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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Calls Putin "A Crazy S.O.B." And Criticizes Trump's Navalny Comments During Fundraiser; Haley Clarifies IVF Comments, Says States Should Not Take Away Fertility Treatments From Families; AT&T Says It Has Restored Service To All Affected Customers; Navalny's Mother Says Russian Investigators Are "Blackmailing" Her; Ukraine: Russia Used North Korean Missiles In Multiple Attacks; Historic Mission To The Moon. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: And check out the comparison. On the left is size 22 from Shaq. On the right, a woman's sneaker. How about that?

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden calls Vladimir Putin a crazy SOB.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The president's unfiltered, telling a crowd of supporters what he really thinks, not just about his Russian counterpart, but also Donald Trump.

The only person standing between Trump and the Republican presidential nomination, Nikki Haley, joins me this hour.

Plus, the investigation now launched into a widespread cell phone outage. What cuts service for so long, for tens of thousands of AT&T customers.

And days after his death, the mother of Putin critic Alexei Navalny says she's finally seen her son's body, but she claims the Kremlin is blackmailing her and putting conditions on where, when and how her son's burial can take place.


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

And we start today with our politics lead. Off script, off camera and amongst friends, Democratic supporters and donors is where President Biden appears most comfortable, leveling some of his sharpest and most direct attacks.

Speaking at a fundraising event in San Francisco last night, the president took aim at several of his adversaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Quote: We have a crazy SOB, that guy Putin and others. And we always have to be worried about a nuclear conflict. But the existential threat to humanity is climate, he said.

Continuing the back-and-forth, the Kremlin fired back today, criticizing President Biden for sounding like a, quote, Hollywood cowboy. And more specifically, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, quote, clearly, Mr. Biden is demonstrating behavior in the style of Hollywood cowboy to cater to domestic political interests, unquote.

And today, Putin himself weighed in on a potential Biden Trump rematch.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Listen, we recently talked and you asked me who would prefer as the future president of the United States, I said that we will work with any precedent, but I believe that for us, for Russia, Biden is more preferable.


TAPPER: Preferable because he's more predictable than Trump. Putin said, if you believe that's what he really thinks.

But about that rematch in 2024, Biden also took aim at the Republican front runner and hit Donald Trump over Trump's attempt to compare his legal difficulties to the political persecution, poisoning, possible murder of Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison a few days ago.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got indicted four times. I have eight or nine trials, all because of the fact that I'm -- and you know this -- all because of the fact that I'm in politics. It's a form of Navalny. It is a form of communism or fascism.


TAPPER: Last night, President Biden responded, quote, if I stood here at 10, 15 years ago and said this, you all would have thought that I should be committed -- it's astounding.

President Biden also single that Republicans in Congress for criticism, arguing that this generation is worse than lawmakers he worked with when he first served on Capitol Hill. Quote: I've been a senator since '72. I've served with real racists. I've served with Strom Thurmond. I've served with all these guys that have set terrible records on race.

But guess what? These guys are worst. These guys do not believe in basic democratic principles.

In response, House Speaker Mike Johnson posted on X, quote: Outrageous. The least popular president to seek reelection is now so desperate and so underwater in the polls, he's playing the race card from the bottom of the deck, unquote.

Now, there might not be cameras, but there have been reporters at Biden's fundraising events. That's how we know what he said. And politicians tend to get a little looser when they think cameras are not recording what they're saying. You might remember when Barack Obama was recorded in 2008, when he was speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco, talking about why working class voters might be voting Republican.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them.


TAPPER: Not surprising, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, he said. Something about San Francisco fundraisers, I guess.

But this all does raise a question in this modern era why is Biden kind of camera shy? Before Biden announced he was running for reelection last year, "The New York Times" had reported Biden has held the fewest news conferences since Reagan.


Biden again declined to hold the traditional end of your press conference in 2023. And for the second consecutive year, Biden skipped sitting down for a pre-Super Bowl interview, a move his advisers allegedly made because, quote, they wanted to give the already fatigued public a break from politics during the big game.

It was a curious choice by the White House though, given that this is one of the most consequential elections ever, the Super Bowl allows the eyeballs for one of the biggest, if not the biggest televised event in the country. If you're running for president and a majority of voters think you're too old to serve another term as polls suggests, they think about President Biden, avoiding cameras might make it look as though you have something to hide.


