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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Canada Links Indian Government In Assassination Of A Prominent Sikh Leader Who Was Killed On Canadian Soil; NYT: Biden Aides Discuss Defense Treaty With Saudi Arabia Modeled After U.S. Pacts With Japan, South Korea; Pentagon Warns Govt. Shutdown Could Impact Aid To Ukraine; One-On-One With Polish President As Putin's War Rages; DeSantis Fires Back At Trump On Abortion: "Pro-Lifers Should Know That He's Preparing To Sell You Out"; Homeland Security: Border Officials Apprehending 8,000 Plus Migrants At U.S. Southern Border A Day; Anderson Cooper Shares Story Of Famous Family In New Book. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 19, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: His comments on the same day that Americans once held prisoners unjustly in Iran arrived back on U.S. soil.

And leading this hour, those strong allegations from Canada's Justin Trudeau accusing the government of India carrying out an assassination on Canadian sovereign soil. Trudeau adds his country has credible intelligence to back up the claim. Both nations have now kicked out the other senior diplomats as relations between these two nations -- these two democracies, quickly spiral. CNN's Paula Newton starts off our coverage in Ottawa as this escalating international tit for tat plays out between the United States neighbor up north and India the largest democracy in the world.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A brutal murder with all the hallmarks of an assassination. Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a controversial Sikh leader gunned down on Canadian streets in June in front of his place of worship. The Canadian government has now said out loud what many had suspected, that there is credible intelligence that the killing took place on the orders of the Indian government.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: India, government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that we are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them and we want to work with the government of India.

NEWTON (voice-over): Trudeau says before going public, he confronted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his accusations last week, as Modi hosted Trudeau and other leaders at the G20. Summit. They were allegations the Indian government refused to accept.

TRUDEAU: The killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. NEWTON (voice-over): So days later, Trudeau stood in Canada's parliament and let rip his astonishing claim before expelling the head of India's spy agency in Canada. The Indian government responded in kind, expelling a Canadian diplomat and issuing a blunt statement, calling the claims absurd and accusing Canada of sheltering terrorists and extremists.

While the Canadian government is leaning on what it describes as credible evidence, the murder remains unsolved. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police tell CNN this remains a priority investigation. In the last week's police released photos of a possible getaway car looking to identify mass suspects they describe as heavier set males. The newest disclosures on this murder have been chilling for many in Canada Sikh community. Nijjar's son says he's gratified that any complicity on the part of the Indian government may finally be known.

BALRAJ SINGH NIJJAR, SON OF HARDEEP SINGH NIJJAR: So when you heard that yesterday, it was a sense of relief that, you know, it's finally coming to the public eyes that, you know, the Indian government is involved.


NEWTON: A few things to know here, Jake, Najjir was in fact labeled a terrorist by the Indian government. They said he was basically trying to break up India because he was a -- he was a supporter and a leader in the Sikh separatist movement in India. Now look, this is a dangerous faultline in Indian politics, but now it is embroiled Canada.

And I have to point out, Jake, India, as you well know, is the centerpiece of the Indo Pacific strategy, right, that counterweight to China for the Biden administration. Biden was informed of all of this at the G20 before -- by Trudeau personally, before Trudeau made his accusations public. And that's a good indication that everyone knows the stakes here. Not just for Canadian policy, but for U.S. policy as well.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Newton in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, thank you so much.

Let's bring in the National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.

Admiral Kirby, you just heard Siemens Paula Newton reporting on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying the government of India carried out an assassination of a Sikh community leader in Canada and India denies it. India calls the accusation absurd. Trudeau says he raised this with President Biden privately before going public. What did Trudeau tell Biden?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, look, I'm going to protect diplomatic conversations and I'll leave it at that. But certainly the President is mindful of these serious allegations, and they are very serious. And we support Canada's efforts to investigate this. We believe a fully transparent comprehensive investigation is the right approach so that we can all know exactly what happened, and of course, we encourage India to cooperate with that.

