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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump's First Reaction to Classified Docs Tape; Sources: Tape Undercuts Trump's Defense on Docs; Senate Will Vote on Debt Ceiling Deal; Biden: Support for Ukraine Will Not Waver. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 01, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: As he's investigated, Donald Trump once again claims he's the victim.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The former president is on the campaign trail in Iowa, and he just weighed in on CNN's blockbuster reporting that the special counsel has a recording of him, Trump, acknowledging that he kept classified material after leaving the White House. Mr. Trump's former attorney will join me live in minutes.

Plus, new federal election interference charges filed against a Republican state lawmaker candidate who's accused of shooting his gun at the homes of several Democratic officials.

Then, a new discovery about a revolutionary weight loss drug. Patients say it actually helps curb other addictions such as smoking or drinking.


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

And we start today with our law and justice lead. The first public reaction from former President Donald Trump in response to CNN's blockbuster reporting, since matched by "The New York Times" and "Washington Post," in his classified documents case on the campaign trail in Iowa this afternoon. Mr. Trump refused to directly answer questions about a recording now in the hands of federal prosecutors where Trump is said to be talking about classified materials that he kept in his possession after leaving the White House. But the former president did go after those investigators with his usual complaints of being a victim of a witch hunt.

In moments, I'm going to be joined by Trump's former lawyer, Tim Parlatore, who left the legal team just a few weeks ago and played a key role in the classified documents investigation.

But first, we are going to start with CNN's Paula Reid who is going to take a closer look at how this recording could theoretically impact the federal investigation into Mr. Trump moving forward. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump today campaigning in Iowa, refusing to take questions on the bombshell revelation he was recorded discussing classified information.

REPORTER: Mr. President, why did you take classified documents?

REID: But continued to claim he's a victim of federal investigators.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm a victim of it. They've come after me. They've come after me on many things.

REID: This after CNN's exclusive recording that prosecutors now have an audio recording of Trump talking about a classified plan to invade Iran while he was at his Bedminster golf club months after he left the White House.

Among those attending the meeting, several Trump aides and two people working on an auto biography for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. None of them had security clearances.

During this time, Trump had aides record his conversation with journalists and writers.

TRUMP: They become automatically declassified when I took them.

REID: Trump, under investigation for his handling of national security secrets, has previously insisted that he declassified any sensitive material in his possession.

TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.

REID: But sources tell CNN on this recording, Trump claims to still be in possession of a Pentagon document, suggests he would like to share it and then acknowledges the limits of his ability to declassify it. All of this undercutting his own defense.

Asked if he had ever shared any information at CNN's town hall --

TRUMP: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after --

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you mean not really?

TRUMP: Not that I can think of. Let me just tell you, I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them.

REID: The summer 2021 recording comes out of Trump's New Jersey golf club, now the second confirmed state where he's had classified information after the FBI walked out of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida with boxes of top secret documents. The Trump campaign saying the DOJ's continued interference in the

presidential election is shameful, and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayers' money on Democrat political objectives.

JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: This is prosecutorial justice.

REID: Jim Trusty, one of Trump's lawyers representing him in the criminal investigation says Trump did declassified all material in question, but --

TRUSTY: I'm not trying the case in the media. I'm not going to address the document as if it's right or if the audiotape exists or if it's not something that's really wrong.


REID (on camera): Trump's legal team has requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland to express what they say are their concerns about the special counsel's investigation. Last night, one of Trump's attorneys told CNN there have been some discussions back and forth about the possibility of a meeting, but the fact that investigators have this recording, that really undercuts the Trump team's central argument against this investigation, which is the argument that it's merely a politically motivated probe -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

Let's bring in former Trump attorney, Tim Parlatore.


He left the Trump legal team in May. He's the lawyer who organized the searches of multiple Trump properties for these classified documents last year.

Tim, thanks so much for joining us.

