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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump-Biden Rematch Set As Haley Exits Race; McConnell Endorses Trump Despite Not Talking To Him Since Dec. 2020; "No Labels" To Meet Friday To Discuss Launching Third Party Presidential Bid; House Spending Bills To Avoid Government Shutdown; U.N. Human Rights Chief: "This Situation Is Beyond Untenable For The People Of Haiti; Biden To Deliver Consequential Speech As Wars Rage Abroad; Oregon's Governor Could Recriminalize Some Illicit Drugs. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 16:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Sent by satellite to a ground antenna in New Mexico, then to mission control in Houston.


Finally, onto their county clerks office. And I think the biggest bummer is that they don't get that "I voted" sticker.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: That is true. Yeah. A circuitous route that it goes on. I'm not sure that I've ever used that word in conversation before. So I feel like I deserve a sticker for that.

KEILAR: Yeah. You do. We'll give you one.

SANCHEZ: Thanks for joining us this afternoon.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Okay, America, it's Biden versus Trump again, but will 2024 look anything like 2020?

THE LEAD starts right now


NIKKI HALEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time has now come to suspend my campaign.


PHILLIP: Nikki Haley exits and clears the way for a Biden-Trump rematch. The president is making a play for her voters while Donald Trump is racking up some new GOP endorsements, including a big one from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who hasn't even talked to Trump in more than a year.

And the chances of a third-party candidate jumping into this race. This hour, I'll speak with the chief strategist for No Labels.

Plus, facing the hard truths about the fentanyl crisis. One state's change of heart after becoming the first in the nation to decriminalize possession of certain illicit drugs.


PHILLIP: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Abby Phillip, in for Jake Tapper today.

We start with our 2024 lead. The rematch is officially set. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are almost guaranteed to be their party's nominees for president after Nikki Haley officially dropped out of the presidential race earlier today.

But the former South Carolina governor did stop short of endorsing Trump. Instead, she said, it's up to him to win over her supporters.


HALEY: It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him. And I hope he does that. At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away.


HALEY: As she was delivering that speech, Trump posted on Truth Social that, quote, Nikki Haley got trounced last night before going on to, quote, invite all of the Haley supporters to join the greatest movement in the history of our nation.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign released its own statement congratulating Haley on her run. They wrote, Donald Trump made it clear he does not want Nikki Haley supporters. I want to be clear. There is a place for them in my campaign.

But it also took less than two hours after Haley's announcement for Republicans over on Capitol Hill to then fall right in line behind Donald Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell officially endorsing the former president after years of a frosty, to put it lightly, relationship. And then he gave this less than enthusiastic response when pressed about his endorsement by CNN's Manu Raju today.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: February the 25th, 2021, shortly after the attack on the Capitol, I was asked a similar question, and I said I would support the nominee for president even if it were the former president.


PHILLIP: No surprises there.

But while this rematch is all but guaranteed, that doesn't mean that it's actually what voters want. A recent CBS News poll found 48 percent of Americans thought a Biden Trump rematch would be negative, while 42 percent said it would be depressing.

Let's jump all the way in with our panel here -- Joe Walsh, Alencia Johnson, and David Chalian.

David, there is a lot of deja vu happening right now. But did we learn anything last tonight from huge Super Tuesday that that was about what this rematch will actually be and how it might be different actually from 2020?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's going to be quite different from 2020 because these two candidates are in different political positions than they were in 2020, totally different contexts.

Obviously, Joe Biden, after three years as president, his popularity has plummeted while in this job. So he's in a different position than he was with the American public. And Donald Trump is in entirely different contexts as a, you know, four criminal indictments, 91 charges after having, you know, inspired an insurrection on the Capitol. So that's a totally different context for voters as well.

I mean, I think voters will approach this as those CBS numbers play out, approach to this election probably with more dread than they approached the 2020 election. But I don't -- and given COVID, Abby and what that was in 2020 election, I just think this is an entirely, while it's the same two candidates, I think we're in an entirely different context.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it's almost easy to forget that COVID was perhaps the dominant issue toward the end of that campaign. But alliance here today, Joe Biden made that plea for Nikki Haley's supporters. There is a place for them in my campaign.

