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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Police Investigating Threats Against Georgia Grand Jurors; Source: Trump Expected To Surrender Next Week In Georgia; At Least 111 Dead In Maui Fires, Including Children; Report: North Korea Prepares ICBM Launch Around First Trilateral Summit Between U.S., Japan, And South Korea; Gas Prices Hit 10-Month High; Authorities Investigate Recent Series Of Threats on Synagogues, Churches, Mosques. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 17, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now. Thanks for joining us today.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Indictments leading to death threats and danger.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A federal judge threatened, and specific contact information from Georgia grand jurors plastered throughout right-wing websites. How Donald Trump's legal troubles are leading to further security issues and fears of violence.

And heartbreaking accounts from Hawaii, as wildfire victims are starting to find the remains of their family members.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he had seen wasn't just a body. It was the body of a 15-year-old kid that had way more life ahead of him.


TAPPER: Plus, new warnings on North Korea, possibly preparing to test a missile capable of reaching the United States. I'm going to ask White House national security spokesman John Kirby about those plans, as President Biden prepares to host the world leaders most concerned from South Korea and Japan.


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

And we're going to start today with our law and justice lead. And the high price being paid for some individuals for just doing their civic duty. Today, police in Atlanta are trying to figure out how to best protect the grand jurors who earlier this week trying to indict former President Donald Trump and 18 other codefendants. Unlike federal cases, indictments in Fulton County, Georgia, which are

made public, include the names of all of the jurors who served on the case. Now, those jurors' names, plus photographed social media information, and even some home addresses, not all of which are even necessarily the right ones, is now all circulating on social media. Experts are saying that some anonymous users are calling for violence against members of the jury.

CNN's Paula Reid starts off our coverage today with a closer look at the security risks facing not just the jury, but also a federal judge in a separate Trump case.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Georgia residents who served on the grand jury than indicted former President Trump for trying to overturn the 2020 election are now facing threats and getting doxxed online.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: These people were called to serve and do their civic duty for serving on the grand jury. And now, they have been basically put on to the acts by these disclosures.

REID: Names, pictures, profiles, even home addresses purporting to belong to the grand jurors are now circulating on far right websites like 4chan and other social media platforms. Their names were published on page nine of the indictment of public documents, as is the practice in Georgia. But experts say --

MILLER: This is really a quirk of law in the state of Georgia, the names of grand jurors are coming out with the indictment. This is the first time we've seen this kind of thing come out in a national case.

REID: CNN can't individually verify the details, and it's unclear if the information circulating online is that of the actual grand jurors, or just people of the same name.

Former Georgia state senator and attorney, Jen Jordan, testified in this case, and she says these threats might impede prosecutors' ability to find a trial jury.

JEN JORDAN (D), FORMER GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: Everyone's going to know who they are. Their lives are going to be turned upside down. Just to be able to sit a jury of people that would even be willing to put their lives on the line, it's going to be very difficult.

REID: And it's not just the grand jury under threat. Judge Tanya Chutkan who's overseeing the federal election interference case against Trump, received a threatening voice mail earlier this month. According to court documents, a Texas woman called Chutkan's chambers on August 5th, and left a message threatening to kill anyone who went after former President Trump. She also allegedly threatened to kill Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, as well as people in the LGBTQ community. She is now in custody.


REID: Over the last week, Trump has repeatedly posted to social media speaking directly to the Fulton County grand jurors, and Judge Chutkan, saying: Will somebody tell the Fulton County grand jury that I did not tamper with the election? And saying that Chutkan obviously wants me behind bars, very biased and unfair.



REID (on camera): We've also learned that Trump's longtime ally and sometimes attorney Rudy Giuliani went down to Florida in April to plead with the former president to help him with Giuliani's seven- figure legal debt. And, Jake, we've learned that Trump offered some vague assurances that he would help. So far, the only assistance he has received is money from the front Trump aligned PAC, Save America. They paid off over $300,000 for one specific bill. But one of Giuliani's lawyer said in court yesterday, he doesn't expect any more help with those debts.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

A CNN original series, by the way, looks into the evolution, devolution, whatever you want to call it, of Rudy Giuliani. It's called "GIULIANI, WHAT HAPPENED TO AMERICA'S MAYOR?" It's a good question. That's Saturday night at 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Joining us now to discuss, Michael Moore, the former U.S. attorney for the middle district of Georgia.

