Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Princess Catherine Reveals Cancer Diagnosis; Russia: 40 Killed, 100+ Injured In Concert Hall Attack Near Moscow; Princess Catherine Reveals Cancer Diagnosis; Russia Investigating Concert Hall Attack As Terrorism; Hard-Right Republicans Blast $1.2T Spending Compromise. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 22, 2024 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin with our breaking news on two massive stories this hour.

First, the horrific attack in Russia. Gunmen opened fire on crowds in a concert hall near Moscow. You see the scene here now and enormous presence of law enforcement. And first responders, at least 40 people have been killed. More than 100 hundred wounded. That's according to Russian media, which is calling this an act of terrorism.

We are learning more minute by minute. We will bring you each new update.

Our other breaking news story today, Catherine, the princess of Wales, says she has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the early stages of treatment. The princess says she found out after having major abdominal surgery in January and says the news came as a huge shock.

Here is Princess Kate in her own words


CATHERINE, PRINCESS OF WALES: I want to take this opportunity to say thank you personally for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding, whilst I've been recovering from surgery. It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family but I've had a fantastic medical team who've taken great care of me for which I'm so grateful.

In January, I underwent a major abdominal surgery in London. And at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present.

My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventive chemotherapy. And I'm now in the early stages of that treatment. This, of course, came as a huge shock. And William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover for major surgery in order to start my treatment, but most importantly, it has taken as time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that's appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I'm going to be okay.

As I've said to them, I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal in my mind, body, and spirit. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance, too, as is the love, support, and kindness that is being shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.

We hope that you'll understand that as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy, while I complete my treatment.

My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy. And I look forward to being back when I'm able. But for now, I must focus on making a full recovery.

At this time, I'm also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.


TAPPER: Catherine is likely the future queen of England, given her marriage to Prince William. They are the parents of three young children, 10-year-old George, 8-year-old Charlotte, 5-year-old Louis.

CNN's Max Foster is live outside Buckingham palace for us right now.

Max, what else are you hearing from the palace tonight about Princess Catherine's condition? Not to mention the timing of this announcement?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: So we're not going to be told exactly what form of cancer it is. The timing while she referred to it, that it's about the kids. They she revealed today that she had major abdominal surgery, not just abdominal surgery, so she had to recover from that.

Then the news that tests out of that surgery showed that she had cancer. They needed to decompress that as a family. The kids have been at school until today. They've been trying -- they didn't want the kids to have lots of news coverage whilst they're at school with all the other kids speaking to their kids. So they want to wait until they left school, which happened today.

So they were picked up today and they won't be having the TVs on tonight. This is all a bit about trying to make sense of what happens. Start the treatment she started chemo at the end of February, I'm told, and then trying to manage this for the kids as much as anything else. So once William and Kate can make sense of it, and then present it to the kids. And then try to protect them as much as possible from all this online,

which has been really hurtful for the family as I understand it, but they were particularly worried about the kids finding out that way. And we now know why we weren't being told what the issue was and what she was suffering from in hospital.

TAPPER: Max, Princess Catherine, will now be undergoing chemotherapy at the same time as her father-in-law, King Charles. We don't know what kind of cancer either one of them has.

What kind of impact will this have on the monarchy?

FOSTER: A huge impact. There were four senior royals, the king and queen and the prince and princess. The king is out of public action. He's carrying out duties behind the scenes.

Of course, we're seeing some images of him. Now that the princess is out of action indefinitely until the doctors clear her to go back to her diary of engagements. We don't know when that's going to be. We only know she's in the early stages of treatment and she's not going to be comfortable for some time going out.

The priority for her is making sure her kids have normality as much as possible. So we've all been asked not to share any images of them out and about. They're being very clear. She is going to be going to a hospital. They are going to be out and about, but they don't want people sharing those images, which is why they've been transparent -- as transparent as they have with us today.

But you basically just got the queen of the top four out leading the charge, Williams going to do where he can, but it's pretty clear that he's making his family priority as well.

TAPPER: Max Foster outside Buckingham Palace, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Julia Chatterley.

