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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Georgia Special Grand Jury Recommended Charging 39 People In Election Subversion Case; Philly D.A. Releases Bodycam Video Of Man Shot By Officer; Inside Look Into Joe Biden's First 2 Years As President; Tonight: Trump's First Rally Since Fulton County Indictment. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 08, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Do you know, it was a Cuban musician who originally sang it?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Really?
SANCHEZ: I didn't know it. What do you listen to when you're writing your book?
SCIUTTO: I listen to jazz.
SANCHEZ: There you go.
You have a new one coming out soon.
SCIUTTO: I do.
SANCHEZ: THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That special grand jury in Georgia wanted to charge Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Prominent names in a bombshell special grand jury report revealing folks who narrowly escaped indictment in Fulton County, Georgia -- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Kelly Loeffler, and former Senator David Perdue. As a report now made public sheds even more light into the alleged conspiracy to steal those 16 electoral votes and who was involved.
Plus, inside the presidency of Joe Biden. A reporter who says he came to appreciate the man he now calls the old hack who could.
Plus, just hours ago, a Philadelphia police officer was charged with murder. As new shocking body cam video released shows the deadly shooting of Eddie Irizarry.
(MUSIC) TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start in our law and justice lead with this shocking report from the Fulton County, Georgia, especially grand jury. The report shows grand jurors recommended charges against 39 people. That's 20 more than District Attorney Fani Willis ultimately did indict. And there are some pretty big names on the list. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who testified before the grand jury last year. Graham, you might remember, had called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about the possibility of voter fraud in Georgia. Raffensperger testified to the January 6 Committee that the call made him, quote, uncomfortable. Graham just reacted this afternoon to the stunning news from the grand jury.
The grand jury has also recommending bringing charges again the two then Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Purdue personally urged Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to convene a special session of the state legislature so that the legislators could overturn the will of the people of Georgia based on discredited election lies, lies that members of Trump's own Justice Department had investigated and found completely baseless.
Loeffler was part of that meeting. The special grand jury also recommended charges against three Trump allies. Michael Flynn who promoted Trump's baseless theories of voter fraud and urged Trump to seize voting machines. Boris Epshteyn who helped organize illegitimate slates of pro-Trump fake electors. And Cleta Mitchell, who was a volunteer legal adviser for Trump and helped the campaign file a lawsuit to invalidate Georgia's results, a failed lawsuit. She too was on the infamous call between Trump and Raffensperger.
Our coverage starts today with CNN's Sara Murray who's been tracking the developments in the Georgia elections case for months and she has the big takeaways from the shocking report.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Fraud.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
GRAHAM: That was my focus. It's how do you verify signatures.
MURRAY: Former Georgia Senator David Perdue.
DAVID PERDUE (R-GA), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: There are huge irregularities in Georgia. They need to be investigated and they need to be corrected in my opinion.
MURRAY: And former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler.
KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: That's right. Every legal vote will be counted.
MURRAY: All on a stunning list of 39 people that a special purpose grand jury recommended for indictment after the panel spent months investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The special grand jury's final report now public. It recommended indictments for 21 individuals who did not end up facing charges in Fulton County, including the current and former U.S. senators, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, Trump advisor and attorney Boris Epshteyn, and Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
But Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did ultimately charge the others on the list.
FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A Fulton County grand jury returned a true bill of indictment charging 19 individuals with violations of Georgia law.
MURRAY: Including Trump, and 18 codefendants.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You can't ever accept when they steal and rig and rob.
MURRAY: Another man, Trump 2020 campaign official Mike Roman was charged but was not mentioned in the special grand jury's recommendations. Those who were charge have had pleaded not guilty, while some recommended for charges are criticizing the prosecutors.
GRAHAM: This is very bad for the country.
MURRAY: Graham called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2020 and Raffensperger's view pressured him to toss legal ballots.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, he asked that the ballots could be matched back to the voters and I got the sense that, implied that then you can throw those out.
MURRAY: The South Carolina Republican has denied that, insisting he was carrying out his legislative duty.
GRAHAM: We can't criminalize senators doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill.
