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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Today: Ohio Voters Decide Proxy Fight For Abortion Rights; New CNN Poll: 64 Percent OF Adults Disapprove Of Roe Reversal; House GOP Eyes Fall Push For Biden Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Joaquin Castro, (D- TX), Is Interviewed About Border Barriers; Rep. Castro Calls On White House, Justice Department To Be More Aggressive Against Texas' Controversial Border Barriers; Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Is Interviewed About Border Barriers; DeSantis Replaces Campaign Manager In New Shake-Up; Clinical Trial Results: Wegovy Shown To Reduce Risk Of Heart Attacks And Strokes. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 08, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It would take 60 percent. And Jake, this is coming in the context of what happened last summer in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Just about a year ago, we saw the amendment in Kansas pass to enshrine abortion rights there, just shy of 60 percent. In Kentucky, another red state, just shy of 60 percent as well. So we asked the Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who's a leading proponent of issue one, why something like this is constitutional or even appropriate. This is what he said.


FRANK LAROSE, (R) OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that that's a silly idea. I mean, it's a -- this is democracy at work. Asking the people, do they want to have the same kind of common sense protections in place that many other states have? Many other states around the country, many states don't even allow a citizen initiated constitutional amendment.

Again, the political rhetoric from the no side is going to be what it's going to be. But this is a common sense thing for Ohioans to say that we own our Constitution and it shouldn't be for sale to out of state special interests.


ZELENY: So, Jake, this is also about more than abortion rights, it's also about minimum wage. There's a proposed constitutional amendment next year that could have Ohio voters decide minimum wage. So the proponents of this are trying to change the rules, if you will, to make it harder to amend this state's Constitution.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Jeff, how much money has been spent in this special election?

ZELENY: The outside money, Jake, has been flooding in this summer. This has been a pretty short campaign, and more than $26 million has been coming in. Again, this is crossing more than just normal party lines, but Democrats, if you look at it that way, are spending more on television ads than Republican aligned groups. There's been an ad war in television campaigns as well. And this is all going to culminate.

The polls are still open. People have been walking in fairly slowly. But going into Election Day here, more than 700,000 people had already voted. So, the polls close at 7:30 tonight. And Ohio counts their ballots fairly quickly, so we are expecting a result tonight on issue one.

And then, of course, regardless, it goes on to November. So abortion will be front and center here in Ohio, really the biggest argument of anywhere in the country for the next several months, of course, going into the next campaign as well. Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff, they just need a simple majority to make it a 60 percent threshold in the future, right?

ZELENY: And that is the question here. A 50 percent majority tonight makes it a 60 percent majority needed for November and beyond.

TAPPER: Yes, interesting. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Panel is here to discuss. So, Michael, you just heard Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose tells Zeleny that he rejects the premise, that this is about anti-abortion politicians trying to change the rules just so as to prevent abortion rights being enshrined in the Constitution. What do you think?

MICHAEL LAROSA, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN: Well, I think that he's running for the Senate and he wants to grab the nomination, so he's running to the right. And this is very helpful to him, as it was 20 years ago for Ken Blackwell when he said -- when he spoke the quiet part out loud and said the Bush campaign thinks they can win Ohio if we put gay marriage on the ballot as a referendum. So, he thinks this is going to be helpful to him politically. I think it's going to be helpful for Democrats in the end.

TAPPER: Jason, a new CNN poll, SSRS poll out today shows that 64 percent of adults in the United States disapprove of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, last year only 36 approved. Do those numbers surprise you?

JASON OSBORNE, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST, DR. BEN CARSON FOR PRESIDENT: No, they don't. And actually, to his point about -- of course it's about abortion, and there's no way around it. Now, I believe that there should be a 60 percent threshold, but I would have liked to have seen it a year ago or two years ago put into place, not now. But to the point about the polls showing support for abortion, I think what you're going to find is that if this loses today, if Prop One loses and then the abortion question is -- wins in November, then it's not really an issue next year. And so, I don't know what you're fighting for next year.

Now, if it wins today, then you could then surmise, all right, then we'll try again next year and get the 88 counties the votes there and then really put it on the ballot in the Senate race. So in a way, I think losing now for the abortion rights folks helps them next year because then they can come back stronger and make it an issue in the Senate campaign. Otherwise, it's a done issue.

