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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Texas Horror: Three Children Among Mall Shooting Victims; Texas House Committee Advances Bill To Raise Age To Buy A Semi-Automatic Rifle; Eight Killed After Driver Plows Into Crowd Outside Texas Shelter; CNN On The Mexico Side Of Border As End Of Title 42 Nears; Tomorrow: Biden, Lawmakers Have Pivotal Meeting On Debt Ceiling; Closing Arguments Wrap Up In E. Jean Carroll Civil Rape Trial Against Former President Trump. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: No, I love his antics. In fact, I tuned in just for his antics. What's Louie going to do this time I said?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: They are cute kids. I had some jealousy of the backhoe. Just putting that out there. It is a pretty sweet toy. Yeah.

KEILAR: That is awesome.

And that does it for "CNN NEWS CENTRAL."

"THE LEAD" starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The gunman behind the Texas mall massacre had been removed from the U.S. military because of mental health issues.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Allen, Texas, joining the ranks of Columbine, Aurora, Parkland, Newtown, another town whose name is synonymous with a mass shooting. Two young sisters were just identified as victims as we're learning more about the gunman's extremist background into which authorities are looking.

And new video obtained exclusively by CNN. Bystanders trying to hold down the man accused of plowing his Range Rovers into a group of migrants.

Plus, just in time for summer travel, the new proposed rule to give you a refund if you're bumped from your next flight.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Another day, another deadly mass shooting in America. Over the weekend, a man gunned down several people at a mall in Allen, Texas, near Dallas. At least eight people were killed. Seven others wounded.

Police are investigating whether the gunman who was killed by a cop at the scene was motivated by right wing extremism. This is not a monthly occurrence in the United States. It is not a weekly occurrence in the United States. This is now happening every day.

We're only 128 days until 2023, and there's already been 202 mass shootings of the United States so far, according to the gun violence archive. We define mass shooting as one for more people are injured or killed, not including the gunman. Two hundred two, that's more mass shootings than there have been days. Not even close.

In Texas, well, Texas is the unfortunate sanction to being home to some of the worst deadliest, mass shootings that this country has ever seen, especially in recent years.

Just last year in Uvalde, Texas, a gunman killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School, including 19 fourth graders and two teachers inside their classrooms.

In 2019, at a Walmart in El Paso, 23 lives lost, 23 killed, when a gunman opened fire after spewing racist rhetoric online.

In 2018, at Santa Fe High School outside Houston, ten people killed when a student opened fire with a revolver and shotgun belonging to his father.

In 2017, Sutherland Springs 26 people killed during Sunday services, at First Baptist Church.

In 2016 in Dallas, five officers shot to death when a gunman targeted police in a Black Lives Matter protest.

These are just some of the mass shootings in Texas that I've covered for you, from this desk, just some of them. Some of the ones that made national headlines. There are many more that don't get covered, not to mention of fewer than four people, and the accidental shootings, and the suicide.

Almost every time Texas is devastated by gun violence, we hear a familiar refrain from the man who has been governor during this whole time.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: What Texas is doing in a big time way, we're working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.

We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental how, anybody who shoots somebody else, has a mental health challenge, period.

We all know this is something that we must address as a nation, but also as a state. And that is for all of us to do a better job to address mental health issues. (END VIDEO CLIPS)

TAPPER: We should note, one, most people with mental health issues do not shoot people. Two, mental health issues excess all over the world.

But other countries don't have the same culture and laws that we have here in the United States, laws that allow folks who may be a danger to themselves or others to easily obtain firearms. Just looking at the data from the CDC, as a general matter, the states that have taken steps to try and keep guns out of the wrong hands, those states have lower rates of deaths per capita by firearm. This is a factual matter.

Those are numbers, of course, that will bring little solace to six- year-old William Cho. William Cho has been now left without his family. His mother was killed, his father was killed, and his younger brother was killed in the Allen mall shooting over the weekend, that's according to "The Dallas Morning News".

Others brutally murdered include sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza. Daniela was in the fourth grade. Sofia was in the second grade.


Her mother is currently in critical condition.

Aishwarya Thatikonda -- she was an engineer. She lived in McKinney, Texas. She was shopping with a friend and she was brutally gunned down.

Christian LaCour was a 20-year-old security at the mall. Her older sister told CNN Christian was a sweet, carrying young man. He is no more.