So, have you heard this tape or seen a transcript of it?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Unfortunately, even if I had heard it, ethically I wouldn't be allowed to say that since I no longer represent the president. But I consider --


TAPPER: So our understanding --

PARLATORE: -- public reporting of it.

TAPPER: All right. Well, the public reporting suggests that Donald Trump is on the tape and that the legal team knows about the tape and learned about the tape in March of this year when you worked for him. Is that true, that you knew about the existence of this tape and that the investigators had it? PARLATORE: Again, as to what I knew back when I was on the team,

that's not something I'm allowed to speak about, unfortunately. I'd like to answer, but I'm not allowed to.

TAPPER: So, on the tape --


TAPPER: OK. Well, I'm not sure what you can talk about. But on the tape, we are told Mr. Trump is talking -- trying to push back on a report in "The New Yorker" suggesting that the chairman of the joint chiefs was trying to stop Donald Trump from going to war with Iran in the last weeks of his presidency and he suggests that he has a document. We hear rustling of paper, not sure if that's the document or not. But he says he has a document that would disprove it and it's, I guess a battle plan, from the Pentagon.

But he also says in this tape, based on what we know, what we've been told, and also to "The New York Times" and "Washington Post," that these he couldn't share it with these individuals. These are two individuals hired to write Mark Meadows' autobiography, because it's classified.

I don't know what you're allowed to talk about, but does that sound accurate?

PARLATORE: Well, if that is what, in fact, the tape says, it's something you would actually have to match it up with a document. One of the interesting things I found is that it seems to be describing this memo written by Milley that my understanding is Mark Milley has said that that thing doesn't exist. So if you can't match up an actual document as to what he was allegedly talking about, you know, you have no idea unfortunately whether he's actually talking about something or if he's saying I have proof of that, but I'm not going to show it to you because it's classified. I, unfortunately, don't know the answer to that.

TAPPER: So, when the Trump legal team sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee at the end of April and you were part of the team at this time, the letter said in part, quote: We have seen absolutely no indication that President Trump knowingly possessed any of the marked documents or willfully broke any laws.

That doesn't seem to be true based on this reporting. And I guess -- I'm wondering, are you concerned at all that the Trump team made a false statement to Congress?

PARLATORE: No. What we put in that letter, everything that's in that letter was certainly true at the time that we wrote it. If some other information comes up that shows that portions of it, you know, were inaccurate, you know, that's a different issue.

But here's the thing: whether it was classified or declassified is not really something that's relevant to the statute we're talking about here, because really what DOJ is investigating is willful retention of national defense information. Whether it's classified or declassified is not an element of that offense.

So, I always kind of looked at the whole declassification issue as kind of an extraneous piece because it ultimately isn't going to change anything. People have been convicted under this statute for possessing unclassified materials, this national defense information. People have been acquitted for possessing top secret documents that were not national defense information and were actually overclassified.

TAPPER: So the question is, if Donald Trump is out there and his lawyers are out there representing the idea that he immediately declassified everything that he brought with him to Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster, that he could do so automatically by taking it or with his mind, as he told Sean Hannity, this tape would seem to contradict that understanding of declassification, because it seems to suggest that Donald Trump knew in July 2021 that a document he was holding he could not share with individuals because it was still classified.

That's the idea here, that he -- the intent and the willful understanding of the declassification laws, that this would undermine what Mr. Trump and his legal team had been claiming in terms of their understanding of the status of those documents.

PARLATORE: And if -- if that tape is authentic, and if it matches up to an actual document, yeah, I can understand that.


But again, he's not being investigated for mishandling classified materials. He's being investigated for willful retention of national defense information. Whether something has a classification marking or not, that's just one analyst's opinion as to whether it constitutes national defense information.

If you're in the military, then you can be prosecuted under UCMJ for possession of classified materials, because that's an orders violation, it goes under the orders violation where you have to respect that. But outside of that, and especially for people like Donald Trump who never had a security clearance himself, it has to actually constitute national defense information, not simply something that may have been declassified, may have not been properly declassified. Classification and declassification is very collateral to this.

