Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

More Republican Aspirants Join Donald Trump And Ron DeSantis In The Presidential Race. A Trump Employee Drains A Flooded Room In Mar- A-Lago Containing Surveillance Video Logs; House Oversight Leaders Viewed An FBI Document Containing Unverified Allegations Of Joe Biden, Then U.S. Vice-President; Chinese & U.S. Warships Nearly Collide; Struggling City Awaits Ukraine's Counterattack; Apple Vision Pro To Be Released Early 2024. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 05, 2023 - 17:00   ET



DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean, Mike Pence announcing for president today, I mean, that is a historic move. A vice president who served loyally for four years, taking on the president under whom he served, his former running mate, where he famously broke with him in the aftermath of January 6th. It just sets up an incredible dynamic that we haven't seen anything like it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And David, another Republican who was expected to enter the race, or people at least thought he might. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu told CNN today he's decided not to run. Why?

CHALIAN: Well, he says that although he saw a path for victory, which I think usually people that really see a path for victory end up doing this, but that he saw a path for victory, but that he thought his role could be better played in expressing support for someone else and exerting pressure as the New Hampshire governor throughout this process.

Taking on Donald Trump, who he clearly doesn't want to be the nominee, he sat down. exclusively with Ardan Abash and explain more of his thinking this way.


GOV CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): The math has shown Donald Trump has no chance of winning in November of '24. He wouldn't even win Georgia. If you're a Republican that can't win Georgia of November 24, you have no shot. And he's proven that if Republicans nominate him, then we're saying a vote for him in the -- in the primary is effectively a vote for Joe Biden. I mean, that's ultimately how the math will play out.


CHALIAN: That's his assessment of the math, Jake. I mean, one other thing to think about here, of course, is that the New Hampshire primary itself, now with the governor out will become a more important contest because you don't have a hometown player in the race. TAPPER: Very interesting. David, stick around. Let's talk about the

Democratic side in our 2024 lead right now. I don't think we're in Camelot anymore, but Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and environmental activist and turned anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist, today sat down for an interview with none other than Elon Musk as Kennedy challenges President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you asked questions about vaccines, you are a Trump Republican. And if you -- if you had a, just a religious belief in their efficacy and safety, that could not be questioned, you were a Democrat. And so I watched that, all that play out and watch the Democrats slowly become these pro- corporate, pro-war, pro-censorship Republi-- you know, what had once been Republicans.


TAPPER: Kennedy has thrown his hat into the ring to challenge President Biden in the Democratic primary process. No incumbent president has ever been defeated in his party's primary since the 19th century, but 69-year-old RFK Jr. has a surprising amount of support.

A recent CNN poll shows that among Democratic and likely Democratic voters, he's polling at 20 percent over President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. Joe Biden is at 60 percent. Twenty percent is about as high as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is polling in the Republican primary, despite a fraction of the media coverage and advertising for Kennedy. How?

Well, his alarmist conspiracy theory messaging has given him a platform on anti-establishment podcasts and conservative media, including today's talk with Elon Musk on Twitter.

For years, Kennedy has pushed back on medical experts and scientific consensus who widely agree that the broad application of childhood vaccines helps prevent the spread of disease and has no ties to autism, but he has spread, Kennedy, these lies, tying childhood vaccines to autism.

In May of 2019, two of Kennedy's siblings and his niece wrote an op-ed in Politico titled, "R.F.K. Jr. is our brother and uncle. He's tragically wrong about vaccines." This is before COVID, of course.

The next month, Kennedy met with a prominent anti-vaccine activist in Samoa, where vaccine fears run rampant. And later that year, a deadly measles outbreak shut down that island and claimed dozens of lives, many of them children. During the pandemic, of course, of COVID pandemic, Kennedy likened Dr. Anthony Fauci to Hitler. He said it was easier for Anne Frank to hide from Nazis than for Americans to escape vaccine mandates.


KENNEDY JR.: Even in Hitler's Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You can hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.


TAPPER: To that, his nephew, former Congressman Joe Kennedy III, told us this.


JOE KENNNEDY III, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTHERN IRELAND: The comments were abhorrent and they're horrifying and they're wrong. Full stop. They're painful to hear. He's my uncle and we love our family. But these comments, he needs to stop.