MURRAY: Perdue had urged Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session to aid Trump's quest to overturn the election results. In a meeting also attended by Loeffler, all as Loeffler and Perdue were facing a Senate runoff election in January, 2021.
LOEFFLER: My number one objective right now has to be winning on January 5th so that we can get to the bottom of what happened in these elections.
MURRAY: Both Loeffler and Perdue lost their runoff races.
TAPPER: CNN's Sara Murray and CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel join me now.
Sara, one of the biggest bombshells is the special grand jury recommended charges against current Senator Lindsey Graham and then sitting senators from Georgia, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. And the report also reveals that the vote count against them, for Graham, 13 wanted to charge him, seven said -- and seven said no and one abstained.
For Perdue, 17 wanted to charge him, four said no. For Loeffler, 14 wanted to charge him, six no, one abstention. Not unanimous.
MURRAY: No, not unanimous. And, you know, this is one of the things I'm sure prosecutors are looking closely at as they get this report and then decide, you know, I know they went through name by name and decided, do we have enough evidence to actually get a prosecution over the finish line? Do we think we could take this to court and prove this to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, which is different standard than what you are thinking of even if you are the regular grand jury who is just handing up an indictment? So, that's something prosecutors had to consider.
It's also interesting to see in a number of these figures, including Kelly Loeffler, Lindsey Graham coming out and slamming prosecutors, essentially saying they're politically motivated, even though they didn't ultimately face charges. They looked at what the special purpose recommended and said, you know, we appreciate your recommendations, we appreciate your work but having looked at the facts, we're not going to pursue charges against these folks.
TAPPER: Yeah, and, Jamie, one of the footnotes about these votes reveals says, quote, one of the dissenting jurors voting against seeking indictments for Senators Perdue and Loeffler on a RICO claim, that's racketeering, believes that their statements following the November 2020 election while pandering to their political base do not rise to their being guilty of a criminal conspiracy.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So to Sarah's point, it shows the thought that went into this, the nuance the level of detail, which frankly just is extraordinary for us to see something like this. It also speaks to as Sarah mentioned that in the end, the prosecutors looked at this and they had to wonder, if one juror feels this way will others feel this way?
I think one other point they have to make and not just about the former senators or Lindsey Graham is something else that Fani Willis had to think about was, you know, not only were the evidence go over the line, but do we know whether any of these people are now cooperating? Because maybe they were not indicted because they're cooperating.
TAPPER: And, let's remind people, Lindsey Graham fervently fought against having to testify before the grand jury. He even brought it to the Supreme Court. They refused his request. He was forced to testify.
I want to play what Senator Graham said on the floor of the Senate on January 6th. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Georgia, they said secretary of state took the law in his own hands he changed the election laws unlawfully, a federal judge said no, I accept the federal judge even though I don't agree with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What does this tell you about his mind-set after the election?
GANGEL: You know, Lindsey Graham has had a very complicated relationship with Donald Trump. You may remember in the 2016 campaign, he tweeted out if we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed and we will deserve it. He also said on the floor of the Senate, after January 6th, count me out, enough is enough.
But at the end of the day, Lindsey Graham went back to being friends with Donald Trump and his golfing partner and very much like the rest of the Republican Party other than a couple of exceptions like Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger, he's sticking with Trump.
TAPPER: Yeah. Sara Murray, Jamie Gangel, thank you. Great reporting. Thank you so much.
Let's turn to Robert James now. He is the former district attorney for DeKalb County, Georgia.
Thanks for joining us.
You just heard me tick through just a few of the votes with Sarah Murray and Jamie Gangel.
Help me understand. If the special grand jurors voted to bring charges against these people, a majority of them, why were charges not ultimately brought?
ROBERT JAMES, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, ultimately it's just a recommendation. I mean that's all it is. You know, a special purpose grand jury, they're not a really grand jury that has the power to indict. They get together, they hear evidence and they recommend charges. They recommend changes.
Their scope is pretty broad even beyond recommending that they be criminally charged, they can recommend changes to government. So, ultimately, it's the prosecutors job to sit down and review all the evidence, right, because you know, she has the lawyer, she is the attorney and the special purpose grand jurors are not, and make a determination whether or not, not just a law was violated but do they have enough evidence to prove that that law was broken beyond a reasonable doubt.