TAPPER: But wouldn't a battle plan to attack Iran be considered national defense information?

PARLATORE: It depends. If it is a plan -- I mean, a lot of it depends on, if it exists, how detailed is it? Is it a fairly rudimentary proposal from Mark Milley to the president that was outright rejected? Does it give very detailed plans?

If it's something that happened a few years ago and it's outdated, and the national defense information is something that, if released, would be damaging to the United States. The fact that a plan was even discussed about invading Iran, if the release of that is something that's damaging to the United States, Mark Milley already released that. He was the first person to bring that out.

So, really, it's one of those things that in the legal sense, it goes to the jury where they have to look at the document and they have to make a determination as to whether it's national defense information.

TAPPER: Well, I think the Susan Glasser piece that describes Mark Milley that got Mr. Trump angry doesn't talk about a document. It talks about Trump wanting to invade Iran. So it isn't a document, per se. Whereas, what -- as this is described to us at CNN, Donald Trump is holding a document or referring to a document in which it would, in his view, disprove the claim being made.

But let me ask you something. If the tape is authentic --


TAPPER: -- and it is as described to us at CNN as well as "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post," is that not damaging to Donald Trump and his current legal team? Does it not disprove -- if it is as described -- his claim about the possession of information he had?

PARLATORE: So, as to, you know, the legal side of things, a lot of that depends. You know, if he's describing a document that was then put in the first 15 boxes and sent back to NARA, then under the willful retention, it's something he willfully returned. So, I -- you have to go a little wider than that to understand the full context as to whether this is going to be something that will actually be damaging or not.

Certainly, when it comes to, you know, the declassification, whether things were declassified, you know, that's because it's not an element of this particular offense, that may be a political question, but not a legal question.

TAPPER: So, your former colleague, Trump attorney Jim Trusty, said that Mr. Trump, quote, effectively declassified records after he left office under the Presidential Records Act. Would these Defense Department documents, classified ones, personal records, or government pardon -- government records, would those be considered under the Presidential Records Act that he could immediately declassify?

PARLATORE: That's all something that would have to be really determined by a jury. The Presidential Records Act is relatively silent as to this particular issue. It's one of the reasons why when we were writing that letter to the HPSCI, we were trying to point out that this is a situation where there's a legislative solution. There are several procedures that the legislature can take up to ensure there is more clarity in this, to ensure that proper procedures are followed to safeguard information both in the White House and during the presidential transition.

That's why we believed at the time -- I certainly still believe -- that both this situation as well as the documents that were found in Delaware at Joe Biden's house, both are those are something that should be dealt with legislatively, not criminally. And DOJ really shouldn't be the lead on this. TAPPER: So, lastly, sir, before you go, I know you haven't worked for

Mr. Trump in a couple weeks or so. As a very informed spectator at this point, do you expect that Jack Smith will indict your former client, Mr. Trump?


PARLATORE: I don't. I don't think that he will because really, when you get down to the facts of this case and the law, I don't think that it warrants an indictment. You know, this is a situation where failure of process is what led to documents leaving the White House, going to Mar-a-Lago, failure of NARA to get a facility in Palm Beach as they have for every other president since Reagan, get a facility within the hometown of the president where they move to, to move the documents to. That's what led directly to documents going to his house. I think that when you take all that together, it becomes a very difficult case to bring. And I would say the same thing about the Joe Biden case.

Also, when you look at it from a trial lawyer's perspective, in order to bring this case -- you know, let's say there's a real document about this Iran thing. They would have to declassify it to bring it into the court to show it to witnesses. By declassifying it, Jack Smith would essentially impliedly admit that it's not national defense information because --


TAPPER: Why would they have to declassify it? Couldn't they just say -- I'm sorry to interrupt. Couldn't they just say this is a classified document, it stands as a classified document, we can't show it to the grand jury? I mean, that happens in courts all the time when there is information that cannot be shared.

