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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Oath Keepers Leader Sentenced To 18 Years, 2nd Member Given 12 Years For Actions Around Jan, 6; Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) is Interviewed about Debt Limit Deal; Target Removes Pride Month Products After Right-Wing Backlash; New Drugs Aim To Surpass Weight-Loss Stars Like Ozempic and Wegovy. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 25, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What did the judge have to say about this and have to say about the sentence for the other Oath Keeper today?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, he got 18 years. And then his deputy essentially on January 6, Kelly Meggs, getting 12 years.

And Rhodes, you know, Rhodes is different than any of the rest. Rhodes is not only the leader, he was the reason that the Oath Keepers were in Washington D.C. on January 6. That was what the judge found today. And he also believes that Stewart Rhodes poses an ongoing threat to democracy. Rhodes made no attempt to try and dissuade the judge of believing that and the judge certainly did say that explicitly after Stewart Rhodes expressed no remorse in court today and continued to be very far right in what he said to the judge and not saying that he believed that he had done anything wrong at all.

Now, the other thing with Kelly Meggs, that was the second defendant sentence today, Kelly Meggs was much more remorseful, and Judge Amit Mehta looked at him and reminded him how serious an offense this is, seditious conspiracy. And then spoke about how he found it so astonishing that American citizens who had been upstanding average Americans before January 6, then became criminals.

And I want to read for you one of the last things that Judge Amit Mehta said after this marathon day of sentencing these two defendants in court, he said to Kelly Meggs, "Violence is not the answer. We have a process, it's called an election. You don't take to the streets with rifles. You don't hope that the president invokes the insurrection act so you can start a war in the streets. You don't rush into the U.S. Capitol with the hope to stop the electoral vote count. We will slowly but surely descend into chaos if we do."

So a reminder that democracy is something that does not involve violence as a way to express your opinion. Jake.

TAPPER: Katelyn Polantz outside the D.C. courthouse, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss former Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, along with former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who served on the January 6 select committee.

Sergeant Gonell, let me just get your reaction. Rhodes received 18 years in prison. One of his top lieutenants got 12 years. Are you satisfied with the sentences?

AQUILINO GONELL, CAPITOL POLICE SERGEANT INJURED IN JANUARY 6 RIOT: It's the beginning. I think the judge handed a heavy sentence, which is something that I had been advocating since I became to speak publicly, it's a good start.

TAPPER: A good start.

Congressman, a prosecutor has sought 25 years for Rhodes, he got 18. Are you disappointed that the judge didn't give him the maximum?

ADAM KINZINGER, FORMER MEMBER, SELECT JAN. 6 COMMITTEE: Well, I certainly would have loved if he got 25, 18 is pretty good. And you know, I think it's important because even in his -- Stewart Rhodes wasn't contrite at all, claimed himself to be a political prisoner, he was scolded by the judge for that. The thing here, Jake, is that there is an entire kind of news ecosystem right now that is set up to convince these people that they are political prisoners, that they didn't do anything wrong. I mean, think about it, after January 6, there were a lot of people turning themselves into the FBI that were contrite, that were sad at what they did. And then you had this whole again, ecosystem that came around them comforting them and telling them they were political prisoners.

I just ask anybody that thinks they're political prisoners, how would you feel if let's just take for an example, BLM or Antifa did exactly what was done on January 6? I would guess those folks would not consider them to be political prisoners. So it's a good start. There's, you know -- I think this still needs to go even higher in this case.

TAPPER: And Sergeant Gonell, I mean, Stewart Rhodes is not the only one calling himself a political prisoner. I mean, Donald Trump was talking about how January 6 at the town hall a couple of weeks ago, January 6 was a beautiful day. He said that he would -- he has said in the past that he would pardon almost all of the people locked up. And there are millions of Americans who believe what he says. What's your reaction?

