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The Lead with Jake Tapper

New CNN Poll: Trump Narrowly Ahead Of Biden; Haley: Trump And Biden Are "Grumpy Old Men;" New Poll: Trump Leads Haley In South Carolina By 26 Points; Candidate Targeted By A Deepfake Has An A.I. Warning For America; 7 Arrested In Attack On NYPD Officers Near Migrant Shelter. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 01, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JENNIFER CRUMBLEY, SCHOOL SHOOTER PARENT: I don't know. I was just -- I asked my husband. I said, is he alive? And he said, I don't know, we're going down there. I didn't really know what to think --

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Powerful moments in court as we listen to Jennifer Crumbley give her reaction to learning that a shooting was unfolding at her son's school and that his gun was missing from where it was supposed to be.

We're going to keep monitoring this important powerful testimony but for right now, we're going to hand it over to THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER which starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is here and we've got some questions for her.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Brand new CNN polls breaking right now in the 2024 race. Has the Republican contest changed at all since Donald Trumps swept Iowa, New Hampshire? And which GOP candidate fares better in a head-to-head matchup against President Biden? The results in just seconds.

Plus, a scary warning ahead of the November election about artificial intelligence or AI, see how AI may have changed the outcome of another country's presidential race?

And the mother of the Oxford, Michigan school shooter takes the stand in her own defense and shares what her son told her when she asked why he carried out the massacre.


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

We start today with a number of huge stories in our 2024 lead. First, we're about to unveil a brand new CNN poll. It's just a

snapshot of the presidential race. As it stands right this minute, who wins in a matchup between President Biden and Donald Trump? And what happens when the Republican on the ballot is actually former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley?

Plus, what are voters' biggest concerns right now in the midst of the Republican primaries?

CNN's political director David Chalian is standing by with the brand new results and Governor Haley herself is here to react to the new polls. Plus, I'll ask her about President Biden's new sanctions in the Middle East and how she says she would deal with Iran and its proxies after one of the groups killed three U.S. soldiers, we're going to ask her that and much more live on THE LEAD in just a few minutes.

Plus, President Biden, also on the campaign trail today, courting voters in the key battleground state that helped deliver him the White House in 2020. Soon, he'll meet with auto workers after winning in a coveted union endorsement.

We're covering all of this and more. Let's start with the release of the results of CNN's brand new poll of registered voters. Note, it's registered voters, not likely voters, not yet.

Our political director David Chalian joins us.

And the big headline here, David, Trump leads Biden, but it's just barely outside the margin of error.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Just barely outside. This is going to be a close race, Jake.

Take a look at our brand new numbers from this poll conducted by SSRS, Donald Trump at 49 percent among registered voters, Joe Biden at 45 percent, as you noted, just outside the margin of error. That is a narrow lead for Donald Trump.

And I want good to see how stable this race has been since we last polled at the end of October, beginning of November. It's identical. Neither candidate has moved. That was a 49-45 race at the time as well.

Take a look at how Governor Haley matches up against Joe Biden in a hypothetical general election. There's no doubt she will like this poll number, 52 percent support among registered voters, a majority there for Nikki Haley, to 39 percent for Joe Biden, a 13 percentage point lead for Nikki Haley. She's been touting this on the campaign trail.

But she's got to get there and the nomination race among Republicans is a lot trickier for her. This is saying among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, who is your preference to win the presidential nomination in 2024? Seventy percent of Republican and Republican leaners say Donald Trump, only 19 percent say Nikki Haley, Jake. TAPPER: So if it ends up a Biden-Trump rematch, how do voters feel about that?

CHALIAN: Not great, both of these men are deeply unpopular with the American people. Look at their favorable ratings compared to their unfavorable ratings. They are both significantly underwater, 39 percent favorable, 34 percent favorable for Joe Biden.

I also want you to look at what is motivating each gentleman's voters. This is a complete inverse of each other. Donald Trump is the factor in this race, Jake. Among Biden supporters, 68 percent say they're voting for Joe Biden because they're against Donald Trump. They're against his opponent, not for Joe Biden.

