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The Lead with Jake Tapper

McConnell To Step Down From Senate GOP Leadership In November; New York Appeals Court Judge: Trump Must Come Up With Full Bond Amount To Cover The $454 Million Civil Fraud Trial Judgment; Majority In Dearborn Vote "Uncommitted" In Michigan Democratic Primary; Texts Reveal Witness' Role In Push To Oust District Attorney Fani Willis From Georgia Election Subversion Case Against Trump; Biden's Physician Releases Summary From His Annual Physical. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 28, 2024 - 16:00   ET



PAUL CONNELL, ACTED AS WILLY WONKA FOR "WILLY'S CHOCOLATE EXPERIENCE": But it was -- it was -- it was rough. I was supposed to get regular breaks and I was playing Willy Wonka for nearly four hours id forgotten where I ended and Wonka began



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Quite the immersive experience.

KEILAR: Paul, thank you for talking to us. We're so sorry.

CONNELL: That's okay.

SANCHEZ: One jellybeans that kid -- hey, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The man Trump calls old crow is flying the coop.

THE LEAD starts right now.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: This will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.


TAPPER: Mitch McConnell there with his own 2024 plan, stepping down as Senate Republican leader, though he's going to stay on as a senator from Kentucky.

The new era of Republican politics now loading, as a new high-stakes raise kicks into gear to replace McConnell, odds are the winter will likely be an old white guy named John.

Plus, a monster wildfire in Texas exploding, at one point burning through 150 football fields a minute, charring through land 11 size -- 11 times the size of Washington, D.C. We're going to go live on the ground as this fire and wide open land prompts evacuations in its path.

And President Biden's date with the doctor. The report due any moments after his annual physical.


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

We start with our politics lead and the end of an era on Capitol Hill. Senator Mitch McConnell, the longest serving congressional party leader in American history, announced today he's stepping down from his leadership role effective November. The 82-year-old says he will continue to serve as a U.S. senator representing the commonwealth of Kentucky, but he says he's ready to pass the baton to a younger generation by which I mean, a bunch of guys in their 60s and 70s.


MCCONNELL: Father time remains undefeated. I'm no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name. It's time the next generation of leadership.


TAPPER: Now there is a good chance that that new generation of leadership means one of these three Johns -- Senate Republican whip John Thune of South Dakota, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the conference chair, or Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

Cornyn, so far, has been the only ones that signal that he's going to jump into that race. But any man or woman who steps into McConnell's shoes will have to lead a party that is in the end stages of morphing fully into the party of Donald J. Trump.

McConnell today, acknowledging that his views on national security and funding American allies are at odds with many in his party, including the former president.


MCCONNELL: Believe me I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults, but to understand the politics is not one of them.


TAPPER: But McConnell also acknowledged that he at 82 year-old -- 82 years old realizes that, quote, the end of my contributions are closer than I prefer, unquote. McConnell has visibly struggled on occasion in recent months, appearing to freeze and forget what he was saying for extended periods of time, including a news conference last July.


MCCONNELL: This week, there's been good bipartisan cooperation and a string of --


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Are you good, Mitch? Anything else you want to say or just go back to --


BARRASSO: Do you want to say anything else to the press?



TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, how big of a surprise was the announcement today?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the timing was a surprise, Jake, I think there had been an expectation that sometime this year that Mitch McConnell would announced he would not run again for leader. He had not been saying whether he would run and continue this term.

Remember, he's already gotten and what he sought out for which did become the longest serving party leader in the history of the United States Senate. He's already achieved that goal, as you mentioned, 82 years old. He has had health issues. He's on the other side of Donald Trump. He has seen a growing faction within his party, a small faction, but a vocal come out and criticize him, something that he has not seen before, being so vocal in their opposition to him.

So he recognizes that this moment is the end of his tenure, time to step aside, but the timing still surprised everyone given its so early here in this congressional calendar.

But, Jake, this will set the stage for the leadership races succeed.

TAPPER: So, Manu, McConnell is going to serve until September. The race to replace them has already begun. What are you hearing about timing? Who will enter the running and who might have the edge?

RAJU: Yeah, it's unclear who has the edge because these are secret ballot elections that will occur after November. So we've got the next eight months or so for private and public jockeying to take place between the three candidates who we expect to be the leading contenders. John -- John Thune, the number two Republican who has expressed to me in the past, but he is interested in the position. John Barrasso, the number three Republican, who is also expected to jump into this race. John Cornyn also reiterating today that he is interested in running for this position. Now, I caught up with one of Thune's supporters, Senator Mike Rounds.