GONELL: I mean, it does -- I find it hard to believe that, but then again, not hard to believe from the former president because he incited the whole event on January 6. A lot of those supporting or saying that it was -- these people are political prisoners coming down from -- it's coming down from elected officials, the same elected officials who were running for their lives on January 6 with the time that myself and my colleagues gave them and as a return, as a thank you, they called those people who assaulted us and our democracy, they call them political prisoners, which is a ridiculous statement because if they were a political prisoner they should be in China or Russia for whatever --


TAPPER: Right.

GONELL: -- political thing that they had. But I think, yesterday when I was in court and listening to some of these -- my colleagues and some of these staffers who were there giving their statement --


GONELL: -- as a victim, it reminded me, it shows me that it's not only myself dealing with some of these trauma, physical, mental, and also moral. Listening to Harry Dunn, listening to the former staffer, listen to people who are still working at the Capitol, they haven't moved on. And it's hard for us to move on because the trauma is still there. And the people who we risk our lives that continue to downplay that event and to keep themselves busy and not focus on it, they do their job --


GONELL: -- as they should.

And, Congressman Kinzinger, we continue to hear this rhetoric from the far right of your party, including, you know, members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the leading presidential candidate, Donald Trump, talking about these violent extremists who tried to stop a free and fair election, talking about them as heroes.

KINZINGER: Yes, it's sick, it's disgusting. And you know, even -- let's say, Sergeant Gonell, and it's good to hear from you, good to see you.

GONELL: Good to see you, sir.

KINZINGER: But you think about the people that defended us that day on the Capitol. So, you know, Jake, you wrote a very good book called "The Outpost," true Story about Afghanistan and an attack that happened out there. And you think about those guys coming back from that fight, the country is united behind them and saying, not just something like, thank you for your service, but the recognition of what they did to defend us and to defend the Afghan people. The problem with this is you have people like Sergeant Gonell that stood firm, went through hell, truly went through hours of medieval combat, and now, don't half the country, but a third of the country is denying that they even did it and is basically calling them by default, the Gestapo --


KINZINGER: -- in essence, because these people were just exercising their, quote unquote, "free rights." It is a sad thing. And frankly, you know, when it comes to future elections, I think anybody that wants the Republican nomination or wants to run as a Republican candidate for anything has to answer this question. Are they political prisoners? And -- or do you actually believe in the Constitution and defending it?

TAPPER: Yes. And let's not forget those hosts on Fox that mocked those four brave officers when they testified, absolutely shameful.

Former Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, and former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks to both you for being here.

Turning to our money lead right now, Washington's dysfunction pushing the government closer to default. We are now one week away from that June 1 deadline when the U.S. is likely to run out of money to pay its bills. What might that mean for you and your family? Well, possible delayed payments for Social Security recipients as well as federal workers and active-duty service members. Unemployment benefits and food stamps could be interrupted. Plus, disruptions to Medicare and Medicaid payments would hurt health care providers in addition to patients.

So what is Washington, D.C. doing to avoid all these disasters? Well, most lawmakers are going home for a more than weeklong recess as talks between House Republicans and the Biden White House sputter on. CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Diamond are covering both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue force.

Manu, let's start with you. Some House Democrats behind closed doors told Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries that they shouldn't go home for Memorial Day weekend, that they should stay and work. Manu, why are any of them, Democrats and Republicans going home?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reality here, Jake, is that most members of Congress are simply shut out of the negotiations that are happening on Capitol Hill between the House Republican leaders really, Kevin McCarthy, two of his top allies as Congressman Patrick McHenry, Congressman Garrett Graves, and White House officials. The rest of Congress is waiting to see whether or not they can get any deal. Already, we know that there are still significant disagreements over how to cut federal spending and whether to tie that to a debt ceiling increase, something the Republicans have demanded. Republicans have also demanded new work requirements on social safety programs like food stamps, something Democrats have resisted, but the White House is now considering in order to get a deal.

