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The Lead with Jake Tapper

White House: U.S. Is "Actively Facilitating" Exit Of Americans From Sudan; Russia's Lavrov Hosts U.N. Meeting On "International Peace"; Tucker Carlson Out At Fox News; Justice Department Joins Investigation Into Southwest Meltdown; Biden Team Works To Finalize Re-Election Launch Plan; Kentucky Sherriff's Department Hires Ex- Officer Who Shot Breonna Taylor. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 24, 2023 - 16:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: There are Americans in Sudan who want to leave but are they stuck?

THE LEAD starts right now.

As the violence erupts in Sudan, the U.S. and other nations evacuate their embassies, but what about other Americans on the ground? Ahead, I'll speak with a top House Republican about the Biden administration's response so far.

Plus, fired then hired. A Kentucky sheriff's office explains why it hired the cop who killed Breonna Taylor. That officer's attorney is speaking out to CNN.

And planes on fire, others hit by birds, as airplanes warn of a tsunami of staff shortages to come. What is going on with the airline industry?

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is here. We've got a lot of questions for him.


BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our world lead. The White House says it is actively working to get Americans out of Sudan as a bloody conflict between two rivals turns even deadlier. U.S. officials say it's too risky for a large scale evacuation. So, instead, they are using intelligence and surveillance tools to help international convoys of cars get to the port in Sudan where American military ships are standing by.

The U.S. evacuated all its government employees from Sudan over the weekend and suspended operations at its embassy in Khartoum. Blinken called the move the only, quote, feasible option given that hundreds have now been killed and thousands more injured in the fighting.

CNN's Kylie Atwood starts off our coverage from the State Department where officials insist there are no plans to put U.S. military boots on the ground in Sudan.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the violence consuming Sudan only getting worse, the U.S. government is looking for ways to support American citizens who remain in the country.

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We would like to help as many Americans go as possible, but we want to be able to do so in a way that is fundamentally reducing overall risk, not increasing overall risk.

ATWOOD: U.S. officials are providing details of the overland convoys headed out of the country by U.S. allies to those American citizens, with dozens expressing interest in leaving the country. But if they join those caravans, they're doing so at their own risk, according to emails to U.S. citizens reviewed by CNN. A chilling decision because of the bleak realities on the ground.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Some of the convoys have encountered problems, including robbery, looting, that kind of thing.

ATWOOD: There are no current plans to conduct an evacuation of American citizens by the U.S. government. On Saturday night, more than 100 U.S. Special Forces flew into Khartoum to evacuate all the U.S. diplomats and their family members. A brisk operation underground under the cloak of darkness, leaving operations temporarily suspended.

BLINKEN: My first priority is the safety of our people, and I determined that the deteriorating security conditions in Khartoum pose an unacceptable risk to keeping our team there at this time.

ATWOOD: The State Department has been telling Americans not to travel to Sudan since August of 2021, but the family members of Americans who are still in the country are frustrated by references to those comments.

FATIMA ELSHEIKH, SISTER OF TWO AMERICANS TRAPPED IN SUDAN: It makes me upset because there was no warning. I don't -- I think it's being painted as a country of -- that's been war-torn for a while, which isn't true. This is unprecedented, what's happening.

ATWOOD: And while the Americans in the country determine their safest next move, some of them, including an American teacher and her young daughter, are losing touch with their family members monitoring the situation from the U.S.

REBECCA WINTER, SISTER-IN-LAW OF AMERICAN TRAPPED WITH YOUNG DAUGHTER IN SUDAN: We weren't able to communicate over FaceTime early on, but internet has been out in Sudan for a while now. Unfortunately, in the last 18 hours or so, we've completely lost contact with Trillian (ph).


ATWOOD (on camera): Now, Pam, we're just getting news in from the secretary of state, putting a statement saying that after intense negotiations over the last 48 hours, the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces have agreed to a nationwide cease-fire that's going to go into effect tonight at midnight. It's expected to last for 72 hours.

The reason that this is critical if it holds, Pam, is because they will be able to get in potentially humanitarian support. CNN spoke with a doctor who said they are running precariously low on medical supplies and food, and there are the convoys of Americans who are trying to get to safety.

BROWN: All right. Kylie Atwood at the State Department with that breaking news there about the ceasefire, 72 hours. Thanks so much, Kylie.