TAPPER: So Canada is part of the Five Eyes spying network, right? I mean, the U.S. shares intelligence. Does the United States have the intelligence that Trudeau is using? Do -- does the U.S. know what exactly Trudeau is basing these claims on?

KIRBY: Well, I think you can understand, Jake, that I'm going to be careful about what I say here to preserve the sanctity of this in investigation and leave it for Canada to talk about the underpinning information here and what their -- and what more they're trying to learn. We want to respect that process and it's their investigation.


TAPPER: If it is true, if it can be proven that India's Prime Minister, Modi, ordered an assassination of an individual on Canadian sovereign land, what repercussions should there be?

KIRBY: Well, again, let's not get ahead of where we are. There's an active investigation. We think it needs to be fully transparent and comprehensive, we know that Canadians will work to that end. Again, we urge India to cooperate with that investigation so that the facts can take investigators where they go. And then once we have all that facts, and we have conclusions that we can draw from that, you know, then you can start to look at recommendations or behaviors you might want to pursue.

TAPPER: "The New York Times" is reporting that the Biden administration and Saudi officials are discussing terms of a mutual defense treaty that would resemble what the U.S. has with two of its closest allies, with Japan and with South Korea, which are democracies, in hopes that we get Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel. Are we able to share any details on that?

KIRBY: Well, there's no agreed framework here to working towards normalization. I would just say that we continue to encourage both sides to pursue normalization. We think normalization with Israel is not only good for Israel and the Israeli people, but for the region writ large. And so we think it will make us a more integrated, cooperative and stable Middle East.

We also have and will continue to work with Saudi Arabia on their defense needs. They have real defense needs. Now there's been a 18 month truce now in Yemen, so that's good. There hasn't been as much violence coming across that border into southern Saudi Arabia. But we know that Saudi Arabia has legitimate defense needs, we're going to continue to work on them for the future and, you know, seeing what that architecture can look like going forward.

TAPPER: Can the United States have a similar defense treaty with Saudi Arabia that it has with democracies such as South Korea and Japan? Saudi Arabia is not a democracy. It has an atrocious human rights record. The U.N. has said that the Saudi led war in Yemen, you just noted the ceasefire, but it's resulted in mass killings of civilians, one of the worst man made humanitarian crises in the world. Plus, of course, American spies have said the killing of "Washington Post" Jamal Khashoggi, "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ordered specifically by Saudi Crown Prince MBS. Let's just remind our viewers, this is what candidate Biden said about Saudi Arabia on the campaign trail.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were going to in fact, make them pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are. There's very little social redeeming value of the -- in the president -- government in Saudi Arabia.


TAPPER: He sounds very different when he talks about Saudi Arabia today.

KIRBY: Well, look, there's no question that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner, has been for some 80 decades. It's also, no question, as the president as you -- the President hasn't been bashful about expressing our concerns with Saudi behavior. But this is a strategic partnership. We want to keep moving forward, we need to do that.

There have been repercussions for Saudi Arabia, the president declassified the information around the Khashoggi killing. We need to also look at the future of the Middle East. And what that needs to look like, not just for the Saudi people, that Israeli people but for American national security interest. So I don't want to get ahead of where these discussions are, Jake. But these are important discussions and we're going to continue to have them with our allies and partners there because the threat from Iran is not going anywhere.

And that's felt by Israel, that's filled by Saudi Arabia and other of our partners there.

TAPPER: I don't know what repercussions you're talking about. I mean, like, take a look at this photo of President Biden from a few days ago with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Biden is shaking his hand, he's smiling at him. Was the President bummed that the photo was made public? This isn't actually not the one I was talking about. There's another one where Biden is looking right at MBS and smiling at him.

Is the President bummed that the photo was made public?

KIRBY: No, look, the Crown Prince put his hand out, the President shook it. He shook a lot of hands there at the G20. It was a gathering of significant world leaders to work on problems that we can all still try to solve for people around the world, including infrastructure investment, economic, multilateral development banks. There's a lot that was discussed. Crown Prince was a part of those discussions. And the President was happy to have a range of discussions with world leaders to all those ends.