And, Julia, Princess Catherine's last public appearance came over Christmas, that was before she had this major abdominal surgery in January.

Can you walk us through how all of this is unfolded in recent weeks?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Josh, I can -- Jake, sorry, I can.

Christmas -- Christmas Day, Brits always watch them at their church service. We saw her looking healthy, vibrant, nothing wrong. Then we didn't see over three weeks, unusual but nothing to cause alarm. Then comes January the 17th, in fact, and we got a release from Kensington palace, a statement on social media saying shed returned to hospital for planned abdominal surgery, that the procedure was successful but the Kate would be in hospital for two weeks.

And it was that two weeks that set off I think alarm bells and began the wild speculation that we've now been talking about for weeks about what was wrong with Kate and what might be happening.

January 29, the next important date, she was then discharged from hospital, but we didn't see her. She managed to avoid any press and then he cameras at that stage.

Then March the 4th, we saw her in a car with her mother, but again, there was concerns that perhaps this wasn't her. More speculation about what was going on.

Then a brief period until March 10th, where Kensington Palace released that Mother's Day photograph, Mother's Day in the UK, March the 10th, of her and her three children. But within hours, there was a kill notice issued due to concerns that it had been heavily doctored.

The next day, a personal message from Princess Kate herself saying, look, she's an amateur photographer, that she tinkered with that photograph and she apologized. Strange again, raising more concerns and conspiracy theories.

Then last weekend, the media shared a video of what was an appear to be Kate and William. Kate looking very healthy, vibrant, vivacious walking at a local farm near where they're living.

So again, that perhaps should have addressed some of the concerns about her health and the situation, it didn't.

Fast-forward to today, and now, all that wild speculation has resulted in what we heard today, of course, and that's a sad cancer diagnosis.

TAPPER: Julia, what did you make of how Princess Catherine decided to make this announcement on video, by herself, with this message that was personal and emotional?

CHATTERLEY: I think she showed great strength, Jake. I think she could have sat there quite rightly with her husband, with Prince William providing support. She chose not to do that. I think you could hear the emotion in her voice.

She managed to be, and I've said it already, both regal but also vulnerable in the message that she shared. And I think for anybody whose lives have been touched by cancer, they understand the challenge that she's facing, the challenge of telling the children of trying to protect the children.

And I think even in the statement she showed that she's a princess through and through by caring in the end more about other people that are also suffering this, rather than just focusing perhaps on herself and her own family's situation. So very moving, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Julia Chatterley, thank you so much.

Joining us down to discuss, the medical aspect of this, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what's your biggest takeaway from what we heard from Princess Catherine today? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the

biggest takeaway, obviously, is the headline that she has cancer but that -- you know, that we don't know what kind of cancer as you've heard, we don't know the stage of cancers.


So there is a significant piece of information but there's also a lot we don't know. We did get a better sense of the timeline that you were talking about this with Julia, a little bit, but let me just put this up again, Jake, just so you -- from a medical standpoint, it sounds like there was concern from the start. We're hearing what were hearing today. But even from the start, they said, look, she's going to be -- it's going to be a long recovery even when they admitted her to the hospital, they said it's going to be at least two weeks in the hospital, which is a long time.

And then we know that about a month after she was discharged from the hospital is when she started what they call preventative chemotherapy. That's what she said in the statement. It's more of an adjuvant chemotherapy, this idea that the operation was performed. We now know that its cancer. We have to assume that there are some cancer cells that are still remaining.

So we're giving chemotherapy, so we still don't know Jake what it is. We don't know the stage that it is. But it sounds like it's obviously something that they're being aggressive about. And that they have had concern about for some time, Jake.

TAPPER: How does a cancer diagnosis work in this situation? I mean, we know she had abdominal surgery major abdominal surgery. The surgeons take samples for further testing?

GUPTA: Yeah. I think, I think that's exactly right. And again, that's the part of it, when you asked me, what stands out the most, this is the part that doesn't quite fit because going back to the middle of January, there was obviously significant concern.