And in speaking to McHenry earlier today, he made clear that there is a long way to go, and he's concerned about the prospects of the U.S. credit rating being downgraded.


REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): The fundamentals of this deal are about spending. The fundamentals of the deal are based off of the legislation the House passed to raise the debt ceiling. And that's tough stuff for Democrats, and the White House has made that very clear. But these are thorny issues that have to be resolved.


RAJU: It sounds like the spending levels are not resolved yet.

MCHENRY: Nothing's resolved.

RAJU: How worried are you by the downgrade?

MCHENRY: Sincerely worried.

RAJU: I mean, what -- I mean, is it almost seem like it's going to happen?

MCHENRY: I am worried about the consequences of us not coming to terms and raising the debt ceiling.


RAJU: And McHenry just walked into the Speaker's office saying there are, quote, "still serious issues that they need to work out with the Speaker's office." And even if they get a deal, they need to sell it to the broader Republican and Democratic caucuses. Democrats in particular have been concerned about the direction of the talks, have called on Biden to do more, to push back, and to not give into Republican demands. And a lot of conservatives too, Jake, concerned about watering down the Republican position, so unclear whether the votes would even be there if a deal can be reached.

TAPPER: Well, that's what a compromise is. I mean, both sides are going to have to hold their nose.

Jeremy, President Biden keeps saying negotiations are making progress, there won't be a default. But Fitch, one of the top three credit rating agencies, along with Moody's and S&P, Fitch is warning that it could downgrade the United States perfect credit rating if there is no agreement to raise the debt limit soon. Tell us more about what that might mean. And is that raising alarms at the White House?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the White House says that just underscores their warnings about the consequences of default and the urgency of raising the debt ceiling. We heard President Biden once again today say that default is not an option because of those very consequences. And you know, he called ongoing negotiations productive. But it's also clear in talking with officials here that these two sides are still very far apart.

And while we haven't seen the kind of stock market plunge of 2011, when the market dropped 17 percent around that debt ceiling standoff, I spoke with the Deputy Treasury Secretary today, and he says they are watching the volatility in the bond market very, very closely. And he said it's already raising the cost for the U.S. government to borrow more money.


WALLY ADEYEMO, DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: Cost of borrowing has already gotten more expensive when it comes to us borrowing it, short term for the U.S. government. So as the debt limit manufactured crisis goes on and costs go up for the government, it also means that costs go up for the American people as well.


DIAMOND: And he underscored that those costs for the American people are only going to rise as this continues, and he once again underscored that if the U.S. does indeed default, those consequences will be catastrophic. Jake.

TAPPER: Manu Raju, Jeremy Diamond, thanks to both of you.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman of New York.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. So what are you hearing about the state of negotiations?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): Well, we continue to hear the same thing, which is that there's a lot of talk, but doesn't seem to be much progress. And I would say to my colleague, Congressman McHenry, if he is so worried about a downgrade and he is so worried about what will happen if we don't default -- if we do default on the debt limit, then they need to give more concessions than raising the debt limit, which is exactly what the speaker said this week, that is not a concession, that is their duty. So you're right, a negotiation is a compromise. But all we seem to be getting from the Republicans in terms of a compromise is nothing.

Raising the debt limit is not a compromise, it's not a concession. And I think that's part of the reason why these talks have taken so long and are so stalled.

TAPPER: So there are seven days left until June 1, which is what Secretary Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, said would be the day it could be as soon as June 1 that the U.S. doesn't have any money to pay its bills anymore. If a deal is reached right now, the law still needs to be written, the Congressional Budget Office needs to fully analyze it, it still has to go to the Senate, then it has to go to the White House. And on top of all that, Speaker McCarthy has said that he's demanding three days for everyone to read the legislation before the House votes on it. Practically speaking, when you look at that, seven days doesn't seem like enough time. Haven't we already really passed the deadline in some ways?

