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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Iran Releases Five Americans In A Swap; California Governor Gavin Newsom's One-On-One Interview With Dana Bash; Trump Attacks Liberal Jews On Jewish Holiday; Pence, GOP Presidential Hopefuls Sharpen Focus On China; Sheriff: Suspect Arrested In Murder Of L.A. Deputy; U.N. Revises Death Toll Downward To At Least 3,958. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 18, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: They said that they told him falsely that his dad had died and then a week later came back and told them they had only been joking. Let's bring in Brett McGurk, the National Security Council's coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. He helped negotiate this deal. Brett, walk us through the process given that Iran and the U.S. have not had formal diplomatic ties in more than 40 years.

BRETT MCGURK, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Well, Jake, thanks for having me. This has really been a negotiation, really, as President Biden said to the families today, since the earliest weeks of our administration, we've engaged in a process to try to bring these Americans home. And we had standards of what we would accept and what we would not accept. And really, over the last six months, that process intensified.

We had very intense negotiations in Doha in Qatar. We're very grateful to Qatar and also to Oman for helping to facilitate this. And when the arrangement came together on terms that we could accept based on the standards that we always said we would accept, the President made the difficult but the right decision to move ahead.

TAPPER: One of the -- we had an activist on, well, somebody against the Iranian regime earlier in the show who expressed concern that this only incentivizes hostage taking by governments such as Iran's.

MCGURK: Well, I would say, Jake, look, I think there's no question. President Biden had a statement just three days ago on the anniversary of the death of Masa Amini about our support for the Iranian people. At the height of the Iranian protests last year, about one in three Iranians were actually using anti-censorship tools from the United States, VPNs and other means. And we continue to be very focused on this.

But when we see an opportunity to bring home five American citizens, and as you said, in the case of Siamak Namazi, he's been in Evin prison for eight years, Morad Tahbaz for five years, Emad Sharghi the same amount of time. We seized that opportunity and the arrangement today, Iran really gains no benefit. There are no funds going into Iran, Iranian companies are not getting any money.

We have created a humanitarian channel in which Iran can get food paid to third party vetted vendors and the Treasury Department has monitoring over this process.

TAPPER: So, you reject the idea that this incentivizes hostage taking in any way?

MCGURK: We have not changed -- we have not lifted any sanctions. We have not waived any sanctions. There's an account in South Korea that even under the last administration was available for humanitarian trade, and we moved it to another restricted account. There's really no change. This money will be spent over years and will benefit the Iranian people.

This money can only be used, Jake -- it's very important. The facts here are really important, and Treasury put this all out today, for food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products. That's it. Spent over a period of years for third-party non-Iranian vendors. No money goes into Iran. This is to benefit the Iranian people.

TAPPER: And how -- what is the oversight process of that? Because obviously as I don't need to tell you, the U.S. has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terror and obviously the Iranian regime, when they get money, they do fund terrorist acts in Gaza. They used to fund terrorist attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, et cetera, et cetera. How do you make sure that none of that fund goes to that?

MCGURK: Iran is a state sponsor of terror. Iran is an adversary. We will continue to work to deter, contain, sanction, isolate Iran and deter their aggressive activities. But one reason this deal took so long is because we have some of the most stringent due diligence and monitoring standards possible in banks that we know, in banks that we see, in banks that we trust.

And if there is any diversion and we will see it, we will lock up these funds again. Again, no funds are going to Iran at all. These funds are paid to vetted third-party vendors for food, medicine, medical products, and agricultural products that go into Iran over a period of years. If there is any diversion, we will know it and we will lock up these accounts.

Again, the reason this took so long to conclude, I wish we could have got this done two years ago, is because we held firm to very firm principles. And when the deal came available, under those standards, with those stringent due diligence procedures in place that we can monitor, the president made the decision to go forward. We did not do it until we had all of that in place.