It was a fellow South Dakota Republican. He indicated to me that this race essentially has already begun. And I asked him about Thune's handling of Donald Trump, given the fact that they've had a bit of a rocky relationship until Thune endorsed him just over the weekend.


RAJU: He's had a bit of a rocky relationship with Trump. Is that a liability?

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SC): Well, I think just in the last week or so, he has publicly announced his support for the Trump campaign. And I think that's something that a Republican leader in the Senate really has to ponder and be careful of how they approach it. I think he showed the right type of temperament and the way that he approached it. And the fact that he has said he will support the former president and his campaign was the right thing for him to do.

RAJU: Have you started to talk to Thune about what this campaign will look like and what you will do to help him?

ROUNDS: Oh, that started a long time ago.


RAJU: So I talked to a lot of other Republican senators, Jake, and many of them simply say that they don't have a preference yet are not willing to express and they want to hear these candidates say how they will drive the future direction of the Senate GOP. So, just a lot of uncertainty about the aftermath of McConnell here.

TAPPER: And, Manu, the recent breaking news when it comes down to the shutdown showdown, the government shutdown scheduled as of now for close the business Friday, we've just learned that the House of Representatives is going to vote tomorrow on a short-term government funding bill. Is that expected to pass?

RAJU: Yeah. And this will be the fourth time they've essentially kicked the can down the road just for some time. Just expect to be a short-term spending part of the federal government extended for one week. There's a deadline of March 8 right now, that would have set a -- March 1st right now this Friday. That'd be expended -- extended for another week. There's another deadline currently for the filing Friday, that would be extended yet another week.

The idea is to get all the annual appropriations bills done, get them out of Congress by the time fund the federal government until the end of the current fiscal year, which at the end of September. But remember, Jake, they were supposed to do is back in October, but it's been such a tumultuous road getting just the basic essence of governing done, keeping the lights on from the federal government, and lead initially to the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, his handling of this in the House and then all the rest of back-and-forth within the House and Senate GOP. But expect Speaker Johnson and take some incoming fire from

conservative hardliners, unhappy with a deal, he just cut with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, busy day on Capitol Hill today. Thanks so much for checking in.

Let's discuss with my panel.

Amanda Carpenter, Congressman Matt Gaetz is out there celebrating this news about McConnell. He posted on Twitter, now known as X. We've now at 86'd McCarthy, McDaniel, McConnell, better days are ahead for the Republican Party.

He's, of course, talking about former Speaker McCarthy, former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel and McConnell. Are a lot of people in the party celebrating the news, you think?

AMANDA CARPENTER, WRITER AND EDITOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: Well, I think certainly the Trump wing of it as, but listen, Mitch McConnell is leaving the party in a much worse place than he found it originally in the --

TAPPER: Do you blame him for that?

CARPENTER: I think there is a special category for Mitch McConnell because, perhaps me, him, more than anyone in the Republican Party after January 6 was in a position to put Trump behind the party in leading the Senate to convict him.

Mitch McConnell tried to walk this line where he said that Trump is morally and practically responsible for January 6, but he wasn't going to do anything to hold him politically countable. And so I look at Mitch McConnell retiring without actually having sacrifice anything personally, politically for profit, however way you want to swing it and he's just another guy leaving the field without ever standing up to Trump and leaving the party in America worse off.

TAPPER: So, Gloria, if McConnell were here, which he's not, he would maybe want to say Amanda, that's not fair.



TAPPER: I could do my McConnell, but I mean, that's not fair. I did stand up for against Donald Trump. I and a number of times, yes, I've voted to acquit him for the January 6, attack on the Capitol. But I then said, this --


MCCONNELL: Former President Trump's actions preceded the riot or a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Since then, of course, Trump has insulted McConnell repeatedly. He calls him old crow. He's insulted his wife, Elaine Chao, who used to be a secretary, cabinet secretary, his administration using language that a lot of people find racist.




TAPPER: What's your take on why McConnell is resigning? Do you think it has to do with Trump? Or do you think he's just old.

BORGER: I think -- I think both actually. Look, I think he sees the caucus moving away from him to a degree. They did try to defeat him once and it didn't work, but I think he sees Donald Trump as the nominee of the Republican Party potentially the next president in the United States. He's 82 years old. He doesn't want to deal with that anymore.

