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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Russia: Drones Downed Near Affluent Suburb Where Putin Has An Estate; Now: Biden-McCarthy Deal Faces Crucial Test In House; Rep. Ken Buck, (R-CO), Is Interviewed About Debt Limit Deal; Some Freedom Caucus Members Warn They could Target McCarthy's Speakership Over Debt Deal; DeSantis Steps Attacks Against Trump As He Hits Campaign Trail; Elizabeth Holmes Arrives At Prison To Begin 11-Year Sentence; A.I. Industry And Researchers Warn Of "Extinction" Risk To Humans. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired May 30, 2023 - 17:00   ET



PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translation): Kyiv chose the path of intimidation of Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings. It is a clear sign of terrorist activity.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But so far it's been Russia attacking Ukrainian cities. And last night, Kyiv was once again under massive attack. Russia launching a barrage of Iranian made Shahed drones, Kyiv's air defenses trying to fend them off.

One woman was killed when drone debris hit this high rise building. Other residents left to run for cover.

VIKTORIYA GOVORUKHA, LOCAL RESIDENT: We were on the eighth floor with my four year old son. We first ran to the corridor and then down the fire staircase to get outside.

PLEITGEN (on camera): As you can see, this building sustained some pretty substantial damage. And the drone attack went on for several hours last night with the drones hovering over the city center and Ukrainian air defenses frantically tried to take them down.

(voice-over): Ukraine's military says it shot down 29 of the 31 UAVs the Russians sent. Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, comforting his citizens and telling me Western air defense systems kept many people here safe.

MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: If we doesn't have our defense, modern air defense from our partners, we have much worse solicitation in our hometown, more destroy the buildings and more. It will be more civilians killed.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But Russia has already threatened massive retaliation after the drone attack on Moscow, leaving people in key of and elsewhere bracing for what could be worse to come.


PLEITGEN: Of course, Jake, we are right now in those overnight hours where those Russian attacks often take place. And Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, came out just a couple of minutes ago in his nightly address, and he thanked all those in Ukraine who are keeping the skies clear, who are working in air defense. He also urged everybody to obviously heed those air raid sirens when they do happen. One of the things, Jake, that a lot of people in air defense in Ukraine have been telling us is yes, they need more western systems to keep their skies clear, but they also need a lot of ammo for the systems they have because those attacks are happening almost on a daily basis right now, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt and CNN's former Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty. Thanks to both of you for being here.

Jill, let me start with you. Some of the drones were intercepted over an affluent Moscow suburb called Rublyovka, where Putin and other top officials have mansions. Does that assuming that was purposeful, which I assume it is? Does that send a message to Russia's elite?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, I think it tells the elite, you're not protected. The guy who tells you that you're going to be OK, the war really doesn't affect you things are fine, is not doing it. And so, I think it's -- that is part of what they wanted to do. If you look at the pattern of where they carried out the attacks, it does seem to be in the western part of Moscow. And that's also where Putin has his residence outside of the city, so it's very significant.

TAPPER: Interesting. General, Russian warlord and head of the Wagner army of, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says that these attacks show that Russia's military leaders are doing quote, "absolutely nothing at all," unquote, to modernize Russia's drone defenses. He gave an angry video that seemed more focused on the Russians than the Ukrainians who we all -- I mean, many of us suspect were behind it. What do you make of the fact that these drones were actually able to get into Moscow and damage some areas, elite areas of the city?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Not surprised at all. Counter drone operations had been some of the toughest challenges we've had in U.S. military. The fact that they are, if they are knocking down as many as they are, it surprises me because three years ago, we virtually had no counter drone capability. You just had to shoot it out of the sky. If you look at the Iraqi embassy, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, they are always afraid of this.

So this is relatively new technology. It's sort of the Manhattan project being done inside the military right now. But the drones are some of the deadliest systems on the battlefield.

TAPPER: It's interesting, it's counterintuitive in a way because they're smaller. I mean, they, you know --

KIMMITT: They're low, slow, hard to detect.


KIMMITT: Radars are not designed to do that.

TAPPER: Right.


TAPPER: It's just interesting, though, you don't -- I mean, though, it's counterintuitive just because --


TAPPER: -- it's not a big weapon so you'd think it'd be easier to shoot down, but obviously not.