And I think the fact that, you know, that these votes for indictment or these request for indictment that they weren't unanimous I think that speaks volumes because listen, when you're conducting a special purpose grand jury, there's no defense lawyer there, there's no judge there, you're presenting evidence and there's no resistance to that. That's as good as it's going to get, right? There's no rebuttal.
JAMES: So if you can't get unanimous support with no rebuttal, then you are definitely not going to get it in a court of law.
TAPPER: These 20 individual whom the special grand jury recommended they be indicted but Fani Willis, ultimately, the district attorney, ultimately did not. Are they out of the woods or might we see charges brought against them later?
JAMES: You know, look, anything is possible. My gut and my experience tells me that you know if she were going to indict them, that it would have happened already. Some of these individuals could be cooperators, particularly when you talk about some of the people that were the alleged collectors that were not indicted.
Some of the other individuals I suspect that if there were enough evidence to indict them, they would already be indicted. So, you know, absent new evidence, I wouldn't expect it.
TAPPER: That's right. Some of the fake electors were indicted others on this list of 20 were not indicted were not indicted. Do you think that that's the difference the ones that were not indicted cooperated?
JAMES: Yes. I do. I think that's the difference. My review of at least what's been released publicly the evidence is pretty much the same against all of them. They all took pretty much the same actions. Some of these individuals turned state's evidence or took plea deals but decided to cooperate. They're cooperators and others did not.
And those who did not decide to cooperate are -- were indicted and they're facing charges.
TAPPER: Take me inside the minds of the extent you can of District Attorney Willis. Why do you think she ultimately did not bring charges against the three senators? Is it just a matter of as Omar on the Wire said, if you come for the king, you best not miss?
JAMES: Well, you know, that is a very simple way of putting it, but it's also very accurate way. You know, these aren't, you know, you're not talking about drug dealers or, you know, people that don't have, you know, a constituency. You know, you're talking about some of the most powerful people in our country or perhaps even on the planet.
So, they are kings, they are queens, and when you -- when you put their names on an indictment and you get a grand jury to return a true bill or you ask the grand jury to return a true bill, you had better be sure you can prove what you said they did. And if -- you know, because if you can't prove that then there's going to be some pretty dire consequences.
TAPPER: Robert James, great insights. Really appreciate it. Thanks so much.
The House committee then investigated the January 6 attack, also looked into efforts in Georgia to steal that state's 16 electoral votes. Next, how today's report compares to one by the congressional panel and why both reports are so important.
Plus, the major charges announced today against a Philadelphia police officer facing murder charges for shooting a man and the video playing a key role in what the officer said versus what actually happened.
TAPPER: And we're back with more in our law and justice lead with the special grand jury report from Fulton County, Georgia, with recommended charges against 39 people, including Senator Lindsey Graham, and former Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
With me now is Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren from California. She was a member of the January 6th Select House Committee.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Sure.
TAPPER: The January 6th Committee subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress -- Kevin McCarthy, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, and Scott Perry. Not one of them testified.
Did the committee ever consider trying to get any testimony from the senators, Graham, Perdue and Loeffler?
LOFGREN: Actually, we had discussions but based on the reaction of our colleagues in the House, we had an expectation they might not comply. But also, the division between the House and Senate was an impediment to some extent on subpoenaing senators.
TAPPER: What do you make of the district attorney in Fulton County, her ultimate decision to not bring charges against Michael Flynn, or Cleta Mitchell or Senator Graham, or Senators Perdue and Loeffler? Do you think the senators, for example, got a pass because they were elected officials?
LOFGREN: Well, it's hard to know. But for one thing, this shows that the district attorney down there in Fulton County is not just willy- nilly indicting people as some of the Trump supporters have suggested. She took some of the suggestions, she discarded others. I assume because she felt the evidence was not sufficient to convict. So that shows really discretion on her part contrary to some of the really wild allegations about her.
As to the senators I was bemused by Senator Graham's comments. I mean, he tried to avoid testifying, asserting protection under the speech or debate clause, which basically says if you are talking and you're acting in your legislative capacity, you can't be held to answer any other place but to Congress.