TAPPER: President Biden in his speech today at the U.N. promised to continue support to Ukraine and its war against Russia. The Pentagon is warning that a government shutdown could disrupt U.S. military aid and training to Ukraine, which could come at a critical time, as Ukrainian troops are in the middle of this counter offensive. How worried are you about a possible shutdown and its impact?

KIRBY: A shutdown is not going to be good for anybody. It's going to certainly hurt our economy. We're going to make sure that it doesn't hurt our national security. I think as you know, you've lived through shutdowns, Jake, that the national security apparatus continues to operate as it must. And we'll make sure that we can continue to defend and our national security interest.


We obviously don't want to see any impact on supplemental funding for Ukraine. We've asked for some $24 billion of defense related security assistance for Ukraine. And this supplemental, which I remind you only gets us through the first quarter of the fiscal year. So it's likely we're going to need to talk to Congress about additional funding going forward. That's important.

As the President laid out in the speech today, what happens in Ukraine isn't just affecting Ukraine, it's affecting the European continent, it could potentially affect even in greater ways our own national security. So it's important that we rally the international community and members of Congress to continue to support Ukraine.

TAPPER: John Kirby, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

TAPPER: Let's turn now to CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson.

Nic, let's start with what Mr. Kirby just told me about what's happening in Canada with Trudeau saying the government of India carried out this assassination of a Sikh community leader. Kirby said he didn't want to comment on diplomatic relations. Biden did reference this in his speech before the U.N. today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he did. You raise the point of the Five Eyes, countries, United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia, all sharing intelligence, what one sees the other sees, five eyes, that's how it works. So that's -- it's mutual understanding, and therefore a mutual effort against the same threat. And it was interesting that President Biden did say in his speech today, when he was talking about the values of human rights, he said, the values of human rights essentially can't be ignored whether they're in Xinjiang, or Toronto. I mean, when does -- when do people start talking about human rights in Toronto?

It seemed to me to be he gets what's going on. It seems we also know that the British prime minister as well has talked to the Canadians. And he is also concerned about the allegations that they're making about India. So, it does seem to me that John Kirby not able to speak publicly about what the Five Eyes shares. But I think we can understand that President Biden is aware. TAPPER: Yes, it seems to me that Trudeau wouldn't have said it publicly, unless he was pretty clear and sure of the charge, and that President Biden wouldn't have said that if he hadn't been at least a little familiar with the intelligence. What do you make of what Kirby said about the Biden administration and Saudi officials discussing terms of the mutual defense treaty?

ROBERTSON: Yes. Look, I -- you know, I think you said it all there. The 18 months of ceasefire in Yemen, that's a positive, right? You tried to point out that MBS was actually defense minister at the time who precipitated that war back in 2015, very costly in terms of lives. So, again, an indication there from Kirby that this is something that's important. We'll work with Saudi Arabia on their concerns.

And the United States, the reality here is the United States is still the number one preferred choice for Saudi Arabia for security. They want a lot. And this is really seen as a time by MBS when he can get a good bargain from President Biden. President Biden, he assumes wants some sort of legacy, and that would be some sort of Middle East peace would be good. And it does seem that MBS sees this moment in time as an opportunity that he needs as well, because he needs that pat on the back, if you will, for the United States as support.

He needs to show his country because his father is not well, and he will soon be king one day that he can deal with the United States effectively for the security of Saudi Arabia. There's a mutual interest there, and I think John Kirby was reflecting that interest. I think his language really spoke to the fact that the days of the President Biden's inaugural speech and what he said about Saudi Arabia then being a pariah, that was then, now is different.

TAPPER: Yes. Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

In just a few minutes, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be on the "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. And you can see that interview right after The Lead. Could the war in Ukraine quickly spill over into NATO territory? I'm going to ask the President of Poland about how worried he is about being next.