Michael, I want to get your reaction to the alleged personal information of some of these jurors being posted online. I understand that when somebody is indicted in Georgia, the names of the grand jurors are included on that indictment. Knowing the sensitivity of the case, though, I wonder if more should've been done ahead of time to prevent something like this.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, it's a pleasure to be with you. I do think there could've been some steps taken to ask the court to seal the indictment or do some things like that. We do have sort of a balancing of the public right to know, and certainly the accused right to know, who sat on the grand jury? When you think about, it is important for an accused to know that because they can determine whether or not a grand jury might have been related as one of the victims in the case or something. There is a legitimate reason that lawyers and defendants need to know that and, they have a right to look at it. But certainly in this case, I think there were things that could've been done.

Look, judges and prosecutors, we expect this kind of thing to happen, this nonsense to happen. But every day layman who serves on pennies a day really on a grand jury should not be subject to this. So, probably the best thing that could happen right now is for there to be some swift action taken to both protect those people if in fact those addresses are correct, and personal information is deemed to be correct, and then also go after folks who might have been sending messages, attempting to do harm.

It is public information that is accessible at the courthouse. So, the fact that the names are out there I don't think there will be much done. Other than that, it's protection. Specific threats, voicemails, emails, those types of things, certainly somebody sitting out in front of somebody's house, the car, they need to be addressed quickly by law enforcement to send a message that it can't be tolerated.

TAPPER: I have to say that when the indictment was released, I was surprised to see the names of grand jurors on there. I'm not as familiar with the Georgia legal processes as you are. I know that there is a major gang trial going on right now in Georgia. I believe that you're still in jury selection, voir dire.

Are the names generally released like that? Even if a gang member is on trial?

MOORE: Generally, the indictments will have listed at the very front that the citizens of the state of Georgia a county of Fulton charge and accuse, and they will have in fact every grand juror that serves, those that were present for the day of the deliberation or for vote. Their name will be stricken. But -- otherwise, they will be the only indictment.

Again, there are reasons that the defendant needs to know that, and so it is important. In this case, and that might have been one of the reasons that it might have been more appropriately suited in federal court. But you know, something should have been done, I believe, something done to protect that. There are ways to reject information, the clearly wasn't done here.

TAPPER: A source tells CNN that negotiations are still ongoing between Trump's legal team and the Fulton County district attorney's office about the surrender. What kind of details do you think that they are likely negotiating?

MOORE: Well, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not there will be mugshots, and photographs, and fingerprints, and all this kind of thing. There will be questions about what location he should report to, whether or not that'll be the jail or some other location for security purposes. There have to be some coordination clearly between Secret Service and the law enforcement there to work out that surrender.

But I hope that this goes off sort of like just a puff of wind, and nobody really knows about it. I think that's better for the Secret Service, that also is better for local law enforcement, for the former president to come in, be processed quickly, and to then be shuttled back out to await arraignment in a later date. But, you know, where we are now, I don't know.


I mean, I expect there will be some effort to make the statement about it one way or another by the former president, but this, we have to admit, and I think it's one of the frustrating things about this case, we all want to say that he's going to be treated like everybody else. The fact is, it's a former president of the United States.

TAPPER: Right.

MOORE: So, we have to make some considerations and concessions as we do this to keep everybody else safe.

TAPPER: Yeah, especially in terms of his security and safety, which he's entitled to obviously. There are threats against him all the time.

Michael Moore, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem. She's a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Juliette, when it comes to this threat against federal Judge Chutkan that Paula reported on a minute ago, do you think there are enough security measures in place right now to protect federal judges?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. It's never enough because they consider themselves private citizens. In the old world when no one knew a judge's name and they weren't attacked specifically by a former president. U.S. Marshal Service takes lead, not the Secret Service, nor even local police, that the marshal service exists essentially to protect the judiciary. They will do home assessments, they will do personal assessments, and give personal security to the judge if necessary, and then there's things that the judges, I'm married to a judge, that would know what to do -- don't put your kids on social media. Don't put, you know, don't put things into the social media that give your existence, sort of -- give the kid's existence in real time.

Look, we know it's not just the judges. It is the entire family and others that are related to the judges that are at risk. But this is new in terms of the threat environment, because the judges are being specifically mentioned by the former president in these cases.