TAPPER: After a tidal wave of backlash, RFK Jr. did eventually apologize for that comment. His Instagram account had been removed in 2021 for spreading constant misinformation about COVID vaccines. It was restored yesterday because he is now an active candidate for president of the United States. Let's discuss.

Nayyera, for voters who may know, for voters who might not care about the vaccine stuff or the childhood vaccine quackery that he's been engaged in, I could see why Kennedy might be an attractive candidate. He is articulate. He was a crusading environmental lawyer. He looks exactly like his dad. There is a mystique to the Kennedy family. What do you think? Should the DNC be paying more attention? More attention?


NAYYERA HAQ, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR CABINET AFFAIRS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: It is fascinating that with the Kennedy name, he is trying to run as an anti-establishment candidate. You are seeing online, commentary about how the establishment came for his dad and his uncle.

Therefore, he is also being silenced by media. And it makes sense with that narrative that he's connecting with Elon Musk, one of the richest men in the world, who in their conversation together both disparage corporate America.

So they are appealing to this deep left horseshoe where the right meets left, younger generation, anti-conspiracy, you know, pro- conspiracy theory, group anti-expertise. That is a very interesting narrative. unfortunately does not have a place in the Democratic Party primary sequence, right? You have South Carolina black voters, Nevada, Hispanic working class voters. That is not something that Robert Kennedy has any appeal to.

TAPPER: And there is an interesting dynamic here, which is that, look, he was his anti his, his position on childhood vaccines is so wrong and offensive that it's that it's I'm, I regretted even talking about him, but look, he's a he's a force right now. And there are a lot of people right now who are skeptical about the COVID vaccines.

They feel that the government hasn't been fully transparent, et cetera. I mean, we could go through the efficacy and accuracy of those claims. But regardless of, I mean, I don't think they're right, but there is an audience to hear that.

CHALIAN: No doubt about it. You noted some of the places he's going to deliver that message. And then you wonder, well, where's the Venn diagram overlap with Democratic primary voters? He is at 20 percent in the polls.

And we saw in that poll that you showed, Jake, if you look inside, Biden has support among the tried and true Democrats, but the Democratic-leaning Independents in that poll are the ones where Kennedy is getting a bit more of that support that's driving up his numbers overall to 20 percent.

In fact, today I think he did an interview with Michael Smirconish on the radio and he was going after Biden for not even likely to show up in New Hampshire, Iowa, the rejuggling of the Democratic primary calendar that he only wants to play it safe in South Carolina.

So he's not afraid to sort of go politically at the president, you said should the DNC pay more attention. I mean, the DNC and the RNC as organizations have long been sort of incumbent protection organizations for sitting presidents, and that's clearly what the DNC is gonna try to do this time.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I just wanna push back on one thing. I agree with you entirely about how his anti-vax stuff is outrageous and gross, but when you phrase it as, putting that aside, you can see his appeal. He was also an election denier in 2004.

TAPPER: 2004, absolutely.

GOLDBERG: He completely lied about all that kind of stuff. He has these conspiracy theories about how Sirhan Sirhan didn't kill his father. He's a complete nutter. And were it not for his name and his family wealth, he would be much better placed as the angry owner of a used bookstore named A. Ashbery.

He is a total crank. And I think that this is all basically significant because of name ID and because of general discontent among voters who want an alternative, Democratic voters who want an alternative to Joe Biden.

The problem is, you guys are absolutely right, not the people who want the alternative to Joe Biden that really like RFK aren't like -- likely primary voters. And so I think this is gonna, it's dramatic, it's interesting, but I don't think it's gonna pan out.

TAPPER: I was just trying to explain why 20 percent of the polls -- GOLDBERG: Sure.

TAPPER: -- not that I disagree with anything.

GOLDBERG: No, you're totally in on the Sirhan Sirhan thing.

TAPPER: Well, anyway, Sara, let me ask you about this Instagram thing, because he had an Instagram account and it was taken down because of all the lies he was saying about vaccines. And look, People have every right to question, you know, what the medical authorities are saying.

He says things that just aren't true, that are demonstrably false. He had an article in and "Rolling Stone" about childhood vaccines that both publications had to retract and take down because it was so false. But why would Instagram reinstate his account?