It is the reverse for Trump voters. Sixty percent of Trump supporters say they're voting for Trump before him. Only 40 percent say they're voting for him to be against Joe Biden.

We also asked about their policy views. How do Americans see them? Sixty-one percent of registered voters say they see Biden's policies and views as generally mainstream. Only 37 percent say that about Donald Trump.

How about too extreme? Well, 38 percent say that about Joe Biden, that his policies and views are too extreme. But nearly two-thirds, 63 percent of registered voters say that Donald Trump's policies are too extreme.


And just look at Joe Biden standing overall in his approval rating, a key marker. We look at with incumbent presidents. He's at 38 percent approval and, Jake, you can see overtime, Joe Biden has been operating for the better part of the last year in a four-point band, he really just hasn't moved that much. His numbers in approval overall are stubbornly low.

TAPPER: So basically the poll shows that voters don't like the other guy, but they also have deep reservations about their own guy.

CHALIAN: Yeah. And we asked an open-ended question, Jake, to partisans on each side about concerns that they may have about their preferred candidates. So among Republican and Republican leaning voters, we said, what's your biggest concern about Trump as a presidential candidate? Well, the number one answer, 19 percent of them said they don't have any concerns. 15 percent said his tact, his mouth, what he says. Eight percent opposition attacks. And you see it goes down from there.

For Joe Biden, it's much more clear what the concerns are that Democrats and Democratic leaners have -- 46 percent of them say Joe Biden's age is the concern that they have about his candidacy, only 9 percent say they have no concerns and you see the economy, Israel and the Middle East, mental sharpness below that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. David Chalian, thank you so much. Fascinating stuff.

Let's talk right now about all of this with Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

Governor Haley, you just heard from David Chalian, this new CNN poll shows and a head-to-head matchup between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Trump beats Biden by only four points. It's just outside the margin of error, which is 3.8 points.

In a matchup between Biden and you, you clobber Biden. Biden -- you get 52 percent and Biden gets 39 percent. That would be a huge victory for the Republican Party. It would bring the Senate and the House and governors races and state legislative races with it, no doubt. Why doesn't this electability argument seem to mean more to Republican voters do you think?

NIKKI HALEY, 2024 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, that's the argument we're trying to make. I think the reality is 70 percent of Americans don't want to see a Biden-Trump rematch. I mean, that's just the fact. The fact that we would have to 80-year-old candidates running for president is absurd.

We've got a country in disarray in a world on fire. We need someone who can work eight years to get our country back on track, to heal our country, and to make sure we get our economy strong and that we prevent wars. And so that's the focus of where we are.

But if you look at the Quinnipiac poll yesterday, it showed that Trump loses the Biden by seven points. So if Republicans decide that they want to nominate Donald Trump, the same thing that happened in 2018, 2020, 2022 will happen again in 2024. You can't keep doing the same thing and think you're going to get a different result. Donald Trump will lose the election for us.

TAPPER: A new Monmouth poll out today shows you're 26 points behind Trump in South Carolina, a state where you were the governor, your home state. That's the next major contest.

How are you going to close that gap in three weeks? It seems to be that Republican voters are the ones that you have the biggest trouble with right now.

HALEY: We're going to do it the same way we did New Hampshire. We move 25 points in New Hampshire the last three weeks before the election. We're at that same point here, we're going to be anywhere and everywhere all over South Carolina. We've had thousands of people show up at our rallies or events have been strong.

And people remember that we were the ones that moved 11 percent unemployment down to 4 percent, that we passed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country, that we passed voter ID and pension reform and tort reform. And we cut taxes and we became the beast of the Southeast for all the manufacturing that we brought in.

So we're just going to remind them again what we did as governor. And then show them that we could do that same thing as president. TAPPER: CNN is reporting today, the two of Donald Trump's political action committee spent nearly $50 million on legal fees and ended the year with only $5.1 million in the bank. What's your reaction to that?

HALEY: I mean, get ready to spend more campaign dollars on legal fees because those court cases have just started. He's got two in March and they go out for the rest of the year. It is unconscionable to me that a candidate would spend $50 million in legal fees.