TAPPER: The Bring Our Families Home Coalition, which is very active in this type of situation, is also raising the question of Shahab Dalili, who is still detained in Iran, and Shahab's family is wondering why he was left out of the deal. He's cur -- and also, they're wondering why he's currently not considered wrongfully detained by the State Department. Could you explain that? MCGURK: Jake, I can't speak to any individual cases. All American

citizens are now out of Iran on their way back to the United States. I will say, you know, if I was here a week ago, I would not be talking about Emad Sharghi's case or Siamak Namazi's case.


And as I said to the families every day, month after month, there's never good news until there is good news. And we're committed to bringing everybody out of harm's way overseas who's detained. The president has a record on that. We'll continue for that. I'd also say in the case of Iran, Jake, and the president said this in a statement today. No American should travel to Iran. No American passport holders should travel to Iran. The five Americans coming home today are dual citizens. These are Iranian-Americans. The most difficult cases.

I make the point in the last administration they were not able to get any dual citizen's home. These are extremely, extremely difficult cases. That's why it took a long time. We hold firm to our principles and our standards. This is a good deal. It's a good day for America. It's a good day for our fellow citizens. And as of tonight, about six, seven hours from now, five families will be reunited and whole.

TAPPER: In moments, we're going to talk to the son of another detained American in Iran, Bob Levinson. He's believed dead. His family is obviously still seeking some final words as to what actually happened to him. Do you have a message to the Levinson family?

MCGURK: I do. We keep in very close touch with the Levinson family. Bob is a hero. We'll never forget Bob. The president spoke about Bob today in his statement. We issued sanctions today under the Levinson Act against former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence Services, and we'll continue to do that.

We'll continue to seek justice for Bob. Again, the president spoke to this today, Secretary Blinken spoke to this today, and we're just honored to stay in touch with the family, and we'll never forget about Bob.

TAPPER: Brett, let me just also say just so you know, we cover these stories all the time of Americans unjustly detained and I know there's always questions about the prices paid, whether it's notorious Russians freed in exchange for Trevor Reed or $6 billion in exchange for these individuals.

I know the families are just overjoyed, so congratulations on this, removing the politics from it, I know there are five families and five individuals that are very, very happy to be coming home.

MCGURK: That's right. Thank you, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Brett McGurk, thank you so much. For another American family, of course, the nightmare does continue. Former FBI agent Robert Levinson became the longest held U.S. citizen in history in 2016 after his disappearance from Iran's Kish Island in 2007, while working as a private investigator. His family now believes he is dead.

Joining us now, Daniel Levinson, the son of Robert Levinson. Daniel, your family says today's release of five Americans is a quote, "cause for celebration." What is going through your mind as you watch this unfold? It must be somewhat bittersweet.

DANIEL LEVINSON, SON OF ROBERT LEVINSON WHO WENT MISSING IN IRAN ON 2007: It is, but we are always happy to see families reunited. It's a warm feeling for everybody and we are very happy for them. We wish we could be celebrating the same. We went through this in 2016, as you've mentioned, and we're hoping that this statement today by the president and the actions by Treasury Department are a positive step and send the message to Iran that we're not going away and they're going to have to address this.

TAPPER: The administration, the Biden administration today sanctioned Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and former Iranian President Ahmadinejad and called on the Iranian regime to quote, "give a full accounting of what happened to Bob Levinson from his initial captivity to probable death," unquote. Do you have hope that Iran will finally provide any answers to your family?

LEVINSON: Well, they're going to have to because we're just going to keep pressing them. And the fact that the U.S. did this today reminds them it's not going to be forgotten. They have blood on their hands and they're going to be held accountable. They're going to have to come clean about this eventually. And they're going to have to deal with us until the answers are found until our dad's case is resolved.

TAPPER: There has been a wave of criticism from Republicans over the deal that freed the five Americans today. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas saying Iran will quote, "take the money and run." Others, not Republicans, others such as human rights activists we spoke with earlier today saying she fears that this will incentivize hostage taking. What do you think?

