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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Now: Voters Cast Ballots To Replace George Santos; Biden On Trump's NATO Comments: "Dumb, Shameful, Dangerous"; CIA Chief In Egypt In Latest Push For Hostage Deal; Houston Shooter's Mother-In-Law Speaks After Tragedy; Senate Sets Up Showdown With House By Passing $95B Bill With Ukraine & Israel Aid. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 13, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Look at what pretty does when she hears heavy metal


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Pretty lives in Ontario where her groom, that's like the person who cares for the horse in the stables, I was today years old when I found that out, by the way. Her groom says, the harder the metal, the more Pretty head bangs. Pretty's groom has also tried other kinds of music to test out her predilections. The horse said, nay to country and gave a bigger nod to her heavy metal favorite Slipknot. The plan for Pretty is to give some weekly music reviews.

So rock on, Pretty.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: New Yorkers weather the storm of George Santos. Today, New Yorkers are heading out into an actual storm to try to replace him.

THE LEAD starts right now.

We're in the final hours of voting in a high-stakes special election in New York's third congressional district. What will the outcome in this one swing district tell us about what might happen this November?

Plus, $95 billion in aid for Ukraine and Israel passing the U.S. Senate at around 5:30 this morning after an all-night session. But in the House, Speaker Mike Johnson declares aid for those U.S. allies, all but dead. Democrats do have some options to force a vote though, and Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries will join us soon.

And dumb, shameful, un-American. President Biden unleashing a blistering response to former President Donald Trump's comments about NATO. We'll play that moment for you in a sec.

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

And we're going to start with our political lead. A monster nor'easter is colliding with a battleground special election for a single House district up for grabs in New York. In the context of a razor thin Republican majority in the House. Right now on Long Island and parts of Queens, the fight for New York's third congressional district is in its final hours.

Yes. This is the vacant seat previously held by a serial fabulist, Republican Congressman George Santos, who was ejected from Congress in an extremely rare vote. Democrat Tom Suozzi, who represented that district for three terms, he wants his seat back, but he has to beat Republican newcomer Mazi Pilip to get it.

This race has national implications and could provide both parties with a preview of how Americas suburbs and battleground areas might vote come November, voters have been primarily focused on the issues of inflation. The war in Israel and Gaza, and abortion rights throughout this race, but no issue has proven more important than immigration and the border and the migrant crisis that's playing out in nearby Manhattan. A lot is on the line.

Joining us now is CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, who's live for us in East Meadow, New York, at the headquarters of Republican candidate Mazi Pilip.

Lauren, you recently heard from the candidate, from Ms. Pilip. How does she feel about her chances tonight?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Mazi Pilip held a couple of small events, took some questions from reporters and her key message, Jake, is get out and vote. She made it clear her campaign is offering rides to folks who may not cut feel comfortable getting out on the road. But she also was asked whether or not she was going to accept the results of this election tonight, no matter if she wins or not.

Here's what she said


MAZI MELESA PILIP (R), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Whatever (ph) it is, we're going to speak the results. Maybe tonight we're going to celebrate. If not, the latest going to be tomorrow morning.

REPORTER: Again, you will accept whatever comes in.

PILIP: Absolutely. We live in the United States. I have big respect in our system. It's going to be great. So, you know, I'm not here to fight with anybody. We did our job. Now, the voters were going to make that decision and we're going to respect that.


FOX: And perhaps one of the liabilities for Pilip is the fact that House Republicans had been unable to do so many of the things that they promised voters because of their slim majority. I asked her whether or not she viewed that as a liability. She said in fact, she argues to voters that is exactly why they need to send her to Congress, because one more vote, she argues, could make a difference for Speaker Johnson -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, she has a very interesting story for people, just seeing her for the first time. She's an Ethiopian who moved to Israel, served with the Israel Defense Forces, now lives in New York.

Lauren, what are you hearing from voters that is driving them to turn out for this election?