TAPPER: The Atlanta Police Department says that its members are working on helping the Fulton County sheriff's with any potential safety and security issues for the grand jurors in that case. How do you go about protecting 26 people and their families as they try to live their normal lives? How do you assess what threats are real, and what's just hot air?

KAYYEM: You do two things. One is -- so, one is defense. Grand jurors need to know that these are circulating on these horrible websites, but they don't know what threat environment is. And then, you know, tell them to be vigilant and also provide them with the kind of security that they might need, at least for the time being.

Some of them might be picked out based on race. So, you know, if all of the African American jurors are picked out, you want to give them specific security. So, then you can go on offense.

Every single one of these people out there online, doing whatever, threatening not just words but threatening individual or grand jurors or grand jury as a whole. It's committing a federal crime or at least, there is evidence to suggest that they want to undermine the judicial system. That's where it's going to take prosecutors and investigators to investigate them, to let them know that there is no goofing around anymore. That this is -- we know what the threat environment could be for these grand jurors.

I have to say one thing about Georgia. This is not a statute that it requires, it's just case law and Supreme Court case law. So, there might -- you know, this is something that Georgia officials are going to have to deal with in terms of not just the protection of these grand jurors, it which may be too late, but of course, the jurors coming up.

I'm all for transparency. I'm all four public information. But as Michael was saying, you know, these are ordinary citizens doing their civic duty. They didn't sign up for this.

And neither did this country for example. So -- and so, we need to be taking this seriously.

TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the horror playing out in Hawaii. Some wildfire victims are coming back to their properties to find everything gone. Others are trying somehow to cope with the reality of loved ones lost, some of their heart-wrenching stories are next.

Plus, as gas prices hit a ten-month high, the looming factor making matters even worse. And from bomb threats and hoax phone calls, the disturbing activity recently directed at religious institutions. Who might be behind it?



TAPPER: Back with our national lead, in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. Of the 111 individuals so far confirmed dead on the island of Maui, only five names have been released by officials. Well, some families share stories of their loved ones with CNN.

Melva Benjamin, for example, was a beloved grandmother, whose family says she likely died while trying to reach a shelter.

Buddy Jantoc's granddaughter remembers him as a, quote, good grandpa, who loved singing and playing the guitar and the drums.

Frankie Trejos loved animals, and was found shielding his roommates dog, Sam.

Carole Hartley's sister says she was known for her smile, and her fun personality.

As CNN's Gloria Pazmino reports, some children were also lost.


GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Maui, hope giving way to despair, as some of the missing are moved to the list of those lost.

JOHN PELLETIER, MAUI POLICE CHIEF: No, had we found remains, that were maybe smaller than other remains, I'm not going to sit here and sensationalized that. But the answer that is yes. We want to talk about the children.

PAZMINO: The official death toll from the wildfires is now well over 100, with possibly more than 1,000 people still missing.

Josue Garcia lost his 15-year-old brother in the fire, after trying in vain, two run home to save him.

JOSUE GARCIA, MAUI RESIDENT: Everybody was saying get out, get out. Don't go that way, not that way, leave. Even though I was four, five miles away, I could feel the heat.

PAZMINO: After the fire, his father found his brother's body in the burnt rubble of the family home.

GARCIA: What we saw was, where he always slept.


What he had seen was not just a body, but the body of a 15-year-old kid who had way more life ahead of him.

PAZMINO: Then, they took his remains to authorities. Josue is now turning his pain into poetry.

GARCIA: What could I do? No power at home. I'm lost, and I'm found. I'm lost all around. We're losing our town.

PAZMINO: The sheer scale of the devastation has impacted everyone on the island.

PELLETIER: No one has ever seen this, that is alive today. Not this size, not this number, not this volume, we are not done.

PAZMINO: Identifying the dead remains a difficult task. There are often no fingerprints, and many remains are unrecognizable. Relatives of the missing are being asked for data samples. The search teams are also deeply affected.

PELLETIER: We have to do this right. You realize that, the responders that are going out there are recovering their loved ones, and members of their families.

PAZMINO: Those search and rescue teams now scouring the burned zone of more than 2,000 homes and businesses, as the magnitude of the loss sinks in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to take in. PAZMINO: And even as authorities delicately searched the rubble for

human remains, some residents say they have been approached by real estate speculators, reawakening memories of historical wrongdoing, including colonization, and overdevelopment, and further stoking locals fears of losing their land.