LEVINSON: Well, it's a lot of leverage and there's a lot of Iranian assets that are still frozen up and I hope that they're going to continue to use that because the Iranians are always going to be after this money. They're always going to want this money. So, it's a lot of leverage to use and we hope that they're going to use it to press them for answers.

TAPPER: You heard just a couple of minutes ago that Brett McGurk from the administration saying that they're in close touch with your family and they're never going to give up on Bob Levinson's case, that he's a hero. Is that all accurate?

LEVINSON: Yes, we are in touch with them. We spoke with them before all the events of this week occurred and we were working with them. And we're hoping that it feels like they're trying to do right by us. And these steps today were a positive development for us.

TAPPER: What do you believe would ultimately stop Iran and other hostile nations from taking Americans as political prisoners? Or is it just the age-old battle of good versus evil? [17:10:04]

LEVINSON: I don't know how to tell you because my dad was the first one in decades back in 2007 and we couldn't have seen that they would start to -- start this whole process to continue to do it. And immediately after that 2016 deal, if you remember, I had gone to Iran to try to meet with them and try to negotiate something with them. And the day I had arrived or I had left was the day that they had arrested Bagher Namazi, Siamak's father. And I thought that was the perfect time to be going there because they wouldn't be doing that anymore, but they continue to do it right after they had just released other Americans. So, I don't see it ending anytime soon.

TAPPER: Daniel Levinson, thank you so much. Our thoughts are with your family.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: I had the tape just in from CNN's exclusive interview with California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. He's weighing in on Hunter Biden, plus, President Joe Biden's age.

Plus, the major development in the case of that Los Angeles deputy tragically shot to death over the weekend. An arrest has been made in the case. The powerful statement from authorities as they made the announcement. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back with our "Politics Lead." California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is in New York right now focusing on climate change initiatives as world leaders gather there for a series of summits. Newsom just sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN chief political correspondent and anchor of "Inside Politics" and co- anchor of "State of the Union," Dana Bash. Dana, of course, joins me now. Dana, you asked Governor Newsom about Republicans pushing allegations that President Biden was involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings while he was vice president. What did Governor Newsom have to say?


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Well, as you can imagine, he had some pretty colorful language about the politics that he sees behind what House Republicans are doing. But we also talked a bit about the substance of some of the allegations against Hunter Biden. Let's listen to what happened.


BASH: Hunter Biden, the House Republicans are now engaged in an impeachment inquiry.

GAVIN NEWSOM, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: What I'm worried about gun -- gun crimes, which is remarkable. I'm actually very, very enthusiastic about that. BASH: Well, but I want to talk about something else, which is I should

say there is no evidence that Joe Biden directly benefited from anything that Hunter Biden was doing.

NEWSOM: You may want to tell the Speaker of the House that.

BASH: Well, Republicans have shown that Hunter Biden, he tried to leverage his father's name and that the president allegedly, before he was president, joined phone calls that Hunter Biden's business associates were on.


BASH: Do you see anything inappropriate there?

NEWSOM: I don't know enough about the details of that. I mean, I've seen a little of that. If that's the new criteria, there are a lot of folks in a lot of industries, not just in politics, where people have family members and relationships and they're trying to parlay and get a little influence and benefit in that respect. That's hardly unique. I don't love that any more than you love it or other people I imagine love that.

We want to see a lot less of that, but an impeachment inquiry? Give me a break. This is student government. Student government. Threatening debt again, or rather threatening a government shutdown again after we went through that process with the debt ceiling? This is student government. This is a joke. Ready, fire, aim? I mean, this is a perversity with the founding fathers ever conceived of and imagined. So, if that's the best they can do, give me a break.


BASH: And Jake, he very much is seeming to relish this role that he is taking on. It seems at the behest of the Biden campaign to be out there and speaking about the good things that he believes that the country should know about what the president has done in the first two and a half years.

TAPPER: You also asked the governor about President Biden's age and how that factors into his reelection campaign. What'd he says?