Jill, Putin rarely addresses the so called what, you know, the war, what he calls a special military operation in Ukraine. Now that these attacks are increasing on Russian soil, we saw the attack on the Kremlin several weeks ago, we saw this. Will he be forced to address this more and acknowledge it?

DOUGHERTY: That is a great question, I think it's a key question. Because it previously he didn't say that much and there was a period where he said nothing as they had some attacks across the border. And today, he actually said a little bit about this. So, why did he do that? I think he had to kind of calm down the elite, you know, it's OK, fine, the anti-aircraft is working, et cetera.


But I do think it is a problem because if drones get into Moscow by ipso facto --


DOUGHERTY: -- that is a problem. He's not able to stop them. So, I think that is his dilemma now, he has pulled between the elites and then Prigozhin and these other people who were saying, you're not doing enough, you can't protect us.

TAPPER: And general, let's turn to Ukraine's anticipated counter offensive. You've described it as an intermediate campaign in the direction of victory, not the final battle. At this point, what percentage of occupied territory do you think Ukraine needs to take back in order for this counter offensive to ensure future success?

KIMMITT: I think they need to get to the water. I think they've got to go, if for example an attack from Kherson, they've got to get all the way to Berdyans'k, they got to cut that land bridge Crimea. A shallow counter-offensive will not accomplish what they need to accomplish.

TAPPER: And why not? KIMMITT: Because number one, they've got to convince the West that they're fighting hard, and we can get behind them for a longer period of time. Number two, they've got to demonstrate to the Russians, as Jill was talking about with the elites, they have to demonstrate to the Russian people that Russia is losing. They have to decisively defeat them, doesn't mean end the war, doesn't mean push them out, but they've got to decisively defeat them, to get the Russians demoralized and get the West re moralized.

TAPPER: And Jill, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center argues that Putin is deploying the, quote, "tactic of inaction," writing, quote, "Putin's plan is to wait at what he sees as inevitable changes in the Western Ukraine. These days, however, Russia is elites are liable to see defeatism in inaction." She added, "Already Putin is struggling to explain what exactly he's waiting for."

Do you think Putin can afford to keep dragging this out and keep going as he's going?

DOUGHERTY: That's another dilemma that he has. Because, I mean, if you slow move this, then I agree that he's making on the west, the United States, the election in 2024, heaven knows what, for the West to fall apart. But the more he looks ineffective, then he's got, you know, the elite saying, hey, why aren't you protecting us out here in dacha land? And then you have the rabid, you know, nationalists who were pushing him and saying, you're too weak.


DOUGHERTY: We actually are too weak. And that's very dangerous. Putin always has tried to, you know, balance forces and people, but the balance is getting harder and harder.

TAPPER: All right, Jill Dougherty and General Mark Kimmitt, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

Will striking a deal with President Biden cost Kevin McCarthy the speaker's gavel? We're going to talk to a member of the House Freedom Caucus next. Then, new health concerns about former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, that's ahead.



TAPPER: Our money lead now, negotiations on a deal to raise the debt limit are underway right now in a key committee on Capitol Hill as the nation is days away from defaulting on its debts. This bill has to make it out of the House Rules Committee in order for the full House to be able to vote on it. And that panel, the House Rules Committee, is filled with some of the bills loudest conservative critics. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.

Manu, pressure growing on the House leadership, the Republican leadership, to get a final floor vote by tomorrow. What are you hearing from your sources about this Rules Committee meeting?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this actually just cleared a key hurdle in favor of getting this bill approved by tomorrow. Just moments ago, Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, who's been a holdout so far has not said how he would come down, just announced he plans to vote to approve this rule. Now why is that significant? This is the first step in the legislative process that the committee needs to approve the rule and that sets the parameters for the floor debate in the House. That means a majority of the House would have to vote once the rule is approved. The majority of the House can vote to approve the underlying bill, the debt limit bill to extend the debt limit up until January of 2025.

Now Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House is been under fire from folks on his right flank. He has a part of this deal that he cut with the White House would suspend as the debt limit till January 2025. A number of folks on his far right said that that was too much and said he should push for a much shorter debt ceiling increase to give them more of a chance to extract key concessions from the White House next year. Now when I asked McCarthy why he agreed to this, he defended his approach.


