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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hunter Biden Indicted On 3 Gun Charges; Trump, 16 Co-Defendants Will Get Later Trial Date; Officials: More Than 5,000 Dead In Libya After Floods; Special Counsel Indicts Hunter Biden on Felony Gun Charges. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The president's son has now been indicted on felony gun charges.

THE LEAD starts right now.

New legal trouble for Hunter Biden, indicted again on federal charges, accused of lying to buy a gun and possessing it while addicted to drugs.

Plus, Donald Trump's Fulton County, Georgia case delayed. How this move could be a small victory for the former president.

And what the F is going on with the House GOP? The F-bombs being dropped behind closed doors today as Speaker McCarthy dares right-wing of his caucus to go through with their threats and try to remove him from the speakership.


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

And we're going to start with the breaking news in our law and justice lead. For the first time in the history of United States of America, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed felony criminal charges against the child of a sitting U.S. president.

Robert Hunter Biden indicted today on three federal gun charges. This comes as we have major developments in Donald Trump's legal case. In Fulton County, Georgia, a judge ruling that Trump will not stand trial in Georgia next month. That timeline being too quick.

Plus, it was also something of a massive day on Capitol Hill with Speaker McCarthy taking on the MAGA Republicans who have been threatening to file a motion to remove him from the speakership. Telling his would-be challengers, quote, move the F-ing motion. We'll get to all of that this hour.

But, first, special counsel David Weiss has indicted President Biden's son, Hunter, in connection with the gun he purchased while using illegal narcotics. The charges include two counts of making false statements on a federal firearms form and one count of possession of a firearm as a prohibited person.

This stems back to 2018, when he bought a gun from a Delaware gun shop and Hunter allegedly lied on a federal form when he swore that he was not using and was not addicted to any illegal drugs. Hunter was at the time, struggling with other crack cocaine addiction. Hunter Biden's attorneys are planning to fight these charges.

Weiss has been leading the investigation into Hunter Biden for more than four years. His team has looked into potential felony tax evasion, illegal foreign lobbying, money laundering, and other charges tied to his foreign business dealings.

You might remember, back in June, Mr. Weiss announced a plea deal with Hunter where Hunter would plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and the gun charge would be dropped as long as Hunter stayed out of trouble. But that deal collapsed under scrutiny from a federal judge.

Then in August, Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to become a special counsel and that brings us to today. And these charges that Hunter is now facing.

Weiss said in a court filing last month that he is still weighing filing tax charges against Hunter, possibly in California, or Washington, D.C.

Today, House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer of Kentucky who has been leading the congressional investigation into Hunter Biden reacted on Twitter saying, quote: Today's charges against Hunter Biden are a very small start but unless U.S. Attorney Weiss investigates everyone involved in the fraud schemes and influence peddling. It will be clear, President Biden's DOJ is protecting Hunter Biden and the big guy, which is a reference I suppose to President Biden.

Our coverage starts with CNN's Kara Scannell.

And, Kara, you have been following the Hunter Biden investigations for years, literally. Tell us about these charges Hunter is now facing,

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, these are three serious felony charges and what he is charged with is filling out an ATF form when you purchase a gun. But filling it out falsely when he said that he -- when he checked a box saying he wasn't addicted or using illegal drugs. And at the time, Hunter Biden has been very public that he was abusing crack cocaine and was addicted to it.

So count one was filling out that form falsely. Count two filling out that form that is then given to the gun dealer so the false statement to the gun dealer in that case. And then count 3 is possessing this gun while he was addicted to cocaine.

So, you know as you said, this was the culmination of a five-year long investigation. Hunter Biden's team had reached a deal with U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was appointed by former President Trump and stayed on to continue this investigation.

[16:05:02] That deal collapsed in court when it was questioned by a judge. And then David Weiss had asked Merrick Garland to elevate him to special counsel status, saying that it was necessary at this stage.

Now, conversations between DOJ and Hunter Biden's team just had completely broken down and they were unable to reach any sort of agreement. That leaves us to where we are today with this federal indictment.

Hunter Biden's attorney, we have his first reaction to these charges, Abbe Lowell. He says that this is about politics because you will remember, that in the course of this investigation, there have been this investigation on Capitol Hill by Republicans who are questioning both the DOJ investigation of this and President Biden's relationship with his son and whether he had any involvement with Hunter Biden's business dealings. So, there has been a lot of scrutiny by the Department of Justice.

So, in a new statement that we just received from Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, he says Hunter Biden possessing an unloaded gun for 11 days was not a threat to public safety. But a prosecutor with all the power imaginable bending to political pressure presents a grave threat to our system of justice.

Now he's saying that he still believes that this deal they struck with the prosecution is valid so they're continuing to push that. He also says that this gun law may be unconstitutional because there have been court decisions in federal court questioning whether someone should be prosecuted or whether this law is even constitutional if you have -- if you are an addict, but you're -- and you're sober when you purchase this gun. And then also, saying that he says that Hunter Biden did not violate the law.