JON STEWART, TV HOST/COMEDIAN: If you're telling us behind the scenes, he is sharper, full of energy and on top of it, really in control and leading, you should film that. That would be good to show to people.


TAPPER: And then there's the Republican primary, which is still playing out in the next contest, just two days away in the home state of former Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina. And with me now is said Republican presidential candidate, Governor

Nikki Haley.

Good to see you, Governor. Thanks for joining us.

I want to start with the fact that Congress right now appears to be barreling towards a March 1st deadline to fund the government or face a partial shutdown. Speaker Johnson facing pressure from the House Freedom Caucus to include policies in the government spending bill that would frankly never pass a Democratic-controlled Senate, let alone be signed into law by President Biden, such as, for example, zeroing out the salary for the secretary of homeland security, Mr. Mayorkas.

So the options Speaker Johnson is facing is either pass another continuing resolution or allow the government to shut down.

If you were president, what would you advise him to do?

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were president, I would remind every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, that they have just one job, one job, and that's to give us a budget on time. And Congress has only given us a budget on time four times in 40 years.

And so what I would say to them is if you don't get us a budget on time, you don't get paid, period. It is not our job to get into their squabbles in Congress. It is their job to give us a budget on time and not make the American taxpayers feel this. That is a huge problem.

We don't need to know how you make the sausage. We just need to know what gets done. And right now, nothing is getting done in D.C. That's the problem.

That's why I'm adamant about term limits. That's why I'm adamant that they shouldn't get paid if they don't do their job. And that's what I think the American people want.

TAPPER: So how do you feel about the jobs Speaker Johnsons doing? He seems unable to do basic stuff without his speakership being threatened. Members of the House Freedom Caucus threatened to oust him if even if they even brought to the floor for a vote that bipartisan Senate foreign aid bill passed on a bipartisan measure in the Senate, aid for Ukraine, aid for Israel, if even just brings it to a vote, not even supported, but just brings it to a vote. He could lose his speakership.

What do you make of this dynamic?

HALEY: Well, the dynamic is the fact that with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican Party, we lost elections in 2018, we lost him in 2020, we lost them in 2022. You look last week, we lost a bill on Mayorkas. We lost a vote on Israel, the RNC chair lost her job, and Donald Trump had his fingerprints all over it.

And the reality is, we need to start saying, what do we need to do to get bigger margins, so it's not about whether a speaker is going to lose his race. And a Marquette poll came out today, and again, Trump and Biden are margin of error. I defeat Joe Biden by 18 points in that Marquette poll.

That's bigger than the presidency. That's House, that's Senate, that's governorships, that's everything. And when you go in with a mandate of double-digits, that's when work gets done. That's what we need to do.

We've got primaries right now, and I tell everybody, in a general election, you're given a choice. In a primary, you make your choice. This is the time for everyone to vote in the primary and understand we can't right the ship in our country if we can't win an election and we have to win that general election if we're going to right the ship.

TAPPER: I want to turn to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on in vitro fertilization and embryos. You have said that you believe in embryo is a baby, is a life. But you also said the decision about what to do with embryos, that should be between a doctor and a patient.

So I guess my question is, you then disagree with the Alabama Supreme Court, right?

HALEY: Yeah, but I think that the court was doing it based on the law, and I think Alabama needs to go back and look at the law. This is incredibly personal to me because I had both of my children with fertility.


And what we want to make sure is two things. One, you want to make sure that embryos are protected and respected in the way that they're supposed to be. Two, you want to make sure that parents have the rights to make those decisions with their doctor as they go through in what they're going to do. And we want to make sure whatever we do, that we have plenty of opportunities and availability for fertility treatments to go forward.

We don't want fertility treatments to shut down. We don't want them to stop doing IVF treatments. We don't want them to stop doing artificial insemination. We want to make sure that people are able to have these blessings.

But I think this is again needs to be decided on the people in every state. But what -- what states need to remember is don't take away the rights of these physicians and these parents to have this conversation. It is too sensitive and too personal to not have that happen.

TAPPER: Well, you seem to suggest there that they made the decision based on the law, but in the Alabama ruling, the judge, the chief justice, wrote in his opinion, quote, human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God. I mean, that was what Chief Justice Tom Parker had to say.