RAJU: Is suspending the government for two years, that's one thing that has been (inaudible). What? So January 2025. OK, fine. Yes. But they're concerned that you guys could have fought this in early next year. You can not going to do that before the 2024 election, why did you concede on that?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Hello. How are you guys doing?

RAJU: Why do you concede on that point?

MCCARTHY: Do you think we'd be stronger at that time period to have a debt ceiling fight?

RAJU: Well, they think they do. They'd be -- you'd be strong if you fought again like March of next year, as your bill does.


RAJU: So McCarthy's saying that they would not be in a better position to get even more extractions from the White House if they were to push for that shorter term debt limit increase. But that still is not enough probably to convince a number of folks on his right flank. Some of them today indicating that they may try to push to actually seek a vote to oust him from the speakership. That is an issue that is dividing folks on the far right of the conference whether to go that route.

McCarthy to win the speakership, to begin with, agreed to a major concession to allow one member to call for such a vote to take away his gavel. It's unclear if they go that route, but given the concerns of the delete (ph) cut, it's something that could happen and the days and weeks ahead. But Jake, McCarthy is still confident he could beat back any of those efforts said he is not concerned about losing the speakership.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju deep in the bowels of Capitol Hill it looks like. Thanks so much for being with us.


With us now, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. He's a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Congressman, let's just start with the simple basic here. Are you still a no on this bill?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO), MEMBER, FREEDOM CAUCUS: I am a very strong no, yes.

TAPPER: So, many Americans over the holiday weekend were probably relieved to learn that there had been a deal struck in order to avoid very real economic catastrophe. If Republicans refuse to vote for this and the US ultimately defaults because McCarthy is not able to deliver the votes, how would you explain that to the American people?

BUCK: Well, first of all, Jake, this bill will pass. Some Republicans will vote for it, some Democrats will vote for it, it will go to the Senate, it will pass in the Senate, it will be signed by the President, United States will not default. The devil is in the details in this bill. Republicans are saying that, you know, there's a few billion here and a few billion there that we are saving, only people in Washington, D.C. believe that you can save a few billion dollars and spend it and go into debt $4 trillion more. When the American people understand that our debt is going to rise to $35 trillion by the end of 2024, they will be aghast that anybody could support this bill.

TAPPER: So Congressman Chip Roy, your colleague, Republican from Texas, he today made the strongest threat yet to Speaker McCarthy's gavel. He told conservative commentator Glenn Beck, that if this bill cannot be killed in Rules Committee or on the floor of the House, quote, "then we're going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again," unquote. Are you on that page as well? Would you support an effort to oust speaker McCarthy?

BUCK: I have not made any commitment. I think it's premature to start talking about the motion to vacate. But it is certainly something when you get a large percentage of Republicans that will not vote for this bill, and at the same time, you have the speaker talking about how it is historic, and it's a huge win for conservatives, and we were -- we are stopping a out of control spending in Washington, D.C. I was at Memorial Day events, and when the word about $4 trillion leaked out, people are furious. This is a bill that I think is going to be on the level of Obamacare when you talk about the amount of anger that the American public is going to feel.

TAPPER: Some progressive Democrats, as you probably know, are -- they're also not thrilled by this bill. They're angry with President Biden, not necessarily with Speaker McCarthy. If Republicans force even more concessions, it could push more Democrats away and make this deal even harder to pass before June 5, the likely default date, not to mention it and won't be able to get through the Senate. Is it not possible that this is the best that can be gotten right now with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House?

BUCK: Well, you're asking me at the end of these negotiations, there was never a time when Republican members had input with Speaker McCarthy to give him some feedback on where this was going. So, do I think it's too late? No. There's always the possibility of a $500 billion clean debt ceiling so that this can be renegotiated without a, you know, what some people would call a catastrophe. I'm not sure just how bad it would be.

But there are all kinds of mechanisms that can be put in place to make sure that we get a better deal. I don't think, you know, the idea of cutting certain programs is bad, the idea that we're going to raise the debt limit by $4 trillion, that's what concerns so many people.

TAPPER: Well, how much do you think it should be raised?

BUCK: Well, I -- for one thing, I don't think you should pick a date, while they did was, say January 1, 2025. It could go up to $5 trillion. I think what you've got to do is you've got to say, well raise the debt ceiling one and a half trillion dollars, we'll take these cuts, we'll do appropriations bills and see where we are after the appropriations bills.