You wouldn't just do sort of exploratory surgery looking for cancer. I think there was there was a significant concern, so it sounds like it then got confirmed that this was cancer. They weren't sure maybe initially but it got confirmed by looking at those samples. This is, Jake, under the microscope after the operations have been performed.

And then in might be some time before you'd actually start chemotherapy, not allowing someone to heal, for example, from the integral operation. And it was about a month in-between the time she was discharged and she started that therapy.

TAPPER: And she's -- Princess Catherine, she's 42 years old. She's had three children. How prevalent are cancer diagnoses in women her age?

GUPTA: There are more prevalent in women her age versus men her age, but a lot less prevalent than in women who are older. One type of cancer that we've been hearing a lot more about starting in younger people is colorectal cancer, so much so, Jake, and you probably know this, but the standard age of screening that was recommended as have long been 50 years old. But organizations came out and said it probably should be 45 because were seeing more and more of these types of cancers in younger people.

And that's men or men or women alike, Jake.

And again, we don't know. I just want to be clear. We don't know what kind of cancer this is, but there are certain cancers that we typically thought of happening in older people that now happen in younger people over the last several decades.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Let's continue the medical conversation here with Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Reiner is a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.

Obviously, there's a lot we don't know.


TAPPER: And that's their right to privacy but she says that this cancer was discovered during abdominal surgery. I would -- I would assume that that limits to a degree the kinds of cancer it could be?

REINER: It does and one doesn't go into what they expect it to be, a rigorous surgery with a long hospitalization without extensive preparation, particularly imaging, often extensive blood testing. So almost certainly, the princess is doctors had a good sense for what they were expecting to find, and then probably confirmed it in the operating room with pathology done rapidly in the hospital during the -- during the surgery.

But I think what we know from the duration of her sur -- of her hospitalization, two weeks in surgery, that suggests a large operation. Again, we don't know exactly what the surgery is, but that would include things like other resection of a large portion of someone's colon or rectum. There are worse diagnoses, you know, pancreatic cancer is a devastating diagnosis. She's a bit young for that. That would require a very large operation which might not even be doable in just two weeks in the hospital.

But this brings up another point. The palace has mentioned that the trying to tamp down any speculation about the princesses condition, her prognosis. But by giving just little bites, little bites of information, they actually fuel speculation. And, you know, in my opinion, and in my experience its better just to get all the information out at the beginning because what then happens is you have people like me simply speculating about what it could be or what the worst could be.


TAPPER: Yeah. And it's not just speculation for speculation's sake. I mean, cancer strikes so often and to so many Americans, so many people around the world, either suffer from it or have loved ones who do so. I mean, it probably would clear matters up as you know, if they were more specific about what's going on also with the king, we don't know what kind of cancer he has. She said she's undergoing preventative chemotherapy. What does that mean?

REINER: I think that's just a turn of a phrase. That's a delicate way of saying that that she hopes things will be well. If you operate on someone for let's say, in some sort of abdominal mass and the margins are clear. There's no sense -- there's no evidence of spread to blood vessels are adjacent tissues or lymph nodes, in many patients, that might not require any kind of -- as Sanjay mentioned -- adjuvant care, like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

But those kinds of adjuvant treatments are employed when there is concern that the cancer is not contained and when it's perhaps expanding into the muscular part of the wall or into the blood vessels, where the assumption is that cancer cells have escaped containment. That's when you give chemotherapy and that's almost certainly what the story is here.

TAPPER: So what kind of advice do you give your patients, your family, and your friends about cancer screenings? Because colonoscopy at age 45, they should start and then I think it's like every ten years or something? What do you tell people?

REINER: First, I tell people that screening -- that this -- that colon cancer, we -- again, we don't know that this is colon cancer.

TAPPER: No, no, no, but it could be any cancer, kind of get.

REINER: That particular cancer is a curable cancer, when caught early, it's a slowly progressive cancer. And I tell people to follow the recommendation of your doctor. I'm a cancer survivor. I had cancer when I was 26 years old. So I understand the impact of a diagnosis in the young person.

