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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trial Set For Monday After Trump Found Liable For Fraud; Federal Government Could Shut Down In Less Than Four Days; McCarthy: No Support For Bill That Would Avoid Shutdown; American Soldier Expelled From North Korea, En Route To U.S. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: He didn't delve into too many details on this, you know, alleged romance. I think it's a stunt.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You can't kiss and tell.

SANCHEZ: It's a stunt. I think it's a stunt.

KEILAR: I don't know if it, but he's -- I mean, I didn't really -- like who is this Travis guy until Taylor did put him on the map. So --

SANCHEZ: He's a great tight end and I've got him on my fantasy team. His jersey sales went up. His Instagram followers went up.

KEILAR: That's right.

SANCHEZ: Thanks for joining us.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Trump's excuse today: you should never have believed me in the first place.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The latest ruling against Donald Trump gets at the core of his entire identity. A judge finding him liable for fraud, ruling his real estate empire was built on a lie.

Trump responds this morning on social media, noting a clause saying that nothing in his financial statements should be accepted as fact. In other words, I told you I was lying, people.

And new bank records in Hunter Biden's criminal case, including wire transfers from China, as House Republicans move forward with an impeachment inquiry and try -- try to connect President Biden to his son's activities.

Plus, formerly AWOL. U.S. soldier Travis King back in American custody. Just why did he run across the DMZ into North Korea? And did the U.S. cut some sort of deal with the communist nation to bring him back? (MUSIC)

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

We're going to start today with our law and justice lead. Donald Trump is set to go on trial on Monday. But I'm not talking about any of the four criminal cases he's facing, the 91 criminal charges laid out in those four indictments.

I'm not -- not talking about the Manhattan district attorney's case about hush money paid to a porn star. I'm not talking about the special counsel's case in Florida about Trump's handling of classified documents. I'm not talking about the special counsel case in D.C. about Trump attempting to subvert the Constitution by trying to over turn the election.

I'm not talking about the case down in Fulton County, Georgia, about Trump trying to allegedly steal the state's electoral votes, nor, by the way, am I talking about the civil defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll who already won a sexual assault and defamation case against Mr. Trump.

No, no, no, I'm talking about the New York attorney general's civil case against Trump. It is a legal blow that takes aim both at the former's president's legacy and, frankly, his wallet.

Today, New York Judge Arthur Engoron announced the civil case against Trump, his adult sons and the Trump Organization. He said it will move forward on Monday. This is the same judge who just yesterday ruled that Donald Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are liable for fraud.

The judge said they repeatedly lied about how much their properties are worth. They did that in order to get more loans, he said. The judge also canceled the Trump Organization's business certification, what some legal experts refer to as the corporate death penalty.

Now, the former president, who has spent decades bragging about his wealth, and building a persona of an ultra accomplished real estate tycoon, a persona that helped propel him to a top rated network TV show and then, of course, to the presidency. He will see some of that same fortune put in the hands of a New York jury.

The state's attorney general is seeking $250 million in damages, and a ban on the Trump's ever doing business in New York ever again.

Now Trump's excuse on social media this morning, as I alluded to earlier, is this, quote: There is a powerful disclaimer clause on the first pages of the financial statements. It states that nothing in the financial statement should be accepted as fact.

This is what seems an open admission of misrepresentation, though, assuredly stronger defenses for Mr. Trump and his family are to come.

CNN's Brynn Gingras starts up our coverage today with a closer look at how prosecutors say a network of lies helped the Trumps build their wealth and their reputations.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Trump empire --


GINGRAS: -- which Americans binged in the hit shown "The Apprentice" --

TRUMP: I've been successful in every business I've been in.

GINGRAS: -- helped catapult Donald Trump to political stardom --


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE: Congratulations, Mr. President.

GINGRAS: -- and the presidency may not be all it seemed, according to a ruling by a New York judge Tuesday, Donald Trump committed fraud for years.

The ruling largely siding with New York Attorney General Letitia James.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat this system thereby cheating all of us.

