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The Lead with Jake Tapper

One Day To Go Until South Carolina GOP Primary; One-On-One With California Governor Gavin Newsom; High Costs, Low Income Push Californians To Homelessness; Two Years Since Russia's Full-Scale Invasion Of Ukraine; Europe Pressured To Secure Ukraine Aid Amid U.S. Uncertainty; Two Palestinian-American Teens Killed Weeks Apart In West Bank. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 23, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Certainly one way to fill seats, Major League Baseball players say that they have a big problem with their new uniforms. Apparently, you could see right through them.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yeah. Some teams have their photo day this week and you know what? The pants are so shear, you can see the bottom of their tucked in shirts.

SANCHEZ: Nike says it worked with more than 300 players to design a jersey that was more breathable, lightweight and stretchy.

KEILAR: And see-through.

SANCHEZ: And see -- there's a lot of jokes that we can make, but unfortunately, we're out of time.

KEILAR: We're out of time.

SANCHEZ: And we don't want to get in trouble.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The governor of California's here and, boy, do we have a lot of questions?

THE LEAD starts right now.

He's one of the main Democrats floated perhaps more than anyone else as an alternative to Joe Biden. Gavin Newsom here on THE LEAD.

Is he all in on President Biden's reelection bid? How is he trying to fix the problems in his state such as illegal immigration and skyrocketing homeless numbers? We'll ask him about it all.

Plus, two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, are Putin's forces closer to threatening a NATO country in European territory? The ambassador of key NATO ally is here. And we are just minutes away from a major update on that moon mission and soon possibly the first pictures from the lunar surface.


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

We start today in our 2024 lead. We're just one day out from the next crucial contest in the presidential race, the South Carolina Republican primary. Right now, polling shows Donald Trump outpacing Nikki Haley in her home state. Trump hovering around 60 percent of the vote compared to just 30 percent for Haley, a former governor of South Carolina. But if tomorrow's results come in anywhere near the police numbers, though tomorrow's loss could be devastating for her, she has said she's going to stay in the race.

She has far outspent Trump in the Palmetto State, spending $16 million to Trump's $1 million. She's showing no signs of giving up. Haley spent her last full day on the campaign trail slamming her Republican opponent, accusing him of siding with Putin, who she says is both a dictator who kills his political opponents and a tyrant who arrests American journalists. Fact check, true.

We start our coverage today with CNN's Kylie Atwood covering the Nikki Haley campaign from Moncks Conner, South Carolina, as well as CNN's Kristen Holmes, who's covering the Trump campaign from Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Kristen, Mr. Trump is expected to speak tonight at the Black Conservative Federation Honors gala in Columbia, South Carolina.

Today, the Biden campaign put out a blistering statement calling Trump the proud poster boy for modern racism. Is the Trump campaign responding?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they're not, and I don't expect them to. But it really goes to show you that this looks more and more like a general election every day with Democrats, with President Joe Biden and his campaign, taking these hits directly at Donald Trump, directly at Donald Trump's campaign.

I do want to apologize. It's very loud here, so I hope you guys can hear me but one thing I want to point out overall is that when I talked to the Trump campaign, when I talked to senior advisers, they do believe it is going to be possible for Donald Trump to pick up African American voters. They think there are cracks in his Democratic support for Joe Biden, and it is a group that they are going to go after, and go after hard. When I speak -- spoke to a senior adviser earlier today, he said they want to leave absolutely no votes on the table, and that includes Black voters.

TAPPER: And, Kylie, since the modern turn era began in 1972 no major party nominee has ever lost his or her home state. Marco Rubio dropped out, for example, before he could lose Florida. Could tomorrow be the beginning of the end for Haley? KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly could be, Jake. I

think, you know, Nikki Haley's campaign has tried to get away from that potential narrative by her outright saying earlier this week that she's not going to drop out on Sunday, essentially, no matter what happens here in South Carolina. But when you look at the fact that she has already lost the three early states in the Republican primary and could potentially lose South Carolina, her home state tomorrow, voters across the country on Super Tuesday where the campaign is looking are clearly going to be watching for that.

