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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Police: Arrest Made In Stabbings Near University Of California Davis; Russia Strikes Kyiv, Baselessly Blames US For Kremlin Attack; Trump Glorifies Accused January 6 Rioters, Promotes Song From Jailed Insurrectionists; Four Racehorses Die Days Before The Kentucky Derby; Tucker Carlson Floats Moderating Alternate GOP Primary Debate With Trump. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 04, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN's Veronica Miracle, who is at the press conference right now. Veronica, what are we expecting to hear from officials in just a few minutes, I guess?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody good?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Jake, they're actually to bring in people shortly right now. We understand that they are about to make announcement here. Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have questions for you, sir.

MIRACLE: I don't want to interrupt what he is about to say here. But there have been three stabbings over the last few days. Two of those stabbings have been fatal. One of them left somebody seriously injured. It has left this entire community here rattled, including UC Davis. We understand that they are about to make announcement here that they have a person detained in connection with the two homicides and this attempted homicide.

Now, since this all started, of course, the community of UC Davis, many students have been very scared, including the people that live here. And the university has even told some of their student groups to reschedule some of their events, try to take those online, to not go outside because there has just been such a danger over the last few days, Jake, and it's really rattled this community.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much. We will come -- well, OK. So let me just ask you, we're expecting them to announce, you think, that they have a suspect in custody?

MIRACLE: Yes, that's right. Well, yesterday they announced that they had a person of interest that they had taken to the station, that had voluntarily come to the Davis Police Station where they were interviewing and asking them questions. Now, we understand that they are about to make announcement here.

A lot of people waiting here to just see what kind of information that they're going to be releasing. But of course, many people in this community hoping that they've made an arrest, that all of the three individual stabbings, we don't know if those are all related. But there is much hope here that there will be answers about every single one of those stabbings and that this suspect, whoever they have in custody that has been detained, is connected to all three of those stabbings, Jake. It looks like those individuals are coming out right now.

TAPPER: OK. Let's move the camera over and we will listen in.



DARREN PYTEL, DAVIS POLICE CHIEF: All right. Is everybody ready to go? All right. I'm Darren Pytel, the Davis Police Chief, and thank you for being here this afternoon.

So we are here to deliver the news to the entire community that everybody's been waiting to hear. Before we get into details, I first want to express my deepest sincerest condolences to the families of David and Karim. The lives of David and Karim were brutally taken this last week. And I also wish a speedy recovery to Kim, who was severely wounded in the knife attack just a few days ago. She's recovering in the hospital and we're hoping for a speedy recovery and that she'll soon be released.

These crimes were horrific. They're hard to imagine. They struck fear in the community, and we know that. We've also experienced loss. David and Karim were taken way too soon. We will never truly understand the sadness or sensitive loss for their families, and we will miss them. We hope that the announcement today provides some level of relief.

I want to thank the entire regional law enforcement system and national. We have outlet agencies here, and on our website you'll see a list of all the agencies that helped us out in the last week. And there are many. Everybody wanted to chip in and provide a level of support to the city of Davis. I also want to thank our community. They've shown steadfast support for us and demonstrated support through their amazing acts of kindness over the last few days. And afterwards I can get into some of the things that the community has been for us.


I want to thank the members of the Davis Police Department. I couldn't be more proud of all of the work that they've has done for us. I want to thank the members of the Davis Police Department. I couldn't be more proud of all of the work that they've done in this past week. It's been a busy week and most of them have received very little sleep. They've been working nonstop during this entire investigation. You wouldn't know it by the quality of the work being done. They left no stone unturned.

Now for a short recap of why we're here. The first homicide occurred on April 27, 2023 at 11:20 AM and that's when it's reported. We responded to a welfare check over in Central Park and the responding units found a person deceased, David Breaux. He had been stabbed many times, and it was apparent that it was a particularly brazen and brutal attack.

We launched an investigation, collected a lot of physical evidence, and immediately started looking for who may be responsible. The problem with this one is there was no eyewitnesses, and so we had to wait for evidence to come back through the investigation.