He litigated that and he lost. So there's been a judicial finding that what he did was not within his job description. However, I assume that the prosecutor decided that whatever evidence there was, was not sufficient to proceed and I have to trust her judgment. I haven't seen the evidence.
TAPPER: So your committee, the January 6th Committee did get testimony from Michael Flynn, officially, you did at least. But he pleaded the fifth to every single question.
TAPPER: What are your thoughts to the fact that he was recommended for charges but ultimately was not charged?
LOFGREN: Well, again, I don't know what evidence they had but it's pretty clear from other testimony that we received that Mr. Flynn was quite involved in the effort to overturn the election. Whether or not in the end the federal special prosecutor will take a look at some of these characters, remains to be seen. But I've just got to assume that Ms. Willis just didn't have the evidence that she needed to proceed.
TAPPER: I'm not sure how much you've been able to peruse the report released today, but, however much you have, how does it report -- how does this report compare, at all, with the findings of the January 6th Committee? Is there anything that you have learned today that surprised you?
LOFGREN: Well, not really. I mean, the report I took a quick look at it. It doesn't really contain any evidence. It's just the individuals being recommended for indictment and the charges that they should be indicted for. Clearly, there was a wide ranging effort to upend the election, to overturn the Constitution and that's the grit of what was recommended by the grand jury there, including the people who have been indicted, as well as those who were not.
That's why the RICO effort is so important. It wasn't just one act or another. It was a conspiracy to overturn the election. Essentially upends the constitution.
TAPPER: You work on a day to day basis with members of Congress who were part of that conspiracy in one way or another. Either they played active roles or they voted to disenfranchise the good people of Pennsylvania and/or Arizona, based on those election lies, or they continue to spew those lies misleading millions of Americans.
What do you say to these people, how do you work with them, knowing how -- how fragile our democracy remains?
LOFGREN: Well, it's not easy, Jake. You know, some of my colleagues I don't think fully understood what they were doing, the impact of the votes that they cast. Some knew darn well what they were doing and I have no respect for them, but they have been elected to the Congress.
And so, I need to work with them on issues where we can find common ground that are important for the country. I do that. But honestly, it is difficult when you look at some of these characters and think how little regard they had for our Constitution and for the voters of this country.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thanks so much. Hope have you good weekend.
Coming up next, that disturbing body cam footage released today in the great city of Philadelphia and how once again, the video is discrediting the initial accounts of an officer. This time, the officer is facing charges.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, a police officer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was charged today with murder for the shocking scene that we're about to show you. And a warning this newly released body cam video shows 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry being shot six times in about five seconds.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
TAPPER: This all happened during a traffic stop last month.
Let's go to CNN's Brynn Gingras.
And, Brynn, Philadelphia police initially gave quite a different story about what happened that day.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very different story, Jake. Initially, what the Philadelphia police said happened on August 14th was that police pulled over Eddie Irizarry, and they say he got out of the car and failed to listen to the commands of the police officers that are responding at the scene, and that's why shots were fired, resulting in Irizarry's death.
Well, soon after that, the family of Irizarry's own attorney came out and found neighborhood surveillance video showing a very different picture. And that is why they wanted the full extent of both body camera footage of the officers to be sent out to the public, and that is why we are seeing this today. Because you can see in that video, it is very clear that Irizarry was inside of his vehicle, seemingly not a threat to police officers when they pulled him over and you could see as you mentioned, Jake, several shots fired within seconds of the police officers exiting their vehicle during that police stop.
We know one of the officers has been charged with a number of charges. He's been released from jail at this point on $500,000 bond after turning himself in. The other officer is not facing any charges.
TAPPER: And that other -- that officer, the former officer, what other charges is he facing? GINGRAS: Yeah, so his name is Mark Dial. He was put on suspension
after this incident happened with the expectation that he was going to be fired from the police force which he has. Again, he turned himself in. He's facing murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges among others.