Governor Josh Green reacted Wednesday to those fears, and mounting frustration over reports of unsolicited calls from outsiders looking to buy damaged properties.

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D), HAWAII: My office will work to block any of those kind of predatory transactions.


PAZMINO (on camera): Now, Jake, it's a very different thing to take in the damage for yourself. It's soul crushing to watch the piles and piles of rubble that is left. Some positive developments here, you can see behind me there is a crew of utility company that is working on the power lines. And that is a positive sign of improvement.

But I do want to stress that full recovery here it's likely years away. And as the attention perhaps begins to turn away, there will still be thousands of people here in Lahaina, who will need the help of government, but who also do what Hawaiians do, then together, help each other out, all in the spirit of Ohana, which means family -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Gloria Pazmino in Lahaina for us, thank you so much.

Emergency response expert and director of global operations for the Pacific Disaster Center, Dr. Erin Hughey, joins us now.

Dr. Hughey, so you live on Mau. You've been involved with many disaster responses in the past. What is your personal experience been like?

DR. ERIN HUGHEY, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL OPERATIONS, PACIFIC DISASTER CENTER: So, aloha Jake. Really, this is unprecedented. And for us, although I have spent 25 years working disasters around the world, this is something that I don't think anyone can be prepared for. It's amazing devastation, and there isn't a resident here who isn't deeply impacted, directly by this event.

TAPPER: The scope of this tragedy, frankly, it's hard to grasp, more than 1,000 people, still missing. And as we reach the ninth day, it's becoming more likely the death toll is going to keep climbing. We've heard Hawaii officials say words such as, use terms like instant cremation. Is it possible many of the families with missing loved ones, may never find out actually, what happened to their loved ones?

HUGHEY: You know, I really can't speak directly to that. I do know that we've got teams locally from the state and the federal government that are here to support the recovery. And our focus has been on, one, making sure that the survivors have the relief that they need, the food, water, shelter and love. And then, making sure that the teams can identify those who are lost, and really start to prepare for what will be a very long recovery.

TAPPER: Dr. Erin Hughey, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And as victims of the wildfire trying to figure out their next steps, you can help. Head to for options to donate. You can also text the word Hawaii to this number, 707070.

North Korea has a missile capable of striking most of the world, including mainland America.

Coming up, new warnings about immediate plans to test that missile. I will talk about next with White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a South Korean spy agency's concerning report on North Korea. North Korea is reportedly preparing an intercontinental ballistic missile test launch. And that, and other provocations around tomorrow's Camp David summit between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.

That is not even the worst of it. CNN's Will Ripley dives into the spy report for us now, which shows how a growing alliance between North Korea and Russia, could have major global consequences.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All eyes on the skies over North Korea. South Korea's spy agency telling lawmakers in Seoul, Pyongyang is planning a provocative show of force, including an intercontinental ballistic missile launch. The military is detecting signs of possible ICBM launch preparations, monitoring active movement of ICBM launch related vehicles in Pyongyang, expecting drills, including tactical nuclear capable missile launches in the coming days.


The latest intelligence says North Korea faces growing international pressure. U.S. and South Korean military exercises begin next week, and North Korea considers the annual drills a dress reversal for war. Those drills coming as President Joe Biden prepares to host the leaders of Japan, and South Korea, on Friday at Camp David. China, and North Korea, high on the agenda.

At the U.N. Security Council, the first meeting in more than five years, on North Korean human rights.

A North Korean defecate on the council: The government turns our blood and sweat into a luxurious life for the leadership, and missiles that blast our hard work into the sky. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says, many North Koreans face extreme hunger, acute medicine shortages, claiming the U.N. and NGOs remain barred formed the country. Two nations not barred from North Korea, Russia and China, two patrons with power to veto biting Security Council sanctions, both send high-level delegations to Pyongyang last month.

Leader Kim Jong Un showing off his latest ICBMs and drones analysts say bear striking resemblance to U.S. military models. Suspicion is growing, North Korea may have plans to secretly provide weapons for Russia's war in Ukraine. So far, no hard evidence. But South Korea's spy agency expects growing military cooperation, warning of the possible transfer of Russia's core nuclear and missile technology to North Korea.

