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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Judge: Giuliani Liable For Defaming G.A. Election Workers; Recovery Begins For Coastal Towns After Hurricane Idalia; Some Homeowner Insurance Companies Decrease Coverage In F.L. And C.A. Amid Worsening Climate Crisis; Capitol Physician Medically Clears McConnell For Work; Nebraska Volleyball Sets World Record For Attendance At Women's Sporting Event; "Little Richard: I Am Everything" Premiers Monday At 9pm ET/PT. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 31, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Leading this hour, however, former President Trump telling the Fulton County court he is not guilty on charges related to the fake electoral scheme to steal Georgia's 16 electoral votes. Trump's plea today avoids another media spectacle by foregoing an in person appearance next week. Today, Trump's legal team also formally requested to sever his case from the co-defendants who want a speedy trial. Let's begin today with CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz, who has been all over the story.

Katelyn, why does Trump want to split his case from the others?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Jake, he has a couple of reasons that his lawyers are now putting forward to the court. They need time, they're busy, this case is complex, the sort of things that Donald Trump has been arguing in all of the criminal indictments that he faces here. Though in this situation, this is going to be quite a question for the judge handling this case going forward. How does this case go to trial? Does it get split up?

Do defendants go to federal court? Do some stay in state court? All of those questions are going to be a real driving force of what's happening in the coming days and weeks here, because there are defendants like lawyer Ken Chesebro, also another lawyer, Sidney Powell, that have quite vocally said, yes, we want to go to trial very fast, not like Donald Trump. And Trump is wanting to distance himself from them and potentially others in this group of 19 total defendants. The DA's office from Fulton County, they are already getting a trial date set on that calendar for October, for Chesebro at least, and want to keep all of the defendants together.

But watching how this goes forward is going to be really crucial in that Trump will keep arguing to push things back. There will be others who argue to split things out, and Trump may want to separate from others, but it is a racketeering case with a lot of people involved. And so seeing how that functions now, especially now that not guilty pleas are coming in and getting people on path to trial, that is going to be really something we're going to be watching over many, many days.

TAPPER: All right, Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

This just into CNN. A member of the far right Proud Boys will now stand back and stand by for 15 years in prison. He's the second member of the group's sentence today convicted of seditious conspiracy earlier this year. CNN's Evan Perez is outside the federal courthouse in D.C.

Evan, what did the judge have to say during this sentencing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the judge repeated a comment that he made at the sentencing earlier today. He said that one of the things that the members of the Proud Boys did on January 6 was essentially rob Americans of the tradition that we had of a peaceful transfer of power, something that we've lost and that we cannot regain again until perhaps the next time after another election. And in this case, he said these men were part of what the Proud Boys were trying to accomplish that day. He sentenced Joseph Biggs to 17 years in prison. He was an organizer for the group in Florida.

In the case of Zachary Rehl, he's gotten 15 years. The government was asking for more than 30 years apiece for each man. They were convicted on charges, including seditious conspiracy. They both spoke to the court. They asked for some leniency.

Both of them tearfully talked about what they were losing, essentially the chance to see their daughters grow up, something that obviously weighed heavily on everyone in the courtroom. But in the end, the judge pointed out that these men had taken politics and taken it to a new level and had caused a great deal of damage to the American legal system as a result of what they did, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.

Another court loss for Trump wingman Rudy Giuliani, the disgraced lawyer making headline after headline after losing a defamation lawsuit from two Georgia election workers whom he smeared during the 2020 election and its aftermath. Giuliani singled out these two civil servants, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, falsely accusing them of tampering with ballots. Here's a reminder of just some of the deranged claims he made.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Tape earlier in the day of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss and one other gentleman, quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine. I mean, it's obvious to anyone who's a criminal investigator or prosecutor they are engaged in surreptitious illegal activity again that day, and that's a week ago, and they're still walking around Georgia lying. They should have been -- they should have been -- they should have been questioned already. Their places of work, their homes should have been searched for evidence of ballots, for evidence of USB ports, for evidence of voter fraud. (END VIDEO CLIP)


TAPPER: Those comments were blatantly false. First of all, it wasn't a USB port, it was a ginger mint, a candy that they were passing and eating. Two, the votes had been counted multiple times with essentially the same results. So, why did Rudy Giuliani continue to repeat this lie? Well, he was taking his cues from his former boss, then President Trump. Here's part of the call Trump made to Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, trying to overturn the results. He names Ruby Freeman.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had at least 18,000, that's on tape, we had them counted very painstakingly. 18,000 voters having to do with Ruby Freeman, that's -- she's a vote scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler.


