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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Ukraine Strikes Vital Bridge Linking Crimea & Russia; GOP Contenders Pitch Themselves As Trump Alternatives; Record Heat Scorches Cities Across The U.S.; Backlash Pushes Jayapal To Walk Back Israel Remarks; Millions Of U.S. Military Emails Sent To Mali. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 17, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Ukraine taking credit for blowing up a vital supply line bridge for the Russians.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Bridge attack for the second time this war. Strikes have hit the bridge linking Russia to its annexed peninsula of Crimea. As Ukraine claims responsibility, Putin calls it a terrorist attack and vows to respond.

Plus, a big week in the 2024 presidential race. The event drawing GOP contenders today, though Asa Hutchinson is going his own route. I'll speak with the former Arkansas governor about his strategy to try to get some traction.

And spell check needed. The simple mistake in millions of emails that is putting sensitive Pentagon information potentially into the wrong hands.


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

And we start with our world lead. Russian leader Vladimir Putin is vowing retaliation today after Ukrainian forces unleashed a pre-dawn strike on the bridge that connects Crimea to Russia. Sources tell CNN two Russians were killed in the attack. It is the second such one on the strategic and symbolic 12-mile crossing since the start of the war. Putin was quick to label today's strike as a, quote, terrorist attack.

This comes the same day that Russia has ended a deal critical to the world's food supply, the Black Sea grain initiative officially expires in less than an hour. This will likely stop the flow of supplies from what is commonly referred to as Europe's bread basket. It is a decision that could tip millions throughout the world into hunger.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa for us as Russia insists it will overcome Ukraine's latest bridge strike.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A brazen strike on Russia's bridge that links it to the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula. The roadway a mangled mess after Ukrainian sea drones targeted it just before dawn. At least two people, Russian parents of a small girl, were killed in the attack according to Russian officials. The child was injured. Traffic on the critical highway grinding to a halt and trains temporarily stopped.

Tonight, Russian President Vladimir Putin called it a terrorist attack, vowing there will be a response and that the Russian military is preparing options. New satellite imagery shows extensive damage from the blast. A section of the bridge knocked out. Russian authorities now say it won't be fully functional until November. Ukraine quickly claimed that it was behind this secret operation, a rare admission, saying it was a joint operation by Ukraine's navy and security services which cryptically tweeted, the bridge was sleeping again.

A reference to a huge explosion in October last year as a fuel truck exploded on the 12-mile, 19-kilometer bridge igniting a passing train. Putin then called it an act of sabotage, appearing on the bridge when it was reopened two months later. A direct strike on his nearly $4 billion project, connecting Russia to Crimea and that he personally inaugurated in 2018.

It has become a vital supply route for both the Crimean population and the Russian military's fight in southern Ukraine. Ukraine sees the bridge not just as a ripe, but highly symbolic target. Hours after the blast, Russia announced it is pulling out of the agreement that allows Ukraine to ship grain to the world.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Today's decision by the Russian federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere. But it will not stop our efforts to facilitate any success for global markets for food products and fertilizers from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

MARQUARDT: Russia claims the deal only benefitted Ukraine while its own food and fertilizer had been blocked. The decision was not connected, Russia said, to the bridge attack. The last grain ship sailed from Odessa's port on Sunday. A United Nations official tells CNN that Russia's announcement appears final.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Jake, the United Nations has severely criticized this. The global community calling it unconscionable, that is the word of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who went to say that Russia is responsible for denying food to people who desperately need it, global widespread condemnation.

As for the bridge attack, Jake, Vladimir Putin says he wants work to restore it to begin immediately but it won't be back up and running until mid-September at the earliest, according to a senior Russian official.


And that's just half of the roadway. It won't be fully operational until three and a half months from now, the beginning of November. This was a significant attack by Ukraine, Jake.

TAPPER: Alex Marquardt in Odessa for us, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this bridge attack with retired U.S. Brigadier General Steve Anderson who was most recently in charged of army logistics, readiness, weapons sustainment and war reserves.