GINGRAS: She brought a civil lawsuit against Trump, his sons and the Trump Organization in 2022. The judge finding they inflated the value of Trump properties, golf courses, hotels, and homes to secure loans, ultimately building their fortune.

Take the Trump triplex apartment in New York City. The former president noted in financial statements that it's three times bigger in size than it actually is, creating an overvaluation up to $207 million, according to judge. Mar-a-Lago found to be inflated by more than half a billion dollars.

A discrepancy of this order of magnified by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades could only be considered fraud, the judge wrote. Adding that the Trumps are living in a fantasy world, not the real world.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It is a sledgehammer to Trump and the entire organization in New York.

GINGRAS: And now, Trump's New York empire will likely shrink. The judge canceling the Trump Organization's business certification and assigning an independent party to dissolve entities like the tower at 40 Wall Street in New York City and a family compound in Westchester County.

How that process will play out is still being determined by the court and could take some time. LITMAN: He is in a world of hurt on the business side, stronger so far

than anything that's happened on the criminal side.

GINGRAS: Trump lashed out on Truth Social saying it is a great company that has been slandered and maligned by this politically motivated witch hunt. He's appealing the ruling.

For James, it's a win on one claim of several filed in the suit paving the way for the Trumps to possibly owe the state big bucks.


GINGRAS (on camera): Now, the AG is asking for a quarter billion dollars with this suit and for the Trumps to never do business again in New York. If that will happen, it is really up to a judge in this trial, which is going to dissect more financial filings and like you said, Jake, it is expected to start next week.

However, there could be a hiccup in this because there is an appeal currently on the books right now that a judge is expected to rule on which could delay the start of this civil trial. So we'll keep an eye out for that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brynn, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now to discuss, here in studio, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, and up in New York, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Elie, we're seeing Trump's attempted defense today on Truth Social where he wrote in part that he, quote, could not have defrauded the banks who all made money and were all paid back, or are current, with no defaults or any other problem, unquote.

If all the banks were paid back what Trump owed plus interest, does he have a point, or no?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Legally, no, here, Jake. It is important to understand first of all, this is a civil lawsuit, the count on which the judge has ruled in favor of the attorney general here does not require any showing of loss to any particular party. This is a very favorable rule to the attorney general. This is a very favorable rule to plaintiffs.

As long as the attorney general can show that the defendant, here the Trump Organization, engaged in fraud and got money they weren't entitled to as a result, then that's good enough to make the claim out. And that's what the judge held here.

There are six other counts where the A.G. is going to have to show what we call some sort of materiality, some sort of loss. But for the one count that the judge has ruled in favor of the A.G., whether anyone lost money or not, it does not matter.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, the four other indictments and the 91 criminal charges aside, this is a civil case, but you think it might hit a little different for Trump, this New York civil case.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, let's put it out there. This is triggering Donald Trump like nothing else.

TAPPER: You see the reaction on Truth Social.

GANGEL: It goes to the heart of what he cares about which is his image, his brand, the notion that he's the best. Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, once told me I think it was last year, the way to get to, as he calls him, Donald, is not the criminal cases. That's not what's going to bother him. It's going to be going after property, business, money.

The question is, with his supporters, who seem not to be bothered by the criminal cases, will the fact that the image of being the best, that this is in effect fraud, will that have a difference with his supporters?

TAPPER: No. That's my prediction.

GANGEL: You're right.

TAPPER: Elie, Trump went on to claim on Truth Social that Mar-a-Lago is worth a hundred times more than what the judge said it is worth. Isn't that the kind of claim that is at the heart of this entire civil case?


And isn't that just demonstrably provable one way or the other?

HONIG: Yes, this is the problem itself. Donald Trump sort of nicely illustrates it in his Truth Social today. The judge points out in the ruling, the county assessor down in Florida where Mar-a-Lago is located, assessed the value of the property of Mar-a-Lago at around $20 million. Donald Trump when it came time to put no for bank loans assessed it on his own as being worth $500 million. That's 20, 25 times more.