Plus, what Hunter Biden is asking you to judge as he makes plans to appear in court soon on federal gun charges. And Donald Trump's pro union play will play his message to auto workers on strike in the battleground state of Michigan. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We are back with our world lead. As Congress prepares to welcome Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to D.C. later this week to discuss his need for aid for Ukraine, further aid, Zelenskyy and President Biden were not the only world leaders pushing for continued western support for the war ravaged country at the U.N. today. In fact, the President of Poland, whose nation borders Ukraine, also stressed the importance of solidarity. Joining us now the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, who is at the United Nations Conference in New York City.

President Duda while you and I are speaking, Russia is attacking Ukraine. Just today, Russia launched strikes on Lviv, which is close to Poland's border with Ukraine. You've spoken at length about Putin's imperial ambitions, not stopping with Ukraine. How worried are you that a NATO country could be next including Poland?

ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Of course, we are very well aware that there is a threat. I keep reminding all the time that in 2008 when Russians invaded Georgia, the Polish president back then, Lech Kaczynski, said in Tbilisi, that Russian imperialism was reborn, and that unless we stop Russia, unless the countries of the west, the democratic countries stopped Russia, then probably we will see attacks on Ukraine then perhaps on the Baltic states and then as he said, even on my country, Poland. These words are as valid as they were.

In 2014 Putin attacked Ukraine. In 2022 on the 24th of February, Russia invaded Ukraine. It was a full scale invasion. And today it occupies a huge part of its territory. So the war is going on all the time.


If somebody thinks that it's well be possible to stop the imperial ambitions of Putin of Russia to freeze this conflict, then

this one person is mistaken. Russia can be stopped only if it is defeated. And it will be defeated when Ukraine pushes out the Russian army from the occupied territories.

Thanks to the help of the United States, thanks to the help of the west. And when it regains control over its internationally recognized borders, only then we will be able to say that Russian imperialism was really defeated and successfully pushed back, that the order has been restored.

TAPPER: Right now, it is questionable that a majority of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives support more aid to Ukraine. What is your message to House Republicans who do not support more aid to Ukraine?

DUDA (through translator): I would like to be able to say very much not only the members of the Congress, members of the Republican Party, but generally to the politicians in the United States, to all the actual our friends here in the United States of America to the citizens of the United States of America, if we want no -- if you want there to be no war in the world, which is conducted by Russia, if we want to make sure that the military threat is not increasing, then we should make an effort and rescue Ukraine. We have to save Ukraine we need to help Ukrainians and defend themselves. This is our obligation today, vis-a-vis the free world, the listen to them, to help them. And we have to take effort, make effort to do that. As I said Ukraine must regain control over its internationally recognized borders because as a matter of fact, that will mean victory. It is not about entering Russian territory, it is about making sure that Russia is not able legally to forcefully shift the borders in Europe so that it is not able to occupy the lens of an independent and sovereign European country.

This is the basic issue. This is the guarantee of the peace in the future. Also for the United States of America.

TAPPER: One of the issues that many House Republicans are worried about is corruption in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy is attempting to root out corruption in his government. Just yesterday, all six of Ukraine's defense deputy ministers were dismissed. Given those corruption issues, have you talked to President Zelenskyy about corruption? Are you confident that the money Poland is giving to Ukraine is being spent wisely?

DUDA (through translator): Of course, this is a big problem. And it is not a problem of Ukraine that it is facing only today. This is a problem, which has existed in Ukraine for many years when can say for 10s of years. And it is my personal belief that Volodymyr Zelenskyy when only he was elected to the office of the president of Ukraine started right away to fight against it. But the situation is indeed extremely difficult.

And it is going to be a very difficult process. It is not easy to defeat corruption. But referring to the previous question, lead everyone look at the history. And whenever there was war in Europe, whenever that war was growing, whenever it was spilling over Europe, the United States sooner or later had to intervene to put an answer to that war. Unfortunately, if the war spilled over too much that American soldiers were coming, I believe nobody wants to say that today in this war.

The Russian aggression against your grain has to be stopped. It has to be thwarted, nipped in the bud because that will be the guarantee of pays for future winnings to help Ukraine. We need to help Ukraine to push Russians away from its territory, may they come back to their soil. That is number one. And number two, Ukraine has to be supported in its reforms in its fight against corruption. This is extremely important today.