General Anderson, thanks so much for being here.

So Russia spent $4 billion building the 12-mile bridge after it illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. Putin said today that the bridge attack had no military significance. I find that hard to believe. Is that true?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It's not true at all, Jake. Absolutely, I mean, the hits just keep on coming for Vladimir Putin. I mean, this is just another chink in the armor. We had a mutiny three weeks ago with Prigozhin and we hear more and more about insubordination within the ranks at senior levels, the general officers in the Russian military.

And now you got an attack on this bridge right here, the longest bridge in all of Europe, built five years ago with great fanfare by Vladimir Putin. So to attack this is strategically and politically very, very significant.

Now, operationally, probably not that significant. I think they'll be able to repair this within a week, a week or two perhaps. It's not as significant as the attack that occurred back in October. But, nevertheless, you know, any time you can stop logistics from flowing in to Crimea and to resupply the troops up there in the north, this is a very good day for the Ukraine army.

TAPPER: What type of weapon was used and what might that reveal about the capabilities weeks into this counteroffensive?

ANDERSON: Well, Jake, this reveals an awful lot. I mean, this is essentially a surf board on steroids. I mean, think about this traveling at about 80 kilometers an hour with about 200 kilograms of explosives on it. And what they were able to do was use this device and go about 500 kilometers, all the way out here and undetected by the Russian navy. I mean, that's a very significant thing.

That shows that they have the ability to conduct deep strikes against the Russians and that puts all the Russian navy at risk. I mean, any ship that's out here in the Black Sea now could potentially be targeted by the Ukrainians who are showing themselves to be incredibly resourceful, incredibly intelligent and resilient in putting weapons like this into the war.

TAPPER: And there are new concerns about a deteriorating security situation in the Black Sea after Russia pulled out of this grain deal, which removes guarantees for safe navigation for ships carrying grain that is, you know, needed all over the world. Which parts of the Black Sea are you looking at and watching most closely.

ANDERSON: Well, probably, the port of Odessa is right here and, of course, Istanbul is down here. So, this is the quickest shipping route. But they're going to try to, of course, conduct some kind of a blockade all the way across here to Crimea to stop any of these grain shipments from getting down. But we can't let that happen.

Jake, I've been in the Ukraine and I've seen the incredible agricultural wealth of this country. They are the bread basket for the eastern hemisphere. We've got to make sure that this grain gets through there.

Now, what today's attack indicates is that when they try to conduct this blockade, they're going to be able to -- Ukrainians could target a lot of the ships that are out there, these battleships and any destroyers are out there are going to try to interdict these shipments and conduct this kind of military blockade of the port of Odesa. We can't let that happen.

TAPPER: Go back to the bridge for one second if you would. I just want to -- talk about a little bit if you would about the psychological effect, the hitting and the strike on this bridge will have on Vladimir Putin, or is having on him? Because he's really -- he loves this bridge.

ANDERSON: Absolutely.

TAPPER: I mean, they built it.

ANDERSON: This is a huge psychological -- I mean, it shows the Ukrainians are still in this fight and they have the capability to conduct deep strikes but it's showing that his army is not as good as it is or he wants it to be. He's had a lot of problems here over the last couple of weeks. There is another psychological blow to Vladimir Putin.

I think the walls are starting to close in on Vladimir Putin. This is another indicator of that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. General Anderson, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, the courtship of sorts between a line of GOP presidential contenders and evangelical conservatives. The messages the candidates are trying to drive home.

Plus, new details just in on that search for a 2-year-old girl and 9- month-old brother swept away in flash flooding in Pennsylvania.

And the apology from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal after she labeled Israel, quote, a racist state. How her own colleagues, Democrats, are calling her out.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Let's cue the music for the 2024 lead. Only 477 days until the presidential election, but well before that, we're currently only 37 days out from the first major event this election cycle, that is the first Republican presidential primary debate. That's going to be next month, August 23rd.