We're going to start our coverage with CNN's Ed Lavandera who's in Allen, Texas, where authorities are learning the shooter had been removed from military service because of mental health concerns.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes after gunfire erupted at the outlet mall in Allen, Texas, it was clear of first responders the scene was a mass casualty event.

FIRST RESPONDER: We have multiple upon multiple patients.

FIRST RESPONDER: To units down at the burger joint, does that suspect have an AR rifle?


FIRST RESPONDER: I need an ambulance at H&M. I've got victims.

LAVANDERA: After killing eight people and wounding at least seven others, Mauricio Garcia was killed by a police officer at the scene. A law enforcement sources tell CNN that the 33-year-old gunman served three months in the U.S. Army, and did not complete basic training and was removed because of mental health concerns.

Despite this, Texas state records show Garcia was approved to work as a commissioned security guard and even receive firearms training. Witnesses say Garcia acted calmly as he carried out the attack.

BILL MCLEAN, SHOOTING WITNESS: He's kind of a deliberate assault type.

LAVANDERA: In 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott created a state domestic terrorism task force after the El Paso Walmart massacre, which would, quote, increase the detection and monitoring of domestic terrorism and other mass casualty threats, including neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: I don't know what DPS has been doing, what threads they've been following on Twitter, or Facebook, any kind of social media from people like this man in Allen.

LAVANDERA: Texas DPS and Governor Abbott have not answered questions about the shooting investigation.

ABBOTT: The people in Allen, especially, the families, they want to know right now, why this happened, how it happened.

LAVANDERA: We're also learning the hot breaking details of what happened to the Cho family. The family of four was at the mall altogether, but only six-year-old William survived the shooting. His parents Kyu Sung and Shin Young, along with his three-year-old brother were all killed. William remains in a hospital and was just removed from the ICU.

Other victims include Aishwarya Thatikonda, an engineer who lived in McKinney, Texas, and Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old mall security guard.

MAX WEISS, MALL STORE EMPLOYEE: He was the kindest and sweetest, most caring man you'd ever interact with.

LAVANDERA: While public officials struggle to cure an epidemic of mass shootings.

ABBOT: The first step to leading to some type of resolution here, as well as providing information about the response needed from the state of Texas is to know exactly why and how this happened.

GUTIERREZ: We've heard from this governor about mental illness, evil, and everything else. And you need to now, and everybody in Texas needs to, now that's all bull.

Every time something happens, it's something else. And he's got a solution for this that's unrelated to the common denominator, which is guns.


LAVANDERA: And, Jake, you talk about the two young victims, Daniela and Sofia Mendoza, sisters. Their principal described them as, quote, rays of sunshine. Let that sink in for a moment.

Here at the memorial site outside of the mall, the outlet mall, the same man who built many crosses at the public vigil that was made in Uvalde, Texas, brought the crosses here, and it's also an important reminder that it's been 48 hours since the shooting happened here in Allen, Texas. And the lead investigating agency, the Texas Department of Public Safety, has yet to come forward to answer questions for the people here in this community -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah. As always, no accountability, no transparency in Texas. We're getting used to it.

Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Steven Spainhouer on the phone. He was there moments after shots were fired at Allen outlet mall.

Steven, thanks for joining us.

Your son was working at H&M. He called you when the shooting started. You rush to the scene. You began administering first aide to the victims when you arrived. Thankfully, your son is okay. That's a small semblance of good news in all this. Eight others were killed.

Tell us about the scene when you arrived?


Well, I didn't go to the first aid. I went hopefully to run into an Allen police officer and be pointed to a unification point. But, unfortunately I drove right into the middle of an active shooter situation.

I was able to get on the phone to 911 with a witness and very succinctly tell them what I had. I had seven bodies that were down and needed seven ambulances, a SWAT response, and a high priority police call. The operators there were just inundated. They did their best and they were -- this was not a Uvalde. This was Allen, Texas, and the Allen police department, fire department, Collin County sheriff all responded exemplary and performed very well to do what they had to do.


TAPPER: So, there were seven who were killed already when you arrived?

SPAINHOUER: Well, I -- the first person I went to was a young girl that was still warm to the touch huddled in the bushes like she was hiding, and I don't want to get too graphic, but I did feel for a pulse and pulled her head back. It was -- there was a bright shining face was gone. There was nothing left. She was already gone.