The princess is 42. She has -- she has young children but I think if the palace were to be more specific about her specific diagnosis, I know this they're huge privacy issues here, but someone with such a giant public footprint can do a lot of good for the public --


REINER: -- if they disclose this specific diagnosis, how it was made and what the public could do to protect themselves and be proactive in their own health. So I urge the palace to consider that.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much.

More reaction on this big, shocking announcement from Princess Kate. I'm going to bring in a guest next who wrote a book on the royals. We're also following that major deadly attack in Russia. Gunmen opening fire inside a concert hall near Moscow. Russia investigating this as a terrorist attack. We're going to get the latest there.

And drama on Capitol Hill, a surprise motion from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to get rid of House Speaker Mike Johnson.

We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: You're looking at armed man moving into a shopping area just outside of concert hall in Moscow, Russia. Russian media says the gunman sprayed bullets into the crowd, killing at least 40 people, although the death toll is expected to climb. A rare and shocking event in the heavily policed city.

The attackers reportedly shot people point blank. They created chaos by throwing explosives. They caused a fire according to a Russian reporter on the scene.

Here you can see some smoke billowing from the building, which is about 12 miles northwest to the Kremlin.

CNN's Matthew Chance, just returned from Moscow and is following the story for us.

And, Matthew, the eyewitness reports sound horrifying. Do we know anything about who these attackers may have been?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBLA AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Not yet and the most horrifying thing is it seems that the situation is still unfolding and that the authorities do not have the situation under control. Certainly, the fire is done the way, in big plumes of blood smoke, you can see in life pictures, they're billowing up from that -- that shopping center and concert hall. Really, you know, it's not in Moscow City formally, but it's not far away. It's just on the outskirts. It's in the Moscow region. It's just outside the main city.

In terms of who the people are, we don't know, we know there are at least four of them because we've seen at least four people carrying automatic weapons dressed in camouflage, fatigues, sort of firing into -- towards innocent bystanders, inside the shopping mall as they made their way through towards where that concept was about to take place, where large numbers of people had gathered in the auditorium, to see a Soviet era band. The band never made it onto the stage, the attacks and the explosions because there were several explosions as well, kind of forced people to evacuate.

Look, we're expecting obviously an investigation has been launched by Russian prosecutors and they're going to be able to come up with the blame for who's responsible for this at some point, but at the moment, my understanding is we're not at that -- we're not at that point yet. No one's naming who this could be to carry out this kind and the kind of atrocity inside the Russian capital, very close to the Russian capital.

I will say this, so its quite interesting because on March the 7th, the U.S. embassy unusually issued an alert saying, look, warning American citizens that they are looking at intelligence that could be an attack by extremists. They said the attack was imminent against areas where lots of people gathered. And they mentioned concerts being something they were looking into.

At the time or shortly afterwards, the Russian government in the form of Vladimir Putin actually dismissed that warning. They said -- Putin said it was a provocation intended to destabilize our society is what he said but it seems that if those, it seems that those alerts we assume that the U.S. and also the U.K., we're talking about this as well apparently were onto something.

Now, exactly what who these extremists are, that hasn't been made clear yet by the U.S. embassy or by the U.S. State Department.


Ive spoken to the embassy in Moscow over the course of the past few minutes, and they told me there's going to be a State Department's announcement soon. They wont -- they wont tell me, it has to come from the State Department, clarifying a bit more what that intelligence was and to what extent it had been shared with the Russian security forces as well.

So we may get some, we might get some sort of clarity, both from the U.S. side and from the Russian side in the hours ahead, as to who -- what group or why this happened in Moscow.

TAPPER: And, Matthew, you frequently report from Moscow. How unusual is an attack like this?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's unusual. I mean, look, it's not -- it's not unprecedented, but it's unusual. You mentioned, I think before that there was something very similar that took place. I mean, long time ago back in 2002, the Dubrovka theater siege in which Chechen militants took 850 people hostage in a theater in downtown Moscow.

It all ended sort of quite catastrophically actually with the Russian special forces pumping a nerve gas into the auditorium and then sort of killing the hostage takers. And you're getting the hostages at some of whom died from asphyxiation and from the effects of the nerve agent because the doctors weren't given the antidote. So it was a bit of a sort of bungled rescue attempt.