GOLDMAN: Well, it's not necessary for a bill to sit out there for 72 hours. If the speaker wants to move it more quickly, he can. I assume the Senate can move things very quickly. We've been indicated -- we gotten indications of that. So it is possible still to do it.

But we need a deal today. We need to get this done. And what that is going to mean is that these completely manufactured and unreasonable demands from the Republicans that they would never be able to get during the ordinary appropriations process, but that they are using the threat of defaulting on our bills, paying our bills, in order to extract concessions that they wouldn't otherwise get, it is true hostage taking. And Representative Matt Gaetz admitted that this week. And so, what we need is for them to actually come to the table with a reasonable solution that can urgently raise the debt limit. [17:15:01]

We've got a discharge petition that will make a clean debt limit increase. We just need five Republicans to sign that.

TAPPER: Yes. So just for people who don't know what that is, you can force a bill onto the floor of the House. If you get a discharge petition, you need 218 people to sign it, and then it goes onto the floor with for an immediate vote, even if the speaker doesn't want it. All 213 Democrats have signed it.

And in case of emergency, break glass movement, do you think there are five Republicans, maybe five in some of these Biden districts that will actually do it if it comes down to it, if the stock market starts going down, if it really looks like a compromise is just going to be elusive?

GOLDMAN: Yes. Well, there should be because their constituents in those 18 Biden districts are going to be very unhappy with them if they don't sign that discharge petition or do something to increase the debt limit so that we don't have a catastrophic default.

TAPPER: Well, you have some moderate Republicans in New York. Are you talking to any of them?

GOLDMAN: I haven't spoken to any of them about this. I've read public comments that they're not budging. I think it'll be very, very bad for them if they allow the Republican Party to hold the line on these unreasonable demands that they would never get with a Democratic Senate and a Democrat in the White House and ultimately our bonds, our debt is downgraded, which will have a significant impact even prior to our default. So, no, that's going to be remembered certainly in November 2024 if these moderate Republicans let that happen.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman in New York, thank you so much, sir. Good to see you, as always.

GOLDMAN: You too, Jake.

TAPPER: The White House rolled out a four point plan today in an attempt to combat the rise of antisemitism. Could it work? I'll ask someone who studies this issue. Plus, what could be a quick fix to the obesity epidemic in the United States? And in a town often divided, the united front in the nation's capital today to honor those who gave their lives serving the United States.



TAPPER: In our faith lead, Jewish people account for a little more than 2 percent of the U.S. population, 2 percent. But Jews are the victims of 63 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S. So today, in an attempt to do something about this, the Biden administration announced a four part national strategy to try to combat antisemitism. This involves increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism, improving safety and security for Jewish communities, reversing the normalization of antisemitism, encountering antisemitic discrimination, and building cross community solidarity and collective action to combat hate.

Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. president or vice president was part of today's rollout.


DOUGLAS EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN: In some, this plan will save lives. Antisemitism is a threat to Jewish communities and all Americans, and it can only be combated with united efforts. And we are committed to making sure that everyone can live openly, proudly, and safely in their own communities.


TAPPER: We're joined now by Ted Deutch, the former Democratic congressman from Florida who is the CEO of the American Jewish Community.

Ted, thank you so much for joining us. What do you see as the most urgent need right now for Jews so that Jews can live openly, proudly, safely, like anyone else, theoretically should be able to live?

TED DEUTCH, CEO, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: And deserves to live. Thanks, Jake. Look, this is a really momentous occasion. What we need right now is what the White House delivered today, that is a comprehensive whole of government approach that brings together everyone the Department of Education and Defense and Justice and the Small Business Administration, every part of government, there are 100 action items that will help keep Jews safe, safe on campus, safe in their neighborhoods, safe in their places of worship, that's what we need. And then there are 100 more calls to action for the rest of society to join in, to work together to combat antisemitism. This is an incredibly significant moment.