So this could be the end -- the beginning of the end for them or she could outperform those polls and things could look different.

TAPPER: And, Kristen, Republicans have been really panicking ever since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against IVF, in vitro fertilization, saying that embryos are babies and trying to figure out how to deal with it. People wondering Donald Trump's position on it. It's obviously very popular even among so-called pro-life individuals, IVF is popular.

Has Mr. Trump said anything about it?


HOLMES: Yeah, I can guarantee you the former president was read those statistics of just how popular IVF is before he commented he posted on Truth Social, supporting IVF, saying this, we want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder. That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments of IVF in every state in America. And again, I know we don't have this up there, but afterwards he said, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, including the vast majority of Republicans.

So you can see that he had that data in front of him. He had an understanding of where people land on this. And this also comes after the NRSC urged its candidates not to support any kind of talk about the government prohibiting IVF in any way.

And it comes out to the attorney general and Alabama released a statement saying they were not going to use the Supreme Court ruling to essentially persecute or prosecute excuse me any of the IVF users or providers.

So there is a clear going in this certain direction here that Donald Trump got on board with condemning this. I will note, you see Democrats and Joe Biden take you there trying to link this to the overturning of Roe v. Wade directly, which, of course, Donald Trump was the architect of, with his appointment pointing of three Supreme Court justices. That issue was one that Donald Trump has waffled on trying to take credit while still not talking about abortion.

But here, he took a clear stand saying he supported IVF.

TAPPER: And, Kylie, Ms. Haley's out today with a new ad, an effort to win over any last-minute voters. Tell us about it. ATWOOD: Yeah, SFA Fund, which is the main super PAC supporting Nikki Haley, which has put a tremendous number of advertisements on TV here in South Carolina, is out with a new ad telling voters that tomorrow, it's an opportunity for them to change the situation when it comes to politics, to get away from the drama.

Listen to part of that ad.


AD ANNOUNCER: Are you fed up of all the politicians? Sick of washed up failures that just won't go away? Had enough of the scandals the insults? The lawsuits and the drama? Tired of the rage-filled grants and tweets?

Ready to make it all go away?

Well, you can. On February 24th, vote to end the chaos.


ATWOOD: Now, that TV ad also went on to say that the Democrat -- excuse me, the Republican primary tomorrow is open to all voters, all registered voters. That includes Democrats.

And I do think it's significant to note that Nikki Haley at her event here in Moncks Conner today also reminded folks that anyone one who didn't vote in that Democratic primary earlier this month and is a registered voter can vote tomorrow. So we might see some Democrats show up for Nikki Haley tomorrow.

The other thing she is reminding voters is to bring as many folks as they can out to the polls. Obviously, the margins for her are going to matter tomorrow as her campaign isn't really setting specific expectations. But after New Hampshire, she said that her goal here in South Carolina was to do better than she did New Hampshire, where she came in 11 points behind former President Trump. So she will be relying on potentially Democrats, moderate voters and a whole host of folks who have moved into the country -- moved into the state in the last few years to propel her forward in this primary -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes covering the Trump campaign, Kylie Atwood covering the Haley campaign, thanks to both of you.

CNN's going to go big covering tomorrow's primary in South Carolina electoral results, and analysis right here. Special coverage begins tomorrow at 06:00 Eastern on CNN. I will be anchoring that.

Joining me now to discuss is California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. He met with President Biden and other governors at the White House today.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you. TAPPER: So South Carolina Republicans are headed to the polls tomorrow. Polls show Donald Trumps substantially leading former Governor Nikki Haley.

Do you think -- I know you want Joe Biden to win -- do you think that Haley or Trump would be easier to beat for him?

NEWSOM: First of all, I think she's one of our better surrogates. So I hope she stays in. I hope she does well tomorrow.

TAPPER: All the nasty stuff about Trump.

NEWSOM: She's spot on, 99 percent of it. So I'm enjoying -- I'm enjoying this primary and I hope it continues. So I wish her luck.