And what the judge said in this ruling is, yes, there is some room for subjectivity when it comes to assessments. But there is not a total free for all here. You don't get to just fabricate numbers that are 20, 25 times greater and Donald Trump does just that in his defensive truth social post. He's sort of making the A.G.'s case for her.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign at Trump Tower and now he might lose the building. I mean, we don't know that that is actually going to happen but that's a risk.

He rose to political power on this perception that he was this magnate, that he was this huge colossus. Do you think his base -- well, how do you think his base will see it?

GANGEL: Well, you know, we just have discussed does it make a difference? But I think, remember yesterday you and I were discussing, you did this interview with Cassidy Hutchinson, and one of the quotes was he admitted he lost. She heard him say that to Mark Meadows.

TAPPER: And said it was embarrassing.

GANGEL: That's the point. This is embarrassing for Donald Trump. The question is will it cut through to that base that seems willing to stick with him? And when I talk to his supporters, they always make sort of the same excuse, explanation, they're out to get him.

TAPPER: Yeah, they're out to get him. Yeah.

Elie, also on Truth Social, we should note, Trump wrote about the judge, quote, this political hack judge, and then he went on to talk about the undervaluing of his properties. This political hack judge must be stopped. Could Trump face any legal actions for posting things like that? I mean, I could see how the judge might regard that as a threat.

HONIG: Well, Jake, so that's exactly the line. A person, any party in a criminal or civil case is entitled to criticize the other party, it entitled to criticize the judge but the line is where you just said. Does it cross over into being a threat and that language must be stopped is what jumped out to me.

That's different than must be reversed on appeal. Must be stopped is perhaps intentionally vague and open to interpretation. So I think the judge may want to take a look at that, perhaps impose some sort of order prohibiting that type of speech and perhaps imposing sanctions if Donald Trump continues to do this as he surely will.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig and Jamie Gangel, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

There is movement late today in the funding fight, a new proposal to aim to prevent a government shutdown that could be just three days, seven hours, 46 minutes and 27 seconds away, but who's counting? Will House Republicans get on board? Might we see a deal before a shutdown goes into effect Sunday morning?

I'm going to speak to a Republican and a Democrat about what's realistic.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, in just days, hundreds of thousands of Americans could stop receiving their paychecks, though not of course members of Congress, including those who refuse to come to the table to try to achieve a compromise as the country is four days away from a possible government shutdown.

This could impact American's paychecks but also safety at the border and airport travel as TSA agents and air traffic controllers could be among the furloughed workers. Food safety as food inspections might be delayed and museums and national parks could be closed.

CNN's Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Manu, House Republicans have been pushing to include more border funding in the spending bill. There's obviously a crisis at the border. Where do things stand right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there is a collision course also between the House and the Senate and it's unclear how this will be resolved before the Saturday 11:59 p.m. deadline to avoid a government shutdown. The House Republicans and Senate Republicans are in a different position on how to deal with this, on the leadership side.

There's also moderates in the House GOP who are pointing fingers at the conservative hardliners. Those hardliners are refusing to con -- allow for a short-term spending bill to be approved that Speaker McCarthy is trying to push through that would include some border security money.

At the moment, Speaker McCarthy does not have the votes but Speaker McCarthy is also opposed to what the Senate is planning to move forward with. That is a plan that Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, cut with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that would extend government funding until mid-November to include aid to Ukraine, about $6 billion, a disaster relief as well. It does not have money for the border.

Those are things that the House Republicans say they will not move forward unless Ukraine has pulled out of it and unless, they add border security money. So at the moment, there is an impasse.

And there's also concerns within the top Senate Republicans that Speaker McCarthy himself backed away from a funding bill that he cut earlier this summer to raise the national debt limit that sets spending bill, and as a result of that decision they say has contributed to the mess they find themselves in, all raising questions about whether they could avoid a shut down, but some say a shutdown is inevitable.


REP. ANDY OGLES (R-TN): At the end of the day, leadership procrastinated, we created a mess. Now, we got to find our way through it and if that means taking a couple of extra weeks for the shutdown, that's fine.

REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CA): That tactic to take to say, hey, I want to shut the damn thing down, and it really benefits -- it especially doesn't benefit the conservative platform. That is not, you know, paralleling or supporting a conservative platform by any stretch of the imagination.

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): If you make a deal, you got to stick to a deal. And I understand the speaker has a lot of pressures on him. So, I don't want to judge why he's doing what he's doing, but I think if we stuck with the original deal, but that was going to be impossible, too, from what we hear from the house.


RAJU: So at the moment, Speaker McCarthy is planning to move forward with the Republican plan to keep the government open on Friday. But, Jake, he does not have the votes to move forward because a number of those hard-line members told me they will not vote for a short-term bill no matter what is included in it.


So raising questions about how that's -- this will get resolved as the Senate moves forward with its plan that could stretch into the weekend, pushing it right up until the deadline to avoid a shutdown.

TAPPER: Yeah and all the while hovering over his head like the sword of Damocles, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is threatening to oust Speaker McCarthy, or at least attempt to do so, if he -- if McCarthy turns to House Democrats to try to work with them in order to get help to pass a government spending bill.

RAJU: Yeah, and that is one thing that Gaetz has been threatening for sometime. But I talked to other members who are aligned with Congressman Gaetz who agree with him and say that if McCarthy does cut a deal with Democrats or move forward with a bill that has the support of the majority of Democrats, that would be enough to push him out of the speakership, they say.

And McCarthy I've asked him about this a number of times. He claims that he is not considering, that is not part of his calculation, he's simply trying to get a conservative outcome and bolster the House GOP negotiating position here, but a lot of people expect that this threat has been waged by Gaetz over and over again is playing into this strategy to the speaker at the moment which is trying to move things along party lines but he doesn't have the votes yet.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman August Pfluger from Texas.

Congressman, this afternoon, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, Republican, told CNN that he understands the House Republicans' push for border funding but he can't promise that it is going to make it into the short-term stopgap bill.

But he added that long term funding will not happen without addressing the border. That it will be in the long-term spending bill.

Is that good enough for you? Will you consider the bill that the Senate has come together to do with the promise from Lindsey Graham that the border funding will be in the long-term bill?

REP. AUGUST PFLUGER (R-TX): Well, Jake, thanks for having me on. And as we've seen the Senate version, it is a nonstarter right now. And I would go a step further than the senator and say for House Republicans and for especially Texans, we need both short-term and long-term funding.

This issue has gone on far too long. You have 2.3-plus million illegal immigrants come this country, and the tragedies that you have from fentanyl deaths, 150 people that have matched the terror watch list and the list goes on and on with tragedies that have occurred because of the cartels owning the southern border.

So, it's -- enough is enough. And I think this is a winning issue quite frankly. Not just for Republicans but for Democrats alike.

It's a winning issue for America. Enough is enough. We have to secure the border.

TAPPER: Senator Sinema, the -- I think she's an independent from Arizona, is working to add border security funding for the short-term stopgap bill. If she does that, would you consider supporting that bill?

PFLUGER: Well, we haven't seen that. But we have our own version which basically is HR-2. It's a pretty comprehensive border security bill that we passed earlier this year and we intend to send that over to the Senate and at that point in time, you know, I'm glad to see people like the Senator Sinema and others working on this issue. Arizona and Texas get it because we're bearing the brunt of this.

But when you see Democrat governors and mayors throughout the United States reacting and declaring emergencies like was done in Massachusetts, you know this issue has hit every single state and now it is up to those in Texas and Arizona and other states to really lead on this issue, which is what we're doing.

TAPPER: Bigger picture when it comes to governing, Republicans control the House of Representatives and your conference is unable to come to a consensus on a government spending bill.

What do you say to someone who says your party doesn't have the ability to govern, at least based on what House Republicans are doing right now?

PFLUGER: Well, I mean, let's just look at the track record. We've passed, you know, an incredible portfolio of legislation. We have governed all the way from the very first day of Speaker McCarthy leading and we'll continue to govern.

