Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Tonight: Biden Delivers High-Stakes State Of The Union Address; Biden To Tout Economy, Draw Sharp Contrast With Trump Tonight; Sen. Chris Coons, (D-DE), Is Interviewed About State Of The Union, Biden's Age, Debate; Biden To Make Pitch For A Second Term As Polls Show Voters Are Concerned About His Age; Katie Porter Claims Billionaires "Rigged" C.A. Senate Primary; Uvalde Releases Independent Report On School Shooting; Family Of American Held By Taliban To Attend State Of Union; Bonding Over Food In Washington. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 07, 2024 - 17:00   ET



LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can also expect he's going to lay out a stark contrast between what four more years of Biden would mean versus four more years of Trump. Tonight, a lot of Democrats in the audience are bringing with them people as guests who have been affected by the overturning of Roe versus Wade. You have guests who have been to arrive yet. You have guests who have had to leave their state to get abortion care. Those are the kinds of messages you can also expect to hear from the President tonight.

Obviously, the State of the Union is an hour long speech, Jake, there is a lot of room to talk about a myriad of issues. He's going to talk about the economy. He's going to talk about global affairs. But he is going to be talking at specific points to House Republicans in that audience tonight.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And this could be a tough crowd for President Biden. The House Speaker Mike Johnson's asked all the members of Congress to be civil. But you know, Manu caught up with Marjorie Taylor Greene earlier and she didn't make any civility promises. What do you think is going to happen?

FOX: Well, certainly we've seen over the last several years House Republicans going out and attacking the President, as he is giving the State of the Union address. And certainly House Republicans have struggled with decorum over the last several months you've seen since the beginning of this new Congress. So, you know, we heard from Republicans today at votes, who made no such promises that they were going to sit there quietly. Here's Marjorie Taylor Greene earlier that you mentioned talking to Manu.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Well, if he's a liar, he should be called out. That's important to do. And people really care about that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So you might call him out tonight on the Florida House.

GREENE: I have no idea what he's going to say. And I would argue that Joe Biden has no idea what he's saying too. So, they're probably working up a good drug cocktail mix over there at the White House. So we'll see how he talks tonight and then I'll decide then.


FOX: In one area to keep a close watch on tonight, Jake, is when the President talks about the border, this has been one of those areas where Republicans have gone up against the White House time and time again. But you can expect that Biden wants to go ahead and flip the script on that issue, call out Republicans for not bringing up that bipartisan bill out of the Senate. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill for us. Thank you so much.

Let's turn to our panel now. So, first of all, let me start with the idea of the border as an issue. And it is an issue, obviously, and it's been a problem. And you have horrible stories that have resulted like the tragic murder of Laken Riley in Georgia. When you talk to Democrats on the Hill about this, they don't dismiss it as an issue, as might happen on some other channels.

They don't say that it shouldn't be tackled or anything like that, but they say Republicans are constantly trying to use this as an issue. And it never works. It never works. This is what Democrats say, this is not my opinion. They say Trump tried in 2018, it didn't work.

You tried in 2020, it didn't work. Glenn Youngkin tried it when he tried to change the legislature in Virginia, it didn't work. They tried it in the special election in New York with a crowd that you would think would appeal -- it would appeal to, a lot of cops live in that district, et cetera, and it didn't work out. How do you respond to that?

DAVID POLANSKY, FORMER DESANTIS DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, number one, I think it did work in 2016.


POLANSKY: I think it was clear was an issue that was on voters' minds then. And I think it's on their minds now. Again, about 28 percent of Americans view that as their top issue. And with Independent voters, it is their top issue as well. And so, I think it's going to be debated.

And I think the difference this go round is we talked earlier about the economy. I think people are afraid in this country for a whole host of reasons, economic, security wise, crime is up. And as Republicans continue to paint the picture that an open border leads to more immigration or more crime, not just by the way, in a place like I live in Texas, but all the way up to places like Minnesota, and as we've seen in Georgia, it's a very personal issue, because it's a one based on fear and emotion right now. And I think that does make a difference electorally.