BASH: You know, he -- his line is we all, meaning Democrats, need to just get on the Joe Biden train because it's left the station, no more complaining, no more navel gazing. But look, the reality is that in poll after poll, including one from CBS News over the weekend, it shows that most Americans are concerned about the notion of him, Joe Biden, making it through a second term. He would be 86 years old.

The governor did concede that there are reasons to be concerned about that, but, as you can imagine, also quickly pivoted to the experience that he has, to the accomplishments that he had, and insisted that he and other surrogates for the Biden campaign are just getting started about trying to get that out there. The question about the president's vitality, that is something that he continues to dismiss, but the fact that he said that people do have at least a right to be concerned somewhat was something I'd never heard before.

TAPPER: So, Dana, the sodium pentothal question, if you got the truth serum in Gavin Newsom right now, how much does he wish he were running for president right now?

BASH: I don't think that sodium pentothal is even able to penetrate his veins at this point because he is so determined to say that he doesn't want to run for president in 2024. He said that even if Joe Biden was not running for president, he would not run for president in 2024. I did ask about any potential future run and we'll see what he says about that.

TAPPER: All right. I call baloney at least the second one of those.

BASH: I might have done something similar, but you'll see.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much. We're going to see your full interview later this evening. And let's talk about this right now with CNN senior political commentator -- oh, there it is. The governor, Gavin Newsom, 9:00 p.m., this full hour of Dana's special.

Commentator David Axelrod, former senior advisor during the Obama administration. Let me ask you the sodium pentothal question. I mean, he's out there. He's debating Sean Hannity. He's talking to Dana for an hour long special. Obviously, very loyal to Joe Biden. Obviously, doesn't want to distract. But, come on, he's primed and ready to go.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, I don't -- I'm sure the White House is very gratified for some of the things that he's saying. I don't know that they'd be as enthusiastic about his ubiquitous presence on the air. It's sort of like, you know, just at the time when Democrats are concerned about their aging spouse, here comes the young neighbor --

TAPPER: Right.

AXELROD: -- young strapping potential partner.

TAPPER: Did you see the split screen?


TAPPER: I mean, I don't know if we were doing that on purpose, but like it just looked like --

AXELROD: Yeah. I mean, look, I think that he knows he's a sophisticated guy. He knows that he's playing against the story right now. And, you know, I don't think he's setting himself up to run in 2024. I actually agree with him, Jake, that I think Biden's running.

TAPPER: Right.

AXELROD: I think Biden's going to be the nominee.

TAPPER: Right.

AXELROD: But he's certainly getting a head start on 2028. I don't think there's any question about that.

TAPPER: So, whether it's for 2028 or if God forbid, something were to happen and there would be an opening for somebody to run, there would be a democratic race. Obviously, Gavin Newsom, and remember, I'm also talking about theoretically 2028.


TAPPER: So, don't -- I could be talking about either one. Gavin Newsom, Vice President Harris, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, they're all out there as potential.

AXELROD: Yeah, they are. I don't think that they're as aggressive as Newsom is. Here's the thing. One of the things I think with all this hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing, the time has really kind of passed for a full vetting of candidates. Everybody complains about the length of American campaigns, but they actually serve a purpose --


AXELROD: -- which is you learn about people during the course of these campaigns. Look at Ron DeSantis. who was like a house of fire last fall, and he's run into problems, and some of them have to do with how he's performed on the campaign trail, how he's answered questions. The time for that is closing, and the time for voting is about to begin.

So, you know, even at this juncture, if Joe Biden were to say tomorrow in a week or two, you know what, I think I'm not -- there isn't a whole lot of time for candidates to introduce themselves to the country.

TAPPER: Although you and I both remember then-Senator Obama complaining about how long the campaign was taking.

AXELROD: Yeah, but you know what? I don't think he would have been president without the two years to get tested and vetted and have people say, yeah, he was only a state senator four years ago, but I trust him to be president of the United States.

TAPPER: So, I'm used to politicians putting out holiday messages for various holidays.

AXELROD: You weren't moved by President Trump's message.