Just two nights later, we had another attack. This one, Karim, was in the park, Sycamore Park, located in Central West Davis, and he was violently attacked and stabbed many times. A witness had seen the last part of the attack, had a short interaction with the suspect, who took off going westbound out of the park. We immediately started a search, but weren't able to locate the suspect that night.

Two nights later, we had another attack. Kimberly was in a tent located at 2nd and L. Street, and she had just gone to bed. She was alone. And we had a person slash the side of the tent, reach in and stab her several times. She called 911 and said that she had been stabbed. The responding officers arrived shortly thereafter. They conducted a search, but again were unable to locate the suspect.

She was transported to the UCD Med Center. She underwent surgery for the stab wounds and she is recovering, which is good news.

The initial crimes were both investigated as homicides. Of course, we launched an attempt homicide investigation for the third stabbing. And everybody's asked, are the three crimes related? Well, we investigated. It was certainly more probable than not that they were. We didn't know whether we had several attackers out there or one, so we had to keep all options on the table.

So this brings us to the arrest, and this is how it went down. Yesterday afternoon we had about 15 colors over near Central West Davis, near Sycamore Park, and they reported seeing a person who matched the description that we had provided after the third attack. All of them reported kind of the same thing.

A person was at the park, was wearing the same clothing that we had put out in the description, and that he was wandering around. We were a little behind on some of the calls, like he had seen him a couple of minutes ago or ten minutes ago, but eventually one of the callers said, I'm following him right now, and was able to lead us to the person.

He was stopped by several patrol officers, and they had a short conversation. It appeared that he had some physical evidence on him that might be part of the investigation. He was wearing really the same clothing that was described by the witnesses after the third attack. This looked like a match. They spoke to him briefly, and at this point, it was becoming of a neighborhood spectacle. They asked if he would be willing to come downtown here so that they could speak with them, and he agreed.

The detectives met with him, and they spent many hours interviewing him. Based on the interview, physical evidence that were able to collect from him and the clothing, and other physical evidence at that point that was starting to come in. We decided to first arrest him for possessing a large knife that was on his person when he was picked up. He was wearing a backpack, and in the backpack was a large knife that was consistent with one that we're looking for based on evidence from the first homicide.


So having this information, the detectives worked pretty diligently throughout the night, and just about an hour ago placed him under arrest on two counts of homicide for David Breaux and Najm, Karim Najm, and for one count of attempt murder for Kimberly. He is now at the Yolo County Jail, and the district attorney will be reviewing our reports in the coming days to determine any final charging decisions.

I can't thank the city of Davis and our community enough for their support. It's pretty remarkable, 15 people took a description that we had put out, and actually all of you in the media had helped us put out. And they saw a person who matched the description and they called, and that led directly to the arrest in this case.

This was a partnership between all the law enforcement professionals, some that you see up here, and our community members who stepped up. That's pretty remarkable and pretty amazing. These horrific crimes have resulted in immeasurable loss to the victim's families and friends, and to our community. But as we move forward together, it also demonstrates Davis has compassion, a deep sense of community when faced with tragedy.

We are a resilient community. Having been here my entire life, I can tell you we've been through tragedies before, and we'll get through this one. I have no doubt that normal life will resume today. There's still more much work to be done and we'll get it done. We're committed to a successful prosecution now.

And now, Mayor Arnold is going to speak. After he speaks, I'll come back up and answer any questions.


WILL ARNOLD, DAVIS CITY MAYOR : Thank you, chief. Thank you for all of your work and your dedication over the course of this investigation. It's because of the fine police work that we are here today to announce that the individual believed to be responsible for these horrific. Brutal attacks is no longer free to terrorize our community.

This is a remarkable achievement for the Davis police department to bring these cases to this point so quickly. The arrest today is the culmination of excellent investigative work by the Davis police, as well as our regional and national law enforcement partners.

I commend and thank them, these professionals who worked around the clock to ensure that this criminal is taken out of our neighborhoods and is now in custody. I also commend the people of Davis who worked together to keep each other safe and supported, and who shared tips and critical information to help craft this case. A murderer is off the streets, and our families will sleep easier tonight.


TAPPER: That is the mayor of Davis, Mayor Arnold. Davis is a town west of Sacramento and California. Davis California police just announcing that they have arrested a person in connection with serial stabbings, two brutal stabbing deaths and one attempted homicide earlier this week near the campus of the University of California Davis last week.