By the way, in that speech, McConnell also said that this would be handled by the courts, what Trump did, and, of course, now we see that it is being handled by the courts.

TAPPER: Not really supported by Republican senators.

BORGER: But I think he would also say that he cost the Democrats, you know, to Supreme Court nominees, which I'm sure Kate has not forgotten.


BORGER: Right, you know, and he -- and he would say and I'm standing up for American exceptionalism and Ukraine. And I'm -- and I'm never going to stop doing that.

TAPPER: Of the three replacements, I don't know if we have that graphic. Let's put them up there again. Thune, Cornyn, Barrasso -- Thune, Barrasso, Cornyn.

BEDINGFIELD: John, John, and John.

TAPPER: From where I sit, Barrasso is the more MAGA candidate. He has been unwilling as far as I can tell to cross Trump, whereas Thune and Cornyn have shown flashes of independence from the MAGA wing.

Do you agree or do you not see there's much difference?

BEDINGFIELD: I'm not sure I see a ton of difference. I mean, we'll see. You know, eight months is a long time for people to campaign publicly and privately for this job. I think, you know, we've seen across the board a reticence on the part of leadership, the Republican Party to break with Donald Trump. I have a really hard time imagining that any of these guys, as they're -- as they're campaigning jockeying for this job, are going to make standing up to Donald Trump a centerpiece of their case. I just -- I don't see that happening.

So, you know, as much as I have my own issues with Mitch McConnell, certainly I think he has politicized the judicial nomination process more than probably anybody else in the history of the country, which is I think has been damaging he was somebody who at times was willing and to work across the aisle. He obviously voted for Biden's infrastructure bill and --

TAPPER: And those two work together when Biden was vice president.

BEDINGFIELD: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And as Gloria was saying, I mean, he supports American leadership on the world stage and continuing to arm Ukraine in the face of Russia.

So, my heart is not personally broken to see Mitch McConnell go as a Democrat, but I also am very worried about the trajectory of the Republican Party here because its hard to imagine somebody more reasonable than Mitch McConnell taking that slot.

TAPPER: So that's putting you down for four tickets to New Zealand.

All right. Thanks to all of you.

Breaking news, a New York appeals court judge just weighed in on that civil fraud case ordering Donald Trump to pay $454 million -- $354 million. Trump tried to get a hold in that order.

Let's get right to CNN's Kara Scannell.

Kara, walk us through this latest decision.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, so appeals court judge in New York said that Donald Trump must post the entirety of this bond, $454 million, including the interests on the judgment in order to satisfy the judgment to stop the New York attorney generals office from trying to move forward to execute that.

Now, this is a ruling from one judge, so it is temporary in nature and there will be further briefings on this. But what the judge said is that Trump will have to come up with this money. He has about until essentially the end of March to do this.

And -- but what the judge also said is that Trump is this one of the bans that was Trump is facing was that he couldn't take out any loans from any New York financial institution or any financial institution that was overseen by New York regulators, which is essentially a large swath of the global banking system.

So the judge here saying that Trump can apply for loans because that was one of the arguments Trumps team has made. They said that to satisfy this judgment, to come up with that much money in cash, they might need to get alone or to sell property, but they said they were prohibited under this judge's order from accessing the banking system, from going and say taking out a loan against Mar-a-Lago or one of the golf properties.

So the appeals court judge is now saying they can go ahead and access the capital markets. They can try to get loans in order to satisfy the judgment because what one of the arguments Trump team's made also is that even get a bond of this amount of money, the people that underwrite these bonds want cash. And that is why they need access to markets.

So Trump is going to have to come up with this money, but now, he's able -- he's given more ways to try to do that short of selling as property. Of course, big question is, will he be able to get someone to underwrite this bond? Will he be able to get access to the markets? Will someone read them alone?

That all remains to be seen, but the clock here is ticking briefs in this case when they will take this to the full appeals court panel are due by the end of the month and that is also around the same time that this judgment is due, which is also right when Trump is going to be sitting for jury selection in the criminal hush money case on March 25th, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell with the breaking news, thanks so much.

To another major political wake-up call that uncommitted vote tally in the Michigan primary, President Biden, were you watching? Why that tally in this single state is so significant and should be a warning to any politician in this big election year.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we are back with our 2024 lead. Cue, the election music, please. I'm stumbling a little. Was up late last night because of the primary.

