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The Lead with Jake Tapper

White House: U.S. To Impose New Sanctions Against Russia; Ukraine Struggles With Weapons Shortage As Russia Advances; Some U.N. Food Delivery In Gaza Paused After Aid Trucks Looted; Awaiting U.S. Supreme Court Decisions In Two Key Trump Cases; Alabama Supreme Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children; NYPD: Suspect In Deadly NY Beating Linked To Stabbing In Arizona. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 20, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Now, it's making what's called a natural dissent which is why the space agency can't really predict exactly where or when it's going to come down. The latest prediction is that it's largely going to burn up in the atmosphere, make its re-entry some time around now, tomorrow. Authorities say there's very little concern. It's going to affect people. The odds are it's going to fall in the ocean.

But these things sometimes do crash into homes and hurt people. It's happened before, but there's like a one in a billion chance of it actually happening. So you may want to wear your helmet tomorrow.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: That's right. I'm going to.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The White House saying today that punishment for Russia for the death of Alexey Navalny is on the way.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The new warning from the Biden administration, tough new sanctions on Russia for both the war in Ukraine and for the suspicious death of Putin's prominent critic Alexey Navalny. This as the Kremlin insists, Navalny's remains cannot be released.

Why not? Might there be traces of poison in his system. Well, his mother is demanding answers.

And CNN is in Moscow as we also learn of another new prisoner jailed in Russia, this one, a woman with dual U.S.-Russian citizenship being punished. And what are the charges against her?

Plus, what sources are now telling CNN about President Biden's new aggressive plan to go after the, quote, crazy shit that Donald Trump says. That expletive from the Biden source, not for me.

Exactly how Biden wants to push back? That's ahead.

And Alabama now classifying frozen embryos as people. The state Supreme Court chief justice writing in a ruling, quote, life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, unquote. Yes, that is the legal language used.

Coming up, the liability this creates for doctors and patients trying desperately trying to conceive.


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

We start today with our world lead. The White House is getting ready to impose what it calls a major sanctions package against Russia. This after one of Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics died under suspicious circumstances in prison last week, assistant to the presidents John Kirby says the new U.S. sanctions will be officially announced Friday. They are designed not only to quote hold Russia accountable for what happened to Alexey Navalny, but also to punish Russia for its military operations in Ukraine, operations that will hit the two-year mark on Saturday.

And a video released earlier today, Navalny's mothers stood in front of the penal colony where he died, pleading with Putin to let her see her son's body.


LUDMILA NAVALNAYA, MOTHER OF ALEXEY NAVALNY: They wont give me his body. They don't even tell me where he is.


TAPPER: This news comes just as we are learning that a U.S.-Russian dual citizen has been detained in Russia. Russian authorities say a 33 year-old woman who lives in Los Angeles has been charged with treason. She's accused of raising money to help Ukrainian forces, and we should note, of course, she's far from the only person with American citizenship currently detained by Moscow.

Today, "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared in court after nearly a year's imprisonment. Russian American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva is also still being held. U.S. marine veteran Paul Whelan, still behind bars, having served more than five years at a Russian prison camp.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in the Russian capital of Moscow.

And, Matthew, how will the Kremlin likely respond to these new sanctions coming from the us?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has already given an initial response when he was asked about the possibility of more sanctions from the U.S., he said, I didn't think about anything about them at all. I mean, look, Russia has obviously criticized the sanctions regime. That's been ratcheted up over the past several years by the United States and others in the international community.

But it's now at the most heavily sanctioned country in the world. And it's unlikely more sanctions, unlikely to have a significant impact, any impact at all, perhaps on the country's policy. It's certainly not going to encourage the Kremlin. The expectation is at least to do more to show more clarity when it comes to what happened to Alexey Navalny, especially after his own mother, Ludmila Navalnaya, has traveled 2,000 miles or so to the Arctic north of Russia to stand outside that penal colony, where he died on Friday and ask the Russian President Vladimir Putin directly to release her sons remains to her.

Take a listen.


NAVALNAYA (through translator): I haven't been able to see him for five days. They won't give me his body. They don't even tell me where he is. I'm addressing you, Vladimir Putin, the solution to the issue depends only on you.


Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexey's body be immediately handed over so that I can bury him humanely.


