it back into old oil wells.

Today, President Biden, actually, it looks like we got news he's going to try to crack down on power plant emissions the way he did tailpipes recently. That could further incentivize this industry, carbon industry as well, that'll end up in court before that happens. But the longer any sort of serious decarbonization, you know, drags out, the bigger the need to chop down Godzilla and bury it as soon as humanly possible.

TAPPER: All right, I can't wait to see your report. And you can see Bill Weir's "The Whole Story: How to Unscrew the Planet", this Sunday at 08:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CNN on "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper", our great new magazine show. Don't miss it.

Let's bring in CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who's just back from Poland for the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. And Wolf, I was talking with Dana earlier. Both of you lost ancestors at Auschwitz during the Holocaust, and it sounds like a remarkably sad and moving and important visit.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It was really, really personally very significant for Dana and for me because we did lose grandparents, great grandparents, during the course of the Holocaust. And it was just so, so powerful to experience what we did the March of the Living, the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

And we're going to take our viewers, Jake, along on what was truly one of the most meaningful assignments of my career. Our colleague Dana and I, we went to Poland to take part in events marking, as you point out, 80 years since the Jewish Uprising against the Nazi occupiers in the Warsaw Ghetto. All four of my grandparents and two of Dana's great grandparents were killed in the Holocaust.

Together, Dana and I, we walked the grounds of the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, also at nearby Birkenau. We even went into the gas chamber where I believe my paternal grandparents were murdered. It was so emotional for both of us. And I hope everyone will be watching The Situation Room because, as you know, Jake, it is so important to educate people about this horrific chapter in the history of the world, a chapter we must never forget.

TAPPER: No, indeed. It's so important. And I still see people on Twitter and social media talking about the important special you did the last time you went back to Auschwitz to talk about that. So I'm sure this is going to be just as moving. How powerful and how important.

Thanks so much for sharing some of that.

BLITZER: I can only imagine being inside a gas chamber at Auschwitz and knowing that your grandparents were killed there.

TAPPER: No. Dana told me the story about how the tour guide --


TAPPER: -- figured out when, where and why it was this gas chamber. Amazing and awful.

Wolf, thanks so much. We're going to look for that just a few minutes in The Situation Room.

Still ahead on THE LEAD, the push to recall thousands of vehicles because they're easy to steal. Is your car on the list?



TAPPER: In our money lead today, a coalition of attorneys general from across the country are calling for certain Hyundai's and Kias to be recalled. Why? Because they're too easy to steal. The car thefts started to rise after TikTok videos showed just how easy it is to start one of these cars without a key.

Now these attorneys generals say the companies have failed to take adequate steps to reduce the number of thefts of the cars made between 2011 and 2022. It's not clear if any actions are going to be taken. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says this isn't the sort of thing for which the agency could demand a recall.

This Sunday on State of the Union, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, Democratic Senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar with Dana Bash to 09:00 a.m. and noon only on CNN.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, 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 just all two hours just sitting there waiting for you like a delicious bag of Bucky's Beaver nuggets.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I'd like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you Monday.