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The Lead with Jake Tapper
GOP Candidates Spar In Second Debate, Call Out Absent Trump; Wash Post: Alarmed Republicans Prepare To Draft V.A. Gov. Youngkin; Trump And His Adult Children Are Listed As Potential Witnesses In N.Y. Fraud Case; GOP-Led House Cmte Hold First Biden Impeachment Inquiry Hearing; Top Health Officials Address Nation's Mental Health Crisis; D.B. Cooper Sleuth Hopes To Solve Decades Old Mystery With DNA. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 28, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, the new lawsuit facing the FBI over the only unsolved hijacking in U.S. aviation history. Whatever happened to D.B. Cooper? We're going to talk with a sleuth about the piece of evidence from the 1971 hijacking he is now suing to be able to see.
Plus, another major legal blow for Donald Trump. After losing an appeal, he is set to go on trial on Monday in a civil case where the New York attorney general is asking for a $250 million penalty. And now we're learning multiple Trumps are on the witness list.
And leading this hour, cue the music for the 2024 lead. Yes, the veritable second coming of the Lincoln Douglas debates last night in California. A political Algonquin roundtable in Steamy Valley for the second Republican debate. Just kidding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's the fact. Here's the fact, though.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cut tax. I loaded up our --
SCOTT: You wanted a gas tax sickliest (ph) and then you wanted to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cue the music.
STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, we will not intend to go ahead like this. In fact, we're about to take a --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Did you catch that? Any of that? OK, me neither. So let's quickly catch up. While last night's debate was held in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, some conservatives lamented that today's 2024 Republican presidential candidates hardly served up enough moral leadership to make their oft quoted conservative idol proud. Remember Reagan's famous 11th commandment, quote, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican?" Well, none of those on stage, especially former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, perhaps didn't seem a fan of that commandment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: I, honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very important to a party and I'm going to say it.
HALEY: And what we've seen is you've gone and you've helped China, don't make medicines in China, not America?
RAMASWAMY: We should stop. We will -- excuse me. Excuse me.
HALEY: You now wanting kids to go and get on the social media that's dangerous for all of us. You went and you were in business with the Chinese that gave Hunter Biden $5 million. We can't trust you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: In her defense that, I feel a little bit dumber, line is pretty good. Reagan also loved to refer to the United States as that shining city on the hill. While today's reality is a bit more grim, candidates offered a vision of a crumbling America from the economy to the border, to health care, to education. They blasted each other's records. Take a listen to Senator Tim Scott.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Talk about someone who has never seen a federal dollar she doesn't like. $0.10 on this gallon in South Carolina. As the U.N. ambassador, you literally --
HALEY: Bring it, Tim.
SCOTT: -- put $50,000 on curtains in a $15 million subsidized location. Next.
HALEY: You got bad information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner for a second time took a pass on deigning to debate his fellow candidates. He is not the incumbent, we should remind everyone. This time, Florida governor Ron DeSantis had a message for Mr. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record, where they added 7.8 trillion to the debt that set the stage for the inflation that we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And while the candidates sparred for two hours, moderators did not ask about the former president's insane call for General Mark Milley to be executed, essentially, nor Mr. Trump's most recent crippling legal blow, a New York judge finding him and his adult sons liable for fraud. That was not brought up either.
So who won the debate, you might ask? Who did analysts believe had the best night? Well, Trump made it very clear whom he believes his biggest rival is immediately releasing this campaign statement titled The Real Nikki Haley, citing a 2012 "New York Times" interview where Haley said, quote, "The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton," unquote. Now, Trump has already decided he's definitely not attending the third debate.
Joining me now, the man in charge of one of the first states to decide the presidential nominee, Republican Governor of New Hampshire, the Live for your Die state, Chris Sununu.
Governor Sununu, good to see you. Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark called --
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Good to see you.
TAPPER: -- this the, quote, "kids table debate." Did you see an adult in the room? If so, who?