The busy calendar underscores why so many GOP candidates are out and about, speaking at summits and town halls, even booking interviews outside of the conservative media bubble such as my exclusive tomorrow with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is in Arlington, Virginia, at an event today that has candidates touting their stance on Mideast foreign policy.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis among a handful of 2024 GOP hopefuls aiming to woo evangelical voters outside Washington, D.C. Monday.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will never waiver in our defense of Israel.

HOLMES: As candidates work to pitch themselves as an alternative to frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

DESANTIS: So many people run for office and they promise big things and then they underdeliver on their promises. That's not what we do in Florida. In Florida, we do make bold promises but we overdeliver on our promises.

HOLMES: As the race to win the Republican nomination heats up, with presidential hopefuls hitting the campaign trail --

DESANTIS: As commander in chief, on day one, we rip out the political agenda out of the military.

HOLMES: -- and the airwaves this weekend.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: And so, you're leading people by 50 and 60 points and you say, why would you be doing a debate?


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He should show up at the debates and defend his record.

HOLMES: Some candidates including Trump speaking to young conservatives at the Turning Point Action Conference in Florida, taking aim at top rival Ron DeSantis who skipped the home state event.

TRUMP: I don't know why he's not here this couple of days. But he should be here. He should be here representing himself.

HOLMES: The Florida governor campaigning in Iowa and Tennessee and downplaying Trump's lead in the polls.

DESANTIS: At the end of the day, the Bragg indictment just elevated him, there was a lot of sympathy but I think just dominating the media coverage. I had gotten a lot of coverage in the aftermath of the midterm election. We always knew what these polls, that was a sugar high.

HOLMES: And the money race coming into focus as candidates file their latest campaign finance reports.

DeSantis report showing his campaign burning through cash at a rapid rate, raising $20 million but already spending nearly $8 million, including $1 million each on travel and payroll and another $800,000 on digital fundraising consulting. DeSantis contrasting his haul with Trumps.

DESANTIS: We raised more money than Donald Trump did into his campaign who, of course, was the former president.

HOLMES: The former president's report showing his campaign raised $17.7 million in the second quarter, leaving it with $22.5 million cash on hand at the end of June. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott just behind him with $21.1 million after raising nearly $6 million over the last three months.

After announcing his White House bid last month, former Vice President Mike Pence getting off to a slow start, bringing in less than $1.2 million placing him near the back of the pack.


HOLMES (on camera): And, Jake, I just want to quickly mention those numbers on the Democratic side. President Joe Biden announcing he raised $72 million with the Democratic National Committee. But I did speak with Democrats who are concerned about the filing, particularly when it came to the small dollar donations. That was at $10.2 million. Now that is roughly half of what then President Obama raised in the same time frame, 2012, in his re-election effort.

And, of course, as we know, often the small dollar donations are linked to enthusiasm about a candidate. But I'm hearing from a lot of Democrats who say it is still early, it is time to make that up, they believe it's possible he could get that enthusiasm back behind him again -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes in Northern Virginia, thanks so much.

Let's discuss. So, Kirsten and Jonah, these new fundraising numbers, they're starting to give some hints as to who's going to make the debate stage because that's one of the requirements, you need to have 40,000 donors. It could be $1 in donation but you need to at least 40,000. Who do you see is having momentum right now and who do you see as lagging behind?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the easy one is Mike Pence, right? I mean, he's the former vice president of the United States. He's got huge name ID. He's got a considerable network and it looks like he may not be able to make the debate and he only raised $1.2 million.

Chris Christie raised 1.6. He got in later. He has the highest negatives of anybody in the party because he's going after Trump. But I think a lot of people donated to him because it is pay-per-view as far as I'm concerned. They want to see him on the stage with Donald Trump going after Donald Trump and so they paid to have him on there.

The DeSantis numbers, I think the most telling things that he maxed out, like 70 percent of his donors and that's a very Scott Walker kind of problem to have. But he also just raised a lot of money. I think he'll be fine. It is just he's stalled in the polls. That's a real problem.