KAREN FINNEY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, let's just mention that violent crime and murder rates are actually down. And let's remember that in terms of crimes committed by immigrant, people who are here illegally, they -- it's actually lower than the other rates of crime. At the same time, look, I think there's an acknowledgement this is an issue that has to be addressed but I think the majority of the American people understand, and this is what I see in polls, poll after poll, they want a humane system. They don't want -- they don't like things like Donald Trump saying Mexicans are rapists and murderers, and they don't -- and I don't know where the Congo came from, which is the latest thing he likes to attack.

I think people say yes, we need to deal with the border. We've got to have comprehensive immigration reform. We've got to treat people with dignity and humanity, rather than what becomes a lot of demagoguery that you get from Trump who then -- which then that becomes the Republican policy. And again as we've talked about -- you know, immigration reform is one where the President was willing to go farther than other Democrats. And yet, Republicans wouldn't dare not meet in there.


TAPPER: All right. Hold that thought because I want to bring in Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Democrat and the National co-chair for the Biden-Harris reelection campaign.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. You've known your fellow Delawarean, President Biden, for quite some time. Is it fair to say that this is the most important speech of his career?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: It's certainly one of the most important speeches of his career. I thought one of the greatest contributions Joe Biden has ever made to our nation and our democracy was defeating Donald Trump in 2020. I didn't think we'd be back here and he'd have to do it again. But he has an incredible record to run on. And in the years since the 2020 election, the character and the challenges and the conduct of these two men have only made the distinction between them sharper and clearer.

Ninety-one criminal counts are in Donald Trump's future. And Joe Biden is running on an incredible record of bringing us together, getting bipartisan bills passed into law, and then investing in American infrastructure and manufacturing, lowering prescription drug prices, and protecting our veterans. So he's got a lot to talk about tonight. Yes, it's an incredibly important speech. And I'm hopeful that the American people will be watching and listening, because he's got a great case to make.

TAPPER: So, beyond the substance of what he says, there are stylistic imperatives here for any president, certainly for the previous one, but for this one right now when there are so many Americans, according to polls, concerned that he has slowed down, concerned about his age, he's 81, the oldest person ever hold his office. And I'm wondering what you think the challenges are for him in terms of performance, which, you know, we don't live in a textbook, we live in the real world, performance is important.

COONS: Joe Biden says often, don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative. And I'll tell you, his similarly aged but not similarly experienced opponent for president this November has recently had some very public stumbles, where he's confused Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi or he's spoken in a way that assumes that Barack Obama is still president. Joe Biden, our president will show tonight energy and engagement, a mastery of the issues going on around the world and leadership here at home.

I do think he needs to be optimistic about our future. He is a fundamentally positive and optimistic person who believes in America, believes in the possibility of innovation and growth and opportunity for all of us. But he's also going to have to draw a sharp contrast so that the American people understand what's at stake, if they make the error of reelecting the former president rather than giving Joe Biden and his incredible and talented team in his cabinet and his very capable vice president a second term to deal with some of the issues not yet fully addressed.

TAPPER: So, I've heard President Biden say that before, don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative, I mean, the American people are. And in poll after poll in battleground states, a plurality at least, are going for Donald Trump. How do you explain that?

COONS: So, Jake, I was just campaigning in Michigan, and in the different counties and cities I was in, when you take the record of what's happened because of Joe Biden's leadership, and that people are feeling double digit increases for UAW members, guys in the building trades who are working hard on new infrastructure projects, recent job announcements by semiconductor companies, they're very positive about what has happened while Joe Biden has been President. What is lacking is the connection. The average American isn't clear whether or not those things happened because of Joe Biden. That's the point of a campaign is to point out to folks what Donald Trump promised but never delivered on and what Joe Biden promised and actually delivered on and the difference between the two of them.

So, we're really just beginning the campaign between here in November in earnest across the country on the ground. And I am confident that those numbers will steadily change as our economy continues to strengthen, as people see and feel the impact of everything from a cap on the price of insulin to new manufacturing job announcements, and as they focus more on the difference. Folks have had a long time without Donald Trump in their Twitter feed every day.


COONS: When they have a renewed exposure to his chaos and when they focus on Joe Biden's character and capabilities, I think they'll make the right choice and reelect Joe Biden.