But a lot of these voters are conservatives.


They are not left leaning. I mean, is that really true?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah. Look, I mean, it's not like the whole 40 percent of voters that voted for Nikki Haley in South Carolina are going to vote for the Democrat, but there are voters and, you know, I've heard on CNN, people from Virginia talking about how they are Republican, but they cant find themselves to vote for Donald Trump and they may hold nose and vote for Joe Biden.

I do think were speaking to -- he's speaking to the independents. He's speaking to some of those voters who decided to vote for Biden in 2020. But that's going to be enough for us to win. And I want to make sure Democrats don't fall into this trap that sometimes we fall into is ignoring the coalition that actually shows up our priority, the young people, progressives, people of color, who are often feel forgotten when we decide to focus on moderates and suburban and independent voters.

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Democrats shouldn't fall into any trapped right now. Abby, I think if the election were held this week, Trump would win. In a weird way, and David's right, this is a different matchup, Joe Biden has something to prove and Trump doesn't. Biden has to prove over the next eight months, he's up to the job.

We all know who Trump is -- good, bad, and ugly, and it's mostly bad and ugly. He doesn't have to prove anything. The voters know who is. They have to decide if they want something better than what he is.

CHALIAN: He might have to prove his innocence if he's on a trial.

PHILLIP: There is that. There is that, too.

Ron Brownstein, David, he suggested that Trump is likely to win more states in the primaries in any other non-incumbent in Republican history. While that may be true, it is that actually a sign of some enormous strength or is it just the circumstances that he finds himself in?

CHALIAN: Yeah. I mean, I think its the hard thing to compare Donald Trump to other non-incumbents. You know, Reagan in 1980, Mitt Romney in 2012, George W. Bush in 2000, those were people seeking their first nominations as the Republican nominee. And you know what else they weren't? Former president.

So you have a former president of the United States, who is now on his path to be a third time in a row Republican nominee, yes, we can say, he's a non-incumbent, but he's unlike any other non-incumbent in our lifetime. I just don't think it's a apples-to-apples comparison.

PHILLIP: I just wanted to hear you say that. I feel like that people talk about this all the time. Yeah. And that is the reality of it. He's run for president before. He's been president before.

But, Alencia, as this happened, the RNC wasted literally no time. They sent out an email saying he is the presumptive normally nominee. They're facing a cash crunch.

Meanwhile, there is Elon Musk. He met with Donald Trump, according to CNN and the New York Times is reporting and then he posted this today on X. He said, just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for U.S. president.

First, do you believe him?


JOHNSON: I absolutely do not believe him because there are ways that he can support Donald Trump financially without us never knowing about it. But whether or not he does that, he is already helping Donald Trump in the way that he has torn down what is formerly known as Twitter and has allowed for this right-wing extremism to continue to grow on X.

And look, the reality is the Trump campaign and the RNC, yes, they are cash-strapped and the status part is that all of the money that he is raising is going to his legal fees. So these people who are, you know, very low income, a lot of his supporters that he has a very little income, giving a few dollars, $10, $20 are going to pay for his lawyers and his legal fees. And I think that's a contrast that we as Democrats have to continue to make.

PHILLIP: Are you worried about what's happening to the RNC? He now with him becoming the presumptive nominee, he's taking over the entire thing that basically starts now.

WALSH: I think he's taken he took it over a while ago. He's had it now for three or four years.

And, Abby, to your point, and, David, you're right, in essence, Trump is like an incumbent. That's why the polls don't make any sense on that. But he's also not a typical leader of a political party. He -- we say this and people say this, and I don't know how much they really mean it, he is a cult leader.

I've never, Abby, in my lifetime seeing the leader of a party who had as a hold on the base of the party, like he does. It's incredibly powerful.

PHILLIP: And not just the base, but the establishment, too.

WALSH: Yeah.

PHILLIP: Mitch McConnell, today, he hasn't spoken to Trump in a year, okay?


PHILLIP: He just endorsed him. Trump actually, in the intervening time has attacked Mitch McConnell's wife, has said all kinds of things about him. It's not surprising and yet it is notable. It's a sign of the times.

