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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Federal Grand Jury Meets In 2020 Election Probe; Odesa Buildings Damaged, One Dead After A Third Consecutive Night Of Russian Attacks; U.S. Officials Say Chinese Hackers Breached Email Account Of U.S. Ambassador To China; RFK Jr. Testifies Before Weaponization Of Government Subcommittee; Search Warrant In Tupac Shakur's Murder; Study: Homicides In 30 Cities Dropped By Nearly 10 Percent In First Half Of 2023 Compared To Last Year. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 20, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You know who's not here today, though. Jim.


KEILAR: Huh. I think he's out west, too. So, hmm.

SANCHEZ: Potentially laughing at us right now, watching.

KEILAR: Perhaps, will he come back? That may answer the question.

I'm the one from California, though. If there's a long lost cousin or something out there.

SANCHEZ: Oh, come on.

KEILAR: I think it's mine.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Intense attacks from Russia, three nights in a row.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Massive explosions lighting up the night sky in Ukraine's port city of Odesa. Why does Russia keep targeting that spot? CNN's Alex Marquardt on the ground for us. And also getting an exclusive look at the American armor protecting Ukrainian fighters.

Plus, a special and rather odd GOP invitation for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the 2024 Democratic presidential candidate. How RFK Jr. today attempted to defend his years of lies and conspiracy theories.

But, first, the meeting right now behind closed doors, the room where it happens -- the federal grand jury that could decide whether Donald Trump will be indicted for his role in the January 6th insurrection. (MUSIC)

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

We're going to start today with our law and justice lead. Donald Trump waiting to hear if prosecutors are going to try to hold him accountable for attempting to overturn the 2020 election, something Mr. Trump could learn at really any given moment now.

Right now, the grand jury investigating those efforts is meeting at the courthouse here in Washington, D.C. The grand jury is expected to hear from at least two witnesses, after which they could theoretically vote on whether to charge Donald Trump or anyone else in this case. We'll likely not find out about potential charges until Trump announces it himself on social media, how he did in the other special counsel investigation about the alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Let's get straight to CNN's Evan Perez.

Evan, walk us through what could be happening right now behind closed doors. Do we have any kind of timeline?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We don't have a timeline. We know right now that the grand jury is still meeting at the federal courthouse here in Washington. We know that Will Russell, an aide to the former president, who has been in before to talk to -- to provide testimony, is there now for the third time. And we know that they're taking that testimony, we thought it might be a lot shorter, but it appears it's stretched longer than initially planned.

And so, typically, the grand jury goes home in probably another 20 minutes or so. And so, it is possible that because the Will Russell testimony has gone on for however long, longer than it was planned, that we may not get to the big vote that everybody is expecting will happen at some point. Now prosecutors never said they would indict him at a particular time.

TAPPER: Or that he would indict him at all.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly. They just warned him that was a possibility in the near future. So now we wait.

TAPPER: So, you know, we all saw this, whatever you want to call it, plan, scheme, conspiracy, play out in real time, involving dozens, hundreds, thousands of people.

PEREZ: In plain sight.

TAPPER: I find it hard to believe that Donald Trump would be the only one to get a target letter but we know of no one else who did.

PEREZ: We know of know other target letters that went to any other allies of the president. But, Jake, as you said, a lot of this was in plain sight and including the fact that we know of searches of some of those people who are -- were involved. People like Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, who was key to try to use the Justice Department to support the false fraud claims. John Eastman.

So, those people don't necessarily need to get a target letter because they know they're targets because the FBI and the Justice Department already went to them and did searches. So they are on notice they're potential targets in this investigation. And then obviously, the other factor here is that it is possible because we know that prosecutors are still doing investigation, still gathering evidence, it's possible that they first tackle the president in an indictment and then go to the other parts of the conspiracy the alleged conspiracy later on.

TAPPER: Right. We know for example in the Michigan investigation, that they arrested and charged these fake electors just in Michigan but that's a fake investigation not a federal one.