TAPPER: President -- or former President Trump is saying that he wants to debate Joe Biden anytime, anywhere, any place, is that a good idea? I mean, do you think -- I mean, if it's -- if this is a, don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative campaign shouldn't --

COONS: Well, look if --

TAPPER: -- President Trump --

COONS: -- Donald Trump --


COONS: If Donald Trump wants to see Joe Biden in primetime, he should tune in and watch tonight. I was in the room for the debate in Cleveland that Chris Wallace tried to moderate and it was chaotic at best. Donald Trump just busted through every possible rule or regulation of decency or decorum or following any of the directives of the moderator. I wouldn't encourage it. But I don't think the campaign or the President has made a decision yet.

I just think that, frankly, the American people need to make up their own minds based on what difference Joe Biden has made in their lives.

TAPPER: Are you saying the President Biden should not debate former President Trump?

COONS: I think that's up to him. And I think he and the campaign will make a decision later in the year. Right now, tonight, they're focused on this important State of the Union and the chance for President Biden to lay out his case for the next term when he will deliver on the things that are right in front of us, more investments in affordable housing, more to do with childcare and with elder care, more efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs.


COONS: More to keep us safer and stronger at home and abroad. He's got a robust and optimistic agenda for the second term, and a great record from his first term.

TAPPER: It does sound like that's what you were saying, just for the record that --


TAPPER: -- that you don't think he should debate him. I mean, that's pretty clearly what you were saying. Although you also said it's up to -- it's up to the President.

Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

COONS: Of course it's up to the campaign. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes. Good to see you, sir. Thank you so much.

My panel is still here. Do you agree? Do you think President Biden should not debate Donald Trump?

FINNEY: I think he should say bring it on, put on his, you know, glasses and walk out of the chamber. I mean, come on, Joe Biden would do just fine.

TAPPER: I don't think he wears his glasses.

FINNEY: No, you know, the aviators.

TAPPER: Oh, the fighting the combat. Oh, the aviator glasses.

FINNEY: Yes. Put those aviators on --

TAPPER: I though -- OK.

FINNEY: -- and boom, I'm ready to go.

TAPPER: Yes. I don't think that, by the way, that -- were Donald Trump was, you know, the hot mess inside the dumpster fire inside the train wreck debate? I don't think that that one Donald Trump any votes, by the way. I mean, I think that probably cost him a lot of votes.

POLANSKY: It didn't. And look, I've spent months trying to get Donald Trump on the debate stage and Republican primary.

TAPPER: Right. You went for this. We should know you worked for DeSantis. Yes.

POLANSKY: So, when --

TAPPER: And that would have helped DeSantis or Haley or whatever if he done that, I think.

POLANSKY: And frankly, it might help the former president even earn more of the share of our party base. But the fact of the matter is, look, both of these are older gentlemen, they both have records in office over the last eight years. They both control the White House. And I think the country deserves and should demand that both of them step on the stage and debate the issues that matter.

TAPPER: Can I just ask you one quick question --


TAPPER: -- because Katie Porter, former congressman -- current Congresswoman Katie Porter, she didn't win the Senate race in California --


TAPPER: -- she failed to qualify for the runoff. And she's blaming her loss on billionaires rigging the election. This is her concession speech.


TAPPER: Take a listen.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Our opponents through everything, every trick, millions of dollars, every trick in the playbook to knock us off our feet. But I'm still standing in high heels.


TAPPER: I mean, she said that the election was rigged.


TAPPER: On Twitter she posted, "Because of you, we had the establishment running scared with standing three to one in T.V. spending and onslaught of billionaires spending millions to rig this election." Then when people push back on that she said, "Rigged means manipulated by dishonest means at no time have I ever undermined the vote count and election process in California, which are beyond reproach."

Given the context --


TAPPER: -- of Donald Trump --


TAPPER: -- falsely accusing Democrats of rigging the election, what do you think of that rhetoric?

FINNEY: That was Katie Porter being incredibly disingenuous. Because the truth is Adam Schiff was pretty far ahead of her. I kept an eye on this race for most of the time. She was angry when he started doing ads to boost the -- that's when she's talking about rigs. It's a campaign.

TAPPER: It's politics.

FINNEY: It made -- right. Guess what, there's politics and politics. It's a context sport. If you can play the game, then don't get in.

TAPPER: What did you think of what she said?