And, Kirsten, in terms of DeSantis, in the second quarter, he raised more than $20 million. His campaign has spent nearly $8 million since May. Not as many small dollar donations as he would like theoretically. He's obviously laying off some staffers. That's not great news for any campaign.

But he also, and this doesn't get talked about a lot, but he has this super PAC that is sitting on this huge amount of cash.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, the thing is, he is going to need more cash than a Donald Trump is for example. We see how he's burning through the money and that's because he doesn't have the name ID, of course, that Donald Trump has. Donald Trump was the president, right?


POWERS: So, he -- everybody already --

TAPPER: Also a TV star before that.

POWERS: And a TV star before that, and everybody knows who he is. They know what he believes. They know what he's going to do for the most part. So, he doesn't need as much money. He doesn't have high priced consultants. He is his high priced consultant.

So I think that -- I think that DeSantis needs that money. It does show that there is an appetite for another candidate. It's -- you know, Donald Trump is still ahead. But there is an appetite for another candidate. And then you go down to the next tier of a Tim Scott, he's not raising like crazy amounts of money but there is some appetite for him as well.

So, you know, I think it shows us what the polls are showing us, I think, you know --


POWERS: -- which is Donald Trump is leading the back and DeSantis is behind him but, there is at least some interest in him.

TAPPER: You mentioned Scott Walker, not favorably.


Former Wisconsin governor who a lot of people thought would be the shining light of the Republican Party and I don't even remember what year it was, 2020? 2016 --

GOLDBERG: 2015, more --

TAPPER: 2015, 2016 and he flamed out.


TAPPER: And Dana Bash, my colleague, talked with him, the former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, today about the race. He was basically where Scott -- Ron DeSantis is now. He basically was there back in 2015, '16. Take a listen.


SCOTT WALKER (R), FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: If Ron DeSantis or any of the other candidates are going to have any shot against Donald Trump, President Trump, they've got to make a powerful case that they're going to be even more bold than Donald Trump was during his four years in office and that's a tough -- that's a tough sell.


TAPPER: Now, he is obviously, DeSantis, Trump -- his shake-up and he's going to talk to me which is the first legacy corporate media interview.

GOLDBERG: It's going to turn it all around.

TAPPER: That is the Tapper bump, I'm telling you. But what do you think, what does -- but do you agree with Scott Walker that he needs to even some ways be even bolder than Donald Trump.

GOLDBERG: I don't know. I mean, look, if he stabs you with a ballpoint pen all is off, no pun. But --

TAPPER: Right, polls through the roof.

GOLDBERG: Exactly.

TAPPER: Kill Tapper. Polls through the roof.

GOLDBERG: Wound. Bt look, I think the fundamental dynamic of this race is a lot of these guys are running as if it is an open primary, right? It is like an open seat. There is no incumbent.

But the reality is, as messed up as it is, is that Donald Trump is essentially the incumbent. And he has -- if you look at it from that perspective, he's a shockingly weak incumbent. Imagine an incumbent president only being at 50 percent in the polls in a primary.

TAPPER: And like 30 percent in Iowa. I mean, state by state, he's even weaker.

GOLDBERG: Right. But these guys are all running as if he's not in the race at all and that's the problem, with the exception of Christie and a little bit of Asa Hutchinson, they're running as if a special prosecutor, a lightning bolt, something is just going to remove Trump from the equation and they're just sort of circling around playing these games, not actually running a campaign against the guy that they have to beat.

POWERS: Yeah. I mean, I think DeSantis is already doing what Scott Walker says he should be doing. I think he has been trying to be the Trumpy Trump alternative, right, versus the "I'm a little nicer, softer," maybe like a Tim Scott, you know, who is conservative but isn't bombastic and isn't going to behave the way Donald Trump does, or say the things that caused so much heartburn among certain voters in the Republican Party.