FOX: Yeah, every single voter that we have talked to over the course of the last 24 hours in this district, Jake, unprompted has brought up the issue of the border. And for people who are planning to vote for Tom Suozzi, a couple of Trump voters actually who we talked to at a diner this morning, they say they view Suozzi as able to work with Republicans to find some kind of bipartisan agreement. Not a lot of people are talking about that short-lived Senate agreement that was found and then died a quick death in the Senate.


They are also, you're hearing from Republicans who are voting for Pilip that the issue of immigration isn't just about the border. It really becomes an issue for them about crime, an issue about the economy. In fact, one dad that I talked to this morning said he's actually nervous to take his kids into the city because of all the headlines, he's seen over the last several weeks -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Lauren Fox, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is CNN's John Berman. He's live at a polling site in Carle Place, New York.

John, how would you describe voter turnout right now?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, welcome to Carle Place High School, home of the frogs. And for the first time today, there are lines here at this voting location. It wasn't like this a few hours ago, it was empty. And that's because of the weather here.

People walk in, they come to one of these tables, they get their ballot. There are seven election districts here in this town, precincts. You pick up your ballot, you vote, and then you end up putting it in one of the machines.

Now, as we've been saying, the story here today is turnout, and to give you some perspective, Jake, in the third congressional district in 2022, I'm going to slow down because I'm going to walk into a voter here. And there were no voters here before, in 2022, 192,000 voters voted on Election Day in the third congressional district, 192,000 Election Day voters two years ago. Today, as of 3:30 p.m. only 39,000 voters voted on Election Day versus about 80,000 who voted early. Now, as one of these voting machines, I was telling you before, people vote, they put their ballots into these voting machines. I can't shoot the screen behind you, but in this machine, 149 people have put in ballots. There's a number that accounts how many ballots but to be the 150 of the ballot in this voting machine. There are seven of them.

You can get a sense and of how few people haven't voted, even though it is crowded here now, you're dealing with dozens of votes in each machine as opposed to hundreds, maybe even thousands. If this was a more a busier election day, I'm just going to make my way outside here, Jake, because were going to talk to a voter. We can talk to voters inside.

And again, it is really remarkable that were in the myths of all these people now, because a little bit earlier, there was no one here. They waited for the storm to end. You can see the remnants of this snow here and they came out to vote.

We've got some voters here to talk to. Great to see you

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, so here we are.

BERMAN: The roads are cleared. What are your names?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, we waited all day, Karen and Carl Santora (ph) from Carle Place.

BERMAN: Okay. What got you out here to vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we like Tom Suozzi. We've known about him when he was the county executive and we trust him and we want --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He used to be county executive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was and we want to get him, a Democrat in the position.

BERMAN: What's the most important issue to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually, it's taxes, you know? And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you know, the Republicans made a really bad choice with Santos. So --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want it to happen again.

BERMAN: Listen, thank you so much for coming up. Thank you for getting up here through the snow. Be safe, getting home.

So, Jake, it is interesting. We've talked to a lot of people here. This is the first group that I've talked to you that did not say the border was the most important issue or one of the most important issues. But what's so interesting about the border as an issue, Jake, is here in the third congressional district today. We are seeing people voting for the Democrat Tom Suozzi, even though they say the border is the most important for an issue.

He ran on that issue. He leaned into it and he is at least at this polling place so far, Jake, seeing some results.

TAPPER: All right. John Berman, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is former Congressman Steve Israel, a Democrat who represented New York's third district for 16 years, in addition to once being the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Congressman, good to see you.

Long Island has been a bit of an outlier in recent elections. But what do you think tonight's results will tell us about what we should expect in November?

STEVE ISRAEL, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D-NY): Well, first, Jake, listening to your guests, I just had like a flashback to one of my congressional town halls. I feel very uncomfortable right now.

There are going to be lessons learned in this special. Look, this is going be too close to call. It's been within the margin of error up to now, will continue to be within the margin of error until all the votes are counted. But there will clearly be lessons learned.