So, strong statement coming out of Hunter Biden's camp as they're facing these new serious charges today, Jake.

TAPPER: What are the next steps in the case and do we know when Hunter needs to appear in court?

SCANNELL: We're still waiting to hear from the court about when he will come in. But when he does, he will come in face the judge again and then have to enter a plea on these charges. And then there will be discussions about bail. It's unlikely that they will seek to detain him so it will be some sort of dollar amount, you know.

And then going from there though, we do still have the looming question of the rest of this investigation. Weiss is now special counsel and his team has told the judge that they do intend to continue to investigate this. They said that they may bring tax charges in either Washington, D.C. or in California where the alleged tax crimes took place. They had previously reached a deal of a misdemeanor charge with Hunter Biden would have plead out to that but that also fell apart in court.

So, the next question on the horizon will be, when may we see these tax charges and what they will look like. And the statute of limitations on one of the years is running out in the next couple weeks -- Jake.

TAPPER: Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

Let's go now to CNN's Kayla Tausche at the White House.

Kayla, this is the White House's least favorite subject. How are they reacting to the indictment?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, when the indictment first came out, Jake, the White House statement included most of the boilerplate language that we usually hear from the administration, that it's a matter for the Department of Justice to respond to as well as Hunter Biden's legal representatives because it's a personal matter.

And no doubt that statement by Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell goes many steps further in alleging political pressure by David Weiss, the special counsel, that the White House does not want to go near. The White House has said for several weeks that the fact that Weiss has Republican ties and carried out this investigation for several years that those details on his face mean that the investigation was conducted in a fair manner, but that was all before the plea deal fell apart.

As for the president, he just concluded about 35 minutes of remarks in Prince George's County, Maryland. And at the end of his remarks, he seemed to allude to the news of the day, suggesting this when he was leaving the stage. He said, there's a lot more I know we could talk about. I wish we had a chance to take all your questions and I'm going to get in real trouble if I do that.

But on stage, it was business as usual for the president. He took aim at Republicans spending plans or a lack thereof, and tried to contrast that with the economic platform of his own administration. But that messaging, Jake, just belies the fact that this is a president who is very close to Hunter Biden.

Behind the scenes, there was a lot of frustration, consternation and uncertainty about how this case would resolve itself once that plea deal fell apart. And as for the political fallout for the president, confidants of the Biden inner circle suggest that, you know, they believe while something like today's development might be seen as red meat for the Republican base and get Republicans riled up, that their expectation is that it won't move independents and that there will be some degree of sympathy on behalf of American families all too many of whom are familiar with addiction -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kayla Tausche, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Reid and Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

So, Paula, this is interesting because this isn't what Abbe Lowell, Hunter's lawyer, says about the constitutionality of this law. He's not making that up. This is a real thing. There are people out there who are talking about this gun possession law that Hunter is accused of breaking, being on shaky legal ground.

There is an appeals court ruling governing three southern states that in August declared it unconstitutional. How -- how does that impact the case and what's the reasoning behind it?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's a big problem for prosecutors. Those people are talking about this is fifth circuit court of appeals that recently ruled you cannot bar someone from owning a firearm because of past drug addiction issues.

That speaks directly to the heart of this case. And this is part of a wider pattern that we have seen at the Supreme Court and other courts expanding Second Amendment rights. So, it's fascinating to see something that President Biden has really tried to push back on could potentially help his son here.

But he's absolutely right, shaky legal ground and that circuit court appeal ruling is, it's really important for Hunter Biden's legal team.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, if the argument is that addiction is a disease, as long as the person isn't using drugs at that moment, how can they -- I mean, this is argument suppose. How can they be faulted and prevented from exercising their constitutional right?

REID: Yeah, and watching this case, as we've been covering the Hunter Biden investigation in trying to see did prosecutors use this as part of their calculation. So, again, these charges today, it is fair to say that based on that circuit court ruling, this case could be on shaky ground.

TAPPER: So when Weiss, the special counsel was appointed to the special counsel position he was criticized by Republican congressmen because they thought he would entered into the sweetheart plea deal with Hunter Biden even though he was appointed by Trump, even though he had Republican ties, obviously some liberal stooge.

Here's what people said. McCarthy said, if Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal, they can get approved, how can he be trusted as special counsel? Lindsey Graham said Mr. Weiss has been compromised. His whole team to me has been compromised. Tim Scott said the special counsel can't be trusted and this decision raises further questions about the independence of Biden's DOJ. And we saw with James Comer's reaction, they are still saying basically, unless he goes after President Biden, this whole thing is a farce?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, I mean, look, if you're looking for consistency on legal opinions and consistency on messaging, you won't find a whole lot of that in Congress. I think the dueling sort of rationalities here I think speak to just how much of a political and partisan zeal there is, surrounding this case.