TAPPER: The president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, thank you so much for your time today.

DUDA: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Coming up, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis telling Republican voters, Donald Trump's about to sell you out. What's the issue that has him on the attack? But first, what Hunter Biden is asking from a judge to maybe, maybe avoid immediate circus at an upcoming board appearance? Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Vice President Joseph R. Biden.




TAPPER: Just in the CNN, Hunter Biden plans to plead not guilty to federal gun charges according to a new court filing. CNN's Kara Scannell broke that report and she joins me now.

Kara, what is the court filings say? And when could we see Hunter Biden actually appear in court?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hunter Biden's attorneys are asking for a remote first appearance on those felony gun charges saying that he's not asking for special treatment and that some other defendants in the district of Delaware have appeared remotely, but they're saying that they don't need a lot of time for him to enter a plea of not guilty. You know, they also note that Hunter Biden had previously appeared in court when his plea deal fell apart on those tax misdemeanor charges and at the time he was fingered printed and had his mugshot taken, so saying that he doesn't need to be processed. And part of the argument here is also that since Biden is protected by the Secret Service, that requires a lot more protections, more security parameters have to go into place and require local law enforcement to bring him in for a hearing that will be relatively brief. Ultimately, this is up for the judge.


Now the prosecutors oppose this. Their filing is due tomorrow. And then the judge will decide when Biden will have his first arraignment on these gun charges, whether it's remotely or in person, and Biden is going to plead not guilty to those charges. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

Turning now to our 2024 Lead, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is directly targeting his rival, Republican front runner Donald Trump after Trump called Florida's six week abortion ban that DeSantis signed into law a terrible mistake.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Time he did a deal with Democrats, whether it was on budget, whether it was on the criminal justice for step back, they ended up taking him to the cleaners. He's going to make the Democrats happy with respect to right to life. I think all pro-lifers should know that he's preparing to sell you out.


TAPPER: Let's discuss with our panel. Doug, it's such a weird, it's such a weird debate because there is nobody other than maybe Mitch McConnell more responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, than Donald Trump. And yet on the other hand, Governor DeSantis is accurately pointing out that Donald Trump is criticizing, you know, the laws that now because of Donald Trump's actions, states are passing that make abortion essentially all been illegal. DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's a lot to unpack there, right, in one question. And first, Ron DeSantis actually just supported the first version of the first of that, voted for it. He was a member of Congress then which he's now trying to criticize Trump with but with abortion, it becomes very complicated. It's always been a complicated issue. It's become more complicated for Republicans since the Dobbs decision, Donald Trump often said only I can do this or only I can do that, as you point out, it's either him or Mitch McConnell, who can say only I was able to overturn Dobbs.

But what we see is where DeSantis has tried to move to the right of Trump on issue after issue and not really been able to, this is an area where he might be able to ultimately see where voters are reacting, when it comes to a six week ban versus maybe 12 or 15 isn't where the rest of the country is.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a complicated issue for Republicans. But with regard to Donald Trump, it's not as you said, he's responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned other than the justices who actually render the decision. And he just a few months ago was bragging about having killed Roe v. Wade. What this is, though Ron DeSantis actually, I mean Donald Trump is playing to a general audience.

TAPPER: Right. He's already have gone to the general election, right.

FINNEY: And so DeSantis actually, was helping him in a general election context. That's a fight that Trump would love to have, right? Because he knows this is the kind of manipulation we saw in 2016. Now in 2024, he actually has a record like he did in 2020. And we have to hold him accountable. It's not complicated. This is the kind of distortion and abuse frankly, of you know, the media and the airwaves that we've seen from Donald Trump. He's trying to have it both ways.

And the truth is nobody trusts Donald Trump to cut any kind of deal with anybody. And I can just say, as a Democrat, I'm not happy. That's what Ron DeSantis want to hear.

TAPPER: You're not the same -- you're not happy that what?

