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The Lead with Jake Tapper

GOP Sen. Graham Urges NATO To Admit Ukraine; Rep. Mike Lawler, (R-NY), Is Interviewed About Ukraine, NATO; U.S. Sending Ukraine Controversial Cluster Bombs; Special Counsel Focusing On Chaotic 2020 W.H. Meeting; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), Is Interviewed About 2020 W.H. Meeting; DOJ Has Spent $9 Million Since Special Counsel Appointed; Pence: Trump Blasts DeSantis In Iowa, Says GOP Rival "Despises" The State's Ethanol; Patrols Ramp Up At NY Beaches After 5 People Bitten; Restrictive Abortion Laws, Medical Costs Meant KY Couple Couldn't Hold Daughter Before She Died. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 07, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let's get right to CNN's Natasha Bertrand.

Natasha, in the early days of Putin's war, the Biden administration sounded quite different when talking about cluster bombs.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: The administration has certainly evolved on this issue, Jake. Last year, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, she actually said during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly that cluster munitions have, quote, "no place on the battlefield," a line that was actually later struck from the official State Department transcript. And last year as well, Jen Psaki, who was the press secretary at the time, said that the use of cluster munitions by Russia in Ukraine could actually constitute a war crime. Here's what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians. If that's true, what is the next step of this administration? And is there a red line for how much violence will be tolerated against civilians in this manner? That's illegal and potentially a war crime.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is -- it would be. I don't have any confirmation of that. We have seen the reports. If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.


BERTRAND: Now, look, this is something the administration has been grappling with for months and months now, essentially since Ukraine started asking the U.S. for these clustering munitions, saying that they could really make a difference on the battlefield, particularly because Russia has been using them in the war. But as Jake Sullivan, the National Security adviser and a top Defense Department official, said today, the U.S. had been deferring making a decision on this and kind of punting this down the road until it became absolutely necessary. Now they feel Ukraine really does need it on the battlefield because they are running low on ammunition. President Biden said that in an interview with our Fareed Zakaria earlier. In order to fill that gap of ammunition, the U.S. now believes needs to tap in to those cluster munition stockpiles, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Natasha Bertrand.

Membership in NATO will also be top of mind as President Biden prepares to head overseas for a NATO summit next week. CNN's Fareed Zakaria just sat down with President Biden for an exclusive interview and asked him about Ukraine wanting to join NATO very much. Take a listen.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: When you go to the NATO summit, the big strategic issue is that Ukraine wants membership in NATO. Should it get membership in NATO?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think it's ready for membership in NATO. But here's the deal, I spent, as you know, a great deal of time trying to hold NATO together, because I believe Putin has had an overwhelming objective from the time he launched 185,000 troops in Ukraine, and that was to break NATO. He was confident, in my view, and many of the intelligence community, he was confident he could break NATO. So holding NATO together is really critical.

I don't think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family moment in the middle of a war. For example, if you did that, then mean what I say, we're determined to commit inch of territory that is NATO territory. It's a commitment that we've all made no matter what. If the war is going on, then we're all in the war. We're in war with Russia if that were the case.

So I think we have to lay out a path for the rational path for Russia -- excuse me, for Ukraine to be able to qualify to get into NATO. And we have -- when the very first time I met with Putin two years ago in Geneva and he said I want commitments on no Ukraine and NATO, I said, we're not going to do that because it's an open door policy. We're not going to shut anybody out.

NATO is a process that takes some time to meet all the qualifications and from democratization to a whole range of other issues. So in the meantime, though, I've spoken with Zelenskyy at length about this, and one of the things I indicated is the United States would be ready to provide while the process was going on, and it's going to take a while that process was going on to provide security, Allah, the security we provide for Israel, providing the weaponry, the need, the capacity to defend themselves, if there is an agreement, if there is a ceasefire, if there is a peace agreement. And so I think we can work it out. But I think it's premature to say to call for a vote, you know, in now because there's other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You can see all of Fareed's interview with President Biden this Sunday on GPS. That airs at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Joining us now to discuss a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler.