TAPPER: Ayesha, take a look at this map. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, at least six states have either passed ballot measures to protect abortion rights or rejected measures that would have restricted abortion rights. When it is put to voters, abortion rights does seem to be the popular position, including in states that are -- that trend red.

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST, NPR'S WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY: Yes, yes. I mean, exactly. Because what happens is when you talk about abortion in theoretical terms, I think people will come out on different ways. But then when you start talking about women who are having miscarriages or have difficult pregnancies and need health care or you hear about rape victims or health issues, then you see the public saying, no, they do want some abortion rights. And the fact is, when you look at this from -- as a popular issue, this has been a loser for Republicans. And you have some Republicans coming out and saying, maybe went a little too far. Maybe we -- because this is not a winning issue, but it has been a way to motivate their base.


TAPPER: Panel, stick around, because we're also following this other big story playing out on Capitol Hill. CNN has some new reporting that House Republicans appear to have reached what seems a foregone conclusion that President Biden will face an impeachment inquiry by the end of the year. Republicans say the impeachment inquiry would be to investigate President Biden's alleged ties to Hunter Biden's business dealings when President Biden was Vice President Biden. CNN's Lauren Fox is with us from Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, what are House Republicans and is there a difference between -- what are the Republicans saying and what's the difference between an impeachment inquiry and an impeachment hearing or vote?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has gone to great lengths, Jake, to make it clear that Republicans think that there could be the grounds for an impeachment inquiry in upcoming weeks. But he's really stopped short of saying when he would open that impeachment inquiry, or specifically if he is going to do it. But behind the scenes, a lot of Republicans believe that this is a foregone conclusion, that Republicans are marching toward opening this impeachment inquiry. But the huge question is, would the votes exist on the House floor to actually open this inquiry? It is true that normally when you would open an investigation of impeachment, you have to have a vote in the House of Representatives.

And we know that Kevin McCarthy has a slim majority. Just a handful of Republicans could really block this from moving forward. I think that's why you're seeing the speaker be so careful in how he talks about this, arguing that he believes they could get more evidence potentially if they open the impeachment inquiry, but again, stopping short of saying when he would open it.

TAPPER: And McCarthy, he's been insistent, as you note, that he hasn't yet decided whether to open up a formal impeachment inquiry. How do you square that with this move?

FOX: Yes, I think that behind the scenes, a lot of Republicans believe that it's going to happen. But the reality is you still have work to do to convince some Republicans who won in swing districts, including one of those, Don Bacon, who spoke to CNN for this piece, saying, "Did the President commit high crimes and misdemeanors? The committees need to do more digging to clarify this. There's tons of smoke, but let's verify what's beneath it all."

You're picking up there that there are a lot of Republicans who might still have questions about whether this is the best path forward, both because they are not sure the evidence exists and also because electorally it could be problematic for them, Jake. And that is why you're seeing publicly McCarthy say one thing, but behind the scenes, a lot of Republicans believe that he will eventually move forward.

TAPPER: Can I just say, evidence of what? I mean, Hunter Biden, you don't have to convince probably many of our viewers that he's not exactly going to be winning man of the year. But what exactly did President Biden do when it comes to Hunter's sleazy business dealings?

FOX: Well, this is exactly the question that some Republicans in swing districts are concerned about, Jake. And the argument that you hear from leadership is that potentially an impeachment inquiry would give Republicans more power to get witnesses, to get documents, to try to uncover more information. But you are right to point out, there is no evidence despite the fact that there have been months of investigations between the Judiciary and Oversight Committee that ties President Joe Biden to his son's business dealings abroad. And that is specifically where some of this concern and heartache is kind of leaning among the moderate members.

TAPPER: So McCarthy, also we should note, he's emphasized the difference between launching an impeachment inquiry and voting on articles of impeachment.

FOX: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, opening an inquiry, he argues, does not make it the fact that Republicans would have to ultimately vote on impeachment on the floor. But I think you have a lot of Republicans who say, you know, once the horses are out of the barn, how do you get them back in, especially in an election year where many Republicans would view not voting on impeachment after opening an impeachment inquiry as potentially clearing President Joe Biden. So that is one of the concerns here, is if you go down this road, do you have to follow through?