For nations trying to contain North Koreans nuclear threat, analysts say the worst may be yet to come.

Will Ripley, CNN.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Will Ripley there.

Joining us now to discuss, along with other topics, national coordinator for strategic communications with the White House, retired U.S. Navy Admiral John Kirby.

Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

So this spy report --


TAPPER: -- that we were just talking about says North Korea may have plans to secretly provide weapons for Russia's war in Ukraine, while Russia could possibly transfer core nuclear missile technology to North Korea. Is the North Korean nuclear threat getting more serious?

KIRBY: They continue to try and improve it, Jake. There's no question about that. And we are worried about these improving links between Russia and China. In fact, just last week, we downgraded some information made public, that we know that the Russian defense minister, Shoigu, was recently in Pyongyang, to try to see if he could get some sort of military support for the war in Ukraine. And obviously, it's possible that the North Koreans could want something is in return. So, we're watching this very, very closely.

TAPPER: The State Department today says North Korea has not responded to U.S. outreach when it comes to Travis King. That's the U.S. soldier who crossed the DMZ into North Korea. In the past, North Korea has used American soldiers, who defect as propaganda tools.

Do you see them -- the North Koreans as trying to use Travis King as a bargaining chip, as a propaganda tool? How are they using him at all?

KIRBY: They certainly could, Jake. We haven't seen any indication, that that's exactly what's afoot here, but certainly, it would not be out of character for them. What we're focused on is trying to make sure we can get information about him. We don't even know where he is right now. We don't know the conditions he is being held. We don't know his physical conditions, his health.

And we have made it clear to the North Koreans, through various channels, that we want to know those things, and we want him back. We want him back. He's an American soldier. We want him to get him back safely. But unfortunately, we don't know exactly where they have, or they plan on doing with him.

TAPPER: Speaking of wanting to get an American servicemember back safely. Lieutenant Ridge Alkonis has now been in the Japanese prison for more than a year. He had a medical emergency, he says, and got into a car accident there, and killed some Japanese.

He says he was not treated -- the family says he was not treated the same way that normally individuals are treated. And President Biden met with Brittany Alkonis after the State of the Union. And, he gave her a big hug, and there is a picture online.

Is President Biden going to bring this up with the Japanese prime minister?

KIRBY: We have routine -- and continue to routinely talk about Lieutenant Alkonis in this case with Japanese officials. It happens at levels all the way from him, and on down. And our ambassador is engaged on this. I mean, we are still working this out with the Japanese, to see what's the realm of the possible here, to make sure that, you know, rule of law is respected, but that we make our concerns clear.

TAPPER: Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Paul Whelan, another detained American. This one considered by the State Department to be unfairly detained. He's the U.S. marine, who's in Russia, and he has been in there for more than four years in a Russian prison. "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, also wrongfully detained by the Russians earlier this year.

We have reported that the Biden administration is searching for offers that could entice Russia to release both of these Americans, maybe a prisoner swap of sorts, where, you know, we've reported that the Russians want some Russian spies.


We don't have any. We are asking allies if they have any in their prisons, maybe there's a swap that could happen.

Is there any meaningful progress in this?

KIRBY: I wish I could tell you that we've got a deal in hand, and that the Russians have agreed to it. That's not the case. Now, that's not for a lack of trying, and it's not like we had for proposals on the table to try to get Mr. Whelan, and quite frankly Mr. Gershkovich, back home to their families. But, we just don't have anything to report out right now.

TAPPER: We just learned that a Moscow court has charged a Russian born U.S. citizen Gene Spector with espionage. He was already serving a jail term there for bribery. Do you know anything about that?

KIRBY: No, I'm afraid. We're still digging into that kind of reporting to. Just don't have any updates.

TAPPER: Last week, I spoke to a Gold Star mom, who lost her son at Abbey Gate, two years ago in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover. She has testified to Congress, in her view, the Biden administration lied to her about how her son died.

Here is what she said when I asked her what would she want to say to President Biden, if she could.


KELLY BARNETT, MOTHER OF MARINE KILLED IN KABUL ABBEY GATE ATTACK: He needs to come out, and say, yeah, I made a mistake. I chose wrong, I was looking for a photo op. And, I messed up. That's what he needs to do.


TAPPER: Do you think President Biden is willing to meet with any of these Gold Star families, or talk publicly more about what happened at Abbey Gate two years ago?