But, look, Trump's the nominee. We all know that, you know that. Everybody out there knows that. And I think the polls are suggesting she's going to get walloped tomorrow, and then she'll make a case, I guess, just to continue in this.

But again, I have no problem her continuing for as long as she wishes because I think she's making a good case against Trump.

TAPPER: Head to head polls suggest that she would clean Biden's clock and it's a tougher race --

NEWSOM: Trump's the nominee. Everybody knows Trump's the nominee.


NEWSOM: There's not a state that -- with respect, there's no evidence to suggest, there's no polling to suggest, there's nothing to suggest, momentum or otherwise, that she can win any state in the Republican primary coming up. So it just not -- Donald Trump is the nominee.



NEWSOM: No, I don't mean that to be dismissive. I have respect for the former governor, lot more than the former President Donald Trump. But as I said, I wish her luck in the context of being out there and making the case that we're making against Donald Trump equally.

TAPPER: So you're also making a case for Joe Biden. You're trying to make a case for President Biden.

A CNN poll of polls today finds Biden's average approval rating, his average approval rating is just 39 percent.

Voters do not seem to see in President Biden what you see.

NEWSOM: Yeah, I mean, we've got to mine the gap between performance and perception. No doubt about it.

When you're the lowest Black unemployment, lowest unemployment for Spanish, lowest unemployment for women in 70 years, one of the most significant jobs records of any president and three-year period in American history, more jobs being created and startups been started in this country, inflation now cooling, economy continuing to boom, 39 plus thousand Dow, I mean, its extraordinary record and we just have to make the case, and that's what campaigns are about. We're out there making that case.

TAPPER: Well, is he able to make the case the way that you are?

NEWSOM: We all are making the case.

TAPPER: But is he able to do it with the way you do, with the alacrity and the speed, the command?

NEWSOM: I was just with him. He's making a case for an industrial policy, bringing back American manufacturing jobs and supply chains. He was talking about the Chips Act, that Science Act. He was talking about his bipartisan infrastructure bill. He was talking about what he wants to accomplish on the border as effectively or well than any of us.

And I just had that privilege and opportunity to see that with governors from both Republican and the Democratic Party. And, of course, Democrats are out there applauding the president. Republicans were sitting there, confused that the president actually has a plan and agenda and compromise, which is what we want in a president, willing to compromise with the other party, but Republicans in Congress are refusing to move forward with that bipartisan immigration deal because of one person, Donald Trump. They care more about Trump's success than addressing this fundamental issue.

TAPPER: So if you were president and I know you're not running et cetera, et cetera. But if you were president, you would say in that compromise into law, because there are a lot of people on the left who don't like that.

NEWSOM: Look, it's the art of the deal. And the president was making the case with us just moments ago that he didn't get the Dreamers in there, didn't get a lot of the TPS, didn't get a lot of what he wanted, but it's art of what's possible.

And that bottom line is he called their bluff. He called their bluff. They're not interested in governing. It's all entertainment. It's performance.

Donald Trump was on the phone lighting up potential supporters of that bipartisan deal, threatening them. That's the state of the Republican Party today. That's not Ronald Reagan's Republican Party. This is Donald Trump's Republican Party.

And I think it's abject shame, and I say that as a border state governor that needs to support that would have been benefited from this bipartisan deal, $1.4 billion were going to cities and states. We're starting to shut down some of our migrant centers and the state of California.

That's on the Republican Party. That's on Speaker Johnson. That's on Donald Trump.

TAPPER: So, let's ask about that because you are a border state governor. Immigration, a huge topic today at the White House. Sources say the president is considering executive action to severely restrict migrants' ability to seek asylum at the southern border.

Today, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called that idea unbelievable and accused Biden of, quote, using immigrant communities as a political pawn.

Would you support the executive action? Do you need that kind of relief?

NEWSOM: Well, none of us -- we had -- none of us have the details of the executive action, so I'm not going to answer that specifically. But as it relates to addressing the issue of asylum, it needs to be addressed. With all due respect, the asylum system is broken.