TAPPER: All right, Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's continue this discussion with my panel. So Ayesha, again, Hunter Biden, there's no question --

RASCOE: Yes. TAPPER: -- the guy is troubled.


TAPPER: And, you know, he's -- he got this plea deal going on, I guess that blew up having to do with all sorts of not reporting his taxes, gun charge, his personal life is a mess.


TAPPER: This other kid --


TAPPER: -- in Arkansas --


TAPPER: -- drug and alcohol issues, on and on and on, traded on his family's name --

RASCOE: Yes. Every --

TAPPER: -- all that.


TAPPER: Where are the high crimes and misdemeanors that have to do with Joe Biden?

RASCOE: Joe Biden.

TAPPER: I mean, you can impeach --


TAPPER: -- Hunter Biden --

RASCOE: Yes, he could be impeached.

TAPPER: -- as the presidential son.

RASCOE: Yes, yes.



TAPPER: And --

RASCOE: But I think that's the issue because even when I'm -- you know, I feel like I'm pretty politically savvy and I'm asking the question, well, what did Biden do?


TAPPER: Right.

RASCOE: I'm like, so, how is the average person who is not as engrossed in this going to know? Like it sounds like what they keep saying is, we don't want to clear Biden, but we have to investigate to find something to convict him. But it's like, is that the way it works? Shouldn't you have some evidence or have some idea of what he did before you move forward with an impeachment?

TAPPER: I'm going to come to you in a second, Michael. Help me out here. I'm trying to understand.

OSBORNE: I think there's a bigger play here, right, politically. I think you've got a very slim majority in the House. You've got FAA reauthorization, you got 13 appropriations bills, you've got the farm bill, and you've got a small minority of Republicans out there saying we need to do this. And so, McCarthy, I think, is kicking the can down the road theoretically.

And to the point about that, the barn doors are open and you can't get the horses back in, I don't think it's fairly accurate in the sense that if this inquiry, whatever that means, I don't really even know myself comes back with the same thing that we're all saying right now is what are the high crimes and misdemeanors then McCarthy is going to have the same decision then that he would have now. But at least he has this inquiry that shows, all right, there was nothing there. Otherwise we're going to go back in time and we're going to investigate Roger Clinton or Neil Bush or whoever that brother of Obama was and Kushner and Don Jr.

TAPPER: I forgot about that guy.


LAROSA: Well, Neil Bush actually cost the taxpayers a $1.3 billion bailout when his dad was president.

OSBORNE: Right. The point, everybody has a --


OSBORNE: -- relative that doesn't -- you don't necessarily want on the front lines, right? But we're setting an awful precedent here by --


OSBORNE: -- we're continuing to say, all right, well, we're going to get you back for what you did to us and what happens to the next administration, whether it's Biden or even, you know, further in eight years down the road.

TAPPER: So I remember when Speaker Pelosi was being pressured by the left wing of her party to launch impeachment hearings about President George W. Bush having to do with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and this and that, and she pushed it back. I don't get the sense that McCarthy has the same relationship with the far right in his party that Pelosi did with the far left. LAROSA: I think you're right, but I also think -- I mean, you remember, bye-bye Marjorie (ph). This would be bye-bye Kevin. He would lose his majority. It would be a political suicide mission for him to go through with this. He has 18 vulnerable members who are -- Republicans who are in Biden won districts, and 12 of them won by less than 5 percent. This would be politically destructive to Kevin McCarthy to go through with this.

And unlike in '99, you know, Leader Schumer, if it were to ever get to the Senate would dismiss the -- there wouldn't even be a trial. He would dismiss the charges as Robert Byrd tried to do, the conscious of the Senate.


LAROSA: Schumer would just dismiss the charges. There would never be a trial.

TAPPER: I still just don't even understand what the --

OSBORNE: There's no --

TAPPER: -- what the allegation is. The allegation is that the Biden -- like, you hear all these Republicans --

RASCOE: The -- yes.

TAPPER: -- on Fox talking about the Biden crime family.


TAPPER: I get that --


TAPPER: -- the brothers and the son trafficked --


TAPPER: -- on the family name --


TAPPER: -- which unfortunately is unbelievably common in Washington, D.C.

RASCOE: But you never hear about that in DC. No one uses their family name.