POLANSKY: Well, look, I was thrilled to see Democrats invest in Republicans. And so, I'll take that any day of the week.

TAPPER: Right. OK. Thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

A new report released moments ago from an independent investigation into the Uvalde Police Department's actions the moments before and after 19 children and two teachers were tragically gunned down. But first, antisemitism on the rise. But why does the outrage from politicians almost always fall strictly along partisan lines? We'll discuss next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: Stay in our politics lead. Tonight, members of the House and Senate as well as President Biden are bringing guests with them to the State of the Union address. These are folks who represent issues or causes or constituents constituencies important to them. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, for example, he's bringing the parents of Evan Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal reporter who has been unfairly detained in Russia under these trumped up charges of espionage for almost a year.

Speaker Johnson also while welcoming this evening, Talia Khan. She's an MIT student who has been outspoken about antisemitism on the MIT campus. Antisemitism has risen in the United States, especially since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 in Israel began its campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza. Today, the Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the United States has seen, quote, "a stunning increase" in the threats made against Jews and Jewish institutions citing how the FBI has opened more than three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations from October 7 until the end of January, compared to the previous four months.


The thing is, and this is not aimed at Speaker Johnson, but all politicians, the thing is, it's not particularly difficult to call out bigotry on the other side politically or ideologically or socially. For Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York or any other House Republican expressing moral outrage about antisemitism on elite Northeastern college campuses, that's not difficult, or for that matter for Democrats to call out antisemitism among, you know, Trump supporters at the Unite the Right rally. It's more difficult for Democrats to condemn the rhetoric of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, though more than 20. Democrats did vote to censure Tlaib last November. And just as a general rule, it is tougher for politicians to call out the bigotry on their own side.

You can be forgiven for wondering how committed any politician is to fighting such hate if they only acknowledge it and condemn it across the aisle. And that's particularly relevant this week. Two days ago, a British journalist tried to ask Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene about the conspiracy theories in which she has long traffic, including what has become shorthanded as Jewish space lasers. That's a reference to Greene espousing on Facebook that a California wildfire was caused perhaps by a consortium of wealthy Jews and others, using lasers from space solar generators for profit. It's a perfectly fair question to ask Congressman Green, who appeared at a white supremacist convention we should note and yet continues to be a Republican House member in good standing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell me why so many people that support Donald Trump love conspiracy theories, including yourself? He seems to attract lots of conspiracy theorists

GREENE: Well, let me tell you, you're a conspiracy theorist and the left and the media spreads more conspiracy theories. We like the truth. We like supporting our Constitution, our freedoms, and America First. So, we're all done now. We're all done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about Jewish space lasers? Tell us about Jews space lasers.

GREENE: No, why don't why don't you go talk about Jewish space lasers? And really, why don't you fuck off? How about that?


TAPPER: Apologies for the language, but it's just a congresswoman I'm quoting. No contrition at all when called to the carpet about this deranged antisemitic conspiracy theory, just crude defiance because it's tolerated. It doesn't matter how much Congresswoman Greene belittles the holocaust by comparing mask mandates inside the Capitol to Jews being forced onto trains and transported to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. She escapes any official House Republican disciplinary measures.

And the same day Congresswoman Greene was behaving like that this week, North Carolina Republicans went to the polls, and they nominated this man to be their gubernatorial nominee, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. Now Robinson has long publicly engaged in Holocaust denial including calling the Holocaust, hogwash. He has a provably sighted and Adolf Hitler quote about, quote, "pride in one's own race." And he agreed with a fringe pastor who called the Jewish bankers, the Rothschild, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, called Robinson's past comments, quote, "clearly antisemitic." And the Republican Party rallying around the lieutenant governor of North Carolina.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher now takes a deep dive into the controversial, offensive, extremist and deeply disturbing comments that Robinson has made in the past about Jews and other groups and how that might weigh on the minds of North Carolina's voters as they head to the polls this November.



DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a commanding victory in Tuesday's primary, Mark Robinson is now the Republican nominee for governor in North Carolina. Now the wildly popular with his base --

ROBINSON: I'm running for governor of North Carolina.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): -- the state's first Black lieutenant governor, a former Army Reservist and furniture factory worker reelected in 2020 is a conservative darling with a lengthy history of inflammatory and bigoted comments going after Muslims, women, Black people who vote for Democrats and the LGBTQ community.