NEWSOM: I've been saying that consistently --

TAPPER: So, the standards need to be raised?

NEWSOM: We need -- well, incredible fear, absolutely. I don't think that I know it. I experienced it all the time.

Remember, I'm the governor of the border state with the largest port of entry in the Western Hemisphere. We don't need to be educated on this topic. There's no doubt it's being gamed. Everybody knows that.

It's how we fix it. I would prefer to fix in a bipartisan deal working with credible people on the other side, but they don't exist currently in the Republican Party. So, to the extent he asserts himself from an executive prism, I understand why that brings up a controversial frame and stress.

That said, at least applaud him for trying to assert himself. Of course, the courts will have more to say on that than any of us.

TAPPER: Speaking of courts, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children. They invoked the wrath of a holy God in their decision.

NEWSOM: Yes, of course.

TAPPER: Multiple clinics in the state are now pausing there IVF treatments as a result. You called the decision sickening.

NEWSOM: Yeah, of course.

TAPPER: What are Democrats is going to do about it, if anything?

NEWSOM: Well, we'll continue to be on the offense. We're backed up by the American people. We're backed up post-Dobbs. You just see these Republican parties on the defense on this issue for

good reason because the American people have had it. This extremism manifested the ultimate extremism on the issue that impacts one out of every six people that in their lifetime have fertility issues. And this is profound.

And you talk about freedom? Spare me, the Republican Party in this freedom gospel. What about family freedom? What about the right of people that want to start a family?


And think about this, Jake, you know this, everybody knows this. You saw the stats, 65,000 births due to rapes since Dobbs in 14 states. Apparently, what the Republican Party is saying is the rapists have more rights to bring those babies to birth than families that are trying desperately to have the privilege you and I have had as fathers and parents.

It is a disgrace and it's a political problem for them, but it's a moral issue. And I found what happened in Alabama disgusting.

And by the way, you have an AG in Alabama that also is out there promoting a travel ban that wants to criminalize travel for anyone that seeks an abortion out of state. That's how extreme the state of the Republican Party is.

TAPPER: All right. We have more questions for Governor Newsom about the staggering number of people who are homeless in California, the highest homeless numbers in the entire country are in that state. Much more in our conversation, coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In the second installment of our new series, "Homeless in America", as you probably know, California's homelessness crisis is the worst in the United States.


More than 180,000 people are homeless in that state. And according to a recent survey two-thirds of those homeless Californians say they have a mental health condition. But only 18 percent of them have received treatment recently.

Mental health and how it relates to homelessness is literally on the ballot in California in two weeks. It's called Proposition One. It would reform the state's Mental Health Services Act and would approve a $6.4 dollar bond to pay for more housing and mental health care facilities. Counties in California would then be required to spend 60 percent of that toward housing and funding programs for those with serious mental illness or substance abuse issues.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is still with me. Let's talk about Prop One. Some counties say this would make

homelessness worse, that it would be taking away from existing programs or pit them against each other rather than rather than fostering collaboration.

What do you say to those counties?

NEWSOM: That's a ridiculous statement.

TAPPER: But you heard that, you heard people say it.

NEWSOM: It's a ridiculous statement. It falls flat on the facts. $6.38 billion of new investment bonds for 11,150 new locked beds or excuse me, no locked beds, community-based beds and treatment slots. Billions of dollars that would be dedicated to housing, housing supports, and allow substance abuse to be used to address this critical issue. I think those arguments are rather stale.

And one argument that ultimately I think is the most persuasive is the status quo. It's untenable. It's unacceptable.

And we have bipartisan support for this. We're moving in direction to take care of our vets, moving in a direction to take care of a workforce and to invest in unprecedented amount of money, to invest at scale with accountability for the first time in 50 years in the state of California.

TAPPER: So what would this bill do when it comes to treatment for people who needed for addiction or people who need it for mental health issues, because some advocacy groups say that this would be forcing people into treatment, which is equivalent to mass incarceration. Tell us what the facts are there.

NEWSOM: There's a couple of things being conflated here. You've got Proposition One which is our bond and our reform of the Mental Services Act, which is overwhelmingly supported.