TAPPER: Right. Well, so let's go to -- he would be the fourth president, theoretically --


TAPPER: -- to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. This is after Andrew Johnson, who violated the Tenure of Office Act, Bill Clinton for lying under oath and supporting perjury during Monica Lewinsky, Trump twice, one for pressuring a foreign country, Ukraine, to investigate Biden, and then of course, for inciting the insurrection. McConnell actually argued against impeaching --


TAPPER: -- Biden. He said impeachment should be rare, not common. But --


TAPPER: -- boy, I mean, it's getting common.

RASCOE: It's getting very common. I mean, I was on, you know, two of those impeachments I helped cover under Trump, and at the end of the last one, I thought, well, you know, maybe we'll do this again in a year or two and it seems like that's what's happening. But what happens is when you use these mechanisms over and over again, they become meaningless because it becomes clear that impeachment will not be used to remove anyone from office, it just becomes a political tool.

LAROSA: But one of the biggest differences here between impeachment under Trump, this is about an obsession with the President's kid.


LAROSA: Right. And we can all agree and I think this is like a tale all the time, as you said, that children of politicians benefit off of their family name. It might be unseemly, but it's certainly not illegal. I think Vice President Pence's daughter got a book deal. I think, as I said -- as we said, Neil Bush used his name to get on the board of a bank in Colorado that went bankrupt. This is very common and not unusual, but it's not illegal.

OSBORNE: No, but I think you have to look at it from, at least from a base perspective, is that there is this perception out there and I think in some cases rightly so, that the first Trump indictment was bogus, that it was based on a phone call. And so, you have this sentiment out there that the Republicans are able to feed off of that says, well, wait a minute, this guy Hunter Biden is continuing to talk about the base guy.

LAROSA: To be fair, it was about bribing a foreign country --

OSBORNE: No, I got you.

LAROSA: -- with congressional authorized aid.


OSBORNE: I don't think either side is helping each other.


OSBORNE: Right? And I think that Hunter Biden certainly is playing into that with helping the big guy aspect.

LAROSA: Putting family in play is setting a very dangerous precedent.

OSBORNE: I don't disagree.

TAPPER: Yes. All right.

OSBORNE: I'm just saying I think we're minimizing.

TAPPER: Jason Osborne, Michael LaRosa and Ayesha Rascoe, thanks so much for being here. The eerie and frightening threats allegedly made by the cousin of the Uvalde school shooter that resulted in his arrest. What did he say that made his mother turn him in?

Then, a new study showing that older women are often over diagnosed for breast cancer. Which ages are impacted the most and why this can be actually pretty dangerous. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, the cousin of the mass shooter who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last year, the cousin has been arrested for threatening to commit the same crime. Court documents showing 17-year- old Nathan James Cruz was taken into custody Monday and charged with making terroristic threats. CNN's Ed Lavandera is covering this troubling story.

Ed, what more do we know about Cruz's arrest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that it was a phone call from the suspect's mother to San Antonio police that started this investigation.


And according to an arrest warrant affidavit that we've obtained, it shows that the mother told investigators that Cruz was saying that he was going to do the same thing that his cousin did when he attacked the Robb Elementary School back in May of 2022 where 19 children were killed, including two teachers as well. So there were a great deal of concern on behalf of the mother and the sister who also spoke with investigators. And that court affidavit also says that the mother says she overheard a conversation Cruz had with an unidentified person where he was trying to arrange the illegal purchase of an AR-15 firearm. The sister also told investigators, Jake, that her brother had threatened her and had also made another reference to shooting up a school as well.

So, that information led them to call and contact San Antonio police. And investigators there have charged this 17-year-old with two criminal charges, one felony of making terroristic threats on a public building, as well as terroristic threats to a family, and he's being held on $160,000 bond, Jake.

TAPPER: Do we know what school he was threatening? LAVANDERA: The affidavit does not detail specifically what school it was, but the mother told investigators that she was concerned because they live near an elementary school and that her son is also on probation and was also intoxicated when he was making these comments. So, a lot of disturbing details emerging from these court documents and this arrest.

TAPPER: Ed Lavendera in Dallas for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a Democratic congressman calls razor wire set up underwater in the Rio Grande River a, quote, "death trap" for migrants. I'm going to ask him what else he saw at the border today and what can be done about the migrant crisis. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas today saw his state's controversial border barriers up close, the buoys and razor wire installed in the Rio Grande River.