ROBINSON: If there's a movement in this country that is demonic and that is full of -- the spirit of antichrist is the transgender movement.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Such statements have not slowed his meteoric rise up the Republican ranks.

ROBINSON: You must be the ones to save this nation.

My name is Mark Robinson.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The 55-year-old was catapulted from obscurity after his public comments on gun rights at a 2018 Greensboro city council meeting went viral. Speaking against calls to cancel a gun show following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

ROBINSON: And we want our rights and we want to keep our rights. And By God we're going to keep them, come hell or high water.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Around that same time Robinson, a prolific Facebooker, was calling the survivors of that shooting, "prostitutes and spoiled little bastards." Jewish leaders in the state have highlighted language he's used in the past like posting, quote, "This foolishness about Hitler disarming millions of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash."

ROBINSON: There was never any antisemitism intended from those words.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Reporters confronted Robinson at a press conference last year where he declared as acting governor a week of solidarity with Israel after the October 7 attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you apologize for writing what you wrote?

ROBINSON: I apologize for the wording. And we have spoken to several Jewish groups. Mark Robinson is definitely not antisemitic.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Last month, Robinson said that post was about gun control policy in Germany after World War I. Many of his supporters say that Robinson's social media musings are overblown by political opponents and media.

PHIL MAHER, ROBINSON VOTER: Same with Trump. I mean, they talk about Trump's Facebook posts and all that stuff in his tweets and all that stuff. I don't look at that. I look at what you do, not at what you're saying necessarily.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And there are a lot of similarities between Robinson and the former president who is definitely a fan.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is Martin Luther King on steroids.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): A KFILE review last year found that Robinson had repeatedly criticized the civil rights movement, calling it crap and at one point lamenting that, quote, "So many freedoms were lost during the Civil Rights Movement."

Now after Robinson one Tuesday, with roughly two thirds of the Republican primary vote, one of his opponents released a statement calling him an unelectable candidate who puts a conservative future at risk for everyone from the courthouse to the White House.


GALLAGHER (on camera): Now, I want to be clear, Robinson is extremely popular with Republicans in North Carolina and all of these comments have been widely reported over the years both locally and nationally at CNN and other networks. Robinson usually doesn't respond, but he often says that journalists are taking his comments out of context or that they're mischaracterizing them. Sometimes he doubles down. Now Robinson is adamant that he is not antisemitic and says that he has had private discussions with Jewish groups about the tropes that he has used in some of these past posts.

Jake, his opponent now is Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, who is already up with a mash up of Robinson pass comments you just heard and then stop (ph). If elected in November, Stein would be the first Jewish governor in North Carolina history. Robinson would be the state's first black governor.

TAPPER: Robinson clearly antisemitic. Dianne Gallagher in Charlotte, North Carolina, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a new independent review from Uvalde on failures of law enforcement to save the lives of 19 innocent children and two teachers. We're live in Uvalde Texas. That's next.


TAPPER: Breaking news in our Law and Justice Lead now, an independent investigation into the Uvalde Police Department's actions during the Robb Elementary School mass shooting has just been released. Let's bring in Shimon Prokupecz, who has covered the story like no one else, and he was honored with a Peabody Award for his reporting on this story. Shimon, I know you're very, very close with the families. You've been a pitbull on this. And we're also proud of the work you've done. Walk me through some of the findings of this investigation.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, Jake, this is one of those days where you just leave Uvalde and you just shake your head as to what are people thinking here. They went ahead, the city of Uvalde. They hired this investigator to take a look and see what happened here. Did their officers do anything wrong? What could they have done better? And so they hired this man, his name is Jesse Prado. He's a 25-year veteran. He's retired. He does investigations. And he came in. And in front of the families at the city council hearing used words like officers from the Uvalde Police Department acted in good faith that there was no wrongdoing on the part of those officers, that there was no violation of policy. And at one point even said that one of the officers showed measurable strength. He's talking about officers that were in a hallway that we're approaching the gunman, and then retreated. And then we know what happens. For an hour no one goes in. I tried to ask him, this man, Jesse Prado, how did he come to these conclusions? What was he basing it on? Because everyone else, every law enforcement official from the Department of Justice, to the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said that there was massive failure here.