So, the zero sum game here is going to be about the president's detractors trying to press the investigators and their own -- using their own process up on Capitol Hill to continue to ask questions and continue to sort of press upon the White House to provide answers and also Hunter Biden to provide answers about potential malfeasance. So that's not going away. This battle between Congress and the White

House and the Republicans in Congress against the president on this is going to continue.

TAPPER: And, Paula, Abbe Lowell, Hunter's attorney, seems to be suggesting that Weiss is only doing this because he's been called out by his, I don't know if he's Republican, but he's been called a --

REID: A Trump-appointed U.S. attorney.

TAPPER: Yeah, Republican -- he's susceptible to criticism from the right. Abbe Lowell seems to be suggesting, you're getting pressured by the Jim Jordans of the world and so you're filing these charges.

REID: Something Weiss will have to answer to eventually.

It's interesting. I was making calls on the Trump cases and I, of course, cover very closely a few moments ago. And one of the Trump orbit lawyers told me this case is completely political. There's no way you would bring a case like that against someone unless it was political.

This is the kind of stuff these gun charges that are usually hashed out with prosecutors. So, Abbe Lowell and Trump world lawyer completely in agreement on suggesting that this is politically motivated.

TAPPER: And, Kevin, today, Trump reacted to Hunter's indictment on Truth Social, saying, quote, this -- the gun charge is the only crime that Hunter Biden committed that does not implicate, and then he referred to President Biden.

This is what we're going to hear on the campaign trail I imagine?

MADDEN: Yeah. I mean, this underscores my point which is I think Paula brings up a good point about the court of public, court of law. There's going to be a lot of nuance or substance. There's a lot of details involved.

But in the court of public opinion, and the political arena, this is it. It is us versus them. And I think as much as possible, the Trump forces, Trump and his allies in Congress, I think they're going to try to draw up anything related to Hunter Biden, closer and closer to President Biden.

And that's the goal. Whether it's through insinuation whether the facts lead there or not is probably a secondary consideration for them, because it helps them politically.

TAPPER: You know, I bet -- I bet when Joe Biden took office, they kept the Durham investigation and they kept the U.S. attorney for Delaware because of conflicts of interest, because Durham was investigating the investigation to Russia-gate and because Weiss was investigating Hunter Biden.

[16:15:09] My guess is, and this is just a prediction, that that's last time we see any administration do that kind of thing. I think Democrats are going to take, they're going to say like, Donald Trump was out there commuting Roger Stone's sentence. Why are we doing this anymore? Like --

REID: I mean, it can be unusual to have a U.S. attorney in your back pocket who is appointed by your predecessor, remember, this is also the U.S. attorney in Chicago who is --

TAPPER: Tell that to Joe Biden right now.

REID: Excuse me, Mr. President, who was tasked with the -- the original review of the Biden classified documents probe, which eventually turned into special counsel. It can be kind of useful to have a U.S. attorney appointed by someone else, holding on to the special counsel's. Also, it can be useful to insulate.

So, there's -- there is a utility to it. We live in extraordinary times.

TAPPER: All right. Kevin, thanks so much. Paula, stick around.

For weeks, many Democrats in Congress wanted to help defend President Biden against the potential impeachment inquiry related to his son's activities. How does this new federal indictment change their calculus if at all?

Plus, the hot mess among House Republicans throwing around F-bombs, threatening to throw out their speaker. Let us not forget that the federal government is facing a potential shutdown. Hey, guys don't forget that.

Republican Congressman Ken Buck is going to join me. That's next.



TAPPER: We're back with more of the breaking news. Hunter Biden indicted on three federal gun charges, two counts for alleged false statements he made while purchasing the gun and a third count for possessing the gun while addicted to drugs. This not only has significant legal implications but political ones, too.

Of course, Paula Reid is back with me, along with CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

And, Jamie, Donald Trump already using this to his political advantage or trying to at least. How damaging is this, do you think to Joe Biden's re-election campaign?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Fair or unfair, Hunter Biden's problems are his father's problems. That's just the way it's going to work. Look, if you think about our recent CNN poll, what was it, 61 percent

say they think Biden had at least some involvement in Hunter Biden's business dealings. There is no evidence of that, and these are completely different charges. This has nothing to do with that.

But there is, you know, a problem of perception and despite the fact there is no evidence, it does hurt politically.

TAPPER: Paula, are we going to see Hunter Biden arrested, arraigned mug shot. Are we going to see all that?

GANGEL: He will be treated like any other federal defendant. Usually in cases like this, you negotiate with the Justice Department when to turn yourself in, you're processed. There is a mug shot but at the federal level, those mug shots are not released to the public. And then he'll have an initial appearance, and an arraignment.