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): The state says that they're not a danger to anybody. Well, I want you to look right here at this chainsaw type device they hid right in the middle of these buoys.


TAPPER: Castro is now calling on the Justice Department and the Biden White House to be more aggressive in responding to Republican Governor Greg Abbot's border initiative, known as Operation Lone Star. Governor Abbot's initiative has also separated at least 26 family units on the southern border according to an immigration attorney.

And Congressman Castro joins us now from Eagle Pass, Texas. Congressman, tell us what you saw after seeing these barriers with your own eyes.

CASTRO: I mean, what I saw, Jake, were drowning devices were basically death traps. You go right up to this gate, and there's razor wire right beyond that on the banks of the river. And the wire is placed in areas where the water comes above it and people can basically get stuck on it, bump right into it. And then there are these barrel traps that we saw that are placed in the water that are being called buoys, but they've got a kind of chainsaw device right in the middle of them. So these things are clearly meant to injure and to hurt and to kill people possibly, that come into contact with them.

TAPPER: Now, Governor Abbot's office would argue, I would think, they're not meant to injure or hurt or kill people. They are meant to discourage people from crossing at the Rio Grande, crossing into the United States that way. And they might argue there have been any number of migrant deaths, I think it's something like 850 because of the policies that the Biden administration has. Where are the Democratic tiers for those individuals? That's -- I'm paraphrasing what I think they might say.

CASTRO: Sure. No. And look, I think there's a few things we can agree on. Number one, it is best for people and safest for people to cross at a port of entry. But it's also true that throughout American history there have been people, families, and others that are so desperate that they try to make it across the river.

And what the governor has done is inhumane in two ways. First, where he's placed the razor wire in the barrel trap is in an area that forces migrants to swim in a deeper part of the water. In other words, he's forcing them to go to a deeper part of the water where they may drown. If, however, they encounter those buoys and that razor wire, then he's creating an incredibly dangerous situation for people.

And so really the issue is, we know that some people, despite our warnings, are going to try to make it across the river. The question as Americans, as people who consider ourselves moral persons, is how do you treat them? Do you treat them like people or do you treat them like animals? There's a right way to do things in a wrong way, and this is all wrong.

TAPPER: To play devil's advocate, what do you make of the argument that every country is allowed to have borders? The United States is allowed to have borders and to allow -- to demand that if individuals come into the country, they do so through points of entry?

CASTRO: That's true. Every country is allowed to have a border. The United States has a border. In fact, we've never dedicated more resources to the border than we do right now. And I'll give you specifically, we have three or four times the number of border patrol agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border than we did 20 years ago. We have drones on the border. We have anti-tunneling technology at the border. So we have billions and billions of dollars of resources at the border right now. So there is still this question about how you treat people. Do you treat them humanely or do you treat them like animals? Greg Abbott is treating them like animals.


TAPPER: Title 42, the pandemic era policy used for three years to expel migrants to Mexico order their home countries in a quick manner. That ended in May. The number of arrests at the border dropped significantly in June, which the Biden administration trumpeted. But now, according to preliminary data obtained by "The Washington Post," that number is spiking back up. It spiked back up again in July. What do you make of this at all?

CASTRO: I think that we're going to see what we've seen throughout history, which is you do have some spikes at times, you have highs and lows. You know, the question is, well, what do you do with that? I think one of the things and what we heard today from local officials in Eagle Pass and community members is that the administration and those in Congress do need to provide as much support to local communities like Eagle Pass, El Paso, Laredo, and others McAllen, that are right on the border and are bearing the brunt of this influx.

But as you said, border crossings are way down since the end of Title 42. So this invasion that Republicans talked about, this huge, you know, swath or swarm of migrants that was going to come, that never happened. It never materialized. And yet, they use that to create fear and use it as their number one boogeyman issue with the American people.

TAPPER: Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis was recently asked about his new border proposal which would allow potentially deadly force against drug traffickers who demonstrate hostile intent. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you discern if it's a child, a mother or a cartel member?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obviously if it's a child, I mean, you're not going to do that, but I mean, they have --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. But a pregnant mom and a baseball cap with a backpack --

DESANTIS: They have indications. I mean I think -- I mean if you have people blowtorching through a border wall, that is not going to be -- that's not going to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know you're using deadly force against the right people?