TAPPER: Sure is interesting language that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani use about these two black women. As a result, both Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman say they've received death threats. Strangers have shown up at their doorstep in the middle of the night. Even Kanye West's former publicist, Trevion Kutti, apparently showed up to pressure them to lie, saying they rigged the election for Biden. Falsely, of course. But because of the previous threats against her, Freeman called the police, in that case. At the suggestion of an officer, the women agreed to meet at the police station. Watch this moment from police body cam footage.


TREVION KUTTI, FORMER PUBLICIST FOR KANYE WEST: I cannot say what specifically will take place. I just know that it will disrupt your freedom of one or more of these family members.


TAPPER: Now, Giuliani did not contest in court that he made those false and defamatory statements. That isn't because he's apologizing for them, it's because he failed to respond to multiple subpoenas for information in the case. According to Giuliani, it costs too much to maintain electronic records. The judge was not amused, writing in a 57 page memo, quote, "Perhaps he's made the calculation that his overall litigation risks are minimized by not complying." The judge went on to say, quote, "withholding required discovery in this case has consequences." Regardless, the damage to both Moss and Freeman's lives has already been done.


SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I felt like it was all my fault. Like if I would have never decided to be an elections worker, like I could have done anything else, but that's what I decided to do. And now people are lying and spreading rumors and lies and attacking my mom.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security all because a group of people, starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye.


TAPPER: Now, following the ruling, both women expressed gratitude, saying in part, quote, "What went through after the 2020 election was a living nightmare. Rudy Giuliani helped unleash a wave of hatred and threats we never could have imagined. The fight to rebuild our reputations and to repair the damage to our lives is not over," unquote.

Here with me is Michael Gottlieb, the attorney for Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman. We should note, you're representing them pro bono?


TAPPER: OK. How are your clients feeling after the judge's ruling? And how are they attempting to rebuild their reputations?

GOTTLIEB: They're obviously very happy with the ruling. It is vindication of what they've been saying for two years now. And it is recognition that their efforts, which have been truly courageous in being willing to stand up to very powerful people while facing death threats, while having their entire lives upended, that their efforts meant something, and that there will be accountability, and that people like Rudy Giuliani can't just hide behind the judicial system and refuse to comply. So they're happy. They recognize that there are more steps to be taken and that there's still a long road forward to repairing their reputations and getting back some semblance of normalcy in their life but they're very happy with the result.

TAPPER: It is odd, to say the least, to see a former U.S. attorney, somebody known for enforcing laws like Rudy Giuliani, not only as a defendant, but is refusing to even comply with a court. And I'm wondering, is this, do you think, in your judgment, because he is now just this bizarre person that says and does weird things, and so he is just not responding to a judge the way that normal human beings would? Or do you think he's made the calculation, if I actually comply, then there'll be discovery, and then they'll find worse stuff and so it's better for me just to have to pay, even if this ends up being $10 million, than showing my records, my electronic records, to a judge who might find worse things in there than defamation?


GOTTLIEB: We all say and do weird things from time to time, Jake, but I can't possibly claim to inhabit the reasoning or mind of Mr. Giuliani or his legal team on why they've chosen not to comply. What I can say is, based on what we found in the case from third parties, in every piece of evidence that we have gotten in this case has been through clawing and scratching to get it. No one has just complied with the subpoenas that we've turned over to third parties, the various people who worked with Mr. Giuliani and his legal team during the campaign. We've had to fight for all of it.

And what I can say is that what we have gotten has been very helpful improving our case, improving the agreement, and understanding that Giuliani reached with a number of other people to engage in this campaign against our clients. So, as the court, I think, rightly pointed out in its opinion, it's reasonable for, you know, for any reasonable person to infer that the reason he's not turning this stuff over is because it'd be harmful to his interests, whether here with respect to other plaintiffs who are out there in the world or with respect to the criminal cases that are pending.

TAPPER: Right. They're criminal charges he's facing, who knows what's in those electronic records. The judge says that Giuliani still owes $90,000 for Freedman and Moss's attorney's fees. And the case, obviously, it costs money to represent people even if you're doing so pro bono. Money he owes you.