FINNEY: He said, DeSantis said, you know, this is going to make Democrats so happy. No, I'm not happy. I'm happy to see Donald Trump, again, you know, more lies, more misdirection that unfortunately, some people may buy.

TAPPER: And Douglas turn to another matter of the Trump campaign, a new radio ad, the Trump campaign is running in Detroit and Toledo, where auto workers are talking about the auto workers strike.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump calls them great Americans and has always had their backs from tax cuts for their families to playing hardball with China. Biden? He's turned his back on the auto workers by cutting a deal that uses American tax dollars to help fund China's electric car business. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It's not entirely accurate there. The electric car business is the -- it's an American electric car business. It's true that the batteries are made in China. And maybe that's something that American manufacturing should think about. But what's interesting about it is obviously Trump making a direct play for the -- for union voters, which is not something that Republicans normally have done.

HEYE: No. We've already seen a real split with that with Tim Scott, who's gone in the more traditional route and done so loudly. So the one time I talked to Donald Trump's campaign, I e-mailed a friend who I'd known for a long, long time, this will tell you how much our politics have changed. I said, you know, no Democrat has gone to Flint, Michigan yet and talked about the groundwater, the drinking water there. If Donald Trump were the first he would explode this campaign and obviously never happened. But this is sort of a version of that. He's going to places where Republicans don't typically do so is going to do it presumably when Republicans are at their most, the biggest shrine that Republicans have, the Reagan Library, and in a debate, to say, I'm doing something different.


And ultimately, I'm for you. That message that you use effectively against Hillary Clinton, he's trying to do so here. Again, it's not what Republicans may want to hear. But he's making a different argument.

FINNEY: But again, it's a general election argument, right? Because the truth is, and I think Biden would love to have this conversation in a general election, because the very CEOs that the union is trying to hold accountable in their negotiating, got massive tax breaks from the Trump tax cut. So the irony of him going back to workers and saying, I'm for you, when he didn't do anything for him -- for them when he was president, I actually went back and looked at all the fact checks from his various trips to Michigan during 2020, where he basically once again just lied about his record.

Remember, he said he's going to bring manufacturing back and he was going to save plants, when actually during his reign -- his time in office, we lost factories, GM factory, frankly, in Michigan. So sure he's going to do it. It doesn't mean he's going to tell the truth.

TAPPER: What's interesting about it is that more than 70 percent of the American people, according to a Gallup poll are with the striking auto workers and a majority of the country is with the striking actors and writers in Hollywood. I mean, there is a I don't want to call it populist because that word is getting so stigmatized. But there is a real pro worker sentiment in the country right now. And yet Trump is doing this, which I think is smart politics.

You have Nikki Haley, were asked about it. She says, I'm from a right to work state. I chase out the union. So you have Tim Scott saying, look at what Reagan did with air traffic controllers, that people go on strike, you should fire them. I mean, it feels like Trump. And again, you don't have to believe him. But just in terms of the politics of it, it does seem more on the pulse of the American people.

HEYE: Well, and Trump's not alone here. We've seen J.D. Vance, speak out on this as well, I think we'll see other Republican House members and Senate members too. But there is also a risk here. And that's as these things go on, often where the blame happens can shift as House Republicans have learned over the years, when you shut down the government, the country may think it's fine for a while, but the longer it goes on, they start to question some of those policies. If we have this strike go on for a long time, I think families are going to be in a real bind here and we'll see if they turn on this or not.

TAPPER: Speaking at a closed door fundraiser in a packed Broadway theater yesterday, Karen, President Biden had sharp words for Donald Trump, he said, quote, let there be no question Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy. He said in 2024, democracy is on the ballot once again. I know he really believes that the message worked in 2020. Do you think it's going to be as resonant this year, or next year rather?

FINNEY: A thousand percent because look at what just happened in Ohio when reproductive freedom was on the ballot, it won. Particularly for women in this country, that is democracy if we're not treated as full citizens in a democracy, absolutely. The attacks on voting rights and other freedoms and the fundamental shifts that this country is undergoing that Joe Biden is trying to talk about.