PARLATORE: No, because the statute requires the jury to make a determination whether it constitutes national defense information. Like I said, people have been acquitted for possession of top secret documents because of overclassification. The document must be shown to the jury and the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element that it does constitute national defense information.

If you're doing it in a military courtroom where they have the ability to close it and they have jurors who all have security clearances, that's a different thing. If you're doing it in U.S. district court, as they're doing here, and obviously, the only choice when it comes to this defendant, you really do have to bring it out in open court, you have to be able to show it to them.

It's one of the reasons why when you have prosecutions of people like Manning or Reality Winner, things like that, or -- now Teixeira in Massachusetts, you can bring those because those documents have already been put out on the Internet. Cases like this, if the allegations are as they say, where the documents have not been publicly released, it becomes much more difficult.

You know, the same reason why I would say they were right not to bring a prosecution against Hillary Clinton. It's the same reason why they shouldn't be bringing a prosecution against Joe Biden. It's the same reason I don't think they'll bring a prosecution against Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Well, it's interesting you say that because one of the entire premises of the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump was to lock her up.

Be that as it may, let me ask you, you talked about the reason this happened is because the National Archives, you refer to as NARA, did not set up a place in Florida for Donald Trump to have his records to go through them as they have with other previous former presidents.

But this took place in Bedminster. This took place in New Jersey, and there were also classified documents that had to be turned over under the auspices of your leadership, I suppose, and the legal team from Bedminster.

So, help us understand that --


TAPPER: -- under what -- under what you're talking about.

PARLATORE: Sure. So, first of all, when we searched Bedminster, there were no classified documents or marked documents there. We did find documents in a storage unit down in Florida where the documents had been moved from the White House down there.

What happens is, every time an administration changes over, they box up all the papers. The National Archives and Records Administration, NARA, rents a facility in the hometown where the president is going to move to. They move all the documents to that secured facility where they're under NARA control. The president and his staff over the next two years, they go and they visit the documents, they go through them and they decide what is presidential, what is personal, and then at the end of the two years, all the presidential documents get sent back up to D.C.

In this case, NARA chose not to get a facility in Palm Beach for whatever reason. It's also something they haven't done for any vice president. When they don't get that type of facility, then, GSA has no choice but to take these boxes, and then they bring it to the residence of the now former president or former vice president. That failure right there, that and also the failure of document handling within the White House is the chain of events that leads marked documents to leave government control to end up in somebody's house.

Everything that happens after that --

TAPPER: Right.

PARLATORE: -- you cannot divorce it from the original thing. That's why you find documents in two vice presidents' houses.


It's in Pence's house. It's in Biden's house. I think we're afraid to check Dick Cheney's house. It's why it's in President Trump's House and it's also why they found

them in President Carter's house who is the president who signed the Presidential Records Act but it didn't apply to him, so they didn't do that.

And NARA has also said that over the past 40 years, every administration since Reagan has returned boxes to NARA that had a mixture of classified and unclassified documents. So when they chose not to get a facility in Palm Beach, they knew based on 40 years of experience, that the boxes that were being shipped by GSA to Mar-a- Lago would have this type of mixture of documents.

They didn't say anything about it. They should have said something about it at that time. They should have said something over the past 40 years if they have actual knowledge of a potential security vulnerability that White House document procedures are not up to the same standard as the military intelligence community. They didn't do that.

TAPPER: Right. I hear you on the need of Congress to address this legislatively. But there is a big difference between former Vice President Pence and President Biden finding documents, telling NARA about it, reporting it immediately and this long legal tussle that ultimately resulted in the FBI coming to Mar-a-Lago and grabbing documents because they were concerned and had been trying to get them back and Donald Trump and his team had been saying -- or let me say Donald Trump, I don't know about the team -- had been saying no, no, no, these are ours, you can't take them.

Let me ask you, because you talked about the storage area at Mar-a- Lago. Recently it was reported that documents got moved out of that storage facility and then moved back into the storage facility before the FBI visited last year. Is that accurate? What can you tell us about that?