The White House attempting to focus on the positives after last night in Michigan. President Biden won the Democratic primary handily, where 13 percent or one in eight Democratic voters instead of voting for him, check the uncommitted box.

Now percentage-wise, that's not extraordinary event in Michigan. In 2012, 11 percent of Michigan Democrats voted uncommitted when President Obama was on the ticket, but viewed as a total number. This is a cause for alarm, generally, 20,000 Democrats can be relied upon to vote uncommitted, every Michigan presidential primary. This was five times that, more than 100,000 Democrats.

And that's enough to swing that battleground state. Additionally, most voters in the predominantly Arab American Michigan city of Dearborn voted uncommitted. Most of them, most of them voted uncommitted, nearly 57 percent. That is a direct rebuke of Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Journalist Mehdi Hasan joins us now. He just launched his own digital

media company Zeteo, which means "to seek" in Greek, which, of course, Mehdi is Greek, we all know. His book is titled "Win Every Argument".

Show me you guys. Don't show Mehdi. Show me. There, "Win Every Argument", it's on paperback now. Check it out. Great book.

Mehdi, I want to talk about Zeteo in a second, but first --


TAPPER: I got to know, your take on the significance of this uncommitted vote last night.

HASAN: I completely agree with your intro. It is the case that Michigan does have big uncommitted proportions. Obama went on to win it very easily against Romney in 2012. The difference in 2012 was, it was not an organized effort.

TAPPER: Right.

HASAN: People just expressing discontent or whatever you do.

Here is a very explicit aim to get a ceasefire in Gaza. That is what a lot of the voters in Michigan want. Ive been speaking to people in Dearborn, across the state, and it's not just Muslim Americans or Arab-Americans.

TAPPER: Progressives.

HASAN: Progressive.

TAPPER: Young people.

HASAN: People of color, young voters. This is what Debbie Dingell, a congresswoman, they made the point that this is not just Arab Americans, 100,000 people plus is a lot of people in a state that Biden won by 150,000. Hillary lost by 11,000.

The neck and neck in the polls, if you're not alarmed by what's happening in Michigan if you're a Democratic strategist, you should be.

TAPPER: Yeah, because that obviously, 100,000 people that was a muscle flex. We're here.


TAPPER: Listen to us because -- do you -- what needs to happen do you think practically speaking, not peace in the Middle East, but practically speaking what needs to happen for most of those voters to come back in the Democratic fold? A ceasefire. What else?

HASAN: So a lot of the vote is, why cant say a number, a significant chunk probably lost.

TAPPER: They're gone?

HASAN: I think they're lost.

TAPPER: Not to Trump, they'll go third-party?

HASAN: They'll go third party or stay -- look, if you are somebody in Dearborn who's lost not 10, not 20, 30 members of your family in Gaza, you're going to show up to vote? You're going to vote for Biden even if there's a ceasefire tomorrow? You can't expect that.

But there is a significant time to people who do want this to be seen as a -- as an act of pressure. They don't want to vote for Trump. They're not pro-Trump. They just want to see the best version of Joe Biden and of America.

They want a ceasefire. They want an end to the killings. Not peace in the Middle East or a two-state solution.

TAPPER: Right.

HASAN: Or utopia.

But a stop to the killings over 100 people a day, American weaponry, American money. They want to see that ceasefire, you're seeing Joe Biden promising a ceasefire is coming. I'm skeptical.

TAPPER: Right.

HASAN: But I think the White House realized that they have to do something here.

TAPPER: So you make the point that they're not going to go to Trump who called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. Let's say that this, I don't know what you would call it, this gambit of the Biden administration to force Netanyahu to sign a document saying, I will only use American armaments in compliance with international law, which, which Netanyahu seems reluctant to sign.

HASAN: Yeah.

TAPPER: What if that forces some sort of change in leadership in Israel. Might that be seen as more concrete even than a ceasefire.

HASAN: I actually think the aide position is somewhere that Biden can have a lot of effort, you know, conditioning aid is very popular on the Democratic base. Even members of Congress, I think it's mad that five months into the war, the Americans, as they can you sign something, saying you follow international law, should not be in a dominant October the 8th, it's crazy that were asking that now.

And by the way, I also think it's crazy that Joe Biden is willing to wreck his presidency, potentially, an American democracy, if Trump gets back in for Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who has basically -- I can't find the daytime language for it done -- bad things to every Democratic president in my lifetime. Bill Clinton struggled with Netanyahu. Barack Obama struggled with Netanyahu. And now, Biden could sacrifice his own presidency for who, for Bibi?