TAPPER: Whether it's Diwali or Good Friday. I want to bring up this Truth Social post that President Trump put on up yesterday on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, attacking, quote/unquote, "liberal Jews who voted to destroy America and Israel because you believed false narratives," unquote. "Let's hope you learn from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward."

He's basically saying any Jew who didn't vote for him, which according to polls is 75 percent of American Jews, because they didn't vote for him, voted to destroy America and Israel. Have you ever seen a Russia- centered message like that, and why is there not an outcry about that?

AXELROD: Well, the list of outrages of Donald Trump is quite lengthy. So, you could ask that question about a thousand different things. I mean, my grandfather would have seen that message and he would have said, first, oy.

TAPPER: Right.

AXELROD: And then there would have been a lot of outrage about that. But look, this is the way that he rolls. This is -- he's not going to change. We express our outrage each time. But this is also -- he believes the way he is, the sort of unvarnished id that he spills out there is what -- is core to his appeal, and that's the way it is. I found it offensive, yes, I think a lot of Jews did.

I don't think, you know -- that wasn't a holiday message. It was a campaign -- it was campaign bombast and it really defiled the holiday and should be offensive to not just Jews but people of all faiths --


AXELROD: -- or no faiths. But it's just Donald Trump, you know, and that is priced into the product, which is he is an offense machine.

TAPPER: Speaking of anti-Semitism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a conversation with Elon Musk about -- they had a conversation I think on Twitter, which is now known as X, and they were talking -- and he urged, Netanyahu urged Musk to do more to combat anti-Semitism on the platform.


But instead of pledging to do so, Musk basically defended free speech. You know, obviously, Twitter, you know, we all support free speech but also there can be steps taken to limit the circulation or how much one sees on social media, which is a private organization, Twitter or X, you know, Nazi or white supremacist stuff.

AXELROD: Well, listen, we are living in a time of heightened hate and particularly heightened anti-Semitism. And one of the reasons are social media posts that tie into that. Some of it is politicians who coddle or embrace those who are the sources of that. And I think hiding behind the First Amendment and free speech is not enough. I mean, we have social media platforms that profit off of hate, that keep people online because they are outraged. That's what their algorithms tell them to do and shove us into our silos, you know, and outside the silo, everyone is alien and threatening and menacing.

And this is one of the things that's tearing our democracy apart. So, look, I'm a huge believer in free speech and I think it's really important. I also think the social media platforms have some responsibility over the kinds of things that they are kind of like an open sewer injecting into our political debate.

TAPPER: Yeah. David Axelrod, thank you so much. Next here on "The Lead," remarks just in by former Vice President Pence as he tries to become the Republican nominee. His criticism of President Biden on foreign policy, and his timing just as the United Nations General Assembly gets underway in New York. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Oh, yes. The election music. Nice. That's just into our 2024 Lead. Former Vice President Mike Pence in a foreign policy speech just minutes ago is making two things clear, one, he has identified the nation he thinks poses the biggest threat to America. Two, he is not going to handle that threat the way that his former boss would have.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China is the greatest strategic and economic threat to the United States of America in the 21st century. And we must meet that threat with American strength.


TAPPER: CNN national politics correspondent Eva McKend joins us. Eva what concerns did Pence lay out in this foreign policy speech and how did he differentiate himself from Donald Trump?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the former Vice President has been consistent in this hawkish view. He described China today as a rival, as an economic adversary. He again called for banning TikTok. We of course know that that was not successful during the prior administration. He also called for Chinese companies and those affiliated with Chinese companies not to be able to purchase American farmland, perhaps most consequentially, if elected, he would prohibit H-1B visas to Chinese nationals employed by some American companies.

And then more broadly, Jake, he called for continued support of Ukraine, saying that support from you for Ukraine signals to China that there would be severe repercussions for invading Taiwan. But he also went after the former president in sort of in a coded way, his Republican rival, Vivek Ramaswamy, for what he characterized as growing isolationism sentiment in the party. Let's listen.