That seems to be his personal religious view, not the law as I understand it. HALEY: Yeah, I had not heard that. I mean, it certainly does.

And I think what we need to do is look, if Alabama, what they need to do is look back at whatever it was -- this was, it's my understanding it was a civil case. But look back at that and say, how's this going to impact, you know, other women in the state of Alabama? How's it going to impact parents? How's it going to impact physicians who are helping these parents have their baby?

And we need to make sure that we're not closing any doors. We need to make sure that embryos are protected. I personally believe an embryo was a baby, not everybody's going to agree that an embryo was a baby, but that's why parents need to be able to have the decision on how they're going to handle those embryos.

And they need to know that they're going to be protected, that they're not just going to be discarded by accident or that someone is not properly taking care of them.

TAPPER: When do you define when a fertilized egg becomes a baby? And the reason I ask is because there are some Republican lawmakers out there who want to outlaw some forms of contraception because as you know, some forms of contraception work by either inhibiting or blocking a fertilized egg from implanting in a uterine wall because they think the fertilized egg is a life, is a baby. They say that should be outlawed.

Do you think a fertilized egg is a life, is a baby?

HALEY: I've always said, I think contraception should be accessible. Very important. That's -- again, it goes to the fact that people need to be able to have as much freedom to make decisions as they possibly can.

This is where it goes back to the role of government, Jake, government with intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. And when you have situations like this, what I don't want to see happen is everybody look at Alabama and every state think that they've got to go and put some sort of laws or regulations on these processes that parents go through. You don't have to do that.

All you have to do is make sure that parents are protected and make sure that there is a scenario where these embryos are protected. The rest is between the parents and the doctor, and we need to keep it that way.

TAPPER: Today, "The Economist" magazine has an article out entitled, "Is Europe ready to defend itself?" The article says, even as the Russian threat is growing, Western deterrence is weakening. That is partly because of wavering American support for Ukraine.

But it's also because Donald Trump, who may very well be the next American president, has cast doubt on whether he would rally to Europe side following a Russian attack. The Republican Party and parts of the security establishment are becoming less committed to Europe, unquote. You were Donald Trumps ambassador to the United Nations. What's your

response to this? If you were president, would you rally to Europe side if there were a Russian attack?

HALEY: Absolutely. I mean, what we have to remember is we need to keep NATO strong. It's a 75-year success story.

But you look at what Donald Trump said when he went off the teleprompter, which is it's the whole problem and the chaos that starts this. If he said that he would side with Putin over our allies, who stood with us at 9/11.

You're going to side with a thug who kills his political opponents. You're going to side with a dictator who arrests American journalists and hold some hostage. You're going to side with a guy who's made no bones about the fact that he wants to destroy America.

And our allies were there the second 9/11 happened. That's what that alliance is.

And by him going and saying that he would actually encourage Putin to invade our allies, he just made every ally vulnerable and he just put every military member who's serving in those countries at risk.


It was irresponsible. It's once again the chaos that he brought -- that he brings to a situation and it's dangerous.

We need to let our allies know. We will be there for them just like they were there for us after 9/11.

TAPPER: You said that no matter what happens Saturday at South Carolina primary, you're staying in the race.

I wonder how much is your continuing to run for president, no matter what happened Saturday, how much is it about the chance that Donald Trump could possibly be a convicted felon later this year, and you want to be a plan B as it were for the Republican Party?

HALEY: What I'm trying to tell all Republicans and anybody, independents as well, anybody that's voting in those primaries is if you want to change in our country, which I think the entire country wants a change, we won't get a change if we don't win an election.

Donald Trump will not win the general election. You can -- you can have him win any primary you want. He will not win a general election. We will have a female president of the United States. It will either be me or it will become Kamala Harris.

But if Donald Trump is the nominee, you can mark my words, he will not win a general election. And what I say to everybody is, don't complain about what happens in a general election if you don't really think about that in this primary.

We can do better. You look at -- I mean, these are the two most disliked politicians in America, look at the polls, look at what they're saying. Sixty percent of Americans are saying Donald Trumps too old and Joe Biden's too old to be president.

You look at the military, they capped retirement at 65. You look at pilots. They capped the retirement at 65.

We've got a lot to fix in this country. We need someone who can work eight years straight of hard work, day and night, fully disciplined with no drama, no vendettas, just results for the American people. That's what's at stake here. And I'm going to continue to stay in and tell people this as long as I possibly can.

