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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Special Counsel Focused On Actions From Trump And Allies In Seven Key Battleground States; GOP Contenders Court Evangelicals At Iowa Event; RNC Chair Refuses To Say Biden Legitimately Elected; Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Is Interviewed About Defense Bill; Suspected NY Serial Killer Captured & Charged; Western U.S. Set To Break All-Time Heat Records. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 14, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: According to sources, federal prosecutors have interviewed two more key election officials in their investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The interviews with the Pennsylvania and New Mexico secretaries of state indicate that Special Counsel Jack Smith is focused on actions taken by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Joe Biden's victory in battleground state.

CNN's Evan Perez is here with more. Evan, do we know what kind of questions prosecutors we're asking the secretaries of state?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know in the case of Al Smith of Pennsylvania, Jake, that he was asked questions about issues he faced. If you remember, he was the elections official in Philadelphia who was certainly at the focus of some of the efforts by people associated with the former president trying to focus on this idea that there was fraud in Center City, Philadelphia.

TAPPER: Commissioner Schmit, we had him on the show a lot.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. And now he has been appointed. He is the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Now, in the case of Maggie Toulouse Oliver, you know, she also was questioned in recent weeks similar things. You know, they're getting asked about the effect of some of the fraud claims and some of the threats that they received. And election officials all over these seven states that were the focus of some of these efforts by the former president and his allies not only to claim fraud, but also to set aside the valid election results and try to replace them with Donald Trump, essentially, even though he had lost them.

TAPPER: Interestingly, even though this did seem to happen in all these different battleground states, it's only Georgia that there's actually a local investigation in Fulton County, which contains part of Atlanta. The district attorney there is investigating the efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia, you have new reporting about Trump's team attempting to essentially dismantle the entire investigation. PEREZ: Right. This is the latest attempt. They've already made this attempt and have been turned back by the judge who was overseeing the special purpose grand jury. This time, they're filing it with the Fulton County Superior Court and the Georgia Supreme Court, again making the claim that the former president is being treated unfairly, that this special purpose grand jury is not -- does not have authority to do this.

And also that the former president's fundamental rights are being violated and citing the fact that he's running for reelection or for election. So these are the reasons why he believes these -- that the findings of the special grand jury should be turned away and discarded. Of course, again, he's failed before, so we'll see whether he has any better luck with these two courts.

TAPPER: All right, Evan, stick around, because I want to bring in some others and to make out the rest of our panel, Carrie Cordero and Tia Mitchell. So let me start with you, Carrie. Special Counsel Smith is looking at Trump's actions and those of his allies in seven different states. This is a wide net of prosecutor -- the wide net that prosecutors are casting here.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, look, I think the fundamental question with this aspect of the Special Counsel's investigation is, was there a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election? I mean, there's really no sort of bigger investigation or more important, federal investigation that I can think of if we think about the scope of what it is that they are investigating not just whether there was, you know, an individual action in this state or, you know, pressure by individuals who happen to be associated with the campaign or false statements, you know, whether it wasn't just individual actions or crazy statements and allegations being made, whether it really was truly a conspiracy.

And so that's why putting together the picture that involves all of these different states helps the prosecutors decide whether or not they have that bigger network that tried to overturn the election.

TAPPER: Because, you know, I mean, frankly, you know, we all just sat here and watch it happen. We were watching it all happen.

PEREZ: Deep inside.

TAPPER: Yes, so much of it was in plain sight.

CORDERO: Well, so much of it was in plain sight, but then also some of it was behind the scenes.

TAPPER: Like the fake electors.