It explains why he's not doing many rallies. He doesn't have the money to do it. It explains why he doesn't want to get on a debate stage because he doesn't want to talk about why he's doing it. It explains why he had a temper tantrum, you know, the election night of New Hampshire is because he wants me out of the race and he wants to be the presumptive nominee, so that all of that cash starts going to him and he doesn't have to spend anymore.

But that's a reality of a real big problem for Republicans going forward. This is not personal for me. I don't have issues with Donald Trump. I voted with him -- voted for him twice. I was proud to serve America in his administration.

This is about the fact that we have a country to save and we've got to focus on the fact that we've got an economy that is still out of control, and a lot of wasteful spending by Republicans and Democrats. We only have 31 percent of eighth graders in our country proficient in reading.

We have an open border that is unsafe for everyone. We are lacking law and order in our cities and we've got wars around the world and we need to start focusing on preventing wars instead of getting involved in war. So we've got some serious work to do.

TAPPER: In your speech after the New Hampshire primary, you said the first party to retire their 80-year-old candidate will be the party that wins. Yesterday, you tweeted this image of Biden and Trump. You call them grumpy old men.

Are you worried at all about turning off older voters?

HALEY: I'm not because they get it. This is not about being disrespectful. This is about the fact that we need to have people. This is Congress, too. We need to have people at the top of their game.

This is -- these are issues on national security. These are issues on the future of our economy. We can't have it.

We've already seen Trump has some confused moments. He did it again yesterday. We're seeing Biden. He slowed down a lot in the past couple of years.

This is about the fact that we have to think about our families and to have two guys in their 80s -- they are automatically going to be in mental decline. That's just a fact. Let's get this right. I think older people see it, too. They know that we need a new

generational leader. They know that we need to start focusing on the issues at hand and stop all the chaos and stop all the division and stop these investigations that are happening with both Biden and Trump and start focusing on what were going to do to help the American people.

TAPPER: Today, South Carolina Republicans supporting Trump held a news conference criticizing you while praising Trump. Here's a little bit of what they had to say. Take a listen in.


CURTIS LOFTIS, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE TREASURER: In Nikki's case, her passengers and her compartment are the richest and most powerful people in this world. They'd benefit from open borders.

BILL TAYLOR (R), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: I read her autobiography, but that section about Nikki being the governor, that should have been sold on the fiction shelves. Nikki Haley is not the right candidate to be president. Nikki is always about Nikki.


TAPPER: So I don't know if you can see that where you were. That was State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, and State Representative Bill Taylor. It was a big field of middle age to older white men criticizing you.

What was your response to any of that?

HALEY: No, it cracks me up because, first of all, there's no surprise that the governor of South Carolina is not supporting me. He's the one I defeated when I ran for governor the first time. There's no surprise at all that political elite from South Carolina is up there saying that.

They're right, I didn't have friends when I was at the state house because they were upset that I forced them to show their votes on the record and stop hiding behind voice votes. They're upset because I forced them to disclose their income so that taxpayers could see who was paying them. They're upset because I've vetoed half a billion dollars of their pet projects that taxpayers had no business spending money on.

I've never cared about being friends with the political elite. I care about making sure we serve the people -- the same way Donald Trump has surrounded himself by South Carolina political elite and by congressional political elite.

Congress doesn't want me to become president because they know I want term limits. They know I want mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75. They know that I've said that if you don't get us a budget on time, you don't get paid. They know that I want them to stop investing in the stock market.

I don't care what the political class wants. I've never asked for their endorsements, I don't need them. What I do care as what are we going to do to start focusing on normal real people in this country and not the political elite.

Donald Trump can have them all he wants, but that's why we didn't get things done in the four years that he was there. It's finally time that we have a fighter who understands what real American families are going through.

TAPPER: Did you think it was inappropriate when the RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel suggested that you need to drop out because she didn't see a path for you?

HALEY: I absolutely think it was inappropriate. We've had two states that have voted. You need 1,215 delegates. Donald Trump has 32. I have 17. We still have 48 states and more territories to go before we get there.

I'm not going anywhere, Jake. I'm going to continue to go all the way through South Carolina, then were going to go on Super Tuesday, and we're going to keep on going forward.