DESANTIS: It's the same way you would do in any situation. Same way a police officer would know. Same way somebody operating in Iraq would know.


TAPPER: What did you make of that?

CASTRO: A few things. Number one, he's talking about a kind of racial or ethnic profiling of people. And if Ron DeSantis was ever to become President and implemented that policy, it's likely that it would not only harm migrants, but would actually end up harming a bunch of people, brown skinned people who are American citizens. So it's very dangerous. But the second thing is, Jake, I don't think Ron DeSantis is ever going to be President of the United States. His campaign is going nowhere. He's trying to imitate Donald Trump and it's very pathetic.

TAPPER: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

CASTRO: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Speaking of Ron DeSantis, he is shaking up his presidential campaign again. What those changes could mean for the 2024 race. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, a major campaign shakeup for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Today, his campaign manager is out, replaced by James Uthmeier, who was the chief of staff in his gubernatorial office. This does seem a sign that the campaign is still trying to figure out how to gain momentum as Governor DeSantis continues to trail far behind the front runner, former President Donald Trump. CNN's Jessica Dean is here. Jessica, in the last few months, just the month, the DeSantis campaign has seen layoffs and now a new campaign manager. Significant move, you think?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, so that's what I was going to say. This is simply a continuation of a shakeup that's been ongoing now for several weeks, even up to a month. I think it is significant when the person at the very top, the top campaign official is replaced. And this is somebody that has been the chief of staff in his gubernatorial office, somebody that he really trusts, that he is bringing in.

And of course, the question is, running a gubernatorial office is one thing. Running a national presidential campaign is something else. And what might that look like? What changes might that bring? We don't know yet. But it does come after he laid off nearly one-third of his staff. He's been on this bus tour, this kind of reboot, this retooling of his campaign. I was there in Iowa with him in the last couple of weeks. I actually asked him about this.

And I said, you know, you're asking people to make you the chief executive, there's all of these changes. What should they make of this? And he said, don't focus on process, focus on substance. And he said, you have to have a commander's intent. And when they're not following that, you have to make changes. And if you talk to people around him, they still believe it's early, that he can continue because we're going to see him in Iowa over and over and over again, and that they believe they can put in the work there and that it will bear out. But it is interesting, Jake, his stump speech so far has pretty much remained the same, even though it's kind of a retooling.

TAPPER: Is there any discernible change in how he's campaigning, how he's dealing with reporters, how he's dealing with Donald Trump or anything at all?

DEAN: Right, he's doing more interviews. Obviously, you spoke with him, and that kind of kicked off a string of interviews with major networks. That's been a change. He's doing a lot more talking to the press, just generally on the road as well. And then the bus tour that I mentioned, we're seeing him go back now very frequently to Iowa. So when they started out, it was this we're running a national campaign. We're going to be everywhere, not just the early states. And now we've really seen them zero in, especially on Iowa, and really kind of this Iowa or bust idea that he really needs to gain momentum there. And then we look ahead to about two weeks from now with that first Republican debate. They like so many of these other candidates besides Donald Trump, hoping that's the moment that they really catch fire.


TAPPER: Right. Iowa, obviously is a state that Donald Trump did not win in 2016. Also, the Republican governor there, Kim Reynolds, does seem rather supportive, even if she has not formally endorsed him. Thank you so much, Jessica Dean.

Let's talk about this with Erick Erickson. He's host of the Erick Erickson Show. Erick, so two billionaire donors have recently dropped their contributions to Ron DeSantis, reportedly over disagreements with how he's emphasizing some of these social issues. Hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow told "Reuters," quote, extremism isn't going to get you elected, unquote. What do you think? Should DeSantis and his campaign manager take these messages to heart as they continue the campaign shakeup? These are obviously donors who think that DeSantis needs to be able to win over these independents that Donald Trump lost in 2020.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I wouldn't necessarily take the billionaire donors advice on this because billionaire donors, even within the GOP, tend to be much more moderate than where the base is. I'd go back to something Jessica said that his message hasn't changed. I've talked to people at the Super PAC, never backed down, and people around DeSantis, and the number one thing that I hear is the message.