CORDERO: I mean, in Georgia, there was the phone call. And the also was I remember at the time, there also was individual instances of state level legislatures being pressured in private ways. And so that's the type of information that only prosecutors can get from individuals involved under oath in front of grand juries. TAPPER: So Tia, "The New York Times" is reporting that an employee of the Trump Organization has received a target letter from the Special Counsel in connection with the investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents, a different criminal investigation. That seems rather significant, a target letter.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Right. Well, that indicates that the investigation is getting to a point where they're starting to determine who they think could face accountability charges, indictment, jail time. So the fact that they've already identified at least one individual and there could be others, this is just the first one to come out, means that they're moving forward. It's not stalled. It's not leading to, you know, kind of, well, we don't think we're going to charge anyone. At least there are early indicators that they're starting to zero in on who they might hold accountable should they determine that someone should face criminal charges.


TAPPER: Evan, does the increased activity in Jack Smith's election interference probe to jump back to that different criminal investigation, does the increased activity suggest that any sort of timeline when we might see charges or anything, any sort of indictments?

PEREZ: We continue to believe that this is nearing the end. And one of the things that's been surprising is how long it's taken for them to come back to some of these folks. Because in the case of Michigan, for instance, we reported earlier this week that the Secretary of State there had been spoken to and interviewed by the special counsel. One of the things that is interesting is that, you know, she turned over documents and information indicating that there was these outreach efforts from people associated with Rudy Giuliani to a county level person to try to get access to voting machines part of this whole effort, again, to try to find fraud.

And by the way, that's illegal, right? You cannot get unauthorized access to voting machines in the state level. So that information was turned over a long time ago. So for us, certainly it's been interesting that it's taken this long to come back to them. I guess in defense of all their work there, I would say that there's just a lot of people, right? There's so many people who are involved in this, and it's taken a while to try to get to the bottom of all of this.

MITCHELL: And a lot of scrutiny too, I think with all how partisan, whatever comes out of these investigations, it's going to be perceived. I think the Justice Department is trying to make sure they are very thorough and meticulous and take their time, because you don't want to mess up when it comes time to actually determine who to indict or not. So it is the same thing, we're seeing the same thing happening.

TAPPER: Stakes are pretty high.

MITCHELL: Yes. PEREZ: Jake, one thing that I think one theme certainly we're watching for is the accountability level that we see coming out of these investigations if in the case of this very low level Trump organizational employee that "The New York Times" and ABC have reported received a target letter, this is someone low level. Are we seeing yet another time where Donald Trump gets away with stuff and you have lower level people get in trouble? Of course, in the case of the documents, Trump has already been charged, but we're talking about some of the other, you know, theme that always emerges in Trump legal troubles is often the lower level people get in trouble.

CORDERO: And on that aspect, I would just say most likely. I mean, my sort of working premise is that it would be on obstruction that someone at a lower level would be involved or potentially charged or criminally culpable whether they were engaged in the preventing the Justice Department from doing its job, from getting the documents back, preventing Nara from getting the documents back.

On the January 6th related, excuse me, the election related cases, what I think is similar to those as with the January 6th criminal prosecutions of the Justice Department, which we're still seeing continuations of those cases is it demonstrates the scope, the nationwide scope of these investigations by the Justice Department. And what that means as a practical matter is, yes, the Special Counsel's Office is running this election investigation.

But there are agents and prosecutors all over the country, investigators all over the country who are involved in working on these cases. And so just both sets of those investigations, all stemming from that election, are nationwide.

TAPPER: And Tia, I want to get your response to the fact that former Trump White House official and Trump's son in law Jared Kushner testified before the grand jury investigating the election interference and also former Trump adviser Hope Hicks did, this has got to probably make Donald Trump kind of nervous.

MITCHELL: Well, I think in general, these investigations make Donald Trump nervous. I think at this point, though, he's used to his associates, top allies, even family members, they were questioned by the January 6th Committee. Now they're being questioned by this grand jury. I think Trump thinks that he's not going to be held accountable. And I think that's really where people are going to be looking to see a lot of people hold Donald Trump responsible for the election interference and of course, for all the fallout all the way up to January 6th.

But the question these grand juries are going to have to determine is there criminal conduct, which is a different threshold? And, you know, that's where the question is, could Donald Trump be held accountable?

TAPPER: Indeed, thanks to one and all.