One is where you have immigration and crime as a predominant issue as it is in the third congressional district, does it make sense for Democrats to lean into them? Because issues which is exactly what Tom Suozzi did. He leaned into the issues. He kind of fought on Mazi Pilip's ground, talking about immigration, his literature featured pictures of him and former Republican Congressman Peter King, who is a moderate but rather firm on border issues.

And so, Suozzi wage to the battle on his opponent's turf. There'll be a lesson learned there. If Mazi wins, it's a vindication of Republican strategy to run a completely unknown candidate against an establishment candidate.


Mazi Pilip did one debate, Jake. You know, we had Santos, who is the fabulist. She has been a phantom. She has been in the witness protection program and we will see whether that strategy of running somebody on brand, which is I'm going to close the border, is the preferable strategy against the more establishment and well-known candidate like Tom Suozzi.

TAPPER: So, talk about the stakes here because there is an historically thin margin in the House. I think Speaker Johnson has seven more seats than Democrats right now, which means you can only afford to lose three Republicans, anyone vote. There are even Republicans who say they miss Santos, because he was a Republican vote.

How big a role could this one seat play? ISRAEL: Well, it can play a very significant role. This is a maybe a

local special election, but it has overriding national consequences if Tom Suozzi wins, Speaker Johnson's margin is cut even further. It's down to a few votes.

And we saw what happens when you can't count on your margin when they fail to impeach Secretary Mayorkas last week. So it's a real psychological blow. It creates a math problem for Republicans on the floor of the House. And it establishes a narrative for Democrats going into the national election.

TAPPER: So you have said that your own party, the Democratic Party's complacency is how you lost this congressional district in the last election, a district that Joe Biden won by eight points.

Was the election of Santos and effective wake-up call for your party to get back in the game on Long Island?

ISRAEL: Absolutely. It was complacency that everybody assumed that the Democrats were going to win the district because Biden won it by eight. And then what happened, Jake, Lee Zeldin won the same district by 11 points. George Santos won of the district by seven points.

That was a wake-up call for Democrats. And now the question is, will they be activated? And by the way, Jake, I'm looking at numbers. You can take the congressman out of the House. You can't take the political junkie out of the congressman.

So I'm looking at turnout numbers that just came in that suggests that both parties have a lot of work to do because of the snow that was a real impediment to turn out earlier today.

TAPPER: You referenced Lee Zeldin. For those that don't know, last November, Lee Zeldin was a popular Republican congressman who ran for governor. He did not win, but he had a good showing for a Republican statewide and is credited to having helped at least three or four House Republicans get elected by bringing out Republican voters.

The Republican candidate here, Mazi Pilip, is a registered Democrat running as a Republican. What does the fact that this relative newcomer who has generally avoided the press only agreed to one debate, the fact that she's polling as well as she is and is really in the hunt, could well win this seat? What does it tell you about how weak Democrats are in suburban districts such as the New York 3rd?

ISRAEL: Well, I would make a distinction because in fact, Democrats have been over-performing in every single special election in suburban areas since the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade in every single case, in Ohio and Georgia, in Virginia, and elsewhere. Democrats have actually been overperforming and they've actually been leading President Biden by an average of about 4 percent in those specials.

But this is different. New York 3 is different and it's different because of what we just heard on this broadcast by your guests. There is a massive, deep concern about immigration. And why is that? Why is it salient here? Not as salient elsewhere? Because every several days, there's another headline about a caravan of busload of migrants arriving in New York sent by Governor Abbott in Texas and others. There are photographs, you turn on the news. That is the dominant narrative.

And, Jake, particularly in a special election where you don't have a lot of time to refine your message and take control of the message, you are reacting to real time headlines. And those headlines have all been about the border and migration. Another lesson that I know Democrats will be looking at after the results are in.