KIRBY: Well, he certainly has talked about Afghanistan, and the decision to withdraw, and the evacuation, how it was conducted. We have conducted after action reports, we've shared information with Congress and the public, to the degree that we can.

The president and the first lady continue to grieve, with all of the Gold Star families, especially those who were killed in that terrible day at Abbey Gate. There's not a day that goes by that he and the first lady aren't thinking about them, mourning with them, and understanding the loss and the sacrifice and the anguish that they are still feeling.

And you could hear it in that sound bite. It's clearly there, and we understand that, and we're going to stay with them and support them for the rest of their lives, as we should, as they deserve to. But pulling out of Afghanistan was the right decision for a national security. We are not now bogged down in a war in Afghanistan, we have been able to free up resources and manpower to be prepared for other national security concerns, such as the ones we're going -- we had in the Indo-Pacific, and that we anticipate being able to talk about at Camp David.

That war is over. It should have been ended. And, the mission for which the troops were sent there had been accomplished.

TAPPER: She said, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover's mom said that he reported to her, that it was just chaos, the line of the chain of command was unclear, that they were sitting ducks. And we've heard other things since then.

I think, I understand that you'd rather talk, the president would rather talk about the decision to end the war in Afghanistan. I think a lot of people are concerned about, how it happened, the implementation of the withdrawal, and why it seemed so chaotic, and why warnings about suicide bombers might not have been heeded and the rest.

KIRBY: Well, look, I think central command, who is the overarching military command, did a pretty exhausted investigation to this, Jake. And, they determined that barring any decision that could have impacted mission success, there wasn't much that could have been done to prevent that attack from coming, as tragic as it was.

And, there was a lot of confusion outside of the gate. But inside that gate, there were rules of engagement that were clear. The commanders were on the ground, at the moment of the explosion, there were quite a few commanders there, in charge, and leading. And of course, everybody responded bravely after the attack.

So, I understand again the pain, and we understand the anguish. Nobody can replace the loss that these families have suffered. But, there was an exhaustive investigation, CentCom and the Army tried to learn from that, and we will continue to carry those lessons with us forward.

TAPPER: Quick question on Ukraine. I want you to listen to what you said in July, about sending American made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.


KIRBY: Now, look, the F-16s will get, they're probably towards the end of the year. But it's not our assessment, that the F-16s alone would be enough to turn the tide here.


TAPPER: You said probably towards the end of the year. Today, Ukraine said it does not expect U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to arrive this year. Why not?

KIRBY: Well, we are still working with a coalition of partners, to see what third-party transfers can be available, in terms of F-16s. We want to get there a soon as possible. And we are still working with them.

The other thing that you have to fold in here is the training piece. And we are also working closely with the European allies, who have agreed to host F-16 training on their soil. Some of that has to be presage with English language training, because everything in the cockpit, all the tech menus are in English.


So you got to make sure they have enough pilots, that they have the proper English proficiency, and then get them into that training. And we're working very, very closely with allies and partners, and we think that that training is going to be able to get started here relatively soon.

TAPPER: All right. John Kirby, thanks so much. Appreciate your time tonight.

KIRBY: You bet.

TAPPER: Many of you drivers asked every day, what is up with gas prices? Why the current ten-month high could go even higher.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our money lead, gas prices have climbed to a ten-month high, and they keep going up. Today, the national average for a gallon of gas is $3.87 a gallon. That is 31 cents higher than the price of gas, just a month ago.

CNN's Nathaniel Meyersohn joins us now.

Nathaniel, what's going on? Why are gas prices so high?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN CONSUMER REPORTER: Yeah, Jake, there are a couple of factors that are driving up gas prices.


We've seen production cuts from oil producing states like Russia, Saudi Arabia. Extreme heat has shut down refineries in Louisiana, and Texas. So that has impacted supply. And look, we are headed towards hurricane season. And hurricanes have a tendency to drive up gas prices.

If you look back at hurricane Katrina, some of the biggest spikes in gas prices happen after Katrina.

TAPPER: It's not just gas prices we should note. Today, mortgage rates hit a 21-year high.

MEYERSOHN: Yeah, it's a very difficult time Jake, to buy a house right now. Mortgage rates up about 7 percent. So housing affordability, really tough for families right now. You're looking at about $1,300 more a month for a 30-year fixed than you were just a year ago. And, of course, really tight housing supply, the housing crunch right now.