SARA FISCHER, SR. MEDIA REPORTER, AXIOS: Especially because he did explicitly violate its policies around COVID misinformation. Instagram spokesperson told me today that the reason they did it is because he's a contender for 2024. And so basically Instagram is saying, look, we believe that politician's speech should be treated differently than everyday people because people have the right to hear what their politicians are going to say. Whether you agree with that or not, that's their policy. And it's worth noting, Jake, they're not the only ones.

YouTube said last week that it was going to roll back some of its policies around election denialism, meaning it would allow that kind of speech on the platform because, you know, the Republican Party has a lot of candidates right now who are putting that forward as their platform.

And they also don't want to be having to be the ones that are pulling people away from hearing our politicians. So this is a big trend in big tech and sort of letting people spew misinformation for the sake of giving people a platform.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, it's just, I don't know where you draw that line because I mean, what happens if a candidate just starts denying the Holocaust, I mean what?

FISCHER: It's a very sticky line. Now, what some experts would tell you is that we have always given politicians sort of free speech, free reign on broadcast.


Remember, you're not allowed to censor broadcast ads and really technically fact-check them or change them. And so that's sort of the policy that a lot of folks are pointing to. Now, Where is the line? We do have some certain lines, but on the internet, there's no regulators. And so the lines belong to the platforms and they can put them wherever they want.

TAPPER: In the internet, no one can hear you scream. Let's talk about the Republican nomination process. Jonah, I want to get your reaction to one of former Governor Nikki Haley's most direct attacks last night at our town hall on Ron DeSantis. She went after Trump on a number of things, but also DeSantis, this is what she had to say about Disney.


NIKKI HAYLEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's the hypocrisy of the whole thing. So here you have DeSantis, who accepted 50,000 in political contributions from Disney. He went and put their executives and their lobbyists on prominent boards throughout Florida. Because they went and criticized him, now he's gonna spend taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit. It's just like all this vendetta stuff. We've been down that road again. We can't go down that.


TAPPER: We should know that she -- she said she agreed with the legislation in question that Disney had spoken up against but she's just basically saying that the government should be punishing companies for it.

GOLDBERG: Well, she's right. You know, and I do think this speaks to me gets too weedy to get details. But I've always had the view that Ron DeSantis did not actually intend to fall into this war with Disney.

I think he saw that Twitter mobs were going in a certain direction and he had to Ferris Bueller himself and get out in front and say he was leading the parade. Normally, you can look it up, Florida governors don't like to declare war on Disney. So he got kind of backed into this mess. That soundbite was also a very veiled, but also a swipe at Donald Trump, this retribution stuff.

TAPPER: Right, vendetta.

GOLDBERG: Vendetta stuff.


GOLDBERG: I just don't think that, when you listened to her last night, a lot of her attacks on Trump, she didn't put the name Trump in the attack. It was very sort of -- leading the horse to water but not making them drink kind of attacks and I just don't think that's going to work over the long haul in the primaries.

HAQ: She also jumped to a series of statements that are very moderate for the current Republican Party but again that's not the Republican Party base right? Talking about as a South Carolina governor wanting to expand access to contraception you're like okay well let's get into some of the details then.

Do you mean in high school? Do you mean at Planned Parenthood? What does that look like? And that is not a conversation the Republican Party wants to have right now, but it is a conversation that the rising majority of voters and activists is very keenly focused on, which is how does choice, abortion, and healthcare access all connect in this coming election?

TAPPER: And David, she also distinguished herself from Trump and DeSantis on the issue of U.S. support for Ukraine.


HAYLEY: Take a listen. Ukraine has the ability to win, but we have to think bigger than that. And for them to sit there and say that this is a territorial dispute, that's just not the case. To say that we should stay neutral, it is in the best interest of America. It's in the best interest of our national security for Ukraine to win.


TAPPER: Now again, I had pointed out quotes from Trump and DeSantis.

CHALIAN: She just didn't repeat who the --

TAPPWER: She was responding to them. But territorial dispute is DeSantis, stay neutral is suggested. That's basically what Trump was saying. Does she need to put the names in there?

CHALIAN: Well, to Jonah's point, I do think at some point, the electorate just needs clear guidance from a politician about where they stand and how they differ from their opponents. So that may come. I don't think she wanted all the headlines to be out of this.