This is about the fact that we can't live in chaos anymore. This is about the fact that we've got to focus on what it's going to take to not just get our domestic policy on track, but what are we going to do to prevent wars and to make sure we keep Americans safe? We can't do that with the two guys there. Americans are telling people that, we need to start listening and make sure that we focus on what it takes to win a primary, so that we can get our country back on track.

TAPPER: So you're committed to staying through -- staying in the race through Super Tuesday, no matter what happens in South Carolina?

HALEY: We're moving. I mean, what I'll tell you in South Carolina is we're going to close that gap. My goal is to be more competitive in South Carolina. It's always been to build on momentum.

We started with 2 percent in Iowa, and we ended with 20 percent.


We went to New Hampshire, we got 43 percent. In South Carolina, we want to get even more competitive than that. And then well go into Michigan and well go into Super Tuesday.

We have a country to save. I'm not going anywhere because I don't want my kids to live like this. I don't want anybody else's kids to live like this. We have been in total distraction for a long time, and we know that when Americas distracted, the world is less safe. And all you have to do is look around the world and see that.

I'm going to stay in this for the long haul because I think it's important and I know that we need to get this done.

TAPPER: All right. Ambassador Haley, we're -- you've mentioned war and the troubles around the world a number of times during this interview. Coming up next, I got a lot of questions about how a President Haley might respond to fears of a widening war in the Middle East and much more. Stick around viewers and Governor Haley.

We'll be right back.


TAPPER: And we're back with former U.N. ambassador, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the only major Republican candidate still challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president.

Governor, thanks for sticking around.

Today, President Biden issued an executive order targeting violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank.


The measure imposes sanctions on four individuals accused of leading riots against Palestinians, setting Palestinians buildings on fire assaulting civilians. The president saying that the violence, quote, has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

You visited the West Bank as a U.N. ambassador. What do you think of this move by President Biden?

HALEY: I mean, okay. Now, do Hamas.

I mean, it is unbelievable to me that Joe Biden is going to sit there and focus on Israelis and he's not going to sit there and focus on what Iran is doing, what Hamas did Israelis.

Look, Israel is a democracy. They have a justice system. It's strong. They know what to do.

Is Biden now going to say anyone who's convicted in Germany or France, or Europe is now going to be allowed to have sanctions on them as well?

What he's doing is not having the backs of Israel. He's falling all over themselves to avoid any conflict with Iran. He's trying to appease Palestinians, but he's not acknowledging what it means to be a friend to Israel.

It's ludicrous. I don't even know what he's thinking at this point.

CNN contributor Barak Ravid reports that the State Department is looking at options for the possible U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state after the war against Hamas in Gaza.

Would a President Haley theoretically recognized Palestinian statehood, knowing how sensitive this issue who is in the region right now? HALEY: No, because it's not our place to say. It's Israel's place to stay -- to say. It's the Palestinians' place to say.

And I'll tell you this, Jake, when I was at the United Nations, we worked a lot on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel always came to the table when it came to a two-state solution, the Palestinians said no every single time and it's because they don't want a two-state solution. They want Israel -- they want to eliminate Israel. They don't want Israel to exist.

We need someone that's going to go in with moral clarity. You have to know the difference between right and wrong. You have to know the difference between good and bad. You don't go now and trying to appease the Palestinians and appease what happened on October 7, because all you're doing is letting Iran know that we're scared. You're not letting them know that there's a price to pay when you do something to our friends.

So, it's -- this is why Iran, you're going to see them continue to get more aggressive. We're going to continue to see more strikes because they're not worried about Joe Biden and frankly, Jake, the one thing that keeps me up at night as what happens between now and Election Day.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about Iran, because after the Iranian-backed groups attack the U.S. military base in Jordan on Sunday, killing three U.S. soldiers, wounding dozens of others, you said that the U.S. should go after the leader of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, Iranian military leaders. President Biden has said that a response is coming.

What do you think should happen? Are you calling for the U.S. to strike the IRGC inside Iran?

HALEY: Well, first I'll tell you, if you look at this scenario, my husband has deployed right now. We expect America to have the backs of our men and women who sacrifice for us. The fact that Biden didn't do anything after the first strike, the fact that he didn't do anything after the second strike, the fact that it took 165 strikes, three soldiers to die and two Navy SEALs, that's what had to happen for him to say, oh, we're going to come up with something?