You told Kaitlan Collins you're going to be pursuing damages in the coming months. What action do you plan on taking? And do you think that your clients are going to see money from Rudy Giuliani because he seems to be claiming that he's basically poor?

GOTTLIEB: Yes, I mean, we'll follow the trail to the end of the earth to get some accountability for our clients here, and I'm confident that we will see money after we obtain a damages award. So where we are in the case now, there's been a finding of liability, and the judge has asked for the parties to set a trial date for damages sometime between November and February. And that is the point at which we'll be able to quantify the harm financially that has -- that our clients have suffered. And then, of course, we'll have to go out and try to enforce that. And it's not uncommon for many defendants out in the world to claim that they can't satisfy judgments that people receive.

We saw Alex Jones try to do this with the Sandy Hook families. There -- you know, we would expect that Mr. Giuliani will probably attempt to do the same thing, but we have the tools of the legal system available to us to make sure we pursue whatever assets he may have to recover for our clients for whatever award we're able to obtain.

TAPPER: So, the judge noted, regarding the damages trial, that the election workers, your clients, could try to show that Rudy's false claims were intended to make money for himself. Is that part of the strategy?

GOTTLIEB: Definitely we can demonstrate and intend to demonstrate that much of the time when he was defaming our clients, he was doing so on his podcast, on his radio show. Those types of media obviously bring with them advertising revenue and the sort of recognition and notoriety that comes along with being constantly in the news brings other additional opportunities, whether it's personal brand or whether it's, you know, the revenue streams associated with a podcast or a radio show. So, yes, that's part of the strategy is to demonstrate -- part of the strategy will be to demonstrate that this was a money making opportunity and that money making opportunity came at the direct expense of our clients.

TAPPER: Lastly, when you hear the language that Trump and Giuliani used to defame your clients, hustler, passing around the USB port as if it's cocaine or heroin, they're painting a very vivid picture, one might argue engaging in racist tropes. What do you think of all that?

GOTTLIEB: I think it's not a coincidence, the language that was used, and to be clear, it was not a USB.

TAPPER: No, it was a ginger mint.



GOTTLIEB: But yes, I think it's hard to miss the overtones that are associated with language like that and comparisons like that. And it's, you know, it's offensive coming from an individual that spent a long career in criminal justice and understands that you're not supposed to make accusations about people without any evidence whatsoever for doing so. So.

TAPPER: He seems to have forgotten a lot of that.

GOTTLIEB: It would appear so.

TAPPER: Attorney Mike Gottlieb, thank you so much. And please send our best wishes to your clients.

GOTTLIEB: Thanks, Jake. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: CNN is live on the ground in areas hard hit after Hurricane Idalia. Plus, a major question for many who live in storm prone areas, how long will insurance companies continue to cover your properties?

Then, one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's latest freeze, the health and age factor complicating leadership in American politics right now. The gerontocracy, we'll get into that. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Moody's Analytics estimates the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia this week could reach $20 billion. Now, while that estimate is nothing compared to the nearly 113 billion loss from Hurricane Ian last year, it is important to remember these hurricanes are becoming more intense because the climate crisis is worsening. And there is another three months to go in this year's hurricane season. CNN's Gloria Pazmino is in Crystal River, Florida for us.

Gloria, Crystal River city manager told CNN that the area was decimated by the storm surge. What kind of damage are you seeing?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, you mentioned those storms becoming more and more frequent. And when you talk to the people who live in this area, you can tell that they are just changing the way that they prepare for these kinds of events. You see, the street behind me is clear now. It's open to traffic. But around this time yesterday, this was basically a river.

The storm search had pushed in and all of the water started going into these small businesses here. We caught a glimpse of people who were cleaning up earlier today, trying to just get stuff together as that water was finally receding. But I want you to hear directly from one of these business owners. His name is Anthony Altman, and he owns an ecotourism company here. You know, Crystal River is known as the manatee capital of the world.


And he told me that as he goes out into the Gulf every day on these tours, he had taken notice of just how warm the water was getting. The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than it's ever been, and that way he knew that these storms were going to be getting worse and worse. He told me that when he saw the forecast, he got a truck out here and packed all of his merchandise, moved it out, all in an effort to try and minimize the damage.


ANTHONY ALTMAN, OWNER OF EXPLORIDA: Being aware, living through storms in the past, knowing the Gulf temperature was so warm --


ALTMAN: -- and just paying attention to the weather.



PAZMINO: You felt that it could have been worse?