I mean, since then, there have been lots of terrorist attacks as well inside Moscow, suicide bomb attacks by Islamists, in particular, Russia has got a long-standing problem with Muslim fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, particularly stemming from the restive Caucasus, the south of the country.

And in fact, just a couple of weeks ago, there were deadly gunfights in the Caucasus, between Russian authorities and Islamists which is another indication that it could be something to do with that.

But, look, I mean, just very briefly, Anderson, Vladimir Putin casts himself, has the symbol of security and stability in Russia, but he's facing all sorts of instability from various fronts, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's rebellion within his own ranks and now whether, its these kinds of terrorist attacks at major gatherings in Russia.

TAPER: All right. Matthew Chance, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Our other breaking news story today, the cancer diagnosis for Princess Catherine, future queen mother of three, wife of Prince William. What to make of the timing of this announcement dropping on a Friday evening in London?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with the breaking news in our world lead. Catherine the Princess of Wales today revealing what she describes as a huge shock. She's been diagnosed with cancer. She did not reveal what type of cancer, but said that she is in the early stages of treatment. The future queen of England and mother of three sharing the news in a video message today after months of speculation and concern about her health and other parts of her life.

Until now, Kensington palace had said very little about the princess and her, quote, successful abdominal surgery in January.

CNN royal commentator Sally Bedell Smith joins us now. She's the author of "George VI and Elizabeth".

Sally, what is your reaction to Princess Kate's video message and the timing of it?

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the timing is probably at everything to do with the -- excuse me, I have laryngitis -- with the fact that her children, you know, started their spring holiday today, and I think they probably didn't want the word to get out when they were in school and now, they're going to be together for two weeks whether in Windsor, up in Sandringham, and they'll really be able to do this privately.

And I thought -- I mean, her statement was incredibly moving, but it also kind of crystallized the kind of person she is and, you know, it was sensitive, it was authentic, it was -- was forthright and dignified, eloquent, and I think that after all this horrible stuff that's been going on on social media, where people have said really scurrilous things about her.

I think it's a moment when everybody will begin to appreciate her again and perhaps even fall in love with her. And I don't think fell out of love with her. I think most of the people felt the same way about are just everything negative about her was amplified on social media.


SMITH: And you know, she expressed her hope that other cancers -- other people with cancer, you know, would get the support that they needed and then she said at the end, you are not alone. It was a very simple, very heartfelt thing for her to say, and, of course, her father-in-law also has cancer.

I mean, the royal family has never been in this kind of position before where two people at the very center and at the very top of the royal family now have a serious disease that they have to hopefully manage and cure. But what's enormous strain on the royal family.


SMITH: It's -- there's (INAUDIBLE) already. And I think they know how to cope with this. And Camila has become the great brick of the family.


TAPPER: What do you make -- what you make of the fact, Sally -- Sally, what do you make of the fact that we don't know, the public doesn't know what kind of cancer either Princess Kate or her father, the king have?

SMITH: Well, I think one of your medical experts said earlier that that really should be revealed. I mean, everybody who gets cancer gets a very specific diagnosis what stage it is, what you know, what the mode of treatment is, what the prognosis is. And I think since then that's part and parcel of what ordinarily people learn. I think -- I don't know why they are withholding it, because I think without it -- without being more specific, and I don't think that's intrusive. It's kind of standard operating procedure.


SMITH: And so, without that, as again, I don't know if it was Sanjay, somebody said, people will continue to speculate even though she has been more specific than that king by saying she is undergoing chemotherapy. We suspect that he probably is undergoing chemotherapy, but he may be getting something completely different.


SMITH: We just don't know.

TAPPER: There's a tremendous opportunity for education when a public figure experiences something like this. I remember when Senator John -- when Senator John Kerry was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the world learn about nerve sparing surgery and that sort of thing.

Anyway, Sally Bedell Smith, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.

Reactions are starting to pour in. Prince Harry and Meghan, the duke and duchess of Sussex, moments ago, released a statement saying, quote: We wish health and healing for Kate and the family and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.