And his attorney says that these charges are appalling. And he says he's going to defend him. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN MCMONAGLE, MARK DIAL'S ATTORNEY: We intend to right this wrong. This decision today puts police officers in peril at a time when they're dealing with perhaps the most violent time in our city's history. And we intend to right this wrong and bring him -- this young man home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: And he sort of said that when that officer fired the shots, he actually was retreating which you could think is going to be part of his defense. But Dial, this officer, is going to be back in court later this month, Jake.
TAPPER: Brynn Gingras, thank you.
Let's talk about this all with CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller, as well as Joey Jackson, a CNN legal analyst and defense attorney.
So, John Miller, the district attorney in this case said that the videos are crucial evidence and speak for themselves. Is there anything that you see that could justify the use of deadly force?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, from the Philadelphia police department shooting policy, no. It's a bad shooting. It's not within policy because you shot a man who was behind a closed door with a window up who may have displayed a knife at some point. That does not make a justifiable shooting.
In the legal sense, there are some factors here that will be interesting. The partner sees what he says is a knife in his hand and yells across the car to the officer who fires the shot, he's got a weapon. The officer who fires the shots is telling him to show his hands and the minute he starts shooting, he starts retreating and ultimately runs behind the car to take cover.
It is suggestive that the officer who fired the shots thinks that this weapon may be a pistol or a gun. But either way, a man who as far as we know had committed no crime, was shot numerous times and killed in an incident that spiraled out of control.
TAPPER: Yeah, for a traffic stop, right?
Joey, Officer Dial has been charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter, among other charges. Do you think murder is the right charge?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, I think that will ultimately depend, right, upon what a jury concludes. But I think that there is going to be a lot of explaining to do from a defense perspective and what do I mean? The reality is, is that the analysis by the prosecution will be threefold. Were you an immediate fear of death or serious physical injury? If the conclusion to that at the time you fired your shot was no, what were you firing it for? Were you acting in a willful way that was without justification? So that is step number one.
If there's no immediacy, there shouldn't have been a shot fired, much less two, three, four, five or six. The second bill argue from a prosecution's perspective is the disportionality of the force. Did you need to discharge your weapons that many time? And the third issue, Jake, will be the issue of reasonableness.
Final thing and that is the consciousness of guilt argument. What does that mean? Why write a report that is so different from what the ultimate facts show on the particular tape if you concluded in your state of mind that what you do was completely justified. Okay.
Then say that in your report and say that things that John Miller alluded to, that you heard about a knife, right, you were concerned it could have been some other weapon. You with were moving back because you were running for cover. That's not what the reports says so prosecutors will use that to know that the state of mind was far different, you knew you did something wrong, and that's why your report was inconsistent with reality.
TAPPER: Yeah, and let's put it frankly, the police's initial account was that the man that was killed here, Irizarry, they said he got out of his car and he lunged at the officer. That was the official report from the Philadelphia police.
John, that is not just bad for this officer, that's bad for the Philadelphia police department.
MILLER: Well, you have to figure what happens here and how. And what you see is you had the officer who was with him gave the initial account. That was said to a supervisor who repeated it to another supervisor. The press conference where the Philadelphia police gave this account was done by a corporal who apparently had not viewed the body camera as apparently the supervisor who gave her that account did.
So, you have a public account which doesn't match the things that are on the report, the scene or the video. So it was just very badly handled on a tactical level. But then on a disclosure level, so the police commissioner had to come out three days later and say what we see on the video is not the account we gave to the public.
TAPPER: Yeah, people talk about all of the mistrust and all of the lack of credibility that the public has in so many institutions, including the media and politicians and this and that including the police. This is one of the reasons.
John Miller, Joey Jackson, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Tonight, Eddie Irizarry's aunt will join CNN's Abby Phillip. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
One day after that not so great CNN poll for President Biden, rare access inside of the Biden administration by a man documenting quite a few moments of disarray.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden is back on the global stage. This time, he's in India for the G20 summit in a public display of diplomacy.
A new book goes behind the scenes of the Biden administration, giving us two years of inside access to how Mr. Biden has tried to manage his presidency and what he has said behind closed doors about his ability to handle the job.
Joining us now is Frank Foer. He's a writer for "The Atlantic" and author of this new book, "The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and Struggle for America's Future".
It's a really good read, lovely writing and great reporting.