Stick around, Even, because I want to bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel, as well as former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Elie, I'll start with you. If there are charges, the Justice Department will have to eventually release the indictment. What specifically will we learn from that document should it appear?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, if there is an indictment, I think it is fair to bet this will be what we call a speaking indictment, meaning it won't just be a dry listing of the charges, it'll read like a narrative.

And if we look at Jack Smith's first indictment, the Mar-a-Lago indictment, I think there's a few things we can look for. First of all, he will give us a better sense of what his evidence is, in the Mar-a-Lago indictment. He cited to specific texts, emails, and audio recordings.

Second of all, he will give us a much better sense of what his evidence is in the Mar-a-Lago indictment. He cited to a specific texts, emails and audio recordings.

Second of all, we will get a sense of what -- who the witnesses are here. For example, if we see a detailed recitation of a one on one conversation that we know happened between hypothetically Donald Trump and Mike Pence, that I think we can deduce from that that Mike Pence is a witness and somebody who Jack Smith's team is relying on. And finally, of course, we will learn what the specific charges are, that is the important thing.

TAPPER: So, Jamie, one of the questions is will there be an affect on the Republican base from all these charges and, frankly, all this evidence against Donald Trump, right?


TAPPER: Well, there's a lot of evidence but we have seen a rally around the flag impact when it comes to this sort of thing. Donald Trump has a bump in the polls. But, yesterday, there was a poll in New Hampshire of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents suggesting that Donald Trump was only supported there 37 percent. That's still first place but still a lot of people, 63 percent not supporting Donald Trump.

And now, maybe I'm just glass is half full kind of guy, as opposed to glass is half empty. But that would seem to suggest a lot of fatigue or at least preference for other people, a majority.

GANGEL: So, let me just suggest, that may be New Hampshire because if you look at national polls. So, yesterday, there was a Quinnipiac national poll. Donald Trump is 54 percent. Next was DeSantis, 25 percent, and then Nikki Haley 4 percent.

So, nationally, he's still doing very well. We looked at some fund- raising numbers, in early March, Trump was bringing in about $80,000 a day. When that New York indictment came in, around those days, $4 million.

TAPPER: A day?

GANGEL: Not a day, but in the days surrounding it.

TAPPER: After that.

GANGEL: There was a big bump.

TAPPER: And, Evan, sources telling CNN that prosecutors are trying to set up interviews with other witnesses. So could they vote, theoretically, on charges now and still continue to interview other witnesses, the grand jury?

PEREZ: They can. Again, especially if they charge -- if they charge Donald Trump only in one indictment and then tackle some of the other parts of the conspiracy. They can do that at a later time. I mean, everyone is cognizant of the calendar. The Justice Department is very much aware, Jake, of the calendar.

TAPPER: Yeah, ticktack, man.

PEREZ: We've got -- we've got a few weeks before the first debate in the Republican primary.

TAPPER: Right.

PEREZ: And so, everyone is aware of that. And, look, I mean, you know, I'll say this, inside the Justice Department, inside the Biden administration, I think there was even during the time there was a lot of criticism from people like Elie and others what's taking so long in this investigation, you know, one of the things I heard from folks is that, you know, from a political standpoint it might only help Trump to prosecute him. Maybe it's better to not do this and let the voters decide in 2024.

Of course, you know, those are the political people speaking, right?

TAPPER: Right.

PEREZ: The law and order people, the people who are running this investigation don't think that way. They have to pursue when they see a crime. So that's one of the things I think is going on here is that, you know, they are aware of the calendar and I think they could bring charges against a former president. And then continue to build a case against some of the other characters.


Elie, special counsel Jack Smith has already charged Trump in the classified documents case, of course, but the judge in that case has signaled that the trial will not start until at least January. Is there any chance this potential case could skip ahead of the classified documents case, this January 6th case and go to trial before January?