DeSantis is the message. And the message is still predominantly anti- woke, which everyone knows. He's pivoted to an economic message nationwide in a big speech and an op-ed, but it hasn't trickled down to the campaign trail. People still don't know what his economic pocketbook message is. And even Republican internal polling for multiple campaign shows their number one issue is pocketbook issues.

TAPPER: Right. Other than Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, and Will Hurd, most Republican candidates have used kid gloves when dealing with the frontrunner Donald Trump. We're starting to see some of this shift a little bit. For example, when Mike Pence qualified for the debate, a spokesperson said, quote, hopefully former President Trump has the courage to show up, unquote. How do you see this all shaking out? Do you think DeSantis, Pence and others are going to start more aggressively making the case against Donald Trump?

ERICKSON: I do. In fact, DeSantis on the campaign trail in Iowa and his NBC interview have been a little more aggressive. They're doing it differently, though. When you listen to Will Hurd, when you listen to Chris Christie, they're very aggressive and they're attacking. And I actually think that does more harm than good. It brings his supporters to support him because they're perceived as being to the left of everyone else anyway.

A Mike Pence and a DeSantis, their attacks aren't reassuring to Trump supporters, but they're doing it more tactically than they are, with an overarching theme of just how terrible the man is. They're going after stepping on rakes as opposed to just his character in general. And I think that will, over time, particularly as a Fulton County indictment might come will start to weigh down on Trump's campaign.

TAPPER: Today you posted, quote, the amount of media coverage of Trump's indictments right now has sucked the oxygen out of the room in audience research. Everyone is tired of hearing about Trump, but the media keeps force feeding speculation, unquote. Do you think people, especially Republican voters, have grown numb to the coverage of Donald Trump's alleged criminality? And if so, is the solution to it what DeSantis is doing the more tactical idea of, hey, this guy's going to have trouble getting elected in November kind of thing?

ERICKSON: Yes, I do. Look, Jake, my radio show went from just being in Atlanta to nationwide from Salem, Oregon down to Miami. And we've done a lot of audience research and even in my audience research, and I know that others have seen the same thing, even Trump voters are just exhausted by it at this point. They don't want to hear about it. And so it falls on deaf ears. They're desensitized to it.

So I think a repivot from all of the regular attacks on Trump to if he wins, he can only serve one term and he's going to be bogged down and, oh gosh, here's a fourth indictment. He's going to be in court, not on the campaign trail. Those messages, I think, begin to resonate with voters the closer you get into campaign season. We're still in get back to school season. We haven't gotten to Labor Day yet. People will start paying more attention once we get past Labor Day.

TAPPER: How do you suss up the field? How -- when you look at, I mean, do you still think Donald Trump is likely to get the nomination? Who do you think is the strongest candidate to take him on?

ERICKSON: You know, I do look at Donald Trump and think most voters right now if the election were today would but it's not. And it's piecemeal. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, events will change. For the longest time, I really did think DeSantis seems to be making the case. He certainly has the most money. I'm very intrigued, though, by what's happening with Tim Scott.

He's starting to go up in Iowa. A lot of people who are looking at DeSantis are moving in his direction just in thought, not necessarily vote so far. And there seems to be resonating this. I'm just a normal happy guy who loves America who thinks we can do something different versus the non-stop anti-woke message that DeSantis has put out there.


TAPPER: Interesting. Erick Erickson, always good to have you on. Thank you so much.

ERICKSON: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Could a popular new weight loss drug also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: In our Health Lead, Wegovy, a popular weight loss drug might help lower the risk of you having a stroke or even a heart attack. While the results from this recent clinical trial have yet to be peer reviewed or published in a medical journal, this does mark the first time that a weight loss drug alone seems to have such protective benefits for the heart. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to further explain. Sanjay, why is this trial so significant?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it might surprise some people that there hasn't been trials that have shown weight loss drugs to have this kind of benefit. Because losing weight, so the people who are overweight or obese, you'd think would have this positive benefit on cardiac events overall.


But as you point out, at least in this press release so far, Jake, we got to see this published, as you point out, in a peer reviewed journal. But if it holds up, it would be the first time that you have a weight loss drug. Again, not for diabetes specifically that actually has shown this benefit. So here's what they did. It was about 17,000 people that were -- they say were in this study. Some got the Wegovy, excuse me, some got the Wegovy, 2.4 milligrams. Some people got a placebo, they got standard of care. Otherwise they were followed for a year.