PENCE: Some Republican candidates, including my former running mate, are abandoning the traditional conservative position of American leadership on the world stage and embracing a new and dangerous form of isolationism. I believe isolationism is just another word for appeasement. And let's be clear appeasement will not make America any safer. In fact, appeasement would only make America and the world more dangerous.


MCKEND: And we know that it is not only Pence talking tough on China. This Jake has really become a central issue in the 2024 race. It wasn't long ago when Ambassador Haley was in conversation with you calling China an enemy. And we know in Florida that Governor DeSantis has banned TikTok from government devices, as well as taking other measures to show strength against China. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Eva McKend at the Hudson Institute here in Washington, D.C. thanks so much.

Here to discuss more 2024 headlines and other things in the news Peter Meyer, former U.S. congressman from Michigan, a Republican who voted to impeach former President Trump after the January 6th interaction. Congressman, thanks for joining us. So Pence's foreign policy speech today stands in direct opposition to what we're hearing from Donald Trump. But not only Trump, but we're hearing in a lot of ways from DeSantis and Ramaswamy in terms of the direction they want to take the country.

Is there an up -- is there a hunger among Republicans for the more Reaganesque message we're hearing from Pence and Nikki Haley? Or do you think people in the Republican Party are really more in the, I don't want to call isolationist, but more or less internationalist view of Trump, DeSantis and Ramaswamy?

PETER MEIJER (R-MI), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think there's no doubt among Republicans that China stands as our top economic adversary and our top competitor and frankly, our top national security threat. I don't think you'll find anybody who disputes that characterization.


Now when it comes to Ukraine, yes you're going to see a difference of opinions. Some folks I think adopted very reactionary standpoint that anything Biden does, you know, must be wrong. And so we should take the alternate view. I served in Congress when Putin invaded Ukraine. And there were some folks who were very hawkish, then who changed their tune when the polls differed on what the best course of action should be.

I think it is very hard to actually pin down where former President Trump stands on this, because he actually gave a speech, I believe, was a month or two ago, where he talked about potentially cutting off aid if Putin didn't make a deal, or sorry, if there was a deal to be made, or doubling the support were given to Ukraine if he doesn't make a deal. So I think that's a little bit of the challenge is trying to nail down where folks stand ultimately, on this issue.

In my mind, there's no doubt that Ukrainian sovereignty is important for the security of Europe more broadly, Putin is a thug and a killer. At the same time, a blank check is not necessarily appropriate. And the Biden administration needs to be articulating what our national security interest is. I think there's a direct connection between supporting Ukraine and pushing back Russia and showing that, you know, to President Xi, he's not just able to walk into Taiwan.

TAPPER: Right. MEIJER: If Putin trying to go into Ukraine, which shares, you know, 1,000 mile plus border is encountering this type of obstacle, how is Xi going to move his forces that haven't been in combat in close to 40 years? How is he going to move them across the 50 mile straight to Taiwan?

TAPPER: You talked about your former member of Congress, and I don't know how much you're watching what's going on with your former House Republican colleagues and thanking God that you're not there right now or being envious. But here's some examples of the infighting going on Florida Congressman Gaetz, there's -- just so people understand that there's this continuing resolution, it's a short term spending bill. It was offered by conservative firebrand, Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida.

So here's Olivia Beavers, a reporter with POLITICO saying that Donalds is saying that this measure will -- is a win for the conservative movement. Matt Gaetz says the problems with Donalds' discontinuing resolution is that it gets the job done for Special Counsel Jack Smith. And then of course, Donalds supposed to back Matt, tell the people the truth, the Justice Department is going to operate whether the government shutdown or not.

Special Counsel's always have exempted themselves from shutdown. What's your plan to get the votes to defund Jack Smith, you'll need more than tweets and hot takes. And then Gaetz went on from there. It's just, I mean, I could go on forever. It's honestly, not that different than looking at my teenage daughter's social media feed. Not her but some of the girls in her class. What do you make? What is it like when you see this?