HONIG: There is, Jake. So, there's no rule saying the first case indicted has to be the first case tried. This isn't the deli counter you take a ticket and wait your turn. Jack Smith has the ability to prioritize here. He can decide I want to see one of these cases tried first and the other second. Now, it's not solely up to him. Scheduling is ultimate up to the respective judges and Donald Trump as the putative dependent here will certainly have a say.

But, yes, Jack Smith has the ability to say, this is the one that's more important to me. This is the one that I'm going to push to try it first. And I think if you look at this realistically, to Evan's point, at best, Jack Smith will have an opportunity to try one of his potentially two cases. He's got to make a real important decision there.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, we know that Vice President Mike Pence testified for more than five hours in this investigation, the January 6th investigation. He has been trying to walk a line between separating himself from Trump, but also touting what he sees as his successes as vice president, saying, for example, what Evan just said, that this should be let up to the voters in 2024, not up to the prosecutors.

If Trump is indicted, how might that impact Pence's campaign?

GANGEL: It's not clear it's going to make a difference.


Look, let's face it -- his presidential campaign is not doing very well. He's not raising a lot of money. Thus far, he has not made the debate stage when many of the other candidates -- look, he has incredible name recognition in comparison to some of the others. He hasn't made the debate stage.

So I don't know that it makes any difference. I just -- to go back to Evan's point for a second, I was told by very senior former Justice Department officials that this target letter really -- it's going to happen. There is going to be an indictment of Donald Trump, and that they feel they have a very strong case. Otherwise, Merrick Garland would not have signed off on that target letter.

TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel and everyone else, thanks so much for being here. In the world lead, Russia's most destructive strikes yet on Ukraine's

port city of Odesa. Why Odesa? Why now? Well, Ukrainians have a theory.

And the murder of Tupac Shakur nearly 30 years ago, but there's just been a new police search. We're leaning now what they were looking for.

Plus, how come so many lawmakers become filthy rich in office despite their modest congressional salaries?



TAPPER: Topping our world lead for the third night in a row, Russian air strikes bombarded Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa, damaging critical infrastructure and killing at least one person, according to Kyiv.

Ukraine's military only was able to shoot down just 5 of the 19 cruise missiles overnight. Russia claims this onslaught is a retaliatory response to the Ukraine's attack on the Crimean bridge earlier this week.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports for us from Ukraine's front lines in the south where the counteroffensive is frankly struggling to breakthrough Russian forces.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In a secret basement bunker, part of Ukraine's 47th mechanized brigade, is desperately trying to find how to punch through Russian lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of Russians. There are a lot of Russians in here and overall. They have more guns. They have more shells. And they have more people.

MARQUARDT: CNN was given an exclusive look at this battalion command post at the very front of Ukraine's counteroffensive in the south, filled with maps and feeds from drones.

Stanislav closely watches dozens of drone feeds helping artillery teams try to take out Russian positions.

You can see how close they are. You can tell them what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, and we guide them.

MARQUARDT: You can redirect them farther, closer, left, right.


MARQUARDT: How do you think the fight is going in your section? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's tough. It's tough.

MARQUARDT: The no man's land between the two sides is heavily pockmarked with craters from thousands of artillery rounds, but it's these little white dots, some of the countless anti-tank and anti- personnel mines that the Russians have laid are part of what's making the front so limited. Demining teams called sappers bravely cross the densely mined battlefield, often under fire, to defuse or detonate the Russian mines.

Tral is a sapper who just got back from a mission.

We need to break through the mine barriers he said so that equipment and infantry can pass. The enemy uses constant artillery and mortar fire. It's hard he says, very hard.

Everyone here, soldiers and generals alike, admit that over a month into Ukraine's counteroffensive, progress is slower than they would like. They argue that the Russians had months to dig in and prepare.

But Ukraine was preparing as well. Soldiers like this team getting weeks of Western training and all kinds of new equipment. Like this American armored Bradley fighting vehicle, rarely shown to the press.

The Bradley team leader named Kach is just 19. He shows us inside which is also used to carry troops across the battlefield. I feel very protected he says. We know we're safe because it can withstand a lot and has a thick layer of armor and has been tested in battles.