And what they found was that at the end of that year, there was about a 20 percent reduction in cardiac events overall, heart attacks, could be stroke, could be other things. Again, we got to see the final paper to understand what that was specifically. But that's -- those are pretty significant numbers. You get any medication, any kind of intervention that's leading to that sort of benefit, it's worth paying attention to, Jake.

TAPPER: What implications might this have for the use of the weight loss drug

GUPTA: You know, I think that the most significant implication probably has to do with the way insurers will look at this medication. It's expensive. It's about $1,300 a month for weight loss. Insurers may not. Some may cover it, some may not. If you say, look, we now have good evidence that it can reduce the likelihood of these cardiac events, that could spurn insurance companies to be more likely to cover it, we will see. Again, these are early days. So far it's been a press release, but if it holds up, I think that's going to be the biggest implication overall.

TAPPER: Let's also talk about this new study revealing just how often breast cancer is over diagnosed among older women. Sanjay, what did this study find and what are the potential harms that come with that?

GUPTA: Yes. So, you know, when talking about overdiagnosis, it's not saying that they found things that weren't there. They found these specific breast cancers. But what this study is really saying is that they found breast cancers in older women that may not have likely ever caused a problem in their lifetime, breast cancers that would not grow significantly or that the woman simply would not live long enough for that breast cancer to be a problem.

And here's what they found. As you got older, the over diagnosis became more common, ages 70 to 74, 31 percent, 75 to 84, 47 percent, 85 plus, Jake, 54 percent. So this is one of those things. On one hand, we hear we've heard recently that earlier screening may beneficial, but this is really looking at women who are older and the benefit of screening at that age, it's still an open question. But again, those numbers are worth paying attention to.

TAPPER: What are the current breast cancer screening recommendations?

GUPTA: So between the ages of 40 and 49, that's been the biggest sort of back and forth recently between the United States Preventative Task Force and other screening organizations. The task force says women 40 and older should be screened. Right now, the official recommendation is until age 50, talk to your doctor if you have a family history, if there's some other concern that increases your risk, probably getting those breast cancer screenings earlier, 50 to 74, that's the clear evidence. That's when you should be getting one every couple of years, more often if there's obviously concerns.

And then again, it's the 75 plus, Jake, for all the reasons were just talking about, which is still a little bit of an open question, if you've had breast cancer in the past. And now you're 74, 75 years older, you should still be getting screened, obviously. But if you've never had a positive mammogram, never had a concern, no family history, when you get to 75, I think that's what this study shows is you run into the real risk of over diagnosis at that point. So, as always, talk to your doctor about that.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Just into The Lead, Donald Trump's lawyers and federal prosecutors are heading back to court this week. Moments ago, Judge Tanya Chutkan scheduled a hearing for Friday where both sides will discuss what restrictions, if any, should be placed on Mr. Trump's ability to publicly share evidence with the public in that 2020 election case. Trump's team has tried to push that hearing to next week, but Judge Chutkan was not willing to delay it. She did say, however, that Trump himself is not required to be at the hearing in person.

The mayor of Tampa, Florida, reeling in quite a catch, we'll explain next on the lead. But first, here's CNN's Wolf Blitzer to tell us what's next in this Situation Room. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, John Kirby, a key White House national security official, will join me live right here in The Situation Room. We'll discuss, we'll get his reaction to new CNN reporting on the increasingly sober Western assessments of Ukraine's counter offensive, which is moving much slower than expected.


Also tonight, I'll speak with Marc Short, the former chief of staff to then Vice President Mike Pence. I'll get his thoughts on the new indictment against Donald Trump and the possibility the former vice president could be called to testify at his trial. All of that much more, coming up right at the top of the hour here in the Situation Room.


TAPPER: Tampa, Florida reeled in a 70 pounder. But it wasn't a 70- pound fish. Mayor Jane Castor was fishing in the Florida Keys with her family last month when she hauled in a package containing 70 pounds of cocaine, according to the U.S. Border Patrol, 25 bricks of coke were inside the package, which have an estimated street value of $1.1 million. There she blows, as they say.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, Bluesky if you have an invite. I'm back on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to the lead when so you get your podcast. It's all 2 hours of sitting there like a big, delicious pizza pie.


Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.