Congressman, good to see you. Thanks for joining us. Today, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham --


TAPPER: -- Lindsey Graham implied he wants Ukraine's NATO membership to happen right away. Lindsey Graham says he's trying to get both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, to sign on to a resolution to urge NATO to accept Ukraine. Would you sign on to such a thing if it came before you in the House?


LAWLER: Look, it's certainly something that will be under consideration. We had a hearing just a few weeks ago with administration officials. Specifically, I and some of my colleagues asked about Ukraine's acceptance into NATO and whether or not the administration would be pushing for that at the NATO summit. Obviously, we have our answer from the President, he does not think they are ready for it.

I do think that the sooner Ukraine joins NATO, the better. Obviously, there is a process, it does take time, but I do think the administration should be more forward leaning in pushing for Ukraine's acceptance into NATO.

I think at the end of the day here, the President is right insofar as Russia and Vladimir Putin certainly thought that they could break NATO, that we would not be unified with our allies in response to their illegal war and invasion of Ukraine. We have been unified, we need to continue to be unified, and we need to ensure that Ukraine is able to defend its sovereignty. And I have been very strong in support of this from the beginning because Vladimir Putin is a vile thug and dictator and has no interest in stopping at Ukraine and that much is clear.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about the cluster bomb news today that the Biden administration is going to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine. Even though the United States has not banned cluster bombs, but the U.S. did begin phasing out the use of cluster bombs about seven or eight years ago because of the potential danger they posed to civilians, because so many do not go off immediately, and also because of the widespread explosion radius. And though the Pentagon insists that the so called dud rate is low, they still do pose risks to civilians. Do you think it's a good idea?

LAWLER: Look, I think obviously, as the President alluded to, you know, the Ukrainian military is running low on ammunition. You've, in the last few weeks, seen a breakdown between Vladimir Putin and the Wagner group. And so I think the counter offensive is critical, and we're at a critical stage in this war and for Ukraine's ability to defend itself. And so I think getting them as much ammunition and weaponry as possible is critically important.

I think there's two key points to note. Number one, obviously we are not party to any agreement on the use of cluster munitions. But in addition to that, these would be used by Ukraine in defense of its sovereignty in its own borders, as opposed to, you know, bombing outside of its borders. And I think that is a distinction that is important to note. They are trying to defend their sovereignty, and they are at war with Russia and the Russian military and its forces.

So, I think in this instance, given what the use is intended for, given the limited, you know, chance of it impacting civilian casualties, I do think it is the right decision and I think -- and I support what the administration is trying to do here.

TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman from New York, Mike Lawler, thank you so much, sir. Have a good weekend.

On this week's State of the Union Sunday, I'm going to be talking to the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, that's Congressman Mike McCaul, about cluster munitions. Plus, U.S. Senate candidate from California, Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, will join. That's at 09:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday only on CNN.

Meanwhile, Russia is still not commenting on Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin's whereabouts after Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko threw the world's understanding of the fate of the Wagner leader into question when asked by CNN's Matthew Chance if Prigozhin was in Belarus, which is what we all thought, Lukashenko said no, in fact, he's still back in Russia. And now Matthew brings us to an unused military base in Belarus, primed to house exiled Russian Wagner mercenaries.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the closest we've ever come to a Wagner camp, not in Russia nor the Ukrainian front lines, but standing empty for now in Belarus.

(on camera): Well, this is where we thought that Wagner soldiers invited to Belarus could be housed in fast tents city at this supposedly disused military base about 100 kilometers, 70 miles or so outside of the Belarussian capital in tents like these that have been set up to house a couple of dozen fighters at any given time. They're for the most part empty at the moment. And that's because the plan to invite Wagner and its leader over here into Belarus after their military uprising in Russia now appears to be on hold.