The first male I got to was catatonic, eyes were fixed and the third one was moaning. He had -- someone threw some gloves, and said, glove up, and I'm going to medical assistance. She didn't make it back. I -- when you've got gunshot wounds, you know, you are only have so many first on your hands that you can plug holes with. I felt for a pulse, no pulse. I started the chest compression, and he expired in front of me.

I noticed a young boy crawling out from under one of the other victims covered from head to toe in blood. Didn't know if it was a boy or girl, couldn't tell. I immediately got that person about 15 feet around the corner so the child wouldn't see anymore than what they had experienced. I didn't want them going into shock.

As the police officer drove up he said, Good God Almighty. What can I do? I said, take the child. He said is the child injured and I said take the child. And he did.

And it was the succession of police cars after that. We could not triage. These were gunshot wounds like in a combat zone. All we could do is load folks and get them to a major medical center and Allen PD and Fire did an excellent job.

TAPPER: Just going to an outlet mall being like in a combat zone is unfortunately what is now like the new normal in the United States or has been for several years but seems to be getting worse.

I mean, normally, we in the news media, we don't -- we don't show or don't necessarily even describe how these -- how these firearms can destroy a human body, and obviously we want to be respectful to the families. Do you think if more Americans saw what you saw that people might feel differently about laws that might begin to try to stop this madness?

SPAINHOUER: I would not be an advocate of doing or showing what I saw. It's too gruesome and horrific. I will just say that without using those graphics there are better ways to address the situation. I've listened to Texas Governor Abbott.

I've worked around mental health facilities a good deal of my life. I've worked -- I have a special needs son that works with H&M. I -- I'm well familiar with the mental health care needs, but I will tell you this -- mental health care did not pull that trigger.

Yes, he had a problem and I agree with the governor, anybody who shot someone has got a mental health problem but I'll tell you unless we got a gun problem. And unless we get those people killer weapons off the streets, this continues, Jake, and we've got to make sure we put common sense gun (AUDIO GAP) in place, red flag law, universal background checks, age restrictions, anything we can do to keep the killer weapons off the street.

I'm a Texan. I'm all for guns. I have guns. I've trained people how to use them. But these people killer weapons, high capacity magazines have no place being on our street.

The governor says I'm offering prayers. I'm a Christian. I believe that faith without works is dead, and prayers without actions behind it to safeguard our communities. The governor needs to give a dose of reality and starting doing the wise thing and take a leadership role in protecting our communities.

TAPPER: It is the number one responsibility of a government is to make sure its citizens are safe, the number one responsibility, and if you can't even take your child to an outlet mall without fears of being murdered by somebody who has no business having one of these weapons of war, then the government is not doing its job.

Steven Spainhouer, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today, and, of course, your action that day, and I am praying for you and your family because I know it's not going to be easy to move on from this.

SPAINHOUER: Well, thank you very much, and telling the story is a significant part of making change and thank you for what you guys do. Appreciate it, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir.

Coming up next, a significant moment in Texas today in the wake of Saturday's mall shooting.

Also ahead, CNN's rear view on the other side of the border. See the dangerous moves migrants are making in Mexico just to try to reach the United States.



TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead. A surprising moment in the Texas statehouse where two Republican lawmakers crossed party lines to vote with Democrats to advance a bill to the floor of the legislature that would raise the minimum age to buy semiautomatic weapons called assault-style weapons from age 18 to age 21. Now, 21 is already the age nationwide for handgun purchases but not for semiautomatics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight ayes, five nays and zero present or not voting, the motion carries.



TAPPER: A small measure, but significant perhaps. The bill can now move to the full house. There is no guarantee, of course, that the Republican-controlled legislature will even allow a vote on the matter.

With me now is the vice chair of the Select Committee of Community Safety, which voted to advance this bill today, Democratic State Lawmaker Jarvis Johnson.

Representative Johnson, thank you so much for being here. It is a big moment, this proposal even making it out of committee. Do you think this would if the shooting on Saturday had not happened? STATE REPRESENTATIVE JARVIS JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: Without some

procedural politicking, no, I don't think so, and, unfortunately, it took something hike this to happen before we could move this to -- to the committee vote and then hopefully to conference committee and then hopefully to the floor.


TAPPER: So you gave an impassioned speech on the House floor begging your Republican colleagues to take action. Let's run a little bit of that.