TAPPER: But wasn't Massie, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was part of this deal that all the appropriation bills, the normal process has to happen in order for this bill to -- it's just a key provision, right?

BUCK: No, Jake. What what's going to happen, and I think I think most people recognize what's going to happen is the House will pass 12 appropriations bills, they'll go to the Senate, and what happens every year, the Senate will pass an Omni, and actually we'll wait until just before Christmas to try to force members to vote for the Omni right before Christmas. So I don't think you'll see 12 appropriations bills passed the Senate.

TAPPER: So, the last question I have is, look, if one accepts the premise that $32, $33 trillion of debt is not good and the United States as a general principle, should not be spending more money than it takes in. Why not work with Democrats in the Senate, and then actually come up with a compromise a way that figures out how to fix this problem as opposed to Democrats only talking to Democrats, Republicans only talking to Republicans, et cetera.


BUCK: I think you're absolutely right. I think we have to -- and it's called a budget committee, we have Republicans and Democrats on the same committee. I think it has to be bicameral as well as bipartisan, but you're absolutely right. But what we need is we need to pick a number that doesn't just balloon debt, and then we have to make the hard choices. How much do we want to cut defense and how much do we want to cut social spending?

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, on that subject, I mean, do you find it surprising that the defense budget is even bigger now than it was when we were fighting two wars?

BUCK: I think it's -- I am surprised by it, number one. And number two, there's a lot of fat at the Department of Defense that we can cut, the procurement process and other areas we should be looking at very hard. There hasn't been a single committee in the House that has looked at wasteful spending. You can't be serious about appropriating money if you can't hold hearings and look at wasteful spending.

TAPPER: Yes. Well, 60 Minutes did it a few weeks ago. Maybe that's a good place to start.

Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado, always good to have you on sir. Thank you so much.

BUCK: Thank you.

TAPPER: Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is on his first official campaign tour. And he just said he wants to cancel an entire political ideology. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our 2024 lead, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is kicking off his first campaign tour as a Republican presidential candidate with an event in Iowa in just over an hour. It is the first stop on a four-day 12 city swing where he'll also make appearances in the key early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina later this week. CNN's Jessica Dean is in Clive, Iowa ahead of the DeSantis event.

Jessica, the DeSantis campaign says they're making a major play for Iowa. What does that look like on the ground?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like what's exactly behind me, Jake, that he's here in a very key moment where he is going to launch this campaign and do his first big speech since entering this race. And that's no accident. It is not surprising that we're standing right here in Iowa that he's going to spend the next 24 hours going across the state. It is key, they believe, to his strategy to winning.

Here's Governor DeSantis himself. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're competing everywhere, I was very important. We've got an incredible amount of support. I got endorsed by 37 legislators there before I even announced my candidacy.

We obviously have a lot in common with Iowa in terms of what Florida has done and what they've done under Governor Kim Reynolds. And I think the groundswell of support has been really, really strong. And you know, we're going to press the case.


DEAN: And so, tonight, he's going to be speaking to supporters. We're told he's going to lay out his vision for this country that we will hear more about what he sees as why he's running and what he wants to pursue as he pursues the highest office in the nation.

And, Jake, it's been interesting to see him going more directly after the former President Donald Trump, his chief rival in this race. He's been doing that in interviews. It will be interesting to see if he does that tonight in person. Jake.

TAPPER: And Jessica, obviously, the evangelical vote is crucial in a Republican caucus in Iowa. How is Governor DeSantis going about courting that important voting bloc?

DEAN: Right. So we're right outside of church, which is where this launch event is going to take place tonight. And that is an area they think they might have been in where those voters may have cooled a little bit on the former president. And we are told by a campaign source that 15 local pastors will be meeting with Governor DeSantis and his wife, Casey, before this event tonight, that they'll be praying over his family and this candidacy as they really launch him on this bid for the presidency. But Jake, expect him to really be catering to this crowd, really trying to reach out to this crowd and garner as much of their support as early on as possible.

TAPPER: Jessica Dean, accompanied by starship in Iowa, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DEAN: Yes.