(voice-over): Recent satellite images showed how quickly the camp at Asipovichy was transformed, ready to house large numbers of troops at short notice. And the Belarussian general who gave us access told me Wagner forces could still be deployed here if the political decision is made. There's room for up to 5,000 soldiers at this camp alone, he tells me, and we have other facilities too.

(on camera): Have you been told to prepare this camp for the possible arrival of Wagner fighters? Is that what you were told?

(voice-over): We've prepared it for training and for territorial defense, he says.

It was the sudden announcement by the leader of Belarus that neither Wagner nor its leader was in fact in the country. That seems to have thrown planning into disarray. Lukashenko insists his offer, which helped bring Wagner's armed uprising to an end last month is still on the table. But with new questions over Wagner and its leader, it seems unlikely this would be Wagner camp will ever no be filled.


CHANCE: Well, Jake, what I think this shows is that the offer to house Wagner fighters in Belarus was genuine. But the mood against the mercenary group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin is changing rapidly. Their chance to leave Russia for that camp in Belarus may have now passed. Back to you, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Matthew Chance reporting from Belarus for us. Thank you so much.

Today marks American Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's 100th day behind bars in Russia. This is the COVID of the Wall Street Journal. Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in Russian prison on what is widely to believe to be trumped up spying charges. Gershkovich, his family, the U.S. State department and his employer obviously categorically deny the accusations, and there haven't been any serious presentations of evidence about such things.

Today, the White House National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, confirmed talks with the Kremlin are ongoing over a possible prisoner swap to get Gershkovich back. So far, there is no, quote, "clear pathway," Sullivan says. Without a swap, Gershkovich will stay in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison until at least August 30, while he awaits his formal trial. In the meantime, his family spoke with the Wall Street Journal about how they try to keep his spirits up by writing him letters. Take a listen.


ELLA MILMAN, EVAN GERSHKOVICH'S MOTHER: I told him in one of those letters that he is my prisoner now. He has to go read my stories that he didn't want to listen to when he was younger. Now he has to read them. And he said that, don't worry, about that, I love your stories.


TAPPER: Coming up, the Donald Trump Oval Office meeting that is becoming the focus of the January 6 Special Counsel. What that might mean for another possible indictment of the former president.



TAPPER: Our law and justice lead now, shouting matches, flying insults, it could describe any given bar in south Philly on a Friday night. But I am in fact actually describing Trump's oval office on December 18, 2020. And Special Counsel Jack Smith is apparently intrigued. Sources tell CNN that Smith's team has signaled a continued interest in this chaotic meeting that Trump convened in the last days of his administration.

Here's a look at who was there. Some of these folks cooking up wild schemes to keep Trump in power, including White House Counsel Pat Cipollone pushing back. Paula, rejoins us now.

Paula, when you hear the investigation is zeroed in on this one meeting, what does that suggest to you?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's not surprising because this is, of course, what is considered widely to be the most chaotic, crazy meeting of the entire Trump administration. I covered the Trump White House --

TAPPER: Which is saying something.

REID: It's really saying something.


REID: So it's not surprising that they want to focus on this. But it's rare that something this chaotic, right, a screaming matches, expletives back and forth without physical violence would result in criminal charges.

TAPPER: Right.

REID: So we know from our sources that in recent months, witnesses have been asked about what exactly transpired here. And interestingly, in recent weeks, when Rudy Giuliani was interviewed, he, too, was asked about this meeting, in addition to several other topics. And what's interesting about Rudy Giuliani's meeting role in this meeting is that he was kind of the voice of reason, if you will. How scary is that?

On one side, you have the Trump White House counsel, right, his White House lawyers telling him, look, there was no fraud. The arguments that the rest of this crew, Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, the CEO of Overstock, they're telling you that there's foreign interference, that's just not true. And things escalate, they're shouting back and forth. So who does Trump call? One of the people he calls as Rudy Giuliani and says, come in here, help mediate this situation.