There doesn't appear to be any of this on the calendar. Yet, that is something that's going to have to be negotiated between the two sides. Again, if it's like any other case, I expect all that to happen next week.

TAPPER: Kevin McCarthy was asked just a few minutes ago and he said he has not yet read the Hunter Biden indictment. That Hunter Biden is -- there's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about Hunter Biden. It is -- where they are focusing a lot of their attention, the House Republicans.

GANGEL: Right. And, look, this is going to be a problem for Joe Biden and messaging. Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. He is not going to come out and say this is a witch-hunt, the White House says we're directing questions to the Justice Department. That doesn't work with Donald Trump and with this Republican Party because there is no nuance here.

And one thing we know about Donald Trump is he is the king of messaging, he still is controlling the levers of this Republican Party. And again, he's going to play this for all it's worth politically. This is a real challenge for messaging for the Democrats and for Joe Biden.

TAPPER: And, Paula, help me understand something, there had been a plea deal --

REID: Yes.

TAPPER: -- between Weiss and Hunter's lawyers. It was going to be misdemeanors and the begun charge was going to be put aside as long as --

REID: Diverted, yeah.

TAPPER: Diverted.

But, they had not agreed on whether or not there could be future charges brought against Hunter, right, and Hunter's lawyers --

REID: Well, they thought he had agreed but it got murky real fast.

TAPPER: It got murky real fast, and Hunter's lawyers were like, look, we can't have it that we enter into this plea deal then Donald Trump gets reelected and he sics the Justice Department on us, and then we face new charges just because Donald Trump wants it and the judge said -- well, then you guys don't have an understanding at all and threw the whole thing out. Is that what happened?

REID: Approximately. Look, the reason you enter into a plea deal is to resolve case. He was investigated for five years, the only charges that the Justice Department brought forward were these tax charges and the gun diversion. So I think it would be fair for a lawyer to say, you're not going to just leave this hanging over my client, right? We're going to plea and we're going to resolve this.

Now that he's facing this new indictment, this could potentially result in another plea deal. Now, he could also want to take this to trial. I think a lot of legal experts have said today, in my reporting bears out this case is on shaky ground, the gun case.

So, he could just say -- sure, let's go to trial but that is incredibly costly to go up against the federal government financially and emotionally. It's unclear he want to do that, so he could be open to a plea deal with these millions of dollars in legal debt. And again, he's been under investigation for five years. So with the opportunity for a plea was presented to him, it could be something he was interested in and to ultimately resolve this.

GANGEL: And this all could play out in the middle of the campaign.

TAPPER: Right.

Speaking of the campaign, there's this other major legal front in Georgia. The judge in Fulton County he was going to allow the two co- conspirators to be severed from the other 17, meaning Donald Trump's case is now not taking place next month. The judge has said it's going to take about four months.

So, when are we going to see that case begin? Because it looks like if you look at 2024, it's a pretty packed calendar not just with caucuses and primaries and debates and the convention, but also other trials if you look it.

REID: Fair. I'm glad I just put up the calendar. Look, the fact is this isn't going to happen in October, which we did not expect it would. The judge signaled that last week. It's almost impossible to find four months ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

So what this signals to us today, the fact that he and 16 of his codefendants have been sort of push back while two of them will go in October, the rest are pushed off, it is likely it appears that he will not be tried in Fulton County, Georgia, until after the 2024 election, which is great for him because that's been his strategy at the federal level and state level -- delay, delay, delay.

TAPPER: All right. Paula and Jamie, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, those tense moments behind closed doors as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy confronted his skeptics in his House Republican caucus. I'm going to talk to Republican Congressman Ken Buck, next. He was in the room.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have breaking news. Right now, less than eight hours left for the Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, to make a new deal with the United Auto Workers Union. Without a deal, the UAW says they will start targeted strikes at a number of auto plants.

A warning from the union's president saying they are, quote, preparing to strike these companies in a way they have never seen before it's being closely watched by the White House as it could have widespread economic consequences.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is in Dearborn, Michigan. She's standing by with the president and CEO of Ford, Jim Farley.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, here at Ford world headquarters with Jim Farley, president and CEO.

We are just hours away from this strike deadline.


YURKEVICH: Do you think Ford can come to an agreement with the union by the deadline?

FARLEY: I think everyone's imagining that there's small team in a conference room somewhere negotiating a final aspects of the deal and that's not happening. We made our offer, the fourth in two weeks on Tuesday and we've heard nothing really of substance back. We're still waiting for feedback on the UAW.

We are planted out (ph) here. We have finished all the negotiation and non-monetary parts. All the team has worked really hard with UAW national negotiators. But when it comes to the really heavy, most monetary issues, we are hearing nothing back so far on our proposal.

YURKEVICH: What we have been hearing is the UAW is planning a targeted strike. Do you think that that's going to happen?