The police chief saying that the arrest occurred about an hour ago. Police have yet to identify the suspect publicly, but they say they found a large knife in his backpack, one that matches the description of the murder weapon.


Let's bring in CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller. John, first of all, we should note very interesting the

police chief, Darrel Pytel, talking about, and we should mention the names of the victims here, David Breaux and Karim Najm, who were killed, as well as a third individual, a woman.


TAPPER: They -- Kimberly. The police crediting the public, saying they gave a description of the individual, and 15 members of the Davis community identified this individual, which seems a remarkably positive result given how many false leads that can usually result in.

MILLER: Well, I think what we're learning is public engagement plays a giant role in these things. Now, part of why we're learning that is because we live in an era where you do a video canvas and you come up with an actual film of the person, or you freeze that and you get a good still of the person. And that is a great way to get more accurate community engagement.

But in this case, there was no picture. They did it the old-fashioned way. They put out a description of a guy wearing black Adidas track pants with black sneakers, a white stripe down the side of the pants, long curly hair, and carrying a -- wearing a dark shirt and a backpack. And that's what people were looking for.

And people spotted him. They kept calling and calling until one person stayed on the line with them, and literally followed him till police could get there. Now that's community engagement.

TAPPER: Police were at first reluctant to call this a serial stabber. They wanted to make sure that the individual who stabbed David Breaux is the same one who stabbed Karim Najm, both of those fatal as well as the woman, Kimberly, earlier. I guess they were hoping to get DNA to link the crimes.

MILLER: Well, it is very common in the case of a blitz attack, one of these frenzies attacked with multiple stab wounds, that the perpetrator will also contribute DNA at the scene. Often his own blood as a hand may slip off the knife during these multiple stabs. In this case, the police chief was slightly cagey there, saying, you know, we recovered evidence from his backpack and knife. We also recovered his clothing and evidence on him.

That's probably -- possibly in allusion to DNA, either wearing the same clothing that the perpetrator wore during those clothes. He should have probably had trace evidence from the victims in terms of blood on his clothes, if not his own as well. So while they questioned him for hours, running those tests, submitting those samples, and waiting for those results is probably what helped tie this case together for them beyond the circumstantial, the description, and the possession of the knife.

TAPPER: Yes. And we're getting word now that the individual being -- who is a suspect, is 21-year-old Carlos Dominguez, identified as someone who was a student at UC Davis until last week. What do you make of that? And based on what you heard from police, do you think students and members of the UC Davis community should feel -- should exhale, should feel it's relatively safe to go back to life as normal?

MILLER: Well, they certainly should, and they should based on their own statements, their own assertions that we heard this week from UC Davis students saying, you know, this was the place where you could always walk around, a small town that was really safe. So this event is clearly anomaly in a town that is not a high crime place.

The fact that the individual charged was, for lack of a better term, one of their own, a student until very recently, that's going to be a shock to the UC Davis system. People were expecting a drifter. They were expecting someone from outside the community. In this case, this is going to be close to home and that's going to require some examination, what happened there, to turn this person into an enemy of the community he was once a vital part of.

TAPPER: Yes. Chilling. John, thanks as always. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the back and forth between the White House and the Kremlin intensifying. Russia claiming that the US may have been behind the alleged drone attack in Moscow. With no evidence, they make that claim. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our World Lead. Ukrainian officials say that their air defenses repelled every single Russian air attack on Kyiv earlier today, the most intense barrage on Ukraine's capital since the start of this year. CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in Eastern Ukraine. Nic, how are Ukrainians gearing up for this anticipated counter offensive.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Most people here are wondering where it's going to start, when it's going to start. They've heard so much about it. They obviously look at these drone strikes coming from Moscow, the one in Odessa. Of 15 drones fired there, twelve got twelve were shot down. On the tail fins were written the message from Moscow, from the Kremlin, an apparent reference to this alleged assassination attempt on President Putin.