TAPPER: Thanks for keeping it clean. I appreciate it.

Before you go, I want to ask you --

HASAN: Tried hard. Netanyahu, I tried hard.

TAPPER: You've moved on from your role in MSNBC. You told "The Washington Post", you're, quote, a bit of a square peg into round hole there. What gaps in the current media environment do you hope to fill with your new company Zeteo?

HASAN: I said I was a round -- around -- round peg in a square hold across cable news.

TAPPER: Across cable news.


HASAN: But I'm glad to be here with you, Jake, after four years.


TAPPER: We've always had you here. There's always been a chair for you.

HASAN: I'm happy, but I do think cable news, print, press, all do good jobs, but I think there's gaps. And the reason I'm starting this company is because I want to be able to speak in a blunter fashion than perhaps some in the media speak right now, especially about issues like racism, fascism, genocide. I just wanted able to speak more plainly and provide a platform for other journalists to do so.

TAPPER: So what will Zeteo be?

HASAN: So, Zeteo is a digital media it means to seek, to seek the truth in an age of disinformation and gaslighting. for giving me the plug. It's a platform for podcasts, streaming shows, op- eds. It's all singing, all dancing media company and its a subscription model in a time when you know, Jake, industry suffering hard and people are losing a lot of jobs.

TAPPER: All right. Well, best of luck with it. Good to see you. There always be a warm seat for you here at this table. We missed you.

HASAN: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: Good to see, Mehdi.

Just into CNN, the actual text messages behind that damning testimony yesterday in Fulton County and the romantic relationship that is interfering in the election subversion case against Donald Trump in Georgia.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: This just into our law and justice lead. CNN has exclusively obtained the text messages behind yesterday's damning testimony in that hearing by the Trump folks to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from Georgia's election case, trial against Donald Trump.

Let's go straight CNN's Nick Valencia in Atlanta.

Nick, what are we learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, during his testimony, Terrence Bradley repeatedly said that he could not or did not recall details about the personal relationship between Fani Willis and Nathan Wade. But these text messages are in stark contrast to the tone in his testimony. It revealed months of communication.

We reviewed all 413 messages between Bradley and Ashleigh Merchant. Not only does it show that they've been communicating or that they work for months, but it also shows that Bradley is appearing to assist Merchant as she was scrambling to find evidence for her bombshell allegation in her effort to disqualify Fani Willis.

Bradley was supposed to be the star witness for defense attorneys, but he was really not so easy to get information out of. But during these text messages, he was very chatty with Ashleigh Merchant. And in one of these text messages, Merchant says, do you think -- talking about the relationship -- do you think it started before she hired him? He responds absolutely.

Now, we should say that Bradley, during his testimony said that he was only speculating what he responded absolutely. Other text messages, though reveal a very cordial relationship between Merchant and Bradley. In fact, he refers to Ashleigh Merchant at one point as a friend.

I'll read part of that text message here now, saying: It is my hope that they do the right thing before then. You are my friend, Bradley says, and I trust you, they will not. They're arrogant as F. She thinks she won the other day when she didn't have to be deposed.

So these text messages just really reveal a much different picture, a much different tone from what we saw from Bradley during his testimony. And as we understand it, Jake, there are currently being reviewed by Judge Scott McAfee as whether he's going to introduce this into evidence.

Tuesday's hearing didn't end with a damaging testimony the defense attorneys thought they would get, but now, these text messages are being considered as evidenced in the case -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, joins us now to break this all down. Elie, I want to play a little bit of the questioning to Bradley just to remind everybody, Bradley was the law partner and divorce attorney for the man, the prosecutor that Fani Willis is having relationship with, a question about is about when that relationship began because if it were began before she hired him, then they would be lying. They would have lied under oath.

So here's part of the questioning on the witness stand to Bradley yesterday. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the time you are communicating with Ms. Merchant, you are still friends with Mr. Wade, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at the time you were communicating with Ms. Merchant, you knew that she was talking to you and her role in capacity as an attorney in this case, correct?

BRADLEY: Correct


TAPPER: So tell me what you think these text messages do and how they impact the testimony Bradley gave yesterday.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So. Two things, Jake. First of all, I think these text messages establish that Mr. Bradley's testimony was simply not credible, simply not believable by any rational standard.