ALTMAN: Absolutely. If we would have taken this head on, it could have been much more -- much bad.


PAZMINO: Now, devastation is much more significant to the north of us. That area is still really difficult to access, but Anthony has been hard at work cleaning up with his employees, trying to get the place back up and running. He told me he's got 22 employees. He said that's 22 families that have to be fed. So he's really looking forward to getting back on his feet as soon as possible, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Gloria Pazmino in Crystal River, Florida, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss is David Jones. He's the former insurance commissioner of California. He's currently the director of the Climate Risk Initiative at UC Berkeley.

David, are there any sustainable solutions for people to rebuild their homes in areas where national disasters -- natural disasters are becoming so common, especially in places such as the Florida or California coastlines?

DAVID JONES, FORMER INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, CALIFORNIA: So, there are a menu of approaches that will help with adaptation. First, following improved building codes in areas prone to hurricane that includes impact resistant windows and doors and garage doors. Tying roofs down, using roofing approaches that are more impervious to wind. In areas impacted by wildfire, it's home hardening, including things like protecting the eaves of the home, using fire resistant materials for the roof of the home. Defensible space, no attached structures.

There are a series of things that a homeowner can do. We also need to make more investments in gray and green infrastructure. In terms of green infrastructure, there are a bunch of nature based approaches that can actually reduce the impact of storm surge, whether it's replanting salt marshes, replanting mangroves, oyster reefs, or in the context of wildfire risk, better managing our forest by using prescribed fire and thinning.

But fundamentally, what's occurring here, Jake, is that climate change is causing more frequent and more severe weather related catastrophes, and the trend is only going in a bad direction. And what that means, ultimately, is we are marching steadily towards an uninsurable future. I wish I had better news for you --


JONES: -- but the risks are simply climbing too fast, and we're not doing enough to get at what the underlying driver is.

TAPPER: Right. So we've seen major homeowners' insurance companies either leaving or stopping renewing policies in places like California and Florida, all within the last year. In California, StateFarm no longer accepting new applications, Allstates stopped selling new policies. In Florida, Farmers stopped offering its policies, AAA not renewing policies for some homeowners. What is the future of coastal housing in just like the next five or 10 years? And do you think this is going to spread to other states beyond Florida and California?

JONES: It is a problem throughout the United States. It varies by geography, it varies by the nature of the climate driven peril. But the trend lines are bad whether you're in the Midwest and you're suffering from increased flooding and increased losses due to convective storms, harder rains, basically more tornadoes or in the west where you've got impact due to wildfire, more frequent and severe wildfire. Or along the coast, whether it's the Atlantic Coast, South Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, you name it, a more severe storms, more storm surge, more flooding. All of this is contributing to more insurance losses. And even though states like Florida pass legislation which create a taxpayer funded reinsurance facility, they allow rates about three or four times the national average. They've limited the ability to bring lawsuits. They've limited attorneys' fees and lawsuits against insurers. Notwithstanding all this, as you said, Farmers just about a month ago said, that's it, we're withdrawing entirely from the state of Florida. So, the trend isn't good. More people are being thrown onto what is called fair plans or in the case of Florida, Florida citizens.

These are state created but private, nonprofit insurance companies, basically, that provide insurance of last resort for perils like wind or fire or flood, where people can't get that insurance in the private market. In Florida, for example, the policy count for their Florida citizens for wind has gone up from about 480,000 in 2020 to 1.3 million in 2023. And that, I think, is the future if we don't move more aggressively to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving climate change which are driving these losses.


TAPPER: David Jones, thank you so much. Appreciate it, even if it was horrible news.

Coming up, it's a regularly scheduled meeting set for next week. But there will be nothing regular about the extraordinary amount of scrutiny it's going to draw. And it could raise very important questions about the future leadership of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, one of the most powerful men in Washington today was deemed medically clear. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, yesterday froze while speaking. This is the second time this has happened in as many months. The U.S. Capitol physician today said that he consulted with Speaker, I'm sorry, with Leader McConnell and his neurology team. And McConnell is free to continue business as usual.

There is chatter among some rank and file Republicans that they should try to force a special conference meeting to talk about their party's leadership after McConnell's latest incident. Either way, the Senate GOP conference will see McConnell next Wednesday at the usual weekly meeting. Let's discuss with our panel. Alice, let me start with you. So, after the latest freeze up, Republican Senator Kevin Cramer told CNN that McConnell has a greater responsibility to be transparent when it comes to his health.