TAPPER: So the trials have nothing to do with your decision and I would also note that I believe early on in the primary process, you raised your hand and said you would support the nominee even if he were convicted felon.

HALEY: Well, I don't think the American people would support a convicted felon, but I will tell you, I have a lot of issues with Donald Trump. I have said that, I have no bones about speaking that.

I have even more issues with Joe Biden. The key is we don't need either one of them. I think the court cases absolutely hurt Donald Trump. Right now, it may be giving him a shot in the arm but he has said himself, he's going to spend more time in a courtroom than the campaign trail.

All of March, all of April, all of May, all of June, when you have that scenario the chances of anyone winning that Republican nomination, if he is the person are slim. They are just going to keep going down. Half a billion in judgments he's got so far, he's now got to figure out where that money is going to come from, 50 million of campaign contributions from his own campaign have gone towards personal court cases.

Now they're trying to get the orange see on board and trying to get me out so they can continue to help him pay for judgments in court cases. We can't win an election that way. It is literally impossible that we will win an election if Donald Trump is the nominee.

So I'm going to keep pushing through. We have a country to save, and I'm going to continue to show people that if I can beat Joe Biden by 18 points, guess what? That's a mandate to stop the wasteful spending, get our country back on track.

That's a mandate to get our kids reading again. That's a mandate to secure our borders. That's a mandate for law and order in our cities. And that's a mandate for a strong America that we can all be proud of.

TAPPER: All right. Governor Nikki Haley, have fun out there on the campaign trail. Thanks for talking to us today.

HALEY: Thanks so much. Go to

TAPPER: And you can join me this weekend for special coverage of that primary coming up Saturday in South Carolina, look for results and analysis right here. Coverage begins Saturday at 06:00 Eastern p.m. Of course, only here on CNN.

Let's get reactions from what we just heard from Nikki Haley, this controversy over IVF and embryos and the state of the GOP race.

Plus, President Biden meeting moments ago with the widow of Alexei Navalny in California.

All of that and more coming up.



TAPPER: And we're back with our 2024 lead. Cue the music. There you go. Thank you so much. That's CNN election music. Gets it -- gets the blood moving.

Today's the last day for early voting for South Carolinas Republican primary, which is just two days away, coming up Saturday.

Moments ago, you heard from Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. She is the last Republican running against Donald Trump. She's trying to make her case why she should be the Republican to face off against Joe Biden.

Let's bring in our political panel for reaction.

Shermichael, we just heard Nikki Haley clarify her views on Alabama's ban on IVF --


TAPPER: -- declaring embryos to be people. Here's what she said just a short while ago on THE LEAD.


HALEY: We don't want fertility treatments to shut down. We don't want them to stop doing IVF treatments. We don't want them to stop doing artificial insemination. We want to make sure that people are able to have these blessings. But I think this is again needs to be decided on the people in every state. But what, what states need to remember is don't take away the rights of these physicians and these parents to have this conversation.


TAPPER: What do you think?

SINGLETON: Jake, I'm a conservative, but I think were getting into our territory where you're even losing Republican voters. I mean, many of them are recent poll came out care and they showcased a plethora, over majority, actually support IVF. I think --

TAPPER: Even a majority of what piece self-described pro-life voters support IVF. Yeah. SINGLETON: I mean, I think you're getting into a territory or even many Republican women will say we understand the religious component of this, but we don't necessarily want the government utilizing compulsory forced to dictate how these things that should be between a family and their doctor. I understand what she took to clarify the remarks, but this is not an electoral strategy that I would want to win on in November considering how successful if Democrats have been thus far.

Oh, Karen --

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I know, don't know, it sounds --


TAPPER: I know where she's going.


Go ahead.

FINNEY: It just sounds like you're saying that maybe government shouldn't tell women what to do with their bodies. I mean, I certainly -- that seemed to be what Nikki Haley was saying when she said parents should making these decisions, which made me think --

TAPPER: Parents and doctors.

FINNEY: Parents and doctors.


FINNEY: What about the woman who was pregnant in Texas who was trying to make the decision about the baby she was carrying that was not viable, that you had to leave the state or she and her husband, her doctor were trying to make the best decision. And unfortunately, Texas said, we're going to sue you. We're coming after you.