CHALIAN: Three and a half years since their last conversation. By the way, I'm not sure the future conversation is on the table either. He endorsed him. I don't -- I don't think the frostiness of the relationship is going to go away.

And quite frankly, Mitch McConnell's endorsement is purely symbolic at this point. I mean, it's not like it brings something with them to Donald Trump or that Donald Trump would be missing something huge without it.


It's the symbolism of the essence of the anti-Trump establishment which Mitch McConnell would push back and say he's not -- but of an anti-Trump establishment getting on board with the reality that this is Donald Trump's --

PHILLIP: It's also a little bit about a Mitch McConnell making sure Donald Trump doesn't hurt them to put it nicely. And in some of these Senate races, this could be a very good year for the Senate, for the Republicans.

WALSH: If they do things as they should do, they have a great chance to take over for the Senate and they don't want to blow that again with some of these crazy candidates.

Abby, the one to watch is Nikki Haley. I mean, I think she's trying to be too clever by half. I fully expect her to still endorse Trump in a couple of weeks, and that's going to change things.

PHILLIP: So what is she doing then when you say to be being too clever by half?

WALSH: She wants -- she straddled this Trump fence for five or six years now, equivocating on Trump, he's unfit. He won't follow the Constitution. But if he's the nominee, I'll support him, I'll endorse him.

She's been trying to have it both ways and look, she said she -- to be a Republican in this party, you have to endorse him. If she wants to be a Republican, she has to.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I think a lot of people expect that she will eventually.

CHALIAN: It sort of sounded like she's leaving the door open --

PHILLIP: Yeah, she certainly left it open.

JOHNSON: Fall in line as most of them, unfortunately, have.

PHILLIP: All right. Thank you all very much, Joe Alencia and David.

Coming up next for us, what about the third party candidate that could shake up this race? One group is seriously considering putting a name on the ballot, but the question is who and when? I'll ask a chief strategist for the group No Labels.

And happening right now over on Capitol Hill, the House is about to vote on a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown down. We're monitoring all the action there and we'll update you on that.

But first, just a moment ago, on the money lead, a positive finish for U.S. stocks after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated a cut in interest rates may be coming this year, even though it won't be anytime soon. Powell told Congress that the Fed wants more proof that inflation has been brought under control. But Powell added that he doesn't see a recession anytime soon.

We're back in a moment.



PHILLIP: And we're back with our 2024 lead. It wasn't just Nikki Haley, Democrat Dean Phillips also suspended his campaign today, leaving Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the last two major party presidential candidates.

But could they be joined by a third? That is what the group No Labels is considering on Friday when it's going to host a meeting with 800 delegates to determine if a third-party presidential bid would be viable in this November's general election.

With me now is Ryan Clancy, the chief strategist for No Labels.

Ryan, thanks for joining us here.

Your group will have that meeting on Friday with delegates from 50 states, but will No Labels actually make a final decision about whether to put up a candidate?

RYAN CLANCY, CHIEF STRATEGIST, NO LABELS: Well, that would be for the delegates to decide. That's why were gathering them on Friday. We've always said since last year, we wait to left through Super Tuesday to reevaluate, do a gut check and that's what this is. This is our top supporters from all 50 states across the country and there'll be telling one us on Friday whether they want us to keep going.

PHILLIP: So, No Labels has said that the ticket might include a Republican for president, with a Democrat as vice president. Can you give us any names, any potential candidates at the group could consider for that?

CLANCY: We can't other than to say we are talking a lot of exceptional candidates that we think could be a great fit on the ticket. If on Friday, this delegate group decides they want to go forward, we'll have a lot more to say very soon thereafter about the process by which a ticket would be selected and ultimately, who could be on them.

PHILLIP: But what about the backgrounds of potential candidates? Anything you can tell us a current members of Congress, governors?

CLANCY: No, look, other than to say, if you're looking for the kind of candidate that would ultimately be on this ticket, we can say for certain they would have to really clear to bars, which is one they'd have to embrace No Labels brand of politics, which is fundamentally about given a voice to the country's commonsense majority, which often doesn't have a voice in our current system.