Frank Foer -- it says Franklin here. Do I have to call you Franklin now? Or is it --
FRANK FOER, AUTHOR, "THE LAST POLITICIAN": No, it's not a rule. It's just a byline.
FOER: But thank you for having me.
TAPPER: But I call you Frank. I have known you for 30, 20 years, whatever, anyway.
FOER: As long -- people who know me call me Frankie.
TAPPER: Is that right? Well, okay, I'm somewhere in between Frankie and Franklin. We'll put that up there.
All right. So, let's start with the questions that I have. You are able to peel back the curtain into personal and private moments of the Biden presidency including how Biden feels about the job. He's 80, the oldest man ever to hold the job.
In your book, you wrote, quote, is public persona reflected physical decline and times dulling of mental faculties that no pill or exercise regimen can resist. In private, he would occasionally admit to friends that he felt tired.
Does he have -- does he have the strength and stamina for re-election do you think?
FOER: You know, the question about aging, I've spent so much time talking to people this last week about aging and everybody brings personal experience to bear, because we have parents and we have grandparents, and aging is not a singular experience.
TAPPER: No, but it's different for everyone, yeah.
FOER: Everyone ages -- and there is not a sell by date for human beings --
FOER: -- where they're past the point where they are no longer up to the job. I think Nikki Haley talked about a mental acuity test for presidential candidates and everything I've seen about Joe Biden, he would -- he would pass that test.
TAPPER: Right. He's sharp physically. I mean mentally.
TAPPER: I think the question is physically, right? More so?
FOER: Right. And then how do we ask that question. So everybody slows down as they age. And he maybe doesn't have the stamina to do the type of public appearances he would have done when he was 70 or 60. But does that mean that he doesn't have the stamina to do the job?
I mean, I don't think -- I don't think there is a simple answer to those questions and it's all very subjective at the end of the day.
TAPPER: Right, and the guy who is his chief opponent is only three or four years younger than him anyway.
TAPPER: In your book, you touch on the price for peace, right, that Biden made with Randy Weingarten, the head of one of the nation's largest teachers unions on his promise, his campaign promise on getting kids back to school during COVID. Quote: For the sake of avoiding conflict, with an ally, the Biden administration trimmed its goal of returning kids to school to a fraction of what had been promised on the campaign trail. He was, in effect, conceded that for thousands of students, the rest of the school year would be lost to pandemic.
So it is kind of an under the table deal. He's known for deal-making.
TAPPER: And so he got his peace, but at what cost, you know? FOER: Yeah. Well, I'm not sure it was a deal per se. I mean, I think
he was navigating very complicated situations in country where teachers were on the verge of strike in Chicago. There was a lot of unrest. There was a lot of anxiety everywhere. And so, he was navigating a very, very tricky issue.
A lot of his campaign promises in that regard were probably overblown about some of the ease of pulling off some of the promises that he made. But he certainly trimmed his sails early in his administration about getting kids back to school.
TAPPER: You also wrote about the -- obviously, the months and days leading up to the disastrous August 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Quote: The images harkened back to a man floating to his death from an upper story of the World Trade Center, plummeting bodies that seemed to sum up an era. This is the image of the man falling from the plane, 13 U.S. service members, hundreds of Afghans died in a suicide bombing in Abbey Gate in the final days of the evacuation, and the U.S. response to that as well.
The administration likes to focus on ending the war and how many people they got out. And yet, you know, it's hard to escape the fact that this was in many ways disastrous.
Why did Biden fire anyone after what happened?
FOER: Well, I think maybe at core a lot of the fault and the process stemmed from his own sense of priorities.
I think he looks at the American soldier and they were his primary allegiance. He's not somebody who is a universalist when it comes to human rights. That's not one of the primary tenants of his foreign policy.
And so, I think that he in his hierarchy of concerns about Afghanistan, the humanitarian consequences, the decision in Afghanistan were not at the top of his list. He was trying to strategically revoke his American foreign policy to deal with the problem of China. He was trying to make it so that there were no more troops sent to Afghanistan and he was premised the decision on the fact he thought there was going to be eventually some sort of transfer of power to a government that included the Taliban.