TAPPER: So, there was something that was interesting here, reversing the normalization of antisemitism, and that made me think of how much -- did he disappear? We just lost congressman -- former Congressman Deutch.

All right, well, we'll try to bring him back. We'll continue -- oh, he's back now. There you go. I hope that wasn't some antisemite that turned off your switch there.

So, reversing the normalization of antisemitism, which is an interesting thing, because it occurs to me there really has been a normalizing of it on some cable channels, certainly on the floors of Congress, I hear nonsense from, frankly, Democrats and Republicans.

DEUTCH: Yes, it's a really important point. We can't allow it to become normalized. We can't allow it to become part of political discourse on the far left or the far right, and we can't just stand by when people go on their social media accounts, when Kanye tweets about going DEFCON 3 on the Jews, it invites the antisemites out from under their rocks. That's how it normalizes it. That's why the part of this plan dealing with social media companies is so important.

We look forward to working closely with the administration to ensure that every one of these proposals is actually enacted, that we act together to keep not just the Jewish community safe, but this is beneficial for the entire community, and it really helps to sustain our democracy when we work together to fight antisemitism.

TAPPER: Without getting too much in the weeds, I understand there was some dispute about which definition of antisemitism the White House was going to adopt. Correct me if I'm wrong, this has to do with whether or not people consider antizionism, that is not thinking that the state of Israel has a right to exist, whether or not that is inherently antisemitic. Is that what the dispute was about?


DEUTCH: Yes. The important part about the plan is that adopted, it was clear to embrace, as the administration already has, the definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. You need to be able to define antisemitism in order to combat it. This is the definition that the White House, that the government has embraced. It's been endorsed by more than 1000 institutions and local governments around the country, more than 30 states. So it's important to do that.

Having said that, it also lays out hundreds of action items. Once they took that action to define it, it is clear in this plan that Jewish students on campus, for example, who feel threatened because of their support for Israel, who are excluded because of their support for Israel, will be protected by this plan. And it's clear that the idea that singling out Israel as the one state, the Jewish state, should not exist, also important to condemn because that's antisemitic. So I actually think it was a really important step for the administration to take.

TAPPER: Ted Deutch, thank you so much. Good to see you.

DEUTCH: You too, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Target has a new response after its June Pride collection got wrapped up in America's culture wars.



TAPPER: After a campaign fueled by conservative activists, which at time became hostile with threats against Target employees and even damage to store displays. Target says it is removing certain items from its pride collection. CNN's Nathaniel Meyersohn is following this story for us. Nathaniel, what is Target saying about why it's giving in to these people that are protesting pride clothing that they've been offering for years?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS CONSUMER REPORTER: Right, Jake, this is a normal event for Target for the past decade. This year, it has about 2,350 products in its Pride Month collection. You think of hats, t-shirts, mugs, stationery, that sort of stuff. A few of the products were the subject of a ton of misinformation and misleading claims on social media, and it led to hostile behavior from some customers.

There were videos on social media of people stomping on merchandise, stepping on signs. And so Target made the decision to remove some of the items. And it said that it was doing that to protect employee safety and their sense of well-being.

TAPPER: And how are activists, LGBTQ activists and lawmakers responding to, look, let's be honest, I get why they're worried about their employees, but they're caving.

MEYERSOHN: Well, that's exactly what LGBT supporters are saying. Target's response really is not pleasing anybody. California Governor Gavin Newsom called out Target CEO Brian Cornell, said he was selling out to extremists. LGBT groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAD. They're calling on Target to put the items back on its shelf, protect employees, and release a statement reaffirming its commitment to gay rights. So this is -- this -- Target has managed to antagonize kind of both sides here.