Why do you wear the American flag?

Kach is just four months out from American training in Germany. His U.S. flag patch, a parting gift for good luck from his U.S. trainer.

The first day of fighting was the most difficult he tells us, we didn't know what to expect, what could happen, how events would unfold. Early setbacks on this front had meant that Ukraine has had to change tactics, moving more on foot, after many of the newly required vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

The team camps out in a narrow tree line, trying to hide from Russian drones. When their next order to assault will come, they don't know. But soon, they will be back in the fight.

This is the life here, the team's gunner says. You live by the fact that you're preparing for the next mission.


MARQUARDT: And, Jake, in just the past few minutes, we have heard the air-raid sirens go off here in the city of Odesa. This is, of course, a city very much on edge, bracing for what could be another night of intense Russian strikes.

As for the counteroffensive, we do continue to see these huge, huge military aid packages from Ukrainian allies pour into Ukraine. The Biden administration announcing yesterday $1.3 billion in aid not just offense weapons for that counteroffensive, but defensive weapons as well. In this huge package, there are some -- there are four air defense systems called NASAMs, those are the kind of air defense systems that protect Washington, D.C.

Here in Ukraine, they combat Russian drones and missiles out of the sky.


That, of course, very much top of mind all across the country, particularly here in Odesa.


TAPPER: -- Ukraine. Thank you. Please stay safe.

Let's look at Russia's possibly strategy in Odesa with retired U.S. Brigadier General Steve Anderson.

Now, General Anderson, so Russia claims the strikes are for Ukraine attacking the bridge linking annexed Crimea to Russia that we discussed, I don't even know when that was, earlier this week, I suppose what is your assessment?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): My assessment is that attacking the port of Odesa, because that is a major shipping infrastructure that supports the Black Sea grain initiative. Of course, Russia is not signing -- not extending the initiative.

I think that they're simply trying to bring hurt to the Ukrainian people and negate their ability to ship grain out of this very key port of Odessa, that heretofore has been going all the way down to Istanbul, and getting out to feed the eastern hemisphere. It's so critical that we get that food out.

TAPPER: Do you buy that it's a retaliation? Or does it matter --

ANDERSON: It does not really matter at this point. It probably, you know, you could make an argument on either side, it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is, though, we need more air defense and artillery systems in Odesa.

TAPPER: So, Ukraine was only able to shoot down just five out of these 19 Russian cruise missiles overnight. What type of air defense system should the U.S. be providing for the Ukrainians? And, why is that equipment, that they already sent, the U.S., why has it not been enough?

ANDERSON: Well, thank you, Jake. Before we get to that, I want to just put this into perspective here. Forty billion dollars is what we have been thus far in the United States, on supporting the war in Ukraine. That is equivalent to three and a half months of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember, 15 years ago, we were spending $300 million a day on that war. So I submit to you, this is a far more important fight. This is a -- this is the most important geopolitical of our lifetime, Jake, and so we've got to do more.

So, what we mean by that? Well, we need to get the NASAMs there. Now, Alex just reported on this. They just approved sending four of these systems in. It's going to take probably six to nine months to have any impact. What I'm saying is we need more air defense and we need to get systems like Patriots.

Now, we got 15 battalions and United States Army of Patriot missiles. These are incredibly effective missiles. They are not really good at shutting down the drones. So, that we need to use the system, the C- RAM.

I personally was deployed to Afghanistan in 2016 to 2018. I've seen these things in action. They are absolutely amazing. They are built on the Navy Phalanx system. They are incredible to shut down anything bigger than a soccer ball comes across tries to try to penetrate the perimeter. We need to get these C-RAMs. There are 53 systems in the Army right now. I say we need to get to ten of them over to Odesa right away.

TAPPER: And, lastly, Russia and Ukraine have been exchanging fighting words over the Black Sea, which you talked about that, that grain export deal thrown out the window. Russia threatening to take out any ships going to any Ukrainian port. Ukraine now says that they will do the same when it comes to Russian ships.