CHANCE: Well, that appeal is something that's supported by the Russian public as well, in the sense that there's a petition that's been making the rounds online, that's been signed by tens of thousands of people, and that's an act of bravery. Remember, because people have to put their names and their emails and their dresses when they put their names on a public petition like this, calling for the body of Navalny to be released immediately to his family, Jake.

TAPPER: And Matthew, what can you tell us about this dual U.S.-Russian citizen who is being detained on treason charges?

CHANCE: Yeah, this is a citizen, 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles normally, but she's a joint U.S. Russian citizen. She's been named as Zena Karolina, 33 years old and she's been charged with treason now. And the specifics of that charge not got much detail from the prosecution service, but they're saying basically she was raising funds for Ukraine, funds that would later use to buy medical supplies and weapons to be used in the war in Ukraine, what Russia of course calls its special military operation. And that's illegal. She's been -- she's been put under arrest by agents of the Russian FSB, the old KGB. And she faces so that trial in the months ahead.

Of course, as you mentioned, she's not the only U.S. citizen that has been in court over the course of the past 24 hours. Evan Gershkovich, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter, also accused of espionage, that he went to court today and had his appeal to his -- the extension of his prison -- of his term in prison. He had that rejected. So he'll be in prison up until March and that will make it a year. Since Evan Gershkovich was arrested on those espionage charges -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks so much.

All of this, of course, is happening as Russian forces are advancing on multiple parts of Ukraine fueled by their recent victory in the key eastern city of Avdiivka. Today, Ukraine's foreign minister told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Ukraine would not have lost control of that city if the U.S. and specifically the Congress had delivered the military aid still tied up in the halls of Congress.

Ahead of that interview, Christiane visited a military cemetery in Western Ukraine, where an overwhelming number of Ukrainian families are grappling with the losses of their loved ones in Putin's war.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): At first, it looks beautiful, all the colors, the sheer density flying in the wind, so much Ukrainian, yellow and blue. But when you realize that each flies above the body of a beloved, the pain is palpable.

A mother cries for her son. He came from Poland, from abroad, says Lubof (ph). He went to liberate our Ukraine. He said, mom, I'm going to defend you.

A woman seems to be talking to her fallen loved one.

And this widow Natalya (ph) moves in for a kiss. Her husband, who had volunteered for the eastern front, was killed just shy of his 30th birthday, five months ago, when shrapnel hit his head, leaving her and her small children alone.

I'm proud of my husband because his sacrifice is worth a lot, says Natalya. I believe that it's the duty of every man to defend his homeland, having three children, he could have not gone, but understood that he was going to defend us.

Lychakiv cemetery in the western city of Lviv is like cemeteries all over Ukraine today.

Two years ago, this was a grass field. Today, it's a field of flags and the graves of those who fallen defending this country. And on this two-year anniversary, families are asking whether Ukraine can continue leaving it up to their volunteers, or whether there needs to be a call up to mobilize for the front.

Natalya agrees, yes, definitely, she says, because if we don't defend ourselves, what kind of fate awaits us next? If we don't defend our lands, Russia will be here soon.

In the center of Lviv, there is a small recruitment office for the armies third assault brigade, just through this courtyard. Sergeant Pavlo Dokin (ph) is in charge and he shows us in.

So Pavlo, this is the recruitment office, the recruitment center? Yeah. It is exhausting not only physically, but also for morale. Soldiers

need to have normal rotations, Pavlo tells me, so that they can rest from all of that. And start working with renewed vigor.


The office is open all week, sometimes a few show up, sometimes none. While we were there, just one.

Why do you want to be in the military?

Someone needs to defend our Ukraine, says Volodymyr, a 43-year-old builder.

And that's the point, starting a third year of full-scale war against the Russian invasion. They are heavily outmanned and vital weapons and ammunition for their fight are tangled up in Washington's political gridlock, under former President Donald Trump's direction.

Speaking to world leaders in Munich this past weekend, President Zelenskyy said he'd invite him to see the war with his own eyes.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: If Trump, Mr. Trump, if he will come, I am ready even to go with him to the frontline.

AMANPOUR: Back at the third assault brigade, this poster says, rush to the decisive battle.

And they did that this weekend, just as the small town of Avdiivka in the east was falling, to help withdraw forces before they can be in by the Russian, at least then they could live to fight another day. President Zelenskyy told me for every Ukrainian killed in that battle, there was seven Russian deaths.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): I'm telling you, frankly, we don't help long range weapons. Russia has it, and we have too little of that. That's true. That's why our main weapon today is our soldiers, our people.