This hour's other big breaking news story, an attack on a concert hall just outside Moscow. Just two weeks before this incident, the U.S. State Department warned of extremist plans to target large gatherings in the Russian capital. We'll have more about that part of the story next.



TAPPER: You're looking at live video now of a hospital near Moscow where victims from the massive, shocking terrorist attack on a crowd near and inside a concert hall are being treated. Russian media and bystanders say the gunmen had automatic weapons and Molotov cocktails. They shot bystanders, point-blank. At least 40 people were killed. According to Russian media, that's a death toll that is expected to climb.

CNN's Matthew Chance is back with us from London, plus Oren Liebermann who's with me here in studio in D.C.

And, Oren, on March 7th, the U.S. embassy in Moscow posted a security alert saying, quote: The embassy is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, unquote.

Putin, however, as Matthew reminded us earlier, called those warnings provocative and quote, outright blackmail.

So what are U.S. official saying now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, we have asked if that warning on March 7 specifically relates to the attack we saw right now. It's certainly when you read that warning looks like it extremist have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts. So that seems to line up, but that was a very specific window of time. That was a 48 hour window which would have expired on March 9th. This is two weeks later, more than two weeks?

So it's not definitive, but we have asked and well find out if this is what they were seeing, what the intel was warning about this horrific attack we're seeing in Moscow. But you're right. If you look at the warning, its looks like its exactly what were seeing play out now in this concert hall.

TAPPER: Yeah. And, Matthew, back to you. I just want to take a second and place some of the video from inside the concert hall.

Let's take a look.


TAPPER: A lot of gunshots we're hearing.

How big of a police presence is usually in a place like this near Moscow, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, there's always quite a few police around Moscow. It's a -- it's a, you know, it's a police state. There's a very, very heavy presence of security forces on the streets in Russia.

But, you know, obviously this is a shopping center. It's a concert venue. And so there'll be kind of traffic police and things like that. It's not going to tight security cord and around it, or anything of that -- of that nature.

And I think we look at some of these images and you see the amount of ambulances and emergency services and blue flashing lights that are outside the venue, something like 50 ambulances plus firefighters, plus the police, plus the military. They've all been sent there, gives you a sense of just what a major event this is in Moscow.

I mean, it's not in central Moscow. It's just outside the main city, but it's essentially Moscow -- Moscow region. And so, it's a major event for the Russian capital.

TAPPER: Matthew, we're also seeing this live picture from Reuters showing what looks like an ongoing fire that is not apparently contained yet.

CHANCE: Yes, and that's of real concern because this shopping mall, the concert venue, would have had hundreds of people in it at this time, you know? And we know from Russian television, but at least they're reporting that the roof of the mall has collapsed. And so we don't know how many people may be trapped inside. It's obviously difficult for firefighters to get inside because of the presence of the gunman.

You know, that has to be dealt with first before the firefighters go in and try and rescue people and put the flames out. And I think it just says quite a lot. Its speaks volumes in fact, about this idea that Vladimir Putin puts across as much as he can, that he's the sort of symbol and the guarantor of security in Russia. It seems that he is facing a lot of instability from different fronts, whether its from the war in Ukraine, whether it's from uprisings from within his former allies, like we saw last year with Yevgeny Prigozhin staging a sort of attempted military coup and an advanced towards Moscow.

And now with this kind of terrorist attack essentially affecting a major Russian city, it looks, I mean, to my eyes, I've lived in Russia for a long time, it looks at the moment like Russia is more unstable than it has been for many, many years, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Oren, we saw the State Department alert, you read it. But would the U.S. have done more than that? Would the us have reached down to the Kremlin and actually told them?

LIEBERMANN: It's possible. The U.S. abides by what's known as a duty to warn policy. If there's intel warning of an incoming or potential attack, they will give a warning to another country, be at friend, partner, or ally, enemy, or adversary. We, in fact, saw that in January when the U.S. private channels secretly warned Iran on of a potential attack that we then saw play out the burial site of the now deceased head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. So, the U.S. has given these sorts of warnings before. We are waiting to find out if in this case they did. It doesn't mean it would've made a difference. Putin earlier this week dismissed the warnings as provocative and outright blackmail. So, unclear that he would've taken it seriously anyway.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann, Matthew Chance, thanks to both you.