And then two, No Labels put out a package of ideas called common sense earlier last year. And wed expect them to embrace key elements of that agenda. So if you look at things like secure the border, but also attracting hardworking taxpayers to this country. Exerting America's leadership in the world and then ultimately doing something about inflation and our increasingly disastrous fiscal situation. So, those are three ideas (INAUDIBLE) for unity candidate.

PHILLIP: You've got people like Joe Manchin, Larry Hogan, even Nikki Haley, they've all ruled out working with No Labels as a candidacy. I mean, those are some of the biggest names in politics, people who are well-known.

Did you, ms your chance to recruit a strong known challenger who could actually have a shot?

CLANCY: We did that, and the reason, Abby, is all the names that have been floated out there over the course of the last couple of months are names that have been floated by somebody else? So we're in the process to talking with several candidates we feel really good about.

If our delegates decide on Friday, they want to keep moving forward with this process, we'll accelerate a lot of those conversations and we may well have a candidate.

PHILLIP: Just run final thing on this. I mean, are they well known enough? I mean, if you -- if you gave me a name, now, will people watching at home know who you're talking about?

CLANCY: I think so. Look, we -- here's what I can say, Abby. We've said from the beginning, we will only put up a ticket if we think it has a realistic chance to win the White House. We're not interested then fueling any kind of spoiler campaign or protest campaign.

We'd want to put up a ticket that can really compete.

PHILLIP: Well, let me ask you about that because bipartisan group of lawmakers have warned that No Labels could actually end up just drawing Electoral College votes out of the process, creating a possibility in which neither Biden nor Trump have enough to get to 270 and that kicks it over to the House of Representatives, which could basically be chaos.


So what do you say to that?

CLANCY: Those are scare tactics, quite honestly


PHILLIP: But it's definitely -- you acknowledge it's a real possibility, don't you?

CLANCY: Look, nobody can ever say with certainty at the beginning of a process that any candidate would definitely get over 270 electoral votes. But frankly, a lot of the groups that are attacking No Labels and they say they're doing it in the name of detecting democracy, it's not really about them. It's about protecting their turf.

All No Labels has been doing over the course of the last two years is doing something both parties just manifestly refused to do, which is giving a choice to the voters, two-thirds of whom do not want a repeat of the 2020 election.

PHILLIP: Why all the secrecy about the 800 delegates who they are? I don't -- personally, I don't understand why this whole process has been shrouded in so much secrecy?

CLANCY: Well, it's not secrecy. It's if you -- if you think about the explicit strategy, Abby, of the opponents that have tried to undermine No Labels effort, just partisan operatives. They have said explicitly that they wanted destroy the reputations and intimidate anybody affiliated with the No Labels effort. I would encourage everybody to go read "Semafor", which found leaked audio of groups that were sort of plotting against No Labels. And when you read the way they're talking about it, it sounds like mafia wire taps, the way they're threatening anybody who had had the temerity to just challenge this ridiculously broken two party system --


PHILLIP: Well, Ryan, isn't that -- with all due respect, isn't that just what being in the arena requires, putting your name out there and standing by it?

CLANCY: Sure, of course, it is. And, Abby, to clear, if there is a ticket, that ticket will be out there. That ticket will be subject to every campaign finance regulation and disclosure requirement of a candidate. That's what happens if you're a candidate or if you're a political party. But No Labels isn't a political party. We are a non- profit that's working to get access to the ballot just to make sure voters have a choice if they want it.

PHILLIP: So, just to recap, real quick, Friday, there will be a yes or no decision from your delegates one way or another by putting up a candidate. And if it's a yes, will we get a name, more names?

CLANCY: No. So, what you'll get on Friday is you'll get news on whether we're going to be going forward. And then if we are indeed going forward, you will hear in short order in the coming weeks of the process by which that ticket would get chosen. And then ultimately, who would be on it.

PHILLIP: All right. Ryan. Thank you very much. Ryan Clancy, we appreciate your time.

CLANCY: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And next the turmoil playing out in another country, gangs and crime taking over parts of Haiti. Ahead, the urgent call today from the U.S. as it pushes for a political solution to Haiti's problems.