TAPPER: All right, Nathaniel Meyersohn, thank you so much. Let's discuss Nair (ph), first we had Bud Light. They had made, I think, one beer and, you know, with the face of this trans performer and sent it to her, and that upset a lot of people. Now, Target, we're seeing companies attempt outreach and then giving in to campaigns against LGBTQ outreach. What do you make of all this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Companies follow the social trend, and what is the norm. Twenty years ago, 60 percent of Americans opposed gay marriage, including the president I worked for at the time. Fast forward now, 60 percent of Americans support it. So we're living in that pendulum moment of social change.

But what the far right is doing is they're taking the trans community. The fact that they have been the outlier, the marginalized community, even within the gay rights movement, and they're singling that community out and taking advantage of the fact that most people truly don't know the difference between gender, sex, and sexuality, and they're creating a movement on fear.

TAPPER: Jonah (ph), how do you see all this? I guess one of the things I just think is, like, why are people getting so mad? I mean I'm not going to -- I'm not, you know -- that's not my section of the store, but I don't care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I mean look, I hate the whole story because I hate misinformation. And I hate threats of violence of any kind. I have no real problem with boycotts, though, you know, when they're based on sort of bad info, it's a different thing. At the same time, I think Nair (ph) makes a very good point here, probably doesn't agree with my conclusion from it.

Target, as your own reporting just said, has had LGBTQ stuff for years. The issue here for a lot of people is the T. It's not, you know, I don't think there's any such thing as a gay bathing suit or lesbian bathing suit or anything like that. But the issue of transgender stuff does rile people up, particularly when it has to do with kids. And some of the misinformation was based on kids, and we should acknowledge that.

But I think there's a tendency to sort of want to have it both ways, where they want to say, this is about trans issues, but whenever there's criticism about trans issues, they fold it in with homophobia and criticism of gays and lesbians, and they use the whole, you know, alphabet of the acronyms on it. And it tends to obscure the fact that there are specific issues having to do with transgenderism that are different than issues having to do with gay marriage and all these other issues that gay Americans have won those battles.


This is a different battle, and we need more clarity. We just had a segment about anti-Semitism. Well, you know, we talk about anti- Semitism. We don't talk about anti, you know, Abrahamic religionism or anti-monotheism because you're talking about a specific group. And I think that there's a lot of squeamishness about actually talking about why transgenderism is seen as different than these other sort of forms of identity.

TAPPER: It's a good point. And we should -- go ahead. Make your -- make -- go ahead. I mean I do think that we -- this is a conversation we should have. We should probably have a trans person on to have this conversation so.


TAPPER: So Nair (ph) go ahead and make the point. And then I want to move on to a different subject.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm going to say is that actually science was there well before we in society understood what's been going on. In fact, other cultures have been in there. I will say that the ethnicity of my heritage, Pakistan, they recognize third gender on passports, even though there's all sorts of other human rights issues there.

So this concept does exist of a non-binary identity. Science was there. But we've seen that the movement to eliminate trans voices and to target students and children and make rile people up against others identities or differences is very targeted. "The Washington Post" did a great analysis and investigation that the majority of the complaints against school boards or against books in particular, are driven by just a handful of people, so some of the outrage is manufactured.

TAPPER: Yes, 11 people on that. I want to ask you about this, Jonah (ph), because the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Florida mom who persuaded, who complained to a local public school library about the book of Amanda Gorman's poem, the inaugural poem from 2021. And it's now been -- it's taken out of the elementary section and it's in the, I guess, middle school section or something like that. So it's been banned for grade school kids. She is now apologizing because she had put things on her Facebook page about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this anti-Semitic canard that's been around for decades. And I guess one of the questions I have is, do you have any concern about one person being able to complain and like affect what every child is able to see in a library without even some sort of serious vetting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, look, I think that's a very good point. And in the sense that everyone's on a hair trigger now, everyone wants to avoid controversy. And the problem is when lots of people, when institutions are terrified of controversy, they invite controversy because they overreact to things. It sounds to me like Amanda Gorman's book shouldn't have been taken off the shelf.