PARLATORE: That I don't know about. It's based on public reporting. But what I've heard from the public reporting is the allegation is the boxes were being moved while Evan Corcoran was in the middle of doing his search which is something that one would expect, that boxes were moved the day before DOJ personnel were going to go down there for a meeting, for a search.

So moving boxes before that meeting doesn't have any impact on the meeting. They're not coming down for a search. Moreover, the idea that all the boxes must stay in this room and not be moved at all, it ignores the reality that this is not a museum. This is an operating business. There are other things in that storage room than just boxes of documents.

So you would expect in an operating business that boxes will be moved. I would see boxes being moved around CNN headquarters, but that's not obstruction of justice.

TAPPER: But we don't have boxes and boxes of classified materials. We don't have boxes and boxes of classified materials --

PARLATORE: And there's nothing to indicate --

TAPPER: -- the Archives is trying to get and we're resisting. I mean, that's the big difference.

PARLATORE: But these are boxes that he's supposed to be going through.

The resistance, let me speak about that because the resistance --


PARLATORE: -- or the appearance of the resistance, that all comes about because DOJ comes in and they addressed it the way they did. Any time you have DOJ come in with a grand jury subpoena, somebody like me gets called to come in, and my job as a criminal defense attorney is not to work through NARA negotiations. It's to make sure that my client's rights are protected.

And part of that is slow down the process, try to work through it, communicate with DOJ, try and get extensions on the subpoena and do all of these things. And so, really, by the tactics that DOJ took at the time, in my opinion that created an appearance of non-compliance and an appearance of this resistance, where really that's the exact same thing you would expect in any white collar investigation. But as applied here, it's been substituted for evidence.

TAPPER: But, Mr. Parlatore, you have already acknowledged when you left that there were individuals, namely Boris Epshteyn, a Trump attorney, who you thought was getting in the way of allowing you to protect your former client Donald Trump. And we know, because he has said so on air, that Donald Trump thinks he can declassify things just by thinking about them, or he had some standing order to declassify any document he took with him, even though we can't find any legitimate source who says that -- a senior source who says they had heard such a thing.

I mean, this is somebody who thinks that just by willing it into being declassified, it's declassified. And you have already acknowledged there's at least one individual, Mr. Epshteyn that is enabling those unrealistic views of the situation that the former president is in.


PARLATORE: Well -- so a lot of your question there goes to more political concerns than legal concerns. I'm just -- I'm a lawyer. I don't get involved with the campaign. The idea that -- yeah, I don't plan on talking about Boris any more than I already have.

But one thing I will say is that our disagreement was over litigation strategy. There is nothing that Boris did that in my opinion amounts to any wrongdoing or obstruction. We were trying to do a voluntary search, and we had a difference of opinion. I'm not going to get into any more of the specifics of that, but there's nothing -- certainly nothing criminal about that. That is a disagreement we had and something that, among other things, led to my decision to leave.

But a lot of these other statements and everything else, that really is more political questions, and it doesn't change my opinion based solely on the facts and the law that, whether you agree with any of these things or not, it's not something that he should be indicted for and certainly not something that anybody should go to jail over.

TAPPER: Last question, sir. You talked about how the storage facility in Mar-a-Lago, it's a place of business, Mar-a-Lago, and the storage facility there -- there were other things in that storage facility along with these documents, many of which have been described as top secret and important to national security. Isn't that in and of itself problematic, the idea that this is a place of business, other things are in this storage facility?

I don't know who had access to the storage facility. I don't know who had access to Mar-a-Lago. It's a place of business. Thousands of people are going in and out of that place of business. Who knows who had access or looked at those documents?

PARLATORE: So, first of all, it was a locked storage room that's in a facility that is under secret service protection. Should it be in that facility as opposed to a NARA-rented facility in downtown Palm Beach? No. That's why we went to the House Intel Committee and said -- and the Senate Intel Committee and said, this is something that needs to be corrected. Nara should have gotten a facility. GSA should never have brought these things to Mar-a-Lago to begin with.