ANDERSON: Well, we have seen the Ukrainian's ability to pinpoint targets, like hit the Kerch bridge back here the other day. They used sea surface drones to do that.

And I submit to you, Jake, that all of the Russian navy is at risk now. However, the reality is that no one is sure is going to support any kind of shipment now out of Odesa down to Istanbul. Anybody who owns a ship doesn't want to put it in a middle of warzone.

So, we, United States and NATO, need to step up our transportation capability, and help the Ukrainians get all of this grain out of the Ukraine. They need to do it overland through rail. They have the ninth greatest rail system in the world, there is no reason we can't leverage that.

I would like to submit a couple of historic examples. Remember the Berlin airlift back in 1948? We're landing a plane every ten minutes to support the people in Berlin. We can do the same kind of thing here. We can support the Ukrainians, help them get the grain out of Ukraine, over land, over track and rail lines, and feed the world, because otherwise, tens of millions of people in the world, particularly in the eastern hemisphere, are going to be starved.

TAPPER: All right. General Anderson, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

Just in, Chinese hackers strike again, this time targeting the top U.S. official in China.

Plus, open mic. The platform Republicans today gave to a man who has spewed antisemitic conspiracy theories, as well as baseless other conspiracy theories. And did I mention he happens to be a member of the Kennedy dynasty running for president?



TAPPER: Just in to CNN, hackers linked to China breached the email of the U.S. ambassador to China.

Let's get straight to CNN's Kylie Atwood who's at the U.S. State Department for us.

Kylie, what we know about this hack?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, what we're learning now is that there are two's top State Department officials whose email accounts were accessed as part of this hack that was related to hackers based in China and this is -- the key thing here is the timing, Jake, because according to Microsoft, this was a hack into U.S. government systems, on the unclassified side, we should know that occurred sometime in mid May. And it was on June 16th that there was actually customers who came to Microsoft and said that there were these anomalies, they began investigating it.

June 16th is also the date that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken was traveling to China. We reported last week that U.S. officials believe that because of this hack, China was able to gain insights into the planning for that trip. Now, of course, the fact that these two top State Department officials were targeted as part of this hack is obviously telling us why they felt that this was the case -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood, thanks so much.

Turning to our politics lead now and an exercise in alternate reality on Capitol Hill. The House subcommittee investigating the claims Republicans make that the Biden administration has weaponized the federal government against conservatives heard from Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. earlier today -- Kennedy who regularly embarrasses his own party and his famous family by spouting misinformation, and conspiracy theories.


CNN's Eva McKend showed us -- shows us now what happened on the Hill.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democratic presidential candidate and spreader of vaccine misinformation, Robert Kennedy Jr., invited to testify on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the witness's times, do not censor the witness.

REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-USVI): I'm not censoring the witness, I'm not censoring the witness. He still --

MCKEND: In a testy hearing on censorship, with Kennedy telling the committee, his views are protected speech.

ROBERT KENNEDY JR. (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The First Amendment was not written for easy speech. It was written for the speech that nobody likes you for.

MCKEND: Democrats accuse Republican leadership of giving Kennedy's dangerous rhetoric a platform in Congress.

PLASKETT: That's not just supporting free speech. They have cosign on idiotic, bigoted messaging. It's a conscious choice.

MCKEND: Regarding Kennedy's blatant lies where he said COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews, and Chinese.

Today, Kennedy brazenly claimed --

KENNEDY: I'm under oath. In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic. I have spent my life fighting, my professional career, fighting for Israel.

MCKEND: But the CEO of the American Jewish Committee called his prior remarks deeply offensive, and incredibly dangerous.

Kennedy repeatedly claimed he didn't say things that are in fact on camera.

KENNEDY: I've never been anti-vaccine. Everybody in this room probably believe that I have been. That's the prevailing narrative. I have never told the public to avoid vaccination.

MCKEND: But Kennedy has attacked safe vaccines, including the COVID- 19 vaccine, and promoted false claims like childhood vaccines can lead to autism. And, that HIV was caused by vaccine research, even saying, this on a 2021 podcast.