I also think that PEN America and the American Library Association are full of propaganda about the use of the word banned books, you know. Books are not routinely banned in America. If you're talking about taking a book off of a shelf, rightly or wrongly at a library, that is not like banned in Boston, that's like not available for kids through third grade.

It's not the same thing as a ban. That said, there is this atmosphere out there. You know, look, I credit Target when they're saying that they were doing all things about keeping their employees safe. But obviously the experience of Bud Light, which you mentioned, is looming over a lot of this. Bud Light has lost massive sales. And everybody is so terrified to get caught up crosswise in a controversy that they actually just get pulled into them.

TAPPER: Yes, we should talk more about this. And we will. Nair (ph) and Jonah (ph), thanks so much. Really appreciate your time.


TAPPER: Look out for two new CNN Republican presidential town halls. I'm going to moderate one. A discussion with former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, I'll be facilitating her talking to Iowans. That's Sunday, June 4th, a week from this Sunday, 8:00, p.m. Eastern, live from Iowa. Then, on Wednesday, June 7th at 9:00 Eastern, my colleague Dana Bash will moderate a town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. Look for both right here, only here, on CNN.


Coming up on The Lead, what could be the next generation of drugs for weight loss that may be more effective than other medications already on the market? The promising signs, next.


TAPPER: In our Health Lead, a more effective way to quickly lose weight is on the horizon. And it's not because of a trendy workout routine or a fasting diet, but it's new drugs used to treat diabetes and obesity. Current options such as Ozempic have to be taken as injections, but pills could be on their way. CNN's medical correspondent Meg Tirrell is here to explain. Meg, a couple of drug makers are working on these pills. Are they as effective as the shots? Are they safe?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We are just starting to see the data emerging this week about how effective these pills are. And they are looking like they are about the same as the injected versions of the drugs. There's one from Novo Nordisk, which is the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, which showed in trials this week that it could produce weight loss of 15 percent of body weight over this clinical trial.

So they're going to be filing for approval of that as a weight loss drug. This year, there are also some in development from Pfizer and Eli Lilly, also showing pretty promising results. So then the question, of course, as you note, are they safe? While the side effects here can be intolerable for some people with the injectable versions, 5 to 10 percent of patients experience these things like nausea and vomiting, to the extent that they don't want to keep taking the drugs.


We are seeing similar side effects with the pills as well. But the hope that doctors have about them is that maybe you could do the titration where you start at a lower dose and gradually move up in a way where you could mitigate some of those side effects and people wouldn't feel like they're quite as intolerable to take, Jake.

TAPPER: So we talk a lot about Ozempic and Wegovy, but there's another drug that could work even better.

TIRRELL: Yes. So there's one on the market called Mounjaro for type-2 diabetes that has shown 22 percent weight loss in studies, in obesity, in clinical trials, and is expected to get approval for that indication this year or early next year. And then there are more drugs that companies are working on even after that. There's one that's known as triple G because it goes after three different targets that doctors think could produce 25 percent to 30 percent weight loss.

Of course, the safety is going to be a huge question. And then how do we pay for these drugs because insurance coverage is still not great yet.

TAPPER: All right, Meg Tirrell, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, the humbling act of service and unity today that I saw ahead of this Memorial Day weekend.



TAPPER: Earlier today, less than a mile from Capitol Hill, a rare and refreshing moment of bipartisanship as a group of veterans who also happened to be members of Congress came together to honor those Americans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War. The lawmakers, they picked up hoses and buckets and scrub brushes, and they cleaned the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall by hand, a solemn, relatively new tradition that serves as a reminder of what unites us instead of what divides.


TAPPER (voice-over): Etched into these enormous pieces of black granite, which emerged from the National Mall like a wound, are the names of 58,318 servicemen and service women who lost their lives fighting in one of America's longest wars, the Vietnam War.

In a town so often divided, today, members of Congress from both parties were united and came together to wash this wall by hand ahead of Memorial Day. Republican Congressman Mike Waltz from Florida is a Green Beret who did combat tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. He organized this bipartisan event several years ago with fellow lawmakers who have also served.

REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL), WAR IN AFGHANISTAN VETERAN: It's a reminder to us the sacrifices that have been made for this country, and it's a reminder to us, as members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, the end of the day, we're all American. We're all veterans who were willing to die together just a few years ago. Then we can come together, roll up our sleeves, and move the country forward.

TAPPER (voice-over): Retired Lieutenant General and Michigan Republican Congressman Jack Bergman is one of only three Vietnam veterans left serving in the House.

REP. JACK BERGMAN (R-MI), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: I normally come here alone. I never -- once I get here, I'm never alone because I know who I'm visiting.

TAPPER (voice-over): A wall full of the names of friends and Americans who did not come home.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D-CA), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: I have friends whose names are on that wall, people, kids that I grew up with and people that I serve with. And from that perspective, it was powerful.

REP. JIM BAIRD (R-IN), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: The opportunity for he and I to be here is just, I think, very important, and it really pays tribute to what we're here for.

TAPPER (voice-over): Republican Congressman Jim Baird from Indiana and Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson from California both served in Vietnam, but only just realized all they have in common.

THOMPSON: We're both at Fort Ben in Georgia, we're both married to nurses, and we're both wounded in Vietnam. As Jim pointed out, you know, we're here to work together for the American people, and maybe that'll help us get there.

TAPPER (voice-over): Former Republican Congressman John James of Michigan and Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan of New York. Congress is a college reunion.

(on camera): So you guys were in the same class at West Point?

REP. JOHN JAMES (R-MI): Yes. F1, go Firehouse.

REP. PAT RYAN (D-NY): We lived across the hall from each other.

JAMES: Our class 2004 was the first class to take our oath of affirmation after the Twin Towers fell. That means we are all committed to our service after we knew we'd be going to war. We've suffered the most casualties of any West Point class since the Vietnam War.

RYAN: I wear this bracelet that actually has our West Point classmates names on it, etched on it, and the interconnection between our generation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Vietnam generation.

TAPPER (voice-over): And maybe, just maybe, the camaraderie will thaw some of the partisanship division we see just down the road.

JAMES: The long gray line is neither blue nor red. It's more red, white and blue. And it links every generation, those who understand that we need to continue to sacrifice to make this nation prosperous and free.


TAPPER: And this Memorial Day Sunday on State of the Union, we're going to hear from those members of Congress and some others about the heroes, the fallen, whom they will be thinking about this Memorial Day. You can see that report Sunday morning at nine and again at noon Sunday, only here on CNN.

Next here on The Lead, the new report showing a first for solar power energy. But first, CNN's Wolf Blitzer is here with a look at what's coming up in The Situation Room. Wolf?


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, the White House National Security official, John Kirby, will join me live here in the Situation Room tonight. I'll ask him about the latest developments in Ukraine, including those cross border attacks on Russian soil. There are new indications tonight that anti-Putin fighters might be using American military vehicles to carry out the raids. I'll get his thoughts on the situation in Bakhmut as well, where Wagner group fighters are handing over control to the Russian armed forces. All of that much more coming up right at the top of the hour here in The Situation.


TAPPER: Earth matters. $2.8 trillion, that's how much money is expected to be spent in global energy this year, 2.8 trillion. That's according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. And for the first time ever, spending on solar power is actually expected to outpace spending on oil. Solar investments could reach more than $380 billion this year. That's more than $1 million a day, according to the report. Of all the money invested in energy worldwide, 60 percent is expected to go to clean energy, 60. The rest will go to fossil fuels. Still nowhere close to spending amounts needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. And yet, progress.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bluesky if you have an invite, the TikTok, I'm back on it at Jake Tapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN if you ever miss an episode of the show. You can listen to The Lead once you get your podcasts all two hours just sitting there like a big, delicious pogey. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call "The Situation Room."