Investigators are interested, though, exactly how much of a mediator was Rudy Giuliani? To what extent was he involved in pushing these theories about foreign interference? I mean, half the people in this room, they wanted Trump to use the military to seize voting machines. There were suggestions of making Sidney Powell a special counsel, things that the White House counsel got really passionate about. They said, look, you cannot do this, there's no evidence of fraud.

It's also important, Jake, where this falls in the timeline, right, because this is the middle of December, 2020. Earlier that month, the Attorney General Bill Barr, had told Trump, there's no evidence of fraud, you should concede. So investigators are looking very carefully about what everyone in that room was doing, especially Rudy Giuliani, but also what Trump did with this. You know, this is what you're hearing, what did he do subsequently? Let's look at the tweets, let's look at the pressure, let's look at how he continued to perpetuate these lies about fraud.

It's a fascinating incident, and it shows that, look, the special counsel's work is still ongoing.


TAPPER: I remember talking to Maggie Haberman, who right around that time, she had just learned about it. This has not been -- this story had not been broken yet, and she was not happy, she was scared because of what might happen because people were proposing martial law, seizing voting machines, crazy.

REID: It is wild.

TAPPER: Paula Reid, thank you so much.

With us now, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a member of the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

Congresswoman, the Oval Office meeting as described, it sounds deranged, but we have to note none of these wacky proposals suggested seizing voting machines, invoking martial law, all that, none of that ever happened. So what would potential criminal charges be?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I don't know, but obviously what happened after this Tumultuous meeting was the ex- president issued his now famous tweet come on January 6, it will be wild, that was summoning the mob. We heard from many of the rioters that they felt the president had asked them personally to come to Washington. And that was the final effort that the president was able to make to stop the election from being certified through mob violence.

TAPPER: So, if what I'm hearing is right, you're suggesting maybe what the significance of that meeting is legally is that was when Trump realized the only method left for him to still get power was if not through Mike Pence, who had already signaled he wasn't going to overturn the election and send the electoral votes back to the states, then the mob. Is that possibly what's going on here?

LOFGREN: It is possible. I mean it goes to the ex-president's intent. Certainly he made additional efforts to corrupt the Department of Justice subsequent to that tweet, but in the end he wanted to stay in power. We've proved that in our committee investigation. And he tried a variety of ways to achieve that goal, even though he lost, and he knew he lost, and, you know, the mob violence was the final effort to stay in power.

TAPPER: Your committee, the select committee investigating January 6, you laid a lot of groundwork for the special counsel investigation. You had more than 1000 witness interviews, a trove of documents, records. Has the special counsel's office contacted you or anyone on your former committee after you disbanded in January, after the new Congress was sworn in?

LOFGREN: Not that I'm aware of, certainly not me. But we laid out everything we had. So, all the transcripts, all the evidence, everything we had is available to them and to the public. There's no need to call us because it's all there.

TAPPER: Even if both your committee and the special counsel conclude that Trump was responsible for the insurrection, he still might be elected president again. If that happens, how will you view your role and Congress's role?

LOFGREN: Well, in the end our job was to tell the truth, which we did. We weren't able to interview everybody, for example, Bannon and Meadows and Roger Stone refused to testify. But our job was to tell the truth, and the American public has to make the determination. I can't -- you know, I'm going to vote just as one voter, but the committee doesn't decide who's president any more than the ex- president was allowed to decide that by himself.

TAPPER: The Department of Justice has spent more than $9 million investigating Trump since Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed. Nine million dollars, taxpayers might hear that and wonder, is it worth it? What do you think?

LOFGREN: Well, I think you can't put a price on justice, and it is important that this be thoroughly explored by Mr. Smith. We can't say that the accountability is only for the rioters who broke in and assaulted the police. The accountability needs to go to the top. And the committee was able to show, I think, pretty directly and competently that the ex-president was at the center of this scheme to hold power contrary to the law. And it's up to the special counsel whether he can indict or not.