FARLEY: Right now, it looks like they're spending more time on the targeted strike than historic strike of all three companies, rather than a historic deal we would rather make history by a deal that's going to propel our industry forward for the next you know decades with this huge transition.

So, we'll see. We're ready if there's a strike, but we don't want there to be a strike. We're ready to work up until a deadline is done as we have for last two weeks.

YURKEVICH: You have offered a historic wage increase --


YURKEVICH: -- the most I believe in the company's history.


YURKEVICH: What is your understanding about what they are still looking for?

FARLEY: Well, Shawn's requests were very clear. He proposed a nearly $300,000 fully range (ph) wage for each of our factory workers to work four days a week.

And if we had done that in our business when we've had a couple really great years here, we would have gone bankrupt many years ago. $15 billion of losses, we would have to close plants, most people would lose their jobs, we would have no money to invest.

So what we are looking at, the stark reality of the proposal is, you know, a fully -- a tenured teacher in the United States makes $66,000. You know, we can't -- we can't run our business that way. So that's why we have put all these offers on the table but we haven't heard really anything back of substance, especially today in the final hours.

YURKEVICH: When I spoke to you over the last few days at Ford events, I could sense your frustration. What is your motion standing here today in the last hours?

FARLEY: I feel for our team. My grandfather is a factory worker and for them, this is going to be very difficult. We haven't had a strike since the '70s at Ford. We have the most UAW workers and we put the most generous offer we've ever had in our history that's fully competitive with all the UAW negotiated industrial companies, and we haven't even been able to negotiate with people.

So, I feel as a leader of the company for our team, because the way they want to do if there is a strike is many people may not get paid, may not get unemployment, may not get the strike fund. So I feel terrible for our team. In the end, that's who suffers when we can't make a deal.

YURKEVICH: The workers that are left on the factory floor who are not going out on these targeted strikes, will they be compensated still by Ford?

FARLEY: Well, it depends on, you know, how this rolling strike works. If it's a stamping plant our engine transmission plant that supplies, you know, many of the downstream assembly plants, and that's how we've designed our system to be efficient, you know, those people -- you know, we'll have to close those plants because there's no parts to make the vehicles. We can't make a vehicle without an engine or transmission or stampings.

So those people will, you know, basically be furloughed. And depending on the state they may get unemployment, they may not get unemployment. They may get strike funds or not, that's up to the UAW. So, it will be a lot of hardship for people.

YURKEVICH: The union has claimed that some automakers are not negotiating in good faith. Do you feel as though the union is negotiating in good faith?

FARLEY: You know, I have to say we've never seen what we've seen in eight years of working with the UAW. We put four great offers on the table and we get little pieces of paper about one aspect or the other.


We've never gotten a really serious counteroffer in two weeks. You know, I don't know what to call that and now, for the last day and a half, we haven't even had anyone really on the other side of the table like Shawn Fein saying here's what we would like to do.

I'm -- we have never seen anything. I don't know if there's words to describe given the significance of what this means for the future of the industry when you can't even negotiate with us. Negotiating isn't saying here's a choice, pay everyone that I ask and you can go bankrupt. That's not a choice. That's not negotiating. Negotiating is working through this like we have for 80 years.

YURKEVICH: The union is asking for ambitious demands. They're no doubt ambitious.


YURKEVICH: Do you believe that they set those standards so high because they wanted a strike regardless of what the Big Three were willing to propose?

FARLEY: I don't know, but I watched a Facebook Live last night with my team and all the hardworking negotiators at Ford, and it seemed like most of the time or a lot of the time was spent talking about emotionally preparing for a strike, or a strike, and that would be historic with all three companies.

At Ford, we would like to make history by making historic deal, not by having a historic strike.

TAPPER: Vanessa, can I -- can I --

YURKEVICH: UAW is -- yes, Jake go ahead.

TAPPER: I'm sorry. I just interviewed Shawn, the head of the UAW the other day. And I just wanted to pass on a question based on something he told me the other day which is that over the last four years, each of the Big Three car manufacturers' CEOs, in addition to their multimillion dollar salaries, they received on average of 40 percent pay increase.

So why are the auto workers wanting a raise beyond what's been asked, why is that so offensive compared to the 40 percent raises they have given themselves?

YURKEVICH: Jake, spoke to Shawn Fein the other day live on air, and he is asking -- the union is saying that CEOs like yourself of the Big Three have received 40 percent pay increases yourself. So why is it so egregious for the union workers to be asking for the same thing?

FARLEY: Actually, we're really open to huge increases.

YURKEVICH: Forty percent?

FARLEY: Well, you know, it depends how you count that. I wasn't CEO four years ago so I can't speak for myself, but I will tell you that we have put on the table increases, double digit increases we have never seen before, 20-plus percent. If you include COLAs, even larger than that.

YURKEVICH: But that's 40, what they asked for.

FARLEY: Right. And I'm saying 40 percent will put us out of business. We would lose $15 billion, we would have to cut people, close plants, what's the good of that? It's not a sustainable business.