SUNUNU: Sure. Look, it was very chippy, right? I mean, there's no doubt about that. I've been on those debate stages before, and it's a very big temptation just to start talking over and making your point and all that, but there was actually a discipline and a benefit to holding back, and I think everyone wished that had happened more.
I thought DeSantis did very well. He was able to, you know, hit Trump a little bit and kind of stick to his guns about what made him kind of that second place contender to Donald Trump. I think Nikki Haley did very well. There's no doubt about it. She showed that she doesn't get rattled if you try to take a shot at her, and she's not afraid to call folks out.
Elections are about choices. That's kind of the thing I really was resonating in my head. They're about choices. And you have a couple candidates that I think really understand that and show a differentiation.
Arguing isn't a differentiation. You're talking over each other, not a differentiation. But knowing where your opponent stands, being able to call that out, doing your homework, I think Nikki did a great job in that sense.
TAPPER: So, the big challenge for Republicans like you who don't want President Biden to be reelected, but also don't think Donald Trump will be able to achieve that, is to figure out which candidate among all of these to get behind. I want to play another clip from the debate. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If you all stay in the race, former President Donald Trump wins the nomination. None of you have indicated that you're dropping out. So, which one of you on stage tonight should be voted off the island? Please use your marker to write your choice on the notepad in front of you, 15 seconds, starting now. Of the people on the stage, who should be --
HALEY: Are you serious?
PERINO: I'm absolutely serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: OK, so, that's a little silly. But let's assume that you agree, because you have said that it needs to consolidate a bit, that it can't -- you can't have all these people. Who do you think, and obviously, Donald Trump is not dropping out, he's way ahead in the polls. Who are the top three others that you think should stay in the race?
SUNUNU: So a couple of things. Let's start with if you weren't on the debate stage last night, there's no path to victory. There's just not. So, you know, those campaigns and those candidates have to have some tough discussion.
So, all right, now we're down to seven. I think by the third debate, as you get around Thanksgiving, if you're polling at 5 percent or below nationally, you probably got to go. I mean, there's just no path to go from 4 percent to a victory. and ultimately Iowa and New Hampshire will come down. I don't think any of these candidates have to actually win Iowa or New Hampshire, but you have to have one or two really stand out as that second or third place candidate, and that allows you to get it to one on one by Super Tuesday. That's really the key.
So there is a lot of time for the candidates to still show their campaigns, but ultimately, I think as you get into that holiday season, if you're not showing it, there's no path anymore. And that's where the donors, and not just themselves, but the donors, the campaign staff, themselves, all these other voices need to be vocal about pushing a few off the island.
TAPPER: So you know what happened in 2020 is that there was such fear among Democratic bigwigs that Bernie Sanders would get the nomination because all the other Democrats were splitting all the other vote that everybody just consolidated around Joe Biden. I mean, that's what happened. It was -- this -- I don't know, someday somebody, Woodward or somebody is going to write the book about what was really going on and who was pulling the strings. Presumably somebody like, I don't even know who has that kind of power in the Republican Party today, but who do you think --
SUNUNU: Yes, we will do that.
TAPPER: Who do you think has the best chance of defeating Trump in New Hampshire?
SUNUNU: Right now it'd be DeSantis or Nikki Haley, without a doubt. I mean, they're really driving forward. Chris Christie's doing very well. I think that one of the issues with Chris's campaign is, you know, there's not a lot of ground game in some of these other states. So he has to figure out, OK, even if he does well in New Hampshire, how does he get from here to there with the victory? And I think Chris is great, I really do, but he's got to make sure that he has the other pieces and can convince folks, the donors and whatnot, that he can get from here to there.
I mean, I think all those candidates on the stage still have a real shot. There's still six weeks between now and basically the next debate. There's another four weeks after that, I think, until you get into that holiday season where folks really start deciding. About 40 percent of Republican based voters will decide who they're going to vote for after Thanksgiving, right? So there's still -- and that includes Trump voters, too.