TAPPER: Let's discuss with my panel. Kaitlan, let me start with you. So, DeSantis, as Jessica pointed out, is escalating his war of words against Donald Trump. He's accusing Trump of going to the left of him and to the left of where Trump used to be on cultural issues, on fiscal issues. He's saying he's siding with Disney against Governor DeSantis. Are you surprised by this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. And I -- but I do think he's being a lot more vocal in his criticisms of Trump ever since he officially launched his campaign last week. And that was the big question then of how does he handle this? Because obviously, he has to distinguish himself from Trump. He's certainly trying to do so in Iowa.

And I think obviously, Iowa has not always been indicative of who is actually going to be the Republican nominee. Obviously, Ted Cruz, one Iowa Trump did not. But I think what they're watching for is he's built a really big ground game in Iowa. He talked there about how the endorsements that he's gotten in Iowa, that is something Republicans have paid attention to as kind of learning his lesson of what happened with the lawmakers in Florida that came out and endorsed Trump. And I think when it comes to Iowa, obviously everyone's going to be watching that because if he is able to beat Trump there, it'll show that Trump's support with Republicans is slipping. It'll give him a huge boost going into New Hampshire and all the states that follow that. And so I think that is what people are watching to see how he's sharpening his language against Trump.

TAPPER: So, DeSantis if he goes after Trump with a tone more in sadness than in anger, but when he goes after Democrats, he is going full bore. Take a listen to his rhetoric or when the cards -- when it comes to taking on the left.


DESANTIS: Everyone knows if I'm the nominee, I will beat Biden and I will serve two terms and I will be able to destroy leftism in this country and leave woke ideology on the dustbin of history.



TAPPER: Destroy leftism in this country. Do you have any idea what that might mean?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know, this is where a follow up question might have been in orders to know exactly.

TAPPER: Well, it was on the channel not known for them? Yes.

KIM: Precisely. But I do think that he is what -- he's obviously making a lot of these red meat arguments to the base. But I think one thing that he said in that clip, when he says he has -- he is the candidate who is able to be due to defeat President Biden. That's another message beyond these contrasting points with Donald Trump that he's going to be making. We've heard DeSantis start to make kind of these policy disagreements, you've heard him challenge President Trump ideologically from the right, but he's going to tap into what some Republicans have felt, for some time that Donald Trump cannot win a general election. I think you're going to hear that from him more and more as the campaign goes on.

TAPPER: Well, how does one destroy leftism in this country? I've never really heard that, as I mean, I've heard of you know, we're going to win the fights or we're going to win these battles, but to just destroy an entire ideology. How does one define, you are the DeSantis surrogate, right at the State?


TAPPER: How does one even define it according to him? Donald Trump is leftist?

ANDERSON: Let me instead explain why would an argument like that resonate with Republicans versus other things that they might say just going squarely after Biden or Democrat?


ANDERSON: Part of what DeSantis' message is going to be is not just to conventional Democrats, bad Republicans good, but rather that many Republicans nowadays think that things Democrats believe have seeped into all kinds of institutions that used to be in their view, a political whether it's businesses like Disney or Bud Light, or what have you. These fights are ones that are animating Republicans, because in their view, it's not just Democrats trying to pass policies they don't like. It's a worldview that they don't like that is seeping into other institutions.

And so Ron DeSantis making this argument is trying to win over those Republicans that think this isn't just about fighting Democrats on policy. It's about pushing back at a cultural level that's where this argument is --

TAPPER: Like DEI, like getting rid of I saw I think Charlie Kirk was going after Chick-fil-A has diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of their I mean, it's a pretty standard corporate thing to do up until this year.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What far be it from me. I may never say this again. Let defend Ron DeSantis. It's BS. It's you don't how many thousands of times I've written sound bites a thousand times crazier than that.

TAPPER: Really?

BEGALA: Oh, 100,000.

TAPPER: Give me one. It's crazier than --crazier --

BEGALA: You know what, I'm not kidding, Jake, I'm not -- I apologized to his face for this. But one said Bob Dole look like you want a club a baby seal. I apologize Sen. Dole in person because it was a horrible --

TAPPER: But you said it.

BEGALA: I said it.

TAPPER: But you didn't have --

BEGALA: I never said anything like that. My point is, that's just hype. I have a very, very wide strikes on for hype or I'd be an even bigger hypocrite than I am. What I noticed, Jacksonville. In the upper left hand corner has been Jacksonville. For the second time in 30 years, Jacksonville, the most Republican big city in Florida elected a Democrat mayor, so he needs to attack Trump for being a loser. But in his home county, the biggest city in that county just went Democratic. This is a huge thing.