She just takes on DeSantis and Trump. I think she was looking to carve out a space for the Haley candidacy in the context of Mickey Haley. I will say, she did use foreign policy here. I think perhaps some of her strongest stuff in the town hall to differentiate herself, to carve out a different space, and to appeal, there is still a chunk of the Republican electorate, the primary electorate, that is that more traditional foreign policy Republican and not the isolationist wing that Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis are tapping into there, and she wanted to make sure that she had a place inside that link.

TAPPER: A lot of the House Republicans are like that. You heard Congressman Wenstrup earlier today talking about the importance of the fight. Thanks so much to all of you for being here. I Appreciate it.

The same day Mike Pence enters this race, he's going to take questions from Republican voters in Iowa at a CNN Town Hall moderated by my colleague, Dana Bash. That's Wednesday night at 9 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Coming up, how a drained pool and a flooded server at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort could play into the special counsel investigation into classified documents.

And then, Jason Sudeikis and Paul Rudd bringing together celebrities to raise millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research and they're not alone. But why are movie stars left to do this instead of the federal government? Stay with us.




TAPPER: Time for our Law and Justice Lead, new exclusive CNN reporting that an employee at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort drained the swimming pool, which resulted in flooding a room where surveillance videos were stored. That's according to sources. This comes to CNN. Warren's special counsel Jack Smith attended a meeting today with Trump's lawyers here in Washington, D.C. at the Department of Justice.

CNN's Evan Perez is with me. Evan, what do we know about this pool incident? It seems a little fishy.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's one of the things that prosecutors have been focusing on, Jake. They have been asking witnesses about this incident that happened in October, sources telling Katelan Collins and Katelyn Polantz that there was an employee there at Mar-a-Lago who apparently drained the pool, and the pool had caused a flooding inside a room where there's a server that holds some of the surveillance equipment.

And so, the question that appears to be driving some of these -- the question I think that prosecutors are raising is whether this was intentional, was this an attempt to try to damage surveillance equipment so that they could not obtain and fill in some of the gaps that they know exist, or whether this was a complete accident.

We know that at least some of the testimony they've received said that it didn't damage the IT equipment here, but obviously it's something that prosecutors are asking witnesses because they have been focused on whether, again, part of the picture of obstruction that has been held over this entire investigation.


TAPPER: So I guess what's really important here is where this flooding incident occurs in the timeline --

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: -- in terms of prosecutors and the FBI and others asking for the documents, asking for any surveillance video, et cetera.

PEREZ: And again, that's what drives the suspicions for prosecutors, because we know that they had delivered a subpoena before for surveillance video from, again, before the FBI came and did the search in August. They got another subpoena again after August for more surveillance video. And we also know that they received a preservation order from the court, again, trying to make sure nothing was touched when it came to the surveillance footage.

Again, because the prosecutors believe that there was an effort to obstruct. The boxes were being moved back and forth. And if you're building a picture of obstruction, this is why prosecutors, you know, I think, want to make sure they understand everything that was happening.

TAPPER: Yeah. And I guess it's significant also whether or not anything was actually destroyed. And it doesn't sound like we know yet if --

PEREZ: We don't know.

TAPPER: -- the surveillance video. Tell us about Trump's lawyers meeting with justice department officials today. What do we know about that meeting?

PEREZ: Well, they were there for about 90 minutes, they had requested, if you remember, a few days ago they sent a letter saying that they believed that there was prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Jack Smith and his team and they had asked for a meeting with Merrick Garland, the Attorney General. They did not get that meeting with Merrick Garland or with the Deputy Attorney General. They did meet with the top career official in Lisa Monaco's office and we do know that Jack Smith, the special counsel, was in the meeting in the end.

So we know that one of the things they wanted to talk about, obviously, was they believed that the former president had committed no crimes. And so they got to make that point if they wanted to during this meeting. At the end of it, though, they declined to comment to us. You can see that, Sarah, on the video as they exited the building.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much. I Appreciate it.

Also on our Law and Justice Lead today, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and the committee's top Democrat, Jamie Raskin, today viewed an internal FBI document that some Republicans say and hope will shed light on allegations that then Vice President Joe Biden was involved in some sort of criminal scheme with a foreign national. Again, this is while he was vice president. This comes as the FBI and prosecutors say they have reviewed the information in the document but have been unable to corroborate any of the claims in it.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us now. Sara, what might be in this document and did Chairman Comer and ranking member Raskin say anything after they looked at it?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look Jake, senior FBI officials were on the hill today where they showed Jamie Raskin and James Comer this document in a skiff in a secure room at the Capitol and sort of briefed them a little bit on what's going on surrounding this document, which, again, contains these unverified allegations that Joe Biden, while he was Vice-President, was involved in a bribery scheme, something the White House denies.