So there's still a lot of movement to be had. So, again, everyone has a different path there. But I think Nikki and DeSantis are doing incredibly well. There's no doubt about it. They're connecting with folks.
I think Ron has to do a little more on the ground stuff here in New Hampshire. But he's, you know, really planted himself in Iowa, and his poll numbers are very strong there to be sure. It's resonating with a lot of those base voters. Nikki's playing good conservative, but she's being aggressive about going after some of those more moderate --
SUNUNU: -- independent voices, which I think will help her in the long run.
TAPPER: And this is a trial balloon being floated today for the governor we got just south of us here in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. Bob Costa in the "Post" has this piece in which there's discussion of Youngkin, quote, "last minute addition to the sclerotic Republican field possibility." This afternoon Youngkin dodged the question on Fox News. He said it was, quote, "focused on Virginia." Is there room for Youngkin?
SUNUNU: Look, I'm one of Glenn Youngkin's biggest fans. Tremendous governor. I don't know if anyone can get in the race at this point. There's a couple of reasons why. You need infrastructure. You got to get on the ballots, like literally in the next few weeks in some of these states. So, it'd be weird to get in the race and you're not even on the New Hampshire or Iowa ballot. You need ground game. You need to actually be knocking on the doors. And I think what you'd see is six or seven of these other candidates looking at this new candidate saying, where have you been?
You haven't been out there talking to folks. You can't just come in at the last minute. And there would be a lot of attacks on that individual, I think, and put them in -- they would start them off in a very defensive position if they thought almost in an arrogant way they could just come in and be considered a top contender without really working the ground like a lot of these other candidates have.
So, I think there's just a lot of things working against somebody that would try to get into the race this late, knowing still that Trump still does have these pretty tough leads. They're not insurmountable, but they're tough, and you got to put the work in to earn the votes.
TAPPER: There's always this waiting for Godot (ph) candidate that happens. You know, Mitch Daniels, Mario Cuomo, it's always just kind of this campaign silliness.
Republican Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, always good to see you. Thanks so much.
SUNUNU: Thank you, buddy. Be good.
TAPPER: CNN digging into some of the claims Republicans made today in their first impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. Shell companies connected to the Bidens, wire transfers from China, bribes from Burisma. What's true? What's false? What's in between? We're going to take a look.
But first, new details about who might take the stand at Donald Trump's civil fraud trial next week in New York. Let's just say some of the witnesses might share some of Trump's DNA.
TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead, two big updates in that $250 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, his adult sons, Eric and Don Jr., and his company. One, the trial is expected to start Monday after Trump lost an appeal today to delay it. And two, Don, Jr. and Eric are on the witness list. CNN's Kara Scannell has more on this.
Kara, let's start with that legal loss today for Trump.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. So a New York appeals court today denied Trump's request to delay the start of this trial. Now, Trump had asked for that because the lower court judge, Arthur Engoron, had not yet ruled on these motions for summary judgment. He made that surprise ruling on Tuesday that was very expansive, finding that Trump was liable for fraud and that they had committed persistent fraud through these inflated values on their financial statements. So now, with that out of the way, the appeals court saying it's go time.
So, the trial will start Monday, and the issues here will be about damages, as well as the New York attorney general's office looking to prove claims of insurance fraud and falsifying business records and holding individual of these defendants accountable, including the former president and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Jake.
TAPPER: Now, to the witness list, there are 188 people on it, but certainly Trump and Eric and Don Jr. stand out.
SCANNELL: Yes. The New York attorney general's office says in their case in chief, they're going to put on 28 witnesses on that list. Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Michael Cohen, among others. Cohen is the one that kicked off this whole investigation when he testified before Congress in April of 2019 and made the allegations that the Trump Organization inflated the value of their assets. So he's going to be one of their witnesses as well as some others. Now, Trump's side is saying that they're going to call as many as 127 possible witnesses, including Trump, so saying that he wants to testify in this case in his own defense.
So, of course, we never know who's going to take the stand until it comes down to that moment. But we're looking at a number of witnesses here, and many of them with the last name Trump.
TAPPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Joining us to discuss Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York.
Nick, would you be surprised if Trump or his eldest sons were called to testify? Or are you expecting that?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISSTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Oh, I'm expecting that. If I were the AG, I would pop them up on the stand almost immediately, because I would expect on a number of these issues they're going to wind up asserting their Fifth Amendment privilege, claiming that a truthful answer would tend to incriminate them. I mean, particularly Donald Trump on one of the issues that's left in this case is the falsification of business records and he's already under indictment for that issue in Manhattan. So, I think all of these people are going to have to take the Fifth Amendment or get up there and lie or put themselves in legal jeopardy of being subsequently indicted.
Keep in mind, this is a civil case. It's not like a criminal case where the government can't call the defendant to the witness stand. In a civil case, you can use the assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege as an adverse inference against the person who asserts that privilege. So I would expect absolutely that the AG is going to call all of those witnesses.
TAPPER: So on his social media site, Truth Social, Trump said something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, but it clearly said in the financial statement form, you know, don't rely on what we're saying in this document for accuracy. Can you do that? Can you put in your financial form don't think this is true, none of this is accurate?
AKERMAN: Well, let me just add to that, you can't put that in your financial form and then go ahead and make the blatant lies that Trump made in these financial forms. You cannot get a pass for criminal liability by simply telling people you can't really rely on this when you know darn well that what you're saying is a total falsehood. The judge addressed that issue in his opinion this week and basically blew that out of the water. That does not take him anywhere in terms of ameliorating his liability on this case.
TAPPER: How likely is it, do you think, that the Trump Organization will be dissolved? I mean, this is a big company with a lot of properties, a lot of assets.
AKERMAN: Well, I think it is. There's a good, strong likelihood it will be dissolved. They've already taken away their business licenses in the state of New York, which is absolutely huge in terms of being able to conduct normal business. They're going now for discouragement of profits up to $250 million, possibly more. Once those numbers start racking up, there's only one place that the state is going to be able to get the funds to make for that, to get that money, and that's going to be through the sale of all these various assets.
So, yes, I think that they are in big trouble and that the Trump Organization is likely to be dissolved and the assets seized.
TAPPER: Could the ruling, in this case, impact any other cases that Trump is fighting right now? I recognize this is a civil case, and the big cases, the 91 counts and the four indictments, are criminal. But can somebody use evidence of you were found liable of fraud here as evidence in a criminal case?
AKERMAN: No, because the standard is completely different. The standard of proof here is more likely than not the standard in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. But what they can use is any of the testimony. If it turns out that Donald Trump or his sons do not take the Fifth Amendment and they do testify, they're subject to cross examination, and all of that testimony could be used in criminal cases. So that's where the real danger is for any of them actually getting up and testifying.
TAPPER: What are the odds that they don't take the Fifth?
AKERMAN: I'd say pretty strong. I mean, if I were their lawyer, there's no way I would ever let them do anything but take the Fifth Amendment.
TAPPER: Right. That's how --
AKERMAN: However, don't forget, Trump did testify in his last deposition in this case.
TAPPER: Nick Akerman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, how the drama on Capitol Hill could impact millions of Americans paychecks and pantries. That's next.
TAPPER: Republican infighting is about to shut down the federal government in two days. But hey, why not? Since members of Congress are going to get paid no matter what, which I'm sure is reassuring to you, never mind the millions of government employees and possibly U.S. Service Members who will not get a paycheck. Rest assured, your members of Congress are going to be fine.
On Capitol Hill right now, some lawmakers are still looking for a last minute miracle of sorts to pass a spending bill and avoid the shutdown. Others are focused stead on their first impeachment inquiry hearing into President Biden. The GOP-led House Oversight Committee is trying to link the President's bank account to his son Hunter's business dealings despite no public evidence that anyone has seen yet that the President in any way personally received any money himself. The Republicans own witnesses today said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something that an inquiry has to establish.