And then you have reforms that are long overdue. Going back to when the reforms began in 1967, when Ronald Reagan led a bipartisan effort which began the process of deinstitutionalization of the state of California.

By the way, just for historic terms, this is actually interesting, I think too many people that are listening -- 37,000 psychiatric beds in the '60s in the state of California. Today, 5,500.

That process of deinstitutionalization occurred in the '60s when Reagan then governor, but also extended in the '70s and '80s. We never made up for the alternative community-based care. That said Proposition One addresses that substantively.

Beyond that, though, there are people that are service resistant, we want to reform the Lanternman-Petris-Short Act, which allows for conservatorship reform. And we created a new paradigm, a new pathway called care court.

TAPPER: Let's talk about care courts because you implemented care courts a few months ago.


TAPPER: A person with a mental health illness is evaluated by a judge and then can receive treatment including housing and medication.

Are you satisfied with the progress you've seen? Some moms that we have spoken with say they want the conservatorship that they don't have and they cant get through the care courts because as you note, some of these people with mental health problems and addiction issues are resistant to treatment.

Should there be more power for family members, at least on a temporary basis, to step in and say, we need to institutionalize this person?

NEWSOM: Well, we did just that it went into effect in January. Counties can opt in on conservatorship form that does precisely what those families called for, that interim and substantive and groundbreaking bridge was care court, which is not custodial care.

TAPPER: Right.

NEWSOM: It's not substituted care. It's supportive care, supported plans. We work with the counties. We obliged the counties not just the clients up to two years of support, requiring housing and supportive services, a due process that never existed in the past, and we're just winding up.

We'll get about 2,000 people in this calendar year under the program. And then it goes from its pilot phase, eight counties to all 58 in the state of California. We estimate eligibility around 7,000 to 12,000 folks will benefit from care court.

But again, it's component part of this larger mosaic. There's no state in America at scale and scope as much as doing more on mental health reform than the state of California. Again, all of this, component parts of a larger mosaic -- care court, conservatorship perform, Prop One.

TAPPER: And as you know, because we started, we just launched this new series on our show called homeless in America, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you that one of the reasons that the homeless problem exists is because the cost of living and the cost of housing in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where it is very expensive.

With the end of these COVID funds that provide rent -- provided rent relief, a lot of people are now facing these choices.


Would they have to live in their car? Because they can't afford rent.

What is California doing about that?

NEWSOM: More at scale than anyone else in the country have something called CalAIM. It's reform the most -- and forgive me, a lot of hyperbole here is what people may roll their eyes. But I mean it -- the most significant reform at the Medicaid system, Medi-Cal in the state of California. It's called CalAIM, and we're integrating through whole-person care, new strategies to deal with brain health and physical health.

But part of those strategies include housing and supports for rent and connecting that to the Medicaid system. Number two, we're also reforming the Mental Services Act under Proposition One that redirects a billion dollars and going -- and going appropriation year that also provides supports for housing and rent. Prevention is a huge part of this overall strategy.

TAPPER: All right, California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, always good to have you here. Thank you, sir.

NEWSOM: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Tomorrow marks two years since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. At the time, many military analysts feared Putin's army would quickly encircle the capital city of Kyiv and take control of the entire country pretty easily. But two years later, Ukraine is still holding on, though there are new tests of its resiliency. We'll get into that story next.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, in under an hour, it will be midnight in Ukraine.


TAPPER: On February 24, 2022, sirens signaled the first Russian bombs falling on Kyiv.

Today, the biggest war in Europe since World War II who grinds on. Ukraine's air defense says it shot down 23 out of 31 drones launched by Russia overnight, the drones that did get through killed three people according to officials in Odessa, Ukraine.

Here in the United States, lawmakers are on vacation, leaving $60 billion in new aid for the embattled Democratic nation in limbo.

Right now, we're going to take a look back at how we got here.


TAPPER (voice-over): It's been two years since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. After months building up its troops and armor, Russia's forces rolled across the border, and brutally attacked Ukrainian cities and airports.