And the other thing I think it shows is that Mr. Bradley has had a stark turnaround in his position for reasons we don't know very recently. Now, these texts as Nic just laid out, they're recent. They're from January. They're from last month and in the texts, Mr. Bradley is telling the lawyers for the defendant, the people who are challenging the D.A. absolutely this relationship started before Mr. Wade was hired and he's giving them specific details.

Here's when it started. Here's this specific legal conference where they met, where they started, and then yesterday, Mr. Bradley gets on the stand and all we hear is I don't recall. Not at all plausible when he's giving them details a month ago and that's speculation.

I'm sorry. It's not speculation when you're giving specific details. So, I think it badly undermines Mr. Bradley's testimony yesterday.

TAPPER: And, the timing of the relationship. She says, the Trump attorney says to Mr. Bradley, do you think their relationship began before she hired him? That -- I'm paraphrasing, and he says absolutely. Why does that matter? Why does it matter when the relationship between Fani Willis and Mr. Wade began? HONIG: Right. So we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here. When the defendants challenged Fani Willis, their story was essentially Fani Willis was in a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade.

And then while that relationship was ongoing, she appointed did him to lead the Trump case, even though he had never prosecuted a felony criminal trial in his life thereafter, Mr. Wade made a lot of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Fulton county taxpayers, some of which made its way back to the D.A. Fani Willis.

The D.A. Fani Willis and Nathan Wade though, offered a counter narrative where they said, no, no, no, he got hired first, then the relationship started. None of this was sort of intentional.


None of this was planned.

And then the stakes got upped further, Jake, because both D.A. Willis and Mr. Wade have now testified under oath that the romantic relationship did not start until after Mr. Wade was hired. So if that is untrue, they're going to have big problems for this case. They've submitted false testimony and they could have bigger problems than just this case alone.

TAPPER: Yeah. So the issue here is there's kind of like a silly suggestion that the only reason Fani Willis is even engaged in this prosecution is so that she and her lover, Mr. Wade, you know, could live higher than the hog and they take this government salary and go on vacations in this, in that which on its face seem all that credible.

But obviously, the relationship was incredibly reckless. And now, there are questions about whether or not she has been honest under oath about that relationship. What are the judge's options here? What can he do with all this information

HONIG: Yeah, so this is a really important question. This will be up to the judge, Judge Scott McAfee, who we've seen an action. He is going to have to decide, first of all, who's telling the truth here. That was the defendants' burden. It's the people who are challenging the D.A. to establish the truth of what they're saying.

But I can see the judge going either way with this. On the one hand, I could see the judge saying, I find the D.A.'s story that this relationship only started after Mr. Wade was hired to be non- believable, non-credible. The text messages certainly undermine that. There have been cell phone records that undermine that, or I can see the judge saying, look, there's a lot of question about this. It's not clear, but we don't have a clear smoking gun piece of evidence that their relationship started beforehand.

TAPPER: Does -- what's the impact on this on this argument that the only reason Fani Willis and Mr. Wade are in their relationship is to like go on vacations on the taxpayer dime?

HONIG: Yeah, it's almost taken out a life of its own, Jake, because I agree with you, the financial conflict of interest argument is sort of obscure and a little bit of a reach. But if it turns out that in defending against that, the D.A. and Nathan Wade have given false testimony under oath, we're going to have a much bigger problem.

TAPPER: Indeed.

All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much.

A good reminder out there for you, kids. Always tell the truth.

My next guest wrote what she calls a burn book. It's a tell-all and some of the biggest names in the tech industry all about her journalistic enterprises in Silicon Valley. We're going to go into deep dive with Kara Swisher next.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our health lead, President Biden's physician has just released his report on the president's annual physical. The routine exam comes at something of a critical time as the 81-year-old president faces concerns among even Democratic voters about his age and fitness.

Let's bring in CNN's MJ Lee at the White House.

MJ, let's start with you. We also got Sanjay coming.

What is Biden's physician saying about the president's health?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake. Here is that letter that we have been waiting for from Dr. Kevin O'Connor. This is the president's physician. And I'm just going to tell you what the headline is and it was something we expected given what the president said earlier today that everything had gone well.

Dr. O'Connor saying that the president feels well and that this year's physical identified no new concerns. He also goes on to say that he continues to be fit for duty and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations. I'll let Sanjay get into some of the medical details here.