But for that counter offensive you're talking about, the government is not saying anything, but what we've been witnessing are troops getting ready, very ready, for that moment when it comes.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Ukraine's counter offensive is edging closer, momentum building at secret locations. These battle-hardened storm troops in live fire training, honing tactics to take trenches just miles from the front lines where they often put their own lives on the line.

Vlad shows us video of him storming Russian trenches a few days ago.



ROBERTSON (voice-over): He shouts to the Russian troops to surrender.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): They shoot back, the fight continues.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): They wouldn't surrender, he says. We killed three of them with our grenades.

(on-camera): When you're already fighting so well, what's the point of doing extra training like this?

(voice-over): You can't do enough training, he says. You must do it all the time to be ready.

(on-camera): There is every possibility the next time these troops go back to the front line. It could be part of the big counter offensive operation. They don't know, and their commanders certainly aren't saying.

(voice-over): Most of these troops in their early twenties, the US made M113 their training with a 60-year veteran of the type of infantry assault they'll need to punch through Russian lines. Train and train again, drilled into these young warriors.

OLEG, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: It's never enough to do like you must train every day. If you're not training, you will die.

ROBERTSON: That simple?

OLEG: Yes.

ROBERTSON: Have you seen, you've been in the front line, have you lost friends?

OLEG: Yes. I lost a couple of friends. I don't know what to say else. It's terrible.

ROBERTSON: Psychologically, you know that could be you.

OLEG: Yes but like we all can die in one minute. For me, it's nothing like, OK, so what? I defended my country. I'm dying like a hero. It's OK for me

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Confidence here has been hard-earned, camaraderie cemented in action the test of their training coming. The only question, when?


ROBERTSON: So when Ukrainians see those M113s lined up along their highways, or the British made Mastiffs, or the US made MRAPs, these important infantry fighting vehicles to take territory, when they see those convoys moving on the highways here, they're going to know this counter offensive is getting pretty close, Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Nic Robertson in Eastern Ukraine for us. Thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Madam Ambassador, thank you for joining us. What do you make of these obviously baseless claims by Russia that Ukraine, now the United States, is behind the alleged drone attack at the Kremlin?

OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Thank you. Thank you very much, Jake, for having me. Well, this will not be the first time Russia is lying. They have been lying during all 435 days since they reinvaded us and do all these horrible war crimes.

Ukraine has been very clear that is in no way we're involved in this attack. We don't know what it is. We don't know whether it's a provocation organized by their forces or whoever did that. But what Ukraine is doing, again for more than 400 days now, is defending our country on our territory. And the Russian terrorist attacks, those are the real terrorist attacks.

We have seen them since February 24 last year with missiles, with drones, with Shahid drones and everything else.

TAPPER: We just saw our reporter in Ukraine showing us how elite Ukrainian troops are preparing and training for this expected counter offensive. The US Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, testified to Congress today on that topic. Take a listen.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR, US NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Even if Ukraine's counter offensive is not fully successful, the Russians are unlikely to be able to mount a significant offensive operation this year. In fact, if Russia does not initiate a mandatory mobilization and secure substantial third party ammunition supplies beyond existing deliveries from Iran and others, it will be increasingly challenging for them to sustain even modest offensive operations.


TAPPER: Do you agree with that assessment, Madam Ambassador? Do you think it's going to be tough for Russia to sustain even modest offensive operations?

MARKAROVA: Well, we have seen them failing miserably since their offensive started, since their war started. We already liberated more than half of what they have taken. We liberated -- they were not able to take Kyiv in three days as they wanted to.

On the other hand, we don't want to underestimate the enemy. I mean, it's still a brutal aggressor with a lot of weapons. We see on a daily basis what they're capable of when they are not capable in winning on the front lines in a fair battle, they just resort to violence and kill, rape, kidnap our Ukrainian children.


So we are motivated unlike them, that is true. And regardless again of the fact, whether we have enough weapons or not have enough weapons, there is no other choice for us. We will continue defending our country until the full sovereignty is restored and until Russians are out of our land.

TAPPER: Where are the Ukrainian people? Where is the Ukrainian military when it comes to the many requests you've made for jets, for tanks? Has anything arrived in the country in a way that you're able to use?