PHILLIP: Breaking news on Capitol Hill. The House just passed a series of bills to avoid a government shutdown.

CNN's Manu Raju, of course, is monitoring all of this.

Manu, what happens next?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this bill just pass the House by a wide margin. The final vote here was 339-85. There were 132 Republicans voting in favor of it, 83 Republicans oppose. So, a majority of Republicans voting to advance this package, as a key benchmark for the Senate -- for the House Republican leadership, two Democrats voted in opposition. More Democrats voted for it, then against it.

Now this is a partial government funding bills, about $459 billion that covers six funding bills, and a number of agencies are covered by it. But it doesn't cover the entire federal government. It will keep these government agencies open up until the end of this current fiscal year at the end of September.

There are a whole host of other more complicated funding bills, and a new deadline that's coming up on March 22nd, things like the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department, Labor Department, that is going to be very tricky to get done, but still the Republican and Democratic leadership are confident that this will ultimately -- could be finished in time.

But, Abby, of course, this was supposed to be done by October 1st. They've already been for short-term extensions of government funding. The first one led to the ouster of the then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Now, the current House speaker says it's time to move on from last year's business and move on to this year's business.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, this keeps happening over and over again. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

And in our world lead today, the U.N.'s humanitarian rights -- human rights chief warned that time is running out to prevent more chaos in Haiti. Right now, ruthless gangs have the country in a chokehold, threatening to overthrow the government and warning of genocide if the current Prime Minister Ariel Henry doesn't resign.

CNN's David Culver was just in Haiti and saw this unfolding firsthand.

David is Haiti's prime minister facing any international pressure to resign given all of the chaos at the world is now seeing?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I can tell you as far as at the country level is concerned, Abby, nothing publicly is being said from countries like the U.S., Canada, France, but behind the scenes, there are suggestions that there is some pressure being put on Ariel Henry to step aside.

And you have to remember, this is the prime minister who was appointed to that position in 2021 after the assassination of Haiti's president, Jovenel Moise.


And it's the fact that he was appointed to that position that has a lot of folks that we were speaking with on the ground so angry. They feel like they haven't had a choice to really put forward an election that will then put a leader in power who they want to see running Haiti.

The issue at stake right now, though, the U.N. Security Council is meeting on this, is what's Henry's future in going back to Haiti because he is right now in, as we've last heard, Puerto Rico, he had intended to go from Africa where he signed an agreement with Kenyans, Kenya's leader, to get Kenyan police officers to Haiti as part of a multinational security support mission. So, as to help stabilize the crisis going on there right now, and he went from Africa to the U.S. and then tried to go to Haiti via the Dominican Republic.

Now we're told that the Dominican Republic rejected him landing there because of concerns of it being an indefinite layover. So they didn't know quite what are the intentions were for the prime minister. So that's why he went on to Puerto Rico. Where he goes from there, it remains to be seen.

But we, of course, we heard from the White House on this too, and curious what the U.S. officials are saying as far as what they want to see with Henry. Here's what the White House is saying.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are definitely not pushing prime at the prime minister to resign. That is not what we're doing, but we have underscored that now is the time to finalize a political core to help set Haiti on a path to a better future.


CULVER: All right. That's the official word out of the U.S., Abby, but "The Miami Herald" is reporting that there was a call put to Henry from U.S. officials as he was on that flight to step aside and to allow the country to go into this transitional phase and find some stability.

PHILLIP: Very interesting. Something we will continue to watch.

David Culver, thank you very much.

And tomorrow will be a big night on Capitol Hill when President Biden delivers his State of the Union Address.

Ahead, a key House Republican who will be in the chamber and a special guest that he's invited to hear his big speech.



PHILLIP: And back with our politics lead, this time tomorrow, President Biden will be just hours away from what could be his most consequential State of the Union Address yet, as two wars rage and funding for both Israel and for Ukraine hanging in the balance. Tomorrow's guests at the State of the Union are going to highlight this pivotal moment for the world.