None of this would have happened if he wouldn't have fallen all over himself to get into the Iran deal. None of this would have happened if he wouldn't have lifted the sanctions which allow billions of dollars to flow from China importing oil from Iran. None of this would have happened if we wouldn't have had the debacle in Afghanistan.

Now that we're dealing with this situation, what he should do with immediately put the sanctions back on. I can't understand why he's not doing that. He needs to enforce the sanctions on Iran and get those back on track.

The second thing is take out those hubs where those drones and missiles are coming from that are in Iraq and Syria, so that they can't harm our military men and women anymore than they already have with these strikes. And then go after one or two of the IRGC members that are making the military decisions whether they're in Iran or whether they lead the country, you need to take them out.

Iran doesn't care if you wipe out their fighters. They'll just get more fighters. They don't care if you wipe out their missiles and drones, they'll just get more. What they do care about is if you go after their money and if you go after their leadership. That's what we need to be doing. That's what we'll send a strong message.

It's not about being hard on Iran. It's about being smart on Iran

TAPPER: Lastly, I want to turn to a rather odd subject. It's this preoccupation with conspiracy theories about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, that MAGA-world seems rather obsessed with -- with this week.


Vivek Ramaswamy tweeted, quote, I wonder who's going to win the super bowl next month, and I wonder if there's a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped up couple this fall, just some wild speculation over here. Let's see how it ages over the next eight months, unquote.

Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, reposted a meme on her Instagram that says who thinks this country needs a lot more women like Alina Habba and a lot less like Taylor Swift. The Trump campaign has actually commented on this and indulged this thing.

What do you make of it?

HALEY: I don't. I mean, I don't. I'm not going to lie. I don't know what the obsession is.

Taylor Swift is allowed to have a boyfriend. Taylor Swift is a good artist. I've taken my daughter to Taylor Swift concerts before.

You know, to have a conspiracy theory of all of this is bizarre. Nobody knows who she is going to endorse, but I can't believe that that's overtaken our national politics.

I mean, right now, you've got 60 percent of American families living paycheck to paycheck. We've got a border that's out of control. We've got wars happening around the world.

The last thing I really think we need to be worried about is who Taylor Swift does dating and what conspiracy theory is going to have her endorsing a person for president.

TAPPER: Former South Carolina governor and 2024 presidential candidate, Nikki Haley. Thanks so much. Have fun on the campaign trail.

HALEY: Thanks. Go to and join us.

TAPPER: While Governor Haley fights to win over Republican voters, President Biden is in a key battleground state right now that helped deliver him the presidency. His message to these crucial voters in a state Democrats are rather worried about. That's next.



TAPPER: Continue with our politics lead. You just heard Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley, the last Republican standing between Donald Trump and the Republican presidential nomination.

Let's bring in our panel.

If Haley is hoping for home-state advantage in South Carolina, she did get some bad news today from a new Monmouth University/Washington Post poll. A majority, 58 percent of potential Republican primary voters currently backing Trump, only 32 percent want to back their former governor. When I asked Governor Haley about it, she said she's going to make up as much ground as you can. She did not predict a win, but she said she's going to try to close that gap.

Scott, can she close that gap or at least come close enough to justify continuing to run after that South Carolina primary in three weeks?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it seems unlikely because the people that she's speaking to are un-persuadable. They've already made up their mind.

If you look at the numbers on Trump and I think this is even borne out in some of our own CNN polling, they're voting for Trump because they love Trump. They're not available to be persuaded by some of the things she's saying, which by the way, she says things that are objectively true. She makes good arguments. She has good strategic sense when it comes to how Republicans might best win the election in November, but the people she's saying it to have already made up their minds.

And so I find it -- I'm unpersuaded by her that she'll be able to close up the gap significantly in her home state or anywhere beyond that.

TAPPER: Karen, President Biden is in the critical battleground state of Michigan today to meet with union workers at the state he narrowly won in 2020, carrying less carrying it by less than three percentage points. Yesterday, Trump was in D.C. meeting with the members of the Teamster union. Trump carried Michigan in 2016 by a little more than 10,000 votes.