BRUCE DUBINSKY, FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT: I am not here today to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud or any wrongdoing. In my opinion, more information needs to be gathered and assessed before I would make such an assessment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now they said that in support of an inquiry. They said the inquiry will look for more information. But Republicans in today's hearing came armed with all sorts of accusations. And we thought you would appreciate CNN's fact checker in Chief Daniel Dale taking a look at them.
Good to see you again, Daniel.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: You too, Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. So House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer today said that the committee uncovered this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The Bidens and their associates created over 20 shell companies and raked in over $20 million between 2014 and 2019.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, the Bidens and their associates created over 20 shell companies, raking in over $20 million. And their associates is doing a lot of work there, I would think.
DALE: It is, Jake. This is one of those cases where you have to listen very closely to the language the politician is using. So, the Bidens and their associates, why not just say Joe Biden got $20 million? Well, because they found no evidence that any of these millions, even a single penny of it, went to Joe Biden directly.
You go a step further, why not just say the Biden family? Why the Bidens and their associates? Well, because millions of this money, we don't know exactly how much, but millions went to people who weren't even part of the family, let alone Joe Biden himself. And I'll add that the "Washington Post" also did a pretty solid analysis where they questioned the use of the phrase shell companies, noting that many of these companies seem to have legitimate, publicly stated business interests. They weren't -- you know, shell is created for some mysterious reason.
So, narrowly accurate. The number -- the 20 million figure seems right. But who it applies to, I think is the -- is a real question.
TAPPER: And just to be clear here, President Biden, the evidence right now is that of the $20 million he got?
DALE: He got zero.
TAPPER: None. OK.
TAPPER: Well, that seems significant.
TAPPER: Let's look at another claim from Chairman Comer about what the committee uncovered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Two additional wires sent to Hunter Biden that originated in Beijing from Chinese nationals. This happened when Joe Biden was running for president of the United States. And Joe Biden's home is listed as the beneficiary address.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, I learned from Republicans in Congress I think I know the answer to this, that Hunter Biden was living in Delaware with his dad at that time, I think, right? DALE: Yes. So I don't know precisely which days Hunter Biden was living or not living at that house. We do know, though, that he has lived at times at that house. And that's the benign, quite plausible explanation for the presence of Joe Biden's address on those wire transfers that Chairman Comer didn't mention.
We know that he lived there. We know that he listed that address on his driver's license. And Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the reason Joe Biden's address was listed on those transfers was because that was the address that Hunter Biden used to open the bank account where that money went. And he listed that address, Lowell said, because it was his only permanent address at the time.
So, yes. Joe Biden's house, but again, that is not evidence, let alone definitive evidence that Joe Biden got any of that money.
TAPPER: Although we should underscore that at the Republican debates when Trump said or --
DALE: The general election debate.
TAPPER: General -- I'm sorry, yes, the general election debate in 2020 when Trump said that Hunter got Chinese money and Joe Biden said, no, he didn't. Trump was right and Joe Biden was wrong.
DALE: That's right. Joe Biden was wrong in that case in 2020.
TAPPER: OK. Important to point out, let's listen to one more claim Republicans brought up in today's hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): We already know the President took bribes from Burisma. I also want to add, betraying your country is treason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We know that Biden took bribes from Burisma. What?
DALE: We do not know that, Jake. That, as you know, is a completely unproven allegation. It is a secondhand allegation that was made by an FBI informant. He told the FBI he had heard the CEO of Burisma say that four years prior. So the informant said it in 2020, he claimed he had heard this in 2016.
But even that FBI document that memorialized this claim said that the informant could not provide any further opinion on the veracity or truthfulness of that claim. So, again, it's an allegation. There is not one shred of evidence to date corroborating it.
TAPPER: I'll go one further. That guy from Burisma said $5 million to one Biden, $5 million to another Biden. They never even said Joe Biden.
TAPPER: So it could have been Frankie Biden.
DALE: It could have.
TAPPER: Sally Biden.