Now, House Speaker Mike Johnson invited the parents of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, who's detained in Russia and has been for nearly a year. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have invited more than a dozen relatives of Americans who were killed or held hostage stage by Hamas terrorists. That's according to Axios. Also in attendance tomorrow, Christy Shamblin. Her daughter-in-law, Marine Sergeant Nicole Gee was killed in Kabul at the Kabul Abbey Gate attack during the chaotic us withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Christie will be the guest of the Foreign Relations chairman, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul. And they are both with us today.

Christy and Chairman McCaul, thank you both for joining us today.

I know it's a busy time over on the Hill.

Chairman, you are threatening to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt for failing to provide the documents and key with information that you and your committee has requested. But this is not the first time the two of you have been at loggerheads like this.

What do you think is going to make him hand them over this time?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Well, he did last time and I had a very good conversation with a secretary. We had an agreement in principle to turn over the notes that were part of the after-action review report about the Abbey Gate bombing in the fall of Kabul, the collapse of Afghanistan.

Apparently, now, the White House is intervening despite the agreement I had with the secretary verbally. And now they are attempting to assert executive privilege, even though they've had the documents for many months and they've have never asserted executive privilege before.

What I told the secretary was, look, the American people deserve to see this. And more than anything, the mothers and fathers of the 13 servicemen and women.

PHILLIP: When was last time you spoke with Secretary Blinken?

MCCAUL: That was on Friday.

PHILLIP: On Friday. So you recently spoken were not able to come to a resolution?

MCCAUL: We did. We came to a verbal agreement.

PHILLIP: So, it's been since then that --

MCCAUL: Since that time, the White House now has intervened in the matter and are trying to block the production of these documents.

PHILLIP: All right. Christy, you have been critical of how President Biden has talked about the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Tomorrow, he's going to be addressing a lot of global issues, probably in his State of the Union Address. What do you want to hear from him about the two years ago what happened to your daughter-in-law?

CHRISTY SHAMBLIN, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF MARINE KILLED DURING AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL: I wonder how he's going to strengthen our armed forces and support them and answer our questions and lead do a thorough investigation like they promised, so that we can move forward in a positive way and make it better.

PHILLIP: President Biden, he's often called the consoler in chief. He does talk to families who've lost loved ones because of his own experiences. Have you experienced that from him as you've been coping with the death of Nicole?


PHILLIP: Have you spoken to him?

SHAMBLIN: No, he has not reached out to our family. We've actually reached out to the White House and have never heard back. We asked to meet with them to kind of understand where their thinking was in calling this a success, and we've not received a response. It's been months. No, that's not been our experience at all.

PHILLIP: Sorry to hear that.

Chairman McCaul, my understanding is that you have a hearing coming up at about two weeks. General -- Generals Kenneth McKenzie, and also Mark Milley just left his post will be appearing before your committee about this Afghanistan issue. What are you expecting to hear from them?


MCCAUL: Well, you know, you have General Milley who was the chairman of the joint chiefs, who advised the president on Afghanistan. And then General McKenzie, who is a CentCom commander, the general in charge of the whole region that Afghanistan falls under, and it's going to be very high level.

We also want to know like who on the ground was involved with the suicide bomber operation. We want to know like Tyler Vargas-Andrews testified before my committee saying to me that they handed off to the command center the sniper photos based on a be on the lookout notice that they had to report and then request for permission to engage the suicide bomber, and they never heard back from the command center.

Of course, a suicide bomber went off and killed Nicole, Christy's daughter in law, and 12 other servicemen and women.

PHILLIP: I want to take a step back because tomorrow as we've been talking about is the State of the Union. Two big crises are unfolding at the same time. You have Mike Johnson, the speaker, inviting Evan Gershkovich's family. I mean, detained by Russia. That's all part of this conflict in Ukraine. You have other members bringing victims of the Israel-Hamas war and yet Speaker Johnson is responsible for holding up single-handedly funding for these conflicts.

Are you comfortable with the message that that sends?

MCCAUL: Well, I know we passed Israel funding that didn't get through the Senate. I've been working with the speaker's office. I do believe that after we get through the regular appropriations this month that we will have a supplemental on the floor that would include Israel, Ukraine, and also Indo-Pacific. And it's vitally important we get this done.