Take a look at my interaction with him, Jake.


PROKUPECZ: Do you feel the pain of these families in what happened here? Or you're just not going to answer our questions?


PROKUPECZ: Why not? This is your opportunity to speak to us.

PRADO: I'm not done with the job on their side. I'm done with the report. But they still have some questions that they need to ask me.

PROKUPECZ: Well, you left, you left. And you wouldn't answer their questions, you left. You left. Do you disagree with what the Department of Justice said?


PROKUPECZ: So Jake, what happened was after he made his presentation, and he used words like officers, he was exonerating officers from any wrongdoing. He got up and left the meeting. And the families demanded that he come back and face them. And so because of that, he was forced to come back and sit before the families as they spoke their anger and their frustration over what they heard.

It's so astounding that, Jake, at one point he said that the reason why some of the officers couldn't go in or that the officers didn't put together a command center sort of leading officers to take charge was because of the crowds outside. The crowds were the families waiting outside to try and find out what was happening to their kids inside.


The families were outside trying to get in because they felt the officers were refusing to go inside. Those were the families that were outside. And those were the families that were in this room today to try and find out. How did he come to these conclusions, Jake?

TAPPER: It's insane. This is one of the greatest law enforcement failures in the modern history of the United States of America. And they have tried to whitewash this from the very, very beginning. Shimon, families seeing this report for the first time this afternoon, how are they reacting? What are you hearing from them?

PROKUPECZ: It's painful to watch them, to come in here today, after getting reports from the Department of Justice after hearing from the Department of Public Safety saying that officers failed here to have this one guy come in here and sort of turn around and say no, these officers did nothing wrong. A lot of them took to the podium to speak. You know, one of them even said, you are kicking us while we are already down. Take a listen to some more of what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You call that good faith. They stood there 77 minutes and waited. After they got call after call. The kids were still alive in there. All this is it's a pat -- it's a brother's pat. You protect your own. Well, you know what, we're going to stand here and we're going to keep fighting for our own because nobody else is going to do it. And you're not going to stop us.

BRETT CROSS, FATHER OF UZIYAH GARCIA, STUDENT KILLED AT ROBB ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: I want you to look at this child. Because this child survived. This child was shot. And he sat in there for 77 minutes while those fucking cowards did nothing. You said that that was in good faith. And I'm going to reiterate that point, good Faith. Good faith is 77 minutes?


PROKUPECZ: And, Jake, it's just -- it's just so painful to have to sit through this. City council, some of the city council members came up to me afterwards. They were shocked to hear this. They had not seen the report before this. This was an investigator that was hired by the previous mayor, who thought he was doing the right thing. City council was not able to access this report until today in real time. And they were even shocked at what they were hearing. I even looked at the police chief here at one point, he couldn't believe. You could just see the utter shock on people's faces and what this investigator was saying and we'll see. I mean, it's so tough for this community because just when they think they are moving in a certain direction, and they have some closure. This happens today.


TAPPER: It's abhorrent. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Our World Lead today, 19 months, 19 months that's how long American Ryan Corbett has been held hostage by the Taliban. Corbett is one of three Americans currently being held captive by that group. Ryan and his family lived in Afghanistan for more than a decade, but evacuated when that country fell back to the Taliban. Ryan had returned a few times for business. And then in August 2022, he was detained wrongfully according to the U.S. State Department. His wife, Anna Corbett joins us now. She and her family will be at President Biden State of the Union address tonight as a guest of Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, a New York Republican. Anna, I thank you so much for being here. So you've come to Washington, nine times to try to get help to get Ryan home. What are you being told by officials and by President Biden?

ANNA CORBETT, WIFE OF AMERICAN WRONGFULLY DETAINED IN AFGHANISTAN: Yes, that's correct. I have been here now nine times. And everyone is working hard to bring Ryan home, State Department, National Security Council. On Congress, we passed a resolution with now 70 co-sponsors. What's difficult about that is that it seems like when I do not come, when I do not push, things just stagnate. And that is very frustrating, because I know this is a priority for the administration. They've expressed how important it is to bring U.S. citizens home. But now Ryan has been held, as you said, wrongfully for 19 months. And I'm really concerned for his life and concern that he'd be brought home as soon as possible.