MARKAROVA: Well, we are discussing all the capabilities with our friends and especially with the US. Here you have seen the last Ramstein meeting, for which we are grateful personally to Secretary Austin, who takes time and every month not only participates in bilateral discussions with us, but gathers more than 50 countries now to discuss together, what can we do more.

So, some of the items we already see on the battlefield, like Bradley's and others, you know, we already see them in Ukraine. Some we will surprise Russians when they will see them in the battlefield, and some we are still discussing.

But we do need all the capabilities in order not only to defend the country now, but also to build the endurance trends for the future, because unless some miracle happens in Russia, they will continue to be threats to all of us, to all democratic countries.

TAPPER: So POLITICO is reporting that Ukrainian officials in Kyiv are withholding details of the counteroffensive from allies, perhaps understandably citing concerns over the recent leaks of highly classified U.S. documents. I mean, it makes sense. I'm not faulting you. You wouldn't want more than a few key people to know the time and place of any planned counter offensive. But this does seem to suggest that the leak did some serious damage on the U.S.-Ukraine intelligence sharing relationship.

MARKAROVA: I would disagree. I think the trust and cooperation between our countries is at the levels we never had before. I think it's understandable that we will never talk publicly about neither what we plan for the counteroffensive or what do we share with each other. But Ukraine is very happy with the cooperation and with how we together are working to defend our country.

TAPPER: Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Marakova. Always an honor to have you. Thank you so much.

MARKAROVA: Thank you.

TAPPER: Now to Russia, where detained American Paul Whelan got his first in person visit from U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy. The U.S. embassy in Moscow posted this after the visit. Quote, Paul has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four years, and his release remains an absolute priority.

As you may know, the former Marine was arrested and sentenced in 2018 to 16 years on espionage charges that he vehemently denies. Right now, he's in a prison camp called IK-17. It's situated in a remote region of Mordovia, which is about an eight hour drive southeast of Moscow. Conditions there are, quote, extremely bad, according to Whelan himself.

Paul Wheelen's brother David says he has also spoken to Paul recently. Paul told David that he's worried he will be left behind again after two other wrongfully detained Americans Brittney Griner and Trevor Reid were brought home last year.

Still ahead, just who are the accused Capitol rioters? Donald Trump is glorifying at his campaign rallies with this bizarre video. That's next.



TAPPER: Four members of the Proud Boys were found guilty of seditious conspiracy earlier today for their role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. That was an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. These are members of the same group that Donald Trump, when asked to condemn, instead told the Proud Boys stand back and stand by during a presidential debate.

And beyond the Proud Boys of course, the former president continues to elevate and embrace his supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 to stop the constitutional peaceful transfer of power. Trump kicked off his first campaign rally for the 2024 election with a song called Justice for All. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.


TAPPER: So you get the point. It's of a mash up there. The song is sung by what is called the J6 Prison Choir. It's a mix of the national anthem and the former president reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The J6 Prison Choir, this is a group of accused Capitol rioters who are inside a DC jail who apparently sing the national anthem every night.


TRUMP: Our people love those people. What's happening in that prison? It's a hell hole. These are people that shouldn't have been there.


TAPPER: So the prisoners took a cell phone video of themselves singing, and that was posted to a site called Rumble. And that video has been posted on social media by some of the attorneys and Trump allies.

Now, the Washington Post did Yeoman's work and went through and identified these alleged criminals, these men in the video.


Here are just some of the highlights, The Washington Post noted. Ryan Nichols gets the one holding the phone and narrating the video. The 32-year-old, he's pleaded not guilty to multiple charges including assaulting a federal officer with a weapon. Jonathan Mellis, he is the long dark hair in the glasses. Among the charges he faces, assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon. The Washington Post says he's expected to plead guilty to the charges tomorrow.

Prosecutors say this is Mellis at the Capitol hitting officers, police officers, law enforcement officers with a giant stick. His mother told the Post it meant so much to hear her son's voice when she first heard the song Justice for All. Julian Khater, who was actually introduced by name in the prison cell phone video and his brother confirmed his identity to the Post.

Khater has pleaded guilty to using a chemical spray on officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick, you may recall, died the day after the insurrection. The medical examiner concluded the insurrection was a factor in his death. The brother of Brian Sicknick told the Post he was, quote disgusted by Trump's glorification of these accused criminals.