There's a fine line here that we won't go past, which is we want everyone to participate in our success. But if it prevents us from investing in this transition to EVs and in future products like the ones we have now, like new F-150, bestselling vehicle in the world -- in the U.S., then everyone's job is at risk if we don't invest.

So, there's a line. The line isn't for us to go bankrupt. The line is somewhere in the middle, and the only way to resolve that is to actually negotiate.

YURKEVICH: Jake has another question,

Jake, what is it?

TAPPER: It's just there have been record auto profits, bailouts by the U.S. government. These huge raises that these CEOs are giving themselves, and I just wonder, why there isn't more of a desire of the CEOs to have the workers share in the profits that are coming in to these automakers who just need we remind him were bailed outside by the U.S. taxpayer a few years ago?

YURKEVICH: Yeah, Jake reminds us that many of the big three automakers were bailed out -- I know not Ford.

FARLEY: Not us.

YURKEVICH: Not Ford, but others were, and there have been record profits in recent years across many of the companies and you are getting a very nice salary. Why should the workers not be able to share in these record profits?

FARLEY: Yeah, our offer to the team is reinstate protection for inflation, get rid of all the tiers that were created during '08.

YURKEVICH: What about the profit sharing?

FARLEY: Sure, our profit sharing we've distributed $75,000 over the last 10 years to the average worker at Ford. We've actually -- we're the only automaker that has added jobs to the UAW since the Great Recession.

We didn't go bankrupt. We kept adding jobs. Our competitors added jobs in other countries like Mexico and Canada. We didn't.

So we're in a very different situation. We have so many more workers than any of our competitors. This is why we are hopeful that we could work together and find a way to reward our team, beyond profit sharing, which will continue.


But healthy wage increases so that we can work on this historic deal and we can go forward and continue to invest. But it's hard to negotiate with yourself.

YURKEVICH: Yeah. Last question, your grandfather worked at Ford in a very early days.

FARLEY: Yes, yes.

YURKEVICH: I imagine he was advocating for himself at that time as well.


YURKEVICH: What would he think about what is going on right now with these negotiations?

FARLEY: Yeah, my grandfather started in the early teens. He was 389th employee at the company. And I know he would -- he would say to me get back to work. But what he would really want is Jim, make sure everyone's taken care of, but make sure everyone has a future. Those words ring in my ears every night I go to sleep.

YURKEVICH: Thank you, Jim Farley, CEO and president of Ford.

The hours are counting down to the deadline. Ford wants to make a deal but they say it's been an uphill battle -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Vanessa Yurkevich, great get. Thank you so much, from Dearborn, Michigan.

Let's get some reaction from CNN's Richard Quest.

Richard, you heard the CEO of Ford saying they're nowhere near a deal. What are you expecting happens next? RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, I think what's

interesting is the way in which the union has tackled it. In previous negotiations, they've targeted one of the Big Three, the one that they thought they were going to get the best deal out of and they've gone hell for leather for that company. Then, that deal provided, if you will, template for everybody else.

Now that's not happening this time in the same way. Shawn Fein is doing it in a different way than predecessors, this targeting, rolling strikes, aiming to inflict maximum pain for minimum interruption to his workers per se. And that I think is going to be interesting.

But the truth is, Jake, they're all angry because they perceive the fat cats of the c-suite have made off like bandits and they're having to pay for higher inflation, higher this, higher that, poorer healthcare and they want something back.

So I don't think this -- I mean, it's not by accident, Jake, if you look at industrial relations in the United States at the moment, it cannot be an accident that you've got the UAW just about to go on strike, you've got the Screen Actors Guild, you've got the writers on strike. This is because people are angry.

TAPPER: Yeah, and also there is a tremendous income disparity between the people at the very top and the workers on the front line. An income disparity that was -- that was not so stark 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 percent ago.

QUEST: Well, in previous years, there used to be metrics from top to bottom should be no more than 20 or whatever it was. And that the CEO didn't earn more than what the lowest person. But that's gone. That is gone and it's gone because of a certain amount of CEOs that I don't include Jim from Ford in this, CEOs who really run the squeeze the asset for maximum benefit.

I don't think that really happens with the car companies per se but it's going to be nasty. This is real nasty.

TAPPER: Yeah, UAW does say though, over the last four years, the CEOs of the Big Three automakers have essentially given themselves an average of 40 percent of a raise, in addition to the multimillion dollar salaries that they've gotten.

Richard Quest --

QUEST: You mean you didn't get the 40 percent?

TAPPER: That's a good one.

Richard Quest, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

QUEST: Thank you.

TAPPER: The House Republican conference behind closed doors today sounded a bit like this.


Okay, I'm not going to bring those actual nasty words into your living room. But Speaker McCarthy held a close door meeting with House Republicans that was intense and became heated. Three sources in the room that McCarthy grew frustrated at the threats to oust him as speaker.