TAPPER: So you've only spoken with Ryan four times since he was taken by the Taliban, right? Is that correct?

CORBETT: That's right. I've only spoken four times.

TAPPER: And he's being held in an underground cell in Kabul. How was he holding up? What are those calls like? And what did he say? I understand the last time you talked to him, you told him you were going to be a guest at the State of the Union.

CORBETT: I did. I was able to share that with him. He was really happy to hear how hard the government is working. It's always challenging to discern how he's truly doing because he's under duress. He can't speak freely. But I do know, from hearing of other prisoners who were held with him that there have been some big health concerns, fainting, seizures, and no one has eyes on him. Something could happen. He could die and no one would even know.

And the government just keeps giving to the Taliban. We keep giving more and more money and conversations. And yet here I've only spoken with Ryan four times in 19 months.

TAPPER: So you too have -- you have three children, you and Ryan. They're attending the State of the Union as well. They have letters for the President. I want to read one from your 18-year-old daughter, Ketsia, who wrote quote, and she's writing about her dad here. He doesn't deserve this. He was only trying to help. I'm very scared for his health. I often wonder if he'll ever be the same as I remember him. Will I even recognize him? Will he recognize my siblings and I. Please bring him home soon. Ketsia is 18, Miriam is 16 and Caleb is 14?


CORBETT: Almost 14. TAPPER: Almost 14. You're tearing up when you hear the letters, it's no kid should ever have to write a letter like this.

CORBETT: No, it's really difficult. And Ketsia is a senior. She's about to graduate. And Ryan's the type of person who really cares about others. He's always been an amazing dad, and very involved. And he's missing so much in his children's lives, and missing sports seasons, and driving lessons, and just really normal things that you should be able to experience with your teenage children. And it's really difficult.

And we feel so sad that children wrote these letters. We hope to hand them to the President tonight to be able to talk with him. I hope he knows about this situation. I think he does. But I've heard that he's a very empathetic person. And I do believe that he would be willing to help bring Ryan home as soon as possible if he knew about this, and just having the chance to speak face to face with him about this would be so helpful. And I think he's made hard decisions before and he could make another difficult decision to bring Ryan home.

TAPPER: I know this is tough. But I have interviewed other people like you before, and their loved ones have gotten home. It has happened. It can happen. It will happen. I promise you. I did this with the family of all sorts of individuals and they do come home. They can come home. And like, we will cover this. And if you don't get your letters to the President tonight then please let me know and we will figure out a way to get them to him.

CORBETT: Thank you.

TAPPER: I mean because Claudia Tenney is great woman. She's a Republican. So I don't know if we'll get the letters from her. But I can -- we can help you. We'll send it through the press office. But thank you for being here. OK?

CORBETT: Thank you so much for having me.

TAPPER: And you have friends and supporters here at CNN. We're going to continue to talk about this case.

CORBETT: Thank you. I appreciate it so much.

TAPPER: OK. Thank you so much. And we'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our pop culture lead at times when our country seems so divided and things seem so bleak, there are still things that bring us all to the table to enjoy, literally to the table. In his new season of "Somebody Feed Phil" on Netflix, Phil Rosenthal explores the unifying nature of food in our city here, Washington, D.C. I sat down with Phil earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: And joining me now is Phil Rosenthal. Phil, so good to see you, as always, so what made you want to include Washington, D.C., in this new season of the show?

PHIL ROSENTHAL, NETFLIX HOST, "SOMEBODY FEED PHIL": It's a great food city. First of all, that's the first thing that attracts me to your place. And second, it's just one of the most beautiful cities in America, if not the world. I mean, we forget that these kind of monuments and statues and halls to what the country was built on, is also gorgeous. I think I say to you in the show, because you're in the show, you know, Jake.

TAPPER: I'm aware. I'm aware.

ROSENTHAL: You can't just watch the news people, you'll get depressed. You have to watch somebody feed Phil a little.

TAPPER: That's true. It's true. One of my big takeaways from how you profiled the D.C. food scene, something I knew intellectually, but you really hit it home, which is the diversity of the cuisine. You went to a Levant bakery, a deaf owned pizzeria, and you met me and Jeff Goldberg at an Indian restaurant.