DALE: It could have been any Biden.
TAPPER: Or it could have been none.
TAPPER: All right, well, more to uncover and more to unpack and more lies to truth. Daniel Dale, thank you so much. Also on the Hill, while many lawmakers won't have to think twice about how they're going to pay their bills or put food on their tables, if the government shuts down, none of them are going to have to. They still get paid no matter what. There still are millions of Americans who will not be paid.
And CNN's Miguel Marquez has more on the real life consequences that come with a government shutdown.
VERONICA STOWE, RELIES ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOOD PROGRAM: Can I get some apples?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Veronica Stowe feeds two teenagers, a seven-year-old, her mother, herself and her husband, six total, relying mostly on a once a month payment from the federal government's SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
(on camera): So you get SNAP benefits once a month, does that last you? Does that buy food for an entire month?
STOWE: Sometimes it does. Like right now, I have $200 left. The month is almost gone.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Her next SNAP payment scheduled for October 16th. The government has guaranteed it through the month in case of a shutdown. But after that, it's unclear.
(on camera): What are you doing different today in case the government shuts down?
STOWE: Well, I cut it back on how we eat, how much we eat. We buy the same amount of food. We cook it differently. Instead of fries, we stew it so you can use it as a soup or broth so it can last longer. You have to make cutback.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): She's also stocking up at a Brooklyn food pantry. STOWE: This place is critical because when I run out of food at home, where am I going?
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The campaign against hunger saw food insecurity skyrocket during the pandemic, the current migration crisis adding even more pressure.
DR. MELONY SAMUELS, CEO & FOUNDER, THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUNGER: We are feeding 12 to 14,000 families per week, and so that's equate to over 20 million meals.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Twenty meals a year during the last government shutdown, they quickly saw a new group of New Yorkers in need of food.
SAMUELS: All the government workers are going to come in. We had from the TSA, we had the hospitals, we had so many families that were in need of food in 2018, 2019 that it just broke the safety net.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The shutdown in 2018 was also a drag on shops whose customers pay for food with government benefits. Nationwide, the cost of a lengthy shutdown enormous, the 2018 shutdown disrupted $18 billion in federal spending, an estimated 3 billion was never recovered, denting the nation's GDP lower by 0.2 percent.
The nation's airports and air travel vulnerable during a shutdown. The 2018 shutdown 34 days, the longest ever a fight over then President Trump's border wall funding saw TSA agents, air traffic controllers, and many other federal employees working without pay until the dispute was resolved.
ALEXIS MADDOX, TSA SECURITY OFFICER: Mentally, it can be very draining on any human being, not just officers, employees for the federal agency to not know when you'll be able to feed your family or provide the next meal or be able to provide education and childcare for your children, if that is your situation, it's very frustrating.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Alexis Maddox, who works for TSA and the union representing federal employees, says most government workers live paycheck to paycheck, paid every two weeks. The next payday tomorrow, Friday, September 29th. When will that next check come? That uncertainty producing the most anxiety.
MADDOX: We are bracing for the worst. We're telling officers to save a little extra money, put some things to the side. If it's not a necessity, please don't spend in excess what you don't need, because we don't know.
MARQUEZ: Now here we are at a very busy LaGuardia Airport where employees here are concerned that not only at this airport, but across the country, that the shutdown could affect services at places like this. They also said, everybody we spoke to in this story said they go to work every day, they get their job done. Sometimes they don't agree with what they have to do, and they hope Congress does the same. Jake?
TAPPER: I wonder what a national referendum would look like about members of Congress currently get paid during a government shutdown. Service members don't. Would you support flipping that during a government shutdown? Members of Congress don't get paid, but service members do. I bet that would be like a 99 percent support for that law. What do you think?
MARQUEZ: I'll take the bet where the Congress doesn't get paid and you can take the other side.
TAPPER: No, no. That's not what proposing. Miguel Marquez --
MARQUEZ: Oh, I see. Oh, I see. I'm going to lose together.