And everything went sideways because disaster occurred two or three weeks before America left the country so it happened on our watch and it became our problem.
TAPPER: Yeah. And quickly, if you could, Hillary Clinton was very frustrated with the Biden administration during this period. Tell us about that.
FOER: So Hillary Clinton received a list from people within the government who were concerned about the humanitarian response to the withdrawal and she began to move for quickly if terms of getting women out of the country.
TAPPER: Women legislators and judges and such.
FOER: And during the pullout itself, she set up a network of safe houses and she hired contractors to take women to the airport, and was negotiating with government to get flights out of the country.
TAPPER: Yeah, she was pissed.
TAPPER: She thought that the Biden people were incompetent with this.
FOER: Well, she -- she certainly was -- yes. That was her actions reflected.
TAPPER: Yeah. All right. Frank Foer, congratulations on the book. It's called "The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future". Highly recommended, it's out now. Thanks so much. Good luck.
FOER: Thank you.
TAPPER: Donald Trump back on the campaign trail tonight for the first time since the Georgia indictment and he's likely going to pick up a big endorsement. We'll tell you about that next.
TAPPER: And we're back with our 2024 lead. Cue the music. Nice.
Tonight, former President Donald Trump is heading to Rapid City, South Dakota. This marks his first public rally since he was indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, on charges related to overturning the last election.
Lest we forget, the last time Trump was in South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem offered him a nice miniature replica of Mount Rushmore, with Mr. Trump's face on it. This time, the governor may offer him a presidential endorsement.
CNN's Kyung Lah is in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Kyung, Governor Noem, very popular, but Trump arguably doesn't need her endorsement, right?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORESPONDENT: He doesn't necessarily. What this may be all about this evening with CNN reporting that Governor Noem expected to endorse him this evening here in Rapid City, South Dakota, a state that Republicans won by a very large margin is more of a job interview. He hasn't picked a vice president yet, Jake, and that really is what we're expecting to see tonight, an undercurrent of a job application of sorts. TAPPER: And Trump is known for spending times at rallies sharing --
sharing his various grievances. Are we expecting him to introduce any new policies this evening to help the American people?
LAH: Well, in short, no. And there might be a reason why he doesn't feel he necessarily has to. We spent some time talking to people who are coming into this theater to ask them what they want to hear, what policies do you want?
One woman did say she wants him to address inflation but she doesn't expect any policies to come out of it this evening. What they want to hear from him is the fight. There are people wearing his mug shot from Fulton County. I want you to listen to what they told us.
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PHIL JENSEN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: This is a picture of Trump at his finest, being defiant against the establishment that is trying to take him down in a political season.
BOONE BUCHER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Depends whose law you're talking about. You've got the court system that is changing quite a bit because of what they state is -- let's just say it's a fight between good and evil, and a lot of what's been happening is evil. He's bringing in the good.
SHERRY LAGOON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think he looks out for his people. I think he cares about us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: So what we'll be listening for, Jake, is whether or not the former president addresses any recent news, especially today's news out of Fulton County. But as far as policy, not so much -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah in Rapid City, South Dakota, thanks so much.
Coming up next, a closer look at that phone call Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made to election officials in Georgia and what the senator says were his actual intentions.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, inside the Church of Scientology and the rape conviction of actor Danny Masterson. Did the church try to shield the sitcom star from prosecution? Actress Leah Remini is here, a former member of the Church of Scientology herself.
And leading this hour, the 39 people special grand jury in Georgia recommended charges for as it investigated efforts to steal Georgia's 16 electoral votes in 2020.
One of the more prominent names on the list, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a long time senator from South Carolina who's held that office since 2003. Graham knows the rules. Graham knows how elections go. If not he should. He's been in Congress through five prior presidential races.
In the days after the 2020 election as Georgia was auditing its ballots, Senator Graham felt the need to call up election leaders in neighboring Georgia. Why? Well, Graham says he wanted to ask specific questions about how Georgia ran elections. Again, this was happening while Georgia was in the middle of an audit.
Now in that call, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a conservative Republican, told CNN he believes Senator Graham implied ballots could be tossed from Fulton County, a heavily Democratic county. Take a listen.
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