TAPPER: Former Congressman Steve Israel, good to see you again, sir. Thank you so much for joining us.

ISRAEL: You bet.

TAPPER: Dumb and un-American. That's a quote. President Biden issuing a direct rebuke of Donald Trump amidst Trump's controversial claims about NATO.

And as President Biden continues can use to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israelis -- I'm sorry, America's CIA chief is on the ground in Egypt trying to negotiate a hostage deal.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Right now, New York voters are casting their ballots in a special election with implications that well reach into November and the race for the White House.

And speaking of the race for the White House, President Biden just responded to Donald Trump's attacks on the key alliance known as NATO.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former president has set a dangerous and shockingly, frankly, un-American signal to the world. The whole world heard it. The worst thing is he means it. No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator.

Let me say this is clearly as I can -- I never will. For God's sake, it's dumb. It's shameful. It's dangerous. It's un-American


TAPPER: President Biden responding to comments Trump made on the campaign trail Saturday, when he encouraged Russia and I'm quoting here, to do whatever the hell they want to any NATO ally that does not pay its fair share of defense spending as is agreed to the NATO charter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: One of the presidents of a big country stood up, said, well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I said, you didn't pay. You're delinquent? He said, yes, let's say that happened.


No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.


TAPPER: Joining us now our political panel.

David Urban, let me start with you. Biden suggesting that what Trump said about Russia and NATO is dumb and un-American. What do you think?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look as I said, many times over and over, the only one that beat Donald Trump in this election is Donald Trump, and he's doing a pretty good job right there.

Look, what the former president was doing is what he did in his previous administration. He was recounting a story by the way, that happened when he was president, saying that if a NATO allies don't pay up, they're not really a part of NATO, right? If you're not, if you're not paying to be a member of the club, are you really a member of the club?

And the latest Davos gathering of world leaders, you saw a little of this hand-wringing about, man, maybe we should pay our 2 percent, maybe we should pony up, it'd be better partners. Maybe we should, no matter who is going to be the next president of the United States, maybe Europe should care about defending Europe more than the United States should.

And I think Trump was reflecting that a little, that kind of squeeze again, negotiating here position of toughness, and look, Americans realized that the reasons that the Germans and the French have eight- week vacations in the summer and they've got great health care and universal education for everybody is because we, the United States taxpayers, have been bur -- shouldering the burden of defending the European continent for 50 years.

So they should pay up. I don't, I don't -- listen. They invade -- Putin invade whatever country he want, I think it's a little bit over the line, but I think our NATO allies should pony up their fair share, or they should not be considered a part of NATO, either you're paying your dues, or you're kicked out of the club.

TAPPER: So, Kristen, let me -- let me ask you how you think this might have an effect on voters. But before I do, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General CQ Brown, said yesterday that U.S. credibility is at stake following Trump's comments. Take a listen.


GEN. CHARLES Q. BROWN JR., JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We have a responsibility to uphold those alliances. U.S. credibility is at stake with each of our alliances and U.S. leadership is still needed wanted, and watch. And the steps that we take to support those alliances are important, not just with NATO but I'd say the other alliances we have around the world as well.


TAPPER: Do you think this could have played an impact in the election and then November assuming Trump is the nominee?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm skeptical if only because foreign policy issues just in general are so far below domestic policy issues. And so, if Donald Trump can make the case, look, you may not love what I said, but I'm just trying to keep the focus and our money and our resources here at home.

I can see this being, more of a non-issue for some voter. With that said, I do think that your swing voter this November is going to be looking at who's going to bring about the most stability and order in the world and at home.

And, right now, Donald Trump actually has a slight advantage on that issue. He is throwing it away by making comments like this.

TAPPER: Paul, what do you think?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I liked that Joe Biden is using plain, simple, strong language, show strength that convey string.

URBAN: I agree with Paul, all good.

BEGALA: Dumb, un-American, by the way, loser, which he used a couple of weeks ago, weak, really important to go at Trump just that way.