Also in our world lead, even the inventors of the word "irony" could not make this one up.

Today, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov hosted a session of the United Nations Security Council focusing on the, quote, maintenance of international peace and security. Yes, we are talking about the same man whose country is currently murdering innocent Ukrainian civilians and trying to steal their land.

CNN's Matthew Chance joins me live.

So, Matthew, Mr. Lavrov was not met with a warm welcome today, unsurprisingly.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not particularly, certainly not by Western states, the European Union and the United States spoke out quite stridently against his presence there and the fact that he was saying the things he was saying. But I think you have to remember that there are a lot of countries at the U.N. that are relatively sympathetic to the Russian point of view and the Russian narrative, significant countries as well like China, like India, like Brazil, like South Africa, they've all expressed a sort of sympathy from -- you know, with Russia's standpoint.

So when Sergey Lavrov sat there and talked about how the United States was destroying globalization and is undermining its national system and gave that whole list of grievances from really going back to the Second World War with the atomic strikes by the United States on Japan and the Kosovo liberation of that territory and various other sort of episodes over the past 25 years or so that are a constant theme of Russian grievances against the West, even though that was rejected by the United States -- and we'll come to that in a second -- there are a lot of countries that might have been receptive to that message.

Let's go now to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who at least sort of voiced the opposition of many countries to what Sergey Lavrov had to say.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Our hypocritical convener today, Russia, invaded its neighbor Ukraine and struck at the heart of the U.N. charter, and all the values we hold dear. This illegal, unprovoked, and unnecessary war runs directly counter to our most shared principles, that a war of aggression and territorial conquest is never, ever acceptable.


CHANCE: All right. Well, also before he arrived in New York to attend this Security Council meeting, Sergey Lavrov was absolutely critical of the United States not to grant everybody in his party and his delegation a visa. Lots of journalists from Russia apparently were denied visas to travel alongside Sergey Lavrov to Russia. He said that was unforgivable. He would not forgive, and he would not forget, threatening unspecified consequences in response.

BROWN: All right. Matthew Chance, thanks so much for the latest there.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas. He is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.

So, I want to start with this worsening violence in Sudan right now. We just heard Kylie Atwood break the news about the cease-fire.

Are you confident the cease-fire will hold?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): No, I'm not, but it's absolutely necessary. There was a cease-fire for just a couple of days during the religious holiday that enabled us to get the embassy employees out. The problem is you identified, we have 16,000 Americans left behind who are given the message that you're sort of on your own right now.

Now, let me just say, it's a very dangerous situation on the ground. This really reminds me, sort of reminiscence of Mogadishu. Remember the Black Hawk down when you have these rebel forces fighting in the streets of the city of Khartoum that have surface-to-air missiles.

So I agree with the secretary. It's very dangerous for any NGO like Samaritan Purse to get in, but also to get Americans out of there in a safe travel way. So I think the cease-fire, to your question, is paramount to saving these Americans left behind because it is so dangerous and so violent.

BROWN: And in terms of Americans there being on their own, you're hearing a little bit of a change in tune from the administration now. Jake Sullivan saying the U.S. is actively facilitating exit of U.S. citizens from Sudan. But in your view, do you think the U.S. is doing everything possible to get these Americans who want to leave safely out of Sudan right now?

MCCAUL: Well, I talked to many officials in the State Department.


I know that they are working very hard to get these Americans out. Again, hearing about Americans being left behind, it reminds me so much of the Afghanistan situation. I hope this is very different scenario. I think getting extension on the cease-fire is going to be critical to saving these American lives who are going to be really in harm's way.

If I can just add, Pamela, I think the current team on the ground, both the United Nations and U.S. officials is not -- they did not do a good job at negotiating between these two factions that being the Sudanese armed forces and General Hemitte who is in charge of these Janjaweed rebel forces. It's a very complex situation involving UAE, Egypt, General Haftar other situations.

But until they can reach a cease-fire and an agreement of a governance, you're going to continue to have this fighting on the streets.

BROWN: You talk about the importance of negotiations. I want to turn to the United Nations Security Council on that note where today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the U.S. and its allies of, quote, abandoning democracy and compared tensions to the Cold War.

Does that sound like a country, in your view, that is interested in any type of negotiations?