MEIJER: You know, I think at the end of the day, Republicans in the House also need to understand their one half of our legislating body, right? It's going to be very hard to get a bill.

TAPPER: One half of one half.

MEIJER: Well, that's true, I mean, still needs to get to the President's desk.

TAPPER: Right.

MEIJER: You know, I think there's no issue and trying to run a hard bargain and seeing what they can get out of it. The challenge is going to come if there is a pending government shutdown, and what the political consequences will be from that. Now, in Michigan, in my home state, we have the UAW that has struck, or that is currently striking with Stellantis, with GM, with Ford, you know, we continue to see inflation, not at the record highs we saw a year ago, but it's still persistently high and above target.

What happens if you throw a government shutdown onto that blaze, who gets blamed? What are the political fallout? That's what they need to internalize. At the same time, you will find a very sympathetic ear with me in terms of frustration, how the Biden administration is governing this country? TAPPER: Sure.

MEIJER: And, frankly, the need to feel out where's the leverage and where can there be conservative victories fought in this domain? Now, who winds up on the winning end of that, that remains to be seen. But it's an entertaining to watch for sure.

TAPPER: So speaking of the auto workers striking against the Three -- Big Three automakers and right now, it's just three individual plants, although it could expand. I mean, I don't know what your position is on this at all. But the CEO of GM, you know, in the 1960s, the average CEO in the industry, you know, not just in the auto industry, but across the country made 20 times what the average worker did. The CEO of GM now makes 362 times what her typical employees make, 360.

Take a look -- I asked Vice President Pence on Sunday and yesterday, whether this is fair, it's just this basic issue of fairness. This is what he said.


PENCE: Well, I think that ought to be left to the shareholders of that company. I'm somebody that believes in free enterprise, I think those are decisions that can be made by shareholders and creating pressure and I'll fully support how these publicly traded companies operate. You know, I'm not interested in government mandates or government bullying when it comes to those kinds of issues.


TAPPER: And I mean, none of that really, I mean, respectfully answered my question. Do you think it's fair?

MEIJER: I mean, I -- if you're asking me whether I'm more sympathetic with the Big Three CEOs that have made really the focus of their time at the top of these companies if we're looking at more recent history, a focus on the EV transition, but not doing so in a measured way, not doing so in a way that really has strong fiduciary backing, doing so in a way that is entirely dependent on subsidies coming from the federal government to underpin it, while at the same time doing absolutely nothing to ensure that their workers and talk about the UAW mean right now, it gets four out of five electric vehicles in this company are made with non-union labor, right?


Even those that are made such as the Mustang Mach-E by Ford, you know, by otherwise union shops, you know, vehicles made down in Mexico.


MEIJER: -- UAW member, I see this transition, I say where is my future in this path? And you look at the broader state of Michigan and frankly throughout the Midwest throughout that automotive supply chain, you know, it's not just the folks putting together that vehicle it's the guys who are making the carburetor, you know, it's the firm's that are dealing with the mufflers with the transmission systems with all the things that will be made obsolete, right?

So until there is confidence on behalf of, you know, the workers, but also that broader supply chain that they will have a future in this electric economy. I expect to see this continuing frustration. And frankly, like I said, if you're asking me who I'm going to stand with, if I'm going to stand with the CEOs or the workers. I'm putting my money on the American men and women of the automotive industry have frankly built the middle class and built Michigan.

TAPPER: Peter Meijer, thanks so much. Good to see you again, sir.

MEIJER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Dramatic video just in as authorities make an arrest after the killing of an L.A. sheriff's deputy. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our National Lead, new video just in authorities arresting a man taking him into custody for the deadly shooting of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy, 30-year-old Ryan Clinkunbroomer, in an ambush style attack on Saturday. Here's what the sheriff said about the killing.


SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: He was in a marked black and white right here in front of the station, and he was murdered, ambushed by a coward. And in this case, Ryan's family will never see him again.