That's a decision we couldn't make, although we did, of course, make some criminal referrals.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Facing a blizzard of legal troubles, Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail. What is he saying about the special counsel investigation?



TAPPER: In our 2024 lead, former President Donald Trump returning to the campaign trail today after skipping events surrounding the July 4 holiday. The Republican frontrunner used today's event in Iowa to attack his closest opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, over DeSantis' past opposition to the federal mandate for ethanol fuel, which the Hawkeye State leads the nation in producing. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Council Bluffs, Iowa for us, where Trump wrapped up an event a short while ago.

Jeff, what else did Mr. Trump had to say?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this rally was intended to be an effort for the former president to draw a distinction with his rivals, as you said, beginning with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But he essentially stepped on his own attack lines as he tried to rally support around his own candidacy in response to the indictments and investigations that really are consuming him and the campaign. Take a listen into what he said about these investigations.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why my polls go up. I'm the only person ever got indicted who became more popular. Never forget, our enemies want to stop us because we are the only ones that can stop them. We can stop them. They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom.


ZELENY: So the former president spend a good chunk of his speech here in Council Bluffs trying to conflate the 2020 election with what he says is the 2024 election being rigged against him. Of course, neither are true.

But Jake, the applause in the room certainly was clear among Trump supporters. But this is a Republican Party divided. There's just as much Trump fatigue when you talk to Republican voters who are looking for another candidate as there is Trump excitement. So that is the question here. How is he appealing, if at all, the Republicans who want him to talk about the future, who want him to talk about Joe Biden first and foremost winning back at the White House?

But it was clear today, through the course of the speech here today, the former president is consumed by this, and clearly it's taking up a lot of headspace for him. Jake?

TAPPER: So it's early July, but Trump is currently leading the field. It's early. Are there any signs of any other candidates breaking through in Iowa?

ZELENY: I mean, there's a sense of several candidates making introductions to themselves, some are spending a lot of money to break through, like North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has spent millions and millions on television ads to a little effect, at least at this point. But former Vice President Mike Pence has been really putting the miles on, going around from town to town, trying to introduce himself to some voters as he is an example of what he calls some true conservatism.

But not one single candidate has broken through to the head of that PAC yet. The Florida governor would be first among them. But there is no doubt that Trump benefits from a very crowded field here. So that's where we are about the midpoint of the summer. Of course, the next big moment in this presidential race will be that debate in August. It's an open question, though, how many of the candidates will be on stage or if Trump will as well. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Council Bluffs, Iowa, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with my panel. And Eva, Trump took aim at his closest rival Ron DeSantis, over DeSantis's past position against ethanol subsidies. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Very simply, DeSantis sided with the communists in China. I sided with the farmers in America. Every Iowan also needs to know that Ron DeSantis totally despises Iowa ethanol and ethanol generally. He's been fighting for years. Don't forget, he was a congressman, and he was voting against it and fighting for years to kill every single job supported by this very important industry.


TAPPER: Now, interestingly, he's actually accurate. He's actually telling the truth. Ron DeSantis, we should note that Ron DeSantis actually did vote against ethanol. So what do you think?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think this is actually smart politics. This actually makes a lot more sense than focusing on his personal grievances, talking about an issue that is of deep importance to Iowans. I texted a source there asking, you know, what do you think of this? Is this pandering or is this an issue that really matters? And he says, no, this is an issue that really matters.

And he said that during the Trump administration, he had credibility on this issue. So this makes a lot more sense in talking about the indictments, talking about things that people actually care about. In 2016, Trump lost Iowa to Ted Cruz. So I think there is an understanding that he has to really compete there this time around, whatever the polls say.