AMANPOUR: Back at the cemetery in Lviv, the people, the bereaved, say the nation needs a new call up if it can properly armed them.

I would say they should, says Lubof, but only if they had weapons. The guys have no weapons. They have nothing to fight with. Believe me, my child used to buy his own uniform with his own money.

And here, more ground is already being prepared. The fight for freedom and democracy will be bloody, hard and long.


AMANPOUR: And, Jake, two years on, you do still feel the unity, but you do really feel the anxiety, the exhaustion, the worry that they're going to be left doing this on their own. It's an incredibly different from feeling than it was a year ago, even, even, you know, a month after the initial invasion, when they did manage to push Russian forces back -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Christiane, today you interviewed the Ukrainian foreign minister about the status of the war. And while he said he -- he wanted to stay out of American politics, he did have some really grim assessments of how the fighting in Congress over Ukraine aid and the opposition to Ukraine aid among Republicans is affecting Ukrainian troops on the front lines.

AMANPOUR: Exactly and, you know, also the White House said it, John Kirby said it, and this is how I put it and how Kuleba put it to me.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: All this time, our soldiers will be sacrificing their lives at the frontline, holding up against an overwhelming force of Russia. They are making miracles and they must be credited for that. But the reason they have to sacrifice themselves and die is because someone is still debating a decision. And I respect domestic politics. We did not interfere into it, but I just want everyone to remember that every day of debate in one place means another deaths -- another -- death in another place.


AMANPOUR: And you know, very bluntly, he said to me that the loss of Avdiivka could be directly attributed to the lack of artillery shells and that kind of ammunition and the artillery that they needed.

So it is very, very dire. And look, I've spoken to American military experts, former commanders, and they've said, Ukraine can win. It just depends on the political will of its allies in the West.

TAPPER: All right. Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv, Ukraine, thank you so much.

We're also following another major conflict, the war between Israel and Hamas, which is creating dire scenes of starvation in Gaza right now, an emergency measure was just put in place because of it were going to go live to the region, next.



TAPPER: Back with our world lead today, the United Nations Food Programme is holding off sending more aid trucks into Gaza after two straight days of chaos. Officials described crowds of hungry people swarming caravans both Sunday and Monday, adding some convoys were met with, quote, complete violence.

CNN's Nic Robertson reports that the temporary pause likely only worsens this spiral of desperation. And in many cases, affecting Gaza's youngest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Gaza's food problem writ large, hunger trumping fear of Israeli bullets news of a coming aid convoy carrying flower into the north of Gaza, converging crowds to plunder it.

We came here for the flour because we don't have food to eat at home, Hamzana (ph) says. It's been five months since we tasted the white flour. Desperation leading to looting. A growing problem in northern Gaza.

HAMISH YOUNG, UNICEF: We're talking tens and tens of thousands for, you now, five, 10 trucks. It's the food that is getting through is just a drop in the ocean. It's not nearly enough. So, of course, that's going to happen.

ROBERTSON: Theft so bad, the principal U.N. food supply, the WFP, declaring Tuesday, it was stopped deliveries to the north, compounding the already dire conditions, particularly for young children.

YOUNG: Its now an emergency level.

ROBERTSON: The most common thing that comes into hospital is malnutrition, Dr. Abu Saifya says. It creates complications, sometimes even death.


Even before the World Food Programme cancelled food deliveries, children venting fears shared by adults, abandonment by the world.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: No food, no water, no medicine. Our message to the world, shame on -- shame on you. How dare you food (ph) your children while we eat animal food? Are you waiting our death?

ROBERTSON: The whole family is dead, Ibrahim (ph) wails. Is he the last one alive? Gesturing towards her grandson as bad as hunger is Israel's armaments remain more deadly. And on Ibrahim's home in Nuseirat, central Gaza, one granddaughter dug out of the rubble killed in the massive air strike. Another clings to life as rescuers give her CPR.

In southern Gaza, where food supplies a slightly better, this plastic surgeon, just out of the besieged on Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, close to tears.

DR. AHMED MOGHRABI, HEAD OF PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY, NASSER HOSPITAL: I couldn't offer anything to my children. We use only, you know, only bread. My children want some sweets, I couldn't provide some sweets for my children. My little girl, three years old, she used to ask me many things, but I couldn't provide my little girl.