But I think it just -- they're stating we obviously care a great deal about the president's physical health because he holds the highest office in the land, and because he is 81 years old, he will be 86 by the time that he gets the end of a second term, if he has a second term and you know that there have been some discussions and quiet questions raised about whether it would be fitting for the president to take a cognitive test and we just learned from the White House that the president decided not to do that, or rather his doctors decided that that wasn't necessary.

This is what Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters just a few minutes ago on why they made that decision. Take a listen.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's doctor has said, if you look at what this president, the president who is also the commander in chief, he passes a cognitive tests every day, every day, as he moves from one topic to another topic, understanding the granular level of these topics.


LEE: Now, of course, the president's age, his health, they have been a huge part of the ongoing national political discussion. We've heard critics and supporters alike, you know, expressing questions about the president's age and his mental fitness, his physical fitness. And we've seen the president increasingly sort of trying to test out different ways of swatting away those concerns. We heard him sort of trying to use humor earlier today. We've seen that increasingly coming from the president.

We've also heard him trying to go after his Republican opponent on this issue. As a reminder, Donald Trump is 77 years old, Jake.

TAPPER: Dr. Gupta joins me now on the phone.

Sanjay, what stands out to you in this doctor's report on President Biden?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yeah, I think there was a pretty good summary. I mean, you have -- you have the main doctor. You have 20 specialists who were called in over a few hours. They did lots of different tests. It sounds like.

A significant amount of focus, it appeared, from reading the notes, on his spine because of I guess the changes that he's had in his gait and is walking over the last couple of years. They identified arthritis in his spine. He has some degree of arthritis in his feet. They've got orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, neurologist, radiologists all involved. They got X-rays where he actually moved his spine back and forth to see if there was a problem there as well.

But pretty much if you look at last year, and look at the report from 2023, it tracks pretty close to this year in terms of the medications that he's taking, the significant lab values and things like his blood pressure and heart rate.


I think the biggest thing in the interval between last year and this year is that he has sleep apnea and is now on a CPAP machine. People may be familiar with this, but that's continuous positive pressure that someone sees what that night to help keep their airways open, something that people sometimes develop.

But there, you know -- as you were just talking about, that's kind of what we know is a six-page summary, Jake, a little bit more detailed than last year, not as detailed notes that I've seen in years past, and in doing this a long time. But that was sort of the gist of it.

As I think you were just talking about no mention of a cognitive exam. And then an explicit sort of note that if it was needed, the neurologist who did see President Biden would have recommended that exam be done, but that was not the case today -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and MJ Lee, thanks to both of you.

We'll be right back with Kara Swisher.

Stay with us



TAPPER: In our tech lead, for years, our friend Kara Swisher has been covering the rise of Silicon Valley and asking tough questions of tech giants such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

You might remember this moment of Internet history when she had Mark Zuckerberg on the hot seat. The grilling got so intense, he had to take off his hoodie.

Now, Kara Swisher is revealing her relationships with and friendships and, I don't know, interviews with some of tech's most powerful players, holding nothing back. Her new memoir is called "Burn Book: A Tech Love Story".

Kara, thanks so much. That's the wrong book.

Kara, thanks so much. I was holding up the wrong book


TAPPER: You opened with a quote from a French philosopher that encapsulates your role as a journalist covering Silicon Valley. Quote: When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash.

People were so eager and excited about what the tech world was bringing us. They didn't think about the consequences, which you talk about.

KARA SWISHER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I talked about a culture that doesn't care for about consequences and it's not sort of like I don't care what happens. Its they don't think about the consequences and that's really what I was focused on, is that there's lack of accountability, immense wealth, and not caring about consequences, or paying for the damage you've done.

Tech is not paved the way other industries have paid when there's mistakes that get made, inevitably.

TAPPER: There's this infamous quote photo of Zuckerberg from early on when he's founding Facebook at Harvard and he said, and somebody is asking me about how he's doing it, and like how he's getting all this information. And he said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- but it's something like, you know, they're giving it to me for -- willingly, the f-ing idiots.

SWISHER: Yes, that's right. Suckers, he called them, you know --

TAPPER: The f-ing suckers.


TAPPER: Is that still the attitude of Zuckerberg and others?

SWISHER: You know, I think -- every tech company or any company the DNA is at the beginning, right? If the DNA of the founders in it, I think he's changed and evolved as everybody has. But I do think for most, for the most part, Facebook over the course of the years it's been in business, which is a lot now, it's pretty much of a rapacious information thief in that regard.