Several presidential candidates are spending summer Friday in Iowa. So it's obviously campaign season. And this weekend they are trying to appeal to a very specific voter base. We'll tell you that story. [17:10:03]

Then President Biden promised millions of Americans that taxpayers would pay off their student loans. But now far fewer are getting relieved. So what happened?


TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, some of the leading presidential candidates Republicans are in Iowa today. They're attempting to court the influential voting bloc of evangelical conservatives ahead of the first of the nation Iowa caucuses, January 15th. Notably absent today frontrunner Donald Trump. As CNN's Jessica Dean reports for us from Des Moines, Iowa.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A moment where religion meets politics with just six months until the Iowa caucuses. On Friday, a number of Republican presidential candidates making their case to evangelical voters in Des Moines.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America needs positive, powerful, biblically sound leadership to regain the high ground.

DEAN (voice-over): One conspicuous absence former President Donald Trump, who skipped the event but will travel to Iowa next week. His rivals who continue to lag behind Trump in the polls, hoping to use this moment to stand out.

MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump's words that day were reckless. Whatever his intentions in that moment, it endangered me and my family and everyone that was at the Capitol that day. I believe history will hold him accountable for that.


DEAN (voice-over): Friday's crowd made up of a key voting bloc of conservative voters focused on issues like abortion and restrictions on transgender rights. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson defended his veto of a bill that would have prohibited gender affirming care procedures for trans people under the age of 18.

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that parents ought to be in control and I also believe in the constitution. I believe that God created two genders and that there should not be any confusion on your gender. But if there is confusion, then parents ought to be the one that guides the children.


DEAN (voice-over): Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, popular among conservatives. And the state, has pledged to remain neutral in the primary, but has appeared at several events with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Earlier this week, Trump attacked Reynolds for not endorsing him, writing on Truth Social in part, quote, I opened up the governor position for Kim Reynolds, and when she fell behind, I endorsed her.

In response, DeSantis called Reynolds, quote, a strong leader who knows how to ignore the chirping and get it done, while Haley touted the Iowa governor as a, quote, conservative rock star. Reynolds signed Iowa's new six week abortion bill into law at the event on Friday. It's a law very similar to the one signed by DeSantis in Florida.

REYNOLDS: I could not imagine a more appropriate place to sign this bill than here at the family leader summit.


DEAN: We have one more candidate to hear from before this event wraps up, and that is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is Trump's chief rival at this point and has certainly been courting evangelicals here in Iowa and across the country, Jake, really hoping to make inroads, and we know that he believes and his campaign believes that coming back and showing up and doing this event by event is what is going to make the difference. So we will see him talking to these voters tonight and we'll see in about six months from now if it actually makes a difference. Jake?

TAPPER: Jessica Dean in Des Moines, Iowa, thanks so much.

Good news for more than 800,000 student loan borrowers enrolled income driven repayment plans, the Biden administration is announcing that their debts will be wiped away through a fix to the way monthly payments are counted. The plan will forgive more than $39 billion in federal student loans. This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Biden's plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debts for tens of millions of borrowers.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live for us at the White House. Jeremy, what's the Biden administration saying about this new loan forgiveness plan, which is obviously less than he promised to voters?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Jake, what they're saying is that this program is actually fixing what they are calling historical inaccuracies and failures by some of these loan servicers in terms of counting the number of payments that borrowers who are in these income driven repayment plans have actually made. This affects borrowers who have been income driven repayment plans where after 20 or 25 years, they are supposed to see the rest of their student debt forgiven. And so that -- those are the 804,000 borrowers who are going to see their debt wiped out altogether.

Effectively, what this is doing is fixing mistakes that have occurred over several decades and providing loan forgiveness to people who have already earned it. Effectively, this is $39 billion worth of federal student loan aid altogether. But as you mentioned, Jake, this comes just after the Supreme Court last month struck down the President's broader plan to forgive student loan debt up to $20,000 per borrower for people under a certain income threshold. So this move today is not aimed at addressing that. The President is still moving forward with another plan to try and forgive much broader swaths of student loan debt. That process has already begun through the regulatory system, but that is going to take months, Jake, if not a year, for that to actually come to fruition. So in the meantime, President Biden says that he is committed to pursuing that alternative path for broader student loan forgiveness.