And if I were a Republican, it's like if he's going to deliver me from Trump, who cost us the House, the Senate, and the White House. How come he can't even win Jacksonville in his own state?

TAPPER: OK. I hear you.

BEGALA: It's a huge win.

TAPPER: Do you think DeSantis is a strong -- would theoretically be a stronger candidate against Joe Biden than Donald Trump as a pollster who somebody who looks at the data?

ANDERSON: I think yes, because I think Ron DeSantis is still not as well defined with swing voters as Donald Trump is like nobody's changing their mind I know what they think about Donald Trump. They're just not. But Ron DeSantis right now, those of us who sit around tables like this or who watch news channels like this, we know a lot about Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. We have strong feelings about those gentlemen.

But a lot of voters kind of know Ron DeSantis is the governor of Florida, maybe they've heard about, he's doing stuff with Disney, but he's not actually well defined yet. So at this moment, I would say he has a higher ceiling as well as a lower flow.

TAPPER: So POLITICO's Jonathan Lemire writes about the concern from Democrats, if Biden has to face someone other than Trump, quote, Biden's nascent campaign, and the Democratic National Committee have been preparing to launch broadsides against a slew of current and potential GOP contenders driven by the fear that their job may be tougher if Trump's name is not at the top of the Republican ticket. I think that that concern is actually well placed. I mean, don't people generally feel like Joe Biden in many, many, many ways, won, because he was running against Donald Trump and in any other year would not have?

COLLINS: Absolutely, well, I don't know about in any other year. But yes, I mean, that's when their argument for when, you know, before the midterms and all the talk was, why is Biden going to run again, shouldn't he let another Democrat kind of take that. The argument was, well, no other candidate can defeat Trump that Biden is the only one who could hear that. That was -- that's what you would hear from Biden's officials.

I do think there is a real concern when you talk to people in Biden's world or in the White House about whether or not if it is DeSantis that he would be more difficult to candidate for Biden to run up against because swing voters, suburban women, all the people that Trump has trouble with do not have a fully formed opinion on it it's not clear of course. He's not nationally tested yet. And he's a younger candidate that has been one of the biggest arguments against trumping the nominee.


And so that is a real concern. They think, obviously, they don't want Trump to be president again, inside the Biden White House, but they do believe he would be a much easier candidate for Biden to go up against, mainly because he's already gone up against him and beaten him before.

TAPPER: And how -- I mean, it presumably they would go after Ron DeSantis as an extremist, et cetera, et cetera. But the DeSantis people seem to aren't -- we were already are hearing things from their campaign saying like how prepared he is to pivot once he gets the nomination.

KIM: Right. And Democrats in the Biden campaign hope that he won't be able to pivot from his conservative position, should he become the nominee, and I do think underscoring the concerns that Democrats have had about someone not named Trump being the Republican nominee. And I get that polls are still very early the stage. But DeSantis does better and head to head polling against Biden than Trump does with Biden. We've seen that over the last several months.

So I do think they're going to pull out a highlight a lot of the Florida policies, should he become the nominee, certainly abortion him signing that six week abortion ban? I don't see how you pivot from that to a general election. I would imagine that Republicans hope that he's focusing on other issues beyond that, such as the economy, how much Florida has thrived would be a better message. And again, just you know, politics can be a visual game. And when you have an, you know, 80 plus year old Democratic president and someone who's significantly younger, I think it's hard for voters to ignore that.

TAPPER: You brought the Jacksonville mayors.


TAPPER: OK. Let me bring up -- I'll be the one defending Ron DeSantis in this round. Ron DeSantis barely won the governor's office in 2018. And he destroyed the democratic opposition in 2022. Destroyed almost 60 percent, Miami-Dade County, Latino vote like, isn't he on that level, somebody who would be the worst nightmare for Democrats.

BEGALA: He's highly deserving of my respect for winning 19-point landslide and he gets it for winning that. But I have to say this analysis that somehow DeSantis would be harder to beat I find lacking, preposterous. The only thing worse for the Republicans than Trump winning the nomination is Trump losing the nomination. Why? Because he'll destroy the Republican Party if Ron DeSantis is a nominee, Donald -- Joe Biden can go to the Caribbean. He won't have to campaign.