So I think -- I think he is doing it and, Jonah's right, everyone is just waiting for something to happen to Donald Trump and they think they're going to step into that lane. So DeSantis thinks I'll step into the Trumpy lane and the other people are in the people who don't like Trump lane.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, I have a depressing read on this, which is that, if you think about it in terms of who is the most entertaining candidate -- Donald Trump. I mean, I don't find it entertaining, but I think that's a fair statement.

And then who are the candidates who have some sort of momentum, some sort of win behind them, it's Vivek Ramaswamy, who I think he's sort of a fraud, but he's entertaining and he's got this sort of energy. And Chris Christie who is throwing haymakers and you see those guys rising in the polls.

Who's not entertaining, well, with all due respect to Mike Pence, he's the watch paint dry candidate and it's why he can't get a leg up. And it's just -- I think it points to the fact that a lot of our politics now is about who is entertaining rather than who's qualified.

TAPPER: It's really good that you said with all due respect. No offense, but you're really boring.

GOLDBERG: I said no offense.

TAPPER: Six months to Iowa, DeSantis has been working that state very hard. He's close to Governor Kim Reynolds. She hasn't officially endorsed him or anything but she goes to every one of his events. And I think she's only gone to one Trump event.

Trump has been talking about her and DeSantis is sidling up to her. Take a listen.


REPORTER: Would you consider her a vice presidential pick in this campaign?

DESANTIS: Of course. I mean, she's one of top public servants in America. You know, I thought the attacks on her were totally, totally out of hand and totally unnecessary. We should be thanking good Republican officeholders.


TAPPER: So for anybody at home who couldn't hear that, it was a reporting saying, would you consider Kim Reynolds to be your running mate? I mean, that seems smarter than attacking her considering she is a very popular two term incumbent, Republican governor. Very conservative.

POWERS: Yeah. I mean, Donald Trump has been consistently -- consistent in not doing the things that people think are smart and it sort of works for him. So, I don't really know. But, look, if DeSantis won Iowa, that could change the race, right?

So, Iowa is -- you know, when people -- when Barack Obama won Iowa, it changed everything, right? So, you know, it is smart for him to try to win Iowa. I don't know if it's going to ultimately make a difference.

TAPPER: But we'll see, January 15th. Thanks one and all for being here. Really appreciate it.

Next hour, I'm going to speak to a Republican candidate and I talked to Chris Christie yesterday and Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas today about his 2024 campaign.

And, of course, tomorrow here on THE LEAD, a CNN exclusive, Florida governor, GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on the campaign trail. We'll be in South Carolina. You could see that interview tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here on THE LEAD.


It's going to change everything. The entire race is going to be shaken from the interview.

The world is experiencing a great hell of heat waves. Why this summer's weather is so different than years past.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our national lead, a search in Pennsylvania is expanding for a toddler and her baby brother who disappeared in flash flooding. They're family car got stuck in heavy rain on Saturday afternoon north of Philadelphia. The father managed to grab his 4-year-old son but the water swept away the 2-year-old girl Matilda and her 9-month-old brother Conrad. Their mother Katie in the car did not make it.


Search crews found her remains yesterday. Their grandmother was also in the car and escaped. The family was from South Carolina, visiting relatives.

Which brings us now to the "Earth Matters" lead today and the extreme weather conditions and the extreme heat. Just yesterday, 35 cities across the United States hit records, high temperatures according to the National Weather Service. One was Death Valley, nicknamed the hottest place on earth. Temperatures there reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit.

South Florida is under a heat advisory and Miami the heat index or the feels-like temperatures has topped 100 degrees for more than 30 days straight. Same for El Paso, Texas, where teams have exceeded 100 degrees for the last 32 days.

Yes, extreme temperatures are typical for mid-July. But as scientists know, these long stretches of extreme heat are what they see as cause for alarm. That extreme heat is not just being felt here in the United States. It is being fell by millions of people all around the world as the heat wave sweeps across parts of Europe and Asia, too. One top climate group warns that heat hell is worldwide at the moment and those extreme temperatures are nothing short of dangerous.