ROBERTSON: So just give you an idea of how precarious the humanitarian supplies are and what gives the U.N. and other agencies cause for concern, the main crossing from Israel into Gaza today, Kerem Shalom, that was blocked by protesters saying that the food was going to Hamas and not to the civilians there. Just yesterday when the crossing was open, 131 trucks got through. That's quite a difference.

TAPPER: All right. Nic Robertson in Tel-Aviv, the grim report. Thank you so much.

Just in, we are learning of new charges linked to that deadly shooting at last week's super bowl celebration in Kansas City. What authorities are now saying about the actions of two men that led to a moment of mayhem and at least one woman killed.

Stay with us



TAPPER: Just into THE LEAD, two men had been charged with murder for their alleged roles in the mass shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally last week.

Let's get straight to CNN's Josh Campbell.

Josh, we know about these two suspects.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, a significant development. Since last Wednesday, authorities have been pouring over this massive crime scene, interviewing witnesses, looking at CCTV, conducting ballistic analysis on numerous firearms that were recovered and they now prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to charge these two men with murder. The two individuals, Lyndell Mays and Dominic Miller, both stand accused with the same charges, murder in the second degree, if convicted, they face up to life in prison.

A second charge includes unlawful use of a weapon, specifically shooting at people. If convicted, they face up to 15 years on those charges. Now, CNN is attempting to determine whether either individual has attorney representation we are learning from prosecutors more about the timeline about what happened, what was occurring just before shots rang out there on that day.

Authorities say that one individual, Lyndell Mays, was in some type of verbal altercation with another individual. Mays then allegedly pulled his weapon. At that same time, you're simultaneously, the prosecutor says multiple people well pull their weapons, shots started ringing out. We do know that one individual who was among those injured did die. That's Lisa Lopez-Galvan. Authority say based on ballistics, they believe the second individual, Dominic Miller, was the individual who fired that fatal shot.

And interestingly, Jake, these two individuals, not only in custody, but still in the hospital, both of these men were injured during the shooting as well. Now, authorities say that although they are bringing these charges, their work is far from over. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEAN PETERS BAKER, JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I do want you to understand, we seek to hold every shooter accountable for their actions on that day, every single one.


CAMPBELL: And authorities believed there are potential other suspects still out there that they're working to locate.

Finally, Jake, authorities are appealing to the public. They know how many people were shot on that day, what they don't know is how many people faced injuries as they were fleeing this chaotic scene. They want to hear from you, which tells us that authorities continued to build this case trying to hold anyone accountable who's responsible for what occurred that day.

TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

Staying with our law and justice lead, two huge U.S. Supreme Court orders involving Donald Trump could come down literally at any moment. One, whether Trump can be removed from Colorado's primary ballot based on the 14th Amendments to the Constitution, its ban on insurrectionists from holding higher office. The second issue deals with Trumps claim that he is immune from prosecution for acts he took while he was president.

Let's discuss with CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Elie, when could we find out what's going to happen with the presidential immunity case and walk us through what the outcomes might be?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, we could hear at any moment whatsoever because this is technically an emergency motion, so its not necessarily going to be released on the court's ordinary calendar.

Now, here are the potential outcomes, best-case scenario for Jack Smith, the Supreme Court will say, we're not hearing this case. We're sending it back down to the district court, at which point I think the district court judge, the trial judge, Judge Chutkan, would probably set a trial date as soon as she could I think likely for the end of spring or early summer.


Now, worst-case scenario for Jack Smith, the Supreme Court says, we are taking this case, we are keeping the stay, the pause on the trial court and we're going to take the normal several months of briefing, the normal course of deliberation that would probably have the effect of moving the trial out until likely after the election is over.

There's also a middle ground possibility here, Jake, where the Supreme Court says, we are going to take this case, but we're going to do it on a sped up expedited basis, which could still allow some possibility if they reject the immunity argument that the trial could still happen before the election.

TAPPER: What about a decision on the Colorado ballot ban case, the Super Tuesday primaries are just a couple of weeks away.

HONIG: Yeah, Jake -- well, I think the Supreme Court has to understand that Colorado is set to vote in two weeks and various other states are waiting to see what the Supreme Court does. We covered that oral argument together. I think it's quite clear that Donald Trump will be reinstated to the ballot in Colorado.