JOHNSON: Stop with this partisan BS because we're not doing anything. We're hurting our -- we're hurting every Texan when we don't legislate properly because you're blowing me off because I don't have an "R" by my name and you are sitting here joking and playing and thinking this is a joke.

This is not a joke! This is real. Children every day are dying. And we simply got to protect guns but we haven't done a thing to protect children. At some point, put aside your partisan stuff and legislate properly.


TAPPER: Now, I should note that was on Friday. The shooting at the Allen outlet mall was a day later? Do you think its going to get a vote on the floor on the full legislature? Are they going to allow a vote?

JOHNSON: Based on the word I've heard and based on the rumors around it, it may not. They have to go before a calendars committee, and once they go before a calendars committee, then they will vote it out of that committee and then they will come to the house. But without it getting through the calendars committee, it's going to be a tough call and that's why I'm asking and demanding that everyone give a call to every member of the calendars committee and the chair to make sure that there is a vote so that people can understand where we stand in this state and what we truly believe in and how we really mean that we want change and we want to protect all Texans.

So let's put it to a vote and see what comes of it. Unfortunately, you know, it has taken some real extreme circumstances to even get to this point.

TAPPER: Now, this bill would have theoretically prevented the Uvalde shooting because that shooter was not yet 21 and bought his firearms legally if memory serves. It would not necessarily have impacted the shooting over the weekend because I believe that shooter was older than 21. I know that law enforcement has been not exactly generous when it comes to details about what happened Saturday and who the shooter was.

Do you know of any law that could pass that would have prevented specifically what happened Saturday?

JOHNSON: Well, absolutely. There have been red flag laws that have been put in place. We -- there is documentation that the individual that did the shooting had mental illness and so there are bills that have been put forth that have looked at how we have red flag laws, how we can -- we can flag people who have been a part of the -- who have had mental psychosis.

So it is there. But, unfortunately, again, without ever even being able to get a committee hearing oftentimes we don't ever get a chance to put these bills before the house, so there are plenty of bills that could have been put in place that certainly could have protected the families of Allen and certainly the entire state.

TAPPER: The CDC analyzed state firearm deaths per capita across the U.S. and the states that have the most deaths by firearms per capita are primarily red states with very loose gun laws, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and while there are gun deaths, of course in, blue states per capita there are fewer of them, California, New York, New England.

What do you make of that? Do you ever show these maps to the Republican legislators and say this is just about protecting Texans?

JOHNSON: You know, the idiocy sometimes that comes out of this house floor is mind-boggling because at the end of the day, no matter how many times you can show statistics, no matter how many times you can demonstrate in this world and how many guns that we have, they have done a heck of a josh brainwashing people a good guy with a gun will be there to protect you against a bad guy with a gun.

And not once have I ever seen a good guy stop anyone. The only good guys out there doing anything, obviously when I want to do anything are cops. Those are the ones who are paid to do this job and who are trained to do this job.

But, you know, we've got too many television watchers and wannabe superheroes and think that they want to go out and protect the world and, unfortunately, they are not trained. Then this whole gun thing becomes a part of who they are and this is why you hear people over and over and over again talk about the love of their gun. I'm a gun lover.

You know, I love my children. I love my dog. I love my family, you know. I love my staff, but I don't love a gun, and I don't love a killing machine.


And I think in society, we've gotten to the point where, you know, we've embraced guns before we embrace people, and I think that's an unfortunate state of where we are as a country is that we're always going to the negative. I have to wear this gun because every single day, I'm thinking about killing or dying.

TAPPER: Yeah. JOHNSON: That's a killing.

TAPPER: Yeah. Texas Representative Jarvis Johnson, a Democrat -- thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it, sir.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Ahead, crawling through barbed wire, writing on top of a freight train. The dangerous attempts migrants are making to get to the United States as Texas towns report a staggering number of border crossings ahead of the expiration of the key immigration policy.

Plus, the nationwide consequences of Washington's debt limit fight. I'll ask a White House adviser what President Biden is prioritizing in negotiations, if anything.



TAPPER: We're back with the story of a different horrific senseless tragedy in Texas.

A Brownsville, Texas man with a, quote, extensive rap sheet, including prior charges of driving while intoxicated, has been charged with eight counts of manslaughter. Authorities say that the man was driving an SUV when he ran a red light, lost control and flipped the Range Rover on its side, striking 18 people at a bus stop outside a migrant shelter and killing eight of them, most of whom were Venezuelan, according to authorities.