TAPPER: And we should note, though, that, Cleve, the ethanol attack, while effective, it's not a silver bullet. Ted Cruz won Iowa last time, and Ted Cruz was against ethanol subsidies.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, exactly. But I think if you look a little bit deeper, what you're seeing is that Trump is not just talking about ethanol. He's talking about these are politicians, typical politicians, who are beholden to Club for Growth or to other organizations. And that will not be there for Iowans or other people like Trump would. And he should be very clearly not just trying to paint DeSantis way, but also work shopping the best way to sort of put DeSantis into this box.

TAPPER: Interesting. And Jonah, DeSantis's poll numbers have remained far behind Trump since he launched his campaign. This is what Republican strategist Sarah Longwell told "The New York Times" about that quote, DeSantis's argument is electability. But he is undermining the electability argument by running to Trump's right. He is alienating college educated suburban voters who want to move past Trump. Do you agree? Is that how you see it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think there's a weird strategy. I think that the DeSantis campaign is a little too online. It's a little too interested in getting the Twitter brigades to get his back and not signaling that he's interested in winning in November and sort of rising above the fray a little bit.


I do want to just make one quick plug. DeSantis is 100 percent correct about ethanol. It's garbage. It's bad for the environment. It's bad for climate change. It's bad for the economy. It's bad for cars. And it wouldn't exist but for the Iowa caucuses, which is one of the reasons why we should get rid of the Iowa caucuses.

That said, I think DeSantis is he hasn't quite figured out the pitch about how he's trying to talk about his reelection in Florida, and that proves he could win, but he hasn't figured out the magic about how to make that a selling point.

TAPPER: Do you want to tell the corn farmers where they can reach you online?



TAPPER: Add Jonah dispatch. Nayyera asked why his poll numbers have not improved in recent weeks. In an interview on "Fox," this is what Governor DeSantis had to say.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if you look at the people like the corporate media, who are they going after? Who do they not want to be the nominee? They're going after me. I'm running to win in January and February. I'm not running to juice polling now.


NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, apparently everybody is a victim right now. Whether they are being bankrolled, as DeSantis is by billionaires who are trying to reshape the Republican Party, everyone sees that Trump is 30 points ahead. Trump is also, whatever you else you may say about him, personable and very entertaining. That is not how Ron DeSantis comes across on the campaign trail.

He has been effective in his state on executing policy, but that does not make you effective at retail politics. So that is ultimately the challenge. And by running to the right of Trump, these billionaires who have initially funded him as opposed to Trump's small donors, they're also starting to wonder, can DeSantis actually make this work? Can he -- not just Iowa, can he turn out Nevada and Wisconsin, South Carolina? Those are the states that are going to matter far more than any national polling numbers.

MCKEND: But I think that his political obituary is kind of being written too early here, $20 million in the first six weeks is significant. That's why the team wanted to get out front so quick with this. We haven't heard about the other fundraising numbers of the other candidates as yet. They have until July 15th to declare. But I mean, I think it's just too early for this.

We know that of most importance in places like Iowa and New Hampshire is the get out the vote effort, the ground game, the field operations, and he has the money to build up that infrastructure.

TAPPER: And Cleve, Casey DeSantis, the First Lady of Florida, Governor DeSantis's wife has been described by some as her husband's secret weapon. She just did her first solo campaign event, and she released a new ad. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been forced into silence, into compliance. Told that we must trust the science.

CASEY DESANTIS, FIRST LADY OF FLORIDA: We need every mama and every grandmama in every corner of the country to stand up and fight back by electing Ron DeSantis, president of the United States of America.


TAPPER: I have to say, I could see that message connecting with moms out there. I could see that. I mean, even if you don't blame Fauci for masks and by the way, Donald Trump was president in 2020 when all that was going on, it just evokes horrible memories, you know what I mean?

WOOTSON: Yes. And it is essentially the message that Ron DeSantis has been putting out about turning America into Florida. We're going to resist mask mandates. We're going to resist woke culture and all of that stuff. You know, it remains to be seen how good a messenger Casey DeSantis is. I think one of the bigger questions for the DeSantis campaign is how good a messenger is Ron DeSantis, you know, and particularly if Casey DeSantis outshines him on the campaign trail.