Now, after yesterday's freeze, do you think it's time that they -- do they need to be more outspoken about what's going on here?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Given the fact he is not just another senator, he is the Minority leader. So I think there does lend itself to a higher level of transparency. But look, across the board, there are a lot of people in D.C. that we need to show grace to their inevitability of the aging. And if you are a party and you are lobbying a tax at the other side for being dazed and confused, whether we're talking about President Biden or Feinstein or McConnell or even Fetterman, you need to be able to look inside your own house and say, what are we doing with our elected officials in terms of are they ready to do the job.

And look, the reality is, if any of these elected officials cannot stand up, speak up and dress up for the part, there might need to be the question, are they the best person to represent their constituents and their colleagues?

TAPPER: Often this coincides with aging, but it's not a correlation causation situation. You are still relatively young and you had brain surgery. We've all been watching your recovery and you seem to be back to 100 percent. Whether or not you feel that way, I don't know. But I know you want to talk about this because you've gone through something similar.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, look, recovery is not when you've had a brain injury, right. It is not a straight line. And so I agree with what Alice is saying. We have to have some grace for people who are healing. Like with John Fetterman. I mean, for me, when I was healing, my brain was there. As you all know, I couldn't talk, right? And so how I communicated shifted for a while.

And so but that's different than if there is something medically seriously wrong that would prevent you from healing to a place where you can continue to do your duty. So I think we do have to have some grace, but it's fair to say if you're in a leadership position, and certainly if you're in a position, frankly, of leadership where you could be running the country at some point, I think it's important for there to be transparency.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But, you know, there are a few things all going on at the same time. One is that we have all of these octogenarians and in one case, whatever you call 90 something, who are like, in office for a long time. And the question is it too long and all that stuff. So that's going on. That's a bipartisan thing. There's also a huge division inside the Republican Party about whether Mitch McConnell is like, the guy they want or not. And look that's --

TAPPER: That's a lot of MAGA Trump stuff, though, right, isn't it? I mean like --

TALEV: And that's a lot of what's driving this conversation inside the Republican.

TAPPER: They think he's not MAGA enough.

TALEV: Yes. If you ask any other Republican, they will say Mitch McConnell has kept Republicans glued together, not just in the Senate, but in Congress for the last several decades. Can you imagine if Mitch McConnell wasn't here for the last 20 years, what a different course Republican politics would have taken? All that stuff. But there is a lot of jockeying going on. And then the third thing that's going on is that in most states, the governor gets to name the next senator. But Kentucky preempted all this because they have a Democratic governor. And now there's a whole different chain of events that would take place if Senator McConnell -- if Leader McConnell decided not to stay through the end of his term.

TAPPER: And this also, we should note this has been going on for quite some time. I mean, I remember Strom Thurmond who lived to be like 100 or something, I think. I mean, he lived a long time, but I think it's fairly well known that the last decade of his time in the Senate, he was not 100 percent and maybe even was a little oblivious to what was going on. People were more, I don't know if you want to say polite about it or they were more protective and less transparent about it, but that was going on with Senator Cochran, it went on, and it's still going on with Senator Feinstein.

FINNEY: Yes, absolutely. I mean I also think we have to remember these are human beings. They have families, they have lives, and I hope that their families are looking out for their health. I mean, politics is one thing, but I can say from having experienced it, your life is more valuable than all the rest of this, right? You're not going to remember the last floor vote when, you know, you are --

TALEV: But also, Mitchell Connell is showing none of those signs.

FINNEY: No. I know. And so I wanted to say, though, is if it's a matter of maybe he needs more time to heal, maybe that's what it is, and then he'll be fine. Whatever it is, I hope they give him the space to do it and to figure out what needs to happen.


STEWART: And I think in this day and age of cameras in your face everywhere you go, we're seeing a lot of this in real time sometimes if they freeze, and that's a factor as well. We didn't have that as much with Strom Thurmond. But look, it's really important to note Mitch McConnell deserves a great deal of credit for what he has done in his tenure as senator certainly overhauling the Supreme Court.

But at the end of the day, we can all sit here and talk about this, but this is up to the voters in his district in Kentucky. It's their decision whether or not they want him to continue.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the 2024 race. Today on the New Hampshire Journal Podcast, former Ambassador Nikki Haley was asked if she would be willing to offer her vice presidency if she were the nominee to Donald Trump. Take a listen.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know who I'm going to offer it to, but I can tell you it's going to be the best person for the job. It's not going to be focused on whether the person is a man or a woman. It's not going to be focused on what race they are. It's not going to be focused on what's most popular. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Interesting answer. I mean, she could have said no. She could have said yes.