And, Jake, he's also going after Republicans who are criticizing even today's decision on this. He says that this is hypocrisy based on the fact that they supported loan forgiveness during the Coronavirus pandemic for businesses. And he also says that their quote, disregard for working and middle class families is outrageous. Jake?

TAPPER: Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us, thanks so much. Let's discuss with my panel. Tia, on the campaign front, Biden's team says that it has raised $72 million last quarter. That's more than doubling Trump's fundraising total. But we should note that is not as much as Trump raised during this portion of his presidential -- presidency when he ran. But $72 million, it's a lot of money. Is this going to damp down any of the concerns that Democrats have, the bedwetters, as they're often referred to, about the state of Biden's campaign?


MITCHELL: I don't think -- I think it might create a temporary reprieve to the bedwetting, but I think Democrats are always going to have some hand wringing about Joe Biden. It just is what it is with his age and things like that. But I think it does send a powerful message because there have been so much second guessing, especially in the last week or so. There's been some great CNN reporting about that said bedwetting.

So I do think this addresses it, especially the fact that he is outpacing Trump and DeSantis now. You know, he doesn't have to run against Donald Trump from four years ago or Barack Obama from eight years ago. He's running against, you know, potentially Trump or DeSantis now, and he can say, hey, I've got more robust fundraising than them, so why should folks say that I'm the one who's the weaker candidate?

TAPPER: So, Jackie, you just saw Jessica Dean in Des Moines covering how six of the leading Republican candidates are in Iowa making their pitches to evangelical voters. Tucker Carlson is there moderating a forum? I want to get your reaction to an exchange he had with former Vice President Mike Pence.


TUCKER CARLSON, AMERICAN COMMENTATOR: Why do you think the people who swarmed the Capitol on January 6th were mad, and why haven't we talked about that?

PENCE: Well, first off, I would tell you that I think the January 6th Committee was a partisan committee in the Congress of the United States, and it failed its historic mission of bringing the facts forward. And I know your commitment of bringing all the facts to the American people, Tucker, and I know we're grateful for that.


TAPPER: Remember, some of the people storming the Capitol on January 6th were threatening to hang Mike Pence, and somehow that was his response. What do you think?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's such a far cry from the Mike Pence just a week ago, who gave a very nuanced, detailed answer to a woman at one of his events who questioned his role on January 6th on that day.

TAPPER: Who said he could have sent the electoral votes back to the stage, which is not true.

KUCINICHL Yes. Exactly. And he said as much, and he was very impatient walking her through it. And it was a really good answer. This he was trying to appeal to a crowd that was never going to behind him. If you have Tucker Carlson sitting right there, he immediately starts talking about the January 6th Committee, deflecting about talking about the crowd. Later, he start -- Tucker Carlson pushes him a little bit more about whether it was an insurrection. And Mike Pence says, well, it was a riot.

And so but this shows just what a tough needle Pence is trying to thread here by not ticking off Donald Trump's most avid fans and yet still trying to separate himself from him.

TAPPER: But he's not the only one, Leigh Ann, listened to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel talking to our own Chris Wallace about the 2020 election.


CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Are you saying, as the chair of the Republican Party, that you still have questions as to whether or not Joe Biden was the duly elected president in 2020?

RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: Joe Biden's the president.

WALLACE: No, I didn't ask you whether he's the president. Do you think he won the election?

MCDANIEL: I think there were lots of problems with 2020.

WALLACE: You're saying you're not sure, as the Republican Party chair, that he was a legitimately elected president.

MCDANIEL: I'm saying there were lots of problems with the 2020 election, and we need to fix it going forward.