I do think, Kristen, and you're the pollster, you know better. But Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, this is not a national election anymore. We're down about five or six states and at least three of them have huge eastern European populations -- Ukrainian-Americans, Polish Americans, Hungarian Americans, Czech Americans, all of whom really do care about what happens in the motherland.

So I do think that weakness and tagging Trump with being weak and dumb is really powerful way to go after him.

TAPPER: Karen, let's go back to the special election if we could. I want you to listen to what Tom Suozzi, the Democrat in the race, former Democratic congressman representing that district, what he told me about what Democrats, need to do better in districts like this congressional district, battleground districts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM SOUZZI (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Democrats have not been speaking to the people about the issues they care about. They care about the cost of living right now. They care about immigration and the border. They care about public safety.

They care about climate. Quite frankly, they do talk about climate, but too many issues that people talk about at the dinner table every day are not brought up by the Democratic Party.


TAPPER: That's -- that's a Democrat saying that.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a Democrat who is up for election today. Let's be fair.

I don't completely agree with everything he said. I think Democrats are trying to talk about the things that people care about. In fact, we just had a border bill that were Democrats were willing to go much farther than ever before to get a deal. And it was Republicans who walked away.

And by the way, in that deal would have been resources for cities like New York City to actually deal with the influx of migrants. But it was the Republicans who walked away. So he's got to say what he needs to say in order to sound moderate in that district, but what I do think is right is that it's not just that we have to talk to voters about the issues they care about what we have to understand that for different groups of voters. So like when we talk about the economy, what that means if you are a middle-class African-American person to Milwaukee is not the same as if you are a white family in North Carolina versus if you're in Arizona.


And so I think we do have to remember that people are not monolithic groups, are not monolithic, and we have to be able to talk to people about these issues in the ways that it resonates with them and what their concerns.

TAPPER: Kristen, let me ask you, because Biden gets a lot of blame by voters for the crisis at the border. And even a lot of Democrats would say deservedly so.

What about the behavior of Republicans in Congress over the last week wanting a border bill, rejecting what is arguably a very conservative compromise bill, then saying that they would take up the foreign aid bill, then saying they won't take up the foreign aid bill and on and on -- will any of that be held against Republicans or is it just to in the weeds?

ANDERSON: Well, to the extent that it sends the signal that your party cannot competently govern, that's a real problem. And so whether it is the minutiae of specific issues, oh, well, I didn't like this provision of this bill or that or the other. I do think that it does not send a great signal about, hey, don't you want Republicans in charge in governing?

So I don't think the last few weeks have been very good for congressional Republicans. With that said, on an issue like immigration, Republicans still have such a significant advantage on something like border security that for voter who is not deep in the weeds of the bills, if they hear Republicans say this isn't tough enough on the border, Republicans still I think win and have more credibility on that issue, the last few weeks set aside.

TAPPER: How do you think this bill and what just happened with all this legislation plays in Pennsylvania?

URBAN: Look, Jake, I think -- you know, I had a big discussion to this with Dan Sullivan, Senator Sullivan this past weekend who I think its a great American, great senator. I take the stand, you know, being a former military guy, I would've voted for the bill. I think on the foreign aid portion of it, right?

I think that it's a -- it's mislabeled. Should be the defense industrial supply base, reinvigoration act because most of the money in this bill goes to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Arizona, to U.S. workers to make more weapons to give to the Ukrainians to fight our enemy, right?

So I'm not quite sure where -- why Republicans aren't rallying around this. This is very Reaganesque, like we should really be standing shock. I think that cuts against them, cuts against Republicans in Pennsylvania, hurts in swing states if it's messaged correctly.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, thanks. And we'll come back to you later in the show.