Yes. We're going through some challenges and bumps, but government, you know, needs the transparent debate. We need to show the American people what we're talking about. We don't always agree but at the end of the day, I do think that we'll pass good legislation.

We will keep the government open. We should keep the government open. But included in that is the necessity for the Biden administration to reverse course on their failed policies, starting on day one from the administration.

TAPPER: One of the challenges here on the border issue, and we should note you visited the border earlier this week, Venezuelans make up a large portion of the migrants crossing the border right now.

And this is important to note because it is more difficult for the U.S. to deport Venezuelans, because A, they are fleeing a socialist hell hole, and B, the U.S. has really horrible diplomatic relations with Venezuela. So they can't just be deported easily back to Venezuela. It complicates the whole thing.


What do you suppose we do with the Venezuelan migrants?

PFLUGER: Well, great point. You know, the picture that you just showed, that that's me in Eagle Pass seeing almost 11,000 people per day over the last few days coming in. There are a lot of Venezuelans that come into the country.

But this is why remain in Mexico was such an important piece of the policy from the previous administration. It's why we need to go right back to that, because other countries along the way, when you go through three or four countries and then you say, well, we're not going to stop here, we are going to keep going. That really breaks the norms worldwide of the immigration requirements.

So, yes, it is difficult to deport people back to Venezuela. But every border patrol agent will tell you there are no consequences and without those consequences, then people are going to continue to come at record numbers and by the way, Border Patrol morale is at the lowest point that it's ever been, only 10 percent are actually in the field and the rest are processing and administering over 2.3 million people this year.

TAPPER: You think it's bad now, Border Patrol morale, wait until there is a government shutdown and they stop getting paid.

Congressional report found during the last government shutdown in 2019, border security severely deteriorated as routine maintenance and repairs of fences, walls, gates, roads made it even more dangerous for the agents on ground doing this already dangerous job. That must concern you.

PFLUGER: You now, it does. And I'm a military veteran myself, two-plus decades in the Air Force. I've been right there in their shoes doing the national security mission when there was a shutdown. We want to avoid that. And we have an answer to that and that's why we're urging our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let's come together and let's figure this out.

But enough is enough. And border security, it's an abysmal failure. Some have said and suggested that this would be a win for Biden, fine. If we shut the border down and we get the chaos stopped, and the fentanyl deaths stopped, then I'm fine with that, because it's good for America.

TAPPER: Republican Congressman August Pfluger of Texas, always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much.

PFLUGER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Despite the in-fighting among House Republicans, Democrats control the Senate and Democrats control the White House. Could that party do more to stop a shutdown that seems even more likely by the hour?

Well, we're going to talk to a Democrat next.



TAPPER: We're back with even more on the looming government shutdown. I just spoke with Republican Congressman August Pfluger of Texas who told me that he will not support any bill to fund the government unless it contains additional funding for border security.

For how the Democrats feel about the impending shutdown, I'd like to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Congresswoman, Speaker McCarthy has been dodging questions on whether or not he would turn to Democrats to try to gain enough support to pass his own continuing resolution.

Do you see a scenario in which House Democrats would work with McCarthy on this to try to keep the government open?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): You know, it's shameful, Jake, that we're in this position at all. We began the 118th Congress in chaos. We are still in chaos.

McCarthy cannot get his conference together nor can he advance his harmful and unpopular agenda. You know, to date, what do we have here? A baseless impeachment, a march towards a nationwide ban on abortion, banning books, a completely out of step with the American people.

The Democrats are ready, we've been ready. We are united. And we're focused on the people. We're ready to keep the government open, and to maintain essential services.

TAPPER: Congressman Gaetz of Florida says if McCarthy does turn to Democrats for support on the funding bill, he would introduce a motion to vacate the speakership and we heard from Congressman Pfluger that he thinks other Republicans would join Gaetz in that if McCarthy tries to cut a deal with Democrats. If that were to happen, who would you vote for, for speaker?