And the reason is the justices just do not believe that the law allows the individual states to interpret and apply the 14th Amendment. I think the only outstanding question here, other than when is will we see several of the liberal justices joined here? We could even see, in my view, potentially a 9-0 decision.

TAPPER: You recently wrote an article on what you say is in your view of the biggest revelation from that damning report from special counsel Robert Hur on President Biden's mishandling of classified documents. You say the biggest deal is not how he's described as kind of this adult old man, you say, but rather, quote, Biden held onto classified top secret national security documents after he left the vice presidency and he did it intentionally, unquote. Now, you're citing a part of the Hur report saying the Biden knew he had classified documents as early as 2017.

HONIG: Yeah, Jake, he knew, he knew. That is the biggest legal revelation to me and we know that by the way, it's not even arguable because there's a tape. Joe Biden is on tape telling his ghost writer in February 2017, the month after he leaves the vice presidency, Joe Biden says, quote, I just found all the classified stuff downstairs. He's referring to the office in his private residence in Virginia at the time.

So we know that Joe Biden knew he had classified documents in 2017, failed to turn them back into the authorities and the documents he's talking about relate to our policy, our military approach in Afghanistan.

So, Jake, for the last year or so, Joe Biden his lawyers and his spokespeople have been telling us all a big accident, all inadvertent. He didn't know. It turns out he did know and he did not turn over those documents immediately. He waited until just last year to do that.

TAPPER: Special counsel Hur expected to testify publicly at a House hearing on March 12th. What do we expect them to say?

HONIG: Well, it'll be interesting to see what approach he takes. If he follows the model of Robert Mueller, not much. If you remember when Robert Mueller testified, all he did was sort of reiterate the exact words in his report, but I do think when special counsel Hur testifies, its going to be a real Rorschach moment.

I think you're going to see the Republicans arguing that he should have recommended indictment for Joe Biden. And I think you're going to see the Democrats arguing that there was no case whatsoever there. And I think we'll also criticized Robert Hur for the statements he made about Joe Biden's advanced age and memory.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the quote --

HONIG: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: -- "Wrath of a Holy God" used by Alabama Supreme Court chief justice to justify a historic legal ruling. It now classifies frozen embryos as children.

Coming up, the consequences of that decision that could go well beyond the courts.



TAPPER: In our health lead now, frozen embryos in Alabama now have the same legal rights as other unborn children, quote/unquote. That historic and controversial ruling was issued by the Alabama Supreme Court last week. In a concurring opinion, chief justice Tom Parker invoke his religious beliefs, writing, quote, life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God. Even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory, unquote.

Now, there are growing concerns about the future of in vitro fertilization treatment in the state of Alabama.

CNN's Meg Tirrell joins me now.

Meg, how did the court reached this decision?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, so the story behind this case is essentially that these plaintiffs had undergone IVF and had stored embryos at a facility potentially for future use, there are being stored at this facility. Allegedly, a patient who is staying at the same facility kind of got access to these embryos and accidentally dropped them. And so that killed the embryos.

Now, these plaintiffs brought this suit under in one aspect, the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act in Alabama. Now that is a law that goes back to 1872. And of course, the question there were deciding here is, are these embryos essentially minors?

Now, they also depended on a 2018 constitutional so amendment in Alabama called the Sanctity of Unborn Life Amendment to essentially say that yes, the state has said that unborn children deserve the same protections as children and they applied that to that 1872 law do essentially say, yes, these embryos are minors and you can bring this long wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf, Jake.

TAPPER: And in his dissent, Justice Greg Cook writes, quote, no court anywhere in the country has reached the conclusion. The main opinion reaches and the main opinion's holding almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization in Alabama.

So how will this ruling impact? A couple of seeking and doctrines providing IVF treatment in Alabama.

TIRRELL: Well, this decision is rippling through the reproductive care community right now.


Ive talked with a number of doctors about this today. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine put out a statement about the decision saying, quote, the best state of the art fertility care will be made unavailable to people of Alabama. No health care provider are they say will be willing to provide treatments if those treatments may lead to civil or criminal charges.

Jake, I just got off the phone with a fertility doctor in Alabama, Dr. Mimi McLean (ph). She said she's committed to staying in the state. She loves Alabama, but she's been getting calls from dozens of her patients who have stored embryos right now, who are completely anxious because they're worried they wont have control over what happens to those embryos anymore. Of course, there are huge questions about care with IVF going forward.