So it sounds like, you know, here's the challenge. So, two things, please Republican Party, please keep talking think about this.


FINNEY: Please, please.

TAPPER: All right.

FINNEY: Because to your point, millions of Americans across the political spectrum rely on IVF to get pregnant. That doesn't mean everybody gets pregnant. But if you look at the numbers of people who believed that it gives hope to people who are trying to have children and who have struggled. And so, if you're going to say were going to take away that hope because the reality of -- part of what's coming out now in Alabama is, so are you saying to a woman she would have to then implant all of those embryos even if they're not viable and give birth to children that are not, is that what you're saying if you're going to try IVF?

I mean, it's -- but again, it goes back to the very thing we said after Dobbs. These are the harms. If were going down that path, understand these are the kinds of harms that you're opening the door to.

And so it's not just the Democrats have done a good job on this issue. It said Americans understand that it's not right.

TAPPER: So, Shermichael, let me just go into more of what you were saying.

Kellyanne Conway, former Trump White House official pollster. She showed Republican lawmakers results from her firms poll when it comes to support for IVF. This is according to "Politico", 86 percent of all respondents supported access to IVF. You don't get numbers like that for almost anything.


TAPPER: Seventy-eight percent support among self-identified pro-life advocates, 83 percent among evangelical Christians. And yet here we go.

Here is --


TAPPER: -- by the way, predictably, the next battle when it comes to this issue of when life begins.

SINGLETON: I mean, the question as to be for many of the evangelical conservative lawmakers, Jake, when do you stop with this? At what point do you stop?

I mean, I talked to a very wealthy donor out of Georgia and he said he had a conversation with another associated colleague if he has another wealthy guy and his wife came him as a, you know I get it. Honey but I think I'm going to vote for Joe Biden in November, and he asked why. And she said, because this isn't what conservatism is supposed to be about. I thought we were the party of limited government.

And while I may not agree necessarily with women making this decision, I strongly believe they should have the choice. You look at younger voters. So if you're talking about having a party, Jake, where you have viability long term care, the points that you just made, a lot of younger voters are going to say, well, I certainly don't want to vote for this party where they're restricting my freedoms.

There's a lot of friends that I have Jake, including some Republicans that have had a very difficult time having babies, getting pregnant. They've gone through this process. I can't imagine having to explain that some of my friends like, hey, our party has taken away this right for you to conceive, if that is something they so choose.

So this is not a winning strategy, Jake. The party is going in the wrong direction.

TAPPER: So, it's not just IVF, right?

FINNEY: Right.

TAPPER: Because all the times that abortion referenda have been put up since the Dobbs decision, since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Every single time, whether it was Kentucky or Montana, or Ohio, every single time --

FINNEY: Kansas.

TAPPER: -- Kansas, every single time, the anti-abortion side lost.

FINNEY: Right. Even in Virginia, where remember, you had the governor trying to -- in the midterm election saying, well, it's not really a ban, it's a 15-week ban. That's not a ban.

Well, guess who else is now talking about 15-week ban? Donald Trump, last week, one of the most important things we learned is that he's been having private conversations about the idea of supporting 15-week ban. And part of what's important I think about both of these stories together is we can't let Republicans, Democrats back off of what they're doing here. What they're saying about IVF, I think every Republican candidate, I want them asked if they agree, and I want Americans to take if Donald Trump seriously when he says he will pass a national abortion ban, that's what that is. And is that something that we agree with and believe? In particularly knowing that Clarence Thomas has said, lets look at what else based on that, what we thought was settled law, we should be looking like.

TAPPER: Lawrence v. Texas, was that what it was?

FINNEY: Yes. I mean, he specifically talked about marriage equality, gay marriage. He of course, did a little carve out for interracial marriage conveniently, I appreciate that.

But again, what -- and what we've seen in the polls, young men actually are now saying, particularly African-American Latinos -- well, what does that slippery slope really look like for me? What other rights could they take away?


Shermichael and Karen, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

Moments ago, an apology from AT&T after a widespread outage left many thousands of customers without cell service, Internet, or text messaging on their phones. But what caused this outrage outage in the first place?


We're going to come back with the investigation now looking into what went wrong.


TAPPER: In our tech lead, AT&T says it has restored service to all affected customers. As federal agencies investigate how this nation- wide disruption happened. Look at the scale of self-reported outages earlier in the day, taken by down detector, a peak of nearly 74,000, around 9:00 a.m. Eastern. That's just the people who reported it. And this is the second time this week that AT&T has been dealing with problems such as this.