PRESSLEY: Jake, you know, right now, the speaker that I listen to are the constituents in the Massachusetts 7th congressional district who stand to be deeply harmed by a shutdown, which it does appear that one is imminent. And it will be deeply consequential.

We're talking about social media and Medicare being compromised, we're talking about food being taken out of the mouths of women and children in my district as much as 125,000 families could be impacted. We're talking about 7,000 federal government and contract workers in my district. We're talking about a state not getting critical disaster relief funds.

So, that's who I'm answering to. That's why I remain ready and continue to listen to the people. And I hope we'll not be in a shutdown. If we are in a shutdown, please know that we're in a shutdown because of the Republicans. The Democrats have been at the table and been ready.

TAPPER: But you might actually be given an opportunity where you get to vote for keeping Speaker McCarthy as leader or there could be -- or there could be chaos, you might be asked to vote for Jim Jordan. I mean, it actually might be one of these scenarios. Would you --


PRESSLEY: I'll make a decision when it is time to vote. But it is shameful that we're in this position at all and it is more of the same with the Republican majority.


Just chaos and I would argue cluelessness about what the American people really need and want us to be focused on, which is governance. And keeping the government open and providing these essential services.

TAPPER: So Republicans' biggest criticism of the bipartisan Senate spending bill, this compromised that's being worked over on the other side of Capitol Hill said it does not contain additional funding for border security. Right now, the U.S. is facing a crisis at the border and this historic wave of Venezuelans migrants crossing into the U.S.

The U.S. could not deport most of them or any of them because of the frosty diplomatic relations with Venezuela. More than 7.7 million people have fled, Venezuela. There's no sign this is slowing down. Do you agree something needs to be done about our border, that it is just not sustainable? I mean, we see, you know, these governors and I'm sure you disapprove the tactic but they're sending migrants into places like Massachusetts, like New York, like California, and these cities are having trouble keeping up. The Republican governors say things like we're giving you a taste of what we have to deal with.

PRESSLEY: Well, I certainly disagree with any people and certainly our most vulnerable who are fleeing a great destabilization and violence and corruption from being used as political pawns. No doubt about it, our border is secure. And we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and we have to fix a broken system and we ought to --


TAPPER: You think it is secure? You think the border is secure? Or it's not secure?

PRESSLEY: I believe that we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and there needs to be federal investment to support those migrant families, and I work with a number of the community-based organizations on ground and they need more support, they need more federal support. This is a humanitarian crisis and it is the consequence of a number of long-standing broken policies that, you know, are very consequential for asylum seekers, TPS holders and DACA recipients writ large. But that is a conversation for another day.

TAPPER: I don't disagree with this being a humanitarian crisis at all. But just to get some clarity on this and sure, it's a conversation for another day. But do you think that the border is secure? I just -- is that what you said?

PRESSLEY: Yes. The border is secure. And we're in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that has been created by a broken system. In the meantime, we need federal investment to support my constituents and those who call the MA-7 home writ large, which is why we need to prevent a government shutdown.

I want to see the humanity, the dignity, the safety and the needs of everyone, which is why we should not have a government shutdown. It will be deeply consequential. It will create a dire situation for families, many that are already struggling.

TAPPER: But if you have millions of undocumented migrants coming into the country, how is the border secure?

PRESSLEY: Jake, this is not a new crisis. It does require more political will and commitment. It is a humanitarian crisis. We should treat it as such.

And, again, representing one of the most diverse constituencies in the country, and in fact, I chair the House Haiti Caucus. I represent the third largest Haitian diaspora in the country, and what I see on the ground is community-based organizations and municipalities who need federal support.

TAPPER: I'm not disagreeing with anything you're saying except for the idea that the border is secure. If you have people crossing border, it's by definition not secure. If you have people coming to United States -- in fact, I mean, one of the arguments being made and I think it is an argument worth considering is that because our border is so porous, millions of people make this very unsafe journey. Millions of people give money to people who prey on them, coyotes, and take them on these journeys to cross into the United States, preying on them, vulnerable people.