Bill Weir, we don't see these temperatures until later in the summer? Why is this summer expected be hotter than last summer?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well (AUDIO GAP) cooler patterns in the Pacific which hid a lot of pent up energy in the oceans which have been hiding the heat for last century or so. Right now, every second of every day, our planet absorbs as many extra heat as ten Hiroshima bombs per second. And now we're seeing the full result of that.

Now, we have wildfires smoke which is a result of drier forest up in Canada and easier burning conditions there. We have those devastating flash flooding that took the lives of those children as you were describing north of Philadelphia. Those are the results. But heat is really the engine of all of this. A warmer planet, holds too much water in some places and not in others.

And the rate that it's going up, and scientists are used to seeing temperature records shattered by five degrees. The temperature around the Florida Keys was 98 degrees over the weekend and that is devastating to coral ecosystems.

So, unfortunately, this is sort of our new reality now. There will be other La Nina years that will cool things off a bit. But this is our new reality.

TAPPER: Last week, the World Meteorological Association said we're in unchartered territory. Is this the new normal, this unbelievable extreme weather events?

WEIR: That's the prediction. And it is just makes sense. Nothing is changing in terms of the amount of planet baking pollution that is being put into the sky. It's interesting that John Kerry has just restarted climate talks with China, the two largest polluters. In China, he landed on a day where they recorded 126 degrees temperature and a new record.

He's asking for them to come down on methane, which their natural gas is the way it is sold to us which is devastating heat trapping pollution like nail down a target number for them to decrease that and to stop putting two coal fire power plants on line a week and leading the world by renewables, they're still burning a lot of coal.

But, meanwhile, back at home, John Kerry has Republicans who were grilling him last week with charts claiming that climate change isn't even real and calling him a fraud essentially to his face that this is all part of a hoax. So that is the tension politically, geopolitically that we're dealing with right now.

Despite just red flags everywhere, 3,500 new high temperature records set globally in the last week or so. About 1,500 so far yesterday in the United States. So, as you say, we're just in July.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's going to get worst in August.

Bill Weir, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is getting a strong rebuke from Democrats after she called Israel a, quote, racist state. Next, I'm going to speak with one of the Democratic critics calling her out.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally has his invitation to meet with President Biden here in the United States. According to the Israeli government, the invite came today during what the Israelis are calling a long and warm phone conversation.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later said the whens and wheres are working out and it will probably happen before the end of this year.

The U.S.-Israeli relationship also figures in our politics lead. There is major backlash after the head of the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Congressman Pramila Jayapal, went well beyond criticizing Netanyahu's policies and instead out right called Israel a racist state.

As CNN's Manu Raju reports, Jayapal has since tried to walk the comments back but for many of her critics, it may be too late.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Guys, can I say something?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Progressive leader Pramila Jayapal tonight trying to contain the fallout after comments labeling Israel as a racist state. In a weekend event in Chicago interrupted by pro-Palestinian activist, Jayapal said --

JAYAPAL: We have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state, that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy.

RAJU: The remark ricochets across the political spectrum and forced Democratic leaders to issue a rare rebuke of her comments on Sunday evening.

Apologizing to those she offended, Jayapal said in a statement, I attempted to diffuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress were being protested.


I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist.

REP. BRAD SCHNEIDER (D-IL): I spoke with her several times yesterday. I think she understands that she misspoke. Israel is not a racist state.

RAJU: The controversy comes amid growing tension among progressives over the actions taken by the Israel government and sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Speaking to CNN on Friday, Jayapal laid out her concerns.

JAYAPAL: The violence, settler violence that's happening in Israel in the West Bank, the annexation of settlements that have been happening over the last several years, Netanyahu's collaboration with extreme right elements of Israel and the fact that we're getting further and further away from the ability to actually legitimately talk about a two-state solution.