HAQ: Well in order to outshine him, and I'll speak as the suburban mom on the panel right now, that she should lean into the fact that she is telegenic, that she can be personable, and also that she is very comfortable in front of a camera as a former T.V. host in a way that Ron DeSantis hasn't translated to yet. But to lean into that in a way that suburban moms communicate on Instagram, it's not to be echoing and doing the same dark, scary music and dark scary themes that her husband is, right?

That's what's going to bring in people who are on the fence who are not primary voters. But the suburban moms Republican Party has had a challenge with is being able to connect and communicate in these more authentic ways as opposed to following the Ron DeSantis playbook.

TAPPER: What do you think of the ad?

GOLDBERG: I think the ad could work. I think it works in primaries. And again, it's very keyed into the people who can't let COVID go, right? And that's a -- and that -- it's a -- they're lot of people who have understandable problems with what happened during the pandemic, but I don't know that it reaches out to anybody who's on the fence about anything.


It seems to me, again, I think DeSantis would better suited to be running, he can't do it exactly the way he did, but George W. Bush in 1999 sort of ran as the guy who was going to, you know, restore honor and dignity of the White House, get this -- get the Republican Party to be a grown up party again, get its act together. And instead, a lot of Ted -- DeSantis's stuff seems like he's running to be the Ted Cruz of this cycle.

TAPPER: Right.

GOLDBERG: And running to be Ted Cruz -- running to be the guy who came in second is a weird strategy.

TAPPER: Yes. All right, one in all, thank you so much for being here. Have a great weekend.

There is something in the water, why New York is increasing beach patrols during one of the hottest weeks of the year. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In International Lead, suspected shark attacks off some Long Island, New York beaches have officials and beachgoers on high alert. Authorities say five people in two days were bitten by what are likely to be sharks. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Long Island for us. Polo, do officials know why there seems to have been a sudden uptick in these attacks and are they planning to close any of the beaches?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, let's tackle that last question first. At this point, officials here in New York state saying that they are not planning on closing any beaches. I will mention that yesterday there was a shark sighting just off the coast here that prompted lifeguards to get people out of the water for a few moments, just to allow that shark to head out to sea without incident.

And to answer that other question, well, I think these pictures will tell you just about everything you need to know whether it's on purpose or not, most folks here are adhering to the recommendations, which is you're going to get in the water, which they encourage you to do. Simply stay close to the shore and stay close together. Now, in terms of what officials are doing, we heard from New York Governor Kathy Hochul today announcing that she plans to deploy not only drones, but also offer equipment as well to some of those municipalities along New York's coastline.

So they have the ability to actually surveil the situation just off the coast here. In fact, that's how they were able to pick up some video on Tuesday, which at the time officials here had assumed that they were small sand sharks. We later found out just yesterday, in fact, it was a school of fish. So this certainly gives them sort of eyes not only on the ground, but on the water as well.

But in terms of what we've seen today, really no major incident. It was about five separate incidents that took place on Monday and Tuesday, basically around the 4th of July weekend that resulted in five non-life threatening injuries. Officials believe that sharks were involved here, though we should say that neither the victims or anybody around there could actually confirm that there were sharks, but that's what officials are saying.

But it really does kind of paint a picture of what will be a very busy summer beach season, even long after the 4th of July holiday. People are going to continue obviously getting in the water. And officials certainly not discouraging people to do that, simply to stay aware and of course, reminding folks that every year more people die from lightning incidents than shark incidents.