Coming up next, we go to Cairo where Americas spy chief is pushing for a hostage deal with Hamas. Will he be able to strike a deal?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, high-stake negotiations in Cairo today where CIA chief Bill Burns met with his really counterpart, along with Qatari and Egyptian mediators there. They are all trying to reach a hostage and at least temporary ceasefire deal with Hamas. Sources tell CNN that talks remain difficult, but the mediators are working to try to reach an understanding within the next 24 hours.

Every second of course is crucial as civilian casualties climb. And the hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 to Gaza, their whereabouts remain unknown. The Gaza -- the Hamas-controlled health ministry is estimating the more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began retaliating on October 7th, though CNN cannot independently verify those numbers. And Gaza officials do not differentiate between those killed who are Hamas militants and terrorists, and those who are innocent civilians. Fear and panic is now falling over displaced civilians in the southern

city of Rafah in Gaza as the IDF plans for a ground offensive.

CNN's Nada Bashir takes a closer look at the situation on the ground there. And a warning, some of the images you are about to see are quite distressing.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Seemingly endless chaos in this field hospital in Rafah, doctors, volunteers crammed into the small tent, delivering whatever care they are still able to provide. Overnight on Tuesday, another round of airstrikes on a city once thought to be the only safe place left for more than 1 million displaced civilians.

Just 24 hours prior, airstrikes carried out by Israel as part of an operation to secure the release of two hostages, killed more than 100, according to the Palestine Red Crescent. The bombardment of Rafah has left widespread destruction in its wake, and countless families mourning.

A warning of what could lie ahead for civilians here should Israel launch a full-scale ground offensive in the city Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged safe passage for civilian evacuations. But a military plan has yet to be provided. And the prospect has heightened fears among Gaza civilians.

The nights are so difficult here in Rafah. Where else are we supposed to go? Where else are we supposed to live?

With nowhere left to turn, some families are now fleeing Rafah to return to parts of Central Gaza, whatever belongings they have left stacked above cars.

We're tired of fleeing from one city to another. We're so tired. I just hope the world will stand with us. We'll have mercy on us.

North of Rafah, the nightmare this embattled region has endured is evidenced. The airstrikes here are still relentless.


The suffering of the Palestinian people, unending. Everyone has been killed. My grandchildren, and look at him, he was only two years old, this grandfather says. He was the best thing in my life.

So much pain in this grandfather's distraught cries, but there is little time to grieve. Funerals here are swift and constant.

We are peaceful people. We were just in our homes. We have no involvement in politics. We just want the war to end.

Diplomatic efforts to secure a prolonged truce have so far failed to deliver concrete results. The CIA's director now in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president. Israel's intelligence chief, and the Qatari prime minister.

One official calling the talks, quote difficult, but nudging forward. But warnings of an expected ground offensive in Rafah could place those talks in jeopardy. As Hamas threatens to pull out if Israeli troops enter the city.


BASHIR: And, Jake, we have just learned from an Israeli source telling CNN that the Israeli delegation is now returning home from Cairo. We had a U.S. official just a little earlier saying that those talks were productive and serious, but did not arrive at any sort of breakthrough that would result in a final agreement though negotiations are said to be ongoing.

The major sticking point the matter of disagreement at this stage according to another U.S. official familiar with the matter is the ratio of Palestinian prisoners that would be exchanged for hostages, Israeli hostages held captive by Hamas. A lot of pressure mounting from the international community and we have heard from Hamas official telling CNN that the next 24 hours will be in assessing the state of those negotiations. All lies, of course, very much still on Rafah, the southern city in Gaza, and the potential for a ground operation there, and what that will mean for those talks and negotiations -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nada Bashir in Cairo. Thank you so much.

New details on the moment a woman entered Joel Osteen's megachurch with an automatic rifle with and her seven-year-old son in tow and opened fire.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, we have video capturing the moment that Texas churchgoers heard gunfire and ran for the exits on Sunday.