TAPPER: One of the problems is that people like her continue to lie about the 2020 election. What does this say to you?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, ANCHOR, WASHINGTON POST LIVE: There are two reasons that Republicans continue to do this. Well, maybe three, some maybe believe it what they say, but the more popular reasons is because they are afraid of Trump voters and the voters who Trump has convinced that the election was in fact stolen when it wasn't. And the second reason is they are afraid of Donald Trump and the wrath that he brings.

And so this is immersed within the Republican Party. They had an opportunity almost two years ago to separate themselves from the Trump -- and from Trump and move into a direction of truth, and they declined to do so.

TAPPER: So THE LEAD has obtained video from the campaign trail of Republican and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who is polling quite well in several states, agreeing with a completely untrue and frankly unhinged conspiracy theory about the Federal Reserve illegally adding zeros to the bank accounts of media companies. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Fed is illegally taking money out the back door, not for the COVID channels or adding zeros to bank accounts to the media or their political, you know, maybe your political opponents. How are you going to stop that illegal, under the table spending the money from the Federal Reserve?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think, I mean, the answer is you have to actually make sure the Federal Reserve is politically accountable. See this idea that it's supposed to be some sort of special entity that exists outside the checks and balances of government? That's where the original sin begins. And you're correct to point out what very few people are aware of. Absolutely, that happens.



TAPPER: Again --

KUCINICH: Getting in front of the bitter called truth.

TAPPER: I know. So you can't write it, you can't invent it. Again, none of that is true. That is a deranged conspiracy theory. And that here you have a Republican presidential candidate saying you're correct to point out what very few people are aware of.

KUCINICH: This is why, when you have these candidates that really are trying to get attention, he is polling well because he's been everywhere he's really been. But it's also because it's about getting attention. It's about getting headlines. It's about appealing to, you know, every single voter that you possibly can, even those very much on the fringe, and we're seeing it right there. But because of that, you're going to turn off some other voters who might, you know, want to be -- to have someone who's being taken a little bit more serious.

TAPPER: Well, his rise in the polls means that he's taking away votes and attention from candidates who actually could be legitimate presidential candidates. Thanks to one and all for being here.

How are Republicans thrust military into the center of the culture wars and what that could mean for our national security? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead today, today, the House of Representatives passed a sweeping defense authorization bill filled with some controversial amendments. Amendments that would dismantle the Department of Defense policy on abortion, which reimburses travel expenses for members of the military or their spouses getting an abortion.

Amendments that would eliminate the Department of Defense's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Amendments that would ban the use of federal funds for anything having to do with critical race theory. And also removing funding for transgender health procedures. CNN's Manu Raju is getting bipartisan reaction for us now from Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Showcasing the power of the far right and the political calculations of Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The House today approved an $886 billion defense bill, but not before bowing to the demands of conservative hardliners and turning a typically bipartisan affair into a bitter partisan feud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an insult to all who serve.

RAJU (voice-over): The bill, which would set national security priorities and authorize pay raises for troops, was amended on the House floor to include a host of cultural issues. That's because hardliners threatened to block the bill, forcing the Speaker to allow votes on hot button amendments, including to eliminate the Pentagon's post role policy, providing reimbursement for military personnel traveling to get an abortion, and to nix diversity programs at the Pentagon and health care for transgender veterans. Conservatives said the bill goes after the woke military.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): What traditional East Tennesseans think about our military is a little different than what some of these bureaucrats and three star generals think about it.

RAJU (voice-over): Just four Democrats voted for it, and four Republicans voted against the bill that passed on the narrowest of margins. The Speaker attacking Democrats.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: So what they're doing is they're turning their backs on the military. That's wrong. RAJU (voice-over): Yet, even some Republicans who backed the bill expressed frustration.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: If we want to show America that we can come together and that we care about women, we got to stop being assholes to women.

REP. ANTHONY GONZALES (R-TX): I think it's a missed opportunity, but part of the course given the national politics.