Donald Trump will spend every waking moment destroying the Republican Party, destroying Ron DeSantis. He's not going to do like Bernie Sanders did for Joe and Beto and Amy and Pete and get in line and back to that or like Hillary did for Barack.

TAPPER: Do you think he's going to launch a third party?

BEGALA: I don't know. I just think -- I think maybe he's kind of narcissistic and nihilistic.

TAPPER: Wait a second.

COLLINS: But Biden would still be on the ticket. I know Republicans are going to go out and vote for Biden over DeSantis.

BEGALA: But he'll destroy that party. He will destroy DeSantis and destroy the party.

COLLINS: But even if Trump is criticizing DeSantis what do Republican would vote for Biden over --

BEGALA: -- like, oh, Trump gets a lot of low propensity high school educated whites to turn out very, very hard to do. It's a very impressive accomplishment. And this is why they lose the midterms because he's not on the ballot. He will destroy, I'm serious. I don't --

TAPPER: Thoughts?

BEGALA: -- Trump will just destroy everything in his paths.

ANDERSON: I don't think Paul is completely wrong.

TAPPER: I'm going to pick up that man on a shirt.

BEGALA: I'll take that as a compliment.

TAPPER: I don't think Paul is completely wrong.

BEGALA: That's better than I did at home. So thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks to all. And you can join me in Iowa this Sunday for a CNN Republican presidential town hall. Former South Carolina governor and Ambassador Nikki Haley will talk to the voters of Iowa that's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.


Coming up, Orange is the new black turtleneck for Theranos founder and convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes as the former billionaire reports to prison.


TAPPER: In our Law Justice Lead, Elizabeth Holmes reported to prison today in Texas after she was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison last November. Holmes, as you might recall, was convicted on multiple charges for defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars as part of her startup Theranos. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Bryan, Texas where Holmes is expected to serve her sentence.


ELIZABETH HOLMES, CEO, THERANOS: I believe the individual is the answer to the challenges of healthcare.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos is said to trade in her trademark black turtlenecks for a prison jumpsuit after multiple failed appeals to keep her out of prison. Holmes now a mother of two is set to report to the federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas today. The minimum security women's prison is approximately 100 miles from Houston, Texas, and houses more than 600 inmates, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

HOLMES: The right to protect the health and wellbeing of every person of those we love is a basic human right.

FLORES (voice-over): Holmes was only 19 years old when she dropped out of Stanford University to pursue her startup Theranos full time. Once valued at $9 billion at its peak, Theranos attracted an impressive list of investors and retail partners with claims that it had developed technology to test for a wide range of medical conditions using just a few drops of blood.

HOLMES: So this is the little tubes that we collect the samples in, we call them the nanotainer. They're about this big.

FLORES (voice-over): Holmes, appearing on magazine covers and was hailed as the next Steve Jobs.

HOLMES: I've always believed that the purpose of building a business is to make an impact in the world.

FLORES (voice-over): The company began to unravel after a "Wall Street Journal" investigation in 2015 reported that Theranos had only ever performed roughly a dozen of the hundreds of tests it offered using its proprietary technology and with questionable accuracy.


Investors and retail partners backed out. And in June of 2018, Holmes pleaded not guilty. Ultimately, she was indicted for fraud before being convicted last year. Her rise and fall depicted in the head Hulu show the "Dropout."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You understand the business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you don't understand the science.

FLORES (voice-over): Despite her conviction, Holmes told "The New York Times" that she plans to work on healthcare related inventions behind bars. Quote, I still dream about being able to contribute in that space.


FLORES: So what will her life be like in the federal facility that you see behind me according to the inmate handbook Theranos, excuse me, Elizabeth Holmes will have to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning. She will make her own bed, mop her own floor, take out her own trash. She will have to go to work and she will have no access to the internet but she will be able to have the following an mp3 player, a watch and also a radio. Back to you.

TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores in Bryan, Texas, thanks so much. And our Health Lead, a sad diagnosis that we learned about today from for a former First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter, the 95- year-old wife of former President Jimmy Carter has been diagnosed with dementia. That is a broad term of course for the heritability to remember, think or make decisions. The White House Press Secretary today saying the Biden's have stayed in touch with Carter's team to show their support. The Carter Center offered no details but said in a statement, Rosalynn, quote continues to live happily home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains, Georgia and visits with loved ones unquote. Former President Carter began home hospice care in February after a series of short hospital stays. Carters had been together for more than 70, 70 years.