TAPPER: Doug and Karen, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

The next big wave up next, what's behind a new surge in migrant crossings at the U.S. southern border?



TAPPER: In our National Lead, thousands of migrants are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border and what officials are warning as the next big wave as Homeland Security official says as of Monday, U.S. Border Patrol has been apprehending more than 8,000 migrants a day. That's double the amount of what we saw in mid-May when the Trump-era COVID restriction known as Title 42 was lifted. And CNN's Ed Lavandera reports for us now. This new surge of migrant crossings is once again putting a strain on border towns such as El Paso, Texas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Growing lines of migrants cross between official border checkpoints waiting to turn themselves into U.S. border authorities in El Paso. It's hard this mother says carrying a toddler she struggles to feed. This man holds his sign begging for work to buy a bus ticket. Please support me to complete my ticket.

There's a growing number of migrants crossing into the United States raising concerns, this could be the early stages of a renewed surge of illegal immigration. In recent days, a crush of people flooded into Mexico southern border and continued north. Large migrant groups have been spotted on trains heading to the U.S. southern border. In El Paso, city officials say they've helped more than 4,000 migrants in the last week.

JOHN MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OPPORTUNITY CENTER FOR THE HOMELESS: As they come in, they're processing at that table.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): John Martin runs a network of local shelters and says they're already over capacity.

MARTIN: Just a few days ago we were up at 170 here at this location for a facility that comfortably should be no more than 120.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Daily encounters in El Paso are about 1,200 per day. Most migrant shelters are full. Some migrants are sleeping outside. But the city is using hotels like this one to handle the overflow. It's where we met Dorcas Escobedo (ph) and Mary Tino (ph). The couple left Guatemala a year ago.

DORCAS ESCOBEDO (ph), MIGRANT: (Speaking in Foreign Language)

LAVANDERA (on camera): They're telling me that they spent about a month in Juarez waiting to cross legally through the proper channels, but they started noticing many other people starting to cross illegally across the river and turning themselves in so they decided to do the same thing. The crisis is not limited to El Paso.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): A surge in San Diego has volunteers dealing with thousands of migrants. Many like this 24-year-old from Ecuador are on their way to family already inside the country. He says, wants what every person comes here to do to work and live here, breathe new air.


A homeland security official tells CNN, 8,000 migrants including families were apprehended Monday on the U.S. southern border. That number higher than the 3,500 per day average in May right after Title 42 COVID restrictions ended. But in El Paso, this migrant surge doesn't rival those during Title 42 at least not yet.

MARTIN: The only thing that I can affirmatively say we're starting to see the larger number of people and I think it should be heated as a warning.


LAVANDERA: And, Jake, the question now is, and many people are trying to figure this out, is this an anomaly, a short lived surge or is this a sign of a bigger problem that will continue to grow for months at a time. Here at this border checkpoint, this border patrol agent just loaded up this van with women and children, they will then be taken to the processing center. And if they're not immediately expelled, they will be given paperwork to show up at a court date, sometime down the road and they move into other parts of the country.

And the reasons for, Jake, why this is happening is not exactly clear at this point. We've spent all day speaking with migrants here. And there's a variety of reasons as to why migrants are choosing to cross like this now in a way that we haven't seen since the end of Title 42. A lot of it is disinformation. A lot of it is desperation just tired of waiting on the other side. Jake?

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera in El Paso, Texas, thanks so much.

The family so glamorous, they were part of the plot of "Titanic" and now in HBO's "The Gilded Age." A member of another story, a New York family knows all about them. Anderson Cooper will join me next talking about the Astors and his new book, "The Astors," stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Pop Culture Lead, New York, the most populous city in the U.S. and everywhere you go, you can't ignore one name that pops up again and again, Astor, the Astor Place Theatre, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Astor Hall in the New York Public Library. Our own Anderson Cooper tells the story of America's first multimillionaire and his family in his new book, "Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune," which is out today. Congratulations.