And when they came out of this meeting, Comer made it very clear that he was not satisfied by the briefing that he received today. He believes that the FBI should have to hand over a hard copy of this document, and he plans to move forward, withholding Christopher Wray, the FBI director, in contempt of Congress. Take a listen to what Comer and Raskin had to say as they came out of that briefing.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: At the briefing, the FBI again refused to hand over the unclassified record to the custody of the House Oversight Committee. And we will now initiate contempt of Congress hearings.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I'm just surprised that my colleagues want to try to litigate this in public, much less hold the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in contempt for complying with their request when there was a whole process.


MURRAY: Now the FBI says the move toward contempt is unwarranted and there was some disagreement coming out of this briefing about whether this document is still somehow part of an ongoing investigation. Comer said his understanding is it is potentially the ongoing criminal investigation into Hunter Biden.

Jamie Raskin said his understanding coming out of this was that the FBI had looked into this, had been unable to corroborate the allegations in it and essentially had moved on Jake.

TAPPER: Alright Sarah Murray, thanks so much.

Rough waters ahead. The Chinese government is accusing the United States of trying to provoke a military confrontation. We'll show you the near collision that led to the accusation. That's next.




TAPPER: And our World Lead, more tension between the U.S. and China just days after a Chinese fighter jet made an unsafe maneuver close to a U.S. spy plane, a Chinese warship cut across the path of a U.S. destroyer.

That was on Saturday. The Pentagon says the U.S. ship had to slow down to avoid a collision. This happened in the Taiwan Strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China, which the U.S. insists is international waters, even though China claims it is its own territory.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Taiwan's capital city, Taipei. Will, tell us more about what happened and what both sides are saying about the incident.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this happened on the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, as you said, Jake, and this is just the latest in a series of incidents between the United States and China that have some in this region and, frankly, around the world worried that this region is spiraling closer to conflict.

On Saturday, at the same time that the U.S. defense secretary was in Singapore at a defense summit with the Chinese defense minister, this U.S. destroyer and a Canadian warship made a freedom of navigation transit through the Taiwan Strait. The United States does this very often. They say this is international waters. They don't recognize Taiwan as China's territory. China's communist rulers have never actually controlled this island.

And yet a Chinese warship essentially cut off the U.S. destroyer coming dangerously close. We're talking about less than 500 feet between these two ships. Had the U.S. destroyer stayed on course at its actual speed, the two ships would have very likely had a collision, the United States says. But the U.S. ship slowed down basically to a crawl and avoided a collision with that Chinese warship.

Now, the U.S. Defense Secretary, speaking at that security summit in Singapore, Lloyd Austin, he talked about how dangerous this situation is. And then, of course, the Chinese Defense minister had his own response to why the U.S. was there. Again, the U.S. claims this was just a peaceful passage. Listen.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think accidents can happen that could cause things to spiral out of control.

LI SHANGFU, CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): They're not here for innocent passage. They're here for provocation.


RIPLEY: That was Li Shangfu, the general that is in charge of China's Defense Ministry. And he also, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, called on the United States, they say, to stop these highly provocative actions. In their words, keep in mind this happened just days after a mid-air incident involving a U.S. Reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet that essentially came very close to that U.S. Reconnaissance aircraft. It was caught on camera from the cockpit of the U.S. plane.

So you have on the sea and in the air these two very close calls. And you have growing concern amongst United States officials, Jake, that this is going to lead to some sort of a miscalculation, a military miscalculation that could have massive consequences.

TAPPER: Yes. Will Ripley, thanks so much. Also in our World Lead today, new indications that Ukraine may be on the brink of its long anticipated counter offensive against Russia. Much has changed, of course, since Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine last year, expecting the country to fall in a matter of days.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen just paid another visit to a city that the Russians used as a major staging ground for their invasion of Ukraine. And they found, and he found what Russia in a much weaker position than before the war even started.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian military drone video allegedly showing a massive Ukrainian attack in the south of the country. Some vehicles appear to be hitting mines or being the target of indirect fire, the Russians claiming they're able to hold the line.