Before all this breaking news of the attack in Russia and the cancer announcement from Princess Kate, there was already a rather newsy and dramatic day on Capitol Hill. A surprised motion from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to oust Mike Johnson as House speaker. Why she made that move and might House Republicans really go through this process again?

We're back in a moment



TAPPER: Our politics lead is the chaos on Capitol Hill.

Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia today filed a motion to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson from the top job.

This comes after House Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass a $1.2 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government from shutting down tonight at midnight.

Greene and other far-right Republicans are outraged at the contents of the bill.


REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): Why would Republicans vote for that? Because it's got a dangerous cocktail that the swamp has always served and we're drunk on it today. What is that cocktail? Earmarks and budget gimmicks.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): My Republican colleagues cannot go campaign against mass parole and use the name of Laken Riley because you pass a bill in her name when you fund the very policies that lead to her death.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): This bill will -- will absolutely destroy our majority and will tell every single one of our editors that this majority is a failure.


TAPPER: CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us from Capitol Hill.

So, Marjorie Taylor Greene offered this motion to vacate. Is Speaker Johnson's job really in jeopardy? MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jake, I would say

his speakership certainly is on thin ice right now. Anger had been brewing on the right all week over this bipartisan spending deal that Johnson cut with White House and Democrats. Last night, Marjorie Taylor Greene said she was, quote, done with Speaker Johnson and this morning, she filed that resolution to oust Mike Johnson from the speakership.

But she did not take a critical step to force a floor vote on the resolution, so a slightly different situation than when Gaetz took down Kevin McCarthy.

But let's listen to a little bit more of what Marjorie Taylor Greene had to say.


GREENE: I filed a motion to vacate today, but it's more of a warning and a pink slip. I respect our conference. I've paid all my dues to my conference. I'm a member in good standing and I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House in chaos.


ZANONA: So, Greene is essentially preserving this as a threat. She's keeping it in her back pocket. And for Johnson's part, he says he's not worried about losing his job. Many Republicans I talked to said they do not want to go down this chaotic route once again, and even some Democrats are outstandingly, they would actually save Johnson job if he puts a Ukraine package on the floor.

But this is certainly something that Johnson has going to have to contend with. He can't just simply ignore this threat. He's going to have to work to survive it. So, a lot to look out for, Jake, in the coming weeks.

TAPPER: And how about this spending bill that got to fund the government. Is it going to go get through the Senate in time for President Biden to sign it, so there won't be a government shutdown?

ZANONA: Well, the good news is, it is expected to pass the Senate, but there is a question of when they are trying to work right now on some amendment votes which Republicans are demanding. So they're trying to come to an agreement on time, but there is certainly a risk that this could move past the midnight deadline. So we'll have to wait and see.

As of right now, there is some hope and confidence they can get it done. There's something called Senate magic, which is when they move quickly around here, but we'll just have to wait and see, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Back to the other big breaking news stories, Russia reporting at least 40 people killed after gunmen they described this terrorist opened fire in a concert hall near Moscow. Russia is investigating this as a terrorist act. As I said more details coming in.

Plus, world leaders reacting to the big announcement for Princes Kate. She revealed today that she's been diagnosed with cancer and we're going to cover it all. We're back in a moment.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, we are following two major breaking news stories. First, gunmen attack a concert hall near Moscow, Russia, earlier tonight, just ahead of the performance. This is the moment witnesses say when gunmen started shooting into the crowd of civilians for throwing a grenade or a similar explosive device and starting a fire. Russian media reporting, at least 40 people were killed.

That number is expected to run eyes with at least 100 other people wounded or injured were following every update on this attack, which the Russian government is calling a terrorist attack, and we're going to bring you this updates live.

The second major breaking news story were following this afternoon, Catherine, the princess of Wales announcing that she has cancer and his undergoing chemotherapy.