RAJU (voice-over): Democrats expect the Senate will strip out the controversial provisions, but that would mean McCarthy would have to compromise on a final deal, something that risks angering the far right House Freedom Caucus, which has in the past paralyzed the House and could call for a vote seeking McCarthy's ouster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Freedom Caucus is not known for losing gracefully.

RAJU (voice-over): Members of the bloc want McCarthy to hold the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to just walk in, view a cosmetic negotiation and surrender.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are establishing our position on what the Defense Department ought to look like. Now we ought to hold that line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to drive a hard bargain.

RAJU (on camera): What if the Speaker does compromise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll hopefully preempt that.

RAJU (voice-over): As Democrats revolted, the Speaker wooed his far right, including winning the vote of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene by promising to make her a key defense bill negotiator with the Senate.

(on camera): So if you voted no, you wouldn't have been on the Conference Committee?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Of course not, because that just wouldn't make sense.


RAJU: Now the Speaker defended his decision to name Marjorie Taylor Greene as part of that Conference Committee even though she is not a member of the House Armed Services Committee and even though she told me she plans to advocate to try to pull back U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, a position that does not have much support in Congress. He said simply he is naming people who are reflective of the full Republican conference. And also, Jake, he claimed that he is not being driven to the right by his members. He said he's simply allowing the House to work its will. Jake?

TAPPER: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

And joining me to discuss is the Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington. He is the Ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. So Congressman, you voted against the National Defense Authorization Act. You say you did that because of the addition by Republicans of this amendment that would undo this Defense Department policy to pay for the travel expenses for a member of the military or a spouse to get an abortion, to go to a state where that's legal. Is it clear to your Republican colleagues do you think, that by adding that amendment and some others this almost ensures that this particular legislation will not become law?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA), RANKING MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, first of all, I want to emphasize that we had a very strong bipartisan bill out of committee. We've passed 58 to one. It was a really good bill. We worked with all members that we supported. But on the floor they added a lot of amendments, certainly the ban on the travel policy that DoD has put in place to help people get access to reproductive care was number one.


There were also several provisions in there that effectively, you know, were anti-trans. They were amendments gutting the DEI provisions. There was a very hard right turn on the floor as to whether or not the Republicans understand that this is not going to pass going forward in the Senate or elsewhere. I think some do, but it's going to be a fight.

I mean, the Senate's not going to do this, and we're going to have a conference bill. But I, you know, the folks who supported those amendments in the Freedom Caucus, we'll see how they react when the bill comes back with those things out of it.

TAPPER: So what is your response to the Republican argument that if the Biden administration and the Pentagon want this to be the policy, this travel policy regarding going to states where abortion is legal, if they want it, they should introduce it as legislation?

SMITH: Yes, well, not everything requires legislation. We've had, you know, broad discussions about the policies that are out there. We -- the DoD has long had a policy that if you cannot get the health care you need, where you're at, they do pay for people to travel to get health care elsewhere.

I mean, if you have a, I don't know, a specific heart condition and you want to go to the Cleveland Clinic or you go to the Mayo Center if you've got a cancer problem in Minnesota, we already have in place a policy that allows DoD to pay for travel for health care. They merely added to it reproductive care because of what happened with the Dobb decision and the states banning that care in so many places. So I think this is well within the Department of Defense's purview to implement this policy.

TAPPER: Normally, this legislation passes Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, like you saw when it was reported out of the House Armed Services Committee. What's your message to Speaker McCarthy today after seeing how divisive this ultimately was?

SMITH: Yes. I think it's unfortunate. I think it's a missed opportunity to show bipartisan support. But look, I mean, that's the legislative process. The first year that I was chair of the committee in 2019, we wound up passing the bill without Republican support. I think the Republicans were wrong for not supporting it, but they made that decision. It does happen.

I'm less concerned about the process than I am about the policy. The bill that the Republicans passed makes it more difficult for women to serve, makes it more difficult for the trans community to serve, makes it more difficult for people of color to serve. The policy that they were willing to vote for undermines our national security, and we should be focused on how bad that policy is. And that's why I and most Democrats voted against this bill. So that's the big problem. Process is the process they got the votes for it, so good for them.