TAPPER: CNN obtained surveillance video showing what law enforcement official says is the subjects car alongside the deputy's vehicle then speeding away. Police near Chicago are trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of a former NFL player. Sergio Brown played seven seasons most recently with the Buffalo Bills Saturday. Police responded to a welfare check after family members could not locate Brown or his mother. They later found Brown's mother dead near a creek behind her home. CNN's Whitney Wild joins us. Whitney, get us up to speed on this one.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are still so many outstanding questions, Jake. But what we know for sure now is that the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office says this was a homicide and that Sergio Brown's mother Myrtle Brown, 73 years old, died of injuries related to an assault. So many more questions law enforcement is trying to answer as they urgently searched for Sergio Brown, Jake?

TAPPER: And yesterday Sergio Brown's mother used social media to ask for help in finding him. What more can you tell us about that? WILD: This was his brother Nick Brown taking to Instagram to say this, If anyone knows where he is, I want him to know that I love you and please come home. Jake, as you said earlier, this began as a welfare check. This was family who was unable to reach either Myrtle Brown or Sergio Brown so certainly an urgent case for law enforcement that really stemmed from a concern from the family that's what kicked this all off, Jake, so there's so much more to learn. Again, Nick Brown taking the Instagram begging for his brother's return.

TAPPER: All right, Whitney Wild, thank you so much.

One week after a wall of water level parts of Libya, devastation gives way to frustration CNN is on the ground there that's next.



TAPPER: In our World Lead today, hundreds of people protested in the eastern Libyan city of Derna venting anger and frustration one week after catastrophic flooding. The United Nations is revising the death toll down to nearly 4,000 people killed while more than 9,000 remain missing. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports on the unimaginable loss of life and widespread devastation.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all gone they say. Derna is now a city of the dead. There was no time for final goodbyes here. Mom, rest in peace, spray painted where that mother once lived. In 90 minutes, a city and its people were left shattered. Here grief lingers in the air.

It faces tell of the horror they survived and lost they have yet to comprehend. Akram lost his brother's entire family. He now sits where their house once stood. It's all he has left of them. I lost my brother and his children. I lost my neighbors. I lost my whole world, he says. He searched for their bodies everywhere and hospitals and by the sea. Akram breaks down as he tries to remember his last call with his brother just two days before the catastrophe struck. He says this is God's will. It's a harsh one they've had to accept.

Everyone here has lost family, one after the other they share their gut wrenching stories. Still face are numb, Abdullah, recalls how he held his 10-year-old son and jumped from one rooftop to another to escape the ferocious flood. He helped save families but couldn't save his own. Abdullah lost his mother, his wife and his two other boys, 25 family members in total, but he's only buried four.

Everyone here is on a mission to find the dead. There aren't enough search and rescue teams. It's mostly volunteers digging through the muddied rubble of these homes. They call passers' by to join.

(on camera): They believe there is one or more dead bodies underneath the rubble. They say they can smell it. (voice-over): But most of the bodies are not here officials say, thousands were swept away with their homes and in their cars into the Mediterranean. Derna's idyllic seafront is now a staging area where they deliver the dead. Radia has not had time to process where she survived. She has been here since last Monday preparing the dead for burial. This is the hardest thing she's ever had to do, she says. She's recognized the lifeless faces of family, friends and neighbors.


Is this Derna, it will forever be heartbroken, she says. We lost our finest people used to come and look at our flowers, our Jasmine. Now they come to a broken Derna. At a cemetery outside the city where more than 1,000 victims have been buried in mass graves, they prepare for more. No family here just strangers who prayed for the dead. But there's no time to stop. The bodies just keep coming.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Derna, Libya.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Jomana Karadsheh for that report.

And you can help the victims of the flooding and Libya, you can head to, for a list of resources that have been -- need where you can donate.

The big story this hour, five Americans once been wrongfully detained in Iran are now headed home to the U.S., they're in the air right now. Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian, who was also once held unjustly by the government of Iran will join Wolf Blitzer next with his reaction. That's coming up in the Situation Room. Until then, I'll see you tomorrow.