Biden really needs to win Michigan, Karen, and it's not guaranteed that he will.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's very good point. I mean, he -- Michigan is a critically important state and I think its important that the president is there today, and obviously, it's one of the states, and also in our reporting today, where you're seeing the campaign ramping up. There's also a lot of activity in Michigan in the sort of outside groups that have been doing work, particularly to try to rebuild or build relationships with Arab-American community where as we you've reported, there is a lot of pain around what is happening in the Middle East.

And so, I suspect that will be part of what he talks about today and it'll be part of what the campaign will have to continue to work on going forward.

TAPPER: Yeah. Because, Scott, I mean, with the Biden executive order targeting extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank and the idea that's been floated in a few places, few media outlets, the idea of as two-state solution, being pushed again. I want you to take a listen to what Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Hillary Scholten said about Biden's visit to Michigan.


REP. HILLARY SCHOLTEN (D-MI): We have large Arab-American population, a large Jewish population. The lack of peace in the Middle East, we're entering the fourth month, right, of the Israel-Hamas war, is felt in a deeply personal way in places like Michigan. I don't know that there is a single visit or a single word or phrase that the president is going to be able to say to bring this coalition together. It's only going to come through a negotiated peace agreement.


TAPPER: Well, Scott, I mean, if Democrats winning Michigan and relies upon peace in the Middle East, that's kind of a high bar.


JENNINGS: Well, I mean, the other day folks were going after Donald Trump for talking about his ability to negotiate various things. I mean, if you're waiting for Joe Biden, negotiate Middle East peace, it's going to be awhile.

Look, I think the reality for his, his campaign is they are now making foreign policy, national security policy, and certainly economic policy based on very narrow constituent interests. The people that are upset with him the most. And some of these people are never going to be on the same page. I mean, even the union endorsement he got from the UAW was immediately deflated when the head of the UAW went on TV and said, well, you know, to be clear, most of our members are going to vote for Donald Trump. They're not for Joe -- Joe Biden.

So, that Gordian knot he's trying to unravel in Michigan it looks pretty tough right now.


FINNEY: But can we just -- I'm sorry, Jake, I've just have to push back for a moment because it's not just about -- it's not just a narrow -- I mean, as the congresswoman talked about, there's a lot of pain being felt, frankly, across the country about what's happening in the Middle East, particularly Arab-American communities, Muslim communities, Jewish communities, and many of those of us who are watching the pain, feeling the pain.

And so, you know, obviously, I agree, I don't think he's going to be able to get peace in the Middle East at the same time. Again, I think it's more -- what's more important is the outreach to these communities, having these tough conversations. I mean, that's critically important.

And the other thing is -- you know, I'll say God willing as a Christian that we get to a place where perhaps there is some kind of settlement or peace being negotiated that the United States can play a constructive role. I think that is good for him both as the leader of United States of America, and I think that would be good politically.

TAPPER: Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, you've likely heard about deepfakes and fake robocalls pretending to be someone else or for pictures online that are clearly not real or maybe not so clearly not real.

And now, a political candidate targeted by these deepfakes has a warning for the United States of America ahead of our presidential election.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead today, damaging deep fakes created by artificial intelligence going viral in recent days, fake Biden robocalls to voters, fake explicit images of Taylor Swift.

About two weeks ago, images of Donald Trump appeared to show red splotches on his right-hand. These pictures, however, were real. That's actually red splotches on his hand or whatever it is.

This is what Trump said when he was asked about it yesterday.


REPORTER: You didn't see the photos coming out of Trump Tower?



TRUMP: What was wrong with it?

REPORTER: The other one? OK.

And do you want to tell us what happened with the hand?

TRUMP: Nothing. Maybe it's A.I.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Trump's suggesting the images were made by A.I., distorts reality.

The problem is people could believe it because A.I. is running amok.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan shows us now how deepfakes recently interfered in an election.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think this -- does this sound like you?


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): It sounds like him, but it isn't him. This is Michal Simecka. He's the leader of the main opposition party here in Slovakia. And on the eve of this country's elections last year, he was the target of a deepfake.