MCCAUL: I think any negotiations currently would be a fool's errand. I think what Putin wants to do is enter into negotiations to stall the conflict and have a war of attrition. There may come a time and a place for that. I would argue, let's let this counteroffensive go forward. We know what will happen in the next few weeks, next month. I'm hopeful this will go very well and push Russian aggression out of Ukraine, and then Ukraine can negotiate from a position of strength and leverage rather than one of weakness. I find it amazing that the foreign minister would accuse American and Ukraine of deserting democracy.

This is the largest invasion of Europe since World War II, and I just got back from Taiwan where Chairman Xi encircled the island with battleships and fighter planes when I was there. You're seeing an affront (ph) to both Europe and the Pacific not unlike my father's war in World War II.

BROWN: Wow. that's certainly brings it into light about what's going on right now, what's playing on the world stage as it pertains to Russia and Ukraine.

And you mentioned earlier that, you know, negotiating with Russia is a fool's errand, but as you, right now, you have "The Wall Street Journal" reporter who's imprisoned as well as Paul Whelan. He's been imprisoned in Russia for years, and his sister attended Elizabeth Whelan, she attended today's meeting. She's going to be joining us next.

But I wonder, have you gotten any updates on the efforts to free Paul or this "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich?

MCCAUL: Yes. And I know, you know, Lavrov spoke as head of this body, and Paul Whelan, the story came up again. You know, it's unfortunate that Griner was released. The deal was when the arms dealer from Russia was released that it was supposed to be Griner the athlete and Paul Whelan.

When they got to, you know, the point of the handoff, they call it, the Russians only showed up with one of the hostages, and that was Griner, and unfortunately, the marine, Paul Whelan, was left behind. Very tricky on Putin's part, and in my view, the Biden administration got played by releasing a very dangerous arms dealer for just one hostage and not both.

BROWN: All right. Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, thank you.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: Up next, hear from Elizabeth Whelan. We were just talking about her, her words today at that U.N. Security Council meeting and her message for the Russian foreign minister.

From safety in the air to cancellations before you take off, is there any pressure on airlines to protect your summer travel plans? I'll ask Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

And President Biden's rollout plan ahead of his expected 2024 campaign announcement tomorrow. We're going to go live to the White House. We'll be right back.



BROWN: We are back with our world lead. As we mentioned, one person watching Russian's foreign minister chair today's U.N. Security Council meeting was Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, who has been in a Russian prison for four years. Elizabeth spoke at the U.N. before the session began.


ELIZABETH WHELAN, SISTER OF PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: Russia's less than sophisticated take on diplomacy is to arbitrarily detain American citizens in order to extract concessions from the United States. This is not the work of a mature and responsible nation. It is the action of a terrorist state. I am here to tell Russia, free Paul Whelan.


BROWN: Elizabeth Whelan joins us now.

Hi, Elizabeth. I also want to play a part of the United States ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, speech today. So, we're going to listen to that and then we'll talk on the other end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Where, today, we are joined by Paul's sister, Elizabeth. And I want Minister Lavrov to look into her eyes and see her suffering. I want you to see what it's like to miss your brother for four years.


BROWN: What was it like for you to be at this meeting in the very same presence of the same regime that imprisoned your brother?

WHELAN: Oh, it was quite a moment. And I was there for Paul and for Evan and for Brittany and for Trevor Reed, even those people who have been freed already because this regime has gone too far. This hostage diplomacy has to end.

BROWN: You have said that you haven't seen a current picture of Paul.


The last one was at his trial three years ago. So you have no idea what he looks like right now. When is the last time you spoke with him? Do you know how he's doing?

WHELAN: Well, yeah, it is actually stunning to think I have no idea what my brother looks like anymore. You know, that fact just hit me a couple of weeks ago when I was posting pictures of him, and that's his former life. You know, it's all gone. Russia has taken all of that from him.

He was able to speak to my parents today actually. He's allowed to have calls from the prison, short ones, ten minutes or so, and he saw a little bit of me at the U.N. on Russian television. So he knows we're still fighting for him and that we will not give up.

BROWN: Wow. And actually, I have to say just given how Russia operates, the fact that they carried your speech on the Russian television that he was able to watch is a bit surprising. What was his reaction to your speech?

WHELAN: Well, I was surprised to hear that as well. I'm not sure what the circumstances were of how he was able to see that, but he was -- he was delighted. I'm sure he would have loved to have been there himself and to look at lavrov, to stare him in the eye, but I was able to do it for him.