Video obtained exclusively by CNN shares a group of people trying to restrain the man after the crash. Witnesses say he exited his vehicle and appeared to be impaired. He seemed to try to run away. He yelled obscenities, but he was stopped.

Staying on the Texas-Mexico border, migrants are sleeping on the streets of El Paso today, a city under a state of emergency as the pandemic-era public health rule that allowed the U.S. government, both under Trump and Biden to turn away asylum-seekers, the rule known at Title 42 set to expire on Thursday. It's not just El Paso, of course, facing this surge. One organization in Laredo, Texas, says that it is receiving 250 migrants per day, from 50 per day two weeks ago.

In McAllen, Texas, one shelter is getting 400 migrants from 150 two weeks ago. And a Brownsville shelter was saying between 350 migrants a day and now, it's 1,000 a day, 1,000.

CNN's David Culver is in Mexico with harrowing stories of migrants on the other side of the border.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the U.S. southern border, the struggle is constant. Illegal crossings like this one really tough to watch. Having already clawed through the barbed wire, you can see this young woman frustrated, exhausted, trying to help the other trapped in a web of sharp metal at the Texas border.

From above, you might think that they are the only two crossing this day and the clothes dangling along the miles and miles of fencing say otherwise. For many migrants, fleeing countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and others, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, is the final stop before trying to claim asylum in the U.S.

Can they wait in places like this? You can see the sidewalk. It's full of an encampment, different tents.

We've seen thousands flooding the streets in shelters at this Mexican border town. Twenty-two-year-old Janicia Gomez (ph), her husband and 4-year-old little girl have camped out here for three months already.

She says they are going to cross but she doesn't want to do it illegally. She wants to do it the right way. You don't know when?

In recent weeks, the U.S. government has rolled out an updated CBP1 app, allowing migrants north of Mexico City to register digitally for a limited number of interview spots with asylum officers. No one we've talked to have been able to secure an appointment yet.

Janicia (ph) not sure she'll ever get one. She lost her phone in a fire a few weeks back, but she and others have come too for a turn around. Her young daughter carry the marks to prove it. She said she has some burns still on her face from the sun from being on top of the train.

The journey to Juarez from southern Mexico is hundreds of miles, so many ride the rails north on top of freight trains. We caught up with one just as it was arriving into Juarez. Migrants right on top here. Many of them have made the journey on this train alone for more than eight hours.

He said they were 12 hours on the train. He said it was so cold. Everything felt like ice. His whole family here, and he says now they are going to stay a night, get cleaned up and prepare to cross into the U.S.

But Leonardo's mom is afraid to climb down. Her loved ones at first encouraging and telling her let's go.

Part of the train journey north for some on what's called La Bestia, the beast or the train of death. A ride dangerous and deadly and often controlled by cartels. Hours making this treacherous trek is scarring, but imagine days on board.


She says they were four days on this train. She says it's horrible, really cold.

It's four kids, his wife. Four and a half days on the train.

He says it's for the American dream, and they are going to try to cross today. Another 25 miles under the hot sun to the border from here. Precious

cargo carried on shoulders and in hand. Most end up where we started, at the barbed wire. The added barrier rolled out in recent months by the Texas National Guard. It does not stop the crossings. It does slow them a bit.

The young woman uses her jacket to create a gap while the other tosses through it bottles of water and a backpack, their only belongings. A quick hug and they hurry along likely to turn themselves in to U.S. officials. More will follow.


CULVER (on camera): And this is where many of them end up. You can see them camped out behind me, not all of them. These are just a small portion of the thousand of migrants that we've seen cross over here trying to cross ultimately into the U.S.

Here's the thing, Jake. When Thursday comes, and if Title 42 lifts, that by no means says that all these folks can then just go through. In fact, the USS going to fall back on title 8 which means that these folks will have their chance to claim asylum, to be preliminarily screened and for their case to be potentially heard.

But under Title 42 they didn't have that, they were sent back in some cases immediately. However, if they go through that Title 8 process, Jake, and their cases fail and they don't have enough to prove asylum, they can be banned from the U.S. for some five years, so in many cases, the stakes are much higher if they try to cross after Thursday.