TAPPER: So many nice notices in "The Washington Post" in "The Chicago Tribune." Your book begins with the day you met, what will be the last of the Astors, Brooke Astor, you were 13, eating at Mortimer's with your brother and your mom, tell us about that first meeting and then more importantly, about the next time you met her.

COOPER: So yes, she was the sort of Queen of New York society at the time. She had a foundation that had been started by Vincent Astor, her husband, who she was married to and five and a half very unhappy years but he she inherited his, the entire Astor fortune and she devoted it to giving back to New York, which is the city which gave the Astor's their fortune because they own much the land upon which New York was built.

I was 13. I didn't know who the Astor's were. I was eating lunch with my mom, this restaurant called Mortimer's, which was like this upper east side society restaurant there was always like a crazy circus of the show. And Brooke Astor walks in, and I thought to myself, who is this little old lady in a very big fur coat, not realizing that the Astor fortune was actually created by beaver fur initially in the 1700s with John Jacob Astor in the bloody trade of beaver pelts.

That's how he made his millions initially, and then he funneled it into New York real estate, owning much of the land that New York was built on, as I said. My mom, it turned out didn't like Brooke Astor. And I could tell that instantly when Brooke Astor came over and was introduced to me. And I met her a couple of times over the years, and, you know, there's -- but there was a constant, more consequential meeting when I was working as a waiter at this restaurant years later, when I was 17.

And we pass each other. And I said, hello, Mrs. Astor. And she looked at me and almost smiled. And then she saw me I was in my waiter outfit, and she didn't recognize me as Gloria Vanderbilt son, she just thought I was recognized me as a waiter. And she looked basically right through me. And she started to smile. When I said her name, she looked up and then, like, there was a slight curl to smile. And then she saw I was the waiter, and she, it jus -- it changed the expression.

And it was a, for me, it was an insignificant moment. And maybe she was just having a bad day. So I don't mean to make her sound to be terrible, because she did remarkable things for the city. But to me, it was a really important moment because it was sort of a reminder of something which I already knew, which was the privilege that I had of being, you know, when I was in the company and my mother, I was treated one way when I was waiting tables, I was treated very differently by many of the people who I knew or had met, who just didn't recognize me as their waiter. And it made me really think about, you know, what side of the table I want it to be on or if I want it to be at those tables at all, which I chose not to be.

TAPPER: It's just fascinating. Astor family members have also infiltrated Hollywood whether it's Mary Astor adopting the surname as part of her stage life or real life Astor being portrayed on the big screen. You mentioned the times Jack Astor has been portrayed in movies depicting the Titanic shipwreck, including in James Cameron's film. Let's take a quick look at that.



ERIC BRAEDEN, ACTOR: Well, hello, Molly. Nice to see you.

KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS: JJ, Madeleine, I'd like you to meet Jack Dawson.



BRAEDEN: Hi, Jack. Are you at the Boston Dawsons?

DICAPRIO: No. The Chippewa Falls Dawsons, actually.

BRAEDEN: Oh, yes.


TAPPER: Now, this is true right. Jack Astor was in fact aboard the Titanic and died in that shipwreck?

COOPER: That's correct. He was probably the wealthiest person on a ship with many wealthy people. His wife, his new wife, his second wife, Madeleine survived the Titanic she was pregnant with a child that he didn't know was a boy at the time but turned out to be a boy and the entire fortune, the Jack Astor's fortune was passed on to Vincent Astor except for a few million dollars that went to his new wife and his unborn child.


But yes, when you know in many of the headlines of the Titanic Jack Astor's name was on there and in fact he was one of the bodies that was recovered, and he was found with a pocket watch, which was then remained in the Astor family, ultimately given to Brooke Astor's son.

TAPPER: It's a book full of just incredible details like that. Anderson Cooper's new book, "Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune," is out today. Get your copy. It's great reading. Anderson, congratulations again.

COOPER: Thanks, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: This programming note, one week from today, I'm going to talk to Cassidy Hutchinson. She was an aide to Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows and you can see that next Tuesday at 4 o'clock Eastern right here on The Lead. And next tonight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is going to talk to with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. That's just moments away. I'll see you tomorrow.