SIMECKA: My party was advocating a strong pro-Western, pro-European course to help itself and off the Russian aggression.

O'SULLIVAN: Just two days before voting began in that high stakes election, this audio tape began circulating online.

It purported to be a recording of a conversation in which Simecka talks about stealing the election.

SIMECKA: So this didn't come out of the blue. It came against the backdrop of a -- of a narrative that the elections were to be legitimate, to be rigged.

O'SULLIVAN: His party, Progressive Slovakia went on to lose the election by a few points.

Do you think this could have changed the results of the election?

SIMECKA: No way of knowing. We have stats that on Facebook alone, you know, 100,000 views, but it probably had some effect.

O'SULLIVAN: Slovakia is a country of some 5.5 million people and its bordered by Poland and Ukraine.

So a lot of experts say Americans and should be paying closer attention to what is happening here in Eastern Europe as it could be a sign of what is to come in the United States.

DANIEL MILO, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR COUNTERING HYBRID THREATS: My warning is brace yourself for upcoming barrage of deep fakes will be targeting presidential candidates in U.S.

O'SULLIVAN: Daniel Milo run a government agency in Slovakia that countered this information.

MILO: In my professional capacity, I do believe that this deepfake was part of a wider influence campaign by Russia to interfere into Slovakian elections.

O'SULLIVAN: On the same day to deep fake emerged, the Russian SVR foreign intelligence agency published a press release that pushed a similar conspiracy theory that the U.S. government and Simecka were working to rig Slovakia's elections. The director of NATO StratCom said the deepfake and that Russian statement simultaneously correspond to each other and promote the same false narrative.

So, you don't think the SVR statement and the deepfake, the fact that they came out almost at the same time -- you don't think that's a coincidence?

MILO: No, I don't think that's a coincidence though. It much more likely explanation to me at least is that this is all part of a wider operation that was aimed to disrupt the outcome of the elections as such.

O'SULLIVAN: One of the earliest posts of this deepfake came from a pro-Russian politician in Slovakia who also pushed election conspiracy theories on Russian TV.

Some of the first people to share it on social media here seemed to be pretty Russia-friendly politicians.

SIMECKA: They are, they are Russia friendly politicians. It can't be definitely proven that this has some Russian origin but, of course, loss for Progressive Slovakia and a win for the other side would does serve Russian interests. That's for sure.

O'SULLIVAN: Kremlin officials did not reply to request for comment.

But even today, months after the elections here in Slovakia, there are still versions of that deepfake circulating on social media, including on Facebook.

MILO: Facebook. Reaction was very inconsistent, that incoherent. In some cases, they just put a label that, you know, this is most likely disinformation. In other cases, they removed the audio recording, but yet in other cases, they left the video untouched.

O'SULLIVAN: What's your message to Facebook?

MILO: Well, guys, put your house in order.

O'SULLIVAN: Asked about A.I. misinformation, Facebook's parent company told CNN, we label it and down-rank it in feed, so fewer people see it.


But CNN found multiple instances where the company did not label this deepfake and their statement did not explain why.

Regardless, once a deepfake spreads, the damage can be done. Even some of Simecka's, own supporters were confused.

SIMECKA: People who are educated follow politics. They understand what's at stake, but still were confused by the --




So, people who are politically engaged supporters of you --

SIMECKA: Absolutely. So I think this might be the year when we see, you know, deepfake boom in election campaigns all across the world.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Now, we understand U.S. officials are grappling with how to guard against deepfakes. One senior official told us about a process of contingency planning within the federal government for a foreign nation using A.I. to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. But the challenge is, Jake, A.I. technology enables anybody to cheaply create these sort of deepfakes. So, people at home, political operatives, even pranksters conceivably pull off attacks like this just as easily as Russia, China, or other nation states.

TAPPER: Yeah, absolutely. Paperclip this piece, Donie O'Sullivan. Thanks so much for that report.