TAPPER: OK. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the front lines on one of the largest crises impacting young Americans. What seven surgeons general today told Sanjay about social media, mental health, and young people.
TAPPER: In our Health Lead, in what is becoming one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, mental health, a crisis that has been, of course, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And in May, the Surgeon General highlighted another factor warning about the harmful effects that social media can have on young Americans' mental health.
Today, the current U.S. Surgeon General and six of his predecessors held a discussion moderated by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta at Dartmouth College, to discuss all the challenges Americans, especially young Americans are facing in this public health crisis.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the country has spent more on health care than ever before, our mental health has been steadily and sadly declining for two decades now. When the pandemic hit, we knew its impact would extend far beyond our physical health, the virus, the isolation, the loss of loved ones. It was like throwing gas onto an already roaring flame.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I'm so concerned about our children because there is an epidemic, if you will, of mental health challenges that they've been facing.
GUPTA (voice-over): The latest numbers about 42 percent of high schoolers say they constantly feel sad or hopeless. That's up more than 50 percent from 1999.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are crying. We are mourning the loss of a student, of a peer, of a best friend, of a daughter. GUPTA (voice-over): A recent survey found that more than 40 percent of undergrads have considered dropping out, largely because of mental health and emotional stress, 41 percent of undergrads reported overall depression, and 14 percent reported suicidal ideation within the past year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard about the first one, it really hit, and then another one happened, and then one happened yesterday, and I just don't know what to do anymore.
GUPTA (voice-over): While we are used to hearing from the surgeon general about things like smoking or opioids, all the living surgeons general have come together here at Dartmouth to take on what they say is now one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, mental health, especially among this younger generation.
DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: And I have to look at my three teenagers every day and know that I'm not handing them a better world than the world that was left to me. And a lot of that is because of our failure to really focus on mental health and to do the hard things that it's going to take to actually overcome this mental health crisis that we're in.
GUPTA (voice-over): A clarion call to hopefully protect our very future.
GUPTA: Jake, I got to tell you, this is only the second time all the surgeons general have gotten together like this, which gives you some idea of just the importance, you know, tobacco, opioids. That's what you typically think of them talking about mental health. That's sort of the big priority right now. And we're at your alma mater, Jake, here at Dartmouth, just outside Dartmouth Hall.
And part of the reason we're here is, as you know, Jake, this is a campus that's been hit really hard. There were at least four students who died by suicide over a two year period. You can just imagine what that does to a university community. The new president here, President Beilock, has made mental health and addressing some of these issues the number one priority of her tenure. So more than lip service, hopefully it leads to some action here, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, it's obviously something important, I say as a trustee of Dartmouth, at Dartmouth, but it's nationwide epidemic. High schools, elementary schools, colleges, graduate schools. What sort of solutions did the surgeons general talk about specifically to anyone who might be struggling with their mental health, who's watching right now, or someone who might have a friend or family member struggling?
GUPTA: Well, there were a few things that really jumped out. One is that there's a system problem here. I mean, there's still a lot of stigma attached to it. It's been that way since the first surgeon general that were talking to was in office, you know, 30 years ago. Primary care doctors being able to be emboldened, empowered to screen for this. So there's not such a -- a sort of specialization, which can be important in medicine, but also makes certain specialties hard to access. There needs to be more at the primary care level actually screening for this.
But there is something I think everybody can do to your point. If you see someone who's in mental health crisis, most people have no idea what to do. If you see someone who's in a cardiac arrest, you know to call 911 and start pushing on the chest. But if someone's obviously in mental health crisis, what do you do? The Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the current surgeon general, he talked about that specifically.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURTHY: Keep those people in our mind who are struggling because they've become our sources of motivation, but also empathy toward others. And if you think about the people in your life who you know are struggling, you also know that it's hard to tell from the outside how they're doing. Small moments of human connection make a huge difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: These conversations crucially important, Jake, thank you for making this, putting this on the show. I think it makes a really big difference.