And that's because the border is not secure. Because it is not secure, they go on this journey and one of the arguments that is made and maybe you disagree with it, is that the border should be secure so as to discourage people from making this journey.

So that if people want to try to come to United States, and declare asylum and seek asylum, they go through the proper corridors and not just try to cross illegally. But it just seems like just such a refusal to acknowledge reality to say that the border is secure when we all know millions of people are crossing the border illegally every year. [16:40:06]

PRESSLEY: Jake, and that is a consequences of a number of things. We have climate refugees. People that have been destabilized by extreme weather events.


PRESSLEY: We have people that are (AUDIO GAP) violence and corruption.


PRESSLEY: And so we just have to acknowledge why someone would leave their native country and their family and risk so much.

TAPPER: A hundred percent, yeah.

PRESSLEY: It is because they are -- and asylum is a human right. And so, we must do better and more by TPS holders, by DACA recipients and asylum seekers.

And we must do more and better by those who already call this country home who stand to really struggle if there is a Republican government shutdown that could have been avoided if the Republicans knew how to govern.

But instead, they lead from a place of contempt, callousness and cluelessness and they continue to play to the extreme parts of their base. Political gamesmanship playing with people's lives and I'm not hour here for it. And this is also why I'm calling on them not to resume student loan payments October 1st if we are in a government shutdown.

TAPPER: Okay. It sounds like in there you acknowledge that there are millions of people crossing the border illegally, which would mean that the border is not secure. But I mean, I don't disagree with any of the points that you made about these people are trying to seek better lives and they're escaping all sort of horrible things. But would you grant me the point that the border is not secure?

PRESSLEY: Jake, that is a conversation for another day. Right now I'm squarely focused on preventing a government shutdown and (AUDIO GAP).

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, thanks so much.

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


TAPPER: And we're back -- yeah, 2024 music. We're back with our 2024 lead.

And let's all dive straight into all of today's major political headlines with Republican pollster and truth be told, one of my favorite guests, Kristen Soltis Anderson. I'm sorry, I hope I'm not talking out of school. Let's start with the

shutdown. What are you hearing from Republican voters? Do they feel like a shutdown affects them and who will they blame? Do they care?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, a lot of voters don't have much recollection of previous shutdowns. So, really, if a shutdown is short, many voters won't really take it into consideration. If a shutdown is long, it can have consequences.

And normally, those consequences are negative for party that is in charge. What Republicans are banking on this time is that they won't bear too much of the blame or rather, they'll be viewed as having a just cause in this case, on issues like immigration for instance.


Back the last time the government shutdown, voters actually perfected Democrats on issues like immigration. Today, Republicans have a huge advantage on that issue in CNN polling. So I think Republicans feel like they're in a stronger position now to extract concessions. The other problem is, Republicans are not all united about what they want out of this shutdown.

TAPPER: So let's turn to the debate that's happening tonight. Trump is once again the absent elephant in the room. So the other seven candidates on the stage, it is their time to shine for second place. What message do you think will resonate among Republican voters?

ANDERSON: I think Republican voters who watch this debate are going to be the ones looking for an alternative to Trump. They're going to want to see someone would could really beat Joe Biden.

We've seen in a lot of polls lately that Nikki Haley is looking the strongest as a contender against Biden but right now, Trump is still the big thing. And I think if these candidates tonight can't answer the questions, if you like Donald Trump so much, why should we vote for you instead? If they can't answer that question well, this is Trump's thing to just run with.

TAPPER: So despite -- let's talk about Trump because despite the growing legal issues an it is considerable to take at least five minutes to explain them to the folks at home. Despite that, in the latest CNN poll of polls, Trump leads DeSantis who's next in line by 43 points. It seems like a lot.

In 2007, at this time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a remarkable lead over then Senator Barack Obama. And in October of 2007, she led Obama by 30 percentage points. But, of course, Obama ended up winning. So that is 30 compared to 43 for Trump right now.

Do you think it is -- and don't give me in the realm of possible. Obviously, anything is possible. But what are the odds that somebody other than Trump gets nomination and let's exclude, you know, death or prison or, you know, meteors.