Coming up, will artificial intelligence eliminate the human race? Some technology experts warn that it could. My question, of course, what are they doing to stop it?



TAPPER: In our Tech Lead today, today, dozens of researchers and AI industry leaders signed a statement warning of AI's ability to become an existential threat to humanity. The one sentence statement reads, quote, mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war, unquote. So the question, what are they going to do about it with these companies be cashing in as the rest of us cash out? Let's bring in Jon Sarlin. He's host of CNN's digital show Nightcap. Jon, many of the people who signed the statement are part of the companies that are still developing AI, unleashing this beast onto the world. So how seriously should anyone take their warning?

JON SARLIN, HOST, CNN BUSINESS NIGHTCAP: Jake, that's exactly right. These are 22 words warning about the danger that AI poses from some of the people most responsible for currently building it. It raises the risk of extinction that requires a global response. People like Sam Altman, the head of OpenAI, Google's DeepMind, signed onto this letter and organizers say this letter is not calling for any specific action. It's meant to unite the different people with concerns about what AI is doing and where it's going. What are those concerns?

The concerns are about how AI right now is fueling disinformation. We're already starting to see this technology being used that can create audio and video that's becoming increasingly harder to discern from real human images spreading throughout the internet. That's a great concern for the 2024 election. But then you have these concerns about where the technology is going. You know, they call it runaway AI. Once this technology theoretically become smarter than humans, it might become impossible for humans to slow it down.

Yoshua Bengio is a computer scientist who signed the letter he told me that the concern is once this technology becomes too smart for us to control, we won't be able to have any power over it.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, signing a statement saying how we -- you should be concerned is one thing. How about here are the 15 things we are doing? Meanwhile, Jon, students, doctors, artists, lots of communities already using a AI. But you have an example of one lawyer in New York learning, it's not as reliable as people think. Tell us about that.

SARLIN: Right. So, you know, AI scientists are warning about the existential risk when it comes to AI. But one lawyer in New York is learning about the professional risk of using AI right now. So Roberto Moyo (ph) is suing an airline for an incident that happened in 2019. His lawyer submitted a brief that the opposing counsel notice was a bit fishy. Now, some of the citations in it didn't seem to match up exactly right.

Now, what happened was the lawyer Steven Schwartz, used ChatGPT. And if you use ChatGPT you know, it has a nasty habit of making facts up, hallucinating facts is what it's called. Now, that's not a phish concert. It's an artificial intelligence that doesn't know how to discern fact from fiction it creates, dates and quotes and in this case, created completely false legal citations. Now, the lawyer did tell the judge that he fact check it. The only problem was he fact checked it using ChatGPT, which said no, these cases are real, even though they're not. He's now set to be sanctioned in front of the judge on June 8th.

TAPPER: Oh, boy, all right, Jon Sarlin, thank you so much. Good to see you.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is with us. Now he's in the situation Room for Wolf Blitzer. And Alex, you're going to be watching the debt deal vote. And it's not just Speaker McCarthy who has a lot riding on what happens tonight and in the days ahead.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Hi there, Jake. That's absolutely right. The White House of course, has a lot riding on this as well. We'll be asking the White House directly to what extent they believe means that this deal may be in peril because of this open revolt that we are now seeing by many Republicans against Speaker McCarthy for this deal that he has struck with the Biden administration. Of course, Jake, there are also questions about how the White House will handle the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. We will put all these questions to the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in just a few moments. Jake?


TAPPER: All right, Alex, we'll see in a few minutes in the Situation Room. But first on The Lead, part of a mystery solved we now know why some of Venice's famous canals turned fluorescent green, and it's not because they were celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Venice's Grand Canal has gone green but not in a good way. Residents first noted the strange hue Sunday morning and then spread across the canal. Environmental authorities in Venice say the coloring was caused by fluorescein, that's a chemical used in underwater construction to help identify leaks it's not dangerous thankfully for plants or animal life. No group has claimed responsibility for the die and local police are investigating multiple leads.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bluesky if you have an invite, the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage continues now with Alex Marquardt in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in the Situation Room.