KENNEDY: I see somebody on a hiking trail carrying a little baby, and I say to him, better not get him vaccinated.

MCKEND: Another key driver for the GOP-led hearing is to call out what they deem was social media censorship of a damning Hunter Biden story.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): This was illegal government censorship to protect, and prop up Joe Biden, on the eve of the 2020 election.

MCKEND: But Democrats argue, misinformation is the larger threat.

PLASKETT: They want to force social media companies to promote conspiracy theories, because they think that's the only way their candidate can win the 2024 election.


MCKEND (on camera): Now, Jake, despite some of these cockamamie claims from Kennedy, he is resonating with some voters. And the latest -- he's at 14, percent among likely Democratic voters.

Still, his bid for the White House remains a long shot.

TAPPER: Eva McKend, thanks so much for that. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the warrant just obtained by CNN tied to the Tupac Shakur murder, revealing what police were looking for in a recent search.



TAPPER: This just in to CNN, new details about that search warrants executed this week in connection with a 1996 murder of rap star Tupac Shakur.

CNN's Chloe Melas is with us now.

And, Chloe, Las Vegas police searched a home in Henderson, Nevada, this week. Do we know what they were looking for? And do we know what they found?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: We do, Jake. So, here is what we know, this home belongs to the wife of a man by the name of Duane Keefe Davis.

Duane Keefe Davis is someone who has for years claimed that he saw the murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996. We know that authorities, when they got into the home that belongs to Duane's wife, that they took five computers, they took tablets and iPhone, a USB, hard drives, photographs, a magazine, a "Vibe" magazine cover, that had Tupac, actually famously he wrote a book about his friendships with Eazy-E and Diddy and his time running in those circles in Compton, and they confiscated that book as well.

But, Jake, Duane is someone who has talked in interviews. He has spoken very openly about the fact that he claims that he was driving in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac that pulled up infamously in front of Tupac Shakur's car the night of the shooting. He knew who fired the weapon, but that he was never going to reveal the identity of that.

Now, we -- of that person. Now, we do not know what is on the computers, the tablets the iPhones. Also, why it took so many years for a warrant like this to be executed, when Duane Keefe Davis has been very open about these allegations, and what he is claimed to know for over two decades.

TAPPER: All right. Interesting. Chloe Melas, thanks so much. And if you are interested in the story, we're going to be talking in the next hour with podcaster extraordinaire Joel Anderson from "Slate", who did a whole season on Biggie and Tupac.

In our national lead, crime in America is sure to be a hot button issue in the 2024 race, as it was in the midterms. But nuances in crime data released today show that the narratives on crime could potentially be used by either political party. The good news, the number of homicides in 30 U.S. cities dropped by 9.4 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2022.


The bad news, homicide rate up, the homicide rate went up in 10 cities, and this year's homicides, or still 24 percent above pre- pandemic 2019 levels. This report from the Council on Criminal Justice suggests the supplies across the board, nearly all offenses, better than last year but still worse than before the pandemic.

With us now to discuss, retired Los Angeles police sergeant, Cheryl Dorsey.

Sergeant Dorsey, always good to see you.

What stands out to you most in this new data?

SGT. CHERYL DORSEY, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPT. (RET.): Well, the fact that they're saying, homicides are up in one, place down in. Another I guess it depends on who you, listen to and we know that there are only three studies that, I actually submit that kind of information, so, what cities are those? And are their cities where homicides are naturally down?

We know that mass shootings are up. We know that mass murders, occurring in these shootings are up. And so, I don't think anybody should be lulled into a false sense of security, based on numbers that are being bantered about.

I think the best way to know what's going on us is to talk to people in those actual cities. What is their quality of life like?

TAPPER: Why have we not seen a return to the crime levels before the pandemic?

DORSEY: You know, it could be a variety of things. It could be, you know, folks are concentrating on things that keep them covered at night, sheltered, jobs, those kinds of things, and so, maybe people are in a better place now, and don't feel the need to victimize others. And so, it's difficult to say that there is one thing in particular that would speak to that.