TAPPER: Big picture, what is the state of our economy right now? Because at this point last year, 72 percent of economists said we would see a recession by the middle of 2023. Thankfully, we have not yet seen one.

MEYERSOHN: Yeah, so this is not the first time that economists projections have been wrong, Jake. But, we are seeing businesses still continue to hire, wages are rising, and consumers are still spending. Retail sales have climbed the last few months. There are up about 3.2 percent, from where they were a year ago.

We have seen people going on trips. They are certainly going to see "Barbie" at the movies, going to see Taylor Swift concerts. So I think Taylor Swift and "Barbie" are staving off those economists' projections.

TAPPER: Got to thank those lovely ladies. Appreciate it.

Nathaniel Meyersohn, appreciate to you as well.

Coming up next, a recent series of threats to religious institutions, and the coordinated effort to stop it.



TAPPER: On to our buried lead, that's what we call stories that we think are not getting enough attention. Authorities are currently investigating a series of hoax phone calls and fake bomb threats across the country. Just listen to this list of targets: 25 synagogues in ten states, plus two offices of the Anti-Defamation League, three Jewish day schools. In recent days, the ADL says similar threats have made it at several African-American churches, and mosques, and news organizations.

John Miller is CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst.

John, NYPD sources told CNN whoever is behind this may have some expertise in ways to avoid being detected. How so? What are they doing?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: They've got some technical expertise. They know that authorities are going to be hunting for them online, and trying to identify them for the purposes of prosecution. So they use voice-over IP, or Google phone technology, things that are designed to conceal or spoof their IP addresses. They know how to cover their tracks.

TAPPER: The threats were initially coming in on weekends. But now the timing appears more random, we are told. Does this sound like somebody who feels empowered, because so far they are getting away with?

MILLER: It's not a someone, it is some people. These are likely gamers. This is a competition about who can create the most mayhem, and the most disruption.

They are online and comparing actions. And, they have started with targeting synagogues, where the services were being live streamed, so that they can actually watch the evacuation, and the police response, as they called in these reports of gunman, attacks, and other things.

But as you noted, they've expanded to a list of wider targets.

TAPPER: Sick. How is this series of threats different than others we have seen in the past, do you think? MILLER: I think it's the coordination, and the multiple players

involved. And the fact that it appears to be a competition.

They are not just calling the location and saying, here is what's about to happen, or here's what's happening there. They are making calls to 911. They are making calls to suicide hotline numbers, and saying I'm about to kill myself.

And then they say, but this is what I'm going to do. And they lay out some attack that they are on their way to make. They have very layered in detailed storylines that they give, to try and get around the doubts of authorities to respond.

Meanwhile, the authorities working with the ADL, who have been very adept at this, are working towards denied the objective. If the primary objective is to just cause disruption and panic at these locations, tell everybody what the scenario is, work with the police, so that they don't over respond to these things, if it appears to be what it is. It probably is a hoax.

TAPPER: All right. John Miller, thank you so much.

Coming up, 18 defendants charged with Donald Trump in Fulton County, Georgia. The sweeping criminal indictment also list 30 coconspirators, who were not named, but we are trying to figure out who they are. We will give you their names, and that's ahead.



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

This hour, an Idaho teacher of the year fleeing her state. I'll talk to her about why she is leaving behind her classroom, and Idaho itself.

Plus, a week after the wildfires on Maui, over 1,000 people remain unaccounted for. Today, some islanders are finally able to return to their homes, and witnessed the devastation for the first time.

But leading this hour, we are keeping an eye on all the top developments tied to the legal cases against Donald Trump. But first, CNN seen hasn't going through the Fulton County criminal indictment, and cross referencing it with our own reporting to try to identify the 30 unnamed, and unindicted coconspirators in the indictment. There are lots of people we know who testified, or who played a role in the Georgia effort by the Trump team, who escaped charges.

CNN's Zachary Cohen is outside of Fulton County jail in Georgia.

Zach, one of the most recognizable people CNN has identified from the indictment is Trump political advisor Boris Epshteyn.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yeah, Jake, the details in this indictment make very clear that Epstein is a coconspirator number three, even though his name is obviously not mentioned in the charting document itself.