It seems that Donald Trump is of course not going to stop celebrating these rioters, these people who allegedly attacked police as long as it fires up his base on the 2024 campaign trail.

Let us discuss. Ana, go.

ANA NAVARRO, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: Well, I feel exactly the same way as Officer Sicknick's brother. I think it is disgusting, but I think it's more of Trump, right. There is absolutely nothing in the story that is shocking at this point. Well, except for the part about prisoners shooting selfies of each other and then being able to send them to social media platforms, which I think is crazy. And the DC correctional department has got some explaining to do.

Look at the contrast could not be more stark. Are you with somebody? You now know what you're voting for when you're voting for Donald Trump. You are voting for someone who not only promoted the insurrection back then, but continues to promote that insurrection, to glorify it, to turn them into heroes, to celebrate it, to embrace it today. That's the contrast and that's the choice for Republicans, the law and order party.

TAPPER: Whatever happened to back the blue? These guys attack cops.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND STRATEGY, AMERICAN PROGRESS: Exactly. It's back the blue until the blue is doing something that you don't like standing up for an election. You know, Ana's right. This is not necessarily surprising, but it is disturbing. When you see the poll that Donald Trump still has on the Republican Party, we'll see what happens throughout the primary.

But I am not comforted by the fact that so many Republicans still support him, despite the fact that he supported an insurrection. It's still saying, these criminals are okay people and people are really upset that they're in prison.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is disgusting to see them sing justice for all while they may sing in prison about justice for all. Merrick Garland and the DOJ delivered on message, justice for all, justice for America in the convictions of four of the Proud Boys for their role in January 6.

What they did is worthy of guilty convictions and we're going to see many more of them. These are not just frat boys who are in a frat to drink. These are people that unlawfully tried to stay in the way of peaceful transfer of power.

And I think four words that we heard from Merrick Garland today that should frighten Donald Trump more than anything, aside from the fact that these people are convicted and others will follow. When Merrick Garland said, my work will continue, that should worry Donald Trump and any of these others who helped lead this call to these people.

These Proud Boys and these people convicted are foot soldiers who are waiting for word, for someone to storm the Capitol. And they did so with draft dodger. Donald Trump saying stand back and stand by and move on to the Capitol.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think once it was clear that after January 6, you would not see the Republican Party break from Trump, you would not see, and in fact, you've reported on this a lot, the diminishment of what happened, right, kind of undercutting what happened.

Well, now he has to find a way essentially to spin that, right. There's no divorcing himself from that day. And he has always told his voters that he is a proxy for them against the government. I think this is a good example of him trying to be that proxy in the moment.

TAPPER: Something else that's going on that's very interesting is Kayleigh McEnany, the former Trump White House press Secretary, just announced on Twitter that she is going to be doing the 8:00 p.m. hour all next week that Tucker Carlson used to have. I'm sure I don't need to remind anybody here.

Kayleigh was one of the biggest spreaders of election lies in that period. After the election, she would go on Fox all the time and just repeat these lies over and over. So if anybody thought that the $787.5 million settlement was going to make Fox recalibrate how much they want to be associated with those lies, I guess we have our answer.


NAVARRO: Look, Fox News is what it is, and it's not going to change its stripes anytime soon. I was shocked. I mean, you know, the Kayleigh part is, yes, and her lies, her spreading conspiracy theories and her lies got her a job at Fox News. But I was actually shocked the other day, and it takes a lot for Fox News to shock me these days. But on the day when incredibly disturbing texts from Tucker Carlson were revealed about --

TAPPER: About how white men don't fight that way or something like that.

NAVARRO: Right. And bbout how he was basically, at some point rooting for the death of this kid who was getting beat up by three white men. On that same day, Jesse Watters was on the air talking about how he had seen a family of illegal immigrants. Somebody said, well, how do they're illegal? He said, oh, you can tell? Really?


NAVARRO: So, you know, so I guess the difference is they're not putting it on text form that will get on, you know, that would be part of a trial.