RAJU: The rift comes as Israel President Isaac Herzog prepares to address Congress on Wednesday. While Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries supports the visit, Jayapal told CNN she might not attend and some liberals have promised to skip it.

Should the speaker have not invited him?

JAYAPAL: I think this is not a good time for that to happen, yes.

RAJU: The GOP trying to drive a wedge between Democrats and support for Israel.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think if the Democrats want to believe that they do not have a conference that continues to make anti-Semitic remarks, they need to do something about it.


RAJU (on camera): Now I also asked Speaker McCarthy about a separate controversy dealing with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., comments he made over the weekend suggesting that COVID-19 was somehow ethnically targeted to spare Jewish people. I asked him about that false conspiracy theory and whether RFK should testify this week before a House subcommittee. He said I disagree with the comments but also said that he should still testify before the house subcommittee saying that hearing is about censorship and they don't want to censoring people, including RFK Jr. -- Jake.

TAPPER: CNN's Manu Raju, thanks.

We're now joined by Democratic Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, from Florida.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. So what was your response to Congresswoman Jayapal's comments and I guess we heard from Congressman Brad Schneider in the piece saying that he talked to her.

What is your understanding of how this conversation went and did you talk to her?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): I have not spoken to Congresswoman Jayapal directly, but a group of us have been talking over the weekend since the congresswoman made the really egregious, unfortunate statement. Israel is certainly not a racist state. I was glad to see that she walked back and clarified her comments to some degree, and apologized for the hurt that she caused.

But this is emblematic of the importance of each of us being responsible in the moment, in the heat of the moment to not just blurt out extreme statements and to think more carefully and thoughtfully about the hurt and impact that might result and she clearly did not.

And, you know, there are times when it is just imperative that those that are concerned and when a statement is made that is as extreme as that one was, that it be called out and that is what we're planning to do.

TAPPER: You said that that is -- that's one of the things that is important about this, some Jewish and Israeli journalists have said this is a rising anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic trend not only on the far right but on the far left because this happened, Congresswoman Jayapal, was trying to defend your fellow progressive Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois. She was being booed, heckled because she hasn't signed off the legislation pertaining to some Palestinian issues.

To be candid, very few House Democrats have co-sponsored that legislation.

SCHULTZ: That's right.

TAPPER: Jeremy Ben-Ami of the progressive group J Street says Schakowsky is Jewish and she constantly gets attacked by progressives for not supporting the legislation while plenty of other progressive House Democrats who aren't Jewish somehow escape criticism.

SCHULTZ: That was a room of people who are hostile to the state of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Let me just speak, like the overriding thing that is important here is that the U.S.-Israel relationship has strong bipartisan support. Israel is a pluralistic society, the only democracy in the Middle East and one that is a close ally of ours. Obviously, they're surrounded by enemies and under barrage -- rocket barrages from Iran's proxies regularly.

We have overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, handful, for Israel and her safety and security and the U.S.-Israel relationship and there are a handful on both sides of the aisle on the polls that do not support Israel.


But it really has been limited to only a handful and we've demonstrated that repeatedly.

TAPPER: Quickly, because I do want to get to what RFK Jr. said over the weekend. That is not to say that you support the Netanyahu policies in the West Bank, correct?

SCHULTZ: Correct. I do not support the Netanyahu policies and I have travelled to Israel with leader Jeffries and had an opportunity to speak directly with Prime Minister Netanyahu about those concerns. We have to make sure that we don't make it harder to move towards a two- state solution and we have to make sure that we strengthen Israel's ability to remain a Jewish and Democratic state.

TAPPER: So let's talk about what RFK Jr. said because "The New York Post" publishes video of him talking about the developments of bioweapons and then he shared this deranged conspiracy theory, quote, COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. We don't know whether it is deliberately targeted, unquote.

Obviously, that is a false statement and the millions of dead Asians and Ashkenazi Jews attest to that.

What's your response when you hear that, somebody who is polling in the double digits among Democratic voters?