As the violent assault unfolded, Ukrainians naturally were terrified. People waited in line at ATMs and at gas stations, trying to get out of the country, trying to flee. Train stations became bomb shelters and seeing similar to those from World War II.

DARYA: We are independent country, Ukraine, and we are totally not same as Russians. And we don't want to be a part of Russia or any other country.

TAPPER: Russian President Vladimir Putin described the invasion as, quote, a special military operation. His goal was to rewind the clock.

He was immediately met with sanctions by the international community.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences.

TAPPER: At first, many people in the West worried that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy might flee the country. But instead, he took to the streets of Kyiv, defiant.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are all here defending our independence, our state, and it will remain so.

TAPPER: U.S. officials were concerned that the capital would fall within days, but Russia was not prepared for the Ukrainian resistance that followed.

Is Ukraine going to win this war?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, of course.

TAPPER: As 2022 progressed, Ukraine first pushed Russia out of territory to the north of Kyiv, then later drove them back in the east, and then the south.

But last year's Ukrainian counteroffensive failed, much-anticipated, and with U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles, a key component, it was supposed to break through to the coast near Crimea. But Russia's defenses proved too strong and the war seemed to enter a stalemate.

Just this week, Russia captured the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka it's biggest victory in nine months, and the latest sign that as the war enters its third year, Ukraine is badly short of ammunition and badly outnumbered on the battlefield.

SASHA, ARTILLERY UNIT COMMANDER IN UKRAINE'S 47TH MECHANIZED BRIGADE: I am afraid Ukraine will not be able to stand without our partners and allies.

TAPPER: Both sides have suffered significant losses and millions of innocent people have been displaced. The White House blames Congress for Russia's recent gains after failing to approve $60 billion in Ukraine aid, while Vladimir Putin continues to bide his time, hoping Western support of Ukraine will subside.


TAPPER: With U.S. aid for Ukraine caught up in the politics of Washington, how much could European countries go at it alone if need be? The ambassador from a key NATO ally will join me in the studio, next.

Plus, were standing by for that update on that major space achievement, the American space lander on the moon.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead. Were going to take a closer look now at the big question two years into the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II, how will Ukraine sustain its fight against Russia.

Joining us now, the French ambassador to the United States, Laurent Bili.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. It's good to see you, sir.

Given the lapse in U.S. funding for Ukraine, given former President Trump's power over the Republican Party and his disdain for NATO, how do you assess Europe's security situation today?

LAURENT BILI, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, it's a tough moment for the -- first of all, for Ukraine because the clock is ticking and Ukraine needs -- needed our support.

What I think it's -- what is important to understand is that we are not helping Ukraine for helping Ukraine. We are helping Ukraine for it being us and I think its exactly the same thing for the U.S. It will be a huge mistake to think that a victory of Russia over Ukraine could be a victory for United States.

And what is at stake at the moment is really about the legacy of the greatest generation. The world we have been living in, 75 years of peace, thanks to NATO. And I think we have to remember -- remind that with a lot of impetus because its really a key moment.

TAPPER: And this key moment comes as we're about to hit the anniversary. What is the 80th anniversary of D-Day of --

BILI: Exactly, yes.

TAPPER: I mean, the executive and the juxtaposition of those two things. Everything in the United States did for Europe, then along with, you know, righteous French and Brits, et cetera, and what the U.S. is doing now, it must be upsetting.

BILI: It was not only about doing things for Europe. It was about shaping a new world, a new -- a new conception of foreign relation, a rules-based international order which had been working again pretty well.

And so, I think it's a moment where we have to make some choices which kind of world we want to give to our children, grandchildren. What about the legacy we want to give?

And the European side, it's very clear. We have been bringing more -- almost already US$100 billion of help. We just agreed a new package of $50 plus billions of U.S. dollars and each of our country, our European countries, is, I think also bilateral agreement with Ukraine.

France is providing $2 billion more. Germany has made a lot of effort. I read today that also Denmark has just signed a new agreement.