BROWN: You have called the Russian play book lazy saying Evan Gershkovich was assigned the same investigator and placed in the same prison as your brother. What went through your mind when you heard Evan Gershkovich was facing the same fate as Paul?

WHELAN: Well, we were shocked to find out he had been arrested. I mean, you know, a journalist on top of everything else. You know, Paul Whelan, Trevor Reed, both tourists, Brittney Griner, a sports superstar, and now a journalist. And then when we found out espionage charges and he saw that he would be put in the same prison that Paul endured for 20 months, my heart just went out to him and to his family.

BROWN: Your brother David has said that his hope is starting to wear down. Do you feel that way too?

WHELAN: It's very difficult to keep up a level of trying to press the U.S. government to do something helpful when really what you need is for Russia to free Paul. I think it's very difficult to maintain a steady -- a steady sense of hope, but I will say that we know really good people are trying to help Paul get out. We just have to keep working with them and push them forward so that Paul is not left behind for a third time.

BROWN: There are no plans for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to meet on the sidelines of that conference, and I'm wondering does that disappoint you?

WHELAN: No. I think we're making our point.

BROWN: All right, Elizabeth Whelan, and we'll end on that note. Thank you so much.

WHELAN: Thank you very much.

BROWN: Meanwhile in Jerusalem, at least five people were injured in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and police are calling a terror attack. A car rammed into pedestrians at a busy market in central Jerusalem earlier today. Police say the driver, a resident from a predominantly Palestinian village was shot and killed by an armed citizen. The dark SUV with its windows shot out was quickly removed from the scene as victims were transported to the hospital. This latest attack comes after weeks of tension in the region.

Well, just ahead, network shakeups. Some of the biggest brands in TV news part ways with some of their biggest names and staff.



BROWN: Major shakeups today at three media giants. NBC's Universal CEO has stepped down. Tucker Carlson, a popular right wing media host, is out at Fox News, and CNN's anchor Don Lemon is out after 17 years.

CNN's Oliver Darcy joins us now.

Oliver, let's start with Fox. Do we know why they decided to talk Carlson off the network's highly-rated show?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: A shocking development at Fox. Tucker Carlson was the highest rated single host over at that network. He's been hosting the 8:00 p.m. show for several years. And a sudden announcement today from Fox, I'll read you part of it, announcing his departure.

It was very short. It just says, Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor. And it goes on to say that Carlson's last program already aired. It aired on Friday, even though Carlson on Friday said that he looked forward to greeting viewers back on Monday.

Now, of course, we should point out that Tucker Carlson was one of the most extreme hosts over on that channel and he sowed a lot of distrust in the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and, of course, this announcement is coming just days after Fox News settled that Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit for a staggering amount of money, the highest ever defamation settlement in the history of U.S. media that's known.

And so, it's hard to disconnect those two events, but the network and Carlson are not connecting them themselves. And I should also note that we reached out to Carlson several time today, and he has not -- not responded to comment requests.

BROWN: Well, there was also a big development today at our own network. CNN parting ways with anchor Don Lemon.

DARCY: Another stunning announcement. This comes earlier today. This came actually in an email to CNN staffers from CEO Chris Licht over at CNN. I'll read you what he said in his email.

He said: CNN and Don have parted ways. Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. And it goes on.

But Don Lemon came out and he was more explicit. He said the network had fired him, and he really lashed out and said that he was hoping that someone in management would have had the decency to tell him directly about this firing.


And CNN PR then put out a statement separately saying what Don Lemon said was not accurate, that he did have the opportunity to meet with management. So there's a back and forth playing out over there at CNN and public as well.

BROWN: All right. Let's talk about NBC Universal. Big news out of there, too.

DARCY: Big news over at NBCU, where the head of that company has stepped down amid a sexual harassment allegation. It's coming from CNBC anchor or correspondent Hadley Gamble. Her lawyer has put out a statement saying after they filed a complaint, this led to an investigation, a third party investigation, and this ultimately led to Comcast, NBCU's parent company deciding to remove Shell, and Shell acknowledged the inappropriate relationship in a statement of his own on Sunday.

So, shock waves rolling through the media industry today, Pam.

BROWN: Yeah, big day for you covering all these developments. Oliver Darcy, thank you. Well, my question is up next for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as delays, cancellations, bird strikes, and more rock the airline industry. What do you think this summer travel is going to be like? We're going to ask him after this break.