But the fact that they were there and the fact you have these boxes in a storage room in a facility that is very secure, under Secret Service protection, we now know after the fact what was in the boxes, but the fact that people knew at the time there were just boxes of documents, that doesn't make out any time of improper intent. The only impropriety here I see is the fact that they were moved there in the first place.

TAPPER: All right. Tim Parlatore, thank you so much for being so generous with your time and answering my questions. Appreciate it.

PARLATORE: Thank you very much for having me.

TAPPER: What the White House is saying about President Biden's fall today on stage at a graduation ceremony. That's next.



TAPPER: A rather nasty spill for President Biden just a few hours ago during the Air Force Academy commencement in Colorado Springs.

Let's get right to CNN's Phil Mattingly.

Phil, what happened? What is the White House saying about the president's fall? How is he doing?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you know well, it's a long-standing tradition of the commander-in-chief attending the graduation. It is traditional to give remarks. The president gave 35 minutes of remarks and hand out to each graduate, each cadet, their diploma, which the president did for more than 90 minutes, exchanging salutes, exchanging greetings.

That was defined the moment until the president turned around to walk back to his seat. In that moment, he tripped over what appears to be a sandbag and took a nasty fall. He was helped back up and immediately went back to his seat without assistance.

The White House says he's okay. Karine Jean-Pierre said he's totally fine. The president waved and smiled at reporters as he boarded Air Force One. So, everything seems find at this point in time.

Most of the event, most of the entirety of the event went very much according to plan and tradition except for the fall. The president, according to his team, they say he's fine, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thanks so much.

And turning to our money lead after now an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives last night, attention now turns to the U.S. Senate as leaders there scramble to set a vote on the bill to prevent a catastrophic U.S. default for the first time in American history. That would be ahead of the Monday deadline.

Joining us now for an exclusive interview, Democratic Senator from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen.

Senator, I know you want to talk about the bill for Afghan allies, and we'll get to that in one second --


TAPPER: -- an important issue for me as well.

But, first, I want to get your take on the debt ceiling fight and what's going on.

You say that this deal, quote, isn't perfect, but you're still glad a compromise was reached.

Should I interpret that as you're going to be a yay vote?

SHAHEEN: Yes, I'm going to be a yes vote. It wasn't -- if I had written it, I would have written it differently, but it was a compromise. A compromise is all about everybody giving something to get a final deal. The absolute worse is it alternative would have been a default for the United States.

I spent last week talking to the people of New Hampshire about what a default might mean for us in my state. What I heard was it was unacceptable. We needed to come to a compromise. I'm glad it passed the House. I hope today, it will pass the Senate.

TAPPER: Let's turn to your new legislation which would increase the number of special immigrant visas or SIVs for the Afghan allies left behind. It would go from 4,000 to 20,000 under your proposal, requires the State Department to address this massive backlog in applicants.


Now, you've been working on the SIV program, special immigrant visa program for years. What is the price tag on this new effort, and how are you going to sell this to Republicans who don't seem all that interested?

SHAHEEN: Look, we have a responsibility to those Afghans who risked their lives to help our men and women serve in Afghanistan. And many of those Afghans saved American lives.

I met four of them earlier this week in New Hampshire who helped our military who are in New Hampshire, who are waiting to get a green card to start their lives again. They have families in Afghanistan who are being threatened by the Taliban. We have a responsibility. That's what this legislation is about.

And it really comes from a report that my office did last fall that looked at the special immigrant visa program. I've been working on this since -- for over ten years, starting with John McCain back when he was in the Senate. And this is an attempt to reduce the backlog, to help all those Afghans who we made a promise to, and to ensure that they can get to safety, that they can start new lives, they can get to work.

TAPPER: So the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would make evacuated Afghans eligible for permanent U.S. residency, as you know, that failed to be included in the omnibus spending bill last year, even though it had bipartisan support. It seems, correct me if I'm wrong, that the main reason is that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa blocked it over concerns about the vetting process.