At one point, McCarthy said, quote, move the F-ing motion, referencing recent threats from Republican Matt Gaetz, calling for a motion on the House floor to remove McCarthy as speaker, to which Gaetz responded, quote, how about just move the F-ing spending bills. Obviously, nobody said F-ing, but you catch the drift.

After the meeting, reporters caught up with McCarthy to ask him about these threats from Congressman Gaetz.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Threats don't matter sometimes people do those things because of personal things and that's all fine. I don't walk away from a battle. I knew changing Washington would not be easy. I knew people would fight or tried to hold leverage for other things. I'm going to continue just to focus on what's the right thing to do for the American people.


And you know what? If it takes a fight, I'll have a fight.


TAPPER: Fight being a different F-word than the one Mr. McCarthy deployed away from the cameras today.

Here's how Congressman Matt Gaetz responded to the meetings, talking exclusively with CNN's Manu Raju.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm concerned for the speaker that he seems to be a little rattled and unhinged at a time when we need focus and strong effort. Whether or not McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is within his own hands. All he has to do is come in compliance with the deal we made in January.


TAPPER: Let us recall, McCarthy is facing multiple major battles not only these threats to oust him but also substantively, a possible government shutdown as members of his party are threatening to not pass the short-term spending bill that McCarthy wants them to that would keep the government running past September 30th and, of course, there's the impeachment inquiry into President Biden that McCarthy launched without presenting any concrete evidence yet that Biden personally, financially benefited from his son Hunter's business dealings, and without bringing that to a floor vote, after saying 12 days beforehand that he would have a floor vote to demonstrate how serious the matter is. Then, of course, there's policy, right?

Joining us now to discuss, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of the great state of Colorado.

Let's start with the Hunter Biden indictment.

A lot of your Republican colleagues were critical when David Weiss was named special counsel. James Comer still being critical basically saying unless -- well, I don't want put words in his mouth, but he wants to see more than Hunter Biden indicted on gun charges.

I mean, this would seem to suggest that David Weiss is pretty serious, no?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Yes, and I have to tell you, every member when Jim Comey announced an investigation of Hillary Clinton and all the Democrats jumped up and down and then he said he was closing it without recommending charges and all the Republicans jumped up and down.

This is the same situation. How silly Republicans are going to look in six months if he's brought gun charged, tax charges, and Foreign Agent Registration Act violation charges.

I mean, give the guy some time to develop this case. I don't agree with the plea agreement that he had before --


BUCK: -- but this certainly looks like he is taking it seriously. You can't judge him until we've seen the work product.

TAPPER: Let the law enforcement people do their job, right? I mean, that's the basic idea.

So you are not at this closed door meeting that McCarthy had with the House Republican caucus where McCarthy reportedly said he was not scared of threats to oust him and move the F-ing motion. But what do you make of everything that made out here?

BUCK: Well, Kevin has made promises to different parts of the conference. He has promised to be speaker, one number, a low number. Then he entered negotiations with President Biden and agreed to a higher number.

TAPPER: You are talking about on the spending bill.

BUCK: On the spending bill, right.


BUCK: And now, he's stuck because he's got part of the conference that expects a lower number and part of the conference expects a higher number and he's not going to get there with a Republican vote.

So, now, he announces an impeachment inquiry on the president and he's not going to get Democrats to help him out of this problem. So I really don't know what the strategy is on how we're going to avert a shutdown in a week or two.

TAPPER: So, I'll get to the spending bill in a second. But, you've said that you're against the impeachment inquiry as of now because you haven't seen yet any concrete evidence that shows President Biden financially benefited from Hunter's business deals.

Do you think that Speaker McCarthy did not bring it to the floor for a vote, as he said he would, because he was afraid that it wouldn't pass, that people like you might not vote for it?

BUCK: Oh, he knew it wouldn't pass. There are probably more than 20 Republican votes that would not have been in favor of this. Not only did he say he was going to bring it to the floor but he criticized Nancy Pelosi for not bringing it to the floor when she was impeaching Donald Trump.

So he has a long history of what he thinks needs to happen before impeachment, but when you don't have the votes, you don't bring it to the floor.

TAPPER: So this is always wild to me when somebody just tries to stand by a set of principles, however they shake out for Democrats or Republicans, which is my interpretation of what you're doing.

You're facing some blowback from your fellow Republicans. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted earlier this week: When -- when is Ken Buck going to announce he's a Democrat, which is amusing for anybody who is familiar with your voting record or your history. You're with the House Freedom Caucus which is a very conservative group.

But three sources have told CNN there is a serious effort underway to try to find a candidate, to primary you to challenge you presumably from the right next year. Are you worried at all?