BROWN: In our money lead, the Justice Department has joined the investigation into the meltdown that forced Southwest Airlines to cancel nearly 17,000 flights around Christmas and New Year's. You probably remember that. The Department of Transportation already opened its own investigation. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins us now to bring us up to speed on what's going on.

Secretary, thank you for joining us.

So, what is your understanding about why the Justice Department has joined your investigation now?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, they're joining this process at a time when we have two lines of efforts going on. One of them has to do with making sure passengers are fully taken care of. We've got a lot of enforcement commitments from Southwest last year about how they would treat passengers in this scenario.

Now, we're using our enforcement power to make sure that people got those refunds, got those reimbursements, ground transportation, everything they're entitled to under that customer service plan that we had negotiated prior to that meltdown.

The second piece that we're working has to do with realistic schedules. We need to make sure the airlines are prepared to service the tickets that they sell. And unrealistic scheduling can be a real threat to the operations of an airline.

So, both of these are parts of ongoing work that we're doing. And, you know, whether it's Southwest Airline or any airline, we always stand prepared to make sure that passengers get the support they need when these situations happen.

BROWN: So, can you give us a status update? I know that these investigations are ongoing. But have these passengers been reimbursed and received a voucher? And do you believe there was unrealistic rescheduling done by Southwest?

BUTTIGIEG: So, I'm not prepared to release a finding right now. What I will say is that we have gathered a huge amount of data. We've gone through a lot of complaints. We have seen large numbers of passengers that got those reimbursements, go those refunds. But we're not going to rest until we understand all of the different complaints that have come in and can be sure that everybody was taken care of properly.

BROWN: I'm going to talk about flight safety. That's on a lot of people's minds after they're seeing this video, that scary new video of flames coming out of an airline engine after a possible bird strike. The plane landed safely, but the FAA's data base shows more than 1,700 bird strikes this year.

How concerned are you about this? And what is the solution here?

BUTTIGIEG: That's right. This is an ongoing safety concern. And I want to emphasize, air travel in America is exceptionally safe. It's actually the safest form of transportation. But in order to keep it that way, we are always looking at new developments and trying to make sure there is even more safety built into the system.

Now, what happened in this case of the flight that no one wants to look out the window and see what these passengers saw. The flight crew, of course, returned that plane safely to the ground and everybody was taken care of there. But what we're interested in, in addition to making sure there are those safety systems that allow an airplane to safely land with one engine operational where necessary is to try to prevent these bird strikes from happening in the first place.

FAA believe it or not does a lot of research on birds and on wild life for precisely this reason. It may sound like a pretty quirky area of research until you realize that there is life safety on the line. Let's make sure we have fewer of these incidents. And, you know, everything from bird habitats and bird behavior changing to the evolution of engines that are more efficient and therefore quieter means that we might need to undertake new specifications, new safety measures to try to minimize those bird strikes that are a real concern for airline safety.

BROWN: Yeah, it was so interesting reading about it today that there are increasing populations of large birds and also their inability to hear the quieter engines on these planes. So, just really interesting to learn about that.

I want to talk to you also as we look ahead, a lot of people are planning their summer travel, myself included, but that comes against this backdrop of this airline industry warning about -- airline industry group, we should say -- warning about a coming tsunami of airline pilots. There's already a shortage of traffic controllers. You have this key New York facility affecting flights into JFK. LaGuardia in New York that has been operation at about half its projected staffing level.

How messy will summer travel be as a result of all of this?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we're acting to make sure that airlines are accountable for serving passengers well. We've seen so far improvement this year compared to last year. But certainly not resting easy as we look at the numbers week by week and day by day.


On the air traffic control side, I'll say that we are doing a ton of hiring right now to make sure we get more qualified air traffic controllers as the demand increases and some controllers retire. But I'll tell you, this is also one reason I'm very concerned about

some of the extreme proposals that we've seen coming from members of the house GOP. When they talk about cutting anything that is nondefense discretionary spending, I'm not sure Americans all realized that one of the things they're talking about cutting is our ability to grow the air traffic control workforce. Their budget proposal would actually mean shutting down air traffic control towers. This is the exact wrong time to be doing that.