So, on the European side, we are very convinced and we really think that again, North America and Europe has to stand together for all values for the world we have been fighting for 80 years ago.

TAPPER: President Biden pledged to, quote, do everything he can to support Ukraine on a call with G7 leaders today, a group that France is part of, obviously.

Do allies accept Biden's hands are tied because of what is going on with the Republicans on Capitol Hill? Because of -- well, Donald Trump is one of the reasons, but there's also this new kind of like anti- NATO, anti-interventionist fever within the Republicans in Congress.

BILI: Well, we have, of course, to respect dynamic of the domestic politics, but we've also make some facts right. One of the fact that I wanted to make here is that the European -- Europeans are spending a lot, much more than the Europeans.

Also, I think its important to understand that we are not just fighting for supporting Ukraine, but that Ukraine is fighting for all values, that it's all security interest. So it will be just a mistake to focus about NATO and what the European Union is doing. The real issue is, do we want Ukraine to win or are we going to push for a Russian victory? And in which kind of world were living, and we are going to give to our children, if Russia is winning?

TAPPER: What do you say when you hear Republicans in Congress say that Europe is too reliant upon the United States for its own security? What would you say to that?

BILI: I say that's partly correct, but I have also to explain that these last two years have changed Europe for the last 30 years, we have been others. Things are dividends of peace, we were as a junior partner of an alliance with a stronghold of United States.

We are investing in our defense. We are ramping up of production of ammunition, of artillery system. We tripled our production of ammunition.

But still, I will have also to acknowledge to your audience and that we need the U.S. leadership that we are not in a position yet to match the U.S. support to Ukraine. But I don't think its also that it will be fair not to recall that part of a spending are coming back to the U.S. coffer, while none of the U.S. contribution is going to European coffer.

So it's also we are in a different situation that Europeans are spending. They are also spending to boost U.S. economy.

TAPPER: In an interview on French radio, RTL, on Thursday, France's armed forces minister said that Russia threatened to shoot down French planes in the Black Sea last month. What would France do if Russia did shoot down a French plane?

BILI: That's an interesting moment because we see a widening (ph) of the Russian position. We have seen also this kind unprofessional behavior. We have seen cyber attack. We are seeing the disinformation. We have seen like these -- David crosses painted on the wall of Paris to try to provoke unrest between our citizens.

So we have also to take stock of that new reality of a more aggressive Russia. That's one of the reason why our president is governing a meeting on Monday in Paris with like-minded countries to show our resolve because it's really the moment where we have to show to Russia that we are not going to be afraid, that we will stand for our values, and that we will support Ukraine.

TAPPER: It's entirely possible that Donald Trump will be elected president in November. And it is entirely possible based on the statements that he has made and based on the statements of former aides of his, that he will want to withdraw the United States from NATO.


Is France preparing for such a thing?

BILI: We don't -- are not preparing for such a thing. We think that at the end of the day, everybody will realize that we are much stronger when we stick together and so, we are not having a plan B.

TAPPER: Right. Well, you are a diplomat.

Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it. French ambassador to the United States, Laurent Bili. Merci beaucoup.

About 2,000 miles away from Ukraine, in the occupied West Bank, two Palestinian-American teenagers were both shot and killed. The families of both blamed Israeli forces. Next, in a CNN exclusive, those families call on the United States to respond.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, CNN speaking exclusively with the families of two Palestinian-American teenagers killed in separate but eerily similar incidents. Within the last two -- last month, the two 17 year olds were shot in the head and killed in the occupied West Bank. Their families claim both teens were killed by an Israeli gunman. Israeli police say they're investigating the shootings, but family members say no arrest of been made and they're demanding answers. CNN's Alex Marquardt has this report and we want to warn you, it does

contain some graphic images.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These are the final moments of Mohammad Khodr's life, picnicking with his cousin, driving through the bumpy hills of the occupied West Bank.

Then cries, as people rushed to the car, Mohammad shot in the head, his body limp, his hair covered in blood as he's carried away.

The 17-year-old U.S. citizen mortally wounded. He died in the hospital. The second American teen in just weeks believed to have been killed by Israeli bullets.