The White House has posed for it to be reintroduced. There have been efforts made to ensure him and improve the vetting process.

Are and your colleagues ever going to be able to change Grassley's mind and is he going to continue to be able to stand in the way of something I think would pass the Senate with bipartisan support?

SHAHEEN: Well, as you know, the Afghan adjustment act is separate from the visa program. Sadly for many years, Senator Grassley did everything he could to block our ability to get Afghans here under the SIV program. I think the Afghan Adjustment Act, working with Senator Cotton and some other senators to try to address some of the concerns.

I do think that bill will get reintroduced and it's important for us to allow Afghans here in the United States who have been cleared to be in this country to go to work, to start new lives. You know, we have a workforce shortage in New Hampshire and across the country. Why don't we let those Afghans who have already demonstrated their loyalty to America to go to work, to help us and to start new lives?

TAPPER: But is Grassley going to stand in the way of your new legislation, I guess would be my follow up? SHAHEEN: Well, we hope not. This is a bipartisan bill. Senator Roger

Wicker, who's the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, is my partner on this legislation. He's been a great partner taking over from John McCain, and he understands as much as anyone how critical it is for us to keep our promise to those Afghans who risked their lives to help Americans.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the great state of New Hampshire, thanks so much for joining us today. I appreciate it.

SHAHEEN: Nice to be with you.

TAPPER: And this Sunday, I will be in Iowa hosting a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. That's at 8:00 Eastern.

Then, on Wednesday, it's the CNN Republican president town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence with Dana Bash. That's June 7th at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Coming up, a barrage of strikes in Ukraine, and three people killed, trying to get into a bomb shelter that was locked. We'll have the latest from the ground next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people's support for Ukraine will not waiver. We always stand up for democracies, always.



TAPPER: That was President Biden not long ago, this afternoon addressing Air Force Academy graduates in Colorado Springs, this after the United States, the Biden administration announced its latest $300 million security assistance package for Ukraine which includes much- needed air defense systems as Vladimir Putin continues his brazen, cruel assault on the civilians of Ukraine.

CNN's Sam Kiley brings us the latest heartbreaking story from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, including a mother and her 9-year-old daughter killed by falling missile fragments as that poor family was desperately trying to seek shelter.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Grief has struck again in Kyiv, overwhelming grief when a loved one is taken. Three people killed here in Russia's latest attack on Ukraine's capital. At 3:00 a.m., civilians ran for cover. The bunker was inexplicably

locked. Debris from a downed missile killed two women and a child -- a fatal accident in an all-too-deliberate attack.

Such events are driving support for Ukraine from NATO, Europe and beyond.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): That is why every European country that borders Russia and does not want Russia to tear it apart should be a full member of the E.U. and NATO. And there are only two alternatives to this, either an open war or creeping Russian occupation.

KILEY: NATO's weapons are already in use in Ukraine's east. And now Ukraine has launched a campaign inside Russian territory. At least eight people have been injured and hundreds evacuated from what are now front line villages in Russia.

The original sin of Russia's invasion of Ukraine compounded as it is by their continued targeting of civilians, the absolute brutality of their occupation has ceded Ukraine an unassailable position on the moral high ground. But they've got to hold on to that even as they prosecute their own campaigns inside Russian territory.

VYACHESLAV GLADKOV, BELGOROD GOVERNOR (through translator): A massive attack is ongoing. The lives of local people primarily in Shebekino and nearby villages are in danger.

KILEY: Anti-Putin Russians claim to have raided his province a second time and broadcast these warnings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Stay in your homes, don't worry. Soldiers of the Russian volunteer corps are not at war with civilians.

KILEY: They claim to have hit Russian ammunition dumps and other military targets. But Russia says the raiders were driven out with heavy casualties. Still Ukraine now holds the initiative on this front.

Russia continues to rain misery from the sky.

Yarisov (ph) lost his wife and 9-year-old daughter in this raid on Kyiv.