The enemy launched an unsuccessful attempt at a large scale offensive in the south Donetsk axis. The spokesman for Russia's defense ministry said. But is this already Ukraine's much anticipated large scale counter offensive?

The Ukrainians claim they have no info. Kyiv put out this video urging people to not even talk about a counter offensive. Their message plans, love silence. But anti-Putin Russian fighters are loudly making their presence felt across the border in Russia's Belgorod region, the local governor is saying hundreds of munitions have been fired at towns there just in the past day. It's a far cry from when were in this area in February of last year, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Belgorod was one of the main staging areas for the attack on Ukraine's northeast. Teeming with tanks and armored vehicles, this military hub seemed invincible.

(on camera): Those streaks that you're seeing up there in the sky, I don't know how I can see directly right now. You can see more artillery, rockets apparently be firing from Russian territory, towards the territory, I would say around Kharkiv. I don't know if you can hear this right now.

(voice-over): Today, Russia's army appears bizarrely absent this Russian military blogger dodging for cover in the Shebekino village in the Belgorod region. We are lying in Shebekino on the ground under Ukrainian grad missiles, he says. Strikes are coming one after another. The local governor says the shelling from the Ukrainian side has been relentless, with several killed and wounded and thousands evacuated.

The leader of the Wagner private military company ripping into the Defense Ministry. We surrender our historical lands, he says. Today, children are getting killed, civilians are getting killed in Belgorod, and the Ministry of Defense is not in a state to do anything at all, as it de facto doesn't exist. It is chaos.

And the Russians are also on the back foot in the area. Prigozhin's mercenaries just left Bakhmut in East Ukraine. Moscow's forces struggling to fend off a strong Ukrainian military both in the occupied territories and inside Russia.



PLEITGEN: So as you can see, Jake, things certainly seem to be going quite well for the Ukrainians on the Bakhmut front, after they almost seem to have lost that city just a couple of weeks ago to the Russian armed forces and of course, to the Wagner private military company.

In fact, now, the Ukrainians say they believe the reason why the Russians want to speak so much about the south of the country is because the Ukrainians are beating them around Bakhmut. There was a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military who came out today and said today was a very good day for the Ukrainian armed forces. Jake?

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

Coming up, is Apple biting off more than it can chew? The new apple headset was just unveiled, it does come with a hefty price tag.



TAPPER: In our Tech Lead, Apple is out with a new product, Apple Vision Pro. It's a headset that offers both virtual and augmented realities. It's an experience that could potentially revolutionize the way people interact with computers and the world around them. And it can be yours for nearly $3,500. The ambitious project product was unveiled today at Apple's annual developer event in Cupertino, California. CNN's Jon Sarlin is there. And Jon, how does this headset work?

JON SARLIN, CNN HOST, BUSINESS NIGHTCAP: Well, a historic day here at Apple launching a new product, their first new product since 2015. This is a mixed reality headsets. So you might be familiar with virtual reality screen on top of your head, looking like a ski goggle. Well, this is mixed reality.

It's -- the real world overlaid with computer graphics. Apple teased a bunch of different use cases for it. They say it can be a virtual workstation, having multiple screens up, or a home cinema with the screen as big as you want. The big question, though, is will people buy it at the price point? Right now, it's going to be set to be at $3,500.

TAPPER: Is there a large appeal, do you think, for a product like this given the price tag 3,500? I mean that's a lot of De Niro's.

SARLIN: Right. I mean, that is the big question. So, last year, around 8.8 million AR headsets were sold. That might sound like a lot, but it's a 21 percent decline since the year before. This is a shrinking market that Apple is entering.

And when you look at the competitive landscape, apple is banking that they have cracked the code that other tech companies have failed to innovate on. You might remember Google Glass from 2013. Well, that was a similar product. That was one of the most infamous tech failures of the past decade.

So Apple is banking on two things here. One, that they can convince customers to put a computer on their head. That's something other companies have failed to do. Second is that people will be willing to spend $3,500 for the privilege of doing that. That is a huge question for Tim Cook and Apple.

TAPPER: And if I know Apple, they unveiled other products other than this. What else did you see today?