RANAA FARRAJ, AUNT OF PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TEEN KILLED IN WEST BANK: He was such a beautiful child, like inside and out.

MARQUARDT: Mohammad's aunt and uncle live in Cleveland. They promised Mohammad, who was born in Miami, that they would bring him back to the U.S. after graduating from high school.

ADNAN KHDOUR, UNCLE OF PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TEEN KILLED IN WEST BANK: Why you killed him? For what? What's he doing for you? Nothing. Nothing. Just you see him. He's happy in his life with his cousin, that's it. He killed -- killed a man in cold blood, man.

MARQUARDT: Who do you think is responsible?

FARRAJ: The government.

KHDOUR: The government men.

MARQUARDT: Israeli government?


FARRAJ: He's innocent. Kids not doing nothing, just being shot and killed to cold blood for no good reason. All from the Israeli government not doing nothing much to prevent these type of things.

MARQUARDT: Another 17-year-old American citizen, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, who grew up in Louisiana, was killed in January. He had just moved to the West Bank last year and in an almost identical incident, he was out for an afternoon with friends when his family said he was shot multiple times.

AMIR ABDEL JABBAR, BROTHER OF PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TEEN KILLED IN WEST BANK: He was driving, going to our own property that we have on that mountain, to do a simple cookout with him and his friends.

MARQUARDT: Tell me what Tawfic was like as a brother.

ABDEL JABBAR: He was my right-hand man. A brother I can go to for anything. He was very kind, unselfish, outgoing in the amount of friends I seen that he made in this small period of time was outrageous.

MARQUARDT: The families of both boys say that Israeli gunmen were responsible. It's not clear exactly who. A U.S. official told CNN their deaths are being investigated. In Tawfic's case, the IDF told CNN they're looking into the possible involvement of an Israeli soldier.

During almost five months of war in Gaza, violence by Israelis against Palestinians and the West Bank has soared. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed about a quarter of them were under 18.

The Biden administration has since imposed unprecedented sanctions against Israeli settler extremist.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We insist that people be treated fairly, that they be treated with due process and that they be treated humanely.

MARQUARDT: Last week, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the string of American deaths and detentions at the hands of Israelis.

When it comes to the investigations into the teenagers' deaths, where do those stand?

BLINKEN: We've made clear that with regard to the incidents you've alluded to, there needs to be an investigation, we need to get the facts. And if appropriate, there needs to be accountability.

MARQUARDT: He says the safety and security of American citizens around the world is their biggest priority. Do believe that?



MARQUARDT: What do you want the U.S. government to do?

KHDOUR: To move. Not just talking. We don't need talking, man. We need something. We want to see something.

MARQUARDT: Are you confident that there will be some kind of justice in the end?

FARRAJ: I'm hopeful, yeah, but wouldn't be out of the ordinary if we don't get to justice that we're hoping for.

MARQUARDT: The controversial U.S. support for Israel's war in Gaza now, even further complicated by American citizens getting caught up in the violence.

What power do you think the U.S. government has that they're not using right now to figure out what happened?

ABDEL JABBAR: I believe that they have every power in the world to resolve my brother's death, to know who killed him. I feel like they don't want to. They're waiting for this story to be quiet, just to vanish away. But that's not going to happen.


MARQUARDT (on camera): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past condemned extremist settler violence against Palestinians. He has not commented on the deaths of these two American teenagers, which a U.S. official tells me Israel is investigating and the Biden administration is watching closely. That official saying that if they feel those Israeli investigations are not being conducted properly, these cases will get escalated to more senior members of the Israeli government -- Jake.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Alex Marquardt for that report.

We're standing by for an update any moment now about that incredible moon landing, the first successful American mission in 50 years. Will that update include the first images of the mission, maybe even a selfie from the moon lander itself, Odie? We'll take a quick break before that news conference begins.


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

And we start this hour with breaking news. Any minute, we expect an update from NASA after this truly historic moon landing last night. Step back in history with me to this time yesterday.