TAPPER: Statistics and politics aside, there is this widely held perception in the country that cities are not safe. We see headline after headline, maybe people even know individuals who have been affected, maybe people who are watching right now have been affected.

What is your message to the average citizen out there who is concerned about how safe cities are?

DORSEY: Well, I would say, you know, be your own best eyewitness, be your own best advocates and as I say, don't be lulled into a false sense of security, we get accustomed to doing the same things the same day every day in complacency will certainly get you hurt, and in some instances, get you killed.

TAPPER: There is one major exception to crime declining from the first half of this year compared to the first half of last year. A motor vehicle theft, which is up significantly, increased by 33-1/2 percent in one year. A viral TikTok trend, some people think has something to do with it. Certain Hyundai and Kia models are being easily stolen.

Is this an example of how crime can in some ways evolve? How does law enforcement stay ahead of it?

DORSEY: I think by being mindful of the trends that are going on in your particular area, there is always on any given, you know, year, a particular vehicle that burglars, car thieves like to targets. And, you know, much like supply and demand, if you have chop shops and others who are looking for particular things, airbags are a big deal, catalytic converters were at one time a thing that's set people to stealing cars. And so, you just need to be mindful of the trend.

TAPPER: Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up next, how so many lawmakers get rich while serving in the government.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead, members of Congress could soon get their first pay increase in nearly 15 years under new spending deal approved by the House Appropriations Committee last month. Members would receive an $8,000 bump, upping their salaries from the current $174,000 a year. But for many lawmakers, that congressional salary is just a small part of their yearly income.

I'm going to let Matt Lewis explain. He's a senior columnist for "The Daily Beast" and he's the author of the brand new book out this week, "Filthy Rich Politicians: The Swamp Creatures, Latte Liberals and Ruling Class Elites Cashing in on America".

Matt, thanks so much for being here.

So, laid out for me.


TAPPER: This is not just to be clear, though, it's not just liberals that you're going at. This is about members of Congress and politicians in general. How are they getting wealthy?

LEWIS: Well, look, so the books about how the rich get elected, and the elected get rich. The first part of this is the fact that rich people tend to be more likely to run, and to get elected. In fact, the average member of Congress is about 12 times richer than the average American household. That alone I think is noteworthy, and worth debate.

But the more concerning topic, is the fact that once people get elected, they tend to get richer. There's a lot of ways they do it, but trust me, it's not $174,000 a year salary that most of them really rely on.

TAPPER: Stocks?

LEWIS: Stocks.

TAPPER: Stocks with insider knowledge? I mean --

LEWIS: That's the worst aspect of it. And, look, I think this matters a lot because it contributes to eroding trust in elected officials, and in the whole institution of politics. But there are certainly allegations of insider trading. I can give you examples of where it looks like it, it's hard to prove, but, it certainly smells swampy.

TAPPER: Yeah. You also explore how being related to a politician can be a path to becoming more wealthy. From your book, quote, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been criticized because a PAC she was aligned with paid her live-in boyfriend $6,000 for marketing services


But that's nothing compared with Ilhan Omar, another congresswoman. This one from she's from Minnesota, who has already directed millions of campaign dollars to her husband's consulting firm.

We should note, none of that's illegal.

LEWIS: Right.

TAPPER: And they're far from the only politicians doing this. A lot of members of Congress have family members on payroll for their PAC.

LEWIS: Absolutely. And, again, this is bipartisan. Ron Paul in 2012, when he's running for, president employed six members of his family and paid them a grand total of something like $300,000 just for that one campaign cycle.

So, this is something that is very prevalent in politics, and again, I think it erodes trust. There's a sense that the game is rigged, and that politicians aren't just feathering their own nest, but they're spreading the money around to friends and family.

TAPPER: Another example you cite in your book is former Republican Senator Roy Blunt whose net worth increased millions of dollars during his time in office. His term ended earlier this year after where he joined a lobbying firm. Blunt is also married to a lobbyist, and his three kids are lobbyists.