O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, a teenager arrested after allegedly targeting high schools, mosques, and military bases across the country with bomb threats, and so-called swatting incidents. How police finally were able to track him down? That's ahead.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead today, at least seven people have been arrested, accused of attacking New York City police officers outside of a migrant shelter, and at least four of those arrested were being housed in New York City migrant shelters. This was all caught on video Saturday night, officers trying to break up what they described as a disorderly group outside the shelter near Times Square.

When the officers tried to take someone into custody, multiple people begin beating the officers and then fleeing the scene, according to police.

CNN's John Miller is here.

John, what more do we know about this incident and the suspects?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, we know that police are somewhat irked about this case in that assault on a police officer is a bail eligible crime even after the changes to New York's bail laws and the district attorneys office didn't ask for bail for any of the suspects, and the judge didn't ask to remand any of them. So they were released after being tracked down by police. What I've learned today from NYPD sources is that some of those in custody and some of those that they've identified and are still seeking, though they've only been here for about a year already, have extensive best records for robbery, larceny strangulation, and other crimes.

So the idea that bail wasn't even brought up or considered is something that is bothering police in this case as they continue to hunt for some of these suspects and try and track the ones that are already in custody and now released again.

TAPPER: John, we're following another story, this so-called serial swatter, just 17 years old. He's been arrested after police say he made threats across the country. What exactly is he being accused of?

MILLER: So he is being accused of being behind scores of swatting incidents. This is an individual from Lancaster, California, and L.A. County who was a young man who was extradited to Florida, where a lot of these swatting calls occurred, but he was allegedly prolific calling in targets around the country. These are churches, these are mosques, these are schools.

And this is part of this phenomenon we've seen over the last couple of years, where these incredibly detailed calls where gunshots play in the background and people are screaming that are meant to bring heavily armed teams of police responding quickly to somewhere.

Jake, I think what happened today was remarkable. You had the U.S. attorney in the Central District of Florida talk about this arrest, which is being charged with local police because of the suspects age, but 27 other people who were charged with making these threats to politicians to jump hutches to friends, to strangers, to houses of worship, and other public places.

This is something where the government is trying to show on the Internet, it's the other way around. You can hide, but you can't run. Eventually, they're going to take what they found and trace it back to a name, no matter what you do to try and conceal that.

TAPPER: And, John, this has become an issue we're seeing across the country. Do we know how federal and local officials are trying to work together to reduce these incidents?

MILLER: They're working very closely. If you look at this Florida instance today, that was the Pinellas Park Police, but also the Sarasota PD was the Hillsborough County. It was the Florida Department of Law. It was the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Attorney, each one of them have different resources in different responsibilities and in some cases, the state charges may be stronger than the federal charges but they know that they have multiple instances in multiple jurisdictions that tie to a very small number of people who were doing large numbers of them as individuals.

So it was, it was good teamwork that sets an example for those out there who think the anonymity of whatever screen name or ID they've set up is going to protect them forever.

TAPPER: John Miller, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next to the mother of the Oxford, Michigan school shooter takes the stand in her own defense. Hear her explanation for why she and her husband went on the run after their son was arrested.



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

This hour, President Biden, in a must-win battleground state where Democrats are sounding the alarm that he's in trouble. It's Michigan where he speaking to the United Auto Workers in a fight for union votes just one day after Donald Trump was in D.C. meeting with the Teamsters labor union.

Can Biden holds Michigan in November? We'll gauge his ground game with a U.S. senator traveling with him today.

Plus, an apology from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Hear why Secretary Austin says he wanted to keep his diagnosis private and even hid it from the White House and his boss, President Biden.

And leading this hour, stunning testimony today from Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford school shooter, on the stand today. Its one of the first cases of its kind of parent being prosecuted in connection to the murderous actions of her child. In her defense today, Jennifer Crumbley told the court her husband was responsible for storing guns in the House. She also said she did not believe the affairs she was having with a firefighter interfered in how she was parenting.

CNN's Jean Casarez has followed every step of this trial.

Jean, Jennifer Crumbley testifying that her son never asked her to get any help for his mental health issues.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here are the facts. The jury has seen tax that he sent to his little friend journal entries saying, I need mental help. I've asked my parents. They won't help me. There's no evidence the parents saw those texts or the journal entries, but she was asked that question. Here's how she responded.