CNN's John Miller joins us now.

John, AT&T says it has restored service to all affected customers. A U.S. cybersecurity official tells CNN that there's no indication of anything malicious. So far.

So what do we know? In terms of what happened?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Not enough. AT&T has apologized to its customers. It said services restored. But what they haven't said is, here's what happened. And the cyber official who is saying that they don't believe there's any indication of a cyber attack because AT&T hasn't told the FBI or as far as we know, the FCC or DHS, what happened, may not have enough information to make that determination, except for there's no obvious sign there.


So the jury is still out on that.

TAPPER: Officials in Atlanta say that AT&T also had technical problems. On Tuesday, 911 services were down throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Do we know of Tuesday's problem connected to what happened today?

MILLER: We don't, although we know that Tuesday's problem was limited to 911 systems, not to the entire network. It was shorter. It was restored within a smaller period of time. And that after the big hurricane and all the damage, many of those 911 systems over went almost total rebuild.

So what counties like Palm Beach were saying just this week in the papers, was there they're going back through it and they're still trying to understand it. But one of the problems that's recurring here is AT&T with 100 million customers across the United -- across the United States, a country of, you know, 380 million people, was not communicating clearly today. It was multiple hours before they had a banner on their website telling everybody what they already knew, which is their service was out.

Their social media on X, once known as Twitter, was all about other things, not the outage and even at this hour, we haven't heard from a chief executive or a technical person with information. You know, the model that you and I know from crisis management and watching these things unfold is here's what we know. Here's what we don't know. Here's what we're doing to fix it. This is

when were going to get back to you and whether its in this room or on what platform. There was a great lack of communications so that even at this hour, as you and I sit here talking about this, we can't say, here's what AT&T is saying in detail.

We do know that the government communicated about cyber actors from China and Russia infiltrating critical infrastructure systems, hiding tools within there, laying dormant but we also know in these cases its most often if it happens at 4:30 in the morning, there are some pretty pre-programmed systems change that's being executed that causes a domino effect that no one expected. We're just not hearing answers yet and it's been some time.

TAPPER: Yeah. We need answers. John Miller, thanks so much.

Coming up: why the mother of Alexei Navalny says she's now being blackmailed by the Kremlin just days after her done -- after her son's suspicious death.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead now.

Nearly a week after his death, the mother of Alexei Navalny has finally seen her son's body. The 47-year-old Putin critic died in an Arctic Russian penal colony last week. Navalny's spokesperson says, his mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya was has also shown the medical report which claims that his death was due to, quote, natural causes.

Today, his mother took to YouTube to share her outrage. Take a listen.


LYUDMILA NAVALNAYA, MOTHER OF ALEXEY NAVALNY: They blackmailed me and set conditions for where, when, and how Alexei should be buried.


TAPPER: CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow.

And, Matthew, you ask Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov about this. What did he have to say?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, I mean, Dmitry Peskov wasn't particularly forthcoming. He said that neither here nor president of Russia had heard the allegations being made by Lyudmila Navalnaya. But he said, because of that, you didn't have any comments. Instead -- instead they were focusing on things that, quote, were important to the country.

But look, I mean, the conditions that Navalny's mom says were set were things like she must be accompanied at all times, you know, to Moscow by a member of the investigative committee. She wasn't allowed to discuss where the funeral might be. In fact, not even decide where the funeral is going to be until she actually gets to Moscow with the body, which would be flown in on a special plane.

I mean, Jake, clearly the authorities are not thinking about the welfare and the state of mind of than the Navalny family, they're much more focused on how this is an intensely political event. Alexei Navalny is somebody who is, you know, was able to bring out tens of thousands of people onto the streets of Russia in life, because of his anticorruption campaign. And the authorities are now incredibly concerned that the funeral may provoke another outpouring of pro- Navalny support. And, of course, people who support Navalny are against the Kremlin and against the authorities, and that's something they very much want to avoid, Jake.

TAPPER: And we're learning that President Biden met with Navalny's widow and Navalny's daughter in California during this California's swing. What more do we know about that meeting?