But they were putting in place a policy that would undermine the national security of this country by making it more difficult to find the people we need to serve this country.

TAPPER: Your reference to African American serving is a reference to the provision having to do with diversity, equity, and inclusion just for anyone watching. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tells CNN that she ultimately voted for the bill because Speaker McCarthy offered her a seat on the Joint House and Senate Armed Services Conference Committee. This is conferences committees are after the House passes a bill, the Senate passes a version, and then the conferences committee come together and sass it out and, you know, and have one bill that goes back to the House and Senate.

It's odd because Marjorie Taylor Greene is not on the House Armed Services Committee to begin with, but she's going to be put on this conference committee for this. What do you make of that?

SMITH: Well, what I make of it is the extreme MAGA Republicans run the Republican Party. Yes, I mean you -- basically, Kevin McCarthy will do whatever he has to do to repease the most extreme obnoxious members of his party at every term. Because that bill that I mentioned that we passed out of the Armed Services Committee, that would have passed the House floor with probably 360, 370 votes.

We would have lost a few, you know, the Freedom Caucus members and some of our folks on the left who don't vote for the defense bill. Typically, we had a very strong bipartisan bill. But Kevin McCarthy's made it clear whatever the far right wants, he will give them. And no, we've never had anyone serve on the Conference Committee who's not a member of the Committee. But again, he will give away what he has to give away to keep them, you know, at least marginally happy, I suppose.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Smith, a ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Thanks for your time, sir.

SMITH: Thank you, Jake. Appreciate the chance.


TAPPER: How police say DNA found on a pizza crust helped them arrest a suspected serial killer. Stick around.


TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead, a burner phone, a pickup truck and camouflage burlap. All of that led today's major arrest in the Long Island serial killings. A New York architect was charged with six counts of murder in connection with the deaths of three out of the four women whose bodies were discovered in 2010. The Suffolk County police commissioner last hour at a press conference bluntly stated what he thinks of the suspect.


RODNEY HARRISON, POLICE COMMISSIONER, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY: Ladies and gentlemen, Rex Heuermann is a demon that walks among us, a predator that ruined families. If not for the members of this task force, he would still be on the streets today.


TAPPER: A demon. CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now. Brynn, police just revealed more about a possible motive. What did they have to say about that?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so after that lengthy press conference, there was a lengthy Q&A session with reporters, and one of the questions was, was do you think you have a motive? And the district attorney there in Suffolk County essentially said, look, just look as internet searches to show the mindset of this man. I want to read some of them for you. He would research mistress Long Island, for example. There would be internet searches that had to do with torture or preteen girl with makeup.


And then there were other searches, as we've already laid out for the viewers of the actual victims' names and their family members. He was trying, according to police, to research these victims. One of the things he searched. Why could law enforcement not trace the calls made by the Long Island serial killer or cops? He was interested when cops launched that homicide investigation task force.

So authorities said, look, we don't need to prove motive, but we do have a lot of evidence in this case that will be presented at some point to a jury. Another question that's very important, Jake, of course, are all these other murders, that really, quite frankly, the community wants to know, are they connected to Heuermann?

Remember, he's only connected to -- he's charged with three murders, connected to a fourth. But the answer really is they're still investigating. One thing that the district attorney said, Heuermann had a permit for 92 guns and they actually removed a safe from his house. So that's going to be part of their investigation. And the hope for that community is that, of course, maybe he is tied to some of these. And more families get answers to the loss of their loved ones. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras with all the latest on that, thanks so much.

When a Pulitzer Prize is not enough to save your job, three political cartoonists are being forced to put their pens down. Why? This is no laughing matter. That's next.



TAPPER: It isn't just artists in Hollywood impacted by cost saving measures and penny pinching millionaire bosses. Three legendary Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonists were laid off this week by McClatchy newspapers Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in 2016. Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer, who also won the award in 2014. And Joel Pett, who won it back in the year 2000. This ends his four decade career as a newspaper cartoonist for the Lexington Herald Leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL PETT, EDITORIAL CARTOONIST: The people who run these businesses these days measure things in money and clicks. And political cartoons don't make you any money, they don't get you a lot of clicks, and they're kind of a pain in the neck.