SARLIN: Right. So there is a 15-inch MacBook Air that was displayed, and this is the Worldwide Developers Conference. So a whole suite of new products were announced for iPhone. Things like easily sending your contact info to another iPhone, including updates to FaceTime that allow FaceTime voicemail to be sent.

TAPPER: All right, Jon Sarlin in Cupertino, California, thank you so much.

Coming up next, just how far Star Power can go to help save the lives of some of America's youngest cancer patients. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Health Lead, one in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. This issue hits close to home at CNN, my colleagues Rene Marsh and Andrew Kaczynski both tragically lost their infant children, Blake and Francesca, or Beans, to brain cancer.

A dear friend of mine, Daryl Kessler, and his wife Elena lost their son Milo. A sad fact pediatric cancer research is grossly underfunded by the U.S. government, grossly getting only 4 percent of the billions of dollars allocated for cancer research.

So often, private fundraising groups such as the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend try to make up the difference. Over the weekend, I joined the Big Slick charity event to try to raise some money of millions of dollars, in fact, for sick kids.


JASON SUDEIKIS, ANCHOR AND BIG SLICK CO-FOUNDER: It'll be chaos from the first whistle to the final buzzer.

TAPPER (voice-over): It's annual event unlike any other.

PAUL RUDD, ACTOR AND BIG SLICK CO-FOUNDER: I'm excited to raise a lot of money and a lot of awareness for Children's Mercy.

TAPPER (voice-over): A massive celebrity fundraiser hosted by some of Kansas City's most famous names, all to benefit Children's Mercy Hospital.

ROB RIGGLE, ACTOR AND BIG SLICK CO-FOUNDER: They are making a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. That mission is absolutely worthy of time and energy, and this is our hometown. And this place is amazing, so I want to support it. And I know these guys and gals do, too.

TAPPER (voice-over): What started 14 years ago as a poker tournament hosted by Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, and Jason Sudeikis is now a weekend filled with more than 40 celebrity guests who schmooze with donors, perform at an over the top show and play softball at the K, this year featuring Kansas City chiefs quarterback and MVP Patrick Mahomes.

PATRICK MAHOMES, QUARTERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: I mean, honestly, it feels just like a Chiefs football game, just the elite athleticism out here. But no, it's a lot of fun and doing it for a great cause. So I'm excited to be here.

TAPPER (voice-over): It's been an honor to be a part of the Big Slick for many years. And as is the case every year, the highlight of the weekend is visiting the patience of Children's Mercy.

(on camera): I got a 13 year old, so I'm cool with the -- I'm cool with the age.

SUDEIKIS: He thinks he is.

TAPPER (voice-over): One highlight came from Sophia, a two time cancer patient we last saw in 2019 when Zach Levi serenaded her. Sophia met us outside the hospital on Saturday to tell us that her cancer is in remission.

Pediatric cancer research has long been underfunded by the federal government. In the past, only 4 percent of the billions of dollars spent annually on cancer research goes towards childhood cancer, leaving private groups such as the Big Slick to step in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much did we raise?

TAPPER (voice-over): This year, breaking a record, the group raising more than $3.5 million for Children's Mercy hospital.

RUDD: That means since we started Big Slick because of tonight and because of all of you, we have raised over $20 million.



TAPPER: An honor as always. But let's talk about this bigger issue here. Joining us to discuss Nancy Goodman, she's the founder and executive director of, it's an advocacy group calling for more government funding to fight pediatric cancer.

And of course, sadly, you were enlisted in this fight because you lost your dear son, Jacob, to cancer, pediatric brain cancer, at age 10 in 2009. The kind of pediatric brain cancer he had in 2009 would the odds have increased if he got it today?

NANCY GOODMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KIDSVCANCER.ORG: And Jake, no. You know, for all our effort for the Big Slick, you know, fundraising projects and everything we've done at kidsvcancer, the kid who gets diagnosed with Jacob's form of medulloblastoma will have the same outcome, which is that he won't make it.

TAPPER: So here's the thing. It's so amazing that Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis and Eric Stonestreet and Rob Riggle and Heidi Gardner and David Koechner do this every year, but in a way they shouldn't have to. The federal government should be funding this. Why is it so underfunded? Is it because five year olds, 10 year olds don't vote? I mean, what's the reason?