TAPPER: Oh, obviously, I would do that. Sanjay, obviously, I think the world of you, and I think the world of Dartmouth. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.
And a reminder, if you or someone you care about needs help, please call or text 988 to reach the national suicide prevention lifeline, again, 988. Save it as a favorite in your phone, 988. There is help for you. There is love for you, and you deserve it. We're back in a moment.
TAPPER: In our Buried Lead, that's what we call stories we don't think are getting enough attention. Could there be a break in an unsolved mystery that has stumped the FBI for more than half a century? In 1971, D.B. Cooper hijacked a flight from Portland, Oregon, demanding a ransom of $200,000 cash.
With the money and a parachute strapped to him, Cooper jumped from the plane into mystery. He's never been seen since. The FBI officially closed the case in 2016. But an amateur investigator is now suing the FBI over a key piece of evidence he says could crack the case wide open. And Eric Ulis is with us now. He's independently researched, investigated, and written about the case, and he's suing the FBI for access to a clip on the tie Cooper wore the night of the hijacking. Eric, how could that tie clip solve the mystery? ERIC ULIS, SUING FBI FOR D.B. COOPER'S NECKTIE: Well, the tie clip possesses a metal spindle that is currently in the closed position, but in all likelihood was open at some point while it was in the possession of D.B. Cooper himself, therefore, would have DNA on it. And I've discussed this with a DNA retrieval expert, and the DNA retrieval expert concurs that this may well possess an uncontaminated full profile for D.B. Cooper even though it's actually been 52 years.
TAPPER: Why won't they give it to you? It seems -- I mean, why -- what do they have to lose?
ULIS: As far as what I can tell, they have nothing to lose. That's actually part of the mystery here. It would be nice if they just played ball and just gave myself and a DNA expert access to the tie while it remains in their possession there in their custody for 30 minutes or an hour or so, and then we'll expend private resources and see what we can come up with.
But thus far, they've been unwilling to play ball, so ultimately led to me filing the lawsuit in March to try to force access to the tie, if you will.
TAPPER: You plan to research the area where the money was located in 1980. What are you hoping your search will uncover?
ULIS: Specifically, the parachute and perhaps something else. I am absolutely convinced that there were a couple of errors made on behalf of the investigation that the FBI was involved with. And I think that it's very likely that D.B. Cooper landed very near where a portion of his ransom was found eight years later in 1980. That's an area that's never been searched by the FBI. So that is the area that I am searching right now. I've got 50 acres that I've targeted specifically, and I feel very confident that something is out there. At a minimum, D.B. Cooper's parachute was left behind. I can't see the guy taking that out with him once he lands.
TAPPER: What's your theory about what happened?
ULIS: Absolutely convinced he survived. I think he temporarily buried the money. I think he came back at a later date and retrieved the money. And $6,000 that was later found notwithstanding, I think that was simply an oversight, because presumably he did this under the COVID of darkness.
And as to what happened after that, your guess is as good as mine. I'm just not sure he has managed, obviously, to remain this has managed to remain the only unsolved skyjacking in U.S. history, I think, for a reason. And a big part of that reason is because the guy simply never talked about it.
TAPPER: FBI Director Christopher Wray, if you guys aren't doing this, why won't you just let Eric do it? I don't understand. Eric Ulis, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
ULIS: My pleasure. Thank you very much, Jake.
Up next, the special salute moments ago for a top U.S. General who spent decades serving his country.
TAPPER: In our National Lead, the retirement, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, walked out of the Pentagon this afternoon to a round of applause. It is a tradition. It's called the clap out. It's a way to honor senior Pentagon officials on their last day of service.
Milley's official farewell ceremony is tomorrow after four years of service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and four decades in the U.S. Military, and initially entering the service in 1980.
This news just in, former President Donald Trump will not try to move his Fulton County, Georgia case to federal court. This surprise in a court filing just filed. Wolf Blitzer is going to pick up the breaking news coverage next in "THE SITUATION ROOM". I'll see you tomorrow.