BUCK: I won't use Kevin McCarthy's language but bring it. You know, they brought a primary --

TAPPER: We have that bleeping thing. We would have to rehearse. Go ahead. Sorry.

BUCK: No, they brought a primary two years ago I won 75-25. I am comfortable that the people in my district know that I'm a conservative and know that I want to make sure we don't ruin this institution over a tit for tat impeachment.


If the evidence is there, Jake, I will absolutely vote for impeachment. I don't see the evidence at this point.

TAPPER: McCarthy said he -- to avoid a government shutdown, he plans to try to pass the short term continuing resolution to spending bill. You're against it? BUCK: I don't know what it is yet. So I don't know if I'm against it.

But if it isn't the 2019 number, I am against a short-term CR.

TAPPER: Right. You want to bring the number down to the pre-COVID spending levels.

BUCK: That's correct.

TAPPER: But what if he said just do this through September, do the short-term spending bill then we will, you know, then we'll actually do some work and the next one will be that lower level?

BUCK: So we've been here nine months.

TAPPER: Yeah, right.

BUCK: I'm not from Missouri but show me.

TAPPER: Right.

BUCK: Show me what evidence there is to believe that if we just get this CR done, you're actually going to work on a lower number. I haven't seen that yet.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Ken Buck from the state of Colorado, good to see you, sir.

Next time, we'll practice and I'll get that bleep machine ready to go.

BUCK: I don't use the language anyways.

TAPPER: Is that right?

BUCK: Yeah.

TAPPER: Okay. Good to so you. Thanks so much.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our world lead, we're getting a gruesome look into what Sunday's catastrophic floods left behind in northeast Libya.

Disturbing images show crews in the coastal town of Derna finally able to pull out bodies that had been dragged into the mud and left to rot. Government officials estimate that more than 5,000 people were killed, 10,000 remain missing.

The scope of the wave that wiped away neighborhoods in Derna was about 22 feet high. That's nearly quadruple the size of someone who is 6 feet tall.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more for us now in the widespread destruction in Libya.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Days after disaster struck Derna, there's still collecting the bodies. Egyptian rescue workers though are one full body bag to the pavement and go back for another.

The death toll is still unclear but there's no doubt thousands were killed in the floods and thousands more remain missing.

This survivor recounts what he saw. The children died in front of my eyes, my neighbors died, he says. It feels like a nightmare until this hour I still can't believe it.

And a nightmare isn't over. The magnitude of this disaster is more than this doctor interviewed on Libyan television can take.

The numbers he says are awful. In a country consumed by years of conflict, and hijacked by rival foreign powers, simple things like the weather service were neglected says the head of the world meteorological organization.

PETTERI TAALAS, SECRETARY-GENERAL, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: If there had been a normal operating service, they could have issued a warning, and also, the emergency management would have been able to carry out evacuation of the people.

WEDEMAN: In Derna, the authorities urged caution and imposed a curfew before this storm but there were no evacuations and this is the result.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start this hour of THE LEAD with big developments at the White House where for first time in the history of the United States of America, the Department of Justice has filed felony criminal charges against the child of a sitting president, the adult child, Hunter Biden, Robert Hunter Biden.

He was indicted on three federal gun charges in Delaware today by special counsel David Weiss. Those charges include two counts of making false statements on a federal firearms form and one count of possession of a firearm as a prohibited person.

The purchase was in 2018. The Delaware gun shop. Prosecutors claim Hunter lied on a federal form when he swore he was not using and was not addicted to any illegal drugs. Hunter was struggling with a crack cocaine addiction at the time.

CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now.

And, Evan, this was a case that was minutes away from being wrapped up with a plea deal a few weeks ago. So, how did we end up here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the judge asked some not unreasonable questions, Jake, about the scope of this agreement between prosecutors at the time. They were plating having him plea to misdemeanor charges on tax -- for tax charges and a diversion program for this gun charge, whereby if he simply abided by conditions, including staying off drugs not having possession of firearm this gun charge would have gone away, and as a result of the questions the judge was asking about the constitutionality of the structure of this agreement, whether it meant that Hunter could not be charged for anything else the two sides basically decided that they weren't in agreement for this deal.

And so, now, here we are. We now have David Weiss, who was Trump appointed U.S. attorney who stayed on to handle this investigation. He's now a special counsel and he decided to bring this charge just about two weeks before the deadline for him to bring it.

And so, as you pointed out this is a charge that goes back to 2018. This is a five investigation that has looked at a lot of things. Obviously, a lot of controversy as to whether it has been -- it has looked at everything, right? There's some allegations from whistleblower who say that they were prohibited from looking at all of the allegations.

But here we are, five years later, this is the single charge that has been brought. It is important to note that the special counsel is not done. We anticipated and he has signaled that he may well bring tax charges against Hunter Biden, possibly in Los Angeles where he lives, or here in Washington. This is where those allegations that -- which is the location of where those alleged crimes took place.