And so, whether it's the proposal from the extreme House Republicans to cut the air traffic control funds or the affect that that would have on railroad safety at a time when we're all rightly paying attention to that, I think this is the wrong time to be cutting railroad inspections. I don't think there's ever a good time --

BROWN: Right.

BUTTIGIEG: To be cutting a railroad inspection, but definitely not know. These are exactly the things that are at stake in what can sometimes seem like a very technical process of negotiating that budget.

Our budget proposal is one that will prepare us for things like the ability to maintain our aviation system in good, working order.

BROWN: Yeah, it was interesting. I saw you and Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert exchanging tweets recently. She talked about the railroad accident pointing the finger at you, and you said that essentially that Republican's plan will mean that fewer track inspections an annually, fewer safety inspection days for rails.

So it makes wonder, if the Republicans' plan passes, will it be safe to use trains? Will it be safe to fly?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, this is exactly why I think we have to call anybody who wants to make political hay out of transportation issues to the carpet and say, are you serious or not. As you mentioned, Representative Boebert who's a leader in the Freedom Caucus was talking about derailments without in any way acknowledging that Freedom Caucus budget proposal would cut inspection days, which would mean less resources going through to preventing derailments and railroad accidents.

You know, we have to make sure everyone who's out there trying to politicize safety issues is accountable for what their proposals would actually do. And if you're one of these extreme House Republicans, proposing a budget that would cut not just research and things like aviation safety, but actually cut our ability to hire air traffic controllers and to inspect railroads and make sure that they're safe, then you have to be accountable for that position.

BROWN: And, of course, as you well, Republicans, are you -- there's got to be spending cuts somewhere, but you were saying where they're looking for the spending cuts, especially in your world, that could be a real issue for traveling.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, thank you so much.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

BROWN: Up next, to the White House, President Biden's expected 2024 campaign announcement tomorrow. But does America really want him to run? There is new incite into that question.



BROWN: Well, President Biden just met with three Tennessee state lawmakers at the White House who were targeted for expulsion after bringing a gun reform protest to the state house floor, an action that Republicans said violated rules on decorum.

This comes as Biden is expected to announce his re-election bid possibly tomorrow.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House.

So, what's the plan as of now with the understanding it could change, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Possibly a good word, to always utilize.


MATTINGLY: We're talking about what President Biden is going to do next, particularly as it relates to his political plans. There's no question over the course of the last week, his advisers and close allies have moved rapidly to lay the ground work for a presidential re-election announcement tomorrow morning. It would come in the style of a campaign video, low key, not some big reelection lawyer, as well as a fund raising request and really start the process of what's going to be a months-long ramp-up plan to build on what has mostly happened behind the scenes up to this point.

His team putting together the infrastructure of the campaign, fund raising plans, personnel interviews and decisions being made, and some of those decisions are starting to come out, which I think underscores that they are moving forward with that re-election plan sometime soon.

Julia Chavez Rodriguez is now expected to be announced as the campaign manager, currently a senior adviser to the president here in the White House, runs intergovernmental affairs. But very clearly, moving towards that point, whether or not the president does it, well, that's obviously up to him.

BROWN: That's right. So, how closely then are the president's advisers following this poll showing that voters have no appetite for a Trump/Biden rematch. There's this new ABC News poll that shows 70 percent say Biden should not run again, 60 percent say Trump shouldn't run again. How are they viewing that? MATTINGLY: Yeah, look, they're naive. They see the polls, and it's not

just the public polling. They have their own internal polling as well, and there is an understanding there is work to do.

Now, the counter to that when you talk to White House advisers is that they feel like they've got the record and the message, and perhaps most importantly the contrast with whoever the Republican candidate the president would face off against to actually build a significant amount on those numbers. I think the biggest concern right now is when you look at Democrats in a lot of those polls, a majority -- a slight majority, but a majority nonetheless, don't want to see the president run again. There's a reality of the fact that he's the oldest president in American history.

Officials know that and know there's nothing they can do about that. You can't message 80 years old away. They want to build on the fact that that brings experience, experience that drove the legislative wins of those first two years, legislative wins the president is going to be talking about repeatedly over the course of the next couple of months. That will be the baseline of this campaign whether or not it resonates, advisers think it can, clearly work to do, though.


BROWN: All right. Phil Mattingly, live for us from the White House, thanks so much.

And the White House now says the U.S. is, quote, actively facilitating the exit of American citizens from the Sudan. But the administration is holding off on a large scale evacuation.