TAPPER: All right, Polo Sandoval in Long Island, New York, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the story of a Kentucky husband and wife who could not give a proper goodbye to the unborn child they lost, all because of Kentucky's new abortion law. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Health Lead today, another example of the unintended consequences of the severe abortion laws that some states enacted following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that did away with Roe v. Wade. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen now brings us a story of a husband and wife whose daughter had a birth defect so severe she had zero chance of surviving. But they could not even hold her when it was all over so as to say goodbye.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heather and Nicholas Maberry were thrilled in December to find out they were adding to their brood in Stanton, Kentucky. HEATHER MABERRY, DENIED ABORTION IN KENTUCKY: And we found out we're

pregnant with Willow two days before Christmas. So she was like our early Christmas present.

COHEN (voice-over): But then in April, when Heather was 20 weeks pregnant, she posted on Facebook, please keep Nick, me and our girls in your prayers. We just received the worst news about our baby girl.

H. MABERRY: And this is when we actually found out that Willow had anencephaly. It was just like a kick in the stomach.

COHEN (voice-over): Anencephaly confirmed by two doctors a condition where the baby is missing a major part of the brain.

(on camera): How did it feel to hear those words?

H. MABERRY: It was the worst feeling in the world. I don't even -- there's no words to explain how we felt.

N. MABERRY: I was devastated.

H. MABERRY: Yes, we just broke down.

COHEN: Were the doctors clear with you about what her chances were of surviving?

H. MABERRY: They told us there was no chance. They said that either she would be still born or she would die within a few hours.

COHEN (voice-over): The Maberrys wanted to end the pregnancy. They didn't want their daughter Willow Rose to suffer. And Heather's blood pressure was already high and could get dangerously higher as the pregnancy went on. But Kentucky law bans nearly all abortions, and there's no exception if a fetus has a severe birth defect, even one like anencephaly.

Three sponsors of Kentucky abortion laws did not respond to e-mails from CNN. Heather and Nicholas traveled out of state. They wanted to induce birth to at least get the chance to hold their daughter. But that cost tens of thousands of dollars that they didn't have. Their only option surgery that did not leave their child intact so they couldn't hold her.

H. MABERRY: Now we're grieving pictures. We're grieving footprints. We're grieving on a teddy bear. We'll never know what her face looked like. We'll never know what it was like to hold her in her arms. I mean, we're missing out on that. We're grieving someone that we've never seen.

COHEN (voice-over): Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Stanton, Kentucky.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Elizabeth Cohen for that report.

[17:54:01] Coming up in THE LEAD, how that thumbs up emoji could cost you literally. We're back in a moment.


TAPPER: In our Tech Lead, be careful to whom you send emojis. They might just take you to court. A Canadian court today ruled that a thumbs up emoji can affirm that a person is officially entering into a contract. The case came from a grain buyer in 2021 who had texted a photo of a contract to a farmer in Saskatchewan. The farmer replied with thumbs up emoji, which he said simply confirmed his receipt of the message. But that's not what the justice thought.

In his ruling, the justice wrote, quote, this court readily acknowledges that a thumbs up emoji is a nontraditional means to sign a document but nevertheless, under these circumstances, this was a valid way to convey the two purposes of a signature, unquote. I wonder what that justice makes of the poop emoji.

If you are looking for a summer read, I have a brand new thriller coming out next Tuesday, All the Demons Are Here. It's a wild ride through a bizarre era for our nation, the 70s. Evel Knievel and Elvis, post-Watergate mistrust, cults, disco, the Summer of Sam, UFOs and more, I would be honored if you would check it out. You can preorder it now and it drops on Tuesday.

On the Sunday's State of the union, I'll be talking to the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul and the withdrawal from Afghanistan report.

Plus U.S. Senate candidate from California, Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee will join it's at 9:00 a.m. and noon eastern on Sunday, only on CNN.

And of course at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, you can see all of Fareed Zakaria's exclusive interview with President Biden on Fareed Zakaria GPS. That's a 10:00 a.m. only on CNN.


Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Threads, Bluesky, if you have an invite. 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 once you get your podcast all two hours just sitting there like a delicious sirloin steak. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you Sunday morning.