TAPPER: Unlike other destinations on your show that have such a defined and specific type of food. What do you think it means that D.C.'s food scene is really this melting pot of so many diverse cultures and foods?

ROSENTHAL: Well, shouldn't the capital of our country be a melting pot? Shouldn't it showcase diversity? Is the whole country built on a healthy immigrant population? Well, my parents were immigrants, I'm sure many people watching are immigrants themselves. I think it's beautiful. And D.C. has a really terrific, diverse cultural scene, not just food, but everything.

TAPPER: You know, Phil, and just an idea for the future if you haven't done it already, which is my mom is a Canadian immigrant. Have you gone north of the border? Have you done anything?

ROSENTHAL: I did Montreal and I love it.

TAPPER: All right. Well, maybe Winnipeg, maybe we go to Winnipeg in the future because I heard --

ROSENTHAL: I'm so happy to.

TAPPER: I have heard they've got some really good stuff there. During this episode, you sat down not only with me and Jeff Goldberg, but with Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg and Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Let's play a little snippet of that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROSENTHAL: It's interesting to hear you say that bipartisanship is the number one issue. I never thought of it that way. First thing that pops to mind is guns in this country, climate change, right? These things. But you're right, nothing will get done without this.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: The biggest thing I've noticed in my career, you find yourself at higher and higher tables, right? The people who you have sometimes seen on the news for years. And it turns out, they're just people, right? The people who run the world, the people who are in charge of things, the most important things that happen just happen when people get together and talk right even when you see what goes on at the highest levels.

ROSENTHAL: I had heard about the Constitution and even the Declaration of Independence. The real talks are over food and drink at the bar restaurant next door.

BUTTIGIEG: That sounds right.

ROSENTHAL: Maybe we need to put a buffet in Congress.


TAPPER: D.C. is a place where history is made. But at times, the divisiveness highlighted in politics seems to dominate our news cycle. What role can food play in bringing out collaboration?

ROSENTHAL: Food is the great connector. And then for me, laughs are the cement. So in other words, we can fight each other or want to hurt each other over food. It's something we all do around the world. It doesn't matter what side you're on. We all got to eat. And then if we can share a smile or laugh, then now we're friends. I really love doing that scene you just showed. It was not easy to get a Republican and a Democrat to sit together. But these two great gentlemen were nice enough to join me for that lunch at Maketto by the way, a wonderful restaurant. Have you been there yet?


TAPPER: No. But I'm making a list of all the places that you visited to go to every one of them.

ROSENTHAL: Well, I just, you know, I saw it in them. And I asked, what's the most important issue today? And they said, bipartisanship, it makes total sense. It's something we're not seeing enough of.

TAPPER: D.C. is not the only stop on the tour this season. Where else can we look forward to?

ROSENTHAL: Oh, my goodness, I went to Mumbai for the first time have you been to India?

TAPPER: Oh, my goodness.

ROSENTHAL: I'm sure you have, right.

TAPPER: I have. I have. Yes.

ROSENTHAL: Spectacular --

TAPPER: Very spicy. Very spicy.

ROSENTHAL: I can handle it, Jake. Kyoto, you've been there?

TAPPER: Yes. Yes.

ROSENTHAL: One of the most beautiful places on earth. I went to Dubai. I went to another great and diverse food scene that you never think of Orlando, Florida. We went to Iceland and Scotland. And Taipei --

TAPPER: Orlando.

ROSENTHAL: -- for the best street food.

TAPPER: What's Orlando, you went to EPCOT like what's in Orlando?

ROSENTHAL: No, you would think. But here's the thing. Disney has been there for 50 years, right? And in those 50 years, they've employed tens of thousands of immigrants from around the world. They've all set up their communities around Orlando. So it's like a mini L.A. or mini New York. The food scene is incredible. I'm very proud of that episode because it's such a surprise. We actually call that one the real Orlando so that people understand. We don't set foot in the theme park.

TAPPER: So people, just so people at home understand. This is what Phil is like all the time. This is not like an act. He actually is this happy. He actually is this joy. Phil Rosenthal, always good to see you sir. So that season seven of "Somebody Feed Phil" is out on Netflix right now.


TAPPER: And we will be right back.