So, you write, quote, this looks at best nepotistic and swampy, and at worst corrupt. Blunt survived politically, but our institutions may have been weakened in the process.

And this is also very common, people serving in the House and the Senate, Democrats or Republicans, and then cashing in by becoming a lobbyist. I think there's a two-year wait or something?

LEWIS: Yeah. I think in the Senate, it's two years and in the House, it's one. In my book filthy rich politicians, I'm calling for a ten- year moratorium on lobbying. So, some people want a lifetime ban. I'm not sure that would be constitutional or holdup, but I think a ten- year moratorium would be appropriate so that people can't basically cash in as politicians, and then take the revolving door to K Street and keep cashing in on their connections, and their friends.

TAPPER: One of the ways we've seen politicians become wealthy is often they rise to prominence, and then they write books. We saw that happen with former President Obama, we saw that recently happen with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. His net worth skyrocketed, thanks to his best-selling memoir. He's now a millionaire. He wasn't before.

And you -- you think there are some real issues with that as well

LEWIS: Yeah, I think politicians should be allowed to write books, but if you're a member of Congress, you should not be allowed to make millions writing books. And, you know, right now, they can't get paid to give speeches. I would say the same thing with writing books.

But they have really cashed in. You noted Ron DeSantis had a net worth of about $300,000, three weeks ago. Today, he's a millionaire because of a book deal.

Bernie Sanders, you know, who's a socialist said, you too could be a millionaire if you write a bestselling book.

TAPPER: One of the other things that happens, and I'm not alleging this about anyone we've just mentioned, is sometimes people trying to get in with those politicians, by hundreds, if not thousands of copies of that person's book.

LEWIS: That is really -- that's why speeches were outlawed by the FEC -- by the FCC, and I think the same thing should happen with books -- because you could funnel, or launder money to a politician by buying -- bulk buying books.

TAPPER: All right. The book is out right now. It just came out Tuesday, "Filthy Rich Politicians: The Swamp Creatures, Latte Liberals, and Ruling Class Elites Cashing in on America". Something for everybody to hate.

Matt Lewis, congratulations. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate. LEWIS: Thank you.

TAPPER: The IRS agent known once as whistleblower X, now we know his name, raising alarms about the investigation into Hunter Biden, revealing his identity just yesterday on Capitol. He's going to join me here next, live. His first post-hearing interview on THE LEAD.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, a big weekend at the box office as "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" are opening in theaters. But sleeper hit "Sound of Freedom" has made close to $100 million. What's behind the success of that film?

Plus, what if anything actually happened on the side of the road in Alabama? A young woman told police she was kidnapped after trying to save a toddler who is walking alone, but her Google searches before she disappeared are raising some serious questions.

And leading this hour, the very first television interview with one of the IRS whistleblowers, alleging malfeasance and slow walking, in the Hunter Biden investigation. Joseph Ziegler, a self-described Democrat, appeared before the Republican-led House Oversight Committee yesterday, he'll join me in a moment to discuss his testimony.

Ziegler and fellow IRS agent Gary Shapley both allege that the Justice Department did not follow normal procedures during its criminal investigation into Joe Biden's son Hunter.


JOSEPH ZIEGLER, IRS SPECIAL AGENT: It appeared to me, based on what I experienced that the U.S. attorney in Delaware in our investigation was constantly hamstrung, limited and marginalized by DOJ officials, as well as other U.S. attorneys. I still think that a special counsel is necessary for this investigation.


TAPPER: Ziegler and Shapley also claimed Justice Department official stop them from examining the finances of President Joe Biden, where they wanted to look for a possible connection to Hunter's troubled finances, allegations the Justice Department has repeatedly denied and Democrats on the committee questioned.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): One thing you will not here today is any evidence of wrongdoing by President Joe Biden, or his administration. Like every other try by our colleagues to concoct a scandal about President Biden, this one is a complete and total bust.