And I would say --

PHILLIP: Do you think it'll be just by itself or in addition to border which has been --

MCCAUL: I know that there are discussions right now about border provisions. Of course, the president has a lot of authority already to reverse the policies that he did from the prior administration, that has caused this the crisis in this disaster. But it's really important to note as we talked about Afghanistan, this was the turning point in my judgment on foreign policy. Once Afghanistan was -- we surrender to the Taliban, it imploded and we abandoned or allies.

Then we saw the Russian Federation coming down to invade Ukraine. We see Chairman Xi with his sights on Taiwan. And then at the same time, the ayatollah, who is their ally, has reared his ugly head in the Middle East and with the invasion of Israel and Hamas. So --

PHILLIP: I mean, at the same time, Congress is responsible for providing this funding and every day it seems, especially in Ukraine, time is of the essence. Are you confident -- you've had conversations with the speaker that he will actually get this done, funding for both Ukraine and Israel? And what's the timeline you think?

MCCAUL: I do. I think the speaker understands the national security interest at play with respect to Israel, Ukraine as well, and the Indo-Pacific. These are high major threat vectors that we are facing right now. And I do think he understands this from a policy standpoint. He wants to get through the regular appropriations and then we'll get to the supplemental.

PHILLIP: All right. Chairman Mike McCaul and Christy Shamblin, thank you both very much for joining us today.

And this programming note, CNN special coverage of President Biden's State of the Union Address will be tomorrow. Jake Tapper will help lead that coverage. We'll start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, right here on CNN, and on CNN Max.

And next here on THE LEAD, the fentanyl crisis. Why a state is leaning toward reversing course after becoming the first in the nation to decriminalize a series of illicit drugs.



PHILLIP: And we're back with our national lead. At any moment, the governor of Oregon could bring back criminal charges for possession of illicit drugs. The state's legislature voted Friday to roll back parts of the measure that were passed by voters in 2020 that made Oregon the very first state in the nation to decriminalize some use of hard- drugs, including fentanyl.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now. And, Josh, this action comes as the city of Portland is nearly halfway through a 90-day state of emergency to combat this fentanyl crisis.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right, Abby. Parts of downtown Portland are in a state of crisis. I saw for myself as I wrote along with police on patrol for drug dealers. Now the focus of this emergency declaration is primarily on getting outreach help to those experiencing addiction, but police are also stepping up efforts to try to get fentanyl off the streets.

To be clear, fentanyl is ravaging communities across the nation. But Oregon itself, specifically coming into focus both because of a spike in overdoses, but also because at least for the time being, openly using fentanyl in Oregon isn't a crime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We make this next corner --

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Downtown Portland now in a state of emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still actively smoking basically right when we rolled up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's compressed powder funnel fentanyl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it. That's what fentanyl looks like.

CAMPBELL: The downtown police bike squad patrolling the streets now facing a deadly threat unlike any other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drunk and disorderly stop, that used to be all we get. 2020 things changed around. Fentanyl came on the scene, at the same time as measure 110. So all drugs were decriminalized and we saw fentanyl just take over.


CAMPBELL: Unlike many places grappling with a surge in fentanyl use, penalties for some drugs in Oregon had been relaxed by Measure 110. Three years ago, voters here decriminalized some hard substances, including fentanyl, focusing on treatment for addiction and overdose rather than criminal punishment, indicating the cops should focus more on community safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially, what's happened is drugs in Oregon are the same as a traffic ticket.

CAMPBELL: While fentanyl overdoses are increasing in Oregon, early research suggests there is no link to Measure 110, but critics still blame it for Portland's drug crisis.

You and other Republicans in Oregon have called Measure 110 a colossal failure.

REP. JEFF HELFRICH (R), OREGON STATE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You can look on the streets, you look at what has happened. Open fentanyl, open drugs on the streets, 110 is an unmitigated disaster.

CAMPBELL: In announcing a new 90-day state of emergency to address the crisis, few specifics from elected officials on what they believe led to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to Monday morning quarterback, why were here and not somewhere different.

CAMPBELL: Under the emergency declaration, a surge of state, county, and city personnel are now operating at a unified command to address the threat, from health department officials.