That shooting Sunday at pastor Joel Osteen's Houston mega-church ended after two off-duty officers killed the attacker, a woman armed with two weapons, including an AR-15. The woman seven-year-old son, whom she had brought along with her was critically injured in the crossfire and now the shooter's mother-in-laws speaking out, calling it a completely preventable horror.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has been following the story closely and joins us now.

Ed, we know police are still working to determine a motive. What more are you learning from the shooter's mother-in-law?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we heard from investigators now, they're painted a rather complex picture of what the early belief is on the motivations behind this shooting at this prominent Lakewood megachurch in Houston. The mother-in-law of 36-year-old Genesse Moreno, the woman who was shot and killed here by two off-duty police officers says that her former daughter-in-law suffered from mental illness.

And she also detailed the extent to which the family tried to seek help for her over the years. She spoke with CNN affiliate KHOU.


WALLI CARRANZA, MORENO'S FORMER MOTHER-IN-LAW: She threatened her husband's life. She threatened mine. She threatened to kill her own son, and we still couldn't get intervention. We asked for help from CPS or Child Protective Services, family services. We've asked for help from police and received it many times. But she was still allowed to own guns.


LAVANDERA: And in a Facebook post, Jake, that the mother-in-law also elaborated, she wrote, my daughter-in-law when she was taking medication for schizophrenia was a very sweet and loving woman, but mental illness is real illness. And when family members seek emergency protections, there doing so for their own sake, but for the sake of the person who is ill.

The mother, she said, reached out to Child Protective Services multiple times. We reached out to Child Protective Services here in Texas, they say that because of privacy issues, they are not allowed to comment, but they are investigating. But this mother-in-law's comments really kind of paint even more troubling pictures, and suggests that, you know, there are warning signs that were missed several times along the way here, Jake.

TAPPER: Missed, or ignored. The shooter had a criminal history, police knew of her mental health issues as well. CNN look at all these posts for mug shots in the past dating back to 2005.

CNN obtained a social media at a post in which she flaunts having these lethal weapons. Texas does not have any red flag laws.

Was there anything that officials could have done to have prevented this per Texas law?

LAVANDERA: You know, investigators have been asked that question. They say they're looking into it. But clearly, if there is, it wasn't used in any capacity in this situation, raising the concerns about exactly what does it take at this point for someone to be denied a weapon?

So were still waiting more details on exactly how she obtained these weapons. We're told she made the -- obtain the weapons legally. But we don't know the full extent of how that unfolded, Jake.


TAPPER: Ed, do we know how the little boy is doing? LAVANDERA: Last we heard, the 7-year-old boy who is the child of Genesee Moreno, is still in critical condition. If you remember the latest details we have is that in the middle of that shooting, that young boy was shot in the head. So as far as we know, he remains in critical condition, but clearly fighting for his life.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

Right on the heels of killing the most conservative border deal in decades, conservative House Speaker Mike Johnson is at it again.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, money desperately needed to resist Russian invaders in Ukraine, or hunt down Hamas terrorists, or shore up Taiwan's democracy.


All of it, billions of dollars of worth it -- worth of it hangs precariously between bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and Republican intransigent and divisions in the U.S. House and the early morning hours today, nearly half of Senate Republicans joined Democrats in passing $95 billion in foreign aid.

But House Speaker Mike Johnson greeted the break through in the months-long debate with a shrug. His stated reason, the bill fails to address security at the U.S. border, which is true, but this is after he killed a border deal that the conservative Border Patrol Union supported, which had been part of the Senate deal, but would then was removed.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Senator, if House Speaker Johnson won't bring this bill to a vote, when tied to a border deal or without being tied to a border deal, how do you get this passed in the House?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Jake, that's a great question. As you said in your introduction there, very early this morning by a strong bipartisan vote of 72-29, the Senate sent to the House a $95 billion national security supplemental. There's a few different ways it could come through the House and get to the presidents desk.

I am hopeful that Speaker Mike Johnson will yet be persuaded that there is urgency Ukraine is running out of ammunition and running out of time. And Speaker Johnson has said he supports Ukraine in its fight on the frontlines of freedom against Russian aggression.