TALEV: Yes. First of all, it sort of sounds like some of the calculus where you're trying not to turn off too much of the Trump base. But also, I read this as Nikki Haley going out of her way not to make this be the sound bite she made news on.

TAPPER: Right.

TALEV: And also signaling to women that she wants to make clear that she would be the top of the ticket. And if anyone, including Donald Trump, wants to vie for the number two role, she would entertain that. So much of her messaging the last couple of weeks has been to center as well as right of center women on everything from the abortion issue to the power issue. I just think she is angling for the suburban women's vote. And this is another example.

TAPPER: Yes. Something she's and I think something else she said that made news. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy told an Israeli newspaper that as president, he would not use the U.S. military to defend Israel against Iran were that to happen. And now many of his opponents are criticizing him, including Mike Pence and Governor Chris Christie. Nikki Haley posted, Vivek must have missed that the fanatical terrorist regime in Iran regularly calls for death to America. If he doesn't see a nuclear Iran as a threat to American security, then he should take his place beside AOC and the squad and get nowhere near the White House. A lot of attacking Ramaswamy these days, swhat do you make of it?

STEWART: Well, look, clearly she made that exact same point in a debate in Milwaukee, and he clearly didn't learn his lesson. Look, support for Israel is not just good politics, it's good policy. And the more we can support our greatest ally in the region, it's good for democracy and it's good for freedom across the world.

TAPPER: Coming up, the incredible -- thank you one and all for being here. I'm sorry. I'm not being rude.


Coming up, the incredible honor for Nebraska's women's volleyball team. More people showing up to their match last night than any other women's sporting event ever in the entire world. We're going to talk to the team's head coach and one of their star players next.


TAPPER: In our Sports Lead, sea of the red yesterday in Lincoln, Nebraska, were more than 92,003 volleyball fans at Memorial Stadium broke the world record for women's sports attendance. For the record, this is more people than the last time the stadium was packed in 2014 for a men's football game. The Nebraska Huskers beat Omaha at the game last night. Here with me to discuss is Huskers Head Coach John Cook and Ally Batenhorst, an outside hitter for the Huskers. Ali, first of all, congratulations on your win last night. How did it feel walking into that stadium with so many fans cheering?

ALLY BATENHORST, OUTSIDE HITTER, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA LINCOLN WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Oh, my gosh. There are no words to describe that moment. It was seriously surreal. And Husker Nation is so amazing, and we're just so grateful for all the support we get here at Nebraska.

TAPPER: And John, we're talking about a world record, a world record. The last time we saw anything like this was in the United States was at the 1999 Women's World Cup Soccer Final. What do you think this means for women's volleyball, both here in the U.S. and abroad?

JOHN COOK, HUSKERS HEAD COACH: Well, based on the reaction I've seen and I've heard from people all across the country, coaches from other sports, people I don't even know who are texting and e-mailing, this is a dramatic moment. And I remember the 1999 World Cup that was like yesterday. I can still etched in my mind the power of that moment. I think this is another power moment for women's sports and what can be done and, you know, I don't know if you're into the stats, but we now have the biggest crowd, including football, has never played in front of that big of a crowd in the football stadium. So it's pretty epic, and we got a lot to be proud of. And like I said, it's a powerful moment.

TAPPER: And an exciting sport. I remember going to some of the women's games in the '96 Olympics, women's volleyball games at the '96 Olympics in Atlanta. But there are not many women's pro volleyball leagues here in the U.S. just two leagues and others in the works. This new record seems to show there is a clear passion for the sport among fans. Ally, as a player, what do you hope comes out of this for athletes hoping for careers in volleyball?

BATENHORST: Yes, I just think it's growing so much like you said, and I think now that we have the opportunity to potentially play professional sports here in the U.S. is just amazing and having so much support here at Nebraska and just having that fan base, really does show, like you said, the amount of support for women's volleyball and how much it's growing, and we're super grateful to be a catalyst for that change.


And I think after college sports, it's so amazing, and I hope that it can -- I really do see it succeeding with the support we have for women's volleyball and the pro sports coming to the States, and we're super excited about that. So I really do think it'll really be a great thing for the women's sports.