RACHAEL BANKS, DIRECTOR, MULTNOMAH COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Our strategy is to pull together a comprehensive approach and that means we ultimately want to slow the rate of overdose deaths. We're on an extremely dangerous spike.

CAMPBELL: To outreach groups like Central City Concern, which sees a difference between the current emergency and previous drug crises. They serve over 3,000 people each year.

DR. ANDY MENDENHALL, CEO, CENTRAL CITY CONCERN: About half of those are individuals who presenting pretty exclusively for fentanyl use. That potency difference, it makes this battle a completely different fight.

CHIEF BOB DAY, PORTLAND POLICE: This addictive behavior is not something to be taken lightly and not to be like, oh, just get a job or just get help or whatever. There are demons there that I could never understand

CAMPBELL: Police Chief Bob Day's officers are a central component of the new emergency declaration, specifically focusing on arresting drug dealers and disrupting supply lines. But he says law enforcement alone will not solve this crisis.

DAY: I want to get past some of the politics and its get some, get past some of the certitude about who's right and who's wrong and really recognize that lives are in the balance here.

CAMPBELL: Back out on the streets with Portland police, another fentanyl user, another citation.

But the cops don't just write tickets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we issue one of these citations, we give a card and so they reference the citation number and they call this hotline.

CAMPBELL: The fine is waived if they agree to a screening that can lead to treatment and counseling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can only offer it. You know, they have to be willing to take those people up on it. Beating addiction is hard. So they have to be willing to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of cool is not going in jail. They've been doing tickets which is kinder.

CAMPBELL: Cherielynn (ph) was standing nearby when her friend was just cited for fentanyl possession. She opens up about her own struggle to stop using the highly addictive drug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's -- words don't leave, you know, there's not very many words for how difficult that is. If people don't know where to go or who to call or how to access the resources.

CAMPBELL: I offered to put her in touch with Dr. Mendenhall's team back at Central City Concern, and she agreed. She told us she hopes Portland's fentanyl crisis will be solved by better access to treatment, not incarceration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't do anybody any good to go to jail. It's like bunch of criminals get together to talk about how to do crime better. It just perpetuates that the problem really.


CAMPBELL: Now, Abby, both the House and Senate in the state of Oregon just passed by a bipartisan lines, overwhelmingly, this new bill that would re-criminalize certain drugs. A spokesperson for the governor tells me that she will be looking through the lens of how such a measure will impact people who are in need, balancing treatment with enforcement. I'm told that once it actually hits her desk, she will have five days to make a decision whether to sign or to veto.

But, of course, we will be waiting to see what she does. That would essentially reverse what voters decided back in 2020, Abby.

PHILLIP: Josh Campbell, really important report there. Thank you very much.


PHILLIP: And today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced when it will hear arguments on Donald Trumps presidential immunity case and you just might call it the perfect date. We're back in a moment.



PHILLIP: In our money lead, another reason to ask, where do your taxpayer dollars go? Well, how about paying for this 400 and -- 348- foot super yacht docked in San Diego, $600,000 pays for maintenance, $144,000 is for insurance, $178,000, that's for docking fees. The U.S. government is spending nearly $1 every month to maintain this yacht that was seized by a -- from a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Now prosecutors, they want to get rid of this boat and sell it. It's valued at $230 million and an investment group has offered to reimburse the government for its expenses, but judge is weighing whether a civil forfeiture complaint can go through and until then, the U.S. government has to keep, well, floating that bill. And the U.S. Supreme Court has set a date now to hear arguments in the case over whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity from prosecution in the federal election subversion case. That date is April 25th. Now, there's a debate over whether this timing will help or hurt Trump. But one account says April 25th is actually perfect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe your perfect day.


I'd have to say April 25th because it's not too hot, not too cold. All you need is the light jacket.


PHILLIP: We tend to think Trump may approve of that "Ms. Congeniality" reference, given his affinity for all things. Well, perfect.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine.

The one in Atlanta was a perfect call.

That was a perfect call. This is even more perfect.

A perfect phone call.

Perfect call. Perfect call. It's congenial.


PHILLIP: We will, of course, bring you those Supreme Court arguments on April 25th and don't forget your light jacket.

The news continues right now on CNN.