ANDERSON: Sure. TAPPER: What are the -- what is it one in 20?

ANDERSON: Very low. Like maybe not quite one in 20, but one in 10. I could be comfortable going there. I mean, the problem is that for a lot of Republicans who don't wan Trump to be the nominee, we hear this talk like you heard in 2016, right, we just need the field to shrink down. If it was Trump head-to-head with Nikki Haley, Trump head-to- head with Ron DeSantis, maybe there'd be a chance.

But Trump's lead right now is so large and voters on the Republican side think that Trump would be formidable against Biden. They don't see any reason at this point to change who the captain of their team is. And until that dynamic changes or unless something dramatic happens, meteor, legal or otherwise, it seems like it is Trump's race to lose.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Soltis Anderson, good to see you as always. Thanks so much.

Many of us woke up to huge news this morning. American soldier Travis King released by North Korea. What CNN is learning about how this all went down. That's next.



TAPPER: Our world lead, an extreme example of a young man seemingly trying to run from his problems. Today, North Korea expelled AWOL U.S. Army Private Travis King. The 23-year-old junior soldier was stationed in South Korea before he willingly crossed over the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, two months ago.

King entered North Korea the day before he was supposed to be on a plane back to Texas to be kicked out of the U.S. Army over assault charges in South Korea.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports on what's next for King as the young soldier returns home where he will likely, finally have to face the music.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Private Travis King, now on his way home after bolting across the heavily guarded border into North Korea back in July, which U.S. officials say he did willfully and without authorization.

Now, they will hopefully learn what drove Private King's dramatic and scary escapade, as well as details on his more than two months in North Korean custody.

U.S. officials say that since July, multiple countries have undertaken intense diplomacy to free King, and that Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea, played a crucial role. MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We appreciate the

professionalism of our diplomats who worked with their counterparts at the Department of Defense and coordinated with the governments of Sweden and the People's Republic of China and we thank Sweden and the People's Republic of China for their assistance in facilitating that transfer.

MARQUARDT: On Wednesday, North Korean state media suddenly announced that 23-year-old King would be expelled, following what they called an investigation, which King supposedly admitted that he crossed into North Korea illegally. King was taken from North Korea to the Friendship Bridge with China in Dandong, where he was met by the American ambassador and defense attache. From there, he flew to Shenyang, in China, then to the U.S. air base, Osan, in South Korea before flying back to the United States.

Was there anything that the North Koreans asked for or received in exchange? Was there a trade at all?

MILLER: We did not give them anything. We made no concessions as part of securing his return.

MARQUARDT: Do you have any idea why they decided to suddenly expel him?

MILLER: I am going to follow my general here and not try to get into the heads of foreign governments, certainly not that one.

MARQUARDT: King is said to be in good health, very happy to be free, and eager to see his family.

A spokesman for his mother saying in a statement she, quote, will be forever grateful to the United States Army and all its interagency partners for a job well done.

King's family had previously said they didn't understand why King had done what he did.

JAQUEDA GATES, SISTER OF TRAVIS KING: This is really, really hard on my mom.


You know, that's her baby boy. His room is still in her house.

MARQUARDT: When King fled from the airport in Seoul, South Korea, to the DMZ, he had been ordered back to Texas to face discipline after pleading guilty in South Korea for assault, which he was sentenced to 50 days of labor in South Korea.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Jake, Private King is due to land in the coming hours in San Antonio, Texas. He will then go to the Brooke Army Medical Center. That's the same medical facility where other returning U.S. prisoners have gone, including Trevor Reed and Brittney Griner. As for the consequences he may face, what kind of discipline, whether

it's a court-martial for going AWOL or for trying to evade those disciplinary procedures, those questions we are told by a senior administration official, will be addressed once King is back on solid footing, after what this official called the reintegration process -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Alex Marquardt at the State Department for us, thanks so much, Alex. Good to see you.

Less than four months until the first contest in the 2024 race, but there is the critical moment for GOP voters happen thing evening. We'll have more on that, next.