Wolf Blitzer is getting ready for "THE SITUATION ROOM."

And there are questions tonight, Wolf, about evacuating Americans from Sudan, those who want to leave.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: You're absolutely right, Pamela. And we hope to get some of those questions answered.

Coming up soon, I'll be speaking live with a key National Security Council official, retired U.S. Navy Admiral John Kirby when he joined me in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's closely monitoring the situation in Sudan and that newly announced cease-fire between the warring factions. We'll ask him on the fate of thousands -- thousands of American citizens still in the country right now after the U.S. military evacuation of U.S. embassy diplomatic and other government and military personnel. It's all coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM" that begins right at the top of the hour.

BROWN: All right. Thanks so much, Wolf. And, by the way, incredible reporting from Poland you did with Dana Bash.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

BROWN: Up next right here on THE LEAD, the new job for the officer who killed Breonna Taylor and the explanations behind his new hire. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BROWN: The former Minnesota police officer convicted of accidentally killing Daunte Wright was released from prison this morning.

I want to warn our viewers, the body camera footage we're about to show you is disturbing. Kim Potter served 16 months of a two-year sentence convicted after she says she mistook her gun for her Taser and killed Wright. She was unarmed during a traffic stop in 2021.

Daunte Wright's mother tells CNN she's still angry and worried but she's going to forget her son's voice and finds peace in the fact that Potter, quote, will never be able to hurt anybody as a police officer again.

And turning now to another deadly police shooting, quote, disgust and disappointment from Breonna Taylor's family after they learned the officer who fired the bullet who killed their daughter in a botched 2020 police raid has just been hired by a sheriff's department in the same state. Myles Cosgrove was fired but not indicted for shooting 16 rounds into Taylor's Louisville apartment and failing to turn on his body camera.

But as CNN's Jason Carroll reports, Cosgrove's new boss insists he'll bring, quote, experience to the job.


PROTESTERS: Breonna Taylor!

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breonna Taylor's mother had one word to describe how she felt after learning former Louisville Metro Police Officer Myles Cosgrove had been rehired by another department.

TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: Anger, to think that another department would even want this guy to be a part of any department for that matter just angers me.

CARROLL: The Carroll County sheriff's department recently hired Cosgrove according to his attorney.

SCOTT MILLER, LAWYER OF MILES COSGROVE: First and foremost, on behalf of miles and myself, we don't want anything to take away or diminish the value of the tragedy that happened to Breonna Taylor and her family. We're not minimizing that at all, but he definitely has had a hard road to go in getting back to trying to figure out a way to support his family in the future.

CARROLL: Cosgrove was one of three LMPD officers who fired their weapons during a raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment the night of March 13th, 2020.

Cosgrove fired more than a dozen times, including the fatal bullet that killed Taylor. He has not faced any criminal charges related to the shooting though the Louisville Metro Police Department fired him in January of 2021 for failing to use his body camera and violating the department's use of force rules.

MYLES COSGROVE, FORMER LMPD OFFICER: I started shooting as soon as I saw the flash, almost simultaneously.

CARROLL: During a department hearing to appeal his firing, Cosgrove expressed remorse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret that Breonna Taylor ended up being shot and killed?

COSGROVE: Of course. Of course, I do. It's horrible.

CARROLL: The department's merit board upheld his dismissal. Despite that, the Carroll County sheriff's department decided to hire Cosgrove. His attorney notes four other officers in the raid face federal charges in connection with that raid, three accused of lying in order to obtain a search warrant.

MILLER: There was a grand jury that met in the state of Kentucky that cleared him of wrongdoing, a federal grand jury was convened and also determined that there were other people who warranted being charged criminally but not Myles.

PALMER: It's this good old boy system, so I'm not surprised at all.

CARROLL: Those seeking justice for Breonna Taylor says Cosgrove getting a badge back is a danger to the new community he is serving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people of Carroll County should be very afraid and not led this hire stand.

PALMER: You don't know who to trust anymore or who to trust. It's insane to me.


CARROLL: Well, Pamela, CNN did reach out to the Carroll County sheriff's department, but we did not hear back from them. Carroll County located about an hour or so from Louisville. There have been calls for protests there, but so far, no large protests have materialized -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

You can follow me on Twitter @PamelaBrownCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can just listen to the show wherever you get your podcast.

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