CHANCE: Yeah. Well, I mean that was a meeting that was not announced beforehand. We've seen pictures of it now with President Biden meeting Dasha Navalnaya, his daughter, and his wife, Iulia Navalnaya. He offered them his condolences, of course, and spoke about how brave and courageous Alexei Navalny was.

And he also promised again or restated again that the United States with very shortly be announcing sanctions, strong sanctions against Russia and against Vladimir Putin. He said because that the death of Alexei Navalny and because of other issues as well like repression inside Russia and the war in, in Ukraine.


So we're expecting to see another raft of sanctions from the United States shortly pertaining to this.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow for us, thank you so much.

As the conflict in Ukraine caused by Russia nears the two-year mark, CNN sees what it's like to live in a city that has been blown away by bombs. We're going to take you there next.


TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead.

Ukraine security service says that Russia used North Korean missiles in multiple attacks against Ukraine, at least 20 starting in late December, which warns supply route for weapons between Russia, North Korea is, quote, being established.


This just days after Putin gifted North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, a new limo.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson now battered after two years of full-scale war.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's night when it's loudest. Kherson has seen every stage of the wars, two years. Invasion, occupation and liberation day, yet day is when the damage is clearest.

The Russians maybe now on the other side of the river. But you can see the force of the explosions that hit here just by these tree branches thrown up here on top of a roof. And it feels kind of like a remote occupation through Russian drone strikes, artillery attacks as well, so many of the buildings around here devastated.

But Russian positions are visible across the water. And on this side, freshly dug trenches show how worried Ukraine is still.

Across the river. Ukraine sent troops months ago. Their hopes of a lightning dash to Crimea stuck in this rubble. And this week, Russia raised their flag over the tiny Ukrainian foothold of Krynky. Kyiv denied they've taken it and said drone footage showed the Russians fleeing.

Yet just meters from the row (ph), thousands of daily silent stories of survival in a city Russia cannot own, only crush with seemingly inexhaustible shelling.

At 4:00 a.m., we've woken by three shells.

They landed 100 meters away. They're saying that they are first hit in November, and that blew out the glass in this slide. They moved to that mother's apartment over there, and that basically save their lives last night because the shrapnel from the mortar landed here when all the way up into flat where they used to live.

In basement churches, the prayers are for basics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): To stay warm, to find bread, to have food. It's a hard path. But we keep walking it.

WALSH: Spilling out into the light part of 1,000 people still in this district of the city when before the war, there were 30 times that.

Sophia has outlasted her six siblings and gets food for her adult daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): I want to get on time to another food distribution. Yesterday, they gave chocolates and a hot meal. Today who knows? There were roses here, everywhere. So many rose.

WALSH: As Putin's war enters its third year, there seems no end to a million tiny unseen agonies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): Welcome! My eyes hurt, but my deepest desire, I don't want anything, anything, but the bright sun!

WALSH: The old radio brings bad news of Russia assaulting Krynky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): Those bastards, they jumped on us. They already took Krynky. No they didn't it. I just heard that they didn't. It's hard, there was a fight there today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): We will not push them back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): Why? They will push back, why not?

WALSH: The war in every home, the normal, the boring still targets today and tomorrow.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kherson, Ukraine.


TAPPER: Nick Paton Walsh in Kherson, Ukraine, thank you so much.

Now, many of you may have tuned in at this hour looking for that historic mission back to the moon.

Our CNN space correspondent, Kristin Fisher is coming up with why -- is coming up with why the landing time has been shifting all day.

Stay with us.



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

Breaking this hour, significant new action in the investigation into the massacre at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas? Who is being ordered to appear before a grand jury? Well, we'll tell you.

Plus, a devastating diagnosis for longtime talk show host Wendy Williams. Representatives say she has progressive aphasia and dementia. What we're learning about her condition. That's ahead.

And leading this hour, the United States is about to try to accomplish something it has not done in 50 years. We are counting down as a lunar spacecraft nears landing and now history is in the hands of Odie. That's right.

This is Odysseus, Odie for short. It's named after the wandering hero of Homers epic poem, "The Odyssey". And he's -- well, it, Odie is a little over an hour away from hopefully touching down on the moon.

Let's get straight to CNN space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher.

Kristen, you say that today's moon landing is your Super Bowl. Walk us through what we're -- what we're about to see.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, I mean, this is the first time in my lifetime that an American made space craft has attempted to land on the surface of the moon.