TAPPER: All right. David Culver in Mexico for us, thank you so much.

With only weeks left until a likely default on the nation's debt, the big question is the White House willing to meet House Republicans in any way? On their calls to reduce any future debt? We're going to talk to a White House adviser on President Biden's thinking. That's next.



TAPPER: Our money lead now. President Biden will meet with top congressional leaders tomorrow at the White House as the nation approaches that critical June 1st deadline when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the U.S. will officially no longer be able to pay its debts. Ahead of that all-important meeting, all but six Senate Republicans, 43, have joined their house counterparts and are vowing to oppose any debt ceiling increase without some spending cuts.

Bharat Ramamurti joins me now. He's the deputy director for the National Economic Council at the Biden White House.

Thank you for joining us, Mr. Ramamurti. Appreciate it.

So the Biden administration is insisting that President Biden will only sign a clean debt ceiling bill without any spending cuts. I mean, frankly, sir, you don't have the numbers. The House is controlled by Republicans and now you have 43 Senate Republicans siding with them. That's enough to filibuster any clean bill in the Senate, so what's plan B here?

BHARAT RAMAMURTI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, there is no plan B. Our plan is for Congress to act to address the debt limit without conditions just like they have done 78 times in the past, just like they did three times under President Trump even as they were adding $8 trillion to the deficit.

This is a crisis that is being provoked entirely by House Republicans who have the ability tomorrow to put a bill on the floor that would raise the debt limit without conditions and then the president has made clear he's perfectly willing to sit down with congressional leaders on both House and Senate side, both Democrats and Republicans, and have a good conversation about where we go on tax policy, where we go on spending policy.

It's something that we did last year on a bipartisan basis and got a bill into law. We're happy to do that again. What we won't do is negotiate about whether we pay our bills or not.

TAPPER: The president is meeting the top four congressional leaders tomorrow. Republicans have made their position pretty clear, and they are staying pretty united. Why do you think Republicans are going to blink? I mean, I don't see any evidence that they will.

RAMAMURTI: Well, I think because the consequences of a default, a Republican-provoked default would be extremely severe. We've had outside experts talking about how it would immediately push our economy into a recession, now would jeopardize Social Security payments and jeopardize payments to members of the military. It would cause interest rates to spike.

We want to do what the Republicans have done multiple times in previous administrations which is raise the debt limit, and by the way, I would note in 2019, the shoe was on the other foot. Democrats controlled the House and there's a Republican in the White House, a Republican in the Senate.

Even though Democrats had deep misgivings about the Trump administration's economic policy you didn't see Democrats holding the debt limit hostage in order to get their agenda through. That would be irresponsible. What we want is the same set of conditions this time around.

TAPPER: Would President Biden rather the U.S. default on its debt obligations than accept a build that includes any spending cuts?

RAMAMURTI: That's not the situation before us as we speak, and I would note that if we pass the bill that the Republicans want, that, too also, do incredible economic harm. Remember Moody's, a non-partisan economic analysis group has found that the Republican bill, if it went into law, would cost 800,000 jobs within the next year. It would cause 30 million outpatient visits for veterans. It would cost us 60,000 teachers and meaningfully push us towards a recession. That's what they said.

So, those are the options the Republicans put before us, push us closer to a recession or have an immediate recession because of a default. As you can see, those are not options we're willing to entertain.

TAPPER: So, let's take a step back for a second and just talk about the debt, all right, not about the debt ceiling bill but about the debt. The national debt, what the U.S. owes others, is nearly $32 trillion, $32 trillion.


The U.S. government last year spend $475 billion just on the interest, just on the interest, money that would no doubt be better spent on I'm sure you can think of a dozen things, health care, education.

Do you agree with the premise that the current path that the U.S. government is on is unsustainable?

RAMAMURTI: Well, what I would say is that the president recognizes that we can get on a better fiscal trajectory which is why his budget proposed in March cuts the deficit by $3 trillion over ten years and does so not by taking a hammer to veterans care, not by taking a hammer to Pell grants and education programs but by cutting wasteful spending like on oil and gas subsidies, like on prescription drugs and by putting in place some new taxes on the very wealthy and on big corporations to ensure that they pay their fair share.

So this is -- that is conversation we're perfectly willing to have with Republicans at any time about our two different visions for how we get on a better fiscal trajectory. Again, what we can't do is have the Republicans take our economy hostage against the threat of default in order to jam through cuts that will be harmful to our economy.