CORNISH: The cold fact is, though, they have lost ratings in his absence, like a profound dip. They're trying to stem that hemorrhaging. And the way they do that is to have someone who is very closely aligned with Trump. There are plenty of people who still vote for the former president, who still support the former president without somehow claiming the unsavory parts of it. And we're watching a network essentially trying to walk that line, and they're not going to be the only one.

STEWART: And the truth of us is all of us here agree, as many rational people across this country do believe, that there was not widespread voter fraud and we should have had a peaceful transfer of power, and Joe Biden is the duly elected president.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump and his base do not think that way. And unfortunately, as well, Fox News will continue to push that narrative, even though we now know, based on the text that we've seen from some of their hosts, that they didn't believe it, but they know their audience wants to see that, and they're going to continue to feed what the audience wants.

LEGER: Exactly. It's about continuing to feed the audience to get the ratings. It's not about news. It's not about the truth. It is about the almighty dollar. And while, yes, almost a billion dollars going to Dominion is a lot of money, it's not that much money to Fox, obviously.

TAPPER: What was your response when you saw the white men don't fight that way? I think I'm quoting that correctly.

LEGER: It was -- I was disgusted. I wasn't surprised that he said something like that. And I don't believe that's the text that put Fox over.

TAPPER: You think there's something else?

LEGER: Oh, a 100 percent. Because other people on that network say equally disgusting things like Jesse Watters. So I don't believe for a second that was the one that put him over there.

NAVARRO: And listen, as Maya Angel (ph) taught us all when somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time. He has been showing himself to be this on air for years now.

TAPPER: There's also this new report in the Washington Post today saying about what might be next for Tucker Carlson, who some people say is bigger than Fox and doesn't need Fox. It says, quote, Carlson wants to moderate his own GOP candidate forum. Outside of the usual structures of the Republican National Committee debate system, at least one major candidate, Trump, has told Carlson he's interested, according to a person familiar with the exchange. Trump has threatened to boycott the RNC debates. What do you make of it?

CORNISH: It's interesting when you think about Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Megyn Kelly. There have been plenty of personalities that it seemed like they would go on to be bigger than the brand they left behind. That did not prove to be the case necessarily, but we are now in a media environment in which you can build an enormous following or presence and you can reach your audience directly.

So this will be kind of a test of that media environment. And I think in a way, Tucker Carlson is the person to do that. I mean, he's like in his basement in Maine, but he very well could have a show that could be meaningful to people if he has the right guests.

STEWART: Tucker's followers will follow Tucker wherever he goes, whatever platform he uses, whether online or digital or what he uses. And look, having worked on many presidential campaigns, when you want to get your message out to the base, which is Tucker's viewership, you will do a debate with Tucker Carlson. No matter what the venue, no matter where -- what the time --

LEGER: Monetize it directly. The implications of this are enormous.

TAPPER: Right. No, it's interesting. I'm sorry to interrupt, but just because I remember when you worked for Ted Cruz, he did an interview with me. I remember interacting with you very professional way. But it was also like that was an era, I guess, 2015, 2016, where somebody running for president for the Republican nomination was willing to do an interview with CNN and not only just do Fox and everything to the right of Fox, but it seems like that's where the party is right now. Not the Sunnunus (ph) of the world, but even Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, they only do --

NAVARRO: Oh, please mention Asa Hutchinson.

TAPPER: Asa comes on CNN, too. But Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, with the exception next week, do pretty much only conservative media.

STEWART: Right. You have to take your message to all voters, not just the ones that are already in your camp. And that's the challenge many people have, whether they are afraid they can't stand up tough questioning or they want softball questions from friendly journalists.


And I think it's imperative on GOP voters, even in the Republican primary, we are just trying to reach the base. You need to reach out to other voters, the independent and undecided voters. They could potentially sway your way if you make a convincing argument.

LEGER: Right. They're not all watching Fox News, so I do think it's a good primary strategy, but I agree they have to win the general election. So just talking to Fox or just talking to whatever Tucker's new show is not going to work.

TAPPER: Yes, and also, I mean, look, I mean, a lot of voters who are going to vote are people who don't like Biden or Trump. Like, we've learned that. Right now, Biden leads significantly among those voters. But it's not only Fox voters that are going to decide this election.