The reason we don't have a border security provision, as you just indicated, was that former President Donald Trump turned on the bill, campaigned against it and persuaded Republicans to defeat a bill that would have given President Biden both money and authorities. He needs to secure our southern border.

So if they have a better idea over in the House, they should send it to the Senate, but they should take up this security bill first and pass it.

TAPPER: I want to get your take on Donald Trump's saying that he had a conversation with a head of a NATO country when he was president. And they said, what are you going to do if we don't pay 2 percent of our defense budget, 2 percent of our budget on defense? And he said, I will -- I wouldn't pretend -- I'm paraphrasing here, but something along the lines of we wouldn't protect you, the U.S. wouldn't protect you. And I would tell the Russians to do whatever the hell they want.

What was your response to that?

COONS: This was a shocking thing for a former president and likely candidate of the Republican Party to be the next president to say, not just if he did actually have that conversation while he was president, but that he's bragging about it now, in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, our European allies have up to their defense spending dramatically.

I was recently in Poland with my Republican colleague Mike Rounds. Poland is spending 4 percent of their GDP on defense. We recently welcomed Chancellor Scholz, who visited with a dozen senators before he met with President Biden. They have dramatically increased their defense spending and welcomed millions of refugees from Ukraine and help lead the work in NATO and in Europe to arm and support Ukraine.

For the president of the United States, former and possibly future, to say intentionally that he would willfully throw our NATO allies to the Russian wolves if they didn't pay up suggests that NATO isn't a collective security treaty, but a protection racket where he is shaking down our allies for them to increase their defense investment.

I think this was beneath a president and a strong reason why he should not be reelected.

TAPPER: Your Democratic colleague from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, took to the Senate floor and said this about Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza. Take a listen.


SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Kids in Gaza are now dying from the deliberate withholding of food.

In addition to the horror of that news, one other thing is true, that is a war crime. It is a textbook war crime. And that makes those who orchestrated war criminals.


TAPPER: So he is saying that Israel is committing war crimes and that Benjamin Netanyahu and others are war criminals. Do you agree?

COONS: Look, my friend and colleague, Senator Van Hollen, has been very passionately engaged in advocating for humanitarian relief to get into Gaza.


And he recognizes that the intentional interference with the delivery of humanitarian relief, that the use of hunger as a weapon of war is a war crime. I agree with that. Whether or not that means that Prime Minister Netanyahu should be accused of or in any way charged with a war crime, there is a gap between those two points. And it's important that we continue to fund humanitarian relief that we in Congress and our president continued to press relentlessly on the IDF and on Prime Minister Netanyahu to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Look, Jake, we are on the verge of a potential IDF assault on Rafah. That would be a disaster. And I would urge Israeli leadership with whom I've spoken recently to step back from this precipice and to not move ahead until there is a clear and credible plan for conducting any further campaigns in Gaza without increasing civilian deaths.

TAPPER: Do you see any disconnect between staying up all night to give Israel billions of dollars to conduct this war and what you just said?

COONS: Well, I also stood up all night -- stayed up all night for the $10 billion in critically needed humanitarian aid that is a part of this package. Every package of funding includes things that we are excited about and supportive of, things that we can find our way to support and things we have challenges with.

I have long been a strong supporter of Israel, and I continued to believe that supporting Israel in their fight against Hamas, which carried out a horrific terrorist attack. The worst attack on Jews in the world since the Shoah is something that is worth doing. But it stands in stark contrast to the humanitarian cost of this war.

President Biden has consistently called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to change the conduct of their campaign against Hamas, to one that reduces civilian deaths and consequences, and there been significant steps in that direction taken by the administration.

Jake, I hope and pray that the urgent negotiations to release hostages and achieve a ceasefire will succeed in coming days. That's the path I hope we are on.

TAPPER: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thanks so much. Appreciate it, sir.

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