TAPPER: Bharat Ramamurti, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today, sir.

And coming up, I'm going to speak with a House Republican who wants to see spending cuts before a debt limit is raised.

We're also following closing arguments in E. Jean Carroll's defamation and assault case against Donald Trump. What a jury heard today after no case was presented by the defense and no testimony from Donald Trump himself either.



TAPPER: Our politics lead now, as expected, former President Trump didn't take the stand to defend himself. So, today, closing arguments wrapped up in the battery and defamation civil trial brought by E. Jean Carroll. She accuses former President Trump of raping her in a New York department sometime in the mid '90s and defaming her more recently by denying the attack took place. After listening to various witness testimonies for nearly two weeks,

including from Jean Carroll himself, the jury will now decide whether Trump is liable.

CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the New York courthouse for us.

And, Kara, what stood out to you from today's closing arguments?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, Carroll's attorneys really focused in on fact that Donald Trump was not here. He didn't appear for any part calling him a no-show, saying -- asking a jury to say, if you were falsely accused of rape, wouldn't you run into court to defend yourself, hammering again to the jury that Trump did not come here, did not look at them in the eye and deny these claims.

Now, they also said even though Trump wasn't here, the jury did see his video deposition and arguing to the jury that Trump was actually a witness against himself. They pointed out his testimony when he was shown the photo of him having met Carroll at a gala several years before the assault and mistakes Carroll in a picture for his second wife Marla Maples.

They're saying, look, she is -- he is admitting right then and there that Carroll is his type. They also point to the "Access Hollywood" tape which was played repeatedly to the jury again today. And o that tape, you know, Trump says he just kisses women, he grabs them, he's a star, he can do what he want.

And, Carroll's lawyer said to the jury, look, this is a confession. This is Trump saying how he treats women in his own words. He also reminded the jury about the other women who came forward and testified about their allegations of assault, saying that this establishes a pattern of how Trump views women.

You know, and to find Trump guilty, they said, excuse me, to find in Trump's favor, the jury would have to conclude that everyone else was lying when they testified.

Now, Trump's attorney came back out saying Trump didn't have to appear today because this didn't happen. They argued to the jury about Carroll's attorneys. They want you to hate him enough to ignore the facts.

And what they're focusing in on were parts of Carroll's story, her allegations they say just didn't make sense. You know, they also argued to the jury that Carroll colluded with her friends, inspired by a "Law and Order" episode in 2012.

You know, Carroll's attorneys, you know, of course, have argued that Carroll said that she didn't see this episode at the time that she came out with her story and to this day hasn't seen it. Closing arguments finished today. Tomorrow morning the judge will read the instruction to the jury on the law and deliberations will begin.

TAPPER: There's no jail time. This is a civil case. But what kind of damage could be imposed on Trump if the jury ultimately sides with E. Jean Carroll?

SCANNELL: Carroll is seeking some monetary damages in this case. Now, her lawyers today said they weren't asking for a specific amount saying Carroll was here to reclaim her name. They had an expert testify that the damage she sustained from Trump's statements could add up to at least $2.7 million.

Now, Trump, though, also could face reputational damage because if the jury does find him liable, there's going to be boxes that they check. But they could find him liable for rape and that would mean that he lied about these allegations to Carroll. But even Carroll's own attorney today in these closing arguments said that Trump was elected, even though all these allegations of sexual assault were public, so likely would not affect any of his chances for re-election, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell in New York with the latest on that, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, pressure campaign. I'm going to talk to a Republican congressman being singled out by President Biden who plans to visit his district this week.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, imagine if airlines paid passengers when their flights were delayed or canceled? That's what the White House is proposing just ahead of the busy summer travel season.

Plus, Russian air strikes blanket Ukraine as the war-torn country prepares for the so-called spring offensive. We're going to go live near the front lines there.

And leading this hour, heartbreaking details emerging about the victims of the deadly outlet mall shooting in Texas. We know 6-year- old William Cho is the only survivor of his immediate family. He just woke up in the ICU. His mother was killed, his father was killed, his younger brother was killed.

The other victims, we're learning their names, too, sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza. Daniela was in the fourth grade. Sofia in second grade. Their mothers currently in critical condition.

Aishwarya Thatikonda was shopping with a friend when she was brutally slaughtered.