NAVARRO: What's ironic, though, is that part of those texts that we saw from Tucker revealed how he felt about Trump. It wasn't all that good now, was it? And yet now they've become bosom buddies again. And apparently he is consulting with Trump, despite having called him some pretty dicey names.

TAPPER: Pretty tough stuff. Thanks to one and all. And of course, it is Audie Cornish, Thursday, be sure to check out the newest episode of Audie's awesome podcast, the Assignment with Audi Cornish. It's available wherever you get your podcasts, and if she texts me the link, I will tweet it as soon as possible. Thanks, one and all, for being here. New developments, no, absolutely not. New developments in the deaths of four race horses at Churchill Downs this week, the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. What that will mean for the most exciting two minutes in sports. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our sports lead, renewed calls for safety in horse racing after four horses died within just five days of each other. And now a trainer for two of those horses has been suspended indefinitely. All four horses died at Churchill Downs. That's the home of the Kentucky Derby, and this, of course, just days before Saturday's big race. CNN's Nick Watt is with us. Nick, tell us more about the suspended trainer.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Saffie Joseph Jr. was supposed to have a runner in the derby itself. No longer. He's in his 13th year training. $10 million in earnings last year. So a pretty big player in the sport.

We just got this within the past hour from Churchill Downs, quote, given the unexplained sudden deaths, sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood. Now, of course, we reached out to Saffie Joseph for comment. Haven't heard back just yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who takes some wired o, I hear.

WATT (voiceover): Four horses dead in just one week. A very high profile week. The build up to the Kentucky Derby, the most exciting two minutes in sports. Two horses have been euthanized for humane reasons after injuries on the track, says Churchill Downs. Two more died suddenly of as yet unknown causes, both of them trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.

SAFFIE JOSEPH JR., RACEHORSE TRAINER: I'm shattered, basically, because I know it can't happen. It's mind boggling. Like the odds of it to happen twice is a trillion.

WATT: While a series of events like this is highly unusual, it is completely unacceptable, reads a statement from Churchill Downs about the four deaths. We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed.

Four in a week might be unusual, but race horses do die. 28 died here at Churchill Downs last year, according to Horse Racing Wrongs, an activist organization that tracks the numbers. That track has not confirmed that total.

This sport of kings was already under scrutiny over horse injuries and deaths, particularly after a spate of fatalities at Santa Anita, California, in 2019. Jerry Hollandorfer, a trainer who had four horses die that year, denied doing anything wrong, but was banned from the track after our reporting.

BOB BAFFERT, RACEHORSE TRAINER: People don't understand that Jerry felt really bad when he lost those horses.

WATT: That's Bob Baffert, racing's grand old man and key player in a scandal that still hangs over Churchill Downs. His horse Medina Spirit superstar winner in '21 died later that year and later stripped of that win after a failed post-race drug test. Baffort, who denies wrongdoing, is still banned from this fabled track.

We have full confidence in our racing surfaces, say the track's owners after the four deaths this week. We continue to press for answers.

The surface is often blamed, but we might never know exactly why these horses died.

DALE ROMANS, RACEHORSE TRAINER: It's not the surface. I think we're just running into a bad streak here.


WATT: Now horse racing is really trying to improve its image. There's a new body created by an act of Congress to oversee safety standards nationwide. They called the suspension proactive and necessary. But listen, this is not what horse racing wants. This time of year, we should be talking about mint julips and hats, not about humane, euthanasia and dead horses. Jake.

TAPPER: Indeed. Nick Watt, thank you so much. A verdict in our pop culture lead. A Manhattan jury today found Ed Sheeran's song Thinking out Loud does not steal key parts of Marvin Gay's classic song Let's Get it On. Sheeran's sentiment after trial, you might say he shifted the focus from Let's Get It On to Let's Get It Over With, saying the bogus copyright claims need to stop.


ED SHEERAN, ENGLISH SINGER-SONGWRITER: If the jury had decided this matter the other way, we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters. We need to be able to write our original music and engage independent creation without worrying at every step of the way that such creativity will be wrongly called into question.


TAPPER: It is true that the melodies in both songs do not line up.