TAPPER: All right. Meg Tirrell, thank you so much, really appreciate it.

Let's bring in a legal expert on abortion here in the United States, Mary Ziegler.

Mary, in the majority opinion here of the Alabama Supreme Court, Associate Justice Jay Mitchell writes, quote: The people of Alabama have declared the public policy of the state to be that unborn human life is sacred, we believe that each human being, from the moment of conception is made in the image of God, created by him to reflect his likeness, unquote. That sounds to me, I'm no legal expert, but it sounds less like a legal argument and more like a religious declaration.

What's your reaction?

MARY ZIEGLER, PROFESSOR, UC DAVIS LAW SCHOOL: One of the things that's really striking about both the majority in the concurring opinion by the chief justice of the court is that this claim essentially that Alabama voters embraced Christianity, right? That Alabama voters wrote Christianity into the text of the Alabama Constitution, so there's no longer any daylight between church and state, there's no longer any daylight between religious teachings and constitutional law.

And so, I think it's right to read this opinion is saying were going to see a lot more of this from the Alabama Supreme Court and maybe other state Supreme Courts like it going forward.

TAPPER: The medical association of the state of Alabama warned that applying the wrongful death statute to in vitro embryos would drive up the cost of IVF treatments. They also state, quote, more ominously, the increased rich risk of legal exposure might result in Alabama's fertility clinics shutting down. And fertility specialists moving to other states to practice fertility medicine, unquote.

Do you agree that this ruling will have that effect on IVF in Alabama?

ZIEGLER: Absolutely. So, I mean, I think the current standard of care with IVF involves the creation of more embryos than would be implanted in a particular pregnancy. But if those embryos are persons, is that possible, right? You see anti-abortion lawyers arguing for sample that if embryos or persons, each embryo created would need to be implanted, which would radically change the standard of care for IVF. It would make it much less effective and it would make it much less expensive.

We've also seen in the aftermath of the Supreme Courts reversal of Roe v. Wade, that doctors are risk averse, right? Doctors don't want to open the door to devastating civil liability and potentially criminal charges. And there's no reason to expect that that's going to be any different now that this shadow has been cast over IVF in the state of Alabama.

TAPPER: If a couple in Alabama is receiving fertility treatments such as IVF, if they become pregnant or if they decide they no longer wish to pursue IVF treatments, who decides right now what happens to those embryos? Can they be destroyed? Will they have to be maintained indefinitely under this new law? What is -- is there any sort of guidance?

ZIEGLER: Not really, right? So prior to this ruling, couples would have the choice about whether they wanted to donate additional embryos for research, store them for potential future use, or have them destroyed, right?

It's unclear what will happen under this ruling. It seems pretty clear that donating embryos for research or destroying them will be off the table. If we view those embryos as persons, you couldn't destroy persons or donate them for research. So that part goes without saying.

But what exactly fertility clinics do need to do now in terms of whether they're allowed to store them indefinitely or required to, whether they're required to implant all of them right away, the ruling doesn't really go into that. And so I think it's also going to create a lot of legal uncertainty for fertility clinics and people who are pursuing in vitro fertilization in Alabama.

TAPPER: How much of the abortion laws dealing with early pregnancy? So let's say the first trimester are based in religious belief stated this way as opposed to more legalistic arguments because it occurs to me that maybe this is just a more honest explanation of the pro-life slash anti-abortion position that they believe that this is what God believes.

ZIEGLER: It's kind of a mixed bag, right? The anti-abortion movement is a big diverse movement. I think the movement believes its own arguments about constitutional rights and personhood of the fetus or embryo, or unborn child. I think at the same time, there's obviously a pretty big correlation, if not kind of causal component between religious beliefs, particularly Christian religious teachings in faith communities like evangelical Protestantism, Christian fundamentalism, certain strands of conservative Catholicism and anti-abortion commitments.


So I think this is sort of saying the quiet part out loud, but I think its important to emphasize that some people in the anti-abortion movement are really committed to these legal arguments over and beyond their own religious beliefs.

TAPPER: Are you concerned that this ruling raises any other ethical or legal implications?

ZIEGLER: Well, I think its certainly going to shift the Overton window in more ways than one. It's going to I think make it easier for state courts and even state legislators and other conservative states to take similarly aggressive steps on IVF. Somebody always has to be first and now that the Alabama Supreme Court has done that, I think its going to make it a lot easier for other conservatives to take aggressive steps on IVF, in states that also embrace this idea of fetal personhood. I think the ruling sets a precedent for being more explicit about embracing Christian religious teachings is some kind of constitutional principle in states like Alabama.