SCHULTZ: I mean, RFK Jr. is not a Democrat. He isn't remotely close or aligned with Democratic values. He espouses lunatic conspiracy theories and this is the most recent one. What's shocking to me is that the Republican majority has invited him to testify at the House Weaponization Subcommittee this Thursday.

And I have co-led a letter with my colleagues Dan Goldman and Jodie Chu to urge the leadership on the Republican side to withdraw his invitation because we should not be giving the largest platform in the world to baseless conspiracy theorists who have no factual basis for their positions and who are in his case fanning the flames of hate and anti-Semitism and anti-Asian bias at a time when that anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hatred is resulting in violence against both communities across the country.

TAPPER: Speaker McCarthy says they're still going to let him speak because the hearing is about censorship on this government weaponization committee that you're on, and they don't want to -- they don't want to censor him.

SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, they certainly didn't hesitate to remove Democratic members of Congress for the things that they said. So they have a track record of taking action when they don't like what someone has said, and held them accountable in their mind. That is exactly what should be done here.

Speaker McCarthy said that he thinks what RFK Jr. said is I guess he said he didn't agree with it and that it was inappropriate. Why you could give a platform, the largest platform in the country to someone who's going to spew baseless conspiracy theories -- theory that have no basis in fact and that is going to cause other people harm? That's on them if more people get hurt as a result of who the Republican majority brings in front of Congress as witnesses. They should rescind his invitation.

TAPPER: Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, thank you so much.

SCHULTZ: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: The simple error in millions of Pentagon emails that has messages falling into the wrong hands.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead, if you've ever gotten in trouble for a typo, this might make you feel better. You probably weren't emailing military secrets to a foreign country at least.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon for us.

Oren, millions of emails intended for Pentagon employees, .MIL, are inadvertently being sent to email accounts for the African country Mali?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And that's exactly the issue here you point out, the domain you are emailing. If you want to email the military, the end of the email account should be .MIL. If you want to email Mali, the end of that email account is .ML. That little "I" in there stuck between the "M" and the "L" is very much a world of difference in terms of who receives the email you're trying to send.

This issue became publicly known because a Dutch internet entrepreneur whose company managed the .ML domain has been getting these emails he tells CNN for a decade or even more. He's been flagging this email, he says, to U.S. government agencies including the U.S. embassy in Mali trying to get this sorted out before his contract to handle the .ML domain runs out essentially in the coming weeks or months.

Now, most of the emails, he says, are nothing of significance. They're simply spam, but some of them contained sensitive information or controlled information, information that the Department of Defense should take better care of. For example, he says earlier this year there was an email that contained the information for hotel arrangements for General James McConville, the chief of staff of the army, as he was traveling in Indonesia. This, of course, is what the Pentagon is trying to avoid.

Here's DOD earlier today.


SABRINA SINGH, DEPUTY PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We're aware of these unauthorized disclosures of controlled national security information. We, over the course, of -- I mean, as you've seen from when we had our first unauthorized disclosure from earlier this year, we've implemented policy and training mechanisms and put in place and in terms of what we have here on the DOD systems is that when you send an email from a DOD email address, it will not -- and you send it to a .ML email address, it will bounce back. So a DOD email address will not be able to send to that email address.


LIEBERMANN: So just to underscore that point, the issue isn't sending an email to .ML from a DOD account, that won't go through.


But if you're using a private account, a Yahoo or Gmail, Jake, that's where the issue can be, and that's where the DOD is trying to address some of this training and make sure that this doesn't happen.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thanks so much.

New details just in on those Gilgo Beach serial murders in New York state. What police are now saying about their investigation into the architect who was arrested last week.


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

This hour, a flood of new evidence has come in tied to the suspected Long Island serial killer, according to the district attorney, and now, police are searching the suspect's home to see if he kept anything from the victims.

Plus, it will be harder to breathe again in a large swath of the United States due to smoke from those Canadian wildfires.