Nothing matters anymore, he says. There are no more people left.


KILEY (on camera): Now, President Zelenskyy went public with his decision or his insistence that the Ukraine officials who left that door locked to that bunker will be facing the full force of the law. No such similar total prosecution facing Vladimir Putin, not at least until he comes before the International Criminal Court, Jake. TAPPER: Yeah. CNN's Sam Kiley in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Thank you so much.

The new federal charged against a failed Republican candidate accused of shooting up the homes of his Democratic rivals. What the indictment reveals about his alleged plan of attack.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, a federal grand jury this week indicted a failed Republican candidate who does not appear to be particularly familiar with the concept of losing gracefully. Forty- year-old Solomon Pena faces charges in connection with several shootings that targeted the homes of Democratic officials after he lost his midterm election bid for the New Mexico state house.

CNN's Kyung Lah explains how this allegedly escalated from claims of election fraud to violence.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are significantly sized holes.

DEBBIE O'MALLEY, NM DEMOCRATIC OFFICIAL: They are. It was so loud. This happened when my husband and I were asleep. And my grandkids could have been spending the night.

LAH (voice-over): It was about a dozen bullets fired into Debbie O'Malley's home. She was one of four Democratic officials targeted in a series of drive-by shootings weeks after the 2022 midterms.

A newly unsealed indictment now reveals federal charges against this man, Solomon Pena, for being the mastermind of the shootings. He's a former Republican candidate on the 2022 ballot. Pena lost by a landslide but tweeted he stood with Trump and never conceded his own race in New Mexico.

SOLOMON PENA, FAILED NM GOP CANDIDATE: Hi. My name's Solomon Pena. Can I speak with Debbie O'Malley?

LAH: Ring video from shortly after the election catches him going to one of the Democrats' homes. Prosecutors say he blamed them for his election loss. And according to the indictment Pena then texted those home addresses to accomplices to carry out the shootings, writing: They just certified it. They were literally laughing at us.

Prosecutors say Pena directly took part in two of the shootings. None of the victims were injured.

O'MALLEY: We've got the rest over here.

LAH: Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa was also targeted. Eight bullets were fired at her house, four of them into the room where she had just been playing with her granddaughter.

ADRIANN BARBOA, COMMISSIONER, BERNALILLO COUNTY DISTRICT: It makes me angry that one person, makes me angry that we have a former president and current elected officials in highest level of government that think it's okay to invoke violence in these situations.

LAH: As the country kicks off another election cycle, federal prosecutors say the message from New Mexico is this.

ALEXANDER UBALLEZ, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO: We all stand here together, united, to say that acts of violence will never stop an American from doing her duty.


LAH (on camera): There are 11 federal counts in this indictment. They vary from conspiracy charges, election interference, to firearms violations. If convicted, Pena does face a mandatory minimum of 60 years behind bars. And, Jake, we did reach out to his attorney. We did not hear back -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kyung Lah, thanks so much.

A hiker alone and dying in Mount Everest's death zone. How one Sherpa pulled off one of the most dangerous and daring rescues at the top of the tallest mountain in the world. That's coming up on THE LEAD.



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

This hour, an incredible and daring rescue from the death zone of Mount Everest. A Sherpa saves another climber trapped and dying, only 1,100 feet from the summit. We're going to go inside this insane rescue that happened during the mountain's deadliest climbing season in years.

Plus, taking the pride out of pride month. Businesses and event organizers in Florida are toning down their LGBTQ Pride celebrations because they are afraid. What are they afraid of?

And leading this hour, with our 2024 lead. A busy day on the campaign trail as Republican presidential contenders hit key early states. Former President Donald Trump has been busy in Iowa meeting the holy trinity of campaigning, faith leaders, conservative advocates and grassroots organizers. Later tonight, Mr. Trump is participating in a taped town hall with Fox's Sean Hannity.

But we're going to start in New Hampshire where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is promising to counterpunch against Trump's many attacks in the 2024 presidential primary race.