TAPPER: Yes, let's hope so. John, you've been with the Huskers for more than two decades now. What do you think is next for the team coming off such a high?

COOK: Well, that's what kept me awake last night as a coach, because it was an unbelievable high moment, and I think everybody's still walking on, you know, air today. And so now we've got it, we have a big match going to open a new arena down at Kansas State Sunday. So, you know, now my job as a coach is to get us thinking, hey, we got more season here. We're just starting.

And -- but we really tried to soak it in and get our players to soak it in because it was historic and it's never been done before at that level. And I think our players, I'm so proud of how they managed. All the distractions and the interviews and everything going on soaked in the moment, played a good volleyball. And it's -- like we said, it's still unbelievable. But, man, it was amazing night.

TAPPER: So exciting. But they got to get their head in the next game. I hear you. Huskers Head Coach John Cook and Ally Batenhorst, you heard the coach. You heard the coach. After this interview, back to work. Back to work. Thanks so much.

COOK: OK. Thank you, Jake.

BATENHORST: Thank you.

TAPPER: Music lesson legend so transformative to rock and roll. A huge new production is profiling how he did it. This name may not be top of mind, but perhaps it should be. We're going to talk about him, next.




TAPPER: And our Pop Culture Lead. The rock legend who discovered James Brown, gave Jimi Hendrix a spot in his band, and inspired Paul McCartney steals the spotlight again in a new CNN film called Little Richard: I Am Everything, which reveals the oft overlooked black and queer origins of rock and roll and the man who brought the iconic genre to life. Here's a taste.


MICK JAGGER, ENGLISH SINGER: Watching Richard, you thought, you don't have to stand there. Use the whole stage. Richard would work that audience to get them up out of their seats, swaying, shouting, waving their arms, calling, responding stuff. Thirty dates so I saw Richard 30 times. You know what I mean. Later on, I realized he was like doing church in a theater in northern England, basically.


TAPPER: Joining us now is Crystal Shepeard. She's a contributor to Billboard magazine. Thanks for joining us. So Elvis covered Little Richard songs. The Beatles imitated his style. How did this rampant appropriation affect Little Richard personally?

CRYSTAL SHEPEARD, CONTRIBUTOR, BILLBOARD MAGAZINE: I think a lot of it had to do with he wanted -- this is a theme through his life, is wanting to be acknowledged for what he's done. And there's a difference between appropriation and obliteration. And I think sometimes Richard felt that he was being obliterated and not being given the acknowledgment of who did it first.

TAPPER: Little Richard performed drag in the south in the time where such things were even considered crimes. Of course, LGBTQ rights are under attack again with a record number of anti LGBTQ bills introduced in the U.S. this year. How did Little Richard navigate his identity throughout his life as laws and public opinions on the gay community shifted?

SHEPEARD: Well, like everybody, it was an underground movement, if you will, and they couldn't be open about it. It was much later in life that he would acknowledge that he was gay, but at the same time saying he was no longer homosexual. But it's also the place where he learned to discover Little Richard. I mean, he copied a lot of the people that he hung out with and that whole drag queen thing and, you know, everything old is new again.

And he really learned how to express himself in terms of his own queerness, if you will. He never -- I don't know if he really ever came to terms with it, but he enjoyed it and he learned from it. And sometimes he hit it, sometimes he didn't, but it's just kind of that multiple of contradictions within him.

TAPPER: Little Richard, sadly died of bone cancer in May 2020 during the height of the COVID Pandemic. Do you think his death reignited his fame in some ways?

SHEPEARD: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean it's, you know, he'd kind of left the building, if you will, just, you know, to retire and everything. And I think that the fact that were all home, were all pay attention, it just kind of opened up to a new generation, and they started to see who he was, who and how much of an influence he is. You can't have Prince without Little Richard. You can't have Lil Nas X without Little Richard, and you can go on and on. And I think it's a wonderful thing that, while, yes, his passing was sad, but the fact that he's going to be reintroduced to a younger generation is fantastic, and the pandemic was a perfect time to do that.


TAPPER: All right, Crystal Shepeard, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Be sure to tune in the all new CNN film Little Richard: I am Everything, premieres Monday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.

Coming up next in the Situation Room, the request that Donald Trump's legal team is making today that could have a major impact on the case in Fulton County and the case alleging his role in a fake electoral scheme to steal George's electoral votes. Stay with us.