And I think its another brick in the wall of a strategy to make abortion illegal nationwide by declaring a fetus is a constitutional person for the purposes of constitutional law, federal constitutional law and federal abortion law, which I think we've seen the anti- abortion movement pursuing. This is one piece of evidence they can point to, to say, states are already going in this direction. Federal constitutional law should, too.

TAPPER: Mary Ziegler, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, rather stunning details about a string of crimes. New York police say that a man beat a woman to death there in New York, and then he stabbed two other women in Arizona and then get this, he told police to Google the location of his crime. We're going to analyze these brutal cross-country assaults, next.



TAPPER: And we're back with more on our law and justice lead, a man who allegedly beat a woman to death with an iron in a New York City hotel is thankfully now in custody. Police said the 26 year-old man appears to be connected to two stabbings in Arizona and a kidnapping in Florida, all of them targeting women. And now the New York police department is working with the FBI to determine if there are any additional victims across the United States.

Let's get right to CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller, who's a former deputy police commissioner of the NYPD.

John, we know that at any moment there are any number of serial killers in any country, including the United States. Walk us through how police determined that this suspect might be responsible for crimes all over the country and what the next steps are for authorities.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, right now, they're looking at him for the murder in New York, which he allegedly commits while he's out on bail for alleged kidnapping and sexual assault in Florida and then ends up in Arizona. So in this case, they were able to tie him to this victim. I am told by the victims phone was missing. So they tracked the phone. The victim's credit card was missing.

So they tracked the credit card and I'm told investigators then were able to see him on video match him to the person on video leaving the hotel? And then actually had him using his own credit card at a Burger King afterwards, and police also believed that he is wearing the victims pants in these pictures because its not the pants he walked into the hotel with, according to investigators and the victims pants were missing.

So it's quite a bizarre case, but let's get a summary from New York City's chief of detectives, Jo Kenny.


JOSEPH KENNY, NYPD CHIEF OF DETECTIVES: A broken iron was recovered at the scene and recovered bits of plastic that were found embedded inside of her skull. It seems there was there was a dispute over the time he was allowed to stay in the room, and that's what caused the outburst, which caused the attack in Florida. It seems that they involved more alcohol. That he was drinking with the escort and then wouldn't let her leave. So that's when kidnapping came in.


MILLER: So that's Chief Kenny describing the motive.

So where do we go from here and how do they connect him if he is connected at all to any other crimes? Their concern is this is a spate of crimes in Florida, in New York and Arizona connected in a short period. In Arizona, he allegedly attempted to carjack a woman, then assaulted McDonalds employee in the ladies room with multiple stab wounds, then involved in a case where he's arrested in a stolen car. So what other crimes might they not know about?

And that's where they go to the FBI. The violent crime apprehension program, or VICAP, is a nationwide computer database that tracks crimes, the modus operandi of the crime, the offender characteristics, the similarities between victims. So you can input data and see what -- what possible matches there are.

And that's what they're asking the FBI to do. Because as we learned from cases like the Gilgo Beach serial killer, a lot of these killers who are mobile, moving across the country, can avoid detection. Right now, these are the crimes he's charged with, but they're looking to see if there might be more.

TAPPER: All right. John Miller, thanks for that. Appreciate it.

Former Governor Nikki Haley is about an hour away from a second major event today in her home state of South Carolina. She made a major announcement in her first stop today saying she has no plans to get out of the 2024 presidential race. How's it going to work?

I'm going to ask a guest who's helped run a presidential campaign coming up.



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

This hour, the skyrocketing number of people homeless in America up 12 percent last year, impacting some 650,000 people, the sharpest rise, the biggest population of homeless since the U.S. government started keeping records. So, what's driving this?

Well, today were lying launching a brand new series is looking into it and it starts in the homeless capital of the United States California.

Plus, in the 2024 race, a new aggressive posture from the Biden taking campaign. What sources tell CNN about a plan to push back on, quote, crazy shit that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth. That expletive from a Biden source, not me.

But first, Nikki Haley digging in. Today, the Republican presidential candidate gave what she called a state of the race speech, declaring that despite trailing in polls and actual delegates and votes, Haley plans to stay in the primary race for the long haul.