TAPPER: McClatchy says they, quote, made the decision based on changing reader habits, unquote. But Pett is not buying it.


PETT: What has changed so much over the last probably decade is that the gatekeepers tastes have changed and so has their willingness or capacity tolerate controversy. And I don't think the readers dislike political cartoons any longer. But the people in charge of journalism are less and less comfortable with them.


TAPPER: Political cartoons are important. They date back to the founding of this nation. Remember this political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin? They are a vital part of the free press. They make you think and laugh in ways that T.V. news or print newspapers can't. And these layoffs underscore the importance of supporting local journalism and being willing to pay for it. It also underscores how too many corporations are destroying what matters in the United States.

Turning to our Earth Matter series, the Acropolis in Athens, Greece had to shut down for hours today because of excessive heat, while Italian authorities are attempting to convey the seriousness of the weather, naming the current heat wave, Cerberus, after the three headed monster that features in Dante's Inferno. In China, power companies are in overdrive as they grapple with their own record breaking temperatures. Meteorologist Chad Myers is in the CNN Weather Center for us. Chad, this could end up being the Earth's hottest year ever on record. Is this the new normal?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: According to some scientists, this might be the new low normal. You know, you talk about where we are right now here, talked about this a few days ago, about how it was the hottest day ever on record from satellite reviews across the globe and where were and where we are now and maybe where we'll be in five or 10 years. So, yes, even though we're breaking records today, those temperatures may not even break or be close to breaking records as we look ahead for five, 10, 15 years, as things still continue to get warmer.

You see 90 million people here in some type of advisory. Now, just because it's hot doesn't mean you get an advisory. You have to be a threshold above something, the normal 10, 15, 20 degrees. In parts of California will be 20 degrees above normal this week because of the heat dome. Now, this heat dome makes it hot, yes, but it does something else, Jake.

It also makes the chance of getting a shower throughout the afternoon lower and lower because the heat is all the way to the top of the atmosphere. On a normal day, you start seeing these little convective things on the ground and you'll get a cloud about 3:00 or 4 o'clock, and you'll cool down a little bit. That's not happening because the atmosphere won't allow it. It's too hot up here to even get a cloud.

So temperatures right now, 107 in Dallas. That's what it feels like. There certainly should be a shower around Dallas somewhere with that type of heat. It's not happening. Not going to happen for the rest of the week here. And also, we've had a thousand record highs over the past 40 days. And just over the weekend, we are likely going to see another 100 record highs, especially across the Southwest. If it gets to 118 in Vegas on Sunday, that will be an all time, never been hotter than that ever in this town type of high temperature. Jake?

TAPPER: Chad Myers, thanks so much.


Got water? Turns out another drink might better to hydrate you quickly while temperatures are in the triple digits, that's ahead.


TAPPER: In our Health Lead, the next time you're thirsty and in need of quick hydration, you should grab a glass of milk. Yes, I said milk. Researchers from St. Andrews University in Scotland studied how different drinks rehydrate the body. And they found that while water does a pretty good job, beverages with a little bit of sugar or fat or protein are even more effective. In addition to sports drinks with electrolytes, coffee can also offer you a good amount of hydration, as long as you stick to just one cup. I have a brand new thriller. It came out Tuesday, All the Demons Are Here. It is a wild ride through a bizarre era for this nation the 1970s. It features Evel Knievel and Elvis Presley, post-Watergate, mistrust of our government, cults, disco, the Summer of Sam, the rise of tabloids, UFOs and more. I would be quite sincerely honored if you would check it out, All the Demons Are Here.


Join me this Sunday for CNN State of the Union. My guests include National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly from Arizona, and Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

Our coverage continues now with Jim Acosta, who's in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you Sunday.