GOODMAN: Well, look, I think the first problem is that the private, you know, pharmaceutical and biotech sector, which is a huge and well- resourced and sector full of, you know, really skilled people, invests about $30 billion a year in the U.S. in cancer research, and approximately none of it less than 0.1%, goes to kids.


GOODMAN: It's because they're small markets. It's a hard market to get in and to make a maximum return on investment on. That's not how you make money as a biotech. And so who should be doing it? So the federal government should be doing it, and Congress should be passing laws to enact reforms to address these challenges. OK? So, for example, with respect to Congress, you know, five years ago, Congress passed a bill taking the first important step that would provide that new cancer drugs developed for adults were also studied in kids.

TAPPER: Right.

GOODMAN: OK. So that really funneled many, many new drugs towards pediatric cancer research and millions of dollars. And, you know, it did have a profound effect. I mean, the fact is, and Big Slick is fantastic. And, you know, I think it raised $3.5 million.

TAPPER: Three and a half million dollars this year. Yes.

GOODMAN: It's not chump change. It's amazing, right? But to really affect pediatric, to change the landscape, you need not, you know, millions of dollars. You need hundreds of millions of dollars.

TAPPER: Or billions.

GOODMAN: Or billions of dollars, right? We're competing against billions of dollars in the private sector.

TAPPER: And how has that gap stalled or limited our ability, the ability of the medical professionals and scientists to help these kids?

GOODMAN: Yes, there's this crazy disconnect. We get as many stories as we want in our community of little kids dying of cancer, and we can get them in front pages of newspapers. And there are these very sad, sweet stories, and everybody cares. And then somehow when we go to Congress or when we go to the NCI, suddenly it becomes really tough to argue, for example, that we should have federal funding for a nonprofit biotech because no for profit biotech is going to develop some of these cancers -- cancer drugs that kids need, right?

TAPPER: Why don't, look, we all love kids, right? We all were kids. We all sympathize the most. You hear that a 10-year-old dies like your beloved, Jacob, and it's so much more tragic than a 54-year-old named Jacob, right? Why aren't politicians running on this? Why aren't people voting on this?

GOODMAN: Well, that would be tragic, too, by the way, Jacob.

TAPPER: It's less tragic.

GOODMAN: Yes, I don't know the answer to that. You know so right now, Congress is considering another bill that would reflect, the most recent scientific understandings in the past five years. So, for example, now scientists understand that it doesn't take one new drug to find new cures for patients with cancer, that scientists need combinations of new drugs, right?

But these combinations are only being used for children. So Congress is now considering a bill that would require companies developing combinations for adults with cancer to also study them in. Children with cancer, doesn't cost anything. Saves kids bipartisan support, and hopefully Congress will pass the bill.

TAPPER: You guys need to do report cards because politicians hate getting F's and they love getting A's well, do a report card. And I'll and I'll give your answers.

GOODMAN: You know what, that would be a great September story, wouldn't it? Back to school story.

TAPPER: Back to school story. Think about it.

GOODMAN: That would be the report card.

TAPPER: Who's really good, who's really bad on helping kids with cancer?


TAPPER: I'm just saying. We need to get a little tougher on this. Nancy Goodman, thank you for all you do and your husband also.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, why the color pink might be hard to find in a hardware store near you. But first, what's coming up in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer? Wolf?


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, we're going to be joined by I am member of the growing Republican presidential field, the former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. With Mike Pence and Chris Christie jumping into the fray this week, I'll ask Hutchinson about his strategy against bigger names in the race, including the clear frontrunner, at least right now, Donald Trump. Will Hutchinson agree to support Trump if the former president is the 2024 nominee? We expect to find out in the next hour. All of that much more coming up right here in the Situation Room.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is best day ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the best day ever and so is yesterday and so is tomorrow and every day from now until forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: A Barbie world without the color pink in our Pop Culture Lead. The upcoming Barbie movie, being produced by sister company Warner Brothers used so much of the bright colored paint that it apparently led to a global shortage, according to the movie's production designer, quote, the world ran out of pink. And looking at some of the trailer that's been released, well, it's easy to see why. Barbie, the film hits theaters July 21st.


You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bluesky, if you have an invite. I'm back on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to the lead whence you get your podcasts. All two hours is sitting there like a giant pink cotton candy display. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I'd like to call The Situation Room. See you tomorrow.