SWISHER: I think that -- I would say that about a lot of Internet companies. They take our data, they pull it in, then they gobble it, and then serve it back to us in charges and ask us to say "you're welcome".

TAPPER: I remember talking to you when Elon Musk was buying Twitter and I was trying to be optimistic about it.

SWISHER: Yes, me, too. Me, too.

TAPPER: You know me, I'm a cockeyed enthusiast.

SWISHER: You are. You're -- that's how I look at you, Jake.

TAPPER: And I knew you were just you were just throwing cold water on it the whole time.


TAPPER: This is not going to go well and saying not so nice things about him.

SWISHER: Uh-huh.

TAPPER: You use that a friendly relationship.

SWISHER: I did. I did.

TAPPER: But he changed? What happened?

SWISHER: I -- I don't know. He started to -- you know, the stuff he started tweeting or supporting and tweets, for problematic, whether it was antisemitic stuff, it was anti-trans. He did something around Paul Pelosi's attack that was disturbing. TAPPER: Crazy.

SWISHER: Where he retweeted a ridiculous conspiracy theory that was cruel, what it was.

And so I don't know what happened to him. I'm not his mama. I'm not his doctor. I don't know. I mean, there's been stories written.

I think COVID had an impact on them. We for sure had a big beef over that earlier --


SWISHER: -- where he said there'll be no problem, explain to me, he read all the studies and I didn't understand. And I was like, okay, doctor. Good to know.


SWISHER: But I think, you know, who knows? The journals written about some of his drug use, obviously, the boards that the board that doesn't stop him from doing whatever he feels like. So I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

TAPPER: On Zuckerberg, you write: No, Zuckerberg wasn't an asshole. He was worse. He was one of the most carelessly dangerous men in the history of technology who didn't even know it.

Now, recently there was this hearing on Capitol Hill having to do with protecting kids online, and he stood up, people characterized it as an apology. It wasn't actually an apology.

SWISHER: It was not.

TAPPER: He didn't actually say he was sorry, right?

SWISHER: It was not.

TAPPER: He did express sorrow about the existence of pain.


TAPPER: But a lot of these kids had been driven to suicide based on what they saw on Instagram or maybe they died of a fentanyl overdose based on something they purchased on Instagram, et cetera, et cetera.

Do you think he actually feels any sadness, sorrow, any guilt for over any of this?

SWISHER: Here's what I say. They're famous for doing the non-apology apology at Facebook.

TAPPER: I was actually mad that people called it an apology. He never said I'm sorry.

SWISHER: It wasn't. He turned to them -- and I got to tell you, I know him pretty well or had known him in the past years. I could see it in his eyes. He was sort of like the pictures of the kids, the parents held up. So I could -- he's a human, like --

TAPPER: Is he?

SWISHER: Yes, he is. Yes, he is indeed. But you could see him go, like he could see him taken back.


But then what he said was I'm sorry for what's happened to you.


SWISHER: That was not I'm sorry for what I've done.

TAPPER: I'm sorry that it rained today.

SWISHER: Yes, yes. It's not I'm sorry for what I've had any part in this. That would have been the least thing you should have said. I -- you know, it's very much like them. They're like that. They don't think it's their fault.

And I'm not saying all of this is their fault. But, you know, January 6, they were integral part of the radicalization I had written about it years before saying this is what's going to happen. And they're like, well, how can you say that? I'm like I'm an intelligent person who can piece together a little puzzle.

TAPPER: I have eyes and ears.

SWISHER: And you're smarter than me as you are often want to tell me.

And I think one of the things that I talk about here is I really love tech. It has the potential to do great things, just like Paul Virilio (ph). That's a Paul Virilio quote -- said, it can be a ship, but we have an awful lot of shipwrecks. Let's get a lighthouse for goodness sake.

TAPPER: Yeah, and just such a wonderful book, "Burn Book: A Tech Love Story". Congratulations.

SWISHER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Continued success.

SWISHER: Thank you.

TAPPER: And I can't wait to have you back on the show.

SWISHER: You cockeyed optimist.

TAPPER: You know me, always seeing the best in people.

Kara Swisher, thanks so much. Breaking news on Capitol Hill, Hunter Biden appears to have just

wrapped up a full day of testimony, leaving without taking questions from reporters. House Republicans are trying to link his father, President Biden, to Hunter's rather shady business dealings. What we're learning about the closed-door testimony, next.